Capt. Richard Phillips had a few unofficial parties welcoming him Sunday when he arrived in Minnesota for a speaking engagement at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park.
The survivor of a 2009 Navy SEAL rescue after being taken hostage from the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, Phillips was at the synagogue to talk about heroism on the high seas while promoting his book, “A Captain’s Duty.” The book was turned into the Tom Hanks movie “Captain Phillips.” Somebody on the captain’s Detroit-Twin Cities flight apparently tweeted his pending arrival via Delta (and not Sarah Olitzky, wife of the synagogue’s rabbi, who was also on that plane).
“Somebody drove down to the airport just to [see me],” Phillips said Sunday of four guys who wanted his signature on some posters. (I’m betting these were local professional autograph seekers known to me, although they hate it when I say so.)
“They caught me in baggage claim,” Phillips said with a laugh, and their efforts continued as he repeated his quip to his admirers: “You came down here for this?”
“I’ll have to find out who that was” on Twitter who posted the arrival information, said Capt. Phillips. That may not be easy, however, since he admitted, “I don’t tweet. I barely text.”
The event’s media handler, Sarah Gruber, tried to find out what was posted but found nothing under “Minneapolis # Capt. Phillips” on Twitter.
When I arrived at the synagogue to interview Phillips, I encounter a locked entrance that a young man was reluctant to open.
Rabbi Avi Olitzky told me that prior to my arrival the calm of the synagogue had been interrupted by a man who burst through the unlocked door and announced he was attending the private VIP reception for Phillips.
“Those tickets were $360,” said Gruber. “No one was walking into that.”
Brought down by ’locks?
Maybe it’s time for dreadlocks wearer Larry Fitzgerald to worry.
Perhaps because of the Minneapolis native’s image as one of the nicest NFLers, Fitzgerald has formerly been unconcerned about a defender having the temerity to grab a handful of the Cardinals wide receiver’s flowing dreadlocks as he scampers for the end zone.
At Fitzgerald’s 2007 Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, held in memory of his mom, who died in 2003 from breast cancer, I asked if anyone had ever tried to tackle him by his hair. He said no, and that he was not worried about it happening.
But last month one of Fitzgerald’s teammates, Andre Ellington, lost a bunch of dreadlocks when Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin grabbed them.
“Babin emerged from the pile of bodies clutching a mysterious black tangle of what looked like snakes; he thrust it into the air like a victorious gladiator,” wrote the New York Times’ Alex Williams last week in a story about “Heady Days for Hair in the NFL.”
Williams’ piece included a hair-note about Fitzgerald that I apparently missed when first reported by ESPN.com: “ ... Fitzgerald, a pioneer of the visible-hair movement, spends every Friday evening during the season in a home salon in his master bedroom, ‘complete with black leather pump chair, wash basin, TV and cone-of-silence hair dryer. There are two types of dudes in the NFL,’ ” Mr. Fitzgerald was quoted as saying, ‘The dudes who care about their dreads and the dudes who don’t.’ ”
With all the reports about the nether-regions that desperate NFLers will grab, squeeze and pinch to gain a competitive advantage, I wonder if Fitzgerald’s bad-hair day is coming on the field.
Singing for Salvation
Whatever rocking bell ringer Ricky Weeth wants to sing is just fine with Salvation Army envoy Bill Miller.
“He’s a guy who’s played in a lot of bands who is doing this for me as a favor,” Miller told me Monday. “He plays whatever he wants to play. I’ve got guys singing Motown and him playing other stuff.”
Ladies and gentlemen with startribune.com/video access, I now give you Ricky Weeth singing Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” at the Mall of America, with most unfortunate background vocals.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.