Anarchists Take Break From Chaos for Weekend of Order

BOSTON.  Bike messenger Tyler Oberg and his friends are models of disaffected youth, with tattoos that will be impossible to conceal as they grow older and numerous body piercings that cause their net worths to fluctuate wildly in tandem with precious metal prices.


“I don’t want to do anything you want to do.”

“I just don’t give a crap about anything,” Oberg says, and his friends nod in agreement.  “Who cares whether their parents care about whether they care about anything?” echoes Matt Wiermer.

But the group is showing some faint signs of enthusiasm today as they peruse a flyer for the American Anarchists Association, whose annual convention begins here Friday night with a meet-and-greet cocktail reception, followed by a plenary session Saturday morning and break-out groups the remainder of the day, and a black-tie gala dinner-dance that night to wrap things up.


“Seriously, dude–I care less about stuff than you do.”

“Anarchists are cool,” says Chuck E., who rejected his parents’ surname as a “patriarchal vestige” in high school but has yet to choose another.  “They’ve really got their thing together.”

And indeed the schedule laid out in the brochure is a model of efficiency that makes the pocket-size train timetables at nearby South Station seem slipshod by comparison.  “We’ve got a seminar on ‘Organizing Your Local Anarchy Chapter’ bright and early at 10:18 Saturday morning,” says Northeast Regional Coordinator Todd Helfwig.  “At precisely 11:30 I need that room for ‘Drafting Bylaws for Anarchists: Precedents and Pitfalls.’”


“Hey–no cutting in line!”

The term “anarchy” refers to a social state in which there is no governing group or person, according to incoming President Maurice “Tom” Slacter.  “Our creed is ‘No rulership or enforced authority,’” he notes in clipped, precise diction.  “We came up with that after a member referendum on a motto that had been first approved by the national Board of Directors, based on a draft worked up by the Subcommittee on Strategic Initiatives.”


“Everyone who’s in disagreement with the resolution, please say ‘Aye.’”

If all that seems a bit organized for a group that rejects heirarchy, Slacter is unapologetic.  “What kids have to learn is that there’s got to be a firm structure underneath any dysfunctional mass of people with no consistent point of view.  Otherwise things could descend into order.”


Anarchy symbol:  Show you’re part of the group by wearing it proudly!

For their part, the twenty-somethings see in the anarchists group an alternative road map towards adulthood that would steer clear of the suburban upbringings most of them had.  “The Anarchists’ symbol is cool,” says Oberg, referring to the circled A that the group has registered as its trademark.  “And I like the fact that they got together and agreed on it, so there’s like a uniform.”

CEOs Find Time Management is Key to Enjoying Horndog Life

CLEVELAND.  Kyle Thatcher is, at 47 years old, the youngest CEO in the history of Prothonotary Bank & Trust Co., a sleepy institution he shook into profitability with innovations that rocked the staid banking community here.  “I decided to take a shot at staying open after 3 p.m., and on Saturdays,” he says through the chiseled jaw that has earned him the confidence of regional stock analysts.  “Call me crazy, but I think it helps our bottom line if people can get in the building,” he says with a faraway look in his eye that seems appropriate for a business visionary.

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“No more complimentary leatherette checkbook covers!”

 

But Thatcher had no sooner risen to the top than he found something missing from his life.  “I just wasn’t enjoying foreclosing on crappy mom and pop businesses the way I did when I was starting out,” he muses.  “The thrill was gone–I didn’t love what I was doing anymore.”

So Thatcher signed up for a ten-week crash course in time management with Bonnie Ladsdale, whose company “Time Fighters!” helps top executives find time in their lives to re-charge their batteries and regain the energy they need to increase shareholders’ return on equity which, as the companies who pay for her services agree, is the principal reason for other men’s existence here on earth.

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“Let your secretary separate your paper clips into big and small sizes–you don’t have time!”

 

“Bonnie is a jewel, that’s for sure,” says Herb Wertheimer of Demeter Investment Partners, a hedge fund that places huge bets on the businesses who retain Ladsdale.  “She took a mid-cap pet food company that couldn’t make a profit with both hands and turned it into a world-beater we sold for seven times EBITDA, whatever that is.”

