Archive for the May 2008 Category


This essay on sounds has had a delay in reaching the delivery room. It has remained in the womb of my alleged brain because of a fear that some readers might interpret it as a cry for pity. My thoughts on my non-sightedness were distributed in an essay called “Sing No Sad Songs for This Old Geezer.” That essay was circulated more than thirty months ago. The essay that you are holding in your hand is not a cry for pity in any sense. It is in keeping with the desire on my part that no one should ever sing any sad songs for what glaucoma has done to my eyesight.

It is impossible to write an essay about sounds without referring to the immutable fact that sounds now play an important part in substituting for sightedness. I hope this essay will be an exercise in clinical facts, rather than expressing a desire for sympathy or pity. Speaking of clinical facts, this essay was delivered by a C-section performed by Dr. Ezra, the famed surgeon of Carl Schroth’s Mobile Gas Filling Station in Clayton, Missouri. This may be the first C-section ever performed on one’s own self. So if you are inclined to do so, please read this essay and try to see if some of the thoughts expressed herein match your own.

Last week in the early morning hours, I felt a need to visit la or le latrine. I sleep on a brass bed with large posts on each of the four corners. I took my white cane, which is always at my side, and I tapped it against one of the four posts. The brass bed returned a metallic sound. Following the foot of the bed, I made my way to the bathroom, where the white cane was tapped repeatedly on the tiles of the bathroom floor. A dull sound emanated therefrom. So here in the early morning hours I had experienced two sounds. At that point, I located my talking clock, which told me that the time was 4:01 AM, Eastern Daylight Savings Time. The window was open and I could hear a dog barking. So this makes a total of four sounds in this short nocturnal visit to the bathroom. Dogs do not care about such goofiness’s as Daylight Savings Time, but in any case in this short trip, I had encountered four different sounds. It was at this point that I decided there would be some merit in composing an essay having to do with sounds.

Natural law has provided that dogs are allowed to bark, to whine, and to whimper. They may also lick your hand or bite your leg. On the other hand, Shannon, our wonderful cat of 14 years, rarely had anything to say except when he was stepped on. From time to time, Shannon would purr, but that was about it. Those of us who know a little bit about farming know that cows moo, horses neigh, mules and donkeys say “hee haw,” and hamsters tend to squeak. This is all in accordance with natural law. Professor Doctor James Reese, who has a degree in animal husbandry from the Moody Bible Institute, plans to write a book interpreting these sounds. The proposed book is listed in the New York Times as a mystery.

Leaving the animals with four feet, we find that natural law also provides that two-footed animals enjoy the right to make sounds. The bird feeder in our back yard is swarmed by all kinds of birds who twitter and tweet.
The male cardinal, who is, in my estimation the most beautiful of birds, puts out a grunt as he approaches the bird feeder to enjoy an evening meal at dusk. The woodpecker has his own song, in addition to the sound of peck, peck, pecking. It has always been my great pleasure to hear the songs of the mocking bird. I am aware that mocking birds have a limited repertoire, and there is redundancy in the songs that they sing. Nonetheless, I take great pleasure in their singing from a telephone wire or from the trees.

Speaking of singing, a sound that pleases me endlessly, there is also the sound of the human voice. Opera tenors and sopranos try to hit high Cs; basses try to hit low Cs, and crooners such as the late Bing Crosby and Perry Como croon their musical messages. The juvenile screeching that attempts to pass as rock and roll music is not singing at all. It is an abomination and should be banned from the airwaves and from CDs. If I were asked to name the musical sounds of the human voice that please me most, I would probably choose the magnificent music of Umberto Giordano, who wrote “André Chénier” and a second opera called “Fedora.” The themes and melodies in both those operas are nothing short of gorgeous, which is a term that I am using for the first time in 343 essays.

For reasons unknown to me, I believe that tenors in the opera world are not very tall. To increase their height and to make them appear more manly, some of them wear shoes with two or three inches in the heel. Those build-ups are made of leather, and persons who use leather in the heels of their shoes often make a clicking sound when they walk. Sopranos find this clicking sound entirely seductive, or so I am told.

Our industrial base in this country, including the shoe industry, barely exists now. Shoe making has been farmed out to other nations with low wages. As a consequence, leather heels no longer offer sounds of their own, because they are now made of a composite substance sort of like rubber. Cobblers who used to repair shoes and sing with mouthfuls of tacks may be found only in the unemployment lines. As a younger man, I was a devotee of leather heels and from time to time, I would have taps attached to those heels not to attract attention but rather to absorb some of the wear and tear on the heels themselves. But those days are gone and now I wear shoes from Portugal, Korea, China, and Siam.

Before leaving the sounds of heels, I have an admission to make. When women wear what I believe are called Cuban heels with leather as the main component, and walk on surfaces inside, such as hallways, the tap tap tap of those heels proves very seductive to me. Unhappily and unfortunately, I don’t hear the sound of leather heels much these days. But I am glad that my views on their seductiveness have been made public, which tends to put my soul and gall bladder to rest with great peace.

In addition to operas, there are beautiful sounds that are made by our orchestras, symphonies, and philharmonics as well as by choirs and folk singers. The sounds that come from these sources can keep me entranced for hours and are captivating.

Turning from the world of music, there is a word or two to be said about the construction industry. On this street, there is a lovely house being torn down to make way for a much bigger and lovelier house in its place. The men who scoop up the bricks use a front loader, which has a big broad shovel in the front. From time to time, the driver of the front loader drops the shovel on the street, which causes a sound which is not musical but is impressive. The trucks that trundle up and down the street to haul the debris away have sounds of their own that tell you that they are not to be trifled with.

Next door there is a remodeling project being undertaken where circular saws as well as hand saws are being used. The circular saw has a whine of its own and one can tell when the workers are using hand saws. I am unable to tell you whether the hand saws are cross-cut or whether they are rip saws. But the sound of men sawing wood is pleasant. The whine of the circular saw also tends to remind me of dentists who use the newer high-speed drills. They whine much like the circular saw but they get the job done promptly, whereas the older drills have no whine to them at all but their burring sounds carry into the waiting room and cause apprehension there.

The hammers on the remodeling project have a sound of their own. When the claw hammers hit their target, there is a sharp retort. When the sledge hammers are swung, there is a firm retort. When ball pean hammers are used, a ping emanates.

