A yearly repost: A Thanksgiving story of secret generosity

A yearly repost: A Thanksgiving story of secret generosity

Thanksgiving is upon us and I have been remiss in posting. So, I decided to drag out this 2010 column from the archives. It’s from a previous incarnation. I figured since most of my posts are negative and how people are dumbasses and asshats, it might be nice to post something positive. It’s a story that I had to write since it was a story that I think about every year since it originally happened, decades ago.

Update: This is all the more relevant since our country just elected a vile, nasty selfish man as our president.


Another year, another Thanksgiving and holiday season begins. Another year of having the burden of deciding whose food and liquor I can consume without lifting a finger to make any meaningful contribution.

It’s that time of the year when those “New Yorkers of the Week” loom large on NY1. Committing selfless acts, being generous and basically putting themselves out, not just at the holidays but all year long. Man, I hate those people. Don’t get me started on the “Student/Athlete of the Week.”

On top of all that, the City just released stats on how the use of food pantries and soup kitchens have spiked in the last year. Every borough has seen an increase since last year with Staten Island leading the way with a 100% increase.

But that’s not what I what I want to talk about. I want to talk about a few years…er… decades, back when I was a teen. I want to talk about Pinhead Bomberger.

My father owned a small grocery store in small town Pennsylvania. Each year around this time, he would personally make certain grocery deliveries. He made me go with him to help. The groceries were full meals for a family, all the fixin’s, turkey included. It was food for people who couldn’t afford it.

It was weird that the old man was making these deliveries personally. It was even weirder that he dragged me along. I asked on more than once occasion what the deal was, but he would always brush it off saying that it was someone who gave him money and a list of people and said to deliver the groceries.

To this day I can vividly recall the faces and emotions of those people, mostly single mothers, when we showed up at their doors with the food. They were sure there was some mistake. My dad assured them it wasn’t a mistake. When they asked who was responsible my dad would just say, “Santa Claus.” (It worked better when we did the Xmas deliveries, but what the hell?)

They were really thankful to get the food they otherwise wouldn’t have had for the holiday. I remember a few mothers, kids hanging on them, who got tears in their eyes.

Years later, while visiting at Christmas, I decided to ask my dad what that was all about. He said that since the guy was dead, there was no harm in spilling the beans.

This is where Pinhead Bomberger comes in. Bomberger was the German teacher at our high school. He was a real miserable prick. Everyone hated him. His unfortunate moniker “Pinhead” was due to his tiny head.

Dad said that one year Pinhead came to him with a list. It was a list of poor people, about a dozen or so. He wanted to buy them holiday dinners. My father was sworn to secrecy. Under no circumstances were these people to know where it came from. Dad didn’t know where he got the list. Then, as was his way, the old man decided to chip in and sweeten the deal. He added to Pinhead’s list and threw in more food.

Pinhead did that on Thanksgiving and Christmas until he died. The list was always different from year to year.

I asked why he made me go with him when he made those deliveries. He said it was a personal thing and he wanted to have me with him. He also wanted me to know how good I had it; to not take for granted my good fortune. Oh, by the way, did I mention dad was a Republican?

So, what do we take away from this? Is it that you never really know people? What made Pinhead do what he did? He knew he was hated. He could have easily made a big deal out of it, but he didn’t. He insisted on secrecy and the old man took that secret to the grave. I was the only one he told and it was only because I asked.

There are people like us who want to be liked, yet we probably haven’t done very much to help those less fortunate. And when we do it, we make sure people know it. It seems to me Pinhead was a real hero… a real human being.

And speaking of real… his real first name was Harry.

March Against Monsanto claims victory for creating world’s largest agribusiness company

March Against Monsanto claims victory for creating world’s largest agribusiness company

Pesticide and pharmaceutical giant Bayer announced that it would be acquiring seed giant Monsanto. Now you would think this would make MAM howling mad. You would think that. Instead, they are cheering it and counting it as a victory.

Obviously, we should take a brief pause to celebrate our efforts. One has to assume Monsanto, one of the most powerful corporations in the world, probably wouldn’t have curled up and allowed themselves to be gobbled up by Bayer if it weren’t for the amazing efforts of millions of people all over the globe.

What part of consolidation don’t these dipshits understand? While still not commanding a monopoly of the market, they will control sales of 29 percent of the world’s seeds and 24 percent of its pesticides. It will create the largest agribusiness in the world. Let me repeat that…. Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto will create the largest agribusiness in the world.  So yeah MAM! Pat yourselves on the back for your victory.

