Old friends of mine know this story, but I thought I'd set it down.
Years ago -- circa 1992, I think -- a couple friends and I were in a bar in Newark, Delaware, listening to a band that I believe was called Grinch. (If you're interested, here's their Facebook page. This story's not about them.)
Between sets, we ended up talking to this other guy in the bar, who was just starting up a local independent newspaper.There'd be comics, and band reviews, and that sort of thing. And my friends and I, writers all, were hooked. He needed writers, and we needed to get published. Win-win, right? So after regaling us with his plans for his paper, he invited us back to his place to check the thing out. We skipped the second set (sorry, Grinch!) and followed him a block or so to his apartment. Eager young writers were we.
And there, he showed us his fine publication -- an orange tabloid with a demented yellow fruit on the cover, called The Powerful Banana. Which was an odd name, but Newark's a college town. It sees odd every day.
Then we flipped the paper open and paged through it. I can honestly say, I don't recall any of the articles in the paper, if there were any. (There had to be, I guess, but they've faded from my memory. You'll see why in a moment.) I remember seeing some bar calendar advertisements, too, and later wondered if the Stone Balloon had any idea what it was paying for, and was happy with what it got. Because the main thing that caught my eye were the comics.
There were three comics strips, and only one had a punchline. And I have to admit that I remember it to this day. I don't think that's a testament to the humor (it couldn't be), but simply my brain's recognition that there are some elements of shock it wants to remember forever, as a defense mechanism against similar situations in the future.
The strip with the punchline was called "The Gassy Guru." This featured a lotus-sitting guru held aloft by his own farts, who eventually pees on one of his followers, saying "urine lightened!"
This was the punchline.
Of the other two comic strips, one was called "Runny & Spooge," about a cat and his hairball (I don't know which was which, but really, does it matter?), and the other one was called "The Violent Pervert," which, well... it had truth in advertising going for it, at least. It was vile. Its only saving grace that it was so crudely drawn that you couldn't really see what was going on.
And my two friends and I just deflated. This guy wanted us to write for his newspaper, and until a few moments before, we'd been absolutely giddy. And then we saw the damn thing, and it was clear to each one of us that not being published anywhere, ever, would be better than even once getting published next to "The Violent Pervert." We made some polite noises about sending him some material, maybe, someday, although things are really hectic right now, and oh, look at the time! And we hightailed it out of there as soon as we could.
Somewhere, I think I still have my copy of The Powerful Banana. It later served as a prop in a short film one of those two friends made, and became such a strange artifact that I couldn't bear to throw it away. But it's followed me through a couple moves by this point, and I'm not entirely sure where in the house it is. Which is probably for the best.
Still, for some reason the other day, I was curious about The Powerful Banana, and decided to look it up online, just in case any vestige of this pre-Internet publication survived online. As far as I can tell, it hasn't. But the name lives on! A Japanese band has been playing under that name since 2001, from what I can find out. You can hear some of their music on their myspace page.
The Powerful Banana is dead. Long live the Powerful Banana.
(photo from Blobby's Blog.)