Friday, May 29, 2009

552 Analysts and Economists

552 Analysts and Economists  (for those who can count, and exclude myself, there are two posts marked 549.  This corrects the numbering sequence.)

You have to wonder how some of these guys keep their jobs, especially in today's economy.

You ever read a news item about analysts and economists where they got something right?  The closest you come today is that something met analysts' expectations.  That's a vote of confidence, but not by a filibuster-proof majority.

So on they go, year in and year out making idiotic predictions that don't come true.  It's a good thing they're not William Tell.  It's a good thing they aren't responsible for the manufacture of aircraft or body armor.  It's a good thing they don't fill out your tax forms.

But how is it that they manage to get that paycheck every week?  Do they all know where the skeletons are buried?  Or is it just that we don't really care what they say?

From the reader/listener/viewer side of the aisle, these guys are selling expertise they don't have.  Of course, today, selling something you don't have (oil, housing, milk and so on) is standard practice and conventional wisdom.  

Even more exceptional and astonishing is that we in the news business dutifully survey these guys about everything from housing prices to consumer confidence to when the recession will end.  We should have learned years ago to leave these people out of the stories.  They have no credibility and when we quote them, neither do we.  Maybe we're surveying the wrong guys?

Recently one group of economists surveyed by someone were said to believe the current recession would end by the end of this year's fourth quarter or next year's first quarter at the latest.  These were the same folk who (a) didn't really know the recession had started, (b) had no clue about its length or depth and who kept predicting and end by the middle of THIS year.  Well, it's the middle of this year and you know better than they do that it hasn't ended.  (They have jobs.  Maybe you do, maybe you don't.)

While this bunch of economists was predicting recessional end times, another group, those who look at housing and make forecasts were saying exactly the opposite.

Some are right some of the time.  A few are right almost all the time.  Most are wrong most of the time and some are never right.

Maybe they're too big to fail.

Or maybe we just have to fill screens, column inches and air time, so we just round up the usual suspects every few days.

--Anyone else notice this?  Newt Gingrich wants to bomb North Korea.  And this guy still wants to be President?

--Recent headline:  "Print readers aging rapidly."  Yes, true.  Reading a newspaper makes you two years older for every year you live.

--More-on the media:  We have the greatest drinking problem of any profession.   You would too, if all your listeners viewers and readers had that double-aging thing going on and your business was in its death throes. 

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

550 Senator Tsuris

550  Senator Tsuris

"Well the south side of Chicago, is the baddest part of town.
And if you go down there, you better just beware of a man named Leroy Brown."
--Jim Croce

If you go down there, you also will find the Oak Woods Cemetery, where Bad Bad Roland Burris expects to be buried some day -- sooner rather than later in the thoughts of some of his fellow United States Senators.  Rollo has built himself a mausoleum at Oak Woods, a big imposing stone thing on which are engraved his accomplishments to date.  First African American to do this, that and the other thing.

There's more space on the stone face for future accomplishments, if any.  But one thing you won't find there is his stunning ability to un-pad his resume.  Yes, while many job seekers embellish their backgrounds and responsibilities, Ole Rol' seems to left a few things out.

The FBI tapes apparently showed that he made a thinly disguised effort to bribe his way into the senate, by telling the brother and campaign chairman of disgraced former Illinois Governor and soon to be jailbird Rod Blagojevich that he'd "do something" for the Gov. if were appointed to the seat vacated by President Obama.   Senator Burris had earlier denied making the offer.  So which Rollo do we believe, the one who testified before the Illinois legislators or the one on the phone tap?  He'd also denied at one point that he asked for the job, or that he talked about it with any of the governor's aids.   Um... left a few things off the resume?

A judge has ruled that the Senate Ethics Committee will get to hear the tapes.  Burris' lawyer says the Senator "...has been consistent all along in his answers."  Huh?

