Friday, September 26, 2008

Thoughts for 5769

If the Mets annual September swoon continues and they don't make the playoffs - Sunday will mark the final game at Shea Stadium. And as we say goodbye to the site of so much happiness in '69 on Sunday.... on Monday Night, we will say hello to another '69.... 5769!!

I like welcoming in the new as we say goodbye to the old. Yankee Stadium had its big closing party last weekend with an event that even the Mets fans enjoyed. Next season they move to the New Stadium across the street, although can you imagine the embarassment if the new stadium is not ready and they have to go back to the old one after that grand goodbye party?

I thought it was odd they made such a big deal about Bernie Williams grand return since he departed with a big chip on his shoulder and his "letting go" of that chip should not have overshadowed the historical implication of the final game at The House That Ruth Built that will be replaced by The House That The Taxpayers Built. To me, THE highlight of the evening was the "copied from the All Star Game" gathering of players and their families in the very spot that those stars roamed for all those many years. CF seems to be the big position for the Yankees starting with Joe DiMaggio and culminating with the 4 World Series won by Williams. But the moment that I thought was the best... better than The Willie Randolph slide and better than Yogi standing behind home plate in that vintage uniform.... took place in centerfield when the son of Mickey Mantle embraced the recently widowed wife of Bobby Murcer in a comforting gesture at a moment that surely was emotionally quite overwhelming.

The Mets probably can't top that and if they can make the playoffs it will be hard to plan in advance for when the final Shea game will take place. Nonetheless, the regular finale is Sunday and it will be nice to see Tom Seaver and hopefully Mike Piazza among others who excelled at Shea. I'm not sure about the first pitch for Sunday - how do you top the 90-something year old daughter of Babe Ruth? - but maybe Ralph Kiner who has been with the Mets as an announcer since Day One might be a good pick; he is probably the only person who has bridged the gap from Day One to 2008.

Hopefully there won't be any one game playoff Monday so I can enjoy Rosh Hashanah without any baseball distractions. I have heard that a lot of Conservative Rabbis will be addressing The Agriprocessors situation in their High Holy Day sermons, as this kosher food supplier company seems to be the polarizing issue between the Ultra Orthodox who blindly support the Ultra owners of that company, and the rest of us who are disgusted and embarrased by what has been going on there.

Agriprocessors, in Iowa manufactures what we see in the stores as The Aarons/Rubashkin meats. They were caught in a bust a few months ago for having hundreds of illegal and underage workers in their slaughtering facility. And the subsequent reactions to this news, which has led to approximately 9000 chargese seems to be a good starting point for this years New Years column.

With the election coming up shortly, I am very bothered by The Christian Right Wingers who want to impose their religious beleifs on everyone else. Exhibit A is that incredibly hot Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. But beneath that va va voom and those little eyeglasses is a lifestyle that she and her other right wingers feel should be imposed on All Americans...such as laws to deprive rape victims the right to "choose". Thankfully, my ultra orthodox Jewish brethren are not missionaries, and do not try to convert people from other religions. They only want to see that other Jews become more observant, and God bless them for it! Their incredible work has kept Judaism alive and cut down on attrition due to intermarriage. They really do a terrific job. They only take issue with other religions whose morals allow the acceptability of advertising billboards with sexy cleavagey babes posted on highways where their young boys can accidentally get their first post nursing glimpse of gasp - boobies! But while a bustline is a no no, why is the Iowa bust ok?

I actually knew a very religious Christian woman who found out about the death of one of my relatives and sweetly and sincerely asked me if this person accepted Jesus prior to leaving this Earth. It might have sounded like an offensive question but in reality she was so convinced that Jews who don't accept Jesus will not go to Heaven that her question actually had some good intentions behind it. And of course theres that point made by Rabbi Shmuely Boteach who questions if a Nazi officer who accepted Jesus would go to Heaven while the little Jewish girl he murdered went to Hell.

But the line in the sand seems to be drawn by this Iowa raid. The owner of the company, Aaron Rubashkin is in a heap of trouble. And a well meaning relative who would like me to read religious right wing perioidicals instead of my usual stuff featuring sexy ads, started sending me a periodical that has some interesting editorials. The blinding support for Rubashkin in those editorials is actually embarassing. And some of them are slamming Obama's candidacy for the silliest reason! They reject him because of "slanderous" comments he made to the media criticizing Agriprocessors, when he was questioned by a reporter after the raid at that horror filled slaughterhouse. They contend that Rubashkin is innocent until proven guilty... and they feel Obama is more wrong for his comments about Rubashkin than Rubashkin is for what did!

Rubashkin does not appear to be too remorseful and through his lawyer has defended himself by blaming the victims for fibbing about their ages. Keep in mind that if every one of those young girls was caught in that Slaughterhouse doing the ol' hoochie mcscoochie with a male immigrant older than 18... not only would the jail bait defense "Oh she said she was 18" not fly.. but Rubashkin would throw those guys under the bus quicker than the next bus load of illegals would pull into the gates leading into his slaughterhouse.

And as I mentioned in this blog a month ago, the Conservative movements attempt to strengthen Kosher laws by not giving a stamp of approval to a Kosher food company that mistreats its employees has been met with sarcasm and derision by the Rubashkin supporters. But when it comes to those editorials, take it with a grain of salt. 99.9% of these right wingers are truly wonderful people, but the few who write these editorials come up with issues that make absolutely no sense. One such editorial writer recently criticized the wonderful Hillel organization on college campuses because the original Hillel would not approve of the activities that go on there. That is just pure silliness. My dad used to write for The Brooklyn College Hillel Newspaper although I think he did it to meet chics.

