When Sandy Pimentel from the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services board of directors called me back in January to ask if I would consider hosting the 2013 Possible Dreams auction, taking up the gavel where legendary humorist Art Buchwald left off, I was completely blown away.
Art Buchwald was a hero to me and many other writers and comics for a number of reasons, but primarily because he could be funny in print!
Making people laugh from the stage is hard to do but making people laugh from the page is even harder. One reason is most people aren’t drinking while they’re reading.
Sandy asked me about my connections to the Island and I explained I’d been performing on the Vineyard on and off since the 1980s.
With each example of so-called Island cred, she got more excited.
I played the Hot Tin Roof in early 1980s. “Oh that’s good,” she said.
I played the Wintertide Coffee House in the early 1990s “Oh that’s very good,” she exclaimed.
I performed several one-person shows at The Vineyard Playhouse. “Oh, that’s excellent.”
Any other connections to the Island, she asked?
Well yes. I’m embarrassed to say I got arrested for drinking in public in 1986.
“That’s perfect!” she gushed. Half the Island has done that!
So on Sunday, July 28, I stepped in for the late, great Art Buchwald who for over 25 years ran the Possible Dreams auction with heart, soul, passion and wit.
As an orphan who grew up in foster homes and dropped out of high school to join the Marines, he never forgot the role that the kindness of strangers and public institutions played in his life.
As one of the most widely read columnists in America and a Pulitzer Prize winner, he famously harangued his celebrity friends to attend the auction and “give until it hurts,” which they did.
During Art’s 25 years as auctioneer, the organizers, attendees and volunteers raised millions of dollars for social services on Martha’s Vineyard.
Art led the way with seriousness of purpose and humor, exclaiming from the stage: “My career depends on this auction. If I don’t meet the goal, I will never get another ferry reservation.”
In the spirit of humorist Art Buchwald I give you the top 10 reasons why it’s so important to meet our financial goals this summer.
Ten: If we don’t meet our goal we may have to build more roundabouts on the Island and you’ll have to buy a roundabout resident sticker just to take a left. Is that what you want, pay $100 to drive around in circles?
Nine: We may have to put a Walmart in Edgartown to increase the tax base. Instead of toddlers going to day care at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, they’ll work at the store as greeters. “Hi! Welcome to Walmart, I’m Justine, I’m six.”
Eight: We may have to put pay toilets in every restaurant. You think the lines are long now? Imagine if you had to get change for a dollar every time you had to go?
Seven: We may have to impose a swim tax on the Island. Want to take a dip? Give us a buck! Jump off the bridge at State Beach? Fifty bucks. You could get hurt and someone has to pay for the ambulance.
Six: In order to save money the Island’s public transportation, the Vineyard Transit Authority, could be replaced with mopeds. You think the traffic is bad now? Picture an additional 25,000 people on motorbikes beeping at you in the middle of August.
Five: To cut fuel costs the ferries may have to install oars. You want to get back to America? Row! (If it does come to rowing to the mainland, I’m confident the people of Martha’s Vineyard can do it.)
Four: The towns might have to write more parking tickets to fund social services. What will you tell your kids when they complain? “Dad! The day care center needs a new computer! Don’t worry, I’ll leave the car in front of the hydrant. Mom! The center needs a handicap ramp and handicap-accessible bathroom. No problem! I’ll block the driveway and take the sheriff’s spot at the courthouse.”
Three: If we don’t meet our goals we may have to put toll booths between every town. Imagine, “Welcome to Chilmark, there’s a cover charge. It’s $10 dollars to come into Chilmark, enjoy yourself. You want to leave? That will be $20.”
Two: We may have to build a casino in Oak Bluffs. Is that what we want, slot machines in the Tabernacle, a dog track around the gingerbread houses?
One: The number one reason to be as generous as you can is because if we do not reach our financial target in 2013 we may have to borrow money from . . . Nantucket!
Help if you can; there’s still time to donate at mvcommunityservices.com.
Thanks a million.
The Art Buchwald Possible Dreams Auction raised more than $450,000 for Community Services last Sunday night. A story on the auction appears at mvgazette.com. Jimmy Tingle will perform and show his film Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream August 12 at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society in Vineyard Haven. Get tickets at jimmytingle.com.