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Thursday, February 27, 2020

That Time Obama Pardoned a Guy Who Stole Charlie Sheen’s Honus Wagner Card

Jumping ahead slightly:

If you’re looking for a snapshot of American culture before the turn of the last century—when traffic was starting to thicken at the four-way intersection of sports, celebrity, media and commerce—you can’t do much better than the scene at 1540 Broadway in New York City on Dec. 18, 1995. The grand opening that night of the first Official All‑Star Café reflected the latest in a trend of gaudy, zeitgeist-capturing theme restaurants. In ’92 there had been six such chains in the U.S., doing $300 million in total revenue. Within six years there would be 30, doing $2 billion.

At the center of all this was Robert Earl, a British restaurateur (in the loosest sense) who started his crusade against fine dining in the 1970s with a medieval-theater-themed eatery, Beefeater; then developed the music-centric Hard Rock Cafe; then partnered with the likes of actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore to launch Planet Hollywood for hungry movie fans. The next iteration of his meal ticket focused on sports.

Fronted by Andre Agassi, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey Jr., Joe Montana, Shaquille O’Neal, Monica Seles and PGA Rookie of the Year Tiger Woods, among others, the first All-Star Café was a 34,000-square-foot, three-story monstrosity with seating for 650 at the midcourt circle of Times Square. Earl grandly described the venue as “an arena meets a stadium,” and the opening was a festival of excess. Paparazzi and news cameras flanked red carpets. Limousines dotted the block. A jockocracy including John McEnroe, Roger Clemens, Doc Gooden, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson and Evander -Holyfield—the last two would share an intimate bite inside the ring 18 months later—turned out, along with celebs such as Charlie Sheen, Stevie Wonder, Whoopi Goldberg, Mayor Rudy Guiliani and a Manhattan man-about-town who seldom missed this kind of photo op, real-estate developer Donald J. Trump. Mid-party, Blues Traveler front man John Popper grabbed a harmonica and belted out a few songs, though according to the Daily News, “the highlight of the evening had to be our overhearing Cindy Crawford giving marital advice to Brooke Shields.”

“Take your pick of sports metaphors,” Entertainment Tonight’s Pat O’Brien cooed from the scene. “You can call it a slam dunk. . . . Game, set and match. . . . He shoots, he scores! . . . The place looks like a real winner!”

A change of pace, with several different aspects that may be of interest.

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:49 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards, food, honus wagner, theft

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How Baseball Cards Got Weird

One night not long ago, with my 3-year-old son finally asleep and my wife wisely heading to bed, I settled onto the couch, beer in hand, to catch some baseball. Well, not really baseball. I opened my laptop, navigated to, and prepared to watch a pair of rubber-gloved hands in East Wenatchee, Washington, open an entire case of baseball cards—more than 4,000 cards in all.

On the strangeness of modern card collecting.

jmurph Posted: October 15, 2019 at 11:30 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards




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