MODERN WISDOM: AMERICA’S ONLY HUMOR MAGAZINE
Copyright 2018 Francis DiMenno
1. NOIR MISFORTUNE COOKIES: SECOND SERIES
601. You can’t sleep. And you don’t deserve to.
602. Everything is a joke to you. But God is not amused.
603. Hard work never killed anybody. But it never did you any good.
604. You are swimming in a quarry made for drowning, foolish one.
605. You are riding a rocket–a rocket to infamy.
606. Don’t follow the trials of vulgar celebrities–you have your own problems.
607. They hate you because you dragged better men down with you.
608. You are an honest citizen in a city of shame.
609. She’ll be your woman if you’ll be her man. But you are no man.
610. A dame who wears soul-crushing boots is poison to a gink like you.
611. You think you’re an individual with a life of your own. Think again.
612. A field mouse is all you are. A simple, simple field mouse.
613. You load sixteen tons and what do you get? An early grave.
614. Your subscriptions to Life magazine, and to life have both run out.
615. The Aryan Brotherhood shuns you. You are too vicious for their taste.
616. You are a puppet. And puppets can’t go to heaven.
617. Your beloved cat will gnaw on your warm corpse.
618. You are not a 98-pound weakling. You are a 298-pound weakling.
619. Your ball team will use you for second base. Literally.
620. You can neither beat them nor join them. So sorry.
621. You need a hug. But nobody will ever volunteer.
622. The God who created you is dead and will stay that way.
623. Gamble–or let your dog go hungry? You already know which.
624. You have fallen into and been felled by trouble. And you can’t get up.
625. Your dog is dead. Who will love you now?
626. You will be remembered only as a brutal object lesson.
627. Your own dog prefers the company of mangy alleycats to yours.
628. Sometimes you get what you ask for. In your case, early death.
629. Your dog is your worst enemy. Your own dog!
630. That all-day sucker you’re clutching is a lifetime supply.
631. They will find human skull’s under your grandma’s petunia bed.
632. Take off that stupid hat, baldy. Everyone knows.
633. The Big Man wants to burn his brand on your blubbery skin.
634. You are too weak to run and too fat to hide.
635. Mother said there’d be days like this. Not…years.
636. Put down the cake, Fatty. The Big Boss Man don’t like slobs.
637. Listen, Scarface–coppers in every state have memorized your ugly mug.
638. You’re red hot in this town, Crumb. Nobody will hide you.
639. You think you have it bad? Well…actually, you do.
640. Even crack whores scorn your lusty advances.
641. That woman who wrote to you in stir…is a man.
642. Don’t look in the mirror. You’ll see a dead man.
643. The Gypsy refused to read your fortune. Not a good sign.
644. You’ll be buried in a cheap suit for your funeral, Monkey Man.
645. You’ve fallen so low even the gutter doesn’t want you.
646. You will be found in a bedsitter, dead, with a half-eaten potato in your mouth.
647. Even Jesus would laugh at your ridiculous excuses.
648. It’s a dog eat dog world–but you’re a fucking rat.
649. Winos will mistake you for a fellow homeless man.
650. They no longer fear you and they will kick your ass.
Girls. When I was seven or eight, I just didn’t like ’em. I would watch the Miss America pageant with my mother, and, when Miss Texas or Miss Kentucky would saunter down the runway. I would shock her by saying, “She’s ugly,”
“No, she isn’t,” my mother would say. “Don’t you like girls?”
So I decided I would give girls a chance. There was one who lived in a house on our alley, called Mitre Way, in the Bloomfield section of Pittsburgh. Her name was Rosemary. I have forgotten countless phone calls and baseball scores, but I have always remembered her name. She was short, freckled, slightly pudgy, with green eyes and red hair– though I might have preferred green hair and red eyes.
One hot summer day I saw her in front of her house and I told her to meet me at the flowered arbor maintained by the hillbilly family who lived on our street. She wanted to know what for, and I told her it was a surprise.
I had absorbed the information that for some reason girls expected to be given presents, It seemed like a waste of money to me. But I was determined to make her like me. So there I sat, an hour later, in the broiling sun, waiting for Rosemary, holding two nutty buddies. These were vanilla ice cream cones topped with chocolate and peanuts, Like a chump, I waited under that flowered wooden arch for about twenty minutes, though it seemed like hours. Bees buzzed by, attracted by the two rapidly melting ice cream cones I was holding in each sticky fist. I was deathly afraid of bees. But I persevered.
She never showed up.
So, of course, I ate the nutty buddies myself. And was faintly nauseous for the rest of the afternoon.
As I walked home, I thought, “My father was right. Women are just no damn good.”
3. BAD FRIDAY: A NOVEL
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
Carnical 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
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.
