Tag Archives: divine

Out of the Friar

At first I wasn’t going to write about St John’s 94-72 loss to Ed Cooley’s diseased head on Thursday night at Carnesecca Arena. Not out of fatigue or disgust but more or less indifference: St John’s threw in a clunker of a second half – the worst half they’ve played this year and perhaps the only really bad one – and there’s not a lot of joy to be found in rehashing it. The loss dropped St John’s to 10-3 for the season and into a tie for second place in the Big East, one game behind #1 Villanova and #6 Xavier.

But what I was struck by and what I’m going to write about briefly – so if you’re looking for a normal recap look elsewhere – is the reaction to the loss and specifically the reaction of a certain type of fan: the type who reacts to every data point on the continuum as if it’s epiphanic, as opposed to mundane. And (royal) you know exactly what I’m talking about.

These are the fans who see only three kinds of games: must wins, cupcakes and guaranteed losses. These are the fans who were just 24 hours ago checking plane schedules to Nashville – Lunardi currently has St John’s playing there in March as an 11 seed – and using all the tricks they’ve learned coaching 3rd grade girl’s CYO basketball to devise a diabolical scheme to nullify the height advantage the Seminoles (that’s a racists name right there btw) should 7’4″ freshman Christ Koumadje come back from his foot injury. These same fans who this morning, after watching a bad half of basketball – and it was a bad half, no doubt: poor defense, poor shooting, poor decision making – are describing the game as a disaster (at first I thought a nail bomb had eviscerated the dance team at half time, whew) and humiliating and an embarrassment (they will no doubt this morning have mothballed their St John’s gear lest someone see them wearing it on the subway and be forced to cast themselves onto the third rail in shame)  and dashing off emails to university president doctor Conrado Gempesaw beseeching him to reach out to recently dismissed Louisville coach Rick Pitino to gauge his interest in returning to his hometown to save the day, their sources having assured them that Pitino would be interested and it can’t hurt that Mrs. Pitino still has family on Long Island, where she was born and raised, having never cared for the backwaters of Kentucky.

My own hope, such as it is, is that this game serves as a reminder to a young team that has been beating worse teams based purely on a differential in talent that when two teams of equal talent meet the one that works harder wins.

Anyway I’ve been trying to think up the perfect word to describe the behavior of this sort of fan. Mercurial comes pretty close but it doesn’t convey the right sense of emotional instability; infantile implies temporal immaturity, whereas most of these fans are grown men with jobs and homes and wives and children and grandchildren. The word I keep coming back to is faggotry hysteric: they are like middle aged Victorian women repairing to the fainting couch with smelling salts and complaining of undefined female troubles – something to with their uteruses probably, let’s face it nobody really understand what goes on down there – the only known cure for which is clitoral stimulation and a long lie down on the divan.

Now I know that most of you think I’m pretty smug and arrogant – and I am, and those are two of my more endearing qualities – but I’m also full of a degree of crippling self loathing and doubt that would leave most of you unable to get out of bed in the morning. I am at this point so cynical that I don’t even trust my own skepticism anymore and most of the time I don’t know what the hell I’m doing or why. And so it occurred to me, naturally, that maybe it’s me. Maybe I don’t understand what being a sport fan is supposed to be. I certainly don’t follow any sport besides college basketball. I can’t remember for example the last time I sat through an entire baseball game or watched an NBA game; I watch the Lions play on Thanksgiving unless Babes in Toyland is on and then I only flip over during commercials. But that’s really it. I’m not saying that’s good or bad or better or worse, I’m just saying I have other hobbies. Which is what these things are, hobbies. And so I thought sports – like other hobbies – was supposed to be enjoyable and entertaining, a distraction from the fact that we’ll all soon enough be dead in the cold cold ground, forgotten by our friends and families in boneyards overgrown with weeds and our remains being rendered to soil by worms and weevils.

Understand, I don’t think my hobbies are good and yours are bad: I have this moronic blog; I play in a wildly unsuccessful band that sells records almost exclusively to angst ridden pock marked teens in the former East Germany; I bet my hard earned money on dumb four legged animals ridden around in circles by South American midgets; I write long absurdist letters to local government functionaries, insulting them personally and ridiculing their job performance; and I drink, I drink a lot. These things are, all of them, quite stupid. (Note, the, commas.) But the difference between me and a certain type of sports fan seems to be that I enjoy my hobbies. Whereas you (royal) seem to be happy only when you’re miserable. You imagine the worst so that when the worst occurs – and it always does in college basketball, only one team finishes the season with a winning streak that matters – you’re prepared for it. And I think that’s sad.

