Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kiss the Cup..The Stanley Cup, That Is

Ho-hum. Another Lakers' championship, another riot. The first thing I thought of a few nights ago when the Lakers beat the Celtics was “So, how many bonfires do you think they’ll be around the Staples Center tonight?” To be fair, the riots weren’t caused by fans, but  by local thugs out to make trouble.

The L.A. “fans” celebration was a far cry from Chicagoans celebrating the Black Hawk’s Stanley Cup victory last week.There was a big parade in the Loop, lotsa bar-hopping for the team and the Stanley Cup-and the Cup is still on “tour” around Chicago. There are pics of drunk yuppies cavorting around it, and rumors of scantily clad girls drinking from, kissing or sitting in the cup. And one can only imagine what beer-soaked male fans have done to it. They'll have to fumigate that thing before it goes to the next winner.

This is the first time I’ve paid attention to the Black Hawks since the early 1970s. The 1971 Black Hawks were the team that shoulda, coulda, woulda  won--Tony Esposito, Keith Magnuson, Phil Russell, Pit Martin, Stan Mikita (he doesn’t really own a doughnut shop), and Dennis Hull. I remember when my Aunt Theresa got me an autographed picture of Keith Magnuson. He worked for 7 Up Bottling in the off-season, and my Aunt knew someone who worked for them.(Yes, back then athletes had to take a side job to make ends meet when not working their “day” job, and I don’t mean as pitchmen for  sneakers). I was thrilled to get the 8 by 10 glossy and it held a coveted place above my dresser.

Keith was famous for his pugilistic pursuits on ice. I looked forward to watching game highlights on the local morning kids' show, Ray Rayner and Friends. Ray would show hockey fight highlights, with the dainty Danube Waltz as the soundtrack. You try doing that on a kids' show today, you’d get booted off the air by tsk-tsking child psychologists for glorifying violence. To a kid in 1970s Chicago, hockey fights were just good clean fun. Imagine my shock when I did a Google search a few months ago and discovered that Keith had died in a car crash en route from another player’s funeral in 2003.

Living in Los Angeles severely  limits one’s interaction with reality, so in between trips to New York and Chicago  for an in-person wake up call, I listen to NYC and Chicago radio stations and read the Chicago Tribune and New York Post newspaper websites. Since September, I’ve listened to Steve Dahl’s podcast.  Steve was Chicago’s original shock jock and the vinyl bashing DJ behind Disco Demolition night at White Sox Park in 1979. (In a way, he has atoned for this event. He's now a White Sox season ticket holder).Unceremoniously dumped by his terrestrial radio station last year, Dahl now hosts an hilarious daily podcast. After listening to Steve and his staff talk about the Black Hawks team and the players’ exploits on and off the ice, I started listening to Hawks games on the WGN radio website. When the team made the Stanley Cup finals, I could finally watch them on TV.  Then when they won the Cup, I was relegated to texting, Facebooking and emailing my joy to friends and family in Chicago. There was no one to share it with in L.A. At least I got to hoist a shot glass of Grand Marnier to the occasion since there was no beer in the apartment. Just remind me when I get to Chitown to have a PBR and some Home Run Inn pizza for a belated celebration.