Archive for the Fiction Category


In Prague, there lived a wicked Queen named From No To. Her lovely daughter Princess To Yes From lived in a forest outside Olomouc. In a cave in downtown Brno lived another princess, Princess Two One Third. The wicked queen sold contraceptives and 10,000 old condoms.

Princess To Yes From had warm feelings toward Princess Two One Third. Princess Two One Third returned those feelings by saying that for Princess To Yes From, she had a case of the hots which in the American idiom is a “case of the hots.”

So they made a reservation on the Pan Am Clipper leaving Ostrava for San Francisco to be married. Unfortunately, using the old contraceptives, both Princesses became pregnant with abdominal pains.

At that moment, George W. Bŭshkí said he would like to invade another Ay-rab country. Off the top of his head, he said, “What about Slovakiochecko?” As Commander in Chief, president Bŭshkí said they probably have lots of nuc-u-lar weapons and chloroform, so they need to be liberated, “Just like we done to the Iraqis.”

When the real Ay-rabs became acquainted with the American plans, they said there was no need for another war. “We will just buy that Slovakiochecko country.” Bŭshkí said he wanted more, so the real Ay-rabs said they would buy Egypt and Israel as well. But no, Bŭshkí wanted to liberate them Ay-rabs in Slovakiochecko. He said this had to be done because them people had thousands of mad cow herds.

So he ordered his invading troops to be taught to speak Italian, the language of Slovakiochecko. When they liberated Prague, all soldiers were to shout, “Gli Americani sono qui!” This means, “Take me out to the old ball game because the Americans are here.” Unfortunately, nobody in Prague played much baseball.

The bad Queen From No To had to see her new grandchildren even though she had a kidney with a leak as well as a bad bladder. So she had a meeting in her castle together with her leading dragon. She invited the two Princesses who had become hostesses in a clip joint in Olomouc.

The two princesses immediately fell in love again with the American soldiers. Bŭshkí was very happy that he had single-handedly liberated another Ay-rab country. The bad Queen From No To was making plans to marry Dick Cheney with Rush Limbaugh as best man.

Examinations by the National Guard Medical Corps doctors in Alabama and in Texas showed that Princess To Yes From was 33 and 1/3rd  virgin and Princess Two One Third was a 67% virgin. The extra 1/3 percent of virginity was offered to the Catholic Church as the priests would know what to do with it.

At that instant, Prince Charles appeared balancing his tea cup in his hand. Both Princesses and the bad Queen decided that they would give Prince Charles their virginity to take home to Queen Elizabeth at Sandringham Castle.

And everyone lived happily ever after, especially that fierce warrior Prince Charley! The Prince looks radiant because Czech doctors told him he was pregnant!

Note: The “arthur” of this here Fairy Story thinks it ought to take prizes in Czech and in English literature.


…Was Pop high?

Also what am I missing here? With the crazy names, it seems like there should be puns or something, but I’m just utterly lost. What did I just read.

Judy sheds some light via email.


This was a bit strange at the time, but it was aimed at Hana Davis (Howard’s wife). She was born in Czechoslovakia and is a very bright lady. Her sense of humor matched Ed’s and they often had interesting telephone exchanges. She was an admirer of British Royalty as England took her in during the Holocaust. The genesis of the essay probably had something to do with one of those conversations, but Ed sent the essay to Howard, so maybe it started at his request. This is the only time that I recall he actually wrote an absurd essay instead of sending a letter.

Ed had long running correspondence with various individuals on topics that would go on for years. With each consecutive correspondence, the story line would be embellished by both parties. With Sven in Sweden, it was about the Russian submarines sneaking into Stockholm and reading and delivering the essays to Sven. With Harry Livermore, it was about growing hair on the top of their heads or about their shared time in Chicago. With Cal Tuggle, a world class good ‘ol Southern-boy storyteller, it was often about Yulee, Florida and the city officials there (Ed apparently got a speeding ticket in Yulee.) Those are particularly hilarious.

It was weird to me when Ed wrote this one. But I never questioned him.



I offer you this three part preamble to set the record straight and to prepare you for my thoughts on Yasser Arafat’s love life.

Writing about this subject comes naturally. My first name is Ezra who is generally described as the scribe of Jerusalem in what the Christians call the Old Testament. (See the Book of Ezra between II Chronicles and Nehemiah.) I write about the romantic side of Arafat because I have clearly inherited Ezra’s genes. There is no reason why an Irishman could not be the recipient of the genes of an ancient Hebrew scribe.

Some Right Wing Bush supporters may conclude that I choose to deal with the delicate side of Arafat because I am a liberal Democrat. All Bush supporters know for a fact that liberal Democrats are basically gay. Please take it from me. There are two wives and several thousand close female acquaintances spread across the globe who will testify that I am a vigorous, heterosexual man with no latent homosexual tendencies.

