Don King Presents

A battle of Kerry vs. Kerry

It would be easy to point out that the Sentinel is a "news partner" of NBC and that this is just another obvious example of whorish media conglomeration gone awry to further sap America's collectively numb mind. But who wants to ruin the anticipation for that hold-the-presses moment when the new American Idol is crowned? Somebody get Jicha some popcorn.

For months, West Palm Beach's Howard Park has been a tense scene every Sunday night, when a group of African-American men claim exclusive use of the best basketball court in town and make a bunch of Latinos move along. The Latinos, who far outnumber the blacks, have long been forced to take their games to a second, unlit court to finish their hard-fought weekly tournaments -- out of fear that a fight would end in the deportation of many of the players, according to some participants.

Mark Armstrong

But after City Administrator Ed Mitchell read about the problem in New Times ("West Palm Madness," March 25), he ordered the Parks and Recreation Department to spruce up both courts. City employees got the lights working and repaired bent rims. There are also plans to repaint the lines on the secondary court, says Laura Schuppert, director of parks and rec. "We talked about having the police go out there to alleviate the tension," Schuppert says, "but we're sensitive to the fact that many of the Hispanic players are illegal."

Señor Mitchell, the Pipe salutes you with his smog.

Wenceslao Albarran, one of the founders of the Latino tournament, says the repairs have ended the tension that many feared would end in violence. "Now when [the black men] come, there is no problem," he says. "We all play there now, and we're going to keep playing there."

Just a few weeks ago, Assman's Wacky World owner Dave Tarr was pretty damn cavalier about the likelihood of staying in business. "I don't give a fuck," he crowed. "I got enough money. I can stay open for a year if no one comes, and then I'm broke again, but what's the worst that can happen? I'm still happy. I don't care."

Too bad the same can't be said for some of the staff, who apparently haven't been paid recently by the Oakland Park Boulevard establishment. "I'm sitting here with a check marked "insufficient funds," complains Lisa Fosner, who worked in the kitchen at the restaurant/bar/derrière shrine until her $341.05 paycheck bounced a few weeks ago. That's when she called it quits. She's been trying unsuccessfully to cash it ever since.

"Who is the Assman?" Fosner posits. "I'll tell you who's the Assman: the guy who doesn't pay his bills. Think about it."

Fosner took the job at Assman's because she thought Tarr's idea was "just crazy enough to work," even though the bar owner opened the place to put the neighboring Shooters out of business for offending him. "I mean, who calls himself the Assman? It's like if you sat there and called someone a dickhead. He'd beat you up."

When the Assman troops got restless about the cash-flow drought, Tarr called a meeting. "Apparently he's a big fan of Tony Robbins," Fosner said, referring to the guru of motivation and late-night TV advertorials. "He gave us this spiel -- the employees need to do a better job, be more positive, no negativity. It's like a cult thing. It was almost like Jim Jones: 'Step up for your cup of Kool-Aid and you're gonna die now.' 'We're here to put Shooters out of business.' I heard they had planes flying over Shooters to advertise Assman's, but they can't pay their employees? There's something wrong there."

Calls to Assman's front office last week prompted the message: "The number you've just dialed is not permitted."

-- As told to Edmund Newton

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