NOVEMBER 2017

NOVEMBER  2017
The Rise of the Billionaires Leaves the Middle Class Stranded

Translate

Amazon Contextual Product Ads

Friday, February 15, 2008

OLD FARTS BEHIND THE WHEEL

I nominate Fred Hale Sr. of Syracuse, New York as one the most confident (and possibly one of the most deluded) men who ever lived. On November 20, 2004, when Fred died just 12 days short of his 113th birthday, he still had a valid driver’s license. He had last gotten it renewed when he was 104, but he stopped driving shortly after reaching his 108th birthday because all the “motards” – retarded motorists – and “slowers” - slow drivers - were starting to really annoy him. But before Fred there had been Maude, specifically Mrs. Maude Tull, of Inglewood, California. After her husband passed away in 1963, Maude got her first drivers’ license…when she was 91. She got it renewed the last time when she was 104. But should Maude have been driving at that advanced age? Well, Layne Halls, from Silver Creek, New York, was still a licensed driver when he passed away in 2004, at the age of 109, just one month away from his 110 birthday. But I can’t find out if Layne had ever gotten any traffic tickets. I did discover that Englishman Charlie Howarth, got his first speeding ticket in 2005, when he was 99 years old. Charlie has two more years before he has to get his license renewed.
*
Mrs. Muriel Gladwin, a 94 year old widow, has been driving for 82 years and has decided that after 600,000 miles or so it is time to quit with a clean record. Muriel has never had an insurance claim, a parking ticket or an accident. Unfortunately 105 year old Sheila Thompson, of Broughty Ferry, Northern Ireland, has not been quite so lucky. After 71 years of unbent fenders she recently suffered a “slight prang” while on her way to church and found her insurance premiums immediately went sky high. But compare her enviable record with that established by an unnamed 100 year old man from Sendai, Japan. In January of 2008 he was arrested for driving without a license after police officers saw his car clip the umbrella of a seven year old boy who was crossing the street. This guy had lost he license last August after a hit-and-run accident, and in November he was involved in another “slight prang”. The cops decided to end this crime wave after the man justified his behavior this way; “When I drive I get nervous, which stops me from getting senile.” It may be too late. I think his bus has already run over that goal post.
*
On Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008 Ontario, Canada Police Sergeant Cam Woolley was eastbound on a rain slicked and icy Highway 40, when she saw a car weaving through traffic at more than 100 miles per hour. After several minutes Sgt. Woolley finally caught up with the Oldsmobile at Keele Street and pulled the car over. The driver, she discovered, was an irate unnamed 85 year old man. He was even more irate when she informed him that under the Province’s new Street Racing law, which applies to any driver going 32 mph over the speed limit (which he was), she was about to impound his car. Being a Canadian cop she drove him to the bank so he could take out money to pay for a taxi home. But this speed racer has company. So far twenty drivers over 65 have been charged under the Ontario street racing law, and two more over 75. But this schmuck remains the only Mario Andretti busted over the age of 80.
*
And if you are thinking that these old farts are crazy (and they are), please rest assured that they are not alone. According to an Allstate Insurance poll of drivers nationwide, 20% do not know that pedestrians in the crosswalk always have the right of way, 33% don’t stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, and 33% admit that they would drive over a pedestrian in the crosswalk to beat a yellow light. (Okay, not really. But they would speed up.) A GMAC Insurance test found that 10% of currently licensed drivers were unable to pass the drivers license test. The safest drivers in America, according to Allstate, live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (who have an accident on average of once every 15 years), and the worst in Washington, D.C. (an accident every 5 years), followed closely by Columbia, South Carolina, St. Louis, Missouri, Greensboro, North Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi.
*
