A Prank of Two Cities
The incredible true story of how we propositioned the mayor’s wife and rigged the NHL playoffs.
Paul Jones

Top 10 Signs of the Impending Police State
Hey America, freedom's just around the corner... behind you
Allan Uthman

A Preview of this Issue
...By Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret!

I Know More Words Than You
An editorial of verbose contrivance.
Paul Jones

Kino Korner
M:I:3, Stick It, RV, United 93.

BEAST-O-Scopes
Your cosmic fortune...
in insult form.

The BEAST Page 3 Postponed Mushroom Cloud

[sic] - Letters
Judge Punch, toilet reading, and Moses in denial.


I'm with Stupid
Why Tony Snow is the perfect choice for press secretary.
Allan Uthman
The BEAST's Greatest Misses
Exposing our bloopers for all to see.
Ian Murphy
Thanks, Artvoice!
A message of grtitude to Jamie and Mike.
Pyramid Scheme
Fat-bottomed diet chart serves US RDA of misinformation
Kit Smith
VP Cheney Takes Time off to Fuck Himself
Clayton Byrd
Raising Children: What can you do?
Childcare tips for the uninformed.
Josh Righter
Kino Korner
American Dreamz, The Sentinel, Silent Hill, The Wild.
BEAST-O-Scopes
Your cosmic fortune...
in insult form.
The BEAST Page 3 Republican Hood Ornament

[sic] - Letters
Bong hits, federal charges, superfluous praise.


Achtung Doobie!
Buffalo Cops fight drugs in canine massacre.
Oh Lawdi Lawdi!
Bob Wilmers' free market field holler.
High Office
Giambra makes sense on drugs; electorate stunned.

 

A Prank of 2 Cities

Chapter 2: The Dive
Ottawa Mayor Rigs NHL Series - Scandaleux!

Now Murphy was asking me if I’d be willing to build on the joke that had been so brusquely perpetrated against Byron Brown. Murphy’s proposition: Call the mayor of Ottawa and make the same pitch for swinging spouses.

I agreed, reluctantly. This was a tall order. Back in October, on my first day at BEAST headquarters—only my second in Buffalo—I had waxed eloquently about a return to the BEAST’s prankish, pioneering roots: the stuff that had first drawn me to the paper. To date, though, I’d failed to even conceive a stunt, let alone execute one. Now my BEAST elders expected me to pony up. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t refuse.

Locating Mayor Chiarelli’s bio, I dialed Ottawa immediately—hesitating would only heighten my anxiety. I mouthed a pitch for sex with the mayor’s wife to myself as the phone rang. Scanning the bio, I noted the mayor had five daughters and considered raising the stakes to include one or more of them. But then my eyes hit on something horrifying: Bob Chiarelli’s wife, Carol, died of cancer in 1996. Abort! Abort!

Badly shaken, I informed Murphy and we mutually pondered the near-disastrous outcome. Murphy seemed ready to abandon the idea of a second stage altogether. But I, suddenly, had begun to warm—ever so slightly—to the idea. I was determined to be more careful in the future.

Later that evening, back at my rooming house, I hit upon what I thought might be a profitable angle, specially tailored for Mayor Chiarelli. Some basic research about Ottawa revealed the city had a burgeoning tech economy. I had never read Trump’s Art of the Deal and neither, I hoped, had anyone else. But I thought I knew a bargain when I saw one. I phoned Murphy, my excitement practically stifling my words.

“But I don’t want to get into specifics,” I said. This was a nagging, idiotic, but remarkably powerful superstition of mine—the notion that revealing something beforehand would render it powerless.

“If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine.” Murphy indulged, and Uthman agreed. “But I’m dying to hear your idea.”

In spite of myself, I relented. “I’ll give it a try tonight,” I said.

I made my first call at around 5PM on Monday evening. I’d opted to use a voice modulator because, at barely 5’4”, my natural voice is better suited for Eric Cartman voiceovers than dishing insider politics. As we would later discover, the modulator had the opposite effect, producing an otherworldly baritone—like a cross between Andre the Giant and a 50-foot oscillating fan. Oddly, my digitally altered voice fazed none of the Ottawans with whom I spoke as Buffalo’s new mayor. Canadians, we later speculated, must be so unfamiliar with black men that they assumed my Jabba-like tonal depth to be typical.

