Nothing is over until we say it is

When our part of Wisconsin got drilled by a winter storm last Thursday, I wrote a headline that said, “March comes in like a polar bear.”

No one recognized it as such, but it was a gentle tribute to John Belushi. He died 25 years ago today. It was just yesterday, wasn’t it?

In 1976, he did a bit on “Saturday Night Live” in which his weatherman explains how March comes in and goes out around the world. It’s best seen or heard, but I have neither. I found the text here last week, as March came in. Much appreciated, Debora.

Chevy Chase: “Last week, we made the comment that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Now here to reply is our chief meteorologist, John Belushi, with a seasonal report.”

John Belushi: “Thank you, Chevy. Well, another winter is almost over and March, true to form, has come in like a lion, and hopefully will go out like a lamb. At least that’s how March works here in the United States.

But did you know that March behaves differently in other countries?

In Norway, for example, March comes in like a polar bear and goes out like a walrus.

Or, take the case of Honduras, where March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a salt marsh harvest mouse.

Let’s compare this to the Maldive Islands, where March comes in like a wildebeest and goes out like an ant. A tiny, little ant about this big.

[holds thumb and index fingers a small distance apart]

Unlike the Malay Peninsula, where March comes in like a worm-eating fernbird and goes out like a worm-eating fernbird. In fact, their whole year is like a worm-eating fernbird.

Or consider the Republic of South Africa, where March comes in like a lion and goes out like a different lion. Like one has a mane, and one doesn’t have a mane.

Or in certain parts of South America, where March swims in like a sea otter, and then it slithers out like a giant anaconda. There, you can buy land real cheap, you know.

And there’s a country where March hops in like a kangaroo, and stays a kangaroo for a while, and then it becomes a slightly smaller kangaroo. Then, then, then for a couple of days, it’s sort of a cross between a, a frilled lizard and a common house cat.

[Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]

Wait, wait, wait, wait. Then it changes back into a smaller kangaroo, and then it goes out like a, like a wild dingo. Now, now, and it’s not Australia! Now, now, you’d think it would be Australia, but it’s not!

[Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]

Now look, pal! I know a country where March comes in like an emu and goes out like a tapir. And they don’t even know what it means! All right?

Now listen, there are nine different countries, where March comes in like a frog, and goes out like a golden retriever. But that … that’s not the weird part! No, no, the weird part is, is the frog. The frog … the weird part is …

[has seizure and falls off chair]

Cut to 1978: “Animal House” came out. Toga parties were all the rage. I went to only one, and I covered it for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. How absurd was that? A college kid in a toga, pounding beers, watching the scene, doing interviews? At a toga party held in a hotel ballroom?

My hazy recollection is that I walked the 4 blocks back to the newsroom, mostly to try to sober up. I hope I didn’t drive back, but I can’t rule that out. Anyhow, I sat down, still wearing my toga, and typed up my story. Proud to have chronicled that moment for future historians.

animalhouselp.jpg

Bruce McGill, John Belushi, Tim Matheson and Peter Riegert dialogue; “Faber College Theme” by Elmer Bernstein, “Animal House” soundtrack, 1978.

Cut to 1979: Everyone had this album, didn’t they?

bluesbrothers1.jpg

I had my copy. My girlfriend, Janet, had hers. We still have both of them.

Cut to March 6, 1982: Do you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news? I vividly remember. Janet and I were walking in downtown Milwaukee. I saw it in a headline in a newspaper box on the street. Belushi died on March 5, a Friday, but it was the next day before the news got out. (At the paper where I worked, it wasn’t front-page news. It was bumped to Page 2 by Vice President Bush’s visit to Green Bay, where he was greeted by Packers coach Bart Starr.)

Cut to October 1992: We’re visiting a friend in West Hollywood. He lives just off Sunset Boulevard, not far from the Chateau Marmont, the hotel where Belushi died. It’s my first trip to L.A. I make certain to see the Chateau Marmont as we drive by.

Cut to March 2002: We’re again visiting our friend in West Hollywood, who in the 10 years between our trips has moved from an apartment south of Sunset to a home in the Hollywood Hills north of Sunset. I again make certain to see the Chateau Marmont as we drive by.

I still haven’t seen the Rose Bowl or Dodger Stadium, though.

1 Comment

Filed under March 2007, Sounds

One response to “Nothing is over until we say it is

  1. jim

    Great post, I loved that Weatherman bit back on SNL, in fact I did a quick search and I found a partial audio snippet on the Amazon listing for the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players soundtrack – CD version. You can listen with either WMP or Realwhatever.
    – jim from Ontario

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