Sunday, February 25, 2018

"Fascination" is a rowdy trip back to 1970s New York City

"Fascination" is a novella that takes a series of unblinking written pictures of the less than stellar days of New York City in 1971 as seen through the eyes and rowdy adventures of a teenage boy exploring the frontiers of Fun City the summer before he entered, and then escaped his own high school demons in New Jersey. Tony Mangia's "fictional-memoir" pays attention to many details of the turbulent times—in a both pop culture and social issue sense—and is right on target. It isn't all politically correct, but neither were those times. And through all of the wonder and notoriety of that city, he somehow finds some goodness and redemption. It might even be called a love letter to the Ugly Duckling New York City of the '70s.

The story follows the 14 year-old's journey through the "White Flight" suburbs and his coming of age visits to that gritty New York City during an important mind-shaping, and altering, era of his life. The lessons learned come mostly from darkly humorous experiences and raucous escapades in the decaying yet colorful city, and are centered around a seedy Times Square arcade called Fascination—a hangout that "could take more than just a kid's money." At Fascination, where he meets city kids his own age, but of different colors and socio-economic backgrounds, the teen observes things close up—much of it not safe, good or even legal, but all of it fondly remembered. In one instance, he recalls Fascination as a melting pot of gangs, runaways and those who had nowhere else to go:

"Most chickens seemed to embrace the lifestyle, mainly because Fascination provided them with a safe haven. Some of them got busted up pretty bad just for being queer out on the street. Black eyes and even broken arms on some of the frailer ones—the results of hate-fueled muggings or beatdowns—weren’t uncommon. At least at Fascination, they had something of a sanctuary among their own kind." 

Fascination is available on Amazon Kindle and as a paperback.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tony Mangia on assignment in Southeast Asia

Message to readers of The Other Paper:

This is just a notice that I will be out of the United States for the next four weeks visiting the beautiful and magical lands of Southeast Asia.

First stop will be volunteering in Malaysia, where I'll be working with new acquaintances  — and not of the human kind ... but possibly smarter — within a conservation group that helps orangutans. For two weeks, I will be part of an organization that rescues, rehabilitates and relocates abused, ill and displaced orangutans in the rainforest of Malaysia. I hope it will be as special and rewarding as it sounds. A barrel of apes so to speak. Who knows? They might even teach me some table manners.

After that experience I will be going to Thailand for some scuba diving before heading to the, until recently, isolated and still mysterious Myanmar (Burma) on a photo assignment.

Hoping to do some hiking and catch some muay thai while I am over there too. 

I will most likely be without Internet, phone or TV for most of the duration (happily, I might add) and won’t be posting or even in contact with any sort of social media (even more happily). The absence of news overload and trending hashtag words like anthem, abuse, shooting or collusion will be a welcome relief. So hold off burning the place down until I get back y’all … just so I can be the first to post about it on Facebook.

In the meanwhile, happy holidays and sùk-sǎn wan krít-mâat.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

MLB rears its hypocritical PC head during World Series

A lot was made this week of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair comparing kneeling NFL players and team ownership after blurting out the common and often used expression, “Inmates running the prison.” (McNair later distanced himself by explaining that he meant players and the NFL Commissioner’s Office)

Many called it racist, reinforcing a stereotype and unfair to lump millionaire NFL players in with domestic abusers, violent felons, drug users, and even murderers walking the penitentiary yard — all criminal character flaws which we know that saintly and law-abiding NFL players have over the years proven to be just plain untrue. 

And Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray Lewis, Josh Gordon, Adam Jones, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook… have a bridge to sell ya.

Anyway, now along comes the World Series and Major League Baseball’s chance to throw shade over the NFL fallout from the kneeling controversy … and they are blowing it. 

Don’t let the exciting fall classic between the Dodgers and Astros fool you. While commissioner Rob Manfred is publicly banging his drum about that tired, age-old PC diversion — doing away with the Indians’ Chief Wahoo mascot — as a smoke signal smokescreen, MLB is sweeping some their own dirty issues under the Astroturf (they still have that at Minute Maid Park right?)

On Saturday, Manfred announced a five-game suspension without pay for Astros slugger Yuli Gurriel after cameras caught the first baseman making a “slant-eyed” gesture and saying the Spanish word “chinito,” a slang term for “little Chinese guy,” in reference to the Japanese-born Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish after hitting a home run.

Manfred’s punishment was quick and decisive.

Too bad it will be served next year at the start of the 2018 season.

Manfred said it was important not to penalize the Astros’ other players for Gurriel’s inappropriate gesture and there was always that roadblock known as appeal but, just like his justification, the punishment was weak and self-serving.

