Thursday, March 29, 2012


Three men sit on a cloud;  Sid Luckman, Sammy Baugh, and Norm Van Brocklin.  They rest their wings as they play five card draw.

Sammy shuffles up.

"I still have an NFL record, you know," says Sid.   "Highest yards per attempt, in one season.  Back in 1943.  I averaged 10.86 yards per pass. Still the best."

Norm deals.

"Hey, I'm still in the books too, you know."  says Sammy.  "Highest average, punting in one season. 51.40, with the Redskins, 1940.  Me, the quarterback."

"I was the first to pass over 500 yards in one game," says Norm.  "554 yards, 1951.  Brady, Brees, Marino, even Broadway Joe.  I still got 'em all beat.  Who's going to catch me?"

"First 6 touchdown passing game," says Sammy.  October 31, 1943

"First 7 touchdown passing game," says Sid.  "November 14, 1943

They both laugh and bump fists.

They fan their cards
"Jacks or better," says Sammy.  "I'll check."

"Check," says Sid.

"Well, I'll open for $1,000," says Norm.

"$1,000?" says Sammy.  "Norm, come on.  We're going to be here for a long time.  I'll go broke."

"Okay," says Norm. "I'll give you two a break.  A penny.  Is that too much?"

They're both in.

"What do you think what's going on with these trades?  Peyton to the Broncos, Tebow to the Jets.  I've been reading about it.  Joe Montana thinks Sanchez is better than Tebow."

"Two quarterbacks on one team," says  Norm.  "Could work.  Worked for me.  It's like having a relief pitcher.  I did it with Bob Waterfield.  Made us NFL Champs."

"Hey,  I led the league in punting, passing, and interceptions in the same season."  says Sammy.  "They think they're so tough these guys."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, Sammy,"  says Sid.  "Come on, deal.  I'll take three."

"Three, huh?" says Sammy  "Okay then, I'll take just one."

"This is a test for Sanchez, dealing with distractions," says Sid. "I know, I played in New York."

Sammy deals the cards.

"As a traditional quarterback,"  says Sid.  "Sanchez is better than Tebow.  Montana's right about that. But Tebow has shown he can win games in the final minutes, and who doesn't like that?"

"He is good,"  says Norm. "I've been watching him.  For Quarterbacks that have a minimum 10 total touchdowns, he's the best in history.  125 touches, he's made 11 touchdowns, 5 passing, and 6 rushing.  Highest percentage in NFL history.  There's a lot of potential there."

"I read that too what Montana said.  Sanchez should be the guy, Tebow's on the bench.  Joe should know about being traded.  He was traded and Steve Young took over.  He knows controversies.  Tebow might take over the Jets.  We'll have to wait and see."

"Tebow has become a pop-culture figure whose every move is news, even if all he did was get traded."

"He brings in the crowds.  That's the name of the game.  Fans come for excitement.  Tebow's exciting."

"Tebow mania," says Sid.  "Could tear the Jets apart worse than it did in Denver. In Denver, everyone hated their starter and wanted Tebow.   He sure is a runner when plays break down, that's for sure."

"Jake Plummer had some words too, I hear,"  says Norm.

"He was saying that Tebow bugs him.  Whatever Tebow's beliefs, he should praise the guys that played behind him, blocked for him, and caught your passes.  It's a team game. That's Jake's take."

"Broadway Joe had his say too." says Sammy.  "Listen to this."  He pulls out his SmartPhone, and thumbs Play.  'Well, I'll tell ya, the way the Jets have played recently they need the Good Lord on their side, so this could be a major move.  I don't know anyone that doesn't have a special feeling about Tim Tebow."

He waves the SmartPhone in the air. "I sure like these things.  I'm still learning what it can do."

They all nod.

"Well, the Good Lord is down on the NFL right now. A League that condones crippling players for extra pay.  That bounty stuff with the Saints and Falcons.  Tebow might have to disavow this bounty practice verbally before he's looked upon up here as one of the real good guys."

"Latest is Steve Young," says Sammy. "He thinks Tebow is the greatest player to ever play college football.  It'll be tough for him to play second fiddle.  I don't think I could."

"But it's front page drama about the NFL all year long.  I like it."

"So," says Sid. "How we on Tebow?"

"I think he's a wait and see kinda guy," says Sammy.

"Just so long as he doesn't break my record," says Norm.
"I gotta go. I got a spinning class," says Sid.  "What?  Hey, I take care of myself."

"Me and Bobby Layne," says Sammy.  "We're working through some old  NFL films, chips and dip.  So I'm off too."

 "Hey guys, wait," says Norm.  "I got 3 sixes."

"Hate to tell you, Boss," says Sammy.  "But that will never be a winning hand."
"But, guys.  Come on."

"Call us, Norm.  We're not going anywhere soon."

And off they sour into the clouds.
Help comes from:
Google/Images, Wikipedia/Sammy Baugh/Norm Van Brocklin/Sid Luckman

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Two people sit in a white van across the street form the Cowboy's main office in Irving, Texas
"Augusta?  You're from Georgia, I'll bet.  I'm Rome. Crazy. I'm from Georgia too." They both smile.  She punches his arm.

"We're bugging Jerry, " says Rome.  "He's the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.  Just listen.  That's all we have to do."

"This is the first time I've been on a stakeout.  Are we going to be here all night?"

He clicks on the monitor,  turns up the radio.

"It's just us." says Rome. "We could do this from the office but they want pictures, people going in and out.  No telling who want all this, but that's what private eyes do.  Most of the time it gets real boring."

Augusta clutches Rome's arm, as the radio booms.  "Hello, this is Jerry.  Who's this?"

"Brentwood," I say.  "Been awhile.  Saw you in the news, salary cap, and your always good for a column.  So..."

"Brentwood Belair," says Jerry.  "Woody.  Sports writer extraordinaire.  Okay, want my side of this. You got it.  Look, they can't take $10 million.  So I over spent in 2010.  But there was no cap in 2010?"

Rome looks down at his arm.  "It's only the radio.  Relax.  Guess you are new at this."  He laughs.

She smiles, and moves back. "First day nerves, I guess."

The radio:  "Come on," says Jerry.  "Every contract goes through the League Office.  They could have stopped it right then. But, noooo, they wait 'til now, and jump all over me.  I'm trying to make the Cowboys the best I can.  There was no Cap then."

"So," says Augusta.  "What is he talking about anyway?  Cap?"

"All the owners have agreed to put a limit on player's salaries.  They want to keep their costs down, and provide team equality.  It's supposed to keep the richest owners from buying up all the good players."

She touches his arm.  "You're so smart."

"Salary cap for players is $120,600,000.  It's figured by the teams net profits. I listen to sports radio a lot."

Their spy cam monitor shows Jerry in his office, on a cell phone.  His face is red.  His neck bulges.

"If it was okay then it should be okay now. League Office should have said something.  They approved the contracts in 2010.  I didn't do anything wrong.  That's what you should write."

"See," says Rome.  "2010 there was no cap on salaries.  Seems the other teams got together and decided on their own to hold down salaries."

"Boy," says Augusta.  "You're good.  With you this won't be boring?" 

"Jerry," I say.  "Revenue Sharing, Competitive Balance and the Draft System are the reasons the Cowboys make so much money for you Jerry, come on." 