My Right Wing friends will probably take delight when I say that Arafat is a liar, a man who fails to deliver and a two faced imposter. I am glad to say that. To borrow a favorite phrase from Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Arafat is a cad. (long “a”). I’m not

sure what a cad does to bring infamy down upon his head, but if Mrs. Thatcher thinks he is a cad, then I will be the first to bow to Her Britannic Majesty.

Now having settled all that, we can proceed to Yasser’s love life.


Since the Israeli’s have decided to reoccupy the towns in the West Bank, I find myself thinking about Yasser Arafat. In this case, I am not thinking of his military strategy nor him hunkered down in Ramallah without electricity or running water. Basically, I find myself thinking of his headdress and its effect on his love life. In Arabic, it is called a kaffiyeh. Ordinarily, the kaffiyeh is worn when a man also wears the long gown, usually white, called a thwab. In the more orthodox offices in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Yemen, the kaffiyeh and the thwab are worn almost exclusively. In Egypt, Western clothes seem to be favored by 50% to 60% of workers in offices. In the rest of the Muslim countries in North Africa, Western clothing predominates.

Arafat seldom wears a thwab but he is never seen without his kaffiyeh. His usual dress is some sort of military outfit topped off by his kaffiyeh.

Arab men who favor the thwab baffle me. It is completely ungainly. It buttons high up on the neck, so it is a hot garment to wear. The thwab stretches from the neck to the shoe tops. In the desert where it is warm, dirt is kicked up with each step and a good bit of that has to settle on the hem of the thwab.

In the times that I have been in thwab-wearing countries, I have never used restroom facilities with a thwab-wearing Arab man. In short, I don’t know how they handle bodily functions such as using a urinal. The Pope often refers to the mysteries of life so I suppose this is a piece of information that non-Arab men will not be privy to in this life. But in Arafat’s case, this presents no problem. His main concern is his kaffiyeh which he must keep balanced on his bald pate.

The kaffiyeh consists of a square piece of cloth measuring about 52 inches to 54 inches along its edges. It is usually made of cotton and rayon. In colder months, it may be blended with some wool.

In summer months, the kaffiyeh has a sort of checkerboard pattern with alternating black and white squares being the standard. In winter months, most men wear a slightly heavier cloth with red squares alternating with white squares. The kaffiyeh is held on by two bands of black which are put over the cloth and pulled down on the head so that the kaffiyeh does not blow off in desert winds.

While nearly every other Arab man moves from the black and white kaffiyeh in summer to the red and white one for winter, Arafat always sticks with his summer head dress – all year long. It is doubtful that he has it dry cleaned, certainly not in Ramallah. If he has replaced the kaffiyeh with a new one, it can’t be discerned from television images or from newspaper photos. So Arafat watchers are left to conclude that the kaffeyeh you see today is he same one he has worn for a long time.

Arafat is in his early 70’s. He stands only five feet four inches tall and his physique is most often described as dumpy. In short, he is not the sort of man that movie producers cast in leading roles. In opera terms, he might be in the chorus, certainly not in the leading tenor role. He simply is not a romantic figure. On top of all that, he is pigeon toed.

He seldom shaves so we always see him with unattractive stubble adorning his face. It might be guessed that he should see a dentist. The thought that he seems to wear the same clothes, including the same kaffiyeh, might suggest that his personal hygiene is not so great. One might think that a bath or shower might be in order.

While we are on Arafat’s shortcomings, it is important that I again please my Bush supporters, and Right Wing conservative friends by stating that he is a liar, he doesn’t keep his word and is an all around low life. I thought all that went without saying, but a few of my friends would want me to again state the obvious, so here it is. They love to hear this tripe. In spite of all of his shortcomings, Sharon and Right Wing American conservatives have created so much sympathy for Arafat, that he (Arafat) now enjoys his greatest popularity. Students carry banners with his picture on them and often sing his praises. I think Sharon and U. S. Right Wing conservatives might want to study the effects of boomerangs. They certainly have one in this case.

In spite of all of Arafat’s failures, this essayist holds that truth in advertising must prevail and therefore, we should now address a glimpse of Arafat’s love life.

Several years ago when Arafat was only 25 or 30 or 35 years of age, he certainly would look better than he does today. For one thing, the subtraction of 30 or 35 years would still leave him at five feet four inches. But in this inquiry into fantasy, let us suppose that he had a certain charm which came from part of his up bringing in Cairo. Lately, when we come across Arafat, we find him in Ramallah or Bethlehem or Nablus, all West Bank towns.