Monsanto held firm on an earlier offer, but Bayer kept upping the ante until Monsanto couldn’t say no. The $66 billion deal (I believe the actual number is $66.6 billion) is all cash. Since Bayer kept upping the ante and wound up paying about $22/share more than Monsanto’s current price, how toxic can they be?

The most surprising aspect of the merger is the fact that Bayer would be willing to take on the global disdain that many hold for Monsanto.

Sure, if it makes them money you idiots. Why would a company pay $66 billion for a company whose annual profits hover around $15 billion? The Wall Street Journal reports

Bayer plans to pay $128 a share for Monsanto in an all-cash transaction, up from its latest offer last week of $127.50 a share, the companies said. The price represents a roughly 5% increase over Bayer’s original offer in May of $122 a share. Including debt, the deal is valued at about $66 billion.

Oh, and check out this idiocy

We have exposed their corruption, we have made them lose millions, we have been the reason a 1/3 of their workforce has been laid off and we are the reason the word “Monsanto” is the equivalent to “toxic poison” for much of the world.

They’ve gone from totally nuts to totally delusional. These fuckers live in their own world. I don’t think they have any concept how the real world works.

The WSJ:

Tensions have escalated further because global crop prices have fallen for three straight years, squeezing profits and forcing the seed and agriculture industries to cut costs and trim their workforces. Monsanto said last year it would lay off 12 percent of its employees, or 2,600 jobs.*

They are also cheering 2,600 people losing their jobs? These people are vile.

Not all antis are as gleeful. Dave Murphy, the executive director of Food Democracy Now! was quoted on the site EcoWatch

Now the most evil company in Europe has absorbed the most evil company in America. Monsanto and Bayer’s new corporate motto should be ‘Killing bees and butterflies for fun and profit.’

And Murphy’s motto should be, “Being an idiot for a living.” 

Murphy’s take is more in line with most anti sentiment. Ronnie Cummins, the anti-vax head knucklehead over at the Organic Consumers Association also weighed in. He said something like, “BIG POISON! BIG POISON! Arrgghhh” as he scratched at his measles.

That said, the deal is not a done deal.  According to the WSJ, they still have a lot of regulatory hurdles to get through in the U.S. and the Europe.

The deal is likely to warrant intense scrutiny from American and German antitrust regulators, who will assess whether the merger would unfairly lead to higher prices for farmers worldwide. The new company would preside over roughly a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticide supplies.

Regulatory crackdowns have busted several high-profile mega-mergers this year, including a $150 billion deal between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan.

Justice Department investigators have in recent years launched probes into “possible anticompetitive practices” in America’s Monsanto-led seed industry, though a formal investigation was closed in 2012 without pursuing charges.

The EU opened an investigation into the merger of Dow and DuPont this year and the merger of Swiss seed maker Syngenta and China National Chemical Corp. is also on their radar. The Monsanto/Bayer merger makes it the 5th agricultural merger this year alone. Others have included John Deere/Precision Planting, and Potash Corp./Agrium. All these mergers are coming at a fast past are alarming regulators, not to mention, farmers.

Now, about that John Deere merger. Precision Planting is owned by Monsanto and the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the merger back in August. Renata Hesse, the head of the antitrust division said, “If this deal were allowed to proceed, Deere would dominate the market for high-speed precision planting systems and be able to raise prices and slow innovation at the expense of American farmers who rely on these systems,

If all these mergers go through, around 75 percent of the global agricultural/pesticide and agricultural services industry could end up in the hands of three companies.  Farmers fear lack of competition would raise prices and that concern is a valid one, especially in a time of flat crop prices cutting into their incomes. The concern is so great that Iowa Republican senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley has slated a hearing for Sept. 20 to question seed-industry executives and experts.

Grassley said the hearing will focus on the transactions currently being reviewed by antitrust regulators, and the current trend in consolidation of the seed and chemical industries.

The seed and chemical industries are critical to agriculture and the nation’s economy, and Iowans are concerned that this sudden consolidation in the industry could cause rising input costs in an already declining agriculture economy.

And here’s a question. What about the name Monsanto? Good question. Glad you asked. Here we have a bit of confusion. Monsanto says the deal is a merger. Bayer says it’s an acquisition. What’s the difference you ask?

Well a merger is where two companies form a new company. An acquisition is when one firm buys out another and the bought company ceases to exist.

Which will it be? Hmmm. Given Monsanto’s negatives in the PR department, I will go out on a limb, with my limited knowledge, and say this will be an acquisition. Monsanto will be folded into Bayer and Monsanto will cease to exist.

