MODERN WISDOM: AMERICA’S ONLY HUMOR MAGAZINE
These ubiquitous and nauseating ads insistently exhort the helpless reader to “Read the trick, discovered by a Mom, to turn yellow teeth white.”
Here’s what I want to know:
Since when should some nameless “Mom” be permitted to set herself up as a dental authority?
Who is expected to fall for this line of malarkey?
Actually, I figure the target audience to be some implausibly
superannuated Hillbilly crone to whom this startling news has somehow inexplicably been carried. She has one tooth in her rotting skull and is likely stirring a simmering cauldron of lye over a smoky wood fire and, upon hearing of this thunderous revelation direct from God’s throne, she no doubt throws down her calico bonnet onto the rocky ground, cackles hysterically, and inadvertently blurts out something along the lines of, “By cracky, Hepsie, throw away the chew stick! If’n it be good enough fer ‘Mom’ then it be good enough for me!”
Incidentally, I hear that good old urine works pretty well.
“First-century Roman doctors believed that urine whitened teeth and also kept them firmly in place….But it must have worked, because it was used as an active ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash well into the 18th century. Would you believe it’s still used today? Not in its original form, but modern dentists recognized that it was the ammonia that cleaned the teeth, and they still use that.”
Cuss me for a fogbound galoot, but I just can’t figure out what in
tarnation our so-called modern troubadours are jawin’ about in their newfangled self-styled “compositions”. Maybe I’m just some sort of relic, but as far as I’m concerned, popular music makers make absolutely no sense a-tall.Fats Domino:
I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill…
(An entire hill made of delicious blueberries stretches plausibility.
Wouldn’t the blueberries rot? Or be eaten by hungry bears?)
Mel & Tim:
Backfield in motion/I’m going to have to penalize you…
(Difficult–if not, in fact, anatomically impossible.)
Little Peggy March:
I will follow him
Follow him wherever he may go….
(There is at least one type of public facility where it would be
socially inappropriate for Miss March to follow “Him”.)
I’m a big girl now, I’m five.
(Sadly, Miss Streisand is deluding herself. The age of five is at
least three years prior to the age in which a girl can, by popular
consensus, be considered “Big”.)
Nat Gonella & his Georgians:
The music goes round and round…
(Impossible. Music does not travel in a circular pattern.)
Stop! in the name of love
Before you break my heart….
(Medical science has conclusively proven that no instrument short of a
metallic bandsaw would be capable of literally breaking apart the
involuntary striated musclature of the myocardium.)
Melting the anger to stone oh ho
(Anger is a feeling rather than a physical entity, and, therefore,
cannot quantitatively be affected by enhancements of the ambient
temperature. Furthermore, it has been conclusively demonstrated that,
in institutional settings, colors considered “cool” are those most
conducive to ameliorating anger.)
Daylight licked me into shape.
(The Sun does not have a tongue. Furthermore, were the sun capable of extending a tongue-like flare some 93 million miles across space, its heat would probably incinerate the earth’s atmosphere, and, consequently, all sentient life on the planet. Far from licking one into shape, such a grotesque phenomenon would undoubtedly prove catastrophic.Furthermore, “light” as described here, does not occupy physical space (as a solid, liquid, or gas might) Therefore, even if a solar flare of catastrophic proportions such as this, it would not, in fact, be light that licked you.)
And when you realize how they tricked you this time
And it’s all lies but I’m strung out on the wire
In these streets of fire
(Assuming a mixture of concrete composed of one part cement and two parts sand, with added lime and aggregate, the melting point of said “street” would be about 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, which would cause visible destruction of human skin at the site of contact.)
Reverend Gary Davis:
“And the bees made honey in the lion’s head”
(Even allowing for the fact that bees have a decided preference for
constructing their hives in a dark and enclosed space, there would
probably not be adequate room in the skull of a recently deceased lion to fashion a hexagonal structure of the requisite size and shape.)
