Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just when you think things can't get any stupider, they get....well, you know


I really have to get busier. I’ve spent far too much time wallowing in the mud with idiots today, and some of the idiocy I've been fending off is going to come out right on this post about stupid news.

For example, if you think I’m having a slow day, think of all the people whose jockey shorts are in a twist because of a TV advertising spot showing a brain surgeon (actor) manipulating the brain of a patient (actor) to punch a surgical nurse (actor) and make travel reservations on Kayak.

An English newspaper called The Mirror reports:
Of the 441 complaints received by the Advertising Standards Authority, "a number" found it offensive, 25 were concerned that it could be distressing to children and 16 believed it was insulting to surgeons and the medical profession in general.
Oh please!

But then there’s graver stuff. Over at Time Magazine, heads are about to roll. 500 of them, to be precise, says a story in Ad Age. It’s all the usual grief over falling circulation, falling advertising revenues, and failing business models. But what got my attention is that the people are getting axed not because revenues are falling (although Time is still profitable) but that the recommendations about axing jobs came following a “top to bottom” review from…wait for it…

You guessed it.

Mitt Romney’s firm, Bain Capital. In other words, more job lost after an analysis from the very bowels of Mr. Job Creator himself. Aintcha glad he didn’t get elected President?

Interestingly, although management came to a decisive conclusion about axing human beings after the Bain review, Time just can’t seem to make up its mind about its very valuable real estate holdings in New York according to an exclusive story from Reuters.

Should they sell the Time-Warner building and move? Sell it and lease it back? Move more employees into it from other office locations around town and give up those locations?

Oh, never mind. That stuff’s too hard. Just fire 500 people and give yourself a bonus.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Fat opera singer wears tight chastity belt to Le Grand Vefour and L’Atelier Joel Robechon! (This is a shamelessly self-interested post.)



The first part of the headline is a fake but wait, wait!! Don't go away. I did it to prove a point. Well, also, if the truth be known, to hype my score of visits to this blog.

See, for seven years now, I’ve been writing here mostly on political subjects, occasionally veering off on a short tangential ride into the arts, food and travel. All this while, I’ve been tracking your visits here. And what are the most-frequently visited posts I’ve put up?

Something about George Bush being a nincompoop? Nope, those rate in the dozens of visits. Something about gun control? Something about taxes? Something about the falling national living standard? Something about Republican skullduggery?

Naah!

The three all-time killer posts, with visits that by now must be in the multiple thousands, were….

• One about fat opera singers

• One poking fun at Rick Santorum by saying he had been endorsed by the “Chastity Belt Manufacturers Association.” This one has attracted vaguely pervy visits from every corner of the globe. People from China, to Cleveland, to Chad. And no, they don’t have the slightest interest in Rick Santorum. They were looking for salacious pictures of chastity belts. (You guys know who you are, Meinherr, Monsieur, Senor, Pal, M’Lord, Chief, O Great Sheik.)

• One comparing two high-priced Parisian restaurants, L’Atelier Joel Robechon and Le Grand Vefour. (I thought Le Grand Vefour was better in comparison.) Wars, storms, financial crises and tragedies come and go, but the rich will always need someplace wonderful to eat.

So, you want to know why the world is going down the sewer? It’s because people care more about stuffing their faces with high priced food, and looking at fat opera singers and chastity belts, than they do about paying attention to the politics that determine their own fate.

While I’m here, you cognoscenti of the fine arts might want to know that the chastity belt-related image in this post hangs in my New York apartment and is a signed original etching, number 16 of 100, circa 1962, by Guillermo Silva (1929-2007). It’s essentially a precursor to the manifestation of male pro-feminism in the arts, depicting the ladies of the cave sexually “locked up” while the hotshot knight sallies forth in search of adventure and – well the late Guillermo and I leave the rest to your imagination.

Is it for sale? No it is not. But if you enjoy articles the food, art and other tastes reflected in this blog, and if $3.99 is burning a hole in your pocket, you might want to whip out your credit card, go here, and buy (and then read) a really terrific and slightly quirky e-book.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

From those wonderful Republicans who hate class action law suits: a vulture class action suit against Lance Armstrong


Lance Armstrong was a dead cyclist pedaling since the moment he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show and confessed to doping, bullying, and other unsportsmanlike behavior.

I don’t much like the guy. I think his behavior was reprehensible. But I don’t think we live in a society where a guy caught lying deserves to be torn apart by scavengers while his heart is still beating.

Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly what’s happening.

