Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Iceman: The story of Dumont hitman Richard Kuklinski comes to the big screen

May 2, 2013

Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski in 'The Iceman.'

Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski in 'The Iceman.'

Richard Kuklinski lived to see himself achieve infamy, thanks to an acclaimed book and a chilling HBO documentary that chronicled his decades as a hit man for the mob and a self-styled killer — who eventually earned the moniker “The Iceman” by freezing a victim’s body in an attempt to mask the time of death. All the while, Kuklinski was living a double life as a family man in Dumont.

Now, seven years after he died while serving two life sentences at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton  for four murders, he is about to hit the big screen in “The Iceman,” a $10 million film out Friday that should perpetuate his notoriety. (The film opens in Lincoln Square and Sunshine Cinema in New York.) The so-called “big guy” — Kuklinski was 6-foot-4, 270 pounds — is played by Michael Shannon, the 6-foot-4, considerably slimmer actor who is best known as Agent Van Alden on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

Although “The Iceman” was filmed almost entirely in Shreveport, La. – director Ariel Vromen says he wanted to make the movie in New Jersey, but Louisiana offered unbeatable financial incentives to shoot there — it is a thoroughly Garden State story. He was first hired as a hit man by Brooklyn mobster Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta), but Kuklinski grew up, an abused child, in the Jersey City projects. Many of his victims were from, or dumped in, towns from North Bergen to West Milford. And it was a joint state and federal task force that took Kuklinski down, largely because of the work of Hackensack native and ATF undercover agent Dominick Polifrone, who used the alias Dominick Provenzano.

‘Had to play that game’

Polifrone — who retired from the ATF in 1998 and is now director of a youth drop-in center at Hackensack High School — has seen the movie twice and mostly gives it high grades. “I thought Michael Shannon was excellent. His demeanor, his eye contact, the way he spoke, the way he presented himself, the way he portrayed Kuklin­ski, the staring mode, his facial expressions,” Polifrone says. “The movie was violent and that’s the way it was back then, and I had to play that game.”

But seeing that violence on a big screen triggered memories. “All of a sudden I remember different things where he was telling me about these different murders,” Polifrone says. “I look back at this movie, and I’m saying to myself, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’”

The screenplay, by Vromen and Morgan Land, is based on Jim Thebaut’s 1992 HBO documentary “The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With a Killer,” and Anthony Bruno’s book “The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer.” The latter extensively covered the undercover operation that ended with Kuklinski’s arrest near his Sunset Street home in December 1986 — a fascinating tale given such short shrift in the film that many moviegoers may find the denouement confusing.

“When you have 18 or 19 years of stories, of so many characters, and a limitation of time and budget, you gotta choose what story you’re telling,” Vromen said at a recent press gathering in New York, when asked about the brevity of that important chapter. “I wanted to tell the love story. So I started the movie on a date and I end up on a separation.”

Calling Kuklinski’s relationship with his wife Barbara a “love story” may raise eyebrows. By many accounts, including her own, she was an abused woman, terrified that her husband would kill her and their three kids if she left.

Kuklinski’s family (all of whom are still alive) did not cooperate with the making of the film, and so Winona Ryder, who plays Barbara (rechristened “Deborah”), drew her own conclusions about Mrs. Kuklinski. Ryder says she was drawn to the project because of “the deep, deep denial that she was living in for so long … and the fact that she was flourishing on this blood money that I believe she knew was not clean money.”

Shannon says he watched the entire unedited 20-plus hours of HBO interviews, by himself, over and over, and concluded that Kuklinski “was a very sad person, a very lonely person, who was destined to lead a very bleak existence, then he met a woman and he fell in love and realized that he might have an opportunity to have a home and a family that he never really had. … But he could never really escape who he was.”

When Jay Giannone watched the HBO documentary, he zeroed in on Polifrone (known only as Provenzano in the film). “He’s such an interesting guy. He’s charismatic, and he’s cool. He’s hip,” says Giannone, a Boston native who tracked down Polifrone and peppered him with questions. “I said, ‘What was it like to actually sit across from Kuklinski, knowing what this guy was capable of doing any second?’ He told me, ‘I just went in confident. I had a lot of street credibility, and I used that to my advantage.’ He said sometimes he thought about what could happen … but he still had a job to do. He … was just so honorable.”

