Sunday, November 12, 2017

What use is the Bible Belt if it can’t even keep a Republican’s pants on?

Judge Roy Moore, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. If you see
him coming, lock up your daughters.

Years ago, somebody told me a joke. 

Q: What’s the definition of a virgin in Alabama?
A: “A fourteen year old girl who can run faster than her uncles.”

I used to think the joke was disparaging of Alabamans. It sounded like something out of a novel by Erskine Caldwell. But c’mon, Tobacco Road was almost 80 years old when I first heard the virgin joke. And Tobacco Road happened in a different state. Nice try, but the joke was based on out-of-date information.

These days, I’m not so sure.

Case in point: Roy Moore. Surely you’ve already read at least some of the dirt on  Roy Moore. He’s the ex-judge who was removed from office for defying a higher court's orders to remove a fifty-two hundred pound block of granite, inscribed with the Ten Commandments, from the rotunda of his own courthouse where he had ordered it installed. His refusal was in defiance not only of the higher court, but also of the establishment of religion clause of the United States Constitution. That Roy Moore.

This Bible-thumping Republican from Alabama is running for the Senate and whaddaya know! Turns out that during his days as a thirty-two-year-old prosecutor, he offered to babysit the fourteen-year-old daughter of a woman who was going into court for a divorce. The judge took the fourteen-year-old’s phone number. Not her pretty and about-to-be-divorced mother’s phone number. The cute fourteen-year-old’s number.

Yes he did call. And he took the fourteen-year-old child to his house in the woods. Not once, but twice. And the second time, reports the Washington Post, “she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”
Now other women have come forward, telling stories about how Moore, when he was thirty-something, dated them or tried to when they were fourteen in one case, sixteen in another, and seventeen in the third case.  Does anybody besides me see a pattern here having to do with minor children?

What’s interesting is that Moore’s defense is all over the map on this matter. Moore himself is denying it. But while Moore, last I checked, was in effect saying all the girls are liars — Moore’s buddy, Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler isn’t denying it. He seems to be saying — read his words and draw your own conclusion — that what Moroe did is okay, because the Bible says so.
“He’s clean as a hound’s tooth,” said Ziegler. “Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist.”
So you see, there it is! Being a powerful older man who spirits a child off to his little love nest in the woods and starts taking her clothes off and feeling her up is a good thing because hey, next thing you know, she’ll give birth to a saint (assuming all those evil abortionists don't get their hands on her first.) And not only that.

“Also take Joseph and Mary,” Ziegler babbled on. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

Umm, wait a second there, State Auditor Ziegler. According to the Bible, Jesus was the product of a virgin birth. So if you’re not committing blasphemy by lying about the contents of the Bible tin order to further your own partisan political interests, what does that mean? It would have to mean that either that the Bible is lying, or that Joseph was cuckholding God. Or that contrary to the fundamentalist churches of the south, Jesus was in no way the son of God. And if that literal interpretation of the Bible goes away, what's next to bite the dust of literal belief? Dinosaurs romping with Adam and Eve?

In any case, if, somehow, any members of ISIS are reading this, I do recommend that you put your arms around Moore and Ziegler and give them both great big hugs. Each of them in his own way seems in tune with all of you guys spiriting away teen-age girls and either raping or marrying them. Or maybe both. I thought this was one of the things we’ve been fighting to make stop, but no, according to Moore and Ziegler, it seems to be the American Way, too. Not to mention the Christian Way.

Oh, and this from ths Washington post, in which Ziegler adds to his defense of Moore:
Moore began dating his wife Kayla around this time, according to Ziegler. “He dated her. He married her, and they’ve been married about 35 years. They’re blessed with a wonderful marriage and his wife Kayla is 14 years younger than Moore.”
Umm, Auditor Ziegler? I think that’s part of the point all of us are making.

At any rate, I herewith suggest changing the old joke about Alabama virgins. From now on, I’ll be telling it this way:

Q: “What’s the definition of a virgin?”
A: A fourteen year old girl who can run faster than a Republian.

UPDATE: (November 14th): In addition to a fifth woman having stepped forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct since I posted this commentary, the New Yorker magazine today is reporting that while in his 30s, Moore's pursuit, often unwanted, of teen-age girls at a local shopping mall led the mall to ban him from the premises.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Student recruitment advertising that does more than recruit students

Could anything be duller than an ad that encourages you to consider a particular educational institution? You almost know what it's going to tell you: That its graduates do well. That there are tons of academic resources. That you'll love your professors. That the extracurricular activities are great. That the campus is beautiful. That everybody has fun. That....z-z-z-zzzzzz.