One more point about these polarizing issues amongst my fellow Hebrews and Shebrews. The other day on The People's Court a woman got into a parking lot fender bender with a religious guy. She said he backed into her car and didnt want to call the cops and then reneged on his offer to pay for the damages so she sued him for the approx, 2000 bucks on the estimate. The guy came to court and said she smacked his car to which the woman who was also Jewish pointed out that she expected more of a religious guy than to lie under oath. And there was a twist - unbeknowst to this guy, she got a cheaper repair job done for approx $200, and in her complaint said she didnt want to tell him, but also didnt want to collect anything more than she actually paid out of pocket. This not-as-religious woman came out smelling like a rose and she obviously won the case.

I thought the religious guy came out looking very bad. But others who saw the same case may have reacted differently saying that the Jewish woman should not have sued her fellow Hebrew and taken the case to a Jewish court - a beit din instead. Whatever the case may be... whoever we are and whatever we represent... it is important for us as we enter 5769 to take more responsibility for our actions and how things reflect on us.

Our economy is in deep trouble because people arent paying their loans and finger pointing banks don't want to admit that they made some poor decisions in who they made loans to. Yet, a few years ago, people came to me with mortgage applications and if I dared to tell them that they couldn't afford the payments. 5 brokers representing 5 other banks were standing right there ready to take the loan instead. Yet now the banks point fingers at everyone else - and many people thought nothing of jumping on the big banks bandwagon and borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars.... even though they knew their repayment habits were so bad that they would not even loan themselves 5 bucks.

And if we do something wrong and get caught.. we admit to it... and dont blame 9000 charges on immigrant children who do not belong in a slaughter house!! But fessing up, and taking responsibility is the start. Take responsibility for your credit and think twice before you buy something. And most importantly, take responsibility for who you vote for on Election Day. Do you want to vote for a ticket that has a woman on it that wants to take away a woman's right to choose... and force a woman to have a baby, while that same candidate's party imposes tax cuts that take away the same programs that will help that baby that they want to force that woman to give birth to! And carrying ourselves in a proud manner and treating our fellow workers/employees in a proper respectful manner is a great resolution for '69.

Now if only the Met relievers can take some responsibility, Shea could look like '69 all over again... Thats 1969, not 5769!

Happy New Year to all my Jewish pals.


Last week Pumpy improved to 2-1 after he picked the Bengals who covered the spread. Eagled eyed readers will note that I said the Bengals would cover but in a senior moment I typed in the wrong pick! This week we go to Shea where the Jets used to play! The Jets are 1 point favorites over The Arizona Cardinals. Sayeth the Pump: "I am going against McCain in November so this week I will go against his home state of Arizona!"


Last week we went 0-3 and we are now 3-6.

Washington 11 point doggies over DALLAS - The NFC East looks very very strong this year. Its a good week for the Cowboys to taste defeat.

THE BEARS 3 point doggies to Philadelphia - Maybe this will also be a celebratory weekend for Chicago and a bad weekend for Philly in football and baseball?

THE JETS 1 point faves over Arizona - The Jets only 1 point faves at home to the Cards? Have the Cards really improved that much? I'll go with Pumpie this week.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Memories of Yankee Stadium

Today's column is about Yankee Stadium.. but we will start with a trivia question about Shea. The answer is at the end of the column.

Back in 2006 when Endy Chavez made "The Catch"... what advertisement was on the fence right in front of where he leaned over to take away that home run. That sign was actually discussed in a column in this very blog 2 yrs ago.

Stadiums fascinate me. They are almost like a rock musician's ego booster. Here in New Jersey we are a bit spoiled... being the home state of the immensely talented Bruce Springsteen and the not quite as talented Jon Bon Jovi. (Good thing Trophy Wife never reads my blog - she wouldn't be thrilled with that comment, so we will keep this our little secret..:) Rock stars take to the stage at the big staduims and proclaim...."Look at me... I'm so popular I can sell out a stadium!". Other musical acts who are not quite as popular perform in arenas while others take their act to smaller venues.

I actually live near the new and improved Rutgers Stadium and it is pretty cool to drive past it during a game. The stands are positioned so that the fans appear to jut out almost on to River Road and as I drive by I see the fans cheering (well maybe not this season) and I can almost imagine them saying... "Great driving job Nate!... Great footwork on the gas pedal!"

This past Wednesday, I celebrated another birthday, and once again Trophy Wife was absolutely wonderful giving me a day filled with surprises. I was told to be home at 5pm at which point we departed for parts unknown. We first went to dinner at the most famous restaurant in New Brunswick and had an absolutely incredible meal. I'm not really a good food writer... but I will say that the meal was fantastic and well worth the price tag. After that I was led through the streets of New Brunswick... and right into the State Theater whose marquee did not display what show was on for that night. Trophy Wife picked up the tickets at the will call window, and held on to them and it was quite amusing that here I was in a lobby filled with people just minutes away from the curtain and I was the only person there who had no clue what I was about to see. Could it be the road show of Mamma Mia with another Pierce Brosnan musical performance?