But there is also this: a driver in Mississippi is five times more likely to die in an automobile accident than a driver in Massachusetts; a motorcycle rider is ten times more likely to die than the driver of a car; two thirds of all drivers who die are not wearing seat belts; and 50% of all auto fatalities between the ages of 21 and 44 are alcohol related. In other words, if a 25 year graduate student at ‘ole Miss should offer you a ride home from the kegger on his Harley-Davidson, you’d be better off hitchhiking outside of a prison.
*
All of which brings us to January 17th, at the Mickey-D’s on Hercules Avenue North in Clearwater, Florida, when 75 year old Jean Merola pulled up in her Lincoln Town Car and ordered French Fries without salt. (I didn’t even know you could do that!) Now, you may have read earlier accounts of this story, but here is the carbohydrate-ed skinny on this tale of another crazy old lady behind the wheel. Jean pulled up to the first window and paid for her fries. Then she pulled to the second window to get her fries. And that was when, according to the manager, Sarah Curtis, she was told it takes 3 ½ minutes to produce reduced sodium pomfrits. Mrs. Merola was then asked to pull her car forward and to the side to wait for her fries. (What, was this the first time she ever order salt free French Fries at McDonalds?) But, either because at that moment there was no one behind her, or because she is a loony old bat, Jean did not pull forward.
*
The plot thickened when Clearwater patrolman Matthew Parco arrived and ordered an iced coffee. But while he could quickly pay for his purchase at the first window, and it could be handed to him through that window, he could not leave because the big assed town car was blocking his exit. Officer Parco honked his horn and motioned for Jean to pull her big ass car forward five feet to let him get back on patrol. When she still did not budge Officer Parco walked up to her car and asked her to please move aside. Over the next two minutes, according to both parties and 9 (nine) witnesses, Jean began by calling Officer Parco a brat, then a smart-ass and then a dumb-ass. Officer Parco kept his arms folded across his chest, and then asked Jean to please pull forward just a few feet so he and others could get around her. Jean said later, “Oh, my goodness, here I am, a poor little innocent woman waiting for my French fries.” Jean says she couldn’t pull forward because of a curb. (Whoever heard of a 75 year old who was afraid of driving over a curb? They do it all the time! It’s one of the perks of senility! ) Over the next 18 minutes (approximately) Jean admits she repeatedly reminded Officer Parco that she was 75, that she had 8 grandchildren, that she could die soon and that he should be ashamed of himself. Even after her French Fries were delivered, Jean refused to pull forward. By this point chants of "Shoot her, shoot her," must have been heard over the resturant intercom.
*
I don't really think officer Parco should have shot Jean. That would be horrible. But at this point in reading the first draft of this story my wife turned to me and said, "Please tell me this story ends with him shooting her." Anyway...
*
According to the witnesses Jean now announced that she was a personal friend of Clearwater Police Chief Sid Klein, and demanded that he be called to the scene. Instead Officer Parco asked for Jean’s license, because, he wrote in his report, he wanted to check if she had a history of mental illness. (Just shoot the bitch!)While he did that Jean got out of her car and walked back to Officer Parco’s cruiser, where she told him that his wife was going to divorce him and his children would hate him. (Shoot, her. Shoot, her!) Oh, yes, and she added, “You are probably going to hell.” (For God's sake, shoot her!) He asked her to please get back into her car and go home. Jean again demanded Chief Klein come to the scene. And it was at this point that Officer Parco finally called for back up and put the crazy old broad in handcuffs. Her arrest was captured on video tape. And a mighty cheer must have risen from that McDonald’s, and reached the ears of the Lord. (Smite the crazy old broad!) Jean was held in custody for all of 90 minutes before she was released. And her only regret was, “…I didn’t get to eat my McDonald’s, you know?”
*
Well, hell, Jean, you crazy old bat, all you have to do is just pull forward and bite it. So, I nominate Jean Merola as the biggest old loony on the road - at least the biggest in Florida...this week.