Polifrone, in turn, praised Giannone, saying he “played me well for the short time of it, and he reminded me of me as a young man when I first came on ATF.”

The part of the tale that moviegoers will not see (unless there’s a sequel): Polifrone started hanging out at a Kuklinski haunt, a front for illegal activity on McBride Avenue in Patersonknown as “the store.” Sporting flashy cars and lots of money, Polifrone — who had been working 15 years undercover, and had had great success infiltrating the New York mob — pretended to be Provenzano, a New York wiseguy.

It took a year before he finally met Kuklinski, at a Dunkin’ Donuts near the store. “I’m in my Lincoln, and he pulls up in the blue Camaro – I remember it just like it was five minutes ago — and he gets out and … Holy Christmas, this guy is huge. And I’m saying to myself, ‘Hey, Dom, be cool, you’ve done this a thousand times,’” Polifrone says.

Kuklinski (who later claimed to have killed 100 people) asked if Provenzano could get him pure cyanide, which had become his lethal weapon of choice. Kuklinski had killed his previous supplier, a fellow hit man and ice-cream truck driver named Robert Prongay, known as Mister Softee.

Polifrone — then living with his wife and three children in Hillsdale, less than five miles from Kuklinski’s home — was part of a team (a joint effort among the ATF, the state Attorney General’s Office and the state police) that had circumstantial evidence on Kuklinski, but needed direct evidence. With a tape recorder inside his leather jacket, Polifrone recorded their conversations, many of them at the Vince Lombardi Service Area.

Among other things, Kuklinski told him how he had put cyanide on the hamburger of a troublesome crew member (Gary Smith), then he and an accomplice (Danny Deppner, whom Kuklinski would later murder) watched in amusement as the guy took his time to die. “Richie’s laughing telling me the story,” recalls Polifrone, who also taped Kuklinski dishing about his signature kill. “He says, ‘I had a guy in a freezer for two years and they only thought he was dead for a week.’ He says, ‘When you want to freeze somebody, the best garbage bags to use are Glad, because they lasted for two years and kept the body beautiful.’"

The team knew from wiretaps that Kuklinski was planning to kill Provenzano next. They arrested him as he and his wife were driving away from their Dumont home on Dec. 17, 1986.

“I met him in September, so four months it took me to get the information and take him down,” Polifrone says. “That’s pretty good. I should get a star. But you know something? Dominick Polifrone better get counseling after seeing this movie. My kids are gonna go, ‘What in the world, Pops?’”


Film Review: 'The Iceman'