A humanoid vulture named Rob Stutzman, who is a Republican political operative, has joined with  chef  you never heard of to bring a class action lawsuit demanding Armstrong return what members of the class paid for Lance’s books,  “It’s Not About the Bike,” and “Every Second Counts.”

Their whining call for justice will be, I suppose, that they never would have become better. more fit and inspired bicyclists as a consequence of Armstrong’s books if they had only known Armstrong doped before he improved their rides and their skills.

There’s no way that Stutzman and the nobody chef can earn the price of a cheap lunch on a book refund. But the lawsuit, if successful, can help to break Armstrong and his publishers because they'll be forced to pay many thousands of buyers. Why are Stutzman and Chef Nobody attacking when they suffered no significant loss and have practically nothing to gain except bragging rights? That’s why they call ‘em vandals.

What’s so ironic about a Republican operative becoming lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit is that the Republican party purports to hate, hate, hate class action lawsuits. So much so that back in 2005, the Bush Administration sought to legally curtail them.

Of course, those would be lawsuits against huge corporations and individuals that do real bodily harm and property damage, such as medical equipment manufacturers that make faulty hip implants that cripple and poison people, or energy companies that foul and poison drinking water.

Republicans still want to put a stop to that kind of legal action, you can bet. But when it comes to picking the financial bones of a pathetic living corpse like Armstrong, they’re as greedy and rapacious as any thug you’re likely to meet in a dark alley.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Will the new rallying cry of New York’s power brokers become, “Let them eat seasonal berries?”


Is eight bucks too much to pay for a cup of coffee? How about toast with butter and jam, with (this time) Starbucks coffee or tea for a piffling $29?

What’s that, Dude? You say you’re on a healthy diet, and that includes breakfast? Not to worry. 

How about a plate of seasonal berries for $23, coffee not included? And if you’re bringing along your pal, the starving lumberjack, he can have a three-egg omelet with bacon and blueberry pancakes. But he may have to chop down a few extra trees to pay the bill. His chit, not including coffee (or tip in any of these cases) will come to $52.

By now, I guess you’ve figured out that I’m not talking about breakfast at Denny’s. Au contraire, mon ami.

An act of charity for the super-powerful

What I have in mind is an eatery called Park Avenue Winter, which out of the kindness of its management’s heart has let leak the news that it will take in orphaned politicians and other power brokers while their favorite power breakfast hangout, the Loew’s Regency Hotel a bit further down Park Avenue, undergoes extensive renovations.

I have to thank Joanna Fantozzi, writing for a Manhattan weekly called Our Town, for digging up the heartwarming news about a temporary new power broker pit stop. The story appeared the paper’s January 17th edition. Sorry, no links, because Our Town/East Side may be the last publication on the planet that doesn’t have a web edition.

[Post Publication Note: I got it wrong. Our Town does have a website, and as Joanna informs you in the first comment below, you can get to it here.]

But no matter. Ms. Fantozzi was intrepid enough to dig up the fact that Joe Lhota is a breakfast VIP there. At this point, I can hear the sound of eyebrows arching here in New York, and of heads scratching everywhere else on the planet.

Joe Who?

Joe Lhota is outgoing Chairman of the New York Transit Authority, the organization that runs the subways and busses while it cries poor and raises fares with the regularity that a jackrabbit in a bunny hutch umm, well, you know what I mean.

Over 300 grand a year? You might still be
too poor to pay out of your own pocket.

Joe has been getting paid $332,000 which is so not outrageous in overpriced New York that I wonder how he can afford regular breakfasts in the Power Broker Mess Hall unless he – dare I say it? – unless he expenses his morning meals there. I mean, heaven forbid he should have a power conference in the MTA conference room, or even over the phone.

Joe, although appointed to the MTA by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, is a product of the Giuliani administration, which was home to coddlers of the rich and superrich in its day. Not surprising that those folks would also want to coddle themselves.

A surprising exception to the eight dollar coffee crowd is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who despite his billions tends to take his breakfasts – and other power meals – at a run-of-the-mill diner called Viand on Madison and 78th, around the corner from the Bloomberg Mansion. (The New York Post claims he has "wined and dined" Janet Napolitano and former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer there, although I do wonder about the wine part.) 

A good sized breakfast at Viand will set you back not a whole heck of a lot more than a cup of coffee at Winter. I base this statement on personal experience. I used to live up that way and ate at Viand on a few occasions. Interesting that when the money comes straight from their own pockets, even the richest politicians go cheap.

