Sunday, October 30, 2016


Me 'n' Kitty Bruce
Lenny and Kitty, 1966
Something extraordinarily beautiful occurred at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts on October 27 and 28 that I was fortunate enough to have participated in. We all came together to honor Lenny! Lucky me. I am having a very interesting life - I really am.
When Lenny Bruce died of a drug overdose on August 3, 1966, his career as a working entertainer had come to a bleak end. He could still work a rare concert venue (as he did at the Fillmore auditorium nine days before his death, with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention opening for him) but performing in nightclubs was out of the question. No club owner in the country was willing to risk the near-certainty of losing their license to serve liquor that an obscenity bust would entail. With the exception of San Francisco (where his only legal triumph in 1961 left him immune from persecution) he had been effectively banned from every major city in America - New York included. On the day of his death he received in the mail a foreclosure notice from the Bank of America on his house in the Hollywood Hills. The greatest American humorist of the twentieth century was within days of becoming homeless.
One can only imagine the despair that must have overwhelmed him on that last day. That's why what occurred at Brandeis this week was such a sweet thing to bear witness to. If only he could have somehow known that, fifty years later, at a north eastern ivy league college - about as far away from Lenny Bruce's Los Angeles as is possible to get in the continental United States - a group of his friends and admirers would come together for a scholarly discussion of his art, and a celebration of his unacceptably short life.
There had never been a comedian like him before: He was handsome, smart and as hip as they come; A real finger-snapping, urban bon vivant; A combination sage rabbi and verbal kamikaze, Lenny Bruce was the real thing. The facets of his psychological make up, including his all-too-obvious personal vulnerabilities, were there for all the world to behold, bravely exhibited on the nightclub stage. That he was a troubled, tormented soul, there can be no doubt. Unhappiness and insecurity would dog him all his life. Close friends would remember him as a basically sad and lonely man. But, damn! When he walked on stage he was funny, Jim. Screamingly funny!

In the placid 1950s era of Eisenhower, "I Love Lucy" and hoola-hoops, the American establishment wasn't ready for the kind of honesty that Lenny was presenting to the public. The mainstream press was mostly aghast: Walter Winchell branded him, "America's Number One Vomic"; In late 1958, Time Magazine would crown him "the sickest of the sick comedians". Rather than dismiss these affronts outright, Lenny (in typical Lenny fashion) embraced them. The cover photo for his second album, "The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce", portrayed him having a picnic in a cemetery! How's that for moxie? That same LP included a classic bit called, "Religions Incorporated" which depicted a fast talking, Hollywood booking agent talking on the telephone with his "client", the newly ordained, Pope John XXIII:

"HELLO, JOHNNY! WHAT'S SHAKIN', BABY!!! Yeah the puff of white smoke knocked me out! I got'cha booked for the Sullivan Show on the nineteenth... Oh, did ya dig Spellman on 'Stars Of Jazz'??? OK, sweetie! Yeah, right... You cool it, too! Nah, nobody knows you're Jewish"!

While that type of humor might be considered tame by the "anything goes" standards of today, in 1958 it was positively revolutionary.

For three golden years he was cooking, appearing as a headliner in the top clubs across the nation. When he opened at Mister Kelly's in Chicago, crowds were lining up around the block to see him. According to his biographer, Albert Goldman, word had reached the windy city that, "this new young comic was sensational".

On February 4, 1961, he actually did a gig at Carnegie Hall! Carnegie Hall?? Even he couldn't believe it: "Maybe the people who own this place don't even know we're here"! He speculated that the entire audience had been admitted into the hall by "a corrupt janitor: 'Alright, just don't make no noise and clean up after you're finished, alright'? Alright".

That night, the Island of Manhattan was blanketed by one of the worst blizzards in its history. All bridges and tunnels leading into and out of the city were shut down; Every street in town was closed to traffic - and yet, somehow, Lenny was able to pack his people into a concert that didn't begin until after midnight! It was a Standing Room Only performance that the old gang at Lindy's still talk about! Fortunately the entire evening was preserved on tape and is available today on CD. "Lenny Bruce At Carnegie Hall" is the greatest performance of his all-too-brief career.