I have no hope whatsoever of recording all of the sounds that come to mind. But before we go further, there is the cacophony of sounds that come from children playing at recess or at lunch hours. The Saint Rose of Lima School and Church has a playground that abuts the sidewalk which is only a few feet from one of the main streets in our town. When the children play there, they make all kinds of sounds, most of them of a joyous nature. They are having a brief respite from their scholarly duties and are sent by their teachers to the playground to “let off steam”. It has always been my pleasure to go by that corner when the children are playing because it makes me feel inspired.

Three or four blocks from the place where the children of Saint Rose of Lima play, there is a railroad track. Across from the Short Hills Train Station are the post office and the pharmacy. On many occasions when there is a need to go to the post office or the pharmacy, my wife tends to those duties while I sit in the car with the window down. The window is down to better hear the sounds of trains pulling into and leaving the station. Sometimes they ring bells and from time to time they blow their whistles. When a work train passes by, it often uses a whistle whose sounds are in the lower registers of the scale. The sound of the work train whistle is loud and insistent, and tells you that it is important to get off the tracks promptly.

I am quite certain that I have only scratched the surface of the sounds that exist in this world. There must be trillions of them every minute of the day. I cannot hope to list them all. There are sounds of pleasure and sounds of agony. There are sounds of satisfaction just as there are sounds of dissatisfaction. But in the end, I am pleased that the world of sounds exists. The sounds that I hear are basically pleasurable.

We made the decision to buy the four post brass bed years before the scourge of glaucoma took its final bite. Perhaps that was prescient, but I am here to tell you that the sound of the brass bed is now music to my ears. And as for the dog who inspired this essay on sounds to be written, if he can be located, I will give him a copy of this monumental work called “Sounds” for his own pleasure. In the future it is to be hoped that instead of barking at 4:00 AM, he will read this essay and know that the early morning hours are to be reserved for dreams of tranquility.

When I set out to write this little essay about sounds, I clearly bit off more than I could chew. As I said earlier, there are trillions of sounds every second of the day throughout the world. Of the trillions of sounds, my own mind treasures the sound of the ringing of a locomotive’s bell and its whistles and by the sound of children playing. So you see, it does not take much to put me into a pleasant state of mind.

May 22, 2008
Essay 313
Kevin’s commentary: An easy favorite. To me, this essay was an aural version of the phrase “stop and smell the roses.” I depend on sound all the time, but rarely do I just stop and listen. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go up to the roof of my office and give it a shot.


To make my point about sophistry and “values voters,” I am obliged to tell you about a woman who was born in my home state of Missouri, who assumed the name of Sally Rand. We will get to Sally shortly.

When the year 1933 came to the United States, we were then entering our fourth year of the great American Depression. Banks closed, houses were repossessed, and very few people were employed. In many American cities, the residents were reduced to living in shacks which were universally called “Hoovervilles.” But help was on the way because in the election of November of 1932, Herbert Hoover had been turned out of office and was replaced by the Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

As soon as Mr. Roosevelt was sworn in, he lifted the ban on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. From the time of his inauguration, our citizens could buy beer, whiskey, and wine, and have been doing so ever since that happy occasion. It signaled the beginning of the end of the Depression.

In those days, the inaugural ceremony for Mr. Roosevelt did not take place until March of 1933. In May of that year, there was a World’s Fair held in Chicago. The fair was full of futuristic ideas and predicted that soon we would be traveling to the moon or at least coast to coast in no time at all. People who visited the Chicago World’s Fair were anxious to describe the wonders that they had seen. I was ten years old when the fair started, and with my father being out of work, there was no way that I could have attended the fair in person. So I was forced to rely upon the accounts of people who had visited the fair, radio reports, and the news carried in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

There are many accounts which will contend that the fair was stolen by a performer named Helen Gould Beck. Miss Beck was not your ordinary thief who could overpower anyone. She was five feet one inch tall and her measurements were 35, 22, and 35. Her most memorable expression to the newspapers was that “If you love living, you try to take care of the equipment.” In Miss Beck’s case, the equipment was very important because she was a fan dancer who took the name of Sally Rand.

As the music played, Sally Rand stole the show. She accomplished this feat through the use of her feathery fans, which were held, one in each hand, one in front of her upper torso and the other one being held in front of her lower torso. Scholars have argued endlessly about whether Sally Rand performed her dances in the nude. I did not see Sally Rand perform her routine, so I am unable to give you a definitive account. I suppose there are people who want to imagine things whether they are true or not, but in Sally Rand’s case, there were many visitors to the Chicago World’s Fair who contended that Sally performed her routine in the nude.

The debate over Sally Rand’s performance with her fans naturally leads me into a discussion of sophistry. If Noah Webster of dictionary fame is to be believed, sophistry means “A deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone.” Sally Rand’s performance qualifies on all counts. It was “a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning” and above all, it meant to deceive us all. So good old Sally Rand, née Helen Gould Beck, was a highly skilled performer in the art of sophistry. Now there are some voters who are also skilled in sophistry.

Pollsters, and particularly exit pollsters, place a great deal of confidence in those who say that they have voted for a candidate or will vote for a candidate who shares their values.

Values voters are generally those with a prejudice. “Values” is simply a euphemism for prejudice. When a values voter is asked whether he would support a female as commander-in-chief, it may be assumed that his values don’t stretch that far. Similarly, when a values voter is asked if he would support a black candidate, it becomes clear that his values differ as well on that score. If a values voter were asked whether he would support a Muslim candidate, a Catholic candidate, or even a candidate who says that he is a non-believer, the answer would be much the same. A good many Americans want to support a candidate who shares their prejudices. When the voters tell pollsters that they are guided by their own values, it is obvious that they are engaging in sophistry, as defined by Mr. Webster. When they say “values” instead of prejudices, they are concealing the fact that “there is a deliberately invalid argument which displays ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone.” In this case, it is the pollster who is the one who is being deceived.

Furthermore, if you will notice, values voters rarely, if ever, speak of competence in a candidate. It is my belief that competence is almost always trumped by prejudices masking as values voting. If I had my way, I would always want to pick a candidate who is a hell of a lot smarter than I am. Candidates with no competence at all will govern us into bankruptcy regardless of the values that they represent. At this point in the year 2008, we have had all of the incompetence that we can bear.

As many of you know, my thought processes have been influenced over the years by the works of Henry Mencken. Mencken believed, as I do, that the American electorate is capable of doing some damned foolish things. In 1925, eight years before the Chicago World’s Fair took place, Henry Mencken had this to say:
“On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts’ desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Mencken has been dead now for nearly 50 years. If he could be revived, he might be pleased to know what values voting for a Christian candidate has done to this country. When a man tells you that he votes in accordance with his values, kindly run for the hills. Such a man will not be persuaded by reasoning or logic. Such a person is prejudiced and is guilty of sophistry in the highest order.

A final note having to do with Sally Rand. Sally was born in the elegant state of Missouri, in a town called Elkton. Being a seminary student all my life, I would know very little about the sinful ways of the infidels in Elkton. But Howard Laurence Davis is a preacher’s son who probably lived in that town while his father preached the gospel. Perhaps one of the Reverend Davis’s sermons might be grounded on the thought that “if you love life, you try to take care of the equipment.” Sally loved life and hung on until her seventy-fifth year, when she became an angel.

Mr. Davis, a Missourian by birth, and your old essayist think of Sally more often than is required for therapeutic purposes by the American psychiatric association.

May 28, 2008
Essay 318
Kevin’s commentary: In my experience, not only do values voters seem to not care about the competence of their chosen candidate, they don’t care much about their candidate at all. Rather they are usually unified only by their hatred of something else. In large part this is because the modern Republican party is actually composed of two major camps, namely the extremely greedy and the socially conservative. Ideologically these two segments have nothing to do with each other; the former really just wants lower taxes and the government to keep their hands off of businesses, and the latter are usually poorer people and would love the government to step in and legislate our lifestyles. Keen observers may notice that these two camps would actually be at odds if they were to try to vote FOR something, so rather they find somebody that they can agree to hate (like a liberal black guy, for instance) and then just throw everything they can to oppose it.

I wonder why they keep losing elections.


On many occasions, I am unable to recall what I had for dinner yesterday. I mark this short-term memory loss off to advancing age and interest in other topics of the day. While I am unable at times to recall yesterday’s dinner, I am often able to recall events and situations that took place more than 75 years ago. There is no nostalgia for yesterday’s dinner, but events of the last three-quarters of a century have a ring of nostalgia to them. And so it is that my mind has come to rest this week on three items that are to be put in one’s mouth. Naturally, this accounts for the title of this monumental piece. What I have in mind here are first, Jawbreakers, then Mr. Wrigley’s chewing gum, and finally the tonic called Geritol, which men of a certain of a certain age swallow to increase their vigor and sex appeal. So now we turn to Jawbreakers. A Jawbreaker was a piece of hard candy that was delivered as a ball. The ball of candy was probably an inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter. It may possibly have been even bigger than I have described but let’s let it stand at that. The Jawbreaker was not intended for eating but was intended to be sucked, much like a lozenge. The Jawbreaker was inserted in the mouth and was sent to the outside of the teeth on one side or the other, which resulted in a protruding line near the jawbone, and it was from this source that its name was derived. Jawbreakers were sold at convenience stores and small restaurants and were found in those locations in a large globe. When a coin was inserted and a little lever was pulled, one Jawbreaker would drop into a trough and would appear before the patron. My recollection is a little foggy at this moment, as I cannot remember whether Jawbreakers took a five-cent coin or a one-cent coin, but I am inclined to believe that it was five cents all the way. The Jawbreakers in the dispensing globe were colored either red or blue, which gives the colorful delight that was to follow after they were sucked. After a few minutes in the side of the jaw, the child would remove the Jawbreaker to admire the kaleidoscope of the different colors that his Jawbreaker now contained. As the Jawbreaker stayed in the jaw, it would diminish in size and would surprise the child by the sugary delight that flowed down his throat. I have no scientific data on this at this late date, but I believe that from beginning to end a normal Jawbreaker would take perhaps ten to twelve minutes to disappear entirely. Jawbreakers were very popular when I was a child who had no dependable source of income. But even today, I recall Jawbreakers with a sense of nostalgia. In passing, it should be observed that my father and my brother had broken jaws. My father’s jaw was broken by a crank in a rail car carrying clay. The crank got hung up and when it was released very suddenly, my father’s jaw was in the vicinity. My brother, on the other hand, in the Depression of the 1930s, was trying to make a dollar any way he could. He began to put punch cards in bars where patrons would punch out a rolled up sign that said “You lost” or that you might be paid 50 cents or a dollar from the bartender. Each punch of the punch board cost a quarter. My brother’s efforts took him to Kansas City, where he ran headlong into patrons of the Pendergast machine who struck my brother so hard for interfering in their territory that his jaw was broken. The treatment for a broken jaw is to wire the upper jaw and the lower jaw together so that food must be sucked in, after it is mashed, through the front teeth. At a very early age, I vowed that I would try to avoid broken jaws at all costs. So now that you know all about Jawbreakers and broken jaws, let us proceed to William Wrigley and the chewing gum that he offered to the American public for many years and still offers. Mr. Wrigley began to offer his chewing gum in the late 1880s, and sometime after the century had turned, the popularity of his chewing gum increased. For many years, starting with the Depression of the 1930s, Mr. Wrigley offered his gum in various flavors. There was Spearmint, Doublemint, and later there were little cubes called P.K.s. Apparently William Wrigley, the original owner, had a son whom he had named Phillip K. Wrigley, and this confection, which looked a lot like the Chiclets of today, was named after his son’s initials. For many years, it was believed that chewing gum, particularly Mr. Wrigley’s gum, would cover up the smell of nicotine on the breath and there were those who believed that chewing his gum would cover the smell of alcohol. My educated guess is that the chewing gum would perform neither of those tasks. Mr. Wrigley’s chewing gum, which was often carried by young men in their shirt pockets, reached such popularity that somewhere at the end of the 1930s, he was able to purchase the Chicago Cubs baseball club. The stadium that they play in is named Wrigley Field and remains so to this day. The ownership of the Cubs franchise was passed on to The Chicago Tribune Company. The Tribune Company has acquired many assets and has probably overextended itself and is now in trouble. It remains to be seen where the Cubs wind up. Chewing gum was an exercise in etiquette, and there were many gum chewers in the 1930s and ‘40s and ‘50s. If a person chewed gum with the mouth open, he was subject to great criticism. Beyond that, there were athletes and construction workers who chewed Mr. Wrigley’s gum to keep the mouth moistened and perhaps to kill the smell of nicotine. In those cases, when under stress, it was not unusual for a runner or a worker to swallow his gum. I suggest that the intestinal tract would not look kindly on gum swallowing. When the gum had been thoroughly chewed and had lost its flavor, there was also the problem of disposal. Theoretically, the gum chewer would have kept the wrapper that the gum came in, and would put the chewed gum in the wrapper to discard it. But that was rarely the case, as far as I can recall. The gum was often discarded in waste baskets and, unhappily, on the street. On many occasions, particularly after having my shoes shined, I would step on a piece of used chewing gum and would be looking for a putty knife to remove it. When the used gum was discarded in a waste basket, as in the ordinary office, I cannot imagine the cleaning person looking kindly upon this exercise, because the gum stuck to almost everything. But for many years, perhaps fifty or more, chewing gum was an exercise in American democracy. We chewed our gum and made Mr. Wrigley rich and famous. In my own case, I would like to believe that I never dropped my gum on the sidewalk where it could be stepped on by another citizen. But for the last fifty or sixty years, I cannot recall having purchased a package of Mr. Wrigley’s gum. Now as I try to disengage some used chewing gum from my newly shinned shoes, let us turn to a tonic that is also taken by the mouthful. Not long after the Second World War was finished, Geritol, a tonic, appeared on the market that was rumored to provide aging men with renewed vigor. This was before Viagra and the many steroids ever made any appearance at all. As men approached the far reaches of their life span, they often sought the help of a tonic that would miraculously boost their spirits and their vigor. The advertising for Geritol did nothing to discourage these views but in the final analysis, I am of the belief that Geritol was a fraud and provided nothing more than another mouthful of nostalgia. But the reputation of Geritol was legendary. Only four or five years ago, a famous essayist wrote these lines:

When one approaches the eighth decade of life, it becomes an article of faith with every newspaper reporter that in the case of any mishap, the lead sentence will pivot on the age of the oldster. If, for example, an 82 year old man parks his car, enters a drugstore and his car is hit while he is buying his Geritol, the lead sentence in any newspaper account will say, “The car of an 82 year old man was involved in a serious collision.” That is the way it is. My retirement from driving is meant to thwart such journalistic bombast.

As you can see, this well-known essayist deplores the fact that Geritol has disappeared from the market. He attributes his youthful appearance, wavy hair and zest for life to the regular ingestion of Geritol. Perhaps the Chinese drug manufacturers will soon have a tonic on the market that will cause the drug store cash registers to jingle and to give hope to American men. Well, there you have my thoughts on Jawbreakers, Wrigley’s chewing gum, and the magic tonic called Geritol. I am reasonably certain that reading this essay will not greatly increase the scientific knowledge that researchers look for. But that was not the point in the beginning. The point was that this old essayist had a feeling of nostalgia in his heart for Jawbreakers, chewing gum, and Geritol. Those three items constitute a reasonable subject for nostalgia for all kinds. And so in this essay I am not devoted to scientific pursuits but rather to mouthfuls of nostalgia. E. E. CARR May 26, 2008 Essay 316 MOUTHFULS OF NOSTALGIA EXTRA!!! Newark Star Ledger, Tuesday June 17, 2008 mothfulls of nostalgia



Kevin’s commentary: That gum machine looks like something that would be deeply satisfying to use. Same as a pressure washer. I’m rather glad that gum has not gone the way of Geritol; unlike Pop I still buy chewing gum regularly. Perhaps I should send him a pack, if he’d be so kind as to let me know which flavor he preferred. I feel like the jawbreakers’ colorful appeal would probably be lost on him at this point, so those are out. The part about the machines made me think — gumballs are one of the only things that haven’t undergone any sort of price change since I was a kid. They were 25c when I was twelve, and they’re 25c now. The machine is limited by the fact that nobody carries around dollar or half-dollar coins, so 25 cents is about as expensive as it can be. But inflation charges on. So what is to become of the gum machines? At some point before too too long they will cease being profitable for the establishments which house them. I guess you could just start to fit them with credit card readers; absurd solutions are sometimes the best ones.


Since 1928 when Al Smith was defeated by Herbert Hoover, I have been an interested observer of the political scene in American politics. During the better part of four years, at the conclusion of the 1960s, I had the privilege of being a lobbyist in Washington where the scene played out, if you will, nearly at my feet. During the 80 years that I have been observing American politics, it has always been my belief that if a politician fathers a child out of wedlock and is also arrested for driving under the influence, he will resign as gracefully as possible and do so immediately. But apparently that’s how it was done when I was a younger person. In the year 2008, it appears that these rules do not necessarily apply any more.

Vito Fossella is the Representative in Congress for all of Staten Island. He also represents a small slice of Brooklyn. He is a Republican, the party that stands square and fair for family values.

Fossella has served in Congress since 1997, when he was designated by Guy Molinari as the candidate to succeed his daughter. For many years, Molinari had represented Staten Island in Congress and when he grew tired of that job, he was able to pass it to his daughter Susan. She left the job in 1997, which made the way clear for Vito Fossella to take over.

Vito is now about 43 years of age and is married to a woman named Mary Pat. The facts suggest that Mary Pat is not only trusting beyond belief but similarly is naïve starting with day one. There are three young Fossella children living on Staten Island with their mother and occasionally with their father, apparently. From what must be gathered from his duties as a Representative in Congress, Vito must have served on committees that had something to do with the Pentagon. At this point, we must introduce Laura Fay, apparently a femme fatale who has two divorces behind her.

Laura Fay attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the American Air Force. I have no belief that Laura Fay ever flew a mission or had anything to do with airplanes. My best guess is that Mrs. Fay was a Washington creature who lobbied congressmen on behalf of the Air Force and of course the Pentagon. Apparently Mrs. Fay did her job exceedingly well, because she and Vito became close companions. This companionship led to a pregnancy and a young daughter who is now three years old.

From all that can be learned, Congressman Fossella never published his address while he was in Washington. Did he sleep on a park bench? Or did he sleep in the rear seat of the automobile provided him by this government? For the ten years that he has been in Congress or most of those ten years, Vito’s address in Washington was unknown. Roll Call, a publication having to do almost exclusively with developments on Capitol Hill, Washington, says that he is the only one of 535 members of Congress who enjoyed the anonymity of having no home address while he served in the nation’s capital.

