The heavens, then hell.

I’m sure you are all thoroughly sick of the eclipse, so I’ll only share this one pic, taken at the moment of totality in Forest Cemetery, Toledo, where we were among just a few people set up to watch the show. We could have gotten another minute or two if we’d driven deeper into the zone, but I had to be at work at 5:30 and I knew I’d never make it in time if we went to, say, Wapakoneta, Ohio, birthplace of Neil Armstrong.

So Toledo it was. And a minute or so of totality was enough:

But let’s move on, if only to give you guys a fresh thread for comments. Next stop: The eternal city. (Yes, I’m packing my laptop.)

News just broke that O.J. Simpson is dead. Well, now. Like a lot of you, my knowledge of the man spans decades. I remember watching his 80-yard run in the 1969 Rose Bowl. I remember his TV commercials for Hertz rental cars. And I remember that for a long time, he was white America’s favorite black man, or at least in the top five or 10. Then everything happened, and who couldn’t have a memory of that?

In a running theme through my life, I was the only American to miss the infamous slow-speed Bronco chase. I was at a horse show in Battle Creek, and the B&B I stayed in had only over-the-air TV in the room, so I watched “The X-Files” and went to bed. Alan told me about it the next morning: “There were these people standing on overpasses, cheering,” he said, wonder in his voice. It was only the start of the weirdness.

I will grant him this: I got a few columns out of that trial, the first when I noticed the ’90s-era Sony monitor on Judge Ito’s bench had been enhanced, with paint or a Sharpie or something, so that SONY stood out in giant black letters whenever the camera was on him. I don’t recall anyone took the blame for it. My old college boyfriend Bruce, who lived in L.A., called regularly, especially after he hired a woman who, he soon learned, had been Nicole Simpson’s housekeeper. She’d been an eyewitness to much of the domestic strife between the exes, and he recounted this in her heavy accent: “Meester Oh-hay get berry berry angry with missy Nee-cole,” etc. She ended up leaving his employ after the National Enquirer paid her a modest four-figure sum for her story, and recounted the same stories in perfect English. There was the avalanche of media coverage, running from the gutter tabs to the prestige press. I’m grateful to… was it Dominick Dunne who covered it for Vanity Fair? I think so. I’m grateful to that writer and publication for teaching me that a blowjob is known in that community as “the Brentwood hello.”

And then, of course, the verdict. We all remember how that went.

I recommend two sources if you’re interested in revisiting the era: “The Run of His Life,” by Jeffrey Toobin, where you can learn that Marcia Clark thought she’d get a conviction because “black women love me,” due to her aggressive prosecution of domestic abusers. Also, “OJ: Made in America,” a multipart documentary series you can watch on Hulu. Very very worth your time.

So much other news this week, but honestly, I don’t have the bandwidth right now. Abortion restrictions in Arizona, whatever the former president farted out of his mouth in the last 24 hours, have at it. I’ll be back early next week, depending on the wifi strength in our lodgings.

Posted at 12:29 pm in Current events |

34 responses to “The heavens, then hell.”

  1. Jeff Gill said on April 11, 2024 at 2:36 pm

    I had forgotten until she just now retold it on CNN how Diane Dimond (sp?) with other media gathered, as the coroner’s wagon left the murder scene, then walked past the police tape, up the blood spattered steps, and into the living room where the candles Nicole had lit on the mantlepiece were still burning.

    A powerful evocation of the moment, and just as strongly an indictment of how the police utterly failed to secure an obvious crime scene.

    It also reminds me of a summer day, June in 1994, when I’d finally gotten a long-distance connection to the seasonal ranger lodgings at Zion National Park, and I’m trying to explain to my wife what’s going on in Los Angeles as a “low speed chase.”

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  2. Julie Robinson said on April 11, 2024 at 3:34 pm

    We had just checked into a DC hotel, flipped the TV on, and spent the next half hour or more watching the chase. Why, I don’t remember.

