Monday, April 11, 2011


The most dangerous sex practiced in the last decade did not occur in some cantilevered chicken ranch outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Nor did it take place in some snargly-smelling warehouse in the Mission District. And it didn't "manifest" itself inside the mind of James Ellroy, either.

It happened in Los Angeles during August and September of 2008. The phallic instrument was made of wood. There was no actual penetration, but the flailing of mighty arms was as kinky a ritual act as had ever been seen: not even the Kingpins of Porn who breathe heavily over in the San Fernando Valley could compete with these jacks.

A jaded town, built on geologic layers of sin, found itself so awed by these never-before-seen acts of seminal fertility that its denizens were willing, for a little while at least, to change its name to his.

It didn't last long--just a bit less than 9 1/2 Weeks--but it brought both big boys and little girls to their knees. It was impossible to resist "assuming the position" and becoming part of the Bacchanal.

Yes, "Mannywood"--a gasp-inducing, jackleg erection brought into sublime obscenity through a vortex of sub-atomic collisions in the onanistic chambers of baseball's occasionally cosmic brain trust--let loose the type of collective synesthesia that Russ Meyer had spent three decades in (to steal a phrase from meta-linguistic pornographer James Joyce) "penisolate desperation" attempting to--er, prop up. After its seemingly impregnable success, it became a kind of redundant sideshow, hellbent on a drawn-out dalliance with entropy...but those twenty-five nights of "beyond the green door of Emmanuelle" ekstasis can only be spoken of in the most hush-hush of hushed tones.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were a drone-like team in the first two-thirds of 2008, scraping their knuckles at or around the .500 mark. They were exactly at .500 when Manny Ramirez, checkered Cro-Magnon churl, had his final spat with the Boston Red Sox and suddenly found himself on the West Coast. While many folks prefer the fiction that Manny had "laid down" for the Red Sox in order to get traded, the facts shout otherwise: Ramirez hit .347 in July and had produced his highest monthly OPS (1.060) to that point in the year. It was a pissing contest that escalated out of control, with Boston management quickly deciding that a team shakeup was needed. (It worked: the Sox went 34-19 down the stretch to push past the Yankees and make the post-season.)

Upscaling the downstroke--or is that vice-versa? As Mannywood goes limp,
the Dodgers go back to the "El Lay" playbook and attempt a sex
exchange diversion with reality bimbo Kim Kardashian...
The Dodgers didn't play quite that well--they had a horrendous stretch after getting Manny, including an eight-game losing streak in late August--but they won two-thirds of their other games and their 30-23 mark lifted them into the post-season. The Mannywood phenomenon--complete with booty-shaking "virgins" and nappy-headed white boy acolytes--was purely and porniferously an "El Lay" thang: the Dodgers were 18-7 at home while the dread-locked caveman (just give it up, Johnny Damon, and go back to the damned Geico commercials already...) was throwing boulders at speeding locomotives.

No one had ever seen anyone hit like that in the entire history of Chavez Ravine. With expectations impossibly high, Manny began with a bang, going 8-for-13 with 2 homers in his abbreviated first flirt with a town that would all too soon spread-eagle itself for him. The Dodgers went out on the road, where they lost four out of six, but Ramirez kept hitting (9-for-24, 2 HRs). He was semi-prosaic on the next homestand, (11-for-32, 2 HRs), but he drove in runs in each of the Dodgers' first five wins (7-3 in total), including four straight against the NL East leading Phillies.

The Phils would return the phavor back in Philly, sweeping the Dodgers as they plunged into an eight-game losing streak, but two things kept "Mannywood" fever from fizzling: Manny kept hitting (16-for-37 on the road trip) and all of this freefall happened away from Dodger Stadium, so the ardor was not chilled. And the team answered its eight-game losing streak with a mirror-image skein of victories, including a 6-0 homestand where "Primal Love with El Primitivo" was cemented into place when Manny drove in nine runs.

Manny Mania peaks as the Caveman God is forced to
"power bump" with smarmy white guys...
By this time, some of the younger Dodgers were stepping up as well. Andre Ethier, whose batting promise had seemingly stalled out as a line-drive hitter, suddenly found some uplift, slamming 7 HRs in August and then hitting .462 in September.

On the 20th, the Cro-Magnon officially became a fertility god when he slammed two homers and drove in five to lead the Dodgers to a 10-7 win over the Giants--their sixteenth victory in twenty games.

When the carnage was complete, Manny had hit .413 and driven in 33 runs in his 25 steamy nights at Dodger Stadium. He'd slugged .825. (Nobody slugs .825 at Dodger Stadium, not even in a two-game series.) In the 18 games that the Dodgers won at home, he'd hit .448 and slugged 1.000.

The little girls not only understood, they were lined up at what used to be called the Dodgers' "service entrance" (which was hastily renamed to something less "connotative").

Despite all these semen-laden similes, it was clear as the pimple on your proboscis that this was a type of love that had not been seen in El Lay since--well, since Debbie had done Dallas. The delirium was so high that no one was willing to consider the possibility that this had been something akin to a Brando-like "last tango", where someone both gnarly and great could let it all hang out in a manner that blew beyond priapism to a kind of overripe transcendence. Nobody knew that Manny's 38 Dodger Stadium plate appearances with runners in scoring position had produced numbers that whizzed past obscenity and approached Big Bang proportions: .545 BA, .658 OBP, 1.091 SLG, 1.749 OPS (!!!)--but they felt it  as surely as if had been the seismic event of all time.

R. Crumb's inadvertent portrait of Mrs. Manny Ramirez...
It's simply an inviolate rule: all 25-night stands are bound to come to an end. Trying to stretch it out can only end in abjection, in the limpest form of dissipation. Whether Manny was juiced or not is one of those pedantic concepts that small minds buzz around like fetid mental swamp water: what matters is that the Caveman fed off the primordial love/lust that crackled in the hot summer night. It was an act that defied reproduction. Those who suggest that Manny was "never the same player" in his two subsequent ghost dances with the Dodgers are victims of their own pathetic fallacy: no one could ever be that player again. Manny's age 37 OPS+ for his two-thirds of a season in 2009 (153) ranks eleventh all-time, but it's such a letdown from the realm of the sky-gods to the sublunary world that none of us can accept mere excellence.

Manny has gone away now, and the moralizers are out on the street like pigeons pecking away at stale bread. Their dried-up logic tells them that he couldn't field, or couldn't be bothered to act like a semi-normal human being, or that he was a shuck-and-jive artist, a sociopath, a furry freak beyond even the fiendish, fetid imagination of Robert Crumb. Their pantheon has no room for tricksters, for folk anti-heroes, for those who would take us back to the scary undergut of our eternally fragile civilization.

And they are infinitely, cataclysmically poorer for it. The danger they fear is precisely what clouds their minds. Gods, even aberrant ones--especially aberrant ones--don't think, they just act. That was Manny's glory, and his curse. Revile him at your own risk.