The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Saturday, January 10, 2004

ASTRONOMY, GREEK AND OTHERWISE: My niece, an altogether lovely young blond moppet who looks like a poster child for the Nazi Party, recently came down my house to ask for help on a report about how the constellations got their names. She told me that her teacher said that Orion was some sort of Great Greek Hunter who'd go on safari without a shotgun or a rifle or a whole string of black guys to carry his stuff and call him Bwana, which is some African tribe’s word for “dope who insists on shooting innocent wild animals for no apparent reason when everything a man could want is available for everyday low prices at Wal-Mart’s” or even how to do the Tarzan yell as good as Carol Burnett. I listened to this teacher’s codswallop for as long as I could before setting the niece straight. The constellation Orion is named after Patrick Michael O’Ryan, the great Paddy Mike, the bare-knuckle heavyweight boxing champion of the universe, born in Ballinalee, in the County Longford, Ireland, and raised on the South Side of Boston, Massachusetts, US of A, and don’t you forget it, smart guy. Forty thousand years ago the world was covered with ice because of a palooka from Chicago named Jack Frost, whose real name was Zygmunt Malinowsky but his manager said a name that long wouldn’t fit on the handbills and besides, who’d be afraid of a fighter named Zygmunt? Frost’s manager had a sweet deal: as long as Jack kept winning it stayed winter and all the ski equipment manufacturers and the ski lodges and the snow blower manufacturers had to pay off the manager in order to stay in business, all facts that came out in the Congressional investigation that followed the third fight. But Nemesis reared her ugly head, as she was wont to do in those days, especially when Tito Puente was playing the Palladium; she could ran kan kan as neat as Hugh Please, an encyclopedia salesman from Parsippany, New Jersey, whose wife thought there was something going on between the two of them, but this is not the place to discuss the gruesome details. When Jack Frost first won the championship and started the Ice Age he was the people’s darling; he couldn’t put out a wrong foot since he didn’t know his left from his right foot, everyone supported him, everyone wanted to see the boy from Chicago do good. But after a few millennia people got tired of him and it always being winter, and, truth be told, his last few fights before he met up with Paddy Mike, well, let’s just say he phoned those fights in. He was out of shape and bored and he won because the judges were bribed and his right hook was still as tremendous as ever.

So a group of South American tourism ministers tired of waking up with a mile of ice on their front lawns went to see O’Ryan, who’d just won the championship of Europe from a mountain lion he later turned into a coat, and asked Paddy and his manager if there was some way to get him to fight Frost. Paddy said he’d fight if Frost would agree, but he was pretty sure Frost wouldn’t; he had a good deal going and he wasn’t going to take a chance getting his ass whipped.

The ministers went home, convinced that they had failed in their mission. And then a miracle occurred. A junior member of the Brazilian delegation leaked what Paddy had said to the New York Daily News, which announced in a banner headline, I’LL WHIP HIS ASS!!! Jack Frost took one look at that headline and demanded a match immediately, despite the best efforts of his manager to calm him down.

The fight was scheduled for Madison Square Garden and the fight was fought after the cops cleared all the rioting smokers and lesbian vegans out of the building and Jack Frost, to his shock and amazement, lost. Desperate to hang on to the money he was making off Frost, his manager invoked a clause in the fine print that gave Jack the right to a yearly rematch. The mayor of New York said that there was no way in hell that these two fighters were going to meet in his city again, not after the riot they’d caused, and so the next year’s fight was moved to Weehawken, New Jersey, near the place where Alexander Hamilton was shot and killed and went to spend eternity on the ten dollar bill.

Well, let’s just say that Jack lost that fight too, as well as destroying much of Weehawken’s waterfront, and the fight was finally moved to the Milky Way, where the boys could have at it without disturbing the neighbors too much. So they have at it every year; Jack Frost tries to win, and the money from the snow blowers and the ski resorts and everyone else who makes a nickel out of there being snow on the ground goes into his manager’s pocket, and every year he loses and goes to Aruba to get in shape for next year’s fight. You’d think they’d be tired of it by now, but Jack’s manager has an ironclad contract written by some of the smartest lawyers in New York and it looks like we’ll have to watch this go on for millennia to come.

The niece wrote all of this down and thanked me. Two days later she hit me across the back with a baseball bat. It’s a good thing to encourage girls to take up sports.


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