Thursday, June 30, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/16: The Waiting, Supreme Court Podcast, Bobby Tolan's Son Got Shot

1. I arrived at the Greenbelt Imaging Center and suddenly I remembered. This place is home to the hell wait -- the Deke came here for some pictures to be taken earlier in the year and it took forever for her to get in. Once I realized this, I surrendered. I counted myself fortunate that I was not on any kind of a tight schedule and figured I could read a lot of the February 29, 2016 issue of New Yorker I found in the waiting room while I waited.  I was right! After about an hour of reading Jeffrey Toobin's eulogy of Justice Antonin Scalia, reading Anthony Lane's review of The Witch, and getting about half way through Evan Osnos' profile of South Chicago's famous priest, Father Michael Pfleger,  the CT scan guy called three of us into a second waiting area where I read Sports Illustrated's account of Jordan Spieth's lousy back nine at the 2016 Masters and about the time Spieth splashed his penalty shot into Rae's Creek on the 12th hole on his way to quadruple-bogey 7, I got called in to the CT scan room and everything went fine and my doctor should receive a report Thursday or Friday.

2. A day or two ago, I discovered that Radiolab now has a spin-off series called More Perfect which focuses on stories about the Supreme Court. Today I listened to an episode entitled, "The Political Thicket". It examined the 1962 redistricting case, Baker v Carr. The case cost the court two members. Charles E. Whitaker suffered a nervous breakdown (and never voted on the case) and resigned and Felix Frankfurter, after the court ruled against his position, suffered a massive stroke and never heard another case. Chief Justice Earl Warren, reflecting back on his career, called Baker v Carr the most important case of his tenure. This podcast examines what, in terms of judicial philosophy, was at stake in Baker v Carr and examines the backgrounds of William O. Douglas, his chief rival, Frankfurter, and the justice caught between them, Charles E. Whitaker. If you'd like to listen to this podcast yourself, just go here -- and note that some commenters on this episode were upset that the episode features some profanity.

Just for the record, to fill the two vacancies, Pres. Kennedy appointed Byron White and Arthur Goldberg to the Supreme Court.

(I wish someone could answer this question for me:  Was Arthur Goldberg the commencement speaker when our class graduated from Whitworth in 1976? I vaguely remember that he was, but after some searching, I couldn't find a way at my fingertips to verify my hazy memory.)

3.  I dove deeper into the podcast pool this evening, and of all things, I found myself immersed in the life of a former Major League Baseball player whose baseball card I once owned and who had a solid season in 1970, helping catapult the pre-Big Red Machine Reds* into the 1970 World Series where they lost to the Orioles in five games, a World Series that featured the Orioles' Brooks Robinson making some of baseball history's most mind boggling and gorgeous plays at third base.

My discovery of Bobby Tolan's family's traumatic experience in 2008 began when I decided to listen to one of my favorite of all podcasts, The Big Listen. It's a production of Washington, D. C.'s local NPR station, WAMU-FM, hosted by Lauren Ober, and is a podcast about podcasts. Ober interviews podcasters, solicits recommendations of podcasts from listeners, reviews podcasts, and plays clips from the podcasts of people she interviews.

This evening, I listened to Episode 8, "The CSI Podcast". It focused on true crime podcasts, found here.

Lauren Ober interviewed Lauren Spohrer and Phoebe Judge, the two creators of Criminal, a podcast about true crimes.

And, suddenly, thanks to this podcast, I discovered that on New Year's Eve, 2008, Bobby Tolan's unarmed son, Robby, was shot in the chest in the family's front yard by a police officer who suspected Robby of having stolen a car. Robby Tolan survived the gunshot wound, but the incident kicked into gear a series of court hearings that lasted for seven years, including a ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court. In fact, when this podcast episode, entitled, "695BGK" was produced, the case had not yet reached its conclusion and I searched Google to find out what the ultimate resolution was when the dust finally settled this past September.

(Coincidentally, and this is not mentioned in the podcast, on this same night, as December 31, 2008 became January 1, 2009, unarmed Oscar Grant III was killed by a BART officer at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, and this story was the subject of the heartbreaking movie, Fruitvale Station.)

* I tried to remember on my own who started for the 1970 Cincinnati Reds. I knew Big Red Machine stalwarts  Ken Griffey, George Foster, Caesar Geronimo, and Joe Morgan were not on this team, and I remembered that Lee May played 1st base and that Tony Perez was still a third baseman in 1970.  If you'd like a reminder of who was on this team, it featured:

Manager: Sparky Anderson -- his first year as a MLB manager. These Reds won 102 regular season games. It was quite a start to Sparky's Hall of Fame managing career.

C Johnny Bench (who hit 45 homers and knocked in 148 runs in 1970)
1B Lee May
2B Tommy Helms
SS Dave Concepcion
3B Tony Perez
LF Bernie Carbo
CF Bobby Tolan
RF Pete Rose
Pinch Hitter and sometimes starter:  Hal McRae

The pitching staff included Wayne Simpson, Gary Nolan, Jim Merritt, Jim McGlothlin, Tony Cloninger, Whitworth grad Ray Washburn, Pedro Borbon, Don Gullet, Clay Carroll, and others.

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