Friday, July 28, 2006

Tip YOU, buddy – and the tall, half-skim, no-foam mocha latte you rode in on!

I’ve managed to use the same shoe repair shoe for three years without an altercation. But this morning, the peaceful relationship fell apart.

While dropping off a pair of shoes, I noticed an oatmeal box on the counter with a slot cut into the cap and the words “TIPS FOR SHOEMAKER” pasted across what should have been a smiling Quaker’s face.

He wants a tip for what? Repairing shoes? Isn’t that what he’s charging for in the first place?

I swear, I’m not making this up! (For you New Yorkers who want to check it out, it’s the shoe repair place on 77th and Lexington, Northeast corner, next to the subway entrance. Maybe they're under new and lousy management.)

I thought the shoe repair price list is supposed to mean something. But maybe not.

So anyway, I left the shoe shop (without leaving a tip) and a block or two away discovered one of those fruit carts you see all around town. You know, the kind that pays no rent, competes with rent-paying small grocers, and sells fruit and vegetables of questionable quality, sometimes at a slightly reduced price and sometimes not.

And guess what? There was a plastic tray on the wagon with a sign next to it that said, “Tips Greatly Appreciated.”
Tips for what? For making an overhead-free and possibly tax-free profit by selling me a banana and not reporting the cash sale?


It used to be that only waiters got tips, usually 15%, for good service. Lousy service got them stiffed.

Of course, that was before the honorable job of bringing food to tables while it’s still hot (and making sure that the guy who orders rare gets rare) was degraded by talentless actors with attitude.

Now you’re likely to get something thrown at you if you don’t leave at least 15 percent. Actually, most of them are looking for 20 percent. You hear the apology, “Well, tips are part of a waiter’s income” – the implication being that tips have nothing to do with service. You walk in the restaurant, you owe the waiter. Take it or shove it.

Taxi drivers expect 15% or more, too – an incentive to get you trapped in traffic while the meter keeps ticking, or to take the long way around to your destination. It’s also an incentive to raise fares, not service. But that’s old news, too.

What’s new is, little by little, the entire planet is coming to expect a tip.


Who started this trend? Why, Starbucks, of course, which puts out a tip box on the counter so you can leave a tip for not getting served at a table. Instead, you have to stand on not one line, but two – the first to place your order and pay, the second to eventually receive what you paid for.

Even lawmakers expect to get tipped. In the old days, they called this kind of tip a “bribe.” These days, it’s a “campaign contribution,” but we all know what it really is.

If this keeps on going, you’ll have to “tip” the clerk at the drivers’ license bureau and the IRS man who comes to audit you.

You think I’m kidding? Once upon a time, deposed nobles had to tip the executioner to chop their heads off with one smooth blow instead of hacking them to pieces.


What’s most outrageous about all this is that employers like Starbucks are using the tip-for-no-service box to get you to pay employee salaries.

Starbucks “partners” can’t make it on the pathetic wage paid by the corporation that employs them. Especially not in an expensive town like New York. Meanwhile, the company raked in a$5 billions – that’s billions, bub – for the first five months of this year. A billion bucks a month!

So I guess we have to help subsidize the poor schlemiels behind the counter at Starbucks who get a meaningless title (real "partners" share the wealth, own the business, and don’t have to beg for tips) instead of a living wage.

I’ll tell you who else isn’t going to share the wealth. His name is Orin Smith. He’s the Chief Executive Officer and President of Starbucks. His annual paycheck, according to figures released by Business Week Magazine, comes to $3.7 million dollars. (Got that, you pathetic “partner?”)

And that $3.7 million doesn’t even include Orin's $89.4 million in stock options.

Hey Orin, why don’t you throw in 15 or 20 percent? I mean of your options and salary. That would help your "partner" wage slaves a lot more than a tip box. And you'd still have over $3 million a year to live on.


Before the Starbucks tip system spreads more and helps to continue making America as corrupt as a souk in Syria, here’s what you can do:

1. If you’re a consumer: Let the entrepreneur and shopkeeper who’s suddenly demanding tips know that if he wants more money, he can raise his prices instead of putting out an oat meal box. Mention that tip income is reportable to the IRS and ask if he has filed a tip income form. Let him know you'll be happy to obtain one for him next time you phone the IRS.

2. If you’re in Starbucks: Slip something that folds into the tip box – a note that says, “The best tip I can give you is, join a union.”

