|Masters of our domain|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It has been a long week, dwellers.
It's been Masters week. The Cooler is so oblivious to the outside world, someone could tell us that the Kansas City Royals are undefeated, and we'd buy it wholesale.
What a week. Enough rain to build an ark. Hey, if Hootie built one, he's got to take two of everything, right? Would he take two female members on board? I don't know about that -- but I hope he brings two cooks to keep making peach cobbler.
Seriously, dwellers. The Cooler loves its celebrity sightings, so let's just get this out of the way early.
The crew pitched our tents at an Augusta eatery called Café du Teau, a place so hip that Haitian chefs make you personal dishes of jambalaya at 1:30 a.m., and Jim Belushi does comedy bits at your table.
Name-dropping is always encouraged, my friend.
And if you question the validity of Jim Belushi's Q-rating, reconsider when you learn that when my boy Chief asked Belushi: "Is she a pro?," Belushi shot back, with gusto: "At this point, we don't KNOW!" (Raise your hands if you truly believe "About Last Night" is one of the 1980s more underrated flicks.)
Later, Belushi tried to give high praise to Eddie Murphy's old "SNL" skit "White Like Me," when it was pointed out to him that he had produced his own cult classic, the "High School Chess Coach." Belushi brightened, and shot out of his chair shouting: "Why don't you just GIVE him the rook!"
If you do not know this old "SNL" bit, dwellers, we apologize for speaking in code.
Anyway, it was nuts-o all week. I drove by the Martha Burk protest site at about 8:30 a.m. What a letdown. All I saw were about 120 cop cars. It looked like a cop's car show. I could imagine them walking around to each other's rigs, kicking tires while sipping coffee and saying, as they peered in the window: "Is that the '04 Crown Vic? Nice. That have Internet access?"
When the Boston Herald's George Kimball approached the Imperial Wizard/KKK cat -- who was wearing blue jeans and a shirt -- and asked, "So, when are you going to suit up?" we had achieved full and total comedy. It was time to move on to the Weekend List of Five, special Masters edition:
1. Mike Weir, eh?
Will he serve Moosehead at next year's Champions Dinner?
Will Rush provide pre-dinner music?
What's next -- the Mackenzie Brothers on his bag next year?
Or, perhaps, Joni Mitchell as Augusta National's first female member.
All right, I'm out of Canadian pop culture calls.
And did you know how fiercely proud our neighbors to the north really are? "Weirsy," as they call him, walked into the press conference after winning -- and got applauded by the Canuck press! Man. Barry Bonds wins NL MVP and local baseball writers spit on their ballots before sending them in.
But if the American stereotype of the typical Canadian is that he is, well, you know, just sort of inoffensive and bland ... Mike Weir is your man. I don't want to say he's dry, but the CEO of Saltines crackers called Augusta National to complain that Weir's quotes were giving his product a bad name.
(Hey! "Canada Dry"! I just came up with our new Masters champions new nickname.)
Enough with the gags, already. The guy fired an ice-cool 68 to win his first major, and he gets nothing but love from The Cooler. You win The Masters? You're, uh, good. The little lefty made about a thousand putts from 10 feet and in during his magic weekend, which is interesting, because I've attempted about a thousand putts from 10 feet and in, and I've made none.
And Canada is The Cooler's kind of place. They dig beer, they're nuts for sports, and their national anthem is about the most boss thing going. It dominates at every Olympics.
2. The other Lefty
Face it. It will never happen. Somewhere along the way, Mickelson must have won a $5 Nassau from the golf gods and really pissed them off.
In 1999, he lost a crusher to Payne Stewart at the U.S. Open on 18.
In 2001, David Toms beats him at the PGA Championship by making a freaking ace on a hole on Saturday.
