Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nowhere, USA

We've probably all at least once in our lives encountered someone who told you they came from a small town. "You probably never heard of it," they'll tell us. Or, you yourself came from a small town. No matter. Towns are small, towns are big, etc.

Many famous people came from small towns. And large ones. Ronald Reagan came from Tampico, Illinois. My mother came from Tampico, Illinois. The 2010 census pegs Tampico's population at 790. I have distant cousins in Tampico. Tampico is still on the map.

Small towns tend to stay small. Willie Nelson will always tell you that the population of his birthplace, Abbott, Texas maintains a constant population count (under 500) due to unmarried fathers leaving town as soon as the newborn's birth can be attributed to them.

Can anyone be from nowhere? No. To paraphrase the immortal Myron Cohen, everyone is from someplace. It's just that someplace doesn't always stay somewhere.

Take the just departed John-Roger, a new age spiritual leader who has just passed away in Santa Monica, California at the age of 80. Say anything you will about John-Roger, but you can say he was from Rains, Utah, a town that no longer exists.

No town is certainly a small town. Take the famous scene in the movie 'M*A*S*H' where Donald Sutherland "reviews" the troops and asks a soldier where is he from. A reply is made, and Sutherland, as he wacky surgeon Hawkeye Pierce, gleefully tells the soldier he never heard of it. Well at least it probably still exists.

But what about Rains, Utah? This means there is no one in Rains who can tell you they remember Mr. John-Roger, or Roger Delano Hinkins, the name he was born under. There is no funeral parlor in Rains to possibly pay your respects to Mr. John-Roger.

Google Earth will not come down on some rooftop of Rains, Utah. This of course doesn't automatically mean that the spot that Mr. John-Roger came from is not still there. The land it just probably incorporated into the town limits of someplace else. Rains apparently lost its ability to stay a spot on the map, or continue to be assigned its own zip code. Rains is listed as a Ghost Town.

If only all those guys who left Abbott, Texas abandoning their women and their newborns, had made it to Rains. It would probably still be around.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Departed

@obitsman is sharply at it. Via a Twitter feed we read that someone named Ralph Ehrenpreis has passed away, despite his vow at 10 years of age--after experiencing the death of his father--that death was something he was going to try and avoid. @obitsman points out he failed.

Well, he did avoid death for 72 years. We've written before that in a book of obituaries Pete Hamill wrote that "life is the leading cause of death." This always reminds me of what I've said: "life is surviving being born."

Enough sayings. @obitsman has a keen eye and obviously scours the obituaries. And not just the newsworthy obits, but the paid obits, which by now must be proving to be a solid chunk of income for the New York Times.

For those who don't know, @obitsman is Steve Miller, lately of the New York Sun, the Wall Street Journal and now Bloomberg News. His beat is writing obituaries, so it is no surprise he reviews the craft.

The paid notices are just that. Notices written by the survivors (edited by the paper) and arrayed over what now sometimes almost covers an entire  page. There can be photos of the deceased as well. They read a bit like a news obituary, but sometimes carry too many stray details. The paper can't mind. The longer the notice, the more words and lines, the more dollars. Eventually, it always comes down to money.

If anyone has a bit of a historical perspective on the obituary page they will realize it is getting more space in the paper. This is due to the realization that people like to read about other people who have passed away and judge their achievements. The news obituaries are written by a rotating staff on the paper.

Occasionally, I give the paid notices a glance. They aren't cheap, and I marvel at what the bill must be like for some of the column inches I see.  I distinctly remember one I think I commented on where we learned that the departed's last meal was seasoned with cinnamon.

@obitsman has spotted one from yesterday's paper that warranted a Tweet. Mr. Ehrenheis was surely playful when he would write  draft of his own obituary and hope no one would have to use it for many years.

True to the Internet age, the notice contains a link to view the service on October 22. The link takes you to home page of Hillside Memorial Park Mortuary, with a Los Angeles address. A user id and password is provided in the paid death notice. Attempts to use it failed, but I think there's a problem with how the password appeared in the paper. It looks like it came out in hexadecimal. No problem, Hillside Memorial has an option to fill out a Web page form and ask for the user id and password. We'll see what happens.

My hope is someone is not going to accuse me of invading their privacy. They've only taken out a notice in a highly circulated national newspaper, and attempted to provide user id and password to unlock the apparent Webcast of the services. I hope we get to unlock the door, and I hope fast forward works.

Mr. Ralph Ehrenpreis did survive being born for 72 years, and by the paid notice it would seem he did well with the time he had before the inevitable happened. He was a big jazz fan.

As the last few lines of the notice tell us, Ralph wanted to have the last laugh, "so in lieu of flowers or donations please send gifts. Cash also accepted."

No flowers or donations, send gifts or cash. Cash. Perhaps Ralph, an immigration attorney wanted to complicate some lives further by having them try to figure out if they need to pay taxes on these items.

Ralph, I never knew you, but you will be missed.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Survival Test

I know.
Don't forget the can opener.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Pillar of Our Community

We're probably pretty familiar with what an archaeologist does. They dig for ruins. In fact, someone has just written about archaeologists, but this is not about them, or the book. It is about the urban archaeologist who documents what is in plain (or nearly plain) sight. The fellow who goes around NYC and photographs cornerstones.

Granted, this fellow's finds are not anywhere nearly as old as what someone in Crete might be exposing. By their own account, the oldest cornerstone they've photographed in NYC is from 1872, or so. 1872 is just a few seconds ago to what the sun drenched, parched digger might be working on in that pile of rock on the other side of the world over there. But, it is no less interesting.

Mr. William D. McCracken, a real estate lawyer from Oklahoma, has documented nearly 1,100 cornerstones, and is 90% sure he's gotten to 90% of them in Manhattan. The WSJ  highlighted Mr. McCracken's  pursuit in an 'A-Hed' piece in yesterday's paper. Leave it to a guy from Oklahoma, who arrived in New York City in 1997 to document what someone's dog has likely been relieving themselves on. Often for decades. (There is also a very entertaining video prepared by the WSJ.

He started his photographing as a bit of a lark, but it has now branched off into an nearly scholarly pursuit of every cornerstone, simply by systematically walking off every block in Manhattan and photographing cornerstones. So, just like someone brushes debris away from a piece, Mr. McCracken eliminates the untraveled block and puts it in the traveled pile.

A test of his 90%/90% claim was put to him when I wrote to him and asked him about the sinking cornerstone of the old Stuyvesant High School, at 345 East 15th Street from 1904. Sure enough, he produced a picture, and said it was one of the few cornerstones that's actually sinking.

I took one look at the photo and shook my head. It looks like a paste job went over it. It's been airbrushed like the Kardashians at the checkout line. Mr. McCracken credits his photo from 2008, which makes it hard to understand how they could have left such a lousy job on a building declared a landmark in 1997. The original look is above, as taken from the 1966 yearbook.

The man has spent some serious time with his pursuit. When I mentioned that I use the cornerstone of a building that was under construction across the street from where I first delivered flowers on Third Avenue back in the early 60s as a point of reference for time, Mr. McCracken was back with what he asked might be the cornerstone I was referring to.

Yes, it probably was, except that I don't remember it as a stainless steel marker that looks like something on the side of a refrigerator, but rather something that was engraved in white stone on what would be the opposite wall of the entranceway. The year was probably right, but that's of the cornerstone. What I remember was the hole in the ground where they were digging the foundation. And that was probably a little before 1963, so everything did fit.

Cornerstones apparently are not frequently part of a new building as they might once have been. Leave it to a Columbia University vice president, Philip Pitruzzello, who explained why so many of their new buildings do not have cornerstones: "We're not militantly opposed to cornerstones. Our design plan calls for a high degree of transparency and glass...coming down to the street. A cornerstone isn' that vocabulary." Honest, that's the quote.

This is not to imply in any sense that Mr. McCracken is taking pictures of fakes. He is just sometimes arriving on the scene after the airbrush has passed over the marker.

Every so often there might be a tale of opening the cornerstone of a building that was coming down. I remember reading they'd find newspapers from the era, or some Irish whiskey that someone was willing to part with. This is where the tales of bodies would come in. That so-and-so is a pillar of the community, having been poured into a limestone vault.

That I know of, no bodies were ever found in an opened cornerstone. Judge Crater is still missing, as is Jimmy Hoffa. But you can bet, if they or anyone else were found decomposed next to a opened or unopened bottle of Jameson's, then construction on the new building would be delayed for at least a decade.

A developer's nightmare. They might need a lawyer from Oklahoma.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Hunt for Reds in October

It's been in the news a bit. The Swedish Navy has detected underwater signals coming from some source in the waters near Stockholm. Nothing is certain, but of course explanations abound. The most dramatic of these is that a Soviet submarine is stuck somewhere off the coast of Sweden and sending distress signals.

This would be a bit of diplomatic embarrassment, since that would mean a Soviet sub has churned into Swedish waters. There have already been airspace violations from some Russian military bombers over Sweden.

Why Russia would want to be flexing their muscles with regard to Sweden is uncertain. It was Norway that turned down the chance to do an upcoming Winter Olympics. It is possible the Russians are trying to strong-arm a Scandinavian country to get into as much hock as Russia did for the just held Sochi Olympics. Norway removed themselves from consideration due to cost. There aren't many countries left that show any interest. President Putin doesn't want to miss an opportunity to get to know more stoked snowboarders. Or female skiers.

The Russians of course deny there is a lost Soviet submarine.

Come on now, Yuri, we've all seen the movie.

Monday, October 20, 2014


If you hear FNX pronounced you might think it is spelled out FNX, initials for something. If it is pronounced at the racetrack it might appear completely different in print, and very different in meaning. Thus, I give you horses' names with sometimes subliminal, and not so subliminal messages.

Take the names of some of the horses that ran at Belmont this past Saturday, on what is called New York Showcase Day; a card of racing devoted to New York Breds, with eight stakes races.

I believe I once mentioned in a prior posting the cleverness that can go into giving a horse their name. It is often some amalgamation of their breeding, takes on the sire's and dam's names. Sometimes the name is not at all obvious to the breeding, but more connected to the owner's name or tastes. And then sometimes, the name does even look like a name, but rather a arrangement of letters that can span 18 spaces, with blanks, that looks like it is a clue in a Jumble word puzzle that is asking for rearranging.

On Saturday, we had some easily understood names, and some not so easily understood. There was 'Hard to Stay Notgo,' a name that apparently can only make sense to its owners, Chester and Mary Broman, familiar names in racing ownership themselves.

'Myfourchix.' Easy enough to understand where that one might be coming from. 'Temper Mint Patty,' you naughty little girl, you. 'Notacatbutallama,' owned by Mike Repole, another familiar racetrack name.

But 'Notacatbutallama?' Since spaces count toward the 18 character maximum, the words are often smashed together, like TimeWarner. Add the implied spaces, and you get the message: Not a cat but a llama. No, it is a horse, but it is your horse Mike, so you can name it what you like, within some guidelines.

'Carameaway.' Okay, translation appears to be: carry me away. Someone's in love. Or dead. Or, they've got Jay and the Americans stuck in their head forever.

'Eye Luv Lulu.' I love Lulu. Nice. Far better than getting a tattoo of her name on your neck in case the day comes when love disappears and Jane walks in.

'Beautyinthepulpit.' Easy. Beauty in the pulpit: sired by Pulpit, to the mare Stolen Beauty.

And then we have 'Effinex.' An ingredient in a drug? A cleaning solvent? Sound it out, don't look at the spelling, and perhaps you'll glean the message: 'effing ex,' as in a scrubbed cursing reference to a former spouse.

And that's what it means. Apparently the owner and breeder, Dr. Russell S. Cohen of Tri-Bone Stable, is constantly sending out a four-legged message about his former wife. Dr. Cohen is a veterinarian, and the stable belongs to his mother, Bernice Cohen.

The name might have slipped past the Jockey Club naming committee because no one realized the message that was being sent to the former Mrs. Cohen. The Jockey Club tries to keep names free of unwanted innuendo or outright vulgarities.

And Effinex is a good horse. He pulled off an upset on Saturday by winning the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap at a mile and an eighth. The horse came home with a neck advantage over the second place horse So Lonesome, with Angel Arroyo in the saddle for the stable and a leading trainer Jimmie Jerkens at 17-1. The three-year-old colt's record went to 3-1-2 for 10 starts, with at least $180,000 added to his prior earnings of $148,350. Not playing the horse caused some language similar to his name.

The race track has always been theater, with the chance to actively participate in the play. Nearing my 50th years of going to Belmont one can relate to many changes. No one goes there anymore, and not because as Yogi might have implied, because it's too crowded and too popular. Live attendance at a track is a spotty thing. Under 6,000 souls roamed the place on Saturday. People just don't go to the track, with simulcasting sites available, and home betting via computer.

So, when you have a group of women who start something called Lady Sheila Stable you take notice of people with an unexpected fresh interest in the game, and who are willing to put up major dinero to enjoy it.

Started in 2014 with a $100,000 buy in per membership unit, Lady Sheila Stable as conceived by the woman above, Sheila Rosenblum, is for women to get involved in the game. And several have joined her.

Announcing the creation of the stable Ms. Rosenblum issued a release, "racing is a truly thrilling sport that has provided me with a great deal of personal enjoyment. I strongly believe that increasing interest in the sport among women is crucial to the long-term vitality of the industry. This new syndicate will provide women with the opportunity to gain exposure and experience in an often male-dominated game. I look forward to welcoming other like-minded women to join me as we create this exciting racing opportunity."

"Racing needs more owners who are as determined and resilient as Sheila," trainer Linda Rice added in a statement. "We have developed an amazing partnership together that will serve as the foundation for the new syndicate. I anticipate the long-term success of this new endeavor and the horses that will race for these silks."

The stable's horses are trained by perhaps the top female trainer in the nation, Linda Rice. In their barn is also a top-rated sprinting four-year-old filly named La Verdad, whose names derives from the sire and grandsire, Yes It's True and It Is True. La Verdad is not too far away from winning a career earnings mark of $1,000,000 and now boasts a 10-2-0 record for 15 starts, having won Saturday's  $150,000 Iroquois Stakes. I wasn't cursing when La Verdad won.

Now the women who compose the partnership of Lady Sheila have been revealed to be, so far, five divorced women from the Five Towns Area of Nassau County. That the stable's owners are ex's contrasts with Effinex's somewhat crass name.

Now, whether Dr. Cohen's ex is part of Lady Sheila Stable is not known. It could only improve the story. Nevertheless, Ms. Rosenblum started the stable with significant money and has in a short time achieved significant success.

The ongoing goal of the stable is to add horses through private purchases, auctions, and breeding. The desirable sire Lawyer Ron's offspring are not ruled out.

Ms. Rosenblum is seen above in the box area of Saratoga this year encouraging La Verdad in The Honorable Miss Stakes in July. She didn't win that day, But when La Verdad did win this Saturday at Belmont five very excited and very well-dressed women descended to the winner's circle to have their picture taken with the horse, lead in by Ms. Rosenblum. They formed a near chorus line with Linda Rice and a few men off to the side. All that was missing were leg kicks.

All that Prada, Gucci and Feron in the winner's circle looked a lot better than the jeans and T-shirts that often get their picture taken.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Detention, Not Detente

Angela Merkel is not only the Chancellor of Germany, she is also the headmistress for the world. So, when she got the chance to confront the Russian President Vladimir Putin at a two-day summit meeting of Asian and European leaders, she quickly struck out.

These days, President Putin is the international version of Peck's Bad boy, or Dennis the Menace. He's stirred the waters with Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, and the annexation of the Crimean region.

He's also spent so much money on the last winter Olympics that no other country seems to want to host the next one. Will Ted Turner come off the ranch and give us more snowboarding? Stay tuned.