4. TOM CLANCY
…is John LeCarre for drunks.
And the moral of the espionage novel is simply this:
If the knife is twisted very deep into your back then it was probably
your very best friend.
5. 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
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
Um, ‘scuse me, but this type of parental imprinting sounds calculated
to create a syndrome precisely out of one of the case studies of
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.
He read Jean Paul almost exclusively, and wasted his
time. Absolute absence of sexual feeling toward the op-
posite sex. Once he indulged in intercourse, experienced
no sexual feeling in the act, found coitus absurd, and did
not repeat it. Without any emotional cause whatever, he
often had a thought of suicide. He made it the subject of
a philosophical dissertation, in which he contended that it
was, like masturbation, a justifiable act. After repeated
experiments which he made on himself with various poi-
sons, he attempted suicide with fifty-seven grains of opium,
but he was saved and sent to an asylum.
Patient was destitute of moral and social feelings. His
writings disclosed incredible frivolity and vulgarity. His
knowledge was of a wide range, but his logic peculiarly
distorted. There was no trace of emotionality. He treated
everything (even the sublime) with incomparable cynicism
and irony. He pleaded for the justification of suicide with
false philosophical premises and conclusions, and, as one
would speak of the most indifferent affair, he declared that
he intended to accomplish it. He regretted that his pen-
knife had been taken from him. If he had it, he would
open his veins as Seneca did in the bath. At one time
a friend had given him instead of a poison as he sup-
posed, a cathartic. Instead of sending him to the other
world, it sent him to the water-closet Only the Great
Operator could eradicate his foolish and fatal idea with the
scythe of death, etc.
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.
6. BOODY: THE BIZARRE COMICS OF BOODY ROGERS. CRAIG YOE, ED.
I recently read, in Craig Yoe’s newly released anthology of the work
of cartoonist Boody Rogers, the following:
Boody knew a fellow whose nickname was “Fine Comb Shit”.
“[Rogers] explained that Fine Comb Shit got this sweet name when he
and Boody and another kid were walking down a dirt road. Bill, or
whatever his given name was, leaned down and picked up a now filthy
dirty comb that someone had dropped and exclaimed, “I just found a
fine comb!” The other boy disapprovingly shot right back, “fine comb
shit!” Bill didn’t keep the comb, but the epithet stuck.”
7.THE VALUE OF A COLLEGE EDUCATION
On April 21, 2009, Boston Radio Talk Show Host Michael Graham
apparently declared that a college education is actually useless.
Why doesn’t some radio shouting head ever come up with the real truth
about a college education?
Traditionally a college degree:
Indicated that you could work under a deadline.
Indicated that you could speak and behave correctly, and write a
To a great extent, it was a credential that indicated that you had, to
some degree, the potential to become socialized in the ways of the
workforce, and were a member of the middle class, or aspired to be.
For the upper classes, who presumably attended elite universities
(thanks in large part to their family connections), it was a parchment
that stated that they were eminently clubbable.
Nowadays, the paradigms have shifted.
Nonetheless, management still clings to the old ways.
Company policies require college degrees for certain job descriptions
as a matter of course. It’s apparently a way of weeding out the
so-called “undesirables,” regardless of their qualifications. If you
have neither the money nor the determination to acquire such a degree,
you operate under a crushing disadvantage.
Ours is a society that clings to the illusion that it is still, to
some degree, a meritocracy. Credentialism is the way in which an
alleged meritocracy keeps score.
It has been also been said, by others who are wiser and have more
experience in this matter, that not just any old college degree will
do. Your major, your degree-granting institution, and the influential
people there who may have acted as your mentors–all of these factors
also help to determine your initial place within the workforce
But since these guidelines cannot be condensed into a 12-second
know-nothing rant, I imagine they are never even so much as mentioned,
let alone discussed.
8. THE HITLER CHANNEL
Credit Spy Magazine for coming up with the name “the Hitler Channel”
for the History Channel.
Since they went out of business circa 1994, that was quite some time ago.
Incidentally, the History Channel is to the study of History, what a
graham cracker is to a three course meal.
Distorted, unsourced, and generally full of dubious assertions and
9. WHAT YOU LIKE IS WHO YOU ARE
What you like is who you are?
I suspect this is a younger person’s misapprehension of human nature.
Though true, to a certain extent.
There’s no compelling reason to get on your aesthetic high horse if a
prospective g.f. dresses like Annie Hall, or doesn’t know what Fort
There’s no reason to jeer (except inwardly) if a fellow office worker
goes in for slasher flicks, or prefers Rush or Grand Funk Railroad to
But it is human nature to sort by artificially generated categories.
Sad, but true.
