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Putting Out Red Carpet for Cornhusker Folks

I learned my lesson after calling Philadelphia a “hell hole” during the NBA finals and receiving 7,000 nasty e-mails--including a bomb threat that prompted a successful investigation by the LAPD--and so I’ve vowed never again to tell the truth when it comes to wackos and where they live.

This is going to make it very tough, of course, to write about the impending invasion of Nebraska nuts and their mad Winnebago dash for a view of the sun in escaping the dead of another middle-of-nowhere winter.

In fact, when Pasadena officials told me they were opening an RV parking lot adjacent to the Rose Bowl on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Dec. 29, my first reaction was to label it Hick Haven. I caught myself, though.

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To demonstrate how far I have come, I told Pasadena officials I wanted to help the nuts, and said I’d publicize the fact there will be no public facilities available in Hick Haven, although I shouldn’t think that’ll bother these people.

Now from there, the hicks--pardon me, I’m new at this--the fine folk from Nebraska are expected to fan out through greater L.A. and enjoy many of the things they’ve only heard about while huddled around the family radio.

With this in mind, I have a contact inside the Playboy Mansion, you know like Woodward and Bernstein had Deep Throat, and my Deep Throat advised me if Nebraska--like Washington and Iowa have done--would like to drop by and have some of the Playmates give a tour, it could be arranged.

(In case you were wondering, I checked, and over the years Playboy has featured three Playmates claiming Nebraska as their home, which means just about every attractive woman in the state has made an appearance in the magazine.)

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THIS IS sorghum harvest time back in the sticks, which is big money back there, and from what the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau tells me, we ought to be putting on our best bib overalls to greet these people.

“We’re talking about wallets that come from a part of the world that are as thick as any in the country,” said Michael Collins, executive vice president of the LACVB. “You’re going to have at least 20,000 wallets landing here fat and full, emptying them out over four or five days, and then returning home happy.”

We certainly want all the people from Nebraska to return home. Now, as far as being happy, I don’t want to see these folks played for suckers--just because they’re dressed in red from head to toe and telling everyone who will listen it’d be a “memory of a lifetime” if they were selected to sit in the audience for “The Price Is Right.”

That’s why I checked with a local sightseeing company to see if the grand Nebraskan himself, Johnny Carson, really has a house on those Hollywood tours.

“He lives in Malibu,” said the tour guide. “We don’t go there.”

I asked about Marlon Brando, who was born in Nebraska, but was told he lives in Tahiti. “On the Waterfront?” I cracked. “We don’t go there,” he said.

I asked about another famous son, David Janssen, and he seemed befuddled. “The Fugitive,” I said, “The guy who was always running away from Nebraska.”

I got the impression the tour guide was from Philadelphia, because he didn’t laugh, and when I asked for directions to the Hollywood teepee of Nebraska’s very own Crazy Horse, he told me where to go--and that confirmed it.

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I CALLED Mitch Dorger, the Roses’ chief exec, and, forgetting my new commitment to stop the name calling, asked if he was as excited about having the hicks in town.

“We don’t consider them as such,” he said. “They’re just good, salt-of-the-earth football fans,” who’d give anything to meet Bob Barker.

Miami and Nebraska each received 20,000 tickets for the title game, while UCLA and USC each received about 1,600, presumably to give people like Mike Garrett and Bob Toledo the feeling of what it’s like to go to a national championship game.

The Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission is also offering tickets to the game, VIP parade seats, transportation to both and a huge gala the night before the game at the Pasadena Conference Center, which will be catered by some of L.A.'s finest restaurants. It will also be a chance for the yokels from Nebraska to maybe mingle with celebrities, such as Bill Dwyre, sports editor of The Times.

The price for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to maybe meet Dwyre is $1,249, and LASEC President Kathy Schloessman said, “we’ve sold four so far.

“I thought it’d be like a Super Bowl and everyone would just come to the national championship. I was wrong--it’s very much a school-supported event.”

I suggested downplaying the idea Dwyre might be there, and instead concentrating on Regis Philbin, the parade’s grand marshal, who will almost have to be in attendance--maybe even implying Kelly Ripa will be with him.

If the Kmart crowd from Nebraska hears they have a chance to rub shoulders with Regis & Kelly, they’ll break the doors down to be there.

“Hey, you can offer to marry me to someone from Nebraska if it will generate more ticket sales,” said Schloessman and, always happy to help, I say consider it done.

I’d imagine mail-order brides are nothing out of the ordinary there anyway--what with all the women willing to go anywhere if it will get them out of Philly.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in an e-mail from XxxNickyDxxX107:

“Just get out of L.A. Hometown journalists are supposed to be for their team, but you pick on USC. Go to Idaho where they couldn’t give a darn about their teams.”

I worked in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and those people told me to leave and go to L.A.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com


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