Wednesday, June 29, 2011

There Go The Toasters!

Nostalgia Part 4.

Remember when you opened a new account at the bank and they gave you a toaster?

Or a microwave? Or one of those kits for cutting hair which you could also get by saving 7.3 million Plaid or Green Stamps? The kind of kit that your father got so he could give you a haircut just before you returned to school from summer vacation and, therefore, had to wear a woolen hat (we called it a "Beanie", as in "Beanie-Copter", the hat with the propeller on it) to hide the disaster even though it was September and still very warm...

I mention this because The Bank of America, affectionately know as one of the "Five Families", has been ordered to pay 8.5 billion...billion...dollars in reparations as a result of their involvement in the sub-prime debacle.

Ordinarily this would be cause for rejoicing, for doing "The Happy Dance!" You know, the dance where you push your ass out, your head forward and move your arms up and down like a lunatic (not to be confused with Elaine's famous dance move...)

Anyway, normally I'd be doing "The Happy Dance!" But I'm not.

I'm just not doing it and here's why.

The entire fiscal "crisis" of '07 was somewhat suspect, mostly because I and almost everyone else, could not even begin to understand derivatives and the other Whartonesque (Full Disclosure: my father was Wharton, Class of '27) fabrications that caused the so-called "meltdown."

If something is that complicated then it is probably bogus in some way. The "baffle 'em with bullshit" theory...

All I know is that a very few people got fabulously rich while the vast majority of the rest of us were, and are, circling the drain. We, the taxpayers, gave the banks gabillions so they wouldn't "fail." Hmmm...

I was in Cannes in '09 and '10. If you could have seen the yachts and luxury cars your only question would have been, "What Recession...?"

So the B of A must fork over a paltry 8.5B

What do you think will happen to the bank? Will it be chastened? Will it reexamine its' ethics? Will heads roll?

Not on your life.

The only thing that will happen is that they will discontinue the only thing of value that they offer.

They will stop giving away lollipops at the teller's window. The lollipops which are the modern day equivalent of the toasters and microwaves and hair cutting kits of yore.

But let's look on the bright side.

Less lollipops? Less cavities.

And there is not one man jack of you over 60 who bemoans the loss of the hair cutting kit.

It was 1965...The Beatles were the rave. My father "sported" a crew cut. 'Nough said...

I miss my father every day. But I'm here to tell you that I don't miss his "haircuts."

Not one little bit!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Scottish Play

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

Macbeth. Act IV, Scene IV

That last part is often used to characterize a blowhard, an idiot. It describes, in modern parlance, one who is spouting off about something, full of vigor, with no apparent substance to back up the noise.

Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann come to mind when we hear these wonderful, ancient words.

But Shakespeare as no fool. He was a master of the use of language. He could really turn a phrase, that one.

And what is he describing. exactly? Read it again. He's not talking about any specific individual. He's talking about life itself!

Wow, what a thought. That life is vacuous and meaningless. We just amble through it, from beginning to end and "at the end of the day", it all amounts to nothing.


I started this post with that phrase in mind as a way to describe the current crop of idiots running for the presidency.

I was thinking about how, in a few years, or maybe hundreds, the people we are forced to listen to, from Donald Trump to Barack Obama...all of them will be footnotes.

None of them are truly great statesmen. None are inventors of grand concept or original thought. There isn't a Shakespeare among 'em.

They are actors, playing parts that we expect them to play. White hat, black hat, left, right, good, bad. Dependent upon our point of view, they are either saints or the Devil reincarnate.

I take some comfort in knowing that the pain of having to endure the likes of Sarah Palin and even Barack Obama is offset by the fact that in some moment in history to come, no one will remember them, no one will know who they were or what they had to say.

Do you know who ran for president in 1842? I sure didn't. I had to look it up. It was John Tyler.

Who else ran? Who lost to him? What did those people have to say?

I have no clue. And furthermore I couldn't care less.

I'm too busy caring about my life, however futile it may be. I'm too busy worrying about the mortgage and my family. I'm just too damned busy.