Even though Arafat views himself as a revolutionary, nobody ever suggested that he led a celibate life. He was no cloistered monk. So one day in Ramallah, Arafat sees a beautiful Palestinian girl who has distained traditional Arab clothing and who wears what many Palestinian men would consider to be fairly revealing clothes. By revealing, I mean it is apparent that she is a woman, not a person in an old ankle length housecoat.

At this point, Yasser did not know her name or where she lived. So he summoned his most loyal aide and explained to him that he needed to know where she lived in preparation for further romantic expressions. So the aide staked her out and after a time, he was able to follow her home even though buses and streetcars were involved.

His instructions from Arafat were to approach her parents, now that he knew where she lived, and explain that he was charged with explaining what a nice fellow Arafat was. That is the way things are done in Arab society. After talking to her father on the telephone, he was admitted to her home. He found out that her father had four wives in the house. He owned a string of camels which he used in his business of conducting Holy Land tours for wealthy non-Muslims visitors. The father offered him some strong Arabic coffee and then sat back to listen to what Arafat’s aide had to say.

It turns out that the beauty in question is the third daughter of the father’s second wife and her name is Qumrana. After a time, the father indicated that he was finished with this initial conversation, and Arafat’s aide departed and reported his new found information to his boss.

The trusted aide kept up his observance of the beautiful Qumrana and even had visions of cutting Arafat out and trying to win her for himself. He found out that Qumrana worked as a model at a fashion house devoted to clothing belly dancers. The place of employment is called

Mrs. Field’s Secrets of Desire. I know that is an unusual name all around, but my efforts to find out about that name have been amply rewarded.

A few years back when the owner of the belly dancers store was looking for a good location and name, she talked frequently to her sister who was then living as an unregistered immigrant in Newark, New Jersey, USA. Her sister had a maintenance job at the Short Hills Mall. She spoke very little English, which is why she was put to cleaning windows.

Her sister noticed that two new shops were being constructed next to each other at the Mall. One was a Mrs. Field’s cookie shop and immediately next to it was a new Victoria’s Secret emporium. Being unable to read English, she had only a vague idea of what these shops were intended to do. In fact, she concluded that the two stores were actually one store. When a clerk at Mrs. Fields was explaining a cookie recipe to a customer, she overheard her talking about a “cup” of this and a “cup” of that so she assumed that she was talking about women’s undergarments at Victoria’s Secret. Also, Mrs. Fields always keeps a plate of cookies on the display case in the hope of enticing passersby to have a free cookie and to buy her stuff.

The Newark Palestinian sister noticed that when a customer left Victoria’s Secret, they would almost always go by Mrs. Fields to take a free sample cookie. So she urgently told her sister that after a consumer bought a girdle in Victoria’s Secret store, for example, a reward of a toll house cookie was waiting for the customer at Mrs. Fields. That was the American marketing strategy: the package deal.

So her sister back in Ramallah followed the marketing formula given to her by her sister in America. If it is good enough for the Short Hills Mall, it ought to play well in Ramallah. He named her place Mrs. Fields Secrets of Desire and when a new veil or a new belly dancing dress was sold, she offered such a customer a large dollop of hummus, which is the other half of the package deal. And then she hired Qumrana as her model.

After Qumrana’s father had more or less dismissed Arafat’s lieutenant, Yasser went to work himself. Knowing the name of the father, he called in the Chaplain of Al Fatah, one of Arafat’s organizations, and told him that as Imam of the leading mosque in Ramallah, he ought to order Qumrana’s father to take himself and his wives on a Hajj. Every Muslim is expected to go to Mecca at least once while he is alive and touch the Kaaba (stone) which is at the center of their faith. The process is called a Hajj. Failure to do so results in banishment from Paradise.

So at the next Friday services at the mosque, in his homily, the Imam really leaned into backsliders who had failed to make the Hajj. He didn’t want any backsliding in the Mosque. Checking his records, the Imam knew that Qumrana’s father was so busy riding his camel and conducting his Holy Land tours that he had never made the pilgrimage to Mecca. In short, he was Hajj-less. And so under this pressure from the Imam, Qumrana’s father and his four wives and other children, decided that they had no alternative but to make the month long journey to Mecca, right now. Score one for Arafat!

While all of Qumrana’s parents and siblings were on their way to Mecca, Arafat had his trusted aide call on Qumrana to suggest having dinner with Yasser. She was not particularly interested in seeing Yasser for dinner, until she was informed that he intended to take her to Restaurant Arabian Nights where a sumptuous dinner would be offered. Qumrana also knew that most of the belly dancers at Restaurant Arabian Nights wore intimate apparel from her employer, Mrs. Field’s Secrets of Desire.

