Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
May 30, 2012 - May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

America isn't you.
America is us.

MICE & RATS ARE ANNOYING. Yeah, I get tired enough to quit. Like when I get this kind of comment:

Forgive the impertinence, and my chronology might be a bit off, but were you in the correct age range for Vietnam? I know, I know. The answer is buried in the trackbacks and anathema sit upon my head for not checking. S-2 deferment, I'm thinking.

On a side note, the great author and WW2 Veteran Paul Fussell died on May 23rd. R.I.P.

God bless those Jews by the way; they only make up 2/10ths of 1% of the American Military, but man do they make some swinging music.

Quick answers about my experience:

Here's more about U.S. Military demographics.

Enough figures in there to make any argument you want to about anyone. Including the fact that white first-string football players from Cincinnati join the military, uh, almost never. Yeah, we could talk nths of one percent for hale and hearty white boys, too, Joe.

But it's important to beat up on the Jews, isn't it, Joe? They're so awful. They have the unconscionable nerve to be smarter, better educated, and more accomplished than you. I've compiled some statistics, so I'm going to cite them even though they mean nothing. Twelve Jews in the NFL, out of 1500 players. Two Jews in the NBA, out of 500 (And who hasn't seen the little balding Jew who's obsessed with the NBA and spends all his time organizing pickup games at the YMHA? Please.) Do the math. Nearly six million Jews in the U.S., seven million in Israel, and every adolescent Jew in Israel is required to provide military service. So Jews are cowards? Hardly. U.S. Jews are cowards? Not so fast. Maybe they're the ones who have something else to do.

I know what that something else is. Sorry to burst anybody's tribal bubble. But the good news is that American exceptionalism isn't a highbrow conceptual myth. It's the reality that's going to save our fucking bacon.

I've written about this before. But you never understood it as anything but travel advice. Europeans hate each other. Hate everything about each other. Cars, faces, languages, histories, personalities. Why the European Union was always doomed. Why the whole world is doomed. Every African country hates every other. Every South-American nation hates every other because everyone's a native and a Spaniard or a Portuguese, and who should we kill(?), although be damned sure we'll kill somebody and everybody in perpetuity. Every Asian nation hates every other, and it's racial. Japanese hate Korean and Chinese and  Indochinese, and every other Asian race hates the Japanese because they're rich, can grow bushy beards, and are almost as cruel as Koreans. And absolutely everybody everywhere hates the Indians. They smell worse than everybody but Arabs, they both have totally fucked religions, and the way they are about about money makes Jews look generous. How bad can it get?

Or how good can it get get? The multicultural delusion. Let's take a subset. The United Kingdom plus free Ireland. They've all been hating each other for centuries. Who's they? England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, plus Isle of Man and other bullshit domains like, say, the half a billion people of India till 1949.

The whole U.K. is smaller than California. Immaterial. What's material is that the U.S. constitution, rule of law, and/or our melting pot culture -- whatever you credit given your stupid misunderstandings of history and political philosophy -- have resulted in a place where no single tribe gets to rule. That's the exception. Everywhere else one tribe does ultimately rule. What they're duelling about in the E.U. right now. The French? The  Germans? The Flems? The Brits? Oh, that's right. The same people who always did run the show after the Golden Age of Colonial Imperialism none of the losers of that age will ever EVER forget.

All doomed. Awful. End of human race.

Shit. Then there's America. Where people still hate each other for the tiniest differences, but not really so much. Where the really evil, soul-destroying economic system called capitalism encourages (gasp) people to work with another even if they don't go to each other's weddings. And Irish cops go to Greek diners and Italians run as many restaurants and strip bars as they do major corporations, and women of every oppressed ethnicity (all) become media network tycoons, and Jews -- run out of every nation on earth -- become the fathers of what every nation calls the best movies, music, and concert entertainment on earth, and a black race given respect nowhere else drives three successive waves of music across the whole fucking benighted planet, not to mention a sport (thankfully!) better than, uh, soccer.

Know what? I really am tired. I have prep-school and Ivy League friends who sneer at American exceptionalism. I have gun-toting righty friends who think that what is uniquely American cannot possibly survive for another season because of them. Or us.

I only keep coming back because I know better.The American Jews are here -- no conspiracy, just extremism being its own reward -- because they feel that this melting pot really is unique in human history. All the tribes -- meaning every other so-called nation in history -- are reduced to jokes in the great American pot. Maybe they do want to run the pot and set its boiling point, but God has punchlines of his own. He can chasten his Chosen. No, you can't all go to Harvard. Quotas work both ways. Learn more about your precious law. Really bad people can and will kill you. Sorry. Take it from me, God. I have said this. And if you forget your roots and where and what you came from, Persia can ABSOLUTELY fucking kill you all.

