Thursday, May 31, 2018

Getting the brushoff

My all-time favorite painter is a woman named Wendy, who led a crew of three men from Certa-Pro Painters. Three years ago, they painted our house inside and out, and it all still looks great.

My second favorite is Norman Rockwell, because he actually painted things that looked like things - a family gathering, a cop with a kid, a Red Sox rookie rube, and thousands of other works.

Not for me is modern art where people have two eyes on one side of their face like a flounder, and a dropcloth is hailed as a breakthrough depicting "man's inhumanity to man." Sorry, art lovers, it's the philistine in me.  Like what you want; it's ok. As they say, "I don't know anything about what I like...all I know about is art."

But for you devotees of fine painting, have you heard of Fauvism? I'll let the dictionary define it for us, because I would have guessed that "Fauvism" means an illness you get from eating too much fauv.  Here's the word:

Fauvism: a style of painting with vivid expressionistic and nonnaturalistic use of color that flourished in Paris from 1905 and, although short-lived, had an important influence on subsequent artists, especially the German expressionists. Matisse was regarded as the movement's leading figure.

Well, then. Matisse aside, I read that another big shot in the wonderful world of Fauvism was √Čtienne Terrus. There is an art gallery in the South of France that has proudly displayed 140 of his fauvist works.

Or not. It seems that out of the 140 paintings that hang around in that museum, 82 of them are fakes.

C'est dommage.

The museum is in the town of Elne, where the mayor is Yves Barniol.  “It’s a catastrophe,” he says. “I put myself in the place of all the people who came to visit the museum, who saw fake works of art, who paid an entrance fee. It’s intolerable and I hope we find those responsible.”

Image result for √Čtienne Terrus fakes
"I didn't think that church was built
until after World War II"
What happened was that a group of art experts were assembling an exhibit for the museum when one of them said, "Terrus died in 1922, and some of the structures and buildings depicted in these paintings were not built until after that date...what th'......?

Some of the El Fakoes were bought out of municipal money over the past decades, and some were donated by collectors and several groups of art donors.

Image result for dogs playing poker
American den art
It's often said that lawyers enter a room right after the artists leave it (all right, so I'm the only one who says that? I say it often!) so now the attorneys are involved and the city of Elne has filed legal complaints for forgery and fraud.  The pretend paintings have been taken down, replaced by pictures of dogs playing poker, and wide-eyed kids.

Just kidding.

Image result for wide eyed kids painting
kitchen art
I now regard with gimlet eyes the priceless heirloom painting I inherited, showing Thomas Jefferson preparing lunch on a George Foreman grill.

“We know there have been a lot of forgeries circulating,” a source told a British newspaper, “and we believe a well organized network was behind this.”

Worldwide art forgeries! Sounds like a movie plot. Ben Affleck, you busy?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Statue of Limitations

Regardless of what the doddering dotards say, America is great. The greatest nation on earth, truth to tell. We have put people on the moon time and again, we perfected digital technology, Corningware, and Tang, the powdered orange drink, and we found a cure for the common cold. Well, Nyquil. And we can replicate any taste or smell in a high-school chem lab.

But I must be honest with you. We are lagging behind in one vital area.
Our statue makers and bobblehead creators are unable to make their products look like the person they intend to portray.

Up the road apiece in Aberdeen, MD, the town fathers had a Cal Ripken, Jr. museum in operation for a few years where visitors could see mementoes from the Ironman's fabled baseball career. It was so cool! We went a couple of times to gaze at the keepsakes of our favorite ballplayer's diamond days, and extra added attractions such as Shoeless Joe Jackson's bat "Black Betsy."

Image result for cal ripken jr statue aberdeenAnd then out on heavily-traveled Rte 40, Pulaski Highway, they stuck a statue that purported to look like Cal, but looked more like Claude Akins.  The statue would have been Cal's height (6' 4") only if you counted the upraised right arm that welcomed weary travelers to town.

In my den, atop the one of the bookcases is a collection of Baltimore Ravens bobbleheads. Again, the resemblances pale. Derrick Mason looks like they found an old Michael Jordan bobble and used that head over again, and Joe Flacco winds up looking like Elliott Gould from 1972...never a good look for a quarterback. Edwin Mulitalo just looks like something surprised him.

But all this comes to mind because, this week, soccer star Brandi Chastain, whose penalty kick won the World Cup for the USA in 1999, was inducted into the San Francisco Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.  Here we see Brandi, after that winning goal, and posing good-naturedly with the plaque someone made and someone else brought to the HOF.  Reviews of the artistic effort here range from "Awful" to "Abysmal," but I think Keith Olbermann said it best when he said it looks more like Tim Conway than like Brandi.Brandi Chastain celebrates World Cup Win in 1999. (Getty Images, left) Chastain is inducted into the Bay Area Hall of Fame in San Francisco on May 21, 2018. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group.)

