I mean, John Morris, who always has embraced the if-I-can’t-say-anything-good-about-someone-I won’t-say-anything mantra, suddenly oozing goodwill affability towards those who operate civic business? I mean, John Morris, whom detractors long have insisted took too many bumps to the noggin during his days as a rugby player with the Belmont Shore club he co-founded, suddenly joining the establishment? Well, believe it or not – and those of us who know this ham-and-cheese sandwich version of Ralph Nader find it quite stunning – John Morris the other day actually said to me: “I just can’t say enough nice things about the way everyone in the city has come together in regard to the Amgen Tour of California bicycle event. It’s just been unbelievable. “The Special Events office of the city with Blair Cohn heading the way has been tremendous. So has the Downtown Business Associates with Kraig Kojian. And so has Pat West of the Redevelopment Agency, who also is an avid cyclist. The cooperation we have received from all the agencies has just been marvelous.” It was like hearing Rosie O’Donnell reciting kind words about Donald Trump, or hearing Donald Trump do the same about Rosie O’Donnell. It was like hearing George W. Bush throwing rhetorical bouquets at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was like hearing Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears announcing they were joining DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). I mean, John Morris, Long Beach’s notorious political gadfly, City Hall’s most virulent critic, lifetime detester of government bureaucrats, artful connoisseur of titillating gossip, Pine Ave. restaurant pioneer, weathervane of downtown rhythms, suddenly saying something positive about those who conduct city affairs? I was waiting for a punch line from Mr. Morris. But the guy was actually serious! He kept a straight face! Honest to goodness, cross my heart, hope that Jim Hankla and Henry Taboada and Jerry Miller don’t faint when they hear about Morris’ dramatic reversal. Apparently, Morris is thrilled about the way the city has reacted to the Amgen Tour of California race that climaxes Sunday in Long Beach, as it followed through with his suggestion to put up those seven huge “Party With A Purpose” banners that are now adorning buildings on Pine. He also, of course, is thrilled that there will be a big party on Pine Saturday evening, with the street closed off between 6 and 11 p.m. and a New Year’s Eve-like celebration planned with three bands, The Emperors, Tripadavon and The Bravery, scheduled to perform. “It’s going to be tremendous,” says Morris, whose Smooth’s just happens to be located right in the middle of the action. The admission charge for those wanting to visit the Pine venue that will be closed off between First and Third streets will be $35, and most of the 12 restaurants in the area participating in the event already have reached capacity. Morris also has played a vital role in this as he has been working the phones feverishly like a telemarketer lining up dining customers at $125 a pop – with almost half of the money to be funneled to the 16 involved charities. “The irony is that I’ve helped sell out all the restaurants except my own,” he said. But John Morris wasn’t complaining. Not a bit. He even was smiling about that development. “Oh, I figure I’ll be sold out by Saturday night,” he said. But, in the meantime, this celebrated curmudgeon doesn’t evince even a hint of being upset with anyone connected to the city, a historic milestone. “It’s just been a pleasure working with the downtown people,” he said. Who ever thought a bicycle race would inspire such a stunning personality change? That benefit for Abe Yapp and Roy Wade Jr. held Wednesday night at the Gaslamp turned out to be quite a success, with a large crowd showing up in support of the Long Beach police officers who are recovering from gunshot wounds suffered while on duty on Dec. 22. Had a nice chat with Anthony Batts. I don’t know if he’s the best police chief in the country, but I doubt there is one more buffed out. The guy looks like he belongs in a Mr. Olympia contest as he fills out his police uniform in impressive style. Still recovering from a rather dysfunctional Tuesday evening at Mahe in which I mixed too much sake with too much vodka, I limited myself to a cup of coffee and a beer, to which Southern Wines & Spirits’ Bernie (The Prince of Tabs) Selmanson, one of the hosts of the event along with the Gaslamp co-owners Alicia Shelton and Jennifer McDonald, observed, “Never seen you with a beer before.” That’s true, since he hadn’t, as I usually only drink it when I’m in Germany, but special circumstances – like feeling terribly lousy – dictated such a ridiculous choice. All the usual suspects were present, including, among others, the retired assistant police chief, Two-Fisted Ted Hulsey, Steve (Son of Bob) Folger, Rockin’ Roger Carlson, Dancing Barry Clifford, Junk Bond Jimmy Werner, John “Nature Boy” Narz, Dave (Big Wave) Hayden, Dashing Denny Lund, John (Up) Hill, Bad Stu Ledsam, Wally (Bubba) Montgomery, Phil (P-Dogg) Barth, Stu (The Big) Cahn and couples like Brian & Dania Gimmillaro, Harold & Donna Hughes, Bond (007) Nichols and Karen Perez, Susie Atwood and Man In Waiting Dave Butler and Mark (Pretty Boy) Edmondson and his gorgeous new squeeze, Shy Shannon Smith. Natch, representing the Long Beach State athletic department was Vic Cegles, who’s making so many friends so quickly around town that I marvel at his God-given ability to keep accurate track of all their names. Jeff Severson was also there making the rounds, but, strangely, without his gal pal, Irene (The Verizon Queen) Rodriguez, still waiting patiently for Jeffery Boy to come up with an engagement ring. Eh, Irene, don’t despair, I’m still waiting for that phone call from Jessica Alba. Omigod, almost forget Mike (The Hammer) DiMarzo was present, and when I introduced Long Beach’s very own celebrity bodyguard to Dr. F. King (The Boy Wonder) Alexander, the Long Beach State president said, “So, you’re the famous Hammer.” Alas, The Hammer’s fame doesn’t extend beyond this column, or at least not beyond Joe Jost’s, but it might one day if he marries his brand new Polish Princess flame who is better looking and a lot younger – she’s 22 – than most of the high profile actresses for whom DiMarzo routinely provides security. Had an engaging talk with a coughing, wheezing Brian Gimmillaro, although it was momentarily interrupted by that cable TV pest Art Levine. Brian and I both exited early, and the great women’s volleyball coach can’t seem to get over a lingering cold that certainly wasn’t helped by a weekend stay in Las Vegas to observe a major volleyball tournament. But at least he and I managed to avoid the painfully persistent Levine, the old Yalie whom we shooed away. … Had a blast last weekend in Nashville, and checked out the historic Ryman Auditorium where so many legendary musicians – curiously, not the Singing Safety, Jeff Severson – have performed across the decades and the Opryland Hotel that is the largest non-casino resort facility in America. Found both places interesting. … Ran into the former Tennessee Titan running back, Eddie George, at a lively, busy establishment called Virago’s, and – like Anthony Batts – he looks like he easily can compete in a physique contest. He told me he lifts weights five days a week, weighs 248 – 10 more than when he played – and has arms that measure 20 inches. George does some football commentating, and still is a revered figure in Nashville. … Add look-alike: F. King Alexander and Joel Osteen. Sat in Vanderbilt’s quirky Memorial Gym – the player benches are behind the baskets – last Saturday afternoon and watched the Commodores upset then No. 1 ranked Florida. The highlight of the match for me came with about a minute to go when the PA announcer made an announcement that everybody present knew would blithely be ignored, saying, “Do not go onto the floor after the game. Violators are subject to arrest and prosecution.” And so, at the final buzzer, about 500 students charged on to the floor, ignoring the 10 or 12 cops who vainly attempted to stop the stampede. … Three weeks recently in Europe and no snow. Three days in Nashville, and two with snow. … Former standup comic Steve Due of AIS Custom Athletic Uniforms claims one reason fans don’t flock to the Walter Pyramid is because the 49ers haven’t exactly played schools that stir one’s basketball passions, hosting the likes of Cal State Bakersfield, Sacramento State, Manhattan College and UC Davis Saturday night. What happened to that surefire gate attraction, Cal State Dominguez? … The Esther Tognozzi who sheared off Britney Spears’ locks last week at her Esther’s Hair Cutting Studio on Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana is the same Esther Tognozzi who has been trimming the hair of the scoop-breaking AM-570 reporter, David Vassegh, since he was a mere 5. … Received an E-mail message Thursday stating I had won a one million euro lottery, and to call a Mr. Duncan Smith at a Holland number for the details. I passed, just as I did a couple of months back when I received another E-mail fraud from England revealing I was the beneficiary of a 10 million pound inheritance from an unknown relative who died in a tragic airline crash. … I’ll never figure out why so many people with a lot of hair go for the bald look when millions of bald guys spend millions of dollars in a feeble attempt to avoid looking that way. … The Lakers have a legitimate excuse for their decline because of their many injuries. What excuse do the Clippers offer other than having a head coach, Mike Dunleavy, who never should have been given that lucrative long-term contract from Donald T. Sterling, for being back on a losing streak? … John Morris, caught up in the hyperbolic frenzy of the Amgen Tour of California race, insists there will be more than 200,000 people lining the Long Beach course Sunday for the finish. Sure, and I think, on second thought, I’m going to call up Duncan Smith and claim my $1 million euro lottery winnings. Doug Krikorian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!