But then there's UC Hastings, the University of California law school in San Francisco. They've got something to say, not only about themselves, but about the world in which their graduates will function. That there are things going on in this nation that are an outrage. And that lawyers can do something about those things.

Here are three examples of someone presenting great reasons to go to law school, created with the help of their local advertising agency, Mortar. The ads make me want to ask, "Where do I apply?"






Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cancer victims, pharmaceutical companies, and the old malevolent fortune teller trick

“I am dying. What can I do?”

“I see in my crystal ball that someone with the Evil Eye has put a curse on all your possessions. On your money. On your jewelry. On every valuable thing you own. That is why you are dying.”

“But what can I do?”

“Bring all your money and jewelry to me. I will put them all in a velvet bag with magic herbs. There is no trickery here. I will return the bag to you. Just keep it sealed for three months and a few days. Then you can open the bag. And you will have a chance to live longer. Abra cadabra!”

By the time the victim opens the bag, the fortune teller has vanished to another city. And so has your money. Abra cadabra!

Above, a scam used to rob a few vulnerable people every year. Below, a scam used to deprive vulnerable cancer victims of billions.




What Bristol-Myers Squibb hasn’t let out of the bag, except in a tiny footnote that you might have missed, is that lung cancer patients who took Opdivo on average lived an extra 3.2 months


They weren’t  cured. They still might have been gasping for air, stumbling to walk, or in pain from their metastasized disease. And then there are all the people who will die, or fall even more gravely ill, from the side effects of the medicine.

But they got 3.2 months. On average.

Uh, another small catch. The cost of the drug is $13,200 a month. A month! That comes to over $39,000 per patient, on average. If your medical insurance doesn’t cover all or most of that, you may well have to take all your money and your jewelry and  sell it to cover the cost — the equivalent of putting it in a magic bag. 

Or if your insurance company covers the cost, don’t be surprised when the rates you pay go through the roof. And then you may need to put your possessions into a magic bag and sell them to pay the insurance premiums.

Abra cadabra!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thanks to Donald Trump's antics, a Republican candidate for Congress who says she met with extra-terrestrials can't even be a laughingstock


Republican Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera is running
for Congress in Florida. She says she went aboard
an extraterrestrial space ship and learned some 
really,really interesting stuff.
You know this country has gone off the deep end when late night network comedians can't even be bothered (at least so far) to joke about a political candidate who says visitors from outer space taught her about skulls, the earth's energy center, and an ancient Egyptian pyramid located in South Miami-Dade — all while she was aboard their space ship.

Well hey, it's understandable. After all, we've got Trump in the White House. You know, the mad president who says Barack Obama is tapping his wires? The brain-dead president who doesn't seem to know that his presidency extends to the Virgin Islands (not to mention Puerto Rico?) The president with the mentality, maturity, and modesty of an unbalanced six-year-old?

So no wonder his party has no problem putting forward Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, a candidate who, according to the Miami Herald and other newspapers, boarded a Martian space ship and learned from the aliens that:
 There are 30,000 skulls — “different from humans” — in a cave in the Mediterranean island of Malta. 
 The world’s “energy center” is in Africa 
 The Coral Castle, a limestone tourist attraction South Miami-Dade, is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid. 
 “God is a universal energy.” 
She also said that the aliens had mentioned Isis, though she didn’t clarify if they meant the terrorist organization or the ancient Egyptian goddess.
Hey, compared to Trump, Rodriguez Aguilera is as sound as a....well anyway, she's not nearly as dangerous or crazy.

Rodriguez Aguilera is running to replace outgoing Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. If she pulls it off, I'm going to ask President Trump to extend his Mexican wall around the entire border of the United States— South, West, North and East. 

That'll be the only way to keep all of us safely penned up in this asylum.




Friday, October 06, 2017

A MODEST PROPOSAL for Supporting Ye 2nd Amendment Gun Rights Whilst Simultaneously Doing Something about Ye Scourge of Abortion

No, not this modest proposal, but you're getting warm
And so, with the recent events in Las Vegas, the gun death toll continues mounting in what may be the most violent, bloodthirsty, and self-destructive nation in history. I’m talking about the United States of America, of course. 

This nation’s soil is now drenched not only with the blood of our dead adult citizens but (lest ye forget) also our dead children. Especially notable among these are the deaths of  twenty small school children (plus six adults) in Sandy Hook, and most recently, at least as I write this, the fifty dead of all ages in Las Vegas, plus the Dylan Roof church murders…and on, and on, and on, and on it goes.