Burris says he "welcomes the opportunity" for "the truth to come out." Huh?  Which truth -- or whose?  And is Ole Rol' going to take some people down with him?

Can a guy like this land on his feet, again?  Or like Bad Bad Leroy Brown, will he finish " a jig saw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone."


--Let's see if we have this straight:  birds often get in the way of aircraft, including the one that landed on the Hudson River -- the one with two dead engines and jet-roasted goose for dinner.  Now, the city wants to build a garbage dump at the end of one of the LaGuardia  runways?  And what constantly circles garbage dumps (here's a hint:  feathers, beaks, honks, quacks, squawks, chirps, webbed or clawed feet.)

--Memorial Day and Mother's Day were pretty close on this year's calendar.  Maybe we should have combined them.  Mom-Morial day, anyone?

--Another reason to dislike Windows Vista.  The solitaire game is too fancy and way too easy to win.  A sop, no doubt, from a sympathetic subrosa micro-serf who feels sorry for all of us forced to use the system. 

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

549 The Hobble Factor

550  The Hobble Factor

A good bunch of years now with a cane as constant walking companion -- if you can call it walking.  It offers some lessons in slowness, especially for someone who's been in a hurry (for no special reason) since infancy.

Fast to read, to walk, to talk, to swim.  The slower world of canes can be startling even after all these years.

The enforced slowness comes from a small, stupid act, compounded by a small stupid injury, which turned into a large and long-lasting injury when the small, stupid act was continued instead of stopped.

First thoughts included "Okay, millions of people do this, it can't be THAT tough."  And then there were thoughts like "which side does the cane go on?  Which step -- if any -- does it match."

Asking probably would have brought quick answers.  The Macho attitude brought answers, too, but not nearly as fast.  And once learned, the protocol has to be practiced.

Anyway, here's what happens in this condition.  The first thing you learn is that as slow moving traffic, you change the environment.  People have to pass you and they don't quite know how to do it.

Some just brush by.  Others make a big production of going around you.  Still others are paralyzed with indecision.

You learn pretty quickly that the slightest incline has become a mountain.  When did THAT happen?

Stairs?  What, are you kidding?

A seat on the subway?  Forget about it.

But one is forced to see more of the environment, now self changed, but which used to whiz past.

You have to look down a lot.  In so-doing, you notice patterns of junk.   Cigarette butts tend to congregate in patterns, for example.  So do discarded candy wrappers.  You notice wind direction.  You realize there are pathways through knots of people -- and ways around them

You become conscious of many things you didn't previously notice -- which can be both good and bad.  
If you're a student of sidewalk art, there's a whole world waiting for you.  And there's a world of slow-step thinking time awaiting.  The thoughts can be profound.  They can run the entire gamut from "ouch!" to "Is there an elevator at this subway stop?"

People often look at you fun.  "Oh, that poor old guy with the cane."  And the reverse:  "Here comes that mean old guy and I don't want to get in the way of that walking stick.

And you hear this a lot:  "Oh, was that your bad leg I just hit?  Soooo sorry."


--Are British crooks classier than Americans, or do they just commit classier crimes?  The Royals have suspended a driver who took about 15-hundred dollars to give two reporters posing as middle east tycoons tours of the Queen's cars, the Rolls, the Bentleys and even the Benz she drives herself.  Which leads to the question "what does an 80-something year old Queen with a household staff the size of the GM workforce doing driving at all and is she a danger to anyone else on the roads, as many 80-somethings are?"

--It's about Time(s.)  The paper is about to make its all-free website pay for play.  Anything within reason to keep the Grey Lady from the coffin that's beckoning her.

--Cynics and skeptics among us, rejoice.  The Atlantis made it back to earth without burning up.  Many secretly doubted NASA's party line, that the chips in the anti-heat tiles were minor.  Turns out, they were.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2005, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Desperately Seeking Perry

549  Desperately Seeking Perry

(MOUNT TANTAMOUNT PA.) -- There was this little thing I did for six years on the air at Bloomberg Radio:  I protested the general tone of the Bush II administration by never mentioning the guy on the air, even if he was the object of the story.  Even when it was a critical story.  Even in a casual interview or conversation.  

