Fed Chair: Sports Tchotchkes Next Bubble to Burst

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen warned Congress yesterday that a speculative bubble in over-priced sports “tchotchkes” threatens the nation’s fragile recovery, and could hamper more tasteful decorating schemes of female consumers.

yellen
“It was this enormous tacky gew-gaw with a little statue of somebody named Tom Brady.”

 

“Price stability and decorating predictability are the hallmarks of guidance on fiscal and monetary parameters in periods of misallocation of resources to blah-blah-blah,” Yellen said in “Fedspeak,” the Esperanto of central bankers.  “Money spent on commemorative sports doo-dads represents expenditures more wisely used on window treatments, such as swags and jabots.”

brady
“But honey–it was a limited edition!”

 

The all-male panel of the Senate Banking Committee responded negatively to Yellen’s dour assessment of the potential upside in sports collectibles, saying consumer spending by sports-obsessed males could jump start the economy.  “When you go to the ballpark everybody wants a souvenir,” said Edward Markey (D-MA).  “Cash you don’t spend in the gift shop is money that would just go to waste being saved in some boring bank, and that’s no fun.”

pillows
Pillows are like prunes: Is 6 enough?  12 too many?

 

Yellen cited a Keynesian “multiplier” effort to more tasteful decorating expenditures, saying the purchase of a burnt sienna throw pillow often resulted in supplementary purchases of similar goods in ecru, brick and seafoam.  “Basically, you buy one piece of commemorative Super Bowl crap you’ve shot your wad,” she noted drily.

senate
“Next thing you know she’ll be going after your Packers throwback helmet desk lamp!”

 

Republican members of the committee said their Democratic counterparts in the majority were only getting their comeuppance after they ignored the counsel of colleagues in the minority party.  “I told you there was a reason the name of the job was ‘Chairman’,” noted Mike Crapo (R-ID).  “Don’t cry to me when they come after your limited edition 2014 Ralph Lauren Ryder Cup Big Pony Hooded Windbreaker.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Our Friends the Fed.”

Pain of Divorce Leads One Golfer to Repay His Debt in Kind

HYANNIS, Mass.  The self-absorption of many amateur golfers is a phenomenon too widely-known to require comment, but Dan Norkrantz, a “serial entrepreneur” who has built and sold many businesses at a handsome profit, was unaware of his failing in this regard until he was served with divorce papers by his wife of twenty years.  “I had no idea I bored her for two decades with stories about my toughest shots from sand traps, and I genuinely regret it,” he says as he shakes his head ruefully.  “I mean, I had to write her one humongous check when she finally told me.”

But Norkrantz considered the criticisms that are now laid out in nauseating detail in family court records here, and took a long, hard look at the man he’d become.  “I had to admit my failings,” he says with a tone that suggests he now lives with a clean conscience.  “Other guys would spring for a platinum sponsorship at a charity tournament for $10,000, while I was down at the putting green level for $500.”

So Norkrantz began to take concrete steps to make himself less self-centered, and he decided to start, so to speak, at the first tee.  “The two things I know are golf and business,” he says as he plants a wooden tee in the ground.  “I came up with the idea of bringing the two together in a way that would help guys less fortunate than me.”

With a dragnet through the poorer sections of this Cape Cod community Norkrantz gathered three down-on-their-luck men to make a regular foursome that he says he will use to teach his “partners” how they can use golf to turn their current state of hopeless despair into successful business careers.  “I had a heart-to-heart with each one of these guys,” he says as he nods at the other three men who wait their turn to tee off here at the Capeward Winds Country Club.  “What they need are the habits of a good employee; show up on time, do your job, and if you really want to get ahead . . . play a lot of golf.”


     Heavy.

 

After a shopping spree at the pro shop the three non-members are outfitted in the sort of brightly-colored clothes that wouldn’t look out of place on a pimp hustling a string of girls on Main Street of this town, where there are extremes of both wealth and poverty.  “I like those hot pink psychedelic pants, they remind me of my days dealing drugs in San Francisco,” says a grizzled man who identifies himself only as “Mitch.”  “Hope I don’t start having acid flashbacks,” he adds with a sly smile.