- 30 -

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

I fear for the future of exhibitionists. Technology is demeaning their innovation and trivializing their perseverance and rendering an entire milieu of sexual perversion tracing back ten thousand years and more, merely passé. These determined depraved enthusiasts who once spent hours or days planning their brief flashes of nudity, are now being offered a less problematic path to obscenity. At the forefront of this cultural retro-revolution is a young man from Sondershausen, Germany, who has been convicted of taking snap shots of his own erect penis with his mobile phone and then sharing them at random with hundreds of other unwilling mobile phones. One woman who received the photo bothered to report it to the police, and they were able to back-track to the source and arrest the mobile flasher. But since his only offense was the misdemeanor of “distributing pornographic material”, he was fined a mere $220 and released to text message and photo share again. It hardly seems worth the effort to snap the photo, share the photo or prosecute the photographer
*
And then there is South Yorkshire police officer David Mayes who also posed for a camera, twice, not to display his body parts but to put on public display his gross stupidity. Twice last July 26th Officer Mayes drove into frame of a traffic speed camera on Halifax Road, in Sheffield, England, once at 68mph and then again at 73mph. The posted speed limit along that stretch of road is 40 mph. Both times Officer Mayes was responding to a 999 call, and so might have been forgiven for speeding, except that both times the camera caught Office Mayes grinning and giving the camera a “thumbs up” with both his hands off the wheel. His license has been suspended for six months, he has been fined $800 and been suspended from duty pending a disciplinary hearing. Warned a police spokesperson, “This type of behavior will not be tolerated” But it’s not like he was waving his weenie at the camera, now was it.
*
Jenny Marsey, of Harlepol, Teesaide, England, has also posed for the camera, proudly holding up a pair of her badly soiled big-girl knickers. It seems that her son and nephew were distracted while “frying bread” and started a fire. In horror the boys grabbed the first thing available from the nearby dirty laundry pile, a sky blue pair of “parachute knickers”, size 18 – 20 and used them to smother the fire, saving the home. Said Ms. Marsey, “I think if they (the underwear) had been my daughter Sarah’s skimpy knickers they wouldn’t have done any good.” It is a most sanguine observation.
*
But what made the “big panties” fire extinguisher story truly memorable was the column it inspired Caitlin Moran to write for the Times of London, observing that the photo of Ms. Marsey holding up her underwear for public perusal, “…encapsulated the implacable moral, spiritual, political and, most importantly, practical superiority of big pants… I am currently wearing a pair that could have put out the Great Fire of London at any point during the first 48 hours or so…(but most women insist on wearing) little more than gluteal accessories…they’re all in briefs, demi-briefs, bikinis, strings, midis, hi-legs or thongs…there is a catastrophic physical displacement. Entire body parts are split asunder, and undertake vast migrations… Women, this manner of underwear cannot be an act of sanity…Why have we succumbed to pantorexia?...You have to remember (that) men are blessedly, almost serenely laisser-faire creatures….Whether you wear sexy pants is neither here nor there to them.” At last, a woman who understands men’s view of sex; i.e., yes, please.
*
If the truth were told most men would be willing to have coitus with one of the hippos from Fantasia. They might not admit that to other men, but nobody should ever believe what men tell each other when no woman is around to take offense. Proof of this male egalitarian sexual attitude was recently obtained by the Office for Consumer Protection, in Brasov, Transylvania. They responded to a customer complaint that his blow up sex doll would not stay inflated and had lost her moan. I hope I am wrong but I suspect his rubber girlfriend had one of those little boxes sewn inside her that made a cow noise when you tipped her over on her head. It is the sound and physical attitude most men assume implies sexual gratification in women. And understand, this guy wasn’t asking for an exchange. He didn’t want a new girlfriend, just somebody to listen to his whining, which his rubber girlfriend could not – proof again that men don’t want only one thing from a woman. They want two things. And the investigators found that whiney boy’s complaints were verifiable and fined the shop $1,200. Now that is a consumer protection office you can count on. And for women, perhaps their conundrum about sex was best described in 1967 when intellectual gadfly Irina Dunn, scrawled on two Sydney, Australia toilet stall doors the post-post feminist mantra; “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
*
But what do you do when you can’t “go to the video tape”? It is a question now being asked by Francois Turgeon, who owns a Second Cup franchise in Montreal. Second Cup is the Canadian version of Starbucks, except they are owner operated, which meant that when Francois found that one of his bathrooms was being used as a heroin shooting gallery he was on his own. So he came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea. He installed a prominent video camera to tirelessly stare down into the lone stall. That seemed to solve the problem, at least until a local tabloid got wind of the situation and publicized this gross invasion of public privacy. Caroline Ducet, legal advisor to the Quebec information commission said the situation was very worrying and promised an investigation. Commentators from the left and right weighed in on the issue, until finally, poor Monsieur Turgeon, who was merely fighting to retain control of his bathroom, had to admit that the camera was a fake, a decoy, and not hooked up to anything because there were no electronics inside. And amazingly, this revelation has not silenced the critics. As a Canadian privacy lawyer explained, “There isn’t any real material difference between a fake camera and a real camera…you still have the feeling of being watched.” And this, as the young man from Sondershausen, Germany, could tell you, is precisely the point.









