MODERN WISDOM: AMERICA’S ONLY HUMOR MAGAZINE
Copyright 2017 Francis DiMenno
1.Q: You’re trapped in a room with a tiger, a rattlesnake and a lawyer. You have a gun with two bullets. What should you do?
A: Shoot the lawyer twice.
2. “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors back from the dead.”
3. SIGNS YOU’VE MOVED TO A SHITTY TOWN
Boarded up tenements in the center of town, within spitting distance
of the library.
Preponderance of Dollar Stores, buffet houses, strip-mall churches,
and discount clothing stores… each of which occasionally gets
robbed. Total lack of turn lanes and appropriately placed stop lights,
and basic obedience of traffic laws. Young men loitering around the
streets during typical work hours. Walmart is the best
department/grocery store in town. Your coworker is planning to pull
their kids out of public schools because their 9 year old daughter is
getting sexually harassed in class, and that is in the “good” school
A lot of the local businesses are named “Super___________”.
Signs saying: “Double Wide Sale” or “Cash While You Wait!”
More than one dollar store on the same block & a place that just sells
beepers & phone cards.
Pawn shops everywhere.
Signs designating “Drug and Gun Free Zone”.
You see groups of heavy-set, stroller-pushing moms wearing big Tweety
No microbrews in the local liquor store
Shaw’s is the best grocery store
You see lots of 50-something year old guys riding around on bicycles.
The disability-boozer-white -guy-riding-bikes-because-of-their-5th-DUI
Used car lot with more American flags than cars.
Abandoned Auto Tune-up places on streets lined with broken glass and
soiled diapers, that were abandoned for years and have recently been
taken over by douchebags looking for a place to squat, with a sign
hanging over the door saying “Bikes Not Bombs”.
The leather Patriots jacket (or jean jacket w/fleeced lining),
stonewashed jeans & mustache look. (Throw on one of those green Red
Sox caps for good measure. A lot of these guys are easily in their
1975 finally died out about 15 years ago. Now your town (such as
Attleboro) is firmly part of the “Juggalo Belt” which runs roughly
north to Holbrook through parts of the Blackstone Valley and into
Rhode Island (And extends as far east as Fall River, New Bedford, and
Taunton. What is it with shitty ex-industrial towns and
Hair & nail parlors with Nagel-esque drawings of glamorous proto-women
on the windows.
UPS Store-ish places with poorly drawn pictures of the world on the
awnings that specialize in mailing packages to & from Honduras and the
LOTS of pre-paid calling card signs in store windows.
(Brazilian/Dominican flags and colors permeate the entire storefront.
As well as signs proclaiming “Hablamos Espanol” in the window.)
When the parents rally in support of the public school that just lost
You thought you moved in next to conservation land, only to find out
it was actually an overgrown Superfund site.
Mom & pop video stores stocked with all the latest Cambodian titles.
Auto parts stores that only stock custom hubcaps, bolt-on spoilers,
and trinkets to hang off of your rear view mirror.
Town has a store called “Butts & Bets.”
Charlemagne reports: Yeah, I remember in Quincy there was a place like
that. Actually, there are a few of them. They are convenience stores
in name only. In reality, they have a guy behind the counter who
essentially chats all day with the four or five gamblers who sit there
glued to the Keno screen. The makeup of the group is the old WWII vet,
a couple of 50 to early 60 something disability boozer types and maybe
an old Chinese guy as well. The one I am thinking of is in Wollaston
right on Beale Street near the Greek Church. Also, there is another
place in Wollaston called Dot’s Smoke Shop. They are more of a
traditional cigar shop but there is a hell of a lot of Keno going on.
I think Keno and guys buying Natural Light sort represents a
threshold of a type of town.”
Mhaverty adds: “The best is the Tedeschi’s on Washington St. next to
Tom Obrien Hyundai. They have a fucking keno screen in the window so
the junkies can smoke outside and watch their games. The best is in
the winter people will sit in their cars and watch the games.”]
Here we goSouthie adds: “Actually I see your Tedeschi’s and raise you
a Joe’s Market – on Centre Street. The absolute stereotypical place.
Run by a family cheap gold wearing trinket wearing Indians (dots not
feathers) – the place has evolved over the 5 past years from a place
that was was clean and routinely getting busted selling booze to
minors – to a complete shithole that now caters to sober, chain
smoking, Lottery degenerates. Ravi and family were nice enough to
rescue 8-10 busted up mismatched kitchen chairs from the locals trash
and place them randomly. It really has to be seen to be believed. 6
cash registers – 4 constantly going strictly for lottery.
The shabby Christmas decorations on the light poles downtown are still
up in March.