But that's why the Jews in America can also learn a lesson, that they have the rest of us -- somebody please fill in all the hundred immigrant nationalities I can't think of right now -- to prove the biggest American point of all. STOP looking for the smartest guy in the room. uh, he ain't what the doctor ordered. WE're the smartest guy in the room, maybe the world, and some of us live in trailer parks. Sorry to break it to you. Sholom


Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day, 2012

DOWNTURNED MOUTH. I'm thinking about a lot of things this weekend. I'm thinking people are tired of war and they want it all to be over. If only it were that simple. Two more wars we're not allowed to win because the president would rather not. I'm thinking of a commander-in-chief who has said in the last week or so that American troops are "fighting on my behalf," which sickens me. They are fighting for us and the ideas that unite us. Enough said. (Although I will provide a relevant link to a president who knew better.)

Memorial Day is the official beginning of summer, regardless of what the calendar says. We do cookouts, picnics, fun stuff. Asking people to think of the battlefield dead and cemeteries laid out in neat rows of headstones and flags is perhaps too much to ask. Or if not too much to ask, too much to expect. So I'm taking a different tack this year. I'm asking you to think not of cemeteries but of life. I have a particular touchstone in mind -- Aaron Copland. He's regarded as the father of archetypally American classical music, although George Gershwin should get equal laurels in this regard. Jews both of them. Which I mention only because I'm also thinking in this year of all years how close our country is coming to abandoning a sacred trust -- black muslims and Paulistas may now reach across the pews to shake hands and wish each other peace -- that maybe only the veterans among us truly understand because the words involved are "sacred" and "trust." Unless most of the rest of us Americans also know and are just pretending that it's okay to pay no attention while the storm clouds gather over Israel and our government shames us daily even as our most privileged universities begin to resemble the S.S.

But forget all that for now. We have burgers to barbecue and softball games to play. That's what I'm asking us all to think of this weekend. The life that slain soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines never got to live because they died for a conception of freedom we seem increasingly anxious to surrender for government handouts. Sorry. I shouldn't be political on this solemn occasion. Forget politics. Here's what I'm thinking, rendered in music:

Copland was born in Brooklyn. Unlike many classical musicians he had that elusive "common touch." His music sounds distinctly American. Appalachian Spring. Billy the Kid. Rodeo. And a short piece I'd like you all to keep hearing in your heads all weekend. Fanfare for the Common Man.

(I picked this file for the sound quality, not the Gaian visuals.)

Use it as your soundtrack when you fire up the grill. And think of all the other common men who aren't firing up the grill this weekend. Because they gave their lives so you could.

No, it's not a bummer. It's what they chose as a fair risk to take. Just be grateful. And add an extra smile to the wife and kids for them. Because whatever ticks you off this weekend wouldn't bother them at all. They'd much rather be here than not.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seething & Bubbling

I've been told I'm too abrupt. Sorry about that.

BACK AGAIN. There's nothing worse than having to explain humor or its value. Attempting to tell people who are not laughing why something is funny is a doomed proposition. It murders the surprise and spontaneity that humor is. But that's the position you've put me in.

Now I have to make a serious argument about humor. Makes my skin crawl. I cited the Animal House clip I did because it was (ugh) relevant. It's the moment when the utterly defeated rise up in the face of overwhelming odds and "take up arms against a sea of troubles." (Yeah, Shakespeare knew about humor too.)

Of course I enjoyed your reminiscences about funny and sort of funny movies you've seen at some point. But this time I wasn't really trying to construct a list of Top Ten, well, anything. I was trying to sink a harpoon into your funnybones.

There are very real reasons to quit pissing and moaning and start feeling hopeful again. Why? Because there are multitudinous signs that Americans, the real ones that is, not the insufferable MSM intelligentsia, are starting to laugh at the whole Obama reelection act. For the moment they're laughing up their sleeves. But the humor is seething and bubbling under the surface, destined to break out into some loud guffaws after just a few more of the lefties's deadpan jokes on themselves.

Thing is, we're at a tipping point. And you'll miss it altogether if you don't get your minds right.

I'm not going to give you links. Maybe I should but I just won't, because you really need to do some homework. To get your minds right.

Or maybe I'm just lazy. If so, I'm not the only one. Hint. Hint.

I will aim you at the right punchlines. If you can't find the laughs, not my problem.

Rush Limbaugh pointed out yesterday that only now, only NOW, have the Republican insiders realized that Obama could actually lose this election. The MSM are just getting their first intimations that his reelection isn't assured. If you don't find this hilarious, you believe the MSM as much as the most devout lefties do and are just looking for reasons to curl up into a fetal position and surrender.