This was the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster—from elation to utter dejection almost nonstop—over the next 24 hours for me. Elation as the phone rang, then feeling faintly ridiculous as an automated tape played for three minutes. Finally, I got through to speak to a charming and attentive young man named Richard.

“Richard, this is Byron Brown, mayor of Buffalo in the great state of New York!”

I played off calling the automated line, explaining that I’d believed I was dialing Mayor Chiarelli’s direct line, and said I was calling to wish the mayor luck for Monday night’s game. Richard chuckled and said he’d be happy to put “Mayor Brown” through to Mayor Chiarelli. I was reborn—momentarily. A familiar voice intruded on the line—Richard again. He was sorry to say the office was closed for the day; that’s why I’d been directed to the switchboard. “Mayor Brown” could try again tomorrow, at the same number.

“Hopefully we’ll be discussing a Buffalo victory,” I quipped, approximating a dopey political jest that proved pretty accurate.

“I can’t say I agree with that, sir,” Richard replied amiably. “But good luck.” I would need it.

After a night of fitful sleep, I rolled out of bed as close to the crack of dawn as I’ve ever come: 10AM. I was a wreck. After an ill-advised breakfast of leftover Thai food, I spent the next 30 minutes trying to stanch the corrosive, mucosal tide of acid reflux and clear my throat enough to make my follow-up call to Ottawa.

The phone rang around 11AM, but things were less smooth this time around from the get-go. For starters, I booted the greeting I’d employed so effortlessly the night before. Worse, I couldn’t hear the receptionist’s name and instead of calling him Jacques, mistakenly referred to him as “Rock.” Despite the bumbling, I was patched through to Mafalda, one of Mayor Chiarelli’s aides. She was the third Ottawan in a row “Mayor Brown” had met who was faultlessly gracious. These Canadians were starting to remind me of Gary Larson’s unfortunate “Far Side” deer who was born with the bulls-eye birthmark.

Frustration mounted quickly when I realized I wouldn’t simply be patched through to Chiarelli. Silently I cursed Murphy’s brazen virtuosity. I tried to assume a proprietary manner, assuring the staff I wasn’t “calling to gloat.” Mafalda, amused but single-minded, wanted a contact number and an itinerary—“coordinates” she called them—to arrange a call from Mayor Chiarelli later that day. I was doubly panicked when I realized that Murphy could not reasonably be expected to rise for several hours, and Uthman not till dark. I started to blurt Fallon’s cell number when I realized I couldn’t remember it! I asked Mafalda to hold, pretending to speak with a phantom secretary—“Cherie,” I said, vaguely—all the while scrolling my cell phone for Fallon’s number. Found it. The phone was now dialing Fallon’s number. Ottawa, Mafalda, Jacques, Chiarelli—they were all gone.

Damn. I called Fallon anyway and explained his role—carefully. He was to be “Deputy Mayor Steve Casey” and my contact person. I then rang Ottawa again, expecting the worst.

I explained to Jacques what the Frenchman already knew. “Mayor Brown,” reconnected with Mafalda, tried to make light of his stupidity.

“My aides are laughing at me right now.” I admitted. Mafalda laughed, almost too much. “My first attempt at international diplomacy and I drop the call.” More inappropriate laughter. “Mayor Brown” was feeling ill.

I reiterated that I looked forward to speaking with Mayor Chiarelli, “Only if I’m not bothering him.” I noted the Senators and Sabres match-up was, ultimately, trivial. But I expressed my hope this might be the start of an ongoing dialogue between the two cities. Mafalda and I had a brief discussion about the playoff series, and the two teams. I praised the Senators, despite their two losses, as a “tremendous team.”