- OLD MONEY, NEW MONEY, NO MONEY: A CHARMING GAME
THE FOUR SEASONS
WALL STREET JOURNAL
AUJOURD’HUI AT THE FOUR SEASONS
COUSIN JOEY’S HOUSE
5. THE GREAT CONDIMENT DEBATE: A POLITICAL SYMPOSIUM
Condiments are a way of life.
Part of the American way of life.
They should be free.
Free for all.
And if I’m elected President, they will be.
Ketchup. A fine vegetable. But not with hot dogs. Not if it’s
sissied-up, Frenchified Heinz Ketchup.
Only good old all-American Hunt’s Ketchup is good enough for this
fine, all-American dish.
Or on our freedom fries.
In fact, there has, of late, been seen a dangerous tendency towards
miscegenation–to actually mix condiments!
And although nobody frowns on adding relish to a hot dog, a line must
be drawn somewhere.
Arrant foreignisms have no place in fine old American cuisine. I tell
you this: The man who would put chutney on a Hamburger is a man who
would sell his country down the river without a second thought.
That is why, if I am elected President, a surtax shall be imposed on
salsas, curries, picante sauces, pico de gallos, teriyakis, garlic
pastes, shoyus, and yes, wasabis. And we will look with a decidedly
jaundiced eye on all so-called “Worcester Shire” Sauces not made in the
United States. These foreign abominations in the orange wrappers with
the fancy price tags bleed money out of this country, and therefore
they only help the terrorists in plotting their nefarious mischief.
American cuisine for Americans!
Why do so many otherwise good Americans insist on choking down
highfalutin so-called “dressings” like this:
2 tbsps rice wine vinegar
3 tbsps vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sake
1 tsp grated ginger
The very list makes my stomach churn! Who outside of a rickshaw
village could swallow such slop?
Let me tell you what’s really good. Throw out the enemy ingredients!
Now you can crave my own very special barbecue sauce, with certified,
all-American ingredients like:
Apple Cider vinegar
In fact, do like I do–throw away all the rest of them ingredients and
just guzzle down that good corn liquor!
God bless you.
And God blesh the American people.
6. POPULAR FIGURES WHO USED TO BE INTERESTING BUT WHO ARE NOW BORING
THE AMAZING KRESKIN
SAMMY SPEAR…AND HIS ORCHESTRA
GARY LEWIS & THE PLAYBOYS
THE RED KRAYOLA
THE JUNE TAYLOR DANCERS
THE BEAST OF THE APOCALYSE
SAMMY DAVIS, SR.
J. ROARINGHAM FATBACK
Like other great American monomaniacs such as Melville, Dreiser’s
talent was uneven. But sometimes the imperfections that riddle works
we regard as great literature make them greater still, for they reveal
the human hand just as surely as home-made and hand-crafted artifacts
reveal the heart and soul of the fabricator so much more evincingly
than mass-produced articles ever can.
It almost seems as though classic American literature can be divided
up into two schools: the mannered, perfect craftsmen and the
slobbering brutes. We might count figures such as Hawthorne, Emerson
and Fitzgerald among the former school, and Melville, Dreiser,
Sinclair Lewis among in the latter. Which school you favor may say a
lot about your personality: but the impressionable young seem more
easily impressed by craft; an appreciation of content that slops over
the boundaries of the page (as much the same way as life) may well
come with age.
There are limitations to this theory: Nearly all such generalizations
are also gross oversimplifications. But the perennial favorites among
the young (by which I mean teenagers) tend to be brief and direct:
Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby, Animal Farm.
Of course, these are frequently assigned in schools, so maybe students
just like ’em because they’re short.
- EDGAR ALLEN POE“His aesthetic…anticipated and influenced both the symbolists and
the surrealists.”–Sam Leith
One thing in Poe’s favor is that East Coast elitists regarded him as
an interloper, and yet he showed more refined talent in one of his
now-forgotten book reviews than most of them could muster over a
lifetime of producing their ponderous tomes.
I’m no stranger to the Poe wars; I admire the man and am well aware
that he was a brilliant (and underrated) essayist (as was Whitman).
About 15 years ago I noted with delight a controversy in the American
Spectator (of all places) between my friend, Erik Rieselbach, who
wrote a piece on Poe for the March 1993 issue, versus a fellow who
responded in the May 1993 issue, who seemed to have dogmatic, and
rather rudely opinionated verdicts of his own regarding Poe.
Somewhat injudiciously overblown claims that Poe “invented” certain
genres are certainly open to argument. In some respects, however, it
is a distinction without a difference.
Poe was not the be-all and end-all of 19th century American
literature. But he was a major figure; possibly even world class. I
would rank him only below the following:
Twain. Melville. Whitman. Hawthorne.
More because they mastered the long form, and Poe wrote only one
novel-length work of fiction (correct me if I’m wrong), “The Narrative
of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”.
But then we have to start reaching….
Charles Brockden Brown? Underrated, but not in Poe’s league.