3. If you’re a an independent coffee shop trying to survive against the onslaught of the Starbucks Godzilla, hang a note over the counter that says:

They pays us a lot better than
those poor suckers at Starbucks.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The U.S. Senate passes a child rapist and incest protection act. And Incest-Protectionist-In-Chief Bush says he’ll sign it. God save abused girls!

Good old U.S. Senate! In the name of “parental rights” they’re making it easier for incestuous child abusers and others to get away with raping little girls.

They’re calling it the “Child Custody Protection Act.” It ought to be called “The Rapists’ and Incestuous Relatives Protection Act.”

The new law would make it a crime to help under-age girls cross state lines to escape parental notification laws.

So if you’re say, a 14 year-old who was raped and sodomized by her father and now you’re pregnant, you’ll have to go to the bastard and get his permission to get an abortion. Know what you’re likely to get for that?

Threats is what. A blackened eye from your old man, maybe. And for sure raped and sodomized again.

What about your mom? Well, she stood by and somehow overlooked what dear old dad was doing. Maybe because she’s terrified of him, too. So don’t expect much help there.

Until now, if you lived in a state that prohibits an abortion without parental consent, you might be able to go to a sympathetic and helpful grandparents for the money to cross state lines to abort this product of child rape.

But now if Grandma helps, Grandma’s going to the pokey.

President Bush said, “transporting minors across state lines to bypass parental consent laws regarding abortion undermines state law and jeopardizes the lives of young women.”

Oh yeah? How is her life jeopardized by an abortion without parental consent compared to an abortion with parental consent?

It’s all political baloney created to appeal to the Lunatic Right. 51 Republicans threw responsible morality to the wind to vote for this law. So to my disgust did 14 morally-challenged Democrats. It’s enough to make you puke.

For more details on this repugnant law-in-the-making, go here:

And if you want to comment on this abortion of justice, I welcome your thoughts. Either directly on this blog, or by writing a letter to the editor at:

Friday, July 21, 2006

Report from Israel. And maybe why Martin Fletcher should be demoted to police beat in Podunk.

While there's plenty of press coming out of the Hezbollah situation and Israel's response, it sometimes pays to read what the people who live there have to say.

In this case, the information includes allegations of what at best is sloppy reporting by two of the "name" news reporters who are broadcasting about Israel -- one of whom can't even seem to find out where the seat of government is located. They misreport. You decide. Alas.

Below, a report from Joseph Hochstein, a resident of Tel Aviv.

1) The family in Tel Aviv and I are fine. There's plenty of worry and
confusion about personal safety, but so far the Hezbollah has refrained
from missile attacks on Tel Aviv. More about Tel Aviv below, but first a
few words about the war.

2) I won't try to write about the unfolding events. They move too fast
for that, and news media are covering them.

3) I do want to write the following caveat. Anyone who wants to know
what is going on here should bear in mind that hyperbole, emotion, lack
of information, and a huge amount of spin accompany the reporting of
this war. It's not only politicians and ideologues who are trying to
play with your head. Some reporters and news organizations came to this
story with points-of-view which they now need to promote or defend,
whether or not they realize they are doing it. Nor are many foreign
reporters familiar with the background that brought us to where we are.

4) Examples, in general. Very little hard information is available, so
reporters have to work with other material. A story that purports to
tell you which side is suffering more should be suspect. Ditto for
stories that profess to reveal a sinister secret Israeli plan of one
kind or another. They may contain the words "agenda" and "pretext."
Other terms that can betray bias or spin include the words "homemade,"
"crude" and "rudimentary" to characterize Hamas rockets, or
"inaccurate" to describe Hezbollah missiles, or "disproportionate" to
describe Israel's response (unless the writer can tell the reader what a
proportionate response is). A backgrounder on Hezbollah that does not
account for the roles of Syria and Iran looks like a result of ignorance
or possibly spin-by-omission. So does an analysis of Hamas policy that
neglects to mention that the movement's charter envisions a general
slaughter of the Jews on Judgment Day.

