When I was a kid growing up in the L.A. ghetto suburb of Pacoima, I made a list of 20 things I'd like to see happen before I left this mortal coil. Some were altruistic, some selfish, some almost nonsensical.
Steve Martin, during his early days as a stand-up comedian, said that should he ever take hostages, he would make three demands, at least one of which was so strange that he could use it as a basis on which to build an insanity defense. His three demands were to be:
1. One million dollars in cash;
2. A getaway car; and
3. To have the letter "M" stricken from the English language. (Then he would chuckle and say, "Huh, a getaway car! Yeah, right.")
I figured I could do the same thing and guarantee myself a long life. This, of course, required me to compile a list consisting of a mix of several things I really wanted, plus a couple which were unlikely enough to allow me to exceed the Pacoima life expectancy of 28 years or 11th grade, whichever came first.
Mostly, I wanted to see a man walk on the moon and have Jerry West win an NBA championship. If you'll recall, that moon thing came first.
(Well, that is if you believe it really happened. There are people who think NASA staged the whole thing like in the movie Capricorn One, which starred two men who were married to Barbra Streisand -- James Brolin and Elliot Gould -- and O.J. Simpson. What are the odds against that?! Actually, what are the odds against two different guys marrying Barbra Streisand?)
The last four items at the time seemed so improbable as to grant me near immortality.
17. Have a skinny white newspaper heiress get kidnaped by black radicals, join the group, rob banks, live at Bill Walton's house for a while, then put down "urban terrorist" as her occupation when the Feds finally catch up to her. Just try convincing people that you dreamt that up before it happened. Heck, for that matter, try convincing anyone born after 1970 that it actually happened in real life.
18. Let there be one billion Indians. I swear I meant Native American on this one, but political correctness was decades away. This was partly from having watched John Wayne win in all those stupid movies and partly from having seen Sacheen Littlefeather accept the Oscar for Marlon Brando. I figured if there were a billion of them....
But now I have to hope there was no misunderstanding of my use of the word "Indian." As you may have seen, the United Nations reported that India's population hit one billion last October. Insulted by that news, the indignant Indian government claimed that the population won't hit one billion until next month.
The world can breathe a sigh of relief with that clarification.
Number 19 on the list was to see the Rams win the Super Bowl. Man, I thought sure I was safe on this one.
The Rams had been studs before I was born, but in my early years, they sucked out loud. But as I hit my mid-teens, they snapped out of it. They hired coach George Allen and went on a rampage. They stormed to the near-top of the National Football League and established a reputation as a team which would almost make it all the way.
Oh, how I loved those teams. The quarterback was named Roman Gabriel. Watching him straight-arm people, then throw 40-yard bombs was like in the Airplane movie when Peter Graves asks the kid in the cockpit, "So Timmy, do you like gladiator movies?"
Then there was the Fearsome Foursome of Lamar Lundy (who's mentioned first so I can show off that I remember his name); Roosevelt Grier (whose cousin Pam kept most young men from worrying about any long-term consequences of confusion from that Gabriel-gladiator blip); Merlin Olson (the Mormon guy who sells flowers); and Deacon Jones (the meanest man of all time, who lost 30 pounds off his chest after he stopped playing, but still weighs the same because of the bags under his eyes).
Throughout the late '60s, all through the '70s, and much of the '80s, the Rams would be devastating in the regular season and then choke in the playoffs.
By the late '70s the Rams were owned by Georgia Rosenbloom, a floozy who had successfully shaken her assets in the direction of the pathetic rich old fossil who would become her sixth husband. Carroll Rosenbloom died shortly thereafter in a mysterious drowning accident and Georgia got the team and soon thereafter husband No. 7, Dominic Frontiere, who's best known or writing the theme music to the Robert Urich TV series Vega$.
Boy, how's that for a legacy? Makes "Was a columnist for the Tucson Weekly" seem positive eternal by comparison.
Old Dom kicked the bucket and the dyed-blonde scuzz changed the pronunciation of her name from "Frun-tee-air-ee" to "Frun-teer."
You might think that I hate her, but it's so much more than that. She lied about the team's financial health in order to move the team from L.A. to Anaheim, then pissed all over Rams fans everywhere to hooker herself and move the team she didn't deserve to own to St. Louis.
Through it all, and through an entire decade when the Rams stank in stereo, I stayed with them. Now, they've won the Super Bowl. It was beautiful and sad.
All that's left is No. 20. I wanted a member of the 1970 New York Knicks to become President of the United States. I swear I meant Walt Frazier. I thought he'd look so cool wearing that pimp hat at the Inauguration.