The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter tale

Well, it's Easter, and so we come to the tale of a man and his family who went on a long-planned vacation to Israel. They were good stout Christian farm folk from Iowa, Presbyterian by denomination, if I remember right, and the whole family went along, including the mother in law, who never thought very much of the man her daughter married and was not shy about letting him know that. The man of the family resented this no end, but for the sake of family peace he just nodded his head and said, Yes mother, whenever she went off on one of her tirades about how her precious little baby girl should have married Freddie Himmelfarb, who was the captain of the high school football team and was now a rich lawyer in Des Moines, but no, she had to marry you, she'd say, and not in a very complimentary manner, I might add.

And lo, it came to pass that in the City of David the days of the mother in law's life were completed, and she went to be with the Lord, who was none too pleased with the arrangement, but that's another story altogether. In discussing what to do with the old hag's carcass, an El Al official told the man of the family that he could bury her in Jerusalem for about $500 or he could fly her back to Iowa for $10,000. Our totally nongrieving son in law said immediately, Let's ship her home to Iowa. The El Al official was a bit surprised, because the son in law did not look like a wealthy man. She must have good insurance, the El Al official said. Nope, our hero said, my mother in law didn't have two nickels to rub together. Then you must be a wealthy man, the El Al official. No, I'm not, our hero said, this trip and now flying her back will take just about all of my savings. Then I don't understand you, sir, the El Al official said. Why are you spending $10,000 to send your mother in law back to Iowa when you can bury her here in Israel for $500? Because, our son in law said, a man rose from the dead here once and I'm not taking any chances with that old bitch. No one comes back from the dead in Iowa, no one at all.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Just my opinion, you understand

This is about the time I usually start apologizing for not posting more often, and I would, except that this time it’s not really my fault. It’s my lumbar number five disc and its insistence on putting pressing on my sciatic nerve.  I don’t know why it’s putting pressure on the sciatic nerve; that nerve has no bad habits that I am aware of, so why anyone would want to pressure it is beyond me, but apparently lumbar number five has an entirely different view of the matter and so the pressure continues, with more than the usual number of sudden and very painful flares.  Annoying, but true, I fear.

In other news, I see that the Bloomberg Business News’ headline for the week is, Am I really such a jerk, or something to that effect.  That is an interesting question, I think, and one I’m sure that we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another, but it does occur to me that if you have to ask yourself this question in a business setting, then yes, in all probability you really are such a jerk, and the people whom you are asking will probably be more than happy to tell you so to your face, unless this is the boss doing the asking, in which case you should lie until you are blue in the face. Getting another job in this economy is only slightly more difficult than pulling a woodpecker’s wisdom teeth, and while your unemployment benefits will continue for as long as China is willing to loan us the money, watching daytime television for any length of time will cause large portions of your prefrontal cortex to develop dry rot and lead you to drooling great buckets of spit on your nice clean shirt in a public place, which is cute when you’re six months old but not when you are in your forties.  Given the dreadful alternative, lying to protect your livelihood seems the lesser of the two evils. That’s what I think, anyway; your mileage may vary.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

How the water falls and other tales of adventure

A terror stalks us here in this our Great Republic, a nightmare that haunts our every waking hour, a horror that fills the very air we breathe with tension and keeps us all glued to the edge of our seats hoping against hope that this tide of purple prose will come to an end. Yes, somewhere here amidst the amber waves of grain, the purple mountains’ majesties, and the rocket’s red glare, and no, you don’t win anything for knowing that the last bit is from a different song than the first two, there is malicious micturation going on.  Yes, malicious micturation, a crime most vile and heinous and loathsome too, especially if you’re wearing light colored trousers. I bring this disgusting subject up because the University of Florida reports that they have such a fiend stalking one of their campuses and that he has already struck seven or eight times. The effects on the victims and the University’s reputation are, as you might imagine, devastating. Debates have already begun in the Sunshine State as to whether or not the state’s stand your ground laws governing self-defense apply to this case, or whether standing your ground simply makes it easier for the criminal, who, from the police artist’s sketch appears to be a deranged Muppet brought to us by the letter P, to relieve himself on the prospective victim.

