Monday, July 31, 2006

War Zone Daydreams

117 War Zone Daydreams

You get used to the war zones after awhile, and when a new one pops up, you lust for it.

Where do you want to go? Which side are you on? Where can you do the most good.

Talking, here, about reporters, not soldiers. Soldiering is a lousy job. The pay stinks, the hours stink, and after awhile in combat, YOU stink.

Things don’t change a lot. But one thing has: instead of the old men sending the young men off to fight and die, it’s the old men and women sending the young men and women off to fight and die. And to rub the privates of the captives and threaten them with Good Old American Eternal Life. The motto could be “You’ll live forever and never meet Allah.” (“And oh, by the way, I’m going to attach this little electrode to your skin. This may tingle a bit.”)

So where DO you want to go? Maybe Beirut? Maybe Jerusalem or Tel Aviv? The coffee’s much better in Lebanon. So is the wine. But the air is less safe. And the ground.

You go either place and you’re going to see a lot of blood. Who’s you want to look at? After it gets out of the body, it’s all pretty much the same.

But like the legend of the “Scorpion and the Frog,” nothing you do is going to change anything over there. So the coffee, wine and air notwithstanding, Jerusalem’s probably a better bet than Beirut.

You say you don’t know the scorpion/frog thing? Okay, here’s the short version.

The two creatures are sitting on a riverbank and the scorpion asks the frog to swim him to the other side. The frog demurs fearing the scorpion will sting him and he’ll die. The scorpion points out that if that happened, he, too would die since scorpions can’t swim. The frog reluctantly agrees. The scorpion climbs aboard. Halfway across he stings the frog and as the two start to drown the frog says “you promised not to do that.” And the scorpion’s last words “ah, yes. But this is the middle east.”

So the sides will swim and sting and almost everyone drowns. But don’t worry. There’s still Syria and Jordan and Egypt and Saudi Arabia (which remain in the closet, claiming peace but not trustworthy,) Iraq, Iran, and a handful of Rhode Island-size Sheikdoms each of which has its own supply of stolen Soviet nukes and more money than Allah.

Who’s left to fight another day? The above Good Citizens of the World and a handful of Israelis who somehow learned to swim.

Ah but it still has to be covered, right? So send in us clowns. We’ll get to the truth. We always do. The sounds and smells of battle. Cordite. Explosions. Bullet holes in the walls, in the furniture. Yum!

Lusting for the war zone gets old kind of fast once you’re in it. Ask anyone who’s ever been to Viet Nam or Nicaragua or Somalia or Chechnya or the Balkans.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Friday, July 28, 2006

Classicity

116 Classicity

They have a thing at Denny’s called “New Classics,” and no one can seem to figure out what a new classic is.

It’s another mild distortion of the language driving us further (or is it farther) into a new Dark Ages of expression.

A New Classic. Beethoven’s Eleventh? (There might really BE a tenth, so let’s skip that number.)

The 2007 Stanley Steamer?

Picasso’s red and white period (what better to go with the blue period?)

At the restaurant the phrase covers stuff like Ground Steak with mushroom sauce. Now, that’s a New Classic if ever there was one. It’s right up there with the “Signature Sandwich” at Arby’s and the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse for classicity.

Maybe they’re naming their cooks after famed conductors. “Arturo,” “Herbert,” “Willhelm,” “Leonard.”(Places like that have “cooks,” not chefs. Sometimes the duties of a cook include popping frozen stuff into a microwave. Extra credit for turning it on. Extra extra credit for knowing how long to LEAVE it on.)

Classic coffee? Right there, next to “signature coffee.”

Probably started with Classic Coke. Of which there are two kinds. There’s the shabby, diluted version of the soft drink and the “better” powdered form from Colombia.

Classic coke was labeled in a comeback of the so-called original drink which had been replaced by “New Coke,” which was and is a superior beverage but which didn’t sell.

Would be nice to have the REAL original secret recipe Coke back, the one with real Coke in it. (Is that another myth, like Beethoven’s Tenth?)