Seven months after Carnegie Hall, in the autumn of 1961, the arrests started. On September 29th Lenny was arrested in his Philadelphia hotel room for possession of drugs for which he had a prescription. Five days later, on October 4th, he was busted at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco for obscenity. Although he was eventually acquitted on both counts, the pattern had begun. The persecution would continue for the rest of his life.

Between 1961 and 1964, he was arrested nineteen times across the country on various narcotics and obscenity charges. His legal problems would bankrupt him, forcing him to spend too much time in too many courtrooms defending his art. His income plummeted from roughly $350,000 in 1960 to about $7,000 in 1965. On his fortieth birthday, he was forced to legally declare himself a pauper - so consumed in debt was he.  In the end, his persecutors would render him broken and defeated. In March of 1965, under the influence of hallucinogens, he fell out of the second floor of a hotel in San Francisco, permanently damaging his left leg. Although never a "sick comedian", in his final days Lenny Bruce was a very sick man. During that last, desperate summer of 1966, he told more than one person that he would not live to see 1967.

Most of his obituaries would contemptuously dismiss him as a "dirty comedian", a label that profoundly hurt and humiliated him while he was alive.

When the Los Angeles police arrived at the death scene, they allowed photographers and newsreel cameramen to walk into his home to take their gruesome photographs of his unclothed body lying on the floor of an upstairs bathroom. His good friend, Jack Roy,  had a catch phrase: "I don't get no respect". Talk about irony. Roy, who would later change his name to "Rodney Dangerfield", was one of the most respected comics in the business when he passed away in 2004. Lenny Bruce would be forced to linger a long time in the dark night of obscurity before he received his due. When I first discovered him at the tender age of fourteen, I knew that he was a genius. I'm grateful that academia has finally caught up with us.

It was an honor to take part - however peripherally - in the symposium this week in Massachusetts. A tip of the hat and a heartfelt bow to Christie Hefner and the Playboy corporation for making this event possible. When it seemed that the entire world had abandoned him, her father was always in Lenny's corner. One could not ask for a more loyal pal than Hugh Hefner. In an interview a number of years ago with NBC's Bob Costas, he said of Lenny Bruce, "I think he's a very important American". I'm hard-pressed to disagree. A raising of the glass to Hef as well!

Honey, Lenny and Kitty, 1960
Kitty Bruce, Lenny's only child, donated his massive archive of letters, photographs, films and tapes to the Brandeis vaults. In addition to meeting her, I got to spend time with so many people who were a part of Lenny's biography, and some who, like me, were profoundly influenced by him - including Lewis Black, a man who is one of the small handful of comedians not presently lying in cemeteries that is able to make me laugh out loud.   I plan on returning there sometime in the near future to spend a day or two researching this brilliant satirist's wild, funny and tragic life.

At Brandeis University I told the people gathered there that I've always been hesitant to refer to Lenny Bruce as a "comedian". My habit is to label him a "humorist"; one of the greatest of the troubled century he inhabited. Twain, Will Rogers, Robert Benchley, George S.  Kaufman, James Thurber - anyone you prefer to mention - Lenny belongs right up there on the mountaintop with the best of them.

Lenny at the end
I often wonder what Lenny Bruce might have thought about the America of 2016. No doubt he would have had a lot to say about the very sick society we all still inhabit a half century after his passing. Can you even imagine? It makes me giggle out loud contemplating what might have been.


Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


To Kitty Bruce: After a decade of correspondence, it was a joy to finally meet you. It was so cool the way you made everyone feel relaxed and right at home. I'm eternally grateful and honored to have been there.