"Woody, its unfair to the players.  There shouldn't be any limits on their salary.  The League is a monopoly that controls players' salaries.  It's screwed up if you ask me."

"They're calling you a cheater, Jerry." I say.

"But cheating means I broke the rules.  I didn't." 

Rome taps Augusta on the leg.  "This guy has no idea how to build a good team.  If it wasn't`t for Jimmy Johnson, he would never have won a Super Bowl. I don't think he really knows a whole lot about football."

"I like smart guys," she says.  "Guys like you Romey."

"It makes no sense." says Jerry.  "What's the point of saying the year is uncapped if it's actually capped?

"Just let it go, Jerry." I say  "League doesn't like Front Loaded Contracts.  They work maybe half the time.  Players know that the team will probably keep them since their salary gets lower each year."

"I better get an extra draft pick next year for the hassle they're putting me through."

"Maybe the League just wants to punish you.  Do they like you, Jerry?  I don't know, do they."

"What are you saying, Woody?"

"Jerry, you might win the battle, but lose the war.  $10 million.  It's not money.  It's just loss in salary cap.  Jerry, its no more than a parking ticket to you."

"Woody, it's the principle of the thing.  I hate to get pushed around."

"This Woody's a character," says Rome.  "Seems like one tough dude, talking to Jerry like that.  Must be an old friend."

"Thanks Jerry.  Good Luck."  We hang up.

There is silence.  Jerry sits at his desk.  He flips his pen in the air.

"This is when it get's boring." says Rome. 

Augusta reaches over and takes his hand.  "It doesn't have to be."  She pulls him toward her.  He sits up, and smiles.  As their heads bump, Jerry pulls out another phone, and dials.

"Wait...Augusta...please."  Their lips are together, but his eyes are on the monitor.  "Look."  He points at the monitor.  "Augusta, come on."

"But Romey...I thought you didn't want to be bored...and..."

 "He's on a different cell phone.  Looks like a burner phone.  I know, we use them for secrecy."

"Denton?  It's Jerry.  How are we doing with the Team's value?  When we gave the League our net, we gave them...the right set of books?  You know.  Should I be concerned abut this $10 million dollar penalty."

"Jerry, you got nothing to worry about.  I got  you covered on this.  Think 40% low."

"I feel better.  Thanks Denton."  He sets the phone on the floor, glances through the glass door, smashes it with his heel, and puts the remains in the trash can under his desk.

Jerry sits back in his chair, hands behind his head, and smiles. 
Help comes from:
Google/Images, Wikipedia/Jerry Jones

Saturday, March 24, 2012


7 a.m.  I sit in the back booth, at The Montana Galley, back by the kitchen, and watch Helena, the place's owner, work the room, smiling at the customers.

My mind mulls an LA Times article.  A  29-count felony indictment against two former managers of the L.A.  Coliseum and four other people, including promoters of rave events.  Bribery, embezzlement, conspiracy and conflict of interest.   We got criminal indictments, law suits, drugs, and a girl died there last year.
A very important story.

Two men arrive and sit at the next booth.  One all business, with a briefcase, the other open shirt, gold chains, hairy chest.
Waitress takes their order, and pours coffee.

"Sal, what can I say?  I had no idea they were Feds.  Think they tapped my phone?"  He exhales. "Can they do that?  They gotta have a warrant, right?"

"Carlo, you know how they are.  Best to say nothing."  He stares at the menu.  "This will work it's way out.   Just let me handle this.  Coliseum Commission, they're just looking for a fall guy for their own mismanagement.  Place should be making millions for the city. It's been totally mismanaged."

I freeze.  What am I hearing?  I slowly set down my buttermilk, and switch on my pocket tape recorder. Yikes. It's one of the guys indicted.   I look up, and smile as Helena glides by.  She smiles back.  I feel my face flush.

"Thought you had more pull." says Carlo.  He shakes his head. "$1.2 million bail?  They're all part of this, and I get stuck with this?  I got expenses.  Can't you do something? Thanks for getting me out, but $1.2 million?"

Sal quickly glances around the room, and waves his hand at Carlo.  "Not too loud. It's all under control.  They're just screwin' with us."

"A girl gets the wrong drugs, and OD's, and they're on my ass.  Blame the promoter. I didn't give her any drugs.  Just promoted the thing."

"Carlo, come on. Drink your coffee."

His voice rises. "Girl's parents should be sued for being crappy parents, letting her go to a Rave.  Under age, not my fault.  Sue the promoter.  Story of my life."

"Carlo, Come on." says Sal.  He opens his briefcase, and fishes out a legal pad and pen.
Carlo leans toward Sal.  "It'll all come out now.  Time in jail, all that.  Just the start."  He leans back, and looks toward the ceiling. "I'm dead.  I know it."

"It'll be okay.  You worry too much.  Give it a few days, it'll all blow over, come on?"

Sal sips  he his coffee, scratches his forehead, and scribbles on his legal pad.

"Kick backs?'  says Carlo. " What?  It's called good business. Hello.  Anytime there's big money made,  you gotta pay protection, wise guys are there with their hands out. You can't say no.  How it is,  if  you haven't heard."

"Look, this will go away. Nobody wants this out in the open.  There's too many people involved. Commissioners, contractors, Coliseum security, venders, all he concessionaires, come on."

"The Coliseum commission blames guys like me.  They got nothing.  They're the ones should be in jail, not me."

"Carlo, you're not going to jail.  Get that out of your head.  It's me, Carlo.  Come on.   Any idea anyone was watching you?"

"Look, I took some money.  Big deal.  The big money came from me buying and selling some boats, not the raves, so let them figure it out."

"Shush, Carlo."  says Sal. "Come on.  Relax, not so loud."

Carlo glances around. I quickly look away.

"Now Vegas gets all the raves," says Carlo. "They shut me down.  Less money for the Coliseum. Good luck."

Sal looks at his legal pad. "How does this sound?"  He clears his voice. "These indictments are all politically motivated. My client is innocent.  He's being turned into a scapegoat for the Coliseum's financial woes."

The waitress arrives.  Pancakes for Sal, a cheeseburger for Carlo.

"Cheeseburger?" says Sal.

Carlo smiles.  "Three years of Lompoc food,  I always order a cheeseburger, every time.  You wouldn't believe what they call a cheeseburger up there."

"Carlo, I got something better.  Listen.  This is good."  He rubs his hands together. "My client's activities were all transparent and approved by the Coliseum General Manager, his staff and lawyers.  While we recognize the issues surrounding the Coliseum demand attention, we are simply amazed that the District Attorney would arrest my client when he did nothing wrong."

Carlo bites into his cheeseburger, and wipes his mouth. "Sal, everybody knew about this. Bribery and kickbacks.  It's called doing business in America, folks."

"Wait, wait, Carlo.  I got it.  How does this sound."  A slight smile. "I'm not aware of all of the charges they intend to file, but we will proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that my client did not profit illegally from any event ever hosted at the Coliseum."

Carlo munches, and gulps his coffee.  "Most of the money I got from those contractors, they all went to my Miami bank account, regular installments, real legal.  They'll never find it.  It's under another name."