Yet the Republican Congress and Senate continue refusing to do anything significant to stop the gun violence. Having a ruminative chat about bump stocks is not doing something significant. 

But why should our law makers do anything that would put an end to the slaughter? Many of them collect millions — millions of dollars per Senator or per Congressional representative — to make sure that any nut, any lunatic, any violence-minded psychopathic sonofabitch who wants to shoot people to death, may have all the guns, all the armor-piercing ammo, all the high capacity ammunition magazines, all the silenced firepower he can lay his hands on.

By both their actions and their inaction, Republican lawmakers have proved that they are nothing more than a sludge pit of gun sluts, a submissive troop of political whores who would get down on their knees and fellate a rifle barrel if the NRA put another few million dollars in their pockets and told them to suck it. 

Read the list of the biggest money-grubbing harlots and the sums they pocket — and make no mistake about it, depraved whores who value money over basic morality and the lives of their fellow Americans, is exactly what they are. See Merriam-Webster’s third definition of a whore, here.

Yet it is this festering pit of whores — or are they giving prostitution a bad name? — will go all pious on you when the matter of abortion comes up. Do so much as scrape a hollow ball of cells, a blastula, from the uterus of a desperate pregant woman, who may have arrived at her pregnancy by being a rape victim, or simply by becoming a victim of a thoughtlessly passionate moment, and they’ll accuse you of “murdering babies.” 

Most abortions no more kill a living, self-aware baby than the act of wiping the ejaculate off a jerkoff Republican Congressman with a piece of snotty Kleenex. But I digress. The sad, or perhaps infuriating fact is, once a baby is born, it ceases to be of value to Republicans, who seek to prevent nearly anything that will keep helpless children who are already born alive and thriving — by refusing to fund anything ranging from a good education, to a doctor’s visit, to adequate nutrition.

To these Republican hypocrites, fetal life, if you can call it that, is sacred. But once born, the poor little babies, who at long last are inarguably sentient and self-aware individuals, can drop dead. I quote a recent article in the New York Times:
“These are little boys and little girls waiting to be born,” said Representative Mike Kelly, Republican of Pennsylvania, in a speech in the House defending the abortion ban. “If we do not stand for them, who will stand for them? If we are not the first responders, who will be the first responders?” 
Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, was incredulous. 
"There is this absolute silence on the deaths that have been created through guns and irresponsible gun ownership and yet here we are somehow talking about the sanctity of life when it relates to abortions,” she said. 
Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat of New York, put in bluntly. “I don’t know anything else to call it but pure hypocrisy,” she said. “We love it until it’s born and then it’s somebody else’s problem.”
And so, on to my Modest Proposal, designed to bring Peace and Tranquility to the Land by means of Both Sides Working Together.

I herewith propose that Congress and the Senate enact, and that our kindly President Trump ratify, an “Unborn Fetus Protection and Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which shall state:
Any and all abortions, for any and all reasons, anywhere within the borders of the United States, its possessions or its overseas military bases anywhere in the world are herewith and forevermore prohibited. However…. 
Once an American child is born, one or both of its parents, or either parent’s duly appointed agent or representative, shall have the absolute Second Amendment right to shoot the newborn baby dead, on the justification that such shooting is a means of protecting said parent or parents, and the child itself, from the life-endangering threat of hunger and poverty, and that permitting such baby to live shall induce one or more of its parents to fear for their lives.  
Parents who choose not to shoot their babies themselves may, at their own discretion, donate said babies to a duly licensed firing range, to be used for patriotic target practice.

There! That’s the kind of compromise we can have if both sides of the aisle work together. It will make everybody on both sides of the aisle happy, not to mention the lobbying pimps who shovel money into their purses.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

No wonder so many Americans won’t stand for the national anthem. It’s nearly un-singable. It’s warlike and un-aspirational. And it supports slavery and racism.

All right, Mr. Trump. In attacking the NFL and NBA players who one way or another refused to stand and put their hands on their hearts when The Star Spangled Banner was played, you’ve opened and then dumped the contents of a giant can of worms onto your own plate. Now it’s time for you to eat them.

Just to begin, athletes, like everyone else, are guaranteed freedom of expression by the U.S. Constitution, which is one of the things for which the American flag is a symbol. Thus, when you choose to deny them this freedom, Mr. Trump, it is you who is disrespecting the flag.

