Friday, December 02, 2005

Mr. 4000 - Tony Zumpano

***This is a fake biography. It is purely satirical and devoid of truth. Any names, places, events, etc. discussed in the following biography are not real and are purely coincidental to and have no connection whatsoever to any names, places, events, etc. that may exist in the real world.***

To say that October 9, 1978 was an important day in the history of the world would be to defy hyperbole. It was the 978th anniversary of Leif Erikson's discovery of North America, the 277th anniversary of the founding of Yale University, the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Washington Monument to the public, and the 59th anniversary of the Cincinnati Reds "winning" the World Series over the infamous Chicago Black Sox. It was the day that Hall of Fame Pitcher Rube Marquard celebrated his 92nd birthday, John Lennon celebrated his 38th birthday while his son Sean celebrated his 3rd, the greatest actor in recent memory Scott Bakula celebrated his 24th, and future NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary celebrated his 20th, undoubtedly by administering a concussion on someone. But more important than all of than all of those events combined, it was the day that Anton Szandor Zumpano was welcomed into the world.

For most of civilization, the year was 1978 Anno Domini, but for a young San Franciscan couple, Damien and Esmeralda Zumpano, the year was 12 Anno Satanas. Having come to the Bay Area in 1967 during the height of flower power, Damien and Esmeralda soon after became disenchanted and apathetic. They had come to San Francisco -- a Mayan phrase meaning "Hey, where's Francisco?" -- with visions of changing the world and changing the way people lived through peace and love. What they discovered was that, deep down, everyone was greedy and, in the end, everyone looked out for themselves above all others. In early 1971, they met a fellow San Franciscan who shared their views. His name was Anton Szandor LaVey, who, five years earlier on the pagan holiday of Walpurgisnacht, ritualistically shaved his head and formed the Church of Satan. In LaVey, the Zumpanos found someone who encouraged their hatred of mankind and cynical view of the world. In turn, LaVey found an attractive, fairly well-off, and seemingly normal couple that could spread his maniacal tenets.

By day, Damien and Esmeralda were attorneys with the Sierra Club. By night, they read to each other from the Satanic Bible, hoping and dreaming that one day they would bear fruit that would follow in their uncaring footsteps. As Damien explained, "We had two daughters who failed to realize the power of selfishness and the advantages of showing a complete lack of mercy. They were children of the hypocritical self-deceit encouraged by society, essentially spreading their love to unworthy ingrates, such as dogs, friends, and homeless people, without receiving any tangible benfit in return. Our hope was to bring into the world a child so delightfully evil, completely free of guilt and sympathy, willing to humor every one of his indulgences, no matter how inane or perverse." Satan granted their wish with the birth of their first son, who they named Anton Szandor in honor of LaVey.

Soon after Anton's birth, LaVey performed a Satanic baptism on Anton, officially welcoming Anton into the realm of Satanism. As Anton began learn the ways of the world, he quickly embraced LaVey's views. Under LaVey's guidance, young Anton soon became the crowned prince of LaVeyan Satanism. By age five, Anton was emerging as the face of young Satanists, a demographic LaVey so desperately wanted to reach. In a 1993 interview with The Black Flame, LaVey recounted Anton's : "He was truly a visionary for someone so young. Never before had I seen such self-serving deception in a child's eyes. I remember one time when he was about 6 or 7, he led a drifter into the Church, promising the man some food and a bed for the night. Anton, of course, told the man he could sleep in my office, and when the poor sap fell asleep, Anton was right there with a dagger to carve a pentagram in the man's chest. As you might imagine, this guy was none too happy, so he tried to attack Anton, but Anton did exactly what he should have done: stab the man in the throat and chest 38 times. There was blood all over my brand new white carpet, the half-naked corpse of a homeless man slouched in the corner, and Anton just sitting there going through the man's pockets with a self-satisfied smile on his face whistling some Black Sabbath. I could have stangled him, but he was just so adorable sitting there playing with that man's gold-plated necklace. How could I be mad at him? After all, he was just so damn evil, and if you recall the 9th Satanic Rule of Earth: 'Do not harm little children.'"

