Friday, November 16, 2018

2020 Feelin' Groovy

No one (except me) calls the Ed Koch Bridge the Ed Koch Bridge. No one calls it by its original name, the Queensborough Bridge.  Everyone calls it what it sort of really is, the 59th Street Bridge, which is somewhat inaccurate because it fills and empties between 59th and 60th on the Manhattan side.

If -- heaven forbid -- they start charging tolls, one can at least hope you can get through the gate with one click on your mobile site.

The new Amazon mini headquarters will be located near the Queens exits in Long Island City which has an industrial area of more than a century’s standing but which is a shadow of its former self.  And because it is Queens the Amazon zone is not getting a universally royal welcome, if you don’t count the billions in tax breaks from the city and state and two strange conditions from Amazon’s Bezos:
1.  You must build me a helipad. And
2.  Mayor Bill and Governor Andy have to remain on speaking terms, which they aren’t always despite similar ideas and membership in the same political party.

Oh, and there was the part about being no more than 45 minute drive from a major airport.  Driving to any of the three major airports in greater New York is 45 minutes away from Long Island City only at 3 o’clock in the morning when there’s no snow and no construction…  conditions that rarely co-exist.

Amazon’s beauty contest winners were Long Island City and Arlington Virginia’s Crystal City which has a history of being cracked and ugly.  We’ll ignore that Crystal City one because who cares?  And the mini one scheduled for Nashville TN because country music goes there to die, as evidenced by Keith Urban winning the CMA Award as Entertainer of the year.

Bezos is no dummy.  Business conditions in his home base, Seattle, are getting iffy and overtaxing is a competitive sport. So if he needs to move the whole shebang, he’s got the places staked out.

About that beauty contest:  Bezos and Co. had about 200 other cities kissing his ring, his feet and his… um… well, you know.  Places that don’t ordinarily look stupid -- Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia for examples -- look pretty stupid. And cities that were always stupid now will look not only stupid but stupid and embarrassed.

So at some point, Amazon will build it’s “second headquarters” in sight of the Ed Koch Bridge, immortalized by Paul Simon for his inside joke of a song, "Feelin' Groovy" which referred to the grooved surface of the bridge’s original level.

Welcome to Queens, Amazon.  Your subway awaits. Any day now.

--While on the topic of corporate headquarters, there’s Gillette and its decision to remain in Boston despite some pushing from owner Proctor and Gamble’s dreams of Cincinnati.  But Gillette has competition from all sides today and a 12% price cut for blades isn’t enough.  And neither is millennial-izing its once Macho Man ads.

--King C. Gillette was the first major company hotshot to implement one of the most clever customer traps.  For 100 years, they’ve been selling razors for near-nothing.  Then, you’re locked into using their overpriced blades.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2019 It's All Lies

2019 It’s All Lies

Credit or blame where it’s due. Do you think you could compose a 500-word blog built completely of lies? Let’s try.

Those wildfires in California were caused by the George Soros Arson Squad.  Working under cover of darkness, the conspirators jiggled with the utility wires until they caught fire.  And the squad members were imported from Guatemala, where fire is the devil’s only friend.

Then there was Jamal Khashoggi.  You know he never really existed.  Did you ever read a word he wrote?  Did you ever see him on television?  Did you ever believe that a member of a royal family would actually kill someone just because someone somewhere said he existed, wrote bad things about the Saudi government and was too fat to outrun a bunch of street muggers who have all been caught and jailed or killed?  Impossible. The prince is -- well -- a prince.

And the teaming hordes of rapists and robbers, job stealers and stealth middle eastern terrorists?  Are they still worming their way toward Texas with those child actors pretending to be impoverished children?

And let’s dispose of another piece of fake news, forthwith.  Those kids were separated from their parents by accident and the US is keeping them in tasteful and rest-inducing enclosures.  But any kid who wants out just has to say so.

Jeff Sessions wasn’t fired.  He issued a statement about having fulfilled his mission and resigned to spend more time with his family in Alabama.  You mean you haven’t seen it?  I have a copy right here in this sealed envelope addressed to the White House Communications Office.  I’d cut it open and show it to you, but not until Hillary coughs up some emails. And maybe not even then because opening someone else’s mail without their permission is a crime.

