Saturday, July 31, 2010

Today is National Dance Day

I am compelled to take a brief hiatus from my vacation to report the urgent news that today has been declared "National Dance Day," by the US Congress.

I was informed of this propitious development only this morning by CBS news, which reported that this was the brainchild of Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) the non-voting Delegate to Congress from the District of Columbia.

Happily, Congress has solved such trifling matters as the near Hooveresque levels of unemployment and the ongoing carnage in Afghanistan so that it can now devote its formidable energies to matters more suited to its abilities, such as resolutions declaring a National Day of dance celebration.

Having faithfully brought this exigent matter to your attention, I'm now going to boogie on back to the beach.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chicago Lampoon's Summer Vacation

With finally some semblance of summer weather embracing Chicago, the Lampoon is going to take a bit of a break.

During this hiatus, I am going to:

1) Live at the beach and fill out and enrich my already formidable tan so that by Fall I will be able to pass for an illegal alien and thereby be able to get a new identity under the Obama amnesty plan and thereby thwart the taxman and assorted other collectors,

2) finish reading the "Compleat Workes of Jonathan Swift." Did you know that the Lilliputans actually conspired to poke out Gulliver's eyes and poison him? This was not the cutesy kiddie story of cartoon fame.

3) Ride my rehabbed 1974 Raleigh Record up the Green Bay Bicycle Trail to Lake Forest and back 2 or three times.

4) Finish Margaret MacMillan's "Paris 1919," an account of the Versailles Peace Conference wherein the Jimmy Carter precursor, Woodrow Wilson, saddled the world with the unsustainable concoctions of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Iraq. He also caved in to the French demands for onerous reparations from the German people, thereby paving the way for Adolf Hitler.

5. Get a new laptop so I can better upgrade and maintain this silly blog.

Happy Summer --

Here are some classic Summer songs for you to enjoy:


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Queen Elizabeth's Trip to North America

(Editor's note -- In light of the news that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is winding up her trip to North America with a visit to Ground Zero in New York, I thought it appropriate to re-post this bit from the Chicago Lampoon archives. It was originally posted on October 19, 2009)

Hey Queen -- How Do Ya Like Chicago So Far?

While riding on the MWRD bike path near Evanston on this past beautiful Sunday afternoon, I ran into a very nice girl from the North of England. While riding astride for a mile or more, we chatted about the odd British propensity for class consciousness, the Falkland's Island war, the impending demise of the British Labour Party, George Orwell, Patrick Pearse and sundry other matters that quite appealed to my Anglophilic disposition.

I found it telling that she, English born, was riding an American-made Trek, while I, Chicago born, owned a Nottingham, England-made Raleigh.

But it got me thinking about the English in Chicago.

There is a rich tradition of English and English-American involvement in Chicago, but it has been largely overshadowed by the much more populous subsequent waves of immigration.

The first Mayor of Chicago was a total WASP named William Butler Ogden.

He traveled here from New York in 1835, because his nincompoop brother-in-law had sunk $100 k as a real estate investment into swampy, onion field land alongside Lake Michigan in a place called Chicago.

Ogden came here to sell off the deeds for anything he could possibly get for them -- pennies on the dollar, if need be.

He was amazed when after selling merely 1/3 of the holdings he had already recouped all of the investment. The WASPs were sharpies back then, and Ogden bought as much Chicago real estate as he could possibly get his hands on, sold it, became a de-facto billionaire by today's standards, decided to hang around and was elected Chicago's first mayor.

The Brits entered the picture again in 1871. After the Great Chicago fire devastated the city, Queen Victoria ("we are not amused") was anguished at word that the great Chicago library was destroyed and at her own initiative, scoured Britain for books to send to Chicago to rebuild its library collection.

That was nice of the old girl.

Fast forward to 1920.

That was when Chicago had its last Republican mayor, Big Bill Thompson.

Today Republicans like to claim moral superiority over the corrupt Democrat machine (as well they can -- but it's easy to be as pure as the driven snow when you have no boodle to pass around) but back then the GOP machine were total crooks.

Big Bill's chief financial backer was a well known Chicago philanthropist by the name of Al Capone.

Enough said.

But by 1920, waves of Irish and Germans had descended upon Chicago (my ancestors on both sides included) and had become the dominant electoral cohort in the city.

The Micks and the Krauts were not at all favorably disposed toward the British Limeys.

Big Bill knew which side his electoral bread was buttered on, so in 1920, when King George V of the House of Windsor was touring the US, Mayor Thompson told him to stay the hell out of his city.

When a reporter asked Big Bill what he would do if George V decided to come to Chicago anyway, Mayor Thompson said, "If King George sets one foot in Chicago, I'll punch him in the snoot."

The King stayed away. Big Bill was re-elected.

Fast forward to 1957.

Then the child-Queen, Elizabeth II, only 33 at the time, came to Chicago to celebrate the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which linked Chicago and ports in the British Dominion of Canada with the Atlantic Ocean.

