With my underpants spattered and stained with so much pork and bean gas debris it can only mean one thing–it’s time again for another of that rat-feces eating freak, Mark Laba’s drawings. This week he appeared in a bit of a frantic state, sweat beading the ear-wax coloured flesh of his face as he plunked down four rolls of pork and bean change and pleaded with me to post this drawing posthaste. “What’s the rush, fungus-breath?” I asked, the effort to contain my sneer causing me to drool on my shirtfront and as it was more than miniscule pork and bean shrapnel drool on my I Love Wolves sweat top, the rendering of a pack of wolves not only glow-in-the-dark but with eyes as riveting and haunting as the gooey burning embers of melted marshmallows in a campfire on the lake where Tom Thompson drowned, I’ll be charging Mr. Laba extra money for dry-cleaning. “Don’t ask any questions,” he replied, “and just listen to this.” Nevertheless, I interrupted and asked him the title of his latest calamity. “It’s called Requiem For A Gillnetter,” and I guess, the story he related after this has something to do with its inspiration, albeit in such a roundabout way it’s akin to picking your nose with your toes while you’re restrained in a straitjacket and crazed sea otters are tearing open and munching on your testicles, mistaking them for mollusk meat as someone dressed as a banana tries to sell you a life insurance policy. Unfortunately, our previous pork and bean procurement agreement commits me to relaying this drawing and the accompanying story so hold on to your hats and air-sickness bags and prepare yourself for a turbulent ride.
“Back in my art school days,” Mr. Laba said, “I was working late one night in the studio, all alone. I was crouched down, rooting through a supply cabinet for paint when I heard a voice behind me. It was a deep, heavily accented voice and when I turned around I was staring into the remarkable and unmistakable visage of Anthony Quinn. I froze on the spot. ‘These things,’ he said, pointing to some wrought iron sculptures a friend of mine had made, ‘these are very interesting. What do you call them?’
‘I…I…well, they don’t really have a name,’ I stammered. ‘A friend of mine makes them, that’s all I know.’
‘They are very interesting,’ Anthony Quinn repeated. Behind him stood another man who bore a passing resemblance to an aged Rod Steiger, but I couldn’t be sure. It was at that moment I thought I should tell Anthony Quinn what I thought of him as an acting legend and the fact he’s been in some of the greatest films I’ve ever seen (not to mention maybe a quick nod to Rod Steiger, if that’s who he was and his work in On The Waterfront or In The Heat Of The Night). I wasn’t even going to mention Zorba the Greek, which everyone associates Anthony Quinn with. No, I was going to go out on a limb and tell him how amazing he was in Requiem For A Heavyweight, a film that still haunts me to this day. Not to mention Lawrence of Arabia, which I can watch endlessly. But, as Anthony Quinn turned around and started to leave followed by Rod Steiger’s doppleganger, I said nothing, not even acknowledging the fact that this man was an incredible actor from a bygone era when magnificent movies were made by megalomaniac studio heads and producers who didn’t always see a profit margin in everything they put on the screen.
I let this momentous chance slip away and the next day when I mentioned to schoolmates that I met Anthony Quinn in the studio the previous evening, I being an older student amongst a generation ten or more years younger than me, most didn’t even know who he was. I was astonished, to say the least. Some did nod their heads briefly with distant memories of Zorba the Greek or maybe the title just twigged some collective mass pop culture unconscious reflex, like some kitschy album cover or movie poster in their parents’ rec-room.”
As far as I can guess the only connection between this great film and Mr. Laba’s putrid scribbling is the fact both begin with the word “requiem.” After that, one work of art attains greatness and the other finds its calling in the sewer amongst the used condoms, human waste and the many unsecured false teeth that have fallen between the gratings while trying to bite into hot dogs on the street.
Requiem for a heavyweight, indeed! All I can say, Mr. Laba, is that it’s obvious to me that, if you didn’t hasten Mr. Quinn to an early grave you certainly broke his heart with your ignorance and lack of acknowledgment of his greatness as an actor and legendary status in the movie industry. Though I can’t really believe that your deer-in-the-headlights vacuous countenance and personality could actually affect someone of such stature, I also can’t help but think that on his deathbed Mr. Quinn might have taken a moment from his hesitant and final faltering steps into the afterlife to reflect, if only momentarily, on those he had met in his life (horse’s asses such as yourself), who saddened him to such a degree that hovering vultures waiting to pick his bones would be an honest respite from the rat-feces eating ignoramuses such as yourself. The fact that Mr. Quinn was also an accomplished painter and that in his early days had studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, should be a sign that any art supplies you have left, Mr. Laba, you should quickly ram down your throat and put the art world out if its misery. If you don’t choke to death slowly and painfully (hopefully), at least it might direct you toward another useful calling such as boll weevil breeding, zipper repair or boiling animal parts in your backyard for head-cheese.
Finally, this is not the first time Mr. Laba has pulled a stunt like this. A few years ago he failed to acknowledge Steven Seagal in a hotel lobby for Mr. Seagal’s groundbreaking work in On Deadly Ground or Under Siege 2: Dark Territory and in the same hotel, Mr. Laba, on another occasion (what’s wrong with Mr. Laba, does he haunt hotel lobbies just waiting for an opportunity to willfully ignore such great culture-defining cinematic artistes), had a chance to tell Lou Diamond Phillips how much he admired his work as they were sharing the same elevator and yet, once again, Mr. Laba chose to say nothing and stare into space idiotically. I mean, even just a quick nod to La Bamba wouldn’t have killed him. But instead he decided to stare at his distorted reflection in the various reflective surfaces of the elevator and tried not to fart. I pray that when these two fine actors must one day sadly meet their maker, Mr. Laba’s name might be on their parched ancient lips as they curse his very existence with their last dying breath. You are an asshole, Mr. Laba and if Anthony Quinn, God rest his soul, were still alive today he’d be the first to tell you so.