So she gave a reluctant “yes” to Arafat’s aide conditioned on the thought that real Arab men always wore a thwab. The kaffiyeh was a given. Without the thwab and kaffiyeh, she would stay home and eat a hamburger from McDonalds. Arafat’s aide said that Yasser would be dressed like a real Arab man on their date night.

Arafat and his aide showed up at Qumrana’s house right on time. The aide went in to fetch Qumrana. As they approached the restaurant, Arafat dismissed his aide and said to pick them up at eleven PM. He then turned and offered his right arm to Qumrana. His left arm carried the purse that thwab wearers are forced to use as there are no pockets in thwabs. Unfortunately, Arafat left his glasses at home to impress Qumrana with his youth, but near sightedness bollixed him up. He didn’t see a curb and in the process, he stepped on his unfamiliar thwab and fell headlong on the sidewalk. He purse came undone and its contents were spread everywhere.

Everyone knows that Arafat uses boosters in his boot heels to make him appear taller. But they come at a price. They shove the feet forward in the boots so that corns form on the top of all the toes. When Yasser’s purse spilled, among other items, was his life saver shaped corn pads. Being round they rolled for several yards. Qumrana noticed the corn pads and assumed that they were birth control devices with which she said quietly to herself, “How thoughtful”.

Inside the restaurant, the couple was seated at ringside seats where they could dine and witness the finest belly dancing show east of Cairo. Yasser spoke extensively in private with the headwaiter. Arab men do not defer to women. Maybe rarely, they might pay attention to women, but generally, Arab men make all the decisions. So it was that Arafat had the only menu and ordered for the two of them. With great ceremony he ordered Jordan River Sparkling Water to drink and imported Swedish Moose Shanks, with pungent sauce, for the main part of the meal. Throughout the meal, Arafat ordered more Jordan River Sparkling Water to be served to his date. When the belly dancers were performing, it was another bottle or bottles of Jordan River Sparkling Water.

During the sumptuous meal, Yasser kept his kaffiyeh firmly on his head which is one reason Margaret Thatcher calls him a caad. As they were winding things up, Arafat disclosed that he had a confession to make. The Jordan River Sparkling Water was really Bekka Valley champagne. And the imported Swedish Moose Shanks were really baby short ribs (from pigs) which came not from Bandhagen, Sweden, but from Arthur’s in Kansas City, the most famous rib place in America. Well, these are two grievous sins – alcohol and pig meat – that will keep the Muslim far from Paradise. Qumrana was devastated.

To make her feel a little better, Yasser attempted to explain the Catholic doctrine of “occasion for sin”. Let us say that a young man walks into a bar and has some beer. Then, under the influence of alcohol, he decides to attend a burlesque show where he meets a stripper and marries her. The church would say that walking into that bar was an occasion for sin.

Now let us say that an older parishioner wants to hear a sermon in

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. If he went last Sunday, April 21, 2002, he heard Monsignor Eugene Clark, the number two man at

St. Pat’s, lace into homosexuality for nearly an hour. His homily was widely criticized. Then let us say that this elderly parishioner sees a young man in a bar and attempts to fondle him. In that case, going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral would become an occasion for sin.

Having explained Catholic doctrine to Qumrana, Yasser said he was also a sinner just like Qumrana. They were in such deep theological trouble, he said that Qumrana ought to spend the night with him in his apartment at the Hotel Casablanca. Qumrana thought to herself that I’m damned in any case, so “Why not?”

Because the American Cardinals returning from Rome have requested a first look at the details of the love scene at the Hotel Casablanca, I will honor their obvious interest. I will say only that during this act of great passion, Arafat removed his thwab, which he disliked, but he kept his kaffiyeh on from beginning to end.

There came a time near daylight when Yasser tenderly asked Qumrana how she was enjoying herself. Qumrana replied, “It was alright I guess, but I couldn’t concentrate with your kaffiyeh tickling me”. When Yasser asked if he could see her again she answered, “Hell no. Put that in your kaffiyeh and smoke it”.

I have made several inquires into Yasser’s love life after this abrupt reversal and I have even called the Mrs. Field’s Secrets of Desire. However, since Sharon is punishing Ramallah endlessly, no one will talk to me about Arafat’s love life. So for the time being, I have no further information on Yasser’s amorous activities. Maybe next week after the American Cardinals come home.

I for one, believe that if the Israelis and the Palestinians meet say in front of a French arbitrator – he must be French – love will conquer everything. In the end, Yasser will go over to Jericho Street where Qumrana works and sweep her into his waiting arms. My nominee is the Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Pen, the perennial candidate for President of France.

