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Black & Tanifan

Unreal's eyes are smilin' on the Irish Person of the Year. Plus, a sobering Local Blog o' the Week, some much-loved clean jokes and...what were we talking about?

Unreal was shocked to learn that Rams radio personality Jim Hanifan has never been named "Irish Person of the Year" by the St. Louis chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, whose past honorees include Donnybrook's Martin Duggan and local soccer legend Harry Keough.

Hanifan, who coached the St. Louis football Cardinals during their famed early-1980s Era of Mediocrity, gets his long-deserved moment in the spotlight at the Hibernians' April 1 Emerald Ball. In the meantime, he spoke with Unreal about old-country stout, Dogtown and, of course, coin tosses.

Unreal: How does this honor rank compared to winning the Super Bowl or being named to the All-American team?

Jim Hanifan: I think you kind of take them in different departments, so to speak. Obviously, you win that Super Bowl, it's the pinnacle in that profession that you've chosen. Winning honors as a player is nice to do, but you can only do that when you have other fellows with you doing it. And this is an honor that you look at and respect because it's talking about your family, your ancestors.

Do you subscribe to the ancient Irish theory, "Guinness is good for you"?

Definitely — particularly back on the old sod. I like it over there.

Similarly, should every red-blooded Irishman consume Jameson with vigor?

I'd rather not get into that. I used to do quite a bit of drinking some time ago.

What's the bigger event: Soulard Mardi Gras or St. Patrick's Day in Dogtown?

Dogtown, no question about it.

If you're granted the honor of choosing the first song for folks to dance to at the Emerald Ball, what will your selection be?

That would be kind of a tossup between "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "Danny Boy."

Do you think when the Seahawks picked "tails" and won the Super Bowl coin toss they were doomed them from a karmic standpoint?

Well, not really. You still have to go out there and play the game. I know I talked about heads being better than tails [see Unreal, November 30, 2005], but it's really irrelevant. It's the team that makes the big plays that's going to win the ballgame, and obviously the Steelers made the big plays.

Contra Diction

Ferguson native Gary Duncan may be the operations manager at a chaste St. Louis Christian radio station, KFUO (850 AM). But on the Web he's Bubba Bohacks, a slightly off-color, white-trash Tennesseean whose Blue Collar Comedy Tour-inspired "Joke of the Day" podcast consistently ranks among iTunes' Top 100, attracting up to 60,000 monthly downloads at

The Bubba schtick is hardly inauthentic: While Duncan has lived in Collinsville for the past nine years, he did spend a year working for a station in the Volunteer State back in the 1980s. On top of that, the bulk of his kin are true-blue rubes.

"My dad's from Arkansas, and my uncle lives in the Boot Heel," says Duncan, who's 46. "The character itself is kind of a mix between my dad, my brother and my uncle. My brother also lives in the Boot Heel — which is funny, because he grew up in St. Louis with me but his southern accent is so thick you'd think he's lived there all his life.

"As far as the lifestyle, I don't say anything degrading," Duncan hastens to add. "I would say Larry the Cable Guy is running interference there. Bubba's just a good old country boy having fun."

While Duncan's been honing his chicken-fried dialect ever since college, Bohacks and his joke of the day didn't take shape until Duncan hosted a country-music show on KWRE (730 AM) in Warrenton in the late '80s.

"In Warrenton there was a restaurant called Dohack's," he recounts. "I thought: I'll just make that a B, it'll flow better."

How does he reconcile the crassness of his daily joke with the conservative Christian underpinnings of his full-time gig?

"I keep the Bubba jokes as clean as possible," says Duncan. "Sometimes I see a funny joke and say, 'I wish I could tell that — but I just can't.' People who like Branson will like the character. I think God gave us all a good sense of humor."

And how does he justify having one foot in a Web-based medium that some feel poses a challenge to radio at large?

"I don't think it will really undermine traditional radio," Duncan predicts. "You can't be up to the minute on weather, news and traffic on a podcast. And most people don't localize their podcast. That's the same reason I don't think satellite radio will take over."

Old School

The term "senior moment" entered the English lexicon in grand fashion in 2000 when Webster's New World College Dictionary deemed the phrase "Word of the Year." Loosely defined as a momentary lapse in memory experienced by a senior citizen, the term is commonly used to excuse a litany of gaffes. (Forgetting the names of your children and driving miles with your turn signal on immediately come to mind.) But as the theme to an art exhibition?

Yes indeedy. Beginning next week the St. Peters Community & Arts Center hosts "Senior Moments," a show and competition dedicated to elders of all stripes. Seeking details, Unreal dialed up the center's supervisor, Cindy DuBois.

Unreal: How did you hit upon such a provocative theme?

Cindy DuBois: "Senior Moments" is for artists age 50 and older, and high-school and college seniors. We find that many times our older artists learn cutting-edge techniques from our younger artists: The young mentor the old.

So it's like you're preparing them for the diaper changes and adult babysitting they'll someday provide their own parents?

Well, that is not the gist of why we do this.

What would be the more difficult Senior Moment to illustrate: Grandpa getting his chest hairs caught in the zipper of his pants, or Granny's cud-chewing?

Oh, yeah, there have been some jokes. The seniors are having a hoot with this. They don't take anything seriously.

What's next? How do you top "Senior Moments"?

I'm planning a show for later this year called "Black, White and Red All Over." It will feature black-and-white paintings and drawings that bring out the color red.

You're really one for linguistic brinkmanship, huh?

Oh, yeah. You're going to see a lot of different things here. It's time to shake it up.

Local Blog O' the Week

"Inside the Mind of a Maniac"
Author: Carolyn

About the blogger: Carolyn is a 30-year-old "HIV Prevention Department Manager."

Recent Highlight (January 29, 2006): For Christmas, she couldn't help herself, she took him a plate of Christmas cookies. He wasn't in his usual place, saying he'd been scared off by kids that threw rocks at him, as well as the police telling him he had to be off the island. The weather had been below zero degrees, and somehow he'd made it. Once they were engaged in chit-chat...the floodgates opened. Apparently he was quite wealthy and "they" were keeping the money from him...but his attorney is working on it...then he'll have money. There were several "theys" that fit into the equation. Having worked as a psychiatric nurse, I believe my mother got a clue as to how he came to be homeless. The same way many other homeless are homeless.

She seemed a little heartbroken. The thing that she held onto was that a well-dressed man in a nice car seemed to check on Rupert while she was there. She surmised it could have been his of "they". I asked about him today and she said she hasn't been back to the island, and she feels that she probably won't ever see him again.

I knew immediately why I suggested she keep her distance. I had my own Rupert, but his name was Nathan. Nathan was an old stringy veteran that had an elaborate camp set up behind the flood wall in the city. He was hospitable and loved by outreach workers. He required little, and helped others out that didn't have set-ups as nice as his (keep in mind, his set-up was still outside, made mostly of garbage...but still pretty comfortable in temperate weather). Nathan was murdered last summer. The police say by another homeless man...we (outreach workers) feel it was a group of young white teenagers...the same ones that beat and hospitalized another man we know.

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