The Power Of My Proven System, Vol. 13 

Mushnick And Me

The awesome legacy of New York City sportswriting — from Damon Runyon to Red Smith to George Plimpton and beyond — provides a daunting context for any individual with the ambition to follow in this historic litany. And yet for all of this accumulated greatness, has there ever been any more important figure in local arts and letters than the New York Post's own Mr. Phil Mushnick? Each week I tear down to the local newsstand to get a look at our collective conscience and moral barometer “Equal Time” column, and find myself driven into a cathartic state of spiritual clarity by his merciless critique of every depraved and degenerate aspect of our disgraceful abomination of a society. Finally, here is a man willing to scold us for enjoying sports. And not only sports!  Mushnick is furthermore prepared to go the entire distance and castigate any and all for the consumption of television, movies, the internet, and contemporary music. Should we find ourselves indulging in such transgressive enjoyments as pro wrestling or swearing, then best be prepared to feel the stinging bridle of this heroic gatekeeper to our values. What a relief it is! If there is one thing I strongly feel has been missing from my life it is the hectoring directives of an anguished middle-aged white man with a “traditional values” streak.

Privately, I guess I have for some time been operating on the assumption that when, God forbid, Phil Mushnick has performed his last clean-up action on this revolting hog sty of sports and media culture, I would naturally be the man to step into his enormous shoes. True, I haven't been offered the job just yet. It simply occurs to me that I would be the next logical candidate to do what he does. To this end, I am always sharpening my chops, waiting for the undertaking of this massive and crucial enterprise. With apologies to the great man himself, here then are a few observations of my own:


The Straight Shot
by Timothy Bracy

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Kudos to the PAX network for their recent uplifting documentary on Ralph Chipperman, a 13 year old boy who lost consciousness for several weeks after attempting to swallow a golf shoe, only to make a full recovery and realize his dream of working as an assistant rodeo clown in Memphis. If more networks showed inspiring stories such as these, rather than the sensational, salacious antics of Hulk Hogan's daughter, maybe we'd have a more moral society and I could turn the television on while wearing just a terrycloth robe.     

***

More trouble at the University of Miami, where a typical environment of ruffian gang violence has now escalated from on-field incidents to off-field tragedy. Until the blame for such miscreant outrages is placed squarely where it belongs — on video games and the permissive, teasing ramblings of Jim Lampley — don't expect much to change in Coral Gables.

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ESPN.com kicks off their coverage of 2006-2007 NBA campaign in typically ribald fashion this week with the screaming headline “Surprise Studs” this week. The sub-heading then goes on to read: “John Hollinger examines 11 guys who are exceeding expectations early”. Come on guys, are you writing an analysis of the forthcoming season or a sequel to Caligula?! Obviously a lot of these young guys are pretty easy on the eyes, but Hollinger needs to turn the temperature down or else get a new gig writing for Mr. Skin. 

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Last week WFAN'S vaunted know-it-all Mike Francesa told a caller that in his prime Mickey Mantle “ran like a deer” and covered center field in Yankee Stadium “effortlessly”. Two days later he told another caller that the Yankee great was “like a racehorse” and “could get to every ball”. Well, which is it? Was Mantle a racehorse or a deer? Naturally Francesa, who obviously knows nothing about the animal kingdom, never bothered to acknowledge his flagrant contradiction. As for his blatant use of sexual imagery, I will abstain from sullying myself with further comment.

***

Visiting a friend in a commune in Staten Island, we decided to go the movies. I never cease to be amazed at the volume of smut Hollywood throws up on the screen year after year. Just trying to choose a movie that was not packed with reprehensible filth was nearly impossible in this place. Plus it looked like the booths hadn't been cleaned in months. Disgusting.

***

While on the ferry home, my mind could not help but drift back to last year's terrible “Sex Boat” scandal with Fred Smoot and the Minnesota Vikings. It also occurred to me that a lot of the other people on the ferry were probably thinking about it too. Sure enough, when I greeted a young woman in a low-cut tank top with a friendly, reassuring grin, she responded with the sort of vulgar hand gesture I am quite certain she could have only learned on MTV. Why she would elect to attempt to titillate me this way is utterly beyond my capacity to understand, but it seems likely that she was probably recently corrupted like the rest of us by certain shirtless photos of British soccer hero David Beckham. Note to Beckam's publicist: his rippling abs and rock-hard, chiseled thighs may have made him a star worldwide, but we don't need that sort of garbage here.

***

Ironic how certain franchises think nothing of marketing to children and then corrupting them with repeated exposures to the sort crass and sexually explicit materials that have filled our streets with hip hopping, gun toting rappers. The other night at a Rangers-Avalanche game, the geniuses at MSG thought nothing of using Murray Head's very adult 1984 smash “One Night in Bangkok” as music for a between periods ice show, despite the fact that I know from numerous personal experiences that Bangkok is no place for children at night. No one is disputing that it's a very sexy song, but come on guys! This should definitely be kept under wraps until the after party.

***

There is something completely immoral about the way that boxing trainers sponge off their shirtless fighters between rounds. When is that vexing libertine cad Jim Lampley and the rest of HBO's boxing team going to do the right thing and insist that boxers compete with their robes on?

***

Is no place in our society sacred? Sometimes when I feel like getting away from the endless acreage of tanned young flesh foisted on use by our advertisers, I like to relax at freeway rest stops. Would you believe that the Hollywood flesh peddlers will even follow us to this remote private sanctuary? I was lounging comfortably outside the James Fenimore Cooper New Jersey Turnpike rest stop the other afternoon when a large charter bus passed by with a large Nike ad featuring the leering Russian temptress Maria Sharapova on the side! Leaning forward in her tennis whites, the tender Lolita casts a gaze which in and of itself seems intent on breaking seven of the original Ten Commandments. For the sake of all that is right in the world, am I the only one with a single shred of restraint left on this planet? I'm going crazy here!

***

Anyway, you get the idea. As a professional writer let alone an arbiter of social values, obviously I have a long way to travel before I can compete with a moral titan of  Mushnick's colossal stature. As has long been demonstrated by the great constellation of decency overlords in our contemporary society — Rush Limbaugh, Ted Haggard, Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett — one does not simply declare himself competent to judge the lifestyle and consumer preferences of others. Instead, as Mushnick and I understand only too well, this requires a life of singular vigilance and a take-no-prisoners approach to defending the young people of America against the constantly encroaching specter of moral relativism. Instead of the roiling sinkhole it has become, the sports world must return to a simpler time when a child's little league coach or favorite football player was a stalwart hero on par with our clergy and public servants. As Mark Foley says: "Kids deserve protection. People that are under the age of 18 need supervision by someone who will look out for them."

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