Sal wiggles his pen in the air. "I got to punch this up.  Let's see.  The coliseum has been miserably managed.  The nine commissioners with the help of the district attorney are trying to turn attention away from their own mismanagement with these outlandish and untrue charges."

"And those boats I sold to those guys in Mexico, well, it's all in that other name."  He leans again into Sal. "You know how much money there is in prescription pills down in Florida.  You got no idea."

Carlo bites into his cheeseburger, then looks directly at me.  He raises his eyebrows, and nods.

My throat sticks.  I choke, but nod back.  It takes two shaking hands to lift my buttermilk.  I smile back.

Time to go.  Am I breathing?  I slowly slide out of the booth still holding my buttermilk.  Shaky still.   Head down, I move quickly toward the front counter.  I think I've got enough on this guy.

"Stronger, more aggressive," says Sal.  He cuts and stuffs a large piece of dripping pancake into his mouth.  He mumbles as he reads. "Why charge a rave promoter when the Coliseum loses money.  Do we charge CalTrans for an auto crash, because they built the road?  A gun dealer when somebody gets shot?  And here's my kicker."  He elbows Carlo.  "Do we charge God for creating the Ocean when somebody drowns?"

"Sal," says Carlo.  "They can't touch me.  It's all under a different name."  He sits back, his arms out on the back of the booth. "We got them by the short hairs.  I'm not worried."

"Yeah," says Sal.  He holds up his legal Pad. "We got this.  This is going to be a piece of cake."
Help comes from:

Thursday, March 22, 2012


While I sit at my computer, doping entries in the Daily Racing Form, I have a brainstorm.  It's certainly unexpected.  So good, our Governor should be made aware.  A dynamic way to make the State money. I'm excited about  this.  

A few minutes, write a letter, and have it lost in some interns cubicle?  No way.  Better to take the  direct approach.  Face to Face, but ten hours to drive to Sacramento?  Gas is expensive.

No other solution.  I log on. Getting the governor's phone number could be tricky.  I find a website,  I thumb my SmartPhone.  It rings.

"Huh...ah...Yes, Hello?"

"Hello?  Like to talk with the Governor, Jerry Brown.  I got this great idea.  He should hear this."

"This is the Governor."

"Governor Brown?" I say.  "No way.  I got through?  Wholly smoke.  This is awesome."

"Haven't got all day, sir. And how did you get my cell, anyway? "  His voice rises.  "Modesto, we gotta get a new cell number, one of those burner phones.  Got everybody calling me."

"Only take a minute, Governor.  I can call you Governor, right?"

"What?  I haven't got time for this. But, please call me Your Honorable Governor.   I was doing my campaign fund raising.  I have to drum up $20 grand a day, every day,  so I can buy all those TV spots.   Hey, being Governor's not as easy as it looks, you know."

"So, here it is," I say.  "Add slot machines to all the state's horse racing venues, like they did back East.  West Virginia Racing survived by the addition of slots."

"I'm speaking with?   You did vote for me last election, right?"

"This is Belair, Brentwood Belair.  Sports writer.  And I voted..."

"Hey, I know you," he says.  "I've read your stuff.  Boy, you were sure out in left field.  49ers winning the Super Bowl?  It was close against the Giants, but having Terrell Owens catching the final pass?  Where'd you come up with that?"

"Okay, I can't be spot on every time."

"Okay, so about Horse Racing.  We know all about it, but we can't.  Racinos.  Granted, they make a lot of money back East.   Tracks going into bankruptcy, install slots, and they recover in less than a year."

"That's right." I say,  "Same track, slots bring in $100 million annually, horses  net maybe $5 million.  Quite a difference.  I've checked it out.   Look at all that extra money for education, like your father with his  Junior College System."

"Seems the perfect solution," says the Governor.  "But perfect doesn't always follow reality. It's like trickle-down economics. Great in theory, poor in execution."

"I hear you, your Honorable..."

"We realize that our Native American citizens would rather have slot customers coming through their doors, rather than going to the track.  They of course let us know their appreciation around election time, with their contributions.   Just part of doing business in 21 Century America.  You can understand that?" 

"But of course, Your Honorable..."

"And,  those horse racing owner types, tend to vote republican.  So, the question is:   Are we rewarding rich race horse owners by propping up a slowly dying sport?"

"Well, you could say..."

"Okay, good," he says. "So, here's how it works.  Adding slots to the race tracks like Santa Anita, Del Mar, Hollywood Park, would certainly bring additional money to the horse racing community.  This allows the smaller tracks to increase their purses, thereby drawing better horses.  Larger tracks say, hey, we're not looking for that kind of competition."

"Makes sense, but..." I say.

"Now, we have a Pact with the Indian Nations here in California, all 61 of them.  To control the explosion of slots on Reservation, we have limits.  Our deal with them, no slots at race tracks, and they  don't have to release information on their slot machine payback percentages.  That's the trade off."

"Makes sense, but..." I say.

"So, like I was saying before, I was working my contributor list.  It never ends.  So when I get a few bucks coming in from my loyal friends in Las Vegas, I like to make them happy.  Hold down the total number of slots in California, and no table games anywhere, except maybe poker.  They're good with that."

"Makes sense, but..."

"Now if you will, good Idea, but we've studied  that revenue stream.  Thanks,  Mr. Belair for your civic concern.  If in the future you have any other ideas, please don't hesitate to put it in writing, and mail it to me here in Sacramento. We'll  get you a full report."

"Well, your Honorable..." I say.

"Thanks, Mr. Belair."   He shouts, "Modesto, you got that new cell? I can't be taking calls from every..." and the phone goes dead.

Hey, the Governor reads my column.  How cool is that?  Okay, lunch time. I have to tell somebody.
help comes from:
Google/Images, Wikipedia/Racinos,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


