Sunday, January 28, 2007

Corn-Pone Opinions

The quote from Mark Twain: "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Economics 101

It is astonishing how congruent a person’s views are with that person’s financial interests. Or, as a black man named Tom, quoted by Mark Twain, remarked, “Tell me where someone gets his cornpone and I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pleasant Memory

My father and I rarely watched TV together, but one night we did. (I was a teenager.) A movie where there was a riot at a theatre. The orchestra began playing the William Tell Overture. I laughed.

Why are you laughing? my father asked.

Whenever the orchestra doesn't know what to do, they play the William Tell Overture.

He laughed. I was pleased.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Chairman Meow

In the pantheon of Great Pussycats I have known--Hanucat, Joe, Super, the Beast--the Chairman Meow, to my mind, does not belong.

But he's interesting. He meows to go out--into the cold. A few ninutes later, he meows to come back in. Meow. Back out. Meow. Back in.

When I was a toddler, I was told that there was a snapping turtle in the yard and I should beware. I went out into the yard. Saw this interesting rock. And it bit me! Why hadn't I remembered, I asked myself.

It happened again! Beware the snapping turtle. It bit me again!

I had a poor short-term memory. Like the Chairman. He doesn't remember how cold it is out.

My short-term memory is weakening again, now that I have gotten so old. Example: I took notes on a recent conversation. A few minues later, I looked at my notes. They didn't do much to remind me of what the person had said.

And these days I'm not sure whether I told someone something already -- and am repeating myself.

Meow, meow.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

G. Legman

He wrote letters in a stylish script--attention-getting. And what he wrote was so interesting--all about sex and psychoanalysis. He edited a periodical called Neurotica; published a huge tome about limericks--unexpurgated. Despite all the sex, his publications seemed scholarly. Lived in France. Very intriguing person.

At Fact, we asked him to write something. The most erotic books ever written? I'll have to check.

We bowdlerized what he wrote. Without his permission. The publisher, Ralph Ginzburg, was in trouble with the law and his lawyers told him: Be careful.

G (for Gershon) came to our office in NYC! A bit corpulent. He patted his belly and told of living well. Very effusive person. In good spirits. Among other thing, said that his girlfriend had suggested that he leave his tongue to the British Museum. He read back issues of Fact--was astonished and impressed that we had printed Mark Twain's essay on onanism. And then he saw his own article--and he hit the ceiling. We had censored him! He had never been censored! "I have balls all over me!"

I explained the reason, and he called down--and became friendly and warm again.

I've never forgotten that line: "I have balls all over me!"

Is he profiled in Wikipedia? I'll check.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Harriet, a writer for Medical World News, went to an AMA meeting in Chicago. On her way to the airport to return to NJ, the taxi driver turned around and said:

"How much money do you have?"
Harriet, nervous, said: "$35."
"Give it to me."
She did.

The driver drove to the airport, drove up to a cop, and said to him, "This passenger says she doesn't have money to pay me."

The cop and the driver decided to let Harriet make her plane.

The cop was obviously in cahoots with the driver.

(This was many years ago.)


We were talking about the assassination over lunch today--some old geezers and me.

A urologist performed the autopsy. He had some interest and experience in the subject. But he was no medical examiner. Another doctor, writing in a medical magazine, said that the only reason why a urologist shuold have performed the autopsy was if Lee Harvey Oswald had urinated upon President Kennedy from the 34th floor of the school book depository building.

Naturally, the other fellows tended to believe that there had been a conspiracy. Johnson? The Commies?

At Fact magazine, we published a long article arguing that Oswald had done it alone--followed by comments, pro and con, from celebrities. I had wanted to write a book about the premature deaths of famous people and the rumors they inpsired, but never found a publisher.

What happened when an elephant walked into the Dallas police station? Nothing. The cops didn't see it.

Mrs. Oswald, the mother of the creep, said that she had always thought that Kennedy and Governor Connolly had gotten into a fight in the car and had shot each other.

She called herself A Mother in History. And claimed that her son was innocent. But on one occasion, she said that she had never denied that her son had killed the President. "I never said he was perfect."

The geezers suspected that Jack Ruby, who had shot and killed Oswald, had been part of the conspiracy. I mentioned that Melvin Belli, Ruby's lawyer, had told me that he was insane--and tried to electrocute himself by putting his finger into an electrical socket. (Belli was a colorful guy--determined to be colorful.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Things to Do

I should go through old issues of Fact magazine, identifying the authors of articles that have fake bylines. Onofrio Bruni was one fake byline. Did Robert Anton Wilson put his name on "Of Transcendental Beauty and Crawling Horror"? A very fine woman writer was the author of "How a Middle-Class Housewife Gets an Abortion," but she didn't want her real name used--and I've forgotten it! She wrote stuff in her head, then put it quickly down on paper. Was Gaylord Briley s fake byline, or was there really such a person? I myself used the fake byline, Warner Brown.

