Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Someone on Facebook responded to a post I made concerning Colin Kaepernick and
his decision to sit during the national anthem before NFL games with the San Francisco 49ers:
"When it's all said and done, Kaepernick's protest will accomplish nothing."
My response was simple: It already has.
The veteran quarterback ignited a firestorm that mushroomed into a towering inferno,
causing heated debates about the American flag, national anthem, patriotism, oppression,
freedom, racism, and law enforcement.
And you know what? That's a damn good thing for a lot of different reasons.
Oh, sure, when news first broke of Kaepernick dissing the national anthem, America
did what it does best: it went bat shit-crazy, overreacting, and talking stupid. That
can happen when the knee-jerk reaction is strong enough to split the uprights with
a football from 95 yards away.
My goodness. Some people act like Kaepernick committed mass murder, jeopardized
national security, or bilked the country out of its lifetime savings.
Many people wondered how Kaepernick can cry about oppression when he lives
in a country that's afforded him the opportunity to make 19 million dollars a year
slinging a football around. I believe they got that part wrong because Kaepernick
made it clear he is standing up for others who are being oppressed, not him.
Kaepernick was blistered for disrespecting every person who fought for this
country and protecting our freedom, which actually gives everybody the right to
protest and criticize those who do.
Stan VanDriver, a 12-year Navy veteran, told USA Today, "I and other veterans
fought so he could have his freedom of speech rights, so that all Americans can
have the right to free speech, the right to protest."
This from a person that actually fought for the country, the flag, for you and me.
Do you respect his opinion?
All of these issues needed be talked about and discussed. And everyone's
talking about them from legends and social activists Jim Brown and Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar to military veterans, law enforcement officials, and just about
every athlete in the sports world has weighed in on the subject, as well.
And that is truly a great thing.
Many people think Kaepernick snubbed his nose at the American flag, national
anthem, and patriotism when he chose to stay on the bench while everyone else
saluted them. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said the protest was actually very patriotic.
People have different views on it, which again, is their right.
The outrage touched off by Kaepernick has actually shed more light on what
many African-Americans have had to endure in their lives and that flag and song,
no matter how beautiful and sacred it is to most, represents something completely
different to others, including Jackie Robinson, who faced more obstacles than
any athlete in the history of sports.
In his autobiography, Robinson wrote:
"I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am
a black man in a white world."
Whoa! I had never heard that before. That's from the immortal Jackie Robinson and
a history lesson right there. So, if you hate Colin Kaepernick then you must also hate
Jackie Robinson, right? I don't think many are willing to crush the legacy of 42, that's
If you despise Kaepernick, then shouldn't you also despise the late Muhammad Ali
for refusing to fight for the country after being drafted? Just about everybody admired
Ali for "taking a stand", albeit years after Ali became a true legend. So, why are we
vilifying Kaepernick for what he did?
I am quite certain that for all their love Americans have for the national anthem, flag,
and country, most do not know all the lyrics to the song or understand what the 13 stripes
on Old Glory represent.
After Kaeperick's protest, I am thinking most Americans will become more attentive
when the national anthem is being played and that flag is unfurled. They will make
damn sure they know all the words and become better educated on what every stripe,
star, and color of the flag represents. Going to the bathroom while the Star
Spangled Banner plays at a sporting event will no longer be considered.
On Memorial Day weekend next year, perhaps, people will stick around for a
parade and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, even thanking a veteran
for their service, instead of bolting to the Hamptons for a barbeque.
And that would be a great thing.
Some people had a problem with the method by which Kaepernick tried to send
his message. But what was he supposed to do to get everybody's attention? Tweet
something out? Post it on Facebook? Give me a break. He went big and bold and
got the world talking.
Perhaps, with Kaepernick's protest and the debates that follow, we will get a better
idea of what comes with all the rights the founding fathers crafted and every
member of the military fought so hard to maintain. And what true freedom actually
Freedom of speech is a powerful thing. So is the freedom to protest. I have the right
to put my thoughts down in a blog, you have the right to bash them. Whatever the
case, we have been given the right to do both.
Kaepernick may have cost himself friends, a fistful of dollars, and eventually, a
football career, but he may have done something positive that most of us may not
understand for quite a while.
He has forced us to think, debate, and perhaps, even sympathize. It may have
come at a great cost, but I believe this country really needed it.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Jules Alexander's career was defined by the iconic photographs he took of golf
legend, Ben Hogan. They helped him become a bit of a rock star in the golf industry
where he cultivated friendships with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and
even Hogan himself.
While his photographs of Hogan earned him a name in the sport, it was Alexander's
generosity with his wonderful gift that revealed a large part of his character. The
Bronx native, who died on August 19, was Santa Claus with a camera, showering
his friends with family photographs capturing moments that were both magical and
Alexander never asked for a thing in a return, nor would he charge his friends for
photographs. And he and his family had many friends--more than you could possibly
know or even count. If you were lucky enough to have caught the keen and creative
eye of Alexander, then you probably received something that could only be categorized
I was luckier than most.
I grew up as a childhood friend to Alexander's sons, Paul and Carl. We did everything
together, playing Little League, Pee Wee football, golf, and just about anything else
little kids did back then. Our families became best friends and Jules was always there
to capture moments the Devlin's will never forget.
I am so grateful to have known Jules.
