Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Hot Winter Nights" - Chapter 1--A Night At The (Comet) Opera

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girlsI am finally delivering on my long-promised blog tribute series about my favorite sports franchise of all-time, the Kansas City Comets of the original Major Indoor Soccer League.  After all, this here blog is partially named for said sports entity, so it's only natural that I pay tribute to this fine body of men.  This thing took far longer than I imagined it would to compile and write, but there were so many memories and facets to this wonderful team, which existed from 1981-91, and a mere single post simply won't do justice to them.  I'll delve into the history and minutiae of the team in later installments, but first, I want to give you a little taste of a typical "Hot Winter Night" (as the team's original slogan went) with this amalgam of my favorite in-person game memories, all merged into a single fictional game...

6:30PM—Down in the stockyards of Kansas City, the natives begin gathering at 1800 Genessee (aka Kemper Arena) for another Major Indoor Soccer League match.

6:55PM—My longtime friend and tag-team partner (in the loosest sense) Tom and I arrive at Kemper and take our seats.  If it's 1986-87, we're in our season ticket seats right in the front rowwwww in Section 119, Row A, Seats 5 (me) and 6 (Tom) right by the Plexiglas.

7:00PM—The visiting St. Louis Steamers emerge from the bench area and trot out to midfield and half-heartedly wave to the halfway-assembled multitude, receiving a smattering of applause (from those who made their way up I-70 to see their heroes), but mostly boos and hisses from the crowd before they disperse to the south end of the field to do their pre-game warm-ups.  About 30 seconds later, the crowd erupts into applause as the Kansas City Comets charge out of their bench area and acknowledge their loyal legion of fans before taking the north end of the field to warm up.  For the next 20 minutes, both teams perform various stretching and exercise drills, and practice passing and shooting while using the goalkeepers for target practice.

7:05 PM—An errant practice shot soars over the Plexiglas behind the south goal and lands in some unsuspecting fan's lap, crushing the poor sucker's newly-bought nachos.  Said fan sheepishly tosses the cheese-coated sphere back to the field and checks for collateral damage, plucking jalapenos off his Levi's Dockers.  Meanwhile, senior referees Gino DiPollito and Bill Maxwell enter the field at some point and try to look authoritative while they monitor the proceedings.  The building continues to fill with fans while the latest hits from Madonna, Tears For Fears, Mr. Mister and Starship play on the P.A. overhead.

7:10PM—Randi Schoenstadt, lovely daughter of team owner Dr. David Schoenstadt, emerges from the bench area and makes her way across the field toward the penalty box area to deliver the Comets lineup card to the refs.  Picture singer Ronnie Spector (only about 20 years younger) struttin' her stuff in that Eddie Money video and you get the picture—Miss Randi had Tina Turner-esque legs and often sported very short skirts, five-inch stilettos and various manner of sexy hosiery, including fishnets.  My heart races, I drool profusely, and I lust mightily after her until she disappears into the bench area again.

7:15PM—Ceremonial drooling now completed, I turn my attention back to the matter at hand, perusing and preparing my homemade Comets scoresheet, which I modeled after a baseball scorecard, all the while trying to ignore the annoying Johnson County family that always sits to our left with the squirmy little kids who never really give a rip about the game itself.  I'm sure I was the only fan in the building who ever kept score at Comets games, and I'm soooo glad I did—it was a huge help in compiling this series.

7:20PM—The horn sounds signaling the end of pre-game warm-ups, and the teams file back to their respective locker rooms as the lights dim partially while arena workers set up the various pyrotechnic and lighting apparatus (apparati?) for the upcoming player introductions.  Meanwhile, several pre-taped commercials play on the P.A. (and on the video board if it's 1988 onward), including a message from KCTV-5 Sports Director Jack Harry extolling the virtues of Channel 5's "special coverage" of Comets game broadcasts. Yeah right, sure, Jack—whatever you say, buddy.  [I'll deal with that "special coverage" in a future installment of "Hot Winter Nights".]  Interspersed with the pre-recorded ads are messages from Public Address Announcer Mark Fitzpatrick (before 1988) and Ed Bishop (1988-91).  Mr. Fitzpatrick was a bank president by day who moonlighted (moonlit?) as the voice of Comets inside Kemper Arena.  Mr. Bishop, who succeeded Mark when bank duties took up too much of his time, was a Communications major and classmate of yours truly at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and is back today as PA man for the new Missouri Comets MISL franchise, too.  Both gentlemen served the dual roles as master of ceremonies and head cheerleader for the Comets, and served it well.