“Classic” has nothing to do with the immediate previous form of “regular” Coke, into which no one would ever have thought to put “high fructose.” That second burst of genius sent tens of thousands of soft drink drinkers to Royal Crown Cola, which used actual sugar in its formula, which was not secret and tasted okay.

Later, learning from the Big Boys, RC changed its formula to include Fructose and exclude sucrose. And try to find a bottle of the stuff anywhere but Ontario these days.

Classicity is a newly coined new classic word. Eat your heart out, Karl Marx! This is much snappier than “class struggle” or “class war,” or even “class-ISM.” Drown your sorrows in a Denny’s New Classic Chicken Parm Special.

They don’t serve beer, let alone GERMAN beer. You can buy Beck’s down the street. But you’d be hard pressed to find a Lowenbrau, even here in “Lion Country.”

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Duke and the Blackout of 06

115 Duke and the Blackout of 06

Duke of the E train lost 12.5 pounds during the big power failure in Queens, New York. He knows this because his new Way-Rite digital scale measures half pounds in decimal points and he keeps a chart on the bathroom wall.

That’s 12.5 pounds without his conductor’s uniform and hat on. That would add much more since subway conductors carry around almost as much crap as cops.

Duke is pleased. So is Annemarie his wife, a former nun from Guatemala. She thinks sweating off weight is a good idea and so is making the chart. The blackout, in the worst heat in years, didn’t bother Annemarie. It gets to be 110 in Guatemala, and that’s in the jungle shade. Plus, once a nun, always a nun, and sacrifice is good for the soul as well as the body.

Duke was NOT pleased when the AC first went out. When it did, he did. And she. Off to Frantangelo’s Bar, which for some reason didn’t get hit. Annemarie and Duke knocked back some shots and beer and went home to sweat it off. Next day, lights are still out and Duke goes to work to get out of the heat. The E train is air conditioned, even when it goes through the parts of Queens that aren’t.

Duke hasn’t worked ten minutes of overtime in 20 years. But today, he’s ready and willing. And they ask him, because many subway conductors are not married to former nuns from Guatemala and are unwilling to move off the couch until the air conditioning gets back.

Duke stops at the 5th Avenue station and makes his usual announcement: “E train tad a Worl Trade senna, next stop 50th Street. Watch the Kluzzin Dohs.” (Translation if you don’t speak Queens: E train to the World Trade Center. Next stop 50th Street, stand clear of the closing doors.)

The World Trade Center vanished in a hail of dust and bodies and smoke and fire four years earlier, but Duke is slow to change a time-tested set of announcements. The mayor of the city of New York once rode Duke’s train, heard the announcement, tapped on the window of Duke’s little on-train closet, asked him not to do that, and as soon as the mayor got off the train, it was “E Traintada Worl’ Tray Senna, watchda Kluzzin Dohs.” A tried and true traditionalist, our Duke.

Two days, three days, no power. Duke’s getting hot under the collar. Along with everyone else. Under the collar and everywhere else. Even Annemarie has decided she has to do something. She has decided to live in the bathtub and pray to St. Jude, who’s pretty busy and unlikely to heed the call of a nun who left the convent to marry a conductor from the E Train.

Duke puts on his Bermuda shorts and his Mets tee shirt and heads down in search of a Con Ed truck, which he finds at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 46th Street (he still calls it “Bliss Street” even though it hasn’t been that since before he was born. That’s what the 7-Train stop is called and that’s what Duke’s going to call it.)

There are a bunch of Con Ed guys sitting around in the semi darkness, outside the truck they have one of these little electric generators and they’re eating McDonald’s and looking into the open manhole.

Duke: “Hey, whennya gonna get this stuff cleaned up? I need my lights. My mother’s sick (Duke’s mother died in 1983.)”

Con Ed Guy: “We’re working on it.”

Duke: “No y’ain’t. You’re sitting around stuffing your faces while we all sweat to death, plus you’ve got lights down the manhole and you’re all up here.

Con Ed Guy: “Get lost, pal.”

Duke: “I’m gonna take a p__s down that manhole if I don’t get an answer.

Con Ed Guy: “You take it out and I’ll cut if off.”

Duke unzips. The Con Ed guy stands up and starts rummaging around his tool box, pulls out an insulation knife.

