City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: The World’s Greatest Beer Man, Milstein Resurfaces, Ficker Running Again

Fortune magazine has named some folks who might try to get control of the New York Times from the Sulzberger family.

The piece has some likely suspects — David Geffen and Google, among them.

But the most intriguing and, for us locals, scariest of the alleged Times takeoverers?

Howard Milstein.

Yes, THAT Howard Milstein.

The Howard Milstein who a decade ago tried to buy the Redskins at the Jack Kent Cooke estate sale! The Howard Milstein who brought Dan Snyder into the fold to give him the local color he thought would get him approved! The Howard Milstein who had too many enemies at NFL headquarters and got kicked out of the buying process! The Howard Milstein who then stepped aside and watched as his former partner took over the buying process!

THE HOWARD MILSTEIN WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DAN SNYDER OWNING THE REDSKINS!

Whew.

According to the Fortune piece, Milstein, identified simply as "a New York-based financier," has been "buying shares" of NY Times stock.

Run for your lives, New York Times readers!

Or, maybe, just renew your subscription and give subscriptions to all your relatives so the Sulzbergers don't have to sell.

Just don't say we didn't warn you...

***

Those streaky Nationals are at it again!

Ryan Zimmerman's hitting skein ended at 30, but the team has picked up where the Face of the Franchise (is that a compliment any more?) left off: The Nats haven't won since Zimmerman's streak stopped, and go for their sixth loss in a row tonight against Pittsburgh.

Back to feel-good streaks: Tonight the Nats will start Shairon Martis, who is 5-0 (really!) and will have to arm wrestle Zimmerman for the team's one set-aside slot at the All-Star game.

***

At Pimlico on Friday I ran into the RoboVendor, Perry Hahn. He was at the track selling Black Eyed Susans by the tray on Black Eyed Susan Day.

Hahn is up there with the most fascinating folks I've ever come across in my years of typing. He got a mechanical engineering degree from Maryland, but has devoted his working life to vending mostly beer at mostly sporting events.

Hahn was planning on going to the Nationals game that night after racing, and he had worked the Nats game a day earlier. He travels the country for Super Bowls and rock festivals and anywhere else a dispenser for hire is needed.

"I'm averaging more than one event per day now," says Hahn, 47.

Hahn is much more than merely a workaholic alcohol vendor, however.

In the early 1990s, back when stadiums sold beer in cans but wouldn't let customers keep the cans, Hahn decided to put his engineering brains to work. He designed what the US Patent and Trademark Office calls a "Tandem High Speed Can Opener," as well as U.S. Patent  #5,228,203. The gadget rips the tops off of two beer cans simultaneously and in a nano-second, which eliminates the need to flip the flip-tops and allows the beer man to empty the beer into cups in no time flat.

Hahn told me back in the day he could open and pour a case of beer cans in one minute.

Fans at Camden Yards noticed him wearing the battery-powered mechanical device on his wrist and dubbed him RoboVendor. Most stadiums have gone to selling plastic bottles, and Hahn designed another machine to twist the caps off of two bottles at a time.

I asked him the other day what his biggest vending day ever was, and, while he didn't give me a dollar figure, he did say it came at a Harley Davidson party in Milwaukee.

(By bizarre coincidence, I'm pretty sure the pair of hands selling beers in the Washington Post's slide show of Saturday's Preakness, with a contraption attached, belong to my guy Perry Hahn! See for yourself — photo #4 in the sequence.)

***

The NBA's draft lottery is tonight.

The Wizards, with the second worst record in the league, have a 17.8 chance of getting the number one overall pick. If they get it, we'll talk even more about Kwame Brown.

For all the badmouthing Brown gets around here — he's Heath Shuler in shorts and no helmet, essentially — he's still in the league, with Detroit. And he averaged 17 minutes and five rebounds a game this season, so he'll be back somewhere.

Can you be rightly called a bust if you last nine years?

***

My hero Robin Ficker is running for office today in the race for the District 4 seat on the Montgomery County council.

His politics are as odd as his antics at the old Capital Centre, but I'm pulling for Ficker. If he gets in, he'll do enough wacky stuff to fill several columns.

If it was really a race and these folks really ran, Ficker wins, no problem. He still runs up and down the Cole Field House steps a few times a week to stay in shape.

He can even run there on Sundays now that he's dumped his Redskins season tickets.

***

Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com

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  • Grumpy

    If Milstein gets the times, it would be the first time that a Newspaper sued a private citizen for disagreeing with an article...This jackass is worse than Angelos for filing lawsuits. He could sue the color Blue for not being Blue enough, sue water for being too wet, sue the letter U for not really being a vowel...

  • rg

    Fatso Howard Milstein has been buying shares of the Times for years now. He's lost a bundle. The New York Times and Howard Milstein deserve each other.

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