The scene: A capacity crowd of upwards of 14 people pack the ornate Nelson Cintron Hall at Renaldo's Motor Lodge on Clark Avenue.
Can I have your attention please? Everyone? [Music dies, sounds of breaking glass, noise falls to a hush. ]
Before we begin, I'd like to thank Harvey Markashek for providing the evening's entertainment. I don't think I've heard anyone play "What Up Gangsta?" on the accordion before. [Applause. ]
As a little extra housekeeping, I'd also like to apologize for the surf-and-turf buffet. I realize one can of Dinty Moore doesn't technically constitute a buffet. But if people could just pass around the fork, everyone should get a bite. So let's get started . . .
Tonight we pay tribute to a great man. As a young boy, Art Modell once stole a retarded kid's lunch money, shoved his head in the toilet, then loudly mocked his fondness for Gershwin. The rest, as you know, is history.
If Art were with us tonight, he'd be honored by the men and women being feted in his name. They come from the pinnacles of society -- law, government, bars in West Park. Were it not for their devotion to Art's principles of degeneracy, I believe we all can agree that Cleveland would be a moderately better place to live.
So, without further ado, allow us to present the 7th Annual Modell Awards! Our first recipient needs no introduction. B. Kelly Tompkins, president of the Cleveland Bar Association, is known far and wide as one of those guys with an initial for a first name -- the international symbol for Don't Get Cornered by Me at a House Party.
Last April, he filed charges against the parents of an autistic kid. Brian and Susan Woods, serving as their own lawyers, had won a suit against the Akron schools, which failed to follow educational laws for handicapped kids, because that's just too much work.
At first glance, it may have seemed an uplifting tale of one family's triumph over an unyielding system. Yet B. Kelly knew that a higher principle was at play -- namely the principle of B. Kelly Wants a Piece of the Crippled Kid's Score. So he tried to fine the Woodses $10,000 for illegally acting as lawyers.
Alas, the public wrongly concluded that B. Kelly was motivated by greed, when he was simply upholding his inalienable right to sponge. He was forced to withdraw his charges amid a swell of outcry.
Yet his courage did not go unnoticed by the Modell Selection Committee, an esteemed panel of Browns offensive linemen, career rapists, and state workers' comp officials. Tonight, we bestow B. Kelly Tompkins with our highest honor: The Really, Really Depraved Bastard of the Year Award. [Ear-splitting applause. ]
Unfortunately, B. Kelly cannot be with us tonight. He's presently arguing an important matter before the U.S. Supreme Court, which would require elderly nuns to do yard work at his Gates Mills home. Accepting the award in his stead will be Mephistopheles. Satan, do you have anything to say?
Oops, I forgot that Satan only speaks in tongues. But thank you for those brief yet poignant remarks. I'm sure Blackwell will be happy to provide a translation after the ceremony.
Our next winner also needs no introduction. Three years ago, he was Cleveland's No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, a star tight end destined to lead the Browns to great heights -- perhaps even a five-win season.
Unfortunately, an injury wiped out his first year. His second season was lost when he lacked the testicular matter to operate a Japanese motorcycle. [Laughter. ]
But this year, Kellen Winslow Jr. took his game to a new level. In between dropping more connections than AOL dial-up, he occasionally made catches of up to seven yards, putting the Browns in vastly superior position to punt. By midseason, he was billing himself as one of the league's premier tight ends, though most people still believed "Kellen Winslow" was a brand of English mayonnaise.
What few realized was that Winslow was gallantly breaking down barriers that had oppressed fledgling narcissists for decades.
Prior to his breakthrough thesis, conventional wisdom asserted that one should earn some measure of success before claiming stardom. Yet Kellen knew it was way easier to simply declare one's greatness, since it takes way less work.
Before the season ended, no greater authority than Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter was singing his praises. "He's a fag," said Porter.
We couldn't have stated it better.
On that triumphant note, we present The Petulant Athlete of the Year Award to Kellen Winslow! Mr. Winslow, would you like to share a few words?
[MC throws Winslow mic. Winslow drops mic. Winslow sprints for exit to avoid pile, as dignitaries dive to recover fumble. ]
You know him as the guy in the trench coat. No, not that guy hanging around your kid's preschool. The guy from Channel 3. Yeah, him.
Carl Monday has devoted his life to stomping evil. Recall, if you will, his searing investigation of St. Rocco's Parish, where ranking janitorial volunteers failed to fix a running toilet, costing parishioners up to $3.84 in unnecessary water. Or perhaps you'll remember his battle for a safer Shoreway, when he went undercover to catch a UPS driver going 63 mph near the Bratenahl exit, putting us all at risk.