Ssh! The booths have ears.

Admittedly, there are some drawbacks to taking power meals at Viand. The booths are set so close together that an ordinary unconnected citizen might overhear your conversation. And then there was the little matter of a health code violation a couple of years back. But since Viand had a sign in the window, at least when I lived up that way, announcing that it celebrated “Greeks for Bloomberg,” I imagine they made their mice problem go away quickly.

Now there’s talk in town that, come the next election, Joe Lhota may decide to run for mayor here in New York. Just think of it! This is a financially stressed city. (Yeah I know, you're gonna ask me to name ten that aren’t.) Teacher and other municipal employees’ pay, promotion, and retirements are under pressure. There’s a threat that eliminating so-called tax rebates on co-op and condo apartments will effectively cause taxes on home ownership here to rise – with the money going toward municipal operations. Infrastructure is crumbling.

In the midst of this fiscal starvation, do we need people who make major decisions away from the office, over what might be a $29 plate of eggs? Just asking.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Five gun, religious and political conspiracy theories that the far right wing needs to worry about right now


  1. They’re not really coming for your guns. It’s worse. They’re coming for your baseball bats and kitchen knives. The whole gun thing is just a ruse to throw you off guard. While you’re down in the shelter or safe room with your AR15 and your Glock loaded (and not locked), the bad guys will be breaking into your kitchen and making off with anything that has either a blade or a point (yes, that includes corkscrews and apple corers), and then taking off with all the baseball bats from the kids’ rooms. Now pay close attention, because this gets complicated: 
The knife-and-bat lobby has been fighting for attention so they can expand their knife and bat sales.  To gain a bigger share of bad publicity (so that they can rally their troops like the unpopular NRA does), they’re trying to make it look like more people are getting killed by knives and baseball bats than by guns, a total falsehood. 

But a bunch of knife grabbers and bat snatchers also want the focus on guns so they can go about their dirty work. The big scandal is that secret organizations like the NBBA (National Baseball Bat Association) and AFSK (Americans For Sharp Knives) are bribing lawmakers to confuse the press. So if you’re confused, you’re not alone. And if they’ve already got your baseball bat, grab a butterfly net.

2. Donald Trump has a secret reason for insisting that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim extremist from Indonesia whose secret agents  infiltrated a Honolulu birth records office. 

Like all conspiracies, Trump’s angry declarations about Obama are a plot to keep you from knowing the truth. Once you wonder why Trump won’t stop, it won’t take you long to figure out that Donald Trump is spreading these rumors because he’s actually a half-Latvian Russian Communist secret agent who’s trying to throw you off the trail, so he can build extra-tall buildings to serve as targets for future Al Qaeda attacks. 

Trump is hiding something under his comb-over and loyal citizens ought to demand that Trump show us what it is. I mean, is it really just a bald spot, or is it actually the secret takeover plans written on scalp-colored parchment?

3.  The Democrats are going to use a platinum coin ruse to raise the debt ceiling. Truth is, they simply can’t use a single trillion dollar platinum coin to extend the debt limit because that coin is lost. Like the doofy Susan B. Anthony dollar, which is so close to the size of a quarter that it confuses the hell out of everybody, the trillion dollar coin was about the size of a one Euro coin. Some mixed up Treasury official, while on vacation, accidentally deposited the coin in a gumball machine in Paris. By the time he discovered his mistake it was too late.  Now nobody knows what happened to it and any day there could be a run on French chewing gum. (Hint: buy French bubblegum stock.) 

4. Secularists are gloating about The War On Christmas. Sorry to be tardy with this one, but I was sleeping in over the holidays. Actually, there is no war on Christmas because the war is over. Capitalism won. Here's what happened:

Unhampered by an unregulated market, gaudy Christmas displays went up earlier every year. In New York, for example, they began before Thanksgiving last year. In 2013, a secret  plot by unregulated capitalist merchants calls for commercializing Christmas at the end of October, combining it with Halloween for a big celebration called Hollowmass Weeny. 

Yes, Santa will still be invited, but he has to wear an Ayatollah Khomeni mask and a black turban with his red suit. Secularists will be reduced to holding demonstrations during which they will chant, “Death to Midnight Sales!”

5. They’re going to outlaw the teaching of intelligent design.  Actually, it’s a lot worse than that. They’re going to combine the teaching of intelligent design with mandatory classes on interior design, graphic design, industrial design and clothing design – with a concentration in lingerie design. 