     "Are you a basketball fan looking for Lakers or Clippers tickets? Hollywood Tickets.  A romantic night out with your significant other at Cirque Love? Hollywood Tickets.  You want theater tickets for Wicked?  Hollywood Tickets.  Los Angeles, Vegas, anywhere in the country.  A Broadway Show? Call us.  Hollywood Tickets.
"Hockey fan?   Soccer fan?   A Tony Bennett fan?  Dodgers?  Angeles?  That's the ticket.  Hollywood Tickets.  March Madness. We'll get you to New Orleans.  
"So, call us.  Hollywood Tickets.  We'll get your butts in the seats you want.  Call me, Mr. Hollywood. Hollywood Tickets."
A voice from the recording room, "Terrific, Mr. Hollywood.  Half hour it'll be on the air nationwide."
"Hold on,"  says Mr.. Hollywood.  "Come on. This is good for L.A., but its gotta be changed.  It'll never play back East.  Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, no way.
"This airs in Boston, we have to give them Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics.  Give me ten minutes, I'll make a call, and we'll do this right."
"You're the boss Mr. Hollywood."
Mr. Hollywood thumbs his SmartPhone.  It rings.
"Looking for a Mr. Key West. That you?"
"Who wants to know? And how'd you get this number, anyway."
"This is Mr. Hollywood, ticket broker out her in Los Angeles.  Bretwood Belair gave me you number..."
"...I'm real busy right now..."
"Only take a minute. Best odds guy in the country, you'd think I'd be calling Vegas, not South Florida."
"Brentwood, huh" says Key West. "Okay...I guess?"
"Here's the deal.  I sell tickets.  I've just recorded a radio spot, but its for L. A., you know, Lakers, Clippers, stuff here on the West Coast."
"So here's what I need, and I'll pay you for it, if you need me to, 'cause Brentwood told me you were a stand up guy when it comes to odds on sports."
"Yeah, yeah,"
"March Madness is in New Orleans this year. I'll be sending my radio spots all over the country, so what I want is this.  I need to fit my spot to the location.  I can't be talking March Madness tickets to people in South Texas if they don't have a team in the finals, or in Chicago, know what I'm saying?"
"Okay, so you need me?  And in the future...this is my private line."
"No, I understand.  Only take a minute.  I'm selling March Madness tickets.   You tell me who's going to be the Final Four, and I'll put the ad on local radio.  Understand what I'm saying."
"Best bang for your buck."
" say you're a friend of okay.  This is proprietary information, but...okay.  Concentrate on these areas.
"Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, and Florida.  And...maybe Ohio, around Cincinnati, as a long shot.
Michigan State will make the Final Four because of Tom Izzo, they have a solid defense, and Draymond Green. Bet against Izzo? Be careful.
Now, Kentucky took on all comers, and they only lost two games all year.
I like Kentucky.
The other match up is Florida State and Kansas
I think Florida State can beat just about anybody.  This is a place the Seminoles  have never been.  I like their coach.  Leonard Hamilton.  In 10 years, he's gone 200-126  Not bad.
They're up against Kansas, Big 12 regular season winner. 
"Florida State will be there.  They play tough defense, and they're gaining NCAA Tourney experience. 
The Wildcats? Well, they've got the most talent. The coach that's been there and done that. And a nearly blemish-free record.
"Even though the President picked the Tar Heels, I'm going with the Kentucky Wildcats.
"Those are the places to concentrate you radio ads. Trust me. gotta get back... Just  tell Brentwood he owes me."
"Florida State?" says Mr. Hollywood.  "Are you sure?  I don't know?"
"Look, I've been doing this for almost fifteen years.  You wanted winners."
"Hey, sorry," says Mr.. Hollywood.  "I'll start working on my ads.  Miami, Louisville, Kansas City, and Detroit.  And like you say, maybe Cincinnati.   I'll get all my March Madness tickets sold.
"So...okay...busy here..."
"Thanks Key West. Call me you ever need any tickets for anything."
"Can you give me a winning season at Hialeah?"
"I can get you into the Clubhouse, maybe half price."
"That'll save me what?  Five, six bucks?  Okay...gotta go...remember this is kinda my private line...and well...don't call me back ... again...ever.  Half price...?"
Help comes from:
Google/Images, Wikipedia/march madness,

Saturday, March 17, 2012

D.Fish, You've Been Chopped.

A TV camera zeroes in on two basketball players as they enter the court.  Each dribbles a basketball.
The camera pans in on the four of us in the stands.
“Our two finalists,” I say. “Derek Fisher and Ramon Sessions.”
The camera swings back to the two on the court.  They shake hands.
“Derek, good luck,” says R.Sessions
“You, too,”  says D.Fish.  “You think you can handle this?”  He smiles.  “I’ve been doing this for quite some time.”
“D.Fish.  I’ve been watching you since I was…”
“Grade school?  That’s what you were going to say?  Come on, let’s do this.”
They bump basketballs, and look up to us.
I look into the camera. “Derek Fisher is a 37 year old professional basketball point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.  It’s a career that has spanned 14 years, during which he won five NBA Championships.  He is the President of the National Basketball Players Association.”
D.Fish waves up from the court.
“Ramon Sessions is a 25 year old NBA point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 56th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.”
He too waves.
“Gentlemen, please take your positions.  A simple game of full court one-on-one, and we will critique the results. Your referee, Mr Technical, will keep a close eye.
“You will be judged on Speed down the Court, Shooting Ability, Past experience, and Return on Investment.
“You have five minutes, gentlemen.  Your time starts now.”
And the game is on.
Traveling...charge...three point shot...first personal foul...into the paint...ball is kicked...out of bounds to R Sessions.  Do we see Sessions step out of bounds?  Do we see a push off from D.Fish?
“And let’s introduce our panel of distinguished judges.
“World renown basketball historian Charity Stripe.  Asphalt  and public park scout for major basketball teams, Streetball Dunkington, and,
Miss Lily Layup, owner of the Crazy Blonds, Brooklyn Ladies over 50 Basketball League.”
Three smiling faces.
Again we see the players.  Two and a half minutes left to play.
D.Fish dribbles into the front court, toward the basket, shoots off the glass, scores. 
R.Sessions takes the ball, speeds down the court, puts up a three, swish. 
“Gentlemen, you have ten seconds left.  Nine, eight, seven…”
Block by R.Sessions... Three pointer by D.Fish...R.Sessions hard to the hoop.  D.Fish, rimmer, in and out...
“Two, One, All done. Gentlemen, drop the ball. Game over.”
The players shake hands with Mr. Technical.  They both smile up at us.
 “Thank you, players,” I say. “Give us a few minutes to make our decision.”
The TV camera follows the two into the locker room.
“I almost got you,” says D.Fish. “ That last shot, gone in it would have been closer.”
“Twelve to seven.  I had you,” says R.Sessions.
The music begins. “So,” I say, “Who will be chopped?”
We go to commercial:  “…then add a half pound of butter, for taste…” and it goes on.
“We’re back,” I say.  “So, Judges, what do you think.?”
“This might be Fisher’s final moment on the field,” says Miss Layup. “  His presence alone on the court was what made the Lakers who they are. He's not the best point guard to ever play, but it's not just about points, assists, steals, it's about being a team, working with the same guys to achieve a goal. “But,” says Streetball Dunkington.  “As we can see from their five minutes on the court, the Lakers need to get a younger, faster, quicker point guard.  I think it is time.”
“You must remember, “ says Charity Stripe. “Kobe Bryant makes $27.8 mil next season and over $30 mil the next. Can't afford to have any dead weight. Not about what the Lakers are worth. It's about the salary cap and ability to sign new players.”
“But don’t you think D.Fish deserved better.” Says Miss Layup. “He is the consummate pro and does not deserve to get pushed out the door to shave a few dollars off an already over-the-cap payroll next year.
“Layup, you're delusional,” says Charity Stripe. “ What do you think Fisher wants? Does he want to sit on the bench and maybe play five minutes every couple weeks or play on a team that needs a point guard this year and will get 15-20 minutes a night.
“Charity, locker room presence most have value,” says Miss Layup. “Leadership.  It's not so much the stats that make him valuable, it's what he does off the court for the team. Without D.Fish the Lakers wouldn't have won those 5 championships."
Streetball Dunkington raises his hand. “R.Sessions, at 25, is much younger than the 37-year-old Fisher and is in a better position to help the team in the years ahead.  We saw his speed on the court just now.”
“So,” I say. “Do we know who will be chopped?”
They all nod.
And another commercial. “…then add three cups of sugar, to give it that sweet…” and it goes on.
“And we’re back,” I say. “So let’s call them back out on the court.”
We see close ups of each as they arrive at center court.
“Gentlemen, after considerable discussion, we have made our decision.”
On the court, Mr. Technical, bounces the ball, then shoots it to D.Fish.
“Derek Fisher, I’m sorry, but you have been chopped.”
D.Fish waves up at us. “Well, we had a good run.”  He bumps fists with R.Session,
Smiles, waves to all of us, and walks off the court.
“R.Sessions, You’ve won Chopped.  How do you feel?”
“I don't know what to say.  This is great. To play alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau, and Andrew.  Yes, this is great. I hope I will measure up.”
And the newspaper reports it the next day.
‘The Lakers sent first-round draft Derek Fisher, a 37- year-old guard who is the president of the NBA Players Association, to the Houston Rockets in return for Jordan Hill.
Los Angeles also dealt forward Luke Walton, guard Jason Kapono and its 2012 first-round pick to Cleveland for guard Ramon Sessions and forward Christian Eyenga.
The ball's now in Derek's court.
Help comes from:
And catch an episode of, "Chopped," on Food Network.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I arrive at 11:45.  The weigh-in is at noon.

