Open Letter to ESPN Reporter Britt McHenry from Johnny Americana

Note from the Blog Custodian: Since “paddytheduke” the normal blog contributor is away on some type of diplomatic excursion to “Mischief Reef” in the South China sea, he has given his full blessing for the ensuing post. Mr. Johnny Americana, an ambitious old friend of “paddytheduke’s,” has requested the use of this platform to profess his adoration to ESPN field reporter Britt McHenry. Mr. Americana, while pure of purpose and honorable of motive has always had the somewhat debilitating deficiency of being obsessed with image while paying no real attention to context. Mr. Americana’s letter is posted as a courtesy and we wish him the best of luck. Take it away, Mr. Americana.

Dear Ms. McHenry,

Can I call you Britt? I don’t mean to be forward but I feel like I know you already. Thoroughly and intimately. After all, you are the girl with the microphone on television and I’m the guy watching you. If that isn’t a connection I don’t know what is. I find it erectifying, rigidly erectifying, to see you bathed in all those bright lights on the sidelines, in the outfield, on the ice, at the double-wide office of that shitty towing company you got caught up at last week in Virginia. You look good wherever, baby girl! Most of the women I usually date don’t look that good in really bright light so it’s a relief to see a woman with just the right curves and a full set of teeth and no serious signs of scars or abuse. You’re like a miracle. The way you move that microphone back and forth when some sweaty athlete is hovering over you makes me want to do the thing I usually do when I see you doing it.

I’m sure you are wondering about me Britt, Brittany, Brittanica, whatever your real name is. I’m a big guy. I’m currently out of prison and I’m in the trucking business. Being a trucker I know what it is like to have to travel and interact with seedy members of the opposite sex and so, in a way, we almost have the same job. Most of my children and the vague strangers who birthed them don’t come around anymore, so you’ll have my full attention. Whatever I stew up in my boxer shorts will be all for you, is what I’m saying. I just tell you that so you won’t get jealous. I don’t know if you are the jealous type. I don’t want you to worry. I’m not the jealous type either. Even so, sometimes, when I see those professional ball players all up on you I just want to punch the shit out of them. Punch them like they punch their wives, almost, but not because I’m on steroids. I was, for a while, but Chico got busted and turned snitch. That’s another story, though. When we finally meet up for a can of beer remind me to tell you all about it. And don’t mind the acne. Most of it is on my back and shoulders, anyway. Even with a cut-off tee shirt you will hardly notice it.

I’ve always thought you’ses the best ESPN reporter. The way you can look all serious when some running back is rambling on about scoring touchdowns for Jesus is so believable and legitimate that I fell in love with you almost immediately. I was like, “Hot damn, this broad will believe anything I tell her.” I got drunk the other day and was about to get your name tattooed on my arm, but then I thought about it and figured I’d wait till maybe our second date. My neighbor, who does good ink work, is already trying to figure out how to turn the current name that is there, “Midori” into “Britt” and he thinks he can do it but it is gonna cost me like an extra fifty bucks. Luckily I can pay him in Sudafed tablets.

The problem with other television personalities that I’ve stalked… I mean, dated, is that they look so much worse in person than they do on camera. When I saw that video of you getting your car back from crap ass Advanced Towing I couldn’t believe it…You are just as beautiful in a sweatsuit ranting at a hillbilly as you are all put together at game time. Peanut Brittle, can I call you Peanut Brittle… I hope you don’t think I’m some dull idiot. In fact, you and I are a lot alike. We don’t like fat women and neither of us are college dropouts. You, because you graduated and me because I never went. Even so I’m into the arts. I write poetry. Some of it is on display in the men’s restroom of the Opelika 24-hour gas-and-go, truckers welcome, showers available. Here’s a sample…

“My heart is impounded behind barbed fence wire like so many unwanted vehicles. The loudspeaker is inaudible. The guy who pulls the cars around smells like a garbage dump. The guard dogs have fleas. Yet, I wait for you. Brit, are you brittle? I think, maybe, just a little.” (I admit it needs some spit shine.)

Frigid Brigitte, your silence speaks volumes. Let’s get right down to it. I’m not sure where you live but if you just forward your address and leave like, say, a first floor window open I’ll just head on over there and jump in. I’ll even bring the tall boys and Pall Malls and the crowbar in case you forget to leave the window open.

Yours Aggressively, Johnny Americana.

P.S. If you happen to run into Erin Andrews and my name comes up don’t believe a word she says. She’s just a hater cause the jury found me not guilty once and for all. The Fifth Amendment rules!

Cage Fighting

…Mixed Martial Arts… Houthis and Yemen (thereabouts)… Aces and Eights…

I spent last Friday night at Wild Bill’s drink emporium and live entertainment shit-kickery. Actually it is just called Wild Bill’s. I made up the last part. It seemed appropriate. Anyway Wild Bill’s is a sprawling complex just north of Atlanta in the “too crowded to be a suburb yet too Podunk to be a city” part of town. It is the part of town where both “a-hootin” and “a-hollerin” are valid forms of communication. I was there to watch the Legacy Fighting Championship. A couple of friends of mine work for the “AXS-TV” channel that records and broadcasts these cage matches all over the country. They mentioned they were filming in Atlanta and invited me to the fights.

I know nothing about cage fighting except that it takes place in a cage and that when the two fighters go into the cage, they fight. Luckily I had some of the finer details explained to me by one of the producers of the show while we sat out back in the mobile television studio, which was a state-of-the-art converted tractor trailer with its own satellite. He explained that mixed martial arts means the fighters can box, grapple, and kick. Nothing too brutal like biting, gouging or genital splattering, but other than that anything goes. I’m still not sure why it takes place in a cage. Of the eleven fights that were on the bill not one fighter tried to flee the perimeter only to find he was fenced in. No fighters tried to perform some crazy maneuver like a ten-foot drop kick off the top of the cage. For all intents and purposes the ropes of a boxing ring usually seem to do the trick. Most understand the three ropes around a ring are a definitive boundary that the fighters are supposed to stay inside of and the audience is supposed to stay outside of, although in the event of some massive upset the crowd wouldn’t be able to storm the fenced ring like they could in a traditional rope setup like say, in a Rocky movie, but that is about it. Anyway, I went to Wild Bill’s and there was a cage in the middle of the room and fighting inside of it.

The fights were exciting. The fighters conditioned and relentless. The crowd of spectators was good and pumped. I understood why Hemingway went to the bullfights. Writers after all are strange little freaks that silently scrutinize and then sneak off to chew on their words. These guys got into a cage in front of 2,000 people, attacked each other and bled.

In the first match Berleigh Phillips was beaten handily by Jared Gooden, who won with a submission choke-hold in the third round. Since I was there with the film crew I couldn’t decide whether to watch the fights in Wild Bill’s or out back in the mobile production studio. Sitting in the production studio was like sitting with NASA scientists. The engineers calmly called the camera shots, flew the stats onto the screen, mixed the audio, panned and faded. Sitting in Wild Bill’s, on the other hand, was like being in the Hunger Games. I decided since there were almost a dozen matches I would divide my time between the two. After watching two matches in the production trailer, in which Zac Cooper and Dee Melton came out the winners after a technical knockout and split decision, respectively, I walked into Wild Bill’s where I was submerged in the heat and the noise and the neon of it all. The crowd was good and juiced up, cheering as the next set of fighters walked down the entrance plank. I fell in with a cluster of rowdies and we watched local boy Devorius Tubbs beat Derrick Brown after being locked on the ground with each other like snakes in heat for three rounds. Everybody was yelling for blood.

“Kick his teeth in.”

“Bust his head open.”

“Here we are watching this thing and the Houthis in Yemen are on the offensive,” a guy said. Houthis? Yemen? That came out of nowhere. It seemed odd to bring up Yemen, first because the guy who made the comment looked as rigorously American as bikini girls firing machine guns. On a broader note, I wasn’t sure what to think of the Houthis, who hate Al Qaeda but are also attacking our allies, but that is neither here nor there. Somebody said something about bombing, and we sat back, satisfied, as Doug Usher pulled off a brilliant TKO in the first round with a flurry of hand strikes.

“Aces and eights,” a guy next to me screamed. I wasn’t sure what that was all about either until somebody yelled into my ear over the din that aces and eights was the poker hand that Wild Bill Hickock was holding when he was shot in the back. I took it to be a term for an ambush, and a somewhat appropriate remark for a place called Wild Bill’s. All the savagery seemed so natural, I thought. Almost quaint. Quaint savagery. Was there really such a thing?

“Also called the dead man’s hand,” he threw in.

“What is?”

“Aces and eights.”

“Or any hand when you get plugged from behind with a six-shooter.”

“Fair enough.”

“Yemen is like the canary in the coal mine for the warring factions. The consolidation of power is largely symbolic.”

“What the hell is he talking about?”

Dave Vitkay came out on top in the third round with an arm bar submission of Tommy Jones and in a showboating display of flair he scaled the cage and taunted the audience. Finally, I thought, someone took advantage of the fact that there was a cage.

“If the Houthis win out in Yemen they could possibly take it all.”

The guy was half corn-pone and half foreign policy analyst. The next fight featured Matt Betzold, who, with only one leg, was worth watching just for the handicap, so to speak. Unbelievably he moved faster than most people could with two. Even so he lost in a decision after putting in a solid three rounds against Rodrigo Lima. The main event was fast approaching. Cody East, American, was going head-to-head against Brice Ritani-Coe, a New Zealander. I decided to walk out back to the production trailer. I bid my new friends good night.

“Let’s hope Yemen doesn’t fall into the hands of the more rabid terror franchises,” I said, just trying to leave on a friendly note. The guy looked at me like I was crazy. It turns out he had been talking about two M.M.A. fighters whose names sounded similar to Houthis and Yemen the whole time and I had misheard everything. At least the whole thing made a little more sense.

Outside in the trailer the production guys were getting ready to pack it all up. No time to waste. Some of the fighters were walking out of the back entrance to the parking lot, broad-shouldered silhouettes with swollen faces peeking out of hooded sweatshirts. Victorious whether they had won or lost, I thought. It takes a big dose of determination to climb into a ring, or a cage, or anywhere, and square off with an opponent who has been solely focused on your destruction. Word came around that the American had beaten the New Zealander and that was it. Go America! The satellite sent the show to Denver, Denver sent it to the world, and the speed and precision with which the crew broke everything down and put it all away was an art all to itself. I enjoy excellence, whatever form it takes. Whether it is a chess match, combat, or a video production team, it is reassuring to know that there are people out there showing off a superior expertise. When the world seems to be turning to shit, sometimes it’s the only consolation.

Out in the parking lot two guys got into a fight and somebody called the cops.

More Alembics to come