Monopoly Madison

This is the story of how the original Madison award was stolen.

I do not remember which year it was stolen, but it was Matt who stole it all on his own. His idea was to send ransom notes to Dan, which he did at least once. The first note he demanded $50,000 in cash to be placed in a bag and left in the trash can outside the Amherst Theater on a Friday night. Dan, Brian, and Jeff filled a bag with Monopoly money and had muscle-bound Jeff deliver the bag. They staked out the garbage can all night, but no one appeared. Matt has picked a night and had no intention of showing up.

The rest of the plan was to have the Madison award escape his captors and travel around the world, sending pictures of itself in various places. Matt knew Chet was going to Russia that year so he would pass the Madison to him to take a picture. He would continue to pass the Madison to others who travelled that year, only to have the Madison re-appear the next year at the ceremony.

When Dan first discovered the Madison was stolen, the next day, he barged into my place unannounced and began questioning me. Dan was convinced Chet was the culprit, and when later confronted he put forth no denial. Dan’s top suspect was still Matt, but he seemed uncharacteristically willing to take Matt’s word for it, that he was not involved.

Matt’s plan for the tour of the Madison award was proceeding beautifully. Matt was dating some woman, who’s name I forget, so let’s just call her Gertrude. He left it over at Gertrude’s place so Dan would never find it. Before Matt could pass the Madison over to Chet for it’s trip to Russia, Matt broke up with Gertrude. The next Madison’s rolled around, but Gertrude was still allergic to Matt’s presence, even for an opportunity to throw the golden VHS tape at his head, as if he were scum of the Earth. Gertrude worked for CIT at UB, and was know by Chet, so he was able to retrieve the Madison from Gertrude.

His master plan dissolved, Matt was stuck dumbfound when the next Madisons showcase arrived and nothing was said. By now the Madison theft was all but forgotten and the Madison Academy scrounged together another VHS tape (this was the real difficulty), a can of gold spray paint, and a styrofoam base. A brief mention of the stolen Madison, and a threat to the SOB who stole it was enthusiastic and brief.

By the time the following Madisons rolled around, two years after the theft, Chet had retrieved the original Madison from Gertrude, and it was returned by Matt at the show. A mock beating on stage was given when he produced it form beneath his trench coat upon presenting his award. Dan and Brian mock beat him and ushered him off stage. Myself and a few others rushed into the side room expectant to see a mob berating Matt, but all we found was a calm clotch of friends sharing a smoke. Too much time had passed for their to be any lingering anger.

The original Madison back in place the replacement was returned, to live out it’s days, now useless, on Dan’s book shelf.

Turning Crap into Fabulous Prizes

There comes a time in every man’s life when he looks around his hovel and thinks, “I’ve got way too much shit.” A body collects these things as he saunters through life, like ticks in the wild. Until a day of reckoning, or a day of moving, where he starts poking through the back rooms of his life and all sorts of odd bits and pieces fall out. Thimbles, wires, inkpads, left handed safety scissors, shot glasses from Pittsburgh: all safely tucked away “just in case.”

Just in case of what? I don’t know. In case someone’s strangling me with a piece of yarn and my right arm is paralyzed. The only thing I can use to save myself with is my trusty pair of left handed safety scissors.

The world is filled with such things. Your house is jam packed with oddities. Go through it right now. I dare you. Sweep out the back shelf of your broom cupboard and the dusty corners of your attic. See what bits and pieces you’ve stored away because “it might come in handy one day.”

Jars of batteries, spare cables for the VCR, old demo tapes of some local band that never went anywhere (“Druken Puppet Sings”), album covers with no vinyl inside, mismatched socks, “Dukakis in 88” pins, Volume 16 of the Junior Encyclopedia for 1948, old photographs of a guy who might be a great uncle, or crappy Christmas decorations that you made in 5th grade that your parents “just love.”

If my words don’t ring true in your ears, then there is something the matter with you and you need to reexamine your life. Go back to Iraq Mr. Al-Queda. If this does strike a note of recognition, then let me tell you how I turned crap into fabulous prizes.

The Madison-Felix Awards, that great tribute to cheapness, vulgar audiences, and alcoholic shenanigans, was entering the terrible twos. It’s infancy was marred by various problems that Brian and I corrected. One task was left, and I decided to fix it solo. At the end of the first year door prizes were handed out to the lucky audience, all twenty of them. This last part had been left in the clumsy hands of Ensign Raiff and Nurse Pam. While their enthusiasm certainly wasn’t lacking, their sense of humor was. They bought cute things that were supposed to be funny, but actually weren’t. People chuckled and said it was funny, but it was more out of a sense that they though it should be funny, without actually being funny.

They gave away a lot of pink plastic jewelry, gotten from a convenient CVS, spice girl dolls, rewritable plastic pads with Urkel’s picture on the cover (though we got some use out of that), and so on. These items just didn’t fit into the style in which we were fashioning the show. That of cheapness and with a base of crass. We were the Oscar’s evil twin, with all it’s glitz, glamour, and pomposity stripped away. So the following year I took over the door prizes, and like the Russians who built the disastrous Volga-Don Canal in 1931, I declared that there would be “not one kopeck spent.” It would all be gathered from the generous accumulation of crap which had been stuffed into the nether regions of my closet, and beyond.