Actually, it was the road show for NBC's Last Comic Standing featuring 5 comedians who had appeared on the show. The show was quite entertaining and you have to give stand up comics credit who perform in that type of setting since comedy clubs' ever flowing liquor gives the audience beer goggles that make the jokes funnier. The sobriety of Wednesday Night's audience forced the performers to work that much harder. After the show, I looked at the program and discovered that the show was co sponsored by The Stress Factory Comedy Club which meant that this tour had gotten so big - it had now graduated from comedy club to theater. Would an arena be next? Or a stadium in the future?

When I was growing up in the 1970s, it was interesting to watch as baseball teams opened new stadiums that were built to be filled by crowds of 50,000+ paying customers. The stadiums were "multi purpose"... which means they could also host NFL teams. However, now that we are 30 years past the 70s it seems as if the NFL's popularity has soared... while baseball has decided that the 70s style stadiums were designed in such a way that the fans felt "too distant" from the action, and the response has been a 21st century building of smaller more intimate baseball only stadiums. Sunday we will say goodbye to Yankee Stadium... and if the Mets make the post season, that tacky ol' Shea will close for good sometime in October. And if the Mets don't make the playoffs, they will close it on September 28th.

Today I will present some of my memories of Yankee Stadium. You will note that I have dates for most of the games, yet I did not keep the stubs nor did I keep a scoreboard. However I have discovered that if you have a good memory of certain events at a game, you can actually find the details of that day's game by utilizing a couple of excellent websites. I also noticed that I went to the Stadium a lot during my college years when my buddies were Yankee fans.. but I stopped going after graduating. I resumed in the late 90s when interleague play started... and then stopped going after I got married in 2004.

I believe my first game was actually a road trip organized by my former synagogue. Back in the 70s they used to have all kinds of youth group activities and I remember going there as a young kid although I remember nothing about the game except for the fact that we were way out there in the outfield and I really wasn't paying attention to what was going on. I also recall a Yankee Blue Jays game in 1998 that was organized by a buddy of mine and about 100 of his closest friends. He was dating a woman at the time who I met that day, and we are still friends to this very day! One of the girls there was drooling over the nice Jewish Blue Jay outfielder Shawn Green. As I recall, we were supposed to meet near the big bat, and that was the year Chuck Schumer was running for the US Senate. He was campaigning right near the bat, and some wiseguy got him a little flummoxed when he said... "Hey... your name is Chuck? What's that short for?"

Here are some other memories:

GAME 1 2000 WORLD SERIES - I include Game 1 of the 2000 World Series for Honorable Mention even though I was not there. It was the Jewish Holiday Simchas Torah and I trekked into the City for my annual tradition of attending services at Bnai Jeshurun. That year, I also went to the Carlebach Synagogue, where they were partying like it was 1999. As usual, they went to the wee hours of the morning. I hadn't been watching the time as well as I should have, and with the last train back to NJ leaving at 1:40 AM I had to forego taking a subway to find a cabbie that would get me down to Penn Station in time. As luck would have it, I could not find a cab anywhere although it was about 1:20 on a Saturday Night. Ultimately I found a cabbie who got me to Penn at exactly the time the train was set to depart. I ran like a maniac down the stairs to the departure board, found my track and ran like hell praying that the train would not leave without me because if it did, I was going to have to sleep in the waiting room with the bums. As I got down those steps, the train was there... and it was not pulling away! It had not left yet.. and it actually sat there for about another hour because thanks to Armando Benitez's blown save, the Met Yankee game went extra innings and the last train was not going to leave until all the fans were back from the game. The game went 12 innings and got the ball rolling for the Mets in the wrong direction. To this day I have never missed the last train, but that night was a close call, and if the Mets had better pitching than Benitez, this story and that World Series may have had a different ending.

RICKEYS FIRST GAME - APRIL 23, 1985. This was another extra inning affair that went 11 innings. I was in college and they were sponsoring a trip to the game so I hopped on a bus and figured, hey maybe I'll pretend to care about the Yankees and hook up with some hot babes. No such luck as far as I recall. It was Rickey Henderson's first game in NY after he had been aquired in the offseason by Oakland. He had missed the first few weeks due to an injury but that was the night he made his debut. He went 1 for 6 in a game that dragged on for 11 innings and I don't even remember if the bus left at a specified time or waited for the game to end.

THE "H" GEORGE STEINBRENNER INCIDENT - JULY 29, 1987. My buddy (I'll call him "H" in honor of the upcoming season premiere of CSI: Miami) got tickets to a Yankees Royals day game. We took his little sister and her young friend along with us... and off we went to a matinee game. H went to get a hot dog as soon as we got there, and the long lines and the scoreless duel that ensued found us in the 6th inning of a scoreless tie. And H still was not back! Where the heck could he have disappeared to for 6 innings? He finally came back nonchalantly with his food and was surprised how much of the game he had missed but he really didnt seem upset about it. The Yankees scored 1 in the 7th and 3 more in the 8th on Mike Easler's bases loaded double to win the game 4-0.

