Uncle Wonkles mumbles in a kind of endearing murmur that often requires a steep lean-in to hear all of what he has to say. Today, the elusive singer and writer of the comedy duo, The Stretchlinks rests casually atop a formidable stack of broken reel to reel tape machines piled in the corner of his Burbank, CA office slurring his way through an elliptical but amusing theory about America’s troubles – and perhaps some of his own.
“America’s Stupid,” he explains. “In the dazed, confused kind of way. Stupefied, you might say. No one can think clearly. Nobody. You don’t have to be blind to see it. We’ve all gotten numb. And you can save the hate mail cuz I’m not saying we’re all a bunch of dopes, that’s another debate entirely. It’s just that we’re caught in a trance, a mindless stare that’s allowing an awful lot of silly things to happen in this country. I’ve seen it in the flesh and it’s not pretty.”
Wonkles first hand experience with Stupid began 16 months ago while hammering nails into an 8-foot 2×4.
“I figured I’d do some hammering. I own a great hammer, loads of nails, that sort of thing. Thing is I realized a bit too late that my hammering might not have a particular purpose.”
Wonkles continues in a low somber tone, his startling blue eyes and perhaps most of the rest of him, fixed on an elusive point in the distance.
“Kind a spooked me really. See most of the time you get out the hammer and nail after a great deal of measuring, designing and consideration. That’s how I’ve always done it. Perhaps you want to build something for your kids or widen a doorway and all that kind of stuff. People get really happy when it’s done right. Wood just comes in real handy for those sorts of things. Instead, my “plan” was to just hammer nails into a piece of wood.”
According to Wonkles the inexplicable hammering went on for most of that afternoon until he had exhausted his entire supply of 3,200 nails and left his palms near bloody with the effort. Once the lumber was saturated with the sharp metal, he carried it to a neighboring office and did his best to gift the ungainly and now dangerous piece.
“I thought it might be of use to someone,” Wonkles continued. “All those nails, right there on a piece of wood. You wouldn’t even have to look for them cuz every nail you owned or might need to own would be right there.”
The reaction from his neighbors was not what he expected. Seven local fire teams responded and to Wonkles’ amazement proceeded to comb the area for flammables, explosives and reports of toxic gasses emanating from The Stretchlinks’ offices.
“I gotta’ say though, these guys wore the greatest gear. Fire retardant, waterproof, rip proof and the stuff smelled great, kind of a fresh peach smell. They had oxygen tanks, CPR gear, GPS, hook and ladder. None of them seemed all that interested in my lumber though. And that’s partly what I’m talking about. All these smart, trained professionals. They just stood around looking dazed, bewildered. And I’ve seen that look before, not just on fireman or paramedics but on the faces of a lot of Americans these days, people looking pretty darn Stoo-pi-fied.”
The Burbank police did confiscate his nail-board. However with only a modest fine for disturbing the peace, Wonkles was able to return to work the following day. Back in his offices the next morning and feeling generally sanguine about the affair, Wonkles had these final thoughts.
“We just gotta’ help each other, come together as good citizens and watch out for the stupid stuff.”