Le Pen will make these wonderful things happen. Vive la amour!
April 25, 2002


I have no idea what compelled Pop to write this, but I’m glad he did. I very much hope that this is the only piece of romantic fiction about Yasser Arafat in existence, but unfortunately I know too much about the internet to believe that to be the case. That said, I intend on doing absolutely no further research into the subject.

I’ll also be the first to admit that it took me far longer than it should have to realize that Pop was just bullshitting with this one. It’s funny that someone who disliked reading fiction as much as Pop did would be so proficient at writing it.


On April 19th, the Attorney General of the United States appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the firing of eight prosecutors. In five hours of testimony, the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez, was not very helpful in that he said on more than 70 occasions, “I can’t recall.” Two weeks earlier, his Chief of Staff appeared before the same committee and told the committee that he could not recall answers to questions on 125 occasions. As you can see, the Senate Judiciary Committee got little information from the Attorney General or from his Chief of Staff. Why the prosecutors were fired remains a great mystery even to this day.

Prior to becoming the Attorney General, Alberto was the personal lawyer for George W. Bush. In that role, Alberto declared that the Geneva Convention was “quaint” and need not be obeyed or observed.

Mr. Gonzalez also recommended enhanced interrogation techniques which many independent observers consider to be forms of torture. This led to the scandal at Abu Ghraib. In short, Alberto provided the legal basis for whatever George Bush wished to do.

In spite of the fact that Alberto’s testimony has led to the call for his ouster from several members of both political parties, the Great Decider has announced that his testimony only “increased his faith in Alberto’s ability to do the Attorney General’s job.” Mr. Bush said that Alberto answered every question “the best he could,” from which most independent observers would conclude that his best was pathetic. Nonetheless, Mr. Bush seems intent upon keeping Gonzalez and his forgettery around because Bush and the neocons think up wild ideas and Gonzalez provides the legal basis to underpin them.

I have had access to the same superb intelligence services that contended that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and which also contended that we would be welcomed as liberators there. Those same intelligence sources report the following colloquy between Alberto and his wife. Her full name is Armadillo Amarillo Anesthesia de Cinco de Mayo. The first letters of her three given names start with an A, so Alberto refers to her as “3 A’s.” She refers to him as AG, which stands of course for Attorney General. So here is the plot of the play that my infallible intelligence sources have reported to me.

3 A’s: Alberto, you are just arriving home at 10:30 at night. Can you tell me where you have been?
AG: I don’t know. I don’t recall.
3 A’s: News reports on television and the radio said that you spent the afternoon and evening firing your secretary of 25 years, the office boy who has been with you for 15 years, the man who hands out the towels in the men’s restroom, and the parking lot attendant at the Department of Justice building, as well as four attorneys. Can you tell me why you fired all those people?
AG: I don’t know. Nobody tells me anything. I may have heard rumors of their being fired, but I don’t put faith in rumors. So the answer to your question is, I can’t recall.
3 A’s: Surely, you must have a reason for firing your secretary after all these years and the office boy. How come you can’t recall it?
AG: All I can tell you is that I can’t recall any of that, but they needed to be fired. I didn’t know any of the details or any of the conversations that led to the firings but I can tell you that all of those people needed to be fired. It was a matter of National Security.
3 A’s: I can’t believe that you have been so cruel, particularly to the elderly gentleman who hands out the towels in the men’s restroom. But let’s move on to another subject. I found in your possession an American Express receipt for $400 from the “E Street Gato Casa” here in Washington. The receipt says “for services rendered.” What kind of services were those?
AG: Somebody must have stuck that receipt in my coat pocket. I know nothing about it so I can’t recall anything.
3 A’s: The fact is, I didn’t find the receipt in your coat pocket; I found it in your wallet.
AG: Oh, yes, I believe it was for a haircut.
3 A’s: Four hundred dollars for a haircut? That is hard to believe. And furthermore unless my Spanish has gone awry, Gato Casa means cathouse. It appears to your ever-loving wife that you spent the afternoon and evening in the E Street Cathouse. Is that true?
AG: Now that you have refreshed my memory, I will tell you the whole story. In the last few days, the Department of Health has determined that tainted cat food from Communist Red China is killing pets in this country. As you know, we have two beloved cats named Fido and Rover. I went to the cathouse to see about how we could avoid giving them tainted food. When I entered the cathouse, there was a large luxurious living room and a grand piano. The piano player told me that he had no idea about what was going on upstairs, but perhaps the girls were putting cat food into the cans. The piano player assured me that if Fido and Rover showed any signs of sickness, they should be rushed to the Walter Reade Army Hospital or to the nearest Veteran’s Administration facility. So that is what prompted my long visit to the Gato Casa.
3 A’s: Your explanation is only partially satisfactory, but I have other things to tell you. This afternoon I invited Paul Wolfowitz, the President of the World Bank, and his girl friend, to whom he gave a $60,000 raise, to come over for dinner on Saturday night. I plan to serve them the luscious pork roast that I found at the Kroger Meat Market.
AG: I usually can’t recall these things but Wolfowitz is probably Jewish and his girl friend is a Libyan, which probably makes her a Muslim. I doubt that they will eat much of the pork roast.
3 A’s: Well, in that case, they can fill themselves with the shell fish that I had planned to serve as an appetizer. Now, before we go to sleep, I want to ask you, Alberto, the Attorney General, do you still love me?
AG: That is hard to say because I can’t recall. Maybe I do and maybe I don’t. But taking one thing with another, you should not regard this as a vote of no confidence. It is simply a matter that I cannot recall.