For that matter, it looks more like Keith Olbermann than Brandi.

American novelty artists, please step it up!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

That rendezvous

I Have a Rendezvous with Death
                                             Alan Seeger, 1888 - 1916

I have a rendezvous with Death   
At some disputed barricade,   
When Spring comes back with rustling shade   
And apple-blossoms fill the air—   
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.   
It may be he shall take my hand   
And lead me into his dark land   
And close my eyes and quench my breath—   
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death   
On some scarred slope of battered hill,   
When Spring comes round again this year   
And the first meadow-flowers appear.   
God knows ‘twere better to be deep 
Pillowed in silk and scented down,   
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,   
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,   
Where hushed awakenings are dear...   
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,   
When Spring trips north again this year,   
And I to my pledged word am true,   
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

In the summer of 2014, two young women from Baltimore set off on paths of life on which they had wanted to journey for a long time.

One of them is the daughter of friends of ours, who was graduated from high school that summer and was honored by admission to the US Naval Academy. The Navy can afford to be quite selective, and this is where they get most of their officers, so getting the appointment to Annapolis is quite an honor in and of itself. And four years later, after the rigors of academic life and the physical training, she has a degree in Information Technology and ensign's bars. This fall, she will go to Nuclear Power School in Charleston SC, and then will be aboard a nuclear submarine as a junior officer. Her career is off to a spectacular start, and who says she won't be an Admiral one day?

That summer of 2014 saw another young woman from our area start a new venture as well. She had already attained a degree from Towson University, and began a career in law enforcement by being admitted to the Baltimore County Police Academy. Our local police can afford to choose the best among the hundreds of applications they receive for each class as well. Some people are rejected for not coming up to the physical standards required, some for falling short of the other requirements such as having a clean criminal record, having the wrong emotional profile, or any number of reasons. No screening process is perfect, but the county makes every effort before spending thousands of dollars training a person and then giving them a gun, and a badge, and the power to enforce laws, that the person is top notch.

This woman finished the Academy and began her career at the Essex precinct, before transferring to Parkville after several years. She was about to turn thirty this past weekend, and would have celebrated her fourth anniversary on the force in July, but as you have surmised, I am speaking of the valiant officer killed on duty last week by the getaway driver of a group of house burglars.

Her death cast a pall over our community like few I can remember. She was the eleventh county officer killed in the line of duty, and the first female, and yet there was something ever sadder about it than that. Her life and her career had just begun before being cut off in the very early bloom.
Sky... by Nazagal
Her funeral was held on Friday last, with thousands in attendance from the family she loved, the community she served, and her fellow police from agencies all over the country.

I could not help but be struck by the juxtaposition in time. At the same moment that, down the road in Annapolis, the president of the United States addressed the graduates of the Naval Academy and the newly-minted officers tossed their hats in the air in gleeful jubilation as the Blue Angels flew overhead, news helicopters flew overhead here in Baltimore County, covering a police funeral and the procession from the church to the Garden of Heroes at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

The two women never met and yet their careers and lives coincided. My happiness for the one cannot be lessened; my sadness for the other cannot be healed soon, or easily. For the first, I pray that her career holds her safe always and continues to bring credit to her and her family. For the second, her legacy lives on; hundreds of others will apply for spaces in the academy this year as always. Some other officer will take her place on her shift, in her patrol car.

I feel that she will protect him or her, from her new post in Heaven.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks still bravely singing fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved: and now we lie

In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe

To you, from failing hands, we throw

The torch: be yours to hold it high

If ye break faith with us who die,

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 

during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Carry On

You see, we all used to dress like Angus Young every morning and carry our books to school this way.

It's funny how trends and styles work.  I see kids and non-kids wearing Doc Martin boots and shoes, and I think of when we Weejun-wearing teens called work boots "clodhoppers" and would never dream of wearing them to school.

Long hair was out, then it was in, then it was out and in again.

And in my school days, toting books got tricky when you had to carry a science lab kit and a slide rule and math workbooks and texts of different sizes.   I solved that by stashing all those things in my locker from September until June.

It was cool in elementary school to go to Sunny's Surplus and get old army "knap sacks" to carry books and lunches to school. I used to think that it meant "nap sack" and would use the olive-drab bag as a makeshift pillow while teachers droned on about Manifest Destiny, long division, and how to make a battery out of a lemon and some copper strips.

Actually, "knap" comes from an Old German word meaning "bite" or "snap," so a knap sack was supposed to be something to carry your lunch or a snack.  Books just crowded the peanut-butter sandwich, TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets and apple.

