Wednesday, December 24, 2008

492 Next Post Facto

492 Next Post?  Facto

This posting has been going on for a little over three years.  But it's actually an extension of a project started at Bloomberg Radio in March of 2000, which means it's really something like nine years old in its present form, or close thereto.

If we can rely on the statistics, readership -- or at least visitorship has grown exponentially in recent years and now is all the way up to small.  Small is beautiful.  And I feel as if I know each of you personally.  In point of fact, I probably DO know most, if not all of you personally.  But that doesn't stop me from (a) continuing or (b) thanking you for being here.

Here's hoping the new White House can fix the last eight years of wrongdoing, negligence, malfeasance, misfeasance.  This is a reasonable New Year's wish.  Here are some that are not so: that GM and Chrysler should survive, that Gov. Blago of Illinois will go to jail, that the Jewish faith should recognize the existence of Hell, if only for co-coreligionist  Bernie Madoff, that the Christian faith should recognize that there are others of equal sincerity out there, that some high profile leaders in the middle east should recognize that there's more to life than explosives, that the people who keep yamming about the joys of free market capitalism be forced to live under it, and the same for the twelve remaining doctrinaire Marxists.

Thank you for reading and for listening.

Next post will be Friday, 1/2/09.  And that's a fact-o.
Shrapnel:

--Hats off to MNSNBC's Rachel Maddow.  She picked up on that bank story the other day and took it one step ahead.  She wants her show to turn into a bank, a "very bad bank," that can win a federal bailout by filling out little more than the name, address and telephone number.

--Hats on to the rest of the media which did nothing much with the bank story. Hats on is the opposite of hats off.  Especially to what passes for the business press these days when business is a real story.

--The Irish rock star Bono and his investment group are buying a big chunk of the business behind the Palm Pilot, which ain't doing all that well.  Great idea, Bono.  If you can revive that outfit, you can offset some of the losses you're bound to take eventually, for your investment in the publishers of Forbes Magazine.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them. (sm)
(C) WJR 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

491 It's the Money

491 It's the Money

Time was you walked into a bank to get change of a 20 and you walked out with change of a 20,  a cup of free coffee, a souvenir ball point pen, a couple of pieces of hard candy and a mortgage loan.  Heady days.  Money flowed freely.  Well, not freely, but cheaply.

We thought those days were over, but they aren't.  Well, maybe for YOU they are.  But not for everyone.

Today, when you go into a bank to break a 20, you come out with $19.90 after they deduct the service charge.  If you want a loan, they'll likely ask you things like your ability to pay it back (they'll check what you say,) and they'll want to know why you want the money -- how long you think you're going to need it and, "oh, by the way, it would be helpful if you moved your no-interest checking account to us."

The good old days are gone for you -- but not for your bank.  It's just gotten a boatload of your tax money to keep itself stable.  But, as in the good old days, it's not telling you how able it is to repay it, and it's not telling you how it's spending your money.

News reporters have been questioning the banks which received bailout money and none is replying.  Things like "we don't do dollar-in-dollar-out accounting" and "we're haven't made that public and we won't,"  fill the reporters' reports.  Maybe we peasants have to do things like that.  But not the banks.  Say what?  You're using public money but not telling the public where it's going -- or not going?  

Do we really need to know how every penny is spent, and would we know what to do with the information if we had it?  Yes and yes.  Do we want to know whether the money is being lent or hoarded or used to pay dividends to stockholders or bonuses to the CEO?  You bet we do.

It's not the principle of the thing, it's the money.

Shrapnel:

--Columnist/professor Paul Krugman has an interesting take on the Madoff scandal.  He says Madoff isn't that much different from many of the other over-paid, money-losing investment bankers and managers.  But, he says, Bernie just skipped a couple of intermediate steps -- like actually investing.

--The malls were jumping during this last weekend before Christmas and Hanukkah. And some people are carrying what appear to be purchases in store-logo shopping bags.  But maybe they just brought them into the malls from home so they'd look prosperous to the other non-buyers.

--After a day of malling, what could be better than a little gathering for drinks and snacks at the employers' house?  This:  a little gathering for drinks and snacks at the employers' house followed by a nap on their living room couch.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

490 More On Chrysler

490 More On Chrysler

Chrysler is the soap opera of the car business.  It's my favorite drama.  Those of us in the busness press have been writing its obituary since 1925, the year it was founded, the year Buick executive Walter Chrysler decided there was a market for a new car not built by GM or Ford.  The automotive press has been writing this company's obituary for more than 70 years.  Maybe they've turned up right this time.