How to Talk Dirty and Influence People
by Lenny Bruce

A hitchhiker named Terry Malone left this book in my dad's station wagon in the summer of 1972. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting the cemetery where my parents are buried when I saw a marker bearing the same name: "Terry Malone". I walked up to it and said out loud, "If you're the same guy, THANK YOU." Finding that book was my introduction to Lenny Bruce, and it completely altered my life. It has been reissued in recognition of the 50th anniversary of his passing. In case it's not available from your friendly, local, independently-owned, neighborhood bookstore (Let's stop kidding ourselves - they no longer exist!) here is a link to order it off of

Lenny Bruce In My Life
from The Rant, 8/2/16:

I wrote this one in August on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Lenny's passing:


Here is the first recorded bit by Lenny Bruce I ever heard. I was fourteen at the time and was sold from the get-go. This one is from the summer of 1958 - right around the time I was born:

And, finally, I took this photograph of Kitty Bruce cutting the cake at a posthumous, 91st birthday party we threw for her dad on Thursday night. We all even joined in to sing, "Happy birthday, dear Lenny"! Somewhere, I am sure, he is smiling.

Happy birthday, dear Lenny, happy birthday to you!

Friday, October 21, 2016

An Ominous Moment

 "The main threat to democracy comes not from the extreme left, but from the extreme right, which is able to buy huge sections of the press and radio, and wages a constant campaign to smear and discredit every progressive and humanitarian measure."
George Seldes
I nodded out quite early on the night of the third debate. Lying on top of my bed and watching a DVD, before I knew what hit me I was off to Snooze-ville. When I finally came to, it was 2:15 AM. Not to worry. I grabbed my trusty cellphone and watched a rerun via the nice folks at YouTube. Aren't modern times neat?
It was the one of the finest examples of unintentional comedy I have ever seen. There stood the glorious goofball, Sean Hannity, immediately following the debate, declaring a major victory for Donald Trump. Poor old Sean is way past the point of being a minor annoyance. The silly bastard is now a figure of complete and utter pathos. That a correspondent for a supposedly "serious" "news" organization could voluntarily expose himself as a mere propagandist the way this guy did - without a molecule of shame - was something to behold. The Donald was beaten to the point of senselessness. Anyone paying even casual attention was able to figure that out easily. When this entire debacle is, mercifully, only a wrenching memory, it's easy to foresee Sean Hannity spiraling into complete irrelevance. At this late stage in the game, if you're still watching Fox Noise for anything other that your own amusement, there's little hope for you.

Did you ever get the feeling that you were living through an amusing nightmare? You can't make this stuff up. That's a good description of American politics in 2016: "An Amusing Nightmare". If I ever write a book about this era, that'll be the title.

The incredible thing is that this election won't be a landslide like 1936 when FDR won every state but Maine and Vermont, or 1972 when Nixon won all but Massachusetts. Incredible as it may be to believe, Donald Trump will probably win more-than-a-few states. Before the Access Hollywood scandal unfolded, some talking heads were predicting he might win as many as twenty! Whatever the number turns out to be, it's not going to reflect very well upon this nation. Already the laughingstock of the planet earth, the results of the 2016 campaign will secure our place in the pantheon of political idiocy. That this nitwit was able to receive the nomination of a party whose one-time standard bearer was Abraham Lincoln is too sad to think about. From Lincoln to Trump: You just can't fall any lower than that - but they're gonna try in 2020! Count on it.
There were loads of milestones to behold at this festival of mediocrity (including the part where Donald referred to Hillary as "a nasty woman". Did you catch that?) but the highlight of the evening was when Trump refused to promise to concede the election to Hillary Clinton should she win on that night - which is not a foregone conclusion by the way. The following day, at a campaign rally in Delaware, he went on to declare that he would only make a concession, "if I win". Talk about arrogance.
It was an ominous moment. In case it's slipped your notice, in addition to being dumber than a box of moldy rocks, a significant number of Trump supporters tend to be a bit unhinged - not to mention armed and dangerous. One homicidal twit was caught on camera at a rally somewhere threatening to assassinate Hillary Clinton should she be elected on November 8. He proclaimed that by murdering her, he would be doing his duty as a "patriot". Can you believe that? For the last thirty-plus years these idiots have been egged on by Republican politicians, the NRA, and the right wing SCREAM machine. It's only a matter of time before they explode into an armed revolt. Mass murder made easy. Remember you read it here, folks.