Don’t Bring Daddy to School for Vocation Day

‘The Iceman,’ With Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski

In “The Iceman” Michael Shannon’s mesmerizing portrayal of Richard Kuklinski, a notorious contract killer, has the paradoxical quality, peculiar to many great screen performances, of being unreadable and transparent. You can’t really see through Richard, whose pale-blue eyes take in the world from a face as expressionless as a sphinx. But in its tiniest tremors you can sense explosive forces roiling below the mask and grasp the duality with a visceral feeling of dread. It is a performance that has the same life-or-death gravity Mr. Shannon brought to the role of a man driven half-mad by apocalyptic portents in “Take Shelter.”
Richard operates in the treacherous milieu of Tony Soprano, but in an earlier era: the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He is a seething loner, and although not as bright, sociable or complicated as James Gandolfini’s Tony, the two have one crucial similarity: Both are fiercely devoted family men who go to great lengths to shield their loved ones from the dirty reality of their work. Richard is so secretive that late in the movie when mobsters pay him an unannounced house call, he is dismayed to discover that they know the exact location of his home in suburban New Jersey.
Where “The Sopranos” and its close cinematic equivalent, “Goodfellas,” are warmblooded explorations of violent men bonding, “The Iceman,” directed by Ariel Vromen from a screenplay he wrote with Morgan Land, is as cold as the nickname of its title character. Its story is based on Anthony Bruno’s novel, “The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer,” and the 1992 HBO documentary, “The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With a Killer.”
The real-life Kuklinski claimed to have committed his first murder as a young teenager. He was convicted of many contract killings for various New York-area crime organizations in 1988. He died in 2006. Estimates of the number of his victims range from 100 to 250. The movie was shot in Shreveport, La., which convincingly doubles for New York and New Jersey.
Richard is bootlegging pornographic movies for the Mafia when he marries Deborah Pellicotti (Winona Ryder), whom he meets in the early 1960s and woos by telling her she “is prettier than Natalie Wood.” She thinks that he makes his living dubbing Disney cartoons.
The first sign of his terrifying possessiveness and rage is his murder of a bar patron who makes a crude remark about Deborah. Playing a slavishly devoted wife who refuses to face the truth even when it stares her in the face, Ms. Ryder gives her deepest screen performance in years.
Richard’s opportunities expand when Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta), a crime lord flanked by two minions, Josh Rosenthal (David Schwimmer) and Mickey Scicoli (John Ventimiglia), visits his shabby studio and threatens his life for being late on a delivery. Impressed by Richard’s composure with a gun pointed at him, Roy enlists him as his personal hit man. Richard’s fortunes quickly rise (he tells Deborah he is working on Wall Street), and the Kuklinskis move to a comfortable home in the suburbs and have two daughters.
When mob politics interrupt the relationship with Roy, Richard teams up with another contract killer, Robert Pronge, a k a Mr. Freezy (an unrecognizable Chris Evans), who drives an ice cream truck and freezes the bodies of his victims before disposing of them. The two experiment with using cyanide spray as an undetectable murder weapon inside a nightclub. Roy ultimately discovers that Richard is working without his permission and comes calling.
“The Iceman” knows what it is and what it’s not. It doesn’t strive for the operatic grandeur of the “Godfather” movies or for the tragicomic flair of Martin Scorsese’s mobster movies. Its bleak, ominous atmosphere derives from its central character. The movie’s cool desaturated color lends it the look and feel of a television documentary, but there is a difference. Bobby Bukowski’s cinematography and Nathan Amondson’s production design sustain a look of deep grunge in which the characters are almost swallowed up in darkness.
Cameo performances from Stephen Dorff as Richard’s violent brother Joey, incarcerated in a New Jersey prison, and James Franco as one of Richard’s victims illuminate this extremely well-acted film like struck matches. The scene in which Richard visits Joey and they both explode with murderous rage triggers a flashback of a vicious childhood beating. When Mr. Franco’s doomed character prays to God to save his life, Richard cruelly grants him a half-hour grace period for God to intervene.
If the narrow biographical focus of “The Iceman” prevents it from being a great crime movie, on its own more modest terms it is an indelible film that clinches Mr. Shannon’s status as a major screen actor.
“The Iceman” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for extreme violence, strong language and some sexual content.
The Iceman
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Directed by Ariel Vromen; written by Morgan Land and Mr. Vromen, based on the fictional book “The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer” by Anthony Bruno and the documentary “The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With a Killer” by James Thebaut; director of photography, Bobby Bukowski; edited by Danny Rafic; music by Haim Mazar; production design by Nathan Amondson; costumes by Donna Zakowska; produced by Avi Lerner, Mr. Vromen and Ehud Bleiberg; released by Millennium Entertainment. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
WITH: Michael Shannon (Richard Kuklinski), Winona Ryder (Deborah Pellicotti), James Franco (Marty Freeman), Ray Liotta (Roy DeMeo), Chris Evans (Mr. Freezy), David Schwimmer (Josh Rosenthal), Robert Davi (Leonard Merks), John Ventimiglia (Mickey Scicoli) and Danny Abeckaser (Dino Lapron).

A Battering Ram Becomes a Stonewall

The IRS's leaders refuse to account for the agency's corruption and abuse.

