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Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011

Focked and Loaded

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I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? So listen, I was over by my buddy Little Jimmy Iodine’s the other day while members of our House of Reprehensitives were reading a version of the U.S. Constitution on C-SPAN. “Cripes,” I said. “They’re reading the goddamn employee manual to each other. Don’t they have anything better to do, like make sure the health-care bill stays intact, or think about some sane assault-gun regulation?

Jimmy thought it would make for better TV if they read some Mickey Spillane—Kiss Me, Deadly, or Vengeance Is Mine!—instead. I suggested that the set of the Encyclopedia Americana he had just picked up at a rummage sale would be good reading for the Congress.

So I was perusing the volume “Caste to Civil Law” when it occurred to me I couldn’t recall when the writer Raymond Chandler was born, so I thought I’d take a look-see. Guess what? He wasn’t in there and he wasn’t indexed, neither. Focking-A, according to this “encyclopedia” (my ass), Ray’s never been born, means he never existed, means he never wrote this: “I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it.”

It means he never wrote, from his The Big Sleep, “Down these mean streets man must go who is not himself mean; who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” Means he never wrote The Big Sleep, means a great American known as Bogie was never a movie Marlowe—wait a cotton-focking-picking minute… Nope. Volume “Birds of Paradise to Bullfinch,” no entry for Bogart, Humphrey, means all of a sudden I’m living in some kind of focking alternate universe where what I think I know has destructed into nothingness.

Who the hell’s going to turn up never-been-born next, I wondered. “Orley to Photographic Telescope”: There’s no Charlie focking Parker there. Are they telling me the Birdman of Alchemy-jazz never swung gold out of sky-high-moon-June-blue? What the fock.

All of a sudden I got a nervous sweat like a retired file clerk whose shapely, new, too-young bride is going out for drinks and laughs with a former beau who came suddenly into a lot of dough, who’s got a big boat, the kind of boat that would give her an excuse to try out that new swanky two-piece swimsuit and ask the former beau which piece he liked better—the top or the bottom. Yeah, a nervous sweat like that.

I broke out another volume to steel myself. “Venice to Wilmot, John.” Who the fock is Wilmot, John? Why, he’s the 2nd Earl of Ro-focking-chester, B.F.D. And you can kiss my dupa, Earl, ’cause in that volume I discover that Williams, Ted—the Einstein-iest hitter to ever pick up a splendid stick of ash lumber—has also vanished, or never was.

I had to keep my cool, use my head. Then it hit me, like a couple of slugs to the gut sent packing from the gray tunnel of a .32. William focking Faulkner. He put the ink on The Big Sleep movie script. I grabbed “Falstaff to Francken,” and a toe-hold on sanity. Bill’s there, resting pressed between Faulhaber, Michael von (German cardinal, born 1869) and Fault (as in earthquake). Pretty crappy sanctuary for a guy like The Faulk, who needed a couple, 10 stiff eye-openers to keep the shakes at bay so’s he could read his own goddamn handwriting. I know that drill.

But not a word about the years he spent hacking in LA-LA Land to pay the bills; so I go back to “Caste to Civil Law” ’cause maybe I simply missed Chandler, Raymond the first time I looked. Nope. Where Ray should’ve turned up instead is Chandler, Richard. This Chandler, Dick was an “English classical antiquary,” what the fock, and I can’t believe this encyclopedia’s got the perniciously sheer unrelenting gall to go on about some foreign knob born in 1738 and his “elaborate description of the Arundel marbles” but doesn’t have the time to mention a guy who could really drape an “elaborate description” all over up and down a gorgeous dame in distress; and the focksticks who put out this encyclopedia call it Americana? You got to be jerking my beefaroni.

Now I don’t know if it be exactly Ray C. Chandler who wrote “She had an ass like two duck eggs in a napkin”—the greatest piece of description ever described by mankind—but you can bet this Americana won’t help you find out who did. You also won’t find out about Jackson Pollock, another great American not in this Americana. But what you will find a whole lot of in this so-called Americana is about a hundred million entries for croaked white guys who only spoke European, and this sucks manure, I kid you not.

You can keep your Louis Marie de focking Bourbon, your Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobels-focking-dorff, and give me more Americans of the group of Americans who know what Americans do best, and what Americans do best is working out with the freedom of expressing whatever they got needs expressing, expressing anything that moves, expressing like minks, without intimidation, in this one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek, and I told you so.
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