Earlier this month, George W. Bush welcomed the members of the New York Giants football team for their victory in the Super Bowl, which was played three months earlier. In those situations, it is normal for a congressman to provide a dinner for some of the people attending the presentation with Mr. Bush. Apparently Mr. Fossella had enough to drink at his party for part of the New York delegation and then may have had a little more afterwards. In any case, in Alexandria, Virginia, he ran a red light and the cops smelled liquor on his breath and arrested him for drunk driving. The cops put him in jail and he was rescued by none other than Laura Fay who posted his $2,500 bond to spring him. It was at this point that, when reporters asked who Laura Fay might be, the whole story broke.

Shortly after the story broke, it was alleged that Mary Pat had told Vito that he was no longer welcome at their residence, so he took an apartment over his mother’s garage elsewhere on Staten Island. For the past three weeks or so, Vito has kept his head down and has made no public appearances until the weekend of May 17. There was a Conservative dinner on Friday night of this past week, where Vito showed up after the drinks had been served and made no speeches but shook hands all around. Curiously, Vito is not regarded as a pariah, apparently, even though the Conservative Party on Staten Island seems to treasure what some politicians call “family values” issues.

On top of making his appearance, Vito intimated to friends that he fully intends to run for another term in this fall’s election. Guy Molinari is the “stud duck” of Staten Island politics, and he says that he will support Vito in his quest for another term, but he does not do so with great enthusiasm. If I were a Democrat running for a congressional seat, I would move my residence to Staten Island with the hope that Vito would not withdraw his offer to run this fall. His conduct makes him absolutely radioactive but the Conservatives, the “values people,” seem to think that Vito is their candidate and they are stuck with him.

For my part as an observer of the American political scene for 80 years, I would suggest that Vito’s behavior is nothing other than chutzpah in the extreme. There are three innocent children on Staten Island and one innocent child in Alexandria, and a naïve and innocent wife on Staten Island also. Whether Laura Fay is innocent or not, I decline to comment. But that Vito will, if everything goes well for him, return to Congress, where he will vote against every measure having to do with providing benefits for gay Americans. He will also support Bush’s veto of the stem cell research plan and he will cheer whenever he sees the sainted Dick Cheney hove into view. Clearly, things have changed on the American political scene, and certainly not for the better. If Vito’s chutzpah actually leads him to become a candidate for another congressional term, the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington will weep endlessly.

When the new week broke after the dinner described earlier, it is obvious that the conservatives had second thoughts. Someone must have told Vito that his candidacy for a new term would give that congressional seat to Democrats. In effect, the Republican Party disowned Vito even though the rejection came much later than it should have. Vito now says that he will not seek a new term.

Vito also says that he will serve out the remainder of his term until January, 2009, where he will proudly cast his votes for conservative causes along with Senator Vitter of Louisiana and Senator Craig of Idaho. Vitter, you may recall, was a patron of a notorious call girl ring in Washington while Craig, who is known for his “wide stance” when using the bathroom is contending with charges that he is a gay man. It must be assumed that Vitter and Craig will welcome Vito into their midst with open arms because in recent months, they have shared a sense of great loneliness.

May 19, 2008
Essay 315
Kevin’s commentary: It’s like Rob Ford seeking re-election. Why oh why?

Also, I forgot how good of a year 2008 was for scandals. People just went wild.


This essay is not about my usual subjects such as politics or religion or the failures of mankind; it is about crying. Specifically, it is about the crying of men who have passed the age of puberty.

This past week has been a difficult week for me. On Tuesday, April 27, Jim Livermore called to tell me of his father’s death. His father, Harry, was my friend of more than 56 years. Naturally, I cried and so did Jim.

On Friday, May 2, we learned of the death of Sabrina Simmonds. Sabrina was the daughter of Kay and Garth Simmonds, a gentleman who works in the produce department at the Whole Foods Market in Millburn, New Jersey. To demonstrate the fragility of life, Harry Livermore was 92 and one half years of age. Sabrina, unfortunately, lived only five days after her birth. This may demonstrate what all of us have known for many years, that life is often cruel and at best, is a crapshoot.

I was informed of Sabrina’s death by Paul Byfield and by Alrick Simmonds, who is Garth’s brother. Judy, my wife, and I had looked forward to Sabrina’s birth and had kept track with Garth whenever we saw him as to how things were progressing.

Garth works two jobs. One is at the food market, and the other is at a transit company. If my understanding is correct, Garth was able to take time off from work at the food market but he could not make a similar arrangement at the transit company. We knew that Garth’s wife was due to deliver around May 1st and we had not seen him for several days, which we attributed to his staying home to attend to his wife.

When Paul Byfield and Alrick Simmonds met me on the floor of the produce department, one or the other said, “You’re family. You ought to know that Sabrina didn’t make it.” I knew that the child was to be named Sabrina, as Judy and I had prepared a letter to welcome her into this world. But as Paul and Alrick told me, Sabrina just didn’t make it. She was taken from us before we had a chance to even know her.

When the terrible news sank into my brain, I responded as I always do to such events by crying. Paul and Alrick comforted me by saying, “Hey, Ed, it’s OK to cry. You’re family.” At this point I ought to tell you that Paul Byfield and the Simmonds brothers, as well as Owen Ganae in the bake shop, are all Jamaicans. Taking one thing with another it is my considered judgment, after all these years, that the happiest and most outgoing people in the world are Jamaicans. Those Jamaicans came to this country some time ago in an effort to better themselves. Garth’s wife Kay is a Liberian who came here for the same reason and is studying nursing. She had hoped that the delivery of her child would not interfere with the examinations at the nursing school, which occur about this time of year.

So the Jamaican immigrants who do the heavy lifting told Judy and myself, “You’re family.” And they have told me, because of that reason, it is appropriate to cry.

Judy and I are extremely proud to be considered as part of the Jamaican family. They have our love and our support at every turn, and in my case, it is commonplace to expect that I would cry at the news of Sabrina’s being taken from us so early in her life.

Crying at bad news, particularly deaths, is not unmanly. During World War II, on more than one occasion, I wept at the knowledge that my bunkmates in the enlisted men’s barracks were gone. At the burial ceremony for a Scottish soldier who served with the British Eighth Army, I wept as the bagpipes played the mournful tune, “The Flowers of the Forest.” I was not alone.