Duke zips, starts walking away, says “you gotta get the juice back on or I’m gonna be back here with a firehose.”

Con Ed Guy: “You got a firehose? Sell showers.”

The mayor, muses Duke, is pretty good about wanting to change Subway announcements, not too good at keeping the lights on.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rubbing Us the Wrong Way

114 Rubbing Us The Wrong Way

News Item, January, 1992: President George H.W. Bush vomits on Japan’s Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazowa at a formal dinner. Doctors said the President had the flu.

News Item, July, 2006. President George W. Bush gives German Chancellor Angela Merkel a backrub during a G8 Meeting is Russia.

Quote: “He’s not NORMAL.” – Ying Chi Wang-Richards, America’s Least Interested Person in News & Current affairs.

Yes, even people who never watch the news, who don’t bother with the internet (on which it is possible to see the video clip on 1885 websites and counting) know about this one.

Our Idiot President has done it again. It’s not nearly as serious as some of this guy’s gaffes. It’s not as stain provoking as “Poppy’s” heaving on a head of state. But this stuff seems to run in the family.

Former Governor Ann Richards of Texas (no relation) once said of Bush the Elder: “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” And the remnants of a sushi dinner which would make many of us throw up.

Ann and Dubya met, but probably not in the AA meetings each needed.

“Rubbing the wrong way” was first applied to cats. It was said that if you rubbed a cat’s fur from tail toward head, the cat would get irritated and nip or scratch you. That’s not true of all cats all the time, but it’s becoming clear that we are the cat and this imbecile (there, he’s been upgraded from the previous mention in which he’s referred to as an idiot) is rubbing us the wrong way and we ought to scratch back.

Was the backrub sexist? Well, can’t see the guy squeezing Willy Brandt’s shoulders, or Konrad Adenaur or Ludwig Erhard.

Was it to throw the first lady off the scent (stories about Dubya and Condi abound. Clinton had a Jewish girlfriend. Not to be outdone in the Oppressed Minority Lady-On-The-Side game, the President either is or isn’t having an affair with the Secretary of State, who has been described by one African American comedian as “That buck-tooth white girl with a big suntan.”)

Was it because he wants to invade Mexico or Canada and wants to get close to a “safe” German who can teach him about Lebensraum?

Maybe he wanted a recommendation for a good schnapps. (The vodka in St. Petersburg is so bad, even the Russians don’t drink it, and they’ll drink ANYTHING.)

Let’s hope it was that last one, the schnapps thing.

Dubya should go back to drinking. It’s less embarrassing. I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bum Rap

113 Bum Rap – The Flip Side

Can’t have a flip side anymore because all the stuff is on one side of the CD and MP3s don’t have sides. But you get the idea… at least if you remember 78 or 45 RPM singles.

In any event, this corner has defended rap and hip hop music for years, now. Briefly, we’ve aligned it with folk music, music from the experience and expressing the hopes and dreams of the people who write or perform it. Primitive? Sure, but no more so than, say, the songs of Woody Guthrie or Little Walter. No more primitive than a Grandma Moses painting.

Now, the other side of the coin/disc/hit single.

The hopes and aspirations of the rappers appears to be the violent end to anyone who looks at them sideways (“whatchoo lookin’ at?) The subjugation of women (at least they’re honest about it,) and the taking of any loot they please (how is that different from WorldCom or Enron?)

Bum hopes and aspirations.

How does it get that way?

Try this one on for size: the matriarchal nature of their families. Scratch a rapper and you’ll find a guy who learned to be a man from a woman, probably his mother or grandmother.

That might have worked six or seven generations ago when there were still a lot of “traditional” families, but it doesn’t work now.

Today’s rap mammas teach their boys how to treat women. There’s often no man in sight to say “you don’t have to fight every day, you don’t have to treat women like crap, you don’t have to steal.”

The women teach the lessons until they try to teach the lessons. The lessons learned are the lessons untaught. The lessons TAUGHT are forgotten.

“Don’t do that!” carries no weight.

Is it the fault of the women? No. They’re doing all they know to raise their kids to be proper citizens. That’s THEIR hope and aspiration. But it doesn’t work.