The fact that Donald Trump would encourage the worst aspects of the character of his half-witted groupies is further proof (as if any more were needed) that the man is a dangerous sociopath. Were he to be elected in eighteen days I would have predicted that he would someday be remembered as the champion mass murderer of world history. Hopefully I won't have to make that prediction. Not even the American people are that dumb....I hope. That being said, I'm afraid that we'll have to somehow deal with the hangover of the Donald Trump For President campaign for some time to come - maybe even years,

Make way for the Nincompoop Army.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press

George Seldes
One afternoon in 1987, I was in a book store on East 86th Street in New York City (Don't ask me how I remember the location, I just do) when I came upon a new memoir by a man I had never heard of before. The book was called "Witness To A Century" and the author was named George Seldes, who was a few years shy of his 100th birthday. Seldes had been a crusading journalist, having begun his career in Pittsburgh in 1909. Browsing through the text and the photographs, it was obvious to me that this was a man who had led a very interesting and eventful life. I couldn't resist purchasing it of course. My instincts didn't fail me; it was, indeed, a fantastic read. On the dust cover, it said that he lived in the rural town of Heartland-4-Corners, Vermont. I decided to take a chance and try phoning the great man. Not only did he answer, we spoke for about a half hour. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. Eight years later, on July 2, 1995, George Seldes died at the age of 104.

At the time of his passing, a documentary on George was in the works. It was released shortly afterwards. It is well worth your time. A fascinating story of an equally fascinating guy. Here is a link to watch it on YouTube:

I really need to read that book again. For anyone who makes his or her name by the pen, George Seldes is inspiration and light.

Witness to a Century
by George Seldes
"A people that wants to be free must arm itself - with a free press."
George Seldes

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Amy Goodman's "Crime"

Matt Taibbi
Amy Goodman was clearly acting as a reporter at the protest. Moreover, she’s as close to the ideal of what it means to be a journalist as one can get in this business.
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
And something is happening but you don't know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?
Bob Dylan
Until yesterday, the award-winning journalist, Amy Goodman, was facing prison time. Her crime? Committing journalism. As was reported on October 15 in The Nation:
"Goodman had the audacity to commit this journalism on September 3, when she was in North Dakota covering what she calls “the standoff at Standing Rock”: the months-long protests by thousands of Native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The $3.8 billion oil pipeline is slated to carry barrel after barrel of Bakken crude through sacred sites and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and tribe members fear it could pollute the Missouri River, the source not only of their water but of millions of others’, should the pipe ever rupture. Their protests, which began in April and ballooned through the summer months, represent the largest mobilization of Native American activists in more than 40 years—and one of the most vital campaigns for environmental justice in perhaps as long."
The original charge against Amy was "trespassing". When it became obvious to the geniuses persecuting her that there was no validity to that, they changed the offence to "riot" - not "inciting a riot", mind you - simply "riot". I'm happy to report that, since then, cooler heads have prevailed - or at the very least, more expedient heads. I suppose the powers-that-be realized that this incident was bound turn into a nasty cause celebre that would ultimately blow up in their faces. A wise move to be sure. But what does that tell you? That this sort of thing is being contemplated in a nation where the First Amendment is supposed to reign supreme is unsettling to say the very least.

Amy Goodman is not the only journalist being harassed. A videographer is facing forty-five years for covering this spectacle. Land of the free indeed.
Huntley and Brinkley
The demonizing of journalists is hardly a new phenomenon in this country. It has been going on for a long time. At the GOP convention in the summer of 1964, the extremist crazies who that year took control of the Republican party (and still control it to this very day) turned on the assembled press covering the event with such vehemence, that for a few moments NBC's Chet Huntley and David Brinkley feared for their lives. During the Fabulous Fifties, any reporter with courage was putting his-or-her livelihood (and freedom) at risk if they dared exposed the hypocrisy and corruption behind the communist witch hunts of that era. Even Theodore Roosevelt, one of America's finest chiefs-executive, would contemptuously dismiss the crusading journalists of "the golden age of American journalism" as "muckrakers".