7:28PM—The remaining arena lights go dim and the building is plunged into total darkness until spotlights shine on the visitors' bench, where the St. Louis players have reconvened.  Using Emerson Lake & Palmer's "Fanfare For The Common Man" as a music bed, Fitzpatrick/Bishop introduces each player on the squad as they enter the field one-by-one in numerical uniform order as they run around north end of the field in the dark and he concludes the intro with "Ladies and gentlemen, the visiting St. Louis Steamers..."

7:30 PM—The spotlights now train themselves on the huge disco mirror ball hovering over the south end of Kemper Arena, sending a few thousand points of light circulating around the seating area.  Giorgio Moroder's "Midnight Express Theme"—the Comets' "call of the wild", if you will—pulsates over the P.A. while the neon Comets logo sign you see in this photo illuminates and flashes.  On a special night, a bright green light beam might shoot out from behind the south goal and signal the start of the legendary Comets lazer show.  Come 1988 or later, a nifty video appears on the scoreboard showing an animated comet passing 'round the Borealis (space truckin' 'round the stars?) then orbiting Earth before zeroing in on North America and taking dead aim on the Kemper Arena roof (yes, the same roof that collapsed in 1979).  A loud explosion jolts the crowd and sparks fly from the arena rafters as a fiery red ball (later changed to a light-up Comets logo) illuminates and begins descending on a cable aimed in the general direction of the neon Comets sign.  When the ball/logo reaches the Astroturf "earth", another KA-BOOOOM! goes off and two bright flash pots spout flames in front of the goal—if you didn't know any better, you'd think you were at a Kiss concert (not that that's a problem with yours truly or anything).  After fever pitch is achieved, Fitzpatrick/Bishop goes to work:  "Ladies and gentlemen, would you welcome YOUR KANSAS CITY COMETS!!  At goalkeeper, number double-zero ENZOOOOOO DiPEDE!  At defender, the captain of the Comets, number #2, GINOOOOOOO SCHIRAAAAALDIIIII!" and so on, through all 16 players suited up as they make their way through the door and charge on to the field through the neon-lighted "runway" laid out on the turf near the goal.

7:33PM—Following the intros, the players line up along their respective red lines, the refs stand at attention in front of the penalty box, the music dies down, the spotlight hits Old Glory up in the rafters and Fitzpatrick/Bishop introduces singer Ida McBeth to perform the national anthem.  Ida is a legendary local K.C. jazz/R&B artist who was the Comets' equivalent to what the late Kate Smith was to the Philadelphia Flyers in the '70s—a secret weapon/good luck charm, so to speak.  The woman has a voice so deep, I thought she was actually a guy in drag the first time I heard her sing!  But man, when she'd reach down and belt out her stirring a capella rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" (or even better, "God Bless America"), if that didn't get you fired-up for the game, nothing would!  All other Comets anthem singers paled in comparison to Ida.  When she first started singing for the Comets, McBeth was bigger (literally) than Heart's Ann Wilson at her heaviest—easily 300 pounds—but when her health started to suffer, she lost an impressive amount of weight and slimmed down to the svelte, Patti LaBelle-like figure you see in the photo above.  Ida still performs regularly and has quite a following around town.  Okay, back to the game...