Then there were the midterm elections. As you know there were massive incidents of voter fraud everywhere a Democrat won or nearly won.  Too bad about the nearlies.  They’ll just have to try harder in 2020.

You haven’t seen reports of thousands of Massachusetts residents flooding over the New Hampshire border to vote?

And don’t believe those fake reports of voter-blocking in Georgia. The Republicans won fair and square.  And this should go to court for a resolution.  But all of those judges appointed by Obama and Clinton and Carter and LBJ and FDR worked out a joint strategy to stall justice. They did it on Skype from internet cafes around the country.

Are we there yet?  No. Still a few dozen words left to lie with before reaching 500. Including the standard outro.

This is hard work.  Thanks for the lessons from the reigning champs: donald trump, Sarah Huckabee, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Brett Kavanaugh, Mike Pants.  Also to pioneers: Herodotus, the 1919 White Sox, Lance Armstrong, Rosie Ruiz, Charles Ponzi, the guys who dreamed up table-top cold fusion, Pope Alexander VI, and Richard Nixon.


Pfew. Done.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, November 12, 2018

2018 The Edmund Fitzgerald

(DETROIT) -- It’s been a few years since we’ve written about this. And this is an off year.  The wreck took place on November 10, 1975. That was 43 years ago this past Saturday.  The actual day was a Monday.

At this point, you probably would never have heard about it if you didn’t read here or heard the song by Gordon Lightfoot and the report by Harry  Reasoner (Note the clarity and succinctness of Reasoner’s short item and wonder why that style of story telling has fallen by the wayside.)

Now, 43 years later, there still are no answers. And while there are bell-ringings and memorials galore, the horror of that day looks small.

We have become so inured to mass deaths, that a mere 29 men on a big boat that sank seems minor. It is not minor.

It is undiminished by mass shootings in schools and nightclubs, plane crashes, bus wrecks, train wrecks and even by the regular drownings of people by the dozen in overloaded tour boats in places like the Philippines, or Indonesia or Korea.  It is undiminished by the endless “true crime” stories on TV. 

The story of the “Mighty Fitz” would have long faded entirely were it not for Gordon Lightfoot’s poetic rendering to the tune of an ancient Irish dirge.  That the wreck caught his attention and was transformed into six minutes of a poem set to a chant allows us to remember.

In cases like this, people want to know “why?”  There will be no answer.  Weather forecasters have tried to model the conditions of the storm on Lake Superior that night.  Computer scientists have tried to combine those with communications worries.  And there’s always the notion that commercial pressure forced the Fitz into lake conditions it never should have had to face.

Those of us who grew up on the Atlantic maybe too often turn our noses up at the thought of a lake as a formidable body of water. Superior is the largest lake in the world.  It is the third largest by volume with 200 rivers feeding it from several angles. Put it anywhere else, add a little salt and you've got yourself a perfectly fine sea.

And that bathtub with a propeller?  Standing on the dock and looking up, you could confuse it with a mountain or a skyscraper. Length?  Bigger than most anything that floats and that you've been on. Seven hundred twenty nine feet.  (The Titanic was 883.5, so only 150 feet or so bigger.)

We know what killed the Titanic, the Andrea Doria, The General Slocum, the Lusitania, the Bismarck.  We do not know what killed the Fitz.  A storm with hurricane force winds came suddenly and went?  The bathtub overturned and broke up and went down, all so fast there wasn't time for a real distress call?

So, we remember. At least the deaths were not at the hands of some gun nut or terrorist bomber. Small consolation.

--Florida voters can’t seem to decide about who wins elections, but there was no doubt about passage of a ban on Greyhound racing.  Thousands of dogs will be looking for new homes in the near future.  Thousands will be turned out on the streets.

--In olden times, on Armistice Day, on the air we would go silent for one minute … the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  A commemoration.  Couldn’t find anyone doing that this year, unsurprisingly.

“As girls, we could look at the football team and say that their tight pants showing off everything is asking for it, but we don’t,” -- Women’s track team member at Rowan University. in New Jersey which has prohibited women training in sports bras at the same time and place the football team practices because the girls are “a distraction.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

Friday, November 09, 2018

2017 The License Plate Theory of Civilization

We are forever hearing about “two Americas.” This group and that.  These places and those.  Here’s another key.

