Tag Archives: Drive: The Story of My Life

Best Boston Resources for John Myers and Liza Weinstein.

 

This is just one of the many attractive views in store for my friend John Myers and his wife Liza Weinstein, who move to Boston on Sunday.

This is just one of the many attractive views in store for my friend John Myers and his wife Liza Weinstein, who move to Boston on Sunday.

 

Buddy John Myers and his wife Liza Weinstein are moving to Boston.

It’s one of a series of major changes in their lives.

On Friday she received her doctoral degree in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

On Saturday they finish packing up and celebrating with both sets of parents.

And on Sunday they drive to Boston, where Liza will soon start working for Northeastern University. 

She also will have their first child in a few short months. 

John and Liza are both Michiganders who have never lived in Boston, so I’m putting together this list of Boston resources for them. 

Debate and amendment are welcome.

I. Best Boston Dictionary: The Boston Dictionary, by John Powers.  While just a tad dated-the book has an image of Michael Dukakis reading an article about Swedish land management technique under the term “furma govna”-this illustrated work is a perfect introduction to the much imitated Boston accent. 

II. Best Book about Boston Busing: Common Ground, by J. Anthony Lukas.  One of my all-time favorite books, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book tells the story of three families during the decade that started with Dr. King’s assassinations, with individual chapters about Boston’s then-Mayor Kevin White, Boston Globe Editor Tom Winship, activist and mayoral candidate Louise Day Hicks, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, and Judge W. Arthur Garrity

III. Best Boston Memoir: All Souls, A Family Story From Southie, by Michael Patrick MacDonald.  Friend MacDonald brings it in this coming of age story that has vivid scenes of a community’s member going to funeral after funeral for its murdered youth, all the while saying that drugs and violence are the exclusive province of black neighborhoods.  The busing chapter is particularly memorable. 

IV. Best Boston Sports Memoir:  Drive: The Story of My Life, by Larry Bird.  The self-proclaimed “Hick from French Lick” restored Celtics glory in the 80s after an embarrassing downturn in the late 70s, leading the team to three titles and helping, along with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, the league reach unprecedented heights.  This straightforward book, written toward the end of his glorious care, tells the story of his hardscrabble youth.

V. Best Local Historian: Anthony Sammarco.  This well known local historian has published a series of beautiful books, many about specific Boston neighborhoods, that combine well-written text with attractive pictures that effectively convey the feel of each area.  

VI. Best Bookstore/Record Cafe: Rhythm and Muse.  Got to give the love to dear friend and former roommate David Doyle, who’s been operating in Jamaica Plain for more than a decade now.

VII. Best Medical Thriller Set in Boston: Coma, by Robin Cook.  Ultimately turned into a film by a pre-Jurassic Park Michael Crichton, this chilling novel of death in a hospital may not be the best choice for John and Liza as I imagine her pregnancy will require her to take quite a few hospital trips.

VIII. Best Children’s Book Set in Boston: Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey, and The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White.  It’s too hard to distinguish between these two classics, which are geared toward slightly different audiences.  Both are wonderful, though.

IX. Best Legal Book Set in the Boston Area:  A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr.  This book takes place in Woburn, which is just outside Boston, and the story of the fast-driving Jan Schlichtmann’s efforts to hold polluter W.R. Grace to account makes for gripping reading in Harr’s capable hands.

X. Category and book determined by readers:  I’m leaving this one open for suggestions.

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March Madness, Larry Bird’s Drive

Larry Bird’s play 30 years ago contributed to starting what we now know as March Madness.

 

Drive: The Story of My Life is his autobiography.

March Madness has struck.

During the next four weekends, billions of dollars will be spent and countless work hours lost to office and other pools predicting which of the 65 teams who qualified for the NCAA tournament will emerge as the national champion.

It has not always been that way.

In fact, some trace the origins of college basketball fever to 1979, when Larry Bird’s undefeated Indiana State Sycamores met their match at the hands and feet of Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans, 75-64.

The game, which was highlighted by Magic throwing the then-innovative alley oop pass to Greg Kelser, ended with the dejected Bird covering his head and weeping in a towel.

Bird’s tears came from his deep passion.  As anyone who has followed pro basketball knows, he and Johnson, along with Michael Jordan and with plenty of marketing savvy from Commissioner David Stern, led the NBA to unprecedented heights.

The battles between Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers were the stuff of legend.  The teams met three times in the final, with the Celtics taking the first contest but the Lakers coming back to win the final two frames and take the series.

Last year’s final, which again pitted the league’s most venerable franchises, saw a revival of YouTube clips of the 80s teams as well as the old rivals saying, in split screen, “There can only be one.”

Bird tells the story of his humble beginnings and fierce passion for excellence in his autobiography, Drive: The Story of My Life.

Some have criticized media portrayals of Bird as representing a simpler, idyllic, enter whiter time.  In truth, as David Halberstam notes at the end of The Breaks of The Game, his family background was actually more similar to that of many other black players in the league than Johnson, who came from a stable two-parent family in which his father worked and his mother stayed at home with Johnson and his other siblings.

Bird recounts the poverty in which he grew up, the grit his father showed-he talks about having to peel ill-fitting boots off his feet-and his deep love for his mother Georgia, who was left to lead the family after her husband killed himself (Bird does not write about his marriage as a teenager or his fathering a child with whom for many years he did not have a relationship.).

Bird also writes about how he came to basketball relatively late, but quickly was hooked and played and practiced endlessly.  Hoops aficionados will learn the cautionary tale of Beezer Carnes, whose failure to practice free throws ended up costing Bird’s Springs Valley High School team dearly in the state tournament.

His years at Indiana State and his loyalty to his home state are duly noted-Celtics fans may remember that Bird, after the victory over Johnson and the Lakers in 1984, marked their earlier struggle by saying, “This one is for Terre Haute.”

Bird also writes about his seemingly uncanny ability to register everything that happened on the court and even in the stands while he was playing.

Written in the early 90s, the book straddles the question of whether Magic or Jordan was a greater opponent, and one doubts whether any would put Magic about Michael after the latter’s six championships in eight years and six NBA Finals MVPs.

The book is also tinged with irony as Bird speaks with optimism toward the end of the book about the 1991 drafting of Dee Brown.  The signing gave him hope that the team would return to the pinnacle.

This, of course, did not happen until last June, when we Celtics fans could finally stop saying, “Wait ’til 22 years ago!”

Still, for fans wondering where the madness that grips the nation around this time every year should consider checking out this straightforward telling of one of basketball’s brightest lights.