Monday, January 31, 2005

Feeling very pissed off today. Due to a legal error, my bank account was depleted three weeks ago, all but .17 (yes seventeen cents), & although all the paperwork was taken care a week ago by my lawyer & everything's supposed to be copasetic, that money has not yet been redeposited. Three weeks ago I had about $10 pocket cash & no one I could borrow a few bucks from to tide me over. I didn't think if would take three weeks. Over that period, three scheduled automatic bill payments failed, so those ALERT ALERT e mails are flying at me every day. Having no train fare, I turned down two WFMU fill-ins & then missed the deadline to take a simple broadcast engineering test all DJs there had to take & now have to attend a special refresher class in order to do programs. Fortunately I have (I assume) the usual direct monthly deposit going into my account tomorrow, which should alleviate matters. Unless the phone &/or internet service is shut off.

Letterman had an insider tribute to Johnny Carson: His monologue consisted entirely of jokes sent by Carson; then clips of Carson's cameos on the Late Show & old Late Night. Peter Lassally, former Tonight Show producer & currently with Letterman's Worldwide Pants Prod. , did three segments & offered a few choice insights & anecdotes. As a finale, Doc Severinson, Tommy Newsom & Ed Shaughnessy performed "Here's That Rainy Day" with a string choir. A nice counterbalance to Leno's show a week ago.
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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Photographs President George W. Bush & the Pentagon do not want us to see.
"I'm also mindful that man should never try to put words in God's mouth. I mean, we should never ascribe natural disasters or anything else, to God. We are in no way, shape, or form should a human being, play God."— President Bush, on ABC's 20/20, Washington D.C., Jan. 14, 2005
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Johnny Carson and Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon

After 1980, I rarely watched Carson past the monologue. Contrary to what every big comic who got the "O.K." sign from Johnny says, The Tonight Show wasn't very hip by that point. Ed's guffaws at the worst jokes, Doc's cornball suits (Paul Shaffer channels both men), the annoying "Hey Yo," the museum of a big band featuring first rate middle aged session cats. Most nights The Tonight Show looked & sounded on automatic pilot; guest hosts were often an improvement. In fact, the show never was really hip to me, representing as is did my parents' generation. Carson's hipness was in his craft, the timing, the tics & gestures, the many influences one could see & hear (Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Stan Laurel, Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, Groucho Marx, Jonathan Winters among others) yet not quite sort out. Carson was an excellent interviewer when he felt like it, with a special touch for non-celebrities. So it comes down to "The Monologue," in which Johnny was not always so gentle as he's being made out.

Johnny Carson ruined Nixon, not only in his monologues but in what he led others to say in the guest seat, especially the more erudite humorists such as David Steinberg. From the time Watergate broke, it was Carson who prepared middle America for Nixon's exit, escorting Dick, soft joke by soft poke, toward the helicopter on the White House lawn. Nixon was a rotten apple politician who, I believe, offended Johnny's root Nebraskan middle class sensibilities. FDR, Truman, Ike, even a rascal with a war record & a few ideals like JFK, were alright. But not a vulgar, black-listing, lying no-class s.o.b.

There's a telling photo of Johnny accepting his 1993 Kennedy Center medal from Bill & Hillary. Lined up are beaming gospel singer Marion Williams, salt & pepper bearded Stephen Sondheim, conductor George Solti slouching, relaxed choreographer Arthur Miller; but Johnny is stiff straight like he's standing for inspection in the Navy, chest thrust out, only a hint of a smile, the man is definitely very proud of the award, certainly humbled to be included with four authentic creative geniuses yet knowing inside that he was just as deserving of the award in his own way.

I wouldn't describe any of the current late shows as "adult entertainment," which was the New York City Tonight Show as Jack Paar & Johnny refined it. I never admire the current hosts' suits or envy their good looks. It's hard to imagine Jay, Dave, Conant or Jimmy spending their Sundays off by reading a stack of guality magazines followed by a long walk on the Malibu beach & dinner out in a quiet restaurant. That's how I imagined Carson spent his.
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Sunday, January 23, 2005

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Residents of Union County NJ went outside this morning, looked around & thought, Well, that's a lot of snow but what happened to the blizzard? About a foot of powder snow, which is less troublesome than half that amount of heavy, wet ocean snow. Clear the sidewalks, dig out the car, & shovel away the pile the plow pushed to the side of the street & drive if you must. But blizzard? Nah. Today's Sunday, NFL Division title games, the liquor stores are open. It was much worse down toward Philadelphia & across the state to Toms River where the storm really got wound up & the Fort Dix weather radar was showing cloud cells in excess of 10,000 feet. That weather went out to sea, turned northeast & slammed Boston. Nantucket Island had 80+ wind gusts. We had a snowstorm., & the kids are disappointed that it's not even good packing for snowmen or snowballs, & most of them will be back in school tomorrow morning.