It started as a game.  The game was "how long can we go without saying the words "George W. Bush" in that order and still do the stories we needed to about the president.  Went the distance.  No one seemed to notice.

Here in Mount Tantamount, in semi retirement, a similar game with the local district attorney who is running for reelection.  No mention of his name not on the air, and not in this posting.   He's a Republican, but could just as easily been a Democrat.  Party doesn't much matter.   

He's a graduate of Bob Jones University of South Carolina (famous for prohibiting interracial dating at the time Mister District Attorney attended and for many years both before and after,) which is kind of like being a graduate of Famous Pipefitters' School of Plumbing, except at FPSP, you learn something valuable and they don't care who you date.

Mount Tantamount is a college town with a drinking problem.  So most of this guy's work is prosecuting DWI charges and penny ante drug deals, some of them set ups.  But there's the occasional murder, the periodic student protest or prank.  Not much of a big deal job.  But Mister D-A is making his mark.  How?

By charging student sitters-in with some quirky high crime, though they were peaceful.  By trying to prosecute a young woman who streaked (that's running naked) during an annual student event that takes place at midnight on a Sunday and is billed as a "streak."  

By labeling an upper lower size disturbance in town as a "riot," and lodging felony charges against the "rioters" including one guy who took pictures and whose pictures police used to identify other "rioters."  (Los Angeles had riots.  Newark.  This was not a riot to anyone who's ever been in a real one.)

By refusing to recuse himself from a case which he personally prosecuted and in which there was the appearance of a conflict of interest.

By being the only one in the local government who didn't know one of his top assistants was a sexual harassment case waiting to happen -- until it happened.

These are not secret happenings.  Everyone knows about them.  Everyone.

So comes the primary election a while ago and Mr. District Attorney is running unopposed on the Republican line a primary so devoid of voters you could play tennis in any polling place without disturbing anyone trying to cast a ballot.  

He won with 85 per cent of the vote.  Eighty five percent.  So that means 15% of the Republicans who voted opposed him.  And almost a thousand of those used write in ballots to vote for themselves or their neighbors or one of the Democrats.

The Democrats had three candidates for their party's nomination.  Fortunately, they didn't destroy each other during the campaign.  The winner on the Dem side is no Frank Hogan, either.  But next to Mr. District Attorney, she's Perry Mason.


--The real American Idol is a guy you never heard of, Bruce Gowers.  He's the director of what has to be one of the toughest shows in live television, a 14 or 16 camera shoot.  And word from "Variety" is that he may be leaving the show.

--What's in the air in Japan and in San Marino, CA?  Women in Japan and men in San Marino have the highest life expectancy in the world, 86 and 81 years, respectively according to the World Health Organization.  Maybe it's what's NOT in the air.

--Note to Jesse Ventura:  we KNOW who killed Sharon Tate.  So if you're going to waterboard Dick Cheney, pick something else to have him confess.  How about causing the recession/depression?

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them®
©WJR 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

548 Bibi The Ham

548 Bibi The Ham

Schlomo Tzedaka, the last Bronx Jew is sitting in his kitchen with the proverbial sugar cube in his cheek and the glass of tea on the table before him.  Today finds him in a mood of contemplation.  "You know," he says, "there are only like ten or 15 guys in big time Israeli politics.  On any given day any one of them can be Prime Minister or Foreign Minister or President, or ambassador without portfolio or special envoy, and they all keep rotating in these jobs until one of them dies and someone else takes his place in the batting order."

"What brings this on?"  a visitor asks.

"It's Bibi. He's here in America trying to figure out what Obama has up his sleeve about the middle east."

Bibi is the current Israeli "at-bat,"  Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister De Jure who had lunch the the American President.  Bibi has had the job before.  No surprise.  As Schlomo mentioned, these guys rotate the jobs.  This time it's different because America's leadership is different.  Or it isn't.  Different because the Israeli leader will turn 60 this year, a milestone, and he still hasn't used that MIT sheepskin in architecture to build anything lasting yet.  Except maybe a settlement or two on land claimed by others.

Schlomo points out that a lot of his tax money goes over there and what do we have for our money so far? "Maybe," he says, "there's no way to bring peace to that area.  The people are too much alike to agree on anything.

Likudnik Bibi hasn't drunk the "two state Kool Aid," at least not yet.  Will he?  Does it matter.

Washington insiders say the term never came up during lunch.  Scholmo says "to this guy, the two state solution is like a ham sandwich.  He'll eventually eat it if he's hungry enough, but not where anyone can see him do it."

This sandwich will not sit well with the peaces of bread surrounding Bibi the ham. (Note: the neighbors, Muslims, do not eat pork, either.  At least not where anyone else can see it.)  But they'll go for it, at least, says Schlomo "until the next war."

The Israelis may be worried about the amount and kind of support they'll get from the Obama administration, which is less inclined to Likud than were most of its predecessors.

Schlomo takes a sip of his tea and wonders aloud  "who's going to bring the mustard?"


--Congress has voted to crack down on credit card abuses.  In retaliation, the credit card industry is retaliating against customer abuses.  Some examples:  paying in full, paying on time -- something they say has given us a "free ride" all these years.

--Nixon had a "secret plan" to end the Viet Nam war.  It didn't work.  Now Obama has a secret plan to close Gitmo and the secret is he's got to panhandle the money to do it.

--The postal service is losing money hand over fist.  But maybe they'd lose a little less if they fixed their website.  Then we could enrich them by buying stamps on line.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

547 Mr. Blackthumb

547 Mr. Blackthumb

Mr. Blackthumb here, not to be confused with Mister Blackwell or Mr. T.  

Thumb's a guy who can destroy a plant by taking care of it.  If it needs much water, he gives it too little.  If it needs little water, he over-waters it.  Plant food?  Forget it.  You're in the Army now, Sunflower.  You'll make due with what surrounds you!

This goes back a lot of years.  The only Long Islander who couldn't grow a potato, even though potatoes need almost no care, grow in any kind of soil, in any weather conditions at any time of year and are indigenous to Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

But sometimes, time changes things.  Mr. Blackthumb has grown close to his hydrangea.  Not to the point of naming it, but close nevertheless.

It came in a pot and in winter. It stayed in the pot and blossomed.  When the weather warmed, it was lovingly transplanted to the Great Outdoors, where its leaves promptly turned red.

The Hydrangea Maven at the Garden Center pronounced it dead.  "Once those leaves turn red," she said, you might as well pull the thing out of the ground and throw it out.  You left it inside too long."

Mr. Blackthumb stares death in the eye and says "No!"  He trims back the red leaves and leaves the stems.  He feeds, he waters, he talks to it which disturbs the neighbors and makes them wonder about his sanity.  But slowly, new buds show up and eventually bloom.  The hydrangea is resurrected, back from the dead, Hallelujah!

Then comes winter and once again the stems are bare.  Now, he wonders, is it hibernating or is it really dead for good this time?

The latter.

One day in mid-may, little leaves started growing from the bare stems.  And if there are leaves, can flowers be far behind?

This remains to be seen, of course.  But the morning line bet on this one is "flowers will follow the leaves."

There's peer pressure for this.  The woods behind the house have turned from bare limbs to full screen green and done so in what seems like an instant.

Maybe Mr. Blackthumb should think about changing his name to Mr. Greythumb.  Either that, or he has to put more distance between himself and his flowers.


