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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Of Mice and Alderman II

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I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? Me, drizzled veteran of political wars waged ’round our vicinity, having mounted nearly several half-assed campaigns for all kind of elective offices over the years—senator, county sheriff, president, governor, mayor, commissioner of baseball, Tahitian overlord. I’m James Dean, what the fock, come back as a political candidate. Ask me what I’m running for: “Whatever you got.” You betcha.

I hear there’s elections for big and small offices come this autumn. And yes, I still got the fire in the belly. But what I don’t have, never have had, is the funding, that huge wad of dough needed to turn my fire into a blood-hot ballet-box haze.

This paucity of big-time jack is what brought me and my buddy Little Jimmy Iodine to the southeast corner of Wells and the so-called Old World Third Street the other warm night. We were flush with a couple, three savings coupons for soup and a sandwich at the George Webb’s. At that corner, today in history, is a parking lot where once stood the mighty Princess Theater, yesterday in the olden days, Before Development. Jimmy and I reminisced our youth, yet as seasoned pedestrians, we waited for the light to change.

“Jeez Louise, remember, Artie? It seems to be a dream now, but didn’t we see our first naked boob in the Princess way back when, ain’a? I don’t believe the young people today could begin to understand what a triumph that was—to see a naked boob in a motion picture theater. Yeah, the movies they showed there were always like from France and fock if you could figure out what the fock was going on, but sure as shootin’, you could always figure by evening-close before the theater played the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ right before the houselights came up, you would had seen your naked boob.

“Nowadays, even in the movies that have the big-time stars, you got bare knockers coming out your ears. But Artie, for me to go see a movie today, I can’t ride the goddamn bus a couple hours all the way out to Brook-focking-field from here just for the sight of the unencumbered breast. I’m too tired. Too tired, Artie.”

This was not good. I had to cheer Jimmy up or our bite at George Webb’s would be a royal pain in the ass. I told him that maybe I ought to run for the alderman from Downtown next time around.

“Yeah, Artie! Alderman. Tell me the story of how it’s going to be. When you’re alderman.”

I told Little Jimmy I’d make him my top aide, that he could have his own chair to park his butt on in my office over by City Hall.

“You got to be jerking my beefaroni. My own chair, Artie? I wouldn’t wreck it. I promise. And maybe I could answer the phone sometimes, if you were peddling a speech somewheres. Like if somebody called about how come their street wasn’t plowed. I’d ask them if they voted for you. And Artie, if they didn’t, I’d give them directions to National Hardware and tell them to go buy a goddamn shovel and plow the street themselves, the lazy focks.

“And tell me more, Artie. Could we still live Downtown like always? We wouldn’t get pushed out by trust-fund knobs with fancy haircuts on cell phones in their bullshit sport trucks who all of a sudden dream to live Downtown with no place to park, but can afford to pay whatever the piper plays; would we, Artie?”

Not a chance, Jimmy. I’d make Downtown just the way we want it to be. I’d bring back the Princess Theater so a guy could see a goddamn motion picture in his neighborhood, not to mention The Strand, Egyptian and the Palace, to boot. And I’d make sure you could find a couple, three taverns where a nice cocktail wouldn’t cost a mortgage payment and there’d be no loud music boom-boom ’cause none of the candy-ass people who go to lunch for a living would dream to go there.

And I told Little Jimmy that the dark mall of the Grand Avenue would be brightened with bowling alleys, and for people who lived in the neighborhood, there would be a store with a practical housewares department, where one could purchase a nice oven mitt or affordable shower curtain.

Jimmy was now all ears; so I told him not to forget that as a custodian of the commonweal, I’d also need to make a play for the occasional tourist who came to town. I would trade all our pigeons and squirrels to some Third/Fourth/Fifth World country in exchange for their chimpanzees and assorted monkeys—a good deal all around.

The poor foreign country would acquire a usable food source and Downtown Beertown would gain one heck of a tourist attraction, even better that we dressed the monkeys and chimps in little festive ethnic outfits. We could also maybe train them to do county grounds maintenance and low-level clerical work. Lower property taxes, anybody?

“Could I take care of the chimps, Artie, could I?” Little Jimmy asked me. “I’d be really good to them. I promise. I’d give them cigars. And teach them to roller skate.”

Sure you could, I assured Jimmy. Then I had to give him a good whack upside the back of the head ’cause he wasn’t looking when the stoplight turned green. I heard someone say, “What the hell is eatin’ those two guys?”

Dreams, that’s what’s “eatin” us—especially the ones that aren’t ours, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.