This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, March 26 edition
Anyone who looks out the window will be reminded of that old, Catskill region bit of wisdom, “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who rake the leaves in the autumn, and those who let the disgusting mess sit around until spring.”
There is no excuse for my being the latter of these, except for the fantastic belief that the winter snow will somehow dissolve last year’s discarded vegetation and leave the yard clean as a pool table. I have maintained such belief through years of criticism, from the harrowing glares of my neighbors to the gentle stare from my missus, ever more gentle, I assure you, when I drag another leaf under my boot into the house. We should maintain solitary courage of our beliefs, but I will admit I am helped by the observation I am not alone, that there are two or three other yards in Ulster County that ring, like mine, the distant and not particularly encouraging echo of The Forest Primeval.
As do people with questionable beliefs, I look to science to bolster mine and rationally support the very brown yard that persists in front of my house. Some claim my sudden interest in science is to avoid for at least one more morning the idea of a rake in my hands and the calluses it implies. Please don’t suspect because I am married to one of these claimants that it adds urgency to my research.
Lo! Science upholds me! Yes, those millions of crepitating leaves that now strangle the crocuses are restoring nutrients to the earth, hatching beneficial microbes, making safe habitat for tiny amphibians and bugs and critters, and indeed, if there is justice in the world, I should get a special citation from the Sierra Club in recognition of my forbearance. This will be followed by my documentary, An Inconvenient Rake, then an Oscar, maybe a Nobel Prize. I will be the most celebrated indolent since Rip Van Winkle!
Yeah, right. Where’s the darn rake?
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There are many one-way streets in life, and one of the strictest says that if you are raised in the country and move to a city you are still forever a hick. You can die, say for instance, after editing the New York Times for decades, and still your obit will sure include words like “His/Her small town roots were evidenced by the simple, direct approach taken to such complex issues like the micro-economics of the rake manufacturing industry.”
Well, on this same one-way street you can move to the country straight from your old job at Bear-Sterns, and presto, you are a bona fide hick even before the Rolex and Armani suit hit the pine floor. Add the slouch hat and a pair of rubber knee-muckers, and nobody will know you from ol’ Zeke or any of the rest of us still eating out of wooden bowls. How do I know this? Because I went to the pancake breakfast at the Lake Hill Company 3 firehouse last Sunday morning. There are, of course, only four people left that were actually born in Lake Hill, but you’d never know it from all the hayseed flying around the place.
Eggs, sausage, pancakes, coffee and juice, hey, it’s a good life, but it’s just sad to see how only few of us still eat with our fingers. Now what about that rumor that Bill and Hillary Clinton were going to buy a house here? Yeah, people say it’s only a rumor, but any good local knows that ‘rumor’ and ‘truth’ both have five letters, so I’m buying it. So when they do move here I expect to see them at the pancake breakfast, and just to clinch the deal I’ll mention right here those two magic words we so often marvel over at the firehouse, Indoor Plumbing! See you there, Mr. President and Madame Secretary.
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By the way, I found this piece of paper in the parking lot outside the firehouse.
FROM: Legal Department
RE: New World Order
Not precisely the words we would use, but yes, there are steps the Bank can take during this “communist takeover.” Here is the legal department’s opinion on your recent proposals, and answers to some of your questions.
“Health Care Seminar” will probably throw auditors off the scent, but you might schedule it in Bangor, Maine or Cedar Rapids, Iowa and avoid venues like Monte Carlo. See if you can get some wage slaves to tag along; put them up in a Days Inn. (As an aside, some of us ‘eagles’ might attend the “seminar?”)
“Higher Tax Bracket Qualifiers” will fool no one. Keep in mind bonuses are a political problem, not a legal one. Not our bailiwick, but can’t some of boys on the top floor plead poverty when the “politboro” (again, to use your word, sir) in Washington come sidling around for contributions for their re-election? Could be a game-changer.
S.E.C. stands for “Securities Exchange Commission,” and no, Obama didn’t create it, it’s been around for some time, at least since Bush the Elder. Yes, it’s a pity the shredder had to fritz when it did; fortunately the real interesting stuff is now “recycled,” and we can probably fit the remaining jig saw pieces into the picture “we like.” Jim, you might be pleased to know, supported himself as an origamist through law school.
“CASH” is not an acronym. Think of that stuff you saw your personal assistant hand to the cab driver when the limo was in the shop.
We understand the frustration, but advise against imprinting “Trostsky” goatees on the President’s portraits. Ditto Geithner. Still checking Pelosi.
A “Red Star” on the company jet will definitely increase the insurance premium. Yes, the times call for a little irony, why not no logo? Jim thinks better yet, swap it for a crop duster.
Offering “interest bearing accounts”? What a curious innovation; are you sure it would be profitable? This is whole new territory, and we will need a little time before getting back to you.
Along a similar vein, the “lollipops for kids” idea is perfectly legal, but “free?” Have the lads in Operations seen this?
The recent Madoff plea should help you put the brakes on the board’s proposed, “Just Screw ‘Em” strategy. Look, derivatives will be back; tell the members to just hang on.
Yes, this whole “disclosure” madness affecting the Swiss is wretched. Even so, DO NOT accept the Mugabe proposal.
Do you really think the sum you mention is enough to buy Jon Stewart? And yes, there would be a Thirteenth Amendment issue. Forget “enemy combatant.” Why not try “old think” and buy the network?
Your reference to the possibility of “the White Army riding in to save us” went completely over our heads. Perhaps you meant “white knight?” But we thought the government was the white knight.
Contrary to anything you may have heard, Jim and I think the new “digs” are fine, and we may be near the end of that “little cough” nagging him, so delaying the maintenance on the ventilation was another of your good ideas. Contact me if you have any questions, or if I can be of more assistance (e-mail’s down, call Jim’s desk directly). If you’re ever out “inspecting the troops” we are one level below the basement (service elevator only) right next to where Risk Management used to be (our best to old ‘Buckshot” by the way).