This is NOT a diatribe in favor of what our old pal Dan Quayle called “family values.” What he meant was father, mother, obedient child. Have a house in the ‘burbs and go to church every Sunday. No sex before marriage. Marriage is forever. Daddy works, mommy stays home and raises the kid.

That’s bunk.

What’s needed to “cure” the ills that rap and hip hop describe are guys who are engaged, solid citizens, who understand the concept of concepts and the concepts of putting into the pot before, during and after taking out.

And that’s an ill that needs self medication, not a cultural HMO.

It isn’t just Black and Hispanic kids, either. It’s just that they’re the greater concentration; the most visible.

White kids are sneakier about it. But they want the same thing as their “urban” counterparts.

The proposition can’t be proved or disproved with any rigor yet. But it does demand research, and fast.

Can you wear bling and NOT carry a gun or box cutter?

Can you have an argument among males without it turning into a catfight and hair pulling contest?

Yeah, if you work at it.

Start with men – even the military if necessary.

Then learn that “vodka” and “locker” don’t rhyme.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Long Island Theory

112 The Long Island Theory

Here it is in a nutshell: Any place a Long Islander goes he will find at least one other Long Islander whom he didn’t know while each was there.

Usually, it’s more. But at least one.

Here’s some history of this formulation: An avalanche in Japan in 1966 or 67. Who survived? Two Long Islanders who didn’t know each other before they went to Japan.

There aren’t statistics. But there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that this is one of the world’s great universals, an axiom irreducible. Like String Theory and the War on Terror.

(Aside: maybe the answer isn’t to find and kill the terrorists, appealing as that idea is, but to be less terrified of things. First, get rid of the Terrorism Mafia. Start with the Terrorist In Chief, the real danger. Then work on losing your fear of dead guys, like Arafat. Then on the mid level hoods like Bin Laddy-boy and finally the low level street punks who go around believing the wearing of explosives is a fashion statement. Che and the Black Panthers did the ammo belt look and it’s fallen out of fashion. The bomb look might also. Or, alternatively, make the bomb look into a REAL fashion statement. Everyone gets to wear Plastique and C-6. Oh. Wait. That’s not out yet. Make it C-4 or 5.)

Anyway, why this Long Island phenomenon? Some would have you believe that it’s because we’re more active, engaged and involved than the average American.

Nonsense. We are generally eager to get off the damned sandbar. We’re ready to trade traffic on the Expressway or crowded, slow, excuse-laden breakdowns on the LIRR for anywhere else – at least temporarily.

Even the local newspapers couldn’t wait to get away. Two of them escaped by suicide, one got itself a New York edition so it could say “we’re really a New York newspaper, but we had our proud beginnings in a garage in West Hempstead, and oh, yeah, we still edit and print it out there.

Some, of course relish the Island. Politicians of Great National Stature, like Theodore Roosevelt and Al D’Amato (a bit of difference between these guys – and many years. Inventors like Leroy Grumman and Charles Avnet.

Businessmen like Joey Butterfingers and Frank Costello.

But the fact remains that anywhere in the world you go, there’s another Long Islander there, one you never met while on the island yourself.

Want to know how to tell the REAL natives? They’ll tell you they lived ON the Island. The foreigners will say they live IN it.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Monday, July 17, 2006

Diversity

111 Diversity

How’s this for multinationalism. You get a Lebanese guy from Brazil to run an industrial country in France and at the same time, another industrial company in Japan and THEN, to make things interesting, you put him in charge of a third industrial company, this one in Detroit.

What is your correspondent smoking, you ask? Nothing.

Here’s Carlos Ghosn auto genius of Lebanese extraction, born in Brazil, running Renault in France, Nissan in Japan and who denies he wants to run General Motors, but will end up doing so anyway.

You can’t make this stuff up.

There’s no doubt the guy knows his stuff. He turned one of these companies around when it was at death’s door and is working furiously to save the second.

GM is a cadaver. It just doesn’t know it yet. Carlos can’t save it, even though he would probably be the only real “car guy” left at such a high level in all of the US auto industry.