For the most part, civilized states issue both front and back license plates and uncivilized or semi-civilized  ones issue only one.

Is that the cause of problems? No, but it’s a symptom.

Here are the 19 states that have only one plate.  Is yours among them?
--New Mexico
--North Carolina
--South Carolina
--West Virginia 

Thirty-eight percent.

Now let’s get into the details.  For example, you can’t really call Delaware uncivilized.  But they’re so bound up in their motto: “Freedom for Corporations that don’t really do any business here but love our laws and courts” that little things like car tags aren’t all that important.

Notice that most of the states with single plates were in the Confederacy, and at least two others might as well have been.  

Why two plates?  Well, it’s tradition.  Time was every state had two.  Also when someone rear-ends you on the highway, at least you know where they’re from. That can be handy if they take off before the cops arrive.

The joke about prisoners making plates isn’t a joke. In many cases they still do. Prison labor is cheap.  Some states have farmed out tag-making to private businesses, often in states other than their own. 

Does that save money?  Probably.  It also rewards the governor’s brother-in-law who owns the stamping business.

If you look closely at the picture of the 1959 Montana plate, the low end, under the state name, you’ll see “Prison made.”  Does it pay to advertise?

Okay, now let’s go back to that list.  Are there any states on it that beckon you, states you really really truly want to live in?

Have you ever caught yourself saying “gee, if only I could move to Mississippi?”  Probably not unless you’re a frustrated cotton farmer or want to retire to the State Home for White Supremacists, which now posts a sign on the gate “All Welcome. Some exclusions apply.”

Housing prices in Delaware are reasonable and if you have a hankering to become a sand miner, that might be a place for you.  Democrats far outnumber Republicans in voter registration, but the state has the country’s most “business-friendly laws.

--The way now-former Attorney General Sessions was treated this past year makes even some of the hardest hearts sympathetic.  But please remember this was a miserable little gnome whose own state wouldn’t put him on the bench.  And he was a Senator from Alabama, which says it all.

--Sessions’ replacement, Matthew Whitaker is another prize winner but with one characteristic Sessions lacked.  He’s the ultimate toady - ass kisser - loyalist.  So better figure he’s going to put the brakes on Mueller.  With any luck Mueller’s findings are already before grand juries where -- allegedly -- they can’t be scrubbed or stopped.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

2016 The Blue Wave

There’s your blue wave.  The Smurf is waving hello or goodbye, depending on how you think about Tuesday’s election results.

Here on Wednesday morning, the results remain incomplete but there are certain things that we still can say.

The blue wave was met by a red tide.  While turnout was by any measure high for a mid-term, each side marshaled its troops to vote for a change.  Or against one.

The Democrats won control of the house.  Next step: the amoeba splits and fights among itselves about whether to elect Nancy Pelosi speaker.
Governor Abbott (R-TX) wins another term as governor, while democratic candidate Costello goes back to making movies.

Governor Walker (R-WI) will join a firm of union busting lawyers as Rainmaker-in-Chief when he leaves office at the end of his term.

So, a few new governors.  A little shuffling of the deck in the Senate. Sen. Sanders of Vt. keeps his job but now has time to get a haircut.  Sen. Hatch of Utah successfully hands a victory to Senator-elect Romney sending both men back to well-deserved obscurity.

Governor Cuomo (D-NY) wins reelection and promises to personally thank voters at every stop on the E train, the LIRR and Metro North, those models of mass transit excellence he so skillfully fixed.

In Georgia, where voting while black is a crime, the African American woman running for Governor lost. Good thing she didn’t try to vote for herself.  State troopers were waiting all day to arrest her when she showed up at her polling place, but she never did.

And a lot of people seemed thrilled when Oprah came to their doors with pamphlets.

Bob “Bucks” Menendez (D-NJ) kept his Senate seat. That proves New Jersey is as forgiving as a state can be when corruption is the law of the land.

This space predicted election results of the kind we got.  It’s nice to be right.  But it would have been nicer to be wrong.