Anton's adorable looks, apathetic outlook on life, and surprisingly dry wit served him well in LaVey's realm. By age ten, Anton was the driving force behind (and top model for) the Church's "Handsome Little Devil" line of children's clothing. Additionally, he had authored a series of children's books, aimed at teaching America's youth that, in LaVey's words, "hey, Satanism ain't that bad." The books sold extremely well, as unknowing parents were drawn in by snappy titles and over-the-top illustrations. Here is a list of some of his best sellers:
-The Little Girl Who Cared Too Much
-Seamus the Unhappy Catholic
-The Goat Who Fought Back
-The Adventures of Lex Talionis and His Merry Pranksters

The year was 1989, and Anton was on top of the world. But the same could not be said for LaVey. Holding true to his belief that every human is (and should be) materialistic and individualistic, LaVey became increasingly suspicious of the Zumpanos. Since most of the profits from Anton's books went to the Church of Satan, LaVey assumed that Damien and Esmeralda would want their share.

LaVey hatched a scheme that he hoped would drive the Zumpanos out of the Church. Beginning on June 12, 1989, LaVey began to submit anonymous reports to various newspapers throughout the Bay Area that the Zumpanos were committing good deeds and acting charitably. The headline in the June 18 San Francisco Chronicle read, "Former Church of Satan Members Start Mission for Bay Area's Homeless." "We were devastated," recalled Esmeralda, "Especially after all we had done for the Church. I'd say I was mad or surprised, but who am I kidding? We were Satanists, for Christ's sake." The next day, the Zumpanos filed suit against LaVey for libel, settling out of court just weeks later for an undisclosed amount.

After the settlement, Damien and Esmeralda decided to split from the Church. They simply became sick and tired of the constant pressure to avenge instead of turn the other cheek, sick and tried of not being able to give unsolicited opinions or talk about their troubles without being chastised by LaVey for violating the 1st and 2nd Satanic Rules of Earth, and most of all, they were just sick and tired of the pressure to always be evil. "It got to a point where we would say something nice about a person or a building or a park, and then we'd kind of look at each other weirdly and say, 'just kidding' or something like that," explained Damien, "It just wasn't worth it anymore."

In August 1989, the Zumpanos left San Francisco, heading toward the Chicagoland area in hopes of making a fresh start. As part of that fresh start, Anton began to go by "Tony," instead of his full name, which both he and his parents thought was aligned too much with Satanism. The family settled in LaGrange Park, a southwestern suburb known mainly for its crooked cops, loose women, and a library shaped like an open book.

Tony began 6th grade at Forest Road Elementary School in late August of that year. His unusually large hair, mostly black wardrobe, and occasional fits of blind rage made his adjustment to life in a non-Satanic suburb more difficult than he would have imagined. It was the next spring, however, where Tony would go from "the creepy new guy who brings dead rabbits to school" to "Forest Road Legend."

Through the local park district, there was a weekly floor hockey league at Park Junior High every Saturday throughout the spring. After hearing some of his classmates talk about it, Tony begged Damien and Esmeralda to sign him up, which they did. "Hell, anything to help him fit in," Damien noted, "We had been getting him new clothes and various tapes -- you know, Fine Young Cannibals, Whitesnake, Paula Abdul, pretty much anything non-Satanic -- and we were weening him away from his Satanic tendencies. But he still needed something more to get him over that hump. It turned out that floor hockey did it."

Every Saturday during the spring of 1990, Tony wowed his classmates and the coaches with electrifying goals and monster checks. While he had all but abandoned the tenets of Satanism, while he was on the floor hockey court, he abided by two of the Satanic Rules of Earth: Rule 4 ("If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.") and Rule 11 ("When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him."). He had both finesse and power, eventually winning the coveted one-on-one tournament title over the heavily favored returning champion, Eric Simpson.

Known as "The Lethal Lefty," his prowess on the floor hockey court earned the respect and adoration Tony needed to fully transition into life away from Satanism. He made friends, lost his virginity hundreds of times over, and began excelling in the classroom. In the fall of 1990, he entered Park Junior High as a wide-eyed seventh grader. Upon graduation in June 1992, he would leave Park as the school's all-time leading P.E. class floor hockey scorer.

Sadly, though, floor hockey was a sport only played in the gymnasia of physical education classes, not having any sort of organized leagues. It wasn't even offered in P.E. class at the high school he was to attend, the revered Lyons Township High School in neighboring LaGrange, a school that boasted such hideously famous alumni as international ubersensation David Hasselhoff, NBA stalwart Jeff Hornacek, and online t-shirt mogul and former Junior Ulitmate Fighting Champion Greg Weeser*.

Somewhat depressed, Tony entered the summer of 1992 not knowing what his fate would be. On July 17, 1992, fate stepped in and gave Tony an unexpected roundhouse kick to the face, not unlike the ones adminstered by screen legend Chuck Norris. On that day, Tony walked to his friend Jon "Noj Kedud" Dudek's house, where the two had planned on watching the Barbarian Brothers, Peter and David Paul, in their latest movie Double Trouble, which had somehow made its way to video only 5 months after its February 1992 theatrical release.

When Tony turned up Jon's driveway to go to Jon's back door, he was greeted by the Dudek family's dog, Mac. Mac was half German Shepherd, half St. Bernard, and all evil. The fact that Mac was not restrained meant that Tony could very well have been Mac's mid-afternoon snack. Before Jon realized that Mac was loose, Mac charged at Tony, bearing his teeth. If Tony had still been a Satanist, he certainly would have been able to rely on the 10th Satanic Rule of Earth, "Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food." But alas, that chapter of his life had long since been closed, and Tony wasn't about to kill his friend's pet, no matter how menacing Mac was. Instead, Tony danced around Mac like Gale Sayers danced around defenders. Faking left, then going right. Faking right, then going left. Spin moves. Studder stepping. Even a stiff arm or two. For the five minutes it took until Jon finally corralled Mac, Tony did whatever he had to do to keep Mac's razor sharp teeth from piercing his skin.

Across the street, tending to his broken-down rental car, was none other than famed Andalusian bullfighter Antonio Ordonez, who was in Chicago meeting with officials from the White Sox on behalf of his Venezuelan nephew Magglio, an up-and-coming star in the Venezuelan junior baseball leagues. Flat tire or not, Ordonez could not take his eyes off of what was happening in the yard across the street. Ordonez recounted the experience with fondness: "Watching Tony try to elude that vicious perro was mesmerizing. He had the grace of El Cordobés, the flair of Luis Miguel Dominguín, and the moves of -- dare I say it -- Pedro Romero."

Ordonez introduced himself to Tony, and the two formed a quick bond. Not seeing anything wrong with it, Damien and Esmeralda allowed Tony to go back to Spain with Ordonez that same day to train to become a bullfighter. Ordonez took Tony to Seville, where Ordonez trained the best up-and-coming bullfighters, or novilleros. Tony took to bullfighting very quickly, and he was fighting in front of crowds in less than 6 months.

As Tony was making a name for himself, he formed a friendship with another wunderkind of bullfighting, Julian Lopez Escobar, better known as El Juli, whose brash, cocky style and flair ignited audiences throughout Andalucia, which is widely considered the Mecca of bullfighting. Their friendship grew, and they began to make a habit of sharing everything: practice time, an apartment in Seville, women. They eventually partook in the alternativa on the same day, thus becoming full-fledged matadors. In June 1993, Tony and El Juli began to fight on the same card, attracting sell-out crowds wherever they went. Billed as "Los Dos Jefitos," (or "The Two Little Bosses"), they swept through Andalusia's bullfighting arenas. Malaga, Almeria, Huelva, Jaen, Granada, Cadiz, Cordoba -- you name it, and they killed bulls there.

In two years, Los Dos Jefitos had become heroes throughout Spain. The were so popular, in fact, that they masterminded what some deemed the biggest event in bullfighting history. On July 17, 1995, at the grand stage of bullfighting, the Real Maestranza de Sevilla, Tony and El Juli had what was the equivalent of a "bullfight off." In front of over 10,000 people, they would alternate 10 fights each in that one day, competing for the lowest cumulative killing time. Tony had reached the pinnacle of bullfighting, and he hadn't even turned 17 yet.

It was supposed to be the greatest day of his life, but it ended up being the worst. In the 9th fight, Tony held a comfortable lead over El Juli. Because of that lead, Tony began to showboat for the crowd, performing dangerous maneuvers at close proximity to the bull, a particularly fiesty 5-year-old named "Diablo Blanco." While attempting to literally run circles around Diablo Blanco, the bull snapped, kicking Tony in the knees, immediately breaking both of them and sending Tony to the ground in agony. While Tony was on the ground, Diablo Blanco continued his tirade, goring Tony multiple times, resulting in large lacerations along Tony's sides and on his arms. It was the last time he would ever set foot in a bullfighting stadium.

He was hospitalized for several weeks, after which he underwent several months of physical therapy. During this time, Tony fell into a deep depression, not helped by the fact that El Juli had continued bullfighting and was still one of the most popular figures in Spain. As Tony tumbled into obscurity, he turned to drugs and alcohol to numb his ever-present pain.

Still fairly wealthy as a result of his bullfighting winnings, Tony traveled alone around Spain, southern France, and Monaco for almost 9 months. Wherever he went, he left a trail of satisfied hookers and empty sangria pitchers, bottles of prescription painkillers, beer cans, and hypodermic needles. As he wryly explained later, "I sure hope I get depressed again sometime."
But in late summer 1996, Tony realized that he yearned for something that Xanax and a myriad of call girls could not get him: a college degree in physical education. He returned to the United States on July 20, 1996, nearly four years to the day after leaving with Antonio Ordonez. Damien and Esmeralda welcomed Tony back with open arms, and soon Tony was searching for the right college. After bouncing around various colleges in the Chicagoland area for two years, Tony headed south to Charleston, Illinois, where he enrolled at Eastern Illinois University. While there, he started the school's Model CRX club, became the campus's most successful bookie, and successfully petitioned the school to instate floor hockey as an intramural sport.

While at Eastern, Tony met a co-ed named Megan "Chach" Ciaccio, who would later become his wife. In 2003, they would welcome into the world their first child, Isaac Xerxes Zumpano. Tony recently received a Masters in Kinesiology, and he teaches P.E. at a New Lenox junior high. The couple lives in Plainfield, Illinois, a far western suburb of Chicago.

Along with an unnamed silent partner, Tony owns Psycho Houdini's, an extremely successful experimental hybrid driving range, fitness club, and dance club, where the tee box actually faces the dance floor, which is also the workout area and bar. The entire building is lit only by blacklights, and golfers are required to use glow-in-the-dark balls in order to decrease the likelihood of injury. A club goer has the opportunity to hit a bucket of balls or whale on his or her glutes after pounding eight Red Bull and vodkas, all while listening to deafening techno music. Now in its second year, Pyscho Houdini's was named the Chicago Tribune Metromix's "Most Unusual Club." As Tony explained in an interview with Metromix, "I think it was Jack LaLane who said, 'The body is a temple,' and I truly believe that. No one should be forced to go to bars and clubs that only serve alcohol. Those are fixtures of an bygone era. Here at Psycho Houdini's, we serve up fun, fitness, uncertainty, and terror, in addition to alcohol."

Additionally, Tony's love of floor hockey has come full circle. He is the co-founder of the NFHL, or the National Floor Hockey League, a semi-pro floor hockey league with teams in several suburbs of Chicago. On October 18, 2005, his team, the Plainfield Tornados, beat the Wheaton Boozers 18-17 in overtime to take the inaugural Szandor Cup. The winning goal, a screaming wrist shot over the goalie's right shoulder, was made by none other than The Lethal Lefty himself.

Where he will go from here is unknown, but for a former Satanist turned bullfighter turned club owner and semi-pro floor hockey player who teaches suburban youth the ins and out of physical fitness, the sky is the limit.

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