William Dean Howells? An early realist; considered somewhat stodgy today.
George Washington Harris?? Interesting, but violently eccentric.
If you’re like me, you’ve already got plenty of books you’re wanting
to read, but if this subject interests you I suggest you go to the
library and ask them to send you a copy of THE CUP OF FURY, by Upton
Sinclair, via intralibrary loan (through which you can borrow any book
in the state). US, himself a lifelong abstainer, dishes dirt on the
caddish behavior of literary bohos like Sinclair Lewis (who once
drunkenly stumbled into a church and dared God to strike him dead) and
Jack London (who himself wrote a whole book on the subject called JOHN
Jim Tully, well-known in the 1920s but almost forgotten now, writes
very well about life among the down and out, but perhaps nowhere
better than in the long out of print SHANTY IRISH. You might also want
to have a look at his BEGGARS OF LIFE.
SPAIN ON POE:
9. IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT.
I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the “politically correct” crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.
I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a
multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.
We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!
“In God We Trust” is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women on Christian principles founded this nation and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home because God is part of our culture. If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don’t like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from.
This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great American Freedom:
THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.
It is Time for America to Speak up! If you agree — pass this along; if you don’t agree — delete it – You are in the WRONG Country! AMEN! I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, lets all try, please!
PLEASE NOTE: As brilliant as is that impassioned plea to destroy all useless eaters, it was even better in 1938, in the original German:
JEWS, AND OTHER SUB-MEN, NOT ARYANS, MUST ADAPT.
I GROW WEARY of this Reich worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since Germany was stabbed in the back by Jews during the Great War, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Germans. However, the blood money from the reparations had barely been paid when the “enemies of our Reich” crowd began complaining about the possibility that our slogan “Deutchland Uber Alles” was offending others.
I am not against allowing sub-men to perform our manual labor; nor do I hold a grudge against any Jew or Gypsy or Homosexual who is now productively doing the needed labor of the Reich in a reeducation camp. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of Nordic tribes. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our Reich, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of Germany being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Germans we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought One Greater Reich.
We speak GERMAN, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language! And the Nazi salute! And do not criticize the Fuhrer!
“Deutchland Uber Alles” is our national motto. This is not some Pagan slogan. We adopted this motto because Nationalistic men and women on Nordic principles founded this nation and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display the swastika on the walls of our schools. If Aryans offend you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home because Wotan is part of our culture. If Swastikas offend you, or you don’t like Frederick the Great, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from.
This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our glorious Fuhrer gives every citizen the right to express the Fuhrer’s opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our Reich, our salute, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great German Freedom:
THE RIGHT TO LEAVE. IN A SEALED BOXCAR.
It is Time for GERMANY to Speak up! If you agree — pass this along; if you don’t agree — delete it – You are in the WRONG Country! AMEN! I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, let’s all try, please!
And as for the Pope? Pah! As Stalin said–“How many divisions does he have?”
10. MARTIN LUTHER KING: CANARDS AND AND THE LEGACY OF RACISM
The King haters are out there, and they’re writing up a storm.
It’s our old pal the internet that makes it possible for the
King-debunkers to spread the same old untruths about King that
circulated in the 1960s.
MLK was a flawed human being, but his achievements, his courage, and
his martyrdom more than make up for his flaws. I suppose the Nobel
Peace Prize was also a mistake. They ought to read Taylor Branch’s
three-volume work on King and the Civil Rights movement before they
repeat as gospel the sorts af canards that are to be found almost
exclusively on White Power websites.
The holiday and related honors were not granted because of King’s
character, but because of his accomplishments.
These people really need to start getting their information from
credentialed historians, not from Billy
Bob Shipemback on the White
He didn’t steal “large parts” of his dissertation.
How do I know?
I read his papers when I was a grad student in the at URI history department.
He made a mistake which many people who were not raised in an academic
He provided faulty attribution regarding his sources.
I reviewed the second volume of the Branch biography (it had just come
out), and I caught some heat when I pointed out to my Prof. that
Taylor Branch should have caught the imperfectly attributed passages
when writing his first volume about King.
I still think I’m right, but I also believe, as many professional
historians do, that it is a mistake, and unfair, to judge historical
figures of the past by the standards and practices and superstitions
of the present.
As for the charge of plagiarizing sermons, this was a commonplace
practice. Kind of like a blues singer quoting from other blues songs?
In other words, it’s a convention of the genre.
About King’s womanizing–well, there’s no denying that. But many
politicians such as Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani,
and many many men of the cloth as well, have been guilty of the same
As for the Communist funding–you need to know something about the
symbiotic relationship between the CP-USA in the 1930s and the nascent
civil right movement of that era. In the 30s, membership in the CP-USA
wasn’t regarded as a shocking deviation, and they were among the few
organizations making common cause with the civil rights movement.