These are not easy questions to answer. Not so very long ago, we here in our happy little burg had to deal with just such a maniac.  No one knew who he was or where he came from or even why he chose to urinate on people at all.  In the few moments before he struck, his victims said in their statements to our local constabulary, he appeared to be a highly intelligent and even personable young man. He was tall and thin, the victims reported, clean, articulate, and spoke with no hint of Negro dialect unless he wanted to. Before he struck he would smile and say something to the effect that he thought it would be better for everyone if he spread the wealth around, and then, without a moment’s hesitation, he would urinate on the victim and then run off.

The cops never caught our personable pisser; he struck five or six times and then disappeared completely, leaving everyone in our happy little burg a bit mystified by the whole experience.  Why us, we asked ourselves, why would anyone come here and do something like this to us? And, of course, when would he come back and strike again?

To date, he has not reappeared, but that hasn’t stopped some people hereabouts from taking precautions.  You will probably find more people wearing hip waders and raincoats here on a sunny day than almost any place else in the United States not actively involved in the fishing industry.  People are sort of proud of that factoid, although I’m not really sure why—looking like the road show cast of Captains Courageous is not my idea of a great civic distinction, but the Chamber of Commerce thinks otherwise and who am I to disagree with them?

In any case, people tell me that they’re ready for him should he ever show his face or any other body part here in our happy little burg ever again. The pisser has probably done more to stimulate gun sales here than anyone else in the town’s fairly boring history.  And his vanishing years ago has done nothing to stop our local gendarmes from going all out to catch him. All over town you can see the solar powered micturation towers, towers crammed with new state of the art urine sensors that can detect an illegal excretion from five hundred yards away.  The police brass like to tell everyone that there’s no way the pisser can get away the next time he strikes, but I know some of the guys on the force and they tell me that the towers seldom work because the police dogs pee on the sensors all the time. I’m not supposed to tell people that because it undermines the citizenry’s faith in our local police and also because the cops like to keep the fear of the pisser going. As long as he’s out there the department’s bloated budget stays bloated; nobody turns the cash-cow into a hamburger with a Coke and fries on the side, not unless they absolutely have to and the cops are a long way from absolutely having to, so color me cynical about them catching this oddball any time soon.

 Still, I can’t help but wonder why he did it. You can’t get very far in this life peeing on people; they find it annoying in the extreme. It’s probably got something to do with sex. That’s what Freud said about damn near everything and if I’m not going to disagree with the Chamber of Commerce, who are as admirable a crew of land sharks as you’d ever care to meet in a month of Sundays, then I’m sure as hell not going to disagree with Sigmund. That’s just not going to happen.

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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Leisure time on someone else's nickel, or so I'm told

The history of social activism is a long and honorable one here in this our Great Republic, the names of those who gave so much of themselves to alleviate the burdens of a suffering humanity comprising a roster of some of the most revered names in our country’s history, people like Jane Addams, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Cabrini, which is probably why you’ve never heard of Al Capone’s soup kitchen. Social work and its attendant reform movements tried hard to do right by the poor and suffering, to appeal to all that’s good and decent in people, to remind one and all that we are, in fact, our brother’s keeper, and a man who believed that you could go farther with a kind word and a gun than you could with just a kind word tends to look a bit out of place on that roster of revered names I just mentioned. But, for what it’s worth, Al Capone had a soup kitchen.

Capone opened the soup kitchen in 1930, just as the Great Depression was beginning to take a big bite out of the American economy and the Feds were about to take a big bite out of Al’s free time.  The Internal Revenue Service was after him for income tax evasion, Eliot Ness and the Prohibition Bureau was after him for violating the Volstead Act, although in Al’s defense I should point out that the Volstead Act was probably the most violated act in American history up to that time, and Chicago’s business community was after him because after the St. Valentine’s Massacre Capone stopped being great local color and became bad for Chicago’s business climate. In addition, the people of Chicago were hurting financially and many of the good people who took an avid thrill in the doings of the local underworld when times were good now wanted the hoods tossed into the slammer now that times were bad. Seeing the gangsters and their molls parading around the hot spots in the newspapers rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially at a time when they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or where they were going to get the money to pay the rent.  So, in 1930, Al Capone, owner and proprietor of a good-sized chunk of the City of Chicago, Illinois, opened a soup kitchen to help feed the city’s growing population of economically desperate people.

