SO YOU peruse the newspaper, which means you're a reader of some kind. No doubt, you know others so afflicted. Wondering what to get them for a holiday gift?
Give the gift of reading. Buy 'em a book, for cryin' out loud. And to show what a swell guy I am - and to perform a public service - I've provided a list of suggestions:
Ten Bears, by Miles Harrison Jr. and Chip Silverman.
No, it's not the sequel to "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," with Goldilocks bumped off by a hit squad of seven bears looking to avenge Papa, Mama and Baby Bear. This is a sports book, history chronicle, sociological treatise and political commentary wrapped in one well-written, highly readable package.
From 1970 to 1975, Morgan State University - then Morgan State College - fielded the only lacrosse team to play at a historically black college or university. Silverman is a graduate of Forest Park High School who was an assistant dean in Morgan's graduate school when Earl Banks, the school's legendary football coach and athletic director, buffaloed him into taking the helm of the lacrosse team.
Harrison is on the faculty of the Sinai Hospital Surgical Associates. He was an attackman on one of those Morgan teams and was the first player selected from a black college to play in the North-South All-Star Lacrosse game in 1971.
The book is told in the first person, using Silverman's voice. His tale sounds straight out of Hollywood: A Jewish guy coaches a bunch of black guys - with a few white players - to fame and glory in the virtually nonintegrated world of collegiate lacrosse. Silverman is especially proud of his team beating Washington and Lee, a perennial college lacrosse power.
The names in the book will be familiar to Baltimoreans who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. There's Wayne Jackson, the football and lacrosse phenom at Edmondson High School who was a star midfielder for Silverman's Morgan teams. And Tony Fulton, the City College graduate who played lacrosse at Morgan and is now a member of the House of Delegates.
Then there's Stanley Cherry. Who in the world, you're no doubt asking, is Stanley Cherry? I'm tempted to answer, "You don't really want to know." But Cherry, even in the year 2001, is something of an urban legend in these parts.
He graduated from Edmondson High in 1969. He was part of the rugged football team that ended City's 24-game unbeaten string in 1967 and figured prominently in Edmondson winning dual meet and tournament wrestling titles in 1968.
Other wrestlers of Cherry's era - Jay Himmelstein of City and Al Gaby of the Gilman School come to mind - inspired awe and wonder because of their technique and know-how. Cherry was the only wrestler who inspired sheer, naked terror in his opponents. He wrestled at 180 pounds, and many a milk-sop 130-pounder thanked God daily they weren't in the guy's weight class.
Most of Silverman's anecdotes are, not surprisingly, about Cherry. A defenseman in lacrosse, he was tossed out of one game because officials felt his play, although legal, was too physical. Cherry was wrecking players within the rules. It's no wonder many who knew this guy dreaded hearing the six words: "Stanley Cherry is looking for you."
NAACP president and CEO Kweisi Mfume, a Morgan alumnus, wrote the foreword to Ten Bears.
Harrison and Silverman have "given the literary world a significant piece of work," Mfume wrote. That may be an understatement. But readers, be advised: This is a book about a group of college guys bursting with testosterone. It's not for the kiddies.
SuperFan, by Lyn A. Sherwood.
A coach in a fictional pro football league lets a mysterious woman use a computer called SuperFan to call plays for his last-place football team. The first chapter of this gloriously politically incorrect novel will leave you howling with laughter and asking what kind of lunatic wrote it. A quote from the jacket says it best.
"If you like football, you'll like this book. If you hate football, you'll LOVE this book."
The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, by Tim Madigan.
Before you dismiss this book as another attempt to bash whites for past racism, consider that Americans learn from our mistakes.
What happened in Tulsa was a lulu, but the reaction against Arab- and Muslim-Americans in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks has been mild by comparison. Reading the meticulously researched work of Madigan, a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, should remind us we're not what we were, which is more than O-Slimy bin Laden can claim.
Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations For Slavery, by David Horowitz.
You've heard the author's name before. He's the same guy who took out an ad in several college and university newspapers and had the chutzpah to name it "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea - and Racist Too." Horowitz rehashes his arguments in this book, but most revealing is his critique of how left-wing ideologues have hijacked college campuses and stifled free speech.