But World War II is now a distant memory for those of us who were involved in it. Younger people consider it an ancient war that has no bearing on their future. I can understand that. But now we have two conflicts in far-off places called Iraq and Afghanistan. The maws of war in Iraq have claimed more than 4,000 of our soldiers’ lives. I weep at the waste of these lives, and I also weep because there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

I also weep at the loss of at least 200,000 Iraqi lives and at the displacement from their homes of 4 million of their fellow countrymen. This war is a disaster which shows no signs of ending soon.

Aside from weeping over the loss of life, it might also be observed that the war in Iraq has undermined the American economy, with the dollar dropping to record lows and with our prestige around the world in tatters. We are no longer feared by other countries in the world nor are we respected and admired. They view us as invaders and occupiers.

So you see, from my viewpoint, there is much to weep about these days. But I take comfort in knowing that we are part of the Jamaican family. When Paul and Alrick said, “Hey, Ed, it’s OK to cry. You’re family,” it gave me great comfort.

I suppose that the feelings of my Jamaican friends not only reinforces our welcome in their midst but also reminds us that we are all part of the family of mankind. The sense of familyhood clearly extends beyond the borders of a country. It involves all humankind.

The discussion with Paul and Alrick took place yesterday. Since that time, I have thought about them, about Garth and his wife Kay, and about Sabrina. And for reasons unknown to me, a poem cannot be shaken from my brain. It is “The New Colossus.” You may recognize it as the work of Emma Lazarus, whose family had been in this country since before the American Revolution. For whatever it is worth, Emma Lazarus was a Sephardic Jew. Perhaps her background in that faith gave her a deeper understanding of what it would mean to be an immigrant looking for a place to live and prosper. Biographical material also suggests that there were occasions when her Christian friends would refer to her as that “Jewess.” “The New Colossus” was written in 1883 and 20 years later, in 1903, the poem was inscribed and placed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The poem reads as follows:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shores.
Send them, the homeless tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

I believe that Emma Lazarus’s poem aptly states the message that there is hope for all of the children of mankind, immigrant or native born.

For the Jamaicans who consider us part of their family, I would remind them that the Statue of Liberty is an immigrant herself. She was fashioned in France and shipped to this country to be assembled on a small island in the harbor of New York City. When Miss Liberty lifts her torch beside the golden door, it reminds all of us that we are part of the family of man. And as for the Jamaicans considering us part of their family, Judy and I are not only proud but flattered as well. Jamaicans enjoy life and are happy people. At our ages, happiness and joy are a wonderful thing to have. And if you see a grown man crying once in a while, put your arm around his shoulder and tell him that it is quite alright for a grown man to cry now and then. And then say that you understand.

This week ended with another tragic affair. It has nothing to do with immigrants but it may have something to do with the family of man. Today, the greatest horse race in this country took place, the Kentucky Derby. It was won by a burly horse named “Big Brown” with the second place going to a filly, a female horse, named “Eight Belles”. She was the only filly in this race. When Eight Belles passed the finish line, she collapsed and it was found that both of her front ankles were fractured. Unfortunately, this is a fatal injury for a race horse and she was euthanized while still on the racetrack.

When one of the trainers of Eight Belles was asked after the race for his reaction, he gave a very thoughtful reply. He said, “I did the manly thing. I cried.”

And so this quotation from one of the trainers of Eight Belles has been lifted to supply the title of this essay. Men and animals have a close relationship, and I am certain that the people who raised Eight Belles are grieving. Perhaps they will also cry and if that is the case, I would like to tell them that this old weeper understands.

May 3, 2008
Essay 312
Kevin’s commentary: A few thoughts strike me here. The first is pride. Pop has made himself a member of quite a few families, including the Jamacians mentioned, a family of very kind Costa Rican immigrants, and of course his biological family. It speaks volumes of Pop’s character that he is so close to so many people. I got to meet Jenny recently and she treated Pop as well as any family member would. Pop is loved by a whole bunch of people, and that’s something he should be very proud of.

The second, though, is that this past weekend there was somewhat of an occasion for tears. My brother and I were visiting Pop and Judy in good old New Jersey. When it came time to leave, there were a good bit of crying all around, but none from Pop. Clearly from this essay, he knew that it was okay to cry, but he saw no real reason to do so. His empathy for others’ predicaments seems like it outstrips his own concerns by far, which is a rare quality in a man.

In honor of Mr. Livermore, here are five essays in which he is mentioned. He seemed like a heck of a fellow.







My soul, such as it is, was tormented by the thought of giving a title to this essay. Originally I had planned to call this essay “The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost.” Then it dawned on me that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright had used that comment recently, and the results were far from rosy. The second title that occurred to me was one that originated with Lillie, my mother. It holds that “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” The fact of the matter is that my mother never saw a cat skinned, nor did I. Quite to the contrary, this house here has been the home, in order of progression, for Sean, Shannon, and Shamrock. All were wonderful cats, and I would die first rather than to see them skinned.

In the final analysis, this essay is about the greatly inflated prices that we are now paying for gasoline, food, and every other commodity that must be moved from its place of manufacture to its place of consumption. At heart it is my fundamental belief that the major moving force in these inflationary prices stems from the war that George Bush has declared in invading Iraq. Absent this war, we would still be friends, I hope, with the Arab nations and with the other oil-producers around the world. But that clearly is not the case.

Let us deal first with the chickens that are coming home to roost. When the United States invaded Iraq, it was interpreted in every Arab country as an assault on Islam, their religion. Even George Bush referred to our efforts there as “the Crusades.” One of his brighter aides told him that “the Crusades” were anathema to any person who subscribes to the Islamic faith. Obviously Bush did not know this, but in any case he has quit referring to our misadventure in Iraq as “a crusade.” So from day one of this tragedy, we are viewed as cruel interlopers who are determined to wipe out the faith of Islam. Westerners who believe that this is just another war are greatly mistaken. To the Arabs, it is an attempt to subjugate them and to destroy their faith.

So Bush has started this misadventure by poking every Arab in the eye and wondering why the Arabs do not love us as liberators. The fact of the matter is that much of the world’s oil supply lies in Arab lands. It is the ultimate foolishness to believe that any nation that has been deliberately poked in the eye is inclined to do you any favors during a time of strife. May I suggest that very few people in Saudi Arabia are distraught by the thought of Americans paying four dollars or five dollars per gallon for gasoline. The fact of the matter is that they are laughing their heads off at our predicament and their King told Mr. Bush last week that he should go perform an impossible sex act on himself when he asked for the Saudis to increase production. Clearly, the chickens from the Arab lands are indeed coming home to roost and before long, many of them will settle in Crawford, Texas.