Now, you may not have heard of Al Capone’s soup kitchen, which is understandable, I guess, but the people in 1930 certainly knew about it—the mass media of the day thought the event newsworthy enough to send reporters and photographers and newsreel cameramen to cover the soup kitchen’s opening day. The troops of reporters and photographers and newsreel cameramen trooped into the soup kitchen, trooping being what troops of anything do when they have nothing better to do with their time, and the reporters interviewed and the photographers photographed and the newsreel cameramen filmed one garrulous old fellow who thanked Al Caponio—yes, that’s what he called Capone—for the beer bought bread he and his compatriots were eating and the he went on to say that there ain’t no work but by God we want to work and he didn’t know when there would be work but when there was work they’d be working. I’m not certain that I follow his exact train of thought; it is entirely possible that he couldn’t either; but I like what I think he’s trying to say. Did he actually believe what he was saying? Who knows? He may have been a down and outer, the Chicago equivalent of a Bowery bum, the kind of man who would have taken a handout no matter whom was doing the handing out, but what I find interesting here is that he felt the need to justify his actions at all.  He lived at a time when a man did not take charity, not if he could help it. A man supported himself and his family, if he had one, and that was that, even if you were a bum who didn’t ever intend to work. Taking a handout, admitting that you couldn’t support you and yours, was deeply embarrassing, if not actually shameful.  You wanted to work, you wanted to earn your keep; that’s just the way things were then.

I bring this up because this is not the way things are now here in this our Great Republic. Nope, nowadays the government can cause widespread economic hardships and its attitude is basically this: you got nothing to worry about, friend, really you don’t. Don’t have a job and you don’t have any prospects of getting one? Why, take some of your newly acquired leisure time and become a writer or a photographer or an artist, do something that unlocks the inner creative you. Be all that you can be, as the Army recruiters used to say, only without the down side of having terrorists taking pot shots at you. Of course, writers and photographers and artists don’t really make a lot of money doing what they do, but again, the government tells you, that’s not a problem, either. There are welfare and unemployment benefits and food stamps and a whole host of other programs that will tide you over as you go searching for the inner creative you.

And who pays for this search for the inner creative you? Why, the rich, of course, they’ll be more than happy to foot the bill, except when they’re not happy to foot the bill, which will be most of the time.  There’s a reason why rich people hire accountants and tax lawyers, folks, and it isn’t to help you find your inner creative self; it’s to help them hang on to as much of their money as they can. And the poor certainly can’t finance your dreams of artistic expression; they don’t have any money, something you already know because you’re one of them. No, the government will have to get the wherewithal for your search for the inner creative you the old-fashioned way: taxing people with jobs. The people with jobs will not want to finance any of this artistic navel gazing, of course; being the mean and petty bourgeois people that they are, they will want to spend that money on their kids’ education or improving their homes or buying a big gas guzzling SUV that only serves to warm the Earth and kill polar bears and cute little harp seals; but the government is watching out for you, never fear. The government will make those greedy bums fork over the money just like they ought to because at a certain point you’ve made enough money and you should help spread it around, you know what I mean? And for such a good cause too. The government doesn’t do enough to help people find their inner artist; there ought to be a program for that.

And yes, I will concede that if the government cut taxes and regulations and simply stopped hogging the road so that others could get by then a lot of these problems would solve themselves, but nowadays here in this our Great Republic the party of Tweed, Tammany, and White Supremacy is in charge and getting out of the way of people who actually do productive things is definitely not on any politician’s agenda. I think that this may explain the ruling class’ sudden love affair with leisure time and the arts. That an unemployed person now has a greater opportunity to look into new and creative ways of spending their leisure time strikes the cynical observer, and yes, I am one of those, thank you for asking, as the sort of thing a husband says when his wife catches him in bed with the babysitter because he doesn’t have the wit to deny everything and invoke the Marxist principle of who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?  Sometimes there is simply too much pig and not enough lipstick to go around.  Annoying but true, I fear.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

News & Information

Just a short note here, folks. There's something on the griddle and I will be posting it just as soon as I've typed it up, and, as always, my apologies for the spotty posting. I'm blaming the weather, which is the thing to do here in our happy little burg. And yes, all the citizenry here are blaming the former junior senator from Illinois for the weather. The thinking is that the constant hot air He pumps into the atmosphere causes global warming, which caused the intense winter we are experiencing. I don't know how that is possible; one would think that if you make things warmer, the temperature will go up, but apparently this is not always the case, but everything else that is wrong with this our Great Republic is George W. Bush's fault even though he hasn't been President for five years, so what do I know?  In only slightly related news, Instapundit tells us that historians are already trying to gild our prairie Incitatus' historical reputation. Given that there isn't enough gilding available for such a task, I strongly suspect that a lot of the yellow stuff on His reputation will be Cheez-Wiz. Which is nice, if you enjoy that sort of thing

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Canard Conspiracy, only vaguely by Robert Ludlum...or someone like him, only still living.

