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On the Way to the Forum 3

Continued from:


We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

― T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

On the Way to the Forum
a gory allegory


Let’s start over.

In April of that year the handbills suddenly popped up out of nowhere, posted on walls and poles and doors and windows throughout the community, on sidewalk sheds and construction barricades, in vestibules and hallways, generally speaking wherever a flat surface or vertical plane presented itself and of course wherever a sign said POST NO BILLS; though not really “out of nowhere” of course and no more "suddenly," phenomenologically speaking, than anything else that has occurred in the last 14 billion years, and to be absolutely accurate just the one handbill iterated a thousand times over, discovered rather than "popping up" at dawn on the first of the month, the result of a clandestine overnight effort. This handbill, presumably, brought the two of them together, and not the Nymphalidae.

Or was it the other way around? Ha! There’s a notion for you! Was their meeting the point after all? Can we even wrap our minds around such an idea anymore? That the handbill brought about the meeting is simple and straightforward enough, an easy concept. The dullest child can grasp that! But that their meeting somehow brought about the handbill—now that’s deep! That’s what I call a deep thought. That’s metaphysics for God’s sake! No one today even knows what that word means! Was their meeting the cause of the handbill? Was it the reason for the handbill? No, I’m afraid that kind of thinking went out of style with the mini skirt. It’s just no longer acceptable to think that way. It’s no longer respectable, certainly not in the learned circles aforementioned. This is the new millennium! That’s teleology, man! So there’s another big word for us to roll our eyes over. Go on! The world is on the skids. Keep rolling those eyes!

Listen. Every fight for freedom in this dying world is teleological. Numskulls! You should have done your homework! But I digress…. Get it? That’s a joke. A bit of business. You know, like old Jack Benny’s “Well!” I felt we needed to dial back on the pique a tad. Yes? I mean, what difference does it make whether Old Mother Leary left a lantern in the shed or the cow kicked it over? What difference ultimately. I mean. Speaking of which, I don’t suppose it would do any harm to point out that my earlier talk of walls and poles and whatnot was merely a manner of speaking. That is, I should remind us, readers that we are, that the world in which our tale unfolds is not the world in which the Great Chicago Fire took place. We are heading for Club Duh Parrot Docks, in case you have forgotten.

And in case you missed the acknowledgement, we are looking for entertainment there. This is the moral of our fabliau in point of fact. This is why boy meets girl in the first place, and Catherine O’Leary’s cow be damned for the scapegoat she was!

Have I made another pun? Good.

Now on to Club Duh Parrot Docks. But first someone needs to account for the name.

According to one account the name reflects the club's location in a tropical port town on the edge of a psittacine forest. But this of course is poppycock. It’s like saying that the meaning of this sentence is located in the Brill Building in New York City in 1960. Another account makes it out to be a form of pidgin English riffing on a corrupted translation of the Maori chant Kei runga a Rangi Ko papa kei raro. But this remains unattested. Every account smacks of the worst kind of urban legend. Like there’s a good kind, right? Is it supposed to be hip? I think it is. Supposed to be hip, I mean. Is it hip? I think not. Fifty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong, right? The club boasts a membership of 1.5 million members. The nomenclature confers a bogus borrowed hipness on them all. But it just sounds like baby talk to me. To me it’s just mairzy doats and dozy doats. If you catch my drift. And even if you don't. Chopi is the club’s chief cook and bottle washer. That says it all, really. That explains everything. But more on that score later. It's too early in the day for ipecac.

Beerbohm could tell us a thing or two about Chopi, I would imagine. Beerbohm was a member for a year. Like Queen For a Day. Anybody still alive remember that tear-jerker? But Beerbohm disappeared under mysterious circumstances after getting banned from the club by Chopi under mysterious circumstances. He was banned from the club after besting Chopi in an argument in front of Chopi's cronies. In the event Chopi lost his cool in public, made a public apology a week later, and not long after that Beerbohm was eighty-sixed for "breaking the rules." Beerbohm has since fallen off the face of the earth. But this is not about Beerbohm. This is not even about Chopi really, save insofar as he is representative of a millennial strain, and perhaps a perennial strain.

Anyway, this is what the handbill looked like:


The handbill also looked like this:


You may remember seeing it in one or the other iteration. Or you may be seeing it for the first time now in both iterations. Either way, I apologize. All I can say by way of excuse is that verisimilitude is a stern mistress. Still, two or three comments are in order before going on. The background image is a detail from Massimo Della Stronzata’s infamous mural Aglia e Olio in the Neapolitan Bagnarole, no doubt used without permission. The Rainbowspinners is—or is it are? The Rainbowspinners is or are an all-girls screech rock band out of Glenville, New York, whose frontman—or should I say frontwoman?—is the notorious performance artist and radical feminist Btzby. And last but not least the promise of “Free Dum”—well, I guess it’s fair to say that this item speaks for itself, yes? The handbill itself, needless to say, is a hook. This should ring a bell.

And if you ask me, an alarm bell. At this point in time, most definitely an alarm bell. But as I said before, let’s not get carried away here in our little handbook. For the sake of argument then let’s make it a school bell. Yes, that’s it—a school bell. Calling us in. Recess is over. Fifty years of playtime is quite enough, I think, don’t you? Time to line up in an orderly fashion—two lines, girls in one, boys in the other. Time to return to class. Time to get back to our studies. What’s that? Didn’t do your homework? Well, just say the dog ate it! That always works. Anyway, the dunce cap has been banned from the classroom. And it’s never too late to learn. Never too early either. Time to get serious, boys and girls. I know, I know. Beerbohm was a serious man. Beerbohm did his homework. Look what happened to him! I know what you're thinking. But this is not about Beerbohm. This is about us. If Beerbohm died for our sins, then the redemption is ours.

to be continued...
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