“I felt it was unfair to punish the other 24 players on the Astros roster,” he said. “I wanted the burden of this discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer.”

So, instead of sending a real message to players right now, the whole incident will probably be a forgotten Astro burger by next season.

Gurriel went on to apologize to Darvish, the Astros, the Dodgers, MLB and fans and— more sincerely and likely — secretly thanking the commish. 

Darvish took the higher road and said on social media: 

“No one is perfect. That includes both you and I. What he had done today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, that is a giant step for mankind. Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everyone’s big love.”

Which brings me back to the kneeling.

Bruce Maxwell was the only player in MLB this year to take a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice — which is within his rights. But it seems the Oakland As catcher took it to another level when he used his political stance to claim an Alabama waiter last week denied him service at a restaurant for taking that knee during the anthem. 

Maxwell said the waiter recognized him for being the only MLB player who knelt and then claims that the waiter then said he voted for Donald Trump, supported the President's views and would not serve the athlete before asking the manager to have another server handle the group.

A story the waiter, Matt Henry, says was completely untrue.

“He is outright lying. This is really upsetting as he was given full service, I didn’t even know who Bruce Maxwell was," Henry said.

And now fresh off that public display, Maxwell has been arrested after a female food delivery person alleged he pointed a gun at her.

Scottsdale police said officers went to Maxwell’s home Saturday night after getting a call about a person with a gun. Maxwell was booked on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Now he'll be taking a plea.

I don’t know if the inmates run a prison in the NFL but they just might run the burgeoning asylum in MLB.

Let's see how warden, I mean, commissioner Manfred handles this.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cam Newton gets iced while Jourdan Rodrigue skates free from criticism

The theory that two wrongs don't make a right is especially true if you are Cam Newton but apparently not if you are the other wrong.

Newton, no stranger to criticism after he takes the podium, is being drawn and quartered and sort of put back together after his mean spirited response to Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue at a presser Wednesday afternoon. 

Unless you live in a wi-fi-less cave, you are aware that the Carolina Panthers quarterback's snarky — sinister? — grinning answer to a female NFL beat reporter's question about players' routes was, "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes," with a distinct emphasis on the word "routes."

It definitely was not a good answer and called sexist in most circles.

On the other hand, Rodrigue’s offenses are some nasty tweets dug up by Black Sports Online where the 25 year-old extolled the humor of her father’s “super racist” jokes and used the N-word a few years ago. But not before she called out Newton after the presser and demanded respect face-to-face. 

And while Newton’s seemingly humble and heartfelt apology 24 hours later made him a news and talk show hot topic for another day, Rodrigue’s feeble “I’m sorry” tweet or remarks were barely footnotes in these heated conversations. It was all about Cam and the fallout on him that was quick and costly.

The Dannon Company dropped the NFL star faster than you can say Oikos and before Newton had any chance to explain or apologize. Another sponsor Gatorade also issued a statement Thursday, saying, "Cam's comments were objectionable and disrespectful to all women and they do not reflect the values of our brand.” 

Also piling on Newton were his Panthers front office, the NFL,  ESPN and Sports Illustrated all who blistered Newton to the point he had no choice but to call an audible and make the apology video.

Meanwhile Rodrigue, who has been an NFL reporter since 2016, was set upon a pedestal as some sort of feminist darling and not the racist pariah she just might be as her dirty crumbs got swept under the rug like there was an racist expiration date on the vile posts.

So it begs the question: If Newton's lousy attempt at humor is perceived as sexism, why aren't Rodrigue's equally distasteful remarks and racial slurs seen just as offensive? I'm guessing the media, the NFL and most political groups are all just afraid of the yogurt eaters.

Newton has a history of verbal gaffes and surly behavior at the podium starting with his sometimes colorful and outlandish wardrobe. Whether it’s a twisted sense of humor or plain out disdain for the press, Newton must learn to censure himself when he is the center of attention.

The media has shown a history of crucifying then pink-slipping reporters and sports personalities for their racist remarks — whether the offending words are intentional or just perceived as such and this seems no different.

We all know the stories behind the age-old firings of Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis but just recently, Terry Frei, a sports reporter for the Denver Post, sent a questionable tweet shortly after Japanese race car driver Takuma Sato hailed victory in the Indy 500 over Memorial day and was immediately canned.

Just last year Emily Austen, a 27 year-old Fox Sports reporter, was fired after making insensitive remarks about Mexican, Jewish and Chinese people.

And none of them even used the N-word!

Mike Persinger, Executive Editor of the Charlotte Observer, hinted to BSO that any discipline regarding Rodrigue's tweets would be handled internally — probably meaning we'll never know if there is any at all. She was reportedly at the Panthers training facility on Thursday.

