Sunday, May 02, 2010

April in Cincinnati and Washington...

Back from a road trip with the Dodgers that took us to Cincinnati, Washington D.C., and New York. As always, I file a hopefully amusing travelogue. Cincy and DC today and NY tomorrow.

I’m still nursing a swollen cornea so had to bring along seven different eye drops. One had to always be refrigerated so I was forever schepping a travel mug filled with ice and scrambling to find refrigerators in planes and hotels and clubhouses. I felt like Niles Crane and the sack of flour.

Delta’s in-flight magazine a couple of years ago did a puff piece on Cincinnati saying it was “much like an inland San Francisco”. You’d think the locals would be extremely flattered. No. They were incensed! Why? They thought the magazine was calling them all gay. I hate to tell them but Cincinnati is known as “The Queen City”.

It’s also the home of Proctor & Gamble. (I wonder if they make Secret deodorant in the same factory as Pringles.) Just as you wouldn’t drive a foreign car in Detroit, you better not show up at a Laundromat with a box of Rinso. They’ll kill you, wrap you in Bounty, and douse you with Old Spice.

In my hotel there were two nozzles in the shower. The Westin must really cater to that burgeoning Siamese twins crowd.

There’s no greater Graeter’s ice cream than blueberry chocolate chip.

“The Great American Smallpark” was the scene of three “Titanic struggles” as Reds’ Hall-of-Fame announcer Marty Brennaman would say.

Interesting that there’s a “Pete Rose Way” leading into the ballpark and yet Pete Rose himself is still banned from baseball. I guess it’s the same principle as the Richard Nixon library.

The Cincinnati greeting, instead of hello is “Put Pete in the Hall”. Same with “goodbye”, “I love you”, and “This is 911.”

Pete was at one of our games. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that one of the Reds’ radio sponsors is a casino?

WLW just isn’t the same without Gary Burbank. Even his BBQ restaurant closed. One time a food reviewer criticized his landscaping. And that actually kept people away.

Skyline Chili is to chili what Kate Gosselin is to dancing.

We dropped two out of three to the lowly Reds and flew on to Washington D.C. after Thursday night’s tilt. (Tower: “You’re clear for takeoff Delta Dodger.” Pilot: “Roger that. Goodnight.” Tower: “Put Pete in the hall. Over.”)

Stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City. What a gorgeous elegant hotel. If I were a high level Defense Department official this is definitely where I’d have my nooners.

So much to see in Washington – the monuments, Gennifer Flower’s apartment, Capitol Hill, Paula Jones apartment, the White House, Monica Lewinsky’s apartment, the Smithsonian, the DC Madam’s place, the Mint, Elizabeth Ray’s apartment, Arlington Cemetery, Donna Rice’s apartment, the Watergate hotel. Unfortunately I saw none of those. By the time we got to the hotel it was after 3. So I slept. I really wanted to take an hour and wander through the entire Smithsonian but woke up too late. It would be weird to see the set from MASH in a museum. I’m sure I would feel a great deal of pride and 150 years old.

The team was given a private showing at the Tourneau watch store in the adjacent mall. Four years ago these players were buying their jewelry from the back of station wagons. There was one Rolex I liked. It cost $30,000. True story: I asked the salesman why it was so much and he said it also featured the day and date. I’ll stick with my $4 gift watch from AfterMASH.

The Nationals play in a gleaming new ballpark. A VAST improvement over RFK stadium, which was the world’s largest spittoon. Coincidentally, Nats Park had stadium seating. The press box was high. Like above the timber line. But looking beyond leftfield you can could see the Capitol building. If our booth were just a few inches higher we could see the North Pole.

At the park’s entrance are statues of Walter Johnson, Josh Gibson, and Frank Howard – three former Washington area ballplayers who went on to become U.S. presidents.

My daughter Annie is right. The “W” logo on the Washington cap is the same as Walgreen’s.

Instead of dot races or giant sausage races, Nationals Park has a presidential race where a goofy oversized Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt waddle and gasp around the warning track. Teddy has never won. Rigging a presidential race – now that’s a Washington tradition.

One big negative: The fans sing “Sweet Caroline” thus completely ripping off the Boston Red Sox, although if Karl Rove were still in town I’m sure he’d claim that the Nationals had it first (even though Boston was doing it before there even was a franchise in Washington).

Celebrity sighting: George Will in the Dodgers clubhouse. I don’t think a single player knew who he was.

Tomorrow: the train ride to Manhattan and the Dodger train wreck in Manhattan.


gottacook said...

