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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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Kareem's responded to Sterling's racism with a clear-eyed column in Time Magazine.
Kareem's responded to Sterling's racism with a clear-eyed column in Time Magazine. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Abdul-Jabbar offers clear-headed response to Sterling situation

I’ve known Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for over three decades.

We’re not friends, but I know him and he knows me. I have always had the highest regard for him, not only for his basketball skills but for his intelligence and thoughtful approach to life.

That feeling was reinforced with the recent publication of a column he wrote for Time Magazine in response to the entire Donald Sterling mess.

This afternoon, new commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA banned Sterling for life and is going to try to force him into selling the team due to his racist rant. The disgust at Sterling has been virtually universal.

But read Abdul-Jabbar’s column here, and I think you will agree that this is a man who understands the world around him, how things both ought to be and how things are.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has made racist comments for years.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has made racist comments for years. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Don't punish Clippers' racist owner

The National Basketball Association gave us "A Tale of Two Cities" storyline over the weekend – the best of times and the worst of times.

On one hand you had a whole bunch of great games. On the other you had Donald Sterling, the piggish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was recorded making racist remarks to his girlfriend. The remarks were published by TMZ and Sterling was hung out to dry.

Adam Silver, the new NBA commissioner, donned his lawyer hat and said he would investigate and he thought the comments were disturbing. The howls of protest ranged from cries from a fine for Sterling to suspension (how do you suspend an owner?), forcing him to sell his team, and there were also suggestions that won’t find their way into any column I write.

I hate what Sterling said.

I hate racism.

I have always been proud of my family and the way all of us have grown up absent any hint of racism or sexism or any of the other bad "isms." I have always tried to treat people fairly.

Guys like Sterling give me the creeps. A billionaire with this kind of philosophy is, in my view, a dangerous kind of person.

But I also believe, as deeply as I can, that Sterling, and all the rest of us, should be free to say what we want without any kind of sanction for our language.

More than three decades ago, the Nazi party wanted to stage a parade in Skokie, Ill., which was a city where a majority of a population was either a survivor of the holocaust or related to a holocaust victim.

Nothing could be more repugnant than seeing Nazis marching down the streets of Skokie.

Up until that point in my life, I had never contributed to any kind of political movement, party or activity. But I remember in 1977 sending some small check (I wasn’t making any money) to the ACLU for the fund to defend the Nazis.

Jewish blood flows through my veins but the most important thing to me was not being a Jew or being a Nazi.

It was being an American.

You see, I believe in the First Amendment to ou…

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Lindsey L. Gagliano (left) and Libby Amato star in the first of the two one-acts that make up "1959 Pink Thunderbird."
Lindsey L. Gagliano (left) and Libby Amato star in the first of the two one-acts that make up "1959 Pink Thunderbird." (Photo: Mark Frohna )

In Tandem's "1959 Pink Thunderbird" is headed to the junkyard

Texas is a big, big state, with ribbons of roads that run forever and don’t seem to go anyplace.

That description of the state would also be a fitting description for "1959 Pink Thunderbird," the awkward, Texas-based season finale for In Tandem that opened Friday night and runs through May 18. 

Thunderbird is really two one-act plays by James McLure, "Laundry and Bourbon" and "Lone Star." The two plays are presented together because there is a common thread of characters and story that runs through both of them, as well as a common location: Maynard, Texas, in 1978.

"Laundry" comes first. It’s about three women who went to high school together and then took divergent paths. All three women have a variety of problems, and they both share and shame each other.

To say "Laundry" is breathtakingly long and slow doesn’t begin to describe it. Nothing happens. It’s at one woman’s house. Her friend arrives. Then the third woman comes by, and they all gossip and then the two friends leave and the one woman is left alone. Thank goodness the lights came on for intermission.

It’s hard to know where to start when describing what happened – or more accurately didn’t happen – on stage.

Libby Amato, who I love onstage, plays housewife number one, whose back porch is the setting. Amato is wistful and spends more time meaningfully staring off into the horizon (minus the meaning) than really makes much sense.

She is joined by Lindsey L. Gagliano, who is the longtime friend number one. Gagliano gives new meaning to over-the-top performances. She is loud and overbearing, and she thinks she’s funny, but she’s not. She has two lengthy phone conversation with her children, and they are a perfect example of how nobody I know talks on the phone.

She repeats what the people on the other end say, so the audience isn’t left in the dark (like I said, I don’t know anyone who really talks that way). Plus, the conversations seemed to go on forever.

The third fri…

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Russell Westbrook, right, is one of many star athletes giving their all in this current NBA playoffs.
Russell Westbrook, right, is one of many star athletes giving their all in this current NBA playoffs. (Photo: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com )

Doubters need to watch thrilling NBA playoffs

This one goes out to all the people, and I’m ashamed to admit there are more than a few of them, who don’t care if the Milwaukee Bucks leave town.

They argue, over and over and over, that the NBA is boring and that nobody wants to see these millionaires jogging up and down the court putting the fans in the stands to sleep.

I’m going to ask those people to do me a favor. A personal favor. Do it just because I am asking you to.

Sit down in front of your TV and watch two or three of the NBA playoff games going on right now. I don’t care which ones. Any series at all will suffice. I’m confident that what you see will amaze you.

I have probably covered somewhere between 15 and 20 playoffs. I’ve seen almost all of them for the past four decades, and I can’t remember one that has been so full of excitement and drama as this one.

Every game, it seems, comes down to the final seconds. Perhaps the best athletes in the world straining and struggling for the winning shot or to stop the winning shot.

Low seeded teams are whipping top seeded teams. Memphis, for God’s sake, may well beat the current NBA darling franchise, Oklahoma City. Chicago may get swept by Washington.

You think the joy of winning and the pain of losing is amazing during March Madness, you should see the NBA stars celebrate and mourn. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, two huge stars walking off arm in arm after a shocking loss to Memphis. It’s an unmatchable vision.

So, to all those haters, those with the little minds and a perverse idea of a major league city, just tune in. Find the games here, pick up a TV Guide or whatever you use. Find a game and allow yourself to watch one or two with an open mind.

Go on. I double dare you.

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