Fabled reclusive English guitar great Robert Fripp formed King Crimson, one of the first popular progressive rock bands late in 1968.

During its Radical Action Tour, Fripp and his latest of many versions of the band played to a two-thirds full Greek Theatre in L.A.’s Griffith Park last Wednesday.

However, first, some background about this band and its leader, highly regarded among a faction of deep progressive rock aficionados.

The original quintet, which included pre-ELP singer-bassist Greg Lake, played its first gigs during a weeklong residency in February 1969 at a small club in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England called Change Is. It was owned by popular English comedian and game show host Bob Monkhouse, OBE. Crimson honed their chops by playing small clubs and colleges.

Flash forward six months to July 5, to London, specifically to Hyde Park. King Crimson was one of the opening acts, along with Family and Alexis Korner, at massive free concert staged by The Rolling Stones. The concert that was meant to introduce The Stones’ new phenom, 20-year-old lead guitarist Mick Taylor, but also became a memorial to the man Taylor replaced, Brian Jones, fired from the band the month before and found drowned in his swimming pool two days earlier at age 27.

Instantly, King Crimson made the jump from performing nightly before a few dozen to couple hundred new fans to … ta-da … an estimated 500,000 fans.

That gig and the magnificence of their debut LP, “In the Court of the Crimson King,” put the band on a course to success (the album hit No. 5 in Britain and was certified gold here). However, it was success that Fripp, et al, weren’t really able to maintain partly because of their erratic history and music that grew more and more complex and inaccessible to their fans.

So, their popularity quickly declined and by 1974 the band was done. They stayed done for the next seven years when, in 1981, Fripp, with his new lineup that included obtuse axeman Adrian Belew, Yes drummer Bill Bruford and bassist Tony Levin, resurrected the King Crimson name as an avant-garde new wave-ish band.

Through the decades, the 71-year-old Fripp has broken up and reformed the band five times, albeit with mostly different or continually interchanging lineups.

Crimson became cult faves rather than their contemporary mega prog-rockers Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Yes, The Moody Blues and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who easily sold out arenas and even stadiums.

Fripp’s music and concerts can be a real crap-shoot — this was my fourth Crimson show since 1981, plus I caught him a couple times in clubs with his League of Crafty Guitarists at the now-extinct Pepper’s in the City of Industry and at Fenders in Long Beach. This Greek show was no exception. It helps to know beforehand that a Fripp show is a pretty wild ride with good and great portions and fair to just plain bad moments.


The good: Fripp’s latest eight-piece lineup featured a trio of incredible drummers, each playing full kits, along the front of the stage (Fripp himself was seated unobtrusively in the upper right corner). The drum parts, rarely in unison, always creative, interesting and fun to see and hear, cascaded in stereo left-to-right, right-to-left.

Tony Levin, alternating between a standard electric bass and the Chapman Stick touch-style bass for which he is best known, has been in the band since 1981. His welcome presence front and center above the drummers was a much-needed anchor to the group’s music.

Also, group vet Mel Collins, who first joined in 1970, blew an array of saxes (and a nifty flute, too) that is integral to Crimson’s jazzier music.

The music was often brilliant, delivered by true musical virtuosos (nothing less was expected of anyone playing with Fripp) as they showcased the title songs to (a portion of) 1970’s “Lizard,” 1973’s “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic (Part One)” and 2000’s “ConstruKction of Light.”

The bad: Almost every song saw musical passages, perhaps a minute long, which consisted of nothing but pointless, inaccessible, cacophonic noise.

Also, after a while, too much of the music was simply indistinguishable from musical bits performed on too many other songs. They contained musical segments that all sounded the same.

The band’s singer, guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, possessed a rather thin pedestrian voice that paled by comparison to Crimson’s earlier singers, including John Wetton and, especially, Lake.

The final song of the regular portion of the concert, “Starless,” from the 1974 LP, “Red,” as performed at the Greek, was possibly the most inconsequential, pseudo-deep, downright tedious song I have ever heard live — and it went on, and on, and on.

Fripp is a legendary recluse. An example: On Easter Sunday 1977 at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip, during Peter Gabriel’s first post-Genesis solo tour, Fripp performed while seated behind his wall of amps, hidden from almost all except a very few (I happened to be one of the very few).

He popped out and gave the packed house of 500 a quick wave only when introduced as “Dusty Rhodes” and then presto, he was gone, back behind the security of those double stacks of amps.

Undoubtedly at Fripp’s behest, cameras were verboten and large signs were posted announcing that anyone caught using their cellphone camera would be booted out. Amazingly, everyone appeared to have adhered to that rule.

The best: Fripp saved the best for last, with a killer-diller three-song encore that began with David Bowie’s “Heroes,” whose sound on the original 1977 single was engulfed in Fripp’s prominent sustained feedback. That was followed by the Mellotron-heavy title song to the ’69 debut, “In the Court of the Crimson King.” The evening ended three hours after it began with the crème de la crème, one of the wildest, most intense, most flamingly brilliant pieces of music ever recorded, the progressive jazz-rock fusion masterpiece, “21st Century Schizoid Man,” from the debut LP.

Ringo’s Birthday

Friday, July 7, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr will turn, unbelievably, 77 years young.

As he’s done here the past three years, his fans are invited to attend an all-Starr birthday celebration in his honor outside the landmark Capitol Records tower on Vine Street, just north of Hollywood Boulevard, south of the 101 Hollywood freeway.

Joining Ringo at his annual Peace And Love Salute will be his brother-in-law Joe Walsh, Animals leader Eric Burdon, Edgar Winter, E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren, legendary session drummer Jim Keltner, former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum, current All-Star Band members Richard Page of Mr. Mister & Gregg Bissonette, comedian-TV host Howie Mandel, Van Dyke Parks and actress-singer Jenny Lewis.

Was, Parks and Lewis will lead a band performing some of Ringo’s songs, and who knows who will join in.

In a video on his website, The Famous Ringo, as he was called in “Help!,” asks his fans around the world to take a moment wherever they are at noon on the 7th to throw up the peace sign and vocally wish all “peace and love!”

Organized birthday celebrations for Ringo are planned at noon in their various time zones in Colombia, Argentina, Antarctica, Las Vegas, Peru, Spain, New Zealand, Russia, New York, Panama, Brazil, Japan, London and the star’s native Liverpool.


George Harrison’s widow Olivia told Billboard that she recently discovered a heretofore unknown song her late Beatle hubby wrote about Ringo Starr.

Olivia told of how George was always walking around jotting lyrics or ideas down on pieces of scratch paper. She said they could end up in a book, a drawer, anywhere.

One place a bunch of them ended up was inside the storage space in Billy Preston’s piano bench in George’s home studio at his and Olivia’s outrageous Friar Park estate, 30 miles west of downtown London.

Olivia says, “No one had opened that bench in a long, long time — years. So when I finally got around to opening the piano bench, there were envelopes of depositions, lyrics and scores for strings going back to I don’t know when, probably ‘All Things Must Pass.’ ”

At a gallery bash in Los Angeles marking the new printing of George’s memoir, “I Me Mine,” Ringo saw George’s song to him, titled, “Hey Ringo.”

She said that also in the bunch was a song, “Hey Ringo.” Olivia continued, “Ringo said, ‘Hey, I’ve never seen that before.’ And I said I hadn’t either. I guess it was in the piano bench in an envelope. They think was from around 1970 or 1971. And it’s really sweet.”