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
May 24, 2013
"I don't know." "I don't remember." "I'm not familiar with that detail." "It's not my precise area." "I'm not familiar with that letter."
These are quotes from the Internal Revenue Service officials who testified this week before the House and Senate. That is the authentic sound of stonewalling, and from the kind of people who run Washington in the modern age—smooth, highly credentialed and unaccountable. They're surrounded by legal and employment protections, they know how to parse a careful response, they know how to blur the essential point of a question in a blizzard of unconnected factoids. They came across as people arrogant enough to target Americans for abuse and harassment and think they'd get away with it.
So what did we learn the past week, and what are the essentials to keep in mind?
We learned the people who ran and run the IRS are not going to help Congress find out what happened in the IRS. We know we haven't gotten near the bottom of the political corruption of that agency. We do not know who ordered the targeting of conservative groups and individuals, or why, or exactly when it began. We don't know who executed the orders or directives. We do not know the full scope or extent of the scandal. We don't know, for instance, how many applicants for tax-exempt status were abused.
Lois Lerner and her lawyer
We know the IRS commissioner wasn't telling the truth in March 2012, when he testified: "There's absolutely no targeting." We have learned that Lois Lerner lied when she claimed she had spontaneously admitted the targeting in a Q-and-A at a Washington meeting. It was part of a spin operation in which she'd planted the question with a friend. We know the tax-exempt bureau Ms. Lerner ran did not simply make mistakes because it was overwhelmed with requests—the targeting began before a surge in applications. And Ms. Lerner did not learn about the targeting in 2012—the IRS audit timeline shows she was briefed in June 2011. She said the targeting was the work of rogue agents in the Cincinnati office. But the Washington Post spoke to an IRS worker there, who said: "Everything comes from the top."
We know that Lois Lerner this week announced she'd done nothing wrong, and then took the Fifth.
And we know Jay Leno, grown interestingly fearless, said of the new IRS commissioner, "They're called 'acting commissioner' because you have to act like the scandal doesn't involve the White House."
But the most important IRS story came not from the hearings but from Mike Huckabee's program on Fox News Channel. He interviewed and told the story of Catherine Engelbrecht—a nice woman, a citizen, an American. She and her husband live in Richmond, Texas. They have a small manufacturing business. In the past few years she became interested in public policy and founded two groups, King Street Patriots and True the Vote.
In July 2010 she sent applications to the IRS for tax-exempt status. What followed was not the harassment, intrusiveness and delay we're now used to hearing of. The U.S. government came down on her with full force.

Peggy Noonan's Blog

Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.
In December 2010 the FBI came to ask about a person who'd attended a King Street Patriots function. In January 2011 the FBI had more questions. The same month the IRS audited her business tax returns. In May 2011 the FBI called again for a general inquiry about King Street Patriots. In June 2011 Engelbrecht's personal tax returns were audited and the FBI called again. In October 2011 a round of questions on True the Vote. In November 2011 another call from the FBI. The next month, more questions from the FBI. In February 2012 a third round of IRS questions on True the Vote. In February 2012 a first round of questions on King Street Patriots. The same month the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms did an unscheduled audit of her business. (It had a license to make firearms but didn't make them.) In July 2012 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did an unscheduled audit. In November 2012 more IRS questions on True the Vote. In March 2013, more questions. In April 2013 a second ATF audit.
All this because she requested tax-exempt status for a local conservative group and for one that registers voters and tries to get dead people off the rolls. Her attorney, Cleta Mitchell, who provided the timeline above, told me: "These people, they are just regular Americans. They try to get dead people off the voter rolls, you would think that they are serial killers."
This week Ms. Engelbrecht, who still hasn't received her exemptions, sued the IRS.
With all the talk and the hearings and the news reports, it is important to keep the essentials of this story in mind.