Renault owns a good chunk of Nissan, which is how Carlos got that job. The government of France owns a good chunk of Renault, which is how Renault had the money to buy a good chunk of Nissan.

So when this deal gets done – remember, everyone swears it’s not a buyout – the French government will have a good chunk of (giving them the benefit of the doubt) influence if not actual ownership of GM.

Alfred Sloan is spinning in his grave; Walter Reuther is laughing. If you think the UAW is tough, try the French production line guys – if you can get them to come back early from their vacation villas.

The Germans have taken over Chrysler. The French are taking over GM. That leaves Ford as the only truly-domestic owned car and truck maker. And Ford’s in the same kind of hot water GM is. Only worse.

Seen Bill Ford on the TV commercials hawking hybrids, safety and cars that run on corn? Cool. He’s the environmentally correct member of the Ford family.

Hey, Bill, how about putting some decent designs in the pipeline but not release them before they’re ready? (The Lincoln “Zephyr” resurrection didn’t work. So, smelling a bomb, they’re changing its name. But it’s still a bomb.) How about not killing models people really like and keep on buying (no more Town Cars after 2007?)

There are two main categories of customer for the big Lincoln: The Century Village, Florida crowd -- people who can’t see over the top of the wheel, can hardly reach the pedals and travel in packs at five miles an hour. And the limo-by-the-hour guys.

You can bet someone’s going to make wheels that fill the void.

As for the one man UN with the office in Paris and the office in Tokyo: he proves that diversity in and of the work place works.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Friday, July 14, 2006

Signature Accepted

110 Signature Accepted

The carton for the new shredder says identity theft is the biggest or fastest growing crime in America. It’s the kind of thing that sells shredders.

It also sells expensive and complicated security systems, computer programs and double-hulled garbage bags.

And the charge cards are leading the charge. You won’t find one without some notice of available protection. But these guys are the ones unlocking the doors, as you’ll find out in a moment.

Then come the insurance companies who are putting identity theft protection clauses in their homeowners’ and renters’ policies, often heavily advertised, and usually without charge.

When an insurance company gives coverage away, and toots its horns about it, you have to figure (a) you’ll never collect and (b) whatever you’re being insured against can’t happen or doesn’t exist.

Stores have trained their register clerks to check the cards. The average Joe or Jane behind the register looks at the card, looks at the signature and that’s the end of it. It’s like you’re supposed to think that they’ve gone for extensive training on handwriting analysis.

When they take the card, they’re not really looking at the signature. They’re looking at their watch to see how long it is until their next break or the end of the workday.

Remember the shredder? It was purchased on plastic. Elmer Fudd signed for it. Not the REAL Elmer Fudd, of course. He’s out there someone chasing wabbits. Nevertheless, Elmer’s signature got on the charge slip for the identity-theft-reducing “diamond crosscut high efficiency shredder.”

Signature accepted.

Emboldened by this move and in an egalitarian spirit, Elmer morphed into rival cartoon figure Scrooge McDuck for the next purchase.

“Signature Accepted.”

Let’s move on to our next purchase. McDuck got traded in for the most cartoon like, living person (who may even be a hybrid of celluloid and flesh).

Bill Gates

“Signature Accepted.”

George W. Bush.

“Signature Accepted.”

Miss Liberty

“Signature Accepted.”

Osama Bin Laden was going to eat at Denny’s, but wasn’t available, so Louis XIV substituted.

John D. Rockefeller recently bought gasoline for his Taurus at an Exxon station.

Robert Hall recently bought a suit at Brooks Bros.

David Sarnoff bought a “Today Show” mug and some pencils at the NBC Store.

And Dorothy Parker recently bought a 750 ml bottle of Black & White at a liquor store.

Signatures accepted.

We are trained to believe that when you sign the little screen, a picture of your signature goes into a computer somewhere and is compared, line for line, with the signature you have on file with the credit card company.

Some people even believe there’s a staff of highly trained security people watching for identity thieves – they sit peering at the screen and as your signature comes up they compare it using actual human eyes.