* Here’s what I never got about corporation finances. Look at the above quote. Monsanto didn’t say they were losing money. They said their profits were squeezed. What exactly does that mean? They’re still making money, just not as much as they’d like so, so laying off people seems like a real dick move. In the first quarter of this year their net income was $1.06 billion compared to last year when it was $1.42 billion.  Did they really have to lay off 2,000+ people? Yeah, I know shareholders,  blah, blah blah. But still. This just goes to show that as benign as Monsanto is in relation to other corporations, they’re still a corporation and they act like one when it comes to money. I don’t know this is a fact, but I’m assuming that the execs didn’t take a pay cut during this downturn.

The suits may be nice people, but when it comes to profits, their loyalties lie with the company and not the people who work for it. That’s why I never hopped on the Monsanto bandwagon and bought a shirt or hat etc. as a poke in the eye to the anti-gmo crowd.



These images were taken by my friend and officemate Joe from our “balcony.”

Biotech industry files for bankruptcy

Biotech industry files for bankruptcy

Note: This is re-write and update from a 2013 post.


Days after a group of 107 Nobel Laureates published a letter telling Greenpeace to knock it off with their anti-GMO nonsense, the biotechnology industry filed for bankruptcy, citing their misguided buying everybody off, scheme .

At a hastily called press conference, industry representative and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, told assembled reporters

I mean, do you know how many people are in the Nation Academy of Sciences alone? Something like 2,000. So, a few million to a scientific body here and a few million to every independent scientist in the world there, and it begins to add up.” That’s not even including  having to pay those thousands of keyboard jockeys who defend us on internet comment boards. The straw that broke the financial camel’s back were the Nobel laureates. Those bastards didn’t come cheap.”

Anti-gmo activists were left slack-jawed. “We just lost our boogeyman,” one activist lamented. “It’s not fair.”

Asked what was next for the bankrupt industry, Executive VP and CTO, Rob Fraley said it was too early to tell, but excitedly suggested they were thinking of getting into the organic farming business.  “Man, do you know what a cash cow that racket is? I was in Whole Foods the other day and they get like 4 bucks for a freakin’ tomato. Sweet. We’ve gotta get in on that action.”

Hours after the announcement, Organic Consumer’s Association honcho Ronnie Cummins and GM Watch honchette, Claire Robinson had to be talked down off a Maharishi University rooftop after Jeffrey Smith pleaded with them saying, “Cmon guys. We can still make stuff up about beneficial technology.”

In a related story, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she planned to retire from the Court and buy the Bronx.

My dad’s secret mission in the Pacific in WWII

My dad’s secret mission in the Pacific in WWII

barneyatwarIt’s been 13 years since the old man died. He was typical of that generation where he never talked about WWII or any engagement.

But towards the end of his life he would make these cryptic references to the secret mission. Neither my brother nor I could pry any details out of him. One time, while waiting at the deli counter in a supermarket, out of the blue he said, “It was around this time we spent a week playing cat and mouse with a Jap sub.” * I asked him to elaborate and he just shrugged and said, “Nothing. Never mind.” He seemed distracted, lost in thought.

A few years after he died I was talking with my brother and he brought up the secret mission thing. I mentioned the supermarket incident and decided that I had to look into it. Off to the Google I went.

What I found was an article in the Cleveland Plain dealer from 2009 that stunned me. It was called John Wicinski of Garfield Heights was on a secret mission aboard the USS Tucson: A World at War

Wicinski, 87, of Garfield Heights, said he and fellow crewmen aboard the USS Tucson were told only that they were part of a secret mission. The details became obvious that night as the lone cruiser assumed the role of a battleship supposedly leading a naval task force in an attack on Japan.

They were out there with their asses hanging out.

The plan, as detailed in the U.S. Navy Cruiser Sailors Association newsletter last fall, was to have the Tucson break from the task force on its own and head for southern Japan, while the rest of the group actually sailed in the opposite direction to bombard Hokkaido and the Northern Honshu islands, which lay beyond the range of B-29 bombers.

A team of Navy tricksters aboard the Tucson would send out a flurry of radio dispatches that mimicked the communications of an entire task force, with ships talking to other vessels and aircraft. The hoaxers used scripts and even moved to different locations aboard the cruiser to obtain different background noises for their transmissions.

The hope was that the Japanese would monitor the broadcasts, assume an attack was imminent in southern Japan, and reposition their defenses accordingly.

The old man did say that one point they they were at general quarters for a week, which in miitary parlance means an announcement made aboard a naval warship to signal the crew to prepare for battle or imminent damage, but again, no details despite being pressed.

I contacted the U.S. Navy Cruiser Sailors Association to see if I could get a copy of that article since I was the son of someone who was on that boat. They graciously provided the article which you can read here. 

The old man’s boat was a light cruiser which accompanied battleships. He said it was like a floating ammo dump. Somewhere I have a copy of a letter Admiral Halsey sent to the fleet thaking them for “giving Tojo what for.”

That was that generation. He was told not to talk about it and he never did.

*The USS Indianapolis had just delivered the first atomic bomb to Tinian when it was attacked by a Japanese submarine. The cruiser sank in 12 minutes. Some 900 of its 1,196 crewmen survived the sinking, but only 316 were left by the sharks four days later for rescue.


Watkins Glen , my Woodstock

Watkins Glen , my Woodstock

From the archives, 2009

watkinsnewsOkay. So they had Woodstock. Whoop-de-do. That’s all we’re going to hear for the next week. I wasn’t allowed to go. I was only 13 years old. That was the concert for older kids. Then our time came. That time was July 28, 1973, in Watkins Glen.  Summer Jam, the forgotten bastard child of Woodstock.

It was a one day concert and featured only three bands, The Allman Brothers, The Band, and the Grateful  Dead.  Still, it was our time and what a time it was. We had more people than those losers at Woodstock. The Guinness Book of Records puts the total at 600,000. To this day it is the largest gathering of young degenerates in United States history.

It is unclear why Watkins Glen didn’t take its place alongside Woodstock and Altamont in the pantheon. It could be that by the time it happened, the war was winding down and there wasn’t such a sense of urgency like the one that hung over the Woodstock Nation. There was very little chance that we would be drafted unless Nixon decided to ramp up the fighting again, but that was unlikely.  There would be no Fish cheer here.

Maybe it was a transition from one era to another. If Altamont was the death of the Sixties, maybe Watkins Glen was the wake held by its younger siblings. Whatever it was, it was ours.

The morning of the day before the show, four of us strapped a tent to the top of a Corvair, packed that death trap with a cooler of ice, a carton of cigarettes, two hits of mescaline and five cases of beer. We figured we could buy the rest of the drugs we needed when we got there.

After we got about an hour away from the concert site, we ran into a massive traffic jam. We spent most of the day in that jam and it was sweltering. But it was a party atmosphere. You’d move a few feet and then stop for about 15 minutes. During that time, cars emptied out and people socialized with each other, trading drugs, buying drugs and doing drugs and cooling off with cold beer.

Many decided to ditch their cars on the side of the road and hoofed it to the concert site. Not us. We were going to get there and get a camping space.

When we finally made it to the entrance of the concert grounds, it quickly became apparent that the $10 tickets we bought wouldn’t be needed. There was no longer an entrance gate. In fact, there were no fences or gates or any kind.  Actually, there were,  but they had long since been trampled to the ground. As we inched our way onto the grounds we bought ourselves a quarter pound of pot and six hits of acid. That left us with just enough money for gas to get home.

We made it to the camping area and set up our tent.  So many people arrived the night before, the three bands did shortened sets, basically extended sound checks. People were just milling about, sharing what they had and just having a grand old-time. Everyone was wandering from campsite to campsite. Much to the organizers’ credit, they had an ample supply of cases of gallon jugs of water.

The day of the show, we got up, made some breakfast and prepared for our day. We pre-rolled dozens of joints for convenience sake and packed our “provisions” into our backpacks and cooler. I dropped one of the hits of mescaline and just in case, put a few hits of acid in my pocket and off we went to see how close we could get to the stage.

We wound up nowhere near the stage, but near two speaker towers so at least we could hear. The concert was a few hours away, so we had a great time with the people around us. It was a gigantic sea of stoned humanity. Yup, this was our Woodstock. It was hot and the sky was clear. We were having the time of our young lives. One big, burly, shirtless guy who said he was from Oakland kept doing a thumbs up and screaming. “Tunes are a big plus!” I figured he needed a hit of acid which he excitedly accepted. I decided that what the hell, I might as well do one, even though I was tripping on mescaline.

We watched as a skydiver floated erratically down toward the crowd, laden with orange smoke flares. Even in our drug induced haze we could tell something looked wrong. He looked limp and lifeless. We later learned he died from the flares.

The Dead did their three-hour or so set. Even the acid couldn’t make their endless noodling bearable. I had never seen the Dead before and I wasn’t planning on seeking them out any time in the future. Oakland was a huge Deadhead and was grooving big time. He thanked me again for the acid.  After the Dead and a slight delay as they changed the stage, The Band took their turn. In the middle of their set, the sky darkened and opened up. It seemed to be a given in that day and age that at any big outdoor rock show it was going to rain and rain hard.  We were soaked in a minute but it didn’t matter.

We decided to go back to the tent.  So there we were, four soaked and stoned  teenagers, in a tent and trying to figure out what to do. I decided we should eat something. I turned on the gas camping stove. I spaced out until someone said, “Maybe you should light the stove.” As I lit the match I saw God. I’ve never seen such a colorful,  massive flame in such a confined space.

We all sat in stunned silence for a few seconds until we recovered and someone said, “Man, that was pretty cool.” But we removed the stove from the tent anyway to avoid another “pretty cool” moment.

We heard The Band begin to play after the rain, but we decided to remain at the campsite and take a break.

It was dark when the Allman Brothers Band finally took the stage. Nobody wanted to go see them with me. They were too involved in their trips to physically motivate. So, alone I headed out with a bottle of whiskey and a jug of water. It seemed to take forever to get to the concert area. It was tough going since I was still tripping my brains out. The mescaline high had worn off and I was now in the midst of  the acid trip. It was slippery and muddy and I kept falling in the mud.

I finally arrived and was able to get almost near the stage. I was still damp and covered in mud. I started talking to a girl who turned out to be from Pittsburgh. She had a blanket wrapped around her and offered to share. We were both wrapped in the blanket, watching, drinking and smoking. She accepted a hit of acid.  At some point I must have decided I needed a nap because I woke up on the ground wrapped in Pittsburgh’s blanket.  I got up and apologized and she said not to worry. I looked like I needed the rest.

As it turned out I was out for the bulk of the three hour set. The good thing is that all three bands did a long encore together. After that, I bid goodbye to Pittsburgh and meandered back to our tent, which amazingly enough, in my incredibly stoned state, in the dark, I was able to find.  .

I awoke all fuzzy, blurry and out of focus. It was Sunday. We lingered in our post drug haze, smoked a couple hairy dogs, made some breakfast and waited for the bulk of the people to leave. We meandered out to the concert area and looked at the gigantic mess that was left behind. It was hard to believe that hundreds of thousand of people were there just one day before.

The ride home was painful and long. Even young, healthy, teenage brains and bodies have their limits. When I finally arrived home my parents were sitting in the kitchen. They looked at me and laughed. I took a shower and went to bed for a day.

I eventually fell out of touch with my Watkins Glen cohorts when I moved away.  I do know the kid who owned the Corvair joined the Army and was blown up at Fort Dix in the early 80s. He was part of a team that disarmed dud explosives on the practice range. One exploded unexpectedly and he was one of four who were killed. He was the one who was pretty much the straight one in our group of drug degenerates.

Berniebots Behaving Badly

Berniebots Behaving Badly

It was Sanders’ supporters who were tipping point for me when I made the game time decision to vote for Clinton in the New York April primary. As much as many Sanders supporters tried to claim the Bernibro and Berniebot behavior was an invention by the mainstream media, it wasn’t.

Back in February CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sanders about it

“Have you heard about this phenomenon ‘Bernie bros’?” Tapper asked. “People who support you, and sometimes attack in very crude and sexist ways?”

“Yeah, I have heard about it. It’s disgusting. We don’t want that crap,” Sanders spit out. “And we will do everything we can, and I think we have tried. Look, anybody who is supporting me and is doing sexist things is — we don’t want them. I don’t want them. That’s not what this campaign is about.”

Sanders’ Rapid Response Director tweeted


Hector Sigala, Sanders’ digital media director, told Mashable

“We love our supporters, and we know we wouldn’t be here without you all, but it does add a layer of complexity when we have to track what you all do during some moments when we are shaping our messaging,” Sigala posted on the subreddit. “Above all: just know you represent our movement and be respectful with those who disagree with you.”

That last line jumped right out at me.

Back in 1984 I worked for the Gary Hart campaign in New Hampshire and New York. We had quite the wacky crowd in NH; hard-drinking and pot smoking enthusiastic kids. He was the dark horse against Mondale and wasn’t given a chance of winning the primary.  When we would be bused to a campaign event we were always issued the standard warning

Remember, these people are normal and we need you to be on your best behavior. Feel free to drink and eat, but watch yourselves. Your behavior reflects on the candidate.