Being of a lethargic nature, I didn’t get to work straight away, but let the idea ferment in my mind for awhile. What spurred off the initial gathering was a pile of junk left at my work. I was employed at Noco Gas Station on the corner of Sweet Home and Sheridan. I worked the midnight shift, as it appealed to my nocturnal instincts and paid an additional 50 cents an hour. Not much happened usually, and I had plenty of time to read and sleep, but we were closely situated to the University of Buffalo Amherst Campus, so there were plenty of head-up-their-ass college punks around (more on this in a later post). The hippie revival movement of the early 90s was starting to catch on in the area and brought around all the usual dregs that such movements dig up. I’m sure you know what I mean: Indecent scruffy types who slouch about with their hands in their pockets, just looking at people.

One evening a VW van, a vintage classic, pulled up to the store. Two tied-died “people,” stinking of petuli and BO entered and started pooling change to buy a bottle of water. A third remained at the van emptying copious amount of garbage into the trash cans. After purchasing their water and finagling two cups out of me, presumably so they wouldn’t swap their various types of hepatitis with each other, they departed. Leaving the store I found that they had filled 3 of the 4 cans and left a pile of old vinyl albums on top of one. Closer inspection showed that these were just the album covers with no sign of anything else in them. The thought then hit me. These would be great gifts to use at the Madisons. I mean who wouldn’t want the album cover of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “A Song Will Rise”, or The Romanian National All Male Chorus Sings, or Neil Hefti’s “Batman” Scores? The covers, while most people would see them as garbage, covered all three of the criteria I had for the Madison door prizes: They were cheap, they were crap, and they were funny in an odd sense.

I was inspired. I rushed home, grabbed a cardboard box, and started to dig, dig, dig. And the wonders I found. Our house, it seems, had become a receptacle for unwanted material from both sides of the family. Older members died and there was always something left behind when the loot was divvied up. They would turn to us and say, “Dan, you like reading and stuff, so here’s a crate of books from your Great Aunt Betty.” This was all on top of my Mother’s and I natural pack rat mentality. We find an item, file it away, thinking “Well it might come in handy,” and then promptly forget about its existence.

Handfuls upon handfuls of buttons were dumped in the box, a phone book from 1985, game tokens from a destroyed copy of The Blizzard of 77 board game, a few ratted up copies of The Watchtower, old comic books, and so on.

Then under my generous loft bed I found the grand prize. An item of singular beauty and attention. By itself it seemed useless, yet I found myself incapable of getting rid of it. No matter how many times I found myself handing it over at the Madisons, I found it back in the box at the end of the night. We had a true love/hate relationship. I didn’t want it, yet could not let the joke go.

The item was an old scuffed up black Oxford shoe for the right foot, left over from High School. For those who attended private school (3 of the 4 major posters) you remember we were required to wear proper shoes whilst attending the institute, along with a shirt, dress pants, tie, clean shaven face, and short hair. For sneakers, along with long hair, leads to degeneracy and general lapses into moral turpitude. Though, as a side note, one of my class mates, Ralph Maggio, managed to go for 4 years never wearing a pair of shoes. He always snuck the sneakers through.

Back on topic: Yes, a shoe. A glorious right shoe. Its partner had been torn to pieces by my dog Thor many years prior. For nine years I attempted to give it away and, without fail, it was left behind or tossed back into the box by an ungrateful winner. But each year it gathered bigger and bigger laughs; became one of our standard running jokes, from the people who remembered it from the year before.

To make a short story even longer, I previewed my low budget door prizes at the end of the 2nd Madison-Felix Awards and was met with uproarious laughter and applause. Filtering out the high alcoholic consumption at such events, I still feel that people appreciated the humor value of such junk over the “cute” prizes handed out the first year. The door prizes remained in this form for the remainder of its decade long run.

Now as I sit in my apartment looking at the increasing accumulation of “stuff” during my five years in the South, I feel like starting the Madison’s again, if only to clear the clutter from my closet. I’m sure my right shoe would agree.

Guess Who’s Coming To The Madisons?

An ordinary evening, or was it?

Big Brian called me up excited, “Dan get over here. You’re not going to believe this shit!”

Getting ready not to believe this shit, I sped on over to Brian’s I had no idea what to expect, but I was sure it would be hilarious. All I knew was that it had something to do with the Madison-Felixes.

It had always been our practice with the Madisons to send invitations to anyone that was going to receive our award. Those whom we could locate. I mean how do you find Alan Ormsby from “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things,” or Eric Stern from “The Love Butcher?” For the first couple of years we actually held out hope that someone might condescend to reply, but by the 10th year all of those ideas were gone. We only sent them out as a joke, and sat around snickering when the “I regret to inform you that we cannot attend” letter (when they even bothered to do so) rolled in.

This was the end of the Madison-Felixes. The last show. I actually lived in North Carolina and was just visiting at the time, so most of the burden was on Brian, and he was getting tired of handling everything himself.