Ms. Merkel is seen here at the summit meeting scolding Vladimir about not putting his toys away. In this case, his toys happen to be heat-seeking missiles that bring down Malaysian airliners. Some kids just get a Hess truck.

Aides present at the meeting reported that there were terse exchanges between the two leaders. Exact words were not quoted, but we already know the teacher always wins, but also, that little Russian boys don't like getting yelled at.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Quick, what is an ortolan? If you said it is a French bird that is a highly sought after delicacy that when cooked, requires its diner to cover their head and eat it as if they were being photographed by a rabid pack of New York photographers that somehow gained access to a character's apartment in the Bronx that was being played by Al Pacino, then, by God, you will have no need to read the rest of this.

I like to take in the Wednesday NYT Dining section. Not as much to read, because there is no chance in hell I'm ever going to be motivated to try a Vietnamese recipe, or can reasonably expect that my wife will. No, it's printed in color, and the captions to the pictures are sometimes all I need to read to see if there is something to really read about.

So, when attracted to a picture on today's page five of a group of five diners in Landes, France bent over their plates with linen napkins over their heads, eating what the caption told us were "little ortolans," I naturally had to find out more.

The story was continued from page one. When I was on page one, I had no interest in the picture of two French chefs, looking very French and very chef, standing in a kitchen over a mound of something with small bird cages off to the side. Yeah, so?

But fast forward to perp-walk diners sitting at a table in a room that could easily be an apartment in the Bronx, with a squalid television in the corner, ratty looking curtains, a sideboard of tchotchkes, a solid green tablecloth with a bottle of wine in the center, and you read every word. Looking closely, you realize there is another place setting for a sixth diner. After reading the story you realize they could easily be the lookout shouldering an automatic weapon taking up a position by the door.

Read on McDuff, and you'll know that the eating the ortolan is illegal in France, but hardly frowned on. It ain't cheap, either. A bird that is claimed can be eaten in one mouthful is $189, or 150 euros. One bird. It is not an endangered species.

The French and their food. The story informs us that former French President Francois Mitterand's last meal, before his death in 1996, consisted of two ortolans, three dozen oysters, foie gras and capon. No autopsy was required.

Only the French would record into lore what a former president ate before they shuffled off. That would be like us describing a last meal president Bill Clinton might consume as he popped the replacement arteries around his heart with "...two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."

The words don't stop there, either. One of the chefs is trying to get a national one day clemency established for eating the bird. Mr. Guerard, tells us "to eat the flesh, the fat, and its little bones hot, all together, is like being taken to another dimension." Feathered gastronomic LSD.

There is even a revelation that there was a late-night clandestine meeting of French chefs in a New York City restaurant where ortolans were consumed. It is not known if the chefs represented the five New York Mafia families, but it does confirm the image that clandestine things are done in New York restaurants late at night.

One wonders, if there are tailgaters before soccer matches in France that might really be eating ortolans rather than chicken wings.

Alert the authorities.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Women look good in shoes. The right shoe can certainly add appeal, lots of appeal actually, to the right outfit. So, when there was a story that the police found 200 pairs of shoes in the apartment of Ms. Tamara Williams, it just, on the surface, seemed to be no surprise. I once heard a story that one of Willie Mays's wives had 200 pairs of shoes. Carrie Bradshaw from 'Sex and the City,' moaned to herself that she had more money sunk in shoes than in her IRA account.

The difference in Ms. Williams's possession of the shoes was that she did it using other people's  credit card identities to acquire them. And that she did it from one store: the flagship Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC.

So, given the easy to relate story of credit card/identity theft, Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. presided over a news conference from the lobby of the Hogan Place office where he stood behind a table of very high fashion woman's footwear and handbags, rather than stacks of drugs, AK-47s, and semi-automatic, high caliber handguns. The only similarity to this display and the metaphorical one is that while stiletto knives might have been used in the drug trade, stiletto heels were used in this one.