What is happening in the United States in 2016 is very ominous indeed. The plutocratic forces that own this country are setting a precedent of fear and intimidation. The message has been sent and received: Don't you dare fuck with our agenda. It's enough to make any thinking person tremble with fear and loathing to contemplate how bad this situation might get if Donald Trump is elected in three weeks time. Thankfully, that's not ever going to happen. The problem is that Hillary Clinton has yet to prove whose side she is on. I'm not optimistic. Someone tell her to prove me wrong.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


In a little over a week I'll be shoving off to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts to take part in a two-day symposium on the life and career of the legendary, groundbreaking comedian, Lenny Bruce. This is something that is decades overdue. When he died fifty years ago, he believed that he was a failure. A half a century later, an ivy league university in New England - about as far away from Lenny Bruce's Hollywood as is possible to travel in the continental United States - will be paying homage to his art, celebrating his life. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

I'll be writing about the event when it concludes. Look for my report.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Great Debatables Part 2

Smiling for a reason
I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. A self-described Republican of the old school (meaning he's not a right wing extremist), he is a nurse in the psych ward of a Kingston hospital. He told me that nine out of ten of the patients on his floor are supporting Donald Trump. He wasn't surprised to find this out. Neither was I, of course.
After watching the second debate of this comically catastrophic presidential contest, I came away a bit more at ease than I had been about the candidacy of Hillary Clinton (just a wee bit, mind you). When was the last time a presidential candidate in this country threatened to send his opponent to prison? Not in my lifetime, that's for sure! When he uttered that line I was on the phone with a friend of mine. At first I thought I was hearing things. It wasn't until after it was all over, watching a rerun, that I realized that I had, in fact, heard what I only thought was an audio hallucination. This is the sort of rhetoric one would expect emanating out of some banana republic. As disappointed as I was with Ms. Clinton's nomination in July, I am ready to take the plunge for her, so to speak. If this silly, psychotic nincompoop is elected to the presidency, this country is finished. Seriously
Of course that's never gonna happen. Glenn Beck has endorsed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Can you believe that? Glenn Beck! (or as I always called him, "The louse that roared"). My brother Jeff pointed out on a Facebook posting early this morning that, in denouncing Donald Trump, George Will is starting to sound like Paul Krugman. John McCain has withdrawn his support for Donald Trump. Republican Speaker of the House of Reprehensibles, Paul Ryan, has withdrawn his support for Donald Trump!  A pig just flew by my window. Isn't life strange?

Here is how the Donald has even further debased our already thoroughly debased culture: On page 12 of this morning's Times Herald-Record of Middletown, NY - my local paper - they quoted him by using the words "fuck" and "pussy". That has never happened before - not in that paper. This candidacy is too strange for words. I never dreamed I would live to see the day when I would be nostalgic for George W. Bush. The bar just keeps getting lower with these people.
On January 20, one Democratic administration will follow another one into the Oval Office. The last time that happened on Inauguration Day was in 1857. The end of Hillary Clinton's first term will mark twelve years of Democratic control of the executive branch of our government. That hasn't happened since the days of Franklin Roosevelt. These two nasty little facts are the Republican Party's proverbial canary in the coal mine. That birdie's as dead as a doornail - you'd better believe it, Bubba. There might someday be another conservative living in the White House, but it will not be a Republican. That party is deader than the bird. The elephant has thoroughly imploded.

They have spent the better part of the last fifty years appealing to the worst aspects of the American character and it has blown up in their clueless faces. This is something that was bound to happen sooner or later. What mystifies me is the fact that it took this long.
It's interesting (and quite amusing) to see the number of GOP uberstars who are now - finally - distancing themselves from the Donald. They have come to the valid conclusion that putting party before country probably wasn't the smartest idea. Racist assaults upon so huge a segment of the people wasn't enough to sway them, but when their political careers were on the line they started to see the light. If Trump's slander against women in the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape had disparaged merely blacks or Mexicans or Muslims (or all three groups even) it wouldn't have made the slightest difference to these assholes. But he insulted women - all women - which is most of the population.  It's too late for a mass mea culpa on their part. The damage that Trump has done in eighteen months to the right wing cause is possibly irreparable. There is now a ghost of a chance that the Dems will take back the House - a possibility that wasn't even in contention less than a week ago.