Philadelphia freedom put me knee-high to a man….
(Actually, not so impossible at all….)
Well, I’ll be switched if’n the overwhelming amount o’ mail from yew
galoots–egg-zactly none–didn’t inspire me to explore further the
wonderful world of These Kids Today and their downriot DOUR
lyrico-musical outpourin’s, off-scrapin’s, and effusions. Seems to me that back in the Good Old Days the Moon-June-Spoon school was good enough for when Paw was courtin’ Maw and was even popular with the sprats and sprouts. But nowadays anymore, all this here recent talk about detachable unmetionables and ladies of easy virtue with advanced cases of στεατοπυγία is–wal, it’s enough to–pardon my French–gag a maggot. Anyhoo, here are some more examples of the consarned, dadgummed, dodblasted, higglety-piggelty, flibber-te-digits and their lowbrow, highfaltin’, so-called “music”.
Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care?
Sunday, Bloody Sunday.
Impossible. Days of the week do not bleed.
“While the Pope owns 51% of General Motors…”
No, he doesn’t.
“I don’t have a gun”
Well, actually, you had at least one, and that, apparently, was one too many.
“So pay respect to the black fist
Or we’ll burn your store right down to a crisp.”
Contrary to Mr. Cube’s rather gruesomely strenuous asseverations, it would be impossible to configure an act of arson in such a way as to guarantee the reduction of a Korean merchant’s establishment to the state of a “crisp”.
“Someone saved my life tonight/ Sugar bear.”
What in hell does poor SUGAR BEAR have to do with it???
“Don’t let the sun go down on me.”
Even assuming the sun’s proclivities were in that direction, I suspect that noshing on Reg Dwight’s ding-dong would not be high on that celestial body’s list of things-to-do.
“He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day
When the New York Times said God is dead
And the war’s begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today”
1) The New York Times did not say “God Is Dead”. It was Time Magazine, and the cover line was “Is God Dead?”
Incidentally, Nietzsche said it too–in 1882.
God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
BUT ALSO SEE:
2) No wars began during the week in which that cover came out (April 6, 1966), although the United States invaded the Dominican republic later that month.
3) What in blue blazes does the Earl of Wessex have to do with anything?
“(I Just) Died in Your Arms Last Night”
Although the narrator in this case may have been speaking
metaphorically, and referring to what is traditionally known as “le
petit mort” (the little death) of the orgasmic experience,
nonetheless, impressionable children might be given the mistaken
impression that it is the ever-present but little-spoken-of
sex-and-death nexus traditional to American mass entertainment since the post-1945 era that is being referenced.
Such a conflation of sexual activity with violent death has been shown by commentators (M.McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride; G. Legman, Love and Death; F. Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent) to be a prime mover in the creation of a warped sexuality which leads, inexorably, to a society of passive spectacle and the disintegration of the nuclear family.
“Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you”
Clearly, the narrator is Santa Claus. (“He sees you when you’re
sleeping/He knows when you’re awake….”)
“Jesus, Take the Wheel”
Even in the unlikely event that the mummified 1,976 year old corpse of the historic Jesus of Nazareth still actually existed, it would, it
goes without saying, be of little use in averting an automotive
Incidentally, the enormous popularity of this song has led to several, little known, sequels:
Jesus, Assist Me With My Taxes
Jesus, Help Me Hammer in the Nails
Jesus, Help Me Geeze the Spike
Jesus, Show Me How To Use Windows Vista
I’m Sorry, Jesus, But I Have to Put You On Hold
In the spring of 1970 Roy Gobb, a snuffling, closeted, fat, and
indifferent twenty year old, drops out of college and flees the
backwater of Hickory Hollow in the wake of an impending drug bust.
He gulps a handful of goofballs, boards a bus, falls into a stupor,
and staggers off the dirty dog on Treasure Island, where he somehow gets swept up in a Gay Pride parade hosted by the Red and Black Carnival and crowded with hoboes, hippies, freaks, barkers, spielers, performing dogs, drag queens, and assorted morphodites.