Now that all the screaming over the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle has finally died down, I am going to put my two cents in. I know that I am a little late to the game here, but then again I usually am: I expect to be annoying people ten years from now about what a hoot Jerry Seinfeld’s show about nothing is, and I fully expect that people will be rolling their eyes about how funny that whole master of your own domain thing is. I guess I should have watched the show the first time around; it would have done wonders for my social life then, but at the time I was catching up on the reruns of All in the Family.

But what I find really interesting about l’affaire canard (yes, I am practicing my French here—sorry about that) is how a fairly standard exercise in American political kabuki theatre went off the tracks this badly.  At this point, I think, we all know how this sort of thing is supposed to play out: someone on the political right says something that someone on the political left, or one of their pet groups, finds offensive and starts hollering about it anywhere they can get an audience to listen. Whether or not they are really offended is beside the point here, as is whether the offending speech was actually offensive; being a niggard still has nothing to do with black people, no matter what the word sounds like.  Since freedom from offense is one of our constitutional rights (really, it is. I am sure it’s in the Constitution somewhere. Just look under the penumbras or behind the emanations, and while you’re there, could you take a peek and see if I left my mother’s recipe for soda bread in there as well?  Thanks a lot.) the minions of the offended group will let their media mouthpieces know that they are highly offended and deeply mortified and that they will demand that their offender make a full and contrite apology for his heinous crime, promise to never do it again, and slink out of the American public square, never to be heard from again, while the left and their minions gloat and cheer and pat themselves on the back for protecting the American public from the hurtful blatherings of yet another right wing troglodyte.

So why didn’t this scenario, a scenario we’ve all seen play out more times than we care to remember, happen this time?  My crack investigative staff has uncovered a memo from the A & E Network that might shed some light on the matter; I am publishing it here for the first time anywhere.

To: All Executive Staff
From: Executive Vice President for Programming
Re: Our Duck Problem

First, I want to thank everyone at the network for the way they have handled the Robertson controversy.  It has been a tough month for everyone involved and I know that you have done your best to protect the best interests of the network, our shareholders, and our corporate parents. Having said that, if our object in this whole matter was to make ourselves look like a gang of witless morons, then we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We have managed to unite gay rights activists and evangelical Christians in mutual loathing of the A & E Network, and while I think that uniting two such utterly disparate groups in a mutual anything is no small achievement, I would have preferred that some other network accomplish this great feat instead of us.  The question for us now is this: what have we learned in all of this and how do we keep it from happening in the future?
Here are a few points I will want to discuss at our next meeting.

