Monday, May 1, 2017

Brilliant Essay on the First 100 Days of tRump, Western Civ, a New Chrissy Frost Story, Money to Buy the Marlins and an Okay to Buy Hyundais and Kias

The First 100 Days of Donald tRump

While words should always be looked at within the context in which they are spoken or written, they still have meanings of their own.   The following quote from a letter by John Adams, written fourteen years after he left the Presidency, was in response to comments in a book on government written by Virginian John Taylor that included criticism of some of Adams’ ideas.  But taken by itself, it is very challenging statement.

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.”

Looking at these words within the context of Adams’ remarks, they argue that all forms of government are susceptible to becoming evil, and that is true of democracy as well as of other more narrowly based forms of government.  But the words history remembers are “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

With that in mind, and remembering that the President of the United States is elected by a “democratic” process, here is a magnificent article by the Editor of the New Yorker magazine, discussing the first one hundred days of the Trump administration.  I cannot urge you too strenuously to click on these words and read the article … and I hope you will forward it to your friends, relatives and perhaps a few enemies as well.

Jack Lippman

(Illustrated: Numbers 45 and 2 of our Presidents)

Western Civilization Challenged

Back in the days when some of us were in college, we were exposed to a mandatory freshman course entitled Western Civilization.  Well, those days are past, and we live in a global world where it is our job to accept that Western Civilization's values are not necessarily the values of the rest of the world, that which was not part of "western civilization."  Two weeks ago, David Brooks discussed this in his New York Times column.  Were it not for the vitally important article from the New Yorker linked to above, this piece would be this posting's lead story ... so click right here to read it.

Money to Buy the Marlins

From the sports pages, I see that Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter are busily scrounging around to garner enough investors to come up with the 1.3 billion dollars needed to purchase the Miami Marlins.  If they have difficulty in getting investors in this country, they might consider contacting some Russian oligarchs.  Russian money has given such oligarchs control of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and such UK Premier League soccer stalwarts as Arsenal and Chelsea.  

When stateside money was tight back in 2008, it is rumored that the Trump real estate organization looked in that direction too.  In fact, Donald Trump, Jr., then the firm's Vice President for Development, told attendees at a 2008 real estate conference in New York City that "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.  We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."  Jeter and Bush might learn a lot from the Trumps.  

On Kias and Hyundais

Now that the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, where pathetically paid North Korean workers are exploited by their government and the South Korean companies, 200 of them, which employed over 50,000 North Koreans there, is closed and is likely to remain closed due to the growing tension between the two Koreas, I have re-visited the matter of Americans buying from South Korean companies involved in the zone.  Chief among them is the Hyundai conglomerate which actually manages this closed industrial complex within North Korea and had continued to have relationships with that country.  Because the "zone" is closed, I suppose the chief reason for not purchasing Hyundai’s automobiles (Hyundai and Kia) is now no longer an issue.  But we still should be looking to purchase cars made in the U.S.A., providing jobs for American workers.
Dream Girl
This is the seventh of a series of very short stories featuring Chrissy Frost, singer, senior citizen and Queen of the Condo Circuit.  Who knows, I may combine them into a book.  (For the first six installments, check out the 2016 postings of July 11, July 27, September 6, November 10, December 21 and the February 14, 2017 posting.  In that last one, Chrissy participates in the capture of a major drug importer and almost gets killed along the way. Become a Chrissy Frost fan!)

Jack Lippman

Chrissy Frost was dreaming.  She was in an upscale steakhouse in Boca Raton, enjoying a succulent filet mignon cooked exactly the way she liked them done, black on the outside with a strip of red in the middle.  At least that was the way she had liked her steaks before her doctors told her to avoid red meat.  Although she was almost completely recovered from her stroke six years ago, and was earning a good living performing on the stages of Palm Beach County’s many retirement communities, she still had to watch her cholesterol and beef was no longer part of her diet.  But it was an enjoyable dream anyway.

She barely noticed the tiny brownish specks she was spitting out when she brushed her teeth and flossed the next morning.  But the following day, after having another “filet mignon” dream, Chrissy was again flossing out bits of steak when she brushed her teeth.  Very puzzling.  Particularly since she had eaten mostly salads, chicken and egg white veggie omelets over the past week or so. 