That’s not what happens. This is: when you sign the thing you send electrons to a computer that say, in effect, “someone has signed this thing. Most people wouldn’t think to write anything but their own names, so ‘Signature Accepted.’”

Identity theft: Be thankful the computers are on duty.

I'm Jules Verne, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Windup

109 The Windup

What happens if the power goes out and you’ve forgotten to charge your electric tooth brush and it stops and you can’t brush your teeth and can’t reach the electric company because your phones run on house current and cell phone service is iffy to begin with?

How did they live a century ago without Vonage and Buzz King Vibramatic tooth brushes?

No wonder the life expectancy was so short. All those germs in your mouth. Yech!

Of course by mid century, you could pick up the phone – even in a power failure – and reach someone.

Not now. Bad breath, germs AND no communication in the “age of communication.”

They have wind-up radios, though.

When the lights go out, you can crank the handle of these things and it charges a little battery inside and you can get radio reception – if the power failure hasn’t affected the local radio stations.

Germs. No phone. But at least we get Michael Savage and Fox News.

Verizon says our DSL service and lap top will work together to keep us in touch with the outside world for as long as the computer battery lasts. IF we have battery backup for our “home wireless network.” What “home wireless network?”

They recommend installing gas stoves around here. That’s probably because electricity is a relative bargain and gas prices are through the roof. But, of course, when the lights go out, you can still see to cook. Unless, of course the gas stove has an electric flame-starter mechanism.

Germs, no lights, no phone, no food.

Maybe they could make a windup stove to go along with the windup radio. Maybe they could make a windup tooth brush, too.

But that’s not likely. Wind up stuff is like steam-powered stuff. No one knows how to do it anymore.

When was the last time you saw a wind up toy?

When was the last time you bought a NEW windup watch? Or a windup alarm clock? Or a clothes wringer?

The secrets to these devices are buried in Swiss bank vaults. And the bank secrecy laws DO apply to mechanisms.

We are prisoners of our “advanced” technology.

Don’t you wish you still had your 1964 Chevy? The one you could fix with duct tape and a screwdriver and maybe some hair pins? (Do they even MAKE hair pins anymore?) No need for a “check engine” light on those babies. Pre computer cars were like pre computer toothbrushes, telephones, and radios, gas stoves and clothes dryers with electric brains?

Is this nostalgia for a simpler era? Maybe.

Or is it just a phobia about germs and tooth decay?

Better get that toothbrush into the charger before the next storm.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Strange Bedfellows

108 Strange Bedfellows

Courts in Georgia and New York have ruled against gay marriage.

Georgia’s no surprise. New York shouldn’t be.

This may be the first time since Brown v. Board of Education there’s agreement between the state that gave us Newt and the state that gave us Mario.

You can understand the Georgia decision. And if you look beneath the surface, you can understand the New York decision as well.

Georgia’s is about the Bible. New York’s is about money.

The fundamentalist Confederates believe the deity opposes homosexuality.

The New Yorkers just don’t want to pay benefits.

This makes Georgia’s the more moral of the two decisions, if only because they put their rulings where their mouth is.

New York plays progressive. This decision is not about progress. It is about saving effort for the courts in distributing the estates of dead gays and lesbians. It is about keeping costs down. It is about spousal and custody rights of parents for children. It is about closet discrimination. And it is about hypocrisy.

It’s time for New York to come out of the closet and say “we don’t like those queers any more than they do in the south.”

Aunt Dotty the OBGYN raised parakeets, which she taught to swear in Yiddish. “Fegalah, Fegalah,” the bird would chirp.

Aunt Dotty was not a hypocrite. She didn’t like gays, and her birds weren’t going to, either.

Aunt Dotty never met a government program she didn’t like. Socialized medicine was her pet. She’d ride the bus from Co-op City to Einstein Medical Center, wearing her silver fox stole – fanciest lady in The Bronx – but still on the bus. Mass transit, she thought, was better than private transportation. Co-op City was not exactly “the projects,” but it was underwritten by the City. She was for free public schools when that wasn’t terribly fashionable. She was for free public colleges when City College began charging tuition.

She believed in live-and-let-live. Except not gays. But she didn’t hide that, and neither did the parakeets.