The company's owner, Cerberus Capital surely bit off more than it can chew when it bought 80% of Daimler's 100% interest.  Now, the Cerbies want their cake and to eat it, too.  they want the government to give it money in return for making a bunch of mediocre cars that no one wants to buy.  Thousands of jobs are at stake.  So are two venerable brands, Dodge and Chrysler.  You know you love the Chrysler 300 -- not the current model, but the one from the 1950s.  You know you want the Plymouth Duster and the New Yorker and the Imperial.  Or the mini van.  Or the Sebring.  Or the Viper.

Earlier this week came word that the company would halt all US production for a month.  Stopping some or all of the lines at this time of year is fairly common in the car biz.  Usually it's a week or ten days.  A month is rare if not unique.  At the same time, Ford announced a shutdown, and GM stopped construction on a new factory for the Chevy Volt, a car that -- if they ever really make it -- could put them into the black in less than a year.  And (leak, leak,) talks may have resumed with Chrysler on a merger or partial merger of some kind.

Used to be Chrysler could pull a rabbit out of a hat.  A new model that left car freaks tongues hanging out.  But the previous majority owner (and current minority owner,) Daimler cut off that avenue.  Development money?  Foggettaboudit.

When a financial outfit like Ceberus takes over a company in an industry of which it has limited knowledge and experience, the first thing they tend to do is lard up the executive suite with marquee name officials who face steep learning curves with widely varying abilities to steer.  Enter Bob Nardelli, who made a good name for himself at General Electric and then erased a good part of it as he went to and then golden-parachuted from The Home Depot.  What, there were no car guys at Chrysler who knew how to build a set of wheels people wanted to buy?

Today's Chrysler is living in the world of "practically irrelevant."  And it wasn't the UAW that put it there.  Or the potential buyers of cars and trucks.



Shrapnel:

--Portions of today's blog were sponsored by Madoff Financial Services.  Reminding you that we've Mad(e) Off with your finances.  Each office independently owned and operated and for an office near you, call 1800- MY PONZI.

--Note: the above 800 number does not actually work from either the 814 or 516 area codes.  But who knows?  It may work from where you are.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

489 Spy On Yourself

489 Spy On Yourself

Phone taps, computer monitoring, sneaky and underhanded spying on Americans? Some of us who aren't targets feel left out. No one thinks we're part of the Evil Empire or the terrorists who are hiding behind every rock -- except ours. It makes those few of us who aren't spied upon or who THINK we aren't being spied upon feeling we're second class citizens.

Here's the solution. Spy on yourself. Install security cams in your house -- every room. Tap your own phone and listen to the wiretaps to make sure you aren't secretly saying or doing anythingterroristic . Maybe have a trusted friend or neighbor in to review the transcripts you make. After all, you may be evil without even knowing it. Then, get a keystroke monitor for your computer. You never know which sites you'll be visiting.

Don't make those cameras too obvious, though. Hide them in flowerpots or behind wall hangings. Maybe a hidden microphone in a lamp or two or in a fruit bowl on the dining room table. In an extreme case, you can go outside and peep into your own windows to make sure you're not doing anything dangerous -- except maybe risking arrest as a peeping tom.

And then there's your car. Better get a global positioning system if you don't already have one. You want to know where you've been, after all. Oh... and make sure your cell phone's always on. If you play your cards right, you can track yourself and know everywhere you've made phone calls.

The government may or may not be spying on you. If it isn't, it's because the resources aren't there. But remember, the government doesn't trust you and you shouldn't either.


Economic times are tough. The government can't afford to spy on absolutely everyone. If you're one of the Americans whose been cut out of the domestic spy program or (good heavens!) too insignificant to be in on it, you can muster some good old fashioned American get-up-and-go and spy on yourself. It's your patriotic duty.


Shrapnel:

--Bernie Madoff is a giant in his crooked field. The schemer and Ponzi artist is the stuff of which legends are made. But when you look at the damage he's done with his fake investment scheme, which robbed the rich and the children, you have to wonder what his genius might have accomplished if rightly channeled.