If I were back in school these days, I would happily join in on the backpack brigade.  I would carry:

  • Flashlight
  • Keys
  • Cash
  • Cell 
  • Water bottle
  • Bandana
  • Baseball cap 
  • Sewing kit 
  • Carabiner
  • Rain jacket
  • Gloves
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Whistle
  • Cord
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic mug
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Some coins
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters, and erasers
  • iPod and headphones
  • Flash drive
  • Dental floss
  • Vaseline / first aid kit
  • CPR Face Mask with Ventilation Tube 
  • Hand cream
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste
  • Eyedrops
  • Food (fruits, sandwiches, snacks, etc.)
  • Texts and notebooks (space permitting)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, May 26, 2018

Bird lovers! Is there some reason why so many birds chose this tree to feather their nests? 
mount vernon neighborhood in baltimore
Here is a pretty morning scene from Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood. This part of town is called Mount Vernon after Geo. Washington's home in Virginia. Baltimore's Washington Monument, up the street from here, was built before the one in D.C. and is much cooler anyway.
Life in a little Swedish town that has its own waterfall must be interesting!
 I don't know if this is feed corn or decorative corn or even something that would make up 1/2 a bowl of succotash, but it surely is pretty. It's known as Gem Glass corn.
I love tiny, or giant, versions of things, so when someone needled me about this picture, I did not knit my brow.
If you've ever wondered what it looks like when an eagle lands 14 feet above you, here you go!
Don't stare at the stairs, or some fool will try going past you on a skateboard!
Another picture from Baltimore City, where, if this one pole goes down, there will be no phone, electricity, or cable for weeks and weeks.

Friday, May 25, 2018

More of the Diary Of A Young Girl

At long last, we have confirmation that EVERYONE likes a good off-color joke. Even the ones that aren't all that funny have an audience somewhere.

I'm not close friends with any of the hierarchy of the world's great religions, but I'm sure that even at the conclaves of spiritual leaders, someone is bound to tell the one about a nun, a priest, an Irishman, a Scotsman, a rabbi and a blonde walking into a bar.

The final domino fell when it was revealed that Anne Frank wrote dirty jokes and thoughts about sex and prostitution in the very diary that schoolchildren have been reading since the 1940s. I mean, they were mild jokes, certainly not like the one about the female patient and the psychiatrist's couch, but they were salty. (I won't put that on one here, but will share it with you if you private message me.)

Prior to publication in 1947, remember, it was in fact the diary of a young girl, and when Anne wrote down the jokes in September, 1942, she said, "I'll use this spoiled page to write down 'dirty' jokes." That was just two months after she went into hiding.

Researches display the newly-shown pages
One of the jokes is actually an American classic dating back to the days of vaudeville, told over and over with minor changes. She wrote it this way: "A man comes home at night and notices that another man shared the bed with his wife that evening. He searches the whole house, and finally also looks in the bedroom closet. There is a totally naked man, and when that one man asked what the other was doing there, the man in the closet answered: 'You can believe it or not but I am waiting for the tram.' "

(The alternate punch line is "Everybody's gotta be somewhere!")

She had a couple of other old gags, and some words about sex, female reproductive health, and prostitution, and as much as I have always respected Anne Frank, well, it just went up a hundredfold.

And she covered these two pages up by pasting brown paper over them, but thanks to modern image processing, we see behind the plain brown wrapper that Anne was just like any other girl, or boy. I guess I was about her age when I found that my generation did not make up all that salty language we were spouting off on the way to school.

Things don't change.

"Anyone who reads the passages that have now been discovered will be unable to suppress a smile. The 'dirty' jokes are classics among growing children," said Frank van Vree, director of the Netherlands' Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. "They make it clear that Anne, with all her gifts, was above all also an ordinary girl."

Anne in 1942
And Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House, says, "Anne Frank writes about sexuality in a disarming way. Like every adolescent she is curious about this subject. She also writes about it on other, uncovered pages," said . "They bring us even closer to the girl and the writer Anne Frank."

Unlike most 14-year-olds, Anne was self-conscious enough to re-read her diary entries and amend them as needed, and that seems to be why she covered these "naughty" pages. She said all throughout her diary that she was worried about people reading her words.

Imagine that. 35 million copies have been sold and read by an incalculable number of people. RIP, Anne. Love you even more every day!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Go Marry Yourself

I'm not claiming to be the hippest dude on the planet, but I am certainly not a backwoods recluse, unfamiliar with the ways and mores of modern society.

So I'm in the middle, somewhere between Jethro Clampett and Elon Musk. But here is something I can't figure out...sologamy.

As in marrying yourself and remaining true to your...self.

It's no surprise that this might have started with a performance artist, those people who long ago figured out how to get people to pay them to watch while they go about their quotidian tasks. (I do laundry at 0630 hrs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Limited seating is available in my den for those who wish to see me throw dirty clothes in the machine, toss wet clothes in the dryer, and remove them from the dryer for folding. Ticket prices start at $24 and include a cup of tea and a granola bar.)

