Das Cat in the Hat Uber Alles or
The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat.

Patrick J Lambe

They crucified the Cat In the Hat to a kite and flew him over Central Park. A crown of thorns replaced his trademark red and white hat, which was perched jauntily on the head of a neo nazi rollerblading down fifth avenue, hitching a ride on a tattered rope attached to the back door of a Mitsubishi delivery van marked Rubinstein Glatt Especial Kosher Deli.

The Neo Nazi had won the hat fair and square, dicing with his two companions; the first an unemployed carpenter whose hatred of cats stemmed from a childhood experience consisting of an unfortunate incident with a neighbor's pet leopard, who coughed up a hairball the size of a bowling ball on his head. His parents, noticing the infant's dismay, purchased the hairball from their neighbor and had an old Jewish tailor create a hairshirt out of it (...there's so much extra material, why don't you nice gentiles come back every couple of months and, for a few schekels, I'll enlarge it. You should have enough here to last until his 18'th birthday). They used this shirt as an almost passive form of child abuse, forcing the tot to wear it whenever his rambunctious instincts got the best of him. The carpenter was unemployed partially because of his philosophy of carpentry, which went something like this: "Sure, getting wood and shit all plumb and square is nice and all, but the real test of a carpenter's skill is how many times he can flip his hammer in the air and successfully catch it by the handle." The other partner in the impromptu crucifixion was an off duty New York police officer who was something of a child prodigy; his first words after being pulled from the womb, and guessing the doctors intent from the position of his hand, were "Don't hit me I was only following orders." You should have seen the look on his face when he discovered the string that linked the Cat In the Hat to the cardboard roller was not tied, and the Cat flew away from them on the southwest wind, fading away like sperm up a prostitutes uterus.

The trajectory of the wind blew the Cat in the Hat (or C in the H as his friends Sam I Am and the tree hugging freak known as the Lorax called him on their frequent drinking bouts) over the East river, above the scenic Meadowlands adjacent to the New Jersey Turnpike, and eventually past the Raritan River, depositing him in New Brunswick's Buccolah Park, where his cries of pain were misinterpreted as the amorous wailing's of a female of his species in heat. Eventually an independent film director working on a low budget pseudo religious exploitation flick called Jesus Christ Berserker; which ends up with Jesus being crucified to the burning mast of a Viking longboat, found the poor Cat and freed him from the crucifix's painful embrace.

The grateful Cat introduced himself as "the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the
Hat." The director introduced himself as "the Director Who is Planning to make Jesus Christ a household name," and he immediately hired the Cat as a consultant, based on his recent easily verifiable experiences with crossed wood and crude carpentry. He couldn't pay too well, but the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat couldn't be to choosy; his whole identity, spiritual and corporeal, was tied up in his hat, the insides of which was lined with various pockets and inter dimensional folds which held, among other things, his drivers license and other forms of identification, his vidio rental card, his various gadgets and implements utilized in his amusing little adventures (his only real means of production), Thing One and what was left of Thing Two after his bout with AIDS, and his cramped but comfortable apartment. Now gainfully employed, the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat prepared his revenge on the three New York Lowlifes who did this to him.

He hocked the crown of thorns which the three had placed on his head in lieu of his oversized hat, to a local antique dealer who shipped it out to the midwest to his sister, along with a box of bagels, because as we all know, it's hard to get a decent bagel or high quality crown of thorns outside the New York area, and the antique dealer was exceedingly fond of his sister.

The Cat in the Hat then brought a twill hat, last worn by a Welsh miner who had been decapitated in a bizarre accident involving a steam drill and a malnourished hippopotamus. The work on the movie didn't last too long; the Director decided to save some money and had himself crucified to get the feel of it, thus cutting out the need for the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat's services.

The Artist Formerly known as the Cat in the Hat joined a retro grunge band called Octopus Grigori. The knowledge that he could have gotten into the band without the awkward formalities of an audition if he still possessed his stylish hat affected his every performance. The band routinely played such hot spots as the Casino Herman Goering, Little Bo Peep's, the Court Tavern, the Chatsubo and the Cantina. After these gigs the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat would drink heavily and contemptuously sign his autograph as 'Fritz'.

