I was in the mood for a triumphant day.
So I had one tailored up.
First, I went to Studio Greg Studios II.
A mixing day for The Nurse Novels.
I love recording.
But I was nervous.
I was reading in the afternoon at The Paper Machete.
Last time I read, it was an exercise in failure and humiliation that led to episodes of premature bitterness.
So I had to overcome that.
I like being a curmudgeon and that whole bit, but I don't want to become actually bitter.
I've seen those guys.
Their faces are like fists.
They look like owls.
Without make up.
My piece was about a group of nuns in Baltimore who had acquired the world's most valuable baseball card.
Chris, the host, told me I would be reading first, after joining the Paper Machete Chorus in reprising "And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine".
I sipped a beer for good luck.
Last week the world's rarest baseball card was auctioned off.
A 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner tobacco card.
Only 57 are known to exist.
It went for $262,900.
"It is the Mona Lisa of baseball cards," declared the winning bidder.
Decked in a drab grey collared Pirates uniform, the pursed lips of "The Flying Dutchman" prompt the question: Is he about to laugh or about to spit?
The previous owner of the card were a group of nuns.
They have ties to an organization called the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
They're the Latin Kings of nuns.
We don't know how this gang acquired the world's most famous baseball card.
One of the nuns said it belonged to her brother.
But no one seems to recall the name of this brother.
The nuns claim he's dead.
I don't trust these nuns.
That line got a big laugh.
I had them.
You see, the nuns I encountered in my Catholic school were a bunch of assholes.
They pulled me by my ear, gave me detentions for things I didn't do, and used a paddle to humiliate both me and my butt in front of the entire third grade class.
They also gave me a lifetime supply of Catholic guilt.
So fuck those nuns.
I shouldn't have said that.
They were great nuns.
We should have lunch soon.
Ooh, I lost them a little bit there. But not entirely.
What we do know for sure is that nuns love to confiscate.
This got a strangely huge laugh. I got 'em back.
Toys, dolls, any item of great value to you.
They take what doesn't belong to them.
And they never give it back.
It's how they retain their hunched, lumpy figures.
Do I think these nuns stole that Honus Wagner baseball card from a little boy 100 years ago?
In fact, I think it happened 100 years ago today!
In this very room!
That's how strongly I believe it happened.
I knew that bit wouldn't get a big response.
But I also didn't care.
These nuns are bullies.
And they're everywhere.
If we tore down that church in Baltimore or any Catholic church (God forbid), I bet the walls would be filled with all sorts of valuable goodies. From 1943 copper pennies to Series 1 Garbage Pail Kids. From vintage 1959 Barbie dolls to hundreds of antique Vaseline jars that also somehow found their way in there. And buried within the spackled and spackled over crawlspaces of these churches would lurk an entire yearbook’s worth of the headless, amputated corpses that donated these rare collectibles.
Caked in old, dried priest jizz.
I shouldn't have said that.
I shouldn't have inferred that Catholicism condones theft and murder and -
Well, just theft and murder.
It's a great religion.
It really is.
It so is a great religion.
Everyone should try it out.
We just went for a little ride there.
But they're still with me.
I've never seen the 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner tobacco card with my own eyes.
But I have seen perhaps the second most famous baseball card.
In 1989, The Fleer Corporation issued a baseball card of Billy Ripken, brother of Cal and son of Cal Sr.
In the photo Billy proudly poses while holding a bat.
Scrawled on the knob of his bat in thick black Sharpie is the word "FUCK FACE".
Realizing their error, Fleer rushed to correct the mistake with air brushing.
But by then it was too late.
Hundreds of these cards were already in the hand of Americans everywhere.
It had become known as the Billy Ripken Fuckface card.
Not so much the Mona Lisa of baseball cards.
More like the art school kid draped in raw meat takes a shit on stage of baseball cards.
A few people liked that one.
In 1989 a young boy in suburban Chicago got this card in a pack of cards from the local supermarket.
"I'm going to be rich!" he cheered.
That week the Beckett Baseball Card Monthly magazine had listed its value at $30.
"Imagine what it will be worth in a few years.
Thousands? Millions? Shablillions?"
He'll never know.
Because when he brought it to St. Joseph's School that week to show to his friends at recess, Sister Jean confiscated it.
And she never gave it back.
And later that day she interrupted class to lay him across her knees and paddle him with what she jokingly referred to as "The Board of Education".
And he cried.
That boy was not me.
Thankfully my parents pulled me out of Catholic school after the third grade.
So I was able to hang on to my Billy Ripken Fuckface card that I too got from a pack of baseball cards purchased at the supermarket.
I still have it.
In fact, I thought about auctioning it off to start a new charity.
The charity would help emancipate kids from the shackles of Catholic school.
After all, Honus Wagner pulled his likeness from tobacco cards because he didn't want youngsters to purchase cigarettes.
I don't want youngsters to be humiliated by paddles attached to cruel, deranged, physically and psychologically abusive nuns.
I'll call it The Tony Mendoza Fuckface Fund.
As I write this, there are a few auctions for this card on eBay.
One has 2 bids.
There's another that's going for $10.
But with no bids.
Another seller is offering both the original Fuckface card and its airbrushed twin.
Not quite a quarter of a million dollars.
But a decent start.
You can do a lot with $3.
You could buy a bottle of Coke.
12 ounces of gasoline.
A torn shirt sleeve.
To my surprise, people didn't know where I was going with this.
Or maybe they did, and were just waiting on confirmation to laugh.
Together these ingredients could be used to blow up St. Joseph's School...
Ah, there it was. The big laugh.
I actually had to pause for it.
The next line in the piece would be the most tasteless and polarizing, and I knew it.
It would threaten to negate the positive feedback that was currently showering me.
But I was not going to take it out.
Due to my real Catholic guilt, I felt bad for what I was about to do to the decent people who had warmed up to me. Their grips had loosened on their NPR totebags. They had accepted me.
This next line would be a betrayal in a way.
"Get ready," I said into the mic as the laughs naturally decayed.
It's just comedy.
...sending all those asshole shitty nuns screaming, clutching their burning flesh, running naked for their lives like the little Vietnam napalm girl.
But less sexy.
There was that silence again.
A groan and a wince happened.
Luckily, I protected that line.
Hopefully enough to get them back.
I shouldn't have said that.
St. Joseph's was a great school run by the best nuns.
You should go there.
"You should go there" somehow got them back.
The mathematical rhythm of comedy.
In all fairness, the School Sisters of Notre Dame is an international organization, with presence in over 30 countries.
So I was joking around earlier.
I didn't mean to say all those tasteless things about nuns.
Because I'm eternally grateful to them.
If it weren't for those nuns I'd still be a Catholic.
The Dryell Sisters provided music at half time.
That's Lauren, Jessica Joy and Rebecca Hansen doing Andrews Sisters style songings of today's big pop.
Diana Lawrence plays piano and I play drums.
It was fun to reunite with them after a year long hiatus.
More Dryell Sisters, please.
In the full house at Ricochet's was Alan from Bitter Tears, Holli, and Tim from Second City etc.
I'm glad they saw me do something of success up there.
I kissed Lauren goodbye and headed back to the studio for more mixing.
The Nurse Novels stuff sounds really good.
It's the best music I've made in my life.
Also, Greg Norman is an amazing recording engineer.
This isn't said enough.
I like triumph.
Failure's fun to write about and gain weight about.
But I prefer triumph.