The players who are new to the game stroke their tee shots with varying degrees of success, and Norkrantz introduces them to the concept of a “mulligan”–a second opportunity to improve on a muffed first shot.  “You don’t often get a second chance,” he says, adopting a didactic tone.  “My goal is to give you guys a mulligan on life, so to speak, so don’t screw up next time.”

The three hard-luck duffers aren’t sure whether to take this aside as a joke or a sermon, and they laugh nervously as they hop into electric golf carts.  “They say walking’s good exercise,” Norkrantz says, “but once you guys have been rehabilitated, you’ll realize that time is money and you can’t waste it just to stay in shape.”

“You want to make this interesting?” Norkrantz says as he lines up a three iron shot following a drive that barely traveled a hundred yards.  “Five bucks says I’m on the green in two.”

“I haven’t got five bucks,” says a man known as “Bo Peep” whose hair is matted into a shape and texture that resembles a wasps’ next.

“I’ll front you a fin,” Norkrantz says, then, after a few practice swings, strokes an awkward shot that lands in a water hazard to the right of the second green.  “You win,” he says, then hands the man $5.  “See–golf has already helped you increase your income.”

After the foursome putts out and drives off the third tee, Norkrantz grows philosophical as he drives with a black man nicknamed “T-Bone” down the 290-yard par 5.  “Golf is great for getting to know people,” Norkrantz says.  “It helps you forget all those nagging little details you have to live with every day.”

“Like what?” T-Bone asks, since his last job in a chicken-processing plant ended nearly two decades earlier, and he is unaware of the drawbacks of life in the executive suite.

“Like your wife, if you’ve got one,” Norkrantz says as he lets up on the pedal and the cart rolls to a stop.  “Also kids.  You drop them off at the pool and they’re somebody else’s problem for the next four hours.”


“I get the feeling I’m forgetting something.  Wife?  Kids?”

 

The round ends with Norkrantz–a scratch golfer–the winner, but with each of his partners slightly to the good thanks to side bets he has charitably arranged in their favor.  The four men head to the “19th hole” for refreshments, and over drinks the businessman hammers home his point about the importance of golf to success in commerce and life.

“You guys ought to come back out for our member-guest in June,” he says as he mops his brow with a cloth napkin bearing the club’s crest, a roseate tern being plunked on the head by an errant golf ball.

“What’s a member-guest?” Mitch asks.

“I’d hook up with one of you guys and we’d play eighteen holes against other teams,” Norkrantz replies.  “Then there’d be a dinner-dance that night.”

“So just one of us could come?” T-Bone asks.

“That’s right, unless one of you joins the club, then you could invite the fourth.”

“How much does it cost to join?” Bo Peep asks, pulling out the $5 he won earlier as he enjoys a free beer on Norkrantz’s tab.

“Initiation fee is $250,000, so you’ll need to save up a lot of bottles and cans,” Norkrantz says, referring to the five cent deposit paid in this state.

“Where am I ever going to get that kind of money?” Mitch asks, dumbfounded at the cost of the moderate luxury he sees around him.  “Rob a bank?”

Norkrantz is a bit taken aback, and at the same time disappointed that the three men haven’t grasped the life lesson he has tried to teach them.  “Do like I did and play a lot of golf,” he says finally, with a note of annoyance in his voice.  “You’ve got to spend money to make money.”

 

Some Cry Foul as Skinny Guys Again Dominate Marathon

BOSTON. The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, attracts runners from around the world every Patriot’s Day, a holiday on the third Monday in April that serves as an excuse for local bureaucrats to take the day off.  “Running Boston is my dream,” says Ngtmbe Jpksgzi of Kenya, whose name was cobbled together from surplus letters left behind by American “eco-tourists.” “Perhaps if I win, I can afford a few more vowels.”


McKelvey: “It’s not fair!”

 

But local runners are beginning to chafe at what they say is a system that results in skinny guys and gals winning the event year after year, leaving them with nothing to show for their half-hearted efforts to stay in shape.

“I musta done ten, maybe twenty situps since last year,” says Chuck McKelvey, a regular at the Kinvarra Pub in East Roxbury. “They told me to forget about entering.  Me–who grew up here!”


