During a recent annual pilgrimage to Carnegie Hall, to hear the 25 year old African American acapella singing group “Sweet Honey in the Rock”, I watched Bernice Johnson Reagon rise and begin a new song, “Been Trying to Find a Way to Talk About [inaudible]” The last word was something one syllable, with a long e sound. Sadly, on the best of days, I can’t understand the words to songs. For the longest time, I thought it was “Donuts make your brown eyes blue.” I have thought of going to a music therapist. But until that moment I had never had a problem with the articulation of Sweet Honey.
At first, I thought Bernice was trying to find a way to talk about “chi,” the life force, but she seemed against it, which seemed illogical because Sweet Honey is itself a life force. Then I thought she was trying to find a way to talk about “ghee,” clarified butter and a staple of Indian cooking. That made no sense. I puzzled through another verse, and finally turned to my partner, who is Indian, and whispered, “Why is she trying to find a way to talk about butter?” She hissed back crisply, “Gree-duh.”
While I was reassured to know it wasn’t butter that was bothering Bernice, it is no consolation to me that the life force of this end of millennium seems to be greed. At this late date I would be happy to discuss various butter delivery systems like popcorn, pancakes or lobster. I’m full up on greed.
The PBS documentary on New York City, laid out in nightly detail, the financial origins of a city founded by Dutch, the people not the fortieth president. Peter Minuit, of the Dutch West Indies Trading Company, paid twenty-four dollars in trinkets for the island of Manhattan, setting the stage for other greedy, bizarrely disproportionate New York real estate deals. When I told my 87 year old Dad how much we had paid for our place, he asked if we had bought the building.
ABC’s new, on the cheap “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” won five of the top ten November sweeps slots. The reality based “Touched by An Angel” and “Friends” whose actors each struck for a million per episode, also ranked. Each day friends make sheepish or brazen confessions that they are hooked on the show. On average, nine of the ten contestants in the first round are white men. What’s wrong with this pixel, Reege?
Naive how-could-this-happen Pokemania articles never analyze the mainspring of the synergistic blitz of cards, action figures, and movies. [Hint: it comes in sticks, like buttah] Articles about actual assault during Pokemon trading never make the connection to homicidal day traders. The NYTimes magazine article on the whiz of day trading destroyed forever my fantasy, “I would gladly trade you Tuesday for a Saturday today.” Powerball lotteries, scratch tickets, off-track betting, riverboat gambling, office pools and casinos are the poor person’s day-trading.
A full two page New York Times interview of a four way with dot.communists reads like some kind of econo-porn. After an orgiastic week of teasing, seducing, ups and downs, and banging for their buck they need a nap. On the tube, Lou Dobbs worship has been replaced by Willow Bay worship.The presidential candidates, [whisper with me now, “I see dead people,”] are analyzed more for their money than their ideas. Steve Forbes, is it flat tax or flat earth, has spent 52 million of “his own money!” on his designer campaign. In the Iowa straw poll in which he came in second, he spent $40 per vote. The effect of this in 1996 was devastating for Bob Dole, so Dubya has refused matching federal funds and instead relies on his parents for his allowance. The McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform bill was defeated again. Let the soft money dance begin.
The Reform Party, AKA “The Fight Club,” formerly Ross Perot, party of one, now sports Pat Buchannan who was out of goose step with the Republican Party and is endorsed by Lola Fulana. Nina Simone is next. But the Donald is the jewel in their crown. Mr. Blonde Meringue for Hair gave a radio interview with Howard Stern, single now, hold me back, and in addition to over-sharing that his new supermodel squeeze and “possible First Lady” was naked beside him as he spoke, he altruistically offered that a one time 14.25% tax on people worth over ten million would yield 5.7 trillion dollars and eliminate the national debt. He’s got my vote.
Meanwhile, instead of Pokemon cards, I collect and update fun financial facts. The top 10% of the US own 73.2% of its wealth. The top 1% own 35% of private wealth. Two hundred of the world’s richest people have the combined wealth of 41% of humanity. When I hear “robust,” I hear go bust.
To quote Valuecrat, Bill Bennet, “Where’s the outrage?” It might begin with ATM fees. The Ric Burns special on NYC suggested we might need some photos of actual poor people or a sweatshop fire to get it going. Perhaps the organizing and protests at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle might spark it, but it might be too damp. For my money, the most encouraging bit of news is that Tom Ammiano, gay comic and city councilman is in a San Fransisters mayoral runoff with Willie Brown, after spending $20,000 compared to the $3.5 million of his opponents. That averages out to 40 cents per vote. See above.
Unless those evangelicals were right, see you next millennium!
Kate “Available for NYC mayor write-in campaign” Clinton is a humorist.