Saturday, April 09, 2016

This picture of J-Law raw-doggin' it horribly on a hoops court has me wondering if possibly some of her incredible physical prowess in "The Hunger Games" was not artificially staged with technical magic for movie purposes. (Yes, I know raw-doggin' does not literally apply to this, but I just like the sound of the term) 

It is windy at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. It is blowing harder than a Kardashian sister at a billionaire's convention. 

It is so windy, Tiger Woods claims it blew a Waffle House waitress into his hotel suite. 

At the first hole of the first day of the Masters, Ernie Els, shot a record worst ten on a par four including missing six short putts. It was the most humiliated a golfer has been since Elin Nordegren divorced the pants right off of Tiger Woods. 

(Class act he is, Ernie did not walk off the course and blame it on an injury like some other players have. One of which name rhymes with Schmiger Schmoods.) 

Two dangerous, mentally-ill men have escaped from a Washington State Psychiatric hospital. However, they don’t like the terms dangerous and mentally ill. They prefer homicidally-challenged.

Since you asked:

As an adjunct to the preposterous Woody Allen fear of the utter chaos that would result from everybody in the world deciding to go to the same restaurant at the same night, how is it possible that everybody in golf -  all the older past players and the younger future players - manage to all fit at Augusta? Especially in that relatively tiny Butler Cabin?

One time when I was playing with my golf mentor and idol, Mark O'Snake - a man so good at golf he, on a dare from a stranger, drove a ball 300 yards on to the green at the R.B. Inn - because there was a corporate tournament behind us, we teed off on the first tee with about 20 people watching. 

Promptly I came out of my shoes and whiffed my t-shot to not-very-well stifled laughter from the gallery.  And then shanked it 20 yards right. Then I hit the sand trip, hit out of the trap in three, raked the trap and then five-putted. 

Afterwards I told O-Snickity that hole combined everything I hate: nervousness followed by public humiliation, carrying crap around, sweating in the heat, gardening and then a math problem. 

All that was missing was a proctology appointment. 

When I was in Seventh grade, my much-cooler friend, Bruce and I were given the high honor of being selected by our Winnetka Junior High football team as the two all stars to attend the All Pro Football Camp. 

The camp was hosted by All Pro Minnesota Vikings, Mick Tinglehof, Jim Marshall, Bill Brown and Ed Sharackman and one of my true idols, running back, Dave Osborn, as seen above. (Not to be confused with Super Dave Osborn)

The camp was held on the campus of Carlton College in Minnesota. A bucolic setting in the hills with heaven-like lakes and willow trees. In mind-boggling sweltering heat. 

Like I said, everyone at the camp had to be nominated by their league-winning football team as the two best to go so it was an honor to be there. We were, like "Top Gun" and "Men In Black." The Midwest best of the best.

But even more of an honor were the two players who were there on full-scholarship. (Bruce's and my parents had to pay in full) 

The two scholarship athletes were from the South Side of Chicago, the only two black athletes in camp. One was a tall, rifle-armed quarterback named Marcus - to this day he reminds me of Marcus Allen -  and his shorter side-kick and constant companion, an insanely fast and shifty receiver with amazing hands and a constant smile, Marcellus. 

The four of us, Bruce, Marcellus, Marcus and me, were the only 7th graders in the camp so we instantly bonded. Everyone else was in 8th grade and seemed almost as big as the Vikings. 

My confidence and maturity would vastly improve by my Freshman year in high school, but in Seventh grade, although big and strong and fast, I still thought of myself as the clumsy, bullied-by-older-kids, shy dork I was in 2nd grade. (Not a good year for me)

So to over-compensate for my insecurity - like all comedians - I leaned in hard on the comedy, even at my own expense. 

And it worked. 

The one-year-older kids started to like me and Marcellus, a quiet and shy kid, who had a hip, huge afro with a pick in it, ala Questlove, really thought I was funny. Truth was, this cool-guy Marcellus thought I was hilarious. 