She has plans for the manuscript. “I’m going to get it framed and give it to him because it’s really sweet. It goes like, ‘Hey Ringo, without you my guitar plays far too slow.’ That (the song’s discovery) was a big revelation and surprise. Ringo was totally surprised and really happy. What a gift to have all these years later.”


Among the honorees to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year will be Petula Clark, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced. Neither the date of the ceremony or the location of her star has been announced.

It’s uncertain if the 84-year-old English singer of such ‘60s hits as “Downtown,“ “I Know a Place,” “Don’t Sleep in the Subway,” “A Sign of the Times” and many other hits, will attend.

Clark, who lives in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, most of the year, still maintains an active concert schedule. On Aug. 11, she’ll appear at Fairport Convention’s annual Cropredy Festival in Cropredy Village, 70 miles northwest of London, and at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on Nov. 19.

Other notables receiving stars next year include Harry Connick Jr., French singer Charles Aznavour, Carrie Underwood and former Sex Pistols guitarist-turned popular radio host Steve Jones.


John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono has been granted co-songwriting credit on “Imagine,” one of the most beloved and enduring songs in pop music history.

Ono attended the National Music Publishers Association Centennial meeting with her and Lennon’s son Sean and had no idea of what was to come, as the organization presented “Imagine” with its Century Award.

NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said, “While things may have been different in 1971, today I am glad to say things have changed. So tonight, it is my distinct honor to correct the record some 48 years later, and recognize Yoko Ono as a co-writer of the NMPA Centennial Song ‘Imagine’ and to present Yoko Ono with this well-deserved credit.”

The ceremony continued with the playing of a BBC interview with John Lennon that confirmed Ono’s participation in the song.

Sean pronounced the occasion “the proudest day of my life … (They) just gave the centennial (song of the century) award to ‘Imagine,’ but WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) ‘Imagine’ should’ve been credited as a Lennon/Ono song, if it had been anyone other than my wife I would’ve given them credit.’ Cut to: my mother welling up in tears.”


Paul McCartney will tour Australia and New Zealand in December. The five-date stadium tour is only the fourth time the Beatle has played the land Down Under, and his first time in nearly a quarter-century, since 1993.

He first toured Australia with The Beatles in 1964 and he next toured there in 1975 with Wings. His third trip there was in 1993 on his Off the Ground tour.

Sir Paul, who turned 75 a few weeks ago, has a busy schedule this year, playing 32 shows with the real possibility that he’ll add more. Before hitting Australia and New Zealand, he’ll play 10 shows east of the Mississippi in July, and 11 more in September and early October, eight of which are arena gigs in the greater NYC area. He’ll finish October in Brazil, Columbia and Mexico, where he’ll play a half-dozen stadium shows.


After a separation of 14 years, Foreigner singer Lou Gramm has confirmed that he will reunite with his former band co-leader and songwriting partner, guitarist Mick Jones, Blabbermouth reports.

During Foreigner’s upcoming 40th anniversary tour, Gramm and other original members Ian McDonald (the sax player formerly with King Crimson) and keyboardist Al Greenwood will reunite with Jones to perform “half-a-dozen songs” at numerous to-be-determined concerts. He later said the original members may actually perform seven or eight songs.

Foreigner formed in New York City in 1976 and was an immediate hit. Their first six albums were certified 5x, 7x, 5x, 6x, 3x and 1x platinum in the U.S. The band has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide. Among their top five biggies are “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and their No. 1 smash from 1984, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

The anniversary jaunt that also features Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience kicks off July 11 in Syracuse, New York, and includes stops on Aug. 27 at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Aug. 29 at the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista and Aug. 30 at the Greek Theatre in L.A.


Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and keyboardist Christine McVie added shows in L.A. and NYC to their current tour promoting their recently-released self-titled joint album.

The duo will play Aug. 2 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and Aug. 10 at the Big Apple’s Beacon Theatre.

The set list includes nearly all of the songs from the new album, Buckingham solo tunes (“Never Going Back Again”), Mac deep cuts (“Trouble,” “Wish You Were Here”), and classic hits (“Hold Me,” “Tusk,” “Everywhere,” “You Make Loving Fun”).

Fleetwood Mac’s drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie backed the duo on the album while the fifth and final member, singer Stevie Nicks, opted to do her own solo artist thing. However, the Mac’s rhythm section is not joining Buckingham and McVie on this tour. They are backed by drummer Jimmy Paxton, bassist Federico Pol, keyboardist Brett Tuggle and guitarist Neil Heywood. Both Tuggle and Heywood are in Buckingham’s solo band as well as the Fleetwood Mac touring band.

Fleetwood Mac will play the big Classic West show July 16 at Dodger Stadium and on July 30 at Citi Field in New York. Both gigs feature opening acts Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire.

What about Mac’s future after these two big buck money grab gigs? Buckingham told the Raleigh (North Carolina) News & Observer, “The mother band is planning a tour for the summer of 2018, although I don’t see anything like another album on the horizon.”


Saturday morning, Billy Joel returned to the high school that 50 years ago kept him from graduating. This time, he returned to Hicksville High School to cheers and gave a heartfelt commencement speech, reports Newsday.

In 1967, Joel was forbidden from participating in his class’ commencement because he was one English credit shy of what he needed.

Joel returned to the school once before, in 1992, when it gave him his diploma. However, he was given the diploma only after he submitted examples of his writing to the local school board.

Wearing a Hicksville High baseball cap, the 68-year-old member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entered the school’s packed auditorium to loud cheers. He offered advice to the graduating class of 400, telling them not to abandon their dreams and ideals and become engaged in the world around them.

He offered additional advice that garnered laughs, “Pick a job you’ll like because if you pick a job you hate life’s going to suck.”

The night before his high school English final, he played piano at a local bar until 3 a.m. and missed the big test because he overslept. Failing that final is what kept him from graduating. He explained it by saying, “I didn’t fail English. I just didn’t go.” He said he could have made up the class in summer school and then he would have received his diploma. However, he blew it off and began his career in music instead.


Since the mid-1800s, Blue Plaques have been posted at various locations throughout Britain designating the site of significant events.

On BBC Music Day, 47 Blue Plaques were posted. A pair of plaques were posted noting significant moments in Led Zeppelin’s history. David Bowie got three.

Among the places receiving plaques were the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle was the site of Led Zeppelin’s debut performance, on Oct. 4, 1968; and the birthplace of Zep drummer John Bonham at 84 Birchfield Rd., Headless Cross.

London’s Trident Studio received one noting that Bowie recorded many of his alums there; while the Royal Star Arcade in Maidstone was the location where Bowie and his mid-’60s blues band The Mannish Boys used to play.

The Cambridge School of Art was noted as the institution of higher learning attended by Pink Floyd’s founder and leader Syd Barrett.

Buddy Holly and The Crickets played the Gaumont Theatre in Salisbury on Mar. 22, 1958, and as such, it got a Blue Plaque. Likewise, The Bamboo Club in Bristol was honored because Bob Marley, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King and Jimmy Cliff played there.

The Fox and Hounds Pub in Caversham received a plaque recognizing the venue as the site of the only performance, on April 23, 1960, of the duo that called themselves The Nerk Twins. In reality, the duo was John Lennon and Paul McCartney.


Veteran country stars Rascal Flatts surprised a couple of newlyweds in Milwaukee, according to WTMJ-TV.

The couple, Sara and Brandon McGinnis, selected the trio’s “Bless the Broken Road” as their choice for the first dance at their wedding reception at Sugar Island. It was expected that the reception’s DJ would simply play the record.

However, a family friend wrote the group begging them to surprise the couple by actually showing up and singing the song — and they did.

The trio of frontman Gary LeVox, his second cousin Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney were on their way to Country USA in Oshkosh, Wisc., so it was no biggie for them to make the detour 60 miles south to the reception in Milwaukee.

The plan had been worked out months in advance with Sara’s sister being the only person who knew the country superstars were actually going to surprise the happy couple.

“When they started walking in we knew immediately who they were. I started bawling, he started crying,” Sara said.


United Sound Systems, a legendary recording studio in Detroit used by Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and others, has been given historic landmark status, only four years after it was targeted for demolition, AP reports.

The studio’s owners received the historic marker and designation with the help from the Detroit Sound Conservancy.

United Sound Systems was built in 1943 by Jimmy Siracuse, a violinist and sound engineer who emigrated from Italy.

Other greats to record at the studio included jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, who recorded the standard “Birdland” at the studio in 1947, and bluesman John Lee Hooker, who recorded his classic “Boogie Chillen” there in 1948.

Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. It can be read in its entirety on www.presstelegram.com. Like, recommend or share the column on Facebook. Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.

Milan Kundera’s novel Immortality wryly depicts Goethe preparing for immortality — neatly laying out his life in Dichtung und Warheit and arranging for Johann Eckermann to record his conversation. He is, says Kundera, designing a handsome smoking jacket, posing for posterity. He wants to look his best. Then along comes the young Bettina von Arnim, a platonic flirtation from his past, with an alternative, memorably ridiculous version, ostensibly admiring, in which Goethe’s wife Christiane is portrayed as ‘the crazy, fat sausage’. There is immortal egg on the facings of that smoking jacket.

In the case of Czesław Miłosz, we have a variant on this paradigm. He wanted, as it were, to replace the smoking jacket with the white tie and tails he wore in Stockholm in December 1986 to receive the Nobel Prize. How do we know? Two years later, under the heading ‘Witness’, A. Alvarez reviewed his Collected Poems 1931–1987 in the New York Review of Books with unstinted admiration. To his amazement, a month and a half later, an irked Miłosz complained that Alvarez had made him political and had slighted the poetry by concentrating on the prose non-fiction, The Captive Mind (1953) and Native Realm (1968).

His defection from communism remains, however, the central event of Miłosz’s life and the focus of our continuing interest. Communism involved the consumption of toad sandwiches. Or, as he puts it, a continuous diet of frogs: ‘My own decision proceeded not from the functioning of the reasoning mind but from a revolt of the stomach,’ he wrote in The Captive Mind. It is a powerful image and one that influenced ‘The Power of Taste’, Zbigniew Herbert’s poem about the rejection of communism for its intellectual coarseness, its emetic vulgarity: ‘We had a pinch of indispensible courage/ but basically it was a matter of taste…’

Of course, Miłosz: A Biography adds touches of colour to this central narrative. We see Miłosz, under arrest, eating his Lithuanian passport on the way to the police station because its data conflicts with his other papers. As an adolescent disappointed in love — he observes an older student leaving his beloved’s bedroom window — he plays Russian roulette and survives. A Jewish kid escapes a Gestapo officer as he struggles with his holster, and hides in a dustbin. Miłosz and his brother exhibit derring-do. Going by train from Wilno in Lithuania to Poland, they conceal from the NKVD a Home Army commander-in-chief and his adjutant in a wardrobe.

This biography has been ‘edited’ — in fact halved in length from the original Polish. It is still overlong in the early stages: Miłosz won ‘a Golden Lily, one of the most prestigious awards in Polish scouting’. On p. 59, he is only 11 and you know he lived to be 93. There are the usual endemic biographical flaws. Reverse-engineering: aged four, Miłosz’s fascination for his Aunt Gabriela foreshadows his fascination with women generally. Unreliable family anecdote: his mother’s arthritis caused by taking her shoes off in church to cool her feet after a ball. Marginal, dispensible research: uncle Artur Miłosz lost a leg in the battle of Ostroleka, ‘but that caused no diminution of his fighting spirit’.

Miłosz would be dismayed by Andrzej Franaszek’s fundamentally benign biography. While it does justice to the difficulty of defection — the loss of language, the loss of readership, the deracination and anonymity of exile — it also records less heroic notes. Apparently, as a young man, Miłosz got Jadwiga Waszkiewcz pregnant and deserted her, leaving her to have an illegal abortion: ‘the greatest sin of my life.’ Who hasn’t behaved comparably badly? They corresponded tenderly in old age, after the Nobel Prize. Miłosz was an attractive man and an inveterate womaniser — discreetly, then openly. Franaszek protectively conceals the surname of one lover, Ewa, but names several others: among them Jeanne Hersch, Miłosz’s translator, whom he took up with in France when he was separated from his family. Hostile Polish emigrés impeded the issue of a US visa for two years, so Miłosz was in Paris while his wife Janka remained in the USA with their two children. No surprise, therefore, that Miłosz strayed.

Franaszek mentions, too, a possible homosexual penumbra surrounding Miłosz’s youthful relations with the senior poet Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz: Miłosz’s introductory letter, ‘I adore you.’ No surprise either. His powerful libido — quite late in life, he boasts about his high testosterone levels — meant he frequented brothels in his youth. A little same-sex action isn’t improbable. We learn that in California as a professor, ‘on social occasions he would get drunk very early on… He appears to have had a strong compulsion to try to hit on women students.’

There is, too, a grim account of his youngest son Piotr’s decline into paranoia: ‘He threatened the neighbours, and the police found him with five guns, including an automatic, plus two revolvers.’ It got worse: ‘On one occasion, he opened fire from a motel window at an imaginary opponent, and was sent to prison.’

And the poetry that Miłosz thought side-lined by Alvarez? Franaszek takes its merit for granted. But, then, he thinks Brodsky is ‘one of the greatest poets of the second half of the 20th century’. It is hard to judge from these translations: for example, Józef Czechowicz ‘perished from a bomb’ isn’t quite allowable in English. He prized claritas, but the writing generally seems a little underpowered. In his autobiographical novel, The Issa Valley, there is an owl which, in mid-flight, ‘would drop a pile’. In Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March, the eagle Caligula ‘ejected a straight, heavy squirt of excrement’. In ‘Plato’s Dialogues’, Miłosz describes the baths in Tatarska Street:

One would fill a wooden bucket with cold water from a tap for dousing one’s head, and carry it up to the highest shelf, among the roars of naked males lashing themselves with birch rods.

Compare Bellow’s Turkish baths in Humboldt’s Gift:

[Franusch] crawls up like a red salamander with a stick to tip the latch of the furnace, which is too hot to touch, and then on all fours, with testicles swinging on a long sinew and the clean anus staring out, he backs away groping for the bucket. He pitches in the water and the boulders flash and sizzle.

No comparison.

Miłosz’s sequence ‘The World’ is a quiet celebration of his childhood on the family estate at Szetejnie, provocative in its simple calm because it is set implicitly against the failure of the Warsaw rising. Some touches are delicate: ‘A pencil case that opens sideways’; children drawing battles, ‘with their pink tongues try to help / Great warships, one of which is sinking’. But mostly the pastoral is contentedly muted: ‘Streams intertwine their silver threads.’

The strength of his poetry is that it is grounded in experience. Roland Barthes, writing about photography, identifies its particular value as authenticity: ‘Reality in a past state: at once the past and the real.’ And of course Miłosz’s past is more interesting than most. In ‘Six Lectures in Verse’, he admits: ‘Like everyone who lived there and then, I didn’t see clearly. / This I confess to you, my young students.’ Yet in ‘Lecture IV’, he relates the end of a hunchbacked librarian, Miss Jadwiga, who was killed not by artillery fire, but by the collapse of an apartment house. Miłosz is typically downright and plain-spoken but the material survives his bluntness: Heaney said he never displayed ‘shyness in the face of great subjects’.

‘And no one was able to dig through the slabs of wall, / Though knocking and voices were heard for many days. / So a name is lost for ages, forever, / No one will ever know about her last hours, / Time carries her in layers of the Pliocene. / The true enemy of man is generalisation. / The true enemy of man. So-called History, / Attracts and terrifies with its plural number. / Don’t believe it. Cunning and treacherous, / History is not, as Marx told us, anti-nature, / And if a goddess, a goddess of blind fate. / The little skeleton of Miss Jadwiga, the spot / Where her heart was pulsating. This only / I set against necessity, law, theory.’ Miłosz sets particularity against generalisation forcefully and directly, but the passage depends on his own uninhibited generalisation. He is wordy, yes, but he is also worthy and eloquent, if ominously close to the rumble of heavy Victorian furniture manufactured by Matthew Arnold & Sons. Zbigniew Herbert and Tadeusz Rózewicz, bitter jokers both, leaving a tart taste in the frontal lobe, are the better poets.

O’FALLON, MO_ Thieves broke into an O`Fallon, Missouri gun store and took at least 20 guns. Now, police think this crime could be connected thefts at other stores which carry guns.

It`s because of the way that the crimes were carried out.

The incident happened at Eagle Armory just off Main Street and Interstate 70 around 2:30 a.m. Monday. Thieves broke the front door glass, then stole rifles and handguns.

Two Toyota Camry`s might have been used.

According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, authorities believe the crime here could be connected with two other recent break ins at gun stores. One of those other break-ins happened in April at the Cabela’s in Hazelwood.

Police released surveillance pictures of the two suspects.

In that case, authorities believe the suspects backed a U-Haul truck through the store`s front doors then tried to make off with more than a dozen guns including rifles and handguns. But police interrupted the burglary when they got to the scene.

The U-Haul truck got stuck on a curb and the two suspects ran off each armed with a rifle.

Police searched for the suspects but came up empty/ All of the guns were recovered in that case except for the rifles that suspects ran off with.

Then on June 2 about 11 p.m., the Eagle Eye USA Indoor Shooting Range and Gun Shop in Wentzville was hit. In that case, the suspects stole three rifles.

Police say there are similarities between the three crimes but they declined to get into specifics.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call ATF.

38.810608 -90.699848

After the third Tennessee child in the month of May was wounded by an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot, Beth Joslin Roth unloaded her frustration.

“These kids are being injured and killed as a direct result of an adult’s irresponsible choice to leave a loaded firearm unsecured,” the policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project wrote on the group’s website.

“We know that our state has a disproportionate number of these incidents. We’ve asked our legislators to address the issue. They refuse. And kids keep getting shot.”

Indeed, lawmakers in the gun-friendly state weeks earlier had rejected a bill called MaKayla’s Law after an 8-year-old girl who was shot to death by an 11-year-old neighbor. The boy had found a loaded shotgun in an unlocked closet in his home. He was convicted as a delinquent juvenile and sentenced to remain in a youth-detention facility until he turns 19. No adult was charged for failing to secure the weapon.

MaKayla’s Law would have created such a penalty, but opponents say it threatens the right of gun owners to secure firearms, or not secure them, as they see fit. In Tennessee, if a child finds a gun and shoots someone, the responsibility is the child’s alone.

This is one area of law where North Carolina is far superior. Here, parents or guardians can be charged with a misdemeanor if a child in their care gains access to a firearm and uses it to injure or kill someone. Such charges are lodged with some consistency, according to an investigation by The Associated Press and The USA Today Network. Perhaps as a result, there are fewer such shootings here than in many states where laws are lacking or enforcement is lax.

Prosecutions in North Carolina have not done any harm to anyone’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution doesn’t convey a right to allow children to use guns to kill or injure other children.

Firearms are a huge problem for children in the U.S. Being shot is the second-leading cause of injury-related death among children, behind car crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A new study authored by CDC researcher Katherine A. Fowler says: “International studies indicate that 91 percent of firearm deaths of children aged 0 to 14 years among all high-income countries worldwide occur in the United States, making firearm injuries a serious pediatric and public health problem.”

The average annual number of fatal and nonfatal shootings of children exceeds 7,000. Fowler’s study found that accidental shootings declined slightly from 2002 to 2014. State laws like North Carolina’s could be responsible for this important progress. Homicides are also down. The striking increase has come from gun-related suicides, which are tracked for children 10 and older. Too many adolescents who are going through a crisis attempt to kill themselves. They are often successful if they have access to firearms.

Even a toddler can pick up a gun and pull the trigger. Why would anyone let that happen? Kids and guns are a terrible combination.

— from the News & Record of Greensboro.

So, you want to be an Ultimate Fighter?

No? Well, would you be willing to accept being a Bellator fighter then? If you do, we’ll let you use your ass as a billboard to sell hot wings…

On Saturday night, Bellator presented the crown jewel of the empire it has been building since Scott Coker, former Strikeforce head honcho, took control of the promotion. He’s the man who took a company built around tournament based fighting as a way of determining title challengers and creating homegrown talent and decided to do away with all that because people will gladly watch Ken Shamrock attempt to retain whatever sad shred of dignity he still has left after all these years.

After 3 years of signing UFC castoffs and promoting fights between men who, at this point in their careers, should only be fighting over the last serving of applesauce at the retirement center, Bellator came full guns blazing for the first Payperview of the Coker era, entering New York for the most imaginatively named show in company history, Bellator: NYC.

Bringing the crown jewel of the empire to the Empire State? Sounds like a win to me.

It’s even more of a win if you like weird finishes, weirder decisions, and all the best aspects of the Wild West of MMA, as only the industry leaders of car wreck MMA can bring you.

Seriously, UFC, step your game up. Stop pretending like you still have integrity and/or care about the health of the sport. There’s dollas to be made.

I mean, just look at the top fight of the Bellator 180 TV card that led into the Payperview. In 2015, Ryan Bader edged out Phil Davis in a razor thin split decision where it was hard to determine a winner if only because it felt like nobody did anything.

Now fast forward to 2017, where Ryan Bader edged out Phil Davis in a razor thin split decision where it was hard to determine a winner if only because it felt like nobody did anything, except this time, we got 10 more minutes of nothing. Plus, now Bader can pretend like he accomplished something in this sport by becoming a Bellator champion.

Hey, remember when he was *this* close to being considered for a title shot against Daniel Cormier? I bet Ryan does. Every night. While softly weeping into his pillow. At least he now has a Bellator belt to wipe away the tears.

The fun carried over to the Payperview, where the most normal fight was probably the opener, the Welterweight Championship fight between Douglas Lima and Lorenz “Insert Warm Body Here” Larkin, although I wonder how many people stuck around for the rest of the show after watching a 25 minute fight where not a whole lot happened other than a brief knockdown in the second round.

It was a decent win for Lima, although part of me wonders if the judges gave rounds to him just because Larkin’s hair made it look like he’d already had half his head kicked off.

At least it was better looking than Zach Freeman’s corn rows…

Oh hey, do you know who Aaron Pico is? He’s only the greatest thing to happen to MMA since Sliced Kimbo.

He’s a junior Golden Gloves Champion. He’s competed and won world championships in wrestling and almost earned a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. He’s such a big deal that Bellator signed him to a contract before he was legally old enough to compete, no doubt wringing their hands together as they waited for the greatest athlete the sport has ever seen to arrive and take over.

Well, he arrived on Saturday night. He then left 24 seconds later, after getting caught with a punch and dragged to the ground in a nasty guillotine choke. If he’s the future of the sport, let’s enjoy today because tomorrow we are sooooo screwed…

At least Michael Chandler came to fight. Too bad the same couldn’t be said about his foot.

The Bellator Lightweight Champion, and one of the few true Bellator guys on the roster, ended up in the middle of the cage with undefeated prospect Brent Primus and found he didn’t have a leg to stand on.

411Mania: For all your foot based comedy needs.

It’s hard to say what exactly happened, as Brent landed a kick on Chandler and, when Chandler stepped forward, he appeared to have rolled his ankle. Michael stepped awkwardly on his leg a few times, including after rocking Primus with a stiff punch, before the ref paused the fight to inspect the injury. It almost seemed like the doctors were going to let it go before Michael literally fell on his ass after the stool he had been sitting on was taken out of the cage.

Seriously, if you’re looking for a GIF to sum up the night, that’s the one right there. I’m sure Chandler will get an immediate rematch against Primus. I mean, Chandler’s the one Bellator wants the belt on, right? Otherwise, he may be tempted to go to the UFC and actually make something with his career.

Then again, it hasn’t worked out too well for Will Brooks so far…

You can either sum up the night with that image or the image of Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione cracking each other in the jaw at the same time.

Seriously, how perfect would that have been to get a double knockout? We came so close, you guys. So close.

If we were hoping for some fireworks after waiting an extra four months to see Fedor make his US return and his Bellator debut, we sure got some, although not the kind Fedor was hoping for, taking the worst of the almost double KO. Mitrione, demonstrating why he’s called “Meathead,” shook the strike off and clobbered Fedor with a few punches on the ground before the fight was stopped, giving us a much needed victory against the Russians.


Wait a sec…he runs the country now, doesn’t he?

Uh oh. We’re in trouble.

It was a little disappointing that this trip to the US went as well as Fedor’s last trip to the US (Fun Fact: Dan Henderson wrecked Fedor’s shit 15 minutes from my parent’s house) but, in 2017, can anyone be surprised that Fedor got knocked out?

Seriously, the people who are shocked that Fedor got knocked out are probably the same people who are shocked that Chael Sonnen ended a blood feud by laying on his hated rival for the better part of 15 minutes.

What is with you people? Have none of you seen a Chael Sonnen fight before? He doesn’t fight people. He’s a wrestler. He takes you down, secures top position, and lands enough rabbit punches to the ribs to prevent a standup until the timekeeper finally wakes up. All wrestlers from 15 years ago do that. It’s not Chael’s fault Wanderlei Silva can’t defend against some of the most telegraphed double legs you will ever see in professional MMA.

It is definitely disappointing that years of insults and anger and drug suspensions and staged reality TV brawls led to such a piddling contest of who could sweat on the other the hardest but, hey, look on the bright side: Bellator could always book a rematch. That is, unless Coker is going to seriously consider Chael’s callout of Fedor.

Nice job, Mr. American Gangster, calling out a fighter who was unconscious on the canvas half an hour earlier.

Well, unless Chael thinks beating Fedor is the quickest way to get a cabinet position in the Trump administration. Just don’t make him the Secretary of Energy. I don’t think he has enough to be qualified for that…

So, of all the events Bellator could have presented for their first Payperview, they gave us the most Bellator event ever. Kudos to Coker for making the effort, even though anything less than half a million buys will probably be considered a failure for the majority of the MMA fanbase, but at least it reaffirms the notion the UFC isn’t the only player in town. They’re just the only player anyone is willing to throw money at or care about in any meaningful way.

Actually, that’s not true. No one’s going to pay money for UFC events either. Not after we get the inaugural main event of the Ultimate Conor Championship in August.

Start saving up now. It’s going to be an expensive end to the summer…

Evan Zivin has been writing for 411 MMA since May of 2013. Evan loves the sport, and likes to takes a lighthearted look at the world of MMA in his writing…usually.

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) – Emirates Team New Zealand’s successful plan to regain the America’s Cup started as soon as they had lost in devastating fashion to Oracle Team USA in San Francisco in 2013.

The New Zealand outfit had been highly secretive about their activities during the campaign to win the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda but opened up after clinching the “Auld Mug” on Monday.

“After San Francisco, we had a pretty brutal debrief,” the team’s CEO Grant Dalton told reporters after lifting the cup.

That resulted in a 20-point plan focused on what the team, which is part government-funded alongside sponsorship from Emirates, Toyota and wealthy benefactors, had to do differently.

Key among them was the need to “invest in technology on a pretty limited budget”, an emotional Dalton, who is known by the rest of the team as “Dalts”, revealed.

The Kiwi team underwent a major shake-up and struggled for cash in the aftermath of the defeat at the hands of the better-funded team backed by Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

Their own team principal and benefactor Matteo de Nora, who said on Monday he “knew we had an opportunity to do something” with Dalton, was instrumental in providing support and guidance during a period when others doubted.

“They saw us as cowboys… we were to a point,” Dalton said, adding that there were times when the team had not been able to pay salaries but had managed to keep going.


Dalton and skipper Glenn Ashby, the only surviving member of the 2013 San Francisco ‘shipwreck’, worked together to come up with a plan that would be bold, different and revolutionary.

That resulted in one significant secret weapon, which other teams have acknowledged changed the course of the cup.

“We knew we couldn’t outspend them (Oracle Team USA) so we had to out-think them,” Dalton said, adding that he and Ashby agreed from the start they would “throw the ball out as far as we can and see if we can get to it”.

It was Ashby, who Dalton calls “Glenny”, who stuck to his guns on critical elements of the new programme.

“The foresight that we had as a team to be aggressive and bold in our design philosophy has ultimately provided us with the victory here today,” Ashby said.

This included the decision to employ “cyclors”, sailors who pedal to provide the hydraulic power needed to drive the boat, rather than traditional “grinders”, who use their arms.

“Glenn wouldn’t let us employ any grinders,” Dalton said.

New Zealand managed to keep the pedal set-up secret until late in the game, training at home and not showing their hand until February of this year when they revealed that Olympic cycling medallist Simon van Velthooven would be on board.

Another masterstroke was signing up Peter Burling to steer the team’s 50-foot (15 metre) foiling catamaran.

Dalton met secretly at his home with the 26-year-old, who has won Olympic gold and silver medals in the 49er skiff class.

Burling, who has shown extraordinary calmness and composure during the America’s Cup campaign and has been widely viewed as unflappable, said he wanted to helm the new New Zealand boat.

“It was investing in the right people, giving them responsibility and not shackling them,” Dalton said.

That philosophy paid off on Bermuda’s Great Sound, and for de Nora, who did not reveal how much money he had ploughed into the campaign, it was finally “mission accomplished”.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

In one corner of the NFL offseason, a discussion has taken place on the celebration antics of players in the end zone and beyond. Yellow flags leapt from the fists of officials across the league in the 2016-17 season. Now, the league says officials will lighten up on these calls. Personality is good and it’s necessary for keeping fans entertained in the modern age of 10-second clips and soundbites. But the NFL doesn’t have to worry about ratings.

Baseball feels the urgency to secure its group of fans while attracting new ones. We’re talking about pitch clocks, ties, limiting mound visits, replays, changing the way extra innings are played. In a game where time is meant to be suspended for nine innings (or more), the league is consumed in finding a way to shave mere minutes away and hold onto the attention of viewers.

As for racing, it has never commanded the attention of Americans coast to coast like football or baseball. But pro auto racing, too, is concerned with viewership and capturing the interest of new fans.

While baseball contemplates changing the game to get more eyeballs, NASCAR already has by implementing stage racing and creating a playoff format that is always at risk of being tweaked again.

The constant changes have turned off some fans.

“It doesn’t have the same good feeling it used to have,” one longtime fan from Missouri told USA Today last year. “We’ve just lost interest in NASCAR. NASCAR has lost interest in us.”

Auto racing peaked in popularity in the latter half of the 2000s. In 2005, TV ratings were rapidly climbing and Fortunenamed NASCAR “America’s Fastest Growing Sport.” Sponsors flocked to make their brands visible on the cars, on the walls and as the presenting sponsor of the races. The seats were filled. Fans at the track and at home were happy. All was well.

And then the nation entered a recession. Families did not have the extra cash to spend on a weekend trip to the speedway or a night out at the ballpark. Ratings began to dip, as did live attendance.

Nearly 10 years have passed since the financial crisis began – plenty of time for fans to completely change the way sports are watched and news is consumed. Sports, simply, are playing catchup.

Soon enough, a cable subscription won’t be your only key to live sports. Last year, the NFL experimented with live streaming games on Twitter. This fall, you can watch Thursday Night Football with an Amazon Prime subscription.

The massive business operation behind pro sports is focused on enhancing the experience for fans attending a live game – new facilities, better food, a bigger jumbotron, live entertainment, internet access to check in on your fantasy team. It’s happening in our backyard, right up Route 106 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where earlier this month the North East Motor Sports Museum opened its doors. At the opening, NHMS General Manager and Vice President David McGrath said “it’s these kinds of facilities” that will be the future of the speedway. He added that a casino could be in store for the property if state law ever allowed it.

New Hampshire isn’t the only track that’s seen a decline in attendance, as evidenced by several empty rows in the stands when NASCAR last came through Loudon in September. It is happening across NASCAR and the venues it visits. What does the auto racing body need to attract new fans and retain the ones who keep tuning in? It comes down to the drivers.

NASCAR has hit a snag in that area with two of the sport’s most popular drivers, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, retiring over the last two seasons. Carl Edwards, another fan favorite, stunned the racing community when he announced in January that he would not race this year. Edwards, though, has hinted that he may return and has avoided the word “retirement” at every turn.

When Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires at the end of this year, it will be the third straight season NASCAR has lost at least one superstar. There has been a lot of talk about the “young guns” of racing this year, namely Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson. Suarez, 25, is the oldest of the group, and Larson is having the best season with two wins, six poles and seven top-five finishes this year. He was atop the Cup standings heading into Sunday’s race at Sonoma, where he was the pole winner on Saturday.

New England racer turned ESPN analyst Ricky Craven told the Monitor earlier this month that the onus shouldn’t be on these young drivers to keep sport interesting.

“I think we do need drivers to retain those fans, but I think the burden lies squarely on the shoulders of (Kevin) Harvick and (Matt) Kenseth, drivers that have a few years left, Brad Keselowski, they’re legitimate,” Craven said. “These are guys that can battle for championships. What we need from the young guys are new fans. Fans that wouldn’t ordinarily pay to come here. That’s what we need.”

New channels, same racing

Last weekend at Sonoma marks the final race of the season to be aired by Fox. NBC picks up the schedule from here with races alternating between the main network channel and NBC Sports Network. The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona on Saturday will air on NBC beginning at 7:30 p.m.

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339, nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)

The resistance was a contingent of at least 18 groups pulled together by Rise and Resist and Gays Against Guns under the leadership of Ken Kidd. | DONNA ACETO

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | A dozen queer activists were arrested during New York City’s Pride March as they protested the presence of police and corporate sponsors in the annual commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots that marked the modern LGBTQ rights movement’s start.

“To the police — You cannot mass incarcerate us, brutalize us, murder us, and call it pride,” Hoods4Justice, the group that organized the protest, wrote in a statement that was posted on its Facebook page hours before the action. “To Wells Fargo, Citi, and remaining corporate sponsors — You cannot pillage our homes, brand us, rob us of our dignity, invest in our imprisonment, and spray us with water hoses in sub-freezing temperatures and call it sponsorship. To the politicians — You cannot sit idly by and call it allyship.”

Disruptors, led by a group known as Hoods4Justice, did not register for the march but instead jumped into the resistance contingent and carried signs protesting police and corporate participation in the Pride event. | DONNA ACETO


Hoods4Justice used a classic activist move — it never registered for the parade, instead jumping in with the 18 groups, including Rise & Resist, Gays Against Guns, ACT UP, and other activist organizations, that comprised the resistance section that was registered and situated near the start of the parade. The resistance –– formed this year as a way for the Pride March to respond to Donald Trump’s election as president –– was staged, prior to the kickoff of the march, on East 41st Street. In the several hours leading up to the parade, Hoods4Justice initially gathered at the rear of that contingent, but when the resistance organizations stepped onto Fifth Avenue moments after noon the group jumped to the front of that section.

Protesting police, corporate role in Pride, Hoods4Justice blocks GOAL, halts march, angers some spectators

“We’re here to declare that today’s Pride and coming Prides are a no-cop zone,” June, a member of Hoods4Justice, told Gay City News as the group marched south on Fifth Avenue to cheers and applause. The roughly 50 members carried banners reading, “There are no queer friendly cops,” “No cops no banks,” and “Decolonize pride.”

A small contingent of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, led by Hawk Newsome (carrying the flag), marched with the Hoods4Justice group. | DUNCAN OSBORNE

Hoods4Justice was joined by a small contingent from Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club marched in front of both groups.

It is always difficult to tell if the tens of thousands who line the march route are cheering specifically for the groups that are going by at that moment or just cheering for every group that goes by. Judging by the raised fists that frequently greeted the Black Lives Matter group, it was clear that the group was winning the crowd. The cheers were occasionally deafening.

Among the larger resistance groups was Gays Against Guns, formed in the wake of last June’s Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre. | DONNA ACETO

Cathy Marino-Thomas from Gays Against Guns. | DONNA ACETO

“It shows that the good people of New York care about Black Lives Matter,” Hawk Newsome, who is the president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and an officer in the Jim Owles Club, told Gay City News during the June 25 parade. “The gay community stands on the side of Black Lives Matter.”

The police and Heritage of Pride (HOP), the organization that produces New York City’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, were clearly expecting Hoods4Justice, which was no surprise as a member was quoted in a June 19 USA Today article saying the organization would protest on June 25.

Hoods4Justice was trailed down Fifth Avenue by about two-dozen police officers on bikes and another roughly 20 to 30 officers and commanders from NYPD’s Strategic Response Group, which handles what police call civil disorder, and other police units.

When the group arrived at the east end of Christopher Street at roughly 2:30, about two-dozen members of Hoods4Justice stepped out of the march route and waited on a nearby corner. They were first penned in by police bikes and then with police stanchions. As the members moved west on Christopher Street on the sidewalk, they were followed on the street by members of the Strategic Response Group.

Hoods4Justice demonstrators used long black tubes to thwart NYPD efforts to quickly end their blockade of the march. | DONNA ACETO

The members of Hoods4Justice timed their move back onto Christopher Street so that they blocked the parade route just as the NYPD’s marching band, which was leading GOAL, the NYPD’s LGBTQ police group, arrived. Some members of Hoods4Justice either handcuffed themselves together inside of long black tubes that covered their arms or linked hands inside the tubes, preventing the police from easily separating them. The blockade happened just yards from the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots. Police had to saw through the tubes, a process that took about 30 minutes.

A dozen demonstrators were eventually arrested. | DONNA ACETO



The crowd was not sympathetic to the disrupters.

“They shouldn’t be doing this,” said Steven, a 17-year-old who was watching the parade. “The parade is about acceptance, not resistance.”

As some of the 12 protestors were led off by police, some in the crowd booed loudly. Asked if they were booing the police or the protestors, people on the sidewalk were unanimous in saying they were booing the people who had blockaded the parade.

LGBTQ uniformed officers, such as these transgender police officers, who followed the demonstrators won cheers from the crowd. | DUNCAN OSBORNE

“All these guys are not the problem,” said Chris Laro, who described himself as a Vermont ex-hippie, referring to the police. “It’s not that it’s not a vital issue, but today’s not the time.”

A number of people whom Gay City News spoke with during and after the protest had no idea what it was about and had to hear an explanation from this reporter first before they had any reaction.

It is unknown if HOP or the NYPD was the complainant in the arrests, but a man wearing an HOP T-shirt reading “Executive Board” could be seen conferring with police during the arrests. While this is not the first time people have been arrested while protesting during the Pride March, it would likely be a first if HOP asked that the arrests be made. James Fallarino, HOP’s spokesperson, did not respond to a call seeking comment, and the police department press office could not supply an answer this early in the arrest process.

ACT UP was also part of the resistance contingent and they and other groups drew attention to health care threats posed by the Trump administration. | DONNA ACETO



The crowd on Christopher Street cheered loudly as GOAL and LGBTQ members of other city uniformed services, including the corrections and fire departments marched by. GOAL invited the LGBTQ police group from Toronto to march with it this year after it was banned from Toronto’s annual Pride Parade.

The registered resistance contingent swelled to more than 2,000 people, effectively stealing the Pride show this year with its large group and loud message very near the front of the parade, which often more closely resembles a celebration.

Gays Against Guns staged periodic die-ins along the march route. | DONNA ACETO

“The crowd was joyous, the crowd was thrilled with our message of resistance,” said Ken Kidd, the activist who took the lead on organizing the contingent. “They joined in with us when we said, ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

Joining the resistance contingent were Housing Works, the AIDS services organization, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBTQ synagogue, and Indivisible Nation BK, a Brooklyn activist group. Gay City News also marched with the resistance.

Other resistance groups raised policing issues. | DONNA ACETO

HOP initially resisted admitting the contingent into the parade at all, and also pushed back on the effort to have it located at the front. When HOP agreed to allow the resistance contingent a forward position, it capped the number of groups that could join the section.

“All of the groups came together to say this is not normal, this is fascism, and we are going to be resisting until this Trump regime is over,” Kidd said.

Refuse Fascism focused its fire on the threat the Trump-Pence regime poses to liberal democracy here and around the globe. | DONNA ACETO

One of the 49 Human Beings, a political statement conceived by Tigger-James Ferguson after last year’s Orlando massacre, who marched with Gays Against Guns. | DONNA ACETO

“Tonight may be the night he kills me, Ruthie Bolton remembers thinking as her husband called to her from their living room.

“Get in here,” he said. “I’m not going to ask you again.”

From the kitchen, she could see him sitting with a gun in one hand and a beer in the other.

For nearly a decade, “Mighty Ruthie” Bolton, an Olympic Gold medalist and star player for the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs, had felt trapped in an abusive marriage. Now, on a night in 2002 in the couple’s home in Gainesville, Fla., Bolton feared Mark Holifield might do something more than hit her.

She decided to make a run for it. Barefooted, she slipped out a side door and into the darkness. She phoned her friend and mentor Carol Ross, who picked her up on a nearby roadside. Bolton later would file for divorce, ending her relationship with Holifield for good.

Until recently, Bolton kept the painful details mostly to herself. But the recent release of an ESPN documentary that details that chapter of her life has given her a new platform, one that she hopes will empower and uplift girls and women with a message that transcends athletics. Bolton is speaking out across the country about living with, and escaping, domestic violence.

Holifield denies her allegations of abuse.

“I don’t want this to be a pity party,” Bolton, 50, told an audience of about 500 people at a recent screening of the film, “Mighty Ruthie,” at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

“Please don’t feel sorry for me,” she said. “Because my story has a happy ending.”

JumpLede_JV_060617_RUTHIE 155

Lisa Lax, director of the ESPN documentary “Mighty Ruthie” sits with Ruthie Bolton, the former pro basketball player and Olympian, at the Golden 1 Center on June 6, 2017. Bolton recently has been speaking out about the domestic violence she said she suffered during her first marriage.

Jose Luis Villegas

Her life with Holifield, a former law enforcement officer, began happily enough after she met him when she was a student and basketball star at Auburn University in Alabama. Holifield was charming and funny and gentle at first, she said. He hit her for the first time in 1991, she said, a few months after they married.

It happened in Virginia, where she was training to be an officer in the Army Reserves. She had made the mistake of telling him that another man had made a pass at her.

He slapped her, hard, across the face, she recalled. Bolton was stunned. Holifield, a tall sheriff’s deputy with hazel eyes, had never seemed violent, she said.

“I was so in love with him, I felt it must be my fault,” Bolton said in a recent interview. “Like I deserved it.” She was sure it would never happen again.

Bolton was on the precipice of greatness in her sport, despite her relatively diminutive size. She was 5 foot 8, but made made up for her lack of height with an abundance of quickness, agility and a determination she learned from her parents, pastor Linwood Bolton and his wife Leola.

Ruthie and her sister MaeOla, two of 20 siblings, grew up in the tiny town of McClain in southern Mississippi. Both became stars at Auburn, one of the nation’s most storied women’s basketball programs.

Ruthie would go on to play professionally overseas, and twice win gold medals for Team USA during the Olympic games in Atlanta and Sydney. She was selected to join the Sacramento Monarchs during the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997. She became a Hall of Famer. Her name will soon be added to the Sacramento Walk of Stars, which honors the accomplishments of celebrities and others who have called the region home.

But for a decade, unbeknownst to her friends, teammates and fans, Bolton’s personal life was a disaster.

The abuse, she said, was subtle at first. Holifield “wanted to know who I was with, and what I was doing, at all times,” she said. “He was very jealous.”

Jealousy escalated into cruelty, she said, and physical violence. She said she told no one that her husband degraded her accomplishments, yanked her hair and called her hateful names. She stayed silent, she said, about his ugly blowups when she was few minutes late for a movie or brought home the wrong brand of juice from the store.

Holifield, in a telephone interview with The Bee, denied ever hurting Bolton. “It’s totally false,” he said. “Me and Ruthie never had any physical contact. It never happened.”

He said he plans to hire a lawyer to challenge the allegations she has talked about publicly. “I’ll sing like the Temptations,” he said, “and unlike Ruthie’s allegations, I can prove mine.”

Bolton stands firmly behind her story.

Ross, a former assistant coach at Auburn who had become a good friend of Bolton’s while both were later living in Gainesville, long suspected something was amiss. “She had to check in with Mark repeatedly, and she would become unnerved if she couldn’t do it,” Ross said. “She constantly worried about how he was feeling, what his mood would be like. To me, this was not normal.”

But Bolton guarded her privacy, even after Holifield began threatening her with guns, she said.

Bolton said she reported her husband’s abuse only once, in 1996. Holifield was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, records show, but the charges were dropped. Bolton never pursued the case, she said, in part because Holifield was in law enforcement and she questioned whether anyone would believe her.

Basketball was Bolton’s escape. On the court, she had the love and support of teammates and coaches, and she thrived. In 1996, Bolton and her Olympic team won the gold medal in Atlanta. Bolton was a darling of the 1996 squad, leading the team with 23 steals. The following year she joined the Monarchs, and became a cornerstone of the franchise. In her first season, she scored more than 19 points and grabbed nearly six rebounds per game.

Playing professional basketball in America was a dream come true. But her joy would dissipate, she said, when she would look into the stands at Arco Arena and see her husband, whom she said was a heavy drinker. “Every day that he didn’t hit me felt like a good day,” she said.

Bolton resided most of the year in Gainesville, where she and Holifield had a house and where her sister MaeOla and Ross lived. She also maintained an apartment in Sacramento.“I lived in fear,” she said. “It felt like I was trying to live two lives. I felt like a failure. I believed the devil wanted my marriage to fail, and I did not want him to win.

“I was used to fixing things,” she said. “I wanted to fix this.”

JV_060617_RUTHIE 083

Ruthie Bolton, the former pro basketball player and Olympian, spoke out about surviving domestic violence at the Golden 1 Center on June 6, 2017.

Jose Luis Villegas

Filled with guilt and shame for being “a bad wife,” she said, she tried to please her husband by weighing her every word and “not messing up.” But no matter how hard she tried to appease him, she said, nothing worked. Finally, she persuaded Holifield to attend counseling with her, and their relationship improved a bit. But the effect was temporary.

“He started hitting me again,” she said. At the urging of the counselor, she quietly packed an emergency “escape bag” filled with a change of clothes and other essentials and gave it to Ross.

In 1997, six years after they married, Bolton and Holifield decided to renew their wedding vows. Perhaps the ceremony, Bolton thought, would bring new life to their marriage and demonstrate her commitment to Holifield.

On the way to the church in Mississippi, Bolton said, Holifield cracked her across the face. Her eye swelled, and for the first time, her family pushed for answers.

At first, she told them she had bumped into a door. Then she confessed that Holifield had hit her. But he was sorry, she said, and she remained determined to save her marriage. “I wasn’t hearing God telling me to leave yet,” Bolton said. “I thought maybe my punishment was over, and I could be happy now.”

Her father listened, and gave her some advice. “If he ever threatens your life,” he pleaded, “please take it seriously.”

Later that day, Bolton renewed her vows to Holifield. MaeOla stood beside her as her maid of honor.

“I felt like I was the biggest hypocrite in the world,” MaeOla Bolton said in a phone interview. “I told my family, ‘We have let her down. We should have done something more to stop this.’ 

Ruthie Bolton’s friends and family members said something within her changed on the night she left Holifield for good in 2002.

“She called me, very upset and scared, and asked if I could come and get her,” Ross recalled. “That was her real cry for help. It brought everything out into the open. I was involved. I wanted answers. I wanted to talk about it.”

Ross sheltered Bolton at her home for “a long time,” she said. “She had to break the cycle.”

‘Recovery and forgiveness’

At a private gym in Orangevale on a recent afternoon, beneath a framed replica of her Sacramento Monarchs jersey, Ruthie Bolton stood in her comfort zone. Young girls streaked across the hardwood, their sneakers squeaking, their dribbles echoing across the court.

“Understand why you are missing your shots, OK?” she instructed the adolescent girls. They stopped and listened intently. They were lucky, they said, to be learning the game from a pro, one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players of her time.

But Bolton’s life, she said, is about so much more than basketball now.

“At the end of the day, maybe these girls won’t play in the WNBA,” she said. “But I want them to remember that Ruthie taught them about believing in themselves, about overcoming challenges and having the confidence to never allow someone to abuse them. I want them to feel like they are powerful.”


Former Sacramento Monarchs star Ruthie Bolton shoots a selfie with several of her young basketball players who she coaches following a practice session on June 12 in Orangevale.

Randy Pench rpench@sacbee.com

Bolton has come a long way, she said, but she is still processing her story. Why did she choose an abusive partner? Why did she stay with him? Why did she never pursue charges against him? Her path is not an uncommon one, according to advocates for people living in violent relationships. Victims often feel it is more dangerous for them to flee an abusive partner than to stay in the relationship and try to repair it.

“I am on the road to recovery and forgiveness,” Bolton said earlier this month. “I’m not completely there yet, but every time I talk about it I get a little closer. I have a voice now.”

The ESPN documentary, which premiered in Auburn more than a year ago, has been shown at various venues around the country since then. Bolton has attended the gatherings, answered questions and spoken on panels about domestic violence. She has heard from women whose experiences “were far worse than mine,” she said. A few have told her that her story inspired them to get help, or leave abusive relationships.

“If this can help save one person’s life, it will be worth it,” Bolton said.

As she ended her training session with the girls in Orangevale, she gathered them for a pep talk. It’s OK to be imperfect, she said. It’s OK to make mistakes.

“You’re going to fall flat on your face before you develop into who you really are,” she said.

Bolton is remarried now. She and her husband, Cesar Lara, have two children, Hope, 8, and Christofer, 5. Their home, on a quiet street not far from the arena where she played with the Monarchs, is filled with stuffed animals and family photos. Bolton’s many awards and honors decorate the walls.

“Ruthie has moved on,” said Ross, the former coach. “She has accomplished a lot, and she has more to do. Most importantly, she is still here with us. Because given what she went through, we could easily have lost her.”

Bolton agreed.

The ESPN film, she said, at the Sacramento screening “is an avenue toward healing.”

“I’m thankful that I lived to tell about what happened to me.”

Upcoming Ruthie Bolton events

Ruthie Bolton’s name will be added to the Sacramento Walk of Stars at an event in September. She will be coaching at Bobby Jackson’s Kings Legends Basketball Camp on July 8, and is scheduled to be at the author’s booth at the California State Fair, signing her books “The Ride of a Lifetime,” and “From Pain to Power” on July 16. “Mighty Ruthie,” the ESPN documentary based on her life, is available on iTunes.