Origin: I sent an anecdote to Coronet, a magazine that has long been defunct. I was eagerly awaiting it to be printed--I was very young at the time. When the anecdote was finally published,in the very last issue of Coroneet, it was attributed to Warner Brown -- thanks to my scribbled handwriting.

The New York Times once published a story under the byline, Fake Byline.

Dr. Robert Taylor was a nonexistent person sometimes mentioned in Medical Economics- There were five Dr. Robert Taylors in the country, and none of them ever noticed. ("Dr. Robert Taylor reports that ...")

Time magazine had a longstanding fake person, too, and when a Time staffer wrote for Fact, he mischievously used that name as his byline! A few Time magazine people wrote articles for Eros magazine, using fake names. One of them later became head of a journalism school. Damn good writer, too.

John Saks was one of those Time writers. It was he who proposed the toast, sham pain for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends. Very witty guy. Whatever happened to him? He wrote an updated version of Lysistrata for Eros magazine; Dwight Macdonald, no less, praised it.* Kaufend was another Time writer who worked with Eros and with Fact and with Moneysworth.

*I was pissed; I had found an old, unexpurgated version of the play, and was furious that we didn't publish THAT.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

CALENDAR for the age of anxiety

Jangleary, Feverary, Smersh, Acheril, Ohime, Ruin, Deny, Angst, Sobtember, Shocktober, Nervember, Distemper.

Moanday, Tearsday, Wailsday, Terrorsday Frightday, Shatterday, Sinday

(with an assist from James Joyce)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson

Wilson just died--he had written a few pieces for Fact magazine while I was an editor there--one was about his taking drugs, which I titled, Of Transcendantal Beauty and Crawling Horror--a little over the top, I'd say now--(the headline)

When Ralph Nader, virtually unknown then, wrote a piece for us about auto safety, the publisher, Ralph Ginzburg, hated it--and it was actually unreadable. So Ralph had Robert Anton Wilson write a story about how sexual symbolism used to sell cars had made automobiles unsafe! And later Ralph G. advertised that we had "discovered" Nader!
(Meeting between the two Ralphs)

Me: Ralph, I'd like you to meeet Ralph Nader...
Ralph G: Busy! (walking away)

Wilson was an uncomfortable person. Fidgety and nervous. But clever. And a facile writer.

He wrote a piece for us about Mad magazine. I asked him to find out what the Mother of the Year thought of Mad magazine. He scoffed.

Later my wife and I wrote a piece for a magazine he was editing--a piece on Tom Swifties. Offcolor ones. Too offcolor to repeat. Anyway, he sent me a note: What does the Mother of the Year think of Tom Swifties?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Andy Rooney


Andy Rooney ALLEGEDLY said on "60 Minutes" a few weeks back:

I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers.

I guess that African-Americans weren't ever slaves in the USA? That many Japanese weren't interned in WWII? That blacks weren't allowed in white schools or white restaurants or baseball? That Jews weren't turned down by medical schools? Whatever happened to all the Indians who once lived throughout the U.S.?

The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the UnitedCaucasianCollege Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America; and see what happens...Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.

Blacks started their own organizations because they couldn't get accepted into white organizations--like the National Association of Realtors or Miss America and golf clubs.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game.

Yes, you are banned from driving while drunk. And from driving recklessly. And without insurance and without a license. And, believe it or not, more people are killed by guns in this country than by baseball bats. Or by fists. Are you really so stupid--or are you just playing a role, like Borat?

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.

It is an dangerous, ignorant viewpoint. Some people murder homosexuals because they think homosexuality is "wrong."

I have the right "NOT" to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off.

What does "not tolerant" mean? Keeping them from getting jobs? Depriving them of their lives?

When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling, it is the Law of Probability.

What if 20% are black and 70% of all arrests are of black people? What if the great majority of people executed in this country are black? Doesn't that tell you something? You really have something against blacks, don't you?

I believe that if you are selling me a milkshake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you should have to speak English!

I don't mind buying things from people still learning English. What if a senile old jerk like you went to China--how long would it take you to learn Chinese?

My father and grandfather didn't die in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours.