The old days of it being just fun fun fun were over, and now it was more of a hassle. We worked harder at it, and the shows improved, while our enjoyment waned. Gone were the days of creating our master tape, by hooking two VCRs together, the night before the show. I asked Brian how this happened, and we remembered back in time how we would show up drunk to the show and go from there. Remember when I inaugurated the 3rd Madisons by drinking a 21 shot salute. The last being a flaming shot of Rumple Mintz? I kind of do.

When we first started the show, our intentions were to pay tribute to the less known and forgotten masterpieces with a few jokes tossed in. That lasted a year. We quickly followed suit and descended into clips of llama fucking, Divine eating dog shit, unspeakable horrors from Salo, men getting their dicks chopped off, old women playing Russian roulette, boy in the Nazi uniform getting a blow job from his sister, an accident clip were a man get hit by a car and flying 20 feet (met with uproarious applause) and the unforgettable girl-masturbating-with a-severed-arm clip from “Entrails of a Virgin.”

Our normal stable consisted of films like: “Night of the Bloody Apes,” “Make ‘Em Die Slowly,” “I Spit on Your Grave,” “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things,” “Brutes and Savages,“ and our ultimate award winner (7 Madison-Felixes) “The Love Butcher.” A film I could watch over and over and over again with out getting tired of it.

One thing we always had each year, was our Lifetime Achievement Award, with accompanying song. It was called the Mike Horner award, after the first winner, a porno star that we enjoyed watching. Other note worthy recipients were Don Knotts, George Peppard, Jabba the Hutt, Christopher Reeve, Alan Hale Jr., Bob Newhart etc. The purpose was to give an award to a person that everyone knew, but that was never honored. No one ever honored us back by showing up. Except for now.

I arrived at Brian’s and bounded up to his apartment “WHAT‘S UP?” I yelled. He stood there massively, smoking a cigarette, and handed me a piece of paper.

“Remember who were giving the Lifetime Achievement Award to this year?” He asked with nervous excitement. Somewhere between hysterical laughter and panic.

“Yeah, Charles Bronson.”

“Well read the letter.”

I looked at it. “Dear sir, I am delighted to inform you that Mr. Bronson will be honored to accept your very prestigious award…”

I glanced over at the “prestigious” award, sitting on a dusty shelf above Brian’s TV, wedged in between his Bob and Doug MacKenzie Action Figures, and some George Orwell books. A plastic tape glued to a fake marble base. I looked at Brian.

“What the hell are we gonna do?”

The only other time something like this had happened was when we received a threatening letter from Faye Dunaway’s lawyers. It stated that criminal prosecution would take place if we did not cease and desist our correspondence. I say “our” correspondence, but it was really Brian’s last letter that had spawned this response. I never read it, but it went along the lines of him getting upset with her ignoring us, how it wasn’t nice of her, and if she needed a place to stay then she could stay at his. Brian states that this was a joke, like when he sent out Christmas Cards full of Bible-beating “Praise Jesus” material to every Jewish name he could find in the phone book, and I believe him. Everyone who knows Brian could believe this. Still, he always had a thing for redheads.

Charles Bronson coming to the show? THE Charles Bronson, of “The Dirty Dozen” and “Death Wish” fame. Christ? What’s he expecting? I supposed a lot of fancy big star treatment, like a place to stay or food. How cheap were the Motel 6 rates again? I suppose we could pick him up in my Mom’s Honda Civic hatchback. Does he like Cheetoes? Because I could get a lot of them cheap from Noco. Oh God. I’ve seen his movies. If he doesn’t like the show, he might machinegun our entire families.

Now it might be pointed out that we had been deceptive in offering him the award in the first place. It was a Lifetime Achievement Award, and may be flattering for someone who hadn’t received attention for some time. I believe his last film had been Death Wish 4, and for a man who had a lot of starring roles in good films, it might be a bit of disappointment to have been almost forgotten. If indeed he was. Still if you’re in your declining years and all that comes along is a pack of lunatics from Buffalo, putting on a mockery of a show simply to have a good laugh, to give you some attention. Is it better than nothing? Perhaps.

Then I thought of the collection of clips we had prepared in Mr. Bronson’s honor. It consisted of lots of scenes with him shooting, stabbing, garroting people and throwing them off buildings, all to the tune of The Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You.” Well done, but not very flattering. What was he going to make of that?

We’ll never know. Those who attended the final outing of the Madison-Felix Award will note that there was no celebrity present. We went out as we went in. Completely ignored by the film industry at large. Bastards. While it might have been a disaster, we would have at least tried to handle it, but Charles Bronson did something to make the entire potential-fiasco go away. He died.

Perhaps it was the knowledge that at least someone somewhere remembered his work and that felt it was deserving of recognition. And at last he could die in peace, content that he was not forgotten. Perhaps it was the heart attack. It will be a mystery lost to the ages.

Still to the end the Madison-Felix Awards always remained a place where those of dubious credentials and past glory could, for one night, remain among the stars.