You have ignored the simple truth that the protest of these athletes is legitimate — that as people of color, they are regularly the victim of police brutality, documented so many times in recent years that you have to be willfully blind to claim it does not exist.

Since you’ve brought up the national anthem, let’s also deal with the question of why it deserves no respect and ought to be dumped in favor of some other song. The answer boils down to this: our great nation has one of the lousiest national anthems in the world. Consider:

The Star Spangled Banner is virtually un-singable. The clip of Roseanne Barr slaughtering it at the top of this post may have been Barr’s idea of a sendup, but it wasn’t very far from the truth. 

You can carry a tune and still, like million of Americans, you may not be able to credibly sing this unmusical, unlyrical song. It staggers over wide-ranging octaves like a careening drunk bouncing off walls. 

What’s more, the anthem’s lyrics are so ineptly out of meter with the music that singers need to insert syllables where none exist in the English language, disrespecting not only the dignity of our nation, but  our language as well. Example: (“And the star spangled ban-ner in tri-yi-yi-umph sha-all way-ave….”)

Speaking of drunks, the music was actually composed for a bunch of drunks with sex on their minds. It was a song written and boozily sung originally in England, not America, in the Eighteenth Century, by members of a drinking club, the Anacreontic Society.

But worse yet, the little-known and even less-sung final stanza of the Star Spangled Banner all but curses enslaved black men.

Here are the pertinent lines of the stanza:

Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The "foul footsteps" to which Francis Scott Key refers are those of slaves in Maryland who fought on the side of the English when promised their freedom. So clearly Key, himself a slaveholder, didn’t not consider black people suitable citizens for either the land of the free or the home brave. 

No indeed. Instead he believed blacks were “a distinct and inferior race of people which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that affects a community.”   Little wonder he cursed them with the “gloom of the grave.” For that reason alone the song deserves to be stricken from opening ceremonies. It is not a patriotic song. It is anti-patriotic.

So what should we sing instead? Well before World War I, in Newark, New Jersey, a woman named Katherine Lee Bates and an Episcopal choirmaster named Samuel A. Ward wrote a beautiful, melodic, easy-to-sing and patriotic hymn. It was about our nation and its natural beauty, and brotherhood — and not about a battle and a curse on some of our people. Moreover, unlike the Star Spangled Banner, it mentions — repeatedly — the name of our nation. 

It concedes the nation has flaws. It calls upon God to men them. It mentions liberty, law, gleaming cities of alabaster, and brotherhood. Yes, "America The Beautiful." Here’s a touching rendition of it by Ray Charles


And for a backup? In 1893 a poor immigrant boy with no skills and as yet little education was permitted to enter the United States. In time he discovered he had a talent for writing songs. Over the years he created great fortunes and employment for others with this talent, writing over 20 Broadway hit shows. 

Among his many songs were “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,”  and the holiday songs “In Your Easter Bonnet,” and “White Christmas.” His name?  Irving Berlin.

Perhaps Berlin’s his greatest and — dare I say it? — most sacred song was a hymn he wrote to the country that let him in, instead of attempting to wall him out.

Think what a glorious song a new national anthem could be, if America focused on its mission and message to humanity, and not always, constantly, incessantly, annoyingly on you, Mr. Trump, playing while you're all alone at night with your petty little tweeter.

Here is Irving Berlin, late in life and a bit frail with age, singing his song — followed by a chorus that demonstrates the way God Bless America could sound in stadiums and theaters across America if it became the new national anthem.




Sunday, September 10, 2017

Has Donald Trump been brain damaged?



The famed neurologist Oliver Sacks once described a brain-damaged actor.
He was not describing Donald Trump. But the resemblance is remarkable.
You may also find it eerie

Remember the late Oliver Sacks? 

He was the celebrated neurologist who wrote books about people with quirky conditions of the brain that led to behaviors incapable of explanation by simple psychiatric means.

In "Awakenings," he told the story of a group of people who seemed to be in a kind of paralytic sleep for decades — except the when you threw a ball at them, they'd catch it. 

In "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat," — well, the title pretty much describes it. 

Sacks once treated the actor Spalding Gray, who eventually committed suicide.