Today Ladsdale is giving Thatcher an initial consultation to determine what course of action–weight training, aerobics, stretching–is most likely to help him regain the cocksure attitude that made him the top-ranked graduate of the Kagler School of Management at nearby Waldmore University.  “What is it you really, really want to do that you don’t have enough time for now?” she asks him with a glare so intense it could scour a frying pan made sticky with American chop suey crust.

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American chop suey: Yum!

 

Thatcher looks at her cautiously, unused to such an intense interrogation from anyone other than his board of directors and institutional investors.  “You want the God’s truth?” he asks somewhat doubtfully.

“You’re wasting my time and yours if you give me anything less,” Ladsdale replies with a poker face.

“Well,” Thatcher begins slowly, after glancing around to make sure there’s no one within earshot in the spacious exercise room, “I would really, really like to have an affair with a sexy woman.”

“Um-hmm,” Ladsdale says as she takes notes.  “But somehow or other, there’s never time–right?”

“You got it,” the CEO replies, and it’s as if a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders.  “Even with the chauffer-driven limo that takes me to and from work . . .”

“That’s paid for by the company–right?” Ladsdale asks.

“Sure–like my country club memberships.  Anyway, what with the job and the charity dinners and the business lunches . . .”

Image result for business lunch
“So a priest, a rabbi and a lady snake charmer are playing miniature golf . . .”

 

“And the wife?”

“That’s part of the package.”

“And the 2.3 kids . . .”

“Actually we corrected the rounding error, so we’re capped at two–it all eats into your time.  I never get a chance to just . . . cut loose and do the Mongolian Cartwheel with a babelicious babe.”

“The Mongolian Cartwheel–is that the one with the bighorn sheep and the box of Milk Duds?”

“No, you’re thinking of the Burkina Faso Half-Twist.  The Mongolian Cartwheel is performed with a yak and a movie-size package of Twizzler’s Red Licorice.”

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Try the 180-piece “Executive Retreat” container. 

 

“Got it,” Ladsdale says as makes some marginal notes on an intake form.  “Okay,” she says, “why don’t you take your clothes off and I’ll check your vital organs.”

At the Boston Tanning Bed Party

The Affordable Care Act imposes a $2.7 billion tax on indoor tanning salons.
The Boston Herald

As we poured out of the Old South Meeting House into the cold March night, our hearts were burning with passion, set ablaze by the inspirational words that Samuel Adams, Whig leader and beer nut, had spoken inside.

“This meeting can do nothing further to save the country!” Adams had proclaimed in the face of colonial Governor Hutchinson’s intransigence.  “Let’s go pound down a couple cold ones!”

At that pre-arranged signal, we headed towards Griffin’s Wharf–me, Chastiti and Chariti.  The three of us were the proprietors of Ye Olde Sun ‘n Spa, the only patriot-owned tanning salon in Boston.  The girls had changed the spelling of their names to better reflect the freedom we all yearned for, and were now parading the streets of Boston with double smiley-face dotted “i’s” in open defiance of strict British orthographic laws.


Yeah, baby!

“It’s a good thing our hearts are burning with passion, as the narrator said up above,” Chariti said.

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Because otherwise my nipples would be standing at attention in the cold night.”

“Is John Hancock coming?” Chastiti asked.

“No–he’s teaching an Extreme Penmanship class tonight,” I said.

“Bummer,” Chariti said.

We moved in silence towards the three ships that bore the awful freight–untaxed tanning beds exported to the colonies by the East India Company.  Our very livelihoods were at stake.  Chastiti and Chariti had been working at the Bay Colony Tourism Bureau, where they were responsible for “re-branding” Massachusetts to improve its negative image among British conventioneers.  Chastiti had come up with the winning theme of the ad campaign–“History So Thick You Can Hit it With a Stick!”–but Chariti’s proposed state slogan–“Massachusetts: You’ll Come for the Weather, You’ll Stay for the Taxes!”–had drawn the ire of colonial officials, who suspected that it was a veiled jab at our British masters.