The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City is itself a historical site of sorts, y'know - it's where Linda Tripp, wired by FBI agents working for that prince of a fellow Kenneth Starr, secretly recorded her conversation with Monica Lewinsky in January 1998, about a week before the story broke in the Washington Post (I still have the clipping somewhere, headlined "Clinton Accused of Urging Aide to Lie").

Simon H. said...

Skyline Chili is to chili what Kate Gosselin is to dancing.
You mean incredibly cheesy and likely to cause abdominal discomfort if consumed too much?

DJ said...

Josh Gibson never played for the Senators. He played for the Homestead Grays, Washington's Negro League team.

Paul Duca said...

You're showing your age, Ken....does Unilever (Lever Brothers) still MAKE Rinso? I know it was still on the market in the mid 70's, but I have never seen it in any of my markets.

Dave Creek said...

Now I feel old knowing Gary Burbank has retired. Many of us in Louisville still have fond memories of him from his stint at WHAS-AM. I got to speak with him every once in a while when I worked at WHAS-TV.

His "snowshark" routines each winter were always a hoot.

Michael said...

At the risk of offering a political opinion, I feel better knowing that none of the Dodgers seemed to know who George Will is. Then again, didn't you point out once that he and Larry King only seemed to make it to Baltimore games on nights when the world was watching?

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Ken...It sounds like your road trip was much more eventful than the Dodgers. Note to Ned...get some pitching already.

Anonymous said...

Continuing the metaphor… and fortuitously adapting an old political bit:

Why do you think Adam Dunn signed with the Nats? In that town he heard power hitting was also an aphrodisiac.

And I’m almost certain Ken meant Rinso Rodriguez, now 93, the diminutive keystone practitioner with House of David, who, nevertheless, still managed to score at least twice with Madonna – leaving nobody else on third, at least for the next hour-and-a-half. Although pine tar was said to be involved. Talk about breaking your team rules. Three day suspension. (Over Madonna in some sort of harness?)

3rd of May, 3rd of May,
Texas League fucking starts today.
Grab my bat and hold these balls,
Can’t help coming when nature calls.

Couples’ Couplets # 3, 4 & 5
But how soon we forget
John and Rita Jenrette
Staying in fine tone
With nose to the grindstone.
By doing her reps
On the Capitol steps

Three necessary observations:
1) Unlike their South Carolina successor in lust, Gov. Mark Sanford (apparently term limits), at least John and Rita did it with each other and didn’t have to hike the Appalachian Tail all the way to Machu Picchu.

2) I will always be indebted to the pair (and also to the couple) for finally removing my mental image of Wilbur Mills and Fanne Fox frolicking in the tidal basin. (He had Ways, he had Means. He just didn’t have a credible explanation.)

3) If nothing else, lovely Rita demonstrates for one (and quite possibly all) that in our Nation’s Capital, one can do so much better than just a cocktail waitress – keeping it “classy.” From the Rita Jenrette official bio :

B.A. History – U. Texas
----- Clairol Model.
Lecturer at Taft Political Institute, Trinity University
----- Playboy cover model.
Harvard Business School alum. (3-week O/P Mgmt. Prog. --but still….)
----- I actually read the Playboy article.
Wall Street Broker
----- Husband convicted in Abscam Congressional bribery scandal.
Director of Research, Republican Party of Texas
----- Served under Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey (but only figuratively).
Director of Opposition Research National Republican Party.
----- Appeared on “Kate & Allie.”
Studied with Stella Adler.
----- Appeared on “Fantasy Island”
Descendant of Waleran de Grylington, Lord of Grylington-juxta-Wycliff (and too many more to mention) dating back to the reign of Henry I. (1100).
----- On-air journalist for Fox Network’s “A Current Affair” (Interviewing Bill Wyman, Roger Vadim, Bill Cosby and Roseanne Barr among others
(although presumably not in a round table discussion).
Descendant of George Washington and James Madison (don't ask, don't tell?).
---- Appeared on “Dream On.”
Co-authored Presidential Commission report on World Food Hunger
----- Personally still appears to be in tip top shape.
Sold GM Building to Donald Trump
----- Sued/settlement for the commission.
Currently lives in Rome with husband Prince Nicolo Boncomagni Ludovisi, 12th Prince of Piombino. (Where they do it in the piazza?)
----- Nice rack.

How did she accomplish all this? Step by step.

*News update.
Much more recently, Rita’s former husband John Jenrette (born in Horry County, SC) served 30 days for shoplifting a necktie from a Northern Virginia shopping mall. Only excuse was, he always wanted to do it in a hall stairway with Wynona Ryder. (OK, the first part of this is true.)

**Which reminds me, despite some recent setbacks, I'd say that **Fawn Hall’s still got it, and, I’ll bet, can still shred your brains out. Speculate at will about Ollie North, but she sure as hell prepped Rob Lowe for Aaron Sorkin.

