MAY 2013
Copyright 2013 Francis DiMenno


During the bulk of my comedy career, such as it was, particularly from 1990 to 1998, I performed using an entire persona which might have been characterized as “Gutteral Croak by Menacing Alien.” I would appear masked and costumed on stage–mostly at music venues–as the outer space standup comedian known as The Wrong Hero. This month’s sampler:

My Father is a meat and potatoes man.


What is this nightmare world you brought me into, Mother?

Don’t write: Console yourself with soothing guff,
As if the lies you’ve lived by weren’t enough.
Misfortunes come from too much reading
When you’ve got no fortune and you’ve got no breeding.
The word is too much with us, soon and late
We come to be the person people love to hate.
This sad truth is confess’d and it isn’t funny;
Not even fools take up the pen expecting money.
Anyone can publish; this is what it breeds;
A world where everybody writes and no one reads.
With faint praise critics come to your defense;
His writing’s like an angel’s but he has no sense.
But fail to please the public with insipid yarns
And your work will be remaindered to be sold in barns.
The greatest insight that I’ve ever had
Is this: That writing makes you truly mad.
Atlas holding up the world is quite absurd;
It’s difficult enough to hold up the word.
I hate to sound a cynic or resort to labels:
Uncertain the career misspent in crafting fables.

401. Satan has rejected your clumsy animal sacrifices.
402. An alert Copper will spot your homemade dye job.
403. Sacrificial Goat is now your Full-time Profession.
404. Your bogus resume has gone straight into the circular file.
405. Not even a shyster lawyer is anxious to defend you.
406. The neighbors report that you are neglecting your dog.
407. Twenty years of wake-and-bake have left you drooling.
408. Your obsession with Ninjas will get you killed.
409. What’s eating at your mind? Everyone knows it’s Murder.
410. Only Mother cares, but watch out for her.
411. God’s Rule: The Innocent Must Suffer.
412. Critics deplore your recent work as “Tasteless”.
413. Your house is constructed on a foundation of sand.
414. Your excuses reek of premeditation.
415. Everything is gone but your painful regrets.
416. It’s the Human Condition–but you are barely even Human.
417. Black Muslims don’t take kindly to mouthy Skinheads.
418. The Motorcycle Gang knows you are wearing a wire.
419. Dogs bark and shy away at your evil face.
420. Hidden microphones record your jailhouse boasts.
421. You lurk to overhear their slanders, but you never do.
422. Your ancestors are all notorious axe murderers.
423. You can’t even pretend you didn’t mastermind that job.
424. The Law’s Conclusion: Three Generation of Imbeciles Are Enough.
425. Forget It: They are tired of your idiotic lies.
426. Desperation has saturated your ill-fitting clothes.
427. You Poor Fool–of course you can be hypnotized.
428. The FBI resents your gossip about the Director.
429. Cruel men await the chance to do you harm.
430. Paranoia is not your hobby, but a Way of Life.
431. They’ll murder you solely for your share of the loot.
432. Mister, Beware–He has walked 500 miles to kill you.
433. Mama never loved you and she never will…now.
434. That sophisticated prostitute will horn in on your racket.
435. The “diet pills” have turned your brains to oatmeal.
436. Ether-soaked rags will be found in your trunk.
437. The darkness you fear most is in your soul.
438. Sins of omission will prove your downfall.
439. She will sweep you from her life like a broken toy.
440. They will list your Cause of Death as “Arrogant Stupidity”.
441. Racists hate you, and you’re not even Black.
442. Stop your foolish boasting or they’ll slap you down.
443. You will grub through restaurant discards like a starving dog.
444. Your bourgeois classmates complacently condemn you.
445. Your criminal companions taught you–but not well enough.
446. Cops claim that cheap slum you peddle is hot merchandise.
447. You will be nearly pecked to death by angry swans.
448. “If Only” just won’t cut it, you whining Punk.
449. You will finally step up, only to get beaten down.
450. Self appointed “Reformers” are targeting your enterprises.
451. The Sheriff knows you’re only masquerading as a Preacher.
452. Nitro is nothing to monkey around with, Gimpy.
453. “World’s Most Famous Carnival Geek”–nobody envies You!
454. They do not get “The New Yorker” in prison.
455. You play like a bookworm and read like an athlete.
456. You will sell your medals for a slug of rotgut.
457. You have just enough time to write your Will.
458. You will finally learn to read and write…in Prison.
459. No Bandleader wants or needs a junkie Percussionist.
460. You will squander your lump sum pay-out in Vegas.
461. The Big Man has no patience for Stupes like you.
462. You swore you’d never go back. You’ll break that vow.
463. She is nowhere near as sweet as Tupelo Honey.
464. Jimmy Crack Corn–the Mob DOES care.
465. You will become familiar with the smell of hot lead.
466. The truth will certainly never set YOU free.
467. They’ll get you in the end–literally.
468. They know it was a frame-up, but they just don’t care.
469. Your friendly pusher has tripled the price of your fix.
470. Poor Fool: One question has been answered; dozens yet remain.
471. From Day One your lousy attitude has held you back.
472. Nothing can make it right, though money will be accepted.
473. The marriage wasn’t legal–you inherit nothing.
474. Pimp? Sucker, you’re not even a pimple on a pimp’s ass.
475. Maybe another beating will penetrate your thick skull.
476. Never let ’em see you sweat–too late for you, Fatty.
477. New obstacles await, each more deadly than the last.
478. You will sabotage society, one day at a time.
479. You will fry, but for the murder you DIDN’T commit.
480. You loved her. Didn’t you? Loved her…to death.
481. The Big Man’s cold dead eyes promise dire consequences.
482. Remember: It’s Lonely at the Top. And Deadly.
483. The Consigliore strongly recommends your early death.
484. Listen, Jailbird–You’ve got nothing coming to you.
485. Dreams die hard. You will die even harder.
486. Once your father dies, nobody will defend you.
487. You’ll remain a stranger in this world…and the next.
488. You will live–and die–by betting on the Ponies.
489. A hard-luck two-timing Dame will suck you in.
490. They will find you cutting out paper dolls in Stir.
491. They will break every one of your itchy trigger fingers.
492. She hated her Slob Husband; she’ll learn to hate You.
493. Every one of your hunches will be spectacularly wrong.
494. If you gotta tell ’em who you are, then you ain’t.
495. Your “Doctor” thinks the world is 6,000 years old.
496. Black Despair is not through with you just yet.
497. You should have changed all your passwords–too late now.
498. Nonexistent sirens will haunt your sleepless nights.
499. First you’ll see Red and then you’ll see Black–Forever.
500. It’s always Darkness, standing before the Don.

For fifteen years, from the ages of 22 to the age of 37, I lived right
over a fine fast-food Establishment in the Central Square neighborhood
of Cambridge, Massachusetts called Hi-Fi Pizza, and I can assure you
that long before the famed nightclub venue known as The Middle East Café
even existed, the corner of Brookline Street and Massachusetts Avenue
was a veritable weirdo magnet for every lowlife within a eight mile

And the apartment was an uninhabitable hellhole.

It smelled like cat piss.

And I didn’t even own a cat.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, let’s look on the bright side. Or, at least, let us
temporarily peer through the clotted mists of memory to find the humor
in our situation. Out of college, in debt, with no marketable skills
other than a knowledge of the difference between metonymy and
synecdoche (long since forgotten), in August of 1979 I had no real
choice other than to either relocate to Providence Rhode Island or
live in a room which rented for the grand total of fifty-six dollars
and twenty-five cents a month (about $168.75 in 2013 dollars), and,
which, with the demise of rent control some fifteen years later,
eventually rented for the princely sum of $300 (about 900 dollars today).

When I first moved in, my roommates were old high school and college
chums, and we had a merry old time of it for a few years, at least
until they all grew up and got real jobs instead of sitting around in
their shorts and undershirts drinking Ballantine Ale from 40 ounce
bottles, listening to obnoxiously eccentric music and  playing
backgammon until the hours wee.

By November of 1994, I was the last man standing.
And I had to be the responsible one. Because one of
my roommates was a crackhead who invited his pals up to the apartment
at all hours and who, strange to say, had the peculiar habit of
spending the rent money on crack. Another roommate was a deadbeat who,
admittedly, had an excruciatingly menial dead-end job at a mental
hospital. The third roommate was a solvent but obsessive-compulsive
schizophrenic (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), whose job
it was—I kid you not—to haul radioactive cat fetuses to containment
sites hard by the Harvard Medical School.