And when she went to Dr. Lopez for her regular exam the next week, he shook his finger at her. 

“Chrissy, your lipids are up.  Have you been eating anything to increase your cholesterol?  Looks to me like you have.”

“Swear to God, Doctor, I haven’t had a piece of beef in a couple of years.  Fish, chicken and rarely, a piece of veal maybe.  No red meat at all.”

The doctor scratched his head.

“But, let me tell you,” Chrissy continued, “Something funny has been happening lately. I’ve been dreaming of eating a delicious filet mignon in a fancy restaurant and when I brush my teeth in the morning, when I floss, it seems like I had really eaten a piece of steak during the night.  I think I’m flossing out bits of meat.”

Dr. Lopez looked at her kind of funny, peered into her mouth and set up another appointment for more blood work two weeks later. 

“Funny things happen all the time, Chrissy.  Let’s see what it looks like in two weeks.  Meanwhile, stop dreaming so much.”

During those two weeks, Chrissy ate like a vegan, but whenever she had the “filet mignon” dream, there still were particles of steak between her teeth when she flossed the next morning.

And when she went back to the doctor, the results were no better.  The cholesterol was still up, the LDLs were climbing and the HDLs were dropping.   She explained her diet over the past few weeks and then surprised Dr. Lopez by taking out a little pill box which contained a few strands of red meat. 

“This is what I flossed out this morning.  Take a look at it.”

“Looks like steak to me,” he said, holding them in a tweezer up close to his eyes.

“Chrissy, we have a problem and it’s beyond me.  I am referring you to a specialist whom I hope can help you.  Here’s his name and address.  I’ll call him this afternoon and his office will call you.  We’ll get to the bottom of this.  Don’t worry.”

“What’s this guy? A cholesterol specialist?  I certainly don’t want to have another stroke.”

“No, Chrissy, he’s a psychiatrist.”

“You think I’m crazy?”

“No way, but physical manifestations of what you’re dreaming about are a little beyond me.  You have bits of the meal you dreamt of stuck in your teeth.  Not a job for an internist, Chrissy, but this guy many have some answers.  Give him a chance.”
                                                          *                *                 *

The sign on the glass door in the shabby professional building read “Tobias Fink, D.M.A.”  Chrissy went into the waiting room, signed in and waited for the nurse behind a glass window, or whatever she was, to call her.  Otherwise the room was empty.  Glancing around she saw some of the diplomas displayed, apparently to reassure patients of the credibility of Dr. Fink.  One was from the University of the Guianas, announcing his having received his Doctor of Medical Arts degree there in 1983 with honors and another testified to his having completed his residency in Psychiatry at the Cayman Islands Mental Health Center three years later.  Very reassuring, she thought.

Once ushered into Dr. Fink’s office, she was confronted by a barefooted chubby man in his fifties wearing a colorful Hawaiian shirt and denim cargo shorts.  He was smoking a pipe.

“Good morning, Miss Frost.  Dr. Lopez called me and told me a little about your story.  Would you mind repeating it for me.  But first, would you like a drink?” 

With that, Dr. Fink opened a small refrigerator next to his desk and took out a can of Diet Dr. Pepper, popping it open and inserting a straw.

“No thanks, Doctor,” Chrissy replied.  “But before I start talking to you, I’d like to find out if I really want to be here talking to you.  You must admit, you don’t look like any doctor I’ve ever seen.  Tell me why I should be even talking to you.”

“Miss Frost, all of my patients usually say about the same thing as you’ve just said when they first meet me, but believe me, I am legitimate.  Or almost, anyway.  You see, my medical and psychiatric credentials aren’t accepted anywhere in the United States, but here in Florida, I am able to practice because of a loophole in their licensing laws.  Actually, this place is officially licensed as a barber shop and somewhere along the line, I will snip off a half inch or so of your hair … and that makes everything else I do okay with the State.  You know, barbers are known to talk a lot with the person in their chair, and that’s what I do in my practice, so it works for me.   Of course, I can’t take insurance payments but that doesn’t matter much since my charges are very low.  I was left a lot, a real lot, of money a few years back, so I don’t depend on this practice, or barber shop, to support myself.  Okay?”

“Hmm,” Chrissy intoned.  “How come Dr. Lopez referred me to you if you’re not really a doctor?