You mean only native Americans can criticize our country? Your father and grandfather were really killed in the wars? They died so that immigrants won't have the same basic rights as native-borns? What a silly thing to die for!
They must have been as dumb as you.

I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass if you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the word "freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above lines.

Especially if they're black, right? And if they don't understand English, the hell with them foreigners, right?

I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business.

You seem to have a problem with immigrants and with blacks. How about Jews? Chinese? Gooks in general?

We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document; and open to their interpretations.

Gee, I thought the Supreme Court interpreted the constitution. Since when have gooks been interpreting it?
This is a strange fantasy you have. You need to see a psychiatrist. One who was born in this country aand speaks impeccable English.

I don't hate the rich I don't pity the poor.

I envy the rich and pity the poor. Anyone who doesn't pity the poor should burn in hell eternally after death.

I know pro wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television. That doesn't stop you from watching them.

I don't watch them. Maybe you should read more and watch less wrestling on TV.

It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid; and smack their little behinds when necessary, and say "NO!"

Oh, that's what's wrong with this country? Not poverty, broken homes, people without health insurance, and so forth? All we have to do is spank our kids more?

I am sick of "Political Correctness." I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa; so how can they be "African-Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe. I am proud to be from America and nowhere else

Don't you think that people should be called what they want to be called? What would you prefer to call black people? No, don't tell me. I can guess.

And if you don't like my point of view, tough...

It's tough on ALL of us. Ignorant, prejudiced, despicable morons like you elected Geo W Bush president.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Worst Library (in NNJ)

I had thought that the Parsippany library was the pits. The absolute nadir.

But no, I'll reserve that horrific position for the Hackensack Library.

What other library in the entire world has only parking spaces with meters? Lots of non-metered spaces for the staff! Besides which, the library has classical CDs mixed in with popular crap. Beethoven next to Britney -- so to speak. And the staff is sour.

Yes, I got a $22 ticket last week. I didn't have any quartersfor the meter on me. I got change--but I also got Value Line Investment Survey. And I was afraid to leave it unattended & put more money in the meter. But I had a half hour on the meter...

Just I was leaving the library, I saw a parking-meter car driving past. And yes, there was a ticket on my windshield.

Parking meters in a library parking lot says something about the ignoramuses who run Hackensack.

I'll try to avoid going to Hackensack Library ever again. (Teaneck's is much better.)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

News Story

When stockbroker Mitchell Slater told his friends that he was suing his former employer, Merrill Lynch, for blackening his reputation, they encouraged him. When he informed people in the brokerage industry what he was doing, they told him that he was crazy.
Winning a suit against Merrill Lynch is hard. Slater's lawyer, Brian J. Neville of New York City, said by phone on Wednesday, “They're tough to beat. They have extremely qualified lawyers.”
Slater, 46, sitting in his office at Smith Barney in Florham Park, said quietly, “I stand alone, in a small room of people who have beaten Merrill Lynch.”
Slater had moved from Merrill Lynch in Morristown to Smith Barney in January 2005, he said, because of the poor way the branch was being run by the manager, Thomas Fickinger, and because of altercations with Thomas Kenney, another officer, who -- Slater claimed -- had made an anti-Semitic remark. Slater was taking his largest client, Thomas Gengaro, with him.
Slater claimed that Merrill Lynch then defamed him by accusing him of churning that client's account and other improper sales practices, and put these complaints into Slater's official record. Merrill Lynch offered the client $100,000, apparently to resolve the matter.
In his statement to the panel, Slater's lawyer said that Gengaro had not only denied making any accusations against Slater but claimed that Merrill Lynch had made up the statements. The $100,000, Gengaro allegedly said, was to persuade him to keep his account there.
An arbitration panel of the National Association of Securities Dealers in Newark has ordered Merrill Lynch and Fickinger to remove defamatory statements on Slater's official record, concluding that the client who had supposedly complained about Slater had not actually complained, so “no reporting of the allegations is appropriate.” Also, the charge that Slater had mismarked that client's market orders “was initiated for competitive purposes.”
But the panel did not award Slater any compensation.
Merrill Lynch issued this statement: "During the hearing, one of Mr. Slater's clients testified that he, the client, had come to our offices with his accountant and complained to Merrill Lynch that Mr. Slater had mishandled his account.”
Also, “While the panel ordered the U-5 changed, it also refused to award Mr. Slater damages."
Slater said he learned of the black marks on his official record when states where he was registered to practice wrote to tell him that he was no longer permitted to practice there. “It was a shock to my system,” he said.
Slater gave this history of the events: During the Presidential election of 2003, he was reprimanded by Kenney, administrative and compliance manager for the branch, for sending some friends a list of Bruce Springsteen's songs at a Vote for Change concert. Kenney claimed that this was prohibited under the firm's political-support rules.
Later, Slater alleged, he had emailed Kenney that certain sexual emails he had sent to females in the office were inappropriate. Kenney, according to Slater, ran into his office, physically threatened him, and screamed, “Jews like you never served in the military for the U.S.”
Kenney has denied the charges.
What had Slater thought were his chances of winning? He paused. “Fifty-fifty. I knew that I had the facts, but anything can happen.”
He continued: “I didn't want to do this. I gave them all sorts of outs. But they didn't expect me to follow through, they didn't expect me to spend money to defend myself.
“I didn't do it for the money,” he continued. “I didn't want this to happen to anyone else.
“I bled Merrill Lynch. I worked for them for 17 years, and my father worked there all his life.” (His father had been in the Roseland office.) I was a sales manager, part of the training program, a golden child - before I left.”
His lawyer, Neville, said that when there are gray areas, brokerage firms lean over backwards to protect their employees. But not former employees. “And brokers, unlike doctors, CPAs, and other professionals, have their records easily accessible to the public. There's no review, no screening - the records are just there. Their kids could do a Google search and find it.”