For your sake I’m looking forward to the day when this program is not so hapless that you are condemned to forever look for a black lining in every silver cloud. A day where disaster doesn’t loom around every corner, where the sky isn’t continually falling on the ship which isn’t forever sinking. Not because I begrudge you your hobbies or the way you go about them or your opinions or your thoughts, but because what it will say about the state of the program, which, unfortunately, I love. (Because it’s all about me.) Nova fans, Creighton fans, Xavier fans, and dare I say dewk fans, Kansas fans, Kentucky fans, they don’t see every unremarkable event as the equivalent of the Titanic careening into a looming volcanic iceberg infected with the bubonic plague. They see blips on the horizon: every once in a while a fluffy cloud briefly obscures an otherwise beautiful sunrise. That is what I wish for you this holiday season: that if you can’t always enjoy the result you can at least learn to love the process.

Feliz Navidad.


Dear Ms. M________

On Monday December 26 I came to the E___ G________ town offices to pay my property taxes. Normally I wouldn’t venture near your offices but I was hoping to take advantage of the tax write-off before the new IRS code goes into effect on January 1. When I arrived a patron was already at the window and so I maintained a respectful distance – lest I invade that taxpayer’s privacy – busying myself reading the very interesting notices on the bulletin board facing your office. Only when he left and my turn came did I approach the counter. While I was there a second patron entered. Being it turned out known to you this patron was immediately directed to the counter, where he and you and your staff engaged in a loud, boisterous and excruciatingly boring conversation about who knew whom and whose sister went to school with whose uncle and whose nephews knew whose daughters and where everyone’s respective family vacationed in Florida. This was none of it of the slightest interest to me, the person in the midst of writing the town a check for nearly $ 5000. It occurred to me to ask how large a check I would have to write to get someone’s undivided attention for the five minutes I was going to be there, but I didn’t: that would have been rude.

But that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because while I was at the counter my check book out was out and my tax bill was on display, meaning that should he have had a mind to your loud mouthed buddy could have been privy to inter alia my name, my checking account information, my phone number, my address, the assessed value of my home, my tax account number and my tax liability – which amount he commented on, when you mentioned the specific amount I owed aloud, this was when you refused to accept a check for .21 cents more than my tax bill, which amount I had rounded up, and made me write another one, because accepting the first one would have entailed you making a change to your tax ledger, which change you would have found an inconvenience, earning as you do only $125,000 a year, and being subjected to such rigorous tasks as filing and alphabetizing – all of which information I suspect your office has a duty to keep confidential. Which duty you in my opinion breached.

If this is your standard operating procedure – entailing as it does the willy-nilly display of taxpayer information to the public – it might be something you want to reconsider. The public library more carefully safeguards the titles of the books I check out than seemingly does your office the details of my personal financial affairs. And I pay the library in dimes.

