…on Hookers, Heatwaves, & Horseracing.

What a weekend for Punters!

I hope everyone on the Eastern half of the country managed through the ridiculously early and brutal heat wave. The first blast of humid, sweltering air is always the worst; as if our bodies are shocked before making the adjustment. I’m finally able to comfortably sit in my leather desk chair and type in my unconditioned office and wear something other than my undies…the whites. But bitching about the heat makes me feel like something of an asshole when I think about what people in the Mid-West go through this time of year, every year. We are so blessed here in the Northeast, when you consider how relatively benign our weather is. And it is easy to forget that in just about every other region of our country the residents are regularly threatened by at least one type of deadly natural disaster. My heart and prayers go out to everyone whose lives have been lost or upended by these catastrophic tornadoes and floods. Peter King wrote a great article in his MMQB column about the town of Parkersburg, Iowa, which was nearly wiped off the map by a devastating tornado a few weeks back. You can check it out here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/peter_king/06/01/mmqb/index.html

OK, so I promised y’all that not all my writing will be political and full of liberal bed-wetting; and not all my pieces will involve harbingers of impending doom. With that said, the following are some random thoughts regarding a Puntastic weekend, with a healthy does of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

On Saturday, with the mercury racing into the 90s, my wife Jen and I had the good fortune of being invited out to the Jersey shore by our recently married friends, Mr. & Mrs. V. They live about a mile from the beach, and let me tell you that the temperature must have a dropped a good twenty degrees in that distance. Lovely. And little did we know that just yards away from us was the “business associate” of Eliot Spitzer, aka Client #9 and early favorite for Punter-of-the-Year honors. That’s right; Ashley Dupree was catching some rays just up the beach from us. I thought it felt a little scandalous that day. And then later on that evening we again rubbed elbows with the infamous Lady of the Night, at the Parker House where we had dinner and drinks. Of course we were oblivious the whole time. That is the nice thing about going out with another married couple: we actually conversed and paid attention to one another, rather than have members of the group on the prowl, hungry like the wolf. You know that if we were out with a single guy, he would know that the most famous hooker in the world was just yards away. http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2008/06/09/2008-06-09_ashley_dupre_eliot_spitzers_undoing_spot.html

And speaking of Punters: 150,000 of them gathered in Elmont, Long Island, New York, on Saturday for the 104th running of the Belmont Stakes. Big Brown was vying to become the first Triple Crown winner in the 30 years since Affirmed won the elusive title in 1978. As everyone now knows, Big Brown failed miserably, placing last out of the nine horse field. He became the 6th horse in the last 11 years to come up short in the Belmont, after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. I couldn’t be happier. One reason is that the bombastic trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. is a hard guy to root for; as are the shady owners of Big Brown, who brought Hooters sponsorship with them into the “Sport of Kings.” But the other big reason for my wanting to put the maloik on Big Brown’s run at history is this: I wasn’t there to see it. I know it sounds selfish and petty, but after going through the heartbreak of being there at Belmont to see both Funny Cide and Smarty Jones succumb to the grueling mile and a half, to miss seeing a Triple Crown winner would be insult to injury. Believe me when I tell you that those few minutes before post time, when a horse is going for the final jewel of the Triple Crown, are among the most exciting in all of sports. And when that horse gets passed up in the home stretch, the way Smarty Jones did back in 2004 by Birdstone (trained by Nick Zito, who also trained this year’s 38-1 long-shot, and wire-to-wire winner Da’Tara), what follows are among the most depressing moments in all of sports. My family is from Woodside, Queens, about 25 minutes from the racetrack; and my Father and Uncles were there to see the last two horses awarded the Triple Crown. What can I say? We’re a family of Punters: horseracing is in our blood. So I feel that it is my destiny to be there at lovely Belmont to see history made; and the fact that the juggernaut Big Brown was foiled means that the gods favor me…for now anyway.

What follows are a few random thoughts that have been bouncing around the cavernous confines of my cranium; but after getting caught on the fly-paper they are presented to you in what will be the recurring segment known as:

Arbitrary Commentary

· Now that it is fashionable for men in clubs to slather themselves with the hemorrhoid cream Preparation-H, in order to make themselves look more “ripped,” I am officially happy to have outgrown the club scene. Story here: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/SkinCare/Story?id=4966867&page=1 I cannot think of a more unabashed act of vapid vanity. The thought that I once crammed myself into one of these overpriced, over occupied clubs, alongside these over gelled assholes, sends douche-chills racing down my spine.

· And while we’re raging against the garbage sensibilities of today’s youth, have you listened to the radio or seen the Billboard top 10 list lately? http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/charts/chart_display.jsp?g=Singles&f=The+Billboard+Hot+100 There is not one true hip-hop or rock song on there. Who listens to this soulless shit?

· And finally: I’m obsessed with this show that’s coming out in a few weeks on ABC (Tuesday, June 24th, 9 pm): I Survived A Japanese Game Show. You might have already seen commercials for it during the horserace or the NBA Finals. Of course, those wacky Japanese shows that have contestants doing all sort of ridiculous stunts are fascinating enough on their own merit; but when one of your best friends is on said show, well, that will really pique your interest. Our man Andy is quite the character, as some of you can attest to, and is sure to have America talking around the water cooler. I plan on doing a show preview and an introduction to Andrew Kelly-Hayes aka Helmut in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check the show out here: http://www.realitytvworld.com/news/abc-reveals-i-survived-japanese-game-show-cast-identities-7204.php & http://abc.go.com/summer/isurvivedajapanesegame/index (Andy is the one with the sideburns who says, “This is not right.”)