Get over it and fight back

St. Louis Rams merchandise has become St. Louis Rams memorabilia.  Look for big markdowns in sporting goods stores for jerseys that say “Gurley” on the back.  Don’t bother calling Stan Kroenke and the National Football League all kinds of nasty names. They don’t care and while you’re thinking up creative new epithets to apply to the situation, time is a-wasting. 

Mayor Slay wants to pout and says he’s through with the NFL.  And Offensive Line Coach Nixon says the league talks out of both sides of its mouth.  Get over it.  There are worse things than hearing the NFL say St. Louis is not an NFL town.  One of the worse things is accepting it.  There’s got to be a better answer to the NFL blasting St. Louis as “inadequate” than saying “am not!”

There’s a line in Meredith Willson’s Broadway musical of years ago, The Unsinkable Molly Brown “Nobody wants me down as much as I wants me up.”

St. Louis will survive and thrive without a pro football team. They’ve done it before.

But if St. Louis wants a replacement NFL team, it has to regroup immediately and be aggressive.  And go get the Oakland Raiders.  

The Raiders are the odd man out in the Los Angeles sweepstakes. They probably feel bruised, too. Speculation already is being offered that the Raiders will move to San Diego to replace the Chargers, who are likely to become Kroenke’s alternate-weekend tenants in his new stadium in a Los Angeles suburb.  St. Louis needs to nip that San Diego talk in the bud. After all, the NFL has dissed San Diego, too,. And there are all kinds of good reasons fans should be going to St. Louis Raiders games sometime in the future and some good reasons why the Raiders should want to play in St. Louis.

We know the Raiders don’t want to be in Oakland.  Heck, they’ve already left it once to go to Los Angeles from 1982-1994 and (believe it or not) decided to return to Oakland.  So we know the Raiders have shallow roots.  They also share a stadium with the Oakland Athletics, a team that once was the Philadelphia Athletics before they were the Kansas City Athletics and then the Oakland Athletics.  And the city of Oakland has refused to commit any taxpayer funds for a new football stadium.

Think of some other NFL history.  Think of the great Chiefs-Raiders rivalry.  Think of the marketing opportunities that could come if that rivalry was a cross-state rivalry that would make the annual Governor’s Cup competition TWO regular season, inter-divisional contests, not just an exhibition game.   

Stadium?  St. Louis already has one. It’s domed so the first Chiefs-Raiders game could be played in the sunshine early in the NFL season in Kansas City and the second one could be played as a season-concluding, everything is on the line on a frigid day game—indoors. 

Remember that Stan Kroenke felt the dome could be a top-tier stadium worthy of keeping the Rams in St. Louis if it got a $700-million upgrade, which now looks like an offer that shouldn’t have been refused.  So instead of the Raiders moving to Los Angeles to play in a $1.9-billion dollar stadium they wouldn’t be able to call their own, they could move into the domed stadium in St. Louis that would be upgraded to top-tier quality and they would be the only football  tenants.  And St. Louis can be an NFL city again with a Kroenke-certified top-tier facility for a price that is in NFL terms reasonably sane, not the financial disaster Kroenke claimed the riverside stadium would be.  

The team could keep its “Raiders” name because it would be appropriate to St. Louis.  Let’s not forget that Lambert-St. Louis Airport was once a world-class airport until a corporate RAIDER named Carl Icahn got his hands on TWA and messed around with it until TWA disappeared into American Airlines and the St. Louis hub just disappeared.  Don’t forget that some folks in Los Angeles might think of St. Louis as a city that pulled a raid on LA and took the Rams away to begin with.  We could probably find other examples of raids (including prohibition times in the city once called “Anheuserville” by some critics).   

 ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, who covered the Raiders for eight years, says the NFL has declared San Diego and St. Louis “non-viable” for an NFL team (which might preclude the Raiders from moving to San Diego if the NFL is consistent).  He suggests San Antonio and Portland, Oregon might take a run at the Raiders.  But the “non-viability” of St. Louis  was based on comparisons to Los Angeles and the St. Louis plans for a new stadium that raised questions about financial viability from the NFL.  But if Oakland WANTS to move to St. Louis to play in a stadium renovated the way Stan Kroenke would have found acceptable—-well, we know the NFL is sometimes not a synonym for “consistency.” 

Don’t waste time crying in your foreign-owned beer, St. Louis.  Regroup.  Raid the Raiders. Convince them you’re much better than what they have and what they get can continue to improve.  And start squirreling away cash for the entirely new stadium you know will have to be built someday. 

IF, however, the name of the game is to spend an INSANE amount of money for a new stadium, then do something that fits with the city’s history and spreads the costs around.  Such as?

A new stadium OVER the Mississippi River, not next to it.  

Don’t bloody your nose snorting over this “impossible” idea.  One hundred and forty years ago or so, there were plenty of people who told James B. Eads that his idea of a bridge over the Mississippi of the kind he proposed to build was impossible.  Eads, not being an engineer, saw no reason to listen to his critics.   His impossible idea is now one of the symbols of St. Louis. 

There was a time when the idea of building a 630-foot stainless steel arch on the riverfront was ridiculed.   Yet, there it is and the city and the federal government are spending a lot of money to rehab it and the area around it.  It has turned an eyesore of a riverfront into one of the world’s great entrances to a city.  

A stadium over the river.  It would never work, you say, because it would weigh too much.  Not if you built it out of carbon fiber and industrial grade aluminum (if industrial grade aluminum is good enough for the Ford F-150 built in Kansas City, it’s good enough for a footballs stadium at St. Louis) or titanium.  What an engineering marvel that would be!   What an international symbol of a city forging a new technological identity in the 21st century it could become!  

The Eads Bridge is a 19th century symbol.  The arch represents the 20th century.  The stadium over the river would say so much about the 21st century people that we are, and it would be right in the middle of the nation, a draw for thousands, maybe millions of people, to see and visit on the other 41 weekends a year. 

Why build it over the river?  To spread the costs around.  Think of the Stan Musial Bridge.  Missouri didn’t pay for all of it.  Illinois paid for some of it.  Another Missouri-Illinois project that could lead to immense economic development on both sides of the river would revitalize both St. Louises and their surrounding areas would offer economic opportunities that would make the Lumiere Place and the Alton Belle casinos look like penny arcades when it comes to economic benefits. 

Need an example?  The Kansas Speedway has been a huge economic development success just across the border from Kansas City.  And every time something new happens in that area there should be increased embarrassment on the Missouri side because our legislature had a chance to provide incentives for that track to be built near the Kansas City airport.  Legislative shortsightedness cost Missouri big-time then. St. Louis suffered the same disorder with the Rams (the same way it did with the Football Cardinals).  Time to get a new prescription.    

Sure, you’d have to consider what would happen in flood times.  But that’s an easily-addressed matter, really.  This is a time for boldness, not bruised egos.  Floods?  A small, occasional annoyance.  They can be dealt with.   

It’s halftime and St. Louis trails but the game is not necessarily over.  Coach Slay and offensive line coach Nixon need a stirring clubhouse speech. 

“There’s no time to sit around licking wounds.  They’ll heal anyway.  Get a couple of stitches, put a piece of tape over it, put the helmet back on, and get out there.  We aren’t playing for tie and we’re not going to accept a loss.” 

In the end, the city still might be on the short end of the fight but there’s no dignity in getting knocked down and deciding to pout on the canvas instead of getting up to punch back.


Time in a capsule

An email arrived at the Missourinet from Arcola, Illinois a few weeks ago.

I wanted to get a message to Robert A. Priddy and tracked him down to this website. Today I found a message Bob left in a 1916 issue of the archived Arcola Record Herald newspaper. The message was written in 1961 when Bob was working there over the summer. The note said he was home for summer from University of Missouri. The message said, “The last person to gaze upon this page was I, on this day, July 13, 1961.” Just wanted to let him know I found it and left it there but added my own message for the next person to find.

