Swans Commentary » swans.com December 29, 2008 - January 1, 2009  





by Art Shay





(Swans - December 29, 2008 - January 1, 2009)   I was the class prophet in 1939 at the then world's-most-populous high school, James Monroe in the Bronx. Our student population of 15,500 post-WWI babies included by my own estimate two African Americans, three half-Hispanics, a Chinese, an aggressively orgasmic nymphomaniac from Guam, 584 Protestants, 7,027 Catholics, and one lethargic Moslem, whose name Mohammed, may his tribe increase, was Yiddishized by us smart asses to "Slow-Mo the Shmo" behind his back and Abou Ben Adman to his face because he wanted to be an advertising tycoon like his fecund parents. It was they, I heard, who worked for or originated the agency that had the idea of mailing in coupons to a radio station to receive Chandu the Magician ching-a-linga-su coins with holes in the center like Chinese money. We traded them. The only thing he took fast was umbrage. His best defense was, "Just wait. My father says someday all you Jews will be our slaves and you will bow down to the freedom of Allah and the Koran or we will kill you and ship you as food to our starving African brothers." When I asked how a diet of Jews would go down, he laughed tolerantly at my stupidity and explained we'd all be converted first so as not to piss off the greatest Prophet of them all. I wonder what happened to Mo and his tribe.

So it's about time someone asked me to make some predictions for 2009 as Swans' publisher did the other day, referring me to some of their entertaining and outspoken past seerage as a guide.

As an Illinois resident, I am naturally rooting for Rod Blagojevich to skip the bother of impeachment or resignation, and merely drop his prices so whatever he has for sale will become bargain purchases for us all. Like many another straight Democrat voter I would not touch Obama's seat for love or money, and craigslist has an opening price of a million -- so I wouldn't go there. However, the chance to adjust the finances of a kids' hospital, especially one with a worldwide reputation, is sort of tempting.

Think of the possibilities of running the ambulance services alone! You'd be cleaning up after every fourth 911 call. And kiddy wheelchairs go for $500 easily. Ten percent ain't too much in Illinois. That's what Bernie Madoff was paying until the shit hit his fans.

Rod's free celebrity baseball, basketball, and inauguration seats are in play I hear -- but he wants something lucrative for his potty-mouthed wife. Just like the wife of his imprisoned predecessor George Ryan got because her name could draw PR to some of her public if not pubic-spirited functions.

After all, George got a lot of guys off Death Row -- a Nobel Prize is being bruited in the backrooms. And it's not as if he didn't say he was sorry five years later during pardon plea hour -- for the circumstantial death of all six kids of a minister -- when the reverend's car became involved with a truck driver who had bought his license from a Ryan fundraiser, the kind of rich, inexperienced friend of George we would hear about during Katrina.

So I predict Ryan will be pardoned by Bush, and Rod will keep paying his $850-an-hour lawyer during his oncoming fight for justice and a chance to tell his side of the story, proving he's the victim of a plot to blow up Parliament or something. That's a no-brainer. Fuck the Senate and the public who kowtow to it.

For harder prophecy I must evoke the wraith of a collateral French ancestor of mine, according to shaky genealogy. A leather merchant French relative of mine told me in his stateroom of the Ile de France as it was leaving NY Harbor on its last pre WWII trip to France. "I must tell you young cousin Arty, we all carry the -- how you say -- sange? -- no sang froid blood -- of Nostradamus, the Predictor."

"Also known as Michel de Notre Dame. He lived in the time of Shakespeare and was a physician, astrologer, and of course a seer of great renown."

After the Ile sailed to France, taking my uncle to his death at the hands of the Nazis, curious teen that I was I learned that Nostradamus practiced medicine in Agen, then Salon (namesake of railroad cars and Web sites), and in 1547 began making predictions. You know, where and when the plague would hit, political prognostication, and lots of weird stuff about weather, war, sex, and death.

