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What Happened?

Jul. 29, 2009
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I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? Yes, Art Kumbalek, ancient overboard mariner, here to navigate the coordinates of this mid-2009 sea of Celebrity Death and Anniversary Remembrance for your peace of mind. And now newsman-sailing enthusiast Walter Cronkite, dead at 92, maybe you heard. Cripes, when will these turbulent seas of time calm? Hey, you tell me.

And then I’ll tell you that as a newsman myself, I guess I ought to say something about “Uncle Walter” and his news-stuff. I’d like to, except he was always on the CBS TV and I did not view the Tiffany Network back then for news. No sir, I was an NBC guy, what with their sprightlier reporters; and so I never watched “the most trusted man in broadcast news”—this older guy with a mustache who looked to me like the knob behind the counter at the drugstore who would yell at you for so much as being within a 5-foot radius of a comic book he figured you weren’t going to buy.

Cripes, and it’s CBS that has the “60 Minutes” show, ain’a? They really ought to call it “90 Minutes” since 90 seems to be the average age of the news-people they use. That show comes on and I feel like I ought to go eat my macaroni and cheese at a makeshift cardboard table in the kitchen while Andy Rooney talks to the adults in the living-room about how his raccoon coat doesn’t fit like it used to and wonders why his wet socks disappear whenever he puts them into a dryer, what the fock.

And speaking of news, whatever happened to all those pirates terrorizing the seas I used to read about in the headlines of yore just the other month? Yeah, I don’t know either.

But be that as it may, matey, I, as America’s most trusted and respected essayist still working in a format of today’s newspaper industry, would like it to be known that the youthful reader, especially those under the age of 65, is always welcome aboard the poopdeck of this newsworthy sailing tub known as the USS Shepherd Express.

And here we are, 2009, this ballyhooed 40th-anniversary year of your American white males landing on the moon, of your Miracle Mets winning the World Series, of your Woodfocking-Stock festival of loud music outdoors, of your inauguration of the Nixon/Agnew administration, not to mention the un-ballyhooed 23rd anniversary of yours truly stole-awayed in on the back page of this paper. For you young sea dogs, convert that time into insect years and you’s see I’ve been a’ship since Iliad wrote The Odyssey, I kid you not.

But what a voyage it’s been. For the longest years, I was the only knucklehead in the galley, front page to back, whose chore it was to write the first thing off the top of his head without having to check on boring-ass factual stuff or make phone calls to Tom, Dick and Dickless like a regular reporter would’ve pissed away his time doing. Oh yeah, today’s bloggerists owe me big-time, you betcha.

Back then, I enjoyed a work that required neither heavy-lifting nor being on time; and the top brass navigating this ship enjoyed not having to issue any kind of two-bit measly paycheck for my services, a paycheck I most likely would’ve gambled or whored away once ashore anyways, so what the fock.

O, but what a jib we cut, I and this newsy vessel, then. A providently unplanned pairing coupled in the heavens it was, like Daffy and Porky, Christian and the Bounty, Gimbel and the Schuster, Greta and Garbo, Jungle and Gym, M & M.

And what of the fruit we harvested when docked in faraway lands? It was I who fingered ex-National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle as the mastermind behind the JFK hit; it was I who connected the formaldehyde-orange hair of Ronald Reagan to the vampire overlord conspiracy to suck the American middle-class dry of their money; it was I who wondered why the fock a guy named Henry Kissinger, who was born in pre-Nazi Germany, could suddenly be chosen as secretary of state of the United States.

But my own time is short, and so in closing, I reflect upon two recent deaths of professional athletes, apparently perpetrated by their significant others, that being football quarterback Steve McNair and champion boxer Arturo “Thunder” Gatti. These things usually occur in “threes” and so I suggest Tiger Woods check his bag for the following anecdote:

Police are called to an apartment and find a woman holding a bloody 5-iron standing over a lifeless man. Detective asks: “Ma’am, is that your husband?” Woman says, “Yes. YES.” Detective says: “Did you hit him with that golf club?” Woman says: “Yes, I did.” She begins to sob, drops the club and covers her face with her hands. Detective asks: “How many times did you hit the deceased?” Woman says: “I don’t know, five, six, maybe seven times… For Christ sakes, just put me down for a five.”

But do not forget, tomorrow’s another day, for some, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.


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