Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Mr. President ....


Date: August 3, 2011

To: The United States of America
       c/o President Barack Obama 

Subject: Interest Payment on Loan No. 2011-13C

Dear Mr. President:

Please be advised that as of today you have missed a payment of interest due on the above captioned loan. The amount now due and payable is $68,000,000,000.47, covering interest, late fees, and a touch of hush money to keep this letter out of the hands of Rupert Murdoch.

As you recall, Loan No. 2011-13C was arranged to provide financing for you to provide tax, farming, and tanning/bronzing subsidies for the wealthiest .5% of Americans, six (6) month’s salary for one of the two (2) annoying brothers on Car Talk (the only currently permissible funding for the Arts per your Republican Party), and two lattes at Starbucks Coffee in Havertown PA.

We are sorry we had to turn you down for a smoothie, but it rendered the financial risk just too steep.

Perhaps you have simply overlooked this obligation.  Maybe you left your wallet in your other suit.  Oh, your other suit is at the dry cleaners,  and you don’t have the money to reclaim it? 

Well, just ask the dry cleaner to hand back the wallet!   You are the President of the United States, man! 

In some circles, you’re still perceived as having clout.

Please be advised that if you do not make payment of the above amount within five (5) days of the date of this letter, we will turn the matter over to the law firm of Ginsberg, Hirschberg, Feinberg, and Mishkin. Lotsa luck taking them on when your Michele Bachmann cannot even pronounce the word “chutzpah!”

Please also keep in mind that we have liens on everything in your country.  If necessary, we will foreclose on any and all assets necessary to satisfy the debt, including:

~ your Mount Rushmore,

~ your Grand Canyon,

~ your other suit, and

~ the armored and booby-trapped vault that contains your nation’s most heavily guarded and strategically valuable secret: Whether it really, truly is Oprah and Steadman, or  Oprah and Gayle, as even we suspect!

Please do not compel us to take this action. 

Very truly yours, 

The People’s Republic of China,  a/k/a

The Money Store

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sixties’ Speak - Then and Now

Now ....

I can't exactly say that I’d like to go back and relive the era of the 60’s. 

Then again, right now I’m experiencing a different era of the 60’s. Between the two I’ll take the first one --- cannabis-stained knuckles, fingers, and hands, hands-down! 

It seems incredible that’s it’s been over 40 years since those days of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, and for me, well, two out of three wasn’t bad.  Much has changed in our culture since then, including our language.  Many of the old phrases are still around, but the meanings aren't quite the same.

Ready, Boomers?

Far Out! --- Once an exclamation of excitement, wonderment, and radical possibilities.  Now for many Boomers,  a belt size.

Roach Clip --- Once a tweezers-like holder for marijuana cigarette remnants. Now the realization that your exterminator has overcharged the hell out of you. 

Right On! --- Once a cry of solidarity and brotherhood. Now a shout out that your chip shot on the 11th has managed to trickle on up to the green.

Establishment --- Once the power, the Man, the established order you had to fight. Now the hot corner bistro you can’t afford.

Oh Wow! --- Once an exclamation of joy and exhilaration. Now an apt response when you open your cable bill.

Dope --- Once as in “This is really good shit, man.” Now as in “This man really doesn’t know shit!”

No. 9 --- Once an enigmatic phrase in a  John Lennon authored recording by the Beatles. Now the second and generally one of the weaker jokes in a Letterman Top Ten List.

Power to the People! --- Once a cry for freedom, justice, and equality.  Now the option to select your electricity supplier.

Getting Off Now --- Once the pleasured sensation that a drug experience was about to begin. Now an exhausted goodbye to your co-worker as you exit the 6:15 out of Center City.

Heavy --- Once a heart-felt designation of relevance and truth. Now just about anything we Baby Boomers try to lift.

In thinking back to the Sixties, much of the language we spoke was indeed self-indulgent and pretentious.  But a lot of it was more like Yiddish; that is, able to express thoughts and feelings in a word or phrase for which there was no equivalent in English, or anywhere else.

And with all its foibles and excesses, there was no equivalent - and never will be - for the 1960’s.


.... and Then

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The “Second” Second Amendment

 One Nation, Under Guns ....

“Didya take care of it yet?” asked Len Farbman,  my oft congenial but congenitally annoying friend from work.

“Not yet, Len,” I answered. “Maybe this week. Or ….. next week at the latest.”

“Perry,” he said firmly, “you only have until July 31! You’re procrastinating again!"

"Well, I believe in always going with what you’re good at!”

“Look, Per,” counseled Farbman, "Sheila and I weren’t exactly thrilled about having to purchase a couple of handguns either. But now that we both have ‘em, it’s so cool!

"How so?"

"The other day Sheila and I were in the bedroom,  and  I was standing in my bathrobe,  pistol in my calf-skin shoulder holster.   I turned quickly toward the mirror, pulled my gun,  and said  My name is Farbman …. Len Farbman.”

“Yeah, and what happened next? You guys made wild passionate love?”

“Nah, I hit the head and went downstairs to yell at the children.”

I said goodbye to Farbman, having promised him I’d go out that very day and purchase my requisite handgun.

I still couldn’t believe it. 

President Sarah Palin!  Swept into office via her rousing “Jesus loves Billionaires” campaign following hot on the heels of the exposure of the Obama/Nancy Pelosi/Shrek three-way love nest,  she’d been Chief Executive about a year and a half.

The new President had swiftly overseen passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment, which in its first year had mandated closure of all national parks and storage of Old Faithful in a bonded warehouse in New Jersey, the War on Terror reduced to a Hissy Fit Against Terror, and Medicare requiring all participants to seek most forms of treatment from the guy in North Philadelphia I used to get Quaaludes from in the 70’s.

Then there was the “Second” Second Amendment. The Administration had swiftly rewritten  its favorite Amendment to the Constitution, removing the awkward language about militias to produce a  far more smoothly worded principle of modern governance.

It now read:

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms is groovy.  Everybody gotta get themselves a gun no later than July 31, 2014!  KA-POW! Bang-Bang-Bang!  KA-BOOMIE!”

I flicked on the television. It was Good Morning America, and George Stephanopoulos was giving the daily “Murders, Mutilations, and Mayhem Report.”

"There were 2758 murders in the United States yesterday,” reported Stephanopoulos, “with another 1754 wounded and over 1300 incidents of snarling bad guys exhorting the well-meaning but submissive friend of the good guy to dance!  And in Kansas City MO, a Pillsbury Bake-Off ended badly when a dispute over sifting led to the to the execution style murder of Poppin' Fresh, the Pillsbury Dough Boy.”

Just then, Stephanopoulos said something about Elizabeth Vargas being shot and raced off camera.

To get with the President’s program, I headed out to the establishment Farbman had recommended, Friendly Freddie’s’ Fireworks ‘n Firearms.

“What the hell you been waiting for?!” exclaimed Friendly Freddie. “Not much left here now, except …. hey, interested in a bazooka?”

“No, no, no! ” I exclaimed. "Just your basic firearm, please!   I don’t know anything about guns; y' see, I'm Jewish! ”

“Oh, now I got ya," said Friendly Freddie. "Have any idea how your aim is?”

"Not good at all, Friendly Freddie. When I was a kid and I’d shoot off a cap pistol, the smoke would appear half a block away."

“Well,  don't worry, Mac," he said.  "I’ve had people in here buying assault rifles who shouldn’t be allowed to operate a slinky!  You’ll get used to it. You’ll like it.  Everyone does.”

Friendly Freddie fitted me with what he called a Glock 39.   I had to admit there was something fascinating about the shiny precision of the thing --- and  unlike on my old cap pistol,  there was no picture on the gun barrel of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans smiling and waving "Happy Trails to You!" 

Funny, I used to think all guns came with that!

As I left Friendly Freddie’s, I headed into nearby Woodmere ParkNear the Park’s fountain, a bushy haired young man had pulled a gun on a middle-aged woman who grabbed her derringer and began blasting away.  A merry shoot out all 'round the fountain ensued! 

What fun! 

In a nearby cafe, a male patron was pistol whipping a waiter because his onion soup didn't have enough cheese and there weren't nearly enough crackers.   Yep, I'd frequently gotten poor service there myself!  Beats undertipping.

And I had to laugh when I saw all the alte cockers sittting on the park pavilion with the old-fashioned tommy guns straight out of 1920's Chicago! 

I wrapped my fingers around my Glock 39 and tingled as I felt its raw power.  Don't usually get to tingle all that much. 

Remember, I'm Jewish.

As I strode out into the Park, I understood at last what good old Farbman had been talking about. 

KA-POW! Bang-Bang-Bang!  KA-BOOMIE!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Short Primer on Poking

If you’re on Facebook, and statistics indicate both that you are and that you have repeatedly and emphatically refused to friend me, you’ve come into contact with that curious Facebook feature known as pokingAs with climate change, the deficit, and comedian Bob Saget, few comprehend exactly what poking is or why it exists.

As a social media expert who once actually found what he was looking for on Bing, I am pleased to explain to you the true nature of poking provided you don’t turn around and explain it to anyone else without seeing I get royalties.

Poking begins with a little icon labeled “Poke” in the upper right corner of the home page of each of your Facebook friends. See it now? It’s the one with the pointing and projecting finger that looks like it might have been sourced straight out of a medical school textbook entitled Adventures in Proctology.

Click on it and you have successfully poked a Facebook friend. 

He or she is swiftly notified that because you have absolutely nothing whatsoever constructive to do with this most precious and wholly wasted upon you gift of life, you poked him or her.  Poking is Facebook’s way of saying “I care enough about you to execute one purposeless downward stroke of the index finger but not nearly enough to cough up the eight individual finger strokes necessary to type “ya good?”

Then you wait.

If the pokee does not return the poke within the time it takes for newly planted wheat to ripen at full height and be harvested, then it is safe to assume he or she finds you about as appealing as the latest Kevin James movie.  Most likely you were only friended in the first place to bolster the pokee’s numerical complement of friends so he or she’d look less like a loser to the cool friends the pokee hopes to impress.

That’s right. You’re Facebook friend filler.

But if the pokee does return the poke, a merry romp of poke/counterpoke oft ensues, terminating only when you finally have to get off the computer to go harvest the damn ripened at full height wheat since you were too busy poking people like an idiot on Facebook to hire anybody decent to harvest it for you in the first place!

Is poking sexual in nature?

I don’t know but poking sounds dirty, which is good enough for me. It must be significant that I have never poked a man, nor has a man ever poked me. It’s not that I’m against same sex poking, I just think it should be left to the states.

I want to make it very clear, however, that when I do poke a woman I derive absolutely no sexual pleasure or satisfaction from the poking whatsoever after my initial orgasm.

Of course, if she then pokes back, there begins a continuous and rhythmic back and forth interplay of poke and counterpoke with fore finger icons thrusting and counter-thrusting, mice twisting and swaying, and lap tops lustily lapping at such a ferocious and frenzied intensity that for months thereafter I worry that I will any day receive a message sent via a heretofore undetected Facebook icon labeled: 

 “Perry, I’m afraid I have something to tell you ….”

That be 'bout all I know about poking.

Why not practice your new found expertise right now by dropping anything remotely worthwhile you may be doing and poking yours truly?

I may be Facebook Friend Filler, but I always poke back!


Monday, July 11, 2011

And How Do You Take Your God?

One of the blessings of being a liberal Jew is that you can take your God any way you like him.

It’s something like your choice of orange juice. God can have no palpable existence, some palpable existence, or loads o’ palpable existence.

And although your particular conception of Yahweh may color how you live your life and what customs and practices are important to you, it doesn’t change the feelings most of us have about being Jewish or a part of the Jewish people.

Only a disappointing movie from Woody Allen can do that.

How do I take my God?

I have personally never subscribed to the view that God is an old man in flowing robes with a long white beard who lives on a mountain.  Jews don’t go to the mountains, especially in Pennsylvania!   God would have a nice condominium down the shore.

But what does the entity paying the condo fees look like? And is he always good for it?

In depicting God, many liberal Jews slightly alter the language of certain prayers so as to not imply that God is male. For example:

"Blessed art thou, o Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe ….  And I say Sovereign of the Universe instead of King of the Universe in case You, O Lord, turn out to be a Chick …. who createst the fruit of the vine."

The balance of the blessing after the opening is chanted in the traditional manner because  the gender of who's running the universe doesn't really matter, it’s either a good vintage or it isn’t.

Unfortunately injecting gender neutrality into "the Almighty Mix" only makes me think of gender all the more. This raises a number of vexing and profound questions of Biblical scholarship and interpretation such as:

"So how’s the old broad holding up after all these years anyway?"

• "She seeing anybody?"

• "What if I pray to God and she doesn’t get back to me? I thought we had something!"

Perhaps most importantly, Liberal Judaism allows us to more readily grapple with the central question about the nature of God, Blessed be He or She. Why the heck is God so often depicted as an unvarnished and unmitigated louse whose most favorite hobby is smiting?

The Holy Scriptures says he took out Onan for doing what you and I have all our lives more or less raised to high art.

Don’t give me that innocent look!  God has pictures, if not video.

