Sweet Science

February 28, 2005
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Seems reality TV has gone live and it’s coming to GR.

How else to explain next Thursday’s inaugural “Roast & Rumble” Celebrity Boxing Tournament, which will take place in the squared circle at DeVos Place’ Grand Gallery Rooms?

Man, even the hype is big with event announcements coming from all corners. It’s like RyanSeacrest in stereo.

Anyway, for those living in a fantasy/reality world, this event does have some value. It features “bouts” that heretofore could only be imagined. OK, the gloves are oversized and inflated and headgear pretty much eliminates any real pain, but the costuming promises to be much better than “MikeTyson black.”

Here’s the card for the night, which starts at 6 p.m. and is a fundraiser for the Grand Rapids Youth Boxing Foundation.

What’s being billed as “Big Business vs. Big Labor” pits Peter “The Seattle Slugger”Secchia against City Commissioner James “The Blue Collar Brawler” Jendrasiak

Next up is one that promises to be a zoo with Kent County Commission Chairman David“Mr. Chair” Morren battling with City Commissioner Roy “The West SideWonder” Schmidt

The Elephant vs. Donkey match headlines Mike “The Polish Prince” Sak and his Republican counterpart, Glenn “The Scrapper” Steil Jr

Dueling developers will get in on the act, too, in a tag-team match. “Downtown” DanDeVos and “Second Story” Sam Cummings will represent downtown against The NicolaBrothers, Bruce and Nick, who will be fighting for the pride of the suburbs.

Finally, in what might be a real fight between guys who should be in shape, Matt “TheFury of Fire” Keusch of Grand Rapids Firefighters Local 366 goes toe to toe with Sgt. Scott “The Blue Bomber” Weitzel of the GR Police Labor Council.

Celebrity judges include JohnWheeler of Rockford Construction, Ed “Uncle Buck”Buchanan from 97 WLAV, BillSimonson, host of The Huge Show on WBBL, Kent County Commissioner DickBulkowski and the female representative (and presumably cooler head) La Deidra Brown-Gais

Celebrity referees officiating the bouts of three 30-second rounds are Police Chief HarryDolan, Sheriff LarryStelma, Prosecutor BillForsyth, EmilyAleman of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, Kent Commissioner PaulMayhue and City Commissioner JimWhite

As with real boxing, ringside seats cost $100. But you can still get general admission for a 10-spot. Call Ticketmaster at 456-3333.

And just like in the world of professional wrestling, a poor cousin to the sweet science, may the best-costumed performer win.

  • On a much more serious note, Downtown Development Authority Chairman VerneBarry is in the fight of his life.

Barry had his remaining leg amputated last week and reportedly wasn’t in very good spirits late in the week, according to CaseyWondergem. He said Barry is headed to Mary Free Bed for rehab as soon as he can handle it. Barry doesn’t have family members who live here and he lives alone, Wondergem said. “He is going to be gone for a long, long time,” Wondergem told DDA members. “It’s very sad.”

Barry is a stalwart within the community, having founded Faith Inc., and is a champion for the less fortunate, working diligently and tirelessly in the Heartside district. He was among the winners of the 2004 Business Journal Newsmaker of the Year award for his role in the opening of the city’s new convention center, DeVos Place.

Heartside is Barry’s stomping grounds and it might be nice for the city or someone to make an effort to recognize the longtime public servant. Maybe the new Heartside Park would be worthy of bearing the Barry name. Are you listening, Mayor GeorgeHeartwell

  • Not that it’s any comfort, but the most recent exhibition of gloating economic naiveté by TV and daily newspaper types comes in the tiresome repetition that gasoline prices have set record high levels.

It’s tiresome for two reasons. After each of us has forked over $25 to $40 for a tank of $2 unleaded, it’s tiresome to be reminded we’re going to be doing the same for some time to come.

But it’s also tiresome because the reports about record numbers are incorrect.

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that over the past 85 years, the price of gasoline set records twice — once in the period 1919 to 1922 and again in 1980 and 1981.

Both times, the peak price almost reached $3 gallon. The historic low over those years — again in current dollars — was $1.25 in 1998. Our current $2.09 is nowhere near the record.

Why has it all happened? The usual suspects: 1) the summer futures markets are scrambling to secure supply; 2) the Chinese are buying in the futures markets; 3) the expensive ethanol lobby has a full lock on boutique gasolines since MBTE oxygenators are out (they were carcinogenic), 4) refining capacity is an at all-time low and will stay that way now that EPA is bringing on its sulphur-stripping requirement for refiners; 5) the war; 6) OPEC has tightened supplies; 7) Congress has blocked new oil well development in the United States.

The good news: When prices get this high, OPEC always starts pumping more oil and the biggest oil producer of all — Russia — will be bringing new capacity on line late this year.    

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