5) An example, in specific. On "Meet the Press" (July 16) the veteran
NBC correspondent Martin Fletcher said he thought Israel was looking for
a chance to eradicate the Hezbollah. He commented, "they'll never say
that publicly." This became a basis for anti-Israel spin by Danny
Schechter, an award-winning television producer who is executive editor
of the foundation-supported, Schechter treated the NBC
correspondent's remarks as "a bombshell" revealing "a pre-meditated
Israeli war plan just waiting for a pretext to implement." Actually, the
NBC correspondent had revealed nothing. Mainly, he reviewed publicly
known highlights of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict since Israel withdrew
from Lebanon in 2000. His hint that he was telling his viewers something
which Israelis wouldn't say in public may have been a touch of tv hype,
or maybe he hadn't been watching Israeli television lately or reading
the Hebrew press. Neither Meet the Press nor critic Schechter mentioned
that Israel supports United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559,
which in effect would destroy the Hezbollah as an armed force.
Schechter, by the way, refers to the Jerusalem-based Israel government
as "Tel Aviv," a pretty good clue to where he stands.

6) Back to Tel Aviv. Not long after the rockets started hitting Israel,
our army confirmed that Tel Aviv is in Hezbollah range. Among the more
than 12,000 rockets which the Hezbollah announced it had acquired are
longer-range Iranian weapons that are said to be able to hit not only
Tel Aviv but Beersheva in the south. The existence of these weapons in
the Hezbollah arsenal had been reported for some time, but the army's
confirmation in wartime gave the information immediacy which isn't
necessarily felt at other times.

7) Shortly after a Hezbollah rocket killed eight people in Haifa on July
16, the army's Homefront Command issued a warning to Israelis all the
way south to Tel Aviv. The army instructed us to be alert. It is
unlikely that anyone outside the Homefront Command knew what the army
meant by "alert." For the next day or so, representatives of the
Homefront Command had to spend a lot of time answering questions from
the public about the meaning of "alert."

8) Basically, being alert means figuring out the safest place to take
cover when you are at home or at work, or whenever you move to a new
location. You should pick a place as far as possible away from windows
and exterior walls. You should avoid northern walls, because the
missiles come down from the north. A rocket will penetrate a roof, so
you should seek cover on lower floors or in stairwells. If an incoming
missile catches you outdoors, you should lie flat on the ground, to
avoid shrapnel. The Hezbollah rocket that killed eight people in a Haifa
railroad shed on Sunday contained little metal balls. A radio
broadcaster referred to them as "Syrian balls," indicating the weapon's

9) Homefront Command representatives explained Monday that sirens will
sound in the event of a missile attack, giving us one minute to take
cover. This was a relief, as the tension comes mainly from not knowing
when an attack may be on the way. A day or two later we learned that we
won't necessarily get the warning. Sometimes the sirens sound after the
rockets have hit.

10) I checked our neighborhood shelter. It takes more than a minute to
get there, so it is not useful under the current assumptions. The last
time it served as a shelter was 1991 when the scud missiles from Iraq
were hitting Israel. Then, the warning was five minutes. Anyway, the
shelter is locked.

11) I was curious about the shelter because on July 13, less than 24
hours after the Hezbollah attack began, I noticed a shelter-maintenance
truck parked alongside. This was the first sign of activity I have
noticed at the shelter in years. The padlocks on the shelter look new
and shiny. The place will stay padlocked unless the Homefront Command
orders Tel Aviv residents to enter shelters. Such an order is not

12) I have scouted my surroundings for cover. As my apartment is on the
top floor, it does not meet the army's guidelines for adequate cover. I
have picked out a nook in the building's stairwell, two floors down from
where I live. If a siren sounds, I will run downstairs to my spot.

13) We have discussed these considerations among the immediate family,
and everyone has an idea of where to seek cover in a hurry.

14) As I was typing this, a news bulletin interrupted the radio
broadcast that is playing in the background. Four rockets had landed in
Haifa, and people were injured. While the bulletin was still in
progress, I got a telephone call from Haifa. The caller was a friend who
said a rocket had just exploded less than 10 yards from him. This friend
is a Muslim Arab from the Galilee, and I point this out by way of noting
that the Party of God has been hitting places where it is likely to kill
not only Jews but fellow Arabs.

15) Life in Tel Aviv seems to go on as usual --- traffic jams, lots of
people in coffee houses and restaurants, stores and sidewalks full of
activity, swimmers at the beach, business almost as usual. The other
night I went out to a park where members of the folk and blues community
were making music. About 100 performers took the stage during four hours
and the war seemed almost forgotten. Toward the end a visitor from the
Carmiel folk club announced that they would be having their regular
performances the next night, and if anyone wanted to come up to Carmiel
to perform there were some open spots on the program. Laughter. Carmiel
is in the Galilee, and some rockets have hit there.