Thanks, Nancy Rairden, Arcola, IL

Nancy Rairden on April 17 had opened a little time capsule I didn’t realize that I had created a long time ago. The Arcola Record-Herald is a weekly newspaper in a small town south of Champaign and about half an hour from my small home town of Sullivan.  An graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Harry Stonecipher, was the owner of the paper then and as a member of the fabled “Missouri Mafia” had hired the college kid who walked into the office one day hoping to get some experience in a newspaper office before starting his journalism classes that fall at the University of Missouri.  One of my jobs was to compile the weekly historical column—you know, the 10, 25, 50 years ago thing.  I don’t recall why I was looking at only 45 years.  Maybe we didn’t do 50.

The note left in the 1916 bound volume had been long forgotten.  But since getting Nancy’s message, I seem to recall putting the note there and wondering when the next time would be that somebody would be reading the newspaper from so long ago.  Now I know. Fifty-four years.

All I had said was that I had been there.  Time capsules are kind of like that.  “We were here,” they say to the unknown figures who will open them decades later.  That’s the basic message in all of them.


The big copper box installed in the state capitol cornerstone was removed the other day and will be opened before the centennial observance on July 3 of the cornerstone laying a century ago.

Organizers of the centennial event think they’ll draw a better crowd and the event will be better-staged if it’s held in conjunction with Independence Day activities in Jefferson City. The old things won’t be put into the new time capsule that will be placed somewhere in the Capitol, probably, not back in the cornerstone.

New stuff will be put in the new capsule and the old materials will be cared for by the state archives after being displayed for a while.  As this is written, we don’t know specifically what’s in that box. We do know there were some newspapers and a book of Missouri history and a copy of the bill authorizing the bonds for the new Capitol.  But the folks who lifted the box out of the cornerstone thought it weighed about sixty pounds, indicating there’s a lot more than those things in there.  It will be opened in a sterile state health lab in case any dangerous mold has grown inside it.

The actual cornerstone laying date was June 24, 1915, a huge event in Jefferson City. The centennial of the event is unlikely to attract the kind of crowd that gathered a century ago although it would be nice to see a good-sized gathering.

The state is asking Missourians to suggest what should go into the new time capsule, which gives rise to a discussion about why we have them. If you could put something into the new Capitol time capsule, to be found 100 years from now, what would you put in it?  If you could leave a message for your Missourian descendants to read in 2115, what would you tell them?

In one form or another, you would say to them, “I was here.  I was as alive as you are now.”  Even if it is only a note that says I was the last person to look at this page of this bound volume of old newspapers until you came along, that’s the basis for what we would put into a time capsule.

Sometimes families create their own.  A friend many years ago bought a couple of trunks, one for each of their children, and put things in them from the family’s past and the then-present future.  The trunks are to be opened in fifty or a hundred years by descendants these folks will not live to see.

Sometimes the time capsule is nothing more than a shoe box given by one generation to another to just hang onto because it has some things in it that the giver considered important to them.

Some people in Georgia in 1940 created the Crypt of Civilization.  If the wishes of the creators are carried out, it won’t be opened until 8113.  By someone.  Or some thing.  Pessimists and Optimists alike might wonder if it ever will be opened because by then mankind, or whatever mankind has become, will have fled the dead, contaminated, resource-depleted earth for a habitable planet light years away.  At the same time, the mere presence of the Crypt of Civilization makes one want to be there when it’s opened just to see what life is or what life is like in 5998 years.