“They are very good,” Mafalda agreed. “But they have a tough time in the playoffs.” I savored that catty, intimate snipe without comment. It was the clearest indication I’d had that the act was working. We agreed a lunchtime call would work best. I bid Mafalda goodbye, expressing one last time my eagerness to speak with Mayor Chiarelli.

Lunchtime came. And went. Nothing. I phoned Fallon every ten minutes. They hadn’t called. They weren’t going to call. “Maybe they smelled a rat,” Fallon said. I couldn’t eat or sit still, so I decided to head to Fallon’s house, resigned to put the whole thing out of my head and get to work on those three, or four, or fifteen brilliant articles I’d been contemplating.

I asked Fallon to make a call this time, posing as “Steve Casey.” The receptionist—Jacques, perhaps—directed him to voicemail.

“How did they sound?” I asked solicitously.

“Okay. They weren’t hostile or anything.” Fallon said.

Another hour passed. Fallon started spinning his punk vinyl. The needle, the speakers and other myriad defects, colluded to produce a searing assault on my bowels. Comforting myself with the thought Noriega would’ve caved much faster, I packed up and headed for BEAST headquarters. On the way, I occupied myself the usual way, imagining the most efficient methods of suicide, and tried to narrow the list according to those which were most considerate of friends and family.

The mood at BEAST central was terribly subdued. I had hoped to find the joint buzzing with comedic fervor. Uthman and Murphy were, instead, pretty listless. I, they observed, looked awful, sickly—packed in layers: a sweater, jeans and jacket on a hot day. “Like a vampire,” Murphy said. I accepted without enthusiasm some assignments, the dim prospects of publication—the dregs—and left.

I contemplated driving straight back to Rhode Island, to slower death. A certainty, at least. Just then my phone buzzed. It was Fallon, for the 200th time that day. “Jones,” he said. “You’re on.”

“They called? What? When? I’m in the car!” I shouted. “When do I have to call them back?!”

“Five minutes they said.”

“What’s the number?”

“613—”

“Forget it; I’ll call you for it when I get home. Wait, no, give it to me.”

“613—”

“No, I’ll call you when I get home.”

Number in hand—the same number I’d been given twice before, as though it kept self-destructing—“Mayor Brown” prepared for his third, and final, act. As the phone rang I realized I was about to talk to the Mayor of Ottawa, capital city of all of Canada. How had this happened so easily?

Listen to the call. (20:47, 2.38 mb mp3)

Receptionist: Mayor Bob Chiarelli’s office, bonjour!

BEAST: Uh, yes…Bonjour! Is (Chiarelli Executive Assistant) Anna Baker available, please?

R: Very well, sir. May I let Anna know who’s calling please?

BEAST: This is Mayor Brown. Is this Jacques?

R: Uh, no sir. This is Greg speaking, but the mayor is expecting your call. I will—

BEAST: Oh, very good—

R: I will let him know you’re holding, sir. One moment, please.

BEAST: Very good. Thank you.

R: You’re welcome—

BEAST: Thank you very much.

(Muzak: Carpenters, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”)

Mayor Chiarelli: Hello?

BEAST: Yes. Mayor!

MC: Mayor Brown, how are you today? You must be happier than I am! (Laughing)

BEAST: Well, actually, I was kind of worried that you’d be reluctant to call. I tried to assure your staff: I was not calling to gloat. It was—in fact, I tried to place a call last evening, but I was unsuccessful. So, I’m—it’s an, an honor and a privilege to finally speak with you, sir. I’m, uh…As I said to (Chiarelli aide) Mafalda this morning: I’m a great admirer of—of the things you’ve done in Ottawa.

MC: Thank you.

Here, Mayor Chiarelli departed on a lengthy, informative and actually quite fascinating discourse about Ottawa’s successes. He spoke proudly of the partnerships he’d nourished in the business community, and the innovative model for communicating and developing ideas that has made Ottawa a center of the tech industry. We’ve omitted it here because we didn’t want to rub it in—losing you before this prank really got going.

BEAST: My understanding is that you’re an accomplished jurist. You had a distinguished legal career.