  1. We keep all media away from Phil Robertson at all times, without exception.  Really, people, did no one on site in Louisiana notice that GQ was interviewing Phil Robertson? Didn’t anyone down there ask themselves why GQ would be interested in the views of a man who sports a foot-long beard and dresses in camouflage 24/7? Did our Louisiana people think that GQ wanted Phil’s opinions on the new spring fashions?  The writer wanted him to say something the GQ home office would find absolutely outrageous, and hellfire and damnation for practicing homosexuals and wondering why a man would prefer another man’s anus to a woman’s vagina definitely fits GQ’s definition of outrageous. That the former has been Christian dogma for the past two millennia and the latter something all straight men not serving time have wondered about at one time or another is beside the point; both opinions come under the heading of things we do not discuss publicly. From here on out, no media goes near Phil without my personal okay on it.
  2. Second, regarding the possible boycotting of Duck Dynasty / Duck Commander products by GLAAD.  Please, who’s kidding who here? I will go out on a limb and guess that the number of gay rights activists who are also duck-hunting, card-carrying members of the NRA is probably miniscule almost to the point of nonexistence. In short, this is not something we have to spend a lot of time worrying about. On the other hand, the number of duck-hunting, card-carrying members of the NRA who do watch the show and buy Duck Dynasty / Duck Commander products comprise a good-sized chunk of the show’s audience. Second, most of that market share agrees with Phil and will boycott the show if we don’t put Phil back on the air.  So what does this mean for us?  I don’t think I have to remind everyone who works here that A & E is a capitalist enterprise: we exist to make money, the more money the better and truly obscene chunks of pelf are best of all. Catering to the politically correct is all very well and good if it keeps them off our backs, but we are not gutting the golden goose in order to satisfy anyone’s sense of moral outrage.  Not going to happen, people, remember that. I realize that retracting Phil’s suspension from the show will make the network look like we have no moral backbone at all, so let me repeat my previous point: the shareholders do not care if we have moral backbones, unicorn horns, or prehensile penises. They want their dividend checks on time and making sure they get them is what we are here for.  Keeping the gay rights people happy is nice, but it is not the point of our particular exercise.
  3. I bought the program, so this one is totally on me, but I think there’s something for all of us to learn here.  I bought the program thinking that we were getting an updated version of The Beverly Hillbillies and that the audience would get a good laugh at their antics down there on the bayou. Well, the laugh’s on me here. People are not laughing at the Robertsons, they are laughing with them.  So what is the lesson here?  Understand what you are buying.  I bought this program thinking that we were getting one thing and in reality I was buying something else entirely; I should have realized that before we were up to our hips in dead ducks.  The Robertsons are a tight-knit evangelical Christian family that believes in all the things such a family usually believes in, including those things that aren’t going to make them hugely popular in New York City and California.  So in the future this network will not be airing any more programming featuring tight-knit evangelical families.  Unlike a conventional television cast of actors, most of whom would gut their own mothers with a dull fish knife in order to advance their careers, a tightly knit family will always present a united front to an outsider threatening the group interest and will use the Bible to justify their pigheaded refusal to see reason.   In addition to this, the Robertsons are an American success story whose collective worth, I’ve read in reliable financial sources, is approximately $83 million.  Let me repeat that for those of you not paying attention: $83 million. Yes, there is a lot of money in killing water fowl, no two ways about it, a lot of money, the kind of money that buys the person with that kind of money a lot of immunity from the kinds of pressure the network usually brings to bear on a recalcitrant star in order to get them to conform to our view of the common good. Therefore, in the future the network will not be featuring any programming featuring tightly knit evangelical Christian families with the financial wherewithal to tell the network where to go stick it.  We will concentrate on programming featuring poor people, preferably very poor people who will do anything to stay on television and keep the money coming in.  We need to control the talent, everyone; otherwise, all you get is this sort of anarchy.
  4. Yes, this whole thing makes us look incredibly bad, there’s no getting around that, so when the media asks us for a comment, we’re just going to say nothing in as many words as possible and tell everyone that this situation was unfortunate. Unfortunate is this network’s mantra until this tempest in a teapot blows over.  If the gay rights people criticize us for our stand, that’s unfortunate as well, but tell them publicly that we sympathize. Privately, we say that all Phil wants is for America’s gays to repent and amend their lives; remember, if they were ducks, he’d be trying to blow their heads off with a shotgun, so tell them to count their damn blessings.

The rest of the memo dealt with matters that did not concern the Robertson affair, so we had redacted them in the interests of brevity. We have made several calls to A & E to ask for their comments on the memo; they have not returned our calls, except for a short statement saying that the memo is not an accurate reflection of the views of A & E’s senior management. Since then, all I've heard from them is the sound of crickets chirping happily away. That may mean something or maybe it doesn't. I only report; you get to decide what it all means.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Upstate, or Concerto Grosso in A Flat, not by George Frederick Handel

Upstate. What is Upstate? Why is Upstate such an important concept for those of us who live here in the Vampire State? And, most importantly, where is Upstate?  This last is a very important question, as many people in the Vampire State would rather have a body part removed without the benefit of anesthesia then have anyone they know think that they live or know anyone Upstate, and there are others who think wistfully that maybe they would be better off if somehow or other they could just get out of the New York City rat race and move Upstate, where the grass is always greener and the picket fences are always whiter and life is just easier somehow.  Sometimes, the same person can have both of these ideas about Upstate on the same day, but not usually at the same time. An event that cognitively dissonant will often cause apoplexy in laboratory rats, although whether it would have the same result with New Yorkers is unknown. Ingesting large amounts of caffeine is supposed to protect against such things, and if there is anything New Yorkers do better than almost anyone else is ingest caffeine. All right, maybe people in Seattle ingest more caffeine on a per capita basis, but there is no Upstate in Washington, so they’re not probably not the best people to ask about something like this.

