I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? So listen, just as a matter of public record I ought to mention that this here issue kicks off the end of my gala 25thanniversary year that I’ve been wringing these weekly essays through the wringer in service of young and old alike, what the fock.
It was indeed May 1986 when the knuckleheads who then called the Shepherd shots around here solicited my services ’cause they thought it would be “cool” to have some intellectual content tucked in between their pages otherwise full up with all the latest on the sex, drugs and a lot of goddamn goofy music, I kid you not.
The agreement was that in return for my services, I’d get a couple bucks an issue, some free icecold bottled beers once in a while, and five focking cents a word, Jack.
And I’m still waiting on that one—the nickel a word. I figure after 25 years I’m up around 1,300 of these essays at greater-than-or-less-than 1,000 words a crack; so we’re looking at about $65 grand. Make an awful nice anniversary gift, I do declare, and after I tripled it over by Potawatomi, I could finally peacefully retire, as so many of you’s have urged through the years.
Yeah yeah, lots of changes over the years and years in and around this Shepherd. Dang near all of the old guard have parted ways, but in every cloud there’s the silver lining that best as I can tell, dang near all these newer workers here bathe on a regular basis. They also own cars less than 10 years old, which makes leeching rides a safe comfort.
I could go on and on with these reminiscing niceties, but I got a feeling the fellas on the stools over by the Uptowner tavern/charm school majestically crammed at the corner of wistfully hysteric Humboldt Boulevard and the fabled Center Street are getting antsy to toast me with a couple, three free end-of-anniversary cocktails, so I got to go. Come along if you want, but you cover the first round. Let’s get going.
Emil: You got to be jerking my beefaroni.
Little Jimmy Iodine: I swear. I either read or heard, I don’t know where, somewheres, but some guy was saying that Babe Ruth was actually black, I kid you not.
Ernie: I suppose it’s possible, what the fock. All the cameras were in black-and-white those days, you know, so the sports photographers must’ve always had too much exposure on from being so goddamn drunk all the time that the Babe always came out looking white in all the pictures, ain’a?
Herbie: You’ve got the same kind of situation when it comes to Jesus H. Christ. There’s a growing bunch of your Bible scholars who say the Savior had to be what-you-call an African-Asian guy, and to that I say: Hey, no shit, Sherlock. Like who the hell could possibly ever think the Lord could’ve blown into Bethlehem from Philly or Detroit City? The world was flat back then, don’t forget; they even hardly had Europe, for christ sakes.
Julius: I’ll tell you who. The same knobs who did all the paintings and the art stuff that make Jesus look like he just got in off the road from doing a 40day tour with the Allman Brothers. What the hell is that? Forget about it. Of course he had to be what they call a guy of color, just like 110-focking-percent of everybody else who inhabited his neck of the woods in the olden days, or rather, neck of the desert, if you will.
Ray: White or black, it still doesn’t change my belief that if you lead a good ol’ sin-free life here on Earth, you wind up getting to spend all eternity in the company of the Lord. Second prize is two eternities.
Ernie: Ba-ding! Good one, Ray.
Little Jimmy Iodine: Hey, Artie!
Over here. Put a load on your keister.
Art: Hey gents. What do you hear, what do you know.
Emil: Julius was saying Jesus must’ve been some shade of black guy.
Art: Duh-hhh. Soul brother numero uno, you bet, with the Reverend Al Green a close second. So tell me something I don’t know.
Herbie: Since there’s no archival footage available, I suspect the only way we’ll know if the Lord was white, black or somewheres in between is when he shows up for that Second Coming. And my buck two-eighty says rather than a long-locked Tab Hunter guy in a white robe with hair like Farrah focking Fawcett, JamMaster J-Christ be ready to bust a righteous rap on your sorry ass, dog.
Art: Guys, any of you’s going to buy me a cocktail for my 25-going-on-26 focking years at the same newspaper?
Emil: Fock you, Artie. You ought to buy us each 25-going-on-26 cocktails—one for each year of having to read that bullshit you put in the papers, half of which you steal from us anyways, for christ sakes.
(Hey, it’s getting late and I know you got to go, but thanks for letting us bend your ear, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.)