7:35PM—Let's get ready to rumble!  The Steamers kick off to begin the match, and we are underway.  The Comets gain control of the ball and "Midnight Express" kicks in again on the P.A.—unlike in other sports, it's okay for music to blare overhead while the game is going in the MISL.  Fitzpatrick/Bishop urges the crowd to get into things by intoning, "C'mon everybody!" or "Here come the Comets!" and the crowd begins cheering and clapping rhythmically.  The game continues from one end of the field with several shots by both teams narrowly missing the goals.

7:40PM—My all-time favorite Comet, Yugoslavian forward Damir Haramina, takes a beautiful feed from midfielder Tasso Koutsoukos and rams home a one-timer from the top of the arc past sprawling goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski of the Steamers for the first goal of the night.  The red light behind the goal illuminates and Fitzpatrick/Bishop orgasmically screams "GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!" as the crowd goes berserk.  After a brief pause, Mark/Ed resumes: "KAN-za City GOOOOOOALLLL!!!...His 15th of the season for number 11, DAMEEEEER HARAMEEEEEENAAAAAA!!!!...And with the assist, number ten, TASSOOOOO KOUTSOOOOOOUKOS!!"  After just a few games, I got the routine down pat and loved to chant right along with Fitzpatrick/Bishop after every goal—it was just like singing along to a favorite song.

7:45PM—Mad Mike, an annoying self-appointed "Super Fan" with a snare drum makes his first appearance of the night, charging up to the Plexiglas in the aisle to our left adjacent to the Steamers' bench.  I roll my eyes as he bangs his drum and hollers toward the field, "Let's go Comets" (thump, thump), "Rip their lips off, Comets!" (thump, thump), etc.  Then, being the inconsiderate rube that he is, rather than walk up to the concourse and go around to reach the aisle to our right, Mike decides to cut through our row, and in the process, he bonks some little kid in the head with his drum, causing the child to burst into tears.  Mad Mike, meet Mad Parent—he's about to show you a new place to put that drumstick...

7:52PM—During an official's timeout, Fitzpatrick/ Bishop says, "There's an official's timeout on the field," to which Tom would alternately respond, "Well, get it off the field!" or "Yeah? They need one!"  Fitzpatrick/Bishop then introduces the night's very special guest, the Famous Chicken, who immediately bolts across the field to the Steamers' bench area and puts his special "whammy" on Team Steam, then proceeds to lay soccer "eggs" at midfield, and does his usual humorous shtick.

7:58PM—Now in the stands next to the Plexiglas, the Chicken attempts to "distract" the St. Louis players by holding up pin-up posters of Madonna and Loni Anderson, et al.  This doesn't work, so he then holds up a cheesecake poster of a morbidly-obese woman in a bathing suit.  Still, no dice.  As a final resort, the Chicken whips out a poster of Richard Gere!  Later on, the Chicken attaches the obese woman poster to the Plexiglas, then takes a bottle of windex foam and draws an arrow on the glass pointing to the poster and spells out "MISS ST. LOUIS".  This Chicken cat was/is friggin' brilliant.

8:02PM—Referee Gino DiPollito calls a phantom foul on the Comets when St. Louis' Ricky "Captain America" Davis trips and falls on his own in front of K.C.'s Dave Boncek right in front of us.  I jump up and scream "WHAT?!?"  Davis, by the way, was the Comets' whipping-boy, as it seemed like we were always knocking him on his keister, yet the little weasel kept getting right back up and playing.  Tough little goomer, this Davis was...

8:04 PM—Referee Bill Maxwell makes a phantom call on the Steamers when the Comets' Pato Margetic stumbles over Carl Rose of the Steamers on his own.  I remain seated and chuckle.  Dippo and Maxwell are laying almost as many "eggs" as the Chicken on this night.  To this day, I honestly believe that Ray Charles, Ronnie Milsap and Stevie Wonder could've called better games than these two.  But I digress...