Before we start defining Upstate, let’s define what Upstate isn’t.  The people in Buffalo, for example, do not consider themselves Upstaters; they live in Western New York, thank you very much, and they will have nothing to do with a faux geographical controversy that takes time away from them stuffing their pie-holes with spicy chicken wings at every opportunity. Similarly, the people of the Southern Tier don’t really consider themselves Upstaters either, given that they aren’t upstate from anything; you can’t really be an Upstater if the downstate involved is Pennsylvania. On the other hand, the people in Malone do consider themselves Upstaters, a choice forced on them by geography; you can’t go any further upstate than Malone without actually being in Canada.  People who live in Lawn Guyland are definitely not Upstaters and whether or not Westchester County is Upstate seems to be a matter of some debate, especially if you live in New York City; for Upstaters, on the other hand, Westchester and most of Rockland County are Downstate. Given that no one seems to know just where Upstate is, what is this upstate place that you hear New Yorkers go on and on about?

First, you must remember that Upstate is a state of mind. If you live in Greenwich Village, then everything above Fourteenth Street is Upstate. If you live on 125th Street, then the Bronx is probably Upstate, even if your cousin Rosie lives there. Your cousin Rosie, of course, will argue that no way does she live Upstate and the people on the Upper West Side would probably agree with her; living in the Bronx makes you one of the bridge and tunnel crowd, which is the New York equivalent of the flyover people the coastal elites in this country don’t like to think about. Your cousin will think that the people in Westchester are upstate, largely because they don’t live in New York City, an entity that includes all of the five boroughs, as opposed to The City, which everyone knows means Manhattan. If you don’t know that The City means Manhattan, then very clearly you are from somewhere not only west of the Hudson River, but west of New Jersey as well, if such a thing is possible. But your cousin Rosie would be wrong about Westchester. The people there consider themselves Downstaters; Westchester and most of Rockland County are the city’s suburbs, filled with people who come from New York City and / or work in New York City and therefore cannot believe that they could be Upstaters themselves, not after spending their lives hearing that the people Upstate routinely hunt deer and rub deer dung on themselves to make it easier for them to hunt deer. They are commuters, after all, and not at all the sort of people who would gun down Bambi without so much as a second thought, even if Bambi is eating their hedges and their flower gardens and defecating all over their front lawns while knocking over their garbage cans. You know you’re an Upstater when you regard Bambi and his friends as a bunch of oversized hoofed rats and you have the will and the means [i.e. at least two hunting rifles, one for you and the other for the missus, or one carbon fiber hunting bow] of turning Bambi and his friends into venison meatballs, which are delicious with your spaghetti and a nice home-made tomato sauce. Yes they are.

After many a long year trying to figure this stuff out, the consensus of opinion among moderate people of all races and creeds hereabouts is that Upstate either begins north of Interstate 84 or north of Poughkeepsie and that we should all learn to live together despite where we believe Upstate begins. Unfortunately, the debate between the fanatical adherents of each point of view tends to be loud and vicious in the extreme, with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police often called in to quell the violence with truncheons, water cannon, and tear gas. The conflict arises because Poughkeepsie and the other towns along the river have many people who work in The City and so don’t really think of themselves as Upstaters, whereas almost everyone who doesn’t work in The City thinks of themselves as Upstaters. This is a very tricky situation for our local political class; they don’t want to alienate the commuter vote, who tend to have some money in their pockets, but on the other hand do not want to alienate the non-commuter population because they know that no Upstate politician has ever lost an election by running against The City. This is because all true Upstaters believe, in their heart of hearts, that New York State would be a much better place if someone in Albany could just figure out how to get rid of The City altogether.  This is economic nonsense, of course; the state would collapse completely without The City to prop up its finances; but many people believe economic nonsense; how do you explain the persistence of Marxism otherwise?

For my part, I think Upstate starts north of Poughkeepsie. I believe this for a number of reasons, none of which makes sense to the I-84 believers. First, the people in southern Dutchess County watch the New York City television stations. We are familiar with what goes on in The City whether we want to be or not. Second, Poughkeepsie is the northernmost station on the Hudson Line; if you want to go further north than Poughkeepsie, you have to take Amtrak. Third, the increasing suburbanization of southern Dutchess tells me that this area will be as firmly Downstate as Rockland County in a few years and we all may as well face that reality now. The idea will stick in the collective craw for a long while, no two ways about it, but some things, like death and sweaty underwear, are inevitable whether you like them or not. And so it goes.

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