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You would never known he was a big-time celebrity, strolling into Hub 51 (he's banned from Harry Caray's; there was an incident) in just a jeans and t-shirt, greeting the waitstaff like they were old friends and farting freely and unself-consciously throughout our interrview. No, Clark Gabriel Cub really is just a regular guy, despite the glitz and glamour. As he picked at his Del Mar Seafood Salad and sucked down six Amstel Lights, we talked about life, longing and how he came to be the Cubs mascot. This is an edited transcript.
How did you get the job?
Well, this is Chicago, so obviously it was because I had a connection. In this case, it was Crane Kenney. Me and Crane trained together at Cypress Gardens back in the day. We we're trying to get to the show - Disneyland. What I didn't know is that the whole time Crane was helping the warden, er, that's what we called him, the executive director, keep a second set of books to evade taxes. Then I worked the what we used to call the shitlin' circuit - Boone's Farm, Chuck E. Cheese conventions, Geyser Falls . . . I mean, it was a lot of toil. But I kept in touch with Crane the whole time.
You had some personal issues through the years.
Yeah, I mean, I was kind of legendary for finding ways to fuck up on the job. I mean, remember the Missie Mouse scandal?
That was you?
Yeah, I guess it can be told now. But to be fair, I had no idea that she was allergic to lambskin.
Was that rock bottom?
Oh no. Heh-heh. Not even close. Look, when you've been to rehab 36 times, it's kind of hard to identify a bottom, know what I mean?
But you never lost hope?
Oh, I lost hope! I was fully prepared to live out my life as a fetish bear in Cheyenne, which, by the way has a very vibrant fetish bear community, not at all as squalid as Roanoke or Thirtyninepalms, where I also lived during that time.
So how did the Cubs gig come about?
Well, like I said, I kept touch with Crane over the years, I mean, he would call up drunk all the time during the Sam Zell years, that was a real mindfuck apparently, and I guess Todd Ricketts insisted the Cubs get a new mascot or he'd sell his percentage in the team to Jeff Gordon, and by the way, they were gonna bring Ty Warner in to create the new mascot but they assumed he'd be going to prison given that he hid $25 million from the federal government, but oh well, I mean, nothing Sam Zell hasn't done, but anyway, so Crane called me one night just hysterical because his idea of a Greek Orthodox priest as mascot didn't go over too well with the Ricketts family, though he did bring them back from the ledge on changing the team name to the Obama Devils, and I was feeling pretty bold because, well, I swear, Bill Kurtis Tallgrass is, um, fine. real fine. And so I said, hey, what about me?
And that was it?
No, no, no! Crane didn't want me, per se. I mean, at the time I wasn't Clark Cub, remember. I was Jim Shoe. I was working for Famously Footwear in Ames, um, the state of Wyoming kind of deported me after an ugly incident with Liz Cheney . . . and I certainly couldn't be Jim Shoe for the Cubs, though I originally suggestion Cubbie Cleat, but we started tossing ideas around and we eventually settled on the douchiest possible bearcub we could come up with, backwards hat and all, in an effort to kill the idea outright.
Kill the idea?
Yeah. Crane flew me in and I was supposed to be so douchey that the Ricketts would just drop the idea altogether, but you can't really out-douche the Ricketts'. They took to me immediately and I got the gig.
Backwards hat and all?
Yeah! Crane told them the costume would be tax deductible if the hat remained on backwards for a full season. That sort of sealed the deal.
Wow. But you're not even a Cubs fan!
No, I hate baseball. But that fits in perfectly with the business plan for the next couple of years.
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