Thursday, January 12, 2006

“A Stadium for Arnie”

Host: “Good evening. Our guest tonight is Norb Maybite, who’s heading up a drive to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stadium. Norb, could you fill us in on what’s behind this campaign you’ve launched?”

Guest: “Sure thing, Mel. The situation, in a nutshell, is this. Some folks back in Arnie’s hometown, Graz, Austria, got upset when Arnie pulled the plug on ‘Tookie’ Williams. Over there in Europe, a lot of folks think there’s something wrong with killing people in cold blood, even when it’s state sanctioned.

“So the way it developed, the people in Graz were gonna pull Arnie’s name off the stadium they had named in his honor earlier. That would have been pretty embarrassing for the guv, so he beat ‘em to the punch and demanded they take his name off. But that leaves Arnie without a stadium.”

Host: “Are you saying you think people in Austria are out of touch with California values, Norb?”

Guest: “You bet your life. Over here, it’s just not justice unless there’s a body to show you mean business.”

Host: “What kind of stadium are we talking about, Norb?”

Guest: “Well, the one in Graz was a nice little fifteen-thousand seater. What we’d like to do is get him a stadium on more of an American scale, say an eighty- to a hundred-thousand seater.”

Host: “Are we talking about a new stadium here, Norb, or a used one?”

Guest: “The problem with a new stadium, Mel, is the construction time. We’d like something where we could stage major events within, oh, the next six months. We think we could get a reconditioned stadium with a five-year warranty for less than half the price of a new one. It’d be suitable for religious revivals, right-wing rantfests, things of that nature, and if you rented it out for weddings and other sports events, it would practically pay for itself.”

Host: “I don’t know if you can talk about it at this stage, but do you have any prospects in mind?”

Guest: “It’s no secret, Mel, that we’re in negotiations with the Rose Bowl folks. That’s a nice stadium, got a good tradition we could tap into, a huge upside.”

Host” “That’s pretty exciting stuff. If you can swing the deal, what kinds of changes do you have in mind?”

Guest: “We’d like to get beyond the premise they started with there in Graz. I mean, trying to capitalize on a guy’s fame just because he juiced up some huge biceps? Come on! Whatya have here now is a guy with life and death power over people!”

Host: “If you get the Rose Bowl, you’re not gonna rename it with one of those ridiculous drawn-out names like those bowls, are you? Something like ‘The Arnold Schwarzenegger Pro-Lethal-Injection Death Bowl’?”

Guest: “No way. Arnie has too much media savvy for anything like that. He knows the public gets turned off by long names.”

Host: “Is there anything to rumors the stadium might be used to stage public executions?”

Guest: “I think it’s premature to speculate on that right now, Mel. But there’s a huge untapped market out there for that kind of event. And if the public pays for ‘em, I say the public has a right to see ‘em.”

Host: “Have you thought about gladiators, lions, martyrs, that kind of thing?”

Guest: “Nothing firm. We’ve kicked it around a bit. As the empire takes shape, it makes a crazy kind of historical sense. But we don’t want to turn this whole thing into some kind of costume drama.”

Host: “What about the political pressures on the governor, Norb?”

Guest: “Oh, there’s no doubt he’s feeling the heat. The whole pro-life wing of the Republican party is gung-ho for the death penalty. People in Graz have to understand the concept of appeasing your base.”

Host: “I’m not sure what you’re saying here, Norb.”

Guest: “I’m saying that to breathe some life into his political career, he had to snuff out ‘Tookie’ Williams. It’s tough, but that’s the price you’ve got to pay in politics.”

Host: “Actually, it looks as if ‘Tookie’ Williams had to pay the price for him.”

Guest: “Whatever.”

Host: “Gosh, it’s been fascinating, but it looks like our time is almost up. I want to wish you good luck on your stadium project. One last question before we go: Can we look forward to more executions?”

Guest: “Hey, is Arnold the Terminator, or ain’t he?”

- Tony Russell, 2006

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