--Payback: The car companies are just like you when you go for a car loan. They're sitting in the finance office, waiting to see whether their loans are approved. And they're trying to control their bowels and urinary tracts while they wait -- just like you do.

--To make a statement, Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the podium at the UN. The middle east reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush also was trying to make a statement. Neither meant anything real, but remember that shoes are something more than what was in Imelda Marcos' closet.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

488 Meet the Dave

488 Meet the Dave

You have to feel sorry for David Gregory.  Here he is in the hottest hot seat in Washington journalism.  And he seems so young.  David's now the "moderator" of "Meet the Press."  Yesterday (12/14/08) was his first trip out of the starting gate, and by all accounts a success.  There's plenty to talk about, what with the incoming Obama administration and Illinois Gov. Blago.  But it's not just a matter of sitting on a TV set at nine in the morning and throwing questions at Mitt Romney or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan or Blogo's soon-to-be successor Pat Quinn.

David is a fine reporter.  Covers the White House for NBC.  Has earned the highest prize in that position, the one where the administration won't talk to you because they think you're "against us."  A sure sign that young Gregory is doing his job right.  But fine reporter or not, he had to be seeing ghosts yesterday when the red light on the camera came on.

Well, not ghosts, but ghost.  Somewhere, up there among the television lights, had to be hovering the ghost of Tim Russert.  Tim, the grand old man who put MTP back on the map back in '92.  Woke it up.  Made it important again.  Had to make the new kid nervous, even though he didn't look it.  You look at David and ask "old enough to shave?"  Well, he's 38.  And when Russert took the reigns at the program, he was 41 or 42.  So not a lot of difference, chronologically.

But Russert had a lot less to lose.  "Meet" was in the doldrums in those days.  Just one of the Sunday "game shows" or the "Sunday funnies" as they're known to some in TV.  Gregory has a lot to lose and appears smart enough to know it.  The show has become a beltway must and appears also to be a huge money maker for NBC.   So there's a lot riding on this guy.

Then, there's Betsy Fischer, executive producer since '02.  She had something to prove, too.  The executive producer is final authority in a broadcast.  And what she had to prove was that she could do this thing without Tim.  And she has.  And so have her producers, directors, technical directors, unit managers, production associates, lighting, hair, makeup booking people, camera people, audio people, stage hands, writers, editors, video geniuses, all the others involved in what looks like such a simple program.

The Ghost probably did a little jabbing and made a few wisecracks at 8:59 Sunday morning.  But he probably had a smile at 10:00:30.




Shrapnel:

--All of a sudden, the sleepy condo association started getting active, cleaning leaves from drains, patching sidewalks, shoveling minor snow.  The prediction that followed:  they're going to raise the fee.  The letter that followed the prediction:  they are going to raise the fee.

--Not all the financial news is bad.  Social Security is giving us employees raises.  And they're not bad.  

--Those raises are so good, I'm going out on a spending spree.  New luxuries.  Bread, to name one.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

487 Hog Butcher To The World

487 Hog Butcher To The World

Oh, Chicago, city of broad shoulders, time to butcher your own hog. Or take him up to the observation deck atop the Sears Tower and throw him 1353 feet to the ground. Rowdy Roddy Blagojevich, whose crime is being caught doing what politicians often do, should be made to pay for the trouble he has caused.

It's not that we can't stand a corrupt official of the government. We do that all the time. It's not that we can't stand corruption in a "leader." We do THAT all the time. It's that THIS time, it's a guy who's connected to the guy who might be the best President of the United States in generations. And we don't need that to happen.

Chicago is noted for its tombstone votes. It's noted for its highest bidder politics. It's known for having governors and others who go to jail. None of this is an especially big deal. ExceptBlago . He is more than just a politician selling favors. He is a stone around the neck of the President-Elect, and, therefore, a stone around the neck of America.

We used to know how to take care of guys like Blago. The Sears Tower. Before that, the back room of a mob-operated flower shop.

The selling of a Senate seat? We've lived through that before. But not a senate seat linked to a president elect who may be the most important guy of the lifetime of anyone now living.

Sandburg is rotating in his grave. Al Capone is rotating in his grave. The "original" Mayor Daley is rotating in his grave. This is a lot of spinning. Let's hope it doesn't affect the earth's own rotation.

