Salutations, Area 55-ers! Welcome to Season Deux! There is so much happening I scarcely know where to begin.
It seems like everything’s been hyphenated.
The Pacers have been locked-out, collective-bargained, roster-changed, under-practiced, trade-rumored and season-abbreviated. Even our arena’s been name-changed. It’s like being trash-compacted. We’ve lost 16 regular-season games in the process. Now, everything’s being sped-up, locked-in, hyper-intensified, and crammed-together into a tight little ball of an upcoming season that, for us, will explode into action Monday night at 7:00 P.M. with our home-court season-opener. Our foes are the much- (and rightly so) maligned but always-dangerous Detroit Pistons.
There is much reason to be enthused.
So, as that Japanese guys says on The Iron Chef, let the cooking begin!
On To Some Business
PTO Doings! - There are many new faces in Area 55. This is not entirely a good thing, as many of them appear almost certain to frighten small children. However, and be that as it may, you rookies are still encouraged to mingle with the veterans at the pre-game PTO, which is almost certain to transpire on the 26th, at around 5:00 P.M. somewhere in the Parking Lot located on South Street just across from the Arby’s.
Does this sound vague and uncertain? Get used to it, Rookies. This is Area 55!
The aforementioned Parking Lot is a good place to stash your wheels (for those of you that actually own your cars and that have not simply stolen them) as the usual going-rate to do so is $5.00 (although this too is uncertain as the unnamed owners of this unnamed Lot have been known to jack the pricing when sell-outs, like the one coming up on the 26th, happen to occur.
Not to be confused with “PTA” (which, unlike “PTO”, is a wholesome and dignified outfit tasked with improving the educational prospects of the young), “PTO” is, rather, an acronym for the Pacers Tailgating Organization. PTO is a motley assemblage of diehard Pacers fans, most of them Area 55 members, that regularly meet prior to the game to plot strategy, practice chants, drink beer, eat brats, and sometimes huddle around a fire-pit (assuming someone remembers to bring one).
The PTO is headed-up by Aaron “Brickyard” Coleman, who serves as its President, an office he managed to occupy continuously through last year’s unabbreviated 82-game season despite several serious impeachment efforts. Coleman’s second-in-command is one Casey O’Brien, a rotund little elf with a long criminal history. A convicted arsonist, O’Brien is officially the VP and CEO of PTO. When things go right, he is often on hand to oversee the PTO fire-pit and bratwurst-grilling – something he handles adroitly whenever he manages to wheedle a release from his parole officer and is thereby excused from his seemingly-endless home detention.
So Area 55 Rookies! Listen up! Hitting the PTO pre-game is highly recommended. It is an opportunity to meet and greet, get tuned-up, and get liquored-up. It is an excellent way to ease into the beer-inspired, Fellini-esque ambience that is Area 55. Lots of important stuff happens at the PTOs. So try to attend.
Where to Go to Read Stuff about Area 55! – Want to know what’s going on with the Pacers and Area 55? Well, probably your first stop should be at a website called Smits Happens! This is the brainchild of the brothers Huser (Brian and Mike), Zachary “redfoster” Brown, and Dave “Davey” Dearing, ne’er-do-wells all, but well-intentioned and chock full of information. There are lots of other contributors too and they’re always looking for more. Smits Happens is replete with opinionated, informed (and uninformed) stuff about the Pacers and the latest NBA gossip. It features an updated Chant page for you novices, lots of photos of drunken Area 55ers in action, plenty of dope about our Pacers, and sometimes pics of hot-looking women.
Area 55 has its own sub-section on Smits Happens! And there, my friends, will be posted all the info that you might ever need to make your sojourn in Area 55 – Season Deux a happy and memorable one. You can find Smits Happens here:
You can also get other glimpses of farcical Area 55 activities at Pacers Digest:
You can also get up to speed by tweeting other members on Twitter, and by email or telephone calls placed to those Area 55 members who have actually managed to pay their monthly bills for these time-worn communications services.