A. Buck Short said...

Oh, I didn't mean to be anonymous above, just a bad habit I picked up in Washington.

Tom Quigley said...

A. Buck Short,

No problem.... Somehow I knew it was you as soon as I read the second paragraph...

Matt said...

"...Skyline Chili is to chili what Kate Gosselin is to dancing..."

Ahhhh Ken, you've got to go with a 4-way with onion. Make sure you have plenty of oyster crackers and douse favorably with hot sauce. Then again, I didn't care for it when I first tried it either .. now it's a fan favorite.

Hey Simon, did you guys make it down this year?

Fitz said...

My family moved around a lot and I had the dubious distinction of attending Gamble Junior High in Cincinnati and then moving directly to the big show at R. J. Reynolds High in Winston-Salem. They didn't give out free cigarettes but they were only $.21 (yes, that's twenty-one cents) at the Kroger down the street.

My time at Gamble was 1961 when the Reds made a pennant run (and won it). It was as if some sort of St. Vitus' dance was afflicting the whole population. Crosley Field, Frank Robinson, Don Blasingame, Vada Pinson, and a pinch hitter named Jerry Lynch who for a while was batting about 1.200 or some such thing. Head stuff for a 14 year old who had never lived in a major league city.

Allison Williams said...

The ballpark is indeed a thing of beauty - the engineering firm that built it also built the Folger Theatre, another amazing space that perfectly suits its purpose, and each year they have a party for the employees in a space they've built. As an entertainer, I ate fire in the ballpark (thank heavens for JumboTron or no-one would have seen it) and cracked whips in the theatre. Both wonderful opportunities!

A. Buck Short said...

Gamble Jr. High
Football cheer: Nausea! Heartburn! Upset stomach! Indigestion! Diarrhea! – PEPTO – LET’S GO ?
BMOC: The Quicker Picker-upper?
No sex before marriage pledge : 99 and 44/100% percent pure, and Zestfully clean?
Grounds for suspension: Squeezing the Charmin?
Title 9 introduced: Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.

R.J Reynolds HS admonition: If you insist on not smoking, you’ll have to go outside.

Yeh, I know. You've been through all of them, and much better. But somebody had to take a shot.

VP81955 said...

One big negative: The fans sing “Sweet Caroline” thus completely ripping off the Boston Red Sox, although if Karl Rove were still in town I’m sure he’d claim that the Nationals had it first (even though Boston was doing it before there even was a franchise in Washington).

Most Nationals fans (and I'm one of them) despise "Sweet Caroline" and wish the practice were eliminated, so that the Nats could have their own identity, not ripping off the New England Evil Empire. Unfortunately, Stan Kasten won't change it -- is he afraid of alienating the pink-hatted Ivy Leaguers who are so numerous in Washington? Or are the Lerners secret Bosox fans?

What would I substitute "Caroline" with? How about Cannibal and the Headhunters' definitive version of "Land Of A Thousand Dances"?

tb said...

and where does Ken Levine stand on this "Put Pete in the Hall" question?

dodz said...

I always dreamed to go travel in that place Washington, America.

Unknown said...

In the Official Baseball Rules, rule 21(d) states:
'Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.'
Pretty straightforward, eh? Rose is out and he should be.

Unknown said...

Comment part 2.
It must be nice to live in DC. There, there is full employment, small class sizes, affordable housing & health care for all, and an honest government. Thus they can afford to rip off taxpayers to the tune of $611 million for the ongoing 'ballparks for billionaires' welfare program. There was nothing wrong with RFK or Shea, in my neck of the woods. It's all about greed. They pick your pocket because they can.

Matt Tauber said...

Just some comments from a native and current Cincinnatian -
* in my house, P&G stood for "Proctor and God"

* I always thought the greatest Graeter's was black raspberry chip, so now I'll have to try the blueberry.

* Enthusiasm for Pete wained after his admission of guilt, though Pete's hall chances are a "gimme" topic on sports talk radio.

* I miss Burbank, too.

* Skyline Chili is great chili for "Cincinnati-style" chili. It may not measure up to Texas chili or whatever chili you're used to.

Rose said...

Ouch, Ken! Comparing anything in Cincinnati to Kate Freaking Gosselin is highly insulting! But I'll forgive you because you loved Graeter's so much and you're absolutely spot-on about Cincinnati and P & G. :-)

Come back soon!

Matt Tauber said...

Just a follow-up on 9/29 -
Those "lowly Reds" just won their division. Can't say the same for the Dodgers.

P.S. - Put Pete in the Hall!