I sit in a booth back by the kitchen at the Montana Galley. There are only a few seats available.  I watch two men, wedged into a small booth, breathing heavily, arm wrestle.

"Yes, yes, yes,...yes.  Gotcha."  says the winner. They both smile. "Well, it's about time."  They squeeze out and walk up toward the microphone in the front reception area. 

TV trucks park on the street in front.  The place is full, with people standing out on the sidewalk.

I sit with Helena, the owner, who picks at my breakfast,  A Peyton Manning Special: A waffle sandwich of peanut butter, jelly, and chunks of lobster.

"I can't sell enough of these." says Montana.

"Food is good," I say. "But it's you that keeps 'em coming back."

She looks at me, her finger twisting her blond hair. "Pishaw," and slaps my shoulder.

"It's true."

"That the reason you came in?"  She looks up at me.

"Business, my dear.  Big crowd. TV cameras. Pro-Eaters going on diets?  Gotta be a story here.  The Valley Post Picayune loves stuff like this."

She glances at her watch. "It should be starting right away.  We got the scale up front."

She took a deep breath. "Coke prices just went up. They had to change the recipe so they won't need a warning label. Some kind of chemical in the caramel causes cancer.  Who knew?"

She smiles. "So this weigh-in is perfect to drum up business."

"You're so smart."  I say.

Someone calls "Helena, " from the other side of the room.

 "Let's do something later,"  she says. But before I can say that she might not be the only blond in my life, she punches my arm and is off.  Customer satisfaction.

"Hey, Belair," says another lady,

"Abilene. Wow," I say.  She slides into the booth, and hugs me.

"Thanks for that tip on Jose Canseco. That was good.  I need to repay you somehow."

Short brown hair, low cut blouse, sparkly eyes.

"I'll have to think of something." I say. 

"We'll have to get together, but I got to do this."  She moves out of the booth. 

"I got maybe five minutes before we go live. You gotta call me more often."

A group of young men in the next booth, closely watch her move in and out of the booth.  All smiles.

 She smiles back, and is off to the cameras.

Helena is back. "Will I have to warn everyone now that Coke causes cancer?  What next?"  She looks at me.  "Abilene, you seem to know her?"

"Shhush," I say.  "It's starting."  I nod toward the front.

"Four...Three...Two..." The cameraman points, and waves.

"Abilene Austin, here at the Montana Galley.  It's time for the weigh in."

Three very over weight men stand next to her. Two have clutched hands and are working their thumbs.  "Yes, yes, yes...yes, I win," says the winner. "Gotcha again."

"Gentlemen, what brought all this on. Pro-Eaters getting weighed before going on diets?  We'll start with you Will." 

He moves up to the microphone.  "I'm  Will 'The Champ' Millender. I'm from Brooklyn.  I'm the  current New York Stinky Cheese Eating Champion; I've been on Discovery Channel, MTV, and National Geographic.  We decided to go on diets.  We really had no choice, so were officially weighing in.  For me it was doctor's orders."

He steps onto the scale.  446 lbs.

"I'm Joel 'The Cannon' Podelsky,  from Laurence Harbor, NJ.  I'm the current National Bun & Cheese Eating Champion.  Maybe you saw me on “America’s Got Talent.”

He steps on the scale.  271 lbs.

"And I'm Mike “The 'Sisco Kid' Sisco. I'm from Brooklyn.  I'm very competitive, that's the reason I'm here. There's a coupla records I'd like to break this year.   The SPAM record, 6 pounds in 12 seconds,  Four - 32 ounce bowls of mayonnaise in 8 minutes, and the record for cow brains, 17.7 pounds in 15 minutes.  And of course Kobayashi's unofficial record of 69 hotdogs and buns in ten minutes."

He steps on the scale. 268 lbs.

"We're not crazy," says The Champ.  "We have to lose some weight.  So, this is great.  Thousand dollars, winner take all.  Any kind of a challenge, I'm up for it. Even something like this."

"Professional Eating." says Abilene. "Let me ask you, do you think this is a sport?"

"Got to be more exciting than Darts," says The Sisco Kid. "Or Ribbon Dancing or Curling, that was in the Olympics.  And being interviewed by such a gorgeous sports announcer, well, isn't that the definition of a sport?"

"Problem here obviously," says The Cannon.  "Is that our fans want us to eat spaghetti and meatballs, pizzas, hot dogs, not Caesar salads.  So this is not going to be easy."

"Training must be difficult, I would think." says Abilene.  "How do you train?  You're Pro Eaters.  Do you just eat a lot?"

"Pretty much," says The Sisco Kid.  "I usually go into a restaurant and ask for 5 pounds of beef, and start there.  But, now, staying in shape, and dieting at the same time?  This is going to be a real challenge.

"What's up next on your agenda?"

"The 2012 London Bridge Resort Lake Havasu National Spring Break Eating Championship   The winner of this event will establish a NEW National Cheese Fries Eating Record."

The Champ looks at The Sisco Kid, and The Cannon. "It's lunch time and I'm hungry. Who's up for some chicken wings?  Get this weigh-in off to a good start?"

"I'm game,"  says The Sisco Kid.

"But," says The Cannon.  "We're supposed to loose is lunch time?"

"Chicken?" asks The Champ. He looks into the crowd.  "Where's a chicken place.  I don't think they'll have enough here."

"Zankou Chicken, in Toluca Lake."  People point. "Just east of here."

The three rush out.

"I did 230 in ten minutes..."

"That's nothing..."

"Loser pays..."

And they are gone.

"Well," says Abilene.  "Official record is 68 hotdogs with buns in ten minutes, by Joey Chestnut. Unofficial is 69, by Takeru Kobayashi.  Fourth of July in Coney Island, we'll see how this all turns out.  So, reporting from the Montana Galley here in the Valley., this is Abilene Austin, KLUK-TV News."  Big smile...hold it...and...we're out.

Abilene is back at my booth.  "Gotta get back. Call me sometime. Stay in touch. We'll talk sports."

She looks down and thumbs her iPhone.

"You think doing something like this is a demotion?  Is this real sports?  I hope not.  But, what the heck.  I got some good camera time."  She looks at me and winks.  "See ya Belair."

