“Miscellany and Humor” is the title of this somewhat catch-all section.
(Actually, come to think of it, that would make a pretty good title for my career.)
Anyway, if you are looking for persuasive proof sense of my humor, then you’ve come to the right place.
Unsurprisingly, some of the funniest and/or wackiest writing archived in this section was never published, mainly because it was written for my own divertissement and/or was not submitted for publication because of the subsequent damage I feared same would cause my career and/or person.
Witness “‘Nowledge Nosh,” my 1981 adult education parody. With its finely calibrated descriptions for such nearly credible fare as Dating After Death and Breaking Into Blackmail, it is arguably the funniest thing I have ever written; it sure got laughs when I read from it to the students who took the course that I taught, or led, or whatever, in hanging out….
HANGING OUT: A NIGHTHAWK’S GUIDE TO NEW YORK
You don’t have to be rich or in love to enjoy the late evening or early morning hours in New York. All you need is a little bit of cash and a lot of expertise hanging out. Learn the latest advances in this nocturnal metropolitan art and meet up with a fellow flock of nighthawks for a Fellini-esque evening on the town. Our movable feast tentatively includes a get together-cum-cocktail party at a Village loft, flocking to a midnight flick, catching the late act at a major New York rock club –
And here’s where I really began to reach –
breakfast at dawn with a mystery celebrity guest and watching the sunrise over the East River. Bring a friend!
Needless to say, it was hard to find a mystery celebrity to have breakfast with my fearless band of nighthawks at 5 a.m. I mean, it’s hard enough to find any kind of guest, no less a celebrity, who is willing to have breakfast with a bunch of strangers at a normal time of day, no less at 5 in the morning. (In the end, I did manage to inveigle John Belushi’s drummer into tagging along with us.)
Then, it was over to the Café Madrid, to watch my former girlfriend, a jazz dancer there. That’s where I would pull out the catalog I had written, and, with palpable tongue in cheek, read descriptions of the courses I was offering to my prospective Noshers in the spring, such as:
DATING AFTER DEATH
Are you unmarried? Widowed? Divorced? Being a single person can be difficult enough when you’re alive, but what happens after the lights go out — for good? Is there dating after death? How does one meet like-minded angels and ghouls (or poltergeists)? In short, what’s the scene like upstairs — or whichever way –”
At which point, I would turn and give my little covey of nighthawks a searching look –
” — you’re headed–.”
And so on and so forth.
Then, there were my more arcane offerings, like this memorable piece of pedagogical persiflage:
GO THAI BEAT ARMY or APPLIED CALISTHENICS
Out of sync? Out of shape? Out of sight?
If you answered “yes” to four or more of the above questions, then it’s probably time for you to enter the bracing, anti-gravitational force field of GO-THAI-BEAT-ARMY.
Accidentally discovered by an unemployed Pekingese physical therapist as he was returning from an all-night ‘soybean trip’ during the controversial Tang Dynasty (Apr. – Jan. 1484) and later codified for general use by the noted Laotian springbok trainer Tse-Tse Ginsberg, this long suppressed calisthenic art involves a highly complicated series of anaerobic exercises and VTOL [vertical take-off and lift-off] maneuvers, which, when properly executed can result in spontaneous combustion and significant weight loss, as well as rapid martyrdom.
I even included bite-sized bios of my “faculty at large”:
–Dee-Dee Tsu-Nami, a second generation Thai Stick, is the fleet-limbed daughter of Salaam E. Tsunami, the famed Southeast Asian calisthenics instructor and self-styled ‘human missle.’ Recently retired from her coaching duties with the Dallas Cowgirls, Dee Dee now keeps busy running a small, if well-regarded whirling dervish outlet on the Upper East Side….
Fun stuff, eh? Anyway, the Nosh catalog was usually effective in diverting my assembled wayfarers from the fact that I didn’t have a mystery celebrity guest (or, in the case of John Belushi’s drummer, that he had passed out). It also clearly was written by someone under the influence of — something. A few things, actually, cat food fumes being one of them….
Likewise of said “what was he on?” ilk is the wondrously loopy, inadvertently hilarious “Letter to a English Professor Explaining Radically Overdue Paper” that I wrote as a cover for an absurdly overdue paper, which includes my friend and fellow scribe-cum-space cadet Daniel Chilowicz’s “surrender to a gnawing perplexity” as an excuse for my craven dilatoriness. (It didn’t work.)
Then, there is the prologue for what was to be “Coast Guard Novel,” a based-on-true-events, only-the-names-have-been-changed oeuvre about a Caribbean-based Coast Guard cutter-turned-pirate ship that I wrote in collaboration with a mad former CG lookout I met on a cross-country train, who really did have the inside dope on the drug war. What a story he had to tell — a cross between “McHale’s Navy” and “Billy Budd” with a soupçon of “Apocalypse Now.” As you can see from the promising start, this would have been a fantastic book — if I hadn’t had to scuttle it for fear of losing my life. Moral of the story: beware of Coast Guardsmen bearing bewitching tales!
Anyway, there’s a statute of limitations for everything. (I hope.) Enjoy.