Your pal


Ru(e) (de)Paul



Outside of buying several of my ex-girlfriend’s a six pack of Pabst, there are few sure things in life. One thing you can be pretty sure of though when you sit down to watch a SJU Depaul basketball game is that you are likely to see some of the worst college basketball of the year. And for 20 minutes this one was no exception: the first half of Sunday’s 71-67 overtime loss to second place Depaul was just about the worst half any two D1 teams have played all year. The result of the horror was that Saint John’s took a 10 point lead into the locker room, thanks to Depaul’s 13 turnovers, most of them of the dribble the ball off your foot throw the ball into the stands variety and atrocious 2 for 13 3-point shooting. Once again SJU was not able to hold their advantage – this is the fourth game in a row now that an opposing coach has eaten Lavin’s second half lunch by making half time adjustments, although I admit to having no idea what they were outside of perhaps sayings something like stop dribbling the ball off your foot and stop missing all your threes. On the other hand the second half was quite entertaining, other than the outcome obviously, which leaves Saint John’s mired in ninth place at 1 and 4 in conference. Anyone who thought that possible two weeks ago raise your hand and then bring them down repeatedly on your pants, which are on fire … Neither team performed well on the offensive end: for the game SJU shot 27 percent from the floor and 17 percent from three and Depaul meanwhile shot higher from three (35) from the floor (33). In the end the game came down to free throws: 60 fouls were called in all, 3 players fouled out, and 62 free throws taken. Those of you think that the free throw shot is the single most exciting play in college basketball and not an all an annoyance that slows the pace to a glacial crawl were probably on the edge of your seats. The other thing that made a difference was the DePaul press, which forced a bunch of turnovers and which I’m surprised everyone doesn’t do. Press and fall back into a zone, we’d probably not score another basket for the rest of the year … Coach Lavin once again wore a shirt with a collar, for which I take full credit. Unfortunately it gives me one less thing to whinge about. And in fact other than some strange substitutions – at one point he had 4 guards plus Jessica Albavogchavick out there – and a perplexing use of his last TO in regulation – after calling his penultimate one to set his defense up with 31 seconds left he spent his last one when that one expired – I don’t have much to whinge about the coaching either. For the most part Lavin keeping out of his own way is him out-coaching the other guy, even when the other guy coaching is Oliver Purnell … All of which leaves SJU at 1 and 4 and at the bottom of the league and the chances of turning things around become ever slimmer. On the bright side there’s nowhere to go but up and not a lot further down they can fall. Excelsior.

PLAYERS: Rysheed Jordan started his second game in a row and seems to have shaken off whatever funk he was in a couple of weeks ago. Seventeen points, 4 steals, 4 assists and two free clutch free throws to send the game into overtime … Phil Greene had 17 points as well but on 5 for 13 shooting. Considering his appalling past performances against hometown DePaul – in two of seven games he’s managed to get shut out – we should be grateful. Evidently a regular reader of this blog, which has spent the past two weeks haranguing him for his paucity of free throw attempts, Greene took the ball to the basket on more than one occasion and ended up six for six from the line … Harrison had 11 points, 7 of those from the free throw line. The announcers said he injured his calf in practice yesterday, and it showed … A good 16 minutes by Jasilionus II, who evidently is a basketball player, as has been rumored. It would not surprise me to see him start a game, as trying to catch lightning in a bottle is one of Lavin’s signature coaching moves. Some would say his only move, and by some I mean me … Obekpa got a ferocious rebound with 30 seconds to go in regulation and his put back made it a one-point game. To atone he missed the game winner in OT from 10 feet .. Pointer had 11 points but did little else before fouling out .. Jamal Branch is awful … Balamou got a minute or two … Two straight DNPs for Christian Jones, erstwhile replacement for Jakarr “+ x –“ Sampson.

NOTES: DePaul grads include mayor for life Richard Daley, keyboardist Ray Manzarek of the Doors, and actors Tom Bosley, Harvey Korman, Joe Mantegna, Karl Malden and John C. Reilly. Their hoop alumni comprise a pretty good starting five: Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings, George Mikan, Quentin Richardson and Rod Strickland. DePaul was also the victor in one of the most horrifying losses in the pantheon of humiliating Saint John’s defeats. Let’s reminisce. It’s 1987. Depaul is 28-2, ranked 7th in the country, and is a three seed in the Midwest region. Saint John’s, the six seed, has squeaked by Wichita State in the first round 57-55. The game is for some reason on DePaul’s home court in Chicago. With 36 seconds left SJU is ahead by five, 67-62, this despite the referees having awarded DePaul twice as many free throws: of 25, they made 21 to Saint John’s 9. After an exchange of baskets and with Depaul down 4 with 12 seconds left, lunkhead Terry Bross fouled Dallas Comegys on a put back, making it 69-67. Instead of making the FT Comegys – contrary to the strategy devised in the huddle by his HOF coach Ray Meyer – attempted to miss the FT on purpose, a play that never works, unless, like Comegys, you violate the lane so egregiously that by the time the ball hits the rim you’re standing under the basket. It goes without saying that no violation was called and Comegys made the lay up. Tie score. Mark Jackson missed a pull up as time expired and DePaul went on to win in overtime. History repeats. It was really one of the worst losses ever, rivaled only by the Duke game the year before and whatever game it was where Mullin missed that free throw, either Penn or Temple, I CBA to check … The 87 SJ team included Jackson, porn mogul Willie Glass, the most overrated player in SJ history Matt Brust, Jasilionus prototype Marco Baldi, and Marcus Broadnax and Elander Lewis – one of whom got the scholarship that would have gone to Gary Payton if Louie wasn’t such a nimrod. Game goat Terry Bross went on to a brief 10 game career as a pitcher with the NY Mets before becoming a sports agent, in which profession he was a few years ago accused of pimping out a porn actress called Bibi Jones in an attempt to recruit clients. In an attempt to drive web traffic and to appease those critics who complain that I am tedious because I use too many words they don’t understand and not enough pictures that they might, here she is.



