Fighting athlete abuse

Dec 30, 2009 at 12:00 am

I haven't heard any crazy conspiracy theories lately, so I thought I'd drop in to see my pal Mulenga Harangua and catch up on the latest paranoid rumors. I figured there is plenty of fodder out there with the recent arrest of Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab for allegedly attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Maybe Harangua will describe how Detroit Public Schools czar Robert Bobb hides his horns and tail from the media; or maybe he will explain the secret suburban plan to levitate the Detroit Institute of Arts and drop it in Oakland County, thereby stealing yet another jewel from the crown of Detroit's sovereign royalness. 

Or maybe he would theorize that state Attorney General Mike Cox was actually at the Manoogian party that never happened. Now that would be a hoot.

As I climb the steps onto his porch, the pack of mutts Harangua keeps in his yard as an early warning system came to life as a yammering, howling mass of fur. Maryann, Harangua's current live-in lover, answers the door and invites me in. The living room is a shrine to Barack Obama. A giant portrait of the president dominates one wall, flanked by smaller pictures of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Jesus. A couple of bowls sit on a low table in front of the portraits. One bowl has pieces of chicken and corn in it; the other has a clear liquid. I take a sniff of the liquid and my snoot detects the odor of tequila. There are candles burning all around the room, and bits of colored paper festoon the wall and furniture.

Maryann points at the door to the basement. "He's in the shelter."

Remember Y2K, when all the computers in the world were going to crash and the world was going to be tossed back to the Stone Age? That's when Harangua turned his basement into a survival shelter. Since then he has kept it stocked for "whatever might come down." I pass boxes filled with water bottles, batteries, freeze-dried fruit and trail mix. There's a cache of weapons I don't want to look at too closely. Harangua is back in his media room keeping an eye on three computer monitors, and feverishly stabbing his fingers at multiple keyboards.

"Hey Mulenga, what are you up to? Tracking the moves of the KKK via satellite?"

"I'm researching one of the most covered-up tragedies of modern times."

"What's that?"

"Spousal and girlfriend abuse among professional athletes."

"Well, I suppose some of those guys can occasionally get pretty violent and beat their wives. They're so big and strong it's got to be a terrible mismatch. I don't blame Miguel Cabrera's wife for calling the police back in October during a physical altercation. He was drunk and she was scared. And that incident didn't sound like a first-time event to me. It sounded like she'd been through that a few times."

Mulengua turns to me, his eyes wide with disbelief. "Are you crazy? I'm talking about athletes getting abused by their wives and girlfriends. But Cabrera is a good example. He has a few drinks, which a man under the stress of a baseball championship race has every right to do, and she attacks him when he is most vulnerable. Then she wants to hide behind the police. I see through her little game."

He swivels around his monitors and points to the nearest one. "Read this story about basketball player Ron Artest."

I lean on the desk and read a piece about the professional basketball player tripping over a box and falling down the basement stairs. He suffered a concussion and cuts to his head and elbow.

"I don't see anything about his wife attacking him. He fell down some stairs on Christmas night. Probably had been drinking."

"You believe that shit? Man, you got to read between the lines. He's too ashamed to admit that his wife beat him up and pushed him down the stairs. These pro athletes have big egos. They have to put on a good front. Fell down the stairs? Yeah that's a good one. Artest is a top pro athlete. How could he just trip over a box and fall down the stairs? That's improbable. I've been trying to contact him all day. I just want to let him know that I'm behind him and to let him know about the APAA."

"What's that?"

"The Association to Protect Abused Athletes. I started it up last week after I saw that picture of Tiger Woods all beat up circulating on the Internet. I couldn't believe she abused him like that and people thought it was funny."

"I saw that picture. It was a fake. Somebody Photoshopped that thing."

"Photoshop? I don't think so. That Elfgrin woman, or whatever her name is, went after him with a golf club. She chased him out of the house, busted his car window and made him get into an accident. A golf club is a lethal weapon. She should have been arrested on the spot."

"Well, the man does seem to have made a career of collecting mistresses."

"If she had taken a lover would it have been OK for him to beat her? We can't have double standards here." Mulenga turns to another monitor and points. "Look at this here. Football player Chris Brown was killed when his fiancee pushed him off the back of a pickup truck. When is it all going to end?"

I was speechless. Mulenga went about his business, taking notes from the documents he had on screen. He turns to me abruptly.

"What about football player Plaxico Burress? Shot in the leg by a woman."

"I thought the judge ruled that he shot himself."

"You'll believe anything. Why would he shoot himself in the leg and jeopardize his career? That had to come from the evil mind of a woman. Remember when New York Yankee Carl Pavano suffered bruised buttocks a few years ago? Where do you think he got those? Ain't nothing as evil as a New York woman."

"Now you're really getting out there, Mulenga. You're outdoing yourself."

"I'm outdone by these menacing women. Look at Grant Hill and all the ankle trouble he's had in spite of some of the best medical care in the world. His wife has been kicking him in the ankle for years. The man was reduced to crying on the bench right out in public. He had nowhere to turn for help. Houston Astro Hunter Pence claims he suffered cuts on his hands and knees when he walked into a glass door. That's very, very suspicious. Joel Zumaya has suffered too many off-the-field injuries for it to be coincidence. Somebody has to stand up for these guys and I'm the one to do it."

"You're the one, all right. I just don't know just what you are one of." Suddenly it seems as though I've been there a long time. "Look, Mulenga, I've got to get out of here."

I trudge up the stairs from his dungeon. Maryann comes out of the kitchen with a dish towel wiping off a big knife. She points toward the basement with the blade. "Did he tell you what he's up to now?"


"He keeps this up for long I'm going to have to go upside his head."

I shake my head and leave. Some prophecies are self-fulfilling.

Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and former editor of Metro Times. Contact him at [email protected]