The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 13, 1999 · Page 17
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September 13, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 17

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Monday, September 13, 1999
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THE PALM BEACH POST MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1999 17A In a league ot her own Treat male candidates as sex objects? Sure I would K i "She has a sexy mouth, I think. That slight palatial overbite it gets to me. She seems expert at marshaling her mouth's resources, at inspiring its inge; : nuity . . . When she is pouncing on the; ; possibility of an idea, her lips extend? their reach into her cheeks and carve out a wolfish, carnal line, as though nothing could please her more than her own Z hunger . . . Her laugh is the sexiest thing about her, in fact it packs a lewd wallop..." Maureen Dowd iT Jls - y l -v- j -St ' - , L.1 , a,.., in... .pi. .in. ,mnum , i ,,,, ,,, I Being a ball-playing girl in : those 'unenlightened' times wasn't so bad. ; Harassment by her male, teammates? Nonexistent, j Hanky-panky between male and female players? Please. When Mamie "Peanut" Johnson ; first got into diamonds baseball di-! amonds many women wore dress-' es, veiled hats and fine-stitched ! gloves for such casual occasions as I shopping, traveling and, yes, attend-; ing baseball games. ' Donna Britt i ! ; At the ballpark, ladies often I dressed "like they were going to 1 church sharp," says Ms. Johnson, who admits she "did that bit, too." ' - But when it came to gloves, she had an unusual preference. - "My favorite glove was that one right there," she says, pointing at a photo of herself at age 19 in a uniform for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League baseball team. "The one I got my hand in." A 105-pound pitcher who learned her curveball from Hall-of-Famer Le-roy "Satchel" Paige "he just showed me how to grip the ball to keep from throwing my arm away, 'cause I was so little" Ms. Johnson had her hand in pro baseball for three seasons, 1953-55. For two of them, Henry "Hank" Aaron was her teammate. Sure, some frowned on this South . Carolina-born tomboy's profession at '; a time when the kitchen was consid-' ered a real woman's field of dreams. t "But it didn't make me no difference what nobody said," says Ms. Johnson, 63. All that mattered was that she was - good. : Once Mr. Paige taught her that - curveball, she says, "I was damn . good." As the playoff races heat up and " Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire reprise their home run pas de deux, : America is again following baseball. ' So is Ms. Johnson, whose mother en-' couraged her "to do everything I ; wanted." She did just that as one of only three women who played in the league, created when white baseball - teams rejected "coloreds." nir T-shirt and trading card, autographed, for $10. Lighting a cigarette, Ms. Johnson admits to having tried, and failed, to stop smoking. But, she adds, "I don't do nothing else bad." What Ms. Johnson did good was play, posting pitching records of 11-3, 10-1 and 124 in her three seasons. She .feels there are women talented enough to play for the majors today "if given the chance." Recalling what it was like to get that chance, playing before sellout crowds "we would fill up Comiskey Park and Yankee Stadium when the white players couldn't" she gets a faraway look. 'To me, it was a thing like, Wow, look at me! I'm out here pitching in front of 80,000 people. And I'm a girl.'" Being a ball-playing girl in those "unenlightened" times wasn't so bad. Harassment by her male teammates? Nonexistent, says Ms. Johnson. Hanky-panky between male and female players? Please. "If you're out there doing what you're supposed to be doing, your teammates . . . give you the respect you're due." Respect, Ms. Johnson says, is "the greatest thing in the world; it will take you farther than money." She got it in high school in Long Branch, N.J., where she played boys sports, including football, and at New York University, where she studied engineering before joining the Clowns. She got it after her retirement from baseball, too, in her nearly 30-year career as a licensed practical nurse. Ms. Johnson, who recently guest-. coached a women's semipro team, seems vastly at ease with herself and her "very good life." She has little to say about her marriage and divorce, other than that baseball had nothing to do with either. Her