Writer’s Note: The World Series of Poker Circuit is currently taking place at Horseshoe Bossier City. So, I’m staying in Shreveport, Louisiana during the next two weeks. Today, I’ll share with you two things that have impressed me most so far about my visit.
It sounded like a screech. A deafening, high-pitched screech. Almost like the scream in a horror movie.
I looked up into the sky. There it was.
A giant B-52 bomber.
If you’ve never seen the breathtaking sight of a B-52 in flight, I must say — even from the ground — the visual is awe-inspiring. Conjoined with its high-pitched eardrum-shattering 120 decibels, the image of the B-52 plowing overhead with it’s beastly eight engines barreling out thick black smoke is a momentous assault on the senses.
Barksdale Air Force Base is located on Bossier City’s east side. Years ago, I remember well the sight and sound of B-52s regularly hoovering over the Louisiana Downs Racetrack off in the distance, which I frequently visited. It’s been a long, long time since I saw this aircraft up close. I had forgotten how intimidating the sight is. Earlier today looking up into the sky, I rekindled that double-edged love affair with darker forces and was once again reminded of mankind’s inherent aptitude for creating marvels of self-destruction.
It was horribly beautiful.
The B-52 is an astonishing image of national power. The fleet carries payloads of nuclear weapons. These are B-52s on high alert — always ready to strike. Prepared for its target like wolves catching the scent of a bunny, B-52s are always swilring around up in the air somewhere, defending the nation. This is intentionally so, as a sort of Orwellian flip-flop of logic manifested by explaining the madness as a “deterrent.”
Never mind that their constant presence was one of the things which triggered an arms race and ignited the fuse for a lot of bad guys in the world who came to accelerate their own ambitions for nuclear weapons. Even with the Cold War long over, B-52 missions continue around the clock, every day and night of the year. I had just witnessed the conclusion of one of these missions, landing at Barksdale AFB.
But what’s really most impressive about the B-52 is longevity. This year marks the aircraft’s 60-year anniversary. That’s right. America’s nuclear arsenal is hauled around in a fleet of planes that were designed when Eisenhower was President and most the country was tuned into “I Love Lucy.” I’m not sure if that’s more astonishing, or horrifying.
That’s how incredible these planes are. That they have stood the test of time for six long decades and remain just as frighteningly effective as the day they first rolled off the Boeing assembly line as the most powerful fighting machine perhaps that’s ever been designed. Think of all the advances in technology and changes in aircraft design since that time. And yet, the most destructive instruments in the history of mankind are hauled around in the equivalent of a 1952 Chevy.
Idiot on the left in white t-shirt grabs the fucking remote and tries to change the channel during the Green Bay-Chicago game. This man is about to be dealt a savage beating.
I’m having trouble breathing right now.
Some selfish-ass motherfucker just stormed into the lobby of the hotel, and tried to change the television channel. No big deal, except the program a few of us were watching was the game between NFL rivals Green Bay and Chicago!!!
What a jerk!!!
Doesn’t this clown have a television set in his hotel room? And, what fucking show would you dare turn to when there’s an NFL game on???
Let’s back up. Begin story.
I’m sitting here working on my laptop in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott in Bossier City, Louisiana. Internet connection is strong here, so I’m camping. It just so happens there’s a big screen television with the Green Bay-Chicago game being shown. Nice!
So, there are perhaps 3-4 people watching the game, minding their own business. Then, out of nowhere — this middle-aged jerk barges into the lobby and grabs the remote. He starts flicking through the channels like he’s standing alone in his underwear at 3 am, totally oblivious to the danger he is putting himself in.
I thought the man was pulling a bad joke.
But no. He starts flicking the channels and I am sitting there speechless. Finally, the words come.
“Hey, we’re watching that game, man!” I say.
“Yeah, I just want to check out something else for a minute,” he says.
So, the prick starts with the remote and like watches each channel for 30 seconds before flicking to the next channel. I’m not believing what I am seeing. Does this man have a death wish?
I’m like shaking by this point. I decide to grab my cell phone and take a picture of this prick (see above) because this might end up as the lead story on the 11 o’clock news.
I decide to give the idiot another 3-4 minutes to get his rocks off. That passes. He’s still channel surfing!!!
“What in the hell are you looking for?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I just wanted to see what else was on!”
Are you fucking kidding me????????????
By this time a few others have mustered up the courage to run this lout out of the room. One of the guests insists that we were all here first, so we have control of what gets shown on TV. If he wants to pick the show, he needs to get here earlier and stake out his territory.
Finally, the man sitting to the right (in the photo) simply walks over and grabs the remote out of the fool’s hand. He shifts the TV back to the game.
The snake slinks away like the loser he is and now all is right with the universe.
No lead story about a homicide on the 11 o’clock news. But it was close.
ALERT! Be advised the following items, consumer products, programs, and personalities are NOT permitted at the Dalla residence. Any guest who shows up with any of these items will be denied entry. For further explanations, see “footnotes” below:
1. Merlot (wine)
2. Light beer (of any kind)
3. Any broadcast, likeness, or product endorsed by ANY one of the following — Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, or any member of the Kardashian family
5. Any product manufactured or branded by Dell Computers
6. Any item connected in any way (hats, t-shirts, bags, etc.) to either Full Tilt Poker or Ultimate Bet.
7. Soft drinks of any kind (Coke, Pepsi, etc.)
9. Anything written or published by Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer
Writer’s Note: Last week, Stu Ungar would have celebrated his 59th birthday (Birthdate — September 8, 1953).
The short-lived Players Television Network debuted at the 2005 World Series of Poker.
I was asked to moderate two panel discussions, which were later broadcast via “On Demand.” The first show was on the late great poker legend Stu Ungar. The second show was a panel discussion about the business of online poker.
I wasn’t at all prepared to assume the role of moderator. I recall leaving the rigors of my job at the WSOP for an hour our so, getting abruptly fitted with a microphone, and then walking out and taking a seat in front of a live studio audience and rolling television cameras with no script.
The good thing about the unrehearsed format is that everything was spontaneous. The bad thing is the show could have been much crisper had I been prepared. Looking back now, I certainly would have asked more penetrating questions than what appear here.
Fortunately, the four guests who appeared on the Stu Ungar segment were outstanding. Madeline Ungar (Stuey’s former wife), Stefanie Ungar (Stuey’s Daughter), Larry Grossman (Las Vegas radio personality and gambling authority) and Peter Alson (writer and my co-author on Stuey’s biography “One of a Kind”) were all in top form.
In the coming weeks and months ahead, from time to time, I’ll be writing more about my personal recollections of Ungar — particularly during that tragic final year of his life when I spent the most time with him. I look forward to telling some stories that were not included in the book which might interest poker fans.
In the meantime, here’s the panel discussion from 2005 that runs about 30 minutes in length.