Prince

Standard

Of all the prominent people who have died in the last few months, the one that most shocked me was Prince. Not because I was a huge fan, though I always respected his talents and achievements, but because 57 just seemed too young to die. Not as bad as 27, the age at which Jimi Hendrix and several other musicians died in the late sixties, but still too soon. Reading about him shows that he was even more talented than I knew.
Not only was he a great guitarist, but a great drummer and keyboard player too. He and his musician friends got into the habit of constant practice very early, and he seems to have continued that most of his life.
Not only was he a great instrumentalist, but a great songwriter too. According to the Rolling Stone article, he wrote a song a day for many years. No doubt he didn’t just write, but laid down the tracks too, something he was able to do from before he got his first record contract. The article said he would stay up days at a time and not even eat (he never looked fat–this may be part of the reason why), and quoted him as commenting that when the body realizes it’s not going to get anything the sensation of hunger goes away.
Although he could lay tracks down all by himself, he also put together good bands. I remember seeing a concert film built around his Sign of the Times album, which I found pretty impressive. It turns out not to have been an actual concert, though it seems to have been shot mostly live.
Besides being a great artist, he inspired and supported a lot of other artists, mostly musicians, and mostly African-Americans. Nature had generously given him talents most people can only imagine having. He was generous in his turn, giving people time and attention to help them rise to their potential.
He also listened to a variety of music. James Brown every black musician of that time listened to. One person commented that Prince didn’t just listen to Brown’s greatest hits, though, but to his later music too, some of which he rearranged into songs of his own. I wouldn’t have suspected that Joni Mitchell was one of his favorite musicians to listen to, or that Carlos Santana had influenced his guitar playing even more than Jimi Hendrix, if he hadn’t said so. I saw the video of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps (from more than a decade ago, I think) which he performed after Harrison’s death with Tom Petty and Harrison’s son Dhani. The main body of the song is pretty lugubrious, but at the end Prince takes a solo and tears it up. He finishes, tosses the guitar up in the air, and walks away. I was pretty amazed.
With all his accomplishments, there were hints that he wasn’t too happy. Not because he was particularly unfriendly, according to much testimony, since he threw parties and had after-concert jams, but the Rolling Stone article at least insinuated that he also isolated himself, and that he had abandonment issues after his father threw him out of his apartment in his early teens. Perhaps he feared that if he became too close to musicians in his bands he would be hurt if they left. The insinuation became more plausible when I found out he’d been married twice (I don’t think he publicized it much) and that neither had worked out. After the last one the article said that he’d shut down a large portion of the Paisley Park complex he’d built near Minneapolis. He had had a studio which he’d kept staffed so he could record any time he wanted, but he got rid of the staff and operated it himself when he wanted.
His refusal to eat for days at a time signals possible deep unhappiness too. Anorexia is always a serious problem (possibly even more for males), though it also signifies a powerful will, which Prince obviously had. He seems to have channeled his unhappiness into motivating himself to achieve. To his credit, he certainly did that. It sounds as if there are hundreds of hours of tape in his vaults, at least some of which may be released at some point.
Together with all this, came rumors that he was (or had been) addicted to Percocet. Although he apparently had been very against drugs, he’d been introduced to this one after having double hip replacements, the result of dancing in high-heeled shoes, supposedly. Opioid drugs can be temporary cures for psychic as well as physical pain. The possibility of his addiction and unhappiness was amplified when the results of his autopsy were announced: an accidental overdose of Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is another opioid drug. I’m familiar with it from the nursing home I worked in, where it comes usually in patches that are placed on skin and changed every three days. I don’t know if anyone can definitively say that any overdose is “accidental”, except if the overdose is small. I guess this one was.
I just think it’s a shame that someone who accomplished so much should have been unhappy enough to be tempted by a narcotic. But even those who seem most to be positive forces also experience pain, and sometimes it’s really bad pain. Maybe that’s what Prince experienced. I still wish he’d stayed around longer to produce more great music.

