With apologies to Jesse Ventura

You’ve gotta admit it’s pretty weird when you walk into a place that usually features live music and, even though there are four or five people onstage, everyone in the audience is facing the other direction.

I mean, do these guys rabidly suck, or are they so uncompromisingly butt-ugly to a Medusa-like extreme that the audience cannot look at them for fear of being turned into garden sculptures, thus becoming possible targets for uncomfortably waterlogged canines with no fire hydrants nearby?

Naah. It was merely a bunch of mooks gathered together to watch TV wrestling at the True Love Coffeehouse on a Monday night. The TV was positioned opposite the stage, and “El Flaco Loco,” or a reasonable facsimile, was doing a Mike Douglas impersonation during the commercials with a few buddies.

Sorry, lads, but zzzzzzz.

Having lived through a few periods where wrestling was temporarily in vogue—at a Memorial Auditorium card a long time ago, this writer engaged in a heated drunken argument with a toothless old lady in a ragged and bourbon-stained housedress over whether one of the overweight clowns currently inside the squared circle was a rulebreaker or wrestled scientific (she insisted he was scientific; I argued that the Roddy Piper piledriver he’d just administered to the joker dressed like an Arab sheikh who, weeks before, had jumped off the top rope into the crowd and chased me out a side door after I’d called him a “butterhead” or some such nonsense, was the antithesis of scientific)—I have a marginal tolerance for otherwise intelligent people who adopt the downmarket entertainments of the chronically unintelligible for “kicks.” This is the sort of thing that gets dangerous morons elected to public office—haw haw, he said “subliminable,” so he’s gettin’ my vote.

Ergo, I was almost fixing to get ready to Houdini.

But it so happened that, just inside the door, a man dressed all in black was sitting across from a guy with short blond hair. “We’re the anti-wrestling table,” said the man in black, a well-known local songwriter. “You’re welcome to join us.”

The conversation turned to typically pussy-boy stuff: Tolkien, the upcoming Lord of the Rings and how it could be demolished by bad music the way the Rankin-Bass cartoon version of The Hobbit was wrecked by Glen Yarborough-style folk songs, quiche, classical music, dog shows …

“Have you heard about ’Antonathon’? ” the man in black asked.

No, pray tell. Dish. “Well,” he explained, “it’s 23 hours of non-stop Anton Barbeau or Anton-related stuff. Right here, on the 23rd.” Uh-oh.

It seems Jerry Perry or someone has cooked up the ultimate, inside-the-grid, Midtown-insider throwdown: An imitation Jerry Lewis telethon (sans the late-hour Percodan-fueled rants, I hope) at the True Love celebrating Midtown’s king of self-referential inside jokes, with Anton karaoke, Anton himself, and maybe even a guy in a Joe Sun fishing hat standing outside with a ghetto blaster harassing Barbeau with cranked-up ’70s disco, with multiple references to the number 23—which has some sort of occult significance to writer/conspiracy theorist Robert Anton Wilson.

Um, may have to show up for that one.