Sunday, April 19, 2009

Make Mine A Double


Say, is it my imagination or are there a lot of Bernie Madoff lookalikes walking around town?

It seems like every time I turn around I see a guy who is the spitting image of the man everyone wants to spit on.

A guy walked by me on Broadway the other day who looked so much like the Ponzi scumwad that I was afraid people were going to run up and punch him.

Granted I work on Wall Street, the barely-beating heart of the financial district, and I live on earth--most of the time--so I probably have Bernie on the brain.

And, yes, it doesn't take much to do the Bernie: white hair, colorless skin, beady eyes, and evil to the bone. A lot of people do fit that basic profile, but even so, the numbers seem staggering.

This is like cloning, which is far too scary to even think about. Maybe Bernie's has a bunch of doubles running around so he can get out of jail free.

Hitler had a double named Gustav Weler, which turned out to be a tough gig, seeing as he was shot in the head by Soviet troops. However, there are numerous Web sites who claim it was actually the double who bought it in the bunker, while the real Fuhrer was far, far away.

Winston Churchill, concerned about Nazi assassination attempts, had at least one double, who stayed at Churchill's home and even made personal appearances in the role of the PM. This guy presumably turned out better than his Nazi counterpart.

When I was growing up, just about TV show had one episode where the hero is plauged by an evil double. It usually ran right after the episode where the hero suffers from amensia or is wrongly accused of murder.

Now if you had an episode where the hero suffers from amnesia while being plauged by an evil double who is wrongly accused of murder, then you'd have something. I don't know what, but you'd have it. And better you than me.

Anyway, whenever a TV show hero faced off with the evil double, there would always be the moment when the hero's closest friends couldn't figure out who was who. They'd ask questions of both characters to see which one was the right one.

The old Superman show had episodes where criminals impersonated both Jimmy Olsen and the big guy himself. The shows gave the actors a chance to play crooked versions of their characters before being clobbered by the Man of Steel in under 30 minutes and thrown into prison.

There was one epside called "The Clown Who Cried," where an evil clown--I'll leave it to you to decide if that's redundant or not--named Crackers impersonates a good clown named Rollo to rip off some charity gig. (Finish this sentence: "The only good clown is...")

Look! Up in the Sky!

The two clowns duke it on top of a building, where many bloodthirsty clown battles take place, and no one can tell who's Crackers, who's Rollo and who cares. But suddenly one clown shoves the other off the roof and then tumbles after him.


Now it's raining clowns and Superman makes the snap decision that only an evil clown would toss a colleague off the roof, so he flies up to rescue Rollo while leaving Crackers to crash to the concrete and crumble like a stale Ritz.

Since this was Superman's show, his choice was the right one and Crackers curls up his floppy toes while Rollo gets all Pagliacci and sheds the tears of a clown.

I recall my mother being particularly interested in this episode of Superman , because of her fascination with the name Crackers and her fear of clowns, though, as far as I know, she never threw one off a building.

I once knew a woman who worked at children's parties as a "Christian clown." I never caught her act, thank God, but I always wondered if it involved squirting people with holy seltzer water and slapping Satan in the mug with the Great Cream Pie of Jesus.

I don't think she ever fought to the death with clowns of other faiths, which could lead to a clown crusade or a clown jihad with suicide clowns blowing themselves to little squeaky bits.

George Bush was a Christian and a clown, though nobody was laughing and I doubt even Gustav Weler would want to be a double for him.

It seemed that every comic book or TV villian who was a master of disguise was always, and I mean, always called "The Chameleon." I know about the whole color-changing thing, but couldn't they come up with any other handle?

When I was a kid, I recall at least two TV shows that featured creepy chameleons who were tripped up in their impersonations because they always wore the same distinctive ring no matter what identity they assumed.

So you change your face, your voice, your body, just about everything about you, but you still wear the same piece of jewelry, whether you're impersonating Steve McQueen, Butterfly McQueen or the Queen of England? Yeah, that's real believable. Has anyone checked Bernie Madoff for a ring?

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond's hairless heavy, had his share of doubles. Even his cat had a double in Diamonds are Forever, which Bond discovers when he stomps on the bad kitty's tale in an attempt to determine its true owner.

I lost track how many times Bond actually killed that guy, but it took several actors and a number of sequels to finally blow Blofeld away. Bernie Madoff could be a good Bond bad guy. You can picture him stroking a felonious feline in his secret lair while plotting the downfall of the economy.

I notice that I have the same hairdo as Blofeld, or at least two versions of him. I can only hope no one mistakes me for the Bond nemesis because Roger Moore wound up tossing him off a helicopter and right into a smoke stack.

I wouldn't wish that on anyone, not even Bernie Madoff. Well, then again....

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