NBA Championship

Standard

Please forgive me while I gloat a little while. Last season the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors met to decide the NBA title. The Warriors eventually prevailed, but I said at the time I thought they were lucky. Kevin Love, one of the Cavaliers’ better players had been hurt in a previous series and couldn’t play. Kyrie Irving, their other star, was hurt in the first game against the Warriors, and was unable to retur Cleveland played well enough to win the first game of the series (but didn’t), then won the next two. At that point though, the Warriors’ superior depth began wearing the Cavaliers down, and they won the final three games pretty easily. But this season was different.
Yes, the Warriors set a record by winning 73 out of 82 regular season games, mostly with the greatest of ease, but the playoffs were different. Before meeting Cleveland the Oklahoma City Thunder gave them a lot of trouble, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Golden State came back and won, but they were probably tired entering the Cleveland series. It didn’t show though in the first four games, of which the Warriors won three. I began watching with the fifth game, which is where the series began turning around.
It’s not unusual for teammates to score twenty or more points apiece. Thirty apiece is less common, but by no means unheard of. But forty points apiece IS virtually unheard of. That’s what James and Irving did to Golden State in the fifth game, which was at Golden State. One observer said he thought that Golden State expected to win that game easily, and weren’t able to adjust when they didn’t.
In the sixth game Irving played well, but not as well as the previous game. James was the transcendent star of the game, scoring some time during the second half eighteen straight points when no one else was scoring for Cleveland. Apparently no one could stop him. He also rebounded, fed teammates for baskets, and blocked shots. The block he made in the seventh game may have been more dramatic because the score was tied at 89 and the game was almost over, but I doubt it was any more skillful than several blocks in game six.
I watched the first half of game seven, then had to go to work, so didn’t get to see much of the second half. It wasn’t like previous games, in which the Cavaliers got off to a big lead and won. The game apparently was close just about all the way to the end. Kyrie Irving hit a three to give Cleveland the lead, and that was when LeBron made the block so many people are talking about to preserve the lead. James ended by leading both teams in scoring, rebounds, assists, blocks, and maybe steals. Not many players have dominated the way he did in this series.
He had led Cleveland to the finals once before, but they simply didn’t have the talent then to compete. He then decided to go to Miami, a decision I didn’t care for, but could understand. He knew what kind of level he was playing on, and wanted to win championships. He won two out of four times there, and evidently learned what it takes for a team to win on the NBA level, seeing both what succeeded and what failed. His return to Cleveland took me by surprise, though.
Some commentators pointed out that his return gave him a lot of power, which is unusual for any athlete, even a professional, to have. That was true, but I think he actually wanted to bring a championship to Cleveland, since he had grown up in that part of Ohio. When he got there Irving was already there (and was probably one of the reasons that persuaded James to return), but there wasn’t a great deal of other talent. More was obtained his first year back, as Cleveland traded its first round pick to get Kevin Love, and management went out and got several role players who contributed. The first season they ran into bad luck, but this year they succeeded.
I remember the last time a Cleveland sports team won a championship. It was in 1964 and I was fifteen. There have been several agonizing near misses since then. At least once the Browns almost won a playoff game, but John Elway took the Denver Bronchoes on a long drive to win. The Cavaliers came close to beating the Chicago Bulls, but Michael Jordan kept that from happening with a basket as time ran out. And the Cleveland Indians went to the World Series twice and lost twice, the second time in extra innings. Their drought wasn’t as long as the Boston Red Sox before 2004 or that of the Chicago Cubs. The difference is that NO Cleveland team won for 52 years. In Boston the Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots all won. In Chicago the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, and White Sox all won. The current edition of the Cleveland Browns has never won (the previous team went to Baltimore and became the Ravens), the Indians haven’t won since 1948, and the Cavaliers had never won before this season. Up until the 1960s Cleveland was a pretty important city, but it has become less important since the steel mills left. So having a championship team is a nice thing for the city. It may not contribute anything of economic substance, but it definitely makes Clevelanders (including those of us who are transplants) feel better.
Will the Cavaliers or any other Cleveland team win another championship any time soon? Probably not immediately, but it’s not impossible. The Indians are currently leading their division, but that doesn’t mean they’re a real contender yet. The Browns seem to be lost, so I wouldn’t expect much from them. But while it’s unusual for any team to repeat, I wouldn’t necessarily count the Cavaliers out of the running the next few years. LeBron James is still at his magesterial best, and probably will be for a few more years. He may decide not to stay with the Cavaliers, but I hope he decides that Cleveland is home. He’s now won three championships (although in seven tries), and I’m sure would like to win at least one or two more. Cleveland may not be his best bet for doing that, but it’s not impossible that they’ll stay good for several more seasons. At least I hope so.