“That guy’s so skinny he has to pass a place twice to make a shadow!”

 

So regulars stage a “drink-in” at the bar every Patriots Day, refusing to move from their seats until all the free snacks have been consumed and all runners have crossed the finish line.

“It’s tough, believe me,” says Bob Wychekowski, a long-time patron whose loyalty caused him to adopt the pub as his mailing address last year when he was going through a divorce.  “I know the runners are in excruciating pain, but on the other hand they don’t start serving lunch here until twelve o’clock on the dot.”


Pizza-flavored goldfish on Salisbury Steak

 

Until then, customers depend on a subsistence diet of honey-roasted peanuts and pizza-flavored goldfish served free at the bar, or garlic and onion potato chips and Andy Capp Pub Fries purchased from a vending machine next to the men’s room. “You got to suck it up,” says Mike Donahue, pronounced “DONE-a-who.” “Those urinal deodorizers can kill your appetite if you get a Bubble Gum or Wild Cherry scent.”

Advocates say they will push for the creation of a new category for participants, just as the Boston Athletic Association, the marathon’s sponsor, eventually recognized female and wheelchair partipants. “I don’t see why they can’t have a separate Couch Potato Class,” says McElvey, whose weight tops out at around 250 pounds during the off-season. “Don’t they understand I have an eating disorder?”

For One Marathon Runner Race is Not Always to the Swift

HOPKINTON, Mass.  The rows of portable toilets that line the streets of this bucolic suburb on the morning of the Boston Marathon see heavy duty just before the starter’s gun goes off as runners nervously empty their bladders before the race, but one contestant who emerges from the turquoise and white enclosure stands out from the crowd.

Image result for porta potties hopkinton

“I know I’m different,” the male runner who identifies himself only as “Sam” says to this reporter, “but my needs are the same.”

Sam is conspicuous by his shortcomings; he’s not nearly as tall as any of the other entrants, and despite a diet that consists entirely of seafood, he’s nowhere near as slim as the world-class competitors who will line up against him this morning.

Image result for penguins running
Training run.

“Lotta people are counting me out,” says the three-and-a-half foot emperor penguin.  “I’ve never let other people’s opinions hold me back.”

The Boston Marathon is the nation’s oldest, and it has gradually expanded from an event for able-bodied men only to one that features ten different divisions, including male and female runners, male and female handcyclists, male and female wheelchair competitors, and unisex categories for cosmetologists, osteopaths, calligraphers,  Aleutian Islanders and excommunicated members of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.  “The race now reflects the colorful tapestry that makes Boston such a vibrant city,” says Chamber of Commerce Spokeswoman Edie Miniscus.  “I just hope the penguins don’t litter the streets with krill.”

Image result for first woman boston marathon
Switzer:  “Get out of my way–the penguins are gaining on me!”

 

There was no official bar to penguins entering the historic race, which is patterned after the 26.1 mile course run by Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens to bring news of a military victory, but a culture of anti-penguin sentiment worked to discourage the aquatic birds from entering.  “In high school I showed up for track and field and the coach told me I’d be better off on the yearbook staff,” says a determined Sphenisciform wearing bib number 16,001 named “Lyle.”  “I went to one meeting and couldn’t get away from those goody-goody types fast enough.”

And so it took guerilla action similar to that employed by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the race with an official number that she obtained by the subterfuge of signing her registration papers as “K.V. Switzer.”  Sam and Lyle mingled with other runners at the starting line last year and jumped into the field as it took off, only to be accosted by Boston Athletic Association officials when they slowed down to climb “Heartbreak Hill” in Newton, Mass.

Image result for penguins
“Guys–remember to stretch!”

 

“I don’t mind them birds racing,” said Jock Semple IV, great-grandson of the race official who tried to remove Switzer from the race course.  “As long as they remain flightless, which I figure ain’t gonna change for a couple million years of evolution.”

The penguins make good time through Ashland, Framingham and Natick, but begin to slow as they reach the half-way point, alongside the campus of the all-female Wellesley College.  There, young women lavish attention and affection on them in addition to the customary cup of water as the birds re-hydrate in style, then linger longer than their race-day game plan calls for.

Image result for wellesley college boston marathon
“Penguins!”