Heads turn as she clickity-clicks in her high-heels through the restaurant and out to the TV truck.

Helena, slides into the booth. "You know her?"

"We worked on a few sports stories while she was on a TV station in Texas."

Helena watches Abilene through the window.  "She's sure a fast talker."

"Fast? Yes, that she is." I say.  "That she is."


Help comes from:, an online social dieting site.
Google/Images  Wikipedia/Kobayashi
 (See my posts: The Rehab of Peyton Manning/Feb 2012, and
   Jose Canseco and The Hall of Fame/Jan 2012)

Sunday, March 11, 2012


"So, follow us ladies," says Hampton.  "We're going to the stables.  See the horse we claimed.  Unresponsive."

"That name," says Newport.  "Something we have to eventually change.  Ladies, you'll be up close to a real race horse."

"Believe it or not we didn't have enough money to buy the Washington Redskins, so instead we got involved in the Sport of Kings.  We bought us a $10,000 claimer.  I'm excited."

"Horse stables?" says Ginger. 

"We're walking all the way, over there." asks Pepper.  She looks down at the short man next to her.

He puts out his hand.  "I'm Rank. That's what they called me when I was a trainer, and it had nothing to do with my odor." 

He laughs.

"Rank.  It means very difficult to deal with. I'd take some pretty fractious horses, horses that just didn't obey, and I made them winners.  So the name just stuck."

The five walk past the track, beyond the far stretch, to where they stable the horses.

"So we're having breakfast," says Ginger.  "We're relaxing, and you call us.  We're going to Santa Anita.  Want to go?  What are we going to say?  Of Course.  Fly over, box seats, maybe lobster lunch, make a bet or two, watch your horse run, then fly back."

"We thought you ladies would like to go." says Hampton.  "Maybe we won't call next time.  We really like you two, but you and Pepper aren't the only two escorts in Vegas, you know."

She clutches Hampton's arm.  "Hampton, don't be like that, come on.  I'm just saying, didn't expect this, spending time in the stables. This is kind of a walk."

Sweat forms on Pepper's forehead.  Ginger wraps her sweater around her waist. Over dirt and gravel, and ten minutes, they reach the stable area.

"This is it," says Rank. "There's probably 2,000 horses in here.  We'll find Unresponsive right over here.  Come on."

Pepper looks down at her high heels, and lifts her leg.  "Is this mud, or"

She looks at Ginger, and then at the other three.

"Part of owning a horse," says Hampton. "You're going to get some horse poop.  Comes with the territory, my dear."

Rank smiles toward Pepper.  "Ma'am. We have boots you can change into. Wait right here,  I'll get two pair."  He jogs off.

Pepper looks at Ginger.  "Something. Anything. This isn't funny.  These are $250 shoes. Ruined.  This isn't happening."

Horses from all through the stable turn and look at the two ladies.  Pepper hops on one foot, while she dangles her gunky shoe from her finger.

"Wasps,"  says Ginger, and jumps back. She waves her hand violently in the air.  "Wasps, don't sting me, don't sting me. Please."

Rank jogs around the corner, holding four well used boots.  "They're okay," he says.  "They're supposed to be here. They feed on fly larva. It's a natural way to get rid of flies."

"You're kidding?" says Ginger.  Her body stiffens. "Wasps instead of flies, brilliant." 

"Don't worry.  They don't sting. It's better than spraying tons of pesticide, or fly traps or putting up Sticky Strips.  With them the flies just keep coming back."  He smiles.  "He's right up here, everybody."  He points.

They get to the stall.  A horse watches them arrive. His name plate: Unresponsive.

"Hi, Unresponsive." says Rank. "Are you ready to meet your new owners?"

"Who named you, my friend," says Newport.  "Somebody with a sense of humor. You look fast to me."  

"But, yeah," says Hampton. "We need a new name.  You're a thoroughbred, so I'm thinking..."  

He touches the nose of Unresponsive. "Something like, Swifty, or Immediate, or maybe FastAndLoose?"  He rubs the horse's nose.

Pepper jerks back. "Boy, it really smells in there. So gross.  How about Stench, or GodAwfulSmell.  You got any kind to spray for this?"   She makes a gagging sound and holds her nose. 

"Stinky," says Ginger. "Hey, Stinky."

Unresponsive blinks and stares at Ginger.

"You two have to get into the spirit of this." says Hampton.  "This is all part of being a horse owner.  All you've seen are pictures of horses in the winner's circle.  Can't have it both ways ladies."

"How about Momentum?" says Newport. "That's a good name."

A horse in a close stall whinnies.

The girls jump back, then duck down.  "No way," says Ginger. "I got to get out of here. It smells so bad, and all these tiny knatty thing buzzing around, and these boots?  Hampton, sweetheart,  I can't be seen in these."

"And they hurt my feet," says Pepper.  "Can we just go back to the Box Seats, or somewhere.  No offense horse, but I can't be in here much more."

Unresponsive whinnies and nudges Pepper hard in the back.  She pitches forward, and falls onto the muddy/strawy/poopy ground.  "Son of a bi..."

She stares up at Unresponsive. Their eyes meet. Unresponsive whinnies again and paws his straw.

"I hate you, horse," says Pepper.  Her breath is heavy.  

"Time to go," says Newport.  "Unresponsive, you're running in the Eighth race today. Rest up, my friend. Remember, we can easily put you in another claiming race,"  He helps up Pepper.  "He must just be off his feed."

"I like this horse," says Hampton. He laughs, and pats Unresponsive on the nose. "You keep your name.  Supposed to be bad luck to change it anyway."  He looks at the two ladies and laughs again.  "But it's time..."

Ginger and Pepper hold onto each other, and trudge toward the open end of the stables.  Pepper hobbles in those large boots, while Ginger waves at the tiny wasps in her face.  Both lurch forward toward the fresh air.  Newport helps, his arms around both of their waists.

Hampton turns to Rank.  "I like this horse. How good is he really."

"Bet him to show, you'll have more fun with him. He's not a bad horse at all.  And don't change the name.  With a name like Unresponsive he'll have some very good odds. Who wants to bet on a horse named Unresponsive." 

Hampton shakes Rank's hand, then turns and waves to the horse.

Unresponsive bows his head, whinnies, and paws the straw.

Other horses watch the fraidy-cat humans leave their stables. They whinnie loudly, look at each other, and shake their heads.

Help comes from:'s Buy the Redskins/Jan2012
Google/Images, Wikipedia/Santa Anita

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I hear The Theme from Rocky.  My ringtone. 

"Belair, here.  Brentwood Belair."

"Woody? It's me."

"Well," I say.  "As I live and breathe, Palermo Sicily. How's the Fresh Air Taxi Company doing?

"Gets better every day.  But, okay, you won't believe who I picked up this morning."

"Okay." I say.

"Okay, okay.  This is big.  It's a sports story, Woody, that's really big."

"The bounty on NFL players?  Last week's news, Pauley."

"Look, I know what's in the paper. This is a whole lot better."

"Talk to me. I'm listening. Go."

"Okay, okay," he says. "I pick up this guy at LAX.  He's real nervous, looking around, like we're being fallowed, nervous and all.