Dashwood Revelations

       It came to pass somewhere in middling days of Comstock that a powerful coalition began to form around the nucleus of Dan Mooney deep within the bowels of his basement. Unseen by the judging eyes of society at large, they lurked in the darkness, coming together under the banner of some minor occultist in the tradition of Dee, Crowley, or that “a la peanut butter sandwiches!” guy from Sesame Street. The preferences of young men who name themselves after so fey a name as Sir Francis Dashwood is questionable at best, as are the intentions of the same. This tale will take though through the secret origins of the group, its meteoric rise to power, and inevitable plummet to the depths from which it came.

        I was not present, nor even invited, the day of origin, so as I have demonstrated with numerous precedents, will attempt to spell out the story using what inaccurate, exaggerated, or completely fictitious information I have. This of course will constitute the ‘Official Story’ and serve as the historical written record for time unending. I have no doubts whatsoever that all mentioned parties will fervently wish they had gotten off their fat lazy asses and wrote this story first, but be that as it may, my distorted view hereby becomes the benchmark of truth and accuracy. Your outrage will only serve to amuse us.

        Although Dan was in the habit of making the long stroll over to Comstock when in need of companionship or to satisfy the desire to watch extremely low grade films and drink, at times inclement weather kept him closer to the home front under the tender care of his mom. When not busy breaking his leg on misplaced ice and being locked out, he enjoyed the environs of the basement and impressive collection of VHS tapes within it. The quality of these tapes, closely resembling that of those found in the basement of Collector’s Inn, likewise drew in all manner of odd disjointed folk. The primary two in the early days were Brian Young and Jeff Falker, more familiarly known as Big Brian and Jeff Death. The trio represented, in the eyes of Ben Pierce, all that was wrong with the fine thespian endeavor what was Rocky Horror. They reveled in this and used the collective love of cinematic crap and cross dressing on stage to form a society of equals, looking out for each other’s best interest in brotherly love. As every new outfit begs a name, they set about choosing theirs. My sources tell me that The Apple Dumplin’ Gang was ultimately rejected due to copyright law, and The Dashwood Society adopted as a poor alternate.

        As with any new organization impressed with their own machismo and panache, they set about recruiting new members they could ultimately feel superior to. I was brought in as an early candidate, and it was that experience that kept me far for some time thereafter. I was initially attracted to the notion as this was still the heyday of Dark Pistacio and I saw this as an opportunity to get in good with the cool kids at Rocky. While Dan and Jeff might be highly suspect in that department, Brian was inarguably a cool cat with the black beret and jazz man image. I arrived early and was let in by Dan who showed me into the basement and promptly disappeared for other corners of the house. I sat down across from Jeff, whom I had never spoken to and knew only as that freak in the gold underwear at Rocky. What transpired chills me still when I recall the night and my inner monologue throughout.

        Jeff sat across from me, leaned back in the chair, a strapping farmer in overalls, hands folded across his stomach and shit eating grin splashed across his face. Silent, he stared at me, grinning. My eyes darted back and forth to see if he was still looking (he was) and the stairs in hoped that Mooney was coming down them. Man, this guy is creepy. Where the fuck did Dan go?

“So Jeff, how long you been doing the Rocky thing?”

“Yep”

It wasn’t a yes or no question. He continued to stare and cold droplets of sweat began to form on my forehead.

“You, um, you live around here?”

“Nope”

“Really? Oh, um, what town do you, you know, live in?”

“Country”

He nodded slowly, continuing to grin all the same. Where the motherfuck was fucking Mooney?

“Hey Dan, you coming or what?” Silence from above. Even Mighty Thor was silent. To add to the surreal aspect of the evening, one of the mutant cats occupying the premises sauntered by growling ominously. What the fuck was Dan doing up there anyway??

“Them folks who did Texas Chainsaw didn’t know shit about making furniture from human bones.”

“Uh. Daaaaaaaaaan!”

Whether Dan left me down there with this redneck zombie, who was assuredly sizing me up for use as a new coffee table, on purpose or not while he masturbated to the latest Dress Barn catalog I never found out, but it was time to retreat and live another day. I bade Jeff pass along to Mooney my best wishes but something suddenly came up. I bolted out before the lummox could lunge and ran full tint though the secret back entrance to the Tops parking lot.

My sudden unexpected disappearance (to become a trademark of mine up though the Air Force years) no doubt eliminated me from consideration as part of the Dashwood ruling class, and unwilling to be ruled, maintained an honorary membership status. Meanwhile, the ranks grew on their own pulling in all manner of outcast and undesirable freaks who fit in no other group. The full roster was generously posted by Dan himself in the Madison origin story that Aaron will no doubt insert a link to shortly.

Using Dan’s basement as a base of operations, with frequent field trips to Denny’s, Your Host, the Olympic, and Comstock, the fledgling Dashwood Society cooked up scheme after scheme to spread their funky brand of misrule upon the good people of the world. The first great assault that we became aware of is told best in the Greatest Party that Never Was post (assuredly linked by Aaron by now). I was admittedly one of those who thought it would be a good idea to allow Dan to throw the party of his choosing on our premises and willingly gave permission. I quickly questioned this judgment upon seeing the flyer pasted up outside Knox 20 in garish hot pink. That this attempt at wanton revelry and destruction failed miserably meant nothing and their ranks continued to swell with more and more bizarrely named cretins each day.

