Big Wind in Boca

The Party Was Over Before It Began

The Big Republican Schmoozefest has moved on, but for a few hours last week, Palm Beach County was electrified with political discourse — electrified like, say, your daughter's Easy-Bake Oven, with the 60-watt bulb on high.

By 2 p.m. last Thursday, FAU's drowsy Boca Raton campus was shut down and the television satellite trucks were moving in for the Republican Presidential Debate. The place suddenly crawled with security, and you needed a plastic badge on a lanyard just to get near the debate site in the college's Live Oak Pavilion or the adjacent press center, where the school set up rows of tables and miles of cable. The media was wired and ready to report every twitch or snigger almost before they'd faded from Mitt Romney's pursed lips or Rudy Giuliani's flashing grill.

This was heady stuff for a school where the big news in 2007 was the football team's invitation to the New Orleans Bowl, a second-tier event. If you stood outside a makeshift MSNBC broadcasting platform next to the debate site and waved an FAU Owl placard, you could actually get into a live shot behind the ever-grinning Chris Matthews. Those in the know could pick out media stars in the press room like New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

mike gorman

All the guys showed up for the debate. There was John McCain in a nimbus of self-esteem on the day the New York Times endorsed him for the GOP primary, throwing verbal bouquets at his fellow candidates and flashing a Chaplinesque look of alarm when anyone directed a note of rancor his way. Romney, the nimble Scaramouch of the party, danced away from a question about how he's financing his campaign (hint: with a lot of contributions from the Romney family). Giuliani flashed that crowd-pleasing smile, which snaps on and off like a flashlight beam, while spaniel-eyed Mike Huckabee hung back, a down-home, stand-up counterpuncher. Ron Paul also kept his distance, coming across as so grouchy and disapproving of the political mooks around him that he made jowly, grumpy former candidate Fred Thompson look like Bobcat Goldthwaite.

Tailpipe knew he was in for a long and grueling evening when moderator Brian Williams kicked it off with a question for Romney about President Bush's economic stimulus plan. (The 'Pipe plans to use his $300 "stimulus" check to pay an FPL bill and buy a six-pack and a tank of gas; if that doesn't get the economy off the dime, the 'Pipe doesn't know what will.) The debate never took off after that. An hour and a half later, reporters spilled into the "spin room," where candidates' representatives, standing next to name placards held by volunteers, explained why their guys had won the debate. It was here that Tailpipe learned, for example, that McCain had had a "perfect debate" (McCain campaign adviser Charlie Black) and that "Romney's going to turn voters off" (James Pinkerton, Huckabee adviser).

The only candidate who availed himself in the spin room was Paul, who was buttonholed by New Times' own Michael Mooney.

Mooney: Dr. Paul, do you think your knowledge as a gynecologist will help you stimulate the economy? (Awkward pause.) Do you know how to stimulate the economy in... the right way?

Paul: No, but I've studied as much economics as I have gynecology. When you mix economics and medicine together all of a sudden you have a better understanding of how to manage care. You understand with inflation you know why the costs are up. I know all the right moves to make.

Then he ran like a rabbit.

All Aboooard

That giant sucking sound?

It was the D-Train pulling out of the station.

It was the now-familiar whoosh of baseball talent being slurped away from the Marlins.

Everybody knows that the biggest deal of the off-season was when the Fish front office traded the team's two greatest players (and its only marquee names) — power hitter Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis — to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for six young prospects.

Last Thursday, the Park Sports Club at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino threw a going-away party for Willis. Tailpipe expected teary fans, a slew of models, and sports agents having to drag Willis out the door. But it was, er, anticlimactic.

"I still live here!" Willis said, leaning back in a leather recliner, dripping in diamonds — diamond necklace, diamond earrings, diamond watch. His residence will remain in the 305; his office is just in a different time zone (and a sub-freezing latitude).

He hadn't really pondered what he'd miss about Miami or look forward to in Detroit. So far, he hadn't even hung out with Eminem or gone to an auto factory. "I've only been at the field and the hotel," he said.

Willis, ever the gentleman, wouldn't comment about whether the Marlins had gotten their money's worth in the trade (the team acquired four solid young players and two who don't even have Wikipedia entries yet). "They're good talent," Willis said. "They're in the same boat I was a couple years ago."

Nor would he dish any dirt on the team he was leaving: "I'm still friends with them. I wish them all the best."

Nor would he gloat about Detroit's already being favored to win the World Series, before spring training has even begun: "We'll take it one game at a time."

The tepidness of his comments was starting to make the five Republican oysters-on-the-half-shell, just then tossing marshmallows at each other in Boca, look like Roman gladiators.

Did Willis relish the fact that, while the Marlins always play to a mostly-empty stadium, Tigers tickets are now selling out? Would it be stressful to play in front of 41,000 fans?

"Detroit already had great attendance before me," he said humbly. "I'm very blessed to play baseball, whether it's in front of 5,000 people or 55,000, whether they came out to root for me or boo me. That's not stressful. Stressful is traffic."

Well, what would he do with all that extra cash — $29 million over three years?

"I don't know," he said looking honestly befuddled. "Give it to my family?"

What about investing in other business ventures — you know, like Dan Marino sells Nutrisystem, or Tim Hardaway had that car wash?

"Ooh, a car wash sounds pretty cool," he said thoughtfully. "I'm always at the car wash, so I might as well buy one."

It's the Dimples, Darlin'

It's six feet tall and decorated with colorful flashing lights and tiny painted naked women. At the top there's an aluminum bucket of ice and out the bottom shoots ice-cold, delicious injections of liquor — from a fiberglass mold of a woman's rear end. This is "The Shot Machine" and it's coming to Fort Lauderdale.

The sexy, booze-shooting beast was made by Tom Bostic, a customizer from the MTV show Pimp My Ride. Bostic spent six months on the contraption, building it for Todd Crawford, owner of Lovevoodoo.com, an online "lifestyle" dating site. This week, Crawford will present the shot machine to Trapeze, the giant swingers club in Fort Lauderdale (a gift to crude swingers everywhere), where the machine will reside for the next year.

"The first time I saw this thing, I just looked at it and said, 'That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen,'" Crawford says. "Someone pours the liquor you like into the bucket, you hold your mouth up to the bottom. Then you get a cold shot right in your mouth."

Crawford, who lives in Maryland but travels to "lifestyle" clubs across the country to promote his dating service, says he used to bring an ice luge to every party. "It was just too difficult moving a giant block of ice everywhere I went, so I asked Tom to build me something special."

He says he was a little worried what that special something would look like when he started seeing the expense reports. "I'd see receipts for, like, liquid latex and liquid Plexiglas and structural adhesive. I just gave him the money and I had no idea what to expect."

When he saw the finished shot machine, Crawford thought the shot-dispensing tush looked familiar. "I asked him straight-up, 'Is that your wife's ass?'" Crawford says. "She was standing right there. She started turning red and yelled at him, 'I told you people would know. I told you!'"

Crawford says Bostic had his wife, Sherry, pose for two hours with liquid latex smeared over her bottom half. When the mold was cast and colored, Bostic added an airbrushed tattoo to one cheek.

With the one-of-a-kind dispenser residing in South Florida, Crawford says he'd like to have another made soon. The problem, he says: "We're having trouble getting someone to pose for the new one." So? "We'll probably just get my wife to do it."

Deathless Feuds

When the American descendents of lads and lasses gather at dusty fairgrounds for so-called Scottish festivals, ancient clan loyalties resurface. Among the clans, few surnames inspire more enmity than that of Campbell, the family that is widely blamed with helping to install, then enforce, English rule in Scotland.

Last month at the Fort Lauderdale celebration, Dave Wiser-MacAllister of Sebring had just one objective: recruit enough broad-shouldered men from various clans to defeat the Campbells in a tug-of-war match.

For Wiser-MacAllister, 54, the feud is personal. When he researched his family history a few years back, he discovered a horrendous tale of adultery and murder inflicted on a MacAllister by a Campbell. "Many eons ago," Wiser-MacAllister begins in a Southern U.S. accent that has less Scotch in it than a teetotalin' Arab sheik, "a Campbell guy married a real hot MacAllister. But then he got a good look at her handmaid, who was a 15 on the hotness scale. So he locked Mrs. Campbell up in a tower and had a six-month party with the handmaid."

Poor Mrs. Campbell, the story goes, died of starvation.

Similar stories abound in Scottish folklore... including the infamous "massacre of Glencoe," when Campbells reputedly eliminated members of the McDonald clan as per the king's orders. Cliff Campbell, a blue-eyed septuagenarian and Campbell clan trustee from Ormond Beach, Florida, chuckles at the allegations. He once snapped a picture of himself with a pint next to a sign inside a Glencoe, Scotland, pub that read: "No whores or Campbells served here." Surely no loathing lingers at this late stage? Cliff attributes some of the clan-wide bitterness to the Campbells' knack for being on the winning side of disputes in the old country. "The Duke of Argyll could muster 5,000 men in one day," he says.

As for tug-of-war challenges, well, the Campbell clan has gotten more than a few. The MacAllisters called for a showdown at 1:30 p.m. on the field at Fort Lauderdale Stadium where kids were practicing the good ole hatchet toss. So the Campbells hiked up their pale-blue kilts and scoured the stadium grounds for men with ample girth. There were plenty of recruits.

Seeing all those big guys, Wiser-MacAllister had to act fast. He dove into his yarn about the ills of the Campbell clan and won the loyalties of the largest strongmen on the Campbell side of the rope. Tailpipe missed the climax of this bitterness, but a sated Wiser-MacAllister reports that, after a few heave-hos, "We just drug them through the dirt." Careful, laddies. The Campbells are askin' for a rematch, and Argyll is on the warpath.

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