son, 46, is an engineer in Kansas; she has three grandchildren. But she loves describing her most satisfying strikeout. "That would be Mr. Barnes the one who gave me my nickname," she says. "I don't remember his first name, but he played for the Birmingham Black Barons. He said, 'How do you expect to strike anybody out and you're not as big as a peanut?' " Her grin is wicked. "And I struck him out" Donna Britt is a columnist for The Washington Post JAMES M. THRESHERThe Washington Post Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson (above), 63, at the Negro League Baseball Shop in Mitchellville, Md. You can buy one of her autographed cards (right), from when she pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns, for $10. 'I was damn good,' she says. Ms. Johnson recalls how a white, Alexandria, Va.-based women's team refused even to let her try out "because my skin was a different color. I'm glad they turned me down," she says now with a shrug. "Otherwise, I would have been just another woman who played woman's baseball." These days, her favorite player is Ken Griffey Jr., "a gentleman who reminds me of the old ballplayers," she says. Ms. Johnson "wouldn't dare to fix my mouth" to pick a favorite from her own playing days. "Cool Papa Bell was a good runner," she says. "Josh Gibson was a good hitter." Even the peerless Mr. Paige, whom she remembers for "his big, long feet," was a "good pitcher," according to Ms. Johnson, "but others were just as good. You had to be good, to stay in the league." On this day, Ms. Johnson is at work, greeting visitors to the Negro Leagues Baseball Shops in Bowie, Md., one of two local stores specializing in hats, memorabilia and clothes honoring Negro leagues legends. The stores sell Ms. Johnson's own souve So writes Tom Junod in the October, r.' ; Esquire. Mr. Junod is not overheating'-' over a pouty starlet with tattoos and a bare midriff. "The woman of incipient ; bloom" who inspires his leers is our very ' own first lady and would-be senator. - ; It was inevitable, I suppose, that Hit-'' lary would go from saint to sex object,'.; from brain to bombshell. ' - V ' Of all the serial mythologizations, . this is the most bizarre: The no-'.y ; nonsense lawyer who was eager to showJ : , the country that first ladies are not papef dolls ends up being celebrated for her', "pretty . . . almond shaped, slightly cat- ty" eyes and "mighty cheekbones," and,;' for looking "lovely in the rain." "The Hillary I saw was not unsexed;. she was resexed," Mr. Junod writes'',' about her listening tour. Alluding to both--, voting and romping, he asks what he'I, considers the ultimate question about .' Hillary Clinton: "Would I? Sure I would "A The problem with this is that it yanks'J ' us back to judging women on their looks' and desirability. That is where womeQ':;. have been through history, relying on-their appearance to get approval and get . ahead, and that can be debilitating. Female candidates have it tough al-. ready. They can't be too soft or too hard, They have to prove that they're manly;, enough to handle the job no tears or' flutters or girlish qualms. Now, according to Mr. Junod, they should be seductive, too. He says af provingly of Mrs. Clinton: "One could" imagine her talking dirty . . ." If you want to understand exactly-how trivializing it is to sexualize Hillary Clinton in this way, let's apply the Junod: approach (and much of his own panting-..' vocabulary) to male candidates: ,; , Al Gore wears expensive pantsuits, drapey around his legs, hiding the an-r kles that some women mistakenly call ; thick, and flat shoes. He still looks like; the smartest guy at the dance, the guy; not smart enough to escape his vulner-. ability nor ambitious enough to escape, his longing. Would I? Sure I would. w Rudolph Giuliani's hair is bright and fixed. But sometimes a tendril of it will., come loose and fall into his face and he" will seem open to the intrigue of db shevelment Most women seem to miss-his raw appeal: Only a very sexually? confident man would slap handcuffs on? Wall Street traders right in the middle of ' the workday. Would I? Sure I would, yi I think it would be easy to get Alaii Keyes flustered. One little wink would-do it. He's a complete fruitcake, but that's what makes him so irresistibly -saucy. Would I? Sure I would. W.'s eyes, set so close together," squeezed above that long space between .' the nose and mouth, give him a strange' simian magnetism. His ears sport those.' macho, mesquite tufts of hair. Cowboys-make me weak. Would I? Sure I would." . I don't care that Bill Bradley has a boring voice and a belly and a bald spot ): and ratty sneakers. His palatial chin,' packs a lewd wallop. It is enigmatic in its ' capacity for adjustment It seems both the origin and repository of his secrets. Would I? Sure I would. One could imagine Gary Bauer talki:. ing dirty. His lips form a curving line a " though nothing could please him more than his own hunger. Would I? Let me . get back to you on that ... :j. Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The, . New York Times. U.S., Russian diplomacy in a waiting game . I' ' The Kremlin has noticed that someone not named Al Gore may be the next American president The evidence of this daring new thinking lies in Moscow's dispatch of the Russian ambassador to check out the campaign operation and geopolitics of George W. Bush. Jim Hoagland A V , " V '"- 1 J L-4V 1 Mr. Bush Mr. Luzhkov m Mr. Yeltsin favored successor next year. The choice of Mr. Putin the third consecutive prime minister Mr. Yeltsin has chosen with an espionage background shows the Russian president's intense need to stay close to those who hold the files with potentially damaging information on him and who can dig up more dirt on his adversaries. Until separate investigations of corruption in New York, Switzerland and Moscow came together inrecent days to put a glaring spotlight entirely on Mr. Yeltsin, there seemed to be a delicate balance of terror among Moscow's competing political circles that kept the subject of corruption under wraps. All of the major candidates were believed to be holding compromising material on each other. As Mr. Yeltsin made clear in an extraordinary telephone call to Mr. Clinton on Wednesday placed essentially so the Russian president could assure the American president that "I am not a crook" the Kremlin believes its opponents have fired a political nuclear weapon at Mr. Yeltsin, who is determined to fight back. Scorched earth lies ahead in a Russian presidential campaign that looks as if it will be dominated by a mayor Washington believes to be corrupt (Mr. Luzhkov), a spy it does not know (Putin), an ex-spymaster it does not like (Yevgeny Primakov), an embittered Communist apparatchik it cannot trust (Gennady Zuganov), and a rabid nationalist it abhors (Vladimir Zhi-ronovsky). That's an outlook that would make any American president nostalgic for a corrupt but friendly drunk as a partner. a Jim Hoagland is a columnistforThe Washington Post ,' Ambassador Yuri Ushakov did not get to see the Texas governor and GOP front-runner in person. But he did get a horizon's tour from Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's top foreign-policy campaign aide. Ms. Rice had no problem in their Sept 7 conversation identifying the points of emphasis a Bush White House would bring. ; The appeal of the unknown and the fear of the known, as incarnated in Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton dominates this phase of presidential politics in both countries. Mr. Bush and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov have risen to the top in early polling largely because of who they are not. They and their rivals now begin the process of spelling out for the world who they are. ; The types of scrutiny foreign governments focus on front-runners range from discreet to covert But scrutiny becomes an often invisible factor in policy-making as well. This is the case between the U.S. and Russia. ' The Clinton administration's stout defense of the Yeltsin government against charges of corruption has been based in part on a high-level U.S. consensus that cannot be aired: The top political alternatives to Mr. Yeltsin are at least as corrupt as the Russian president his family and his closest associates. ; This is said particularly of Mr. Luzhkov, who has been linked to elements of the Russian mafia. At least one of his associates was refused a U.S. visa last year because of his mob ties, a diplomatic source tells me. The unpalatable specter of Mr. Luzkhov becoming president has spurred a U.S. search for a credible alternative candidate to support. But the mayor and his allies are favored at the moment to come to power next year, and Washington feels compelled to remain silent about a driving force in its policy of unstinting support for Mr. Yeltsin and his allies. The fear of Mr. Luzhkov has become Catch-22 in Russian politics. When private polls last spring showed then-Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin beating Mr. Luzhkov in a two-man race, Mr. Clinton and aides fell over themselves in boosting the nondescript Mr. Stepashin as a statesman. But such attention seemed to help convince Mr. Stepashin that he should not endanger a promising political career by antagonizing the powerful Mr. Luzhkov in open battle. That timidity led Mr. Yeltsin to fire Mr. Stepashin and install Vladimir Putin, a former career KGB agent and more recently presidential logistical aide, as the new prime minister and as Mr. Yeltsin's proclaimed And here I thought you had to be smart to become a cop V-h George McEvoy Holmes or Agatha Christie's Belgian ; sleuth, Hercule Poirot I could create :' Detective Lt Seymour Schlock, pride of the New London Police Department ?:'" Lt. Seymour could stumble his way-through chapter after chapter, being outwitted by the lowest and dumbest"' class of criminals. Instead of, "Elemen- " ' tary, my dear Watson," his cry would r be,"Stumped again." f ; Rather than Hercule Poirot's "littie-. gray cells," my hero would complain thaV'.. thinking too hard gave him a headache.!'' Who knows, in this age of the dumb-ing down of America, Seymour Schlock-, and the New London Police Departments could find themselves emulated aH-across the land. . , Y;' I just hope the idea doesn't spread to .' medical schools. doesn't mind hiring smart people. I couldn't believe this story when I first read it. Two of my uncles were New York City police officers, and I assure you, they were both very bright guys. As a crime reporter for many years, I came into contact with a lot of police detectives, and most of them were well above average in intelligence. A few of them were downright brilliant. And the prisons are full of guys who thought they could outwit some "dumb cop." But I don't know about New London. By making mediocrity their standard and allowing that fact to be made public, aren't they in effect hanging out a welcome sign for crooks, cons and grifters of all sorts? But I may be missing a great opportunity here to write a new kind of detective novel. Instead of some master of mental deduction such s Sherlock But in real life Chief Inspector Morse might do well to apply for a job with the police department of New London, Conn. If there is one thing they don't want in New London, it's a smart cop. Robert Jordan, 48, was turned down when he tried to join the New London police force because he scored too high on the intelligence test Mr. Jordan scored 33 on the examination, which is the equivalent of an IQ of 125, not terribly high but above average. In fact the national average IQ for police officers, office workers, bank tellers and salespeople is said to be 104. The city's rationale for rejecting Mr. Jordan's application, according to the Chicago Tribune, was that candidates who score too high might become bored with police work and quit after undergoing costly academy training. It didn't make sense to Mr. Jordan to be refused a job because he was too intelligent so he filed suit in federal court. ; Picture this scene, if you will be so kind: A fictional British detective someone like Colin Dexter's curmudgeonly Chief Inspector Morse gathers all the murder suspects in the library of the great manor house. ' ' "I have called you all together," he says, "to name the killer." A horrified gasp arises from assem- j bled relatives of the victim, along with the butler, the maidsand the evil-looking j gardener. f ' "Who is it?" one of the relatives asks, j "Who chopped up rich Aunt Agatha and shipped her off to Borneo in a steamer ; trunk?" : Inspector Morse fumbles and looks embarrassed. i "Well, that's what I was about to explain," he says. "I don't know who the murderer might be. I haven't the foggiest I'm not smart enough to figure it out." i Such a thing could never happen in a detective novel, of cpurse. He claimed he was the victim of discrimination. But now District Judge Peter Dorsey has dismissed Mr. Jordan's suit saying his civil rights were not violated. "The question is not whether a rational basis has been shown for the policy chosen by defendants," the judge said. "Plaintiff may have been disqualified unwisely, but he was not denied equal protection." Mr. Jordan, who has a bachelor's degree in literature, currently is employed by the state of Connecticut as a corrections officer. Apparently, the; state George McEvoy is a columnist for The'.! ' Palm Beach Post. His e-mail address is:' gfamx4aol.com M ''.V

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