When Jesus Became God

Standard

Bart D. Ehrman, in When Jesus Became God, writes about what we can historically know about Jesus, which isn’t much. That’s because no contemporary records of Jesus have come down to us, and because the books of the New Testament are inconsistent with history that has come down, and with each other.
King Herod didn’t try to kill all the boys two years old and younger in Judea, for instance. There’s a tradition that Jesus and his family visited Egypt that may actually be valid (it goes back pretty far), but if so, that’s not why.
Shepherds or wise men may have visited him after he was born, but not both. According to two Gospels, not either. There does seem to be a tradition in Iran that two (not three) wise men (Magians) visited.
He may have been descended from King David through Joseph (which shouldn’t count if God literally made Mary pregnant), but the two geneologies given in two separate Gospels don’t agree.
He may have been literate, and have studied the Torah, but maybe he just listened to it frequently, and had great insight. The disciples almost certainly were not literate, since they were mostly manual laborers from Galilee, a rural area from which no one important had ever come. All the books of the New Testament were written in Greek, which the disciples may not even have known, and written (beginning with Paul’s epistles) at least two decades after Jesus’s death. The Gospels were written between 35 and 65 years after. This means that the writers had almost certainly never met (or seen) Jesus, and had probably not even met anyone who had. Several oral traditions provided the framework for what was eventually written down, and the above inconsistencies weren’t the only ones. We can pretty much guarantee that things were added. The question is, what in the Gospels actually happened?
Most likely Jesus’s baptism by John the Baptist did happen. John forgave him his sins, and is the superior figure in that story, which is not how later Christians would have preferred to portray him.
Evidently, he was crucified in Jerusalem after getting in trouble with the authorities. That’s also something Christians wouldn’t have boasted about. The rest of the story about his trial and crucifixion don’t add up, though.
In one Gospel he says exactly two words to Pontius Pilate, in another they have an extended dialogue. The former is more likely than the latter, especially since the latter has Pilate saying Jesus was an innocent man. Unlike Jesus, records of Pilate have survived, and he was not a sympathetic character. Ehrman thinks that Judas betrayed Jesus by telling the Romans he called himself King of the Jews. That would be enough to get him crucified for being a potential revolutionary.
The stories of the crucifixion are inconsistent too. In one, Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” In another, he tells the thief crucified beside him that they’ll meet in paradise.
The rest of the story in the Gospels is mostly unlikely too. People usually took longer than a few hours to die, and they were rarely removed from the cross after death. Romans had no concern over Jewish sensibilities about the Passover or the Sabbath, and even if he had been removed from the cross, the story of the tomb is most unlikely too. Jesus isn’t portrayed as being rich, and his family was about 120 miles away. His disciples (also not rich) had run away fearing the Romans would get them too (except for Judas).
So why did the Christian religion begin?
Ehrman thinks it’s because of the resurrection. Not because Jesus died and came back, which wasn’t unheard of. He had brought Lazarus back to life, after all, and various magicians claimed to be able to do the same. But Peter and Mary Magdalene at least (and later, Paul) had had visions of him that convinced them he was somehow still alive. The other stories about him allowing Thomas to put his finger in his wounds and eating a piece of fish seem to be later additions: there was controversy about whether resurrection would be physical or spiritual.
On the other hand, other scholars say that few seem to have believed in the resurrection immediately afterwards. Possibly that too was added to the legend.
This was important because Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, who seems to have really believed that the world as he and the disciples knew it would soon be coming to an end, when it would be replaced by the Kingdom of God, over which he would reign, and his disciples over the Twelve Tribes. By the time the Gospels were written, it must have been apparent this hadn’t happened, and probably wouldn’t. Rome had crushed the rebellion of 66-70 CE. That had changed the world, but hadn’t inaugurated God’s Kingdom as far as anyone could see. Unless the picture people had of the Kingdom of God was entirely erroneous. The Gospel of Thomas has Jesus say, “…the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”
Just why Jesus’s resurrection made not only his disciples, but lots of other people believe he was not only the Messiah, but the Son of God, and eventually equal to God, is unclear. The visions at least some people had of him after his death must have been vivid. Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Paul must have been utterly convinced that what they perceived was real, and there may have been more people than just they. Once they were convinced, the question was, where was Jesus? He was alive after death, but not among them. The next idea was that he had been taken up into heaven.
This wasn’t unprecedented either, since it had happened to Enoch and Elijah. The next question was, what was his role in heaven? Had he been a mortal who had been “adopted” by God? Was he a preexisting angel? The idea that he was the Son of God had some precedent too. Both kings and angels could be Sons of God.
