Dawn of the Diaz

Bill Haas trumps other Blog o' the Week possibilities, a white supremacy group loses its power (literally), and we wonder if Hotel Rwanda is OK for kids; plus, everybody loves Einar!

The Einar Diaz era is upon us.

Before the names Mulder, Eckstein and Grudzielanek became familiar to Redbird faithful, there was Einar, quietly inking a one-year, $600,000 contract after pocketing $2,587,500 as a backup catcher in Montreal last year. Thanks to Einar's decisiveness, Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty let Mike Matheny move to San Francisco, freeing up money to maneuver.

It was with great enthusiasm that Unreal MetroLinked our way last Tuesday to Major League Baseball's open casting call, intent on gauging super-fan reaction to the Dawn of the Diaz. Unfortunately, at events like this, knowledgeable devotees are outnumbered by wackadoos and starfuckers. Only one out of some forty fans we queried outside Gate 7 at Busch Stadium had even heard the name "Einar Diaz."

That fan was Nick Desmedt of Oakville.

"I just know he was on the Expos and had a two-something batting average," said Desmedt. "Isn't he, like, 35 years old?"

Yes and no, Nick. Einar is 32 years old and a native of Panama. His career batting average is .256, although last year in Montreal he slumped to .223 in 139 at-bats. And from the looks of some photos of Einar when he was with Texas in 2003, he is a very sexy-looking Latin lover.

"He's good looking, yeah," observed Sandy Sparks, a south-county resident with a foam bat affixed to her forehead beneath a cardboard baseball that read, "I'm batty for the Cardinals."

"He's a cutie," seconded Dogtown's Debbie McVey, 49. "He's still in my [age] range. If he don't have a place to stay, he can stay at my house."

They don't call this the best baseball city in America for nothin', Einar.

Shake, Rattle and Reel

On Wednesdays the Plaza Frontenac Cinema opens early for "Rattles and Reels," a once-a-week a.m. screening that allows local mommies to experience the joy of a day at the movies. The idea is simple: You tote Mini-You to the theater, where, seated with other similarly encumbered parents, the occasional (or constant) bleating of the fruit of your loins will go unremarked.

"Oh, the moms love it," Laura Resnick, general manager of the St. Louis office of Landmark Theatres, tells Unreal. "They don't have to worry about their kids screaming, crying and running around and bothering anyone. And the moms get a chance to see movies that they'd otherwise miss."

Like Hotel Rwanda, which was showing the morning Unreal stopped by.

Onscreen, a sympathetic Hutu hotel manager (Don Cheadle) was a passenger in a car being driven down a bumpy road through thick fog. When he gets out of the car, he realizes he and his companion have been driving over human corpses. Up ahead, as far as the eye can see, murdered Tutsis litter the road.

"Yeah," Resnick conceded with a sigh when Unreal inquired whether she was the booker who'd Rattled and Reeled a film set during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. "It's probably not the best one to show."

Generally, Resnick says, she chooses movies that are more kid-friendly. Like Beyond the Sea and Finding Neverland, two recent Reel Rattlers. "Vera Drake is about abortion, so of course we didn't show that," she notes. "And I don't think we'll be showing The Woodsman, which is about a child molester."

Let the record reflect that Unreal didn't run across a single squirt being treated to a film about genocide. Although there was a lot of crying and screaming during our viewing of Hotel Rwanda, it all transpired onscreen.

White Power Outage

Those Jerry Springer episodes where Klan members come onstage and the studio audience boos the sheet out of them are a win-win for everyone: The crowd gets to feel self-righteous, the Klansmen get to be seen by a national audience of potential recruits, and Unreal gets to watch.

Of course, on the home front all we've got is the National Alliance and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but it'll do in a pinch. Especially last month, when the white separatists found their way into the daily fishwrap no fewer than four times in eight days, referred to as the "largest and most active neo-Nazi group in the nation," with a local chapter that's "especially active."

Two of the stories concerned an Alliance ad MetroLink initially accepted but later pulled from its trains; a third was a profile of the NA's public face, Frank Weltner; and the last had the Alliance denying responsibility for a rash of racist banners hanging from area interstate overpasses.

For an organization that would banish Barry Manilow from the realm of American pop culture (no joke: see www.natall.com), it was a veritable tsunami of publicity. "We received about 50 messages with phone number and addresses after the first day of media attention, and that's much more than normal," says local spokesman Aaron Collins.

But the following day, Collins recounts ruefully, the group discovered its phone line had been taken down. Collins blames Available Communications, which supplied both the line and the answering service. "'We don't want to deal with your shit,'" he says he was told when he called the St. Louis-based company to complain. "'But it's not necessarily that. The reason we terminated you was because you have a history of nonpayment.'"

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