One irreverent book has him invited to the court of Catherine de Medici, a rich spoiled bitch, and fucking her so artfully with his alas-not-handed-down gigantic organ that when her little dick of a husband, Charles IX, rose to kingship, he appointed Nostradamus assistant court physician. His ancillary duties consisted of treating players injured in the bouncy sport of Court Tennis, invented in Charles's court around that time. He also predicted a champion would arise who would reign for many years and die undefeated.

Suddenly, in 1781, the Index Congregation of the Catholic Church, which never liked his book called Centuries, written in clever, sacrilegious quatrains, began to investigate some of Nostradamus's predictions, sniping away at this exaggeration, that enigma, this veiled attack on the church, and other obscurities. He faded into history.

I had not given any of the above much thought until, while playing Court Tennis at one of the five courts still left in the world -- this one in Chicago -- I became fascinated by a framed photo that hung near the entrance of the snooty building. It showed the diminutive then-reigning Court Tennis champion, bouncy and bald, posing in the French Royal Court, racquet extended playfully for the camera. I was looking at none other than world champion Pierre Etchebaster, a Belgian, then 82 years old and still undefeated.

So much for my credentials. Having ancestors who came over in seerage AND steerage, I think, is a double qualification.

Thus I see the 2012 presidential race shaping up -- the players to be announced at McCain's gravesite or hospital room whichever comes first. For GOP president: Sarah Palin. VP? Who else? Joe the Plumber -- his name manicured to Joe Plumber for bumper sticker convenience.

On the Democratic ticket? Obama, having fallen afoul of Congress for trying to bill Hillary's election bills to an impoverished Bill Clinton, will try to make it as a basketball player-coach and graciously free Governor Blagojevich from jail in time to run with George Ryan as his VP -- two experienced Illinois governors fated by Providence to represent the voters of this great nation. Their symbol...iron bars and a rock pile... If Bill Clinton decides to come on board as Secretary of Everything, they can make a three-way Anti-Impeachment Declaration that would equal their predecessor's Emancipation Proclamation -- in length, anyway.

They will hold over Paulson for Treasury, and make Bernie Madoff and Charlie Schwab the co-chairs of the SEC. When he was a kid, Michael, a favorite nephew of mine, lent his stickball pal Madoff a dime on 64th Street in Manhattan. Two hours later Bernie came back with a quarter, two newspapers, and a hot dog plus an eggcream for Mikey. Who wouldn't invest with the fucker?

Fighting the above, a third party will at last have a chance -- Ralph Nader and Al Gore... Cindy McCain will become secretary of housing, having 13 houses and having had sex, she told Oprah, in only three of them. She's currently undergoing an earlift to block out her husband's daily greeting of "Hello my friend." The suppressed advertising man in me thinks: Might have been fun to have a president put there by her Beer. Old McCain Beer -- Good for the Prostate. Go Like Sixty -- When You're Over Seventy...McCain's Beer. Be A Motherfucker. Knock Her Out Then Up With McCain's Beer and Viagra...A Stiff Drink When It Counts...

Hillary Clinton will have tough opposition in an unsuccessful bid for the 2012 nomination, playing all her old anti-Obama tapes, but this time being challenged by Monica Lewinsky...still angry because she lost her book royalties for Blowing Cool in Hot Times, when she invested them, along with her synagogue's trust fund, with Bernie Madoff.

My crystal ball sees Israel finally observing the Final Solution promulgated by open-minded end-of-the-world fans and other interested parties: they'll give up all lands -- all 1/16th of the entire Arab hectaragon, through which an Arab and his camel ever passed since Thursday, June 23, 321 BC. With all their land -- to be divided peacefully -- how else? -- amongst all non-competitive Arab governments that, in their historic wisdom, promise to treat Israelis and women as equals. The Yids will of course turn over their arms to the Committee of 23 Arab States to be beaten into plowshares. Or to cannibalize and adapt, Cuban style, for parts for the used Russian Migs now en route to Lebanon. If this penultimate peace strategy fails, they will use 23 of their tiniest atom bombs and 5,000 explosive shoes armed with nails and ball bearings -- the ever-popular Kabul Roadside Series -- to blow up all 23 of their enemies. Then in Chagrin (a wailing-wall community not far from the Syrian border) use the final 24th to commit national hara kiri in exasperation and guilt for having angered so many absolutely right historical-hysterical self-righteous pundits. As well as those good-buddy WWII allies -- the docile peace-mongering Germans and Arabs. To say nothing of their avenging Gods and Devils who make them do stuff to a corpsey, beheaded fare-thee-well, like God likes to do when He or She is pissed off and forgets past prayers.