“No ith not!” Chariti had cried out as the redcoats dragged her from her cubicle, barely giving her time to collect her picture of her pet ox.  “I do not haf mah tongue in mah cheek!” she screamed, but it was all to no avail.  Chastiti had resigned in protest, and we had plotted over mugs of grog to start a business–what could be more American than that?

But now the Brits threatened to undermine our little enterprise by taxing our tanning beds!  We weren’t going to take it lying down–that was for our customers!

“Everybody ready?” I asked.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Chariti asked right back.

“What?”

“We’re supposed to disguise ourselves as redskins,” Chariti said.  If it hadn’t been the middle of the 18th century, she would have added “Duh!”

“Why would we do that, when we can have a beautiful spray-on tan?” Chastiti asked.

“So . . . a great-looking summer tan, with none of the unhealthy side effects?” I asked.

“That’s right!” Chastiti said.  She pulled an atomizer out of her purse and squirted us both in the face.  “There,” she said with satisfaction.  “You look like you just got back from Boca!”


Ready for rebellion!

I returned the favor and we boarded the ship along with the other Bronze Goddesses and Adonis’s.  The British offered no resistance–“I’m just here to oppress you miserable curs,” the captain said–and we made swift work of the offending tanning beds.

“Here goes the Sunquest Bronze Bomber!” Chastiti squealed.

“And here goes the Tropical Rayz 1800!” Chariti yelped as the two brown ‘n serve ovens hit the water.

I put my arms around my two fellow revolutionaries, and we watched as the splash rings spread outward in the moonlight.  “Future generations of Americans will thank us,” I said with a lump in my throat.

“Because we spared them from possible skin cancer?” Chariti asked.

“No, because we’ll offer special Spring Break and Pre-Prom Tanning Packages!”

Your Philosophical Love Advisor

Love is one of the great mysteries of human existence, so who better to answer your romance-related questions than the Philosophical Love Advisor!

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Arthur Schopenhauer:  “So you think crème rinse would help?”

 

Dear Philosophical Love Advisor:

I have been dating this guy “Duane” who lives in Smithton for two years now.  We met at Pork Rinds Anonymous, a 12-step program for people addicted to fatty snack foods.

We are both divorced so we have that in common too.  My problem is this: While I have had “Duane” to my house several times to meet my kids Jolene and Donny Ray from my first marriage, whenever it’s Duane’s turn he says he wants a catfish basket or something else you can’t make at home unless you have a deep fryer so we go out.  As a result, his kids don’t know I exist.

Donna Ray (see where my boy got his name!) Haskins, Chillicothe, MO


“Well, guess I better git dressed for the Pork Rinds Anonymous meetin’.”

 

Dear Donna Ray:

The nature of existence is one that has bedeviled philosophers since the dawn of the discipline, and the question might properly be put right “back at ya”–how do you know you exist?  Not so easy when the burden of proof shifts, is it?

One “do-it-yourself” trick that philosophers use to establish existence–sort of like a home pregnancy test–was developed by Rene Descartes, who said “I think–therefore I am.”  If you can feel yourself thinking like him, and can express it in language, you may exist too!


“I think, therefore I am.  You, I’m not so sure of.”

 

Dear Philosophical Love Advisor:

I had successfully fended off a series of men hoping to save my maidenhead for my marriage night, when I succumbed to the advances of a boy–I will call him “Johan”– who is in my Intro to Philosophy 101 class (3 credits).  We were up in his dorm room looking at his three-volume set of Kant when he blurted out “I’d love to marry you!”

Of course this is every girl’s dream: to be wed to a thoughtful man who will bounce from one low-paying adjunct faculty position to another while writing crabbed, recondite monographs on increasingly narrower questions!  I pulled off my blouse and said “Take me, I’m yours!” and we had coitus right then and there, love between the Second and Third Critiques!

Then the next Thursday I saw Johan with this bimbo “Myra” who works the cash register in the sweatshirt section of the bookstore, having Cokes and playing footsie in the student union.  I asked him what the big idea was–we had spent a lot of time talking about big ideas, you said you’d love to marry me.