“How you feeling?” Sam says to Lyle as the latter climbs onto the lap of Meredith Gersh, a senior English major from Nyack, New York.

“I’ve got a cramp,” Lyle replies.  “I think I’d better drop out.”

My Bunny Hop Years

They were, in retrospect, a Periclean Golden Age; a time of innocence, but a time of experience as well.  Like the Jazz Age, they burned brightly for only a brief period, but their embers continue to smolder latterly on the so-called “World Wide Web”–six decades later!


Bunny Hop, transmogrified as The Penguin Dance

 

I speak, of course, about the years of The Bunny Hop; that Latin-influenced visitor that appeared upon the scene shortly after I was born, and swept the country club and grade school dances of my youth.

You, who live in the “go-go” 21st century, where everything is permitted and nothing is forbidden, cannot know the thrill that shook through a nine-year-old-boy’s body when he ever so delicately placed them on the hips of Caroline Spretzka.


The true, the ORIGINAL Bunny Hop–danced by swinging guys ‘n gals.

 

Where before, you had been limited to box-stepping with her around a gymnasium, or–if you were a particularly good dancer–pairing off with her as part of a talent-show polka troupe that performed on stage–now you got the real thing, the primal view that the male bunny sees when he fulfills his primordial urge to you-know-what-like-a-bunny–am I out of my ration of hyphens yet?


World’s longest Bunny Hop line?

 

No, The Bunny Hop represented that riot-like atmosphere–in cuddly guise–described by Claude Levi-Strauss in his seminal essay that I have forgotten the name of it’s so important.  Anyway, he says the feast (la fete) is a time for the breakdown of social norms, such as The Fox Trot that our parents sought so grimly to impose on us.  Yes, yes–I know that stiff social dance’s original name was “The Bunny Hug,” but by the time I came on the scene, 1951, a year before the invention (discovery?) of The Bunny Hop, The Fox Trot was old hat, leftover casserole.

It was a race against time: The Twist was looming on the horizon, a brooding future of no-contact dancing.  We were a doomed generation, like The Beatniks; aware that with the single flick of a switch in Moscow or the release of a single by Chubby Checker, our idyllic youth would be gone.  And so we danced into the night, since the morrow might never come!

Some (I don’t know who) would say The Bunny Hop was the beginning of it all, the whole “youth rebellion” movement that would culminate in “White Rabbit” by The Jefferson Airplane, the first psychedelic bunny in American cultural history.  Perhaps–I do not profess to know.


“So I’m tripping and all of a sudden I see this fucking HUGE white rabbit, and . . .”

 

I do know that when The Bunny Hop was announced at youth dances, the cynical boys who had snuck outside for smokes and the introverted girls who had turned their Barbie Dream Houses into Little Virginia Woolf “Rooms of Their Own” would suddenly rush to the dance floor, wallflowers no more, ready to participate in the communal rite that went back to the ancient Greeks.  It was, after all, Euripedes who wrote “Blessed are those who give themselves up to the dance.”  (Bacchae, line 74, R. Robertson, trans.)  I’m pretty sure he was thinking about The Bunny Hop–κουνέλι πηδώ–for those of you keeping score at home.  In Attic Greek.

Some say the 19th century Finnish dance jenkka is the mother of The Bunny Hop, but I say–so what?  When you’ve sweated through the one white shirt you own–probably left over from your First Holy Communion–and you want to get it on bunny-style, there are usually no 19th century Finns around to help you.

All I know for sure is that, when you’ve had three cherry Cokes, and the mother who’s stuck being chaperone calls for lapin sautee, and Stella Siragusa grabs you by the hand and pulls you out on the dance floor and you begin to tap twice to the right, twice to the left, then hop forward, backward, then three times forward–the madness of the dance is upon you.

The Love Affair of Adam and Eve

    We too often miss an essential fact about the biblical first couple: They’re in love.

The Wall Street Journal

It seems like only yesterday the whole freaking world revolved around me.  Then God had to go and make that other . . . thing.  Have to admit, she’s more attractive than the swarms of living creatures who were here when I arrived, especially the great sea monsters and the creeping things.  I mean, I don’t mind creeping things, but they seem to freak the other thing out.  That could come in handy someday if I want something from her.  “Adam,” other thing might say, “there’s a creeping thing in here and I don’t want to squish it.”  Could maybe trade her something for it.