A few months later that summer a few of us took a road trip to Action Park aka Traction Park along with H. If you recall the water park, they gave you little lockers to store your dry clothing and each visitor was issued a little key to open the aforementioned locker. H's key appeared to not be working correctly, and he couldn't seem to open his locker. I could see he was getting very frustrated over the stupid little key and at one point he just kicked the locker and said..."God damn... that f'ing George Steinbrenner". Another buddy of mine who was with me looked towards me with the same puzzled look and in this moment of frustration over a malfunctioning key H finally came clean that he had been quite ticked off all this time at how poorly Yankee Stadium's concessions were run that he missed most of the game a few months earlier. All it took was a silly key to get down to the bottom of this.

CLEMENS STREAK ENDS - June 6, 1999. This was the first Met Yankee game I attended at Yankee Stadium... and I later decided I would not attend any of these game at Shea or Citi Field because I do not enjoy seeing my team booed at their home ball park. However, I did not find anything wrong with booing the Yankees at the Stadium. Clemens got the start for this one and came into the game with an incredible 20 game winning streak. But on that Sunday night's ESPN game, Nate booed and Clemens tasted defeat as The Mets knocked Roger out in the 3rd inning as they built a 7-0 lead en route to a 7-2 win. Piazza also homered off Clemens... perhaps that planted a seed in Clemens mind to retaliate. Too bad Action Park had closed down - I would have rather he threw a baseball at a locker instead of at Piazza's head!

THE MET YANKEE DOUBLE HEADER FEATURING THE CLEMENS BEANING OF PIAZZA - JULY 8, 2000. This was the first of what has now been three 2 stadium same day double headers. I went to both games that fateful July day with two seperate sets of friends! The first game was at Shea and the Yankees took former Met Dwight Gooden off the scrap heap to beat the Mets. Then it was off to the subway and a leisurely trip to Yankee Stadium. This was of course the infamous episode where Roger Clemens hit Mike Piazza in the head with a wayward fastball. This was before our cell phones had internet access, so we didnt really know how bad the injury was, and the buzz in the stadium was that Piazza was hurt so badly that he would be out for the season. As it turned out, Piazza was not quite that badly injured, but that game started the spark that led to Met fans anti-Clemens sentiment that carried on into the World Series and probably still continues to this day.

SINGLES GROUP TRIP AGAINST THE INDIANS - JUNE 3, 2001. I signed up to go to a Sunday Indians day game with a singles group that had an interesting twist. It was sort of a like a Big Brother Big Sister event where each of us singles was matched up with an under priveleged child who we would take to the game. My little brother didnt seem too interested in the game nor me for that matter and spent most of the time hanging out with his buddy, but otherwise it was a terrific event and it made the local Jewish paper too. I was actually interviewed for an article about the big brother aspect of the event, and I believe I said something along the lines of this was a great event for young kids since baseball played a big part of my youth and it was important for kids who don't have a lot of stuff to get an opportunity to get out to the ballpark so they will have happy baseball memories too. Andy Pettite who starts the finale Sunday took the loss in that game.

MY LAST TIME THERE - JUNE 27, 2003. Amazingly I haven't been back since that night when I went with Trophy Wife who is a Yankee fan and Pumpstradamus. Poor Pumpy was working in the city and they would not let him bring his work bag into the Stadium, and finding a place to leave it was quite a pain in the neck. One would think Pumpy could predict that this was going to happen. The Yankees jumped out to a 5-3 lead and held on to win 6-4. Amazingly Jose Reyes batted 8th in that game! Incidentally, I had a hard time racking my brain to get the year for that game... but luckily Trophy Wife saved the ticket stub which confirms that indeed was the last time I set foot into the Stadium. Pumpy is totally clueless about sports but we still had a good time despite the results and Trophy Wife's endless Yankee cheering. Pumpy's wife who is not a sports fan later made a terrific observation that baseball is a bunch of out of shape people eating junk food watching a game played by people in excellent shape.

MY HAPPIEST YANKEE STADIUM MEMORY - TOM SEAVER WINS 300 -AUGUST 4, 1985 - The all time best game I have ever attended! It was just a couple of months after the Rickey Henderson game. I had won tickets on WABC a few weeks earlier, and nobody at the time realized what a historical day this was going to be. I even made a banner that said "NY LoVES ToM" with the o's lined up and a 3 running vertically creating a 300. Off I went to the Stadium to cheer on Seaver... my favorite player at that time... as he went win #300 for The White Sox. It was also Phil Rizutto Day where The Scooter was knocked over by a live cow during the pre game festivities. As for the game, Tom went all the way for the win... We sat in the left field stands, but our view of the left field corner was obstructed so I actually did not see Don Baylor catch the ball to record the last out! But it was still quite a day seeing Tom Terrific win his 300th, even though it would have been nicer had he won it with the Mets.

Sunday Night will be quite a big night for the Big Ball Orchard in The South Bronx as Art Rust Jr. used to call it. A pre game ceremony will preceed the game featuring Yankee greats from the past including Bernie Williams, Reggie Jackson and Yogi. I saw on Newsday's Neil Best blog this week that 90something PA announcer Bob Sheppard will not be able to announce the game. In the Newsday interview, Sheppard said he had been sick since late last year, and that illness combined with his age has made him feel that he does not have the stamina to conduct his announcing duties. The interviewer said Sheppard sounded great on the phone. However, as we get closer to the ceremonial "first pitch", I would hope that Bob has enough energy to be driven to the game, and ride to the Yankee Stadium mound in a car and surprise the sellout crowd by emerging from the vehicle, walking up to a microphone on the mound, and announcing that Bob Shep pard Sheppard (echo effect) will throw out the first pitch. Is there anybody more deserving?

