The opening synthesizer riff of “Wonderful Christmastime,” symbolic of the song’s late-‘70s production era in the same way air raid sirens are symbolic of World War II, serves as kind of an early warning signal: “change the station,” it calls out. “Change the station before Paul lets us know that ‘the moon is right.’” And we do. Yet radio keeps playing it and shopping malls slather us in its goo as if doing so isn’t just one more excuse to shop online.
It would be shocking, really, to consider that the guy who gave us “Live and Let Die” and “Maybe I’m Amazed”—and who was at least 25 percent of The Beatles—managed to scribble out, record, and actually release a song containing such lyrical damage as “The choir of children sing their song / ding dong, ding dong / ding dong, ding / ohhhh / ohhhhhhh,” and the phrase “simply having a wonderful Christmastime” repeated 75 times. Until, of course, you realize that Paul McCartney is the evil genius behind “Let ‘Em In” and “Silly Love Songs.” He’s also the guy who stole Stevie Wonder’s mojo—an artistic assault with a deadly weapon from which the latter has yet to recover, three decades later.
Clearly, although Sir Paul is a Music Legend with a Ton of Talent, he’s not infallible. “Wonderful Christmastime” serves as an argument in favor of middle management, because someone expendable needs to be able to tell the cash cow, “No.”
I’ve decided there might be some entertainment value to be had in reviewing e-mails from spammers. We all get these 419 scams and promptly ignore them, right? RIGHT??? (Please contact me if you don’t ignore them and you actually think you’re going to get some money out of the deal. There might be some entertainment value in that as well.) So, without further ado, this is the text of an e-mail I received earlier today, broken down with my own comments:
It’s always important to open your scam letter with a friendly greeting. It makes a good impression and puts the recipient at ease. In this case, using a colon instead of the customary comma is symbolic of something the scammer plans to do to the recipient. Nice touch.
With a very desperate need for assistance,I have summoned up courage to contact you since i am presently in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion,29th Field Artillery Regiment,3/4 AAB and found your contact particulars in an Address journal.
How much courage does one summon to contact me??? This guy is in a combat unit for cryin’ out loud. I know I can be intimidating, but traditionally that only applies to iguanas and children under the age of four. A few more weeks of basic training might have done him a world of good. Read More
“Officer, I’d like to report a theft.”
“Uh, huh. Name?”
“37 Schmuck Lane, Oak Lawn.”
“And when did you first notice the theft?”
“Last night, driving to White Castle.”
“Had you been drinking or partying at the time?”
“Never mind. Go on. What is it that was stolen?”
“An intersection. Several of them, in fact.”
“An intersection. You see, when two non-parallel roads are local to each other, there is a high likelihood that they might cross, and…”
“I know what an intersection is. I’d like to know how someone can steal one.”
“All I know is, one day I’m driving convenient side streets to the quickie mart, the next day there are dead end signs all over the place, the intersection is blockaded, and I have to take Cicero Avenue to buy potato chips. As far as I can tell, it must be done under the cover of darkness. The thieving scum wouldn’t dare show their faces in the light of day. So, what are you going to do about it?”
“Nothing? What about stakeouts? Dusting for prints? DNA matching? Surely there must be some technology you can use to track down the perps.”
“I don’t have to track down the perps. I know who did it.”
“Not me personally. Actually, it was my brother-in-law, Frank.”
“What is he, some kind of a nutcase?”
“Yeah, he works for the village.”
“A likely story. Why would he do this?”
“He was told to.”
“Ah, yes. The Nuremberg defense. A classic. Why would someone tell him to do this?”
“Well, gangs and terrorists.”
“What does closing streets and making it hard to drive around my neighborhood have to do with gangs and terrorists?”
“We believe that, if it’s harder for them to get around, our streets will be safer.”
“What about making it harder for me to get around?”
“What about it?”
“Don’t I get a say in whether or not I want to be safer?”
“Why wouldn’t you want to be safer?”
“Well, for one thing, I’ve lived in this town most of my life, and I’ve never seen a gang member or a terrorist in my neighborhood.”
“Have you been specially trained to spot gang members and terrorists?”
“Then how do you know you haven’t seen them?”
“You’re right, I don’t. Have you been specially trained to spot gang members and terrorists?”
“No, but trust me, they’re out there.”
“Sure they are, but are they here?”
“Not since we closed those intersections.”
“But anyone can walk right around the barriers.”
“Gang members and terrorists drive cars, sir. This is 2005.”
“What prevents them from driving the roads that are still open? Or are you planning on closing every street in town?”