Since the crucifixion, the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in The Hat had lived a life of poverty, violence and squalor played out to a soundtrack of rock music and TV. He could often be found semi comatose on the street with a 1/2 empty bottle of Dewars in one hand, muttering to himself about how that ingrate Seus up and died on him, leaving him all alone in a cruel world. The gigs with Octopus Grigori barely provided him with enough money to pay his rent and repair his instruments, which were routinely destroyed by their hyperactive performances. He suffered from periodic bouts of stigmata because, for some reason, his inoculation for this psychosomatic disorder, which often afflicted crucifixion survivors, failed to take hold, and since he couldn't afford health insurance, he couldn't get a complete check up. He reached the low point in his life when he discovered that his name had failed to appear in the index of the latest edition of the Kinsey Report for the first time in over a decade.

His luck turned around though; one day when he was strolling down Spring Street in the village he saw a vaguely familiar looking person walking his small pet. Just as the semi drunk Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat was about to say "that's not a chihuahua that's a capybara," he noticed the sloppily hanging tool belt and near illiterate gaze of the carpenter who had applied the nails to the thin ankles and white gloved hands of the Cat nearly a year before. The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat trailed the carpenter and his clandestine rodent, who noticed the Cat's interest in its meal ticket.

The Carpenter walked up to the Ear Bar at the end of Spring Street, right near the West Side expressway, tied the oversized rodent to a no parking sign in front of the bar, and took his favorite seat at the dark mahogany; all under the wrathful gaze of the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat, who stood on the tips of his toes to gaze in through the window at his tormentor.

His visions of revenge were interrupted by a "hey bub", emanating from a gravely voice coming from the area by his right foot. The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat looked down at the large rodent and said "you're a little far from the swamps of South America aren't you?"

The Capybara stood on it's hind legs, took a file out it's pelt, and proceeded to file his long incisors down while he said, "yeah, and I intend to stay as far away from the pythons and refrigerator sized rat traps the natives employ to persecute my kind; and I'm not gonna allow some drunken has been ruin my comfortable situation by blowing his mouth off about culturally irrelevant information pertaining to my genus and species."

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat responded, "I don't want your boy there. What do you know, maybe we can work something out."

"Here's the deal," the rodents said, "I heard them bragging about what they did to you one night, and to tell you the truth, I'm somewhat sympathetic. I'm an personified citizen myself, and I know how tough it can be, but right now I've got a cushy deal going. I haven't seen their leader, the neo nazi, in a long time, but I can give you the precinct number where the cop is stationed."

"And what do you want in exchange for this information?" the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat asked.

The Capybara replaced the file in his fur and said, "nothing, just keep quiet about my family roots and lay off of the carpenter for a year, I should have a gig on a cartoon series by then."

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat, agreed and, after getting the precinct number from the Capybara, took one last look at the carpenter who had no idea how lucky he was that he couldn't tell the difference between a dog and a swamp dwelling rat.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat haunted the 15'th precinct in Greenwich village like Banquo's ghost, except he subsided on stolen donuts rather than purloined legs of mutton. He took careful notes about the Cop, learning his daily routines, details about his masochistic after hours sex life, his eating habits, the products he consumed, the overpriced Broadway shows he frequented.

At last he found something he could use against him, and he confronted him on a dreary Sunday morning before dawn. "Nice moped you've got there copper."
The cop dropped the New York Times he was busy collating and looked into the dark ally that bordered his apartment. "It's not a mopped moron," he said tapping the small, three-wheeled vehicle that had served as his chariot for his entire police career, "this is a supplemental police motorized scooter."

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat lit a cigarette, briefly giving shape to his face, before the shadows closed back in, like the first appearance of Harry Lime in the Third Man. "Whatever it is, I'm sure your boss, what's his name, Kojak, won't think too kindly of you using it to deliver newspapers when you're supposed to be protecting and serving."

"C'mon," the cop said as he slowly inched towards the alley, "give a guy a break, I've got some weird expenses; my oldest kid got bitten by a rabid Hobbit. I just deliver these papers to help make ends meet."

"I just read an article in the Times last week about what they're doing to corrupt cops these days. By the way, I liked the article so much I simply had to have two hundred copies of it. I hope you don't mind that I borrowed them from your customers. I didn't want you find out about it at collection time."

The cop paused before the ally, one hand on his service pistol.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat activated his trap, a phalanx of mace cans suspended at the Cop's eye level by a hand like pulley devices he had borrowed from his old friend Horton Hoot. The Cop clawed at his eyes and rolled around on the ground. The Cat, in quick succession, disarmed, bound, and blindfolded him. He threw The Cop, the moped and the newspapers in the van he had commandeered from Octopus Grigori, and drove off towards the a conveniently abandoned warehouse located on a particularly dark street in the Bronx, where he unloaded the Cop and tied him to a chair.