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK - Last week Pumpie took a loss when he went against the Giants, and evened his record at 1-1. For today, we go to Yankee Stadium where The NY Giants played from 1956-1973. This week The Giants are 13 1/2 point favorites over the Bengals. Sayeth The Pump: "Since Little Pumpie is learning about animals and learned to say meow when he sees a pussycat, we will have to take The Bengals."

UNBIASED GIANTS FAN PICKS - Last week we went 2-1 to even things out at 3-3.

GIANTS 13 1/2 faves over The Bengals - I like the Giants, but the spread scares me. I think Cincy is going to cover.

GREEN BAY 3 doggies over Dallas - The NFL's incredible popularity should make for some interesting TV ratings results since this game will air opposite the Stadium finale.

Steelers 3 doggies over PHILADELPHIA - I'm going to a bbq Sunday at an Eagles fans house. Hope they don't cry on the hot dogs!

And the answer to the trivia question is - Endy Chavez caught the ball behind the AIG sign!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Collateral Damage: Did We Just Solve the Mortgage Crisis?

While everyone is wondering how you get lipstick on a pig....has anybody else noticed how the NBC News political coverage has gone downhill since the sudden death of Tim Russert? All this craziness going on involving the sniping between the MSNBC hosts is just absurd. And kudos to the NBC bigshots who finally decided to take Keith Olbermann off the anchor chair for election news coverage! Olberman is a goofball whose most notable accomplishment was ESPN's Sports Center where co-anchor Dan Patrick knew how to draw out the good quailities of his nutty co host. The two have reunited on NBC's Sunday Night Football show where they do the highlights, as Olbermann's ego maniacal mind spins in circles wondering why he is not replacing Bob Costas as the host of The Football Show... and The Olympics,... and Deal or No Deal.... and The Price is Right... and American Idol... and American Top 40.... Who knows how long this gimmick will last? I still think NBC Sports down the road will "reunite" Mike Francesa and Mad Dog Russo on that show.

One of the things I noticed about Russert was his terrific relationship with his dad who he used to lovingly refer to as "Big Russ". It was interesting to see how Big Russ instilled a sense of hard work to help support his family by working his butt off to keep a roof over their heads. This sense of entitlement so prevalent today was never a concept for Tim Russert when he was growing up.... That ethic of hard work was passed on to Tim who earned a well deserved reputation of being one of the most prepared interviewers on TV. And its that concept of not taking reponsibility that may be a major reason for the horrific collapse of the real estate and mortgage industries.

Last week I jumped on the Republicans for absurd comments by a right wing talk show host that health care and food are a privilege and not a right. However, when it comes to home ownership.... that is a privilege and NOT a right.... and anybody who thinks that they are entitled to own a house needs a serious reality check.

The way mortgages are bought and sold is extremely complex, but for the purpose of this column, I will try to simplify it. I think the ball started rolling towards the mortgage meltdown a few years ago when Congress changed the bankruptcy laws. Of course I am extremely sympathetic to people who are hit with a hardship like an illness or a death that wipes their savings out and causes them to file for bankruptcy. However, under the old laws, a lot of people felt that they could get a mulligan when they piled up a stack of credit card debt. They would file for bankruptcy and choose the Chapter 7 option which wipes the slate clean... as opposed to the Chapter 13 option which makes the person pay his debts spread out over a period of a time through payments paid out to a bankruptcy trustee. The new laws however made it very difficult to file for 7... and a lot of people who thought they were going to get a do over got a rude awakening when they realized that the bankruptcy courts were not going to give them a magic wand. How many of these people who thought they were getting a break with a 7 and ended up in a 13, ended up falling behind on their mortgage payments because they budgeted in a Chapter 7?

As a result of all these late payments and subsequent foreclosures banks have been forced to tighten up their lending rules.... even for those with good credit. That has made it even more difficult for home buyers to secure financing. Many banks are requiring higher down payments and stricter income documentation. These tougher rules are making it harder for sellers to find qualified buyers, forcing them to settle for lower offers. This creates a ripple effect, since homes are only as valuable as the sales price of similar homes.

A few months ago, I got a call from a woman looking for information about refinancing a mortgage for her parents who refused to learn English and only spoke Spanish. My mortgage application interview consisted of me asking questions, and then waiting for her to translate the question and translate the answer back to me. The concept that people move here and don't learn English boggles my mind...especially since my father came over from Europe after spending the Holocaust in hiding, and he took great pride in becoming "Americanized", a foreign concept to those immigrants who steadfastly refuse to learn the language.

Anyway, this woman said she was calling because her mom was hoping to get a better interest rate on her mortgage.... and I told her that if her credit was good... she might be able to accomplish that. But that possibility was shortlived when she told me that her parents had recently filed for a Chapter 13. I looked back on my notes and noticed that the mother had a lot of equity in her home... I asked her to ask her mother why she filed for Chapter 13 instead of taking a cash out refi to pay off those debts. Her translated answer... "That is the way she wanted to do it".

Amazingly, this was not the first time I had heard this and I don't understand why people who have built up all this equity don't tap into it to pay down their debt instead of going through the hassle of a credit wrecking bankruptcy? Doesn't anybody have any sense of responsibility anymore... or are we just gonna sit around screwing our lives up and waiting for the government to bail us out?

