A few weeks ago, Manalapan's very own Don King, the infamous, fast-talking fight promoter, held a $25,000-per-couple party at his beachfront mansion. He wanted to raise money for the Grand Old Party's effort to keep slow-talking George W. Bush in the White House. Perhaps because of this Pipe's rusty, battered exterior, his invitation apparently got lost in the mail. That's sad. But there's good news too. With 25 couples reportedly in attendance, King raised roughly $625,000 for the party of Abe Lincoln.
Apparently no fan of likely Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, King has -- uncharacteristically -- gone all out for the Republicans. He's offered his voice and likeness to a GOP propaganda website, "Kerry vs. Kerry" (www.gop.com/kerryvskerry). An animated boxing match between two versions of the shovel-chinned senator, "Kerry vs. Kerry" drives home a point the GOP will emphasize through November: The Democrat flip-flops on the issues, changing his mind quicker than Wladimir Klitschko would hit the mat after this Pipe smacked him upside the jaw.
King's role during the web political boxing match? Color commentator, of course.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Kerry vs. Kerry, the battle for the Democratic Party," King announces, his voice vibrant with excitement. "In one corner, hailing from Massachusetts, in the red trunks with a 35-year record, 19 of it in the United States Senate, 350 votes for higher taxes, votes to eliminate important intelligence funding, Sen. John Kerry.
"In the other corner," King continues, "also hailing from Massachusetts, wearing blue trunks with a 35-year record, 19 of it in the United States Senate, proposed trillions in new spending and higher taxes on the campaign trail, says he has the support of foreign leaders, Sen. John Kerry."
Ding-ding. Round 1: Iraq War.
Blue-shorts Kerry jabs, showing that the senator voted to authorize military force in Iraq. But, uh oh, here comes the gray-coifed scrapper with the red shorts, throwing a hard left and reminding fight fans that Kerry now claims to be an "antiwar candidate."
"He's all over the place on the issues!" King shouts over crowd noise.
Ding-ding. Round 3: Patriot Act.
Blue-shorts Kerry closes in for the punch, supporting the controversial government-in-your-underwear Patriot Act. He was one of 98 senators to vote in favor of increasing the G-men's ability to spy on citizens. But here comes red-shorts Kerry, moving in with a nasty hook. Kerry, it turns out, told an Iowa audience last December that the Patriot Act needed to be neutered.
"Kerry is really taking a beating!" King yells.
Ding-ding. Round 5: Gay Marriage Amendment ...
You get the point.
A funny man, King. Especially funny is the fact that, while King is pimping for the GOP, he still keeps a cautious stake in the Dems. Since 1999, the wild-haired fight promoter has dumped $96,250 into the campaign coffers of Republicans and Democrats alike (with the Elephants getting about two-thirds). Among those who have received $2,000 checks are I-love-labor Democratic presidential contender Dick Gephardt, you've-never-heard-of-me Democratic presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun, and I'm-as-racist-as-a-grand-wizard Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott.
King did not return calls seeking comment on what he has to gain from the anti-Kerry commercial.
The Miami Herald's redesign, which includes lots of short summaries for dummies, has won beaucoup praise nationally. Well, maybe that's an overstatement. But USA Today's Al Neuharth and a bunch of others with attention deficit disorder really like it.
One guy who's less enamored of the new look is Hiram Henriquez, former Herald graphics editor, who left last month for the competing Sun-Sentinel. About the same time, Henriquez's boss -- art director Nuri Ducassi -- departed the paper for Latina magazine in New York City.
Henriquez says the changes engendered by the redesign, which have included shifting job descriptions, have many Heraldites discontented.
"My problem is space and people," Henriquez says. "I was at the paper for 15 years, and it started to get worse [in 1992] after Hurricane Andrew. Back then, we had 12 graphic artists and a researcher. When I left, there were six and a part-time researcher.
"The Sentinel has a full-page graphic every week. The Herald would never do that."
He's also unhappy about last fall's hiring of Managing Editor Liza Gross, who's in charge of presentation and operations. "She moved some people around, and she did it too early."
Responded Gross: "My goal is to have memorable infographics and illustrations, as many as the news dictates... If Hiram wants to say that, he can. This is a free country."
Forget about the latest from Iraq. And the crucial abortion bill in Tallahassee. And the ongoing 9/11 hearings. And Vice President Dick Cheney's dark warning that an arms race is developing with North Korea.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the top news story -- literally -- this past Friday was the fact that "Bill" was hired by Donald Trump on the NBC series The Apprentice. With a special placement at the top of the front page, our favorite daily gave us supersized headshots of the show's finalists, Bill Rancic and Kwame Jackson, next to the headline, "Bill, you're hired." The story was written by Sentinel columnist Tom Jicha, who did a crackerjack job covering the television show, presumably from his couch.
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.
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."
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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