So in some distant time no one will have ever heard of Sarah Palin. No one will ever know that she claimed that Paul Revere was riding to warn the British of impending troubles (what...did he shout, "You are coming! YOU ARE COMING!!?") No one will remember the fact that she could see Russia from her back porch or that she could field dress a moose.

No one will remember and no one will care.

They will all be caught up with their own idiots who will, like life itself, be full of sound and fury...once more, signifying nothing.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Bristol Stomp

"The kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol when they do the Bristol Stomp."

1961. The Dovells.

One of my favorite songs growing up. It had a great beat and was easy to sing and, as they would have said on Bandstand, it was "easy to dance to."

1961. An era when things had meaning. Honor was taught at home by your parents. Having integrity was one of your most important attributes. Heros were people who actually gave of themselves for the greater good. People were respectful of others (unless, of course, you were a "Negro"...) and profanity was reserved for the privacy of intimate conversations among peers. Nudity was only available in the National Geographic Magazine and only in black and white.

Times were simpler, yet I submit, far more substantial. People really did pull themselves up by their bootstraps and a better idea really did make you a million dollars which, at the time, was more than enough for a tank of gas.

I preface with all of this nostalgia because Bristol Palin is publishing a memoir.

Pause. Allow the words to sink in.


How old is she anyway? 12? A memoir of what? Her amazing life so far as an unwed teenage mother and reality show "star" (Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland were stars...)?


Bristol Palin has accomplished nothing. So far. I will give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she will go on to do great things in her life, in spite of her mother, but she ain't gotten there yet!

But Bristol Palin exemplifies the current state of affairs in these United States. We glorify mediocrity at every turn. Nothing is average enough for us. From music to the movies to fashion to food, we support the lowest common denominator.

Just take a look at the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. Bachmann, Gingrich, Pawlenty, Huntsman, Paul, Palin, Romney and others.

Not a hero among them. Not one visionary. Not one person with the creative ability or leadership characteristics necessary to come up with the policies we need to turn this country around.

All they are is mediocre and average.

But that is why they are so popular and have the potential to win. The American people settle for average. We settle for mediocrity because we are intimidated by excellence. We criticize people who actually may have the answers. We ostracize people who may be more intelligent and capable then we are because, plain and simple, we are afraid of them. "What we don't understand we fear and what we fear we hate."

It used to be that if you possessed some extraordinary quality you were sanctified. Jesus, Mozart, Einstein...these were true geniuses. These were people who actually contributed something of great value to the human race. These were not cookie-cutter idiots who live and die by their poll numbers and try to be all things to all people. They were great people.

These were people who deserved to write memoirs or have biographies written about them. These were people whose memoirs were worth reading. It was enlightening and inspiring to read about their lives.

But Bristol Palin? Do we really need to know about the first time she ate at McDonald's and whether or not she likes Justin Bieber?

No we don't. At least I don't.

You may. It's your choice. It's a free country. For now...

Go for it.

Let me know how it goes.

For the time being I'm going to get back to "Don't Mind if I Do", George Hamilton's memoir.

Now there's some good reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2011 a hole in the head!

Are you kidding me?

Oh, you're not.


I'll bet you a tank of gas (regular only, in New Jersey or Massachusetts...) that if/when you voted for Barry you assumed that he was against the idea of drilling for oil in Alaska in the ANWR...The Artic National Wildlife refuge. The very same idea for which Bush/Cheney was so roundly lambasted by the Noisy Left.

You thought that, right? Well, guess what.

Yup. The Big O has proposed drilling for oil domestically as a way to offset the high price of crude and to stem the dependency on the consumption of foreign oil.

Now I'm not sure whether or not this means exploration in ANWR but I'm damn sure that the whole concept is anathema to weaning ourselves from the use of fossil fuel as our primary energy source. Can anyone say "Energy Policy?"

We use a lot of oil and coal and those resources will eventually run out, not to mention the pollution that is a by-product of their use.

We don't seem to care about the development of viable alternatives. Solar, wind, hydro, geo-thermal. No serious effort or funding seems to be underway to create a cost-effective use of these, and other, technologies and to develop a domestic market.