8:15PM—Comets midfielder Barry "Boomer" Wallace lives up to his nickname and launches a line drive shot that sails out of play and goes hurtling toward the auxiliary scoreboard on the upper deck fa├žade and crashes right into the backlit Diet Coke sign flanking it.  The crowd erupts in applause as if to say, "Take that, corporate America!"  Meanwhile, the hole that Wallace's shot gouged into the signage inadvertently forms the forms the word 'DIKE'.  Oops.  The damage is probably later taken out of Barry's paycheck.  By the way, rest in peace, Boomer—you left us way too soon.

8:17PM—During the stoppage triggered by Wallace's moon shot, the Chicken pulls out a gym bag with a Steamers logo on it and starts rummaging through it, pulling out all matter of shorts, shoes, jock straps, and finally a lacy bra, which he holds on high while the crowd hoots and hollers.

8:45PM—It's halftime, with the Comets leading St. Louis 3-1.  For the next 15 minutes, there's no telling what you'll see on the pitch—Comet halftimes could be a mixed bag.  It could be anything from local youth soccer teams playing a mini-game (with the Chicken "officiating" when he was there) to a Folf (Frisbee Golf) demonstration to some promotional contest emceed by local radio DJs like Dick Wilson, Randy Raley or Dan Donovan, to 400 off-key little kids from some local school singing (after taking ten minutes to get lined-up and organized on the field) to the semi-legendary 23rd Street Marching Cobras, an inner-city drum-and-dance corps who were/are very talented, yet rather headache-inducing.

Two rather infamous halftimes leap to my mind.  One was called Lazer Tag, and the Comets hyped the hell out of it for several weeks prior, claiming it was something not to be missed.  What actually unfolded was a bunch of people chasing each other around on the field in the dark waving flashlights, with no apparent point to the proceedings.  "Lazer Tag" immediately became Tom's and my catchphrase for anything lame or inept.  Another time, the Comets were honoring the folks at Ringling Bros., who were coming to Kemper following the Comets game, and halftime featured a tug-of-war between two sets of kids, and a baby elephant was brought in to "anchor" one end of the rope with his trunk.  Much to the chagrin of all involved, the little pachyderm reared up his hind leg and proceeded to take a wiz on the carpet.  And we ain't talkin' some piddly doggie stream—this critter had more water pressure than some fire hoses do!  The subsequent puddle—no, pool—Mr. Elephant left in his wake took nearly ten minutes to clean up with a Shop-Vac, and I imagine that hunk of the rug smelled pretty rancid the rest of the night...

Another popular halftime "tradition" was the annual paper airplane toss.  Fans could buy sheets of paper to fold into paper projectiles with their name and address on them and attempt to win a car by tossing the planes into its sunroof or onto other targets on the field to win free trips from the sponsoring airline or TVs and stereos, etc.  This of course, left the field littered with paper, and the jaundiced looks on the faces of the visiting team returning to the field were priceless, as if they were saying, "What the f---?..."  I could never fold an aerodynamic paper airplane to save my soul, and even from our front row seats with a target five yards away from us, I still never came close to hitting it!

The most popular Comet halftime shows were undoubtedly the annual "Food Characters" games, sponsored by local grocery store chains.  Where else could you see the Pillsbury Doughboy tending goal, not to mention seeing Fred Flintstone lose his hair (the man wore a rug—who knew?) and even worse, seeing Hostess' Twinkie the Kid literally lose his head?!?  The carnage got pretty ugly at times, but it was always a hoot watching these poor schlubs trying to navigate around the field with their vision impaired by the costumes.  I remember Dino from "The Flintstones" always ran kinda funny—like one of those old Chevy Novas that was always out of alignment.  Chester Cheetah was a prolific goal scorer, if memory serves.

9:06PM—As he's known to do from time to time, the legendary Slobo Ilijevski gets a little too adventurous and wanders way too far out of his goal, wanting so desperately to be part of the Steamers' offense, and finds himself in no man's land when there's a steal in the midfield and the Comets' Dale Mitchell lofts a long one and burns Slobo like the midday sun and scores.  As great as Ilijevski was, he was good for a least one of these brain farts in nearly every game he played against the Comets.  Sorry to pick on you here, Slobo, but I just couldn't resist.  And believe it or not, I actually do miss you—you were a worthy opponent and great warrior.  Rest in peace, Slobo.