Gabrielle Penabaz had had her heart broken in 2000, and she thought the only way to get over a broken heart was to heal it by marrying...her self.  She threw herself quite the wedding party.

Image result for sologamyShe got a nice venue, brought flowers and a ring, even a wedding dress, and wrote thoughtful vows to herself.

She found a way to do the "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" routine, and the "something new" was a wedding without a spouse.

Ms Penabaz calls hers "the best wedding ever." And now, for a fee, she will throw you one too.

She reports that men and women alike have taken part.

You can't make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, leave off the jelly (or the nutter butter) and still call it a PBJ. And water without the oxygen molecules is just hydrogen.

I'm no psychiatrist, although people say I should be one (or are they saying I "should SEE one"?) but it seems to me that this is part of the trend called Pay Me More Attention Or Else. I hate to be Captain Buzzkill, but wedding means a joining of two in close association, so unless one is so unfortunate as to have one of those split personality disorders, you really need to find a mate to marry.

That does sound like a line from a Broadway musical, doesn't it?  "You really need to find a mate to marry/ that's the sort of wedding for you/ find a Millie or a Willie, a Harriet or a Harry/ run up to the altar and do the do!"  Just put it to the music of "O Fortuna" and away we go!

I need to go now, and write the rest of the play. And people who think that sologamy is the answer just haven't finished writing theirs yet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Get Out Of Here!

I notice a trend today in which children become adults and then never leave the family home.

I know that part of the problem is that when people are graduated from college nowadays, they are around 3 trillion dollars in debt for tuition loans, student activity fees, and bar tabs. So they go home, take down the Black Eyed Peas posters and open a can of black-eyed peas for dinner.

Some say that another part of the problem is that young people are being raised with the notion that the world so eagerly awaits their arrival that top-level executive positions are kept open for them to fill once they get that diploma.

Image result for be it ever so humbleI guess the situation differs from family to family. And maybe sometimes parents are tickled to death to have young Abercrombie or Hildegard hang around until the cows have not only come home, but have turned out the lights in the barn and gone to sleep.

And then again, maybe some aren't.

Meet the Rotondos, Christina and Mark, from Camillus, in upstate New York.  They have this son named Michael, 30, and he just won't get the hell out of the house.  So they have turned to the law for help.

They gave him written notice to leave the house within 14 days on February 2, and he ignored it, probably because he was streaming season three of The Brady Bunch that week.

On Feb. 16 along came a note saying he was “hereby evicted," giving him until March 15 to hit the road.

That didn't work either, so they sent him a note (I have to wonder if they MAILED the note to him or just left it on the kitchen table in his cereal bowl) that said they “have seen no indication that you are preparing to leave.”

All that did was waste some paper, so the Rotondos filed more papers to have the case heard by the Supreme Court of New York State (they aren't fooling around!) saying that they understand that Michael cannot be "evicted" because he is a family member and this is home to him, but asking that he be given the boot through an "ejectment" proceeding.

It's like a ballplayer who argues with an umpire and goes too far; he can't be evicted, whether or not it's a home game, but he can be "ejected."

Michael turned off the tv long enough to file a response, claiming that  five written notices did not give him a "reasonable amount of time" for him to leave. He used the case of Kosa vs. Legg as precedent. That was a 2006 New York case (Larry Kosa, Plaintiff, v Detria Legg, Defendant) in which it was determined that "there is Common law requirement of six-month notice to quit before tenant may be removed through ejectment action.”

Michael also filed a paper that said that he was not given any reason for being shown the gate after just 30 years, years during which he “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement.” 

His official stance, then, is he never had a sense of responsibility to either himself or his parents, and they are just a couple of big poopheads.

The hearing date was yesterday. I'll be on the lookout for how it came out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Farewell to a genius

I was very sad to see that Tom Wolfe had passed away last week, but he certainly lived "A Life In Full," to steal the title of one of his novels.

And novel-writing was what he turned to later in his life. Not many people can lay claim to inventing a whole new form of writing, but Wolfe was right there in the early 1960s when what came to be called New Journalism was born.

And it wasn't like New Coke or the New Math, both of which came to be disliked just minutes after they were opened. In the old days of journalism, a reporter went to cover an event - a fire, say, or a gangland slaying - and came back to the Daily Globe to pound out a couple hundred words about the Who, the What, the When, the How and the Why.  ("A warehouse belonging to Tuxedoville, a men's formalwear chain operating in the local area, caught fire yesterday evening in the 5400 Block of Swallowtail Av. Fire Department spokesman Hugh Burnham reported the building, and its contents - approximately 350 heavily-used, out of style dress outfits for men - were completely destroyed. All of the firm's newer tuxedos and rental haberdashery, by good fortune, had been moved to an another warehouse just last week. The arson squad is investigating the apparent presence of a liquid accelerant and some partially used matchbooks found at the scene.")