In recent Democratic primaries, The One is struggling to reach 60 percent of the vote against, uh, Nobody. In West Virginia, a prisoner in Texas got about 40 percent of the vote. In Arkansas, a lawyer who has raised $2000 in campaign contributions got about 40 percent of the vote. In Kentucky, "Uncommitted" got 40 percent of the vote. So the Washington Post did an article suggesting that the part of the Democratic base which voted against him is racist. Who does that help? Obama? Hardly. Don't come out to vote for our guy and you're a racist? That's supposed to encourage turnout? And don't forget that the 40 percent who voted against him could have stayed home. No. They got in their cars, drove to the polling place to vote in the Democratic primary, and they voted against Obama. AND it's not reported anywhere in the MSM as an incredibly significant danger signal for the president. It's the silence that's so absurd. A huge joke welling under the surface of a reality they dare not acknowledge.

I know I've criticized the Breitbart "Big" sites because they seem to consist of abbreviated posts of the sort Huffington is famous for. I wish they'd do more, but the one thing they're doing no one else on the right is doing is pointing up absurdity after absurdity after absurdity. They're demonstrating to us that the MSM has been reduced to a total joke, with virtually no exceptions. SNL comedian Jon Lovitz calls Obama a fucking liar and not only does he not recant, he doubles and triples down and claims his frightened friends agree with him, even as he starts getting new job offers... Breitbart discovers that the real source of the confusion surrounding Obama's birthplace may have originated with Obama himself, and then delights in the slam dunk of proving that MSM reporting of the story does not include any of the facts in the story they reported, only the trope that "Birthers Are at it Again." Breitbart editor John Nolte is obsessively reporting on the ratings of supposedly influential lefty television propaganda like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the whole CNN network, which are abysmally in the tank, losing to Pawn Stars and maybe Toddlers & Tiaras, and it's possible he has single-handedly driven NBC's "30 Rock" off the air by highlighting the discrepancy between miserable ratings and the MSM's adulatory coverage of its charming sophistication.

Meanwhile, Fox News and Hotair dutifully report on the latest polls showing Obama clinging to a lead over Romney. Why? Because they're trying to play it straight, fair and balanced don't you know, when the details (er, crosstabs) show that the polls are all skewed to overrepresent Democrats and underrepresent Republicans. Which the pretenders to MSM legitimacy can't bring themselves to denounce in headlines, only final, skeptical paragraphs.

It's funny. Because it's all happening at one huge hop-skip-and-a-jump away from reality, which nobody can say out loud because there's reality and there's MSM reality, two utterly different things that are as dangerous to mix together as nitro and glycerine. The resulting explosion would be falling-down, rolling-on-the-floor laughter.

And then there are the polls showing that people don't think Joe Biden is funny anymore, polls showing that North Carolina and Florida are slipping away from Obama whether on account of gay marriage or not, if it matters, polls showing coal states in revolt, and polls showing blue state Wisconsin is getting ready to defeat a recall of their Republican tea party governor.

Polls aside, there are also open defections among Democrats on the the anti-Bain, anti-capitalist message of the latest Obama "war," and even lefties like Campbell Brown are sick of the "War on Women" meme, while Chris Matthews bombs on Jeopardy and still can't stop himself from slighting Sarah Palin's intelligence. Meanwhile there is no federal budget for the fourth year in a row, and the White House claims ridiculously that it has reduced federal spending even as the national debt has doubled...

This is FARCE, people. And the president trots from celebrity fundraiser to celebrity fundraiser doing absolutely nothing to improve the economy while his wife -- twice reported to have threatened the beloved family man icon with divorce, most recently in 2010 -- continues to flee his company, currently with her own book tour about growing vegetables on the White House lawn, as if no one before her had ever thought of the blessings of agriculture in the United States of America.

When I spoke of humor, I thought you might be inspired to start tracking the ever-increasing jokes about a failed administration that really is doomed to defeat.

But you'd rather be glum about Romney. I'll give you one final joke to think about. If he's the utter flip-flopper you think he is, what will his positions be when he controls both houses of Congress? Can he sign legislation that passes to his Oval Office desk? I'm thinking yes.

And I'm also thinking that he's a Mormon. They're pretty sharp with a buck. Why so many of them have so many of them. That would be the funniest punchline of all.

When the laughter finally geysers through the ancient crust of the MSM, it will be all over. Even if SNL, Stewart, Colbert, and Letterman can't find anything risible about the worst president in U.S. history. You could be a part of that. If you aren't still licking your ideological wounds.