9:20PM—Comets defender Kim Roentved gets tangled up with Steamers forward Don Ebert near the boards in the corner and next thing you know, we're playin' The Feud.  "The Rocket" don't back down from nobody, and a brief melee ensues, resulting in packed quarters in the penalty boxes.

9:25PM—During the intermission between the 3rd and 4th quarter, Fitzpatrick/Bishop says, "Tonight's attendance, 15,192—the Comets players, coaches and front office staff thank all of you for your continued support."  The Comets players interrupt their bench huddle with head coach Dave Clements to acknowledge the fans by applauding the people who help pay their salaries.  If it's the final home game of the season, the entire team walks around the pitch with a large banner that reads, "Thanks, Kansas City, for another great season!"  Ever see this happen in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL?  Didn't think so...

9:50PM—With the Comets ahead 6-4 and less than 4:00 remaining, the Steamers pull goalkeeper Ilijevski in favor of 6th attacker Ricky Davis.  This gambit has a 50-50 success rate and on this night, it backfires as forward Jan Goossens gains possession near the penalty box and rolls the ball goalward with Davis chasing the ball in vain as I go into my Harry Caray "It might be, it could be, it is!" chant, as the ball crosses the goal line.

9:56PM—As the crowd counts down the game's final seconds, Fitzpatrick/Bishop proclaims "We got a winner!" as the Comets defeat St. Louis 7-4.  The teams shake hands and mill about briefly at midfield as the intro to Bob Seger's "Old-Time Rock 'N' Roll" (the live version off Nine Tonight) kicks in on the P.A., and as soon as Bob sings "Just take those old records off the shelf..." the Comets form a line and trot around the perimeter of the field and high-five the fans (Tom and me included) hanging over the Plexiglas.  Once the circuit is complete, the team reconvenes at midfield and applauds the fans one more time before heading off to the locker room and a good time was had by all.

I'd give almost anything to be able to turn back time and do just one more Comets game all over again...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Reelin' In The Years" - Vol. 3

For those of you just joining, this is another collection of journal notes from the early '90s that I kept, along with current commentary on them to add the perspective that hindsight provides.  Or something like that...

Fri. November 8, 1991:  “You want to know how popular Magic Johnson is—his disclosure [that he was HIV-positive] on Thursday was front-page news in Israel, Japan and Australia. It even netted a 15-minute NBC special following the 10:00 news.”

Would any of us have believed then that Magic Johnson would still be alive—let alone active and healthy—19 years later?  Easy to forget that this story dominated the headlines for weeks just like the Tiger Woods scandal last winter did.

Thu. November 14, 1991:  [Here I was describing the debut of Michael Jackson’s “Black Or White” video:] “…the music stops and Michael morphs from a panther into himself and starts dancing with no music, grabs his crotch several times, jacks off on camera (Pee-Wee Herman was busted for less than this), and then vandalizes an abandoned car.  What does it all mean, Michael?  By the way, he’s looking whiter and whiter every day.  At one point in the video, he looks like Diana Ross, too.”

Sat. November 16, 1991:  “Michael Jackson issued a statement regarding his crotch-grabbing and car-smashing in his video.  He announced that said scenes would be deleted from the video, and that he was surprised and sorry that some viewers were offended by them.  Come on, Michael, you’re not that stupid!  You knew what you were doing when you filmed the damn thing.  Get real!”
It was at this point that Jacko started losing me.  Then a couple years later, of course, the shit really hit the fan when allegations started flying like chairs at the “Geraldo” show about things MJ did with young boys.  The long steady decline was well underway in 1991…

Wed. December 4, 1991:  “The alleged rape victim in the William Kennedy Smith thing took the stand today.  They showed her testimony on CNN, with her face blotted out by a big grey dot.”

Remember what a big hoop-de-doo that circus was?  Plenty of talk about it around the water cooler at work, that’s for sure.