Even the god-like NFL players thought I was funny. Including Dave Osborn. All the pro players gave the four of us lone 7th graders the same double-edged sword nickname, "Chicago." (Double-edged in that it was an honor to be nicknamed by the pros, but, being Minnesota Vikings, they openly hated Chicago)

"Hey Chicago," yelled Dave Osborn pointing to me one time during lunch in the cafeteria, "Make that funny face and voice again like you did earlier at running back practice."

At the time I called the bit the now politically incorrect "Retarded Bird." 

Nailed it. Spastic loud squawking, jerky- flapping wings, gyrating on the floor. All the campers, counselors and the entire table of All Pro Minnesota Vikings, Mick, Ed, Ed, Jim and especially Dave, cracked way the hell up. 

It is still, to this day, one of my comedic high-points. 

Thanks to my crowd-killing bits like "Retarded Bird," and "Sad Moose" and "Gleeful Idiot," much to my surprise and delight, I was becoming one of the more popular kids at the camp.  Although I was way behind Marcus in popularity, who was simply a born leader. (The fact he did not make it in the NFL still surprises me) 

There was only one racial incident when a huge, freckled, fat giant and bully lineman from Minneapolis thought it would be funny to call Marcus the N-word. Marcus did not bat an eye and called him Corn Fed, short for Corn Fed Cattle, which, much to Corn Fed's dismay, stuck. (Marcus did make it his mission to beat the ever-loving, living crap out of Corn Fed, albeit legally, each day in practice until Corn Fed ran crying from the practice field. Bullies are cowards)

My blooming popularity was even slightly pissing off my vastly cooler friend and roommate, Bruce. Bruce was, without question, the big man on our junior high campus back in Winnetka. Especially with the laaadies. (Lisa R., a well-known make-out-artist even in Seventh grade, called Bruce: The Best Boy) 

At first it was a singular honor and a great feeling to be so well-liked by Marcus and Marcellus, two bonafide studs from such a different and tough background. They were genuinely cool. Sly and the Family Stone cool. 

But then it started to get awkward with Marcellus. Downright weird, even. 

At first, my new friend, Marcellus was the dream of every comedian: He doubled-over laughing at everything I did. Everything. Even when I was not doing "Retarded Bird." 

Pretty soon Marcellus's constant laughter started to wear on the-hyper-sensitive 7th grader me. And then it became embarrassing. (Remember when your mom told you the kids were laughing with you, not at you, but you knew she was lying? It was like that)

Then one night after dinner, near the end of camp, we were about to watch Ed Sabol’s awesome “NFL Films” in the air-conditioned campus theater. When I showed up with Bruce to sit with Marcus and Marcellus, per usual, Marcellus, once again, burst into hysterical, doubled-over laughter at the mere sight of me. In front of everyone.  Including Dave Osborn. That was it. I had had it.

And I lost it. Badly;

“Damn it. Stop laughing at me. Will you stop laughing at me? What the hell is the matter with you, Marcellus? Are you stupid or something?”

The instant switch on Marcellus's face from delighted laughter to a pained look of hurt and embarrassment is something I won't forget. Truth is, it broke my heart, but there was nothing I could do about it. The mean and scary cat was out of the bag.

Marcellus sat there the entire movie trying as hard as he could not to cry. So did I. You can be so sorry it hurts.

From that point on, the last day or two of camp, Marcellus's contagious laughter at seeing me was now replaced with sadness and shame. 

Truth is I did not hear Marcellus laugh again.

A few years later, I would look for Marcellus at big invitational high school track meets where there were athletes from the South Side of Chicago, because Marcellus was so damn fast, I presumed he would be there.  I looked for him so I could finally apologize. 

But I never saw him again.

It is 44 years later and, obviously, I still think about it. When I hear about the horrible statistics of what happens to kids growing up in the South Side, I still hope and believe Marcus and Marcellus beat the odds.

Sometimes, as much as you would like to, you cannot take things back.