And at this year's Masters, it all sets up: His game is good. Tiger, Phil's Kryptonite, is nowhere to be seen. So what happens? As Mickelson creeps into contention, and puts up numbers that would probably rattle Mike Weir, Len Mattiace -- Lenny Freaking Mattiace, for the love of Mike! -- runs away from the field to make Phil's back nine irrelevant. You get the feeling that it's never going to happen for this guy, and he'll have to start counting Buick Invitationals as majors.
On the bright side: Lefty is wearing the undershirt now, a thankful development for all involved. We'll just leave it at that.
But before we do ... has Lefty surrendered the nickname Lefty, since another Lefty won a major before Lefty? Something to ponder, dweller.
3. That music! Sanctuary, please. Sanctuary!
Wow. How much treacle can go into one piano riff? Those Masters tunes are so syrupy, I wonder if Aunt Jemima herself is tickling the ivories.
I said it last year, but it's worth reviving: Listening to that Masters bump music, I feel like I've been put on hold after calling a funeral home.
Of course, I'd better watch my step. I'm a huge fan of the Saturday night CBS Masters party at the private home they rent at Augusta, so I'll censor myself before they start handing out those CDs as party gifts.
4. The scorer's shack
Standing in the roped-off bullpen interview area, which smelled vaguely of a rodeo, due to a lethal combo of rain, mud, sand and pine needles, I watched player after player trudge in to the tiny shack, sign their cards, and trudge out. I wondered: Was Kaczynksi inside?
And if so, did he get DQ'ed for signing an incorrect manifesto?
These are the thoughts that occupy our minds while we wait for Phil Mickelson to come by and ice us whenever we ask our pithy questions.
As an aside, there are several Phil Mickelsons. There is Sappy Phil, who showed up last year and told us that he took inspiration from the movie "The Rookie," and was just happy to be playing the game. There is Weird Phil, who sort of stonewalled us all week at The Masters this year. There is also Defensive Phil, who popped up last year at Sawgrass in his now-famous State of the Lefty address, in which he said he will never change his style of play, not now, not ever. It was vaguely reminiscent of Churchill's "We shall fight them in the fields, we shall fight them in the valleys ..." -- except Churchill's audience was not a group of poorly dressed sportswriters looking for the press conference to end, the better to attack the PGA Tour's spread at the kick-ass buffet.
5. The best for last: the Spafro's evolution
Van Pelt's take: "Oh, so you finally caught on to the Spafro?"
"Yeah," he said. "The Spanish Afro."
Well, dweller. We thought we knew The Spafro last year. As we learned at Augusta National this week, we knew nothing of the Spafro. Jimenez used the year in between then and now to cultivate the mane to outrageous proportions, and as my colleague Rooms said: "He probably gets fan mail from Marge Simpson."
The Spafro has morphed into a sort of Jheri-Curl now, and during Monday's pouring rains, the Spafro appeared slick and curly, hanging low. Masters veteran G. Willis declared it a certainty: "He's got some activator going on in there today."
The Augusta Chronicle was good enough to catch the Jheri Curl/Spafro for photographic posterity, and when I saw the photo in print, I nearly spit out my free Krispy Kreme in the press tent. In it, he smoked a cigar. It bordered on modern art, and I am now hard at work to procure a copy, so that it can serve as my Christmas card for next year. I have not consulted my girl about this yet, but I'm sure she'll be game. I once had my photo taken with Tone-Loc at my college girlfriend's sorority party. Both Tone-Loc and I wore tuxedos -- it was a formal, after all. The photo is beyond comedy. Me and Tone-Loc, giving the thumbs-up. I wanted to make it a Christmas card, with two possible greetings inside: 1) The understated "Tone Loc and I wish you a Happy Holiday Season," and 2) The more daring "Have a Funky Cold Christmas."
I can see the Jimenez Xmas card now: The mug shot, the Spafro, the cigar and the words inside -- "Feliz Navidad ... may you find season's greetings, and perhaps a nest of birds, or a sleeve of Pro V1s inside the Spafro.''
Like I said: It's been a long week.
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.