Thu. December 19, 1991:  “Her name is Patricia Bowman.  She was the “alleged victim” in the William Kennedy Smith rape trial.  She went public with her name and her face during an interview on ABC’s "Prime-Time Live" with Diane Sawyer.  "I am not a blue blob," she said.

No, darlin’ you weren’t—you were a grey dot!

Fri. December 27, 1991:  “CBS relieved Jack Buck from his duties as baseball play-by-play announcer, and they’re replacing him with Sean McDonough, son of NBC NFL analyst Will McDonough.  Ted Shaker, CBS executive producer said McDonough had a better TV background than Buck.”
Whatchutalkin’ ‘bout, Ted?  Jack Buck had probably been doing television as long as Sean McDonough had been alive by then (he was 29 at the time).  Jack deserved better anyway—CBS’s baseball coverage sucked.  As for McDonough, his bland, sleep-inducing milquetoast announcing style has never impressed me all these years.

Sat. December 28, 1991:  “Alabama beat Colorado 30-25 in the second annual Blockbuster Bowl in Miami.  During the post-game interviews, a Denver TV crew apparently caught one of the Buffs in the buff.  KMGH, Channel 7, the Denver CBS affiliate, was conducting player interviews in the locker room, and one of the Colorado players wandered into view with his manhood exposed.  Maybe they should’ve retitled the newscast "The Dong Show"!”
I remember driving around in my car that night and pulling in KOA-AM from Denver, and the sports-talk yakker on there was ranting about what a terrible thing this was and it was disgraceful of the TV crew to be in the locker room, etc.  Dude, it was an accident—let it go, already!  Of course, nowadays they stage those formal post-game press conferences (with all the corporate logo backdrops) to avoid such occurrences.

Fri. January 10, 1992:  “Singer Andy Williams has apparently irked the theater operators and entertainers in the Branson area with his comments about the shows that are put on there, saying ‘…a lot of them are just crap.’  Considering that all they do is backward-ass country music shows, I imagine he’s right.  Williams is opening his own $8 million Moon River Theater in Branson in May, and many of the townfolk are pissed about his remarks. Shit happens.”
Ah yes, Branson—where careers go to die.  I’ve passed through Branson twice in my travels, but have yet to get the urge to actually get out of the car and visit any of the “attractions” there.  Somehow, hearing that vaunted entertainer Yakov utter “Vut a country!” 80 times a night just isn’t a big draw to me.  And what’s the point of having an entertainment district that doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages?

Sun. January 12, 1992:  “Bret Saberhagen is making a “farewell” appearance next weekend at the Winter Card Show at the Merchandise Mart. [He’d been traded by the Royals that offseason.] Ol’ Bret will sign his autograph for you for ten bucks.  Fuck you, Bret.”
Kansas City Comets autographs were always free, and they often came with a handshake and maybe a nice chat, as well.  I’ve never been much of an autograph hound, anyway.  They just don’t mean that much to me, and besides, anyone can scribble their name.

Fri. January 17, 1992:  “Sad news:  Former Elton John bassist Dee Murray died at age 45 Nashville.  He’d battled with skin cancer for the past 8 years.  He was one of the most underrated bassists of all-time.  For that matter, the whole Elton John band was underrated.”
I’ve discussed this subject before on the blog, but it bears repeating—without Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone, Elton John’s ‘70s juggernaut wouldn’t have been nearly as prolific.  Murray was kind of a stealth bassist—i.e., you didn’t always notice him—but check him out on tracks like “The Ballad of Danny Bailey” and Elton’s remake of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, where he does some standout work.  Excellent backing vocalist, too.  In a most classy move, his bandmate Olsson made sure to acknowledge Murray at Elton's 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in 2007 by writing "Dee Murray 1946-1992" on his hi-hat drums.  Rest in peace, Dee.