Yet this summer, Monday took the already lofty standards of television news to unimpeachable levels. Without thought for his safety, he dared go where few reporters would: the mean streets of the western suburban library system. With hidden cameras rolling, he bagged the ultimate trophy in investigative television: A Kid Masturbating to Computer Porn at the Berea Library.
Their subsequent parking-lot confrontation is best described as a modern Battle of the Bulge -- only one guy lived with his mom, and the other was wearing a '70s porn mustache and a trench coat. Voices were raised. Microphones where thrown. But Carl, knowing the voyeuristic fate of Cleveland rested in his hands, refused to back down.
He followed the kid home, where a new conflict erupted with an angry dad. That's when Carl heroically retreated to the safety of his car.
His tongue is registered as a lethal weapon with the FBI. He was just doing Dad a favor.
So allow us to present The Newsman of the Year, Carl Monday! [Wild applause; crowd getting drunker. ]
Unfortunately, Carl declined to accept his award tonight, since he's working undercover. Yeah, he's the creepy guy serving you drinks. When you order a beer, just play along.
History reminds us that there are great men, and then there are truly great men. Neither of which applies to Frank Jackson.
When developer Todd Davis wanted to clear land at 80th and Kinsman to build a 25-acre site featuring corporate headquarters, research facilities, and penthouse apartments, he needed a powerful rabbi to guide the project. Unfortunately, Todd Davis is a moron who forgot to bribe some guys with actual juice, so he got stuck with Frank Jackson.
With the then-councilman's help -- and the promise of creating more jobs than at a martini bar in rural Oklahoma -- the government provided $4.7 million to clean up the land.
But, alas, a kink soon developed in Davis' visionary plan. It turns out that corporate chieftains and yuppies aren't really jonesing to hang out at 80th and Kinsman. Who woulda thought? [Laughter. ]
So as most people do when stuck with worthless land, Davis called the county. Without even getting an appraisal, CMHA agreed to buy it for three times its value. Davis walked away with a $3.6 million profit, and Jackson scored a pair of commemorative cuff links from the 2001 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Yet the problem with getting a discount rabbi is they tend to suck at that whole cover-up thing. You're nodding, Dimora. I see you find this funny. [Laughter. ]
When the story blew up, Jackson ran for cover faster than Carl Monday fleeing the Masturbation Kid's dad. He claimed that since he was running for mayor at the time of the deal, he couldn't pay attention to anything else. For as everyone knows, it's impossible to do two things at once.
At first glance, it seemed Frank had busted out the worst excuse since the Exxon Valdez captain used the old "My bad, I was hammered" line. But he had unwittingly staked a new frontier in skirting responsibility.
Soon, schoolchildren were blowing off their math, because they could only do spelling. The Cavs refused to play defense. You want me to do that and get my touches? Housewives ignored their husbands' passions during domestic relations; According to Jim required their full attention.
Without a thought -- literally -- Jackson took accountability to lows not even Art could have imagined. So tonight we honor Mayor Frank Jackson with the Christ He's Dumb but at Least It Worked for Us This Time Award!
We were hoping the mayor would be on hand to offer a few words, but no one's seen him since January. If anyone runs into Frank, tell him his wife called. She wants him to finish painting the bathroom. Of course, another unlikely hero emerged from the Davis fiasco. While some know him as Senator George Voinovich, close friends affectionately call him That Old Guy We Keep Voting for Though We Can't Exactly Remember Why.
Following the Davis revelations, the good senator called for a federal investigation. It seemed an odd move. After all, state leaders had spent years stealing money in $50 million increments. The county has done so many crooked land deals that commissioners created the Division of Destroying the Evidence, which consists of four guys and a burn barrel down by the river. But throughout it all, George never said a word.
You're chuckling again, Mr. Dimora. It's like being at amateur night for you, isn't it? [Laughter. ]
But the senator knew there was a difference between traditional looting and this nefarious new strain being propagated by Davis. In days of yore, people like Sam Miller and Tom Noe bought their sweetheart deals legitimately -- by giving money to George.
Davis hardly paid anyone.
Not only was this a grave breach of etiquette -- he was no longer invited to the finest no-bid contracts -- but it set a dangerous precedent. If Davis could make $3.6 million without bribing everyone, what would stop Louie in Old Brooklyn from selling the county his tomato patch for $5 million?
Society would collapse. It would be really hard to get a table at Johnny's.
For upholding the valuable tenet that democracy be purchased, we present Senator George Voinovich with the prestigious Mike White Award for Distinguished Service to Selling Your Ass!
Senator, would you like to share a few words?
