Rich & Famous

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The Billionaire Murders

The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman
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Big League Babble On

Big League Babble On

The Misadventures of a Rabble-Rousing Sportscaster and Why He Should Be Dead By Now
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Excerpt

CityTV loved the cops and the cops loved us. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been let off over the years, after being pulled over by the police, because of who I was and where I worked. I got stopped several times on my way to work in the morning. I’d get out of the car (a complete no-no!) and walk to the cruiser, hoping that they’d recognize me and just wave at me to drive away. The gall, I know. And it worked. Mind you, one time on the PCH in Los Angeles, the CHiPs officers actually pulled out their guns ordering me back in my rent-a-car through their loudspeakers. They tried to nab me for “failure to stay in a carpool lane,” but I weasled my way out. I pulled “The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer” bit from SNL on the cops, telling them that these new lanes — which I actually had never seen — “frighten and confuse” me! “I don’t know, because I’m a simple sportscaster from Canada — that’s the way I think.” And they bought it.
But most of the time that I saw the lights a flashin’ behind me, it was very late in the evening. On one night, I was with my girlfriend Celeste and was pulled over after speeding up Avenue Road on the way home. As always, I got out of the car for a little of the “old soft shoe” tap dance.
After several minutes, the very nervous Celeste looked in the rear-view mirror and, to her horror, saw the cop and I arm wrestling over the hood of his police cruiser. She then saw the six-foot-five officer win the “feat of strength” easily. He shook my hand and told me to play more soccer highlights on the eleven o’clock sports. Oh yeah, and to stop speeding. “On your way, youngsters!”
Another time, also heading north on Avenue, a cab driver cut into my lane and sideswiped me. (Totally his fault. Even his customer said he’d testify on my behalf.) When I got out of my sports car to argue, I was pulled away by a cop who was immediately (and miraculously, I might add) on the scene. He said, “Johnny, I smell liquor on your breath. Here, come over to the side of the road. Now stand there and I’ll take care of this. Don’t let the cab driver smell the booze on your breath!” But my favourite, by far, took place in the early morning after a TIFF party (the bars are legally open until four a.m. because of the foreign press deadlines) and a cop pulled me over for speeding just about two lights south of where I lived. After a nice chat along the lines of, “Have you been drinking, Mr. Gallagher?” and me replying, “Yes,” he did the most bizarre thing for me. Now, I’m not proud of this. Eternally thankful, yes; proud, no. But after sensing that it was possible I would blow over the limit, he took off his jacket and hat and threw them in the back seat of my car. He then took my sports jacket and put it on, placed my girlfriend in the back of his police car, had his partner get in the driver seat, and then jumped into my BMW convertible and drove me home safely and soundly. He just didn’t want anyone to see that a cop was driving me home. Now, thanks to the fact that I don’t work downtown anymore, and with the advent of Uber and my new love for the TTC subway system, I refuse to get behind the wheel after any amount of drinks. It was incredibly stupid then, and nobody should take these stories as an endorsement of drunk driving, which I may or may not have been doing. I’m just glad I wasn’t given the opportunity to blow into a breathalyzer. After all, I didn’’t want it to tell me, “One at a time, please.”
One day I got called into the big boardroom at City. I had no idea what it was all about. But I entered a room full of cops, including members of the RCMP. The station’s head of security was there, too. If I was getting fired, this seemed like security overkill! Turned out that I, John Gallagher, had been sent a mysterious parcel that may or may not have contained anthrax. A white substance was all over it. The same thing had happened to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw one week after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The anthrax in Brokaw’s package infected his staff. Although my box tested negative for anthrax, no one was taking any chances. No other on-air personality at CityTV, or even in Canada, for that matter, received an anthrax threat. Just me. Hmm, maybe I should start running more soccer highlights.

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Distilled

Distilled

A Memoir of Family, Seagram, Baseball, and Philanthropy
edition:Paperback
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J.P. Bickell

J.P. Bickell

The Life, the Leafs, and the Legacy
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also available: Hardcover
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