Asterisk Nation – Dan Bern

Aquarian Weekly 3/15/06 REALITY CHECK Guest Columnist – Dan Bern

ASTERISK NATION Look In The Mirror, It’s Barry Bonds

Barry BondsHaving already beaten this particular lifeless steed into oblivion some 13 months ago, almost to the day, I decided to place a call into the badlands and rile up my brother-in-arms, Dan Bern. The man this space affectionately anointed The Admiral some years ago has become my favorite songwriter, author of a damn fine book I helped fashion to some degree, and an award-winning sports columnist. But I didn’t call on him for any of those reasons. The man loves Barry Bonds. True love. Unconditional amore. Sick. Unwavering. Enviable.

This week Sports Illustrated printed excerpts from a book due later this month by San Francisco Chronicle scribes that details Bonds jacking himself with every known steroid to modern man for some seven years. This has caused a furor among baseball purists who want his miraculous 2001 single-season home run record of 73 to be stricken from the record, or, if possible, place an asterisk next to his name in the all-time list, of which Bonds is fast approaching number two with a bullet.

But for Bern, the SF Giants are his team, and Bonds, his man. He will follow both into the bowels of hell, an offer he once proffered to me after a night of too many in the desert. I might take him up on it some day. For now, he gets the floor.



So you want to put an asterisk after his name. Fine. Put an asterisk after his name. As long as his name’s still up there, put anything you want after it. Barry Bonds.* Or is it Barry Bonds*. Asterisk then period, or period then asterisk? I think the last one’s right. Asterisk then period.

Why does it have to be an asterisk? How about an ampersand? Barry Bonds&.

Barry Bonds%.

Barry Bonds@.

That looks pretty good. Barry Bonds@.

What did he do, really? Violate a drug policy that was never in effect? You know he looked at McGwire in ’98, with bovine calves, and figured, man. If that big ox can take whatever he’s taking and hit 70, what would a truly great player hit? Namely me? Barry Bonds^. Not bad.

Barry Bonds^, Rafael Palmeiro^ and Jose Canseco^.

How about the senators who led the grand inquisition? How about the Zoloft, Ativan, Prozac, Levitra in their veins when they’re legislating? Do they get asterisks, too?

John McCain*. Elizabeth Dole*. Tom Delay**:{&!

In fifteen years, when genetic engineering really gets going, steroids are going to look like Chicklets.

Where do we draw the line? What is not a performance-enhancing substance? Contact lenses? Double frappuccino? Viagra? Bee Pollen? Gatorade? One-a-Day? In fifteen years, when genetic engineering really gets going, steroids are going to look like Chicklets. And what about Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi’s kids? Isn’t that genetic engineering? Isn’t that a little unfair? Don’t those kids needs asterisks, too?

Barry Bonds#.

Barry Bonds$. Hmm. Maybe that’s too attractive. Everybody’s gonna want one. From here, the whole thing looks like Smoke Screen Central. War bad, economy bad, popularity numbers bad-how’s about a Steroid Scandal! Let’s get Bonds-no one likes him anyway! Let’s get him before he gets the home run record away from Ruth. What? Ruth doesn’t hold the record anymore? Who? Aaron? Well….at least he was a nice boy….

Barry Bonds+. Yeah. No kidding.

Barry Bonds=. Wow. Wonder what’s on the other side of that.

Barry Bonds;. Kinda cool. A semi-colon. You’re always stopping sentences, making them pause before they can continue. That Bonds;–he always makes you take a breath.

The Steroids Era. I can kinda buy it. Like the Dead Ball Era, the Ruth Era, the War Years.

The Steroids Era. 1986 (Canseco’s* Rookie Year) – 2004 (inclusive). The Steroids Era saw monstrous home run totals and equally monstrous physiques. The Steroids Era saw Brady Anderson* hit 50, Greg Vaughn* hit 50, Luis Gonzalez* hit 50. McGwire* hit 50 four years running, Sosa* hit 60 three out of four years. McGwire* hit 70 and Barry Bonds* hit 73. Ken Caminiti* died.

Maybe if I were trying to get the big guy out, I’d be more worked up about Bonds*. But from what I hear, a lot of the pitchers were juicing, too. The guys who were doing it invariably say, “It just maximizes my workouts. I recover faster.” Which is pretty much what the guys who take Vitamin C say. Of course, the guys who don’t take steroids (or who haven’t gotten caught) say other things: “He’s superhuman. His hat grew three sizes.”

Maximizing my workouts, assuming I’m working out, sounds pretty good to me. Heck, half the stuff, they advertise on the radio late at night. “Human growth hormone.” Wow. That sounds pretty good. Honey, can I get that? And The Cream and The Clear, can I get that too?

The Cream* and The Clear*. It sounds so, well, clear. They aren’t even pills. You just rub it on your skin. That sounds nice. Kind of like a nicotine patch. And how about that? Isn’t that cheating? Shouldn’t you have to quit smoking without artificial enhancements? Shouldn’t nicotine patch people have an asterisk, too?

Or if you’ve had a flu shot? Two hundred years ago they didn’t have flu shots. They just died. Without your flu shot, you’d be dead. Shouldn’t you have an asterisk, too? How are we supposed to compare actuarial tables from 1806 with actuarial tables from 2006*?

All right, kids. Enough. Have a great Cialis* weekend. Enjoy your asterisk-less existence while you can. Today they come for Barry Bonds*. Tomorrow they come for you*.


Dan Bern is the author of “World Cup – A Sort of Diary” and “Quitting Science by Cunliffe Merriwether”. Some of his recordings include “New American Language”, “Fifty Eggs” and “Fleeting Days”. He has a new one due out this year and will be performing at Carnegie Hall on 4/22.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Social tagging:

Leave a Reply