Monday, September 10, 2007

Wonderland, Not So Wonderful

Steven Crist returns to Wonderland, a dog racing track, and is disappointed -- again:
I spent four or five nights a week there from 1976 to 1978, then returned for the first time 22 years later, toward the end of the Handicapalooza tour I did with Mike Watchmaker. It was devastating. I wrote in a column for the July 25, 2000 Daily Racing Form:

"The pilgrimage was disheartening. We remembered Wonderland as a charmed place, a bustling little quarter-mile oval with packed stands and a busy grandstand apron. What we found was a grim and silent simulcasting factory with lots of television monitors but little energy. In the clubhouse dining room, no one even bothered turning up the sound to alert you that Swifty the mechanical rabbit was beginning his appointed rounds and the race was about to start."

I tried again in 2003, during what may have been the first and was certainly the last book signing ever held at a dog track. My chief memory of the event is that the guy who used a boxcutter to open the two cartons of books we had ambitiously sent also opened a crucial vein on his arm, spraying every copy with his bloody autograph. I choose to believe that's the only reason we sold roughly two (2) copies.


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