- 30 -

Sunday, February 10, 2008

THE DUKE - REDUX

I was scanning through the Raleigh News and Observer the other day when I stumbled over Ruth Sheehan’s column. Her latest outrage was the arrival on Super Sunday at Duke University of the “Sex Workers Art Show Tour”, which, according to the publicity material, is a “…blend of spoken word, music, burlesque and multimedia performance art”, also described as a collection of “…political statements, musical theatre, a mild dominatrix act, elaborate removal of clothing and an anal sparkler for the grand finale”. Said Ms. Sheehan, the show included “…a transvestite whose privates were covered with tape, who crouched on all fours in a kiddie pool of glitter and stuck a lit sparkler in his bum while America the Beautiful played.” This was followed by “…an overweight stripper who pretended to eat a bunch of dollar bills, then left nothing to the imagination as to the results of the digestion of such a meal.” Gee, where can I get a ticket?
*
Of course, Ms. Sheehan was not one of the 300 students, faculty and guests who attended this little soirée. She took her outlandish observations from a pair of rabble rousers who recorded the events for the edification of their fellow reactionaries. The reaction of actual live audiences to the Sex Workers Art Show was perhaps, not quite so outraged. According to one publication “Audience member reactions ranged from rowdy cheers to awkward silences”, and another noted that, “When an ignited anal firecracker follows a poignant poetry reading, the message becomes mixed.” Sounds like a hell of an evening, in parts… and rather boring in some other parts. But then the quality of the show depends on the quality of the audience, le fait non?
*
The target audience for this show was college intellectuals, pseudo-intellectuals, artists and art show aficionados. That is what I would call a very narrow target, particularly in any university whose intellectual honesty is guarded by reactionaries. And, in all honesty, artists are, as Hemingway noted, folks who are willing to “…sell stuff from their trash can.” But as trash goes this one was at least cheap. The $3,500 costs was shared by the Student Health Center, The Woman’s Center, Sexual Assault Support Services, the Women's Studies Department, Baldwin Scholars, Students for Choice and The University Fund. No money, evidently, came from the Duke Lacrosse team’s budget. Spread out between seven groups the average share would have been about $500 a piece. And at William and Mary one student, Martha Brucato, spent, according to one publication, “11 months raising funds for the free show in hopes of initiating discussions about sexuality and the way women’s bodies are often seen as commodities; issues she said are rarely brought up on campus.” Hell, $500 is about what each of the Lacrosse team members paid each of their two crazy ass strippers. I doubt it took those boys 11 months to raise their donations to that little evening.
*
But that still didn’t stop Ms. Sheehan, nor the reactionaries in the Virginia legislature, from raising a stink when, in reaction to Ms. Sheehan’s column, they grilled officials from the College of William and Mary, the next stop on the Sex Workers tour. It seems the right wing is still playing the “cultural war” card, and still defending tens of millions spent to build a six lane highway to a NASCAR track, while finding it morally repugnant and outrageous to spend $3,500 so a transvestite can stick a sparkler up his butt in front of an audience. If you don’t like watching NASCAR, at least the transvestite with sprinkler has a much smaller carbon footprint, if footprint is the right designation.
*
Ms. Sheehan notes that, “Duke…(is) clueless.” But, in fact I would suggest that it is Ms. Sheehan who lacks a clue. And in the name of cultural diversity, allow me to provide her with that clue, by saying simply, this; sweetheart, self-immolation is a pretty stupid way to start a fire. There is nothing wrong with being outraged. It’s healthy. But insisting that your tax dollars only support those things you agree with is a form of cultural suicide. The proof is that all those liberal professors and students who find the Sex Workers Art Show intellectually challenging and insightful, are equally outraged their colleges provide meeting space for the Young Republicans. But the whole point of college – as opposed to “Home Schooling” - is to give you a chance to rub up against things that outrage you…so you can learn what outrage is like, that it does not mean the end of the world, of western civilization, so you will not be so horrified by all the outrages you will run into in your life and become putty in the hands of some hatemonger politician. Then you can decide to accept or reject these crazy ideas on your own. Being mistaken is not a crime. Being ignorant is. And it’s a capital offense.
*
As Ms. Sheehan observes, “My guess is that it's one thing when the strippers are hired by academics challenging bourgeois sexual mores and another thing when they're hired by student athletes with demeaning motives.” Or, if I may rephrase Ms. Sheehan, art is in the eye (and mind) of the beholder while rape is in the mind of the victim. And allow me to point out the obvious; if the Sex Workers tour was truly outrageous they wouldn’t have to point it out in the advertising. In other words, a transvestite with a sparkling anus borders on the passé. Why not save your outrage for the truly outrageous things, like poverty in a wealthy nation, like child abuse and neglect, like intellectual and social snobbery, like people who don’t watch the Daytona 500.
*
Me, I can’t wait for the Daytona 500. I saw the Sex Workers Tour Show (or its equivalent) when I was in college, and I have no desire to see it again. I’ve seen men screwing chickens (on Super 8mm film), and women with a donkey and Paris Hilton with some rich dude, and frankly I was not that impressed...Amazed briefly, perhaps, but not impressed. And after having been exposed to all of that I still enjoy reading the occasional column by Ms. Sheehan, if just a little less than I did before. And that, Ms. Sheehan, is irony.
- 30 -

Blog Archive

Amazon Deals