I went out for short walk around 4 pm, the sidewalks were clear & the only problem places were at the corners & those occasional five foot stretches between properties where nobody was claiming ownership. The cops may have something to say about that tomorrow when they start enforcing the sidewalk laws.

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Radio and TV went into full 'BLIZZARD OF 2005" mode last night but I didn't believe it then, at least not for north Jersey, I'm skeptical now. We'll see what happens later, but so far we've had maybe 5-6 inches of dry snow, never falling more than moderately, the intense storm developing over central Jersey & passing out to sea via Barnegat Bay. The center of the secondary storm appears to be forming. there. If the counter-clockwise spin centers itself off the coast & either slows down or turns north, then we get blasted here. But right now, the crunchy plowed roads offer the kind of ride I used do for fun when I had a 4 wheel drive Dodge Colt wagon, it was practically a tradition to drive after dark over to the Dunkin Donuts & Quick Chek in Clark for coffee & snacks & then take a couple of loops around Rahway River Park.

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

I hardly know where to begin with George Bush's inaugural speech

I hardly know where to begin with George Bush's inaugural speech, except to say that while its abstractions ring true, they are actually ruses. Here's a few stirring lines:

"America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one."
Is he referring to an abundant supply of gasoline (interests) for America's SUVs (beliefs)? This isn't the 1864 inaugural.

"Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities."
Does anyone believe this can or will happen in Iraq?

"The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it."
This is a great objective, but historically it has not been on the United States of America's agenda. Our two paramount objectives have always been the protection of our own national freedom & the preservation of the Union. We have never taken on a trans-generational task of pre-emptively ending tyranny where it does not directly threaten us.

"That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people."
The inclusion of the Koran here is both gratuitous & cynical. First, Christians of Bush's stripe cede no truths to the Koran. If they do, then why not mention the Diamond Sutras, Analects of Confucius, & even the Book of Mormon? Second, Christians of Bush's stripe are a lot more dogmatic about John 14:6 than they are with what they regard as but a few informal pastorly suggestions on the standing of peacemakers, mourners, & the poor in spirit in the cosmic scheme.

"The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
This statement would seem the least open to dispute, but not if it is placed in another context, a hypothetical speech by Bush two years ago:
"Although there is no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction or a viable nuclear program, or was involved in the attacks on 9/11, I am ordering an invasion of Iraq anyway in order to overthrow his government & create a democracy, because the best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." Would Americans have then supported Mister Bush? Of course not. Say, why don't we expand freedom next in China & Saudi Arabia?

What George W. Bush has done & is doing is he is rewriting in an Orwellian manner his justifications for invading & occupying Iraq. He should not be allowed to get away with it. But so far, our mainstream press & elected representatives have shown no spine for the battle. & this emboldens Bush & his neo-com sycophants to apply the same greasy standards of untruth to his domestic agenda.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I don't know what polls the prez is reading when he insists the election was an endorsement of his Iraq policies. It's more like he drove the bus on to the Jersey Turnpike when he should've stayed on Route One & it was too dangerous to back up the entrance ramp & a majority of passengers felt uneasy about pulling over & changing drivers on a crazy highway because nobody knows how far the next exit is. George gets two count 'em two chances over the next few weeks to convince us he's not the same George who wasn't really elected president in 2000. & he's probably going to blow it; the polls do show he doesn't have as much "political capital" to spend as he believes he has. & he just ain't that good at giving big speeches. Even with the hump on his back. My fellow citizens, there were no weapons of mass destruction.

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Monday, January 17, 2005


"It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision." Helen Keller

Most of us are not sitting around today meditating on the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. But without this holiday marking his birthday, I wonder how much collective memory of this incomparable soul would be remaining...

We have short memories in America. We also like to de-radicalize our visionaries, so that their example does not disturb complacency. Particularly the ones who were murdered for acting on those visions: Dr. King. Malcolm X. Abraham Lincoln. Robert Kennedy. These people became more radical as they gained in experience & understanding.