After an automobile accident during which Gray suffered a concussion, he underwent a troubling change in personality. Sacks attributed it to damage to one of Gray's frontal lobes. Said Sacks, in an article that appeared in the New Yorker Magazine:
But the frontal lobes also exert an inhibiting or constraining influence on what Pavlov called “the blind force of the subcortex”—the urges and passions that might overwhelm us if left unchecked. (Apes and monkeys, like children, though clearly intelligent and capable of forethought and planning, are relatively lacking in frontal lobes, and tend to do the first thing that occurs to them, rather than pausing to reflect. Such impulsivity can be striking in patients with frontal-lobe damage.) There is normally a beautiful balance, a delicate mutuality, between the frontal lobes and the subcortical parts of the brain that mediate perception and feeling, and this allows a consciousness that is free-ranging, playful, and creative. The loss of this balance through frontal-lobe damage can “release” impulsive behaviors, obsessive ideas, and overwhelming feelings and compulsions. 
Frontal-lobe damage can lead to difficulties with attention and problem-solving, and impoverishment of creativity and intellectual activity. 
Does that sound like somebody you've seen in the news recently? Does it sound like grounds for removing a sitting president, via the 25th Amendment

Only wondering.




Friday, September 01, 2017

Monumental mistakes, statuary rape, and how New York’s blithering mayor, Bill DeBlasio, blathered his way into a mess

Is this statue of a Pilgrim, lost in Central Park,
another monumental mistake? Keep reading.
Leave it to the United  States of America to sweat the small stuff. 

Donald  Trump and Kim Jung  Un are rattling nuclear sabers at each other. 

Affordable healthcare is in danger of failing thanks to the spitefulness of Donald Trump and right wing Republicans.

Houston and now Lafayette, Louisiana, just nearly drowned. Meanwhile, a hanging judge named Mother Nature is busy sending out for more rope. 

We’re back in Afghanistan up to our necks, or maybe over our heads. It’s hard to tell which, since the Trump administration isn’t saying how many troops it plans to commit there. 

And what are we all worrying about?

Statues.

Statues!

It all started as a reasonable enough movement. Statues of Confederate Generals, erected decades after the Civil War, essentially to stick a finger in the eye of Reconstruction, are now sticking their stony and brassy fingers into the eyes of Afro-Americans — who rightfully object to the celebration-by-monument of treasonable behavior, in defense of the enslavement of their ancestors.

The white supremacist accusations of erasing a “heritage” arouse no feelings of sympathy in me. You want to remember your ancestors and your family’s heritage of enslaving other people? Go where the rest of us go to remember departed relatives — to the cemetery. Stick your monuments there, and stop littering public spaces with them.

Guardians of monumental virtue then raised what ought to have been a non-issue. Where would it all stop? If we could tear down Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, who fought for slavery, why not Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who kept slaves? Is our civilization teetering on the edge of committing mass "statuary rape?"

That argument was prima facie silly-assed. Washington and Jefferson may have kept slaves, but they fought to found a republic that would eventually eliminate slavery. Lee and Davis committed treason and fought against that same republic primarily to preserve slavery. End of argument.

Or at least it might have ended there, had not some nincompoops of political correctness —nincompoops who I am ashamed to confess are on my own end of the political spectrum and in my own city — jumped in with both left feet.

Case-in-point: suddenly there’s a movement afoot in New York to take down the statue-atop-a-tall-pillar of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle because Columbus helped to abuse and enslave the native Americans he found in the Western Hemisphere. (As did virtually every American, one way or another, up to the late 20th Century. Fortunately, now only some of us do that.)

My city’s idiot mayor, Bill De Blasio, is forming a commission on politically correct statuary. Among the statues under review is that one of Columbus at Columbus Circle. (De Blasio seems to have forgotten another, inside Central Park.) If the statue at Columbus Circle goes, can the  name of the circle be far behind? 

The Italian-American community, which never took an official position on statues, and had precious little to do with slavery or the Civil War, and also had little if anything to do with persecuting native Americans, is now seething.There’s some question as to whether De Blasio, who is half Italian, will permitted to march in the annual Columbus Day parade, the next biggest deal in New York to the St.Patrick’s Day parade.

Frankly, I hope they won’t let him march. A contentious issue was about to get put to bed when Dummy De Blasio, for no discernibly sensible reason, opened a bottomless can of worms.

Okay, Mayor Stupid. I’ve been walking through Central Park recently and I notice that this vast, once-glorious acreage, created by a pair of landscape artists to reflect and give us space to appreciate the glory of pastoral plains, lovely lakes and bosky glens — in other words untrammeled nature in the heart  of a great city — is now cluttered with statues that are trammeling the place from end to end.