Insufficiently homosexual to forcibly enter the party planning scene, they turned instead toward Big Porn and the promise of wealth therein. Temporarily under the malevolent direction of the sinister Dr Harkey, they put together a production team and cast their net far to pull in any aspiring young actress both willing to be balled by Mahatma Nick, and to be seen doing so on tape. While none of us doubted the core competency was there to put the production together, there were grave doubts as to the existence of a woman so lacking in self esteem to be associated with this mutant crew. Funding was scarce as most of the group members were confined to living in parent’s basements or other such degrading habitats. Larry said it best when he remarked that the quality was likely to look as though tens of dollars were spent. We doubters were temporarily silenced when Dan gleefully announced that an actress was found and signed on board. After sufficient time went by without news, however, we came to find that the starlet to be failed to produce convincing proof of age. The schoolgirl look, where attractive on adult women, looses much of the luster when looking at the real deal. Her price of help on her earth science project also should have given her away.

It was becoming clear that Dashwood as a ‘legitimate’ business entity was likely not to be. Good ideas were scarce as was funding; venture capitalists preferring to pass on disorganized gangs of unruly youths. Rumors abounded that pimping, loan sharking, extortion, gambling, and a briefly successful chain of lemonade stands were all tried and subsequently abandoned. At Comstock, out in the sticks, news filtered in slowly and inaccurately, even from the horses mouth. During those days Dashwood existed in the periphery of our egocentric world, but this was to change once we moved closer to the epicenter of the madness of Mooney’s idea forge. Once up close at Princeton, it was clear how far the reach of Dan and his minions extended. Aaron expressed a growing terror, while I continued a limited liability association.

Fearing his power might wane due to the failed ventures, Mooney donned his thinking cap to determine the next course of action. Businesses gain money and power by providing some good or service, no matter how loathsome, people are coaxed into feeling they need. Religions, however, gained even larger profits and near unlimited power simply by setting up rules of questionable value and telling people what they want to hear, with a dash of fear thrown in for good measure. Inspired, he acted quickly. Some short time later, Dan arrived, as always without calling first, and by some stroke of fate I was in enough of a good natured mood to let him in anyway. Bursting though the door, he sat down, lit up one of my cigarettes, and pulled forth a certificate from a freshly arrived envelope. Inscribed on the parchment was undeniable certification that his check had cleared and that he was now legally the Reverend Doctor Daniel J Mooney. My heart skipped a beat.

In those wild days before the internet, Dan had sifted though enough periodicals of ill repute and found an ad for a church in California willing to sanctify the willing for a small fee, and would gladly confer upon generous souls an honorary doctorate for an additional $20. He brought with him a videotape to share with me and commemorate the event. As we all know, one can expect to see anything from a children’s classic with dubbed over voices to a documentary ending with a man fucking a llama when Dan’s at the VCR. Nothing could have prepared me for this. It began with a pair of lesbians in leather hoods speaking in German. A little S&M, OK. To my utter revulsion, however, they quickly moved on to the most disgustingly graphic acts of coprophagia I have ever witnessed. To this day I still barely am able to retain the contents of my stomach when thinking of it. I put a quick end to the viewing and bade the new holy man adieu.

Where a triumvirate officially led Dashwood, Dan created a subgroup within under the banner of the Church of Unconscious Revelations where he wielded absolute power. The name of the newly minted religion was based on the notion of attaining religious experience though the consumption of alcohol to the degree where one passed out; mind now open to supernatural intrusion. Generally most churches prefer that ministers ordained in their sect maintain direct affiliation to its tenants, Dan saw things differently and set forth creating new doctrine and dogma. The first major change was the trinity itself, booting the Holy Ghost to go haunt some more passive sect like the Buddhists or Amish, to bring in perennial bad-boy and crowd pleaser, Satan. How the other two felt about the change in line up remains unknown, but as there was no smiting or divine lightning, it was assumed that all but the disenfranchised party were satisfied with the arrangement. As far as I could tell, worship consisted of shots of vodka and prayer in the form of random shouts of ‘wakka-dakka baby!’.

Now, it was assumed by many that the Dashwood Society and the Church were one in the same, but my understanding was that they were separate entities, not mutually exclusive, but collectively exhaustive, one organization eclipsing the other. One could be a Dashwoody only, or be a Dashwoody and an Unconscious Reveler, but one had to be the former to be the latter, although inclusion in the former did not necessitate membership in the latter. I feel this is very clear. While the Dashwood society seemed willing to take almost all individuals interested in watching blood and porn in the basement, entrance to the Church required a baptism of sorts to initiate the new disciple into the fold. Such initiations quickly became the stuff of legend.

First to join was scrawny nudist and wanna be porn star, Mahatma Nick. I remember his initiation, undertaken gleefully and videotaped, of Nick running though Tops parking lot, boys flapping free in the wind, only to be so overcome with the spirit that he began jumping up and down on a parked car and attracting all sorts of unwanted attention. His enthusiasm absolutely guaranteed him membership into the Church and whatever bargain basement afterlife was promised to the easily duped congregation.

