When Bill Bonds arrives with three cameras — one of them always pointed at himself — and asks a million questions so he can look good on the local news, that’s not journalism. It’s theater.
When Bo Schembechler bangs his fist on the podium and says “NO!” to this,
“NO!” to that, and insists he is doing it “for the fans,” that’s not negotiating. It’s theater.
When Ed McNamara drops his jowls and looks deadly serious and says,
“This is all part of a plot for the Tigers to move out of Michigan,” that’s not informed knowledge. It’s theater.
And when Coleman Young points a finger and says, “I don’t give a damn who owns this team. . . . One monkey don’t stop no show!” that’s not independence. It’s theater, too.
Actually, this whole Tiger Stadium mess has been theater, and pretty good theater at that. True, they’re not getting anything done. But they’re getting a lot of laughs.
And now the word is, after avoiding each other for months as if they’d forgotten to brush their teeth, the parties want to get together and talk it over in person. All except Bonds, of course, who isn’t invited, but will find a way in there anyhow, along with his cameramen and makeup person.
What will happen? You can just imagine, as soon as they all get in one room and the key questions come up . . . Are the Tigers for sale?
Bo: THEY ARE NOT!
Ed: Of course they are.
Coleman: Who cares? Damn city’s broke.
Bill: Is this mike on? What about the old stadium?
Bo: WE WILL NOT BE SHACKLED TO THAT RUSTED GIRDER!
Ed: After all the paperwork we did?
Coleman: Jesus! Who gives a damn?
Bill: Camera 1, closeup. What would parking be like at the Fox Theatre site?
Bo: HELLACIOUS. HELL’S FIRE. THE WORST.
Ed: No problem. We just build a massive concrete structure that hangs from the highway for $100 million.
Coleman: You percent$#(at)! WHAT?
Bill: Good evening, this is Bill Bonds. How would the parking be better at the Briggs site?
Bo: OUR FANS WOULD PREFER IT.
Ed: You’re just afraid of crime.
Coleman: Now wait a minute. It’s the damn media that created the crime problem here . . .
Bill: Welcome to my exclusive interview with the power brokers, the men that matter, the big kahunas, and I’m Bill Bonds . . . Why doesn’t Tom Monaghan pay for the stadium himself?
Bo: WHAT THE HELL’S THE MATTER WITH YOU? WHAT KIND OF SUGGESTION IS THAT?
Ed: I dunno. Sounds good to me.
Coleman: Is Monaghan alive? The man hasn’t returned my damn calls in two years.
Bill: Camera 3, closeup on me, I’m about to ask a question . . . Is this just a plot for the Tigers to move to the suburbs?
Bo: WE WILL CONSIDER EVERY OPTION.
Ed: Good luck finding a sap out there.
Coleman: Go to the suburbs, like everyone else. One monkey don’t stop no show.
Bill: Here’s my question: Is this just a plot to move to the suburbs? If they don’t go to the suburbs, and they won’t stay in the city, does that mean the Tigers are moving out of state?
Bo: GOOD GOD, MAN, READ MY LIPS. WE ARE NOT LEAVING MICHIGAN!
Ed: Oh, yeah? What’s that plane ticket to Florida doing in your pocket?
Coleman: Plane ticket? Now wait a minute. I canceled my damn vacation for this meeting . . .
Bill: Exclusive, reported by me! Tigers leaving Michigan! I’ll have my commentary following these commercials. Now that a dialogue has been established, can you all meet again? Let’s say, Saturday?
Bo: ARE YOU CRAZY? I’M ON ABC SATURDAY!
Ed: Sorry. Politicians don’t do weekends.
Coleman: Ditto for me, damn it.
Bill: No ratings? I’m out of here . . .
Naturally, it might not go exactly this way. We might just see more of what we saw this last week: press conferences, finger-pointing, politicking, lies.
They have a name for that kind of theater, too, of course.
Theater of the Absurd.