Ms. Williams and her cohorts are not the first time someone from Saks was hauled into the judicial system. A few years ago there was a case of jewelry department employee who apparently was making off with the goods on a grand scale, over time. She got convicted, but a sales associate at Saks told me the woman wound up taking a big fall for others. Supervisors, and executives had asked her to do things that basically she shouldn't have, but certainly didn't own up to once she was caught.

The story in yesterday's paper describes many of the designer name shoes and handbags that were involved. I almost felt sorry for the designer names I didn't read. Not a single mention of Manolo Blahniks. Wouldn't it have great to get some free advertising and product placement, even if it stood before the Manhattan District Attorney and was being held in an evidence locker? There is no bad publicity.

In all, Ms. Williams is alleged to have accomplished this with help from four Saks employees. The total scheme is alleged to have involved $400,000 in the acquisition of designer handbags and shoes. A 66-count indictment was returned that charges grand larceny, identity theft and scheme to defraud.

It might seem impossible to steal $400,000 in shoe and handbags from one store. But, have you been to Saks lately? The story notes, that quite truly, the Saks ladies shoe department does have it's own zip code. This is true. 10022-SHOE.

To show you how classy Saks remains, consider that the corporation is now owned by the Canadian Hudson Bay company, and you can't find a pair of snowshoes anywhere at Saks.

Saks accomplished this zip+4 designation several years ago when they devoted I think their entire fourth floor to ladies footwear. There is even a dedicated elevator to whisk you from the main floor just to the shoe floor. It is plainly marked that it goes only to the shoe floor, but you can get in by mistake, as I did once, thinking I might actually get in an open elevator and get to where I might be able to buy a shirt.

I realized too late that I was being deposited in ladies heaven, and had to make my way back to the main floor and switch elevators. That elevator is like the Grand Central-Times Square subway shuttle. Two stops only.

I don't know how Saks got the SHOE zip+four designation. It is clever. I didn't think you could write to a shoe, but then again, I guess you can write to the shoe department, and someone will get it.

Usually, you get those phone numbers that spell something, like 1-800-FLOWERS; 1-800-VERIZON; 1-800-MATTRES (Leave off the trailing S for savings.)

The most famous of these numbers to me was 1-800-MD-TUSCH. This was a famous health care fraud care years ago that was perpetuated by a physician that advertised heavily in the city's rapid transit system. At one point, and this is many years ago, this individual's monthly advertising bill to the MTA was said to be $40.000.

The physician's promise was that all forms of insurance were accepted, and that he specialized in discomforts of the rectum, typically hemorrhoids, lesions, whatever. Noble, but not when fraudulent billings ensued, and they did.

The physician was basically shut down in New York and there were no longer any more subway or bus ads.

I always quipped that he initially applied for a 1-800-ASS-HOLE mnemonic number, but was turned down.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A.I.G. Casting Call

Sometimes I'm not paying attention to which section of the newspaper I've picked up. I buy the WSJ and the NYT every day but Sunday (no WSJ published on Sunday, anyway) and open the paper, separate the sections and plop them on the couch or table. I don't shuffle them, but I pick up any one section on whim. Sometimes I'm not always aware what section I've started to read.

Not paying attention was the case the other day when I picked up a NYT section and started to read: A.I.G. Trial Witnesses Will Be Central Cast From 2008 Crisis. It was a Tuesday paper.

Jesus, they're going to make a movie about this? Who does Tom Hanks get to play? I bet George Clooney gets a piece of this.

Well, of course that wasn't what the story was about. I was reading the NYT Business section, specifically the Deal B%k segment.

That's 'Deal Book,' but written as I typed it above. The Times is allowing it's editors and writers to embrace the social media age and use all kinds of symbols to communicate. This is no doubt a policy meant to retain staff. If any of our stuff is found 2,000 years from now someone is going to think we went back to Egyptian hieroglyphics. No matter.

A teaser except said: 'New scrutiny for a bailout at the peak of the financial disaster."