Old and stodgy.  Wolfe, a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, had come to realize that he could get at the part of a story that people were really interested in by going to the story himself and finding out what happened - and then writing it in his own inimitable fashion:

This is how he described the masses of stock car racing fans heading to a race, in his article "The Last American Hero is Junior Johnson. Yes!" from Esquire magazine in 1965:

Ten o’clock Sunday morning in the hills of North Carolina. Cars, miles of cars, in every direction, millions of cars, pastel cars, aqua green, aqua blue, aqua beige, aqua buff, aqua dawn, aqua dusk, aqua aqua, aqua Malacca, Malacca lacquer, Cloud lavender, Assassin pink, Rake-a-cheek raspberry. Nude Strand coral, Honest Thrill orange, and Baby Fawn Lust cream-colored cars are all going to the stock-car races, and that old mothering North Carolina sun keeps exploding off the windshields. Mother dog!

Doesn't take much to see how that turned the literary world on its ears 50+ years ago, and, along with Truman Capote's great idea of writing the story of the murder of a Kansas farm family as if it were a novel called "In Cold Blood," things have not been so stodgy since.

Tom Wolfe became an acclaimed observer because he seemed to go everywhere, see everything, and write it up for those of us who couldn't join him. He wrote about the space program ("The Right Stuff"), late 60s hippie culture (“The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”), well-off sympathizers of liberal causes (“Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers”), the art world (“The Painted Word”) and architecture ("From Bauhaus to Our House").

All the while, he carried on lively rivalries with novelists such as Norman Mailer, John Updike and John Irving. Those three, and others, dared to criticize Wolfe's writing and soon were on the receiving end of his barbs, saying that Updike and Mailer were "two old piles of bones, " and that "Irving is a great admirer of Dickens. But what writer does he see now constantly compared to Dickens. Not John Irving, but Tom Wolfe . . . it must gnaw at him terribly."

Wolfe's chief complaint against those writers was that they sat in tony Manhattan homes writing about "real people" elsewhere in America, so he went to do his research when he shifted to writing novels. For example, he immersed himself in relationships with bond traders and other free-wheeling billionaire types before writing "The Bonfire Of The Vanities," and in a group of insecure college freshmen and women for "I Am Charlotte Simmons."

If it sounds like I can go and on about Tom Wolfe, it's because of my admiring his every word for over half a century, and I will close this with my favorite story about him.

Esquire magazine sent him to California in 1963 to write about a custom car show, at the time when hot rods and custom machines and Beach Boys surf music was just being noticed in the national cultural pulse. He spent a weekend with the car-crazy folks, but was not able to find the handle on the article Esquire wanted. He didn't know how to approach a topic that was so foreign to East Coasters. Finally, in desperation, he called his managing editor, Byron Dobell, who told him to just write up his notes in memo form, and the magazine would shape them into some kind of story.

Wolfe began typing at 8 p.m. “I wrapped up the memorandum about 6:15 a.m.,” he later wrote, “and by this time it was 49 pages long. I took it over to Esquire as soon as they opened up, about 9:30 a.m. About 4 p.m. I got a call from Byron Dobell. He told me they were striking out the ‘Dear Byron’ at the top of the memorandum and running the rest of it in the magazine.”

Image result for the kandy-kolored tangerine-flake streamline babyThe title that Esquire gave the piece was “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” soon to be the title of his first book.

No false modesty this man whose talent made him great. “I regard myself in the first flight of writers, but I don’t dwell on this,” Wolfe said in 1981. “If anything, I think I tend to be a little modest.”

I think he was entitled to be impressed with his ability. I will be forever!

Monday, May 21, 2018

My new hero

“Your staff is speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English,” the man announces.Don't get ahead of me here! My new hero is NOT the racist madman lawyer from New York who went off on a foul rant in a restaurant across the street from his Manhattan office, screaming hate because people had the audacity to speak Spanish in his royal presence.

"He heard us speak Spanish and started yelling, 'You mf---ers!' " said Oscar Villanueva, a Honduran immigrant and employee of Fresh Kitchen.

"He said we have to speak English," Villanueva went on. "He started saying a lot of ugly words . . . . We felt really bad, humiliated."

It won't be long before ALL of us have been exposed to this sort of nonsense. I was pushing my cart around the Food Warehouse one day as a young woman talked on her cell. I guess I need to add that she was holding her conversation in Spanish; that's the only way it will make sense when I tell you that a random unhinged harridan ankled up to her and croaked, "Speak English!"

To her everlasting credit, the young woman said, "I am speaking with a friend who does not speak English...if you don't mind..."

I then followed the old hag around the store and placed embarrassing items in her cart when she wasn't looking.