This is part of their plan to force you to worship Giselle Bundchen, Heidi Klum, and Alessandria Ambrosio, and they will not stop until you pray to them every night. 

“They,” in case you haven’t already figured it out, is the Socialist Feminist Secularist Goddess Worship Movement. Be afraid, be very afraid – especially if you shop in Victoria’s Secret.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Announcing the First Official New York Crank Blogroll High Colonic Purge


Change, for better or worse, just keeps happening. The blog that charmed you yesterday is dormant today. The blog you never heard of last week, is suddenly getting visits seven ways to Sunday. Or at least you’ve suddenly just heard about it. So…

It’s purge time! Bend over, you constipated blogs!

The time has come to clear out links from The New York Crank to the blogs and webpubs that aren’t doing much any more, and replace them with some livelier venues.

So gone is Billionaires for Bush and its offspring, Billionaires for Wealthcare. Their venomously ironic humor at the expense of the selfish one percent was always refreshing, but the venom factory appears to be all but out of business. Those spoofer “billionaires” haven’t  published anything new, at least as of this posting, since 2011.

Publish or perish, guys.

Speaking of which, the college professor who wrote Dear Barry, Respectfully Larry, is history on my blogroll. He’s a good friend and has been since my college days, but you can’t put up one post a year and call your posting a blog. So farewell, at least for now, Larry.

I’m also purging Bushtoll, because George W. Bush has already been flushed down the toilet bowl of civilization by just about everybody, including his own party.  Congratulations on all your good work, Bushtoll. But goodbye.

Welcome newcomers
(to this blog’s blogroll, that is)

In the place of the goners I’m inserting some new political and editorial g-spots.
I’m linking to – not the whole Crooks and Liars – but the Crooks and Liars Video CafĂ©, which at least as often as not displays the audio-visual buffoonery of the batpoop-crazy right. There’s nothing like watching and hearing those right wing lunatics foaming at the mouth in living color. 

If you haven’t discovered Bad Attitudes, I encourage you to click right over there and read these folks. I find their take on politics as twisted and simpatico as my own. We could be parallel rails of a piece of double helix DNA. (And you’re absolutely correct: I have no idea what I’m talking about. But it sounds right.) 

Although I don’t normally link to book websites, I feel that you are missing something if you haven’t read the e-book HEIRESS STRANGLED IN MOLTEN CHOCOLATE AT NAZI SEX ORGY! A MEMOIR. And so, it remains the top link on my list. The link above and on my blogroll gets you to the right place at Amazon.com although you can also buy it at the I-Tunes Store (for your I-Pad, if you can find the damn link on your own), Barnes & Noble (for your Nook), and Smashwords.com for just about any electronic format.

Finally, a word to someone who appears to be the sole remaining blogger on No-Pasaran.

Watch your focus, Erik.
Just plain watch it.

Look, I have nothing against linking with people whose politics are diametrically opposed to my own. Short of employing spy satellites and undercover operatives, reading what the other side says is the only reliable way of gathering enemy intelligence.

But there are plenty of right wing blogs. I link to No-Pasaran (which has never returned the favor) because I sometimes travel to Europe, and in particular to Paris. The attraction of No-Pasaran was that if anything bad was going on there, I’d know about it. And I’d know what neighborhoods to put at the top of my “let's not wander around there this time” list, such as St. Denis, north of Paris.

However, Joe Noori, and another partner seem to have departed No-Pasaran, leaving behind one person whose attention is focusing more and more on American issues rather than French issues. So No-Pasaran’s tenure on my blogroll is getting a bit shaky. Watch it, Erik. I can replace you with a link to France Soir or worse (for you) Le Monde, or – I know this is really going to turn your stomach, Erik – Liberation.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

It's time to repeal the Second Amendment. That's right. Repeal it.


It’s time to end all the pussyfooting around gun “rights.”  What we're really talking about is murder weapon rights, and they ought to be taken away.

The Roberts Supreme Court mis-read the Second Amendment, which makes it as plain as a bullet between the eyes that the purpose of the amendment was to support a “well regulated militia.”

It’s the only item in the Bill of Rights that included the founding fathers’ reasoning for it, so there would be no mistake of the law's intent. And I quote:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (Italics my    own.)
 At the peril of sounding repetitious, nowhere did the authors of the Bill of Rights feel it necessary to explain the First Amendment. Or the Third. Or the Fourth or the Fifth. They only spelled out the reasoning behind the Second.

