UNC athletics as a powerful force for morality (1894)

“It would be dishonest not to say that the greatest force in the life of the University to-day contributing to sobriety, manliness, healthfulness and morality generally is athletics.”
— UNC president George Tayloe Winston, writing in Alumni Quarterly, 1894

“Amid the blue-and-white pompoms, few are so rude as to mention that the University of North Carolina, the Microsoft of college basketball, remains enmeshed in a scandal of spectacular proportions. Put simply, for two decades until 2013, the university provided fake classes for many hundreds of student athletes, most of them basketball and football players….”

— From “North Carolina’s Dominance Fails to Cover Cheating’s Stain” by Michael Powell in the New York Times (March 31)


They would’ve loved Don Draper in Durham

Lucky Strike [since appearing prominently in “Mad Men”]

THEN Once this best-selling brand in the United States (and the cigarette of choice for Don Johnson’s character on “Miami Vice”) was selling 23 billion cigarettes a year.

NOW Its seemingly omnipresent place in Don Draper’s hands may not be the direct cause, but sales have grown by 35 percent since 2007. Even Don’s public cri de coeur against ever representing tobacco companies again, published in a letter to The New York Times after Lucky Strike left Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in Season 4, hasn’t put much of a dent in sales.

— From “A Lucky Strike, Indeed: ‘Mad Men’ Enters Its Final Season in an Altered World” by Lorne Manly in the New York Times (April 11)


You don’t have to be Jewish to cover NASCAR, but….

“Yes, Nascar was born in the Bible Belt South. And racing and religion are inseparable. Each weekly driver’s meeting ends with a prayer and every pre-race ceremony includes an invocation….

“But… it’s one of the oddities of Nascar: Many of the people who cover the sport happen to be Jewish….

“Many of us are based around the Nascar hub of Charlotte, N.C., land of a thousand churches … and two temples. But hey, at least [speed.com editor-in-chief Tom] Jensen was able to find a nice place to celebrate his son’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah.

“It will be at the Nascar Hall of Fame. Where else?”

— From “The merry Jews of Nascar” by Viv Bernstein at Jersey/SLANT (July 23, 2013)

As might be deduced from the idiosyncratic spelling of NASCAR and the obligatory “N.C.” after Charlotte, Ms. Bernstein covers the sport for the New York Times. 


The ‘Misplaced Honor’ of Fort Bragg and Fort Polk

“In the complex and not entirely complete process of reconciliation after the Civil War… the idea that ‘now, we are all Americans’ served to whitewash the actions of the rebels. The most egregious example of this was the naming of United States Army bases after Confederate generals.

“Today there are at least 10 of them. Yes — the United States Army maintains bases named after generals who led soldiers who fought and killed United States Army soldiers; indeed, who may have killed such soldiers themselves….

“Not all the honorees were even good generals; many were mediocrities or worse. [Warrenton native] Braxton Bragg, for whom Fort Bragg in North Carolina is named, was irascible, ineffective, argumentative with subordinates and superiors alike, and probably would have been replaced before inflicting half the damage that he caused had he and President Jefferson Davis not been close friends. Fort Polk in Louisiana is named after [Raleigh native] Rev. Leonidas Polk, who abandoned his military career after West Point for the clergy. He became an Episcopal bishop, owned a large plantation and several hundred slaves, and joined the Confederate Army when the war began. His frequently disastrous service ended when he was split open by a cannonball….”

— From “Misplaced Honor” by Jamie Malanowski in the New York Times (May 26, 2013)


‘It blends the styles of Texas and North Carolina….’

“The carvers splash the pulled pork with the house barbecue sauce, which balances sugar with vinegar and mustard; [restaurant owner Hugh]  Mangum calls it Texalina because it blends the styles of Texas and North Carolina….”

– From “Big League BBQ Arrives,” restaurant review by Pete Wells in the New York Times (March 5)

Not unexpectedly, Wells’ paean to East Village barbecue has stirred a stampede of online naysayers, including “Matthew from North Carolina,” who asks, “Lemme guess, $25 for a chopped plate with slaw and potato salad?”

Can “Texalina”-style barbecue sauce be for real? Or is it a culinary cousin of the jackalope? Paging John Shelton Reed!