Related Video

Best of the Web Today columnist James Taranto on the deeper meaning of the Obama scandals. Photo: Getty Images
First, only conservative groups were targeted in this scandal by the IRS. Liberal or progressive groups were not targeted. The IRS leaked conservative groups' confidential applications and donor lists to liberal groups, never the other way around.
This was a political operation. If it had not been, then the statistics tell us left-wing groups would have been harassed and abused, and seen their applications leaked to the press. There would be a left-wing equivalent to Catherine Engelbrecht.
And all of this apparently took place in the years leading up to the 2012 election. Meaning that before that election, groups that were anti-Obamacare, or pro-life, or pro-Second Amendment or constitutionalist, or had words like "tea party" or "patriot" in their name—groups that is that would support Republicans, not Democrats—were suppressed, thwarted, kept from raising money and therefore kept from fully operating.
That is some kind of coincidence. That is some kind of strangely political, strangely partisan, and strangely ideological "poor customer service."
IRS officials have complained that the law is murky, it's difficult to define what the tax exemption law really means. But they don't have any problem defining it. They defined it with a vengeance.
Second, it is important to remember that there has never been an investigation of what happened in the IRS. There was an internal IRS audit, not an investigation, carried out by an inspector general, who was careful this week to note to the House what he'd done was not an investigation. He was tasked to come to conclusions on whether there had been wrongdoing at the agency. It was not his job to find out exactly why it happened, how and when the scandal began, who was involved, and how they operated.
A dead serious investigation is needed. The IRS has colorfully demonstrated that it cannot investigate itself. The Obama administration wants the FBI—which answers to Eric Holder's Justice Department—to investigate, but that would not be credible. The investigators of the IRS must be independent of the administration, or their conclusions will not be trustworthy.
An independent counsel, with all the powers of that office, is what we need.
Again, if what happened at the IRS is not stopped now—if the internal corruption within it is not broken—it will never stop, and never be broken. The American people will never again be able to have the slightest confidence in the revenue-gathering arm of their government. And that, actually, would be tragic.
A version of this article appeared May 25, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A Battering Ram Becomes a Stonewall.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Time we stood up to Islamists who would destroy us

On a sunny afternoon on a London street an unarmed young man is murdered in the most brutal way imaginable. First his assailants frenziedly hack at him with meat cleavers then yelling "Allahu akbar" (God is great) they try to slice off his head.