In perspective, Rowdy Roddy is only a blip on the radar, a footnote to history, a guy with John Edwards hair, Richard Nixon vocabulary and the morality of "Jaws." But he's also the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Chicago Democratic Party machine is something akin to the straight vertical line that represents the Confederate States family tree. But this is not the time for that

In Chicago, they should be asking "Where is Frank Nitti now that we need him?"

Shrapnel:

--Kenny out in Arizona is looking to find a bailout for a railroad. He's talking about a model railroad that runs in his garden. Which proves that easterners who move to the sun belt get solar brain fry more severely than people who have always lived there.

--Actually, we bailed the "real" railroads out years ago. And did it work? Well, anyone looking to bail out the auto industry ought not to mention the rail thing until the check clears.

--But there is a romance to railroads, especially in an era of lousy air travel. But the airlines have just reported a quantum jump in on time performance and luggage retention. Easy enough to do when no one's flying -- least of all with baggage.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

486 A Tale of Two Canes

486  A Tale of Two Canes

Was it Andy Benedict or George H.W. Bush who said getting old was not for wimps.  In any case, the quotation is correct.  (Actually, H.W. didn't speak in complete sentences, and Andy never spoke in short sentences, so maybe it was someone else.)

Now, to one of the vagaries of the human body at "this" age.  Arthritis.  Yeah, yeah, we all get it.   And yeah, yeah it's sometimes painful, even disruptively painful.  And there isn't a whole lot to be done for it.  And sometimes it goes away, sometimes it goes away and comes back for a later visit.  And sometimes it just doesn't want to leave.  Hospitality is a beautiful thing.

Oh.  Back story.  This household follows an Asian tradition:  no outside shoes inside.  A nice idea, and a good way to keep floors clean.  Sometimes it can take twelve different changes of footwear to, say, take the garbage out and then head to the basement to do laundry.  You get used to it.  There's a sense of history and tradition to it.  And you get to buy and keep footwear in sizes that guests are likely to have in addition to your own stuff.

Now the hard part:  two canes.  One for outside, one for inside.  One for use outside the house and in the garage, and another for use inside the house.  Well, most of the house.  What eludes, so far, is what to use in the basement, where separate pairs of shoes are the norm.  If you use the inside cane downstairs, is it still the "inside" cane?  The basement floor is unfinished concrete.  Technically, it's inside.  But emotionally, it isn't.  

To use the outside cane downstairs, the outside cane would have to come inside, long enough to be transported downstairs.  There aren't enough hands to do that and still carry the laundry.  So the short term solution is not using a cane, or maybe using a broom handle downstairs.

But a cane is not JUST a cane.  It is a fashion statement.  And you never know who you're going to meet in your basement, and wouldn't want to be there with a broom handle -- so peasant-like.

But owning three canes, somehow, has an air of permanence about it, that one or two don't.






Shrapnel:

--It's nice to know the Chicago Trib will still be on the doorstep despite its bankruptcy filing.  Yes, there it is, right on the doorstep.  And we live 570 miles from Chicago, so this is no small feat.

--Nice to know that in a period of high unemployment that some people still have jobs.  Jay Leno comes to mind.  And soon, we won't even have to stay up until almost midnight to watch a show he tapes at 5:30 in the afternoon.

--Everything is losing value.  Long Island home prices are down about ten percent.  Even worse, no one's buying recycled bottles, cans and newspapers anymore.



I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C) WJR 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

485 The Plotz Thickens

485 The Plotz Thickens

Plotz. It's a Yiddish word that literally means a bowel movement. But it's also used as an expression of surprise or to feel faint with emotion. Oh, and it's a last name, worn proudly or not, by many men and women, one of whom, DavidPlotz, is an editor of the on line publication "Slate."

And it is this particular Mr. Plotz who was brought forward to explain what on the surface appears to be a truly plotz-worthy hire, that of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a columnist. For those of you who missed it, former Gov. Spitzer had a little problem a few months back. Seems he was spending a ton of (his own) money on what we politely call "escorts" or "call girls." He later resigned, and in disgrace.

But he's back. And you know what? Nixonian as all this seems, it's probably a good idea. First of all, the website Slate needs a little boost and Spitzer star power could give it to them. People will seek out his, um, entries, just to see what he has to say.

