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Goodbye, North Perry

McHugh concedes that there's some "overlap" between his previous employment history, his academic aspirations, and the award.

"I think the overlap is a basis for which I'm able then to say: I know this person on the merits," McHugh asserted the other day. "So, yes, you are correct, there's a lot of overlap, but it's not a coincidence."

So McHugh isn't hoping to get anything out of nominating his former boss for a leadership award?

"No, and I'm glad you asked me that question directly so that I can directly say no."

So cronyism never entered the picture. Right, then. Congratulations, George Hanbury II.

Old School

Even the young'uns are getting all kinds of excited about some high school relics recently discovered at Lord's Jewelers, Fort Lauderdale's oldest jewelry store. Owner Bill Horvath was doing some spring cleaning and found a few boxes full of class pins circa the 1950s from Fort Lauderdale High School, Pompano Beach High School, Stranahan High School, Pine Crest High School, Dillard High School, Northeast High School, and St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

The 'Pipe was passing around some examples of Horvath's finds the other day, and a 1999 Pine Crest alum squealed that she just had to have one of the vintage charms. She lovingly held the gold and green enamel memorial to her alma mater and wondered how she would wear it. Did this 20-something have a charm bracelet? No, said the whippersnapper.

Horvath, whose shop is in the Gateway Shopping Plaza at Sunrise Boulevard and Federal Highway, is giving away the few hundred charms — for free, just in time for this year's graduation season. A free beer for the first person to attach a high school pin to a nose piercing.

Hairy Balls

Beer Pong is a lot like Ping-Pong without the paddles. Players toss the little bouncing ball into cups half-full of beer at their opponents' end of the table; if a ball lands in a player's beer, he or she has to drink the whole cupful. A two-person team loses when all of its beer — six cups — is gone.

Tailpipe is here to tell you that there are so-so players, good players, and champions. Separating the chaff from the Beer Pong wheat was supposedly what was going on at Cloud 9 in Davie the other day.

The championship matches at Cloud 9 were reminiscent of a Golden Gloves tournament in a rough neighborhood. It was: Stand back or you might get hurt (or splashed).

Here were Hollywood residents Jorge Diaz and William Rinehart, accompanied by their "manager," a hyperactive, mustachioed guy named Mick. What's the secret of Beer Pong success? "I tell them, 'You lose, I kick your ass!'" he says, laughing gruffly. No, really. "If they win, we're going VIP to Scarlett's!" Mick laughs again and dangles a couple of strip-club passes, presumably to motivate them — as if the $500 prize money, spread out in small bills on a table, was not incentive enough.

The tournament is open to people who'd won Monday matches for the past six months. To play, athletes had to be at least 21 and to have designated drivers. In addition to the cash prize, they would win Beer Pong Champion T-shirts.

That's nothing, says JoLynn Longo, cool and confident is tinted glasses, as partner Courtney Schirmer looks on. "We went to Vegas last year and found a Beer Pong bar," Longo says. "There were projection screens, 100 teams, announcers..." and a $25,000 pot.

At the national level, the National Beer Pong League and the American Beer Pong Association of America jockey to regulate — and capitalize off of — the game.

Longo talks about how she and Schirmer prepare for competition: "Oh, we eat a lot of bread during the day. You see people in midgame going over to the 24-hour McDonald's — they come back with a cheeseburger. It's like professional athletes going into the locker room for a cortisone shot!" Longo brings three packs of cigarettes to matches and thrives off the energy of the crowd in the "cheering section" (eight bar stools in a line).

One of the hazards of the sport: The Ping-Pong balls often land on the floor. Each team gets a cup of water with which to rinse the ball off, but Longo thinks that bar-floor residue can sometimes work like a good-luck charm. "It's the best when you pick up the ball and it's got four pieces of carpet fuzz, two random hairs..."

Sometime around 2 a.m., Will and Jorge actually make it to the final round. Mick chips in by trying to break their opponents' concentration, crouching beside the players' table, shaking his keys, and yelling "Twaah!" and "Woodle-hoo!" But he just distracts his own team, which is quickly decimated by Jessie "White Bread" Warrington (in a black baseball hat and gold chain) and tiny, tank-topped Naomi Spencer. The two winners employ no particular strategy, Warrington says. "We just vibe off each other."

Schirmer bounces over and congratulates Warrington on winning the wad of cash: "Buy me a fuckin' drink, bitch!"

Ah, the burdens of being a champion...

— As told to Edmund Newton

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