He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone because a handful of residents were short sheeting beds, and he didn’t even explain what brimstone is or whether he got a good deal on it. Similarly he flooded all of earth but first instructed Noah to build a massive ark, well aware that Jews aren’t handy.

I take it all with a grain of salt, whether you believe the salt came from Lot’s wife or the good folks at Morton's.

Perhaps God’s not bad or ill-tempered, he just doesn’t view it as a full-time job. Or it might be that humans were simply projecting onto Hashem what they themselves were itching to do were they themselves to get promoted to the big job in the skyMaybe God doesn't need anger management after all.  Just a better press agent.

Ultimately the question we all face is:

Do our teachings, customs, and guilt all come from one transcendent being who is everywhere and anywhere at once (and boy are his arms tired!),  or do they come from the wisdom and traditions of a people who have throughout history been perpetually playing the dual roles of both people and transcendent being, sort of like Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot?

 So how do you take your God?

Some palpable? Loads o’palpable? Or no palp at all?  It’s all up to you.

And I believe that’s the way he or she would want it. 

Not a Member of the Tribe?

     Hashem - Hebrew word used to denote God.
     Onan - if you don't know this one, look it up, dude!  You'll relate.

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Sing or Not to Sing

It has always bothered me that I cannot sing.

Carry a tune? I can’t even lift one.

My semester-by-semester  grades in Vocal Music on my junior high report card read like the provocative bra size of a woman whom if I ever met I would most certainly propose to on the spot!

D .... D .... D .... D

My musical disability, however, has never prevented me from singing.  I sing in the shower, in the car, and occasionally just while walking down the street.

Since I sound something like the late actor John Wayne performing scat selections from the Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks, sometimes when I’m traipsing through Philadelphia warbling Stairway to Heaven, people hustle their children across the street as though I were a drooling degenerate instead of merely a menace to the membranes of the inner ear. 

Sadly my musical infirmity has been passed on to my 16 year old son Brandon, whose vocal stylings sound as if they were specially arranged just for him by John McLaughlin of The McLaughlin Group.   Sometimes even I want to tell him to shut the hell up!

But I know how it is; music is in our very souls!

Too bad it isn’t in our diaphragms.

Recently Brandon and I both took in the hottest show on Broadway, The Book of Mormon. Watching the show, I envisioned myself singing and dancing with the cast and earning a thunderous standing ovation as admiring audience members turned their smiling and winking faces towards one another as if to say

 "Wow! An ungainly overage  Jewish star is born!”

Brandon probably had a similar fantasy,  except it most likely also entailed 16-year-old female members of the audience hurling undergarments at him.  In my fantasy, women in my peer group were heaving intimate objects as well --- in this instance, dentures.

Exiting the show, the two of us couldn’t help but perform a duet of the show's signature song.

"I believe ...." I belted out with the same melodious vocal quality I produce after eating clams at Moe's House of Five Day Old Seafood.

"....  that one day I'll have my own planet!" chimed in Brandon, performing in a manner that would inspire many to want to blast him off to that planet far sooner than he'd intended.

Even in a town as jaded as New York, passersby glared.  A mounted policeman's horse reared in panic, throwing the officer into a Starbucks storefront window and just narrowly missing a Starbucks storefront window!

A group of school children wept.
It was apparent Brandon and I were costing musical theater countless fans with every mega off-key note we sang.
“Bran," I said, “Maybe we ought to cut the singing. People are staring at us and not  for the purpose of lining up the affectionate tossing of undergarments!"

"Why, Dad? We're on Broadway in the coolest city in the world.  It's fun!"  

“Yes, but when the people here ….”

Just don’t give a crap, Dad.  Just enjoy!"

Brandon, of course, was right.  He usually is.

I jumped back into I Believe from The Book of Mormon and scatted it as only the late Duke could!

For all The Big Apple to enjoy. 


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Open Letter to the Non-Millionaires of America

                          Senators Gillibrand and Landrieu
If you'd like to talk about them, just call.  
 Because we care! 

We, the members of the Republican Party of the United States of America, truly care about each and every one of you.

Especially when we’re on the back nine.

Because we care, we’re letting you know that shortly we’ll be slashing to ribbons every single wasteful spendthrift social entitlement program in the United States budget, including Medicare, Social Security, and Free Giveaways of Government Surplus Cardboard. There will not even be any ribbons left after we slash them to ribbons because we plan to slash the ribbons to ribbons as well. 

But don’t worry, dear underfunded friends.  You won’t be hurt in the least!  All you need do is become a millionaire before the cuts take effect.