An obsessive process had begun. Christians, even those outside Judaism, as converted by Paul, accepted there was only one God. But if Jesus was God’s Son in the sense of being another version of God, how could there be only one? Did Jesus, while on earth, pray to himself? If he was literally God, how could he fit into a single human body? It would have been simpler to just declare Christianity a polytheism, but instead, Christianity obsessively searched for the correct definition of what Jesus and God were, respectively, and declared each other heretics for any definition that was incorrect. This was bad enough when Christianity was illegal. It became worse when Christianity first became legal under Constantine, then the state religion under Theodosius some eighty years later.
That happened in the fourth century CE, a tumultuous time for Christians. Still trying to get that definition right, the dispute was now whether God and Jesus were of the same or similar substances, a question which seems utterly trivial today, but didn’t then. Eventually Jesus was declared to be of the same substance, to such effect that, as a Jewish writer noted, hardly anyone talks about God the Father anymore, only about Jesus. The disaster of power politics took Christianity over and changed it from its beginning as a religion of love to a religion of power that persecuted its perceived enemies, different only theologically from the Romans who had actually crucified Jesus. Pagan religion was actually usually tolerant, as most forms of religion around the Mediterranean and Middle East had similarities, so that it was easy to see one god as a version of another under a different name. The Jews were disliked because they wouldn’t worship the Emperor as a god, but consented to praying for him. Christians also refused Emperor worship and went so far as to call the gods of the Empire demons. This didn’t make them popular.
The pagans were persecuted more systematically by Christians than Christians had been persecuted by pagans. Jews began to be persecuted by Christians too, only in small ways to begin with, but with pogroms to follow later, and the Holocaust less than a hundred years ago. Anti-Semitism is seen quite early in the New Testament gospels. Jews are blamed first for not accepting Jesus as the Messiah, although he hadn’t done any of the things (like driving the Romans out of Judea and becoming a great king) the Messiah was expected to do. They were also blamed for killing Jesus (though it was actually the Romans) and thus rejecting their own God. They were also blamed for misunderstanding their own religion, which Christians claimed to correctly understand. People will go to absurd lengths to find scapegoats, and Jews became the foremost scapegoats of the next 2,000 years. Heretics and witches weren’t treated much better.
Not all Christians wanted to play the power game. Saint Francis is an example of someone who followed the actual teachings of Jesus, but he was not part of official Christianity.
As interesting as the evolutionary process of Christianity was, there’s another question worth pondering: is there any validity to it? People unwilling to grant any credence to the supernatural will say there is not. This seems almost as narrow-minded as the Church insisting on its own definitions of what is right and wrong, and severely punishing anyone who disagrees. Religious fanaticism seems to have entered history with Christianity, but not all Christians have been fanatics. There have always been believers who were extremely good people from our accounts of them.
In this age in which science has in some ways replaced religion, one of the problems with the supernatural is that it’s difficult to experiment with, and also difficult to replicate any experiments. Historians like Ehrman can’t tell us whether what the religion teaches is valid. They can only tell us what we can know about the time and background of the New Testament. They also can’t tell us why Jesus’s disciples and the followers they converted decided he had been the Son of God. As Ehrman points out, that concept wasn’t entirely unknown to Judaism, and it was a lot more familiar to the pagans whom Paul and others began converting. Ehrman may be right in thinking it was the resurrection, but some of the phenomena described in Acts, as when a large crowd was able to hear what the disciples said in their own languages, or the experience of the love feasts that early Christians celebrated, must have been unusual and powerful. Perhaps people then were more open to describing their experiences as divine or supernatural before the correct theology had been worked out. But if there had been no experience, how did people become converted? Early Christians must have become different enough to make an impression on the people they converted. Part of it may have been that Christians performed good works that pagans usually did not, but it seems unlikely that would be enough. If the supernatural had nothing to do with it, how is Christianity’s popularity (and at a time when Christians could look forward to the possibility of persecution) to be explained?
In recent times science has been identified by many with materialism, often defined as study only of what can be perceived. Science is also identified with use of technology. Neither is of any help in trying to study the supernatural. One thing that might be is the study of the alteration of consciousness, and the significance of the states arrived at. In fact, George Gurdjieff, said of the Sufis that they had taken practices from many different places and accepted those they could verify while rejecting those they could not. That sounds a lot like science to me.
Western science may not accept the supernatural, but there’s little reason to believe that Western science has successfully analyzed all of reality. Ancient religions have described phenomena that sound very much like phenomena Western science has discovered. If that’s true, how did they perceive them?
I find Ehrman’s book fascinating not because it sheds light on any supernatural truths, but because it tells us what we can know historically about a phenomenon we really don’t understand. It’s easy to simply deny any validity to religion, but more challenging to ask how it could be true if it were. That’s a question that doesn’t require one to believe or disbelieve in Jesus, but which may prove enlightening for anyone willing to ask and seek an answer.