I talked to a fellow the other night who told me that barbequing with
propane simply isn’t done.
It’s charcoal briquets, or nothing.
I could have pointed out that mesquite wood is better still, but I
thought that I didn’t even care enough to pursue that game.
When needed, code-shifting is the best strategy. I think that it’s
perhaps best to be at least aware of the full array of aesthetic
choices, so, if need by, you can put snobs and bigots in their
rightful place, whether silently or not.
But this whole aesthetic argument–particularly concerning
“middlebrow”– has been a part of American discourse since at least
the late 1940s. Check this out:
Furthermore, tastemakers are far from immune from this syndrome of
wanting to sort and classify, and from consequently being called to
task for their perceived obviousness and obliviousness.
Bring the snark!
Avid partisanship is the epitome of uncool.
But to be a hipster is to be 22 forever.
It all depends on where you want to be on the high affect/low affect scale.
Yet nobody seems to want to face up to the fact that, to a certain
degree, aesthetic taste merely functions as a class marker.
The denial of lower, coarse, vulgar, venal, servile – in a word,
natural – enjoyment, which constitutes the sacred sphere of culture,
implies an affirmation of the superiority of those who can be
satisfied with the sublimated, refined, disinterested, gratuitous,
distinguished pleasures forever closed to the profane. That is why art
and cultural consumption are predisposed, consciously and deliberately
or not, to fulfill a social function of legitimating social
differences. (Bourdieu, 1984:7)
What it all comes down to is this:
When monkeys begin to act strange the other monkeys will bite them.
10. WORDS ASSOCIATED WITH CHRISTIANITY AND BRITISH HISTORY TAKEN OUT OF A CHILDREN’S DICTIONARY
[The children are told the same sentences regularly, while they sleep,
again and again.] “But old clothes are beastly, we always throw away
old clothes. Ending is better than mending. Ending is better …. The
more stitches, the less riches, the more stitches … I love new
clothes, I love new clothes, I love …”–Aldous Huxley, BRAVE NEW
Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe
Dwarf, elf, goblin
Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister,
monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin,
Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade
adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi,
cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster,
heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow,
mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice,
poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork,
terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.
Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot,
blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle,
brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower,
chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel,
fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly,
horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan,
melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture,
poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf,
spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow
Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export,
chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue
Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep,
citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought,
brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping,
committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable,
emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro
Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium,
alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological,
11. THE TYSON WIT
“I really dig Hannibal. Hannibal had real guts. He
rode elephants into Cartilage.”
“I guess I’m gonna fade into Bolivian.”
“I can sell out Madison Square Garden masturbating.”
“I’m on the Zoloft to keep from killing y’all.”
“[He] called me a ‘rapist’ and a ‘recluse.’ I’m not a
“Lennox Lewis, I’m coming for you man. My style is
impetuous. My defense is impregnable, and I’m just
ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his
children. Praise be to Allah!”
“My main objective is to be professional but to kill
“I want to rip out his heart and feed it to him
[Lennox Lewis]. I want to kill people. I want to rip
their stomachs out and eat their children.”
“This is my career. I have children to raise. I have
to retaliate. He butted me. Look at me. My kids will
be scared of me.”
To Razor Ruddock: “You’re sweet. I’m going to make
sure you kiss me good with those big lips. I’m gonna
make you my girlfriend.”
On Tyrell Biggs: “He was screaming like my wife.”
“Anyone with a grain of sense would know that if I
punched my wife I would rip her head off.”
“I left the crate on my stoop and went in to get
something and I returned to see the sanitation man put
the crate into the crusher. I rushed him and caught
him flush on the temple with a titanic right hand he
was out cold, convulsing on the floor like a infantile
“I take my hand off to him.”
“I try to catch him right on the tip of the nose,
because I try to push the bone into the brain.”
“How dare these boxers challenge me with their
primitive skills? It makes me angry.”
“My power is discombobulatingly devastating I could
feel is muscle tissues collapse under my force. It’s
ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my
“I want to throw down your kid and stomp on his
testicles, and then you will know what it is like to
experience waking up everyday as me. And only then
will you feel my pain.”
[To a female reporter] “It’s no doubt I am going to
win this fight and I feel confident about winning this
fight. I normally don’t do interviews with women
unless I fornicate with them. So you shouldn’t talk
anymore… Unless you want to, you know.”
“If I take this camera and put it in your face for 20
years, I don’t know what you might be. You might be a
homosexual if I put that camera on you since you were
13 years old. I’ve been on that camera since I was 13
“All praise is to Allah, I’ll fight any man, any
animal, if Jesus were here I’d fight him too.”
NEXT ISSUE: “I CURED MY YELLOW TEETH”