Despite the title, this column is not about West Hollywood or the gay lifestyle. (Nor is it about the heterosexual lifestyle.) It’s definitely not my intent to offend anyone from GLAAD. (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, not the trash bag manufacturer.)

Frankly, why we’re so concerned about someone’s sexual preference is beyond me. And yet the 2004 presidential election was a referendum on gay marriage and whether one chooses to be gay. Funny, but I don’t remember choosing to be heterosexual.

Somehow the religious right managed to make gay marriage the overriding issue (reaffirming H. L. Mencken’s “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”).

During the ‘04 election, Jeff Gannon was a Neo-con male prostitute turned “journalist.” (His website was, not to be confused with the Columbia School of Broadcasting.) Inexplicably, with only one weekend of journalism training, Gannon became a White House reporter. In baseball terms, that’s like going from Little League on Monday to the Yankees on Friday.

Gannon was at the White House approximately 200 times, often when there was no press conference. I’ve always suspected that he had a client, I mean, contact, high up in the Bush Administration.

But back to my title. “Queen for a Day” was actually a reality TV show, circa 1956. Five female contestants would reveal the sad details of their tragic lives. This would invariably leave the audience in tears, so it was definitely not a sit-com.

Finally, the audience would vote (applause measured by a suspect “applause meter”). The woman with the most depressing story would be crowned Queen for a Day and win a slew of prizes. (I always worried that the other four women would go home and commit suicide.) Given our present economy, maybe they ought to bring the show back?

Tom Duggan, an opinionated drunk, hosted another program of that era. Duggan had an equally obnoxious panel who would sit around a table, nosh on cold cuts and pastries, smoke cigars and argue. (Definitely not PBS programming.)

The panelists were also sponsors. Overweight Eddie Gevirtz owned Regal Furs and always brought gorgeous, high-heeled models wearing mink stoles. (This was before feminism or PETA.)

Another panelist was Eddie Nalbanian, the dapper owner of Zachary All, a men’s store on Wilshire. It’s scary but I still remember Eddie’s deadpan pitch, “We have clothes in all sizes: cadet, extra short, regular, long, extra long and portlies.” I’d hate to be a cadet or a portly.

I mention all of this because at my apartment building we have a TV room with a new high-def big screen. (We also got new blinds in the gym. Our cup runneth over.) During the NBA playoffs, especially when the Lakers are playing, an eclectic group of us gather to watch the game and solve world problems. It’s a bit like the Duggan show, but without cigars or gorgeous girls modeling furs. (Damn!)

The gathering includes Lakers fans of all ages. Ethan, 14, a talented basketball player who starts Santa Monica High School in September; Liam, 13, a first baseman in the Westchester Babe Ruth League; and Kamran, 18, who works part-time at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter, and graduates from Samohi in June. The ages of these three combined is five years less than Carol, our lone female “member,” has been an M.D. (Since 1960.)

We have two more doctors. Peter runs an AIDS foundation, and went out on a limb that Orlando would beat Boston and then the Lakers. (Currently Orlando is down 0-2, and the Lakers are up 2-0 so the limb’s a bit shaky.) Andy is a heart surgeon. God forbid, someone in the group has a heart attack, Andy might be the M.V.M. (Most Valuable Member).

Others in our “posse” include Russell, a mortgage broker, and Daniel, a surf instructor and organic coconut entrepreneur. (I couldn’t make this stuff up.) Lastly, while on their breaks, security guards Juan and Douglas might pop into the TV room to offer their opinions.

And, much like a certain body part we all sit on, everyone in the group has an opinion. Kobe’s stupendous, or Kobe, in that L.A. Times fashion layout, looked like a cross between Tupac and Liberace. (I think the former.) Some think Phil Jackson is a Zen genius, while others say he’s an example of the Emperor’s Clothes. (For me, it’s the former, again.)

Without mentioning names (Hartman), some in the building resent our watching the Lakers and consider it a complete waste of time. I disagree. Paraphrasing from the iconic “Wide World of Sports,” our bonding enhances the thrill of victory and eases the agony of defeat. That said, if we can’t have girls modeling furs at least cold cuts and pastries would be nice.

Jack can be reached at

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