"Tells me to drive to the far eastern end to the private planes. We pick up these other two guys. All three in the back.  And they're real gabby."

"Roger, thanks for coming." says the one in the middle.   He shakes hands with the other.  "Tom, always a pleasure.  First let me apologize for doing it this way."

"Hey, Steve," says Tom. "Must be important. You called, so I'm here."

"You know," says Roger. "I think I've been followed lately. It's those guys from TMZ.  All about the Bounty.  Just won't go away. They come up to me in the street.  Asking me questions, cameras in my face."

"That's the reason for all this secrecy." says Steve.  "We can't be too careful."

"Not a problem, Steve," says Tom.  "Coming to California is like a vacation, but I got to get back."

"The Boss told me to get this done," says Steve.  "I have my office scanned for bugs every day.  It's important nobody know anything about this."

"Okay" says Roger.

"The Boss wants it all this Bounty crap to go away.  Our football films are the key to this.  Both of you have an interest in keeping the NFL the most respected league in all of sports. So..."  

"Your weekly football films are fantastic," says Roger. "You make money, we make money.  We get our cut, so I'll do what The Boss wants, whatever it is."

"It was my team and my coaches, that got nailed," says Tom. "So, whatever you guys want."

"So, here's what we've decided on," says Steve.  "And this all stays right here." 

All three look at me. And I'm looking at them in the mirror.

"I say, 'No problem guys, I'm all about driving.'  And I close the sliding window.  But, I can still hear everything.  They had no idea."

"You hope," I say

"Got that right," says Pauley. "Okay, so Steve says,

 "We all knew these hit lists existed.  But now players are starting to complain that they're not getting paid enough.  So I spoke with The Boss and we came up with the solution."

So Steve, the movie guy reaches into his briefcase and takes out two folders, one for Tom and one for Roger. "Your speeches. The NFL won't be looked at anymore like a group of thugs getting paid to cripple the opposition."

Tom and Roger nod.

"Anything," says Roger.  "To get this off the front pages.  We got enough problems what with  concussion lawsuits, major networks starting to schedule Rugby League games during week ends.  Parents telling their kids that Football is too rough, telling them to play soccer, can you believe?"

"So Roger," says Steve. "You're going to come down real hard on these two coaches. Years of suspension, whatever you like. We're tough on Bounties."

"I make a ton of money on our 'NFL Gorillas of the Grid Iron, films," says Steve.  "Most vicious hits and tackles.

"And since The Boss makes his cut from everything NFL, we have to keep the Gorillas of the Gridiron series stronger every year.

"So, we're going to tell the players that we will pay them only if they star in one of the films.  That will give them the same incentive to play like thugs without giving them a hit list.  You both are off the hook. We will pay them instead.  The Boss takes an extra percentage off the gross."

"An extra percent?" says Roger.

"I guess, if it gets us off the front page." says Tom. "I won't have to feel like everyone's watching me any more.  I'll do it."

"Okay, so I do nothing, but read my script, and come down hard on these guys?"  Roger looks at his script.

"Keep saying you knew nothing about any of this.  We'll notify the players."

"Then Steve raps on the window, and I take them back to their planes.  And that was it. Twenty minutes tops."

"So, " I say. " Who is this boss they were talking about? You think the Mob...Organized Crime... takes a cut from the profits of the NFL?"

"Beats me." says Palermo.

"Pauley, how do you feel about this?  They know who you are, your taxi license is in your cab. If word gets out, like you telling me?"

"Woody, I had to tell somebody, and you're in sports. Geez, guess I wasn't thinking.  This has to be off the record."

"This is the scoop of the decade. Blows the roof off the NFL, this Bounty thing.  They want players to get injured.  Better for film sales.

"And who is The Boss?" I asked

"I don't really want to know." 

And that's the story.  Pauley gets the League Commissioner, a Team Owner, and the guy who makes all those Football films in the backseat of his cab?

 But since Pauley's a friend, and the magnitude of what those three were discussing, best I keep this a secret, for Pauley sake.

And for my own.


Help comes from:
Google/Images, Wikipedia,

Monday, March 5, 2012


Two players sit by their lockers.  One crosses himself.  "Please Lord," he says.  "Make us winners in this game today, and please watch over me so I don't get hurt too bad.  I want to do my best, without getting hurt bad. Thank you, Lord.  Amen."

"Amen " says the other.  "Got your list. $1,000 for a cart-off, and $1,500 for a knockout.  Extra money's something to shoot for."

A horn sounds.

"Okay," say the player.  "Pre-game meeting, or should I say pre-game screaming from the coach."  He laughs and moves away.  "You coming?" 

"Give me a second, " says Jackson.  He hesitates, then takes a sheet of paper out of his locker, and opens it. 

It is a list of names, and a list of money amounts.

Jackson looks up. 

There is a light at the end of the lockers.  It is around a Man's head.  The Man wears sandals, has long hair, and wears a linen tunic.

"Hello Jackson. Linebacker from Mississippi State."

Jackson stands up.

"What is that?" asks The Man in the Linen Tunic. 

"What?  Do I know you?"  He looks at the Man's sandals, and squints at the bright light.  "No way."

He steps back. "And how'd you know who I was?" 

"Well, I kinda know quite a bit about you.  I came by to talk for a minute."

"Haven't really got time.  I gotta players meeting."

"I don't usually make personal appearances, but I thought this was that important.  Should only take a minute.  That piece of paper in your hand?"

Jackson throws the paper back into his locker and pushes to close it.

The Man in the Linen Tunic, holds the door, and takes out the sheet of paper. He looks at it.

"We know, don't we, what this is?"

"Are you really who you are?  Look, it's just something to help me focus on my game, that 's all."

"Come on, Jackson.  Remember who you're talking to.  This is a hit list.  I know all about it.  It's nothing new.  And the NFL has known about this for quite sometime.  They're giving you extra money to mame and cripple people?" 

"But, what am I supposed to do.  I have to go after the other guys anyway. Why not take the money. That's how the game is played."

"It's not whether you win or lose..."

"But it is.  Who wants to lose?" 

"...It's how you play the game.  Ever heard that?"

"It's $1,500.  How can I not go for that?"

"What else would you do for $1,500?"

"I got people to pay. My agent, my brother-in-law...says he's looking for work... and my family. Who would not be happy I got that extra money?"

"Me for one." says The Man in the Linen Tunic.

A player sticks his head around the lockers.  "Who you talking to, Jackson?  Hey, we got a meeting." 

"Look," says Jackson.  "It wasn't my idea, anyway.  Why don't you go talk to the coach?  He started this list.  I'm just doing what the team tells me to do."

"Intentionally trying to mame or kill someone, that's okay?   How am I supposed to condone this?  Don't you think the other team is asking me for a win too?"

He looks at the paper, then down at Jackson, linebacker from Mississippi State.

"This would be illegal if you did it out in the street somewhere."

"Come on, it's part of the game."

"No game I want to be involved in," .says The Man in the Linen Tunic,  "Even if you could somehow not participate, you're playing in a league that promotes this kind of behavior.  They say otherwise, but we know.  How do you think that makes me feel?"

"Well, I guess..."

"You're trapped.  It's the lure of the money.  Do you really want to mame the players on the other team?".