Theodore Roosevelt was but the first of a long-line of celebrities who have made
Ralph's their Philadelphia destination. Located at our current address, 760 S. 9th
Street , since 1915, we have hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante,
Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Tom LaSorda, Joey Giardello, Rocky Marciano, Sergio
 Franci, Al Martino, Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Keaton, Heather Locklear, Dom
DeLuise and countless others. Philadelphia luminaries from Connie Mack to
Mayor Frank Rizzo have found Ralph's just the right place for dinner. Us too.

AMERICAN MENU. Sadness. I've been to San Francisco, but not to the restaurant that just ceased to be:

...San Francisco’s iconic eatery Fior D’Italia went belly-up on Tuesday after 126 years of serving calamari, osso buco and gnocchi to hungry masses.

Fior d’Italia, founded in 1886, is no longer America’s oldest Italian restaurant. That oven-hot torch has now passed to Ralph’s, on South 9th Street near Catharine, founded in 1900 by Rubino’s great-great-grandparents Francesco and Catherine Dispigno.

"We’re in shock," says manager Rubino, 24, as he takes a breather on Ralph’s second floor, where piped-in arias echo off tiny ceramic floor tiles that are 100 years older than he is. "The Fior d’Italia people were friends. They had a daughter who went to Penn — she was in here all the time. One of our managers, his mother-in-law went to Fior d’Italia when she visited San Francisco — they treated her like royalty, wouldn’t let her pay for a thing! There’s been nothing but love between us. So this is a sad day."

I hope Rubino and his family — including dad Jimmy and uncle Eddie, who are the owners — don’t stay sad for long. Because it truly is a really cool thing that Ralph’s has shed its "second oldest" mantle, which always had an also-ran ring to it.

As if it’s fair to label any business an also-ran when it has thrived in the same neighborhood for 112 years. Survived the Great Depression — and 22 mayoral administrations. Been run by the same family. And been loved by multiple generations of customers who wouldn’t celebrate a milestone event with a plate of chicken parm anywhere else.

Maybe I’ve lived here too long, but it’s wonderful to know that, as the city’s fortunes have changed, as old buildings have been demolished, as once solid Philly names like Wanamaker’s and Strawbridge’s have evaporated like the steam off a plate of mussels red — well, that some places, like Ralph’s, are right where we left them the last time we visited.

At Ralph’s, the familiarity has bred loyalty, which has bred more familiarity, which has bred more loyalty. And somehow, the people in charge have had the wisdom, over the past 112 years, not to muck with that...

"We have customers who’ve been coming here for 60 years," says Rubino, a cheery young man who remembers waiting tables, in a tuxedo, when he was just 8 years old. ("I made a fortune in that tux," he recalls. "People handed me money left and right.")

He pauses. "SIXTY YEARS. Think about that. It’s crazy."

Last Friday, he said, a woman walked through the door and burst into tears. A South Philly native, she’d spent years dining with her parents at Ralph’s but moved away decades ago. Entering the restaurant, her memories of those soft-focus days actually moved into real time.

"She said, ‘It’s exactly as I remember it!’" says Rubino. "It’s like she got a piece of her childhood back. It happens all the time. People are stunned that we’re still here." [boldface added]

Ralph's is our favorite restaurant in Philadelphia. We go there only with good friends. Not because it doesn't impress but because there's no need to impress. It's just the right place to go with good friends. The food is exactly right, the service is outstanding, and yet there's no dog to put on. Everything is as it should be. By accident or not, we usually get the exact same table. We feel at home. They make us feel at home. Very close quarters. A wrong elbow could disturb a diner at another table. Yet no one is ever disturbed. I concede there's a sense, a very faint sense, that this is a restaurant where Michael Corleone could have killed Sterling Hayden, but I've never been tempted to check the tank in the small bathroom downstairs. Tile floors, tin ceiling, tuxedoed waiters, and no desire to up the wine bill past chianti. I've been to Italy and I love it, but I'd rather be here. It's pure Italian and pure American, pure Philly.

Another reminder that seems especially pertinent just now. The list of celebrity guests up top. For them to have enjoyed this place as we do, they must have accepted the same limitations we do -- small space, intimate dining, no room or scope for posturing and caterwauling. Those celebrities must have been, at heart, not megalomaniacal tycoons but homely sorts like us. Even Sinatra. Or they wouldn't have come, wouldn't have enjoyed it.

The old places still have something to teach us. Some lessons aren't hard to learn. They happen over a good dinner in a place you never want to lose.

Better yet are the proofs that we are not geographical islands. The bond between Ralph's and Fior D'Italia is what America should be all about. Italians and Americans both, with no confusion about whether either is more important. They're both important. Hands across the continent. Blood bonds and national bonds. I sincerely hope we don't lose the glorious sum.

I'll be back...

...but even a ghost gets tired from time to time.

Take this opportunity to talk among yourselves. You have a lot to talk about, whether you know it or not.

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