It was a wearisome burden indeed to shake down that jolly crew for the
coin of the realm, and just before my 38th birthday I relocated to
Providence, where I have lived ever since. (I can’t resist mentioning
that after I left, the place was used as a squatter’s pad and was
occupied by an underemployed street magician and an otherwise
unemployed street puppeteer. The pal who hauled the cat fetuses had
moved out, but had neglected to uninstall the telephone and was
eventually socked with a three thousand dollar phone bill by some
ingenious soul who contrived a way to call porn sites—but that’s
another story….)

Three of the funniest things I witnessed back when I lived there:

1) A black guy in a loud argument with one of the cooks at Hi-Fi Pizza:
Black guy: “FUCK YOU! Cadillac is the best card MADE! It’s the best car MADE!”
Cook: “You’re talkin’ stupid nonsense! You’re talkin’ stupid nonsense!”
Black guy: “Yo, Pizza man! Yo pizza is like yo FACE!”

2) Two guys about to gang up on a cabdriver. The old guy, probably a
war vet, gets out of the driver’s side, takes off his belt and wraps it
around his knuckles and the two thugs back rapidly away.

3) Then there was the time my old pal George almost got caught throwing
firecrackers off the roof onto Brookline Street one fourth of July

I also neglected to mention that in the early 1980s there was a dance
establishment directly across the street known as The Rise Club which
diligently, at 4AM every Sunday morning, let out a stream of
intoxicated and belligerent ghetto youth who spilled out into the
street and frequently fought pitched battles for which I, of course,
being young and myself awake at that ungodly hour, had a ringside

Do I miss living there? No. Even if you could get to sleep amid all
the traffic noise from 5 AM to 2AM, the Burger King next door wafted
poisonous smoke into our kitchen window which permeated the apartment
from 6AM to 1AM.

Do I ever eat at Hi-Fi Pizza? God no. I neglected to mention that the whole
building was riddled with rats and roaches. I can’t imagine they have
been systematically eradicated in the 18 years since I lived
there; it would probably take 18 centuries.

It was a good place to live.

If you were a depressed alcoholic.

People who don’t want you to know they’re lushes are legion.

Power drunks leave the case of empties right outside their door as if to say “Folks like me just don’t give a shit!”

Maybe those of you who live or have once lived in the Central Square neighborhood of Cambridge Massachusetts are familiar with the liquor store across the street from the Purity Supreme.

Back in the early 80s, whenever I’d bring in empties and claim a refund based on the number of bottles I was bringing in, the guy who ran the place invariably bellowed, “Tell da troof!”

Later on, for a while there, you had to bring your empties at the loading dock office back of the place.

In the mid-to-late 80s, the bearded guy who collected and paid you for them used to ignore me, while reading a paperback of Dostoyevsky. We chatted about Raskolnikov, and afterwards he still ignored me, but not as much.

Back then, the place had a quart of Bud for 95 cents (19 empties), and Ballantine Ale for 80 cents (16 empties). Ballantine tasted like pepper and gunpowder with a whiff of vinegar puke, but it gave you more bang for the buck.

I have always thought of Ballantine Ale as the bum’s choice because back in ’87 me and the late Mark Bigoness were walking around in Manhattan with an open quart bottle of the stuff and a homeless guy lurking in a doorway looked at us with Stinko approval and said, in a happy, growly voice, “Hey! That’s my brand!”

When that place across from the Purity was closed, I’d go up to Main Street to a place we called PROJECT LIQUOR, because it was right next to the projects. They were open right up to 10:59:59, and maybe sometimes even a few seconds later.

Of course, if we were laying in a big supply, our choice would be the good ole Liquor Warehouse up by Lechmere.

I remember on one thirsty occasion getting on a rickety bicycle in the teeth of a raging blizzard  pedelling all the way to Lechmere, then back to Central Square, with a whole case of Bargain Basement bellywash precariously balanced on the front handlebars.

Good times.

But them days are gone forever.

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