OJ Simpson

Standard

I watched the first segment of the OJ Simpson documentary Saturday night and found much to think about. I won’t be able to watch the next episode, and quite possibly none of the others, so I will make do with what the first segment foreshadowed and what I remember about him and what eventually happened.
The background of his rise to prominence was the Watts riots just before his arrival at USC and the radicalization of famous black athletes which intimidated many whites. The basis of his fame was athletic ability, but what made it possible was the unthreatening persona he constructed. I always thought he was a nice guy, which was probably true to some extent, but it never occurred to me to look more deeply. I doubt I could have foreseen what happened, though.
The documentary points out that he was the first black athlete to make widely effective commercials, which appealed to white consumers as well as black ones. He had been in a protected place at Southern Cal, with no necessity to speak about the situation of black people, though he’d certainly experienced it growing up in San Francisco. Some black athletes, like Jim Brown, John Carlos, and Bill Russell, felt it necessary to speak out for the benefit of the black community. Simpson didn’t. His ambitions were for his own benefit.
But he did come across as a nice guy. After leaving USC he went to play for the Buffalo Bills, and endured two years of frustration, until Lou Saban became head coach and built the offense around him. Saban did so by drafting a bunch of offensive linemen, and he seems to have been the one to first suggest that Simpson could gain 2,000 yards rushing in a season, breaking Jim Brown’s single season record. I remember seeing one of those games, and being amazed at one of his runs. When he did break Brown’s record he insisted on including his offensive line in the TV interview after the game. That kind of generosity played well.
The first segment of the show (put together by ESPN) ends with his meeting Nicole Brown, white and only 18 years old when Simpson was about thirty. They liked each other immediately, he divorced his first wife, and they married. He had already begun acting, not only in commercials, but also movies. He was a success, having achieved most, if not all, of his ambitions. He didn’t want to be judged by the color of his skin, and it has been suggested that he came to not even think of himself as black. Unfortunately, others hadn’t forgotten.
In some short searches I can’t find any reference to his use of cocaine, but I certainly seem to remember hearing that he had. If that’s true, it may explain why Nicole Brown Simpson fell out of love with him. Cocaine, like other drugs, is a way to blot out uncomfortable feelings, but it doesn’t do so perfectly. It can provoke the user to violence, and parts of the first segment seem to say that Simpson abused his wife. If so, no wonder she began to fear him, and their marriage eventually ended. One of his important ambitions had thus been realized, and then surrendered.
It’s possible that Simpson was in fact innocent of the murders, but the fact remains that he had plenty of motivation to commit them, and his behavior that led to the famous televised car chase suggests that he was feeling guilty and devastated. I hoped that he was innocent, and of course he was acquitted, but many people were sure he was guilty, and a lot of them were white.
One piece about him tells how the author asked a black couple if they thought Simpson was guilty. The man said he was, but that if he were in the jury he would vote for acquittal. Why would he say that? Was it because he had some notion of Simpson’s difficulty in “passing” as an unthreatening black man (something any black man has to do in this society) and sympathized, even if he couldn’t condone his actions?
In any case, the trial ended his love affair with white society, which now saw him as threatening, not only because of the murders (of which he was not unequivocally proven guilty), but because he had gotten away with it. It’s okay for whites to get away with bad behavior, but not for blacks, especially blacks married to white women whom they may have killed.
His later armed robbery of his sports memorabilia shows that his judgment hadn’t improved in the years since the trial, and I suspect he felt bitter too. He had fallen in love twice: with his wife and with white society, and had been rejected twice. He must have been very unhappy to try to repair his situation with armed robbery, and I doubt he’s any happier now.
