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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

I’m being benched; come join the celebrations

Boy, I’m feeling out of gas.

I guess it’s because I’m getting older. But it now takes me a day or two to fully recover from sitting out Bloomsday.

Don’t laugh. Resisting all that peer pressure to get involved takes way more energy than one might think.

So allow me to recharge my psychic energy banks while I take care of a couple of important updates.

•When it comes to art, most Spokane residents think Rembrandt is a tooth whitener.

But our lowbrow image is about to change. Mark your appointment calendars for noon Thursday on the southwest corner of Broadway Avenue and Jefferson Street, right across the street from the Spokane County Courthouse.

Come on down and enjoy the free unveiling of the greatest art masterpiece since the Big Red Wagon.

The Dougbench!

There will be brief speeches by dignitaries (if I can find any who will come without demanding a bribe) and free junk food (while supplies last) as we celebrate the virtues of bus bench advertising.

Joe Brasch, my buddy and guitar-slinging bandmate, will accompany me while I croon a few of my stirring original civic anthems, such as “Spokane Song,” “The Gypsy Curse” and “The Ballad of Otto Zehm.”

Then feel free to experience the Dougbench by relaxing on my mug.

A guestbook will be available for signing.

To recap: I am getting my own ad to protest the efforts of Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and her flying City Hall monkeys, who believe that such bench advertising violates the city’s sign rules.

To which, I say: What a Crock-Pot of steaming cow doots!

The Dougbench ad was created by my pal Charlie Schmidt, an inspired graphic artist who spanked one out of the park with this. I don’t want to give away too many of Charlie’s catchy design details, but my head is, like, huge.

So what else is new?

•More than 50 of you responded to my offer to take a lucky reader to lunch in my new 1987 Jaguar.

And after weeding the entries from the usual hate mail, it was David Kamka, of Coeur d’Alene, who won the prize.

Kamka’s e-mail contained all the important elements.

Humor: “Yes, I look forward to reading every one of your columns with the same urgency I have in finding a porcelain relief station after wolfing down a street vendor hot dog.”

Sucking up: “Truth be told, you shine a beacon of common sense into the shadows of ignorance around here.”

Desperation: “I’d canoe the Spokane River with nothing more than an unvarnished axe handle for the opportunity to stuff some of Spokane’s cheapest cuisine down my pie hole with you.”

Kamka, 53, is a friendly and articulate guy. He moved to Coeur d’Alene several years ago from Southern California.

I drove Kamka to the Latah Bistro on U.S. Highway 195 where we ate tasty prawn sandwiches (so much for the cheap grub joke) and talked about life, cars and the dying newspaper industry.

There was really only one thing clearly wrong with this man.

The dude rolled into Spokane behind the wheel of a much nicer car than mine. I’m talking about a BMW – a gleaming white 7 Series, no less.

Nothing sucks the joy out of owning a fine English motorcar like being upstaged and outclassed by a German Beemer.

I felt like London during the Blitz.

Oh, well. At least Kamka was supportive of my automotive purchase. That was not the case with a number of you smart alecks who threw jabs at my Jag the way Manny Pacquiao thumped on Ricky Hatton’s face.

“… When I asked him about owning a Jag he replied that you couldn’t own just one Jaguar, you need to own at least two since one of them would always be in the shop,” wrote Keith Hegg.

“But there is a reason yours only had 33,000 miles on it when you bought it. You can’t keep them on the road,” wrote Mike Parks.

“Hi Doug,” wrote Mark Henriksen, “I would like to take you up on your offer of lunch, with one twist: If you can demonstrate that the A/C and the heater will work on the same day, I’ll buy!”

Ha-ha. Ha!

Like I’m going to eat lunch with these spoilsports.

The biggest balloon buster was Matt. This cad sent me all the recall notices for my 1987 Jaguar.

How thoughtful. Apparently there’s a very good chance my Jaguar will not only A.) catch on fire, but B.) violently explode.

You know what that means.

All that’ll be left of me will be a smirking mug on the Dougbench.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at