On Thursday, the Pro Football Writers of America condemned Newton's comments, saying in a statement that the NFL player, "crossed the line."

I'm beginning to wonder who draws that line... the media or the sponsors? And maybe there is a second one... a line which represents a double standard.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Could Jersey Girl be behind Aaron Judge slump?

Aaron Judge may not have launched a home run since Aug. 16 against the Mets, but on Saturday night the Yankees slugger was spotted seemingly hitting one out of the park across the street from Citi Field in a couple of other arenas — namely Arthur Ashe Stadium and love.

Judge was shown on the big screen at the U.S. Open during Rafael Nadal's match against Leonardo Mayer after the Yanks beat the Red Sox, 5-1, earlier in the day and, for once lately, he wasn't striking out. In fact the big guy seemed to be going long with an attractive young woman at his side.

The young lady is Jen Flaum, a Franklin Lakes, N.J. native, self-described Yankees fan and recent University of Michigan grad, according to the NY Daily News. It is not known how long the pair have been keeping company.

What is known is that Flaum, whom both Judge and the Yankees(huh?) follow on Instagram recently posted a photo of herself at Yankee Stadium with the caption, "I got 99 problems but A. Judge ain't one."

A post shared by Jen Flaum (@jflaumy) on

Now before anyone jumps to conclusions about Judge's awful slump, stalking or his new companion's effect on his game — the Olivia Munn Curse so to speak — let's allow the relationship to run its natural course. We all know one hit leads to another.

And while Judge may not have have Derek Jeter's five World Series rings, it sure looks like he is learning to play the former Yankee great's notable off-field game.

Wonder if his gift bags come with one of those white wigs and a foam gavel?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Eli Manning and Tom Brady postgame chat has fans thinking of third Super Bowl rematch

Eli Manning and Tom Brady are a couple of NFL warhorses who share a pair of epic Super Bowl match-ups on their distinguished resumes. The two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks also seem to possess a mutual respect for each other after the Giants' two dramatic victories.

Once again they met on the field — albeit a more serene environment — after they both sat out Thursday's preseason finale at Gillette Stadium, but it was their little postgame chat which has fans seeing something bigger.

"I didn't tell you this summer, but congrats on last season on the championship," Manning told Brady in the exchange. "It was awesome. It was a great game. Fun to watch. I'm proud of you."

And it was what was said as the two players headed to their respective Giants and Patriots locker rooms that has fans envisioning a third Super Bowl meeting in the future.

"See you down the road, I hope," Brady said.

"See you down the road," Manning replied.

The two teams do not meet in the regular season leaving only one option at seeing you down the road — meaning Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. 

Talk is cheap but, whether or not you believe Manning's optimism or Brady's sincerity, a third meeting is quite a possibility for the two contending squads.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Chris Christie holds onto nachos while Cubs fan loses his nuts in stadium confrontation

By Tony Mangia

It doesn't really matter if you consider Chris Christie a bully, a blowhard, a traitor, a fathead or — worst of all — a Cowboys fan, you have to admit that, unlike the oozing cheese on a warm tray of nachos, the round mound of New Jersey doesn't melt when the chips are down.

On Sunday the unpopular governor showed that double-wide side when he got in the face of a Chicago Cubs fan during a game in Milwaukee — all while never releasing his precious grip on a bowl of the gooey snack he was carrying.

The nachos-toting Christie was walking down the aisle at Miller Park when a Cubs fan who had nothing better to do than razz the rotund Christie by yelling out at the not-so-hard-to-miss politician.

And his comments had nothing to do with down in front, side, rear or section 215!

So, in his typical brash Jersey style, an intense stare-off between the blustery Guv and suddenly not-so-big-mouthed fan was on. 

“When he initially was going up the stairs I yelled his name,” Cubs jersey-wearing fan Brad Joseph told WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

“He was quite a bit past me, and 30 feet away I yelled his name and told him that he sucked . . . I called him a hypocrite because I thought it needed to be said.”

That's when, according to Joseph, Christie turned back toward him and got in his face while firmly clutching that tray of nachos with one hand.

“First he told me, ‘Why don’t you have another beer?’ which I thought was a decent come back, and I thought that was kind of funny,” he told the station. “Then he started calling me a tough guy.”

Christie, who was at the game visiting his son who works for the Brewers, was also heard on the video sarcastically telling the guy “You’re a big shot!”

While Joseph wilted like a soggy bag of fries on a Seaside Heights boardwalk, Christie kept his all-you-can-eat gaze on the now suddenly timid Cubbie before waddling away. 

Whether suitable or not, politicians should be used to comments in all public areas but, in Christie's case, feedback seems to be off limits when the feedbag is on.