--A horse named Rachel, a filly,  busts the Preakness boys club for the first time in 85 years.  This wasn't the only unusual feature of the race.  What's REALLY unusual is that the favorite won.

--Obituary:  The Tucson Citizen has died at the age of 138.  An afternoon paper, at that.  Truly a rare bird -- probably a buzzard, given its home city.

--Here's a website for musicians who've grown lazy or want to up their game. And just because it's proprietor is a close relative has nothing whatsoever to do with the choice (how's that for political reasoning?)

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

546 The Border

546 The Border

Some Bush guy tells congress the "enhanced interrogation" techniques in Iraq weren't torture.  They are "borderline torture."  That's kind of like borderline pregnant or borderline drunk or borderline bankrupt or borderline gay or borderline old.  Where's the border?  Depends on whom you ask.  And it depends on the standard.

Yeah, you throw a guy into the bathtub and throw a plugged in toaster oven in after him, that's probably pretty clear cut.  But waterboarding or making a prisoner watch ten back-to-back hours of "American Idol?"  Maybe that's borderline.  If you put a guy on the rack and stretch him until he pulls apart, that's torture.  But if you only stretch him out a little, but THREATEN to pull him limb from limb, is that borderline? Dripping water on someone's forehead is certifiable torture.  Maybe dripping bottled organic iced tea on someone's forehead is borderline.

Sitting in the dentist chair?  That's certifiable torture.  Sitting in a dentist's waiting room?  Borderline.

In real life, we know where the borders are.  We'll see a sign that says "Welcome to New Jersey," or the football will sail over one of those "H" shaped things at either end of the field.  Or a foul baseball goes into the stands.  Those borders we know.

There's a double yellow line in the road, we stay to the right of it.  You jump to the head of the supermarket checkout line?  Your fellow shoppers will let you know where the border is -- and they'll do it loud and they'll do it pronto.  You want to sell your house?  The surveyors will tell you exactly where the property starts and ends.

So what the Bushies did in Iraq is borderline torture.  A kinder, gentler torture.  But we'd best find out where that border lies.

We're building a wall on the southern boundary where Texas and California meet Mexico.   Maybe we should build a wall on THIS border, too.


--Attention, junk mailers!  Put your money where your mouth is.  If the catalog is stamped "This May Be Your Last Catalog (unless you order something from it,) and I don't order something from it, please make it my last catalog instead of sending a dozen more over the course of a year.

--Attention office workers!  The three or so of you who still have jobs.  Clean out the company fridge more often or you might be in for the San Jose Syndrome, where the fumes from old food were so rancid, they sent seven slackers to the hospital with a combination of symptoms caused by a combination of moldy old food and spanking new cleaning chemicals.

--Pageant owner Trump says Miss California will keep her crown despite her sociopathic statements and some more-or-less nude pictures.  Trump says he doesn't mind the pictures.  In fact there's word he says several of them hung in his apartment -- just for the educational value, of course.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dick (the talking) Head

545 Dick (the talking) Head

Situation Wanted
Fmr Govt official & industrialist seeks work as radio talk show host.  Major name recognition
and guaranteed ratings getter.
Familiar with Congress, the White House, oil, national defense, the Iraq war, torture and  implanted

The top ranking talk show hosts must be going nuts with fear.  Former Vice President Dick Cheney went on national television the other Sunday, one of the game show talk fests and started sounding like... well... a right wing talk show host.  The guys that have that job now spent a good deal of air time the following day trying to figure out what Cheney really wanted.  They concluded he wasn't after money, wasn't after interns, wasn't after power and was just being the Great Patriot we all know him to be.

Uh... nope.  Dick wants a job, a job as a talking head.  Got a great voice.  Got right wing credentials that put the other big names to shame.  Got insider experience in both the executive and legislative branches of government and in big business.  Comes from a cowboy state most of us who don't live there think of the Romantic Old West.  Gunslinger.  Waterboard slinger.  More evil than any of his would be competitors.  And he has the main quality that sets these guys apart:  the ability to instantly substitute doctrine for thought no matter the subject.

