Sine Qua Non Pundit

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Wednesday, October 02, 2002

I'm Moving

Posting may be light to non-existent until I figure out Movable Type. I think it's time.

DOWNDATE: As Lloyd Bridges once said, "Looks like I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue!", since Richard Cohen has obviously not stopped his bad habits. His latest column demands a response. Later.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LVI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Over at The Eleven Day Empire, James DiBeneddetto, who usually takes a dim view of Mr. Cohen, writes:

It's Tuesday, and that of course means a new Richard Cohen column to rip to shreds. Not today, though. His column inspires pity rather than the usual incredulity-followed-by-outrage this AM. Sure, there are jokes that could be made at his expense; he leaves the field wide open for them. But I just don't have the heart to do that today; and besides, it's too easy, kind of like fishing with dynamite. There's no challenge, no joy to it. So for today, we here in the Empire will merely feel sad for Richard, and wait until Thursday, when it's a safe bet that Richard will revert to his old self, and we can get back to smacking him around.

Pity? No, Homey don’t play that.

Warren Zevon has inoperable lung cancer and will die too soon. Richard Cohen only has terminal stupidity and he will continue providing fodder for the Blogospherical Canon for some time. And yes, because I subscribe to the belief best expressed by Lazarus Long that:

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death. There is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

I will not allow this to pass. After all, I wouldn’t want to disappoint Martin. Don’t worry, though. You needn’t worry about me kicking Richard while he’s down since he insists on standing up – more on that later.

Instead of whining about getting old, perhaps Richard should consider the alternative – as Warren Zevon now must – and adopt a tone more along the lines of Dylan Thomas’, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Even Rodney Dangerfield understood this. And so, I will Scourge this pathetic piece of tripe, with a little help from Linda Ronstadt’s cover of Warren’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, (maybe Richard thought she was singing four, four, six oh three). I’ll really work him over good and we’ll let the Blogosphere decide which one of us is better Standing the Test of Time:

The other day I got on the subway here -- a crowded subway, I hasten to add –

I'd lay my head on the railroad tracks
And wait for the Double E

…and shimmied my way into the middle of the car, where I found room to stand.

But the railroad don't run no more
Poor, poor pitiful me

A young man, maybe 25 or so, was sitting to my left. He was trim and fit.

He was a credit to his gender.

He seemed to be looking in my direction, but then he motioned for someone to take his seat. I looked behind me to spot the old gent, lady, pregnant woman or disabled person he was so nicely helping out. I saw no one and looked back in his direction. He pointed directly at me. I fumed.

Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
These young boys won't let me be
Lord have mercy on me
Woe is me

I wanted to say something: Who do you think you're helping, bub? I don't need your seat. I am perfectly capable of standing. And standing and standing and standing. Of course, I said nothing of the sort. I merely shook my head no, mouthed a thank you and turned away. I was crushed.

Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
These young boys won't let me be
Lord have mercy on me
Woe is me

In "As You Like It," Shakespeare wrote of the seven ages of man. The expression comes from Jacques's speech -- the one that begins with the familiar "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." He goes on to say, "They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages."

At least Richard knows his Shakespeare better than Babs.

The Bard has Jacques list them: Infant, "whining school-boy," "the lover, Sighing like furnace," then a soldier ("seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth"), the justice, the elderly gent ("With spectacles on nose and pouch on side") and, finally, a "second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

Completely sans-less.

But these ages are no longer applicable -- at least as far as I'm concerned. I have been an infant, a schoolboy, a lover (the furnace is not yet banked), a soldier, and I suppose I'm on my way to the other stages. But I measure them all not by what I was at the time -- always a journalist, anyway -- but by singular, momentous events.

So what kind of singular, momentous events has Richard got in mind?

Having someone offer you a seat on the subway is that sort of event.


So, too, was the first time someone called me "mister." I was working as a soda jerk –

And now Richard is just a plain jerk!

… is there still such a thing and, if there is, is it now called a "soda person"? –

Is “jerk” synonymous with male? What’s this all about?

… when some boy called me mister. I was just a kid myself, 14 or so, and when the boy said it, I looked around to see if my boss had returned to the store from his afternoon nap. I looked. No boss. Suddenly, amazingly, I had been promoted to mister.

Uh, not exactly.

I skip all the usual stuff relating to being "the lover" with that ferocious furnace – you've seen the movie, anyway –

Well, thank you sharing. But I’d be careful, if I were a Dick with a dubious past.

… and even fatherhood. It was truly momentous and downright amazing, but I felt no older afterward, just poorer and suddenly burdened with an awesome responsibility.

Poorer? That is a very weird way to look at fatherhood.

But it was not too long after that -- a mere decade or so -- when my family gathered on Cape Cod one summer's eve for dinner. By then my father had retired. It was a nice meal. It was a warm meal.

That’s nice, and warm.

It was a meal with my parents and my sister and all our children, two by last count.

Read that last sentence again. It doesn’t sound right.

I ate what I wanted without regard to cost. Then the check came. The waiter placed it on the table, and I waited for the usual to happen. Only it didn't. My father made no move for the check. Slowly, it dawned on me.

A recurring trait for Richard Cohen.

Me! I was supposed to pick up the check.

The horror. Way to go, Dick.

It was, as Gail Sheehy might say, …

Well, I met a girl at the Rainbow bar
She asked me if I'd beat her

… a passage.

She took me back to the Hyatt House
I don't want to talk about it

There have been others and still some to come. I fear the day women don't return my look on the street.

Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
These young girls won't let me be
Lord have mercy on me
Woe is me

I fear the day I am one of those old men for whom the past is in the present -- the ones who want to talk about the powerful people they once knew.

Well, that’s certainly another familiar trait of Richard Cohen’s. Just ask Gail Sheehy.

I fear my body going south on me, my father's arthritis crawling down my arms like a sort of rigor mortis, seizing my fingers in a permanent fist so I can no longer write.

I won’t wish pain or disability on anyone, even if I must therefore Scourge indefinitely, until arthritis is crawling down my arms like a sort of rigor mortis, seizing my fingers in a permanent fist so I can no longer type.

Hmm, that reads just as bad the second time as it did the first. But I had to try it!

I fear that more than anything.

There are worse things than death.

Many things are behind me.

And they are gaining on you, so take Satchel’s advice and don’t look back.

But many things are yet to come. I have passed through five of Shakespeare's seven ages,…

Including the justice?

… but I will fight the last two as long as I can.

Whining and whinging all the way. Somehow, I don’t think this is what Dylan Thomas had in mind.

Thanks for the seat, young man, but I will stand, damn it, I will stand.

Yes, Richard will stand for nothing, hoping we will fall for anything.

Sunday, September 29, 2002


I think this is a very bad thing:

France will give 2,000 euros each to Afghan refugees who agree to return home voluntarily

But the UN disagrees:

"This is the first agreement of its type in western Europe," said the UNHCR, adding that a similar agreement was at the planning stage between Afghanistan and Britain.

Oh, Tony.

UNHCR estimated that more than 1,600 people would qualify for the offer. After March 1 2003, French Interior Minister Sarkozy said, refugees remaining in France illegally "would be escorted to the French frontier."

And dumped in the Atlantic Ocean or the English Channel? Or Germany, Spain, Belgium, Swizerland, Italy, or Luxembourg? Keep this in mind anytime we get any criticism from across the pond regarding illegal immigration from Mexico.

Nice people.

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