San Jose has a great big rat and Winnipeg has a Golden Boy with great big balls

So here’s what I’m thinking about three members of the San Jose Sharks bashing good, ol’ Hometown…

First of all, Tomas Hertl, Justin Braun and Tim Heed could have been a tad more creative in dissing Winnipeg. I mean, describing River City as “cold and dark” is so much meh. Same old, same old.

The Golden Boy: Tall, proud and buck naked.

It’s frigid in Winnipeg, you say? Well, duh. So wrap yourself in a parka and trundle to and fro in those subterranean tunnels and above-ground test tubes that connect the downtown corridors. And it gets dark in Winnipeg? Ya, like, after the freaking sun sets, dudes. A setting Sol is not peculiar to Pegtown. At last report, River City was still part of the Solar System, so, ya, they have to deal with that pesky dark-of-night thing.

Second, if you hang your hat in El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe, you might want to trigger the filter between your brain and tongue before opening your gob.

Technology aside, what’s San Jose really known for?

Well, news outlet FiveThirtyEight named it “the most forgettable major American city.” Economist and migration blogger Lyman Stone ranked it as the “weirdest city in America” in 2016. On WalletHub’s listing of the most fun cities in the U.S., it comes in at a distant 95th, behind notable good-times spots like Akron, Lincoln, Omaha, Grand Rapids and Des Moines.

Little wonder the mayor of all 1,042,094 people, Sam Liccardo, says, We’re not big on bluster.”

Apparently, Mayor Sam and other civic leaders have been trying to come up with a fresh slogan for San Jose. Hmmm. The city has this quirky law which prohibits animals from publically fornicating if within 1,500 feet of a church, school or pub. Might make for a catchy slogan—San Jose: We never screw the dog.

A better question would be: How do those horny critters know if they’re inside the 1,500-foot, no-humping zone? Do they post doggy signs?

Whatever, San Jose is not without its selling points.

Reportedly, more than half the adults in the self-proclaimed Capital of the Silicon Valley have a college education. I assume the other half voted for Donald Trump.

Joey Chestnut

And, hey, San Jose has celebrities. Like Joey Chestnut.

Nobody on this planet eats more hot dogs in less time than Chestnut, the renowned face-stuffer who’s been known to scarf as many as 72 Nathan’s tube steaks in 10 minutes. What city wouldn’t be proud of a world-class glutton?

I’d say Chestnut’s achievement is admirable, except I’d be more impressed if he could gobble down 72 Salisbury House cheese nips in 10 minutes.

San Jose also has notable landmarks. Like the world’s largest rat. That would be a 30-foot Chuck E. Cheese. The thing is, they keep the rodent caged. And indoors. Wimps.

By way of comparison, Winnipeg has the Golden Boy—all 17.2 feet and 3,640 pounds of him—and he stands outside (even when it’s dark), proudly atop the Manitoba Legislative Building with his bare balls hanging out. Try that in minus-40 weather.

Winnipeg can even match San Jose school dropout for school dropout. They have Stevie Nicks, who left San Jose State University and eventually found fame with Fleetwood Mac. But I’ll call their Stevie Nicks and raise them a Neil Young, the Kelvin High dropout who joined Buffalo Springfield, then Crosby, Stills & Nash.

But, listen, I’m not hear to trash San Jose, even though trash talking the other guy’s town is as old as a Bob Hope joke. Happens every day. And Winnipeggers definitely do it, too.

Think about it, when was the last time you heard anyone in River City say something warm and fuzzy about Regina? As if. I recall a former Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach, Professor Mike Kelly, describing the good folks of the Saskatchewan capital as the “toothless, green, watermelon-helmet-wearing people from the crotch of Canada.” And Ol’ Lefty, Bombers place-kicker Troy Westwood, called the flatlanders “a bunch of banjo-picking inbreds.”

Others in Pegtown have used different parts of the human anatomy to describe Regina, and each of those body parts leaks and emits foul odors.

So there’s that.

Chuck E. Cheese

Legendary jock journalist Jim Murray, meanwhile, seldom squandered an opportunity to have sport with his many ports of call as columnist with the Los Angeles Times.

On Cincinnati: “They still haven’t finished the freeway…it’s Kentucky’s turn to use the cement mixer.”

On Baltimore: “The weather is like the team. Gray. Colorless. Drab. The climate would have to improve to be classified as merely lousy. It really doesn’t rain, it just kind of leaks. You get a picture of Baltimore as a guy just standing on a corner with no place to go and rain dropping off his hat. Baltimore’s a great place if you’re a crab.”

On Minneapolis-St. Paul: “They don’t like each other and from what I could see, I didn’t blame either of them.”

On San Francisco: “It is so civilized, it would starve to death if it didn’t get a salad or the right wine. It fancies itself Camelot, but comes off more like Cleveland. Its legacy to the world is quiche.”