Johan gives me this look like I’ve got two heads and said “That was a mere expression of a wish or a personal judgment, not a performative utterance that rose to the level of an offer or promise to marry”–and went right back to footsie-playing!

I haven’t read any existentialists yet and so am not yet fully aware of how absurd and indifferent the universe is, but that really frosted my you-know-what.  Is there a premise of a syllogism I’m missing here?

Annamarie Leyten, Class of ’16, University of Massachusetts-Seekonk


“I’m Sophomore Class Philosophy Queen–and don’t you forget it!”

 

Dear Annamarie–

Johan is right, at least according to J.L. Austin, a leading proponent of the “ordinary language” school of thought who was voted “Geekiest Looking Philosopher of the 20th Century” by a bi-partisan panel of specialists drawn from all philosophic disciplines.  It was Austin who came up with the concept of a performative utterance, one that not only conveys information but also produces an actual consequence in the real world.  Had Johan said “Will you marry me?” and you had said “I will” before you ripped off your blouse, you wouldn’t have to write letters to me, you could sue for breach of promise.

 


“Austin’s here–NOW the party’s started!”

 

Dear Philosophical Advisor Person:

I am a photocopy specialist in the Philosophy Department at Gadarene College in Normal, Illinois.  I have become “smitten” by one particular young Ph. D. candidate whom I will call “Tyler,” which is his real name.  He is unlike other philosophy majors, not stuck up or snotty at all.

I thought I would “kindle” our romance by inviting him over to watch the Stanley Cup finals, and things were going well until Game 2 when I said “Do you think we should pull our goalie?” near the end of regulation.  He turned on me and gave me a look and said “To paraphrase Wittgenstein, whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

Mr. or Ms. Philosophical Advisor–I think that is the meanest thing anybody has EVER said to me in my whole entire life!  I was only making polite conversation because I’m trying to make this relationship work, dammit!

I’d like to give this “Wittgenstein” a piece of my mind.  Do you know where he teaches?

Ellen Widmer, Mason City, IL


“Stick that in your categorical imperative!”

Dear Ellen–

Ludwig Wittgenstein did indeed write those words, at the end of his only #1 hit, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.  Unfortunately for your desperate dream of vengeance, he died in 1951.  He said a lot of other controversial things, like if you give money to the poor you’ll only corrupt them, so give it to the rich–what a nut!

As for giving someone a piece of your mind, I’d hold on to what you have.

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Let’s Get Philosophical.”

States Move to Ban Makeup Application While Driving

LEOMINSTER, Mass.  Cheryl Lynne Pettrucelli is running late for work, and so she has shifted into high gear in her efforts to make herself look presentable by the time she reaches her employer, Micro-Precision Tools.  “It’s ten to nine, so it’s gonna be close,” she says, as she swerves to avoid an angry driver who passes her on the left.

Image result for makeup driving

“Put down the lipstick and drive!” the man yells at her.  “Blow it out your boxer shorts, dingle-berry!” she shouts back at him, and continues to apply the extensive facial makeup she feels is essential to her job as a receptionist.  “You don’t want to have some big buyer in from out of town and there I am greetin’ him without any blusher on my cheekbones,” she says.

Cheryl Lynne’s routine of last-minute makeup application on the road may come to an end this year, however, as a proposed law to ban the practice–the “Anti-Mascara Driving Safety Reform Act of 2015″–was introduced when the Massachusetts state legislature re-convened in January.

“Lipstick is the number one killer by volume, and eye-liner is second,” says Sgt. Leonard Fagasta of the Massachusetts State Police.  “Mascara is actually third, with rouge and blusher tied for fourth, but we went with ‘Anti-Mascara’ because it’s similar to ‘antimacassar,’ which is a big word in crossword puzzles I have trouble remembering.”

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Grandma’s antimacassar: Would not be prohibited by new law.