Wed. January 22, 1992:  “The Star displayed Mr. (Hal) McRae wearing the Royals’ new road jersey.  Not too bad.  A definite improvement over those faggy baby blue things."
This was when the Royals switched back to grey road uni’s and 86’ed the powder blues that everyone clamors for now.  I’ve never cared for that look in a baseball uniform myself—too wussy-looking for me…

Thu. January 23, 1992:  “Howard Cosell says he is retiring from sports broadcasting at the end of this month.  I thought he already did…”
When I worked at KKJO/KSFT in St. Joseph in 1988-89, a couple times I wound up doing the Sunday morning shift, which entailed running several religious and public affairs programs, including ol’ Howie’s weekly ABC show on which he discussed political and social issues with various talking heads, and it was the most interminable 30 minutes this side of a TV fishing and/or hunting show.  He was such a bitter old fuck at that point had pretty much ceased doing sports by then anyway, and he sounded so bored on this particular show—I kept praying that Dandy Don would drop in and sing “Turn Out The Lights”!  Cosell didn’t last long after he retired—he died in early 1995.

Mon. January 27, 1992:  The nominees for Best Pop/Rock Album at the 1992 American Music Awards: Michael Bolton, C&C Music Factory, Natalie Cole and R.E.M.
Houston, we have a problem!  I have never understood why Pop and Rock are always lumped together in the same category at award shows—they’re two different genres to me.

Tue. January 28, 1992:  “Hard times will not stand,”—Pres. George Herbert Walker Bush
Gotta give credit where credit is due—Bush Sr. was absolutely right.  Hard times most certainly did not stand—they got worse, thanks to his idiot son…

Thu. January 30, 1992:  “Magic Johnson now says he may return to play for the Lakers after all.  ‘I’m all right (sic) to play right now, if I want to play,’ he said.  Why wasn’t he alright three months ago?  Frankly, I’m sick of hearing about it, now that he’s become a publicity hound like Bo Jackson.  This stinks to high heaven.”
As I mentioned before, it was easy to forget what a big deal it was when Magic announced he was HIV-positive.  It’s also easy to forget how much he wore out his welcome, so to speak, when he turned into a limelight junkie while all that was going on, and frankly, his sudden omnipresence in the media got old really fast, just like Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Brett Favre today.

Thu. February 20, 1992:  “A Kansas City man, Bonar Menninger, has proposed a new theory in the JFK controversy—an accident!  In his book, Mortal Error:  The Shot That Killed JFK, Menninger claims that a Secret Service Agent, standing on the back seat of the car that trailed Kennedy’s limo accidentally fired the rifle he was handling as he reacted to the shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.  Uh huh…”
So much for all that lone gunman theory crap, eh?  Don’t you wish we had camera phones back then so we could solve this mystery once and for all?

Sunday, February 23, 1992:  “Anti-abortion weirdos picketed the home of a Leawood doctor today, shouting “baby killer”, “murderer” and other righteous banalities.  Trouble is, the doctor they were picketing was a rheumatologist, and not the OB/Gyn they were targeting!  Dr. Arnold Katz, the wrong doctor, said this is the second time this has happened.”
These nut-jobs are so ignorant they can’t even picket the right house!  Another reason why I just can’t take these genetic defectives seriously…

Tue. February 25, 1992:  “Natalie Cole won 7—count ‘em—7 Grammys for a remake of a 42-year-old song (“Unforgettable”), including Record of The Year, Album of The Year, Best Song, Producer of The Year, Best Engineered Album and Best Tradition Pop Performance.”
No disrespect intended toward Ms. Cole, but does this not say it all about the Grammy Awards?  You’d think such a highly-awarded recording would still be highly thought-of today, but it’s basically been forgotten.  The Grammys are all politics anyway.