So you see, Alberto’s recollections are faulty, which causes him to say that he can’t recall much of anything except for the dietary habits of Muslims and Jews. This, of course, is why this essay is called “Alberto’s Forgettery.” Based on his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe it would be fair to say that his forgettery is a hell of a lot better than his memory.

But remember Alberto’s testimony caused George Bush to say that he had increased confidence in Alberto’s ability to run the Attorney General’s office. It will be interesting to see if George Bush still embraces Alberto after his White House liaison, Miss Goodling, invokes her fifth amendment privileges when she appears before the Senate Judiciary
Committee. Fellow citizens: this is what we need at this crucial hour in our history. It is an Attorney General who can recall nothing and his White House liaison taking the fifth amendment to avoid prosecution for lying before she has even testified. When the President of the United States praises a man who has told the Judiciary Committee on more than 70 occasions that he can’t recall the answer to a question, I would suggest that the man who hands out the towels in the Department of Justice men’s restroom might be a good replacement for Alberto and his forgettery.

April 26, 2007
Essay 250
Kevin’s commentary: So I happen to be doing this essay on a plane up to Pop’s place. Consequently I don’t have access to the internet, or rather I am too stingy to pony up $11.50 an hour to connect. Without the internet I lack the capacity to investigate whether or not all the other people who were mentioned in this story actually got fired, or if that was a matter of Pop’s invention. A tragic case indeed.

In related news, there exists an enjoyable film called “Memento,” which tells the story of a man with anterograde amnesia, a condition which prevents him from making new memories. The movie details his struggle to get revenge on someone and his problems with finding that person and deciphering why exactly he needs to exact revenge upon him. It’s all very nice and action packed, but I can’t help but wonder if the Gonzalez version of Memento would be even better.

Picture this: you are in a limo on the way to the White House. You have no idea how you got in the limo. You get out and are taken to the oval office, where a man starts asking you questions. Apparently some people got fired recently and you had something to do with it. What’s the big deal about some people getting fired? Who is this guy anyway? Context clues tell you that he’s important, but it takes you a few minutes to piece together that he’s the President. Shit, I must really be in some trouble, you think. He tells you what to say and how to behave, but the minute you walk out the door his instructions have escaped your memory. The next thing you know you’re in court. You’ve forgotten why you’re there. People are asking about some sort of firings. What’s the big deal about some people getting fired? You want to build some huge elaborate lie – you like that, and it used to come so easily to you – but that’s dangerous here. You couldn’t even keep your story consistent for fifteen minutes. So you do the only thing you can: you tell the truth. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Court lets out for the day. You’re put in another limo. You get on your phone to check the news — apparently there was some big hearing today. Seems like the attorney general of the United States fired a bunch of prosecutors and then couldn’t produce a single reason why. Kept saying he couldn’t remember anything about the incident. You feel bad for the guy, you’ve got memory problems too.


Even those who are unschooled in the French language may discern that this essay is about radishes and the first President of the Fifth Republic of France, Charles de Gaulle.  I do not pretend to be an expert in the affairs of the Republic of France but I believe that it is appropriate for me to comment on this one brand of radishes and on the larger-than-life figure of Charles de Gaulle.

Let us start at the beginning.  I believe it is fair to say that both my parents were happiest when they were involved in agriculture.  Their love of working to raise things was clearly passed on to me.  In my boyhood home in the suburbs of St. Louis, the arrival of March told me that it was time to go to work to spade the garden.  My mother and I raised a number of vegetables, which she canned.  When my father built the new house in 1925 in Richmond Heights, Missouri, he provided a fruit cellar to store the canned vegetables.  Long after I had left home, I kept gardens in Kansas, Illinois, in New Jersey, in Maryland, and then back in New Jersey.  My interest in raising things continued until my 83rd birthday, when I became blind.  So you can see that my interest in farming or agriculture goes back a long way.