MC: I spent 18 years practicing law before I went to the provincial parliament for ten years. And then—

BEAST: Right—

MC: I went into provincial politics.

BEAST: I actually—at one point, I contemplated going to law school. You know, it didn’t work out, but…When I was a teenager, I successfully argued—I’m originally from Queens—

MC: I see.

BEAST: And I successfully argued—it was sort of an exhilarating experience—but I successfully argued my own case between the school board. And I earned the right to play on the, uh, the women’s lacrosse team. I mean, I didn’t actually suit up—

MC: Oh…(uneasy laugh) Okay.

BEAST: I didn’t actually suit up. It was the, you know, the principle of the thing. You know, “equal rights” and everything. And it—

MC: (Faintly agreeing.)

BEAST: Was, you know, a nice little thing…But I got some press, or whatever, built up some confidence. You know, arguing a point of view. And, uh…

Then, something extraordinary and completely unanticipated happened. Chiarelli, to this point a very wise and very decent man, magnanimously suggested Buffalo and Ottawa could become partner cities! He offered to make a trip here, or to host a Buffalo contingent, to share experiences and, ideally, learn from each other. This was how easy it was to make a small, but possibly meaningful, difference in the life of a flagging metropolis; and yet, apparently, no one from Buffalo’s actual city government had availed himself of the opportunity to begin a dialogue with our Northern betters.

A sick feeling formed in the pit of my stomach as I realized I was about to scuttle—maybe permanently—Buffalo’s chance to profit from an alliance with a world-class city like Ottawa. No matter. Ruthlessly committed to the task before me, I steeled myself and made the crassest response I could extemporize.

BEAST: Well, if you do—if it turns out that you do decide to come, if we can work that out, I would encourage you to pack a gas can in your trunk. A lot of times, you know, the panhandlers, they’re…

MC: (Feigning vague recognition.)

BEAST: You know, they’re very assertive and their opening line is…

MC: Yeah…

BEAST: “Do you have a gas can?”

MC: Mmhmm…

BEAST: And then it moves on, you know, to money.

MC: Sure…

BEAST: So, you should pack a—prop, I guess—

MC: Yeah…

BEAST: Guess you would say. And if you did come down, I’d want to know if you could get me one of (CBC hockey commentator) Don Cherry’s suits.

MC: Oh…(Laughing)

BEAST: Maybe something that could be refitted, retailored for me. I’m pretty much in awe of his sartorial splendor, if you will.

MC: Well, he’s quite a showman, that’s for sure.

BEAST: Absolutely. And loves the game, loves the game.

MC: Yeah.

Probably more than a little suspicious at this point, Chiarelli resorts to a very clever probing technique, invoking the name of Don Gilbert, a Buffalo native and popular CFL player who “lived next door” to one of the mayor’s brothers. Apparently they “used to socialize quite a bit.” He asked if the name was familiar. Panicked, I said simply I didn’t know Gilbert, and that my “deputy mayor,” who was conveniently unavailable, was better versed in such things.

Preliminary schmoozing out of the way, I decided to get to the point of the prank—but I was unprepared for Chiarelli’s reaction. I started by beating around the bush, as I imagined one would when proposing incredibly illegal sports-rigging.

BEAST: Um, well, before you—before you go, I had the opportunity to speak with (Buffalo Sabres Coach) Lindy (Ruff) and with (General Manager) Darcy Regier, from the Sabres and…You know, because we’re always—we are forward thinking. We’re um—we don’t have as many resources as we’d like, but we’re constantly…We do have a lot of youth and we’re constantly sort of churning…ideas and trying to generate some stuff. I had a chance to speak to Coach Ruff and to speak to Darcy. And I thought that as an ambassador of the City—and you represent your city—I thought that maybe I could…You would be the appropriate person to make the pitch to, you know. We don’t—we’re up two-nothing (in the series). But we don’t—we were certainly not favored to win…

MC: (Faintly) Right.

BEAST: You know, we don’t have to—we don’t have to win. We could still put up a… strong fight, whatever.

MC: (Silence, palpable discomfort.)

