Saturday, March 31, 2012

At first I didn't want a computer. I didn't need one. Somehow I just knew what it'd do to my writing. I'd never change anything and my work would suffer. I'm used to editing my unreadable handwriting on the typewriter. Computers would make it too easy.
Oh no, my technologically savvy friends said. Everything would be organized. You'd be able to find things easily, write to friends instantly, and store more writing.You can even store all your music there.
What organized, I'd ask, sweeping my arm around the piles of papers, notebooks and writing in my workspace between the refrigerator and the wall. I know where everything is. It's here.
One night Lou come up with a bunch of ancient modules. Ancient? It used floppy discs rather than CDs and fairly filled my work table. But gee! My writing actually looks good and I can store lots of stuff here. Not only that, I can surf the Internet (BFD), play my music collection (all 80,000 plus tunes!) and play solitaire.
It was those last two that decided me. Surfing the Internet? If I can't find it in a wall of books it's not worth finding.
I started to like the old relic. I could do a lot, and it was kind of fun. So much fun I decided I needed a new one. So I dropped about $600 on an HP laptop. Compared to the relic this was lightning fast. I had more storage space and an actual CD-Rom. One thing it didn't have, however, was protection against the way I typed. I still banged away at the keys as if I was using my first typewriter, an acoustic Royal Underwood. Finally the HP gave up the ghost and died.
By now I was hooked. Luigi and my other tech friends laughed and said I was now of of them. The computer was in my blood and there was no withdrawal program.
I managed to get back at them. Got back at them all. Went on the Internet and found a refurbished I-Mac for only $115. With shipping. Take that, tech boys!
Been almost ten years for me and the old girl. I've had relationships that haven't lasted that long. She's slowing up a little booting up, and I find myself staring at that spinning colored ball silently cursing-speed up! I start to tense up waiting for work to appear and have started to get impatient. I love the old girl, but...
I wonder what a new Mac would cost?

Monday, March 26, 2012


Welcome to another of my wide-eyed glimpses of what surrounds me. Today we're going to get our minds boggled. Believe you me, this'll really knock you for a loop.
In an incredible display of PC gone wild, our amazing educrats have banned many subjects from New York City English, social studies and science tests. Imagine, if you possibly can, a social studies test that doesn't mention war, terrorism or homelessness (among others). Budding Einsteins have to get by without mentioning dinosaurs or evolution. For the rest of us religion,holidays, video games, sports or TV. Whatever will we talk about around the water cooler?
New York Post Education Reporter Yoav Gonen states that these new tests are designed so as not to hurt anybody's feelings. To which I have to ask, does being dumber count? That's the only real result we'll see from these tests, which give students no concept of the real world.
That seems to be the legacy Mayor Megabucks seems to be intent on leaving New York politics with. Not content with turning New York into a second-rate Paris (as a first-rate New York we were better than anybody else)Mayor Mommy has used his illegal third term to micromanage such ridiculous ideas as how much salt or other substances YOU put into YOUR body (can't wait for the diet police to knock on our doors) and the establishment of our beloved Deuce (42nd Street for everybody else)into a midwestern mall. New Yawkers knew how to navigate the "terrors" of the Deuce to check out the double features, Sam Goody's and the other pleasures afforded by 42nd Street. I don't know about my fellow residents, but once was more than enough on the new revamped 42nd Street.
You have to wonder about the sanity of a man who bans smoking in public parks because it's bad for one's health, and then sets up islands with tables and chairs in the middle of the streets. I don't know about you, but I'd rather take my chances with second hand cigarette smoke than with the exhaust from New York traffic, thank you very much.
For all Mayor Mike's vaunted self-lauding changes, I notice the potholes on 107th between Broadway and Amsterdam have been there for over a year. What's the matter, Mike? A heavily Spanish area isn't good for your image?
Unfortunately I can't blame Mike for the proliferation of New York's official animal, the rat. Watching them run through the subway rivers or among the garbage cans around 107th is a thrill you won't get from the Bronx Zoo.
Let me leave you with words for mayor wannabe John Liu. Considering the legal woes of most New York politicians Comptroller Liu would fit right in as mayor of our fine city. To his financial advisor, who stated that Liu was good for "his" people and gave them pride, may I ask this deluded 25 year old to look around. This isn't Bejing, sweetheart. This is NEW YORK, despite our politicians, still the greatest city on the Earth.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sharpton, Santorum And Other Diseases

Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" has one line that's chillingly relevant these days-"going to the candidate's debate...laugh about it, shout about it, when you got to choose. Any way you look at it you lose." That's a perfect description of todays' presidential races-on the one hand you've got somebody who was elected because he wasn't George Bush and on the other side a group of religious nutcases who would make Christianity the state religion.
Timothy Dolan. He's almost a enigma. He seems like the kind of guy I'd hang out with, have a beer with, but then he gets on the phone to Obama and threatens him about the health plan by saying-I've got all these followers ready to vote against you. That creates two problems for the Bishop.
First is that the Church's higher-ups (and lower downs) are all male. They've got no right to tell a woman what to do with her body. When one of the priests or bishops get pregnant then they can open their mouths. But the Church believes that "suffer the little children" means the sexual maltreatment of little boys. They're more concerned about covering up their priests' escapades then giving women any rights.
The Church wants no government interference with their religion. That's cool. It's in the Constitution. But so is the converse. Whenever Dolan tries to force the government to do something by mentioning the amount of voters they've got they should be reminded they're a no-taxable institution, but that could change. Can you imagine the money taxing the Church could bring in?
A letter in todays' Post brought up a point I never thought of, and I don't believe too many have. One of the reasons the Church is so against contraception is that more babies=more Catholics=more voters=more money. Or is somebody being paranoid? Nah.
Reverend. That's a term of respect for a religious figure. That's one thing I'll rarely (if ever) have for Al Sharpton. He first came to public attention during the infamous Tawana Brawley case, which now seems the first of his public scams. I was more than a little surprised when I found a Columbia senior didn't know who Tawana Brawley was. Not that Sharpton or Maddox really wants it nosed around. It's a sore point, like Sean Combs' Bronx rap concert where I believe at least nine died. (You might know him better as Puffy or P. Diddy. Whatever.)
Let's talk of crime. We're in New York. There's a lot of it around. Boston's got a lot also. Dennis Lehane's made a career out of it. In his mystery "A Drink Before The War" he brings up an interesting point. How come white on black murders are hate crimes, but not the obverse? We make a big thing of Amadou Diello or Sean Bell, but not the Columbia student who was hit by a car after being chased into 125th Street by a gang of black kids shouting "get whitey."
Before we damn Sharpton let's start with the community he "represents" (what he represents is Al Sharpton, but I think you knew that). Blacks comment on police profiling and random searches, and then complain that nobody's doing enough to stop the spate of young blacks being killed by other young blacks. A young kid tries to stop two friends from throwing a cart onto somebody's head, and his family gets death threats and he's branded a "snitch" in school. How fast will this viewpoint change when one of theirs is gunned down? How fast can you blink?
Now back to Fat Al. You see him at protests when a black youth is killed by a cop or a group of whits but never the obverse. To me this' the sign of a self-promoting hate monger.If Sharpton truly deserves Reverend in front of his name he'll be at the next funeral of an officer killed by a black, the funeral of a white killed by a black or marching against black on black crime. Till then, I say to the black community, when you need police help don't call the cops, call "Fat" Al Sharpton.
Now back to Sanitarium, or however you pronounce this clown's name. These religious right Republicans are truly dangerous, as they command legions of otherwise sane Americans. As I've said before, whenever you wave the Good Book (and we've all got one) otherwise normal people froth at the mouth and soil their carpets. The Republicans have turned this election into one more focused on religion than whatever's ailing this nation, and I'm one of the long religion. But I'll remind Sanitation (I love his name!) that Christianity is just a sect, we took care (w/ Roman help) of a reform rebel rabbi a few thousand years ago, and a religious Republican nut case won't be any harder.


Nobody would pick the Monkees as an example of social criticism, but their "Shades Of Grey" describes todays world perfectly. We walk a line where the media creates two separate worlds, and we try to walk the thin line of social correctness. As I'm so fond of saying, I'm not socially correct, I'm just right.
I'll get my juices flowing by starting out on civil servants. This has become as overworked a cliche as army intelligence, Columbia football or rapid transit. There used to be an old joke where a drunk approached a police officer and said "You're a civil servant. Get me a coffee." While we don't expect such hoop jumping from today's municipal employees, we do expect a certain degree of accountability. I can offer a couple of examples.
I'm in a cab crosstown from Amsterdam to Broadway. There's a sanitation truck crosswise halfway up the block, ensuring nobody gets through. I leave the cab and ask one of the workers if they could straighten the truck so cars could move. I'm told this makes their job easier. Now I point to the half block long line of cars and inform him we've all got to get to work. This comment brings up my "you work for us", to which I'm informed "I'm a union man. You can't do anything to me." Going back into the cab I tell the driver what happened, lacing my comments with profanity, at which the so-called public servant comes back and physically threatens me. THIS is a "civil" servant?
My thoughts on unions differ strongly from those of my proud union delegate friend Luigi. He claims the unions create decent working conditions for employees and save their rights. On the other hand I say that the union protects workers who shouldn't have jobs at all, and use the union as a platform for their laziness. Most of these workers wouldn't be tolerated in the private sector at all, and complaining about them gives one no satisfaction. Today's unions, with sky-high pensions and benefits until one dies, are a constant in newspapers' op-ed pages.
Which brings us to the hilariously misnamed "rapid transit" system. To give the devil his due, the recent installation of electronic arrival boards has improved knowledge of when to expect the next train. We still have public address systems that announce in Martian, connecting trains that pull out when yours pulls in, and cars that are rolling bedrooms for the homeless.
High up in the incredulity table are those great announcements that end with "we thank you for your patience." Patience? I'm in a tin can underground! What'm I going to do, get out and walk? "Thank you for your sufferance and forgiveness" should be the announcement. I'm still waiting for an elderly Jewish couple to go up to the motorman's booth and say "Take this train to Flatbush."

Monday, March 19, 2012


If I was Saint Patrick I'd be ashamed to have this called my holiday. Where other ethnic groups call attention to what they've accomplished this seems to be a day which celebrates getting out and getting smashed. Case in point.
The streets where I live are half the width of those on the Upper West Side. Between 28th and 25th there must be 30 bars, each of which has tables out. On St. Patty's these bars are filled to overflowing with almost legal kids, most of whom have bottles and glasses in their hands, in violation of the law. One bar on 28th and 3rd looks like the Columbia front four minus brains, and they're accosting everybody within range that's not wearing green. As I try to pass them with 2 bags of groceries one knocks my glasses off and steps on them, breaking them in two. I bend down to pick up the pieces and grab Paddy by the balls. SQUEEZE. Then I get up and stumble inside. Talking to the bartender has no effect, and he insists the manager isn't there. I go outside, and my playmates aren't there.
Across the street there's a police van with four officers. I cross, because it's my street. One cop looks at my bloody face and asks what happened. I tell him and volunteer to go with them. They say they can't do a thing about it, 'because it's Saint Patrick's Day. I thank the, and walk away, thinking how we maligned pigs in the 60s by naming cops after them, because pigs are nice animals.
I'll go on record as saying this holiday makes the fabled West Indian Parade and the Puerto Rican Day Parade look like tranquil walks in the park.