And she was probably typical of heterosexual New Yorkers in her belief.

Never did find out her reasons, but probably if someone had asked her, she’d have told them – and at top volume.

In this respect, Aunt Dotty was a Confederate Sergeant. She was right out there and up front about her beliefs, as were the Georgia soldiers who didn’t like blacks and weren’t going to give up slavery. Right up front. Except she didn’t have a problem with Blacks – at least no more than with anyone else.

New York is a “blue” state. Georgia is a “red” state. (In the Civil War, it was grey, but who’s counting?)

But now we know that Albany, New York and Albany, Georgia have a bit more in common than you thought.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Friday, July 07, 2006

Blonde Lining

107 Blonde Lining

Here in the new digs, we long have believed that the neighborhood is redlined and devoted largely to minorities from the Indian subcontinent and from Asia.

But the particular block on which the Wessays Secret Mountain Laboratory (as opposed to our former Secret Seaside Laboratory) sits, the block has been Blonde Lined.

The local real estate brokers must be segregating blonde women between 20 something and 40 something on this tract. Almost every house has at least one. Some have two (usually mother and daughter.)

Since we have not been able to observe any of these people close at hand, there’s no way to determine (yet) whether they are the “traditional” blondes, ditzes and dingbats with no brains, no vocabulary and no saving graces save for their hair or whether they are just women who are blonde.

There isn’t even a way to tell whether their blondness comes out of the gene pool or the Clairol bottle.

And they all have dogs. Some teeny tiny ones, some big and fierce looking. And soon, those who don’t have children, will. This block will be larded with kiddies within the next few years.

And probably, the larger dogs will have to find new homes.

Neither the dogs nor the children have anything direct to do with blondness. But they are worth noting because as blondes change a neighborhood, so do children.

End of digression.

Many of the real estate brokers are women and many in that subset are blondes. So maybe it’s a matter of like attracts like. Unconscious steering of similar people.

But let’s assume the worst (it never hurts to assume the worst.) They’re trying to blond-ize the entire neighborhood.

And lets assume THIS worst: the blondes are not JUST blonde-haired people but are Dumb Blondes.

It’s probably part of a conspiracy to isolate ditzes, dingbats and dummies. It’s a way to keep all the above away from the “regular” people.

There goes the neighborhood.

This is a horrible fate.

Surrounded by all this is a terrible distraction.

And it affects property values.

It ruins concentration.

It leads to overpopulation, strained municipal and educational resources.

Probably going to be a contest as soon as the first one comes out the door in the morning and instead of lighting up her breakfast cigarette, heaves into the storm drain, demonstrating to the rest of us that she has morning sickness. That’s how baby-making fads start.

Now, what about the guys.

Each of them appears to be an ordinary dufuss.

Some of them are invisible. Some are part time vistors, some are “always” there. It’s no easier to tell anything about them than it is their blonde wives/housemates/girlfriends.

All of them have too many cars.

Two drivers, six cars.

One driver, three cars.

Maybe they’re collectors.

Or maybe they need a special car in which the dog is allowed to ride, and another from which the dog is barred.

One thing’s for sure – and this is almost as good a sign of population explosion as swapping the cigarette for hurling into the storm drain:

You know there’s a baby on the way when one of the cars gets traded for an SUV or one of the SUVs gets traded for a minivan.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Missile Tests

106 Missile Tests

They have no helmet law here in Moote Point. They did once. But no more. That means you can splatter your brains all over the highway without fear of getting a ticket on top of death or injury by crashing your Harley into a tree.

It turns out that it’s also perfectly legal to sell fireworks here, unlike saner places.

Big tents and bigger road signs all over the place. Every Worm-Mart has one in the parking lot. So this past July Fourth, everyone had a private fireworks show, in addition to the huge “formal” one the town put on.

A quick trip around the place shows no sign of any major fire damage. Cool. Mootepointers are smart! They can set off fireworks and ride motorcycles and not kill themselves or burn their houses down.