Legislation is needed, say safety advocates, because prior attempts to reach first-time offenders through mandatory education in safe driving habits have failed.  “We would try to teach these girls, who are overwhelmingly restaurant hostesses and receptionists,” says Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Make-Up Enforcement Specialist Mary Pat O’Hearn.  “They’d just sit there in class and do their nails.”

Massachusetts is unique among the states in that any citizen can file a bill which, if passed by the legislature, becomes law.  The proposed anti-makeup statute was in fact filed by one of Cheryl Lynne’s co-workers, Alison Freedman, who has her eyes on Joe Stefani, a high-producing salesman who often stops by the receptionist’s desk when he has time to kill.  “I’m just trying to make the world a better place,” says Alison when asked whether personal animus rather than public safety is her motivation.  “Anybody who needs as much makeup as Cheryl Lynne would have ugly babies, and we don’t want that to happen, do we?”

Quixote Bronson, Savior of Neglected Suburban Women

It is Saturday night in the suburbs west of Boston–no better place to view man’s inhumanity to woman. As my partner Pancho Sanza and I drift wearily from one upscale restaurant to another, we see on the looks of the husbands indifference bordering on cruelty as an endless parade of wives drones on about window treatments, children’s grades, spats with girlfriends; the very warp and woof of their existence, but matters inspiring only apathy in their spouses.


“So then Marie says–hey, don’t look at the fish when I’m talking to you!”

 

I–I who have been so unlucky in love with my beloved Dulcinea del Tobasco! I resolved many years ago that if I could not find my soul mate here on earth, I would do whatever I could to make the lives of women locked in loveless marriages more liveable. (So many ‘L’s’ give my tongue a workout–it is in great shape but alas, Dulcinea will not have me under her covers!) Perhaps, you say, I am mixing in affairs that are none of my business. Very well, you are entitled to my opinion, but I am merely trying to make the world a better place for the legions of ladies who agonize over their outfits, spend hours with their hair in foil getting it frosted, arranging for babysitters, only to watch their “lovers”–I use the term with the inverted commas of scorn!–pecking away at “personal digital assistants” under the table.

I have asked my neighbor, Pancho Sanza, to be my squire or “sidekick” as you Americans say in your vulgar, corrupted English. Someone must hold our table while I importune the insensitive clods who look over the shoulders of their chattering wives to see the scores of silly Boston “Celtics” and “Bruins.” I would spit on your televised “sports,” but I–unlike you–have some manners!

We arrive at Tiramisu, a charming but pricey boite de nuit where hedge fund managers and venture capitalists talk loudly of their most lucrative conquests. We hear nothing of the “duds” in their portfolios! I see a table of two, the man gnawing on a breadstick like a dog on a rawhide. From time to time he makes eye contact with his wife and grunts “Unh-huh,” but as soon as she begins to talk again his eye reverts to the bar, where a zaftig wine waitress with thick upper arms and a tattoo on the small of her back–the, how you say, “tramp stamp”–can be seen unscrewing corks from bottles. I decide now is the time to unscrew him!

“Pancho,” I say. “Hold the table.”

“Si Senor Quixote,” he says, tearing the crust off a piece of “homemade” asiago bread. Whose home, I wonder, was it made in?

“If the waitress comes, tell her I will have the pecan-encrusted haddock with asparagus,” I say as I stand up.

“You no want to hear the specials?”


Me and Pancho Sanza

 

“No,” I say firmly. “I am a man who knows what he wants, even if I so rarely get it.”

With that I draw myself up to my full 5′ 10″, and begin to channel the spirt of Charles Bronson, the quintessential tough guy.


Bronson, Ireland, McCallum

 

It was Bronson who, having gotten an eyeful of Jill Ireland, walked up to her husband David McCallum and said, quite bluntly, “I’m going to marry your wife.” This is the improvement that I have added to the method of the chivalrous Knight of La Mancha; an undercurrent of menace, a suggestion that if the man with the wandering eye doesn’t straighten up and fly right, I will simply take his woman away.

I adjust my cape and make a bee-line across the restaurant, startling some of the waitstaff that I bump into. “No one ever saw a bee fly in a straight line,” I say by way of excusing myself.