As the throng crosses the bridge into Old Town, an angry red-faced man shouts from the sidelines: “I DON’T CARE IF THEY DO IT, BUT DO THEY GOTTA BRAG ABOUT IT? ASSFUCKERS!?”
A friendly hippie in full cowboy clown regalia slips thirsty Roy Gobb
a Coca Cola bottle laced with a hefty dose of LSD.
Roy sees the reflection of the Megalopolitan Hotel hard by the Old
Town park lake as a series of brilliantly green and yellow translucent boxes, and fears he is losing his mind.
He breaks free of the milling throng and begins madly to frolic in a
fountain near the lake. He is convinced that he has been baptized, but the sky becomes overcast and he begins to shiver from the unaccustomed cold.
Late in the morning of that Good Friday, while in his delirium, he
seeks refuge in St. Augustine’s Cathedral, where he hears the
following prayer declaimed by a defiantly unreconstructed priest of
the old school.
Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that Almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Roy Gobb becomes intoxicated on communion wine, and the following day is born again as a devout Roman Catholic, but soon is taken in by a sinister band of “wandering bishops”.
Various horrendous adventures ensue.
In my vision I dance leather jacket and hairy Harley,
You can call me Boss but don’t call me Mr. Charley,
I walked Strut Street, Gasoline City mama, Prince Cool,
If you get in my way you’re a diesel fool.
Gambler’s the Devil and sweet Street Jesus is the heat,
It’s so hard to get by when you walk on four feet.
Darling keep your faith in this tragic magic night of pain
You may be a beauty but you ain’t got no brain.
There’s Redemption in these here stamps of green,
Prettiest free prizes you ever seen.
So let me do all the thinkin’
Me…and that hot rod Lincoln.
Well, heaven is a promise and hell is for fools,
I cover you with kisses like a hound dog drools,
Little Richard sings Boney Maroney,
We snack on yesterday’s bargain fried baloney.
The future is a ghost whose bones have been broken
I said I didn’t love yuh but I musta mis-spoken.
My Dad used to sit and watch Barney Rubble
While Maw sat in the bathtub havin’ fun with Mr. Bubble
Well, the bubbles have long since died but the scent lingers on,
I’m leavin this town and I left and now I’m gone
Back to the sea, back to my used to be,
I’m tired of fightin’ like it’s World War Three.
Declare the war man, and make it be over
And I’ll hop right back in my Chevy Nova.
Clippin’ coupons and snackin’ on dollar ham
I’m tellin’ ya baby, Treet is way better’n Spam.
Smells like somethin’ died, no that’s just a fart,
Tell me baby—do you bleed for your art?
Poor boy and in my vision I’m all alone again,
I’d be a big star, baby, but I don’t know when.
GOVERNOR SQUIRT I actually knew Governor Squirt. Knew him well. He was on the literary magazine at Ivy.
He was an odd duck, even then.
Odder still when he went to Afghanistan to aid the Mujadheen.
And when he was an advisor to Angola UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.
And when he compared the estate tax to the holocaust.
And when he married a woman born in Kuwait. He was 50. She was 32. As per the Muslim formula: A bride should be half a man’s age plus seven.
The Islam thing doesn’t bother me. It ain’t nothing. It doesn’t truly
signify. Governor Squirt has always, but always, had one beady eye
open for the main chance.
People claim that I’m a little nutty. Let me pull your coat, my
brother–I am the calm epitome of rationality next to good ol’
Dunno what happened to him back in ’78, but he has been behaving quite erratically ever since.
Prior to ’78, he seemed pretty normal, if a bit inhibited. Maybe
that’s why he joined the college literary magazine (on the business
end). Maybe he figured he’d find him a wild bohemian gal who would help him shed his inhibitions.
After ’78, I dunno–he started in with the weird.