16) The other morning I walked down to Banana Beach, where a poster
advertises a concert by Ziggy Marley, son of the great Bob Marley.
Originally, the concert was scheduled for the Banana Beach branch up
north in Achziv, and we had been talking about celebrating a family
birthday at the concert and staying over in Achziv. When this war
started, it became clear that they could not hold a concert at Achziv,
which is close to the border and not far from Nahariya, which has been
hard hit by rockets. I wanted to find out if they had set an alternate
location for the concert.

17) At Banana Beach, I found a man who seemed to be in charge. I asked
if he knew what was happening about the Ziggy Marley concert. I told him
I understood that the Achziv performance has been cancelled. In the span
of a few seconds, he proceeded to demonstrate Three Qualities That Keep
Israel Going.

18) They wouldn't cancel the concert, he told me. I told him I had heard
that the concert had been cancelled. He repeated that they wouldn't
cancel a concert. This is Quality #1: Denial.

19) Continuing, he said we are not a people who give in to threats. We
are a strong people. We will not give in. This is Quality #2: Pride in
the People.

20) I told him I was nonetheless pretty sure that there would not be a
concert in Achziv on July 28. He told me not to worry. Maybe the crisis
will be over in time for the concert, he said. Quality #3: Hope That
Things Will Be All Right Anyway

21) Summing up Three Qualities That Keep Israel Going:
--- Denial
--- Pride in the People
--- Hope

22) At this writing (Friday, July 21) there have been many reports that
the fighting will have to stop in the middle of next week, because
that's what outside parties including the United States have decided.
Who knows? Anyway, it could change.

23) For now, a good overview of the Israel side of the situation is this
article from today's Haaretz by Yoel Marcus, "A race against the clock."

24) One doesn't hear much discussion yet about what happens after the
war is over. A friend here told me he thinks Israel should offer to help
rebuild Lebanon after the war. He is not a bleeding-heart lefty like
some of us, and in fact he probably would place himself more than a tad
to the right of center, and that is his idea. It is a sensible idea,
which is one or two strikes against it.

25) Why the Hezbollah hasn't attacked Tel Aviv is anyone's guess among
Israelis. One theory is that this won't happen until a later stage. Some
people think it could happen as an act of desperation if the Hezbollah
sees it is losing. Or, it could happen as part of a strategy to weaken
the Israeli homefront later in the war. A friend says the war will come
to Tel Aviv, no matter what. If not by rockets, then by human bombers,
she says. But no one can be sure of this, either.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Take cover! Here come those damn kids scattering rose petals again.

Just in case you had the idea that George W. Bush & Company is learning anything from its excellent adventure in Iraq, go get yourself another idea.

The Associated Press reports that, “In Washington's scenario, presented this week by a presidential commission, a democratic Cuba will endorse multiparty elections and free markets and become a new ally to be rebuilt with American assistance after nearly five decades of communism.”

And how are we going to make sure that happens? By spending $80 or so million over the next couple of years “encouraging” the change. The Presidential commission also suggests that Cubans could “appeal” to us for food, water and other aid, says the AP report.

Umm, is it possible that food shortages might be caused by, oh, maybe, umm, that blockade we’ve had going against Cuba since the Bay of Pigs era? So what are we going to do, tighten the screws? And how will we do that?

Maybe we could plan to go in there and blow up some warehouses and water supply lines and bomb Havana. Maybe we could “encourage” change by landing a few battalions of troops on leave from their third tour of duty in Iraq. You can practically hear the gears whirring in the White House.

These are the same Bush & Company geniuses who promised us that the Iraqis would be throwing rose petals in our path when we invaded Iraq. Or was it whole roses? Never mind. The only things they throw at us today explode.

It it just me who thinks these guys on Pennsylvania Avenue couldn’t learn a history lesson if it were hammered into their heads with spikes? No, it is not. Wayne Smith, who was the senior US diplomat to Cuba from 1979 to 1982 calls the whole scenario “pie in the sky.”

Smith also said, according to the AP, “We need a reality check here. Anyone who knows Cuba knows the Cuban people aren't going to rise up against a successor regime."