We continue to rely on oil and coal. We pay more and more at the pump and for home heating oil. We are thrilled when we get a gallon of gas for under $4.00. I remember the day, not that terribly long ago, when a "dollar's worth" meant something. It meant you could drive your "Chevy to the levee" and get in some damned good necking! Now a dollar would hardly get you to the next gas station...across the street!

Now we seem to be content with spending a good portion of our weekly income on either gas for the car or oil for the furnace.

And, again, I say... these resources will, eventually run out!

Today it was announced that we will be tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to compensate for the unrest in Libya ( a "war of choice", if you haven't forgotten...)

Wonderful. So if we really need those reserves in the case of a true national emergency, we won't have as much. Then what?

When are we going to get it? When are we going to awaken to the fact that we must change our energy consumption habits and policies while we still have the means to transition. We can't afford to wait until the horses are out of the barn to shut the door!

But back to Barry. More and more he seems to be the opposite of what we thought he was.

First Guantanamo, then the Afghanistan War surge and now drilling. And it's really hard to read his troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as anything but a political move.
He "got" Osama (some would say in contravention of international law...) but he needs the insurance of "bringing the troops home." Who's cynical there...?

What a disappointment.

And we thought there would be Change. The only "change" we have are the coins in our pockets...a few nickels at best.

The Who said it best:

"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Love Denis Leary

I'm not ashamed.

I absolutely love Denis Leary. He is one of the most talented comedians in the world and never fails to make me laugh.

I tell you this, dear reader, as prologue to this post.

If you go to YouTube and look up Leary's rant on coffee you will, at one point, hear him go off on a tangent about fashion. He tells of an encounter with a convenience store clerk whose pants are doubling for socks.

Funny stuff. I think you might laugh out loud as I did.

So again, I ask...what is with that "fashion statement?"

Why is it cool to wear your pants down below your ass?

I understand that the trend began with inner city men emulating friends who had been incarcerated. Apparently the authorities take your belt when you get locked up, presumably so you can't hang yourself or strangle another inmate.

So when you get out your pants are falling down because you have no belt.

Got it. Young guys in the 'hood want to gain street cred so they decide to wear their pants down around their ankles to give the impression that they have done time and went up against the man and, incidentally,...lost! Chris Rock talked about not voting for Senator McCain because of his much vaunted prisoner-of-war record. Rock asks why he should vote for a man who went to war and got captured. He'd rather vote for a man who got away! More funny stuff...

But back to fashion. Don't the youngins have mirrors? Don't they see that they look ridiculous? Don't they remember that underpants are just that...underpants? To be worn under your pants (more Denis Leary there...)? Not outside as an accessory?

Maybe it's because I'm almost a senior citizen (I did get my beach pass this year with a senior

But I'm not completely bereft of fashion sense. I grew up in the fifties and sixties. We practically invented the ridiculous look...if you don't take the Zoot Suit into account.

We wore torn jeans, tee shirts with idiot remarks on them, Nehru jackets and HUGE bell bottoms and then platform shoes and leisure suits with the enormous shirt collar outside the jacket unbuttoned to the navel and a gold chain (I never wore the shoes or the leisure suits, etc. but I did have the bell bottoms...real ones from a Navy surplus store...with way too many buttons...and real cowboy boots...long before "Urban Cowboy")

But our drawers were always inside our trousers. And our pants were at our waists.

Period. We would have been laughed out of the room if we had shown up with our pants at our knees and our boxers exposed for all to see...with the stupid designs that underwear have on them. What are the designers thinking with that stuff? Are they just simply that cruel? And what is it with nurse's blouses? They have got to be the most god-awful patterns ever conceived of. Hands down the worst designs ever. If you weren't sick when you arrived at the hospital you will surely be almost dead after being subjected to those examples of medical fashion. Jeez!!

And baseball hats on backwards...don't get me started there. The POINT of the hat is to shield your eyes from the sun so you can catch the BALL!! WTF!!!??? And so people can read the embroidered crap on the front and be impressed by the fact that you went to Wimbledon or belong to the Hoity Toity Country Club or drink Heineken or drive a Porsche...or are a Yankee fan...or a Red Sox fan...

So, as Denis Leary puts it, "Pull up your pants!"

And as Elaine says to Jerry, "Well crafted."