Jules Alexander documented a big part of my life with his signature photographs,
always rich in black and white, capturing the raw emotion in a way that only Jules
could. I have posted many of those photographs on Facebook for all to see and I often
get comments like, "Wow, it must've been nice to have your parents pay for a
photographer to be at all your games."
My parents never paid anyone to take pictures of me playing a game. Ever. Jules
did it because he loved doing it and was so good at it, none of us ever knew he was at
the games taking photographs. Jules Alexander was just that good.
In the fall of 2002, I was home from Atlanta visiting my father, who started to have
some health issues. We were playing a round of golf with Jules like we did so many
times over the years. When we got to the 12th hole at Westchester County Club,
Jules took out his camera and said, "I have the perfect shot that I want to take."
There was another foursome finishing the previous hole and there wasn't exactly
enough time to do a full-fledged photo shoot. Jules didn't need it because he had
picture the shot in his mind long before we arrived at the tee box.
When he presented the photograph to us several months later, we were speechless,
breathless, and forever grateful. It was amazing.
No one could possibly have captured the love between and a father and son like
Jules. The picture is worth far more than 1,000 words and one I will cherish forever.
When I attended the 90th birthday party of Jules in early June, I shared a moment
with him in his studio which was lined with some of the most beautiful photographs
man has ever laid eyes on.
I said to Jules, "That photograph you took of my Dad and I is the greatest gift that
I've ever received." That wasn't hyperbole, but fact. No material thing or amount of
money is worth more to me than that photo of my father and I. It captured the total
essence of the relationship and friendship I had with my father, perfectly.
Jules Alexander died less than two months later. I am so glad I got the chance to
tell him that how much that photograph meant to me. It is truly special.
That was the beauty and greatness of Jules Alexander. Nobody could do with a
camera what he did. Nobody. And he shared his wonderful gift with all his friends,
never charging a cent for photographs that were so special.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Jules Alexander passed away peacefully Friday morning August 19, 2016.
It marked the end of an truly incredible life that was rich with an amazing family,
countless friends, and almost universal love and respect.
times, and a legacy fortified by the keen eye of a photographer who captured moments
that became indelible ones in the lives of so many, including my own.
Alexander had a personality as unique as his first name. He was thoughtful, measured,
loyal, honorable, and blessed with a gift for not only taking pictures, but telling stories
in a way that not only made people laugh, but left them feeling better about themselves.
The Bronx native photographed everyone from John F. Kennedy to Muhammad Ali.
In between there was Frank Sinatra, Christie Brinkley, and a young Mike Tyson.
However, it was his spectacular pictures of golf legend Ben Hogan that helped
Alexander gain fame within both the photography and golf industries.
In 1959, Alexander, made the short journey to the Winged Foot Golf Club to
photograph Hogan. Alexander was fascinated with just about everything the legendary
He studied his swing, how Hogan stood, the way he dressed, and even the way he
took a drag off his cigarette. Alexander would build a collection of Hogan photos
like the tradition of the Masters: unlike any other.
It was pure gold and nearly every golfer on the PGA Tour would flock to
Alexander's home which sat at the end of the driving range of the Westchester
Country Club. They wanted to see the perfect pictures of the golf legend who
possessed a near perfect swing.
He became friends with Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Player, Mickelson, and
just about every other big name in the game of golf. But Alexander's named carried
a lot of weight, as well. Say the name, "Jules" and everyone in the industry
knew who you were talking about.
Alexander's first name was Jules, but to nearly everyone at his home course
at the Westchester Country Club, he was the "Hawk", which was the nickname
of his hero, Ben Hogan. When he played, Alexander dressed a lot like Hogan,
right down to the white hat Hogan used to wear.
Jules played the game with style, a little flair, and the laser-like focus of Hogan.
He loved the game dearly, had fun with it, and was damn good, always
carrying a handicap in the single digits. And anybody who played a round with
Jules was always a little disappointed that it had to end after 18 holes.
Alexander also got paid to travel the world to shoot amazing holes on the
best golf courses ever built. They would be turned into spectacular calendars that
always seemed to show up in the hands of all of his friends.
His best friends in life were his wife, Danna, a former model, who could deftly
handle Jules and his big personality like no one else. She is brilliant, kind, and
magnificent. She was the perfect partner for Jules during their more than 50 years
Then there is Paul and Carl, the sons who made golf into careers as professionals,
presiding over two of the most prestigious country clubs in New York, located
within a Bubba Watson drive of where they grew up.
Jules, Paul, and Carl were as close as any father and sons could possibly be. The
kids worshipped Jules, who got to see, play with, and photograph them as they
grew into spectacular golfers known by just about everyone in the industry along
the Eastern seaboard.
I was best friends with Paul and Carl growing up. We spent countless days playing
baseball, golf, and just about everything else kids did to pass the time. Jules was
seemingly always there with camera in hand. From Little League, Pop Warner
football, to the golf course, Jules took incredible pictures and gave them to
the family, never asking for, or expecting anything in return.
In June, many of Jules' good friends gathered at his home to celebrate his 90th
birthday. There were great pictures, even better stories, and that laugh from Jules
that we all loved and could never forget.
Sadly, it turned out to be a good-bye for many people, the last time they would
see or talk to Jules. I have known Jules since I was 7-years-old. He was family
and a big part of my life as well as the rest of the Devlin clan.
Jules took his last breath Friday morning, putting the period on the story of an
incredible life well-lived.
I will miss Jules. Countless other people will, too. There was nobody like him. Nobody.
Rest in peace, Jules, everybody loved you.