Special to Page 2
Because he's broke, Mike Tyson is going on an exhibition tour. He'll be fighting tomato cans across the country, and it'll probably be a humdinger. Barbaric though it may be to say, watching guys get their arses kicked is entertaining. With Tyson as the birthday boy and whoever-can-be-found as the piņata, this could be more fun than a pizza party at Paris Hilton's pad.
Problem is, nobody wants to see Mike just fight. People want to see Mike Tyson be Mike Tyson -- either the disturbed man or the exaggerated caricature of the disturbed man that he trots out every now and then. They want to see him bite ears, eat children and, of course, have killer press conferences to talk all about it. They want him to entertain them, something Tyson hasn't been able to do with his hands since before the Buster Douglas fight.
With that in mind, Page 2 has "learned" that another mercurial star will soon be touring the world performing exhibitions, as well. But instead of performing only athletically, he'll give the fans everything they want. He'll relive classic moments and offer his own unique brand of commentary.
In case you're curious, here's a sneak preview of "Charles Barkley: Coast-to-Coast." Take notes, Iron Mike.
Episode 1: Chuck Goes to Disney World
For $1,000, fans get the opportunity to have dinner in the same restaurant as Charles Barkley. But they get a lot more than just a meal. One lucky fan will be chosen to throw a glass of water in Chuck's face.
Make that an unlucky fan. For dramatic effect, Chuck won't be in on the gag. The real lucky fans will be the ones who watch Barkley throw the poor schmuck through a plate-glass window.
Episode 2: Chuck Spits for Distance
In spite of the international fame and acclaim he's received over the past two decades, Chuck's just a country boy from Alabama. And in case anyone's forgotten that, Barkley will compete in the International Cherry Pit Spit Competition in Eau Claire, Wis.
But spectators, especially little girls in the front row, better be careful. Chuck is good with the spittle, but he's still not very consistent.
"My strategy's pretty simple. I imagine a heckler is in the upper deck and I'm trying to hit him with the cherry pit. I just hope I don't get too much foam in my mouth. Hard to spit right with a mouth full of foam. I'd hate to spit on somebody's little girl when I'm really imagining spitting on a grown man. Spitting on kids is wrong."
Episode 3: Chuck Goes to Africa
Though his political aspiration is to become governor of his home state, the Chuckster has always been concerned about the struggles of sub-Saharan Africa. Listen to Chuck speak to the press about his trip to the motherland and bring attention to the strife of the people.
"As a joke, I walked around Africa elbowing guys in their arms. They knew I didn't mean any harm, but I'm pretty sure I hurt a couple of them. Sorry 'bout that.
"But then it dawned on me why they hurt so bad. It's hot as hell over here. Ever heard the phrase 'hot as Africa?' It really is hot over here. That ain't just something people pulled out of thin air.
"And some of these guys haven't eaten in a week. I was afraid at first that some of them might have been carrying spears, but then I realized that most of them couldn't afford spears. If they could have, they would have been out killing lions or wildebeests or something like that so they wouldn't be walking around looking so hungry.
"These people need food. These people need spears. And we need to stop being so greedy and help them get those things."
Episode 4: Chuck Takes the Court
Though he's six years removed from his playing days, Barkley knows that fans still want to watch him play basketball. But will it matter that he's not quite in playing shape?
"I'm 43 years old, OK? I've been somebody's daddy for a while, but now I'm old enough to really act like it. So we're out here giving fans the chance to guard me. Really, all that means is I'll be putting my ass on people and daring them to stop me from backing them all the way to the basket. God help anyone who tries to take a charge. It'll be like 1999 all over again."
Episode 5: Chuck vs. Iron Mike
Talk about a clash. Is there anything more fun than watching two guys square off who love to fight but aren't quite skilled enough? If Tyson will fight old sparring partners and bums that Louis and Marciano wouldn't have wasted their time with, he may as well throw hands with Sir Charles.
Assuming Chuck wants to, that is.
"I whooped Shaq when I was old and he was in his prime. What you think I'll do to him if he tries to bite my ear?"
There's not a soul out there who wouldn't pay to see that.
Episode 6: Chuck Tells It Like It Is
Chuck's exhibition tour will bring him back to where he is now. He'll wind up his trip with a microphone in his face, a lot on his mind and a captive audience. And he won't offer much more than common sense.
May not sound like much, but that's OK. It's just Chuck giving the world what it wants.
Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org.