I couldn't have said it better. If I had I'd be rich, not them, and I could afford that leisure suit I always secretly wanted. You know the one. The pale, robin's egg blue one in the faux denim with the white buttons and belt. And the Paisley shirt. And a Ferrari hat...

OMG...I'd be stylin' then.

Alone...but stylin'!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Help for What?

Rep. Anthony Weiner is apparently seeking a leave of absence from Congress to receive treatment for his...what exactly?

He's not leaving because he's sick. He's leaving because he is an embarrassment to the Democrats at a time when the campaign for the White House is heating up. End of story.

The hypocrisy in this culture is outrageous!

On the one hand we deplore a-societal behaviors. Gambling, prostitution, drug use, philandering, lying, cheating and stealing.

But on the other hand we glamorize it. People flock to the casinos. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar growth industry. Drugs and, especially alcohol, are as much a part of the national culture as the flag and apple pie.

Wall Street and much of the corporate sector is built on lying, cheating and stealing. Have you filled up your gas tank recently? Is your house worth half of what you paid for it? How many Mulligans did you take last round?

Eliot Spitzer became famous, and New York's Governor, based, in part, by his prosecutions of vice-related crimes. He was caught in a brothel, drummed out of office and then...Presto! He's a popular TV host and pundit.

Martha Stewart was convicted of insider trading, did time and then...Presto! She's got her multi-million dollar business back.

Latrell Sprewell nearly choked the life out of his coach, was "reprimanded" and...Presto! He was rewarded with a continuing lucrative pro career and the accolades of fans.

And on and on.

Anthony Weiner used social networking to He sent provocative pictures to women other than his wife. Bad boy!

Kim Kardashian and countless other nearly naked women have made careers out of displaying their abundance on the public stage. From Rosalind Russell to Marilyn Monroe to Raquel Welch to Pamela Anderson to Anna Nicole Smith to Paris Hilton we have been treated to the cleavage and legs and sexual fantasy that these women and so many others provided.

Their bodies were, and are, worth a fortune to the people who profit from relationships with these "celebrities", let alone the women themselves.

And we have "The World Series of Poker"

And Jello-Shots.

We decrie the base nature of these behaviors yet, at the same time, we glorify them.

We are full of crap as a society.

We are incapable of telling the truth, either to ourselves or to others.

Politicians stock-in-trade is their polished ability to lie to everyone in order to get and stay elected. And we call them heroes? They are the worst of the worst.

So another person got nabbed with his pants down. And Weiner will probably resign over this mess. But so what? The Democrats will recover. But they will always have Clinton, The Kennedys and Rangel.

But the Republicans should be careful about yelling too loudly about him. They own Schwarzenegger, Ensign, and Foley don't forget. And the mother of all scandals, Watergate...and the Iran-Contra Affair...and Alberto Gonzales...and Iraq and WMD...and the financial crisis of '07.

The Hypocritic Oath:

"I will do what I please and lie if caught and then be contrite, after the fact. I will do no myself...only to others and I will negotiate a sweet deal for endorsements and reality shows only after my prison sentence is over."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 other brother Darryl

Darryl Strawberry's ancestors were geniuses. Not only did they produce a great baseball player but they had the best last name of all time.


Yesterday I went into our little garden and picked a small basket of fresh strawberries.

We grew 'em, we picked 'em and WE ATE 'EM!


Last year we tried to grow strawberries but ended up with only two, one of which I gave to my neighbor, Mark, for his gardening encouragement over the summer.

But this year, I vowed, would be different!

This year I fashioned a cage around the plants. This year I cordonned them off from the rest of the garden. This year I created a garden within a garden for our little beauties.

And this year it worked!

This year we have only lost a few, mostly to bugs and maybe a nibbling somebody who crawled through the mesh. #*%!

This year, so far, I've harvested about 18 big red orbs of strawberry magnificence.


And I ate a few right there at cageside. Right there, on my hands and knees, I pulled a strawberry from the vine (not really a vine, in the Tarzan sense, but more of a plant, on the ground, with tentacles)and popped it in my mouth.

The taste was unbelievable. It was unlike the ones in the store. Or a restaurant.