The purpose of the Second Amendment was only to enable citizens to band together in a well-regulated organization for mutual defense. We still have those organizations today. They're  called your state's National Guard. I encourage every gun-lover to enlist, and to indulge their perverse love of murder weapons that way.

No more kowtowing

Sadly, legislators and opinion makers in this country have gone off the deep end by kowtowing to gun “enthusiasts.”

And as we’ve seen, an “enthusiast” will enthusiastically blow you to kingdom come, kill a pregnant mother, steal his own mother’s guns and murder her, bludgeon his own grandmother, or blast away a schoolroom full of kids. And none of that has anything to do with a well regulated militia or freedom from oppression.

When the current Supreme Court misread or deliberately misinterpreted the Second Amendment, it in effect handed a license to every shunned lover, aggrieved employee, angry loser, nut job, road-raged driver, sexual pervert and nincompoop in the nation to go murder as many people as they could.

It’s time sane citizens stopped 
negotiating with themselves

Apologetically mumbling, “Well, we don’t want to interfere with hunters,” or, “we only want to eliminate high-capacity magazines,” is a perfect example of people opposed to gun murder negotiating with themselves.

We need to repeal the Second Amendment, and then, state-by-state, or better yet locality-by-locality, allow certain people such as hunters and those under direct threat of violence, (backed by a court order of protection) to obtain a gun license. 

Like a driver’s license, a gun license should have an expiration date. Moreover a license to bear arms outside of a legitimate well regulated militia should be only for the purpose specified in the license, whether that purpose is licensed hunting, target shooting on a licensed gun range, or self-protection against a substantiated threat of violence. 

Moreover, no high capacity ammunition magazine ownership should be permitted, except for members of a legitimate armed force such as the U.S. Army National Guard in the course of performing their official duties.

Throw gun-owning violators
in the slammer

Next, the Federal government, along with many state and local governments, should go after gun-owners who aren’t licensed, or whose guns are unregistered, and clap the bastards in prison. For a good long time.

You say that legislation to do any of this doesn’t stand a chance? Not today maybe. But nobody has been pushing for this kind of law – or legislating, or educating, or advertising on behalf of it. 

This won’t be an easy campaign, and it won't be a quick campaign. But it can eventually prevail, and the time to start is now. The Second Amendment can be repealed  – and it should be repealed.

Don’t blame video games

From what I’ve seen, some of those violent video games on the market are horrid. But they’re available any place there’s an Internet, while only in the United States and other Third World nations with lax gun laws is there an epidemic of gun deaths. And yes, given our lax attitude toward lethal weaponry and lethal people owning that weaponry, I'm listing the United States as a Third World nation.

In advanced western nations with strong gun laws, gun violence rarely occurs. If  hardly anybody has a gun, shoot-em-up video games aren't a national problem. They're merely obnoxious artifacts, like filthy public bathrooms, or gun shows.

Don’t blame the mental health situation

We do a lousy job of helping people with mental health problems in this country. Inevitably, the problem is that the same Republican legislators who whine about gun rights vanish when it comes to financing adequate mental health problems, and legislating insurance coverage for mental health.

We need to do something about finding better medical care for the mentally ill in this country, but that’s a separate issue from getting guns off our streets, our schools, our shopping centers and our movie theaters – and out of hotel and convention hall “gun shows.”

Knowing whether certain kinds of individuals are mentally unstable people with a tendency to violence is at best subject to matters of opinion. Knowing whether someone has a gun or doesn't have a gun is a much simpler proposition to judge.

The cure for gun deaths

The only reliable antidote to a bad guy with a gun is not a "good guy with a gun". The cure for our outrageous rate of gun murders is making sure nobody has a gun, except for a few qualified individuals.

No guns. No gun murders. You can't shoot somebody by pointing your index finger and saying "bang." It's that simple.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Yet another Republican nincompoop who can simultaneously put his foot in his mouth and his head up his own butt

Sorry, but in the heat of the national elections, rampant cliff anxiety, Todd Akin hilarity, and other societal fits, hiccups and hysterical peals of laughter, I managed to miss this guy.

This probably wouldn't have happened if I lived and paid regular attention in Wisconsin, where he is a state senator from West Bend. If that state's senate has a committee on buffoonery, he's probably chairman of it.

His name is Glenn Grothman and it would appear that he just blew away his own private parts, (don't call 911, that's a political metaphor) by shooting from the mouth. (That another political metaphor.)

I yearn for this yutz to speak up again, offering his learned opinion on subjects such as why and how women get pregnant and what it means to their children. Oh wait!