This should not only make the Arab dream of driving Israel into the sea a reality, but also clear the air for a new start on Friday, July 16, 2525, for whoever moves in when the radioactivity finally fades a day earlier.

On the international scene, Sarkozy's delightful wife Barbi will accept my open invitation to pose for my Leica like Simone de Beauvoir did for me, though involuntarily, for a dorsal nude to appear on a postage stamp. With the French phrase for "Lick Me" on the back.

If this could happen during the run of my next Galerie Loeb exhibition in Paris in Spring 2010, that would be magnifique.

The Catholic Church has just paid $1.3 million to the final victim of the serial-perversion priest the police yclept "Lester the Molester." The priest's Archbishop accused this final victim of lying, then supervised the priest's rehab in three different parishes. "None," said the proud press release dated two days ago, "in Chicago." He's now in Winfield, IL, ten miles from the Loop. Prediction: His next move will be 20-25 miles away, heartening several thousand more parents. The church will continue to move its sex fiends and sex funds in mysterious ways.

As you can see, predicting the future is child's play. Alas I do not have the talent of Bush and Cheney, who even as I speak, and despite myriad miles of TV tape, are saying into the teeth of History, "Fuck all that evidence of our lying," and rewriting the past so it conforms to their bloody record rather than their actual recorded quotes.

Vlad Putin and his judo class will form a balalaika quartet whose theme will be "Georgia on My Mind." Larry King, Live or Dead -- he is after all as old as McCain -- will have them on.

Someone should be able to make a bumper sticker to surpass my latest: Keep Them Shoes Flying. Surely Nike or New Balance can do one like: "When you throw a shoe, throw a Nike-swish..." or, "Even your bank says you have a New Balance."

Special kudos to anyone coming up with a bumper sticker saying, in effect: No one except the big networks gives a shit about what time, theme, or term Jay Leno, Letterman, or Stern dispenses on whatever station. They've all become potholes on the airwaves carrying them. There are better places to see smart young chicks plug their flicks.

Happy New Year -- Art Shay


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About the Author

Art Shay is the author-photographer of more than fifty books, the former staff Washington correspondent for Time-Life and Life Bureau Chief in San Francisco. Shay has had 25,000 published pictures including 1,050 covers of magazines, books, and annual reports for such clients as Ford, 3M, National Can, Motorola and ABC-TV. His pictures hang in the National Portrait Gallery (Heffner, Durocher, Robert Crumb) in the Chicago Art Institute. His work is currently exhibited at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (through June 29, 2008) following an exhibition at the Gallerie Albert Loeb in Paris, France. The April 2008 issue of North Shore magazine (Chicago) says that "his pictures have the psychology of Dostoevsky, the realism of Hemingway, and the metaphor of Melville... He's in the Pantheon of great photographers such as Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Strand, and Stieglitz." The Daily Herald (Chicago suburban) of May 5, 2008, called him "the pre-eminent photojournalist of the 20th century..."



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This Edition's Internal Links

2009 Predictions - Swans

Statistically Reckoned Predictions For 2009 - Marie Rennard

Bernie Madoff And The Establishment - Gilles d'Aymery

No Laurels To Rest On - Jan Baughman

Top Predators - Martin Murie

Harold Pinter: 1930 - 2008 - Charles Marowitz

Waiting For Pinter's Funeral - Art Shay

On Stage Chicago - Book Review by Peter Byrne

Indelible India! - Raju Peddada

Exclusive Interview With Prince Hamlet - Charles Marowitz

Ausländer - Poem by Guido Monte & Vittorio Cozzo

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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art15/ashay06.html
Published December 29, 2008 - January 1, 2009