Plus he's walking around with tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical hardware inside his chest which could cause him to keel over at any moment as the defibrillator either shocks his heart back to normal or kills him.  Almost as compelling of attention as a fender bender or an open cesspool, with none of the danger or the stink.

This has to be scaring daylight out of the rest of the hosts.  Well, not daylight, because most of them work in darkness.  But a Cheney show would sap half the revenue that the top four of five wackos now share.

Islamo fascists, gays, blacks, Jews and the rest of you commies, duck and cover.  Right wing gabbers, be prepared to take a huge cut in both pay and audience.  Here comes Dick (the talking) Head.


--If you work yesterday's crossword puzzle today, you'll do better than you did yesterday.  That's not because you can look at the answers because you don't have to.  Others have done the puzzle already and the answers are in the air.

--We have a faith healer coming to town.  He's going to try to heal that stupendous pothole we keep writing and speaking of.  You get to donate, but only after an independent investigation of the healing shows the ground's at last level.

--We note with sadness the passing of one Venetia Phair, 90 of the United Kingdom.  As a girl in 1930 it was she who first suggested a name for what was then the newly discovered ninth planet.  And that's how it came to be called Pluto.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

544 Who's Calling?

544 Who's Calling?

What ever happened to the "do not call" list?  Seems people are finding work-arounds faster than you can hang up on the telemarketers, many of which are the newly infamous robo-callers.

Politicians are allowed to make those calls.  So there's some poetic justice in Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) who received one about the pending expiration of his car warranty by a company that appeared not to know whether he had a car in the first place.

Democrats in Pennsylvania recently received calls from both Democrats and Republicans about the switch from one party to another by the state's senior senator.  That's legal.  So is the pitch from the Mothers-for-Life and Patrolman's Benevolent Association, the NRA, the March of Dimes and the Loyal Order of the Antelope.

But the car warranty outfit? (And don't you wonder how they know, if they know -- and why they don't when the don't?)

The magazine subscriptions?  The cruise line?

The most engaging of them is when you get the guy on the line and the first words out of his mouth are "we're taking a survey, we're not trying to sell you anything."  Yeah, right.  You're a regular John Zogby.

Sometimes they call you and by the time you answer, they've hung up.  You have call waiting and you dial them back and get a recording that says "That mailbox is full.  Sorry.  Try again another time."  There must be some kind of mini industry that fills up voice mail boxes just for guys like these.  Sometimes it just rings and rings and rings. You can't win, so you give up.  But chances are, you'll hear from them again.  And again, and again.

Another variation:  the collection agency who's looking for someone, but not you and keeps calling you and you keep telling them you know no such person, you are not that person and please don't call again.  They're deaf to that demand.  Collection calls are legal.  But not if you don't owe anything to the collector.

So Schumer wants a new law cracking down on these yo-yos.  A wonderful idea.  Except there already is one.  And it doesn't work.  And as technology gets more sophisticated, so do the robo calling machines.

The next generation will feature a variety of heavy breathing sounds.  Perfect for the perv who wants to make a nuisance of himself.

The only way to stop these creeps is to find the heads of the companies that put 'em to work and give him a wakeup call at three in the morning.


--They now have margarita flavored Italian Ice.  And the point is?  See, you couldn't think of one, either.

--Better, though than flavored vodka.  That's REALLY useless.  Who drinks that stuff for taste?

--The mother of all axle-busting potholes was filled again this weekend for the umpteenth time.  By midweek it will have sunk again.  Probably the axle company is digging it out during the overnight hours so the recession business boom continues.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

543 More Bank For Your Buck

543  More Bank For Your Buck

Would you lend money to Bank of America?  What a silly question.  But apparently BOA and some of its bloated siblings will be passing the hat at the command of the Cash Commissars.   So someone will come up with the bucks, because said commissars won't let the top 19 banks fail.