With all the vegetables that I have grown, my desire to eat radishes is among the strongest.  That of course is one of the main subjects for this essay.

While I have nothing against the round globular radishes, I greatly prefer the French breakfast or icicle radishes.  They are much tastier and they have a certain zing to them.  So mark me down as a booster of French breakfast radishes.

Why they are called French breakfast radishes is beyond me.  I have never seen a person eating a radish, either a French breakfast or the round globular ones, at breakfast.  So I expect that we will have to mark the controversy over French breakfast radishes off to the unknown.  Perhaps this mystery will be explained to us in the great by-and-by.

So the first premise of this essay is that I have been a great consumer of radishes all of my long life.  In recent years, with the French breakfast or icicle radishes being in long supply, I have been made even happier.


Now we turn to the second part of this essay having to do with none other than the former President of France, Charles de Gaulle.

Early in the Second World War, the country of France was lost to the Germans as the French were still suffering the effects of the First World War.  The Germans found France easy to overcome within a short time.  Starting in 1940, the Germans occupied all of France.  You would think that under these circumstances, a Frenchman would be subdued and would have little to say about the conduct of the war.  That is not the way that Charles de Gaulle did things.

When Roosevelt and Churchill met each other, it was de Gaulle who often insisted that he be invited as well.  Roosevelt and Churchill more or less ignored de Gaulle.  When peace was finally achieved, largely through the efforts of Dwight Eisenhower, the French were given a share in that accomplishment.  In reality, their share in the fruits of the victory over Germany was greatly exaggerated.  As a matter of fact, I believe that you will find that every biographer of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt recorded that Charles de Gaulle was a glorious pain in the ass.   He was a commander who had no troops to command.  Nonetheless, he insisted upon the “grandeur” of France to get a seat at the table.  But the Allies were victorious and they were very generous in their treatment of Charles de Gaulle.

The war ended in 1945 and de Gaulle became active in politics in France.  In 1959, he became the President of the Fifth Republic of France.  He stayed in that job for nearly ten years.


Now, what I am about to record is my first dalliance with fiction.  I have been encouraged to do this because the owner of this website has stated that great rewards go to those who create fiction.  I believe that this is one of those moments when I could realize my great reward.

As you know the French presidents dwell in a place called the Palais Elysée.  It was during this period when de Gaulle occupied the Elysée while I was active in my pursuit of growing radishes.  I was particularly involved with the French breakfast radishes which we called the icicle radishes.  Instead of being globular, they are long and narrow like a spear.   So it was that according to my dream or my fictitious account, I gathered a bunch of French breakfast radishes and put them on dry ice.  I was traveling a lot in those days and I arranged to visit Paris soon after the radishes were picked.  I reached Paris and went directly to the Elysée Palace to present to Charles de Gaulle a token of esteem from the gardens of New Jersey, USA.

Naturally I had the cab driver drop me off at a rear entrance to the Elysée Palace.  When I knocked on the door to the kitchen, the man who opened the door was a tall figure whom I instantly recognized as none other than the former general in the French Army, Charles de Gaulle who was now the President of France.  He saw that I had brought him a large bunch of French breakfast radishes.  Without hesitation, President de Gaulle invited me to join him for lunch.  I do not speak the French language except for knowing a few words such as “oui” and “non.”   I thought that we would eat in the kitchen.  But that is not where President/General de Gaulle took me.  He took me to the formal dining room where he sat at the head of the table.  I was seated about nine to twelve yards away in another seat.  There were just the two of us dining.

There was an officious woman who came from the kitchen with her sleeves rolled up, wearing an apron.  Quite clearly, she was the President’s wife.  She did not join us for lunch but rather she overlooked things from her perch in the kitchen.

The French breakfast radishes that I had prepared in New Jersey arrived in first-class shape.  Nonetheless, Mrs. de Gaulle had re-washed them and placed them on an elaborate silver platter with the root ends pointing toward me.  She placed the silver platter with the French breakfast radishes next to her husband, President de Gaulle.  President de Gaulle and I were seated so far apart that we had to shout to each other to maintain what little discussion there was.

When I addressed President de Gaulle, his wife, who was lurking in the kitchen, suddenly appeared and said to me openly, “You should not address him as Président de Gaulle but as “mon Général.”  Later, when I tried to address him as “mon Général,” the officious wife would appear from the kitchen and say to me, with a great waving of arms, that I should address her husband as the President of the Fifth Republic of France.