“Good question.  Because Henry respects what I do, as do most of the physicians in South Florida.  They all know of me, and when they come across the kind of case I handle, they don’t hesitate to refer patients to me, even with my phony credentials, because I get results!”

Crissy was beginning to believe, at least a little, in this guy.  He slouched in his chair, popping a bit of his gut out between the buttons on his shirt.  She almost wanted to laugh.

“Listen, young lady … “

“Cut it out, Doctor,” Chrissy interrupted.  “I’m older than you are, so stop with the young lady bit.”

“Okay,” he said, “But let me tell you about some the cases I’ve handled and maybe you’ll want to give me a chance to help you.”

Chrissy nodded her assent.

“This guy, I’ll change his name, came to me a year or so ago with these bloody spots on his hand and on his lower torso.  ‘Rufus,’ I asked him, ‘where did you get these things?’  ‘Doc,’ he replies to me, ‘I got them in a dream.  I was dreaming I was Jesus Christ being crucified and when I woke up, these marks were on me from the dream of the crucifixion.’  Well, I checked him out and he wasn’t much of a religious guy, went to church once every couple of years maybe and didn’t even know the Biblical details of what he was dreaming.  Had him sleep over in my office one night, right on that chaise over there, and I watched him toss and turn.  He was dreaming alright, and in the morning, damn it, he had those spots right where he told me he was getting them.”

Intrigued, Crissy asked what happened with Rufus.  Dr. Fink continued.

“I got this friend in the Bishop’s office in West Palm.  Now I’m not a Catholic, but we grew up together.  I tell him this story … and he writes it up and gives it to the Bishop.  Two months later a bunch of priests show up in my office with Rufus and ask me to sign some papers.  I guess the schools I went to for my degrees, which aren’t worth much in this country, are fully accredited by the Vatican.  They tell me that once he dies, they’ll put Rufus up for what they call beatification, which is a step toward sainthood if they can verify any miracles or cures connected with him.  They’re taking their time because he really must die first before this thing gets moving.   So far, he hasn’t.  I told them I go to the track and the casinos with him occasionally, and damn it, he always wins, never loses, it’s unbelievable.  Big bucks, really big bucks … but he gives it all to charity.  They smiled when I told them that.  One of them whispered to me that he suspects that Rufus may actually be Jesus.  Keep that under your hat, he says to me. So you see, I do deal with cases like yours, Miss Frost.”

“Wow,” Chrissy said as Dr. Fink cracked open another Dr. Pepper.  “Do you have any other interesting patients, ones more like me?”

“Sure … There was Melissa.  That wasn’t her real name.  Always wanted to be in show business, TV, the movies.  But she had no talent and was what I would call homely.  In her dreams, she was in the movies, not a star mind you, but a significant bit part player.  It was always the same movie, the one that won a lot of awards last year, you know, ‘La La Land,” and she always played the same part.   Well, I downloaded the video and she pointed out to me where she was in the movie in her dreams, and to my amazement, when I paused the video exactly there, damn it, it actually looked like it was Melissa playing that role!  Or at least someone whom she resembled very closely.  I zoomed in and the actress in the movie had the same mole on her neck as Melissa, sitting right where you are now, had.  Of course, some other actress played that role in the film, so I contacted the people who made the film, so I might really compare what she looked like with Melissa in person.  They told me they couldn’t help me since the actress had died in an automobile accident shortly after the film was made, but they would send me a photograph.  I have it right here in her file, and as far as I can see, it’s a photograph of Melissa.  She claims she remembers from her dreams when they took it after one of the shoots in Hollywood and even identifies some of the other actors in the background.

“What happened to Melissa,” Chrissy asked.

“Nothing much.  I told her never to go to the movies anymore and to cut out watching them on her TV screen too.  She also cancelled her Netflix subscription.  I know she got married last year and I think she just had a baby.  She’ll be fine so long as she stays away from movies.  But as far as I am concerned, professionally, I do believe that there was some cosmic merger of her dreams and the making of that movie which resulted in the real actress getting killed and Melissa, from her dreams, retrospectively taking over the role.  These things do happen.”