BEAST: I know you’ve got the (jobs) contract with Dell (Computer Corporation). You know, a very lucrative deal.

MC: (Tentatively) Yes—

BEAST: All these tech jobs and, um…Is there any way we could work something out where, you know, we could…we could sort of…garner, we could sort of garnish (an ironically appropriate malapropism) some of that—those tech-base jobs in exchange for something…I mean, clearly a Sabres victory in the playoffs would mean a lot to Buffalo. But, in the long run, I mean…I’m the one who’s responsible for the health of the municipality—

MC: Yeah. (Renewing interest.)

BEAST: Sometimes the citizens aren’t very forward-looking. That’s supposed to be my job.

MC: Yeah, yeah. I have found that when we’ve—when we’ve pulled something good together as a community, it’s by tapping into the community leadership. If you get the right people around the table…

BEAST: Sure…

MC: And keep them there, they can often come up with some great ideas and, uh, be able to implement some significant changes.

BEAST: Sure! And, I know (Ottawa Senators General Manager) Mr. (John) Muckler, he has a history here in New York. He played for the Rovers in the Eastern League and he was with the Sabres for a while. So I know that he has—he has some sentimental attachment, I’m sure, to Buffalo. Do you think that he would be receptive to maybe us giving them a game, or two? Spotting them a game? Um, in exchange for some sort of, you know, work exchange, or uh—

MC: Oh, I, I uh…

BEAST: O-o-obviously we’d have to…I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Obviously it’s—this in an elaborate kind of thing. And you would have to talk to Dell and everything…

MC: I’d have to—I’d have to tell you something that…That the hockey arena in which the Senators play their games, and they own the arena—it is in a suburb of Ottawa called Kanata.

BEAST: Oh, really?

MC: Kanata is the—is part of the City of Ottawa, but the district is called Kanata. And that is the hi-tech center of the national capital region here. Probably 80% of the tech jobs are in and around the hockey arena where the Ottawa Senators play.

BEAST: Wow!

MC: And they’re very, very good neighbors there. And they might be able to talk to Dell, or Nortel and, uh, get a few volunteers who are prepared to move down to Buffalo if you can assure that the Senators will win at least…three out of the next four games.

BEAST: (Stunned) Oh! I don’t think that would be a problem…Well, three out of four—that’s kind of a stretch. I think…Well, I mean, it’s definitely something to consider. I’m glad to hear, at least, that you’re receptive.

Maybe the only thing you have to understand about The BEAST and the people who work for it is this: We spend almost every waking minute (and countless sleeping) contemplating every form of human ugliness. We’re irredeemable cynics who like to believe we’ve mapped the entire genome of rottenness and venality. And then we encounter something like this: a sitting mayor seriously considering fixing an NHL playoff series in exchange for jobs, without so much as blinking. For all our misanthropy, we were unprepared for that.

Like Murphy, I never imagined the call would go any farther than my suggesting such a deal before Chiarelli either laughed it off or chewed me out and hung up. Instead, I was faced with the stunning fact that he was actually going for it. I hadn’t planned for that, and now I was grasping for words.

But Mayor Chiarelli was at no such loss, as he revealed, perhaps, why he was so eager to secure victory for the Senators:

MC: Now, I have to tell you, though: I have a very close connection to John Muckler.

BEAST: Right.

MC: My nephew—who also went to a university down in the US on a hockey scholarship, came back up here and became a lawyer. Then he did player management and contracts…

BEAST: Right.

MC: Then he started working for the Senators and he’s the Assistant General Manager being mentored by Muckler!

BEAST: Oh! Is that right?

MC: Yeah.

BEAST: Well, listen, I don’t want to stake too much on this, but if you think that there’s any hope of those, these quote-unquote volunteer positions becoming permanent…Obviously this is gonna take a few phone calls in the next couple of days. You know, if we can work out something like that—I’d be more than willing to sacrifice a superficial victory for something that’s going to be, in the long-term, economically viable.

