Posts Tagged Julius Erving

American Burlesque or I Just Flew In From Vaudeville and Boy Are My Arms Tired

Last Christmas, my wife bought me one of those human cloning machines that they sell on TV for 129.99.  At first, I didn’t have much of a use for it and it stayed in the back of my closet.  However, I started getting some wacky ideas in June and began sending away for samples of the DNA of famous Borscht Belt comedians.  I got an excellent mixture of Milton Berle, Shecky Greene, Mort Sahl, Buddy Hackett, Henny Youngman (his even came in a small violin case!) and a dash of Rodney Dangerfield.  At a local DNA shop in downtown St. Paul, I purchased the DNA of several 1960s radicals like Huey P Newton, Abbie Hoffman and George McGovern.

Two days ago, I took all the DNA, threw it into the machine and, as per instruction, simmered for 12 hours. I just wanted to see what the combination would create.  I wanted no trouble.  What came out of the machine yesterday morning was beyond my worst nightmares.  It was around 7 feet tall, had a cheap looking tuxedo and a blown out afro.  It looked like a bizarre cross between Strom Thurmond and Julius Erving.  It told me that it must find a club and do stand up comedy.  I tried to stop it, but it tossed me aside and ran out the door.  Minutes later, this creature burst into the VFW Hall located down the street from our home and began doing its routine for the 15 or so semi-drunken patrons.   I was able to get there in time for the second half of the act.  The following is a transcription of what took place.

Creature:   What’s the difference between an American and a gorilla?

The gorilla won’t tell you it’s proud to be a gorilla.

 Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

Woman in the Audience:  YOU SUCK!!!!

Creature:  Thanks, you’re a dear.  I wish I had my hunting license.

Man in the Audience:  Get OFF THE STAGE, Idiot!

Creature:  All right, all right!  What has 600 million legs, over 1 million guns and an IQ under 70?

The American Public

Bartender:  Shut UP!  Please!!!  I’ll call the police if you don’t get off of the stage!!!!!

Creature:  How do you get 200 million Americans to vote?

Turn on American Idol

Thanks!  Tip your servers!!!

Woman in the Audience:  YOU SUCK!!!

Audience:  BOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Creature:  Yeah, George W Bush, George W Bush…..The other day I asked Bush where’s the 20 dollars I loaned him.  He said in the other room under the weapons of mass destruction.  He went to get it and I never saw him again.  But, hey, you re-elected him!!!!  I LOVE THIS CROWD!!!!

Audience:  BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!  (bottle smashes behind The Creature’s head)

Creature:  What’s the best part of voting in Florida?

Knowing it won’t count

Take My Wife, Please!

Man in the audience:  Come back when you’re funny!

Creature: Hey, I forgot you were all Americans.  Do you want me to repeat any of these slowly?

Audience:  BOO!!!!!  (three more bottles smashed against the wall behind The Creature)

Creature:  What do you call an American who works 60 hours a week in order to pay off 25,000 dollars in credit card debt?

Free!  Ya get it!  Free!  You guys are the best crowd I’ve had in months!

Man in the Audience: (over a chorus of boos and bottles smashing) SHUT UP!  We’ll tear your eyes out!!!!!

Creature:  Ahhhhhh….what are you going to do?  Invade Iraq again!

A mob of angry patrons began to storm the stage.  I ran up and grabbed The Creature by the arm and pulled it out of the bar.  A group of three raging men ran after us as we sprinted down the street.  After a few blocks, they stopped chasing us.  We were both exhausted and safe….for now.

I realized later that night that this creature simply couldn’t exist in our world.  It was too jaded, too unwilling to accept compromise, too hateful, too cynical.  I had created a monster that did not belong in today’s America.  It was just going to cause trouble and incite riots wherever it went.  I knew what I had to do.   I crept into the room where The Creature was sleeping and pushed a pillow over its face.  It struggled and screamed, but after a minute or two, it stopped thrashing around.  I went back to my room, turned on the television and fell asleep.  The problem had been solved.

