All hail the Porcupine.
Stooges come and Stooges go.
Curly was replaced by Shemp, who was replaced by Joe Besser,
who was replaced by Curly Joe DeRita.
But Larry Fine – the second Stooge, the one from Philadelphia,
the one whose disheveled likeness appears in a giant outdoor mural
above Jon’s Bar & Grille at the corner of 3rd and South
(purportedly Larry’s exact birthplace) – was our constant
companion and comfort, like a Schuylkill River running through
our lives. The lamebrain whose brain was always lame. The numbskull
whose skull was always numb. The knucklehead who never knuckled
under. The nitwit who could match wits with any nit. He was a Stooge’s
Stooge, a porcupine’s porcupine. He was the keystone that
supported the great masonry arch of Stoogedom.
Credit Larry with keeping
the Stooges’ careers alive. Moe
Howard invested his movie earnings wisely and could easily have
retired in comfort. But Larry – continuing Philadelphia’s
odd relationship with horses that began with Old
Baldy and has
continued in recent times with Smarty Jones and Barbaro – blew
his life savings at the racetrack, forcing the Three Stooges to
go on tour and make more movies to bail him out. Thus did they
adorn their already prodigious body of work with further cinematic
No doubt about it, Moe was
the leader. But being the leader is meaningless unless you have
followers. An aggressor
cannot be an aggressor unless there is a victim. Somebody must
offer up his nose to the pliers. Somebody’s head must be
crushed in a vise like a cantaloupe. Somebody’s eyeballs
must be poked in perfect unison, his face slapped, his hair ripped.
Larry was that somebody. He was always there to take one for the
team. Hats off to Larry.