My take on news, pop culture, sports, and whatever else interests me.
Dear Kareem - I've been a fan since you were a freshman at UCLA. First as a basketball player and now as a public intellectual. I don't subscribe to many Substack columns, but yours is worth every penny. Your piece on Red Zones (I am 73, a few years behind you) is exactly on point. As a retired congregational rabbi, I confronted the death of too many family, congregants, and friends, and I have confronted my own death with an aggressive cancer 14 years ago which, at the time, was a serious condition that could well have killed me. My doctors at UCLA are superb and brought me through it. Your perspective in your paragraph about good and bad death ought to be read by everyone, old and young. Thank you for that, for your clarity of thinking about all things, and for the gift of your heart, mind, and soul that you give so frequently and generously. Onwards...Rabbi John Rosove (Los Angeles)
Kareem, on your comment on Americans’ “unhealthy … faith in the intelligence of the wealthy:” I am reminded of this quote, attributed to John Steinbeck: “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” I’m not sure about this, but it does say something about not only that unhealthy faith, but also about our culture’s bizarre fixation with the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Thank you for this thoughtuful, moving newsletter.
You are truly a national treasure.
As a fellow traveler in the Red Zone, I want to thank you Kareem for sharing your honest and encouraging thoughts about what it feels like. Makes that journey feel a little less lonely to share with somebody who I have shared the road throughout many other "zones" since my teen years with. Even when I rooted passionately against you on the basketball court while you were torturing me with the Bucks and Lakers while I was raised as a die-hard Celtics fan whose hero was Bill Russell, on and off the court. Then the Celtics seemed more like a family to me than just a team and NOBODY was a bigger threat to my family than YOU. But since the game of life and my Passion (capital P) for justice and kindness became far more meaningful to me than my still great passion (small p) for basketball, I have grown to love who you are and feel proud and so fortunate to share the same world and team as you and I hope we can keep pursuing those things that matter together as "friends in the madness "(apologies to our lost friend from the red zone, great songwriter Nanci Griffith) for many, many more years in the Red Zone and keep fighting with every breath to help those young people trying to make the world a better place than what many in our generation left them.
Good morning, kind Sir. Gotta give you the Golden Hammer award for hitting so many nails on the head today. I'm ahead of you by a few months, and am in full agreement that living in the Red Zone is the perfect time to so what all the Buddhists have always told us to do...live in the Now. You never know when you're gonna get the "bad news" but if you worry about it, all news is bad. I've long thought that any good we do in the last days of our lives is every bit as important as the good we do on our thirty-fifth birthday. (I figure the twenties were reserved for idiocy.)
There are a number of studies that indicate the best path to being a billionaire is psychopathy, which tells me that the key to getting filthy rich is to be filthily uncaring. I know there are fabulously wealthy people out there who do good, but those who do ill seem to far outnumber them, and the ill they do is pretty astonishing. When are we going to figure out there's nothing righteous about unregulated capitalism. Unregulated capitalism is simply greed.
I know conventional wisdom says the all-time NBA GOAT is Michael, and nobody enjoyed watching him more than I, but for my money that line runs from Russell, through you, to Steph and LaBron et al. I remember Charles Barkley saying he wasn't a "role model," he was a basketball player, and I get that, but the two things aren't mutually exclusive, which you continue to prove.
So again, thanks! I'm goin' over to YouTube to catch Joan singing The Boxer with Paul Simon. Again.
Thank you once again for an amazing collection of thought provoking, humanitarian stories. Feeling you about the Red Zone. And so admire your take on how to savour being there. And could not agree more about that toxic man-child Elon Musk. And about our (especially America's) tendency to idolise the rich over those with both intelligence and perspective. I look forward to your posts, Kareem , as welcome breaths of sanity and fresh air in our very polluted times. Thank you.
Good Morning, Kareem. Here in New London , CT, taking time to relish your amazing compilation. And anticipating attending a
Keb’ Mo concert tomorrow night at our wonderfully restored and managed Garde Theatre.
As a fellow red zone member, I’m very judicious about how I spend my hours. But to read your thoughtful comments and quotes from my favorite philosophers, Sartre and Linus, starts this day off well. I needed some positive vibes after watching in horror the recent judiciary hearing. Thank God for some fabulous women members though. Trying to Keep It Simple and living One Day at a Time.
An especially great selection of "takes."
I'm 61 and have been thinking about what constitutes a good life. In addition to the values you've put forth, I've been thinking about a behavioral phenomenon called the Peak-End Rule. The Rule posits that when we remember any experience we will prioritize experiences, good or bad, based on both peak intensity and the end of the experience.
It's interesting to apply that to a life. If true, I think it means that at any given age, you ought to try to add to pleasant "peaks" and realize that the next few years or months or weeks could have a greater effect on your current happiness and self-esteem than the past few decades.
As for a Shih Tzu yapping at heels, my Shih Tzu, Sophie, can usually command us with a look and will only resort to yapping if we've failed to comprehend her.
Hi Kareem. Wait until you're 80. The fun is just beginning. I didn't know about the Red Zone or that there was a name for all the people who are gone.
Always grateful to you for your insightful thoughts, silly videos like the cute little dog collecting $$$ for its master, and wonderful music. Joan Baez. Beautiful song. Beautiful voice.
Your contributions to our lives help eliminate the loneliness, except I refer to it as aloneness, a personal choice. And so much that we think we need - is because the outside world is telling us that we can't live without it, whatever "it" is.
It's so interesting that the wealthy are perceived as greater than or more worthy than us ordinary people. But then perhaps the rich are replacements for the royalty of other countries. Observe the recent coronation. Such obsession.
I am so grateful for still being present, pretty healthy, & silly whenever I feel the urge. Keep young people in your lives, good food, good music & basketball. Thank you again for your honesty, kind spirit & willingness to share. Grateful always.
I’m 72, and 12 years ago was given a terrible medical diagnosis. The doctors turned out not to wrong so much as imprecise. I have enjoyed patience and great joy since. Your thoughts today express that perspective beautifully. You are a great person and an inspiration. And Joan Baez rules.
Thanks for the red zone commentary. Touching, uplifting and affirming. And, hooray for the finalists you highlighted. Great issue.
Growing up, I loved watching the Lakers with my Dad, he was a lifelong Laker fan, living to age 96. For his 90th, I got the "good seats" at Staples Center and took him to his first and only Laker game. When you came on the scene in 1975, Dad was beyond excited!....all the years that followed, and with Chick doing his thing,("The game's in the refrigerator, the door's closed, the light's out, the eggs are cooling, the butter's getting hard and the jello's jiggling.") Dad loved a good euphemism....he was in his version of heaven on earth. Thank you for being a part of my most treasured memories of my father.
Kareem: another brilliant post, all of it. I am seven years farther into the Red zone, but EVERYTHING you say about it is utterly on the money. Thanks, as usual, for putting so many important things into such lucid language!
Read this during the AM -- but watching ESPN just now I learned of Jim Brown's death. My condolences to you, his many other friends, and his family. 🙏
I had not heard of the concept of the "Red Zone." But at 75, here I am and living deeply.
Kareem, et al, apropos of the Navy Seal freaking out over his Navy colleague being a drag performer, I refer you to President Obama’s final address to the troops as Commander In Chief: