Jazz Man

On Wednesday I flew home from Phoenix after two days of tax group meetings with my firm. I was sitting at the gate waiting for my flight, when I looked up and to my surprise saw Rod Blagojevich, the Governor of the State of Illinois, who was going to be on the same flight. (I once shared a flight with Jesse Jackson when I was returning from D.C. to Chicago.) He is having a lot of political trouble in the state (when on board a businessman in my row muttered to no one in particular his displeasure with having to share a plane with that @%^##), but from his interactions with the people in the boarding area I could see why he has been a successful politician. He was glib, extremely friendly, very charming, chatting people up as if they were old, dear friends (and it didn’t hurt that he had his young daughter with him).

I was reminded of that when I read of President Monson’s very public appearance front and center at a recent Utah Jazz game. I also thought back on President Hinckley’s attendance at a private screening of Amazing Grace at one of Larry Miller’s theaters. In that latter case I was fascinated by how sequestered a church president is and how difficult that must be. So I was (pleasantly) surprised and a little shocked to read of President Monson sitting on the third row cheering on his Jazz.

And why not? It wasn’t that long ago (well, before my time, it is true) that you could stop the prophet on the street and have a chat with him or go to see him at his office without an appointment. Now the public almost never sees him in person outside of very controlled settings, and that’s a shame. But maybe that is going to change a little bit under the new administration.

Was his appearance politically calculated? He sounds a lot like Governor Blagojevich at the airport, waving, smiling for the cameras, even popping in the huddle in the third quarter to urge on Jerry Sloan and the players (surprising Jerry Sloan in a huddle is probably not a very smart thing to do, BTW, but it turned out ok). He often attends Jazz games, but usually in Jon Huntsman’s private box, so people don’t see him and don’t know he’s there. Was he trying to show that he’s still vigorous, a normal guy, a man of the people?

Perhaps. But I don’t really care. I simply love the fact that he went out in public and enjoyed a basketball game, and put himself out there to mingle with the people. Not just Mormons, but people.


  1. cj douglass says:

    Not just Mormons, but people.

    And a notoriously rowdy bunch of people they are indeed. I’m guessing Pres. Monson never heard so many F-bombs in his life. Good for him.

  2. I’m guessing Pres. Monson never heard so many F-bombs in his life.

    I’m not so sure. He has been known to frequent quite a few rest homes…

  3. Different kind of F-bomb, Sol.

    When I saw the story, I wondered whether Coach Sloan’s language had drifted up to the third row–and glad Jerry didn’t turn around and say something like “what the f*$# do you want?” when Pres. Monson patted him on the shoulder.

  4. I don’t know… I ran into President Hinckley at least three times just walking around the BYU campus. Once he stopped and spoke briefly to me- I was in such a state of shock at seeing him suddenly step off the elevator that I’m afraid I could only respond in short two or three word sentences.

    Of course his security detail was with him, so after the first time you started to get an idea of when he was around. It might just be that Brother Monson and Brother Hinckley had different personal interests.

  5. Different kind of F-bomb, Sol

    I’m feeling slow. What other kind of f-bomb is there? I’m always disheartened to miss out on a joke, if it was, in fact, a joke.

  6. It’s fun to see the brethren out and about. Pres Monson has been going to Jazz games for years. Great post.

  7. Pres. Monson is ex-Navy. I am sure that he is familiar with f-bombs along with all of the other military expressions.

  8. sol–Perhaps they haven’t hung out at enough rest homes to know that there are f-bombs there too. I’ve always been surprised at what comes out of the mouth of the sweetest, white-haired grandmas once dementia set in.

    Although that is an interesting mental picture: President Monson coming to give spiritual comfort to his dying Primary Chorister who upon seeing him says, “You’re that blankety-blank Tommy, aren’t ya? Always pulling the girls ponytails. Blank, just sing, would ya?”

  9. Sol, I suspect Mark B thought you were alluding to flatulence.

  10. Will this make it more difficult for me to raise my hand to sustain Pres. Monson in conference?

    I guess it’s time for me to get over the game 7 playoff loss the Jazz handed the Rockets in Houston last year.

  11. Will Schryver says:

    I’ll never forget how President Monson heaved his half-finished $8 beer at the nearest ref, and reminded us all of his Navy days when Michael Jordan shoved off Bryon Russell to nail the game winner in Game 6 of the finals.

    There’s a sight and sounds I’ll never forget!
    Ok, maybe it was Sprite. My son and I were listening to the game on the radio beside a campfire in the White Mountains in Arizona, so I can only go on what Hot Rod was saying . . .

  12. Who cares if it was a casual preference to sit in the third row, or a public relations planned event to be seen waving at the croud, all that really matters is that it helps to prove the point that although we sustain President Monson as our prophet, seer, and revelator, in the end he’s just another person like the rest of us. I’m glad our prophet is a casual guy…and one heck of a story-teller!

  13. Yes, he’s just a regular, casual guy that goes to an NBA game dressed like an undertaker.

  14. Okay…maybe President Monson didn’t attend the NBA game like a “regular” casual guy, but maybe he’s setting the tone for the casual guy of the 21st century.

  15. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 13 LOL.

    I had to take a second look at the photo of him at the game. Has any president of the Church in the last century EVER been photographed in anything other than a dark (or all white) suit?

  16. I got a great kick out of this with my family and some friends in our San Antonio TX Ward (all avid Spurs Fans) Told them that in order to “Follow the Prophet” they all had to root for the Jazz now!!!

  17. Well MikeInWeHo, there have actually been tons of such photographs. Pres. Hinckley’s own bio. even feature some of them in there, including Pres. Hinkcley deep see fishing in Alaska. Somewhere within the past couple of months I saw a picture online of Pres. Monson in his backyard with his pigeons; I’d love if someone would post the link for us if they find it, because that would be one to save to the hard drive.