Anyhow, back in New York.  This guy really went bazoo, threatening to call ICE and questioning the citizenship of any and all speaking Spanish. Invoking the threat of deportation, he said the employees are all in "my country."

"My guess is they're not documented," lawyer Aaron Schlossberg bellowed. "So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off my money — I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here — the least they can do is speak English."

He went on to claim that he is better-educated than the employees, although he clearly was not referring to being taught manners or human decency.

Schlossberg is 42, a registered Republican and a donor to the 2016 presidential campaign 2016 donor of Donald J. Trump, another ill-bred New Yorker. 

You saw the rest on the news. The video of his nativistic nonsense "went viral" and exposed him as a loon, and soon he was asked to vacate the office he rented and was last seen being chased down by the relentless Gotham press.

Within a day, there were petitions calling for his disbarment and/or discipline by the state bar ass'n.

And then, because The Internet Is Forever, someone showed up with a video showing a cursing Schlossberg caterwauling at a rally last year protesting a Palestinian speaker in Manhattan.

But really, Schlossberg and people like him, cold sores upon the sweet smiling lips of humanity, can all just go kick rocks barefoot, because from the smoke and and tears of all their ineffable enormity rises a new hero.

Please stand and applaud a man named Mark Goldberg, who started one of those GoGimmeMoney pages and rounded up $ hire a mariachi band to play "La Cucaracha" "to cheer up the staff and attorneys at The Law Office of Aaron M. Schlossberg Esq. . . . after a difficult day."

Goldberg for President 2020!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Philadelphia Story (2011)

The man's name was Bob Marcucci and he did things that people don't do these days.  He died recently in Los Angeles, but his story begins in his native Philadelphia, where he was working as a waiter in an Italian restaurant in 1957.  That's when he borrowed $10,000 from his father and started a record label known as Chancellor Records (there's a Chancellor Street in Philly.)


Those being the nascent days of rock 'n' roll, three years later, the small label grossed $2 million. The first big seller for Marcucci was a kid who showed some musical talent.  Born Francis Thomas Avallone, he was a teen trumpeter and he thought he could also sing a little, but would prefer to keep tooting the horn. Marcucci said, "Give me a year and I'll make you a star."  The first two records they released on the young man failed to hit the Top 40, or the Top 4,000 for that matter.  But then, Marcucci wrote a little ditty called "De De Dinah."  The young man with a horn put the trumpet down, stepped up the mic and sang the song while holding his nose to create a distinctive vocal sound, and went on the road, now known as Frankie Avalon.  He's still known that way and he is still out on the oldies revue circuit, still singing "De De Dinah" and other hits.  Regular viewers of cable tv know him as Teen Angel, singing "Beauty School Dropout" in the movie "Grease."

"He was my mentor, he was my creator, and he really put all of his time and efforts into creating a star," Avalon told the Los Angeles Times. "He had so much zest for life. And with his enthusiasm for show business and the people that he believed in, he just wouldn't stop."

Well, a guy with some musical talent is one thing to make into a star, but here's the real kicker.  Frankie's sister went to school with a 15-year-old kid named Fabiano Forte.  As the legend goes, Marcucci was in the South Philly neighborhood where the Avallones lived when he saw an ambulance in front of a house and an upset looking kid on the porch.  The kid was Fabiano Forte, who was pondering the family's fate.  His father, the breadwinner for the family, was a Philly cop, and in those days, a cop who went sick was a cop who went without a paycheck, so naturally, Fabiano was worried when his father suffered a heart attack.

Marcucci asked the lad if he could sing or if he were interested in being a singer.  Answer to both: "No."

But you don't get to be a millionaire show biz mogul by taking any amount of "nos" for answers.  He kept at it, and of course pointed out that the Forte family fortunes could be vastly improved by the proceeds from a couple of hit records.  Bob gave the singer a new name ("Fabian") and a new wardrobe. He beat the drum, hanging posters that read “Who Is Fabian?,” “What Is a Fabian?” and “Fabian Is Coming!” This was sort of the Facebook of the 50's - hiring kids to go around tacking posters on street corners and telephone poles. In June 1958, Fabian showed up on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” tv show, sporting a sweater, tight pants and white bucks.

“The little girls at the hop went wild,” Clark told The Washington Post. “They started screaming and yelling for this guy who didn’t do a thing but stand there. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Before buying his way out of his contract several years later, Fabian had hit records with “I’m a Man,” “Tiger,” “Turn Me Loose” and “Hound Dog Man.”

As is the way with teen idols, his popularity waned, and he wound up making a couple of movies before hopping on the oldies revue bus with Frankie Avalon.

And Bob Marcucci's Midas touch went away too. The last Top 10 hit for the Chancellor label was Claudine Clark’s “Party Lights,” in 1962, and by 1965 the label was out of business.

