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Is That Cadenza Half-Off?

Dec. 3, 2008
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I'm Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain'a? So listen, for the second consecutive week I've got to warn you's that there'll be no essay from me on account I just realized I'm scheduled to go to the doctor's for my sort-of yearly check-up to make sure the cancer hasn't come back a' singing my name. Focking swell.

It's a no-win situation for me, this appointment. If I learn that the cancer's still on holiday, then I'm kind of pissed 'cause I've pissed away a big honking chunk of time since they always make you wait and wait before the nurse calls your name and takes you to a room where you wait and wait (I never knew that the January 1998 Reader's Digest had so many fascinating articles) some more until the doctor sashays by. And if they suspect the cancer may be back knocking on the door, that news will sure as hell put a damper on the rest of the day, I kid you not. I'm running a little early here, so I thought I'd first swing by my favorite open-24-hours restaurant where a guy like me can get a jump-start on girding his loins in preparation for the day's daily shit-storm to follow. Come along if you want but you leave the tip. Let's get going.

Bea: Hey there, Artie. Sure haven't seen you for a while.

Art: I'd been a little busy, Bea. I was running for president.

Bea: Isn't that something. And how'd that turn out?

Art: Not so well, Bea, to be honest. I don't think the country's yet ready for a Polish president. But I got my fingers crossed that the new guy makes me an ambassador to somewheres. Sounds nice to me that the main job is to go to banquets, and then the rest of the time you conduct yourself like a regular Santa Claus from America who's come to some godforsaken part of the world to bring glad tidings of a better way of life, toss some dough around, be nice to the kids and just plain spread a little good cheer each and every day of your term-especially in those places where the people seem that they just can't get enough of slaughtering each other, what the fock.

Bea: So, what's your pleasure, Artie?

Art: How 'bout you shovel me a nice scoop of the blackest, thickest and cheapest cup of whatever you're calling plain-old American coffee today. And by thick, I mean the kind of coffee a guy could sculpt with if he were so inclined.

Bea: Coming right up, Artie. Here you go. Would you like a spoon, or a putty knife?

Art: I'll take the putty knife, Bea, thank you kindly.

Bea: So what do you hear, what do you know, Artie.

Art: I heard that Little Jimmy Iodine's nephew started up one of those rock bands in his basement the other day.

Bea: You don't say. He's a nice young man. Comes in for cup of chili and to use the men's room around bar time on occasion. I didn't know he was musical.

Art: That's the problem, Bea. He's not. But I guess he doesn't have to be. He's the lead singer.

Bea: Does he have a nice voice. Artie?

Art: Not unless you think stuffing a tomcat into a Vegematic and setting it for "puree" would make a nice sound. But I'll tell you one thing, Bea-you can always tell when a lead singer's at the door.

Bea: How's that, Artie.

Art: He can't find the key and doesn't know when to come in. Yeah yeah, so the first thing these knuckleheads did before they even practiced a song was go get tattoos. On their foreheads.

They said you can't be in a rock band without a tattoo these days. I think these kids watch too much professional basketball.

Bea: Oh, my. Have they chosen a name for the band?

Art: They have not, Bea. I suggested they call themselves "Young, White and Stupid." They want to change the world, you know. What's your favorite music to listen to, Bea?

Bea: I like classical music the most, Artie.

Art: Oh yeah, they've got some good songs. But I'll tell you, Bea, those symphony orchestras could learn a trick or two from the rock bands so's to put on a better show. Like, show a little professional respect for the audience and memorize your Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner tunes. If you still don't know the music well enough that you still got to read it off the chart by the time you hit the stage, then play something you know better. How hard can that be? And unless you're the piano player or the drummer, stand up when you play. String players, listen: Are you bus drivers or are you musicians? Get up off of your ass. You ever see James Brown and the Fabulous Flames perform the classic "I Got You (I Feel Good)" whilst sitting on their dupa? I think not.

Bea: I don't know about the musical artists, but I do know that I surely would love to be able to sit down on the job here and there.

Art: God bless you, Bea. But I got to run, so thanks for the coffee and for letting me bend your ear there, Bea-utiful. See you next time.

Bea: My pleasure, Artie. Always nice getting talked at by you. Take care. (It's off to doctor's and then the Uptowner for an either-way toast. If I see you there, then you buy me one 'cause I'm Art Kumbalek and I told you so.)


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