It was fresh.

And we grew it. In our own garden.

Me... a gardener...!?

Who knew...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sheep's Clothing?

I've been bothered by a nagging question since shortly after the Election of '08.

Did we have the wool pulled over our eyes? Were we hoodwinked? Is Obama a wolf in sheep's clothing?

I was in Invesco Field the night Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination to run for the Presidency of the United States. I was 100 feet away from him. Many people were in tears. There was wild cheering. There was palpable excitement and an electrifying sense of the possibilities for the future.

After eight very long years of the Bush/Cheney nightmare, Obama offered the chance to redeem ourselves on the world stage and to become, once again, the great country that had been built by our ancestors.

But what happened seems to be a different tale.

Obama said he'd close Guantanamo. He hasn't.

Obama said he'd extricate us from war. Not only hasn't he done that but he doubled down in Afghanistan and got us involved in Libya.

Obama inherited Bush's Wall Street meltdown, fair enough, but then hired some of the very people responsible to "fix the problem."

Obama spoke out against government overreaching but then extended the Patriot Act.

Obama decided not to investigate any of the allegations of criminality that may have occurred under the previous administration.

Obama decried the problems that could occur from too much exploration for oil and natural gas but then authorized the expansion of drilling off the coast.

President Obama came along at a time when we were depressed and in despair as a nation. Ronald Reagan 2.0

He offered hope and "change." He promised us a return to civility in government and an approach that was above partisanship.

He said that we were not a "Blue" State or a "Red" State but the "United" States of America.

We would have elected Mickey Mouse had he run. Instead we opted for the fairy tale that Obama and his proselytizers offered.

Elect Barack Obama and everything will be alright again in America.

Elect Barack Obama and The United States will return to the era of prosperity, pride and pre-eminence.

What we've gotten, instead, is the same old, same old. Another greasy politician concerned only with the power of the office, his own importance and in taking care of his benefactors.

We believed and we got slammed.

But what do we expect when we are more concerned with Anthony Weiner's underwear then we are with the core state of the Union and the intricacies of the policies and choices being offered.

We got what we paid for and too bad for us if we didn't read the expiration date.

The milk is bad. Deal with it...



TWIT...1) One who sends sex pictures on Twitter thinking no one will ever know. 2) Anyone who uses Twitter.

And again I ask, What The F#*K!?

I shot an interview with Anthony Weiner a number of years ago for NBC News.

He was charming, self-effacing and friendly. He even let my daughter, then 8, and her friend, conduct an "interview" of their own. He was a genuinely nice guy.

I liked him and I liked the positions he took publicly about this or that policy or political matter.

He seemed like a viable answer to the idiots in Washington who were promoting bad things for this country.

He seemed like the real deal.

Now we come to find out that he is just like all of the rest of those jerks who can't keep their private parts out of the public eye.

And what is up with the lying? Richard Nixon set the best example ever. You do a bad thing and then lie...? You're done! Finished! Kaputsky!

And, time and again, people will tell you that it's not so much the deed but the lie and attempted cover-up that is so bad.

So Anthony Weiner carried on an alleged affair and sent pictures on Twitter.

Number one, what sort of a moron sends lewd pictures on the Web thinking that the pix will remain private? And, number two, what sort of a moron lies about it after getting caught, thinking that he will be the only person in history ever to get away with it?

Apparently someone like Congressman-For-The-Moment Weiner. (I just wish he had run for President with someone named Bill Schnitzel. Can you imagine the fun with that ticket? "Weiner-Schnitzel in 2016. A hot dog on every grill!")

If he had just said, "my bad" the event would be over. One, maybe two news cycles.

But NO! He had to lie. Now he's gone.

But he can take heart (not Gary Hart though...we all know what happened to him after his "Monkey Business...")

After he is forced out (he said he "welcomes" a House invesigation. Yeah, right... just like a condemned man "welcomes" the noose...) he will probably get a talk show on Fox like Eliot "Mr. Bordello" Spitzer on CNN. A spot has opened up after Glenn Beck's departure and another might become available if Sarah "The British Aren't Coming!" Palin actually declares her candidacy.

As if they don't have enough jackass commentators already.