Thursday, August 23, 2007

"I Came Here To Blow The Roof Off This Sucker" Chapter One

Like most people, Sam Grubnick was born.

That much is certain. More than that we cannot say for certain.

Later, when he had shot to superstardom as Sam Seventies, he related several versions of his life. In an interview with People magazine, he said he was born in Chicago and his parents were devout Muslims. The very next week in Cosmopolitan, he told the reporter he was born in Honolulu and his parents were Jewish. The next month, he was confronted with the contradiction by a reporter from The Washington Post and promptly admitted he was lying, that he was really born in Saskatchewan and produced a birth certificate to prove it.

The fact that he had brought his birth certificate to an interview should have tipped the reporter off that something was fishy, but he ran the story anyway.

The next day, he denied telling the Post reporter anything, and that he really was born in Nacadoches, Texas, and his parents were in the witness protection program.

Psychologists and devotees of Sam Seventies' career long have given up on ever finding out his true past. In "The Seventies Story," author Madelyne Bushner concluded, "Obviously it was all a part of his schtick. He pretended to come from nowhere, like the decade that spawned him and inspired his stage name."

Others disagree. "I think he was ashamed of his family," said Lucy Marsh, who briefly dated Grubnick in high school. "He never took me to meet his parents. When I asked him about them, he'd just shrug and say, 'They don't like guests in the house.' But everybody knew he came from the poor side of town."

Toward the end of his career, Seventies himself dismissed any talk about his past. "What does it matter where I came from? I'm here now."

Looking for records of Grubnick/Seventies' life before 1955, when he entered first grade at Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary School in Medfield, Iowa, has turned up nothing. It is as if he himself said -- he came from nowhere.

A recently uncovered document, though, hints at a more mundane tale. A copy of a baptismal record at First Unitarian Church in Keystone, Montana, for an Samuel James Grubnick, born August 23, 1950, lists his parents at James Francis Grubnick, a meat cutter, and the former Louise Anne Muldoon, a housewife.

Seventies claimed his birthday was August 23, 1955, which would have made him 19, when he appeared on "Happening!" which had a strict age limit to its contestants. He claimed he had lost his birth certificate, but produced a baptismal record from what show officials said was a "church somewhere in Montana." The birthdate, however, was smudged, but they gave him the benefit of the doubt. He looked 19.

Research into James and Louise Grubnick turns up precious little information. They appear to have been married in 1946, when he was 27 and she was 17. He appeared to have had several occupations before becoming a meat cutter, and he had several more before he died in 1962 of alcohol poisoning. Louise died not too long afterward in an automobile accident.

There is a photo in the Keystone Gazette that is dated Oct. 30, 1954, from a Halloween carnival at a local youth center. It shows the Grubnicks with a small child dressed as a clown. Because of this it's impossible to say for certain whether the child is the same who would grow up to be Sam Seventies.

All that one can say is the people in the photo look very happy and the child is clinging to his mother.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A specialized greeting card

For you I'd swim the widest sea
I'd fly to Timbuktu
For you, my little angel
There's nothing I'd not do

I'd scale the highest mountain peak
I'd sneak across the border
So when you think you'll go and lift
That restraining order?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Biting Satire

My mother always told me
Not to chew my fingernail
"Something bad will come of it"
She'd warn me without fail

But I would never listen
And I could see no wrong
In chewing on that fingernail
So I chewed it all day long

The toppest part, it soon was gone
And then went all the rest
I chewed it to the cuticle
And that part was the best

I couldn't stop at just that one
So I finished it and then
I scarfed down nails 2 and 3
On through to number 10

I sat there feeling satisfied
I thought that would show my mom
Nothing bad had happened yet
Wouldn't she just feel so dumb?

I felt something inside of me
It ran inside my chest
It raced through my esophagus
And spilled onto my vest

It was a bright pink gastropod
Or what you'd call a snail
Down from my mouth to the floor
It left an icky trail

It looked at me so evilly
And then it had to say
"You silly boy, your mom was right
And now I'll run away"

"You should listen to your mom
And always pay her heed
When she tells you what not to do
It's to tell you what you need"

"Why do you think she told you
To never chew your nails
It's because the naughty boys who do
Will end up spitting snails"

That snarking snail then slid away
And hurried our the door
I swear it was much faster
Than I'd seen one move before

So now I know my mother
Tells me things because she loves
And I always keep my fingernails
Inside steel-plated gloves