Did you fall asleep in front of the TV?  If not then you know the whole thing was won by the graphics departments of the TV networks.

The guy on MSNBC has such a complicated election weather map and talks so fast, no one knew which way the wind was blowing.  But he’s really good at doing out-loud arithmetic.  And Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow kept the action lively while Andrea Mitchell got called on for… um… little.

Chuck Todd and Lester Holt on NBC did a nice calm job, almost as good as a dose of Sominex.  (Anyone miss Brokaw?) CBS had a panel of people no one ever heard of. We don’t know about ABC because the local affiliate was showing reruns of Gunsmoke and Magnum PI.

The NY Times wins the night with an easy to understand interactive map with actual information and no commentary from any former anybodies from previous administrations.

The USA channel scored an election night ratings victory with an “all new” WWE Smackdown. (Do they have partly-new versions of the program?)  Smackdown is pretty much like the election.  No surprises.  But it’s less boring.

As for the actual election results:  The pilot has lit the “seatbelts” light. Please return to your seats.  Turbulence lies ahead.

Cavuto on Fox Business News was almost watchable.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, November 05, 2018

2015 This Can't Possibly Be the Flu

Caution: Mild adult content

Image result for evil looking pharmacist

It's a fact.  A medical fact. With decades and decades of scientific know-how behind it.  If you get a flu shot and you have flu-like symptoms, it's... something else.

A cold. Maybe.  Some other dread-gonk that's floating around at work or at school or because you forgot to wash your hands after you changed the oil. 

Just not flu.

Fever combined with shivering?  Just your imagination. It's something else.  Coughing?  Just something stuck in your throat. For five days?

Okay, gather 'round conspiracy lovers and stand by for a look inside the much feared though little known Mr. K Theory.  It is named for the druggist nearest home and while it has never actually been proven, and has nothing to do with flu shots. customers of the evil little man behind the counter named this great idea for him. Credit where credit is due.

Today, when one wants to buy condoms, you walk into the drug store and there's a huge and open display.  More choices than anyone can handle.  You walk into the aisle, Kleig lights go on so the cameras can see you better.  And depending on the neighborhood, you hear a recording of "Happy Days are Here Again," "Dueling Banjos" or "I Get Around" by either Tupac or the Beach Boys.

You find what you want, hit the self-checkout, pay your money and head out.

In an earlier time, you had to skulk into the drugstore, pretend to look around, gather up a box of tissues, maybe a toothbrush or toothpaste... a few little things... then bring it to the register.  

If your classmate Junie Gozonga was working the counter, you'd have to ask her to "see the pharmacist." She'd know why because... well, she was every teen boy's dream... but she'd snicker and get Mr. K to shuffle out.  

You'd ask him for a pack of Trojans.  If he liked you, he'd shuffle back, get one and sell it to you.  If he didn't, he'd say "ONE PACK OF TROJANS, COMING UP," so you'd be even more embarrassed than you already were.

If he liked you, he'd ask if you really wanted the toothpaste or hair tonic or any other stuff you had put down.  He understood a disguised mission.  And that gave you the opportunity to decline.  If he disliked you, he'd just charge you for all the stuff.

Now, here's where the Mr. K theory gets to work.  There was a thought among the youth back then, that Mr. K secretly put pinholes in random packs of condoms.  And you know where that can lead.

Mr. K probably is long gone. He was old even back then. Or he looked old to us kiddie customers.  And no one puts pinholes in condoms these days.

But are there druggists who put clear syrup in bottles that once contained flu shots? Maybe this is how evil can overcome scientific fact.

--Perhaps you can think of other examples about how evil overcomes scientific fact.  We have an idea or two. How about you?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them. ®
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Friday, November 02, 2018

Long Weekend

Image result for tucker torpedo

Wessays staff is taking a three day weekend.  Doing household stuff.  Cleaning the ashtrays, putting new ribbons in the typewriters, changing the oil in the Tucker Torpedo, setting the clocks ahead for Standard Time and trying to figure out how to use an Insta Pot.  See you Monday 11/5.

2020 Feelin' Groovy

No one (except me) calls the Ed Koch Bridge the Ed Koch Bridge. No one calls it by its original name, the Queensborough Bridge.  Everyon...