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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hey Kids, Don’t Forget Camp Kumbalek

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I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? Hey, nothing but good news here for you’s moms and pops with extra dough who wonder where the heck to stick your out-of-control katzenjammers for a while this summertime. Pay attention, your sanity may depend on it. There’s still a ton of room open in my Art Kumbalek’s Summer Writing Camp for Youths, I kid you not. In fact, there’s nothing but room, which sucks ’cause I was counting on the collective enrollment fee so’s to live rent-free through the end of the year with a buck two-eighty left over, to boot. Seems kids these days either go to a goddamn soccer camp or some kind of arts-and-crafts thing where they finger-paint, make a tie rack, then finger-paint some more. For christ sakes, what kind of life skills is a kid going to come away with from a knobshine camp like that? Hey, you tell me.

And then I’ll tell you ’bout my camp. Your kids will get the goods on a semi-employable skill, and she’s open to anybody as long as they’re betweenst the ages of “old enough to cross the street by themselves” and “young enough to focking do whatever Camp Counselor Kumbalek tells them to do.” I figure the session will last about a week ’cause that’s about all I’m going to be able to stand. But oh, the times they’ll have!

Campers will contract a full dose of the writing life, from learning to never answer the phone to never acquiesce a knock at the door to never set an alarm clock to never open unsolicited mail from the IRS.
The theme of this year’s camp: “Writer’s Block, What the Fock.” Each student will be told to think of something to write about. Then, under my tutelage legitimized by personal experience, the student will be encouraged to take the view that their idea is unworthy to be writ upon, that it’s horse manure, ’cause how could it be otherwise if they themselves had thought of it?

I’ll let them wrestle with that for most of the week whilst demonstrating techniques designed to abide writer’s block: Watch 24-hour TV; stare out the window while hunkered over a full ashtray; pour another stiff one. Then, with an hour left to the week I’ll tell them that if they ever want to see their parents again, they best get their pencil and paper out and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear the best they can. Writing. Pressure. Deal with it.

But time’s running out. Get your butt in gear and get your kid/kids registered because seating is definitely limited to those who sign up, cash in advance. The fee is half-a-grand per camper with all necessary supplies included: No. 2 pencil with plenty of lead in it; writing tablet; carton of Chesterfields; extra-large can of Maxwell House; quart of Old Crow. No free lunch included.

There’s also a required reading list to provide campers with an example of what fine writing looks like. The list consists of the first chapter of an unfinished novel soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture that I wrote off the top of my head some years back. It’s about this guy, an ex-minor league ballplayer turned professional fisherman guide and private hard-boiled dick.

And for the enjoyment of you’s too old to attend my camp, here’s a freshly edited draft since I’ve got nothing else to say, what the fock.

JailBait Box

Kelpger drowsily rolled over belly up and popped open his eyes like a fresh, white box of night crawlers. The steeliness of the shaft of light ramming its way through the Venetian’s crack was 5 a.m.-style all the way. Christ, some dickweed on holiday from the city was probably already waiting by the dinghy, expecting him to show on time for the reservation. Fat focking chance.


He’d already cashed the deposit—so let the lunker lounge, focking loser, Kelpger thought. First lesson of fishing: You’re wasting your precious time. Get used to it.

Now turned on his other side and awake, Kelpger decided to study the face of the lady sound asleep lying next to him. Queer, he thought, that no matter how long you know someone, you still never really know them. Especially this dame. Did he really know her? In factuality, he’d never ever seen her before to the best of his recollection. And yet, there she was, supine on his Posturepedic, and he hadn’t even had to buy dinner or spring for cab fare to get her so positioned. This one might be a keeper.

But he knew there had to be something not quite kosher about this babe buffet spread next to him ’cause in every silver cloud there just had to be fool’s gold lining for Kelpger. What would it be this time? It didn’t take him long to sink to the bottom of it.

He thought to initiate a little small talk to go along with his delicate yanking at the drawstring of the surgical smock she was barely wearing. No response. Big deal. He’d been around long enough to know that some dames could be all bite, no nibble.

But what really kiboshed his drawstring fumbling mid-tug was the canny realization that this babe was not breathing. No wonder she was purple. Cripes, he had yet to whip his rod out this day and already he’d landed one hell of a cold fish—dead on arrival. And good luck trying to throw this one back. All he needed now was for his wife to come back a day early—say, like right about now—from visiting that crusty barnacle of a mother-in-law over by Crivitz there.

It was then that Kelpger heard the sound of a key negotiating the lock at the front door, one split-second before the phone rang. Swell, this really takes the cake. Just what I need, he thought, one more crappie day to hook onto the stringer.

Now that’s what I call some kind of summer reading ain’a, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.