What’s in it?  Microfilm.  About 800 books including several novels show everything from the way we amused ourselves to humankind’s historical record to descriptions of our industries, our medical procedures, patent documents, sound movies of great men and women, recordings (on record) of important speeches made on the radio (radio did a lot of that then—speeches, not just talk)—even what one source calls “an apparatus for teaching the English language.”  Who knows what people will be speaking in 8113?  Seeds of flowers and trees and vegetables and other plants are in there. All of this is in a room ten feet high, ten feet wide, and twenty feet long under Phoebe Hearst Hall at Ogelthorpe University in Brookhaven, Georgia.  (Phoebe Apperson Hearst was a Missouri girl who married a California miner and became one of the world’s wealthiest women.  She was a great philanthropist and the mother of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.)

Organizers of the crypt hope it survives six millennia.  It is lined with porcelain enamel plates embedded in pitch, is sitting on bedrock and has two feet of stone above it.  A big stainless steel door has been welded shut.

Amazing.   But will the beings that open the crypt in 8113 have the technology to play the records. Will they have 35 mm sound film projectors?  Will the microfilm survive or will it have turned to jelly?  We know from the ancient Egyptian tombs that seeds can survive thousands of years.  But will Hearst Hall?  Or Ogelthorpe University?  Or Georgia?   Or the earth?

Time capsules are best if not boastful of the generation they seek to preserve. Instead, it is best that they reach out to those who will come after, leaving a record of a moment in time and a presence.  We may be proud of what we are today but we know that what we consider modern will be antiquated by the year the capsule is opened and that’s okay. We have left a record that says, “We got this far in 2015.”

In 8113, someone or some thing might discover the Crypt of Civilization and will know that Twentieth Century Homo Sapiens reached out to them and tried to leave something more substantial behind (perhaps) than Mount Rushmore’s by-then weathered faces that said, “We were here.  And in our time we were thinking, creative creatures.”

And, oh, how we wish we could see your world in 8113 when the capsule is found. .

The Missouri Capitol time capsule will be a message from 2015 to the great-great-grandchildren of this generation.  It’s a lot easier to be confident there will be people here in 2115 than it is to imagine how the Crypt of Civilization will be opened or by whom. And what should we say to those to open our time capsule?  Maybe something like—

We who think we are advanced today nonetheless recognize that we live in an imperfect world, one that is too much divided, too often ridden with greed, fear, hate, and quests for power, We recognize that we as Americans and Missourians have retreated from an era in which nothing seemed impossible, even walking on and exploring the Moon, to an era where we look inward, guarding ourselves against the perceived evils of those who are different—as mankind has done for eons.  We live in a world where we have friends on the other side of the earth but do not know the names of our next-door neighbors.  But beneath it all, we have hope and in clinging to hope we make painfully slow progress in resolving the issues that divide and therefore limit us.   We hope that a century from now that wisdom and peace are more certain parts of life, that bigotry toward some is no longer masked as the protection of rights for others, that rediscovered and vigorously exercised voter responsibility has long ago replaced the deleterious effects of term limits on our political system, that you still value and protect the outdoors as a breathing place for the public lungs, a place  where the different species that give beauty and perspective to our own existence still flourish, and where the sights and sounds of running streams still calm a stressed spirit.  We hope that a century of medical and scientific developments have destroyed diseases that lessen and shorten life, and that society has found a way to make longer lives valuable and beneficial to those who live them. We hope children and families are no longer uncertain about their next meal, their opportunity for education, their chances for meaningful work and loving families, the safety of their streets and homes. We hope this great building remains the Temple of Democracy that its designers and builders intended for it to be, the symbol of the best that we can be to one another, a structure symbolizing the hope that all may share for fruitful lives.  Our generation has sometimes let the building fall into a disrepair that regretfully represents our state as a place of sometimes unmet needs, unfulfilled responsibilities, ignored conditions, and reduced hopes. We hope your generation honors and strives for the good that this building represents. We hope that you have learned the virtue of looking outside yourselves, and that Americans have again discovered the spirit that nothing seems impossible.

There would have to be a theme of optimism in our message, wouldn’t there?   If there isn’t, why would we want to send a message to the future?    And if we do send one, why can’t we begin to live it now?