Finally, speaking of whores, Greg Anthony, who broke the news of Steve Lavin’s hiring in 2010, was arrested over the weekend for cavorting with prostitutes. And not just any prostitutes either: a transgendered prostitute from Craig’s List. In case you are a Neanderthal CIS * like me, a transgender is a person who associates psychologically with a gender opposite to their genitalia. For example a female born with a vagina who thinks she should have been a guy named Dave or a guy named Dave born with a wiener who thinks he should have been born a lesbian. (As opposed to a transsexual, who’s one who skips all the Freud and just starts lopping off body parts on the theory that nature has put them there by mistake.) So presumably Anthony was looking to bang a guy in a dress. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Pictured below is his wife, who’s probably not coincidentally pretty much a dead ringer for Reggie Miller.



* CIS are individuals who are born associating favorably with their genitals. That is, a male assigned male at birth – a guy with a penis who thinks he’s a guy – is a cis. In the old days these sort of people were considered normal and their opposites sideshow attractions. Nowadays everything is normal, lest someone’s feelings get hurt.




Niagara Falls



To no one’s surprise Saint John’s beat Niagara at Alumni Hall Tuesday night 70-57. Unless Norm Roberts is coaching – or Louie – that’s what usually happens: SJU has beaten NU 71 out of 99 times going back to the Woodrow Wilson administration. Coming off a close loss to a highly ranked opponent and with a showdown with an instate rival looming a different coach might have used the in-between cupcake game to work out some wrinkles in the zone offense or full court press. Not Steve Lavin though: he’s too smrat ® for that. What Steve Lavin did instead was break out a new rotation, benching his most talented player and starting a walk-on. Except as a reminder of what a numbskull Lavin is it didn’t matter much – Niagara is small and young and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in the first half, during which SJ built a 10 point lead. As is their wont SJ then coasted on defense and chucked up a bunch of threes on offense and let Niagara back in it, to the extent that they pulled within one halfway through the second. Of course the outcome was never in doubt and when Lavin put his starters back in – well, not his starters, but his best 5 players – they put Niagara away, although not by enough to reward the suckers who laid 19. (Meanwhile out on the west coast Seton Hall’s freshmen were putting a 30 point beat down on Mount Saint Mary, much as their hungry coach Kevin Willard has put a beat down on Lavin on the recruiting trail. Saint John’s opens the BE season versus SH at the end of the month and speaking of beatdowns I don’t see much good coming out of that) …. SJU shot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three, although much of the credit for that goes to newly minted starter slash walk-on Miles Stewart. They failed to outrebound Niagara – Steve Lavin says rebounds are overrated so that’s not a problem – but the reversion to 60 percent free throw percentage might be, unless Lavin determines that FT shooting is not important either, in which case never mind … Other than his incongruous rotation (obviously a big other than) Lavin didn’t do anything particularly boneheaded, but that’s probably only because he didn’t do much of anything. In fact, if he hadn’t made an ostentatious display of subbing out offense for defense up by 12 points with 2 minutes left – and no doubt the rubes were all impressed – you might not have known he was there at all. We can only hope. On the bright side, having grown tired of being relentlessly mocked for dressing in layers like an insane homeless person, Lavin wore a shirt with a collar. Credit Morty Seinfeld.