You go to Central Park looking for trees. Instead you get statues littering the landscape like candy wrappers after a rock concert. Most of the statues range from mildly inappropriate to totally unsuitable. Just a few examples:

There’s a great big statue of a Pilgrim, complete with buckled hat, floppy boots and blunderbuss, inside the park on a grassy hillock just a little past the East 72nd Street entrance. What’s he doing there?  

The base of his statue says he’s celebrating the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620. So what the hell is he doing cluttering up Central Park? Did he dive off the Mayflower too soon and get lost?

He was probably sent there because he was messing up the view at Plymouth Rock, and the good citizens of Massachusetts were able to fob off this inappropriate hunk of junk on New York. Besides, weren’t the Pilgrims intolerant of other religions? Didn’t they once whip a Quaker just because he was a Quaker and then cut off the poor fellow’s ears when he showed up in Massachusetts Bay Colony? Get rid of the statue.

Next there’s the statue of the late Fred Lebow. I found Fred to be an annoying guy with a loud, grating voice. True, he helped found  the New York Marathon. Does he deserve a statue for that?  He also helped start a running club that on weekend mornings often makes much of the park inhospitable to anyone who isn’t there to run with Fred’s club. 

Lebow’s  runners often blocked the bikeways and crowded up the roadways while Lebow’s sandpaper voice destroyed the peace of nature  and drowned out the chirping of birds by shouting out amplified distances, lap numbers, and running times from his one-time perch near the East 90th Street entrance. He was a royal pain not only in the butt, but also in everybody’s ear. Melt him down!

How about Balto the Dog? Remember him? No, I didn’t think you did. He was part of a dog sled team that helped deliver medicine to Nome, Alaska, to save children from diptheria a century or so ago. He and his unsung canine pals deserve a statue —in Nome, not New York. Meanwhile, God help you if you let your own dog off your leash in Central Park so he can enjoy a bit of a run. We only celebrate dead dogs here.

Bronze cougar preparing to attack steel bicycle. Does
nature need this? Melt the cat down!
Speakling of animals, there’s also a statue of a cougar on a cliff, looking like he’s ready to pounce on the joggers and cyclists below. If he were a real cougar I’d vote to keep him. Maybe he’d eat the mayor. Or some of Fred Lebow’s runners. But alas, he’s just another lump of bronze where bronze doesn’t belong.

Only in New York would somebody erect a 
statue to the worst poet in American History.
Send Fitz-Greene Halleck to the scrap yard!
Did I mention Fitz-Greene Halleck? Fitz-Who Who? He may have been the worst poet who ever held American citizenship, a scribbler of hifalutin’ third-rate trash.

For example, here’s the final stanza of one of his truly atrocious poems called “Fanny.” The poem rambles on, and on, stanza after stanza, in iffy meter with rhyme so strained it could induce a hernia, until the effort reaches its derision-inducing end by trying to rhyme “dress’d in” with “interesting.”

But a full dress is for a winter’s night. 
   The most genteel is made of "woven air;" 
That kind of classic cobweb, soft and light, 
   Which Lady Morgan’s Ida used to wear. 
And ladies, this aĆ«rial manner dress'd in, one 
Look Eve-like, angel-like, and interesting. 

Other samples  of his trash are even worse, but you get the idea.

Fitz-Greene (nickname him “Hack”) Halleck stands amid a cluster of statues along what might have been a perfectly pleasant tree-shaded path in Central Park, now called “Poet’s Walk.” Halleck is the only American whose statue appears there. There’s no Edgar Allen Poe. He wasn’t considered worthy enough by the politicians who stuck Halleck where they could have planted a perfectly good tree back in the 19th Century. No Longfellow, either. No Emily Dickinson. No Walt Whitman. Instead, there’s Sir Walter Scott, the Englishman who was primarily a novelist rather than a poet,  and the Scotsman Robert Burns. 

Elsewhere in Central Park you’ll find William Shakespeare, Daniel Webster, and such forgotten figures, perhaps deservedly, as Richard Morris Hunt, and Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen. (Sorry, no links. Look them up yourself.) The only useful part of Thorvaldsen’s statue is the base, because lots of dogs get to lift their legs to it, thus sparing nearby bushes and flower beds.

Tear all the statues down. Replace them with trees and grass and flowers that were meant, by the park's great architects, Olmstead and Vaux, to be there. Then if you want, you can honor somebody by naming a tree after her. Or him.


Come to think of it, maybe not. Some future idiot resembling Mayor De Blasio might come along and demand we form a commission chop down all the politically incorrect trees.