The party of Lincoln is about to go the way of the Whigs. The grand old party is over. Isn't this fun to watch?
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Here is a link to watch the second 2016 debate in its entirety....

....if you have the stomach for it.

Here is link to watch, also in its entirety, the first of three debates between Senator John F. Kennedy and vice-President Richard M. Nixon in September of 1960:

This was back in the good old days when politicians were more reasonable and civilized. Notice the tone. Both men are appealing to the intellect of the American people, to the better angels of their nature. Candidates don't even attempt to do that anymore.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Grand Old Party's Dirty Old Man

Kissing the Republican Party goodbye
"And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Donald J. Trump
This is unprecedented in American political history. The wheels have come off of the clown car. The elephants have thoroughly and completely imploded. It was bad enough that the Republicans nominated their worst, most reprehensible candidate - EVER - but in addition to that, he seems to have sent the party over the cliff, descending into the murky abyss in a hopeless death spiral. Not only has the GOP lost it's mind and it's moorings, they seem to have lost their purpose: to win at any and all costs. This is the price that the silly bastards and bitches are paying for spending the last half century desperately trying to reach out to the lowest moral, common denominator; the weirder angels of our nature. The candidacy of Donald Trump has proven to be their fatal undoing. Perhaps conservatism has a future. Conservatives - like the poor - will always be with us. The Republican Party, on the other hand, is doomed.
I cannot even articulate how much fun all of this is to watch. The right wing freak show (which has always been pretty freaky) has gotten freakier still.
Caruso only played a clown
I'm not going to quote what Donald Trump said in a private conversation from 2005 during a taping of Access Hollywood that was picked up by the microphone he was wearing. The words he used were too vile and sexist - which is something to consider: If a person's words are too profane for my tastes, they must be fairly off color. In fact, The Donald's words were completely disgusting - take my word for it. Trump's defense was that it was "an old recording". Wrong. The voice of the long-dead Enrico Caruso singing Verdi's Il Trovatore in 1906 is an "old recording". The voice of the very-much-alive Donald Trump (from even eleven years ago) is very new indeed. And don't try to dismiss this as "innocent locker-room banter". I would like to believe that most men don't talk in that manner - I don't. I have never, in my life, made reference to trying to "fuck" a woman. I've got a bit more style than that. And please bear in mind that when he made these remarks, he was not some slightly goofy, seventeen-year-old high school senior. He was about two years older than I am now. Context is everything.

When this barrage of audio pornography was unveiled to a, by now, thoroughly suspecting public, Donald made what is as close to an apology as we will ever come near to seeing departing his lips. After an obviously reluctant admission that he was wrong to say the things he said, he proceeded to blame the entire mess on Bill Clinton. Ain't politics a scream?
Already the reluctant passengers are starting to abandon this rapidly-sinking ship. John McCain has withdrawn his support; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus seems to have gone into hiding (which is a very logical place to be); even some of the Tea Party crazies are starting to put as much distance between themselves and the Donald. In case it's escaped your notice, these folks have quite a low threshold when it comes to embarrassment. Apparently Trump was the straw that broke the elephant's back. Isn't that something?
KellyAnne Conway
The person in all of this with whom I have torrents of sympathy for is Trump's press secretary  KellyAnne Conway. To see this poor gal making the rounds of the television studios, vainly attempting to put a smiley face on this decomposing-carcass-of-a-campaign has been...."interesting" shall we say? I don't envy her, that's for sure. She comes off as very pleasant and gracious when the camera's red light is glowing, Heaven only knows what she's really thinking. I couldn't help noticing that in the last three months she has visibly aged. When this fiasco is finally over in less than a month, she needs to go on a nice, long retreat to a monastery in the Himalayas. It'll do wonders for her.