This is why I think the time has come for banks to rethink how they offer mortgage loans. If somebody borrows 20 bucks.. I give them 20 bucks and they pay me back. If it's a bigger loan, the borrower offers collateral to ensure that they will lose something of value if they do not pay back the loan. Banks have this concept that using a home as collateral is going to be a good threat to keep people from not reneging on their mortgage payments. If you don't pay... we take your house. Maybe it is time for banks to rethink that idea. Nowadays, people whose homes are worth less than their mortgage balances are just walking away. Also, a lot of people bought investment properties with little or no money down... and then decided to walk away. Now the banks find that this great idea of holding the house as collateral is forcing them to turn into realtors by selling these houses... for a loss.

A lot of people in America live from check to check. If they don't get a paycheck or their paycheck bounces... they're screwed. Obviously with people racking up billions of dollars in credit card debt, we are not really a society that is living within our means. It seems that the banks have been doing this too. The last day of the month rolls around.. and the banks discover that many of the mortgage checks they were counting on... never show up. And as the months of delinquent payments started to add up.... the banks were forced to shut their doors. According to the Mortgage Implode o meter Website 282 lenders have shut down since this crisis started.

Here is my plan:

Forget the idea of using the home as collateral. Instead, convert the equity in the home into collateral and turn that into cash.

The bank counts on the interest payments to make their money. If the last day of the month comes in, and the interest is not paid to them.. they lose money they were counting on... Keep in mind that a borrower has signed a legally binding contract to pay that money to the bank,. (There are always going to be extenuating circumstances where families are going through unexpected financial hardships and I am sympathetic to that.) Under my the closing of a purchase or refinance, the bank would set up an amortization chart that shows how each monthly loan payment is broken down..... and how much of that payment goes to interest. Then, before they allow the loan to be finalized, the bank would set up a home equity line of credit for the equivalent of 8 months of interest payments. So if the amortization chart shows that 8 months of interest would be $16,000... that would be the amount set aside for that line of credit. That line of credit would then be frozen, and the person borrowing the money would not be allowed to touch it for the lifetime of that loan.

As the months go on.... the borrower pays his bill on time... Lets say one month the person doesn't make his payment. The last day of the month arrives and there is no check. Instead of the bank saying..."Oh crap... Jones didn't pay us"... they tap into the line of credit and take one month of interest. The problem with banks is... they were not getting their checks, and they would get almost no warning that a payment was going to be missed. Then the last day comes along with no payment... and the bank is screwed because x amount of people didnt pay their loan payment that month! Under this plan, when the late payment ultimately comes in after the 30 day mark... the interest is repaid to the line of credit and the "missed" payment can always be tacked on at the end of the loan.

And why do I choose 8 months of interest payments? Nowadays, if you are 4 months late, the bank starts to initiate foreclosure. But the way things are going right now, the bank has already had the sting of four months of unexpected missed payments. Under this plan.. they would start the foreclosure 4 months after the 8th month... which would be after 12 months of missed payments. Now, the bank will not be caught by surprise by the non payments of the soon to be foreclosed borrower, because after 3 or 4 months of dipping into that line of credit.. somebody better be making some phone calls to explain why the loan payments have fallen this far behind. This gives both the lender and the borrower more time to open the lines of communication... and takes away the surprise from the bank which will no longer have to camp out at the mailbox on the 31st waiting for all these non arriving checks to come in.

I think if the banks had counted on a plan to get their interest payments for those missed months and had not counted on a depreciating house as collateral... many of these closed lenders might still be alive and thriving.


Pumpy is off to a 1-0 start... which is one more win than Rutgers has. This week we go to Secaucus.. the home of the Giants, and also the city where the Porn Expo show was booted out this week.... That show is now headed over to Edison in Middle sex County! The Giants are 8 1/2 point faves over St. Louis. Sayeth The Pump who predicted the Porno Show's move to Edison: "I gotta go with The Rams in honor of all the Rammin'!" (Note to self: Find a new psychic who works clean)


I recently commented that The Ledger dropped their National Baseball Sunday column. Now it occurs to me that they have also dropped Kimberly Jones NFL column AND the weekly staff football picks! What is going on with what used to be a terrific sports section? Last week we went 1-2.

Giants 8 1/2 point faves over ST. LOUIS - The Giants road winning streak continues.

New Orleans pick 'em over WASHINGTON - The Saints pick worked for Pumpy last week, so why not?

Philly 7 point doggies to DALLAS - The lesser of 2 evils. How does Tony Romo memorize a playbook yet have a relationship with that airhead girlfriend of his? She cooed to Letterman last night that she likes to look at football player's uniforms because she can see their shmeckles.


With all the hullaballo about Mad Dog Russo going over to satellite radio, here is a very amusing short segment of Dog appearing on Howard Stern's satellite show... This is the first time I have heard Howard Stern's show since his defection to satellite radio a few years ago. It is broken up into 7 segments on You Tube, but this particular segment was the most amusing!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My New Pal Palin - Not!

Hey look Rudy Giuliani just left little smoochies on Governor Palin's Facebook Page!