In school, we called this a "social promotion."  That means you flunk 11th grade but get promoted to senior because it might hurt your self esteem if the hold you back and make you do the junior year again.  Education?  No worries.  All you need's the diploma.  And you're too esteemed to fail.

Same story with the banks.  Too big to fail?  Nah.  You get a social promotion even if you can't come up with the cash.  The money will come from the rest of us so we'll be carrying the tottering financial giants just as we carry the socially promoted through life.

Cousin Jimmy runs a place called Cousin Jimmy's Kitchen Korner, where he sells breakfast and lunch.  Business has been pretty good lately and Jimmy's a little flush.  Right now, he's on his way to North Carolina now.  He's going to the Bank of America's headquarters.  He is carrying a loan agreement with him.  He plans to have them fill it out and then he'll decide whether to lend them ten or twenty thou or so.

Jim's pals don't think it's a good idea.  But Jimmy says if they default on the loan, he'll just take payment in stock.  "They can print that anytime they want, and in any amount.  I'm no fool," he says.  "More bank for my buck," he says.  "Or maybe I'll just package the loan and sell it to another bank."

Wait.  Isn't that kind of how we got where we are today?  

Jimmy figures he's such small potatoes that he can work this under the radar and off the books.

Jimmy's solid with that Kitchen Korner thing.  But he's not been too good at securing short term loans for stuff like payrolls and hard rolls, coffee and flatware.  So maybe he should put some of that flushness in the mattress for awhile.  After all, he may be ready to lend the bank money, but the bank's not ready to lend it to him.


--There's a nearby pothole that just won't go away.  It's been filled three or four times since the middle of winter, but just keeps stubbornly reappearing.  They'll fix it for good only after the mayor either trips over it or breaks an axle on his bulletproof SUV riding over it.

--There's a relatively recent trend in books, describing familiar events through eyes we're unused to.  Example: the westward expansion as seen by the Navajo.  How about the Swine Flu as seen by a pig?

--Here's to former Bloomberg colleague Betsy Perry, who got into trouble for writing something inappropriate about Mexico and then "resigned" from a New York City Mayoral panel.  Betz, here's what you do when you put your foot in your mouth.  You leave it there so a repeat performance is impossible.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

542 Notes From New York Part II

542 Notes From New York Part II

  This continues the narrative/diary/posting about last week’s trip to New York.  Continued from 5/4/09


(Very) Little Italy.  Honey, I shrunk the neighborhood.  Mott Street?  A few restaurants.  Also in the neighborhood, some Malayan restaurants.  But Angelo's Restaurant remains.  "Hey, Angelo, you got free wi-fi?"  "What.  You think this is Starbucks?"


Chinatown.  The "furious energy" that used to personify this place just isn't there.   Neither are half the stores nor half the people.  Chinatown at midday used to be an exercise in crowd self control.  Not now.  Nothing to control.  The restaurants and fruit stands remain.  You still wonder where they get those orange bags that every store here has, but you can't find anywhere else.  It still bustles.  Sort of.    Chinatown has seeped into (Very) Little Italy.  And, yes, there really is a mascot, a guy who says his name is Giuseppe Chong, about 30 and behind the counter at a souvenir stand that sells shirts that say "Chinatown NYC" and those that say "Bada Bing!"  The jewelry business is, to be charitable, slow.  So much so, that clerks and managers will come out and "greet" you if you linger at the window for more than a split second.  This is and old habit in...


The Diamond District.  They've been doing that for years.  More now than ever.  Time stands still here.  Sort of.  Ancient Hassidic Jews dressed as if this were the 18th century walk the streets, work the shops and ... what's this?  They may dress that way and think that way and live their lives that way.  But they also listen to their iPods and keep the Blackberry handy.