Now let's tally the figures here: He's lost women (an obvious no-brainer); He's lost the blacks; He's lost the Hispanics; He's lost the Catholics, He's lost the Jews; He's lost the Muslims (another no-brainer). So which group is it whose support he retains?

Upper middle aged, white Christian males with beer bellies and bad breath.

Gee, I'm sorry, but that's not really going to cut the mustard - not anymore. America has changed. Roll with the changes. If there was any doubt in your mind where the Trump for President campaign was headed beforehand, the events of this week should have placed things in their proper perspective. The time has come to fold up the tents and go home. It's all over now, Baby Blue. Hillary Clinton must, at this hour, be relishing her good luck.


Reince Priebus and KellyAnne Conway have cancelled all of their TV appearances on the Sunday morning programs. Do I detect a crisis in the air? I can't wait for the debate tonight. That ought to be a hoot-and--half!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


from The Rant - 10/9/10
John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England - seventy-six years ago today. Six years ago, on what would have been his seventieth birthday, I wrote this:

In a little over four years he'll be gone longer from this world than he walked it. Imagine.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Post #666: Random Observations

My house is a very, very, very weird house
Not enough sleep.
The following are a thread of unrelated comments that I have posted recently on various websites or out in the Facebooksphere. No animals were harmed in the making of this article.

1. About Last night:
I got about an hour and a quarter through the vice-presidential debate last night; I could go no further than that. Tim Kaine impressed me a helluva lot more than Mike Pence - which is damnation by ever-so-faint praise due to the fact that, in a more ordinary time, Kaine wouldn't impress me much at all. Pence, the governor of Indiana, is such an extremist chucklehead, I sincerely believe he could make George W. Bush look like Albert Einstein. There is a very nice woman from Indianapolis who communicates with me on Facebook. Her name is Phyllis Crill. Early this morning she offered these choice nuggets of opinion:
"Since I live in Indiana and know what a moron Pence is, I didn't even attempt it. I also have a blood pressure problem. I don't know how you could have possibly watched an hour and a quarter without your head exploding from Pence's stupidity. We here in Indiana monitor our blood pressure regularly because we never know when another of Pence's nutso schemes may be reported via the MSM and we have to reach for the blood pressure meds."
2. The Continuing Implosion:
Regarding the comical train-wreck that is also known as the Donald Trump Campaign, it's impossible to believe at this stage that there might not be a method to his madness. As stated here before, I have this nagging suspicion that the Donald is, in fact, purposely engaged in a covert attempt to permanently end the Republican Party. Trump played his roll in the GOP primaries to utter perfection. He studied the process as thoroughly as any candidate in history. He understood that the only way a candidate can possibly receive the nomination from that disgusting party is by stomping about the country saying a bunch of jaw-droppingly mean and stupid things - and that's exactly what he did. What makes the Trump campaign unusual, though, is that normally, once the candidate has won the Republican nomination, he always slithers back to the center during the general election. Trump has made no such effort; in fact, judging by the way he is handling himself, one could be forgiven for thinking that the silly bastard is running for a Mississippi congressional seat! 2016 sure is an amusing year.

3. President Clinton II:

This has got to be the most obvious no-brainer in American political history: Hillary Clinton will be sworn in as the forty-fifth president on January 20 of next year - which is only a little over three months away. Maybe she will turn out to be a true progressive. Maybe not. Her choice of Tim Kaine was hardly a reassurance to those of us who lean leftwards. Nothing personal against the guy: He's a smart man and he seems to be a good one - but he's hardly the fightin' liberal that we were hoping for. At this time next year I could be eating these words. We'll see. In the meantime I remain depressingly ambivalent.