I was nearly a grown man when I learned the truth about one of my early heroes, Helen Keller. I only stuttered, a very minor "handicap" compared to being born deaf & blind. Keller was held up to me as an example of "courage" in overcoming disability. Was that all her "courage?" Wasn't the half of it. She became a militant socialist, a suffragist, a supporter of all unionism from the IWW to Actor's Equity. She contributed money to civil rights organizations. In a 1915 published article, Keller denounced Rockefeller as a "monster of Capitalism." She helped found the ACLU. She supported Margaret Sanger's work. & she campaigned against child labor, whose sweat she could smell when taken into sweat shops. In 1948, the year I was born, Keller at age 68 visited Hiroshima & Nagasaki. By the time I encountered Keller, she was a smiling, sickly old woman in a photograph with President Eisenhower, her life's work so reduced in children's books that it is still summed up like this:

"Helen Keller couldn't see or hear, but for more than eighty years, she had always been busy. She read and wrote books. She learned how to swim and even how to ride a bicycle. She did many things well. But most of all, Helen Keller brought hope and love to millions of handicapped people."*

Yes, "she had always been busy." Riding a bicycle, perhaps. So we have to guard against Dr. King being turned into a genial Baptist minister who spent his life preachin', marchin', organizin' & speechifyin' for equal rights, a "busy" man indeed. We must always remember Dr. King while also remembering (at the least) Emmett Till; Medger Evers; Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, & Cynthia Wesley; William L. Moore; Rev. George Lee; Herbert Lee; James E. Chaney, Andrew Goodman, & Michael Schwerner; Jonathan Myrick Daniels; Viola Liuzzo. A full list would include approximately 3,500 black Americans lynched between 1880 & Dr. King's assassination in 1968. Dr. King's road was no "cakewalk." He could have been murdered at any step on the road. What finally got him killed was a vision of justice that transcended race & even nationality.

[Helen Keller died June 1, 1968, outliving Dr. King]
*Joanne Hurwitz. Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark. Random House 1997.
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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Is there any reason to believe that the increasingly demagogic* president who sold us the Iraq War with horrible fantasies of "weapons of mass destruction" is being any more honest about Social Security? Just as the misguided Iraq war was based on pre-determined ideological goals rather than necessity (& became a deadly disaster as a result), so is the outrageous plan to privatize Social Security. S.S. is not going broke. It works. Social Security needs a small but long term adjustment in how it is funded. Medicare is what is broke & going broker, & Bush's badly designed drug program only made it worse. The neo-com right wants to "nation build" abroad even as it dismantles or guts some of the most necessary & successful federal programs at home, using "faith" & "family value" gobblespeak to disguise their true agenda. Put this administration on level "RED" alert; it is waging psychological terror attacks on the American people. Let's put Social Security on a strong foundation - it need not be difficult or economically painful - & get the hell out of Iraq. Stall Bush on his Grand Designs for two years & he'll be lame duck'd into ineffectiveness. Get with the Middle East peace process, Dubya, & history might yet honor you.
*demogogue: one who attempts to control the multitude by specious or deceitful arts.
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Friday, January 14, 2005

Linked Raze

For reasons I do not understand, "Devoted to DJ Rix" occasionally generates a mean-spirited unsigned comment, probably from the same troubled soul. I don't listen to lousy music just to remind myself it's lousy. I don't waste my time reading blogs written by people I can't stand.

There are lots of websites I get around to every week, but here's a list of the places I visit daily. So, skip me, try these:
Classical music reviews & news
My local politics & other odd occurances, Big East, & Seaside Park consultant
Online newspaper #1
Online newspaper #2
Online newspaper #3
A boardwalk in Maryland
A beach in Delaware
Philadelphia Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

There's one place in Union County I want to live, & it's HERE. Now, how do I get there?

Me: I had two drinks at a party & it made me feel that everyone there liked me. But I'm not willing to drink to feel that way.

Dr. E.K.: I like you.

Me: I either feel I don't deserve something or that I might deserve it but haven't earned it.

Dr. E.K.: That's always been your biggest problem. & you don't like asking for help, either.

Me: I am very difficult to get to know well; I hold back a lot, even from you.

Dr. E.K.: I know.
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Sunday, January 09, 2005

WFMU staff holiday party

Excellent WFMU staff holiday party last night, packed once it got cranked up around ten. Lots of good homemade food this year. The food table was so spare last year that on way to catch train yesterday I stopped & bought three boxes of frozen mini pizza bagels, fortunately they were not needed. Many WFMUers myself included pretend not to like junky food - nibbling on vegetarian salad & spinach dip until the cookies & donuts arrive. Half the people at the party are friends of younger DJs, urban transplants. I have no idea who most of them are but they all exude a sense of vital cultural purpose & relevancy one takes for granted until the sad day around age 40 somebody calls one's art "mature."