He moved to Los Angeles, as do so many, and he found work on the edges of show business.

And now, at long last, I can quit sitting around on our front porch wearing my plaintive, despondent face.  Bob Marcucci has passed on, and I guess I'll never be discovered.  Which is good, because I'm a terrible singer.

But there was a time when that didn't matter!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, May 19, 2018

Out in California, they're still trying to figure out if the guys who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962 made it to shore or not. All sorts of theories abound, but the escape was clever. Here is the mask one of them left in his bunk so that, as he was leaving, the guards would come by and tell him nighty-night and think he was sleeping tight.
Say hi to Lazybones, my hoss in today's Preakness. Odds are 3-1 that he won't even make it to the starting gate.
I am not kidding you. This is someone's actual bathroom with a jungle theme.
Imagine all this citrus bobbing around in a pitcher full of ice water!
Say hi to Mostik, The Russian Cat. He has been hanging around the site of the new $4B bridge the Russians just built to Crimea, a country they annexed against the wishes of all Crimeans. Our president's close friend Mr Putin was supposed to be the first to cross the bridge when it opened, but Mostik darted out in front of him, against the wishes of Mr Putin.
Red sky at night, sailor's delight...evening in Manhattan.
He always runs a line of nonsense, claiming to have been all sorts of things in his day, when all he really needed was to say that he is a very talented songwriter and singer.  David Allan Coe had some of the best country songs in the last gasp of the Golden Era of Country, before the Lukes and Keiths and Bretts and Blakes and FlaGa types took over and won't let go. Remember that Johnny Paycheck song "Take This Job and Shove It"? Coe wrote it, and he wrote lots of others.
Here is an unabashed plug for the movie that will likely change the way the world sees cinema after June 1. Johnny Knoxville once again risks life and limb to amuse us, and you should at least go see his movie a couple of times to pay him back right. And remember, on his 1040 form, under "Occupation" he gets to put down "Actor," same as Meryl Streep.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Another brilliant idea

OK. A tiger, a lemur, two macaws, and an African fennec fox walk into a high school prom.

That's not the setup for a joke. It's what happened at the prom for Christopher Columbus High School, a private high school in Miami. It's such a ritzy school that they held the prom at the swank Double Tree by Hilton out by Miami International Airport! Imagine swimming in such elegance, or at least dancing in it.

For reasons I will never understand, the people who run CCHS thought it would be a helluva great idea to have these animals on display as high school kids did the Stank Legg. These children spent 12 years in school in order to be taught as a final lesson that it's ok to put jungle beasts in small cages, drag them into a noisy room and flash bright lights all around them.

And, just as you'd think, after Friday's prom comes Monday's half-fast apology from Principal David Pugh:
"Upon reflection, we regret the decision to have live animals at our prom. This decision in no way reflects the Marist values, teachings of the Catholic Church and/or the accomplishments of our young and that of our distinguished alumni."
"Upon reflection" is current American English for "I did not use my brain before, but I sure am using it now!"

I also hope that Pugh never taught anyone how to use words effectively. IKEA assembly manuals are better written than his word salad.

The school just about tripped over itself in putting out a statement that, in effect, said, "Don't look at US! We got these critters from facilities  licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."

"The tiger, which was displayed for a few minutes in a cage, was never harmed or in danger, was not forced to perform, was always accompanied by his handlers, and for the great majority of the time was laying down in a relaxed state, facing away from the audience," the earlier school statement said.

Ron Magill of Zoo Miami doesn't quite agree.

"This tiger's not celebrating. This tiger's not having a party," Magill said to ABC News. "This tiger is being stressed out."

Magill said he "didn't know what they were thinking."

"It's not even walking," Magill said. "It's going back and forth, back and forth; its tail is slashing back and forth; its ears are going into helicopter mode -- all signs of distress."

(I can add that, as someone who is owned by two cats 1/25th the size of these jungle kitties, that tail flying back and forth and perked-up ears mean you are doing something to displease a cat and will soon wish you had not.)

Mari-Chris Castellanos, sister of a guy who goes to the all-boys private school, said on Facebook that  the tiger "was used as an exotic amusement for the mindless teenagers who were present."

Arranged by mindless adults and supplied by more of the same.

Listen, I am not the most stalwart of animal advocates, but I am against humiliation and subjugation of any animal, no matter how many legs they have.  Dragging a caged animal into a noisy banquet hall is not a good idea, to me.

Letting the tiger out of his cage, now that would make for a great prom.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Love is a hurting thing" - Lou Rawls

I'm happily married for 45 years as of soon, so it's been a long time since I was diving into the dating pool, and I guess the rules have changed. 

Back in the day, the dating ritual involved meeting a girl, taking her out once, and then driving past her house 129 times a day, just hoping she was coming out to dump the trash.

