There are a lot of frustrating moments involved in reading the Times of New York on a regular basis. It’s worth it, of course, because then you are able to say “I saw in the NYTimes this morning,” a phrase that immediately stamps one as a person of culture, discernment, and general superiorness (at least to one’s own way of thinking).
But you have to wade through quite a lot of dross to sort out what you came there for. You have to read about hundreds of plays that you will never see, poetry readings that you will never attend, restaurants where you will never be seated, and excellent-looking movies that will never make it across the Rockies.
You end up reading all-too-frequent love letters to NYCity written by residents of NYCity who really can’t imagine why the rest of the country has to exist at all and what kind of dullards would ever live anywhere but NYCity? There are the stories about weddings that you missed where the couple was too charming for words, real estate that only the 1% could aspire to owning, and a food column that is at least one-third about the intricacies of which wine you should be buying at which shop (wine may be a lot of things, but it isn’t food).
So when I say “I saw in the NYTimes this morning,” I hope you all realize the sacrifices that I make in reading this newspaper just to be able to name-drop an article or two each week.
There is a song by the group Talking Heads that deals with those of us who don’t live in NYCity. It’s called “The Big Country,” and the chorus goes like this:
I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.The Big Country, by Talking Heads
I wouldn’t live like that, no siree!
I wouldn’t do the things the way those people do.
I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to.
I have liked the song since first I heard it, snobbish little ditty that it is. It is almost perfect in its attitude, and helps keep my sense of humor honed.
I saw in the NYTimes this morning that there are people lining up to be upset about Joe Biden’s cabinet picks. Of course they are. They should be. We really aren’t simply divided into red and blue factions, but to all shades of those two colors, each with its advocates for a point of view.
So when Biden picks a retired four-star general for Secretary of Defense, he stirs up any shade of blue that thinks the man is not as civilian as he should be to hold this post. After all, we have a long-established principle involved here, the control of the military by civilian authority. I think personally that this principle is a good thing, and find it helpful to be reminded of it through the present controversy.
Whoever Biden picks for whatever cabinet post will not please all of us. It’s possible that when they have all been selected that each will be a disappointment to you, or to me, in some way. From then on, we will watch to see what they do, won’t we? I wasn’t happy when Robert Kennedy was chosen by his brother as Attorney General, even though I liked JFK. I thought – NEPOTISM – in all caps. But in his abbreviated career his actions pleased me in too many ways to count.
It’s not common knowledge but my navel is off slightly more than one centimeter to the right. And I lay it all off onto the medical/industrial complex.
When I was retiring from practice, I had excellent health insurance, so I decided that before I left for parts unknown that I would have as many of my defects repaired as time would allow and my insurance would cover. It turned out that I had a hernia in many of the places that a person can have one, and they totaled three. So I visited a surgeon of good repute and we made the required arrangements. One of those defects was at my umbilicus, where during the repair the physician would tunnel in and patch the problem area with … I don’t know … some burlap or pieces of recycled radial tire belts.
The surgeries were all small ones, and I went home a happy man. Until I took a shower later on, and noticed that I was no longer symmetric. Either my navel had shifted to the right or my entire body had shifted to the left, but something unplanned had happened. At my first post-op followup visit, I brought this up to the surgeon.
I don’t know if you noticed, doctor, but my umbilicus is askew.
Why, so it is. Has it always been that way?
No, not until my surgery.
Have you proof of this?
Yes, many photos in my family albums show an admirable centering.
Well … ?
I didn’t want to talk bout legal action, but I remember reading about a woman who had a similar problem after plastic surgery, and she received a handsome settlement.
I know of the case. Of course, she was an attractive woman in her forties, while you are a rather plain man in your sixties.
Your meaning, sir?
There’s not a jury in the country that will think that the proposition that you are less attractive than you were holds any water. In fact, the case could be made that you are now more interesting than ever.
So I should be grateful?
Indeed you should, especially since there will be no additional professional fees involved.
Thank you so much, doctor, you are exceptionally kind and considerate.
Don’t mention it. On your way out, could you send in the next post-op patient? He’ll be the one whose right ear flops about something terrible.