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.
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?
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.