Friday, January 22, 2010

A dozen roses and a cask of Amontillado, please!

Well, the buzz around Baltimore the past couple of days is all about the disappearance of the "Poe Toaster." Dissolute poet Edgar Allan Poe, favorite of eighth-graders all across the land for his haunting, lugubrious stanzas, is buried in downtown Baltimore at Westminster Hall, at Fayette and Greene Streets.

For over 50 years, the Poe Toaster showed up every January 19 and left a tribute of cognac and roses, along with the occasional note. This year was the first time since 1949 that no one showed up at the Edgar Allan Poe House Museum to pay tribute, thus ending a literary tradition almost as long as the undying popularity of Willa Cather.

Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House, (yes, we treat our legends with respect! We had a Cal Ripken Museum, there's one saluting the Colts, Orioles and Ravens history, and the people of Czechoslovakia have donated to our fair city a statue of Frank Zappa, which the mayor promises to have placed in a prominent location very very soon) says that maybe the guy who usually shows up with booze and flowers (does that sound like he's on his way to a date in some '50's movie starring Rosalind Russell?) might have had the flu, or car trouble. Or, maybe he just got tired of doing the same thing every January 19 and went to Bingo World instead.

The identity of the Toaster has never been revealed, and we can only suppose he lives the rest of the year in an undisclosed location, next bunker over from Dick Cheney. Now watch - any number of people will come forth, claiming to have been the PT and wondering who will play the lead when they make a movie about it. I say, either Frank Langella or Scott Baio.

Maybe the guy just got too, I dunno, weak and weary of the whole thing? You know what would be cool...if Sunbeam or GE would make a real Poe Toaster, the kind that once your English muffin is just ever so, would make a "CAW! CAW!" sound instead of the boring old 'Ding!", and utter "Nevermore" when you unplug it. Go to it, inventors!

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