tampabay.com

Laughter is good medicine, after all

By ERNEST HOOPER
Published July 27, 2005


You would expect a doctor to boast when he's featured in a national magazine.

But MAD magazine?

People who know David Lubin aren't surprised. Lubin, an amateur photographer who puts out a color calendar of Tampa Bay scenes every year, is a huge fan of MAD. The humor magazine, with the venerable gap-toothed image of Alfred E. Neuman, has spoofed popular culture for decades.

Lubin collects the magazines and has every issue dating to 1952.

"I've been to the MAD offices and I've actually had a couple of letters printed in the magazine," Lubin said. "I used to read it when I was younger. Over the years, I managed to collect and buy the issues I had missed. I actually bought a lot of the issues on eBay."

Lubin also has attended a Sotheby's auction to bid on MAD artwork, and he once visited the home of original publisher William Gaines. Included in the collection are three issues that have been autographed by Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon.

Of course, the most valuable issues in his collection are kept in a vault, but he keeps recent issues in his patient exam rooms and says they often inspire interesting conversations.

Medical Economics magazine wrote about his patients reading MAD in an article about what kind of magazines you find in a doctor's office. Lubin sent the article to MAD, and the magazine took it to the next level in its latest issue.

Under the heading "Hippocratic Oaf" is a mock dialogue between Lubin and a patient who's pleading for attention. While Lubin goes on and on about his love of Spy vs. Spy and the trademark monthly fold-in, the patient slips into a coma.

The editors conclude by saying laughter isn't always the best medicine, but it sure did make me feel better.

In anticipation of MAD's 500th edition, due in August 2008, Lubin is pushing the U.S. Postal Service to issue a commemorative Alfred E. Neuman stamp. Seriously. Lubin reasons the stamp would be a popular seller and the "What, me worry?" slogan would be the perfect complement on bills and alimony payments.

If you want to join the fight, send a letter to:

Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

c/o Stamp Development

USPS

475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 4474EB

Washington, D.C., 20260-2437

My kids were playing the old Tony Hawk Underground video game this weekend when I stumbled upon another sign that we've arrived as a major city.

Hawk is the world's most famous professional skateboarder, and the two newest video games bearing his name include Tampa as one of the backdrops.

The Bank of America building and the beer can building at 400 N Ashley Drive are clearly distinguishable, and you can make out the minarets across the river. If you want, you can grab the bumper of a car to gain speed and propel yourself across the Kennedy Boulevard bridge while it's being raised.

Kids, don't try that in real life.

I was a little disappointed to see the Tampa scene also included a strip club with a space ship on top. The good news, however, is I no longer have to worry about getting into an awkward conversation when I drive down Dale Mabry with my boys in the car.

Now they know it's not a real spaceship.

What's really funny is that on the game the concrete landscape in front of the Tampa Museum of Art has been converted into a skateboarders' paradise. It has all kinds of ramps and curbs, and you can actually skate over to the Riverwalk where an alligator is waiting to snap you up.

On Tony Hawk Underground 2, you go to the Skate Park of Tampa (4215 E Columbus Drive) and compete for an amateur championship.

In the real world, most skateboarders were chased out of downtown by 2001, but all indications show Tampa has become a real skateboard city. Business is reportedly booming at Skate Park of Tampa, or the SPoT as it's known.

As Mayor Pam Iorio makes plans to tear down the museum and expand the park next to the river, maybe she should consult Hawk. Clearly, he's got some ideas.

That's all I'm saying.

Ernest Hooper can be reached at 813 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com