Finally–King was not greedy in money matters. In fact, he seemed to
scarcely care about money at all. Hoover wanted to “destroy the
burrhead,” but even he would have conceded as much.
King should be recognized, not as a messiah, but as a flawed human being.
As for the charges of plagiarism:
When our research was published in June 1991 in the Journal of
American History, the article made clear that King’s plagiarism was a
general pattern evident in nearly all of his academic writings.
Although the plagiaries in the dissertation were less egregious than
the press reports had suggested, they were more extensive throughout
King’s papers than had been reported. We found that instances of
textual appropriation can be seen in his earliest extant writings as
well as his dissertation. The pattern is also noticeable in his
speeches and sermons throughout his career.
Even as we became more and more aware of the extent to which King
relied upon the words of others, we also came to the somewhat
paradoxical conclusion that King’s academic writings-and certainly his
later writings and speeches as a public figure-were reliable
expressions of his public persona. Writings that were flawed by
plagiaries were nevertheless revealing in that they expressed views
that were consistent internally and over time. This consistency helps
to explain why King’s professors and later readers of his papers did
not notice the extensive textual appropriations. We also suggested
that the compositional practices that raised ethical issues during
King’s graduate-school days were closely related to the positive
qualities that later made him an influential public figure. Rather
than youthful lapses in judgment, King’s appropriations reflected a
deeply ingrained attitude regarding the use of erudite language to
achieve personal and social ends. Our findings suggest that, once he
entered public life, Kinles theological training became an asset,
distinguishing him from other black leaders and providing him with
intellectual resources that enhanced his ability to influence white
middleclass public opinion. We concluded:
Even his ability to appropriate texts to express his opinions was a
benefit as he drafted public statements that would not require
citations. His characteristic compositional method contributed to the
rhetorical skills that became widely admired when King was called
unexpectedly to national leadership. His appropriations of major
scholarly texts satisfied his teachers and advanced his personal
ambitions; his use of political, philosophical, and literary
texts-particularly those expressing the nation’s democratic
ideas-inspired and mobilized many Americans, thereby advancing the
cause of social justice. His use, as a student and as a leader, of
hegemonic or canonized cultural materials enabled him to create a
transracial identity that served his own needs and those of African
People cry excusism, but I also know that people tend to apply it
selectively, which reminds me of the old joke:
Two old Irish ladies live across the street from a whorehouse and are
thus privvy to the comings and goings of its clientele. One day they
see a Baptist misister leaving the place. “Those Protestants,” says
one. “That’s all they think about.” The next day they see a Rabbi
leaving the establishment. “Isn’t it just like those people,” says the
other. The following day, they see a Catholic priest leaving the
whorehouse. One says, sheepishly to the other, “Somebody must be sick
To which one might reasonably rely, “The Italians, Irish and Jews
managed to work their way out of poverty. Why not blacks?”
Ahh, but the Jews, Irish and Italians had social networks.
Blacks, not so much.
People like Marcus Garvey who tried to construct social networks were
thrown in prison.
This is a terribly complex problem–the destruction of the black
nuclear family during slavery and in the decades thereafter. It was
addressed during Brown v. Topeka. But policy makers didn’t pay heed,
opting instead for a gradualist approach to school integration. Pat
Moynihan nailed it in 1965, but nobody wanted to listen.
All I can say is that a rising tide lifts all boats. Our racism
problem is also a poverty problem, but it’s the nature of our
democracy to alternately embrace and shun redistribution schemes,
according to who holds the whip hand. This sort of inconsistency has
doomed systematic attempts to address the issue.
As for the canard that blacks in general have lower I.Q.s?
This point was succinctly addressed by Malcolm Gladwell in The New
Yorker of 12-17-2007: “I.Q. measures not just the quality of a
person’s mind, but the quality of the world that person lives in.”
I suspect it may be a cultural difference more than a straight IQ
differential. I mean, IQ measurements are flawed to begin with, as
demonstrated by Gould in THE MISMEASURE OF MAN.
Southern Italians, for instance, have a tradition of distrusting both
the Church and any centralized authority, such as the police. They
also do not have a strong literary tradition. Does this make them less
able? I think not. But they are a useful example about how cultural
differences can be seen in the light of differences in intrinsic
See: Aesop: The Man and the Lion
A MAN and a Lion traveled together through the forest. They soon began
to boast of their respective superiority to each other in strength and
prowess. As they were disputing, they passed a statue carved in stone,
which represented “a Lion strangled by a Man.” The traveler pointed to
it and said: “See there! How strong we are, and how we prevail over
even the king of beasts.” The Lion replied: “This statue was made by
one of you men. If we Lions knew how to erect statues, you would see
the Man placed under the paw of the Lion.”
One story is good, till another is told.