When the Queen was alighting her ship in the port of Chicago, a throng of gruff, boozy, Chicago newsmen gathered around her and began shouting questions.

When she had been ashore no more than a minute or two, one of the paunchy, red-nosed scribes yelled out, "Hey Queen!! Howdya like Chicaguh so far???"

Not, "Your Royal Highness, what are your thoughts upon coming to Chicago?"

But "Hey Queen!! Howdya like Chicaguh so far???

The answer is lost to history.

But the question and questioner will be long remembered.

Is this an amusing place, or what?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Read Dr. Seuss and Become an American Citizen

I don't normally make a habit of reading the Chicago Tribune's RedEye -- you know the throw away rag that they put in those red boxes on street corners everywhere. It is at best "Journalism for Dummies."

What can you say about a "newspaper" that devotes vastly more column inches to Lady GaGa than to the oil gusher in the Gulf or Obama's war in Afghanistan?

What can you say about a newspaper with a crossword puzzle that offers such mind exerting clues as (I am not making this up) Winnie the _______ (4 letter word?)

So it came as no great surprise that in its June 30th edition, it printed an editorial column by one Steph Yiu that heaved up the most assinine rationale for amnesty for illegal aliens yet to be devised by any member of the open borders crowd.

She argued that since she had a rich daddy who worked for an American-owned corporation abroad, and since she read "Green Eggs and Ham" as a child and embraced American culture, she was entitled to admission to our country. A "path toward citizenship," to use an Obamaism.

After telling us that although a Singapore national, she speaks perfect English, went to American style sock hops and had her daddy send her to a pricey private American college (Northwestern.)

"But now America is going to have to deal with me." Liu threatens. "More specifically America's immigration officers. Because even though America's cultural borders are amorphous, its national boundaries are not. I'm American," she contends, "but it doesn't mean anything unless it's on paper."

"America, you created me," the Singapore citizen blurts, "I am your citizen whether you like it or not."

This is certainly a novel argument.

Liu seems to be maintaining that anyone, anywhere in the world who so much as fancies the ubiquitous American pop culture should be entitled to legally settle within our national borders and be given citizenship.

This raises interesting possibilities.

Perhaps we should have a new EP-1 (Elvis Presley -1) immigration status. This would allow members of the Elvis Presley Fan Club in Lima, Peru (Yes, there really is one) to legally settle in the U.S.

And perhaps a LLBB-1 status (Little League Baseball-1). This would allow the little league baseball players in Costanza, Romania (yes there really is a little league there) to be on a path to U.S. citizenship.

And how about the Uzbekistani's who love Rambo movies? A Rambo-1 immigration waiver?

And what about the Barbie doll club members abroad? Yes there really are Barbie Doll clubs in such places as Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, Hamburg and Baden-Baden. Under the Stephanie Liu plan all these women and girls who have enthusiastically embraced American culture should be granted BD-1 (Barbie doll-1) immigration status. Since they are probably hot blondes and quite feminine, I say let's fast-track them toward citizenship.

After all, who cares whether our sovereign nation needs them, wants them or can afford them? To the Singaporan, Liu, it's all about what the prospective immigrants wants. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

Kind of sounds like a rich, spoiled, Northwestern brat, doesn't it?

And, by the way, just what is the Tribune Corporation doing, employing a foreign national who, by her own admission, is of dubitable legal employability here?

Ask not what you can do for the USA, but what the USA can do for you -- right Ms Liu?

And who cares what the American people have to say about it?

Friday, July 2, 2010

A 4th of July Joke

This is one dreary 4th of July.

Obama is calling for blanket amnesty and free health care for the millions upon millions of squatters who wandered in here over the past 3 decades. The unemployment rate is reaching Hooveresque levels. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire on January 1st so that employers aren't even thinking of hiring. The Taste of Chicago is shut down by the Chicago Police after someone is knifed there.

I can only think of one 4th of July knee-slapper to lighten this Carteresque national malaise.

Here it is:

Some years ago, while living a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., my girlfriend persuaded me to brave the suburban and out-of-town tourist throngs and walk the few blocks over to the Mall to see the national 4th of July fireworks display.

There, with the Washington Monument as a backdrop, we saw Arthur "Pops" Fiedler conduct the usual John Phillip Souza marches and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture which led directly into the massive fireworks display.

Then the smoke cleared and the throng began meandering home.

A new Haagen Dazs ice cream shop had just opened on Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. and outside the shop, amidst the mob on the crowded sidewalk, I saw the funniest T-shirt I have ever seen in my life.

There we witnessed a man -- with at least 300 lbs. on his 5'9" frame --- greedily devouring a triple-scooped Haagen Dazs ice cream cone --- attired in a T-shirt which said:

I Beat Anorexia Nervosa

We both laughed uproariously all the way back home.

Happy 4th of July.