He took a seat across from the Cop and used his hand like devices to remove the blindfold. The cop blinked in the direction of the Cat, blinded by an energy efficient light bulb glaring into his eyes. "Remember a little incident about a year back? Involved a couple stray pieces of lumber, a few long spikes left over from a tent and a less than willing personified feline?"

The Cop stared, a barely discernible glimmer of remembrance in his unseeing eyes, " I was only following orders. What do you want to know about it?"

"Just want to know where I can find the guy giving the orders."

"No way, I owe him."

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat pulled the light out of the man's eyes and shoved his face close enough to rub his whiskers on the mans freshly shaven cheek. "I'm not fooling around with you." The Cat lit his lighter and pulled a freshly printed copy of the Times from the pile. "Some people take their Newspaper reading very seriously, especially the parts that come out only once a week. Why I know one prominent Mafia don who just doesn't have the heart to order a hit if he misses the Book Review." He lit the paper on fire, and watched it slowly crumpled up with the flame.

"Cut it out, that's my only capital," the cop said as he struggled against his bonds.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat glanced over to the pitiful little three-wheeled vehicle, sitting forlorn and languid on the loading dock. "Well, not your only piece of capital."

The Cop broke down. "He works as a bouncer at a bar in Chelsea."

With that confession the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat packed up his hand device and took off in the van, leaving the Cop with plenty of time to attempt his escape and figure out how to explain to his tough New York clients why their papers were delivered so late.

The Infected Pierced Nipple is chain of bars run by the same company that owns Bennnigans. Their clients are generally tourists who want the run down, dark, sweaty, leather and tattoo atmosphere of a New York neo-bohemian after hours bar, without coming into physical contact with any of the foul smelling, uncouth people who actually frequent these places. The bar is generally filled with young parents and their kids, who are each given a complimentary wash off tattoo by the leather-clad hostess. The food is trendy, and a group of actors slam dances on a small mosh pit every half hour, taking care not to hurt the young father who invariably leaps into the circle of pseudo violence to ham it up in front of his adoring family.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat applied for a job as a waiter. The manager was skeptical at first, thinking the rascal Cat a bit too cute for the demanding job, but after applying a few fake nose rings and wash off tattoos, he decided that the Cat would make a suitably disgusting, but charming addition to the wait staff.

He saw the neo-nazi working the door during his first shift, just after he had served that nice couple from Des Moines their overpriced microwave macaroni and cheese and cold two day old pizza, bought in bulk from the pizzeria across the street and allowed to mature in the restaurant's walk in refrigerator. He watched the neo nazi pull his beloved red and white hat low over his eyes and berate the customers waiting to be seated, who delighted in the gruff doorman's monosyllable insults directed towards them, while he ran to the bar to grab the couples Shaefer tall boys, which cost $10 a can; a bit expensive but the manager explained that they were paying for ambiance and getting their money's worth.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat's semi rude serving manners and insistence that his patrons call him by his rap name 'Shifty A Hole' enamored him to both the clients and to the manager. He racked up an incredible number of tips and was approached by an impressed branch representative who offered  him a job at the corporate headquarters in Boca Rattone teaching  a class entitled 'Making Gentile Belligerence Pay, a Course in Concept Wait Philosophy'. But the Cat would not let this tempting offer sway him from his revenge. He bided his time, waiting tables and tracking the neo-nazi's every move.

One night, after the bar had closed, the Artist Formerly Known as the Cat in the Hat saw his opportunity. The neo-nazi had worked late and then had attended a meeting with the manager. The Cat hid in an ally and waited for the neo-nazi to pass. When he did, the cat used one of his borrowed hand devices to wrench the hat from the passing man, and deposit it back to it's rightful place on his fur lined head. When the enraged neo-nazi charged into the ally the Cat pinned him up against the wall with two of the long hand devices and he asked only one question, "why"

The neo-nazi recognized the Cat in the Hat and answered, "it was nothing personal, with your dark fur, long whiskers and weird hat I thought you were one of those insidious Hassidic Jews. Besides I liked the hat."

The Cat in the Hat left him there, and the next rainy morning found him knocking on the door of Sally and her little brother.