“The facts are that government is not a benevolent charity,” Governor Squirt said in 1978. “You go to city hall or the post office and what do you see? Bureaucrats pushing papers, drinking coffee and harassing the people.”
Sound like he’s simply parroting his Dad, right? But why so outspoken? He didn’t strike me as anyone who had ever been oppressed as a direct result of government policies. Why this obsession?
You can see why he veered right. I think he saw that there was going to be a reaction against the Carter administration and he figured he was the logical fellow to lead the charge.
It seems to me that everything about his public career simply screams “Leave me alone!”
But he doesn’t want to be alone.
He has always paradoxically gravitated to like-minded loners.
Something must have scared the shit out of him. His choice of
metaphors reflects this.
His current staff has been keeping a mental list. “The sword of
Damocles, he likes that one a lot…”…[and recall, too] his most
famous [line]: He wants to shrink government so it’s small enough that he could “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
What does that tell you?
It tells me that perhaps all was not exactly shits ‘n’ giggles back at
the childhood manse of Governor Squirt.
Allegedly, “His family were financially comfortable and politically
conservative—once, [his father] took bites out of his children’s Dairy Joy ice cream cones to demonstrate what taxes took out of the family’s earnings.”
Um, ‘scuse me, but this type of parental imprinting sounds calculated to create a syndrome precisely out of one of the case studies of Krafft-Ebbing.
CEREBRAL NEUROSES ANESTHESIA. Case 9.
F. J., aged nineteen, student; mother was
nervous, sister epileptic. At the age of four, acute brain
affection, lasting two weeks. As a child he was not
affectionate, and was cold towards his parents ; as a student
he was peculiar, retiring, preoccupied with self, and given
to much reading. Well endowed mentally. Masturbation
from fifteenth year. Eccentric after puberty, with con-
tinual vacillation between religious enthusiasm and ma-
terialism now studying theology, now natural sciences.
At the university his fellow-students took him for a fool.
Now and then the patient suffered with ononiatomania.
He was compelled to think of the most useless problems
and give himself up to interminable, distressing and worry-
ing thoughts, and became so fatigued that he was no longer
capable of any rational thinking. After some months the
patient was sent home unimproved. There he spent his
time in reading and frivolities, and busied himself with
the thought of founding a new system of Christianity
because Christ had been subject to grand delusions and
had deceived the world with miracles ( !). After remaining
at home some years the sudden occurrence of a maniacal
outbreak brought him back to the asylum. He presented
a mixture of primordial delirium of persecution (devil,
antichrist, persecution, poisoning, persecuting voices)
and delusions of grandeur (Christ, redemption of the
world), with impulsive, incoherent actions. After five
months there was a remission of this intercurrent acute
mental disease, and the patient returned to the level of
his original intellectual peculiarity and moral defect.
By the way: “Dairy Joy…cone”?
You literally cannot make this sort of thing up. Big Daddy
government–literally–wants to take big bites out of Governor
Seems simplistic, and yet…and yet….
Perhaps we all need to say a prayer.
God help Governor Squirt.
God help us all.
7. ADVERTISING: THE EVIL OPPOSITE OF LITERATURE
“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.”
–Bernays, Propaganda (1928)
Ad people seem to be an awful lot like the evil opposite of writers.
Writers recall memories and sensations for a higher purpose;
advertisers implant memories and sensations for a degraded purpose.
Back in the 60s, Canada Dry had an ad campaign that featured the
following song lyric:
Ginger ale tastes like love
Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Ginger ale…tastes like love.
(Which might be true, if you’re fucking a gingerbread man.)
In the vast literature of writing about advertisers (Marshall McLuhan; David Oglivie; Thomas Frank; Marie Winn; Vance Packard; Wilson Scott Key; “The Hucksters” by Frederick Wakeman), Stuart Ewen is a particular favorite of mine. He seems to have strayed off the reservation as of late.
But his early book, Captains of Consciousness, is an eye-opener.