"No, well,  I just want them to be blocked out of the plays.  I'll be doing my job."

"I know who is involved in all this. This all started when the NFL movie people needed harder hits in the tapes they sell.  So they came up with this scheme to get players, how should I say it, more motivated."

The horn sounds again.

"My followers could never play in a league that excused this. Praising me is a mistake, if you do not vocally condemn such an outrage."

"I gotta go.  Game is starting pretty soon."

"Brutality in sports has become a very disturbing aspect of modern society down here.  It's certainly something I'll have to discuss more in my next meeting with Dad and our group."

The Man in  the Linen Tunic takes out his SmartPhone.  "Nifty little thing here.  A lot easier to stay in touch with Dad."  He touches the screen.  "Guess I got a meeting too.  Mainly the discussion's been about Greed, and lack of Charity.  So...Wait, that Denver quarterback's also asking for my help.  I'll see how he feels about all this."

"Hey," says a man wearing a whistle. "Jackson, Come on.  What are you doing back here.  You talking to yourself?  Get your stuff.  Let's go."

"On my way."  He slams his locker closed, grabs his helmet, and jogs out onto the field.

Jackson, linebacker from Mississippi State stops.  He waits, then rushes back to his locker, pulls out the sheet of names and prices, and dashes back out on the field.  He flashes the folded paper to the coach, who nods and waves him out onto the field.

"Get out there Jackson.  Knock 'em dead.  You're a Saint.  We know how to win."

"You got it coach. I'll be gunnin' for that extra money." 

Watching from the sideline, The Man in the Linen Tunic turns and leaves the stadium. He does not look back.  


Help comes from:

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Thursday, March 1, 2012


"Wichita, quick, come out and see my new car."

"New car?"

"Well, it's new to me."

Wichita unplugs her ear phones, jumps off the bed, and dives down the stairs toward the front door.

It sits right out in front of the house.  

"What have you done to this thing?"

"I got the idea about two months ago," says Salina. "I wanted to have it finished by the Daytona 500, but it didn't dry in time."

Topeka stands and stares at it.

"It's a 2006 Ford Explorer," says Salina. "I looked at a Smart Car, and that new Fiat, but they were way too small.  Four doors was perfect, and used, so it was a whole lot cheaper.  You like it?"

"Everybody in town is on here?" said Wichita.  "McCray's Lumber, Jay Hawk Pawn & Jewelry,  Ray's Liquor Warehouse."

Two young men walk across the street.

"Yikes.  Salina. This your Explorer?" says one.

"Sure stands out," says the other.

They walk around the car. 

"I got the idea from NASCAR.  Daytona 500, you know?  Really it was from that girl Topeka, from Alpha Sigma Sigma.  You've seen her car.  Topeka Gives Great Message, $30 an Hour,  plastered all over it."
"Zarco 66," says Wichita.  She points to another sticker. "Yacht Club Sports Bar and Grill, and you got 3 Spoons Yogurt over on Massachusetts."

"Lawrence, you want to take a ride." asks Salina.

"Somebody might see me riding in it,"  says Lawrence. 

Why do you say that," says Salina. "I got the thing for free."

"You what?"  He looks at Salina. He blinks, and shakes his head.

 "Wild Thing Paint & Auto Body,"  She waves at the roof,  "I had to give them the top for free, just to get it like this.  Nobody wanted the top anyway." 

"Midwest Billiards," says Wichita. "Big G's Antiques, and you got Abe and Jake's Landing?  How did you get that?"

"Had to put on a bikini, they took pictures in their boats, holding a pole, and well.  It was kind of a trade deal. Still they bought two square feet.  And there still some space."  She points under the front grill.  "I'm thinking $20 flat fee.  It's hard to see here."

"I like it," say the other young man.

"Thank you, Russell," says Salina. "Ten cents a square inch.  That's for the hood, trunk, and the doors, and five cents if they buy more than a square foot. I had to  promise them I'd drive it  1,000 miles a month.  I can't just park it."

"Wave of the future," says Lawrence.  "Making money any way you can.  Everything's got a sponsor now. Salina, you've become another corporate drone."

"Hey, I've been walking everywhere, now I can drive.  Had to make a choice.  Think I sold out?"

"Corporations have taken over, but this.  Salina, I thought you were one of the 99%ers."

"I still am, Lawrence.  Come on.  I have to make over $350,000 per year, and have a net worth of at least $14 million to be a 1%er.  Look, I got this thing for free.  I'm thinking of asking Professor Coffeeville, my Econ.Professor.  Maybe I can get credit for this.  Life experience, maybe?"

"Quinton's Bar and Deli," says Wichita. "Big G's Antiques. And on the hood? Fraternal Order of Eagles. 

"Those guys would do anything to help out a young blond girl," says Salina.  "I wore that halter top. Those guys were really happy to see me. I laid it on thick. Girl's going to school.  Girl working her way through. Girls gotta eat. They loved me."

Lawrence, Russell and Wichita continue to circle the Explorer.

"No different than NASCAR," says Russell.  "All those patches on the jump suits.  They pay big bucks for all that advertising." 

"Got the monthly payments down to $315 per month," says Salina. "But I'm getting $425 from the ads.  So I got some extra money for gas."

"It's corporate contamination," says Lawrence  "It's everywhere. Coors Field, Staples Center, Target Field.  The McDonald's first pitch of the game. They got the FedEx Orange Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The T.D. Ameritrade whatever.  Do I see a Jiffy Lube logo on the City Hall?  How about The State of Kansas brought to you by Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup?"

He folds his arms.  "Is that what you want?"

"Had to do something.  My Chemistry text cost me $75...used.  I just have to bill these people once a month.  I'm thinking Salina, LLC." 

"WNBA, has sponsors on their jerseys." says Wichita.  "I don't mind. WNBA probably wouldn't exist without corporate sponsorship." 

Lawrence puts his hands in the air. "What's next. Tattooed foreheads, ala Iron Mike, with a Tide logo, or WingStop, or Watch the Bachelor on ABC, plastered on your face?"

"You watch the Bachelor?" asks Wichita.

"What? No...well, sometimes, doesn't matter.  Next people will be selling their body space on Craigslist.  Think that's a good idea?"

"When I was researching to do this, believe it or not, an online casino GoldenPalace had their name tattooed to boxers. So it's already been done.  And No, I'm not getting tattooed."

The three continue to stare at the car.

"I have to promise to drive at least 1,000 miles a month.  I can't leave it sitting out here.  So, who wants to take a ride?"

Lawrence walks over to Salina.  He stares at the door, then at the hood.  "How much did you say you're getting from all this?"

"$425 a month."

"My five year plan is to get through school, get a degree, then maybe graduate school.  But...I'm so broke.  Could we maybe do my car...this is an absolute sell out,...but we do what we gotta said that."  He touches the car's hood.  "Could you help me do my car?"

"Lawrence, I'm still a 99%er.  We're still going to the rally, later, right?"

He looks toward the top of a far away tree. "I'm tired of being so broke all the time, I guess."

She wraps her arm around his. "Monday, after class, we'll get started.   We'll have to find something with a lot of space.  Maybe an SUV. or a panel delivery truck?  Then figure out how much..."

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