Last week I flew to Detroit. As many of you may know, TNSC co-founder Alan Chimenti is close friends with another famous Lee - Lee Iacocca, the former president of Chrysler who once said "Don't die waiting for prosperity to come." Chrysler has fallen on hard times lately, and taking a cue from the success of Apple Computer, they've decided that he's the Steve Jobs of Chrylser, and they're hoping that Iacocca can produce the same kind of magic.
Iacocca got in touch with AC and begged him to edit a huge monstrosity of a piece for a trade show that was happening ASAP in Auburn Hills, Michican. It was to be played on 9 screens side-by-side with pictures moving from screen to screen in a motion they referred to as "screen gymnastics". Fascinating. Well, it turns out that AC was booked (as he always is), and Iacocca begged and pleaded, but to no avail. Luckily for Lee and for me, I was available. So off I went to MI.
I had a meeting with the boardmembers of Chrysler Motor Corp. where Mr. Iacocca was thrilled by the fact that a person named "Lee" would be editing his masterpiece. He insisted I call him "Lee" and not "Mr. Iacocca". I obliged, even though I knew he was not really Lee, that his real name is Lido. But I smiled and played along with his little game of trying to be a "Lee".
The Chrysler video team and I worked furiously to get the "screen gymnastics" to work correctly, and they even brought in Mary Lou Retton to choreograph the gymnastics. Fascinating. In the end it was a wonderful installation to behold, and Mr. Iacocca, I mean Lee, was so exploding with joy that he gave me a ticket to see the world champion Detroit Pistons play the main contenders to their throne, the Indiana Pacers. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to see a game of such magnitude and with nearly courtside seats.
Lee sent me to the game with his nephew, who I wasn't too thrilled about going with, but what was I gonna do? Well, we got to the arena and Iacocca's nephew, whose name is also Lido proceeded to get really drunk. I mean belligerent and sloppy drunk. He MUST have spilled about 5 of my beers, so I probably only drank one over the course of the game. And a boring game it was. The Pistons were getting blown out, much to the dismay of the home fans. Then came the hard foul on Ben Wallace and the reactionary shove on Ron Artest.
Lido got really excited and amped up. He sprayed as he shouted in my face "DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!?!!! BIG BEN SMACKED THAT LITTLE BITCH ASS!!" I looked over and saw Artest lying on the scorers table. When I turned around, Lido yelled "BIG BEN SMACKED YOUR ASS!!!" in the direction of Artest, while simultaneously knocking the beer out of my hand and right into Artest's face. I immediately turned and hurried toward the concessions stand, fully aware that this may be my last chance to buy a beer before they stopped selling. As I was about to reach the top step, I heard a ruckus and turned to see Lido getting pummeled by Artest. People all over the place were scrambling to get out of there, to get in there, to get a piece of the action. A group of fans with Pacers gear shoved their way through everybody including me and pushed me out into the hallway, where security was yelling "EVERYBODY GET OUT!!!" I've never felt so unwelcome at any time other than at Lucky 13 after last call.
I pretty much figured that Lido wouldn't be coming out of the arena anytime soon, much less getting up at all. He probably had a lot of paperwork to fill out with the police. Luckily my flight was the red eye, so I grabbed my bags from the hotel and headed down to the airport. I saw the video of the riot replayed over and over on SportsCenter as I waited for the flight. Poor Lido.
The next day I went to a Charlie Hunter show with Critters Buggin at the Independent. And I forgot my earplugs.