You could:

 1) Have passionate and repeated sex with a member of the Obama Administration or a Democratic member of Congress, then blackmail him or her for millions of dollars. Even without a Clinton, Kennedy, or Edwards around, every Democrat is a seething, slobbering, cesspool of a pervert just waiting to pounce on pure, innocent and unsuspecting Republican women, if only there were any attractive ones.

Note: If you’re a guy and you manage to pull this off with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York or Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and you’re indiscreet and feel like talking,  please give a call.  A sex tape would be heaven!

2) Start yourself up a business. Design an innovative product no one’s ever thought of before, arrange the necessary financing with the investment banker of your choice (we recommend J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, or Royal Bank of Scotland), and set up a non-union manufacturing plant, preferably in a southern state. Or go off-shore, the costs are even lower!

3) Gamble!  No casinos where you live? Solicit your professional organization such as the American Medical Association (AMA),  the Committee of Unctuous  Lawyers (CUL), or the National Alliance for Nepotism (NAN) to hold its annual convention in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Or better yet, join the National Rifle Association (NRA) and we’ll get our buds to hold their convention somewhere in a red state that has legalized gambling. Bring lotsa quarters! And bullets!

For more great ideas on earning plenty quicker than you can say Pawlenty, please see Perry Block’s perceptive piece “Idea or I-Dud,”  but forget the suggestion about Republican candidate bobble-head dolls because we’ve already been there, done that. 

Jiggle on, Newt!

And once you’ve become a millionaire, you won’t even have to pay taxes! We’re taking care of that for you too --- because we care.

We, the members of the Republican Party of the United States of America, can’t wait to welcome each and every one of you aboard the Yacht of State of our great country!

Just don’t ever expect us to play golf with you.


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Book of Orman

by Nels Noodleman

It has been called a cross between My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Sound of Music but without the boring slow spots and album filler songs.

“The greatest musical I have ever seen!” New York Times Broadway critic Bentley Benchley has raved. “I laughed, I cried, I totally revamped the portfolio to my 401 (k) plan!” And the score, including the hit song People First, Then Money, Then Things (But Mostly Me!)*, has the nation’s toes tapping like a flamenco dancer on crack!

The show is The Book of Orman, Broadway’s smash hit reverential tribute to renowned financial advisor, author, motivational speaker, and kill joy television host Susan "Suze" Orman by legendary South Park satirists, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

This Broadway beat reporter was privileged to catch up with the show’s two creators for a tangy lunch last week at Olive Garden. The duo told me their boundless admiration for Ms. Orman began several years ago when she denied them an on-air request to add several conservative Republican fourth graders to South Park’s regular ensemble of pint-sized protagonists because they failed to “show her the money!”

“Even Cartman loves Suze!” beamed the oft-beaming Mr. Parker. “We skewer just about every half-assed social trend,  ego-maniacal celebrity, and political debacle on the planet,” added Mr. Stone, “but Suze Orman is sacrosanct. And if you don’t agree, you’re a dick!”

The Book of Orman concerns two Mormon missionaries  who set out to bring faith and hope to poor villagers in Uganda terrorized by a vicious war lord who brutally forces them to remain seated during those portions of religious services when they’re supposed to stand and prohibits them from reading silently while I read aloud!

In two and half hours of groundbreaking theater, with a 15 minute intermission for women in the audience to futilely stand in line for the Ladies Room, the missionaries tunefully learn that it isn’t the message itself that’s liberating, it’s that the message be conveyed by an at best marginally attractive but essentially dumpy looking 60-year-old woman  with an irritating manner of speaking and a dopey blonde Dorothy Hamill haircut.

The Book of Orman has won a record setting 37 Tony Awards including Best Musical Score by a Jewish Gay Man, Best Choreography Involving Feet, and Best Actor in a Musical Who Isn’t Nathan Lane.

This reporter was privileged to see The Book of Orman when it opened, and I believe it is the greatest American theatrical experience since Our American Cousin, which I was also privileged to see when it opened. It sets an extremely high bar for the upcoming Side by Side by Stewart, Stephen Sondheim's musical tribute to the infectious and irrepressible spirit and personality of Martha Stewart.

In the words of the great Suze Orman, I’m telling you this is one marvelous showgirlfriend!  If you miss it, you’re a dick!

From your very own  Broadway Buddy,

Mr. Nels Noodleman

*The actual song from The Book of Mormon  is You and Me (But Mostly Me!)