I discovered a WFMU staffer I've always liked is at least ten years older than I'd thought, although I immediately realized that I looked at her for years (a pleasure) when I should also have been listening more closely.

The station's new assistant manager was pointed out to me as if I ought to meet her right then & there, I said there was no reason right now for her to know who I am, so why give her an unnecessary name & face to memorize. There's a few DJs on the staff whose names I can't put together with faces, but from their names I could tell you generally what kinds of music they favor. Which is probably how they'd rather be known.

If you follow me around at a WFMU party it's easy to tell who I especially like & feel comfortable with - those people get hugs, a pat on the shoulder if they aren't hug types (I'm not an easy hugger, either), & I'll lurk around their chat circle for a few minutes - & then when I'm ready to stay in one place for awhile it's almost invariably with the same three or four DJs, usually located in different sections of a loud, crowded event spread out over two floors, four rooms, a long hallway, a stairwell & an outside deck - who become sort of "safety zones" for me - significantly, all are there with significant others I also know & like.

The music at a WFMU party resembles a typical college houseparty. The DJs, who are scheduled in 1/2 hour shifts, all guys but one, & Studio B - a long room about 5 feet wide usually used for engineering live bands, becomes a guy kind of place to hang out, like around the CD player in a living room while all the actual partying is happening in the kitchen or on the front porch. I have never DJ'd at a WFMU party, although I should have back in the late 80s & earlu 90s when my taste in 70s funk was still slightly ahead of the WFMU curve & appreciated by few. But law & order - a signup list - had not yet been established & you had to bully for possession of the turntables. The music is always excellent of course but almost too hip during some of the 30 minute spins unless a dinosaur gets in the DJ seat (as a few did last night). It was background music & mostly unobtrusive at that, which means it was done well. There were a few dancers someone oddly described as "ringers" - I didn't see them so I assume they were only guests who knew how to dance. Very few WFMU DJs dance. It can be a control thing, a rhythmic deficiency, or just fear of embarassment.

Left about 1:30 am, offered a ride home to Elizabeth by Glen Jones (he could have partied another two hours) & his lovely friend who lives nearby. But first we went to the White Rose diner in Roselle, just blocks from where I grew up (& perhaps also patronized long ago by WFMU legend Vin Scelsa). Glen played George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" three times on the juke.

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Armstrong Williams,

Armstrong Williams, a syndicated newspaper columnist & talk show host who was paid $200,000 taxpayer money by the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, said, "It's a fine line. Even though I'm not a journalist - I'm a commentator - I feel I should be held to the media ethics standard."

Williams doesn't elaborate on the difference between a journalist & a commentator, or explain why he is the latter & not the former. At a time when honest "journalists" are being tossed in jail for refusing to reveal confidential sources - silly me, I thought they were protected by the First Amendment - I also wonder about this "media ethics standard."

This sent by poet/perfesser Sam Abrams:

10 propositions
about the nature of war

by stealth

modifying tanks
for the urban battle

is power


child soldiers

(from….. Senior Officers
Professional Digest Selections from World
Military Journals Date August 2003)

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Friday, January 07, 2005

A tide gauge at Atlantic City recorded the passage of a "train" of waves, just under nine inches from crest to trough, 32 hours after the earthquake struck off Sumatra's west coast on Dec. 26, said Dr. Alexander B. Rabinovich of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, British Columbia. A gauge at Port Canaveral, Fla., recorded 13.4-inch waves 24 minutes later.

Michael Keaton's rare appearance on Late Night was just right. He's currently promoting a terrible movie, White Noise, he knew it & Letterman knew it, but Dave kept him for three segments as Keaton spilled out one absurd story & crazy wisecrack after another. The "clip," was squeezed in at the very end. Paul Shaffer's walk-on music: Cream's White Room. Stayed up to watch "The Donnas" on Late Late Show with new host Craig Ferguson. The Donnas were jailbait favs of several middle-aged male DJs at WFMU, but now the girls are legal drinking age. In all of Craig Kilbourne's five year run as host, I never got the impression he was really comfortable discussing anything other than sports.
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Thursday, January 06, 2005


I want to be as insignificant
as the death of anonymous,

a small unnamed crater
on the invisible moon,

a footprint slowly filling with water
on a path that just peters out.

I heard an old soldier say
"We were lavish with blood in those days."

Lord, I'm so empty I could float.