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The Short, Strange Basketball Career of Kreator’s Mille Petrozza

Mille-Petrozza

If you have listened to any thrash metal there is no doubt you have heard the legendary band Kreator. Lead singer Mille Petrozza practically defined the riotous, violent German thrash sound.  What many people don’t know about Petrozza is that before he was writing classic songs metal anthems like “Betrayer” he was a remarkable basketball player who won an NCAA championship ring with Michigan State.

Petrozza was a high school phenom in Germany.  Standing 6 foot 1, Petrozza was an average-sized guard with extremely quick feet.  Although he lacked an imposing physical stature he made up for it with a jump shot that could find net from nearly anywhere on the floor.  Petrozza was recruited heavily by several major colleges, but eventually chose to play at Michigan State.

As a sophomore, Petrozza was the second leading scorer for a team that featured future Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.  Magic remembers his time playing with Mille fondly.  “Mille was a pure jump shooter.  One of the best I’ve ever seen.  I knew when I dished it off to him, I was pretty much guaranteed an assist.”

Petrozza #12 With The 1979 Championship Team

Petrozza #12 With The 1979 Michigan State Championship Team

Petrozza was averaging 16 points and 7 rebounds a game going into the NCAA tournament when disaster struck.  His knee gave out driving to the basket in a late season game against Indiana.  Doctors said he might never play again.  Michigan coach Jud Heathcote called a team meeting after the injury and remembered telling Magic “Mille’s down for the count.  We might not get him back for the rest of the year.  You are going to have to carry us.”

Magic stepped up and had a tournament for the ages.  He carried the team to an improbable championship defeating the Larry Bird led Indiana State Sycamores 75-64.  Mille got his ring, but was deeply disheartened by not being able to play.  He never recovered his 1979 pre-injury form during his final two unexceptional seasons at Michigan State.

In the 1981 NBA Draft, Petrozza, who had once been projected a high first round pick, slipped to the 2nd round where he was nabbed by the Cleveland Cavaliers.   Cleveland was terrible that year but Petrozza began to emerge as a budding star. He averaged 12 points a game and wowed other teams with his speed and intensity.

His most memorable moment was when he scored 39 points in the Boston Garden in a January game against the Celtics.  Kevin McHale, the power forward for Boston remembers the performance well.  “I thought to myself, I can’t believe we are going to have to play this guy every year.  He’s unstoppable.”

Robert Parrish, the Celtics Center, remembers Petrozza as well.  “Man, I had never seen anything like that guy.  He dunked over me in the third quarter and he actually yelled out ‘PLEASURE……TO KILL!!!!!’  I was like ‘WHAT THE HELL?!?!?’”

Petrozza During His Breakout Game Versus The Celtics

Petrozza During His Breakout Game Versus The Celtics

Just when Petrozza seemed to be getting things together he was struck with another terrible injury.  While guarding Julius Erving in a game at Philadelphia he slipped on a wet spot on the floor and his surgically repaired knee gave out.  “I just felt the thing buckle,” recalls Petrozza.  “I knew I was done.”

Petrozza retired nine months later after an unsuccessful attempt to return after surgery. He decided to devote his life to his other passion, music.  He took the money he had saved from his NBA contract and used it to pay for the recording of the first Kreator record “Endless Pain”, a title he came up with to describe his knee troubles.

Petrozza-Uniform

He never lost his love for the game.  In fact, many of the Kreator songs and album titles have subtle basketball references in them.  According to Petrozza, the album “Extreme Aggression” is actually a tribute to the press defense he ran at Michigan State.

Life has a funny way of moving people to where they are supposed to go.  If Petrozza hadn’t had knee troubles he easily could have had a long successful career in the NBA, but then thrash as we know it would have been changed forever.

“I’m glad things turned out the way they did.  I love playing thrash metal for thousands of screaming metal maniacs,” remarked Petrozza. “But sometimes when I’m alone at night in my study having a brandy I remember my old playing days.  When I think of my basketball career, I can’t help but recall a quote from my favorite poet John Greenleaf Whittier “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, “It might have been’.”

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