“[Advertising] translat[es] the process of consumption into an erotic spectacle. . . . .”–Stuart Ewen
This is, of course, precisely what the Situationists were saying. That we’ve become a society of spectacle or a ‘Spectacular Society.” Of course, they were saying this beginning back in the 1950s. (See Griel Marcus’s Lipstick Traces:)
For me, Ewen’s value lies in his having traced this process back to the 1920s.
It’s still going on, this sexualization and (what I call) this
Stalinization of Commodities.
(I use the term “Stalilinization” to refer, not to Stalin’s policies
so much, as in the classical definition, but to the ubiquity of his
image. For instance, see):
In fact, in a process already well on its way since the 1920s,
commodity fetishization has permeated virtually every aspect of our existence, from the rearing of our children to the socialization of our adolescents to the behavior of adults in and out of the workforce all the way up to the disposition of our elderly.
I was watching television the other night, and there was a commercial with an upwardly mobile young woman, smartly dressed,who was walking through an office plaza carrying a cup of McDonald’s premium coffee and trailing pixie dust behind her wherever she went.
The ad ended with the tag line “”Mi encanta”.
Which means “I LOVE IT.” (It enchants me….)
In English, the McDonald’s tag line is the slangier, “I’m lovin’ it.”
Dunno about you, but after seeing something like that, I felt like
calling for the sick bag.Thankfully, I’m not alone.
McDonald’s Coffee Ad Sets Feminism Back 30 Years
By Erin Zimmer
J’ever notice, by the way, that in English the slogan was “An Army of One”–but in Spanish that slogan was “Yo Soy El Army”–“I am the
Truly–God is in the details.
8. INTRODUCING…HONKEY’S DELI
“Food Sliced Before Your Eyes”
“ALL OUR SANDWICHES ARE HOUSE MADE”
1) HONKEY’S SPECIAL: Pastrami on White with Mayo. $5.99
2) THE MOTHER TRUCKER: Scrambled Egg Sandwich with Ketchup on Your Choice of White or Raisin Bread. $3.99
3) THE HI AND LOIS SPECIAL: Mashed Potato Sandwich on Potato Bread. $2.99
4) NEPTUNE’S DELITE: “Fresh” Fish Cake Sandwich with Ketchup and Fries Between Two Halves of a Toasted English Muffin. MARKET PRICE.
5) OUR “FAMOUS” ITALIAN SUB: We Don’t Make It, We Build It! Featuring: Crisp Iceberg Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pickles, Hard Boiled Eggs, Bologna, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Relish, Olive Loaf, Cooked Salami, Pickle Loaf, Ranch Dressing, And All On a Crisp “Sub” Roll Brushed with Butter and Toasted Under a Broiler. NO SUBSTITUTIONS! $6.99
9. BLACK KOREA
I have recently noted, with great displeasure,
That each and every time I am at my leisure,
And wish to procure an alcoholic beverage,
That due to my cultural disadvantages I have no leverage,
With the local Asian-American entrepreneur,
Whose profit margin is not entirely secure,
And who therefore must proactively respond regarding shrinkage and theft;
His lack of tact leaves my sense of equinaminity bereft.
He seems to think that every African-American is a desperate felon,
And he therefore surveills my activities with the passion of a zealot.
He is apprehensive that I will behave as though I am his nemesis
And attempt to commit an armed assault upon his premises;
His faith in humanity has been destroyed;
However, I, for one, am gainfully employed.
So Sir! Refrain in acting with biased intemperance,
Or I shall review my legal alternatives with a vengeance.
I have considerable influence with the stakeholders in the community,
So you can no longer practice your activities with impunity.
You must hereafter treat me in a non-discriminatory fashion,
Or else I shall explore my extra-legal alternatives with a passion.
You stand accused before the court of public opinion as a practitioner of misanthropy–
Because you cannot treat a socioeconomically deprived neighborhood as your personal satrapy!