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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What a week for the Rutgers Lady Knights. No. 14 Rutgers (9-2) beat then-No. 8 Tennessee at home last Wednesday and then snapped No. 4 Texas' 41-game home winning streak on Sunday, rallying from an 18-point second-half deficit. Tonight they knocked off previously undefeated #1 LSU 51-49. One might say they won "ugly," but it doesn't matter. They still have to play #9 Ohio State in two weeks, otherwise it's two months of the playground bruisefest known as the Big East regular season, which in turn is a warmup for my ultimate sports fantasy of a final four of four Big East teams in both men's & women's NCAA tournaments. In the Big East, a national ranking only infuriates the unranked teams, who believe that a losing league record simply means they probably don't belong in the top ten. It's also rumored that Big East bb players have their elbows surgically sharpened.
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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Meathead of the Week? David Banach, 38, of Parsippany New Jersey admitted to federal agents that he pointed a laser light beam at a jet and a helicopter over his home near Teterboro Airport last week. Initially, he claimed his daughter aimed the device at the helicopter, they said. His lawyer said Banach bought the device on the Internet for $100 for his job testing fiber-optic cable. "He wasn't trying to harm any person, any aircraft or anything like that," she said.

Big boy with a new toy. I wonder if this is the same guy that rides a dirt bike off trail in the Pine Barrens when the wild orchids are blooming, & goes airborne in his Sea-doo "Musclecraft" ten feet from a floating dock with children standing on it. Maybe he's just the neighbor who's still outside shooting off roman candles at 1 a.m. on July 5th.

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Monday, January 03, 2005

No matter how some of the world may view the Bush administration's delayed response to the tsunami (Bush does nothing fast) or motives for committing two Naval fleets to aiding a predominently Islamic section of the planet, there's no ulterior motives for the ourpouring of private charity. & the government is doing what it must do, what the people of the United States expect of it at this time. I hope we keep it up for as long as necessary.

2004 Roundup Part One: The second half of 2004 provided the strangest, & saddest events of the year. Among the former was the downfall of Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey. It had fleetingly crossed my mind a few times that there was something vaguely gay about McGreevey (used to be called a "hint of mint"). But I lived in a town where a lot of people including the mayor had known him for decades, & his frequent visits to a local hetero strip club were common knowledge. McGreevey's name never figured in the gossip at a local coffeehouse owned, staffed, & largely patronized by gays. But gay men insist that closets unconsciously want to be outed; certainly McGreevey is an excellent example of that impulse. The main scandal (there were many) - McGreevey's attempt to make his alleged boytoy the state homeland security chief - & resignation were worth it for a number of reasons. It took the lid off the corrupt, county-based Democratic establishment & was at least a temporary setback to the reps of few political puppetmasters. It also removed a disappointing governor nearly everyone including me had assumed was qualified for the job & would do it competently if not with exceptional creativity, & put a strong advocate of mental health services in the governor's seat. & it was definitely worth hearing a friend - who is inclined toward using the first person singular possessive when a plural pronoun might serve better - exclaiming, "I just found out MY Governor is GAY." McGreevey may have wasted his political talent & capital, but not his life; I believe he will do some remarkable things.

In the runup to the presidential election I kept waiting for Kerry to gain momentum. Every few days checked an electoral map site to see what the latest polls were showing. But Kerry never recovered from the assault on the credibility of his Vietnam service. I don't remember who said "Attack your enemy's strengths," Machiavelli or Goebbels, but the strategy sure worked for the Bush team. Both candidates had great, possibly fatal weaknesses. But nothing Bush said or did personally during the campaign could ever trump Kerry's combat experience - that was untouchable by Dubya himself. So hired guns did the dirty work. In the end they had nothing. - they were pushing The Big Lie, which Goebbels realized could be more effectively damaging than a small one when repeated again & again, you grab the public's attention with something outageous, so might as well go for it. The Bush victory (& "mandate") has potentially terrible consequences for America as Dubya gears up to wreck Social Security (which the right has wanted to do since it was created) with a preposterous plan, extend tax cuts for the rich that have already been ruinous for the federal budget, open Alaska wilderness to oil drilling (lousy energy & environmental policy), misuse & waste our military, surrounding himself with sycophants - the list goes on. Did the American people re-elect Bush to do any of these?

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Sunday, January 02, 2005

Wow, what a difference Cappie Poindexter makes. Rutgers Lady Knights have struggled through their non-Big East schedule. But they handily defeated #8 Tennessee at home last Wed., then traveled to #4 Texas, came back from a 16 point halftime deficit & outscored the Longhorns 30 to 11 the rest of the way; Coach Stringer must have gone ballistic in the locker room. Next up: #1 LSU at home. Rutgers is currently #24 in AP poll but not even ranked top 25 in USA Today.
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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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