When we gathered to prepare for canvassing, we were also told be to be respectful, especially to those who did not support our candidate.  Don’t argue and if you get a Republican household, thank them for their time and move on.

We listened. We didn’t go to Mondale rallies and make trouble. We stuck to our work. We managed the impossible. Our candidate upset Mondale by about 12 points.  As much we liked Hart we had no delusions. The philandering rumors were making the rounds and we knew about them. But he was a smart. forward thinking politician . For those who don’t remember, or are too young to know, this is how a 2014 New York Times profile described him

Hart was invariably described as a brilliant and serious man, perhaps the most visionary political mind of his generation, an old-school statesman of the kind Washington had lost its capacity to produce. He warned of the rise of stateless terrorism and spoke of the need to convert the industrial economy into an information-and-technology-based one, at a time when few politicians in either party had given much thought to anything beyond communism and steel.

Compared to Hart, Sanders is nothing more than an angry, populist crank whose platform I happen to agree with. But I can’t see him as President.

Back to the present. I just came across this


They just can’t seem to help themselves. They have no sense of self-restraint. They have no clue how their behavior reflects on their candidate.

As a footnote: On primary night 1984 in NYC we were watching the returns at some hotel I can’t remember, I was asked by a Senator Bill Bradley staffer who I worked with during the NY primary if I wanted to come work for the Senator.  I demurred since I had a big problem with him voting for Contra aid. I always wondered how my life would have changed had I said yes?


Progessive purity, Sanders and Clinton

Progessive purity, Sanders and Clinton

Sanders supporters and the progressive purity crowd have questioned Clinton’s progressive bona fides. Bernie Sanders says there is no such thing as a “moderate progressive.” What progressive era? The progressives of today aren’t the same ones from the early 1900s.

Well, if she doesn’t believe in eugenics and raising the minimum wage to keep immigrants and “defectives” to prevent them competing with the white man in the job market, then maybe she isn’t. The minimum wage was part of the “racial hygiene agenda.”

If you wanna be a historic progressive, that’s what you gotta believe.  Oh, things have changed? Get outta town!

I’ve read articles that compare Sanders to Teddy Roosevelt. Then why isn’t he pro-eugenics? How about one his letters from 1913?

I agree with you if you mean, as I suppose you do, that society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind. It is really extraordinary that our people refuse to apply to human beings such elementary knowledge as every successful farmer is obliged to apply to his own stock breeding. Any group of farmers who permitted their best stock not to breed, and let all the increase come from the worst stock, would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum. Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stocks, physically and morally, while it encourages or connives at the cold selfishness or the twisted sentimentality as a result of which the men and women ought to marry, and if married have large families, remain celebates or have no children or only one or two. Some day we will realize that the prime duty the inescapable duty of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world; and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.


Farmer Yassir, National Lampoon

Farmer Yassir, National Lampoon

NL_LemmingsBear with me here. I loved the National Lampoon’s early 1970s Lemmings record. It was a take off on Woodstock.

My favorite part was “Farmer Yassir” and his line, “Long hair, short hair. What the hell’s the difference once the head’s blowed off.” The character was played by Gary Goodrow.

Fast forward to the early 2000s. I go into the Kettle of Fish in the West Village to see my pal Warren who was behind the stick. I walk to the far end of the bar. It was pretty crowded and noisy and all of a sudden, through the din I hear this voice. I say to Warren, “That’s Farmer Yassir!”

Warren looks at me incredulously and says, “Yeah. How much pot did you smoke in college? Yeah that’s Gary. You have to invite him down and make him say that line.” I just couldn’t. It was too weird. So he goes down and talks to him the next thing I know, Gary comes down and Warren introduces us. I shake his hand and say how it is a pleasure to meet him.

Warren says, “Go ahead, ask him to say it and buy him a beer.” And I said, “Could you please say that Farmer Yassir line?” He smiled and said it in that voice. “Long hair, short hair, what the hell’s the difference once the head’s blowed off.”

I have to say, it was a weird, but one of the greatest moments in my life. He wasn’t some large celebrity. He was someone who made an impact in my young years and was not a household name, but I knew who he was.

He passed away in 2014.

But I thought of him when Prince died. He gave many people much joy over decades and he was a hotshot. But Gary Goodrow loomed larger for me. It wasn’t a lifetime, it was one moment. One moment that affected me. Sure it was a silly moment, but it make me think those silly moments are the ones that stay with us.


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