    JeffG, you’ll relate to this story. Leaving church this morning, a mom and two boys came up and asked for help. Food, a job, we weren’t sure what else because they were speaking in Spanish. Between google translate and phone calls to people Sarah knows in the social service community, we pieced together a little. They are from Ecuador and had been to the immigration court a few blocks away, so they probably had been sent to us by someone there. Their phone had no charge, they were hungry, and at their wits end.

    We keep a food bank and had just had a generous donation on Tuesday, and bless the lady who brought in the bag of chips, since it was all we had that they could eat immediately. We got their phone on a charger (they didn’t have one, so I’m not sure how they’ve been managing that.) In our refrigerator I found a case of Pepsi and another of water that had been left from a wedding on Saturday, and brought them each of one both of those. I found a $20 bill in my purse, all I had with me, and gave it to mom. We directed them to the restroom, and when mom saw our thrift shop, her eyes lit up and we let her take anything she could use. Someone else had donated some nice backpacks to carry it all. They had nothing.

    In the meantime Sarah worked the phones and found places where they could get help with getting papers and other resources. After an hour they had some help available and asked about the nearest bus stop, so we ended up driving them to the bus station.

    And then I came home, nuked some leftovers for lunch and started washing clothes in my nice laundry room, and spent a lot of time in reflection.

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  3. Suzanne said on April 11, 2024 at 4:13 pm

    We were at my in-laws for some reason the day of the Bronco chase. Some sporting event was on the TV and I remember Bob Costas interrupting the broadcast with all the gravitas of someone covering a war or a political assassination, telling us that OJ was in his Bronco, trying to evade police. The best part was some supposed eye witness calling in to tell what he saw, saying things like “He be real agitated! He be shouting and wavin’ a gun!!” Costas (or maybe another reporter?), with a concerned look on his face, tried to get more information from the “eye witness” until said “eye witness” blurted out something completely nonsensical at which point Costas had to admit the network had been scammed. It was hilarious.

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  4. Brandon said on April 11, 2024 at 4:21 pm

    The interesting thing is that Naked Gun 33 1/3 was released almost three months before the murders and the chase.

    This I just learned (link via Wikipedia): According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, O.J. Simpson was originally considered for the titular role in The Terminator, but that no one thought he could convincingly play a killer.

    And he had a prank show in the mid-2000s titled Juiced.

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  5. Jeff Gill said on April 11, 2024 at 4:43 pm

    Julie, may those blessings given show back up for you in all sorts of pleasantly unexpected ways. 😉

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  6. alex said on April 11, 2024 at 7:21 pm

    I remember watching the Bronco chase in real time but otherwise the time period is all a blur. I also remember that O.J. had flown to Chicago immediately after the killing and that furnishings from a hotel room were being taken as evidence. The hotel was near the office where I was working on Cumberland and the expressway.

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  7. Sherri said on April 11, 2024 at 7:21 pm

    We were in Arlington, TX for a SABR convention when the OJ chase happened. Coincidentally, we were just in Dallas this past weekend for the eclipse. I’ve been to two Texas Rangers baseball games 30 years apart, now bookended by OJ.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on April 11, 2024 at 8:07 pm

    Jeff, it’s clear to me that I already hit the jackpot in life.

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  9. Sherri said on April 11, 2024 at 8:17 pm

    Julie, me, too!

    But like you, because I hit the jackpot in life, I feel compelled to share my bounty with others. I get how lucky I am; I didn’t get here purely on my own effort. I don’t understand people who don’t want to share their good fortune, especially those who call themselves Christians.

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  10. LAMary said on April 11, 2024 at 8:53 pm

    I was in Burbank airport, as I was most Friday evenings then, picking up the ex from whatever work related trip he was on. I had a three year old and a baby in a stroller, and the waiting area next to the gat had a TV tuned to the car chase. The highlight for me was the sports guy from the local CBS station saying, “OJ, if you can hear me turn yourself in.” This was 1994 and as far as I recall there was no car televsion at the time. If there was would OJ say, ” Oh, OK Jim Hill. If you say so.”
    On the local WILL front here: Son Tom is in my brother’s house and he found the will. Not only does it state I am the sole heir, it says that jerk brother should pay all the money he owes to the deceased brother to me. Of course he won’t. He wouldn’t even if he had it but I deeply appreciate the thought.

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  11. Deborah said on April 11, 2024 at 9:55 pm

    Good for you LAMary, even if nothing comes of it, it must feel good.

    I didn’t watch the OJ car chase at all, maybe on a repeat of news later, hours after it was over. But I do remember the verdict explicitly, someone brought a TV to the office and we all gathered around it for the announcement. We were gobsmacked when it was not guilty. Then later that night, I was working late and none of the cleaning crew came to clean the office, they were all African American and they took the night off to celebrate. We all came back to the office the next day with full trash cans and were clueless.

    We made cheese today, mozzarella, and it’s not that hard to do, takes a gallon of milk and some other stuff, and time. It’s kind of like working with clay, in a way, if you’ve ever done that.

    Speaking of clay, Bassett, what was the name of your ancestor’s pottery company? You commented about it a while ago but I can’t find it now.

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  12. brian stouder said on April 11, 2024 at 10:05 pm

    Mary, that is a genuinely up-lifting nod from your brother to you, indeed

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  13. tajalli said on April 11, 2024 at 10:25 pm

    Late condolences on the loss of your brother, LAMary; I’m glad you’ve been vindicated by being named the sole heir, although it’s a bittersweet acknowledgement.

    The car chase was on a TV in my grad school auditorium, my first thought was “media circus being activated” and deliberately did not follow any further news on that front. Did the same with 9/11 – so many people traumatized themselves by fixating on the video footage of the carnage.

    Julie, thanks for being part of a network of genuine service and love.

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  14. Dexter Friend said on April 12, 2024 at 7:47 am

    I had a Daytron battery TV at work to watch the basketball game on breaktimes. Auburn, IN is close to Ft. Wayne so the signal was clear. There was a split screen: game/Bronco. NBC network showed the chase. We didn’t need no steenking phones to watch TV on June 17, 1994. Now I watch TV on my phone all the time…right now I have Morning Joe on in front of my screen.
    The maid story reminded me of “my maid story”. I was attending a radical political convention in Manhattan and was housed in an apartment of a fellow traveler, packed in with quite a crew. One member told her story as we sat on the floor sipping glasses of New York City Hudson River delicious water, no ice, of A/C either and it was HOT.
    She had been a maid for David Rockefeller in that building overlooking the river in Manhattan. One thing she said was that when she encountered David Rockefeller in the house, she was required to address him as “Mister David”. At the time, David Rockefeller was often referred to as the most influential/important man in the USA.

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  15. Deborah said on April 12, 2024 at 10:05 am

    When you hear it spelled out like this It’s appalling.

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  16. ROGirl said on April 12, 2024 at 10:47 am

    What an appalling legacy he left behind. I forgot that they had been divorced for several years when the murders took place .

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  17. Jeff Gill said on April 12, 2024 at 4:02 pm

    It was interesting to end up hearing again the cop on the phone during the low-speed “chase” doing what was, to me, an excellent job of trying to de-escalate Simpson & his driver . . . and getting what sounded to me like multiple confessions along the way that he killed his ex-wife, not that any of it was admissible. But it’s why I never thought it was anyone else, having heard the dialogue at the time.

    EDIT: Ah, it was Detective Tom Lange, and there’s a transcript online because of course there is. Yeah, that’s what I thought I heard.

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  18. basset said on April 12, 2024 at 4:27 pm

    Deborah@11, I’m not sure the pottery ever had a formal name… it was one of a lot of small shops around there at the time, starting before the Civil War. It was known in the community (Corinth, near Gaffney, SC) as the “Boyle jug factory” for at least part of its operation, but it had gone through several hands by then and closed in 1937.

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  19. Sherri said on April 12, 2024 at 4:41 pm

    As long as we’re looking back at ancient abortion restrictions, get to know the Comstock Act, which is what a Trump administration will use to effectively ban all abortion nationwide:

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  20. Sherri said on April 12, 2024 at 6:04 pm

    It looks like MLB got lucky, in that their most prominent player really does seem to be the victim of theft by his interpreter and not at all involved in any way with gambling. Shohei Ohtani didn’t even know his interpreter was gambling, legally or otherwise, according to the texts on his phone and his interpreter’s phone, but the interpreter had control of one of his bank accounts and stole $16 million dollars from it. He was an astonishing $40 million in the hole to the bookie; he had to pay $500k a week to keep betting. Amazingly enough, despite his huge deficit and his access to inside information, he doesn’t seem to have bet on baseball.

    Nobody else among Ohtani’s advisors noticed, because nobody else spoke Japanese, and Ohtani’s English is limited. So the interpreter controlled the information flow to Ohtani.

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  21. Julie Robinson said on April 12, 2024 at 6:10 pm

    For context to yesterday’s tale of the Ecuadorean family, I just read a lengthy WaPo article about the country. The cocaine cartels are in charge, and they maintain control in brutal ways. The new President is attempting to regain governing ability but it doesn’t seem all that certain he can. I will always wonder what happened to the dad in the family, and I pray she can keep herself and her children here.

    Of course I’ve known about the narco-terrorists who run rampant through most of central and south America, but seeing the consequences IRL is always sobering.

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  22. tajalli said on April 13, 2024 at 11:08 am

    For context and appreciation of the extreme difficulties, motivations, and values of persons attempting to immigrate illegally, Solito by Javier Zamora very credibly recounts his and his family’s experiences. He’s from El Salvador. It’s so human and full of personal circumstances without being a pity party that it makes negative stereotypes of immigrants difficult to maintain.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on April 13, 2024 at 11:52 am

    Thanks, tajalli, I’ve read others but always want to learn more. I’m happy to say it seems to be a popular book, as I’m #13 on the list, and also that my library offers it in Spanish. When my sister spent a year in Guatemala back in 1974-75 we visited over Christmas and spent a couple days in El Salvador. Even then it was dominated by trucks full of men with weapons, and we were relieved when we crossed back into Guatemala. These days Guatemala has similar problems.

    And for a preview of what mom may face if she gets an outdoor job, Florida governor DeathSantis just signed one of the most hateful bills of the year, and there were many. The law prevents cities with commie-liberal tendencies, like Orlando, from passing laws that protect workers in the heat. Modest provisos, such as access to water and a 10 minute shade break every two hours when the heat index exceeds 95° are no longer allowed. Neither are cities (Orlando again) allowed to set a higher minimum wage than the state’s rate.

    The reasoning given is that is too hard for contractors to learn a patchwork of laws in different cities. My ass.

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  24. tajalli said on April 13, 2024 at 3:45 pm

    Julie, I read it last year and suggested it for our book club, so will be re-reading it this May to tune up on the details. Good idea to use the translate function on your phone while you read since there are many idiomatic expressions in Spanish. Zamora was 10 yrs old when he crossed and he had lots of therapy to address the trauma.

    OSHA has heat regulations that workers should know about for their own safety, in case contractors are in violation. Complaints can be made anonymously.

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  25. Ann said on April 13, 2024 at 7:55 pm

    Two days late but I have two things to say about O.J. One is to recommend this, which someone described as the obituary he deserved.

    The other is that I was working in a legal services office in Chicago during the trial. A bunch of do-gooders, ranging from liberal to radical. Mostly white but enough Black and Hispanic attorneys and staff that it wasn’t completely embarrassing. I felt like most of us were pretty much on the same page politically. When the verdict came down most of us were appalled and angered. An abuser had gotten away with it again. But the Black staff–attorneys and support staff both–were almost unanimously delighted. A black man had fought back successfully against a criminal justice system determined to send him to jail. It really brought home the different worlds we lived in.

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  26. Sherri said on April 13, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    If you don’t have to live with it, it’s easy to overlook just how incredibly racist the policing system in this country is, and Los Angeles is particularly bad.

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  27. LAMary said on April 14, 2024 at 11:49 am

    Yes, LA has racist cops now but not nearly as bad as it was when Daryl Gates was the Chief of Police. Not even close. The cops were racist and just generally hostile to everyone then. I know this from personal experience. Daryl Gates refused to speak to then Mayor Tom Bradley during the riots in 92.

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  28. Sherri said on April 14, 2024 at 12:46 pm

    Gates (and his predecessors) were really bad, and the LAPD isn’t that bad now, but the LA Sheriff’s Department is working hard to make up for it.

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  29. LAMary said on April 14, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    The sheriff’s department isn’t as bad as it used to be but it is definitely still racist.

    In other news, trump made a speech in Pennsylvania and shared his knowledge of the battle of Gettysburg.

    “Gettysburg, what an unbelievable battle that was,” Trump said while addressing the crowd in the town and wearing a Make America Great Again hat. “It was so much, and so interesting, and so vicious and horrible, and so beautiful in so many different ways—it represented such a big portion of the success of this country,” he continued.

    “Gettysburg, wow—I go to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to look and to watch,” he said. “And the statement of Robert E. Lee, who’s no longer in favor—did you ever notice it? He’s no longer in favor. ‘Never fight uphill, me boys, never fight uphill.’ They were fighting uphill, he said, ‘Wow, that was a big mistake,’ he lost his big general. ‘Never fight uphill, me boys,’ but it was too late,” Trump added.

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  30. brian stouder said on April 14, 2024 at 5:06 pm

    Mary, you got me laughing! It remains amazing to me that a person who is so comprehensively ignorant remains on the ‘could be president’ list (let alone that actually WAS in that office!). That we didn’t summarily hang Bobby Lee at war’s end is a genuine bit of American exceptionalism. I confess that, while Lincoln’s ‘let ‘em up easy’ (planned) approach to post-war Reconstruction was probably the right way to go, I’d have been fully in favor of Lee (and a few others) being summarily tried and hung for treason

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  31. Jeff Gill said on April 14, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    Wait. Stop. This is… apparently what he actually said. I’m sorry, Mary, I had to check it out. Because it was so… oh my dear sweet Lord.

    Trump literally said exactly what she’s quoting. Found two sources, no doubt it’s what he said.

    “Never fight uphill, me boys” is what Obi Wan said, but not Bobby Lee.

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  32. LAMary said on April 14, 2024 at 9:49 pm

    I had to share that because it was so ridiculous and because I’ve probably done the entire battlefield tour of Gettysburg at least four times. The recently deceased brother went to college there and every time my father and I went to drop him off or pick him up we did the tour. A park ranger would get in the car with us and talk in detail about all the hills, mounds, charges, mistakes, everything. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve been there but I spotted bullshit when I saw trump’s comments about the battle. No surprises there.

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  33. Deborah said on April 15, 2024 at 4:50 am

    The comments here about Gettysburg made me realize how ignorant I am about the civil war. I’ve never visited Gettysburg or any civi war battlefield. I googled Gettysburg just now and found this interesting article about women who dressed as men and fought I had no idea.

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  34. LAMary said on April 15, 2024 at 9:52 am

    Over 50,000 died in three days of battle at Gettysburg it was the beginning of the end for the South. While Trump’]s Gettysburg comments were completely stupid the thing that annoyed me was the comment about Robert E. Lee’s decline in popularity. My late bro thought Robert E. Lee deserved respect for being a West Point graduate, but the my brother was pretty racist among other things. Yes Lee went to West Point but he also was a notoriously nasty slave owner. Arlington National Cemetery is on what was Lee’s property.

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