MC: Well, it’d be a fair exchange—it’d be a fair exchange. We have a lot of tech jobs and we’ve never had a Stanley Cup in recent memory. So, I think—and you always have the Bills to fall back on—at least you have up until now—

BEAST: That’s true—

MC: You’ve had your Super Bowl (!) and, uh, all that other stuff. So, you can afford to pass by a Stanley Cup in order to get some good tech jobs.

BEAST: I think so. And, uh, that’s just something that we’ve been turning over. We thought it was a good idea. And it’d be fine—you know, we can save face. Maybe a scandal involving a couple of our players. Maybe Briere and—you know, well Connolly’s hurt—maybe Briere and Drury, we can generate a story…The Buffalo News, they’re pretty good to us, they basically reprint things (we give them)…But we could maybe run a story about Briere and Drury caught together. Or something. That’s just an idea.

MC: Well, I’m going to have to get my Council Cabinet together, here, and see whether they will agree with that strategic initiative.

BEAST: Well, we wouldn’t implicate you. I think it would be all above-board. You know, if you want to talk to Mr. Muckler—they’re free to take a run at McKee. If you want to put (Senators Defenseman Zdeno) Chara on (Sabres Defenseman Jay) McKee, I’m not sure…I was speaking to Darcy and they’re not sure they’re gonna be able to sign him anyway…

MC: Yeah…

BEAST: Again, I’m glad to find that you’re at least considering the offer.

MC: Well…absolutely!

BEAST: Because, you know, really it’s…Like I said, I’m new to this and I’m finding that, in the States here, that there aren’t too many people willing to extend a hand and—

MC: Well, you know, maybe it’s a bit premature and we should revisit this on Thursday morning after we see the results of tomorrow’s game…

Sensing the conversation was at an end, I decided to squeeze what further life I could from it by revealing “Mayor Brown” to be somewhat emotionally unstable and hopefully rattling Chiarelli’s cage a bit.

BEAST: Well, you’re driving a hard bargain. I can appreciate that. But, like I said, it’s—just…I really am, like, (growing emotional) overwhelmed by the fact that you’ve taken the time to call—

MC: Yeah (sympathetically)…

BEAST: You’ve heard me out. It’s—there’s been some bad news here, recently, that I’m losing some people in my staff. And the papers, I’m starting to sense that they’re maybe laying into me a little bit. You know, the honeymoon is over…

MC: Yeah (sympathetically)…

BEAST: I’m just sort of struggling right now. (Sobbing) I appreciate it. I really appreciate you being so courteous and kind.

MC: Yes…All right! Listen…

BEAST: So…

MC: Well, stay in touch! Let’s touch base on Thursday morning and maybe we can revisit this, uh, potential—potential exchange.

BEAST: (Sobbing profusely) Yeah, I’d like that very much! Okay, Mr. Mayor.

MC: Thank you.

BEAST: (Tearfully) Okay, thank you! Thank you!

MC: Bye-bye.

BEAST: Bye-bye, now.

 

Postscript

Mayor Chiarelli’s staff spent much of the next hour futilely pumping Fallon for information, over nearly half a dozen phone calls. His was the only contact number they’d been given. Fallon resorted to his lawyering worst, offering clipped, monosyllabic answers. Finally, he agreed to send them a fax, which would “prove” he was from Mayor Brown’s office. But he never sent it. We were just stunned they hadn’t figured it out by then. We also imagined Bob Chiarelli, good-natured Canadian—and newly-minted felon—heaping immoderate and obscene abuse on his ingenuous staff.

We have to say, this shocked even us. We always knew governments were buyable. We just didn’t think they were for sale to inert layabouts like us. But in the space of a day, with little planning, we managed to proposition a mayor’s wife, courtesy of her husband; and to successfully pitch a sporting fix, greater in its potential economic impact than the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. We know what you’re thinking. Say it ain’t so, BEAST. Say it ain’t so.

Sorry, folks. It be so.


Click here to go back to Part 1

 

 

BEAST Blog

Idiot Box by Matt Bors
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden
Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch
Bob the Angry Flower by Stephen Notely
Deep Fried by Jason Yungbluth

 
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