Now, in the electronic age, no one takes out the trash; they "hit the delete button." And that's what a man in Phoenix ALLEGEDLY had to do 65,000 times recently, just because he had one date with a woman by the name of Jacqueline Ades.

It turns out, there is a dating site for verified millionaires, a site known as Luxy. Ms Ades, 31, met her inamorato there, and they went out once.

Once was plenty for the man, unnamed in charging documents.  But, “I felt like I met my soul mate and I thought we would just do what everybody else did and we would get married and everything would be fine,” Ades said, instead of saying, "He didn't like me, so that's that."

31-year-old Jacquline Ades has been charged with threatening, stalking, harassment and failure to appear in court.
The eyes. Look at the eyes.
No, what she did was, she sent him 65,000 text messages, which is even more than I get from those Nigerian princes-in-exile.

Apparently, the first 64,999 messages did not get her in trouble, but when she hit "send" for the 65,000th time, she was arrested and charged with threatening, stalking, harassment and failure to appear in court, according to The Washington Post.

Ms Ades told the local news in AZ that she sent her date all those texts  because “loving him selflessly brought me his information.”

A lot of the "selfless" texts included anti-Semitic insults and threats to kill the man, which moves this case from the realm of the peculiar right into psychoville.

She was getting those messages out at a 500-per-day clip, but she must have grown fearful when she got no replies, so she upped her game, breaking into his house and taking a bath.

I know that sounds nutty, but she did use the bathtub. Taking a bath in his kitchen sink, now that would be odd.

Police say she also showed up at his work pretending to be his wife.

Never lacking for nerve, Ades admitted sending 65K texts and said she thought she had sent more than that, intoning these immortal words:

 “Love is an excessive thing.” 

Her trial is pending.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Looking into your mail

Ask any old detective and they will tell you, the average criminal would do very well in the business world by going straight, following the rules and using that noodle to come up with brilliant concepts and marketing schemes. And many long-established firms would do well to hire on some of the young people who have done their apprenticeships, so to speak, in the field of narcotics sales, automobile theft and resale, and mayhem.

Then along comes Dushaun Henderson-Spruce from Chicago, with an idea so fiendishly simple that you just can't help but send him a little shoutout.  Oh, you might have to send it to a federal hoosegow, but send it nonetheless.  He will have like 25 years to read it and get back to you.

The deal was that Henderson-Spruce got one of those "Change of Address" forms from the U.S. Postal Service, and submitted it on October 26 of last year.

Well, what's the matter with that? you're asking. We've all filled them out when we leave home and get our own apartment and then when we move back home because the guy who was supposed to share the apartment turned out to be a piker who never paid his 1/2 of the rent. And then we turned in a new one when we moved out for good, and then again when we bought our first house, and then when we moved into our real house.  There is nothing wrong with those change of address forms, and you are steamed that poor Dushaun got in trouble for filling one out.

You've got mail!
And all he did was to ask that mail addressed to a certain address in Atlanta be forwarded to his apartment on the North Side of Chi. The problem is that he had no business doing so. The address in Atl just happened to be UPS, according to the Chicago Tribune.


The post office did what they were supposed to do, which was to forward the mail, and Henderson-Spruce started getting the UPS mail brought to him by the USPS, according to the newspaper.  We don't know what he did with the normal everyday mail, but we read that he cashed and deposited $58,000 worth of checks previously payable to UPS.

UPS told NPR News that it "was notified that some U.S. mail, intended for UPS employees at the company's headquarters address, was redirected by an unauthorized change of address by a third party. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) corrected the issue and the USPS Postal Inspector is investigating the incident."

The criminal complaint filed against Henderson-Spruce says he received  "[s]everal thousand pieces of First Class US mail and registered mail" addressed to UPS.

It must have been like one of those movie scenes where someone suddenly gets a ton of mail. Henderson-Spruce was getting so much mail that the letter carrier had to leave it in a USPS tub outside his door.

I don't know what the post office policy is for this sort of thing, but wouldn't common sense tell the mailperson that if Joe Blow is suddenly getting a boatload of mail addressed to some corporation a thousand miles away, someone should look into it?

It would seem not, because it was UPS security people who notified the  U.S. Postal Inspection Service about this mess in January. The USPIS searched Henderson-Spruce's apartment in late January, finding about 3,000 pieces of mail addressed to the company in Atlanta, court documents say.

A Tribune reporter talked with Henderson-Spruce outside his apartment and said that "he hinted that he'd received the UPS mail as a result of a mix-up that was not his fault and that his identity may have been stolen, but he declined to elaborate."

Henderson-Spruce is charged with mail theft and mail fraud, for which he could serve up to 25 years, unless he is notified of the sentence by mail, in which case he will probably have forwarded his mail to Rudy Giuliani, and never serve a minute.