It occurs to me that his case is very similar to that of Bill Cosby. There were a number of black comedians who became prominent in the 1960s, including Godfrey Cambridge, Dick Gregory, and Flip Wilson, but Cosby was the most popular of them all (and had the longest career), and I suggest that a lot of his success came from his ability to, like Simpson, construct a persona that was unthreatening to whites. I was shocked to hear the allegations of drugging and rape, and would have preferred not to believe them, but there were too many going back too many years to ignore. I can only believe that he is guilty, and expect that he’ll eventually spend some time in prison. His wealth will protect him from some of the punishment, but I doubt it will deflect it entirely.
How are we to understand what these two men did? Probably that both were very angry. This can hardly be surprising because of the long history of persecution of blacks in this country, which has somewhat lessened in the past fifty years, but not a great deal. Black people can hardly help being angry, though they’re expected to pretend otherwise, unless they want to be punished. Simpson and Cosby especially must have buried their anger pretty deeply. Perhaps Simpson’s was less deeply buried, so that when his anger came out, it erupted in violence. Cosby’s anger must have been more controlled. He must have had some expectation that he would never be punished for what he did, and certainly he’s gotten away with it for decades.
Many whites seem to assume that unless blacks are repressed they won’t fail to take revenge on whites who have been mistreating them for hundreds of years. It seems obvious to think that those who hate will be repaid with hatred, so that continuing to hate will only make the adjustment more violent when it comes. But few seem to want to repair the rupture between black and white. Many continue to believe that black people are inherently evil, and that what Simpson and Cosby did are examples that prove it, but the fact is that such things have occurred on the other side of the racial divide. James Hammond is one of many examples.
Hammond was one of South Carolina’s prominent politicians in the decades before the Civil War, and was one of the voices adamantly calling for secession. He also owned several large plantations with more than 300 slaves. At one point he bought a 21 year old slave woman with whom he slept until her daughter (a year old when he bought her) was 12, when he began sleeping with her instead. His wife (whom he seems to have married primarily in order to inherit the plantation from her father) discovered his behavior and confronted him, telling him to choose between her and his slave women. He chose the slave women, and was separated from his wife for five years, but she returned to him. He also was guilty of sexual behavior with four young girls related to one of the most powerful of the plantation owners in the old South. He blamed them for the behavior, and none of them ever married. He also replied to a northern critic of the South, who accused slave owners of taking advantage of the female slaves, by saying the person had a vivid imagination, although he knew better.
We know about Hammond because of his prominence. Was he an anomaly? Were slave owners generally better behaved than he? An English woman visiting in the South in the 1840s later wrote that it was obvious that the plantation owners were sleeping with the slave women, and that their wives were refusing to acknowledge the situation. Remember too how many black men got lynched after the Civil War well into the twentieth century because of suspicion that they had raped, or merely lusted after white women. As bad as Simpson and Cosby’s behavior was, they had plenty of precedent from white behavior.
It’s amazing to think how a person could have adjusted to being kidnapped from another continent, stuffed into a ship in which he or she could neither sit nor lie down nor have any sanitary way to urinate or move their bowels, be forced to stand naked at the slave market for potential owners to view, be harshly punished by people who didn’t even know their language, and forced to work for many hours each day. Many black people probably have little conscious knowledge of what their ancestors endured, but I would almost think such experiences must have been engraved on their DNA, to say nothing of being reinforced by unjust punishments since the time of slavery. For many it’s not politically correct to talk this way about race, but few of our white ancestors had as much to overcome. It’s easy for some to blame the victims.
It’s a shame that Simpson and Cosby apparently did what they’ve been accused of doing. It’s also a shame that blacks in particular have so many negative stereotypes to overcome. Both men seemed to have overcome them, but ultimately had not. Both seemed benign, but concealed depths of frustration and resentment. Others climb mountains and fall too, but to me these cases seem more excruciating. I rooted for both, and was disappointed.