My side hurts, like it gets whenever I have too many pomegranates.  Don’t remember falling on my ribs, but God made me, he ought to be able to fix me.


“You’ve got some kind of goober between your teeth.”

 

Other Thing has really long hair, unlike me.  I get mine cut once every two weeks–“little off the top, short back and sides,” I tell the angel on the end down at Sal’s Barber Shop.  I need to look nice for the artists who are doing the illustrations for the book I’m going to be in.  I hope someday people will read it and realize the important contribution I made to civilization and the lack thereof.  Without me, before me, there was nobody–nothing!  With me blazing the trail, you eventually get written language, war, bowling, pilates and frozen yogurt.  Yes, there’s disco, but on the whole, I think it’s a good deal.


” . . . and over there someday there’ll be a mall, where we can get clothes and stuff.”

I’m starting to get a strange sensation whenever I see Other Thing.  Face gets hot, stirring in loins.  It makes me want to write a song or a poem.  If there were any other guys around I’d be embarrassed but they’re not here yet, so maybe I’ll give it a try.

“WILD thing–you make my heart sing!”

Good start.  Knock off for now, pick it up after lunch when I have more energy.  It’s not like anybody else is going to come up with anything before I do.  Maybe if she likes it she’ll come over to my place.  Hope she doesn’t want to change the furnishings–I put a lot of thought into the wall-to-wall yak rug.


“I thought I told you–the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is ‘For Angels ONLY!'”

 

Tried song on Other Thing, she no like.  Says not good to dance to, wants something . . . softer.  What the hell, I spend all day running from T-Rexes, fighting Triceratops, I want to rock out when I come back to the cave.

Her hair smells nice though, so maybe I’ll try to . . . tone it down a bit.  How about something like . . .

Feelings–whoa, whoa, whoa–feelings.

That pretty good.  Maybe I’ll let my hair grow a little, show her I have more sensitive side.  Anything to procreate!

 


J. Crew Catalog, 2,000,000 B.C.

 

New song went over a little better.  We “snuggled.”  She said it’s just as good as procreating if you really love someone.

Not sure I’m ready for “love” with Other Thing, but I don’t have a lot of choices.  If we mated and had a daughter there’d be another woman around, but that might take some time.  I don’t want to just “settle” for her–on the other hand, now that I know God took a rib from me to make her, I’m not sure I want to play the field.


“I’m not crazy about wearing a uniform to work every day either, sweetie, but Century 21 is a good company.”

 

Other Thing says “Call me Eve!”  It’s a nice name, much better than Jo Anne or Augusta.  I can imagine a day when those names will have disappeared from the face of Earth, to be replaced by Caitlin and Courtney.  But that someday isn’t today.


“Question for you, God.  If you made me, how’d I get a belly button?”

 

God, what have I done?  Couple of glasses of mead I have to go and tell Eve I love her!

Of all the stupid things to do.  Now she wants to move in, take down my trophy hides and paintings of me hunting bison, switch to floral prints and chintz.

I’m afraid I’ve set off a chain reaction that will echo down through the millennia, as man is dogged by a question that will remain a mystery until the end of time:

What, exactly, is chintz?

 

 

On New Attention Being Paid to Neglected Abstract Expressionists

 

Sorry, but my distinct impression is–
We already have enough abstract expressionists.

There’s no use spelunking in artistic caverns
For the type once rife at the Cedar Tavern.

 

 rothko3

 

I mean, I think if you’ve seen one Rothko
you’ve pretty much seen them all, by gothko.
And as for someone overshadowed by Pollock
It’s a bit late for me to wax hyperbolic.

 

 rothko

 

The problem as I see it with this artistic school
is its foundation was laid by breaking all rules.
Once they’d been shattered into little fragments
There’s no point to re-smashing in different pigments.

 

 rothko1

 

There may be an AbEx I somehow missed out on,
if so, I’ll never know that sleeper.
I just wish I’d bought the well-known Old Masters

when their exorbitant prices were cheaper.