[WARNING: This next one contains religious commentary—skip it if you’re easily offended.]
Wed. February 26, 1992:  “Colorado football coach Bill McCartney has founded a group called Promise Keepers, in an effort to encourage more ‘moral Christian behavior’.  They are planning a gathering in July at Folsom Field based on the theme ‘What Makes A Man’.  The group hopes to train the men who attend the event to ‘walk in Christian masculinity’, and to become ‘promise keepers to the Lord’.  The gathering is intended to help men ‘honor their wives, care for their children, support their churches, be involved in their communities and to love the neglected and fatherless.’  This is the same man whose daughter got knocked-up [out-of-wedlock] by his star quarterback Sal Aunese a few years back, and Mr. Aunese was practically canonized for being such a fine, upstanding young man.  McCartney has also been outspoken against homosexuality, calling it ‘an abomination of almighty God’, and a matter of choice, rather than genetics.  By the way, it’ll cost $35 a head to get in to this gathering.  Is the University of Colorado not a state-funded school, and is this not a religious gathering?  What happened to separation of church and state?  What a crock, and what a hypocrite!”
My opinion of McCartney and Promise Keepers hasn’t changed much in 18 years—I think they’re big-time hypocrites and a bunch of homophobic bigots, to boot.  One of the things that truly turns me off to organized religion is the mob attitude that it fosters and promotes—the group mentality that demands conformity.  Too many of these people let the Bible and/or some so-called religious “leader” make all their decisions for them.  Sorry folks, but no kingdom reigns over me—I actually dare to be a free-thinking individual.

Thu. February 27, 1992:   “Jenny Jones discussed her problems with her breast implants on her TV show.  She had it done about 12 years ago, when they were first introduced, and she’s had problems with them hardening up, leaking, etc. Interesting program, in light of all the media attention lately on breast implants.”
Believe it or not, I watched “The Jenny Jones Show” when it first debuted.  For the first year or so, it was actually a decent show with interesting and thought-provoking discussions.  Little did we know what a sleazy crapfest this thing would devolve into.  Even Jones herself wasn’t initially comfortable with doing Jerry Springer-style subject matter, and she was like, “I can’t believe I’m asking you this, but…” early on when the show lowered its standards.  But as soon as her ratings soared, she got real comfortable with topics like “I’m Having Sex With My Nazi Lesbian Midget Daughter”, et al.  JJ also resorted to the “ambush-style” technique on the show, which resulted in the death of Scott Amadure, a gay guest who confessed his love on national TV for the guy who subsequently murdered him.  Jones has shown little or no remorse for any of this.  Twit.

Thu. March 12, 1992:  “In what may be the scandal of the year, an embarrassed House of Reps. voted unanimously to publicly identify 355 current and former members who bounced checks at the chamber’s bank.  Offenders rushed to confess overdrafts even before the vote.  Originally, House Speaker Tom Foley wanted to identify only the 24 worst offenders, but he and other leading Democrats gave in to intense public pressure and Republicans crying cover-up.”
Anybody remember this?  Anyone remember the public outrage at the time?  No?  It figures—America has such short memories when it comes to stuff like this.  This was a big mega-stink for about a week.  Every last one of those fuckers who bounced those checks should’ve been voted out of office, but as usual in the U.S. of A., all was forgotten by election time, and many of these schlubs got re-elected.  Is it any wonder Congress is so fucked-up today?  They can get away with most anything!

Thu. March 12, 1992:  “The FCC voted today to let financially successful broadcast owners buy more radio stations.  The FCC will now allow one company to own 30 AM 30 FM stations nationwide, instead of restricting owners to 12 of each, with only one of each in a single market.  A company will now be able to buy from three to six in a single market, depending on the size of the community.  This will definitely change the face of radio as we know it.”
Again for one of the rare times, I was accurately prophetic.  This was, in effect, the “Day the Music Died”, Episode 2.  It was the birth of the “Corporate Radio” malaise that now infects terrestrial radio wherein all the stations sound the same and play the same 500 songs over and over ad nauseam.  Damn you, FCC!

Tue. March 17, 1992:  “Three members of Bush’s cabinet, including defense secretary Dick Cheney, acknowledged that they were among the check-bouncers in the House bank.”
The Big Dick did something crooked and underhanded?  Naw, couldn’t possibly be true…