So, why would a reading public want to know what a whore-mongering, arrogant ex governor, ex State Attorney General has to say? Well, how about forget the whore-mongering and ex governor parts and concentrate instead on the arrogant and ex AG part.

Just as it's hard to remember anything about Nixon but Watergate, it's hard to remember anything about Spitzer than steamy sex in secret DC hotel rooms. But that's wrong. There's much more to Nixon than a "third rate break-in," the cover up that followed and the involvement of the White House. And there's much more to remember about Eliot than a guy who spent enough on sex to pay the national debt of Denmark.

Eliot's pretty smart about Wall Street, where he made is prosecutorial bones by herding a herd of felons and others out of the financial service industry. He's a guy who knows how the markets work -- and how men and women work the markets -- or game them. So, play-for-pay or not, this is a guy worth listening to.


Nevertheless, when I first saw the column, I nearly Plotzed.

Good night, David.


Shrapnel:

--Did you catch all the fuss over Pearl Harbor Day, yesterday? Oh, you didn't, either. How quickly we forget.

--This is blog entry 485, a number of significance to your blogger. It was at 485 Madison Avenue that about a quarter of my radio career was spent. A lovely old building that once housed CBS and Mad Magazine in addition toWRFM and its short wave sister station WNYW, though not all at the same time.

--Finally found something worth buying at a craft fair. It's an apple carved from Purple Heart, second hardest wood on the planet, and nearly extinct. Maybe going to use it as a hammer, because it's harder than any mallet head to be found.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

What Do All These People DO?

484 What Do All Those People DO?

Flip open your Newsweek or Time or Forbes or Midnight Globe Exposes magazine at take a look at the masthead (the masthead's the thing where they list the staff, not the big title on the cover, which is often called the masthead but really is "the flag.")

You'll find a long list of people. A really long list. A really REALLY long list. You'll find Editors and writers and senior editors and senior writers and junior writers and designers and permissions workers and lawyers and heaven knows what else. Nextpage'll have the "business side" staff. Publishers and general managers and development directors and sweep up people and heaven knows what else.

And you have to wonder, what do all these people do? It's a MAGAZINE, fer cryin' out loud. Sixty or 70 pages of stuff. Do they really need staffs the size of the Pentagon? Apparently yes.

Now, ask the same question of the big two-and-a-half US-based automakers. (GM and Ford are still big. Chrysler, not so much.)

Go to a car factory and you can see what people do. Go to a car factory office and... and... what?

Chairman, Vice Chairman, President and enough vice presidents to staff, well, the Pentagon. And what do they all do?

Okay, so they need accountants and lawyers and labor relations people, designers, engineers, public relations and press relations people, crash test dummies, environmental protectionists and on and on. But how many do they really need.

Should Chevrolet and Buick and Pontiac be separate divisions? How about Ford and Mercury? Or Chrylser and Dodge? They're so similar, the companies don't need 'em all. Does every division of each company need separate back office types? And corporate back office types to merge data from the other back office types?

Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan and Walter Chrysler thought their companies would do well to make everything in-house. Maybe that wasn't such a bad idea.

Here -- again -- are the brands we don't need: Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, Dodge, Mercury. Get rid of them, and you're off to a good start.

The UAW says it's given back enough already. It's right. It's time for management to do the same.

Now I'm going to get into my 1947 Tucker and get out of here. Or was it a Studebaker, a Packard, a Nash, Hudson, a LaSalle, a Kaiser, a Fraser, a Willys, a Franklin or a Maxwell.

Shrapnel:

--Isn't a recession supposed to mean prices come down? Doesn't look like Blue Cross is going to be any cheaper in '09. And they'll cover less, too.

--Two local businesses here have declared bankruptcy, one a restaurant and one a car dealer. It's easy to understand the car dealer. But a restaurant in a town where almost no one cooks?

--The family of the guy killed in the Wal-Mart stampede on Long Island have sued lodged a wrongful death suit. A far more appropriate action than the one filed by a couple of hangers-on and reported in this space earlier in the week. Prediction:Wal-Mart will settle this one and we'll never know for how much.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

483 Bushed

483 Bushed

Catch the Prez on ABC the other day? This guy is trying to pull a Nixon. "Your President is not a crook..." "Plain, Republican cloth coat..." "Checkers..." "...18 minute gap..."