"Before I embark upon my official remarks, let me just say how honored I am to be in this esteemed setting tonight. Recall, if you will, the words of our greatest president, Herbert Hoover, who once said --"
[Sound of breaking glass. Bottles fly toward stage. MC ducks for cover, pulling Voinovich under table. MC reemerges a half-hour later after crowd runs out of ammo. ]
Okay, the whole speech thing isn't going well tonight. Let's suspend the acceptance remarks. Can someone hug Kucinich? He's used to people throwing free-trade asparagus tips. I think this is scaring him. For centuries, racism has plagued this great land. Slavery, lynchings, not being able to wear funny pants at really nice country clubs -- these are but a few of the chapters stained by the tears of history.
Of course, things have improved in recent years. Now anyone can be the victim of senseless murder. And if you want to hit a little white ball while wearing funny pants, it matters not your creed nor color. You just have to be weird enough to enjoy things like that.
Yet Cleveland Police officers William Forrest and Pete Turner knew the ugly sphere of racism still hovered above our fair city. So when Aric Jackson arrived at the Castlebar in West Park one night, accompanied by two white women, these gallant officers decided to do something about it.
Forrest greeted Jackson by liberally calling him "nigger." Though some might consider this racist, he had recently mastered the ability to speak two-syllable words, and was merely exercising his wonderful new gift.
Jackson, who works as a mild-mannered computer geek at the Cleveland Clinic, tried to avoid confrontation. Perhaps he recalled the words of Gandhi, who once remarked, "If you're ever outnumbered in a heavily armed cop bar, might be best to get your ass outta there."
But these were not the racists of old, who would have used their overpowering numbers to demonstrate the supremacy of lighter pigmentation. Instead, they wanted to show Jackson a kinder, more compassionate version of Drunk Mean Whitey.
Turner attacked, but graciously decided to head-butt Jackson's fist, thus knocking himself unconscious in the brawl's opening moments. Others jumped in, including Castlebar owner Jeff Powers. But they too wished to reveal their tenderness, so they allowed Jackson to single-handedly kick their ass.
The officers were subsequently crucified in the press for attacking a lone guy who was just trying to have a beer. Yet lost was the softening message they'd brought to contemporary racism. By getting their ass stomped by a computer geek, they were eagerly telling the world, "Christ, we're pathetic."
I believe that's a message we can all get behind.
So without further delay, we hereby name William Forrest and Pete Turner the winners of the I Think We're Gonna Need Biological Proof That You Guys Are Actually Men Award.
Officers, would you like to come up and accept? . . . No? . . . You're scared of the Puerto Rican kid busing the tables? C'mon, he's only 14 . . . No? . . . Okay, if you guys could just cower under a table with Kucinich till this thing is over, we'll get one of the ladies to walk you to your car.
Common wisdom dictates that if you offer a decent wage for a decent day's work, and treat your employees as you wish to be treated yourself, your enterprise will flourish.
Then again, common wisdom blows. Just ask Wal-Mart.
It's been vilified for years for its 1830s Mississippi Plantation style of management. Nonetheless, it's still managed to become the world's largest retailer. That's because executives realize the American consumer couldn't care less if you firebomb synagogues every Tuesday -- they just want laundry detergent 8 cents cheaper than at Target.
But this year Wal-Mart truly outdid itself. For its company Christmas parties, supervisors agreed to bring the hot dogs and buns, but forced employees to bring the rest. Since they're all part of the "Wal-Mart Family," they reasoned, everyone should contribute.
Unfortunately, in this case the company -- we'll call it "Dad" -- had $83 billion in net sales during the third quarter, a 12 percent jump over last year. But most of the employees -- we'll call them "red-headed stepchildren" -- live below poverty and need government assistance.
Of course, Dad had the wherewithal to spring for everything, especially since he gets it at cost. But by doing so, he would have failed to foster his stepchildren's independence, thus sucking as a parent. So he chose instead to impart one of life's great lessons: that he has all the money and you don't.
And just to accentuate the point, he brought the moldy buns he couldn't sell. [Laughter. ] You find this amusing, don't you, Blackwell?
So please allow us to present our award for Worst Employer of This Year and Forevermore, Wal-Mart. [Standing ovation.]
That concludes tonight's festivities. If you just hand your bar bills to Petro, he's got some insurance lobbyists who will pick up the tab. Governor Taft, could you please have one of your granddaughters escort Kucinich and the cops to their cars? I believe they've soiled the carpet.
Again, thank you for attending the 7th Annual Modell Awards! Drive safely! After-party at Monday's house! He's got porn and weed! Goodnight!