Not only did we alienate the Arab countries, but we went out of our way to alienate the oil producers in Iran. If that is not good enough, it was our policy to isolate the Syrians who might have helped us at this time of dire economic circumstance. But the Syrians are saying to Mr. Bush, “Please get lost.”

Bush’s flouting of the feelings of the rest of the world did not stop with the Arab countries. In eight years in office, Mr. Bush has visited Canada only once, and that was a time he used to brag about his re-election and the fact that he now had additional capital to spend and he was going to use it. The result was an effort to privatize Social Security, which was roundly defeated. Mexico, our other neighbor, has been treated very much like a pariah. Unfortunately, Canada and Mexico have some oil to spare but they are not going to look favorably upon people who ignore them and step on their toes. So the Western Hemisphere chickens are indeed coming home to roost also.

To go a little bit further, Mr. Bush has gone out of his way to provoke President Chavez of Venezuela, a country where oil is produced in great gobs. Earlier this year, when he visited Africa, it was interesting to see that he avoided going to Nigeria. Whether we like it or not, Nigeria and Venezuela are afloat in oil, and it is of the best kind, called “sweet” oil. But the Nigerians and the Venezuelans are not prepared to send us any love letters. They are sending their chickens to the United States for roosting purposes.

So you see that Mr. Bush has started a war and he clearly has no idea of how to finish it. John McCain, the prospective Republican nominee for president, promises us that the war will go on until the year 2013. That would make the Iraqi war of at least ten years in duration. During that time, it is clear that many other chickens will be sent home to roost in this country.

I am quite aware that increased demand has driven up the price of oil. But those increased demands have always been taken care of in the past. The thing that is different in this case is that we have sent our crusaders to subdue Iraq and, to the Arab mind, to subdue Islam. Much of the rest of the world is angry with this war in Iraq. No one really wishes us well.

Under the Bush administration, this country is no longer feared, nor is it respected or admired. The fact that this administration has engaged in torture is another reason to send chickens to this country to roost. And so I am forced to the conclusion that the chickens that are coming home to roost are products of the misadventure in Iraq, a war with unintended consequences. We now know that the consequences of that war may well result in the bankruptcy of this country.

And so at this point let us turn from chickens coming home to roost and proceed to skinning cats. The phrase “skinning cats” is a metaphorical one and I know of no one who has ever really skinned a cat. The phrase “skinning cats” merely means that there is more than one way to get the job done. For example, if I cannot get from this house to New York City by car, I will take a train. When it comes to crossing the Hudson River, I might take a ferry or I might skin a cat by taking the Hudson tubes. The point is that there is more than one way to get the desired result.

When we set out to invade Iraq, the Iraqi Army was no match for the forces of the United States Army or its Air Force. Within a matter of a few days, the Americans were knocking on the doors of Baghdad. But those Iraqis who regarded us as occupiers did not intend to engage our army in a symmetric game of warfare. They resorted to an insurgency which has kept our forces hung up for more than five years. If John McCain has his way, the blood of Americans and Iraqis will be spilled for at least five more years. But while the Iraqis could not defeat us in this asymmetric war, they and the other Islamic nations had another card to play. The other card had to do with accommodating the world’s desire for greatly increased amounts of oil.

The Indians and the Chinese are now competing for the oil that can be produced and we find ourselves paying a highly inflated price. The cost of a barrel of oil is increasing by about four dollars per day and, if my memory is correct, it was well into $130 per barrel this morning. And remember, please, that the Iraqis have a strangle hold on much of the world’s oil. So if they cannot kill all of our soldiers in Baghdad, they can retaliate by making it very uncomfortable for the American oppressors when they fill their gas tanks or when they go to the grocery store.

It is my belief that, within a short time, we will soon be paying five dollars per gallon for gasoline and we will remember four dollars per gallon with fond memories. A respected commentator who deals with oil as a business, this morning suggested that the price of a gallon of gas may eventually approach twelve to fifteen dollars. Simply put, when the cost of oil and other commodities reaches a level that is beyond the purchasing power of the American public, there will be an effort to do something about the root cause of this inflationary exercise. The root cause, of course, is the Iraq war. When our legislators and perhaps a new administration in Washington get this message, there will be no choice but to end this conflict as quickly as possible because of the drain on our financial resources. In the end, it is becoming much more clear that the misadventure in Iraq is perhaps the most catastrophic failure since the founding of the American government. This war was brought to you by George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, who will soon leave office. When their successors go to straighten out this terrific mess, Bush and Cheney will accuse them of “cutting and running” and denying the American people a great victory if we had only held on for another year or so.

So you see, the people that we set out to subjugate in Iraq have the means of fighting back. It is not necessarily a matter of bullets and bombs but of oil and dollars. Bush and Cheney brought this tragic event to the American people, but with their financial resources they may well be able to avoid its ultimate consequences. The losers will be all of those of us whose net worth is substantially less than one billion dollars.

My first job had to do with selling gasoline at Carl Schroth’s Mobil Gas Station in Clayton, Missouri. Before life is done, I may be back selling $12 gasoline to people like myself who cannot afford it. But, boys and girls, that is what happens when the chickens come home to roost and when there is a cat to be skinned.

May 22, 2008
Essay 317
Commentary: As a concrete prediction this has yet to pan out – John McCain didn’t get elected, oil is back to around $98 per barrel in February 2014, and gas in New Providence costs $3.40. Would this have happened under a McCain presidency? My gut reaction is no, but then again, maybe we’d all be filling up just by dipping gas cans directly into Sarah Palin’s Keystone Pipeline.


This may come as a shock to many of my readers, but in this essay, I will be dealing with a subject that I know a little bit about. From 1946 through the summer of 1951, I was an official of the Communications Workers of America. Then in 1951 the management of AT&T offered me a supervisory job. And so it was from the spring of 1955 through the spring of 1966 that I dealt with that same union as a representative of the management of AT&T and its subsidiary companies. In those 16 years, I thought that I had seen it all when it came to relations between the union and the management it dealt with. But in recent years, Carla Katz, the president of CWA Local 1034 has struck me out with a combination of curve balls and a change of pace.

