Columns

From the New York Times, Time magazine, and the complete Chicago Tribune syndicated columns

Extinction is all around us

The big news last week was that giraffes and lions are approaching extinction because we humans are turning their habitat into farms and senior high-rises. I read the article and of course thought of the lion who killed a giraffe and brought the corpse back to the den and his wife said, “You can’t leave that lyin’ there,” and he said, “That’s not a lion, it’s a giraffe.”

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Expect goodness, and ye shall find it

We rode in a plane, a taxi, a train and a ferryboat, all in the first few hours. The plane landed with a bump and a screech at LaGuardia, the taxi was driven by a dark-skinned man in a turban, on the train we heard Spanish, Korean, Arabic and English, and the ferryboat cruised close by the Statue of Liberty, as we tourists took pictures of each other, the Manhattan skyline for backdrop, and the Staten Islanders sat glumly, enduring the boredom.

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Blind man in a hotel room

Went in for eye surgery the other day, which reminded me of an old wheeze of a joke, which I told to people as they prepared the prisoner for execution: A man walked by the insane asylum and heard the inmates shouting, “Twenty-one! Twenty-one!” They sounded ecstatic, and he stopped to have a look. He put his eye to a hole in the fence, and they poked him in the eye with a sharp stick and yelled, “Twenty-two! Twenty-two!”

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Partying with the engineers under the summer sky

A splendid week in Norway and now it’s good to be back home, driving around town in my old beat-up Volvo and listening to The Drifters. Norway is a land of bicycles and public transit, lean healthy long-legged people striding up into the hills, but I love my car where I can add a bass vocal to “At night the stars they put on a show for free, and, darling, you can share it all with me.”

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Dreadful things are afoot

I am a registered liberal who mostly toes the party line, but I am not devoted to the idea of big government. I loathe the law in New York state requiring gas pump nozzles to not latch. This means that I must stand beside my vehicle, holding the nozzle lever open, instead of latching it and walking into the gas station to use the john which, if you’re an older male and hear gushing liquid, you feel a powerful urge to do, so thanks to legislative overregulation, I am on the verge of humiliating myself.

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Taking a break from the news

The sign by my seat said, “Fasten seatbelt whilst seated,” so clearly it was a British airline. My daughter and wife were alongside me and we were off to Europe for a break from the news. Our mad king had essentially been indicted in sworn testimony, and he claimed vindication and offered to testify under oath, forgetting the one he’d taken in January. Crazy times; it’s good to go away.

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What’s the big deal about Paris?

No sensuous pleasure can compare to the thrill of righteousness, and when the poor schlump stood in the Rose Garden and read his speech about America victimized by the crafty Europeans and the treacherous Chinese who designed the Paris accords, he could not have imagined the uproar he would cause. Moments later, everybody to the left of Jabba the Hutt was shaking their fists as if he had stuck his hand up under the Statue of Liberty’s gown. Birds shrieked from the trees, small dogs growled, even heinous criminals looked upon him with loathing.

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It was so nice to have him gone

It was a great relief to have Mr. Twitter out of the country for nine whole days, and the entire country felt it, like when your neighbor with the busted muffler goes away for a while and takes his yappy dog with him, and you realize what a beautiful thing common civility can be. We were able to turn to the joys of life and forget the absurdities for a while.

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Get Washington’s statues off their high horses

Forgive me if I don’t think the removal of Confederate statuary is an issue. I call it decluttering, which is an ongoing project at my house and I hope at yours too. When those crews are done down South, put them to work in Washington. The Frenchman L’Enfant (the name means “immature”) who laid out the streets in this swamp had grandiose ideas, as anyone knows who has attempted to navigate in the capital, diagonal boulevards laid against a grid, which created numerous odd squares and irrelevant circles which, of course, required large equestrian statues to ennoble them, and so you have Thomas Circle at 14th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW named for Gen. George Thomas, who fought at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863. But does this give him a permanent right to loom over us in 2017 and obstruct traffic and cause honking and obscene gesturing? A whole circle devoted to this small historical footnote and how many thousands of children have pointed to him and asked, “Who is he?” and their parents were clueless and thus authority is undermined, trust is eroded, the family is weakened, our children grow up rootless and liable to fall for crackpots and demagogues.

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Flying in the floating in New York

Here’s what they say in New York — Donald J. Trump is a grandstander, a showboat. Not doing his job. Totally incompetent. The White House has been in turmoil for months. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. So what are we talking about? Enough about him. Who needs an investigation? Guy is a total loser. Tell me something I don’t know.

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