Once, Forever and Always

January17/ 2000

 still haven’t caught “Olympic Fever” but Kid has.  At 16, this is her first “real Olympics” to watch and her observations are worth noting.  Watching the close-ups of the swimmers on the awards podium it occurred to me that their identities are forever changed.  Whatever they do henceforth their new name has the pre-fix “Olympic Gold Medalist”.  What other achievements carry that immediate permanent attachment?  BobLee thought of several. …. Plus, Is there a Watergate-esque scandal abrewing at UNC? … YEE HAA!

   Olympic Gold Medalist … What other honors and achievements stick like superglue to their recipient?  That might depend on the stage and theater where the person in question is performing.  

   Being the “meanest sumbitch in Chatham County” might get you to the front of the line at Wendy’s in Pittsboro or Siler City; but diminishes considerably once the aforementioned sumbitch crosses the county line.  

   Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice is revered anywhere Tar Heels are gathered; but gets blank stares from folks under 60 and more than a day’s stagecoach ride from The Old Well. I know “God’s Chosen People” have a problem with that fact but ‘tis true.  The same applies to the Wuffies’ “Fire & Ice”, Duke’s Ace Parker, and Wake’s Len Chappell. As the pyramid gets larger, room at the top gets more precious.

   But “Olympic Gold Medalist” sticks near about anywhere.  Mary Lou Retton, Al Oerter, Bruce Jenner, and Alberto Juantorena are “Olympic Gold Medalist” wherever they go and whatever they do.  (Alberto was a Cuban middle distance runner in the 80s … I always liked saying his name.  Same with Theophilio Stevenson, a Cuban heavyweight boxer of the same era.)   

   I may have told this story.  If so, bear with me.  Texas MotorSpeedway in Fort Worth about 6-7 years ago.  NASCAR mogul and TMS owner Bruton Smith is standing at the Start/Finish Line. BobLee myownself is standing about 8’ from Bruton.  A group of “celebrities” had just completed a charity go-kart race as part of the “give 125,000 people something to watch” pre-race festivities.  This nice looking couple approaches Bruton and the young man speaks … “Mr. Smith, I’m Bart Connor, the gymnast, and this is my wife, Nadia Comaneci.”  

   Bruton Smith is not a Renaissance Man.  His interests involve making money, making enemies, and making even more money.  He could not possibly have cared less who these two yahoos were.  But I thought “this is quite cool”.  As regular SwaggerSays readers know, I move amongst the famed, damned, scourned, lauded, and applauded all the time. As I clicked Bart and Nadia off my “two famous gymnasts I’ve stood within 8’ of” list I was struck by the cosmic uniqueness of the moment.  At no other place in the Milky Way Galaxy could this exchange be taking place … and moi was THERE.  

    I’m not sure if Bart won Olympic Gold but he was a USA team member in the 80s.  Mrs Connor (Nadia) is an Olympic legend having followed Olga Korbut in Olympic history.  I believe Nadia scored the first “perfect 10” in an Olympic gymnastics routine.  She was Bela Koroly’s first elfin-superstar.  Even Mary Lou and Karrie Shrug’s later heroics have not pushed Nadia Comaneci out of the Olympic memory bank … at least not to me.   

   I see Bruce Jenner every year and measure the success of his latest face lift.  I keep meaning to ask about OJ and Nicole but always think better of it.  Bruce is always introduced as Olympic Decathalon Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner.  That will probably be on his tombstone too.  The pretty blond wife who handed him the little American flag to run around the Montreal stadium with is long gone, replaced by one if not two others … but Bruce is still Olympic Champion.

    “Baseball Hall of Famer” and “Masters Champion” are two other “stick forever” sports achievement prefixes that transcend about anything else one might ever do.  If Charlie Coody discovers a cure for cancer tomorrow, the headline will read “Former Masters Champion Charlie Coody Discover A Cure For Cancer”.  That is probably fine with Charlie (who is a fine fellow by the way).  

