- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Now and then

” 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper never thought he'd see WrestleMania XXV. He never thought a hyped-up wresting card that headlined with Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in 1985 would live on nearly a quarter century later. Then again, there were times he didn't think he'd be around that long either. But here he is, walking around the Reliant Center, once again ready to step inside the ring at WrestleMania for a match. The mere thought of it nearly causes him to well up. …

”Back then, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon hired any celebrity he could, from Billy Martin to Cyndi Lauper, to promote the event. That approach created the kind of back-stage commotion that is largely missing in today's WWE. Every aspect of Sunday's show was scripted down to the final minute, when WWE champion Triple H finished the four-hour pay-per-view on time by defeating Randy Orton in the main event.

“ 'I got towed into this room for a meet-and-greet before the first WrestleMania and I was trying to get to my dressing room,' Piper recalled. 'Liberace and the Rockettes are doing the can-can in this side of the hallway and someone pulls me in to meet this little gangly guy with a weird voice. He's taking pictures of my boot and I said, “Hey, I got to go and wrestle.” On the way back, I asked who that guy was. It was Andy Warhol. I didn't know who Andy Warhol was, but he had a great interest in my feet.' ”

- Arash Markazi, writing on “Piper thrilled to be back at another WrestleMania,” on April 6 at Sports Illustrated

Art and politics

”Is there anything to be gained by staging a work of drama that stems from a political (or even perhaps moral) belief system that one personally finds reprehensible? … It is a debate, in other words, about whether or not to prioritize aesthetics or political/moral judgments. In life, of course, that's an easier choice, but in art, it can be difficult to navigate such nuances. I tend to agree … that a rich, well-crafted work deserves a hearing, regardless of its politics.

”Yet I also find … it can be extremely difficult to engage overtly political drama without resorting to political argument. To use an obvious and extreme example, a movie like 'Lions for Lambs' is as much a (badly thought, simple-minded) political treatise as it is a serious work of drama. Indeed, its politics are so crucial that engaging it as cinema almost seems beside the point. The question becomes even thornier, I think, when engaging with smarter, arguably more layered works like 'Seven Jewish Children,' and I'm not always certain what the right response is.”

- Peter Suderman, writing on “Goldberg vs. Roth on Art and Politics,” on April 4 at the American Scene blog

Political sport

”The conviction of Logan Young as 'the first college sports booster sentenced to prison essentially for busting NCAA rules' (in the words of ESPN.com´s Mike Fish) is just one example of a disturbing trend: the federal criminalization of private rule breaking in the world of sports.

”Prosecutors are taking advantage of the drastic post-1970 expansion of the federal criminal code to conduct legal shaming exercises against notorious sporting figures, often using charges that are tangential at best to the behavior that sparked investigative interest in the first place. …

”Former National Basketball Association (NBA) referee Tim Donaghy is serving a 15-month prison sentence for 'conspiracy to engage in wire fraud' and 'transmission of wagering information' across state lines, stemming from charges that Donaghy bet on games he refereed. … Former Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones served six months in federal prison last year for making false statements to two grand juries about her personal use of performance-enhancing steroids. … All-time Major League Baseball (MLB) home run leader Barry Bonds was scheduled to begin trial in March on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, based on his grand jury testimony in a steroid distribution case that closed in 2005 after producing just four minor convictions that netted seven months prison time combined (half as long as Bonds´ personal trainer served behind bars for criminal contempt after refusing to testify about his boss).”

- William L. Anderson and Candice E. Jackson, writing on “Putting Stars Behind Bars” in the April edition of Reason magazine

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