PLAYERS: Harrison scored the 1700th point of his illustrious career with three minutes left to go in the first half and finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds. He should pass the great Glen Williams on Saturday in Saint John’s loss to New York’s team … Regular readers will recall that I wondered earlier in the year what Lavin was planning to do to mess with his current bugbear Rysheed Jordan. Now we know: he’s going to bring him off the bench behind a walk-on, an event foreshadowed a game or two ago when Jordan came off the bench in the second half behind Felix Balamou. If I had an angel on my shoulder it might be whispering that this is a motivational tool designed to improve Jordan’s game and life prospects; but all I have is a devil, and he says Lavin is just messing with the kid’s head, probably for spite following their personal issues last year and possibly even to convince him to stay in school next year, when the cupboard will be bare. Lavin’s toadies will scoff, just like they did this week after Jim Boeheim made comments they claimed were designed to convince Chris McCullogh that he was not ready to play professional basketball … Jamal Branch finally got the start his fans have been clamoring for and played well enough. No one’s killed him more than me, and I’m happy to admit this morning that he demonstrated last night that he could easily be an honorable mention third team player in the MAAC if he were able to sustain last night’s level of play over a full year and refrain from throwing lob passes into the bleachers and committing fouls 75 feet from the basket as he did again last night … Pointer was the other starter to come off the bench, which is what he should have been doing for three years … Miles Stewart – who Lavin compared in pregame interviews to NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Theus – played creditably enough, hitting half his threes, but brought little to the table other than that. When not babbling about Jordan the devil suggested that Lavin is lavishing attention on Stewart because Stewart constitutes the fruits of entire wasted recruiting year and Lavin wants everyone to think he recruited like that on purpose… Chris Obekpa seems to have lost a bit of the fire he showed when pushing around Division 2 teams earlier in the season. Seven points, 5 rebound and three blocks isn’t going to get him into the NBA, although between his hairdo and his shorts – astute viewers will have noted that the pair he wore yesterday were hemmed rather than rolled up – maybe he has his sights set on the WNBA. When he wasn’t grinning inappropriately he elbowed one guy in the face, punched another guy in the groin, and missed a dunk …. Coming off the best game of his career Phil Greene was suddenly replaced in Lavin’s affection by a walk on. I felt sorry for him until late in the second half when he attempted to take his man off the dribble by doing a spin move in the lane and fell over when his legs got tangled up, then I just started laughing … Jessica Albagovic got the biggest cheer of the night when he hit his first three of the year. He is on SJ fan boards this morning drawing comparisons to our last great shooters, Sergio Lyuk, Fred Lyson, and Heath Orvis … Speaking of knowledgeable fans, Christian Jones provided a welcome replacement for selfish cancer Jakarr Sampson for 3 minutes and the rest of the time sat on the bench.

NOTES: I haven’t checked Fox Sports One this morning: has Tarik Turner shut up yet? … Old time fans will recall that in 84-85 final four season Niagara was the only team that SJU lost to other than Georgetown. That game did not really count though as starting point guard Mike Moses did not play and the then #4 then Redmen were forced to start unreliable freshman PG Mark Jackson, whose 3 TOs in the last 2 minutes sealed the loss. “You’ve got to give Niagara all the credit,” Lou Carnesecca was quoted as saying in the NY Times. “ They played a marvelous game.” …. I did a bit of googling in search of something to say about Niagara University to pad this out a bit but there’s really nothing. Other than NBA great Calvin Murphy and Joe McCarthy – not the patriotic American senator who exposed the communist infiltration of the Roosevelt administration, the other one – there doesn’t seem to be an illustrious graduate in the bunch. Niagara Falls of course looms large in the American psyche as a cultural artifact, what with people consummating their marriages there and lunatics going over the falls in barrels and who can forget Joseph Cotton strangling the shit out of Marilyn Monroe and her pink sweater in the tunnels beneath the falls in eponymous 1953 film noire. The Falls also figure prominently in a vaudeville sketch performed by inter alia Lucille Ball, Abbot and Costello, and the Three Stooges in which its invocation (Niagara Falls … slowly I turned … step by step … inch by inch) turns a storyteller into a homicidal maniac. This does not sound particularly funny in theory, but is hilarious in practice. The sketch also formed the basis of the tune Native Love, the nadir of the career of Harris Milstead, aka Divine, which was otherwise marked by illustrious triumphs like Lust in the Dust and Pink Flamingos. If Milstead had been from Buffalo that would have tied this all up nicely but he was from Baltimore.