4. My Take on Tattoos:

This is where I'll probably consign myself to hopeless and eternal old-fuddy-duddyism. So be it. I've wanted to post this message for a long time but have always chickened out at the last moment. Fortunately I'm drunk enough at the moment  to be not so inhibited - inebriated, yes - but not inhibited. Consider this a little public service message for each of my young friends who are contemplating adding a tattoo to his or her body. Tattoos can be beautiful and I've seen a few in my day that I greatly admired. The problem is that they're beautiful only to a point. This message is genuinely ironic on my part given the fact that the office  in my house that I work in looks out directly across the road onto a thriving tattoo parlor.

Shown above are two different images of the same tattoo, fifteen years apart. Listen, kids, before you enter the tattoo parlor, don't forget that it’s going to be a part of you for the rest of your lives.

Have you ever had a good look at a tattoo that is twenty-five years old - or older? They’re unrecognizable from what they originally were. After thirty years, they’re usually nothing more than a dark green blotch.

One night in 1975, my father held a party in Toronto for some of his business associates that he wanted me to attend (I was sixteen at the time). He insisted that I wear one of those awful, mid-seventies, polyester leisure suits that were the fashion rage of the day. I wore it on that one occasion - and never wore it again. Had someone told me then and there that, once I put the thing on, I would be forced to wear it until the day I died, I would not have put it on - trust me.

At one time, I wore my hair very long. Today I keep it relatively short. Forty years ago, I loved Elton John. Today his music sounds almost sophomoric to me. In 1976 I liked to wash down my meals with Orange Crush. In 2016 I can't stomach the stuff. Why? Because I am older and my tastes have changed. What might seem really cool to you at eighteen could very well seem repulsive to you at fifty-eight. This is an essential fact of human nature.

Flash forward thirty years into the future, when you are still a relatively young person. Every morning, as you dress, you’ll look into the mirror and say out loud: “What the hell was I thinking?”

Tattoos are a fad. Fads come and go. When this fad finally goes the way of the polyester lesuire suit, your tattoo will remain. Think about that.

FUN FACT: Laser surgery to remove a medium-sized tattoo costs nearly fifty-thousand dollars; and bear in mind that it only fades them somewhat - it doesn't totally remove them. That procedure requires a skin graft - which costs tens-of-thousands of dollars more.

Roughly ninety-five percent of the women who get a tattoo regret it in less than five years. There is a much cheaper method of hiding a tattoo: a cream that only temporarily camouflages it. It’s quite popular now for the simple reason that so many people are embarrassed by the tattoos they got as young adults. The problem with this method is that it doesn’t look natural; in fact it looks perfectly hideous.

I implore you: Don't mar your unique beauty with a goddamned tattoo. You WILL regret it; I guarantee it. Fortunately, forty years after the fact, that polyester leisure suit is barely a vague memory for me. It will be a different case forty years from now with regard to your tattoo.

If there is a young person in your life who is considering going down this one-way road, please share this little tirade of mine with them.

5. Au Revoir, Mr. President!

It's amazing how with the passing of the years, time goes by more quickly. it doesn't seem possible that nearly eight years has come and gone since Mr. Obama went to Washington. I'm not going to lie to you: this president has been a major disappointment in a lot of areas. But, given all he has had to contend with - particularly the complete idiocy of the Republican opposition - he and his family have held themselves up admirably, with great dignity and grace. Will he be remembered as a "great" president? I don't know the answer to that question; but it's a cinch he'll at least be remembered as "near great". That's not a bad showing either. History will have a lot to say about "The Obama Years". I can't wait to read some of it.

I like Barack Obama. I like him a lot...



Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Happy October everyone!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


The photo at the top of this piece is a night shot I took some months back of the house I live in. The window on the second floor to the left is where I'm typing this tantrum you're reading. The house is nice but the area I live in is a bit weird. In addition to the tattoo parlor there is an adult book/video store, and a bar called "Cravings" that is so decrepit, no one has been able to keep it open for more that a few months at a time. It also sits right on top of an extremely busy, two-lane highway. Here's how bad the area is: I moved into the neighborhood and property values actually went up for a change!


The House I Live In
by Frank Sinatra

This 1965 recording by the Frankster is what it's all about.

The children in the playground
The faces that I see
All races and religions
That's America to me....

I always loved this one.