Monday, November 13, 2006

Papa Joe Pistachio

162 Papa Joe Pistachio

Papa Joe has long had trouble explaining that although he is Italian, his last name is Iranian. It’s a good thing he’s a celebrity, and not your average Giuseppe. In fact, he’s the town’s one and only true national celebrity. He is the coach of a highly regarded college football team and therefore has little explaining to do, if he’s not in the mood.

He’s never in the mood.

On a recent weekend, he was injured in a game, played in the wilds of Wisconsin, flown home to Moote Pointe General Hospital and ordered to stay put. No one orders Pistachio around, so he must have wanted to have stayed in bed.

Now, you may ask, how does a guy who gave longevity lessons to Methuselah get into an accident during a football game? One of his mens crashed into him while he was bellowing from the sidelines, broke a couple of bones in his leg and tore up other things in there. So he wasn’t actually PLAYING football (neither was his team, for that matter,) he was coaching from the sidelines, which is what he’s supposed to do.

Moote Pointe General does not have a celebrity wing, like they do at Cedars of Lebanon in Los Angeles or Mount Sinai in New York. So they had to improvise.

First, flowers and candy. Then an extra couple of telephones, a couple of extra TVs and you had to have security clearance to get past the line of third string linebackers who cordoned off the room.

JoPiz, as he’s known locally, said he didn’t need to be in a hospital in the first place, and if he had to be, he wanted to be in a ward.

Calling Dr. Gregory House!

Turns out all the ward beds were full, so they created the Howard Hughes suite.

Joe missed the following Saturday’s game. Third time he’s done that since 1955, and the second since the mid 1970s. No more gold star for 100 percent attendance.

But you still have to feel sorry for the guy.

He’s a zillion years old, his team is in the toilet. A real estate “venture” in which he’s a participant is facing all kinds of municipal legal and tax troubles, and the guy can’t walk into a bar or a supermarket or down the street without getting recognized and mobbed by adoring fans, mostly women in their 70s.

Hell of a way to live. Some reward for all that loyal service. WHAT loyal service? Why the guys attracted tens of millions of dollars into the town economy, and into the Moote Pointe State U treasury. The team wasn’t always defenseless (and offense-less.)

And there was a time when he WOULD get a bed in the wards (or if there weren’t any, in a hallway somewhere.) and COULD buy a beer on a hot summer day without having to either meet-and-greet or brush off the adoring masses.

That was before they put up the statue and carved his face into the mountain.

By the way, the Moote Pointe Lions won this one for the Gipper.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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