   “Wimbledon Champion” might qualify too.  Most of the other Hall of Fame and MVP deals are just a bit less “universal” to a broad audience.  Sure they get mentioned in the text of the story but not as a prefix to the person’s name. “Heisman Trophy Winner” MIGHT make this short list.  If “Choo Choo” had beat out Charlie Trippi or Doak Walker for the Heisman maybe the obituary editor of the Toledo Blade would have picked up the AP blurb when Choo Choo died a few years ago.  He will note when Nadia Comaneci dies.


   So far, Kid’s best line about The Olympics has been “Dad, thanks for not pushing me to be really good in sports.”  When your teenager “thanks you” for ANYTHING you blurt out “YOU’RE WELCOME” even if it is “Thank you that I inherited your naturally curly hair instead of your protruding ears” … that might be the best you are going to get.  But Kid’s comment was interesting.

   She had just seen a USA gymnast make a small but costly error that meant “no gold” for the USA.  The look of disappointment on the girl’s face (coincidentally, exactly Kid’s age) was more than Kid could bear.  

   So if we had insisted on one more year of Tae Kwon Do when she was 9, it could have resulted in global humiliation when she failed to break twelve cinder blocks in front of a worldwide audience in Beijing in 2008.  Actually she had outgrown her little Tae Kwon Do pajama suit and we didn’t want to have to buy her a new uniform.  But I said “you’re welcome” and Mizzus Swagger and I exchanged smiles.  


Swagger’s Stumper

Everyone remembers Pernell Roberts stupidly bolting Bonanza 

after it’s first season as Adam Cartwright.  

What was Pernell’s next series?

HINT: It was spin-off of a mega successful series


   So you’ve read this far waiting to hear about a “UNC Watergate“, huh?  Just a teaser for now; but note the name Jonathan Curtis.  He may be “the G. Gordon Liddy of the Moeser Administration”.  Curtis is a South Building functionary.  One of a myriad of “Assistant To The Chancellor” types that scurry about Polk Place. He is also a card carrying member of one of Chapel Hill’s more militant diversity groups which provides him carte blanc access around South Building.

   If you follow the shenanigans of Chancellor Moe and His Merry Men you might have heard about their “Great Inquisition against The God Squaders”.  Depending upon who’s account you read … Curtis, acting in Moe’s stead, was either (1) planning to hang undergraduate “Christians” from lampposts along Franklin Street like Spartacus’ Army crucified along The Appian Way … or (2) he turned in a reckless FCA member for jaywalking.  The “truth” as always lies betwixt and between.

   Now we are learning that this Curtis fellow is a G. Gordonesque ZEALOT.  … and his zealotry favors the infamous faculty fanatics and their squirrely beady eyed brethren.  A few years ago, Curtis was a willing co-conspirator in a needless sabotage of a bonafide campus organization’s newsletter.  Modern forensic evidence has nailed this clown dead to rights for his wrongs.  

   Moe, of course, staunchly defends his wayward minion although Jonathan’s nefariousness predated the arrival of “The Meez” to UNC.  This one could get embarrassing for The Meez.  How quickly he tosses Jonathan Curtis under the bus will be fun to watch.  Having The Meez back on the hot seat is always a hoot.  


   John and Holly McClane had one heck of a Christmas at Dulles Airport in Die Hard 2.  As always, Bruce got beat up and bloody but saved the day by blowing the mega-bad guys to smithereens in the final reel.

   A fine time in Charlotte with the Charlotte West Rotarians.  A special treat as BobLee Buddies Bill, Dick, Duke, and Allan were on hand to provide Senor Swagger with moral support.  Duke is a Dookie, Allan is a Wuffie and Dick and Bill are hard core Heels.  An Ecumenical bunch for sure.

   Folks … I want “props” for that last column title “Calling Dr Naismith – Code Blue – Code Blue!”.  It was solid gold.  Regular people would pay cash money to read great titling like that and you folks get it free.  A little appreciation WOULD be nice … !  

Upcoming Tour stops in Raleigh and High Point.  Details acoming.

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