Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 08/23/16: Moderate Heat, Wooden's Limitations, Back to WAMU

1.  It's been really good to have the weather cool off a bit so that I didn't return to the heat wave that has plagued this area.

2. By the time I went to sleep on Tuesday night, I had finished Seth Davis' superb and enjoyable biography of the former UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden entitled Wooden: A Coach's Life.  It's an even handed biography.  Because Wooden's coaching record is so stellar and his impact on college basketball so immense and because his reputation as a saintly figure lies so deeply in the very soul of the John Wooden myth, it's easy to regard Wooden as more an angel than a man. But, Seth Davis helps us see that he was both admirable and deeply flawed, even a cold man, who was widely, but not universally, admired.  The blessing of Wooden's longevity -- he lived to be ninety-nine years old -- was that his heart softened and his disposition grew warmer as he aged and Davis' book takes us into the many reconciliations that transpired between Wooden and several of his former players in the winter of Wooden's life.  I was relieved, in reading this book, to learn that John Wooden was not a saint, even though it was painful to learn about his limitations and the painful impact his aloofness and sometimes unbending will had on others.  If you are a strong admirer of John Wooden, will this book disillusion you?  I doubt it. It simply does what good biographies do: it helps us see that no person, no matter how successful or admirable, is immune from his or her own imperfections and limitations.

3.  I was away from Maryland from July 3 to August 22, about seven weeks, and I missed life here in the D. C. area. Today, I tuned back into WAMU-FM, the local NPR station, and it was a comfort to hear the local radio people, to begin to get familiar again with things going on in Washington, D.C. -- for example, Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed an interim police chief to replace longtime chief, Cathy Lanier, who stepped down to accept the NFL's offer to become the league's Senior Vice-President of Security.  Stories like this are distant when I am in Idaho, but once back in Maryland and the D. C. suburbs, they are immediate and riveting.

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