Sorry pal. In the Bush White House, we don’t do no reality checks.

For the full AP story, copy and paste the IRL below into your web browser.;_ylt=AlVMNzOxXJvyVPngssqW5mdvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-

Friday, July 14, 2006

FCC-you! Bush appointees comb sports event crowd noises for obscene or profane utterances – a new horsefeathers witch hunt.

You can’t make this stuff up. In a never-ending effort to protect your delicate ears from uncouth expletives, the FCC has “requested” from networks (read that as “hand it over or else,”) the tapes of live sporting events broadcasts.

FCC commissioners are particularly interested, according to a story on the Reuters newswire (URL below) in football games and NASCAR races where someone in the crowd (or a participant in the game) lets loose with an expletive. If it’s broadcast live, even if by accident, the FCC can fine the network $325,000 per expletive.

Ever been to a sports event? One game broadcast under those rules could repay the entire national debt.

Since we all know you can’t go to a ball game or a NASCAR race without hearing some pretty strong language in tense moments, there has to be an ulterior motive. So what’s going on here?

The plan I perceive, in case you don't immediately see through the fog of pseudo-piety that pretends to be protecting your delicate ears, is to have an axe to hold over networks reporting news that the administration doesn’t like.

In other words, “Report bad news about, say, Iraq or the economy, and we’ll go through your broadcasts, listening very carefully for someone in the crowd or an angry coach saying, “shit” and then we’ll bankrupt you.”

The only solution would seem to be broadcasting sporting events with the sound off from now on. But I have another idea.

Let’s round up every coach, every referee, every NASCAR driver, every player and most of all every fan and send them to an FCC “re-education camp” down at Guantanamo. There they will be brainwashed to shed their uncouth language in favor of the kind of frou-frou euphemisms that characterized Victorian-era speech.

I’m talking about about the days when people avoided obscene thoughts by putting skirts around table legs and calling them “limbs.”

For example, a baseball coach and umpire might be forced to sit in painful positions for hours and to sleep in puddles of icy waters until they memorize this conversation:

COACH: Golly-geewillikers sir, I wish to protest your having called my runner “out” on first.

UMPIRE: Return to your dugout, you scalawag. I make the gol-dang decisions here.

COACH: But heck sir, the first basement did not come within a country mile of tagging my player.

UMPIRE: That is a load of pure, unmitigated horsefeathers! I plainly saw his glove touch your runner’s limb.

COACH: Oh, go insert your horsefeathers in your gosh-darn pipe and smoke it.

Of course, even with the ban on expletives, there’s still a word you can use on TV that describes the FCC commissioners and their obedient senior staff perfectly.


You'll find the full details here:

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Liar Liar, yer pants on fire, (continued)

How do you convince people the economy is doing great when in fact you’re getting your fellow citizens deeper, and deeper, and deeper into a national debt that our grandchildren will be paying off – assuming there’s a nation left?

Why, just predict an even higher deficit. Then, when the deficit figures for the year turn out to be merely outrageous, as opposed to, umm, unbearably humongous, declare, “See, my tax cuts are working! The deficit is $100 million lower than expected!”

You’ll find the horrible (and horrid) details here:

Name a kid after a drug? Why, a university dean even wanted to name her law school after Enron. (But the U of Houston nixed it.)

Dang! It’s getting tougher to have an original idea.

I suggest naming people after pills for money (see an earlier post). The next thing you know, I hear that at the University of Houston law school, a former dean tried to get the school named after Enron for money.

This, I assume, was before Ken Lay and friends sank thir own ship and still had megabucks to toss around. But the Ex U-Hou (“Yoo-Hoo?”) law dean was rebuffed anyway. I guess some of those folks in the university ivory tower could see deeper into Enron than ordinary slobs like you and me. Or – I duno - maybe they overheard something at the country club.

Anyway, the former law dean, Nancy B. Rapoport, not only confirmed the story but also says she tried to convince the high poobahs at Yoo-Hoo to buy the Enron building out of bankruptcy, “which would have gotten us a heckuva deal at the credit-bid price of $51mm.”

Evidently, that didn’t happen either. (Real estate speculators in Houston take note.)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Yes, an angel came to New York. But everybody, like, totally ignored him.

Name your kid after a pill. Send him to college free.

For all you people who haven’t puked when you think about the Astrodome getting renamed Reliant Stadium, or Candlestick Park now calling itself 3Com Park, here’s an idea.