Monday evening, as I listened to Jerry Lewis wrap up Labor Day with "You Will Never Walk Alone".... I looked back at last weeks baseball column, and it occured to me that despite my sentimental pick of the Mets going all the way, it is very possible that we could see a Chicago Cubs - Chicago White Sox World Series. If Chicago ends up being the hotbed of sports action this October, isn't it ironic that Windy City media personality Jay Mariotti decided to suddenly quit his Chicago Sun Times newspaper gig. Jay announced that newspapers are becoming extinct, even though he had recently signed a new contract, and then took an all expenses trip to the Beijing Olympics. Roger Ebert who is unable to speak due to a bout with cancer, is still writing for The Sun Times and he was quite displeased with Mariotti's departure. Ebert wrote a recent column about his now former colleague and wrapped it up with a little love note to Jay stating: 'On your way out, don't let the door bang you on the ass."

Football season starts tonight.... you can see all the scores right here on NWOW on the CBS Sports widget on the left. Today, Pumpstradamus will start his 3rd season of NFL picks... The game is actually starting early tonight - 7pm so it can be over in time for NBC to broadcast the John McCain speech from the Republican Convention.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been amused by the goings on with both political conventions... although I haven't watched too much of them... As was the case during the Olympics.. I watch the Met game first and after the last out I have been flipping between the US Open and the Convention. Last Tuesday's Met game went extra innings so I never had the chance to see Hillary Clinton's speech but I have been staying up into the wee hour watching CNN's late night replay which kicks off after Larry King's live midnight show... a nightly exhibition of watching poor Larry try to stay awake!

Last week during the Democratic convention, Larry King pulled a Fox News on us with a gaggle of GOPers kvetching about the Democrats. Monday he had a Rush Limbaugh wannabe named Lars Larson who was offering his take on Senator Ted Kennedy's speech. I'm not a fan of Senator Kennedy but I give him credit for delivering a rousing speech against doctor's orders while he fights with brain cancer. Larson seemed to find it interesting that Kennedy made a comment that Health Care is a right not a privelege. "Not so" said Larson who hopefully was not speaking for the rest of the Republican Evil Empire. Health care along with food are privileges and NOT rights were the words that poured out of his ugly mouth.

Oddly enough, Larson is actually right. In 1991 Magic Johnson announced he had HIV and 17 years later he is alive and apprarently well. Yet back in '91 the average person diagnosed with HIV was lucky to remain healthy 17 months much less 17 years. But in the world of Republicans where health care is a privelege not a right, isn't it ironic that a multi millionaire like Johnson has done so well for so long? I recently heard that a guy who I briefly worked with in the mid 90s was diagnosed last year with an extremely rare form of cancer. Now, one year later I hear that this fellow has racked up 2 million dollars in medical bills, 250,000 dollars out of pocket and incredibly..... the lender foreclosed on his house. What kind of craziness is this? How do we vote for people who just sit there not giving a crap if a guy loses his house due to a medical condition, while at the same time spending millions of dollars helping Iraqis build new homes after they were displaced by a war that President Bush had no business getting involved in in the first place! But that is the Republican party folks. The party of rights vs. privelege where only the priveleged seem to have the rights... where the almighty tax cut is created to help the rich at the expense of school boards where members clamor to design drastically cut budgets because state aid is being cut out of their districts!

There were other highlights from the CNN coverage. Tuesday, Larry King had a big Hillary fan as a guest who was upset that she was shunned by her fellow Democrats at the convention. She claimed the Obama contigency mocked her in the hotel lobby because she was wearing her not too popular Hillary For President accessories. After a few minutes it was obvious that this woman was obviously mentally disturbed and that interview should not have gone on as long as it did.

CNN also had a Governor join them at their Democratic Convention... I don't recall who it was... and he was asked point blank by Geography Expert John King if certain all white counties of his state that oridinarily vote Democrat would support Obama because he is black. That politician replied that civil rights violations and prejudice have never been a problem in those districts.. but then again there are NO blacks living in those districts either so there has never been much of a chance to fill the police blotter with anti black crimes. Is the whiteness of the community the reason people live there? And will some people vote for a person they would not want as a neighbor?

Also John King has his amazing little election map that he smacks with his hand..... you almost wish he would yell Big Bucks, No Whammies and Stop beforehand,.... to show how each area has voted. It was cool to see him at his map talking to Governors who might have lost a Geography Bee to King about regions of their own state. He even let some Governors touch the map....which they seemed to find very exciting. I wonder if he takes that map home at night.. throws fellow CNN colleague/fiance Dana Bash on top of it and does the ol' Hoochy McScoochy right on top of it. If Dana positions herself correctly on the midwest.. one could see Ebert making more wisecracks about being banged on the ass....

As for those people we call The Republicans...

So far this week, the big story has been Governor Palin.... John McCain's odd choice to be #2 on his ticket bypassing the more popular Rudy Giuliani... But Giuliani's pro choice stance knocks him out of contention amongst the right wing nutjobs running the GOP. I thought Minnesota Governor Pawlenty was going to be on the ticket and I had reams of material about his shortcomings as Governor. Nonetheless, I hear that Governor Palin is against abortion in all cases including cases of rape and incest.... She also is part of the lunatic fringe that wants to teach the kids about abstention as an integral part of their school education.

I watched Palin Friday and the first thing that came to mind was she was wearing Amy Winehouse's hair. (If you were born before 1970... she was wearing Ruth Buzzi's hair). Now she has let her hair down and looks pretty hot. That 18 year old boy who impregnated her jailbait daughter probably had a few "Stiffler's Mom" shrieks during his evenings of passion with the first daughter.

