Sunday, March 28, 2010

March madness

All the hip people in America are taken in by NCAA college basketball. They are doing their brackets, line bets, computing their point spreads. Words like Kentucky or Iowa mean teams, not states. Even our president is paying more attention to free throws and foul shots than to his overweight children.
I have tried to watch it. It seems to have taken over CBS. Still I have not been taken it by the force of America's latest obsession. Last night I watched old movies on tv and missed all the free throws and excitement. Maybe next year I'll go to Las Vegas in March and try the Pocket Casino.

Monday, March 22, 2010

That long dark road to socialism

One of my mother's kinfolks once said that when they outlaw cockfighting in the United States, we will be on the road to communism. Well cockfighting may still be legal in some places but we are well on that long dark road to socialism. This conference cover to the left was held in 1916 and consists of a number of speakers in favor of national health insurance. The long road can be said to begin here.

Roosevelt instituted Social Security, the Federal Reserve and the WPA bringing us that much closer to the ways of Stalin and Lenin. Lyndon Johnson brought us Medicare. Truman got the first Medicare card. We should have have known then what was coming.

George W. Bush, a Republican, brought us the senior Prescription drug plan and practically nationalized the banks. And now comrade Obama is bringing us a step closer on that road to socialism with the health plan ramrodded through Congress. We can join Britain and France and the other socialist countries with national health insurance. There are few countries left with no government run health insurance. At least there is still the People's Republic of China.
Editor's note: With apologies to Stephen Nyman.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Airline food

I just read that Continental Airlines is going to start charging for food. If you can call that food. I remember the good old days of air travel. Not only the food but the booze was complementary. I remember traveling with my mother as a tot and her ordering a Martini on the flight. "I'm nervous about the flight", she explained.

I remember one stormy day taking Mexicana Airlines back to Denver and them walking through the aisles with bottle of wine after another. I guess this was to make us to forget the sudden drops in air pressure. I treated to myself to the free libations. "Heck, I'm not paying for it" I said to myself.

It was then that I discovered the pleasures of air sickness. I learned then that drinking too much on a flight is bad for your sense of well being. Thankfully, I didn't have to use the air bag.

At least the food in airports is better than it used to be. And if they let you bring stuff on the plane now, you won't look cheap. You'll just be making a stand against the man. And they still will supply peanuts and pretzels. Just like the Hilltop Tavern.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day Humbug

When I was a tot I remember always being jealous of the Irish kids on Saint Patrick's Day. Here was a day only for the Irish. We got to hear that there's no smile like an Irish smile, there were no finer people on Earth like the Irish. They got to have a holiday all to themselves, got to take off school and go to a parade. And you couldn't join in the fun unless you had an ancester in old Erin.

Then when I was in college, I roomed near a group of Irish American patriots who would go to MacSorley's on Saint Paddy's day and come back to the dorms full of the magic spirit of County Cork. Then they would get drunker still, break a chair or two, perhaps have a good fist fight, and celebrate the wonderful day in their own way.

Today, however, the day seems diluted. It starts too early for one thing. The day after Valentine's day, the stores start decorating with shamrocks and leprechauns. The parades start the first week in March. People who have no Irish blood at all start eating Irish soda bread and drinking Guinness beer. Everybody it seems is Irish not just for a day but for half a month. Saint Patrick's Day. Bah humbug. Time for another Irish coffee.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The predictions

Starting to look at how I did on my predictions. Of course it isn't April Fools Day but I can see that my predilections were sort of right. The market is up and we have a Republican governor in New Jersey. Looks like I was overly optimistic on the employment numbers. The rich get richer and the poor have babies.

Friday, March 5, 2010

the Subways

Recently I did something I haven't done in a couple of years. I went to New York and rode the subway. I first rode the subway with my father and used to ride it on my own starting in high school and on through middle age. It offered excitement and a cultural escape from the hum drum world of the suburbs. I still remember the tokens, the pan handlers, the faint smell of urine giving the subways a Mediterranean atmosphere.

I had grown out of practice. The tokens are gone now and you have to deal with the weird machines that sell you a ticket that expires in two hours. I was a typical tourist fumbling for change.

I can remember when you couldn't transfer from an IND train to an IRT train at Times Square. Now you can. The trains looked newer now too and the walls weren't caving in like I remembered.

Still the subway is still the subway. Going from an uptown train to the 7 crosstown train is still an adventure. Half a mile of walking in dark corridors with an occasional blind singer or guitar player on the way.

Treat of all treats I got to hear "the speech" on the number 6 train. A voice suddenly boomed out from behind me, well echoed. The man was homeless, had a wife with a baby on the way and only needed enough money to stay in a youth hostel. In the 70's he would have been a Vietnam vet. He did well and collected some bills. I was surprised. Unfortunately he kept talking after his pitch and collection was over. Like a talk show host he started making small talk to the crowd. You should always know when to end a presentation.

Like I always say, "You haven't been to New York if you haven't ridden on the subway". I'm not sure if quoting oneself requires the use of quotation marks.