It is quite possible that envy and jealousy may color my recitation of the events that populate this essay. On the other hand, I would claim that the facts are so evident that they speak for themselves. Carla Katz is the president of Local 1034 of the CWA, which represents many of the state government workers of the great state of New Jersey. Madame Katz has claimed that her local represents as many as 16,500 members. Now back when I was a representative of the CWA, my local, 6350 in St. Louis, had somewhere between 700 and 1,000 members. So Carla Katz wins this one hands down.

Madame Katz is paid $100,000 per annum for her work with that local. When I was the president of Local 6350, I received no salary at all. If my union duties took me away from my work with AT&T, the union would pay me my company salary, which was about 70 to 75 bucks a week. As you can see, I didn’t get rich working for AT&T or the CWA.

During my time as a union representative, I was also a member of the executive board of the Long Lines unit, and I was one of the five members of the National Bargaining Committee. Bargaining took place in New York City and I stayed at the magnificent Piccadilly Hotel on 45th Street. The union paid for my lodging and for perhaps two meals a day. But my wages included nothing from the union and covered only the $70 to $75 a week that represented my AT&T salary. During my work with the union, I made many friends. However, I collected no lovers at all. This apparently is a failing on my part, for which I have no adequate explanation. On the other hand, if a union representative, even at the lowest level, were found to be sleeping with the management, it was a treasonable offense. Putting it simply, there is no logic in sleeping with the management at night and then negotiating with them for raises and improved benefits during the daytime. That would have been the source for excommunication from the grand and glorious Communications Workers of America. But apparently, as time has gone on, the rules have changed.

If newspaper accounts are to be believed, and I believe them, Mrs. Katz was negotiating with the grand Governor of the great State of New Jersey while she was also living in close proximity to his majesty. In short, they were lovers. When I was a union representative, it would be unthinkable to bring a proposal to my members and tell them, “This is the best we can do,” while knowing that I was snuggling up to my management representative. But as I say, the rules seem to have changed because no action has taken place to burn Mrs. Katz at the stake or even to send her into the wilderness. Quite to the contrary, Mrs. Katz cashes her checks, representing the $100,000 she is paid annually, and is now offering herself as a candidate for the vice-presidency of the whole union. As lovers often do, there was a falling out between Madame Katz and Jon Corzine, our grand governor. Jon Corzine goes first class and when their relationship ended, he picked up the tab for $650,000 on a property that was owned by Mrs. Katz. She has two children in private schools, and it has been alleged that the Governor also had agreed to pick up the tab for their education. The Governor and Mrs. Katz have not confided in me with respect to the truth of this allegation.

Now that Madame Katz was free of Jon Corzine, it is apparent that she cast her spell over the young mayor of the largest city in the great state of New Jersey. That would be Cory Booker, the mayor of the grand and glorious city of Newark. While Mrs. Katz was the recipient of Jon Corzine’s largesse, it appears that she has reversed that situation with respect to Cory Booker. The Star-Ledger of New Jersey, which is a reputable newspaper, has printed the story that in recent months Madame Katz has donated $20,000 of union money to Mayor Booker, and she has put a dollop of whipped cream on the top of that by her own contribution of $10,000 to Mr. Booker.

Mr. Booker, as far as we can tell, is single and, if one is able to read between the lines in the Star-Ledger report, it appears that he and Mrs. Katz have a “close personal friendship.” It could be that preachers and choir singers would regard this “close personal friendship” as platonic, but most of the rest of us would contend that Cory Booker has simply assumed the place in Mrs. Katz’s life that Jon Corzine has vacated.

There has been some indication that the members of her Local 1034 have objected to her contribution of union funds on the order of $20,000 to Mr. Booker. In the old days, this would have been another treasonable offense, but in these new days, apparently this illicit contribution is to be shrugged off and nobody will be burned at the stake.

Obviously Carla Katz is leading a charmed life, during which she collects important men as lovers and as companions and as sponsors. I freely admit to envy and jealously, but I played by Puritan rules when I had something to do for the CWA.

But now I have a suggestion for the United States government. Soon there will be a new administration in Washington guiding the affairs of the government of this country. It is my suggestion that Carla Katz be appointed as Secretary of State and that she should turn her wiles loose on the head man of North Korea, Kim Jong Il. When Carla is finished with the head man of North Korea and takes some plutonium from him, he will be as gentle as a lap cat. Then she should turn her attention to Bashar al-Assad, the head man in Syria. Assad is an ophthalmologist by training and he understands English quite well, so it will not be necessary for Carla to understand the language of the Arabs. My belief is that within a month, Carla will have bagged al-Assad and, as a token of their close affection, she may assure the State of Israel that the Golan Heights are forever theirs. In the lovelike process, Carla may procure a new set of spectacles from the President of Syria as he tries his hand at his previous occupation.

Her final objective would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, who presents a special challenge in that he speaks Farsi. It is clear to me that when Carla turns her special wiles loose on the President of Iran, he will make peace with Israel and with the United States, and may even ask Carla to be his bride, as we do not know whether there is a Madame Ahmadinejad.

So you see, we have a resource that is untapped here. She is a wealthy woman by virtue of the gifts from Jon Corzine, and Cory Booker, a very personable young man, may even become the Mayor of both Newark and Teheran.

Well, there you have my thoughts about the union business as it exists these days. In the old days, Mrs. Katz would probably have been excommunicated from the union for consorting with Jon Corzine and then for making the union contribution to the Mayor of Newark. But that is not the way it is done these days, so Carla continues to meow and purr, and from time to time, she may smile as she curls up on the lap of one of her benefactors in Pyongyang, Damascus, and Teheran. I am quite confident that the next President of the United States will feel that he has an obligation to me for my suggestion that Carla be the successor to Condoleezza.

May 19, 2008
Essay 314
Kevin’s commentary: Pop has made a critical oversight. So far, Mrs. Katz has been engaged with people who are nominally sane, if somewhat dumb. They are also, relatively speaking, powerless. But what happens when you break up with Kim Jong Un? Or he realizes that you’re cheating on him with Ahmadinejad? This is the guy who executed his own uncle for shits and giggles. Things are going to get really ugly really fast.

That said, if the proper procedures were put in place, Mrs. Katz could be used as a tactical way of eliminating America’s enemies. The 21st century solution to this issue would obviously be a reality show. Katz and her squad of translators would go to a mansion somewhere with all of her suitors, and then Corzine, al-Assad, etc would soon be engaged in footraces and other challenges to win her affection. I’d watch it.