Call up your local drug company and make them an offer. Tell them, “I’ll name my new kid after any pharmaceutical product you make if you agree to pay his college tuition.”

Will this work? I dunno. But consider:

Doctors and a fair number of their patients are getting fairly fed up with all those drug company commercials pushing prescription pills to people who may not need them. And then there are all those “ignore the commercial” tools, like the remote channel switcher and the fasst forward buttons for recorded material. Plus distractions, such as blogs like mine on the Internet. Some advertisers are beginning to wonder if it’s crazy to spend millions on ads that actually get seen by 17 technologically-challenged people and a cat.

So advertisers of all kinds are looking for what they call “guerilla marketing” – ways of building public awareness of their brands outside of ordinary marketing channels. That’s where naming your kid after a pill comes in.

The beauty of people with pill names is that the names last a lifetime. As little Paxil or Viagra goes through life, his or her name will get repeated by thousands of friends, teachers, IRS auditors, prospective bosses, mail carriers, doctors and others – people who will be exposed to the name just by going about doing what they always do.

So what if your kid has to live his life as Vicodin Berkowitz or Hyzar Van Brunt? He won’t be alone. When the idea catches on, there’ll be lots of little Vicodins and Hyzars running around the sandbox.

After a while, you won’t even mind introducing your kids to people by saying, “This is my son Scabex, and my daughter, Thorazine.

If that feels too extreme, you can try offering to name your kids after the drug companies themselves.

“Lilly” is already in use as a girl’s name for example. “Novartis Fong” has a certain charming ring to it, as does, for example, “Bayer Jones” and “Pfizer Phillips.” If you want a daughter with a somewhat more exotic sounding name, say if you’re a Greek-American, “AstraZeneca Pappadapolous” sounds almost credible.

But in the puke-o-matic race to get everything on the planet named after a brand, I still like drug names best for first names. Think of the news stories:

“New York:- A man who overcame his erectile disfunction to lead a normal life has sired triplets named Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. All three girls are reportedly doing fine…”

“Washington:- In an impassioned plea to bring back the death penalty, Senator Kildane Jefferson spoke to a join session of Congress for over 15 uninterrupted hours…”

“With men on first and third bases, Zoloft Brown hit a pop fly to right field that was caught by Cipro Gallucci, ending the Yankees’ winning streak.”

“‘Lipitor The Barbarian ranks 5 stars among adventure movies!!”

Now that I think of it, maybe we could even get money for municipal construction by naming vital infrastructure after pills, too. I like the ring of the Immodium Memorial Sewage System.

Well, come to think of it, maybe not.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Ken Lay was a wonderful, kind-hearted generous man. We are all suffering from a broken heart." Oh boo hoo hoo!

The quote above, evidently comes from a member of the Pabst beer family, one of the kind-hearted pals of Ken.

I gotta tell ya man, I'm weeping crocodile tears here. I know, I know, it's supposedly not nice to speak ill of the dead. But simple morality requires that we do it all the time. I mean, are we supposed to say nice things about Joe Stalin because he's dead? How about Adolph Hitler?

In Italy, after they shot Mussolini and his mistress, they hung them upside down by their feet and let them rot in public for a while. Any complaints? So why is anybody upset about complaints that Ken didn't even get a chance to rot in a prison cell?

The latest medical theory is that stress caused Ken-Boy (That's George Bush's nickname for this pet crook of his, not mine) to croak. But Ken-Boy Lay caused thousands of former Enron employees and others to lose their retirement nesteggs through his duplicity and double dealing.

So if you want to talk about stress, imagine trying to get along on $1,000 or so a month worth of Social Security income and nothing else because the kind-hearted Ken Lay and his pals ate your pension. That's stress-inducing enough to kill ya.

Imagine being 80 years old and not having enough money to pay your rent, or your mortgage, or your heat bill. That's stress-inducing enough to kill ya, if you don't freeze to death first.

Imagine falling into the "Drug Benefit" "doughnut hole" and cutting your blood pressure or cholesterol-control pills in half because you can't afford a full dose. That could kill ya even without the stress.

But that's what warmhearted Ken has done to some of his former employees and stockholders. To the end, the bitter, rotten end, he was lying through his teeth -- denying he had done anything wrong and feigning ignorance about how the company he managed actually worked. He even lied about his assets, claiming to be broke and $250,000 in debt. Turns out he had $6 million plus a couple of million bucks worth of real estate, give or take a few fat fistsfull of dollars.