Actually, Georgie has been doing this for years. Caught doing coke? "Oops." Caught dancing nude on a barroom table? "Oops." Caught lying about WMDs ? "Oops." Caught declaring wars without congressional approval? "Oops." Economic crisis? "Oops." Politicizing the Justice Department? The Commerce Department? The Environmental Protection Agency? The office of U.N. Ambassador? "Oops, oops, oops, oops."

Torture? "Gee, um...." Rove? Gonzales? Wolfowitz? "Golly, yeah... not to good, huh?" No more lending ceiling or rainy-day fund floor for banks. "Um.... well, you know, a lot of bad stuff happened."

The die was cast before his watch, he says. He knows, he says, that a lot of good people put their reputations on the line in all this mess. (Colin Powell, perhaps.)

Yeah, some problems in the last eight years. But not his fault, says the Prez. Kind of like the prep school kid found dancing on the table and having to face the headmaster and Poppy.

ABC's Charlie Gibson deserves an Emmy for just sitting there and letting this yutz hang himself in public. Sort of hang himself. There's always the denial of responsibility from the guy who all but invented the idea of taking responsibility for one's acts.

We're in a recession. We're fighting at least two undeclared wars. Political operatives are running every department and division of the federal government. We're in the worst financial shape since the Great Depression.

This space has long expressed the view that the Presidency can go to any imbecile and we'll still survive.

No administration has so eloquently and positively served to prove this point.

We're still America, and we're still here.

Meantime, the frat boy is busy getting embarrassed about his gross mistakes and missteps. It's a tribute to both him and to the country that he actually seems embarrassed about what he's done all these years.

Now, get him out of Washington and out of our lives. And let a real President try to make sense and make amends and


Shrapnel:

--Our vote for the best novelty music video ever made. It has everything, scantily clad leggy girls, authentic New York Street scenes, Queen Elizabeth and Muammar Khadafy. Click here!

--Two guys with a whiplash Willie lawyer are suing Nassau County and the cops over the Black Friday death at Wal-Mart in Valley Stream. Injured? Sort of, but c'mon guys, two million bucks?

--RIP two distant acquaintances.  The folk singer Odetta was 77.  Former Nassau County Republican Chairman Joe Margiotta was 81.




I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C) WJR 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

482 Stamp Collection

482 Stamp Collection

Frankie at the Post Office in Moote Pointe, New York, was about to retire and a patron suggested that he be honored with a stamp with his face on it. Frankie was appalled. "You gotta be dead to get your face on a stamp," he said. The patron, on learning this, was equally appalled and apologized elaborately. That was years ago. Times have changed.

Move over Elvis, George Washington, Frank Sinatra, and lots of other dead boys and girls. Make way for Barack Obama, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Steve Capus, Howie "Hazmat" Earl, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and ... YOU.

Yes, you can get your ugly puss on a stamp and the post office will not only recognize it, it will welcome it. Forty two cents for the postage and a few bucks to put your likeness on the stamp.

If you don't want to put your own face on it, you can substitute your dog or cat, your neighbor or the holdup artist from the security cam at the 7-11 down the block. Or your phone-cam picture of your EKG.

Frankie from the Moote Pointe Post Office, we're ready for your closeup. You, too. gentle reader.

It's not clear whether "your face on a stamp" has to be an actual face. Maybe a photograph of a meaningful piece of scenery would be better. Here's aunt Hazel's pictures of the trip to Grand Canyon. Or Uncle Bob's trip to the Empire State Building.

In any event, "your picture on a Stamp" is your chance at immortality. It doesn't matter whether you're the President Elect or a regular guy. Or cat. Or dog. Or boat. Or an EKG.

Or maybe you and some friends can each get face stamps and start writing letters to one another. Nah. Too much work.



Shrapnel:

--I've always thought of Valley Stream NY as a good place to avoid. But that Wal-Mart stampede could have happened almost anywhere. And what does that say about us?

--If you're interested in baseball, shady agents and players with no values, may I suggest using the link on the right side of this page and clicking on Steve Lanzone's two latest columns? And if you're still a baseball fan after that, start saving your pennies because a seat at the new Yankee Stadium ain't cheap.

--Every health insurance company in your region is trying to get you to lure you to their Medicare Advantage plan. Problem. No one yet has a full list of covered pharmaceuticals and no one will until after the time you can switch.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008