Matt Waldman’s Reads Listens Views (November 30, 2018)

Matt Waldman’s Reads Listens Views is back and devoted to a short list of recommended reads, listens, and views for the week. 


If you’re new to the Rookie Scouting Portfolio blog, welcome.  Every Friday, I post links to pieces that I’ve found personally compelling or to content I hope will eventually scratch that itch when I get around to it.

You may not like everything listed here, but you’re bound to like something.


A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Blake Friday

Over 300 professors, the U.S. Department of Defense, and NASA contributed to this report that essentially says we’re at a major point of no return if things don’t change dramatically by 2040.

Jewish Professor Finds Swastikas Spray-Painted In Office at Columbia

This type of behavior has never really gone away. Meanwhile, a small percentage of Americans can actually name a concentration camp and public schools around our country cover the history of American slavery like some 1960s W.A.S.P. matriarch might play down her husband’s alcoholism.


My grandfather Eddie Berkell grew up in Brooklyn, New York. When he was 17, he earned a city-wide academic award that would allow him to attend any college in the city.

He wanted to attend Columbia as a pre-med student. Despite earning the award, Columbia had the right to refuse his entrance on the basis of his religion.

Before World War II, colleges in the United States were allowed to have quotas for minorities. Columbia informed him that their quota of Jews was filled and he would not be admitted.

He wound up at Brooklyn College. Despite never studying a foreign language until enrolling, he became fluent in Spanish. Imagine the memory and ear one must have to become fluent as an adult within a matter of years.

There’s a lot more to Eddie’s story that I won’t share right now. We’ll skip to the point where I met him in Miami. I was a music student at the university where he used to be a Spanish professor.

The first time we hung out, Eddie took me to a cafe in Little Havana. He introduced me to excellent food, demonstrated the different accents of the Spanish language, flirted with the waitress, and told me stories about our family.

Eddie passed nearly 20 years ago but whenever I hear Cuban music I think of the Sunday mornings I’d wake before sunrise and wait out front of the dorm for his rusted-out Toyota to putter up the driveway.

I’d tell his shotgun rider — the latest stray pup that he found on I-95 that morning — to get in the backseat and we’d head off to Miami Beach for a dawn swim followed by breakfast, stories, music, and Cuban coffee.

Funny as it is, Eddie looked like a more bohemian-hippy version of Kill Bill’s Esteban, the pimp who mentored Bill.

My dad’s name? Yep, it’s Bill, but he’s nothing like “Bill.” Eddie and Esteban? Now they have some fascinating similarities.

To bring the Columbia University references full circle, my younger brother earned his master’s in statistics at Columbia and he’s finishing up his Ph.D. in Public Policy at Harvard.

I think Eddie would have loved knowing this — and would have probably said, “One of us got in after all, motherfuckers…”



Giant Steps, otherwise known to musicians as “Coltrane changes,” is a difficult harmony for improvisation and showcases the genius of saxophonist John Coltrane. This video does a fantastic job of explaining this harmony to the non-musician who wants to understand this seminal work of American art.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I was doing my usual routine of Tweeting NFL analysis when I misidentified Ravens running back Gus Edwards as Gus Johnson. This is not unusual; Jene Bramel can tell you that when I get tired I conflate NFL players with past NBA players.

Jahvid Best as Travis Best and Corey Davis as Dale Davis were memorable. Still, Gus Johnson deserves some love. If you never heard of him and you’re an NBA fan, get acquainted with Honeycomb.


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