Harlem:  They're renovating the Hotel Theresa at 125th and 7th.  The Apollo is advertising a salute to Israel.  The McDonald's is still the slowest in the country and the Sikhs still don't let you pump your own gas.  The streets are crowded, but the traffic's lighter.  And it was possible to stand on a corner for more than ten minutes without hearing a police or fire siren -- which seems out of character.


The Upper East Side.  Unchanging.  No one here would admit times are tough.  It would be unseemly.


Is this town dirtier than ever, or does it just seem so after a few years away?  It's interesting.  It's dispiriting.  It used to be home.


--The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must have thought traffic over the George Washington Bridge generally moved too fast to maintain the mandated level of motorist torture.  So they fixed things.   They eliminated an entire eastbound lane on the 80/95 approach and now everything's back to boil-over normal.

--The crosstown trip on 125th street was almost a speedway in comparison to 80/95.  And the Triboro Bridge was enchantingly and uniquely  easy.  Must have been  an off night.

--In a side trip to Long Island, the good news:  the motel room was spacious and clean.  The bad news: it flooded spontaneously at about two in the morning.  The good news:  the new room is much nearer to the coffee machine and the "free continental  breakfast."

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009


Monday, May 04, 2009

541 Notes From New York Part I

541 Notes From New York


First of two parts

(West 48th St.) --  This is a quiz.  Who said something akin to this,  when a Boeing 747  trailed by a military  jet fighter flew low and slow near the Statue of Liberty on Monday, April 27th?  "Holy (expletive deleted)! What the (expletive deleted) were they thinking?"
a) Barack Obama
b) Mike Bloomberg
c) Robert Gates
d) The entire population of the region and every witness

e) all of the above

Answer: e.


Which public relations genius though up this photo op?



Some musings on and near Broadway:  The Paramount has become a Hard Rock Cafe.  Jack Dempsey's is an electronics clip joint.  Colony Records, as we oldtimers still call it, doesn't know what it is.  But while it's no longer a magnet for off-duty musicians, it still carries the sheet music they used, though not the vinyl.  Brian Dennehy is brlliant in "Desire Under the Elms,"  and  now that  he  as lost some weight, is a dead ringer for  his father Ed, once a ranking editor at the Associated Press.



Ground Zero is a semi vacant lot, and apparently the number one tourist attraction hereabouts.  It's all fenced in and on the fence are pictures of the grandiose Freedom Tower set to rise there... some year.  You see some foundation work through holes in the ads for the eventual tower  Across Church St., at the post office, it's business as usual.  At the doorway is a fancy, embossed sign: "No Smoking In This Doorway." Underneath the sign stands a tiny woman wearing Postal Service I.D.  She is lighting a  cigarette.   There is one newly completed building, and people are working in it.  But too few to pay  the mortgage.  


Church St. is busy, but only because so many other east-west streets in the neighborhood remain closed.




The Subway is dirtier and smellier than some short years ago.  But it's still both a pain in the neck, and a modern miracle.  You CAN get there from here, wherever here or there is, and at any hour.  Buses?  That's another story.



The talk on television and in the papers is all about the Swine  Flu.  Out on the street,  people shrug it off.


Hurley's:  But first a word on NBC's studio numbering protocol.   It's a number followed by a letter.  8H is on the eighth floor,  1A is on street  level.  When NBC moved in  next to Hurley's  on 6th Avenue in the 1930s, it was a marriage made in heaven.   So much so that technicians installed an NBC telephone extension in the saloon which was generally referred to as "Studio 1H."  Now, Hurley's is located on 48th near 8th.  No more red-coated, white haired bartenders.  It's still a good joint.  Looks a little like the original and relatively inexpensive by theater district standards.  But it ain't Studio 1H.


(Continued Wednesday 4/6/09)


4744 The Running of the Bull

  Newsday Photo   A bull escaped from a farm in Moriches on New York’s Long Island and has been playing hide and seek ever since.  It’s not ...