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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Night Lingers For Us

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I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? So listen, I can’t believe it’s the Eastertime already. Ordinarily I’d be slapping on the final sheen of shellac to this week’s essay right about now, but alack, I practically damn near forgot I’m past due to meet up with my apostles over by the Uptowner tavern/charm school situated at the corner of Hysteric Center Street & Humboldt—where today is always at least a day before tomorrow, and yesterday may gosh darn well be today—so we’s can argue about which Vincent Price movie to rent for our annual Easter night get-together at Little Jimmy Iodine’s digs. Come along if you’d like, but you buy the first round. Let’s going.

Little Jimmy Iodine: Hey, Artie! Over here. Put a load on your keister.

Art: Hey gents. What do you hear, what do you know.

Julius: I want to know if you’s guys are sure we want to rent a Vincent Price picture this Sunday?

Herbie: What the fock do you think? A ham on Easter, Emil. Tradition. What we see last year?

Ernie: Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. Not half-bad for a sequel. And that Laura Antonelli as “Rosanna”—talk about nice buns to go with your ham, ain’a?

Ray: If we’re going to go with Vincent Price again this year, how ’bout we try to scare up a copy of either 1962’s Confessions of an Opium Eater or ’67’s House of 1,000 Dolls, or maybe both, what the fock. Those are two of the finest examples of the kind of “white-slavery” motion picture Hollywood, sadly, doesn’t pump out anymore.

Little Jimmy: Those movies remind me of when we used to go down to the Princess Theater on adult Third Street when we were teens ’cause we thought we were really going to see the dirt. And the old-gal Helen in the ticket booth sold us tickets even though we must’ve looked like third-graders to her. And yeah, there was plenty of sucking going on inside all right— the story, the acting, the crappy seats they had in there—but not one single good part you could take home to dream about. Then, during the final frames of the movie some knobshine in a lab coat would talk about hygiene, and the lights would come up, “The Star-Spangled Banner” would play, and we’d be back on the street wondering how a movie called Booby Trap could’ve been such a waste of time, as we headed home to catch Dr. Cadaverino, god bless him, and the “fright-fest” he would offer on his late-night TV “Nightmare Theatre.”

Emil: Wait a second. You mean Easter is this Sunday?

Ray: Abso-focking-lutely, birdbrain. First Sunday after the first full moon that coincides with, or comes after, the spring equinox. Right on schedule.

Emil: For Christ sakes, I don’t remember Sister ever talking about full moons and equinoxes in catechism class.

Art: There was a lot they never told us about in catechism class.

Herbie: Indeed. Over the years, I’ve devoted considerable research time to the Easter candy basket. It’s dyed with symbolism, I kid you not. Apparently, after the Roman soldiers took Christ off the cross, they chose a couple flunkies to guard the cave where they’d put the body. Well sir, these two goofballs got good and bored from guarding a dead guy so they went into town to enjoy a couple, three cocktails. The next morning, they made a routine check of the cave and the first thing they said was, “Jesus H. Christ! This cave’s empty.”—  not realizing that by this time Jesus had been resurrected up to Heaven. They thought somebody had snatched the body and hid it somewheres else, but they couldn’t very well ask other soldiers to help ’cause they knew they were in hot water. So they asked a bunch of kids who were hanging around to help search. Natch’, they didn’t find the Lord but the kids got a big charge from all the excitement anyways. The next year on the same day, the parents sent the kids out to look for Jesus again, if only to embarrass the Romans for losing or misplacing such a hot-shot like Christ. The years came and went and eventually parents decided to hide little candies and eggs around the town to find ’cause they thought it would be more fun for the kids than looking for a dead body. But why Sister never revealed this story to us? Fock if I know. It is a mystery.

Art: Yes fellas, and it’s a mystery to me that I need to perform a holy-week miracle of changing this twenty-dollar into shots of bourbon. But I will. We need to toast the sweet memory of our departed friend Dick Golembiewski.

Little Jimmy: Good lord, amen. Friend to us, and friend to this city in every way, don’t forget, Artie.

Art: I’ll never forget. Dick Nitelinger used to invite me to speak on his radio show way back on the WMSE whenever I was running for mayor, county sheriff, senator or what-the-fock. And he created a Web site, www.milwaukee-horror-hosts.com, about our old-time local TV late-night Saturday schlock fest with the monsters when there were only three-four stations to be had.

Herbie: And for crying out loud, don’t forget, he just finished the book about the history of Milwaukee television, Milwaukee Television/The Analog Years. Marquette University Press put that book out, and it’s already won prizes.

Art: We won’t forget. Raise your glasses to a scholar, a gentleman, a prince: “Na Zdrowie!” You will be missed our friend, oh yeah, you betcha.

(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.)