Word “mesh” perfectly illustrates the levels of meaning found in Yiddish words.
Literally it means crazy. But what kind of crazy? Well, it could be certified, or just slightly nutty. Or maybe kindly silly. “Eccentric” could be an equivalent; “clumsy” could be another. Depending on who says it and their intent, it could be amateur babble, a crude insult, or an endearing term. Having been called more than my share of times, I’m sure it was meant with love.
A word derived from meshugge is mishegas, which means concern. Like meshugge, it has various connotations, ranging from a hobby or light interest to a full-fledged obsession or even a crazy fetish.
From my earliest childhood, I spent my life bouncing from one mishegas to another. Among them (in no order) were comics and Mad magazine, jokes, magic, sports, men’s adventure magazines, cartoons, wood carving, marathons and my last – The Blue Buns Wheel-a-Palooza.
I mentioned TBBW in last week’s column, and to be honest, at this point, it’s just a figment of my fertile, frantic imagination. But I have high hopes that it will happen and that it will be a blazing success. Or more exactly an icy one.
So what is TBBW?
It will be a never-before-seen winter carnival event – a bike ride through my hometown, tentatively scheduled for the first Sunday of carnival week.
Now I can imagine the average reaction to this description, namely, “Ho um, yawn yawn yawn…” Being the empath that I am, I can relate to that. I mean, what’s interesting about a small group of jamokes cycling through the village? In all honesty, I would say that the answer, in and of itself, is nothing. But there are a few things that set it apart from other bike rides. First, it’s a fundraiser for Carnival, and second, the runners will be dressed in bathing suits.
Ah yes, what an event! Be sure to warm the shells of the heart, while freezing the dermis of the dupa. Could there be anything more perfect for Carnival entertainment? I doubt.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But – like all Carnival events – it takes a lot of planning and hard work before it sees the light of a freezing mid-February day in the Adirondacks. That’s why as soon as the idea came to me, I knew I had to gather a small army of people to help me. My first recruit was Bushwhack Jack Drury, Hermano Numero Dos of the Brothers of the Bush. Jack has organized enough activities to understand the logistics, plus he always sees things I don’t.
As soon as I finished talking to him about it, he gave it his all. Then he offered me his addenda.
I thought we would be lucky if we had 15 runners; on the other hand, Jack dismissed that number as pure defeatism.
“Fifteen horsemen? he said. “Are you kidding me?”
“Nope,” I said. “I’m serious.”
“Damn, we can have a hundred, at least!” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting the word out to people who are interested. You just have to work all the communication channels.
“Great!” I said. “That’s why you are now our Minister of Information.”
That was just the first point. The next had to do with the route. I had considered starting at the Saranac Hotel and ending at the Ice Palace, but again Jack disagreed.
“Are you serious?” he said with rather dripping condescension. “It’s almost no ride at all. We have to start and end at the palace, doing a full loop. Walk down Church Street, then Main Street to City Hall and Lake Flower Avenue to the Palace.
I chewed that a bit.
“That would be more impressive for sure,” I said. “But there’s a big problem with that.”
“What is that?”
“This would require closing more streets in order to redirect traffic.”
“It is not your problem” he said casually. “It’s the cops.”
This is how he also became TBBW’s police communications officer.
Then there was one more point to discuss.
“How much are you asking for an entrance fee?” » he said.
“I’m not,” I said.
“So how are you going to raise funds? » he said.
“Sponsors”, I said.
“Do you think you can have them?”
“Does Howdy Doody have a wooden nose? I said, ending this exchange.
“Outraged,” I added, “Sponsors will all receive T-shirts designed by our Minister of Art and Aesthetics, Bruce ‘Big Daddy’ Young. Who could resist that?
“No one I know” he said. “Plus, they’re sure to become collector’s items.”
“Yeah,” I said. “And to maintain the level, all the money from the sponsors goes directly to the Carnival Committee. T-shirts come out of my deep pockets.
“Can I have one?” he said.
“Sure,” I said. “… as soon as you become a godfather.”
OK, so I was abrupt, maybe even a little cruel with that answer, but I think the sooner Jack learns the harsh realities of life, the better.
friends in high places
Next, I needed someone to smooth things over with the Winter Carnival Committee, as they had to approve and schedule the ride, so that we would be under their insurance. And who better to do that than Liz Scammell Murray of The ADE’s Seraph of Subscriptions? Nobody, who is it! Liz is a member of the carnival committee, as well as other civic organizations and knows all the buzz in town.
She graciously accepted the job, but like Jack, she said I had to charge an entry fee.
“Certainly not,” I said.
“Why?’ she says.
“Because we will have sponsors,” I said. “Also, I want to keep it as simple as possible, I don’t want to be accountable for the money, let alone be responsible for it.”
Free speech being what it is, she still disagreed with me. But RHIP being what it is, I smiled, nodded, and refused to budge.
Then I had to find someone to wave the start and finish flag. Since I was already in the ADE building, I thought I would ask the editor, Elizabeth Izzo, a real girl who takes matters into her own hands, if there ever was one. As expected, she jumped at the chance. Now, if anyone has a flag they’d like to lend me, I’ll be forever grateful.
My next task was to get help registering for the day hike. The best would be someone who already had a team of helpers on call. Finding such a person was a long shot, but by chance I did. During the last art walk, I met Kathy Dyer Nogales and her husband Rocky. If you didn’t know, Kathy and her mother rescued, renewed and rejuvenated the long-dead Willard Hanmer Guideboat and Canoe Race. As soon as I mentioned TBBW to Kathy and Rocky, they both thought it was a perfect addition to the winter carnival. Kathy then offered her organization, The Green Side of the Big Apple, to be a sponsor. And better yet, she said she and her crew would take care of the registration. Almost immediately, my stomach acid production went down.
They walk the talk
After that, my last job was to raise money, for which I targeted local independent businesses. And guess what? It was the easiest part of all. You know why ? Well, it wasn’t because of my stampede, which started, “I have an offer you can refuse.” Uh-uh. It is because these people are the backbone of the community. They don’t like Lake Saranac in the abstract – they lead by example when it comes to supporting local activities. And just between you and me, I think, being 100% local, they have a soft spot in their hearts – and wallets – for carnival mishegas.
Before I had a chance to show off my silver-tongued devil skills, they had all agreed to be sponsors – just like that.
Sponsors are (so far, at least)…Ampersound, Bitters and Bones, ADK CAVU Cafe, Evergreen Auto, Grizle T’s, The Green Side of the Big Apple, Hyde’s Fuel, Human Powered Planet Earth, Nori’s Health Foods, and last but certainly not least, Woods and Waters.
Because I’m just one of the beneficiaries of their largesse, I hope everyone patronizes their businesses.
And when you do, be sure to tell them the Dope sent you.