While all of this was taking place, President/General de Gaulle kept the silver tray of French breakfast radishes close to him.  Later, as you can see by the heading of this essay, I asked the General or the President to please pass the French breakfast radishes to me.  I repeated this request on several occasions.  Finally, Madam de Gaulle emerged from the kitchen where she had been canning tomatoes.  The juice from the tomatoes was all over her blouse and apron.  Being the daughter of a Marseille dockwalloper (longshoreman) she said to the President/General, “He asked you to pass him the f’ing radishes.  At that point, there were only two radishes left out of the fifty that I had brought.  The president put both of the remaining radishes into his mouth and they disappeared.  So indeed I was left totally radishless.

As soon as President de Gaulle had finished the French breakfast radishes, he indicated that the meal was over as he arose to leave.  His wife came out of the kitchen again and told me that a cab would be waiting for me as soon as I stepped out of the kitchen door.  Neither the President/General nor his wife ever uttered the word “Merci” to me for bringing them the radishes.  I was ushered to the back door of the kitchen of the Palais Elysée and I simply left.  There were no such words as “We’ll see you sometime soon” or any such endearments.

It was at this moment that I thought of Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt who had labeled de Gaulle as a “glorious pain in the ass.”

Now what I have told you of my lunch with General de Gaulle may or may not have occurred.  My belief or my imagination is that it really did happen.  Of course, I have a vivid imagination as the rightful heir of all essayists.  Be that as it may, I took this cab to the Paris Hilton where I retired to a room overlooking the Eiffel Tower.  I began to think of the immense view as a lovely small restaurant called “La Flamberge” entered my mind.  Since I was still hungry I went to La Flamberge and enjoyed a wonderful meal but it was served without French breakfast radishes.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the cuisine as always at that lovely little restaurant.


So you see that all is well that ends well and that my lunch with the President or the great General is marked down as a triumph.  But no matter how you cut it, de Gaulle ate all of the French breakfast radishes and never offered to pass the plate to me.  I suppose that this is in keeping with French custom but it struck me as thoroughly rude.

De Gaulle and his wife are dead now so if you have a desire to go to Paris, you must remember to bring your French breakfast radishes with you.  That is the only way that you can guarantee that you will have some radishes to eat.



October 3, 2012

Essay 700



Kevin’s commentary: The big 700. That’s actually pretty damn incredible. Totally nonscientific estimation by my part puts average essay length at round about 1,200 words.  Perhaps at some future date I will find the actual mean; 1200 represents a quick mental median of all the essays that I have published, verified to be time-consistent through to 2000 through randomly word-counting two essays per year from the last dozen years. So again, while definitely not exact, I feel good about it. I suspect that the actual average may be somewhat higher — 1280 or something. Just a gut feeling. Anyway, that puts the total cumulative length of Ezra’s Essays into around 840,000. Even with the most conservative estimates, the man has put over three-quarters of a million words to paper in the wake of his stroke. I honestly think that that’s incredible and ought to be celebrated somehow. Tomorrow I’ll dig into my box of Pop-related memorabilia and see if there’s anything suitably neat to post here to commemorate the occasion.

For his part, he appears to have celebrated by writing his “first” piece of fiction. I put the word first in quotes because Pop is a world-class bullshitter and there are elements of fiction in many of the stories he likes to tell in person. Many of these revolve around his notable long-jumping career and the like.

Nevertheless I am flattered that Pop agreed to dabble into this particular breed of fiction, which is new to me and ostensibly new to him too. But I enjoyed reading it and hopefully he enjoyed writing it sufficiently to consider writing additional fictional pieces in the future. One has to figure after 800,000+ words of unadulterated truth about one’s life, an author runs out of true things to say. Helpfully there are an infinite number of untrue things to say.  So perhaps in the end, Pop’s transition into fiction will be driven more by pure math than anything else.

Congrats on your seven hundredth essay, and thanks for writing. Here’s hoping for many more, Pop.


Pop’s response:

Hey Kevin,

I prayed about this essay since it was written and fervent prayer has yielded one inevitable conclusion.  My luncheon with President de Gaulle actually took place and somewhere around here I have the toothpicks which I lifted from the de Gaulle dining room to prove it.  From now on I would suggest that neither you nor I should ever doubt the power of prayer as it relates to a dining situation.  I was taken back by Madame de Gaulle admonition to her husband to please pass the f’ing radishes.  I would not think that a Frenchman in his own home would ever refer to French Breakfast radishes as f’ing. 

But I would remind you that Dell Van Buren Barbee, the car wash expert at the filling station where I worked, once said that, “if God invented something better than f’ing, he kept it to his-self.  Those words have been my guiding light for more than 80 years and I expect that they will continue to guide me until I “cross over Jordan” to find my heavenly home.

When you backwardly reach the essays written between 2000 and 2005, you may find that your calculations on the length of the essays is a bit short of the mark.  Those essays, all of them hand written, would probably exceed the length of the essays written recently.  Please refer to The Four Stars of David for example.