Thus, when Hertl, Braun and Heed went off on Winnipeg, describing it as “dark and cold” and, at the same time, suggesting it was a horse-and-buggy burg that had yet to be introduced to the world of hashtags and tweets (“I don’t know if they have WiFi there yet.”), they weren’t exactly breaking fresh (frozen) ground. People have been taking frost-bitten cheap shots at good, ol’ Hometown since the first Red River cart blew a tire (what other reason could there have been for stopping and settling there?).

Remember old friend Ilya Bryzgalov? The former National Hockey League goaltender wasn’t afraid of anything in this entire world. Except “Bear in forest.” And living in Pegtown.

You don’t want to go to Winnipeg, right?” he once advised news snoops. “Not many people live there. Not many Russian people there. Plus it’s cold. There’s no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It’s going to be tough life for your family.”

Bryzgalov made me laugh. Hertl, Braun and Heed not so much.

If you’re going to trash talk, boys, come up with some fresh material.

Accepting an award on behalf of gay youth

I have just returned to Victoria after a wonderful, delightful weekend in Winnipeg, where I was inducted into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Media Roll of Honour. It was so nice to see friends, former colleagues and sporting people such as guest speaker Troy Westwood, the former Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker, and Brian Dobie, head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons football team.

It was also a true honor to become the first member of the LGBT community to receive this award. Following is the acceptance speech I delivered:


Hello…how nice it is to be back home.

I left here 15 years ago and I can’t help but notice how many famous Winnipeg landmarks have disappeared since 1999.

Winnipeg Stadium—gone.

Winnipeg Arena—gone.

Kelekis’ Restaurant—gone.

The Wagon Wheel Restaurant—gone.

Papa George’s Restaurant—gone.

Troy Westwood’s hair—gone.

The last time I saw Troy, his hair was down to his butt cheeks. Now it’s…all gone. Actually, I believe this is the first time I’ve ever seen Troy without Bob Cameron standing beside him. When I left, they were still playing for the Blue Bombers. They were the two quirky kickers. The kid and the old man.

Someone once mentioned to me that Troy always looks so young. I said, “Ya, that’s what people always said about Mick Jagger, too. But there’s only one reason Mick Jagger looked so young for so long—he was always standing beside Keith Richards! Same thing with Troy and Bob.”


I don’t know if this is my Sally Field moment, my Jodie Foster moment or my Lana Wachowski moment, but it surely is a very special moment for me on a number of levels and I’m absolutely delighted to be here.

I would first like to offer congratulations to all of tonight’s nominees and honorees, to the young recipients of the Jack Matheson Award, to Ernie Nairn, a truly lovely man who was always kind to me, and to Bruce Luebke for his induction into the Media Roll of Honour. The thought of riding the iron lung across Western Canada for 20 years is…can you say hemmorhoids? Bruce is very deserving of his award.

I would like to acknowledge a couple of people. First, Judy Owen, for the wonderful lies she just told about me in her introduction and for her unwavering support over the years. Judy, I want you to know how much I admire you, a woman in what is very much a man’s game. I admire you and Ashley Prest so much. It must have been very difficult at times, being a woman and dealing with all those beastly men. So, please know how much I admire you both.

Second, Dave Komosky, for his friendship, his support and for hiring me to write in his curling newspapers—the Tankard Times, the Heart Chart and the Morning Cup. Not everyone is bold enough to have a transgender girl write sports. That’s one of the things that makes you so special.

As a member of the LGBT community, I also want to take this opportunity to salute Mo Glimcher and the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association for its initiative on transgender student-athletes. It’s a contentious issue and no doubt will meet with strong opposition, but if it prevents even one transgender person from self-harm—or worse—it will be worthwhile.

The First Noble Truth in Buddhism is suffering. We all will suffer in this lifetime. The Second Noble Truth is the cause of suffering. None of us, especially our youth, should suffer because they are being bullied, harrassed or discriminated against due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. I know what it’s like. It’s a very unpleasant, painful, punitive place to be. I know what it’s like to stand on a street corner…during rush hour…and contemplate the merits of stepping into oncoming traffic to make the pain, the torment and the despair disappear. I’ve been there…I almost did that.

If any of you have gay kids in your family—and I know at least two people in this room who do—please don’t shun them, don’t ridicule them and don’t reject them. Embrace them. Accept them. Love them…as you would any other child.

Gay youth don’t wish to be treated special…they wish to be treated normal.

Gay youth can open the door from the inside, but it’s up to each of us to let them out.

So I accept this award, this honor, not so much for myself but on behalf of gay youth. I hope they hear about it or read about it and realize it’s okay to be “different.” That it’s okay for them to be true to themselves and let the world see their true selves. I want them to know that they don’t have to hide. That they can be appreciated, accepted and achieve previously believed-to-be-unattainable goals. Let them dream of being the next Jennifer Jones. Or Mike McEwen. Or Jonathan Toews. Or even a sports writer at a big city newspaper.

I also want our youth—all youth, not just gay youth—to know this: If someone tells you the sky is the limit, don’t believe it. I say to you, reach beyond the sky…for nothing is beyond your reach.

Thank you to the MSSA for this night…kindness and love to you all.

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