Shown were two pictures. One was of Scott Alvarez, the Federal Reserve General Counsel, and the other was of Maurice R. Greenberg, the former A.I.G. executive. Mr. Greenberg's name is often affectionately sometimes written as Maurice (Hank) Greenberg.

This is an obvious clue to Mr. Greenberg's age, because he's just about the only one prowling the corridors of power these days who probably saw Hank Greenberg bat for the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium against the Yankees, or saw Hank in Detroit, or saw him in Chicago against the White Sox. Mr. Greenberg, the ballplayer has long passed on (1986). Mr. Greenberg, the former A.I.G. executive is still alive at 89, a living testament that you can live a very long life before asking if you can take it with you. The only business mogul on earth that I'm aware that is another octogenarian is Mr. Rupert Murdoch, who is six years junior to 'Hank'.

Behind Mr. Greenberg, slightly out of focus, is Daivd Boies, the attorney for Mr. Greenberg. Since the trial is in a Washington D.C. Federal Court of Claims you've got to marvel at how much money must be at stake if 'Hank' is bringing Boies and the team in to Washington to stay at Washington D.C. hotels and dine on either deli sandwiches and gourmet hamburgers, or explore Georgetown, or Tidal Basin restaurants, not to mention a possible foray to a strip club or two tucked away in a secret Washington quadrant. Or, do all of that, because they're going to be here a while. Hank's obviously got money.

David Bois of course can't come cheap. He represented the United States its anti-trust suit again Microsoft. He tried to win the 2000 presidential election for Al Gore before the United States Supreme Court.

Since the paper I was reading was from Tuesday September 30, it was reporting on the opening proceedings of the trial from Monday.

The trial is basically about Mr. Greenberg's argument that the bailout A.I.G. received in 2008 from the government in fact shortchanged the A.I.G. shareholders. They didn't get their value. He is seeking a $40 billion dollar settlement. (At this point, it's always billions.)

The Justice Department lawyer, Kenneth M. Dintzer, outlined that the company got a $182 billion lifeline, which allowed the company to reap a $22 billion profit. "It's like they've said thanks for the lifeboats, but they're just not comfortable enough."

This is great. This trial has got to be on television, no? No.

Granted, sex and money are two great preoccupations, but this trial about 2008 money is water under the bridge to some people. As good as Mr. Dinzter's language is, it can't compare to the interest the nation had in the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas judiciary committee hearings about Mr. Thomas's nomination to be a Supreme Court Justice, when a United States Senator from Utah, Mr. Orrin Hatch, seemed to keep repeating "Long Dong Silver."

Now that was worth watching. Here we have what the business guys and writers are trying to convince us is another trial of-the-century. After all, as the WSJ photo shows us, standing left to right, with the first two in the lotus-leaf posture with their hands, are former secretary of the treasury Henry Paulson, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Ben S. Bernanke, and  former New York Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner (later secretary of the treasury). The financial Dream Team of witnesses. You know at some point someone is going to have to try and explain Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs).

This is not the three Wise Men who are going to tell us why they brought the gifts they did to that family stuck in a Bethlehem stable. Okay, Ben there has a beard, but the other two? Not charismatic looking enough to give up Ellen.

But, everyone has to make a living, and everyone sometimes needs to talk and to write, even this posting. Today, the NYT in one of its columns, Andrew Ross Sorkin comments that the trial is trying to spin "a ludicrous tale in open court in Washington that the bailout of the insurer [A.I.G.] was unfair to its investors."

Mr. Sorkin adds comments from a NYT Op-Ed writer, Noam Scheiber, who he admits he has often read with admiration, "as asinine as the Starr suit [parent company of A.I.G.] may be in legal terms, it may end up serving a constructive purpose." Why is this? "Ever since the details of the A.I.G. rescue entered in to the popular consciousness, everyone from the members of Congress to financial commentators to Occupy Wall Street protesters and Tea Party activists have fulminated against the 'backdoor bailout' of Goldman et al. By litigating the issue the Starr trial may finally heal this festering wound."

Thank goodness it's a non-jury case and it's not on TV.

"Constructive purposes" and CDOs can never beat Long Dong Silver.