back to the Black Table
  INCOMING! MAY 24, 2004.  


Opening statements in the Scott Peterson double-murder trial were supposed to start today, but the case has been delayed yet again until the judge can find a big enough jury pool. Apparently, they're

  having a hard time finding folks who aren't already 190% sure that Peterson is responsible for killing his wife and their unborn child so he could pursue unlimited tee time and unsuspecting single mothers. Out of about 1,200 interviewed, they've only been able to scrape together 71. (This is kind of like Derek Jeter's batting average.)

So those looking for a little soap opera distraction from all the carnage and torture in Iraq are going to have to wait. That's too bad for George W. Bush, who probably would have appreciated the spotlight shifting from that troublesome story about blowing up a wedding party. (And he thinks that gays are a threat to marriage?).

Once the trial does start, keep your eye on it, if only for the showmanship of Peterson's defense attorney, Mark Geragos, who was recently fired by Michael Jackson. Back in 1999, Geragos got Susan


McDougal acquitted on obstruction of justice charges in the Whitewater case. When I interviewed him for a story on the case for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the man spoon-fed me quotes so delectable ("The Office of Independent Counsel is full of more crap than a Christmas goose!") that he couldn't help but get big play in the paper. Since then he has become even craftier at working the media. It's going to take a lot of hard work - cough, lawyer bullshit, cough -- but it'll be interesting to watch him try to get this chap off the hook.



You know what they say: What do you get if you play a country song in reverse? You get your car back, your woman back and your dog back...



City-dwellers loooove to poke fun at country music, but before they tease, they should try understanding it. To that end, run along to your local HMV and see if you can procure a copy of Merle Haggard's 40 #1 Hits, released today.

Like George Jones said, I was country when country wasn't cool. The kind of country I was weaned on -- Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks -- never got cool. Williamsburg's hipsters listen to Johnny Cash with a straight face, but you won't catch 'em doing the Boot-Scootin' Boogie.

And yet our generation can relate to the music of "The Hag." In a dead-end relationship? Merle has a tune for you: "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)." Hiding under your bed in a depressive funk while


all your friends beg you to go out? "I Think I'll Just Sit Here and Drink." Horny? "Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room."



It's National Backyard Games Week! Yippee! It's not much, but it's better than "Stop Smoking Day." That day has come and gone, but New York must have forgotten about it. The spotty frequency of


shootings indicate that the marauding hordes are not yet nic-fitting.

If you suspect "NBG Week" is a lame corporate-sponsored excuse to buy brightly colored plastic play products, you would be correct. Patch Products, which sells such items and "sponsors" the week, offers a more saintly reason. "The event is designed to bring families and friends together through fun outdoor activities. Physical activity


among children and adolescents has never been more important … The American Obesity Association says approximately 30% of children are overweight."

Most people in New York don't have a yard. But there are people who have yards elsewhere. Their favorite games include "mow the lawn" and "drown out that mole with a garden hose." When I happen to stumble upon a backyard, the game I prefer is "drink Coronas." But in the spirit of the week, I could be coerced, for Wednesday night only, into a game of kiss 'n' catch -- if contestants meet my standards.

Now get your fat ass out there and play.



Today the Commerce Department reports on gross domestic product for the first quarter. For all you people who still haven't figured out how to balance your checkbook, that means we are going to find out


how much the economy grew in the last three months. Economists expect growth of about 4.5%. That's hot! In 2003, when the market was smokin', GDP only grew 3.1%.

One problem with economic indicators -- housing prices, manufacturing activity, consumer spending, blah blah blah - is that they're so freaking boring. They measure boring things and then economists say boring things about them. And isn't life boring enough?

Let's shake things up with the indicators. How about a Beans-n-Ramen indicator? The government could track sales of Goya black beans and Ramen noodles. This would be so fun. Reporters would interview underemployed 28-year-olds with liberal arts degrees, asking them how much intestinal distress the economy caused

  them to endure in the past month. "Bloating, up 4% in June!"

One final word on economic indicators. If one more bozo extols the glories of productivity growth as an economic boost, I'll strangle them with my carpal-tunnel-addled hands. All it means is that I'm typing faster and faster and faster, doing five times the work I used to do because everyone else got canned during the recession. I guess they're at home now, eating beans.



The finals of World Series of Poker, created by Benny Binion in 1970, are held today at the Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas. J-Lo thought Ben was wasting too much time on the cards, but the pots are


actually quite impressive. Total prize money is $20 million, and the top winner will walk away with about $3 million.

Becky Binion Behnen (what a tongue-twister!), the daughter of the founder, says the great thing about the World Series of Poker, is that "players don't need a big reputation or a winning team behind them to participate. Anyone over 21 years of age can enter and compete and, who knows, maybe

  even win."

Well, now that you put it that way, maybe I should consider it! I'm having an awfully shitty month, and $3 million would be an excellent ameliorative. Then again, the last (and only) time I was in Vegas, I stuck to the quarter slots. I was too scared of getting booed off a $5 blackjack table for screwing up someone else's cards. I didn't warrant a single free drink from waitresses dressed in thongs made out of curtain material. In fact, I think these permed, mulleted beauties actually scorned me.

No matter. Women don't do so well in World Series Poker, anyway, at least not compared with the men. Nani Dollison, the top female winner, has netted $538,050 for five finishes. The top male winner, Phil Hellmuth, Jr., sits atop a much larger pile -- $3,526,750 for FORTY wins, and in fifth place, the aptly named Chris Moneymaker scored $2.5 million for ONE finish.

Maybe Nani just had to get up from the table to go have some babies or something.


Erin Schulte is a reporter for a big important New York publication, but still talks to us anyway.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table. Writers will be rotated, and if you're interested in contributing one, email Will Leitch at