The only thing the late Ken Lay deserves is to have the thousands of Enron ripoff victims line up to pee on his grave.

(Note to Beelzebub: Listen, Bro, when you run into Ken-Boy down there, do me a favor. Take that pitchfork of yours and give him an extra jab in the butt for me.)

For more on Ken-Boy:

I wish I'd said that:

“The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself."
—John Kenneth Galbraith

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Arf Arf Awoo! A few words of sympathy for the poor little rich dogs of New York

“Hello, my name is Daisy. I live in a $2.7 million, eight-room apartment on Park Avenue, and my people work. I’m home alone or with the maid and the cook most of the day, doing cocker spaniel things like sleeping on the couch, stealing underwear from under the kids’ beds and chewing the kids’ action figures – except when the dog wranglers come to pick me up.
" The dog wranglers come for me twice a day. The doorman takes me down in the elevator and I join about a dozen of my other pals for a long walk with Wrangler Ernesto or Wrangler Jennifer.”

Hey, you can’t make this stuff up! Manhatan's Upper East Side is heavily populated by dogs whose miserable lives somehow get caused by the cushy lifestyles of their owners. (To a lesser extent, you’ll find similarly miserable canine products of well-to-do lifestyles on the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village.)

The dogs have their own pathetic social circles, their own human friends and their own organized exercise classes. But don't think this is necessarily a good thing.

I mean, think about it. The human Dad of the household works, probably at an investment bank or a law firm. Mom probably works too, also at a high-end job. The girls go to you-can't-afford-'em prep schools like Nightingale-Bamford or Spence or Dalton. The boys are also at Dalton, or maybe at St. David’s or Riverdale. So who’s going to take care of the poor pathetic household dog?

Don’t look at the maid, man. She has those eight rooms to keep sparkling. And maybe more rooms than that. She has wall-to-wall broadloom to vacuum in some rooms and antique Persian rugs to deal with in others. There are marble-walled bathrooms to polish, granite kitchen counter tops to shine, jacuzzis and three-nozzle showers to scour, a high-priced Viking stove to polish, and the Royal Copenhagen to load into the dishwasher. And furthermore, shopping errands have to get done, laundry has to get washed, the kids have to get met when they get home.

And still furthermore, if Daisy poops on the Edward Fields broadloom, there’s going to be hell to pay. That's where the dog walking service comes in.

I know, I know, if you don’t walk your own dog, then what’s the point in having one? Well, in some households, the lonely little rich dog gets walked by a family member in the evening, if that consoles you any.

On weekends, the dog goes out to Southampton, or Bridgehampton, or Easthampton on Long Island, or Lakeville, Connecticut. Not that the dog has a great time there, either. The family has a social life. The kids go to the beach or each others’ houses. The adults play golf and tennis, neither a sport that particularly welcomes dogs. The poor pathetic dogs, in fact, spend most of their "country" time in the house, barking at squirrels through the window.

So when you get right down to it, 30-minute to two hours walks with dog-walkers and maybe 10 to 20 other dogs are the only bright spots in a Park Avenue pooch’s life. This is when the dogs have a whole hour to decide exactly when they’re going to relieve themselves. This is when the dogs can socialize with their doggy pals, sniff one another, maybe even do a little mutual humping in the company of a dog walker who doesn’t freak out when it happens.

Don’t laugh, friends, this is big business. Last time I looked, the Manhattan Yellow Pages listed 25 “Pet Sitting & Exercising Services,” with names like “Dr. Larry’s Animal Services,” “Dog & Co,” “Pet Trekkers,” “Puddles Pet Service,” “Two Dogs & a Goat Incorporated” (don’t ask!), and even “Walk This Way Canine Behavior Therapy.” Sure the dogs need behavior therapy. Leaving them home alone most of the day with the maid has royally screwed up their canine minds.

Too bad, too, because essentially, these are “nice” dogs. They're well-behaved, tutored by the best dog tutors New York has to offer, and not very likely to attack strangers like some downmarket pit bull.

They’re also overwhelmingly purebreds. It just wouldn’t do to have a mutt on Park Avenue.

Some dogs who actually get time with their owners ought to be thankful they're mutts.