“Another one.   This guy, call him George, always was dreaming that he was cheating on his wife with another woman in a hotel room somewhere.  The hotel catches fire and the fire department calls up to them on a bullhorn to jump out of the window and they’ll catch them in a net.  The two of them do that, stark naked, and who do you think is one of the firemen holding the net?  The guy’s wife!  And this is where this dream always ends.  Normal stuff so far, George is dreaming that he’ll get caught.  Classic guilt.  Now his wife, I was given to understand, was a stay-at-home type wife, baking cookies, sending the kids off to school and all of that usual good stuff.  She had majored in Italian Renaissance Art in college and was a really bright woman.  So one day, right out of the blue, she tells George that she has decided to become a volunteer fire department aide.  It would be a change for her, she claimed.  Smiling, she said it was perfectly safe, he shouldn’t worry, the closest she would get to a fire would be to help those holding the net when someone was forced to jump out of a window in a burning building, and even that would be a rare occasion because they didn't use nets much any longer.  At this point, George turned white.  He went to the doctor the next morning and that is how I got involved. 

“You mean,” Chrissy said, “that his wife in real life was about to enter his dream world, and she was totally unaware of what she would encounter there.” 

“She wouldn’t encounter it there,” Chrissy, “George was the one doing the dreaming.  He would.” But her presence in the dream would be as a real person, and under deep hypnosis, she might even remember being there in his dream, but we won’t go there.  Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it served to turn him into a faithful husband, as I had advised him to be, and which he has been ever since.  Now do you think I’m capable of dealing with a bit of filet mignon stuck between your teeth?”

Chrissy replied “Yes, Doctor.”

After Chrissy repeated the full story of her dreams and the dental residue that remained afterwards, Dr. Fink smiled.

“You’re an easy one, Miss Frost.  We can wrap this up right now in one sitting, and my fee will be just $29.99.  And I’ll include a second consultation with that free!  That’s something I learned from watching TV … and of course, there’s no charge for shipping and handling.  Ha, Ha. Okay?”

Crissy nodded, adding, “And you can call me Chrissy, Dr. Fink.”

His remedy was a simple one.  “Chrissy,” he said.  “Set your mind to controlling your dream as soon as it starts.  When the waiter brings the filet mignon, scream at him saying something like ‘I don’t want that, take it away, no meat for me.’  You get the idea.  And if he persists, pick up the damn steak and throw it at him!  You must be the one who controls your dream, not that little bit of your brain that really wants the filet mignon.  Got it?”

Crissy smiled, wrote a check and went home.  That night she had the same dream, but this time she tried to confront the waiter.  “Take than goddamn steak away!  I don’t want it.”  Despite her entreaties, he placed the piece of meat on a plate before her.  The aroma was almost overpowering, but she hung on.  It was slow-motion in the dream, but it was really happening. With her left hand, she stabbed her fork into the steak and slowly, ever so slowly raised it off the plate. Transferring it to her right hand, she drew her arm back as if she were a quarterback throwing a pass.  As her arm moved forward, the steak flew off the fork and sailed across the room, hitting the waiter squarely in the eye.  And then the dream ended.

The next morning, her sister-in-law came into her bedroom as she was getting up.  “Is everything alright, Chrissy?”  I heard you screaming during the night, something about taking a steak away.  I looked in but you were sound asleep.

“Wait a sec, Stella,” Crissy said as she ran into the bathroom.
“No meat between my teeth!  Great!  That cockamamie doctor cured me!”  Chrissy was delirious with joy as she waved a strip of clean dental floss!  Let’s go shopping!”

Later that afternoon, walking through the Town Center mall in Boca, Chrissy thought she recognized one of the waiters from what used to be her favorite steak house strolling toward her.  He had a black eye.

Turning to Chrissy, he said, “Pardon me, M’am, I think I recognize you.  Were you dining in New York Prime last night about eight?”

“No,” Crissy replied.

“I could have sworn you were there and you threw a steak at me.  See my eye.  Don’t you remember, we had to call the cops to escort you out of the place.”

“You must have been dreaming.  I haven’t been in that place for months.  But I hope that eye heals up fast.”

“Yeah, I do too.  If it didn’t hurt so much, I would swear it was all a dream”

(At her next visit to Dr. Lopez, Chrissy's cholesterol levels all were within normal limits.)


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