The most famous initiation was of course the milkshake. I had the good fortune to be present that day and can thus present a first hand account of the proceedings. The supplicant in question was Erik the Martyr (not tree punching Ensign Mark Raffe as some assumed), a Dashwood hanger on eager to be brought further into the fold. He begged entrance into the diabolical fold, and volunteered for whatever initiation would prove to be the magic price. Where some may have guessed Dan would have chosen a hefty tithing schedule, he instead went the route that most would have assumed was the most discouraging. The price of admission would be the consumption of a fresh load of Dan’s semen. Erik jumped at the chance to everyone’s surprise. Such was this enthusiasm that Dan wisely decided to forgo insisting it be taken directly from the source, as Erik was likely willing enough, and Mary would have taken enormous exception to having her man blown by this slavish worshiper. To everyone’s further surprise, Dan’s heart grew three sizes larger that day (as measured in Grinch standards) and declared consumption of said foul substance could be in disguise. After having seen the video, I had to assume it was not due to any disgust factor.

The day finally came when the initiation was to take place. I was the only non-Dashwood person there, and the whole CUR was present – Dan, Mahatma, and the novice. The blender was prepared with reverence, filled generously with vanilla ice cream and milk. Solemnly, Dan and Nick each took a small paper Dixie cup along with their preference in porn, and retreated to the houses 2 bathrooms. Both lusty fellows returned in fairly short time, perhaps having already become excited to the point of explosion at the thought of foolish Erik slurping down their man juice. As each entered the kitchen cup in hand, the crowd shrank back against the counter, each member regretting having chosen to stand so close to the path of entry. The jizz was dumped, first by Nick, then by Dan, and the button was pushed blending the baby batter inextricably with the former frosty goodness of the dairy treats. Erik trembled in excitement as Dan said a short but overly dramatic prayer ending with the characteristic ‘wakka-dakka’ and ‘Praise Jesus, Hail Satan!’. The glass was poured, and as the crowd took a sharp intake of breath, Erik put it to his lips and drank down the thick and evil concoction.

Disturbingly, he elected not to spit after and even declared the mixture ‘not bad’ and went so far as to volunteer to have another glass. The newest CUR member then baptized, the evening drinking commenced. I elected not to stick around too much longer as I could not help but notice that neither Dan nor Nick washed their hands following the production phase and since then had put their grubby tainted mitts on most surface areas. I resolved not to return until Mrs Mooney had conducted a thorough cleaning. It remains unknown if she ever learned of the gross misuse of her treasured appliances. Later that evening I took great delight in informing Aaron of the proceedings. He turned a shade of green and vowed to work tirelessly toward the destruction of the Dashwood behemoth and its sibling CUR.

When CUR was at the height of its influence, Dan obtained a full authentic priests garb through a venue he refused to disclose, creating much speculation. Most memorably he used it to attend a protest against the movie ‘Priest’, then playing at the Amherst in University Plaza. The movie caused a great deal of Catholic controversy at the time and inspired vitriolic protest from the devout. Dan’s presence was immediately welcomed by the crowd as Papist priests generally tended to issue statements rather than sully themselves with the rabble at public protests. Naturally his opinion was sought and the crowd hushed to hear the verbal admonishment no doubt about to be issued against the insulting film. “You know, I thought it was pretty fucking good! I think I’m going to see it again” He strode off to buy a ticket, leaving the horrified protesters crushed and dismayed.

The next best use of the outfit was in a videotaped interview Dan was the subject of. Brian was the unseen interviewer and to anyone not in the know, it appeared to begin with a serious recounting by the clergy about the state of the world today, circa 1995. As it went on, however, the interview took an odd turn as the very thoughtful and lucid priest stopped every few minutes to down a shot of vodka. As things progressed, the priests’ quiet intelligence slowly degraded to slurred obnoxious commentary punctuated with liberal profanity and occasional bouts of laughing. While I don’t know if it was intended to be a purely comedic endeavor, I still remember it as one of the funnier things I have seen. Unfortunately, after repeated requests for a copy years ago, Dan announced that it was irretrievably lost, or in Brian’s possession, which could be construed as one in the same.

I would like to say that Dashwood/ CUR went out with a bang, but in truth it was like all of us, a victim of age. Dashwood dropped in membership one by one and turned full focus on to producing the Madison’s. CUR retained only the founder as a member, and if I recall right, at the 8th annual Madison awards, Dan with great fanfare formally announced his abdication from the throne and officially reverted back to plain old Daniel J Mooney in order to better concentrate on shaping the minds of youth without being the subject of a Channel 2 expose titled, “Are Evil Cults Teaching Your Children?”. A wise move indeed.

Origins of the Madisons

Many moons ago. White Men come to Dennys…

It was the halcyon days of youth (over 11 years ago). We were 23 and spending too much time at Dennys and other unreputable spots; smoking, laughing, drinking coffee, and talking lots and lots of shit. An entire night’s entertainment for only $1.25 plus tip.