I present myself at the table so as to block the man’s view of the buxom girl he’s been ogling over his wife’s shoulder. “Excuse me, Senorita,” I say, bowing low.

“I’ll have the Cobb salad and the beef tournedos,” she says, apparently mistaking me for un garcon.


She wants the beef, not the fish.

 

“No, madame, I am not hear to feed your stomach–I am here to feed your soul.”

“But I don’t like fish,” she says, visibly perplexed.

“Perhaps I should explain,” I say. “Your husband has been fantasizing about Sondra, the waitress over at the wine bar, for the past twenty minutes.”

“The one who’s stacked like a lanai on a Hawaiian apartment building?”

“Yes–by her butt crack tatt, ye shall know her.”

The woman–who is known to her friends as “Tori”–snaps her head around to look at her husband.

“Evan–is that true?”


“Crest has been shown to be an effective decay-preventive dentifrice when used in a conscientiously-applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care.”

The man is crestfallen, and I’m not talking about the toothpaste. “How would this guy know?” he asks, playing the ingenue, but Tori can tell from his defensive tone that I’ve caught him red-minded.

Senor, I would gladly love and care for your beautiful wife if you no longer wish to do so,” I say, bowing low and working more than a hint of sarcasm into my voice.

Gracias,” Tori says with a smile, warming to the Old World charm that I draw from my overflowing reservoir of chivalry.

The man tries to stare me down with the steely resolve that he likes to use when making a capital call on a balky institutional investor.

“It is up to you,” I say to him. “You can treat her right–or I will take her away from you!”

He blinks, and I know it is over, our little mano a mano tete a tete in Franish italics.

“I–I’m sorry, sweetie,” he says to her, and he almost sounds sincere.

“You have been such of the big help, Senor . . .” Tori says in a misbegotten but deeply appreciated attempt to imitate my fractured Esperanto-like melange of Romance languages.

“You may remember me–and I hope you always will–as Hidalgo Quixote Bronson–Savior of Neglected Suburban Housewives.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Boston Baroques.”

Schools Find Emphasis on Risk-Taking Often Backfires

SAN DORITO, California. Students at this modern high school sixty miles north of Los Angeles perennially achieve high test scores on standardized exams, a fact that has caused educators around the state to try to replicate its methods.

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San Dorito High School: Home of the Fighting Taco Chips

 

“San Dorito was one of the first schools to adopt the concept of ‘risk-taking’ as a guiding principle,” says education consultant Thomas Byrnes-Jones. “They don’t just cram facts into kids’ heads, they challenge them.” The school’s mission statement, posted on its web site, boasts of a “positive learning environment nurtured by risk-taking, ownership, and whatever the buzzword-du-jour among educrats happens to be.”

That philosophy has spread to other schools with mixed results, as teachers and administrators sometimes adopt risk-taking without a firm understanding of what it means in terms of curriculum and pedagogy.

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Fun couple

 

“Risk-taking may not be appropriate at lower grade levels,” says California’s Commissioner of Education Dwight Hulbert. “We had a seventh-grader in the Hidden Valley Middle School propose marriage to his teacher after they’d only gone on one date, to see ‘The Graduate’,” he says as he shakes his head with disapproval. “I don’t think you want to make a long-term commitment like that until you’ve lived together for a couple of years.”

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. . . and when I turn this valve, you’ll hear a loud explosion!”

At the elementary school level, the notion of risk-taking can sometimes energize students with unintended consequences. “We found Mrs. Ilmberger, one of our less popular teachers, locked in the janitor’s closet,” says Sister Mary Agnesita of Holy Name School in Youngstown, Ohio. “Her third grade class stole her wallet and car keys and drove to Chuck E. Cheese for the afternoon.”

Image result for skull head finger skateboard

The students were apprehended when they tried to use the pizza chain’s prize tickets as currency to buy gas, says local Chief of Police Erskine Howell. “They should have traded them in for the skull’s head finger skate boards,” he notes. “Those are real popular with your typical pimply-faced gas monkey.”

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