I was a little bothered watching the shots of the little baby on that daughter's lap.... this baby had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome a few months into the pregnancy and Palin opted to not abort but keep the child instead. If God Forbid John McCain is elected and God Forbid he dies in office, I can't wait to see Palin question potential Judges abortion stances by marching out her Down Syndrome child and bellowing how she knew from prenatal testing that the child had Down... but she kept her baby! And how can you as a judge vote otherwise?

Now on Labor Day we heard that the older 17 year old daughter is pregnant by an 18 year old boyfriend whose hockey abilities obviously include being able to slip one past the goalie. The Republicans who think that pregnant teens only exist on The Maury Povich Show quickly announced that this girl's pregnancy has no relevance.

So I guess I should end the column here, and get to the football picks.

But I'm not.

What kind of a mother is Sara Palin? It's nice that she is ambitious and wants to be a heartbeat from the Presidency, but she knew how the media would react to the news of her daughter's pregnancy and she still agreed to jump on the McCain ticket even though she knew that this kid's pregnancy would become a huge national news story. It's hard enough for a 17 yr old high school girl to go through a pregnancy but how much harder will it be because her mother decided to drag her name through the headlines just because she has a chance to be VP? Maybe if Sara was a better mom she would have said no to McCain to spare her daughter from all this attention... Some bloggers already were speculating that the daughter was the mother of the Down Syndrome baby too. Obviously these people have been getting too many conspiracy theories from Desperate Housewives. Is Palin supposed to be Bree?

I was speaking to a Republican co-worker.. just to see how the other side lives... and he feels that the media should take a hands off approach to this story. But then I asked him if the child should also be shielded from media commentary if she had chosen to have an abortion. He felt that if she had had an abortion... then she was fair game amongst the media and the bloggers and the facebook status wisecrackers. Imagine that... the wacko right wingers would have had a field day if the daughter of a VP candidate had a legal procedure performed on herself, but because she kept the baby, she is entitled to a hands off policy.

By the way, I have no issue with this kid. She's a kid and she made a mistake and deserves to not be thrown into the limelight. I think its nice that this girl has a financially supportive family who will embrace her and support her and her baby. But emotional support? Can you imagine the conversations in that house when she told Mom and Dad that she was preggers? How soon did they tell the kid she MUST marry the baby's daddy... to avoid embarassing the Governor? And aren't 17 and 18 year olds a little too young to get married? And look at this poor guy... last week he was hoping to get overtime at the local WalMart to support his baby... now one week later he's parading around the stage at the Republican Convention. And if McCain wins... doesnt that mean that Mom moves to Washington? Will Dad stay in Alaska? Will this pregnant high school girl have to switch schools to go to DC to be with her mom? Will the parents live seperately? And will that daughter move to DC in the middle of the school year? Do you think the other kids are going to pick on this girl who will be a new mother by the time the inauguration rolls around?

In reality, as "lucky" as young Miss Palin is to have this family, the Republicans should realize that this situation is the exception rather than the rule. A lot of young pregnant girls dont have homes to go back to... no money from Mom and Dad to help them out.. and they really have nothing... except the choice to decide if terminating the pregancy is the route to take. Of course, it would be nice if these girls would keep their babies and/or arrange for another family to adopt their babies. ..Unfortunately. a lot of these girls deliver sick babies due to poor prenatal care because as the Republicans have pointed out that contrary to what Senator Kennedy says, America, health care is a privilege and not a right.

The party could have chosen the more experienced Rudy for the ticket... but he is pro choice.. and Palin is not. And as long as Republicans continue to embrace candidates who are anti choice, I will continue to choose to vote against them.

Pumpstradamus Pick of the Week...

He's back! Pumpy resumes his weekly picks today. Last year his brilliant start foshnizzled into losses in each of the last 5 weeks to finish at 10-7. This week we go to New Orleans just like Hadassah will next summer for the annual convention. The reason I mention Hadassah is because this Sunday... as the NFL opens its season....Trophy Wife's Young Women's Group will sign an official Hadassah Charter and will officially become part of this wonderful organization. Trophy Wife started this group from scratch a little more than 2 years ago, but she and the other terrific women have done an incredible job and I am proud of all of them. Last year they wrapped gifts for hospitalized children on the same dining room table where my mother used to peck away the Linden Hadassah newsletter on her electric typewriter back in the 1970's. This week the New Orleans Saints host the Tampa Bay Bucs and The Saints are 3 and a half point favorites. Sayeth The Pump:

I'm going with the Saints, in honor of all the sanctimonious pricks in attendance at the RNC this week.

Unbiased Giants Fan Picks of the Week: (Last Year - 26-23-2) Home Teams are in Caps.

GIANTS 4 points faves over Washington - The Super Bowl Champs will pick up right where they left off.
CLEVELAND 5 1/2 doggies to Dallas. - The Maid of Honor at my wedding now lives in Cleveland and Friday is my wedding anniversary - so Go Browns!!
COLTS 9 1/2 faves over The Bears - Could be a big weekend for both Manning Brothers, as the Colts will probably bang the Bears right on their Chicago asses. Personally.. I think Roger Ebert and Pumpstradamus should clean up their language!


Here is the classic clip taped right after last year's Fantastic Super Bowl where my buddy continues to hold his stance that the Giants did not make a good trade when they got Eli Manning!