“They can’t enter a neighborhood if they can’t find the entrance.”
“But I can’t find the entrance.”
“That’s not my problem. Why don’t you get a map?”
“Can’t the bad guys get maps?”
“Look, this is obviously going nowhere. Is there someone I could talk to about closing the intersections?”
“The intersections have already been closed.”
“Okay, is there someone I could talk to about reopening the intersections?”
“You could talk to your neighbors.”
“What do they have to do with it?”
“They’re the ones who requested the intersections be closed.”
“Why would they do that?”
“Because they’re scared of gang members and terrorists.”
“But that makes no sense. What would any of those people do around here? This town isn’t perfect, but there’s not much to steal or shoot or blow up. I suppose someone could terrorize me by spray painting my garage door, but then again, it might be an improvement.”
“Maybe they’re looking to buy some real estate. Did you consider that?”
“Do you really think evildoers might be thinking of buying in my neighborhood?”
“Are you kidding? Who would want to live there? It’s a pain in the butt. None of the streets go through.”
“What would you say if we lived in a world where people could drive their cars wherever they wanted?”
“I’d say the terrorists have already won.”
The White Sox are going to the World Series. Yikes. At least it turns out that they aren’t playing the heinous Cardinals, which to my Cubs-fan senses might not have exactly rated as hell on earth, but would have been an ample substitute until the real deal came along.
When I was a kid, the White Sox were Chicago’s team. Bill Veeck owned them at the time, and he spared neither effort nor goofy scheme to put a fan in every seat. He imported the popular St. Louis announcer Harry Caray to do play-by-play, and Comiskey Park (the blue-collar original, not the baseball mall that replaced it) was nightly filled with drunken south-siders watching their favorite team. The hapless Cubs were Chicago’s also-rans–a bunch of perennial losers playing day baseball for bleacher bums on the north side. In fact, the original bleacher bums were pretty much just that: people with no jobs and lean prospects, who had nothing else to do during the day but buy a ticket in the cheap seats, drink beer, and watch the game.
Things changed in the eighties. Harry Caray was let go by the White Sox and drove across town to work his magic for the north-siders. WGN, which broadcast all the Cubs games, rode an exploding cable TV market to superstation success. Although they never made it to the World Series, winning seasons in 1984 and 1989 pushed everyone’s favorite underdog into the national spotlight. The Cubs became Chicago’s team, then America’s team. Wrigley Field became a tourist destination for yuppies everywhere. White Sox fans mutated into cranky old men. Even the young ones. Even the women.
I am something of an anomaly–a Cubs fan from the south side. The Cubs’ popularity has made that more common than it once was, which compels me to state that my affection for the Cubs is not transient, but genetic. My dad was a Cubs fan. My grandfather was a Cubs fan. My childhood baseball mitt had Billy Williams’ name on it. In short, I’m one of the natives.
Growing up a Cubs fan on the south side meant getting odd stares. Nevertheless, I learned to make peace with the concept. I allowed the White Sox their existence, and formed no hatred of them. Occasionally, I even went to the games and cheered them on. Their fans were my friends, and though I preferred the National Leaguers, the White Sox were from Chicago and I had no intention of rooting against the local boys.
I’ve recently heard other Cubs fans express similar sentiments. It’s good that the White Sox are doing well, more power to ‘em, support the Chicago team, rah rah rah.
Bunk. I used to feel that way, but no longer. Once, I could support or at least tolerate the White Sox, but I’ve heard too many insults from their fans to continue down that road. I have friends who laughed out loud at the Bartman incident. I know people who can’t drive through Wrigleyville without some sort of snide comment. I’ve been hassled about yuppies, ivy, rooftops, 1969, and Todd Hundley. One too many times, I’ve heard Sox fans tell us Cub fans to take our neighborly show of support and stick it. Well, I’ve stuck it. It’s high time to either reign in the hatred or embrace it with zeal, and I’m looking for a hug. I hope the White Sox fail, miserably and spectacularly. I want them to break the hearts of every Sox fan who ever turned to me and said “Sammy Sosa.” How I long to see Mayor Daley writhing in pain on the ground, wrinkled fingers grasping at the Comiskey Park home plate marker, tears welling in the cracks of the asphalt.
When it is all over, and the players have packed up their bats and balls and returned home to distant lands, I will find a Sox fan–a lowly, pitiful, broken thing. I will offer him my shoulder. I will look at him with sympathy and deep understanding, pat him on the back, and say the following words: “Wait till next year.”