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  Psychic Vibes Keep Bandwagon Rolling

By Tony Kornheiser
Washington Post Columnist
Tuesday, January 21, 1992; Page D01

Tony Kornheiser TOMAH, WIS. -- Tense times for The Bandwagon. When we started out from Indiana (a toasty minus-4 degrees at liftoff; but my Mama didn't raise no fool, I put on the serious longjohns), the generator didn't turn over. And on this, the middle day of our journey, in hushed tones the inevitable question was asked: Was this the first sign of Bandwagon Fatigue?

"I'm not sure we're going to have much heat," senior driver Harry Lanenberg told us.

"How much is not much?" asked a shivering Man About Town Chip Muldoon.

"It won't be so bad," Harry promised.

"That's easy for you to say," Chip chattered, "you're from Minnesota. You think 30 degrees is tropical."

Huddled together, the teeming masses of The Bandwagon headed toward the Super Bowl, warming themselves with anticipation of legendary receiver Russ "The Flea" Grimm scoring on a Hog-Eligible. (Early Super Bowl tip: Jim Kelly, complaining of stress from the mentally dehydrating no-huddle offense, asked Marv Levy for "more quality huddle time.") What a thrill, passing South Bend at sunrise. I thought I heard Lou Holtz already complaining about next year's rankings. Wow! Indiana! Time for this Venturi Update: Rick "Rent, Don't Buy" Venturi still wondering whether to work on his draft list or his resume.

Great Moment In Travel History: At the toll plaza in Portage, Ind., toll-mistress Terri Price whooped as she saw The Bandwagon, "Redskins. Yeah, Redskins. I've got 100 bucks on this team. Give my best to Mark Rypien."

But the ultimate thrill for Wagoneers was driving by Chicago, home of Mike "That Toddlin' Town" Wilbon. So pervasive is Wilbon's Chicago presence that we flipped on our CB radio and asked if anyone out there had spotted That Toddlin' Town. We had three confirmed sightings:

1. In The Loop, collecting spare change to help renegotiate Neal Anderson's contract.

2. Eating a kielbasa sandwich at Ditka's restaurant while studying the Cubs spring training roster.

3. At Brentano's on Michigan Avenue, buying up copies of "The Jordan Rules" so His Airness wouldn't read them.

The second day of a three-day trip tends to have a certain transitional quality, a feeling of -- how shall I put this so I can sound totally pretentious -- ennui. The romance and mystery of the road has worn off, and you settle in to the relentless tedium of driving, and looking for memorable road signs, like this one, which I am not making up: "Grandma's Restaurant And Deer Processing (Out Back)."

You also get into esoteric discussions, like this one in which -- after agreeing that a chicken will always lay the same color egg -- we tried to decide whether there was any way of determining beforehand whether an unknown chicken would lay a brown egg or a white one. "Of course there is," Chip insisted. "You can tell by their lips."

Excuse me, Tony, aren't you going to talk about the Super Bowl?

Look, I'm in a Winnebago. Where am I supposed to get football news? Do you think Charles Mann is calling in to our cellular phone, dissing the Buffalo defense?

Driving the interstates led to a discussion of the merits of Lady Bird Johnson's highway beautification. Personally, I miss the billboards. What I wouldn't give to see that familiar series of signs: Remove The Threat/Of Feeling Ill/Root For The Redskins/Not The Bills/Coach "Joe" Gibbs Uses Burma Shave.

In Elgin, Ill., we had another Great Moment in Travel History. We'd stopped at a Howard Johnson's so I could do a telephone interview with Rick "Doc" Walker. (Thinking I was already disconnected, Doc blithely offered on air how he "never saw Tony at Redskin Park." Well, I never saw him at the Columbia School of Broadcasting. I guess he was too busy studying for a sportscasting career by playing tight end.) Serendipitously, there was a "Psychic Fair" in the hotel. I went in to ask some psychics who'd win the Super Bowl.

The all-knowing Maria Wider asked, "Who's playing?"

"You're asking me?" I said in amazement. "And you call yourself a psychic?"

I told her it was Washington and Buffalo, and she said, "I'll close my eyes and see what I see. . . . I see a 'B.' "

Another self-proclaimed psychic, Jane LeVie, also didn't know who was playing. I mean, come on, it's not like I was asking her to explain the Laffer Curve; this stuff is in the papers! Anyway, after I told her it was Washington and Buffalo, she said, "I see Washington. It seems to loom the biggest."

The Bandwagon (copyright Anthony I. Kornheiser, U.S. Copyright Office 6083723211) is proud to welcome Jane LeVie -- but she probably knew that beforehand. And some others too: Sydney Tredick, Phyllis Ritenour, that irrespressible Leonard Shapiro, Christopher Quinn and Andrew Padula, members of the band "The Treading Lemmings," who reciprocally offered The Bandwagon membership in their fan club, "The Rodent Floatilla," John T. Luke Jr., who proposed his wife Sharon as a navigator, saying she is so good at finding alternate routes, "she now gets to work three full minutes before she leaves our house," Olga and Pete Evanko, Steve Jaworowski, Ben Gladstone, who wants to go to Bandwagon College, Cowboys haters Jim Turtora and Concetta C. Goetzinger, Joe and Nancy Neomany and Steve "Mighty Molar" Eisenberg, a dentist who sent along a Bandwagon Dental Hygiene Kit for proper brushing and flossing in Minneapolis, though he conceded such efforts might be impossible there, as the low temperature might "freeze your lips shut."

Just south of Madison, Wis., we saw our first Minnesota road sign: "St. Paul 254." Flushed with excitement, we drove a bit further, then pulled into Tomah, "Gateway To Cranberry Country." (This was somewhat confusing, since we thought Wisconsin was Cheese Country, and indeed our junior driver, Minnesota's own Scott Stenbeck, liked to refer to Wisconsiners as "Chedd-heads.") Tomah is also the birthplace of Frank King, who created the comic strip "Gasoline Alley."

The Bandwagon was warmly welcomed with a personal note from hotel manager Barry R. Bisbee, who wrote: "In our neck of the woods we can boast cranberries, Gasoline Alley, deer hunting, the Amish and fat women {italics mine}." The Bandwagon is forwarding Mr. Sensitivo Bisbee's name to the White House for consideration as Chief of Protocol.

And so we say: Minneapolis Or Bust -- but perhaps we shouldn't say that, given the condition of the generator.

© Copyright 1992 The Washington Post Company

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