24 May 2013


Can you spot what's wrong here? I would have thought it was obvious. I'd say it's one of the vilest crimes committed in Britain since at least the 7/7 London terrorist bombings. But clearly I'm a bit eccentric because lots of people disagree with me - as I discovered when the horrific story first broke.
Some thought the worst aspect of the case was that BBC political reporter Nick Robinson had described the suspects on the news as "of Muslim appearance". Others were mightily exercised that the alleged murderers had been shot by police (rather than politely escorted to the nearest cell with full access to Sky Sport, presumably).
Still others seemed determined not to draw any "unhelpful" conclusions about the murderers' religious motives. All right, so they might have shouted "Allahu akbar" and given an interview afterwards saying: "We swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone."
But this was no reason to suggest that this sordid crime had anything to do with the "Religion of Peace", now, was it?
Not for the first time I find myself wondering what madness has seized our culture.
Have we been so brainwashed by political correctness that we no longer know how to respond honestly to a crime of near matchless barbarity and evil? For me - and no doubt you too - it couldn't be more clear cut.
What happened to that young soldier on the streets of Woolwich on Wednesday was wrong if you're white; wrong if you're black; wrong if you're Christian; wrong if you're Muslim; so wrong from every conceivable angle that it seems a crime against decency and logic for anyone, however wellintentioned, to try to make excuses for it.
Indeed I'd argue that the people mouthing these inane pieties are Islamic fundamentalism's useful idiots - they make it more, not less, likely that there's going to be another atrocity like this just around the corner. What their attitude shows is that we as a society don't have the gumption to tackle this problem head on.
So what exactly should we be doing to prevent home-grown atrocities such as this? Step one, definitely, should be to acknowledge that the problem actually exists rather than burying our heads in the sand for fear of causing offence.
At the moment - as we saw with the Boston marathon bombings - our default response to any Islamist terrorist incident is first to worry about how the "Muslim community" might feel.
What ought to be a story about the very real menace of militant political Islam instead becomes a story about how we must all try to be nicer to the Muslim community at this difficult and embarrassing time.
Crime, Woolwich, terror, Islam, attack
But we knew that. Hardly anyone - save the odd crackpot - seriously blames Muslims generally for incidents such as this.
It would be nice, though, if on these occasions a few more members of that peaceful Muslim majority came forward and condemned the deed outright rather than using it as another excuse to play the oppressed minority victim card.
This is symptomatic of a broader problem with Islam in Britain: that all over, in ghettolike pockets, there are immigrant communities that feel no loyalty to the traditions and values of their host country, only to the broader Islamic world known as the "umma".
While it's true that the vast majority of them will have been properly appalled by the barbarity of the Woolwich murder many will yet have sympathised with the killers' line that: "We must fight them as they fight us."
Yet almost no one in our political class (at least not outside Ukip) will admit this. "We will defeat violent extremism by standing together," announced David Cameron. But actually that's just not true, we need to show that the limits of our tolerance for this enemy within have been thoroughly exhausted.
We need to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights, which for years has denied us the chance to deport Islamist hate preachers and terrorist sympathisers such as Abu Qatada.
We need to stop giving benefits to those who abuse our hospitality and generosity by plotting to destroy us. We need to clamp down on specialist Muslim schools and madrasas that use Saudi textbooks preaching that Jews are lower than pigs and that "kuffar" (non-Muslims) are inferior.
We need to stop Islamist extremists targeting vulnerable groups such as prisoners and university students. We need to stop turning a blind eye to honour killings, female circumcision and the grooming of young girls by organised Asian gangs.
Above all we need to realise that there will never be peace or social cohesion in our divided land so long as we go on playing this ridiculous game where one section of our population has to be treated with kid gloves and special rules in case they're offended.
Fundamentalist Islam is not a problem we should be trying to sweep under the carpet, it is a problem we should be striving to defeat. So far we're not doing a very good job.

To the Slaughter

British lions come up lambs in Woolwich.

Today's Tune: Warren Zevon- Accidentally Like a Martyr (Live)

Duke gets re-energized Mike Krzyzewski thanks to NBA superstars, Olympic challenge