Pacero’s Drum Found! I am happy to report that El Pacero, our famous Mexican women’s wrestling champion and the hombre whose pounding syncopations added so much zest to our chanting last season, now has his drum back. After an 11-month hiatus, his missing drum has been found! No one is quite sure if this new-found article is the real thing that mysteriously “disappeared” or just a cheap E-Bay knock-off acquired by the Suits in Marketing to forestall Pacero’s threatened Federal Court litigation. Whatever the case, Pacero will be putting the new instrument to the acid test when the chanting begins against Detroit. Is this the end of his lawsuit? Stay tuned.
Conseco Renamed! Yup, friends and neighbors, our esteemed arena is no longer “Conseco Fieldhouse.” The owners of the name, CNO Financial Group, have chosen to rename the place “Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.” Conseco, you will recall, went belly-up and CNO Financial emerged, phoenix-like, and all sound and healthy from Conseco’s tatters under the mantle of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings. Now CNO is doing pretty good and would just as soon have Conseco all forgotten. Hence, Banker’s Life. Banker’s Life, y’see, is one of CNO Financial’s subsidiaries. Why the subsidiary’s name was picked as the new moniker for our venerable basketball venue is presently unclear at this printing. Undoubtedly there was some sound business reason for the decision.
Personally, if they felt they absolutely had to make a change, I would have preferred something like “The Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Arena” or “The Insolvency Arena” –: names that could serve double-duty and not have to be altered in the event CNO or Banker’s Life chance to fall on future hard times. But hey, what do I know.
Anyway, just for funsies, I googled “CNO” to try to ascertain why the parent’s name wasn’t picked for our arena. I came up with these answers to the “CNO” acronym: “Coconut Oil”; “Chief of Naval Operations”; “Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen”; “Chief Networking Officer”; and my personal favorite “Cornerstone Propane Partners.”
Be glad, I guess, for Bankers Life Fieldhouse. With us already having Lucas Oil Stadium, a Coconut Oil Fieldhouse would have been just too oily.
Elections! Elections! For those of you who attended Fan Jam last Sunday and got to meet with our patron and benefactor, Roy, afterwards, you would have heard our hero tell us that, this year he wants Area 55 to have officers. Anyway, in the process, yours truly, was nominated and all but immediately sworn into office. However, the legality of my “election” at Fan Jam as Area 55’s Prez for Season Deux has been questioned by El Pacero and consequently we are still rudderless (our usual state) at least until Monday’s PTO where more definitive balloting is slated to transpire. I am still ready and willing to serve as Prez (“Ask not what Joe can do for you, but what you can do for Joe!”), but clearly others — equally unqualified – have to be considered for this important office.
Personally, I think Kyle “Kielbeze” Brumbach should be considered if for no other reason than he was Area 55’s MVP last year per Roy’s selection. Also, he’s a big bear of a guy, a hard loser, and eminently capable of beating the shit out of me if I’m elected instead of him.
I’d also consider nominating El Pacero, but his foreign birth and Mexican citizenship, render him ineligible for office. (I have a copy of your birth certificate, Pacero, in case you were wondering).
Others may also be interested in running too, so be on hand at the PTO where secret, Australian balloting, will be conducted to resolve this burning leadership question. BTW, Justin Beck, a newly-arrived Australian Area 55 member (and like much of the fauna of his country, a marsupial) will supervise the promised Australian balloting.
Be sure to attend the PTO, 55ers. Vote for Joe, and vote often!
Other Offices: Following Fan Jam, Roy and his personal guru, Director of Player Relations, Heather Denton, confided to me that what Roy really wants is sort of an elected Committee with whom Roy can communicate insofar as Area 55 matters are concerned. Roy has big plans for Area 55 this year – more fun, more appearances, more charitable activity. Accordingly, when the PTO meets on Monday, we need to get a Committee in place to keep the big guy happy. Roy intimated that this year he’s going to promptly eject any of his picks that turn out to be “no-shows”; told me he wants a vet to serve as liaison to the new rookies to get them up to speed and participatory; and definitely wants input and participation from us on more community activities and general fun get-togethers. Anyway, all this is another reason to come to the Detroit PTO and get a Committee in place.
AND NOW! SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT DETROIT!
First some mood music: (Turn it down nice and low)
Shocking Factoids about Detroit! As is my custom, when we are pitted against a foreign foe, I like to bone up on the facts. So listen to this peeps and reconsider making a long Area 55 road trip to Detroit:
In 2010, Foreign Policy Magazine listed Detroit as the second most dangerous city in the whole world. It was nudged out, for the Number 1 slot, by Baghdad! According to the article, Detroit featured 1,220 violent crimes per every 100,000 people in the city.
