Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cafe Pidgeon

"Could I interest you both in a cigarette butt? Perhaps a very tiny stone?"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Continuing Sherpa

Just realized I'd written a chunk of Sherpa a while back, then forgot to post or continue working on any of it. So here's some more Sherpa:

Time passed. At eleven he graduated from a prestigious East Coast University. The feat made all the papers as he was the youngest person to ever graduate with honors from Howitzer University. The last time a child had successfully graduated from the esteemed university was some years prior. A boy by the name of Pak Hidoshi graduated at the tender age of fourteen in 1967. Mr. Howitzer proceeded to fire the entire staff of Howitzer University and accused Pak of being a communist spy. Pak was deported a short time later to whereabouts unknown. His parents, New Jersey natives Carol and Allan Hidoshi, refused to comment at the time of this writing.
At age twelve William Howitzer III was hospitalized for a brief period of time for a bleeding ulcer and “exhaustion.” It was rumored that William Howitzer III had fled the hospital against doctors orders sighting his desire to watch cartoons in his tv room. “No fucking Jetsons.” was sited on his release form under “Reason for early departure.”
The following year William Howitzer III began his lifelong love affair with the entertainment business. His first television show “Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes Presents: Bears!” was an early attempt to explore the medium and exploit bears. The show was difficult to follow and it’s ratings poor. It’s rumored that young Howitzer would repeatedly call the station and demand more challenging and risky tricks to be performed by the bears and their trainers. A former station employee was recently interviewed by Insider Weekly, the entertainment trade magazine. A quote from that interview is listed below:
“Four or five times a show I’d get a call from the kid demanding better tricks. They were all crazy. Once he told me to have Dave [David Batson, Bear Trainer -ed.] hit Bingo the Bear with a pie and then squirt it with water. ‘Like the stooges,’ he said. Another time he wanted to have Bingo the Bear hold the ring of fire while Dave rode the unicycle through it. It was like that every night.” David Batson was fired the following year for being mauled by Bingo the Bear. His family sued unsuccessfully on his behalf.
At the end of his thirteenth year he was readmitted to Cedar Sinai Hospital for stomach complications. The unconscious William was brought to the hospital via black limousine and remained in the facility for approximately three weeks following his admission. A legendary paparazzi photo captures a gaunt William Howitzer III being wheeled out of Cedar Sinai by a male orderly named Louis Amentine. Mr. Amentine is currently Head Orderly at Cedar Sinai, he had this to say. “That boy was damn near dead when they wheeled him out of here. Still don’t know what the hell got in him, but it damn sure wasn’t good.” Nearly twenty five years later, the details of Mr Howitzer’s stay are largely mysterious. Common belief is that was connected to an announcement made the following spring on “Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes Presents: Bears and Elephants.” Elephants had been added.
The announcement came at the start of the program and occupied the majority of the telecast. The thirteen year old William Howitzer sat at a large oak desk and read slowly from a paper held in front of his hands and would at times obscure large portions of his face. The company maintains that he wrote the speech himself, though it’s been suggested that he had commissioned a writer despite his impressive college education. It was very much his decision however that the Elephants and Bears be featured in a small sub-screen in the bottom right corner throughout his urgent announcement
A transcript of the telecast has been provided by The Foundation for The Hearing Impaired, who provided subtitles for those in need. Our thanks to The Foundation for allowing us to reprint the following transcript of the night’s telecast:

[Announcer] Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to Howitzer Brand Cereal Flake’s Presents Bears and Elephants! Tonight, we have a Howitzer Brand Treat for you. Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes Presents, child owner, William Howitzer The Third!!
[William Howitzer III] Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is William Howitzer the Third. I apologize for the interruption to tonight’s broadcast. At my request, the usual program will continue during my speech in the lower right hand corner of your screen.
I would like to thank everyone for enjoying Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes. We love that you love Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes. We thank you for making Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes the number one breakfast cereal in the nation. This announcement may frighten some and I ask that all children be accompanied by a parent or gaurdian at this time. Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes will not be held responsible for unattended children witnessing this urgent bulletin.
subset [Bear] Loud growl.
[William Howitzer III] Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, as I speak, boxes of Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes are being pulled from the shelves of every store across the nation and will no longer be sold by our company.
subset [Elephant scream] [Bear growl] [Trainer whip] [More growling and screaming]
[William Howitzer III] It has been reported accurately that I have been recently hospitalized for a serious condition. It was during this time that I have realized that we are not offering a wholesome product, a family product, a product safe for children.
subset [Trainer] Up, Bingo, up!
[William Howitzer III] After my realization, I decided to discontinue Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, the number one breakfast cereal in the nation. It came at the distress of my board members, many of whom are in need of work. I wish that you, the home viewer, are not angry with my decision, and will allow me to explain to you and your children, if they’re still in the room, and I hope it does not cause too much distress.
subset [Bear growl] [elephant scream] [Trainer] No no, bingo. No. Zambezi, down. Down Zambezi!
[William Howitzer III] After having my first bowl of Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, the number one cereal in the nation, in over three years on the day of my release, I decided that the product is sub-par. I mean, it’s gross. I don’t like it, your kids don’t like it either. It’s like vegetables or something. (Cough) I will not sell such a product. Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes is officially off the market.
subset [Commotion from Bear/Elephant fight] [Trainer whip]
[William Howitzer III] Your children are foremost in our minds. We wish to give them nothing but the best possible product we can. When you go to the market in the morning, you will note an empty space where Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes used to occupy. We apologize if this should leave a similar hole your morning routine.
subset [Trainer scream] [Bear whip]
[William Howitzer III] But! We wish to fill your hole again. But not with Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, but with Howzies Frosted Crunch! [fanfare.] I would like to welcome you to a new era in cereal refreshment: Frosting. I have been diligently researching frostings for the last six months, ladies and gentlemen boys and girls. It’s like the best part of cake on the worst part of cereal. Those old timey flakes were bland and had almost no sugar whatsoever. Start your day off right with Howzies! Howzies have been miticulously tested and retested and I have been assured by my scientists that it’s the only frosted cereal on the market. Add a little zing to your step with Howzies! Isn’t that right Crunchalumpamus?
[Crunchalumpamus] That’s right Mr. The Third!
Subset [Elephant stomping] [Lense shatter]
[William Howitzer III] Crunchalumpamus is your new friend, boys and girls. He’s a space hippo from Neptune and he just loves –
[William Howitzer III] Crunchalumpamus! Behave! Anyway boys and girls, I’ll let you get back to The Howzies Frosting Hour, but be sure to get up early tomorrow to be the first on your block to try some Howzies Frosted Crunch!
subset [fire alarm] [sobbing]

This peice of broadcasting has been studied by advertising and marketing scholars since the moment it was seen. The innovations were countless. Howitzer, in a single broadcast changed the face of cereal marketing. He introduced frosting to cerea, a breakthrough in breakfast-time nourishment. His was the first cereal to have a cartoon representative who appeared to be painfully, remorselessly addicted to the product he represented; opening the door for the likes of Chester Cheetah, The Trix Rabbit, and Joe Camel. He even changed the very name of his legendary cereal to a more marketable, edgy and memorable one. It was considered a daring move by all industry insiders.
A member of the board who was fired around the time of the announcement, and who wishes to remain anonymous, had a larger insight to offer: “Daring? No. It wasn’t daring. He was taking the company global, starting in Europe.” The correlation may not seem obvious until later in the interview when the illumination is presented: “Lets say you lived in Europe in 1967 and you had to choose between Old Maids Wheat Puffs and Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, which would you choose? Would you go for the knitting old woman who fixed you a nice breakfast, or the tank that killed your family and blew up your house?” A crude point, but a very good one. Real estate all over Europe had been furiously renovated by Howitzer Tanks during the Second World War.
With the catchy new slogan and the help of a friendly Neptunian Hippopotamus, the sugary morning meal made the jump across the Atlantic Ocean into eager British teeth.
At home the effect of the broadcast was even more impressive. Many schools were closed due to lack of attendence and lines of eager children errupted out of stores and down sidewalks. In at least five instances riots occoured when the cereal sold out. Store Owner Christian DuMonts recalled: “There was a riot.” When pressed further, Mr. DuMonts recalled: “Because of that cereal, with the purple thing on the front. I don’t know what the fuck it was. You want a bag?” The purple thing was, in fact, Crunchalumpamus.
Time passed. The lawsuits dwindled from children injured during the great unveiling. The cereal entrenched itself as the must-have item of the year. Christmastime was especially easy for Santa Claus as visions of Howzies Frosted Crunch danced in the childrens heads. The factories were running at 200 percent production. Three shifts became incessantly milling in William’s back yard. The Robot Violence Center and Trampoline Island were steadilly swarmed with the workers children. A constant steady stream of frosted production generated an impossible ammount of income for the young owner.
In the two years that followed few innovations appeared. The only notable achievements were the attachment of tiny dynamos to the bottoms of all the trampolines in trampoline island, which nearly negated the factories dependence on the city’s power grid. Up and down, up and down all day long, hundreds of feet pounding, pushing and driving the dynamos winding the gyros spinning and sparking the energy creating the flaky frosting pumped to the tasting of tiny red tongues that would devour the sugar and power the jumping up and down up and down all day long. A constant source of renewable energy had been created for the purpose of feuling the factory that feuled the children and on and on.
The other notable achievement was the Emmy Award granted to William for outstanding acchievement in children’s entertainment at the 22nd Annual Emmy Awards, which were brought to you by Howzie’s Frosted Crunch. In his acceptance speech William thanked Chumpalumpamus, Bingo, Zambezi and the late David Batson. He walked off stage to a smattering of applause and it’s rumored that he left his congratulatory statuette in the bathroom before leaving.
His appearance at the 22nd Annual Emmy Awards was his last public appearance for many long years. His stage right exit that night, was a slow, purposeful walk in which he held a statuette high in the air as his eyes held the floor as he walked behind the red curtain and out of public view for the final time.
In hindsight, the boy geniuses’ acceptance speech holds some mysterious language, we again thank The Foundation for the Hearing Impaired for providing us a transcript of Willam’s acceptance speech:

[William Howitzer III] Thank you, thank you. I’d first like to thank Bingo the Bear, Zambezi The Elephant, and the late Dave Batson, without whom none of this would be possible.
[William Howitzer III] Howzies Frosted Crunch Animal Hour was an idea I had when I was only 9 years old. I liked bears, and I thought I’d like to see more of them. It’s been a wonderful experience. Thank You very much.

And that was all. He wouldn’t reappear on television for several years. He walked off stage and into his darker and more private years. Little is known of Williams whereabouts for the next number of years.


I would like to take a moment of your time to explain the following chapter. When researching this project, and the monumental characters contained therein, it became increasingly apparent that William’s Lost Years would provide me with a difficult task: How could I write about a figure whose formative years were so shrouded in mystery?
I have devoted many hours of research attempting to divine this information from dozens of sources. Unfortunately, very little information was gathered from these hours. I beg you to keep the following in mind while reading the remainder of this section: William had already graduated college, there are no further school records to assertain. Howzie’s Frosted Crunch was owned privately by William, it did not fall under the umbrella of the former Howitzer empire, which was a publicly traded company. Therefore, little is known of the company’s inner workings, there were no shareholder meetings, stock reports, SEC filings. There was simply William. William’s young, troubled mind.
His need for secrecy was instantly apparent, according to Kevin Rhoades, a former board member who, according to Rhoades, asked too many questions at the board meeting following the 22nd Annual Emmy Awards:
“The kid was out of his mind. He came back, said ‘From now on, what I say in this room goes, and what is said here, stays here. From now on, everything is dead quiet. Or else.’ or something to that effect. So I was just curious about what happened. GO BACK AND MAKE THE EVENT MORE EMOTIONAL. FLUTTERED HECTIC. So I ask him what happened. He says he doesn’t want to talk about it. I try not to press him, but I don’t know what he means by ‘dead quiet or else.’ so I ask him. And he says ‘you’re fired.’ And I was fired. By an eleven year old. Look, if you’re not going to buy tires, you’re going to have to leave.”
The silence that reigned in the board room was, and remains, legendary. Following Rhoades’ dismissal, the boardroom operated on complete secrecy. It remains to this day. I’ve interviewed several of the former board members, several of the wives of the former board members and several of the surviving children of the former board members and none have been able to supply me with very much relevant information. The boardroom remains closed.
Further complicating the matter of William’s whereabouts during this time is that the American public’s fascination with William quickly faded after his final appearance. Had William made more of a formal statement, a grand farewell, his disapearance would have been as spectacular as his life had been to that point. Interest would have remained high, articles about his current whereabouts would circulate in every newspaper, tabliod print and barber shop across the country. However, William simply slipped past the curtain and out of the limelight for years. His exit was simple, unimpressive and not very memberable. He allowed his audience to watch his exit without their realizing how big of an exit it was.
William’s exit was further aided by the American economy. Shortly after William’s disapearance, the economy began to tumble, jobs were lost, buisnesses failed, homes were mortgaged. William Howitzer was no longer a symbol of opportuninty, he was a symbol of the decadent American aristocracy. A symbol of wealth and good fortune, a fortunate son to be sneered at and cursed. What did he know of the troubles of the working man? That little brat never worked a day in his life. His cereal is overpriced anyway. The working man was turning against him and it’s not known if his disaperance was intentionally timed, or if good fortune was continuing to smile upon him.
These years, then, are difficult to track by even the most diligent of researchers. His company operated from behind closed doors. William’s public persona was tarnished through no fault of his own. His show was cancelled after the public’s fear of Bears and Elephants were replaced with Bankruptcy and Communists.

William carried an interesting image. To much of the public, he was simply an abberation, a young boy who was left a vast inheritance and had become a mascot for his father’s company. To others, a fortunate son, a walking example of the American aristocracy who didn’t earn a cent he had. An undeserving child born with a silver spoon in his mouth. William’s image to the public quickly faded and was soon forgotten.