By Dan Wetzel
May 23, 2013

In 2006, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski was set to "save" the United States Olympic basketball team. All those rich NBA stars supposedly needed a college coach to hammer some discipline into them. Or so that's where some of the narratives went.
Seven years and two gold medals later, Krzyzewski announced Thursday he would continue coaching the team through the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. He'd previously said he was done with the USA job.
The announcement crystallized one thing: USA Basketball "saved," or at least helped maintain, Mike Krzyzewski too.
"It's only helped our program," he acknowledged.Coach Mike Krzyzewski wants another shot at Olympic glory. (USA Today Sports)
The 66-year-old Krzyzewski said he was calling it quits after winning another gold in London last August. Everyone understood. He's happy, healthy and looking forward to the arrival of a ninth grandchild sometime this summer. He's obviously successful and wealthy beyond his wildest dreams growing up the son of an elevator operator and a cleaning woman in Chicago's northwest side.
It is a time in life when it would be understandable to have no coaching jobs, let alone two. There is nothing left to prove. His job with USA Basketball was done. He has another national title contender at Duke to concentrate on. Except if this was ever about proving something, or ever about giving to the national team, it certainly didn't solely turn out that way. Krzyzewski has benefited in ways that few saw coming. There's been plenty of taking too. It's been a two-way street.
These NBA stars have served as a late in life jolt to the man. He's headed into his 39th season as a college head coach, the winningest of all time, a long-ago Hall of Fame inductee, yet he has the competitive fire of his early years.
The fear around Duke back in 2006 was whether this moonlighting gig would wear Krzyzewski down, cost him precious time on the summer recruiting trail and, by virtue of what some wrongly expected to be endless clashes with millionaire players, sap his love of the game and thus cut his career short.
It has turned out, Duke president Richard Brodhead said Thursday, to be the exact opposite.
"[He's] come back from that process so energized, so exhilarated that I think [he's] more into coaching at Duke in [the] Olympic years than [he] ever was before," Brodhead said.
Krzyzewski was a bit taken aback by the statement.
"I don't think I did it bad before the Olympics," he joked later, without feeling the need to mention the three national titles captured prior to 2006. "We weren't real bad before then."
In the next breath though he acknowledged that perhaps Brodhead was correct.
"I got better doing it," Krzyzewski said of these last seven years. "Just like a player gets better doing it. It energizes you. It's like a teacher learning new material."
The year he started as Team USA's coach, Duke went just 22-11, finishing an unheard of sixth in the ACC. Since then the Blue Devils have averaged 30.3 wins a season and won that fourth national title. They've won seven of the last nine from their forever rival North Carolina and enter next season with a top-five team, led by mega-recruit Jabari Parker.
Maybe Duke was never "down" in the traditional sense, but there is no denying it's up right now. And the coach that everyone expected to scale back a bit is instead doubling down through at least 2016.
"I don't know how you are supposed to feel at 66," he said. "I feel energized, passionate, ready to achieve."
He likened his national team experience to the practice of CEOs serving on the board of directors of other companies or even non-profits, where maybe they pick up some idea or experience foreign to their sphere of work. Diversity and new experiences make you better, no matter the prior level of accomplishment.
"That's what USA Basketball has done for me," Krzyzewski said.
The international game sparked his imagination and made him a better bench coach. He's as good of a recruiter as ever; he landed Parker, among others, despite spending most of last offseason focused on the Olympics.
And those expected tests of wills with the NBA players never occurred. Much of that speculation came from those ignorant to the values of NBA players, who are, by and large, intelligent, dedicated professionals. Krzyzewski was an assistant on the original Dream Team, so he didn't need to be told that. He walked in seeking a partnership, not a fight.
It's paid dividends.
Through the years he's marveled at things, like the feel for the game a guy such as Jason Kidd could impart to him, the ferocity of Kobe Bryant's drive or the way younger players such as LeBron Jamesand Dwyane Wade sought out coaching on even small details.
He's long lived his life – and imparted to his Duke players – an ethos he picked up back in Chicago and up at West Point, one about forever seeking the challenges that lead to constant improvement.
With a chance for four more years with the national team laid out in front of him, how could he walk? The job of getting better is never done.
This is a bit of a new act for Krzyzewski, but hardly the start of the final one. He should have a terrific team in the fall. Recruiting remains strong. His beloved ACC has withstood realignment and will emerge as "the best conference in the history of the game," as he puts it.
He wants to win it. The ACC. The NCAA. The Olympics. Everything. Now as much as ever. He'll coach in Rio de Janeiro at age 69. Brodhead said he's already looking forward to the eventual announcement he'll lead America into the 2020 Olympics.
Krzyzewski laughed at that, but who knows. There are no negatives here.
The other day he was talking with his staff about applying what he learned from coaching a versatile, 6-foot-8 athlete such as LeBron with how he can coach a versatile, 6-foot-8, athlete such as Parker, basically how he's learned to maximize "guys with more than one position." It was one of the selling points of the recruitment.
"[We're going to] mirror some of the things we've done on the Olympic team," Krzyzewski promised.
Nearly 40 seasons and 1,000 victories into his college career and Mike Krzyzewski sounds as ready for Duke's to start as ever; and then eager to see not just what he can again do for his national team but for what his national team can again do for him.