The laws are big money-savers. The cops don’t have to go around chasing down 911 calls about fireworks. And they don’t have to waste time pulling over un-helmeted bikers who might return the favor by beating them up. (Most cops around here are either too young to know much or too old to be working. Neither is up to a fight with a bunch of beer swilling, chain-swinging angry hog riders.)

So you figure this area is full of laws to keep cops safe and to keep bikers free as the breeze and to keep the fireworks tents in business.

So far, so consistent, right?

Okay, then put THIS in the mix: there seems to be a way to register a car without having proper insurance. How do we determine this? By the zillions of local TV ads that show us how to “keep legal” or “stay legal” or “get legal” by buying auto insurance.

Most places require car owners to carry insurance. Most places won’t allow you to register a car without first showing that you HAVE insurance. THIS place, apparently doesn’t.

Ah, freedom. The breeze in your hair. The Swirling Dervish red-white-and-blue sky blinder explosions. No insurance bills. What could be better!

The other day, the North Koreans launched a missile without a permit. This scared hell out of the President and his counterparts all over Asia.

The missile didn’t do much damage. In fact, it was no more reliable than a 1990 Kia Minivan. But it did cause a fuss. Maybe it was supposed to. (And yes, the Kia is made in SOUTH Korea.)

If the Northies wanted to test the thing and world opinion at the same time, their test was a success even if their missile wasn’t.

If they just wanted to test the missile, they should have come here to The Pointe.

They could pack it in a fleet of uninsured Kias, or on the backs of a (larger) fleet of

Japanese motorcycles, set it off here without fear of detection and gone home with a real result.

It’s possible our ever-alert, well-funded, well-equipped Department of Homeland Security would have at least questioned a bunch of Koreans in strange Army uniforms or white lab coats marching off a plane carrying “diplomatic pouches” that looked suspiciously like the noses of missiles or rocket launchers.

Possible. But not likely. They’re watching for Bin Laden in Cheyenne.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Monday, July 03, 2006

Illegal Ailiens from Outer Space

105 Illegal Aliens

The Usual Suspects are circulating an internet mass mailing about Superman. They say the latest of the movies is part of the vast left-wing conspiracy to kill America.

They say that the movie espouses causes other than “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” among the stuff that originally put Superman on the radar.

Since he was born on the planet Krypton, there is talk that Superman may actually be an illegal alien.

Nuts. Superman came down from Krypton with the full sponsorship of his publisher. he had a job (think if you earned a year what HE earns a year.) He became a citizen as soon as earth broke off diplomatic relations with krypton. such foolishness, fair and balanced as it may be.

Batman was born here. Capt. Marvel and Wonderwoman were born overseas but of American parents. The Power Rangers are Canadian but have work visas. C'mon, guys... this is nonsense. (There have been reports of undocumented superheros congregating in the parking lots of Home Depots and 7-11s, making lewd remarks to women, and in general becoming pests. But Immigration and Naturalization will not stop them unless they use their superpowers for such stuff as stealing potato chips, using their x-ray vision on said women or leaping moderately tall buildings in a single bound. This latter violates FAA regulations. Even native born or legally naturalized superheros have to file flight plans with the Department of Homeland Security before they attempt a building leap.)

There was one superhero who claimed to be more powerful than a locomotive, but since no one knows what a locomotive is anymore, no one paid any attention. He has since gone on to pull trains and other heavy objects on the TV show “World’s Strongest Man,” something a REAL superhero would ever attempt.

So far, none has shown himself as faster than a speeding bullet. Anyway, today, there's no speed limits on bullets. That's all been deregulated. They’ve figured out that the Constitution allows us to have bullets, speeding or not. (Even though the second amendment refers to “arms,” but not fire-arms. Hence we can argue that the Founders thought there was no difference between a slingshot and an H-bomb.)

We sure do get hung up on the illegal alien thing, both the outer space kind and the apparently more threatening and emotional out-of-country kind – mostly those from countries where Spanish is spoken (note, spoken but not always written. Or Chinese, Vietnamese or –Perish Forbid!—North Korean. Who cares about a Polish illegal, right?)

The illegals everyone’s all huffing about should probably dash into a phone booth to change into more Clark Kent-ish garb. But there are even fewer phone booths now than there are locomotives.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR