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20130113wap brentmusburger 150ESPN had a large national television audience for at least the first half of that January 7 BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame. And, unfortunately for “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” it was during that more competitive part of the game that their announcer made on-air comments about the Alabama quarterback’s girlfriend which many on Twitter considered “creepy.” ESPN apologized for Brent Musburger’s remarks on January 8.

It was as the broadcast was mercifully coming to an end -- around midnight on January 8 New York time, around 5:00 AM on January 8 London time -- that I first noticed tweets about something even more dramatic than a 42-14 final score. David Bowie released his first single (“Where Are We Now?”) online and in March he releases his first album in 10 years (“The Next Day”). This information was posted by Bowie’s website -- and then passed along by others -- to coincide with his 66th birthday.

20130113wap davidbowieandiman 150David Bowie and Iman. Associated PressLast week I mentioned two songs which fill fans of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide with pride every time they heard them. I had forgotten that there may be a third, performed by David Bowie. He covered a 1927 Brecht composition that was first turned into a rock song in 1966 by The Doors. Entitled “Alabama Song” (“…Oh moon of Alabama it’s time to say goodbye…), it is perhaps better known as “Whisky Bar” (“Oh show me the way to the next whisky bar / Oh don’t ask why, oh don’t ask why…”). Bowie’s version was performed live during his 1978 Low & Heroes World Tour (which included an April 26 stop at Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena).

“Low” and “Heroes” were albums which included production by Tony Visconti (he also produced “The Next Day”). Bowie’s best-known song from the late 1970s is the title cut from “Heroes,” which was co-written by Brian Eno. The song -- which is about two lovers at the Berlin Wall (1961-1989) -- was at the end of the pre-encore setlist when Bowie last played Pittsburgh on May 17, 2004 at the Benedum.

Although “Heroes” was played as athletes from Great Britain entered London’s Olympic Stadium during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony and after medal ceremonies during the Olympics, I did not hear it at any time during the 2013 BCS Championship broadcast. But the television shows with superior heroes have not been seen on NBC or ESPN -- they have been on PBS. I call these heroes superior because, instead of changing football rankings and world records, they changed something that is more important and harder to break -- the law.

-- The American Experience series ran the first of the three-part series entitled “The Abolitionists” this past week. This new docudrama is telling the story of five Americans -- Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, and Angela Grimke -- whose words and sometimes illegal deeds in opposition to slavery became a 19th century movement which (with due credit to President Abraham Lincoln and many in Congress) ultimately changed U.S. law and the Constitution.

20130113pbs edroberts 150Ed Roberts with his son Lee in the early 1980s. PBS photo courtesy of Zona Roberts & Joan Leon-- The Independent Lens series reran “Lives Worth Living” this past month. This 2011 documentary tells the story of the 20th century disability rights movement, primarily through the stories of Fred Fray and Ed Roberts. This movement’s words and sometimes illegal deeds in opposition to discrimination led (with due respect to President George H.W. Bush, Dick Thornburgh and many in Congress) ultimately to a change in U.S. law and regulation.

Here are a few of my not-so-random thoughts on these subjects:

-- I agree with the New York Times reviewer who wrote that “The Abolitionists” is “a reminder for our noisy, instant-news present that the great movements of history, whether for civil rights or equality for women or the rights of people with disabilities, take decades to mature, and that presidents and other politicians are often among the last to board the bandwagon.”

-- The earliest attempt by the federal government to assist the disabled occurred following the bloody battles waged against (and for) slavery in the 1860s. The American Civil War resulted in 30,000 amputations in the Union Army alone. And the return of injured U.S. veterans in World War II began to shake the assumption in this century that “if you had a disability, you didn’t have any desire to live a life.”

-- I was thinking of referring to the heroes of the disability rights movement as “The Accessibilists” here, but it turns out that such a people title has an entirely different meaning, so I chose not to confuse the reader.

20130113pbs DAstrallanBLaura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley and Robert Bathurst as Sir Anthony Strallan. PBS photo courtesy of Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012-- I would be remiss if I did not mention a third PBS series which I also started watching this month: “Downton Abbey.” This fictional drama is nominated for some Golden Globes (the awards show is being broadcast on NBC on January 13). My favorite “DA” character – keeping with my theme this week – has to be Sir Anthony Strallan.

-- This past summer I hope the NBC Sports Network showed, as part of its (limited) coverage, the Great Britain team entering London’s Olympics Stadium during the opening ceremony of The Paralympics Games 2012 with “Heroes” playing in the background. And if they did, NBC Sports need not apologize.


(Top image: ESPN announcer Brent Musburger. AP file photo)

The Panic Street Lawyer is a personal opinion column by attorney Jay Hornack. Contact him right here at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow Jay on Twitter: @panicstlawyer

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