The above factoid was tempered by another I found. Based on consumption, Detroit is the Potato Chip Eating Capital of the World.
Now I wonder. Could there be a correlation between the Motor City’s consumption of these salty snacks and its violent crime rate? Science needs to look into this!
But, in the meantime, let’s look at the Pistons:
Failure to Communicate – Say Goodbye to John Kuester!: Here, we need to begin with some context.
“Communication” is very important between an NBA Coach and his players. Unfortunately, there was failure to communicate last year in Detroit. The result, for Pistons’ coach John Kuester, was sort of like this:
Yeah, Kuester had a lot of trouble getting his point across to his guys. He first had a falling-out with sharpshooting vet Richard Hamilton (who has since been traded to Chicago). Kuester wound up benching Rip for a controversial 7-week stretch due to differences of opinion about the role Kuester had in mind on the court for him.
Kuester also had his problems with Rodney Stuckey (whom the Pistons re-signed this year). Kuester benched Rodney for a week at last season’s outset and for another week at its conclusion.
In fact, at various times last year, Kuester benched just about everybody. Every uninjured player on the Detroit team had at least one “Did Not Play” designation last year. Things eventually culminated in a February 25, 2011 low point when the Pistons had a game in Philadelphia. Then, 7 Pistons players – more than half the squad — giving various excuses, failed to show up for a pre-game shoot-around. Kuester reacted by benching all of the no-shows, and then playing the ensuing game with the remaining 6 players on the roster. This resulted, unfortunately, in a blowout loss. Kuester, incidentally, got thrown out of that game too – by protesting an official’s call. His player’s didn’t seem to mind his ejection very much. This poignant moment was captured on videotape:
Now the Pistons have Lawrence Frank manning the helm. Good luck, Larry! And remember to keep those lines of communication open!
Another Chance to Say Hello to Ben Wallace! Yeah, Ben Wallace. The guy whose foul on Artest set the Pacers program back to the Stone Age. Well, Gentle Ben, is still there with the Pistons, so Area 55 should be ready and prepared to give him the keys to the Circle City. There is much for Area 55 to love about Gentle Ben.
First, there are his epic trips to the foul line. Renowned for his free throw prowess — his lifetime FT% of 41.7 was accomplished by missing 1,501 of his 2,575 career FT attempts – it has gotten to the point where some NBA arenas have considered handing out crash helmets and safety goggles to fans sitting in the 100 level seats when Ben comes to town just to reduce their liability. This is something that the actuaries at Bankers Life might wish to consider. Anyway, if you thought Dwight Howard or Shaq was bad, please consider Ben as a serious contender:
Here are some of his better moments:
I’m sure that many of us can also relate to his off-season drunk-driving and illegal firearms arrest too. Don’t remember Ben? Here’s his mug shot:
Vitruvian Man and Tayshaun Prince: I found this gem from Slate Magazine:
According to the Roman engineer Vitruvius, the perfect geometry of nature ensures that a person’s wingspan is equal to his height. This vision of man’s ideal form—famously illustrated in Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the Vitruvian man—underpinned much of the art and architecture of the Renaissance.
We’ve all seen this at one time or another. It’s Vitruvian man!
Well, Tayshaun Prince’s arms would give Leonardo fits. We all remember this, don’t we?
Prince’s pterodactyl-like reach isn’t an illusion. Though the NBA doesn’t keep official wingspan numbers, various media reports place Prince’s wingspan at 7-foot-2 or 7-foot-3— that’s 5 or 6 inches longer than he measures from head to toe. That’s nearly the same as Shaquille O’Neal, who otherwise out-measures Prince by 4 inches and 135 pounds.
Yup, Tayshaun is sort of a freak of nature. For my Christmas present, I so, so, so want Roy Hibbert to give him a big swat.
In fact, I want the Pacers to give the Pistons a big collective swat – something to revenge that swat on Reggie. I want the Pacers to swat them back to their potato-chip munching second-most-violent place in the world!
Well, that’s it for now 55ers. Paint up, get mean and get ready to welcome the Pistons to Season Deux!
GO PACERS! GO AREA 55!