When the little hand is on the 4

We bet some of you still have a Big Ben alarm clock. Some of you probably still use it. Those suckers are loud!   Some folks put them on a dresser across the room so they’d have time to calm down before they got to it to turn off the alarm.   We wonder if the company ever calculated how many of its clocks were bought as replacements for ones that went off next to a bedside and met an untimely (to coin a phrase) end when thrown against the wall.

Our oldest granddaughter had a birthday the other day. Six. She’s starting to read books with chapters. And her parents decided it’s time she learned about time.   As in telling it.

So Nancy found a nice little bedside alarm clock that would do the trick and we sent it to Colorado in time for the birthday. Round. Numbers in a circle 1-12. Hour hand. Minute hand. Alarm hand. It’s modern because it uses a battery and does have a little handle on the back to wind it. It’s not a Big Ben. We want her to have a normal childhood, not go from sound sleep to stunned wakefulness in the blink of an eye.

Nancy, being a thoughtful consumer, read some of the reviews posted on the internet. Some were good. Some were less than mediocre. But they said something about today’s culture. And they are filled with “duh” moments.

One person was in a real pickle because the clock has “no am/pm specification…Example: set it for 7 a.m.. Put kids to bed at 7 p.m. alarm sounds at 7 p.m.. Must be turned on each night.”   In other words, it had no 24-hour option or it had no switch that said AM or PM.

Look, friend, it does, too, have a 24-hour function. The hands go around twice in 24 hours and the consumers are expected to be aware enough of the world around them to know whether it’s AM or PM. Sheesh!

Another reviewer, probably of the same generation, complained, “Does this alarm clock have an AM and PM button. Alarm goes off both times. All is Chinese so can’t make head or tail of it.”

No, it doesn’t have an AM-PM button. See the previous paragraph.

As for the grave problem of not being able to read Chinese directions, one person insightfully responded, “You don’t need to read directions to put some batteries in and figure out how to set the clock and alarm.” Frankly, we’ve seen some products that come with directions that are not in Chinese or any other language. We just get drawings that are supposed to show us how to do something. Supposed to.

These adults of the digital age are precisely the reason why our granddaughter is getting an old-fashioned alarm clock. She needs to do more than read a digital readout. She needs to be able to tell time.   The alarm goes off at waking-up time.   Before you go to bed at night, presumably somewhat more than twelve hours later, you turn the alarm back on. This little clock not only will tell our granddaughter how to tell time, it will encourage her to THINK and remember to do something when she goes to bed—turn on the alarm clock when she’s old enough to need an alarm.

Mankind existed for hundreds of years with clocks that did not have AM/PM switches. For millions of human being AM meant the sun was in the east. PM meant the sun was in the west. If the sun is in the west and you want to wake up when the sun is in the east, turn on the alarm.

Some of you probably worry that the increasing reliance on the digital world is leading to the extinction of common sense. I guess we’re giving you more ammunition today.

Do you suppose there are people who can figure out how to program their VCR and their digital clocks but are baffled by little knobs on the back of an analog bedside clock? Apparently there are.

Our longtime friend and fellow broadcaster Derry Brownfield, who died a little more than four years ago, would have read these concerns, would have shaken his head, and muttered one of his favorite phrases, “ignorance gone to seed.” He sometimes felt ignorance was a penalty we pay for progress.

Derry, incidentally, was just the opposite of these poor puzzled people. He could never figure out these digital clock things. When he was doing his talk show in the studio just off the Missourinet newsroom, he had a big round wall clock with the numbers 1-12 in a circle, little hand, big hand, and red second hand. He had pieces of paper taped to the rim of the clock next to some of the numbers. When the big hand was on the 4 and the second hand was on the 12, it was time for a commercial. When the big hand was on the six and the red second hand was straight up, it was time for a station break. And so forth.

And Derry could look out a window and tell if it was AM or PM.