Those were the days when we were passionate and argued loudly about shit that:

A. Doesn’t matter, and

B. Was completely out of our control.

Still the energy was there. The pumping explosion of adrenaline that coursed through you and gave a soaring high. As we spoke and yelled and laughed, the elation was sustained by every drop of coffee and puff of smoke. The mind was razor tight, and words tumbled from the lips without thought or hesitation. You became a vehicle for the divine, an inspired object, and it was beautiful. It was so euphoric that you could barely remember what was said, and later some person would come up and say,

“Hey Dan. Remember when last week when you pissed off that Southern Girl; you asked if her parents met through mail order?”

And all that remained was the dimmest of recollections. Still the longing for the next night of bullshit and laughter never ceased. This was all done without the use of drugs or alcohol.

There were many circling through our cabal then. Many who were only half seen at Comstock, many who weren’t seen at all. The Dashwood Society was in full swing, and we were legion: Myself “The Reverend”, Big Brian, Jeff Death, Mahatma Nick, Dr. I, Gay Bill, Dr. Harkey, Ensign Raiff “Flying Armadillo Boy“, Nurse Pam, Eric the Martyr, Lint, Withy, Counter Frank, Big Chief Strait-Jacket, Mr. Craik, The Mystery Man, Beldar Boy, Furher Frank, Crazy Lisa, Porno Lisa, Monkey Head, Some Pregnant Blonde, Ranji, Mattress Boy, Loudmouth Dan, Fat Frank, Shark Man, Disco Dan “The Dancing Man”, The Greatful Head, Coffee John, Saigon, Crazy Cooney (Whose ex-wife apparently started Sesame Street), Psycho Carrie, Amy, etc.. (This is excluding Comstock regulars, Rocky members, gaming guys, and the Frank Clan.)

And out of all of them, I know the whereabouts of, perhaps, 5. I’ve got anecdotes and stories of what happened to them, but nothing within the last 5 years.

With all of this talent, we had very little achieved to our credit. The Burroughs Show, which I wasn’t involved in, Big Brian put together, and used many Dashwood regulars, the possession of some animal pornography tapes, plus piss and shit eating films, (This was in the days before you could find it so easily on the internet) and that was all. The Madison-Felix Awards were our longest lasting and crowning achievement, and it came by accident.

The year was 1994. The Academy Awards were over, and we were pissed. The Best Actor category was of particular interest to us. We were rooting for Nigel Hawthorne in “The Madness of King George.” We loved the movie, every second of it. “If there’s any justice in the world,” We cried,” he should win!”

He lost.

Best Actor went to Tom Hanks for “Forest Gump.” A film about a retard who sits on a bench and harasses strangers. We were shocked, appalled, livid, and carried on like, in the long run, it really mattered, or would affect our lives. Which it did.

The night was waxing on, as we were, occupying a booth at Dennys. Three that night: Myself, Big Brian, and Saigon. Big Brian (for those outside the know) looks like a big hippy Woody Allen. He perpetually wears black on black over his massive frame, a tilted beret on his head, full of curling locks. The smell of nicotine and stale tar constantly wafts about him. A consummate smoke hound, he used to keep a metal bowl full of his butts and when he was low on cash, would root through it looking for any scrap of unburnt tobacco, and assemble a make shift cigarette. One of those bizarre geniuses that bottomed out in High School, and only his natural Irish perverseness kept him from achieving later academic success. He’s the only person that I’ve met that actually learned to speak French in a High School French class, yet he failed the class. 6’4” with a size 15 shoe, and a boxing trainer, he was definitely a person who could intimidate. Yet short skinny guys with toothpick arms always seemed confident that they could beat him up. Eric the Martyr was one, Schultz another.

Saigon was a mad scientist in the making. A walking encyclopedia and had a natural intelligence that could give Louis a run for his money. He was studying genetic engineering at the time, and in his odd reserved-yet-gleeful manner, showed off his strain of flies-without-wings that he had developed. He was extremely skinny with a shaved head, and an intense emaciated look with large eyes that just stared. He looked like a death camp survivor who had fattened himself up to 92 pounds a few weeks after Auschwitz.

The diner was packed that night. Pat Travers had been playing the town, and the place was full of every drunken mullet in North Tonawanda. We ignored this, concentrating on our bitching and whining. Oh the humanity!

We reached a crescendo, when finally an illiterate from the next booth turned his boil laden neck and yelled, “Shut the fuck up. You don’t like it, do your own fucking show.” Then erupted into laughter with the rest of the car wash attendants, with whom he was sharing his dining experience.

Inspiration! That was it! We would do our own show. How hard could it be? We would show this person, whom we never saw again. And Toothless Jim, if you can read this, my hat is off to you sir! Without your wit and candor we may have wallowed in obscurity until our nether days. Yea beyond even.