Stiff competition for Most Fatuous Reaction award

By Melanie Phillips
24 May 2013
Community: Mr Cameron, joined by London Mayor Boris Johnson, stressed that the attack was a betrayal of Islam ¿ and of the Muslim communities
Prime Minister David Cameron, joined by London Mayor Boris Johnson, stressed that the attack was a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities

There’s been some stiff competition over the past 24 hours for the coveted award of Most Fatuous Reaction to a Jihadi Atrocity.
I hooted at the commentator visiting from planet Zog, who had thus totally missed all the barbaric snuff movie beheadings and eviscerations and human bomb attacks carried out by jihadists over the past two decades across the world and who wailed, poor dear, that ‘none of it made any sense’.
I enjoyed the pointed satire of the commentator who intoned that we were all guilty of causing the two jihadis to hack poor Drummer Rigby to death and tried to behead him, while claiming they were fulfilling the edicts of the Koran and waiting for the police to arrive in order to try to murder them too – but then I realised that it wasn’t satire at all.
I marvelled at the languidly superior commentator who drawled that the problem in Woolwich had been caused by ‘testosterone’ and that the real threat to all of us was actually from the collapsing EDL and the all-but collapsed BNP.  And at the even more languidly superior commentator, who flicked barbs at Britain’s ‘hyperbole’ and ‘hysteria’ and implied that in Woolwich Britain kind of had it coming to it since it had been perceived as indifferent to ‘the appalling impact of a drone attack on a Pashtun village’.
But worthy contenders as all these are for this prestigious award, I have decided that two further notable contributions tie in equal first place. In a statement described by the Spectator as ‘sensitive and calm’ the Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the nation that the Woolwich attack ‘was also a betrayal of Islam’ ,’ there is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act’ and the fault lay ‘solely and purely with the sickening individuals who carried out this appalling attack’.
In similar vein the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:
‘It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam but it is also equally wrong to try to draw any link between this murder and British foreign policy or the actions of British forces who are risking their lives abroad for the sake of freedom. The fault lies wholly and exclusively in the warped and deluded mindset of the people who did it.’
So to the Prime Minister and the Mayor, there was nothing to connect the Woolwich atrocity to Islam at all.  But on his little video rant, one of the killers drew explicitly on the Koran as the inspiration for his attack:
‘Surat at-Tawba through...many, many ayat throughout the Qur’an that...we must fight them as they fight us...’
which refers to a number of exhortations to ‘fight the unbelievers and ‘kill the polythesists wherever you find them’ and other such stuff in similar vein..
Nothing to do with Islam? It’s as absurd as saying the Inquisition had nothing to do with the Catholic Church, or the Holocaust had nothing to do with Nazism but these things were just the product of a few warped and deluded individuals.  
If indeed such terrorism is noting to do with Islam, why is it justified by the Islamic high establishment? As the liberal Egyptian thinker Tarek Heggy wrote last year:
 ‘The cornerstone of the theory, which is the essence of Islamic thinking, is that humans must not set the rules governing relations between people, but that these can only be set by the Almighty. To this day, not a single leader of any movement of political Islam has reconsidered the idea of hakemeya [the Islamist view of man-made laws] introduced by Sayed Qutb in his famous treatise, “Signposts Along the Road” … Thus the Islamist has a constant problem with man-made constitutional and legal rules.…
‘Certainly the leaderships of most schools of political Islam refuse to describe the suicide attacks launched by Muslim fanatics against civilians as terrorist attacks. Certainly too none of them consider Osama bin Laden a terrorist. Indeed, most hold him in high regard…’
What’s bizarre is that jihadis are treated as genuine Muslim spokesmen -- see the way broadcasters were giving one of them air-time yesterday -- but when it comes to analysing an Islamic terror attack, that very same political and media establishment falls over itself to agree with those extremists that its perpetrators are not real Muslims at all.
Even more absurd, these craven politicians are now being left behind by Muslims themselves. In the Guardian, for example, Usama Hasan has written:
‘British society, including its Muslim communities, needs to move beyond the routine condemnation of terrorist attacks and plots – there have been dozens since 9/11. We need instead to address the extreme Islamist ideology that al-Qaida and its sympathisers promote to incite attacks against soldiers and civilians worldwide in both war-torn and peaceful countries. Muslim leaders need to take ownership of the specifically religious aspects of the problem, that is to say the twisted theology that easily brainwashes vulnerable people, some of whom are intelligent university students and graduates.’
Maybe Usama Hasan could have a quiet word with the Prime Minister and Mayor of London.