No Good Deed...

A member of a minority group wanted financial help. Busy tho I am, I spent an hour with him -- free of charge, of course. I told him that Fidelity's written plan to manage his money was too complex, and he could do it himself -- via certain funds I mentioned. I photocopied Morningstar reports on some excellent funds, like Vanguard Wellesley Income. I showed him Morningstar Mutual Fund's ratings of various funds.

And after he left...I found that, while I was away photocopying stuff for him, he had secreted my copy of Morningstar Mutual Funds among his own papers and made off with it.


Huffington Post

I submitted something innocuous to the Huffington Post, the daily newsletter, but it was rejected.

I've thought about it. And my explanation is that there's strict censorship at the site. Censorship because part ... rampant antisemitism. That's why new posts have to be scrutinized carefully.

I've dropped out of other Democratic blogs because they were giving Jew-haters a forum. And I suspect that the Huff blog gets a flood of antisemitic messages.

When you can write anything you want, your primitive side comes out--the return of the repressed. That's one message of the Borat phenomenon: So many otherwise normal human beings hate Jews. Let's throw the Jews down the well.

Arianna used to be Stassinopoulos. She wrote a book about sex differences under that name (Stassino...), when she was in her 20s. I wrote about it; damn fine book.

But I'm suspicious of right-wingers who become left-wingers. I remember her on a Wm F Buckley TV program, fawning all over him. "Oh, I'm so happy to be on your side!" If I had been on that panel, I would have said: I think I'm going to throw up.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dylan and Cohen

From an interview with record producer Rick Rubin in Esquire:

Leonard Cohen was talking with Bob Dylan about songs each had written that they had liked.

How long did it take you to write "Hallelujah"? Dylan asked.

Three years.

Then Cohen asked, How long did it take you to write "I and I"?

Answer: Fifteen minutes.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ralph Nader

A new movie is coming out about Ralph Nader. Laudatory.

It is appalling how desperate people--especially older people--are for attention. "Fame is the spur...." Because of his need for attention, Nader ran for the Presidency -- and the result was George W, the worst President in U.S. history.
I remember hearing Nader crow that Gore, near the end of the race, was finally mentioning him!

I knew Nader when he was young, just out of Harvard Law, and I worked for Fact, a muckraking magazine. He was brimming with ideas. We should buy some stock for Khrushchev, so he would have an interest in the fate of the U.S. economy...

We had him write an article for Fact, about auto safety, and it was simply unreadable. So Ralph Ginzburg, the publisher, had Robert Anton Wilson re-write the article -- now, mostly about the sexual symbolism of automobiles!

Later, when Nader became famous, Ralph boasted in print that "we" had been the first publication to print Ralph Nader! (The Nation, I think, had been first. And we had not even printed what he wrote!)

The historic meeting between Ralph Nader aand Ralph Ginzburg:

Me: Ralph, I'd like you to meet Ralph Nader...

Ralph G.: I'm busy! (walking hurriedly away).

Anyway, I no longer have any admiration for Ralph Nader. What is the quote about tragedy turning int farce?


Lord Keynes told Virginia Woolf that he had placed 2nd on a nationwide civil-service exam in England. Her reply: I'd like to meet whoever came out first! (From Biggs' book.)