We were The Eggmen! The world was our walrus! We descended on the task with fevered impulses. What would we call it? “The Felixes.” Our Felix Unger to Hollywood’s Oscar Madison. And we created categories that people actually cared about, like “Best Key grip”, “Best Best Boy”, “Best Gaffer”, “Most Annoying Use of a Child in a Film”, “The William Shatner Award for Acting Excellence”, “The Alan Ormsby Award for Over Acting Achievement”, “Best Unintentional Cameo”, “ Most Predictable Plot”, “Pretty Boy Actor You’d Most Like to Whack”, “Ditzy Actress you Most Like to Strangle”, “Best Comedic Performance in a Non-Comedic Role” (Which turned into our nastiest category, The Miracle Worker anyone? When she learns to say “Waaaater“), and the list goes on. Plus our Lifetime Achievement Awards given to people everyone knew, but were never recognized by the industry. You’re welcome, George Peppard.

And we needed an award, a symbol for our step into the limelight. We always said that the Madisons had an operating budget of five dollars, but we went all out for the award. A faux marble base was obtained from some downtown shack. We took a Kodak VHS cassette (the fancy kind) and liberally decorated it with glittering golden spray paint. Using the finest store bought Krazy Glue, we affixed our golden symbol to it’s base, and viola; history was born.

We assembled our tapes and, using the magic of two VCRs hooked up to each other, we created the master tape (which has since been lost to the ages). The first year was held in the back of a bar. I forget the name, but it had a TV arraigned around a few tables. Brian and myself presented it, but kept tripping over each other’s feet, so it was decided that Brian should handle it after that. The first show was a mild success. People came, ate and had a few chuckles. The highlight, to me, was Fat Frank, giving away the award for, “Best Plot for an Ernest Film”, standing at the podium, waxing philosophical about how wonderful and inspiring the Ernest films were to him.

To be honest, Big Brian and I had initially considered the show a one time joke. We would do it, have a few laughs, and then move on. Then something happened. I’m not sure about Brian, but I was unsatisfied with the the way it turned out. I wanted something bigger. Brian, I figured, thought that the joke could last as well. One day we looked at each other and said, “You know that awards show was fun. We should do it again.” And it turned from a one time joke into an annual event.

We pressed on and found our home for the next decade, The Screening Room. A place of wonder and enjoyment. The screen filled an entire side of a wall. The tables were café style, with candles on them. Beer and wine was served. Smoking was allowed (Always a prerequisite for Brian). It could be had cheap, and the owner was a film buff. It was perfect. We rented it for a night, and made ourselves at home.

Then disaster struck. I discovered that there was another awards show called The Felixes. Imagine the horror to know someone had ripped off your idea 5 years before you had even thought of it. Brian was informed and we deliberated. The natural solution was presented and pounced upon. We changed the name.

We were now The Madisons. A crisp alluring name, for the discriminating executive. All was right with the world, except for the bad taste in my mouth, I had really liked the name Felix. Another year passed and we discovered that the Felixes had folded. HA! Brian and I deliberated again, this time in confidence, and decided not to drop the name Madison. After all they were both the show. Flip sides of the same coin. So we created an amalgamation, so we were dubbed, and remained, “The Madison-Felix Awards.”

There is no room here to describe all of the stories surrounding “The Madison-Felix Awards,” but I will tell some in the future. We lasted for 10 years (9 longer than we thought we would). We went through rejection letters from the stars, cease-and desist letters from lawyers, a potential lawsuit from the Academy Awards (how they found out about us, I don’t know), and almost had an honest-to-God celebrity show up.

The show was more than a show. As we all grew and drifted apart, it was the one time when people who normally didn’t see each other would come together and enjoy themselves. People I wouldn’t see for another year. I miss it. Good bye old friend, and rest in peace.

The First Annual Felix Awards (1996)

When I attended the Felix Awards I had no idea of the spectacle and legend it would become for the next 10 years. The idea was Dan, Brian, and Jeff picked some movies they liked to give awards to. These movies did not have to be current by any means. They had been watching Dan’s extensive movie collection in Dan’s basement (sounds creepy I know) and thought, “We can put on a better awards show!” And so they did. The first year was the only year the Felix Awards was held in the back room of a bar in North Tonawanda. The name of Felix was chosen in obvious mockery of the Oscars (Oscar and Felix Madison – the original Odd Couple). Formal dress was required, but given it was Dan and his cronies most did not bother. After the first year this changed, and anyone who did NOT have formal attire was mocked for having no spirit. I should correct this by saying that “core” attendees would be mocked, and fringe/first-timers were cut slack. Wolf, Andrew and I arrived together that first year. We expected a fiasco. It was quite the contrary. There was a U-shaped table with Dan and Brian co-presenting. Quite professional. There was an actual award, but only a single one. It was a VHS tape spray painted gold, with a base board. They had a small (12″) TV were clips from the winning movies were played. Very hard to see. At the end of the night door prizes were raffled off, but there was enough for everyone to get at least one prize. The prizes were just shit you would not waste $1 at a garage sale for, but the thought was what really counted here. Most of us had never gotten anything short of a massive headache from Dan over the years. This was a stunning success. We had no idea it would become a staple of life for the next 10 years.

The Tenth Annual Madison/ Felix Awards (2005)

Alas this was the last year.