B70-RL5
FOUL SHOTS
Copyright by Robert Levin, 9/18/02
  

Levin clears his files.

 

I've puzzled over it since last year's playoffs and I still don't understand how superstar basketball players can miss so many of their foul shots. We're talking about guys able and positioned to compile humongous career stats--twenty-thousand women, a hundred million dollars--those are Hall of Fame numbers by any measure. So what's the problem? Are they ashamed to be seen cashing in their free throws? They can give them to me. I'm seriously middle-aged, five-foot-seven, myopic, arthritic and usually nauseous. Not every part of my body is still getting a proper supply of blood. The closest I've come to resembling an athlete has been in the manner of my deterioration; as with Mickey Mantle it was my knees that went first. But shit. I made six of ten just yesterday and it wasn't even my home driveway! 

***

  Since my memory loss is strictly of the short-term variety I have no problem remembering the last time I got laid. 

***

  Can we cut the crap for just a minute? Managed care isn't about reducing medical costs, it's about making money for the people who run and invest in HMOs. 

***

  Is it me or is it Congress? I mean, doesn't it miss the point just a little to allow a "successful" lawsuit against an HMO to result in higher premiums for its members instead of a devaluation of the HMOs stock and a lower annual bonus for its CEO? 

***

  I've never been represented by anyone in the House of Representatives. 

***

  The fitting response to "gatekeeping" doctors who refuse to order certain procedures or make specialist referrals because it means losing a percentage of their HMO take is, of course, to break their collarbones. But short of that, I think physicians found capable of compromising patient care for financial gain should thereafter be addressed not as "Doctor," but as "Mister," the appropriate title for the businessman they've opted to be. It may not seem like much in the way of vengeance, but I've noticed that doctor's get unhinged in a major way when you call them "Mister." (No, I'm not going to bother reconstructing any sentences to accommodate women doctors. Women are supposed to be more compassionate than men. If they pull that "I don't think the hole in your heart is big enough yet to warrant a cardiologist" shit, they don't rate even GENDER recognition--call them "Mister," too! 

***

  When you're put on hold in America you might very well be subjected to a lackluster Naval Academy Choir cover of "Bitch Better Have My Money." But when I called a company in Italy recently I got to hear the entire first act of "La Boheme." 

***

  Mother Teresa's death, coming literally in the wake of Princess Diana's, struck a friend of mine as a mean-spirited attempt to diminish Diana's moment by obliging us to remember who our real saint was. My own take was something quite the opposite. A canonization ritual elsewhere in progress, I thought she'd seized an opportunity to complete her identity with an exit that would go relatively unremarked. I don't know what's required to achieve sainthood status, but it seemed to me that her timing demonstrated how centered she had to have been-- how free of ambivalence she was about the life that she led--and that it was testimony to her attainment of, if nothing else, a state of grace. 

***

  I've been pondering the "offers" to insure my accounts against default that I receive from credit card issuers. I agree that, stifling any chance for me to save money by charging interest rates that would embarrass my local loan shark, these companies have good reason to be concerned about my ability to repay them should I lose my job. But, you know, the peace of mind problem here is all theirs. I myself miss no sleep over the prospect that I may one day be forced to stiff people for whom capitalism is too heady a system--who get much too overheated and giddy when they use it--and who should never have been allowed to participate in a free-enterprise economy. So I'm afraid that, in response, the best I can do is tender a counteroffer. I'll consent to the insurance if they pop for the premiums. 

***

  When individuals or groups demand that I respect them, they are evincing an uncertainty about their respectability--and a need for my reassurance--that only makes me contemptuous of them. 

***

  How slovenly we've become in our pursuit of money is no way better demonstrated than by the loose subscription cards that cascade from our magazines. I appreciate the fact that a lot of magazines are in trouble and I know that good subscription numbers sell advertising, but for me these cards have resulted in only a pronounced aversion to newsstands. And I can't be alone. The choice of having a torso that's permanently bent at an angle perpendicular to your asshole, or leaving a trail of "blow-ins" from your subway stop to your apartment door-- tipping off the entire neighborhood that you've squirreled a copy of "Miraculous Mammaries" inside the annual face towel issue of "Macrame Times"--has to be hurting magazine sales at least as much as the dwindling literacy rate. (It should go without saying that those were arbitrary titles that happened to come to mind.)

***

  Re: The final installment of Ken Burns's "Jazz." Isn't Branford Marsalis the entertainer who used to lead "The Tonight Show" band? What exactly qualified this man to pass judgment on the work of an authentic artist like Cecil Taylor? 

***

  In most of our stores these days, trying to negotiate a simple purchase with personnel who, would be loath to inflict. But it's stores where the salespeople are trained to pounce and hover, and where the security guards greet you at the door like they haven't seen you since you did hard time together, that irritate me the most. Betraying both desperation and a guiltiness about something, they automatically lose any prospect of getting my business. ***

  The real mission of proselytizing religious groups isn't to share a revelation, it's to validate beliefs they're not sure of by securing the agreement of others.

***

  Since I think that, for the most part, the people in charge of educating New York City's children would be more suitably employed as highway dividers, I certainly don't want to appear to be coming to their defense. But it should be pointed out that in its front page story about that faculty-written junior high school graduation program with all the spelling errors, the "Daily News" incorrectly identified "programme" as a misspelling of "program." In fact, "programme" is a legitimate, if chiefly British, variant. Apparently the folks who wrote and edited the "News" piece are themselves products of New York's school system. 

***

  Where can you relax or drop your guard these days? I'm thinking of how stressful and enervating the dumbing down thing has made all but the most basic of verbal exchanges; of the automatic defensive posture rampant greed forces you to take when you enter into the most elementary of financial transactions, and of the increasing incidence of random violence. And I haven't begun to talk about what you have to deal with after you've left your family in the morning. 

***

  Since I get all of the violence and profanity I need at home I only go to the movies for sex. 

***

  People tend to be confused about this. I'm not pro-choice, I'm pro-ABORTION. Okay? There are currently six-billion humans on this planet, most of whom are stupid and unattractive and all of whom show up at precisely the moment I'm in a supermarket aisle and reaching for something on a lower shelf. 

***

  You want to know what's wrong, why I'm so jittery all the time? I'll tell you. It's the egregious flaws in nature's design of the female body. I mean a freshman at Pratt, for Christ's sake, would have known better than to locate the portal to the world in such close proximity to the anus. On the order of something my plumber might try to get away with, this demoralizing arrangement has made the moment of one's birth tantamount to exiting a subway station in downtown Jersey City. Yes, there may have been some practical justification for joining the female genitalia and the birth canal--although I find it interesting that even the manufacturers of Coke machines, and in a time of budget constraints, have managed to maintain a respectful distance between the coin slot and the delivery bin. But at the very least, these organs should have been positioned where the former would be quickly accessible, where the necessity to get undressed would have been eliminated. (The spot I'd have chosen is the side of the neck, just above the clavicle.)

 

[Dan replies- A few points: Regarding that sick bitch, Mama T- Iíd suggest you watch a documentary shot in the late 70s-early 80s about her piligrimage to, I believe Nicaragua, during an earthquake. I recall seeing it on NYCís Spanish-language Channel 31 (with   subtitles). There were many disgusting scenes of what bleeding hearts would call oppressive colonialism but the 1 that stuck in my mind was this- at an Indian hospital Mama T is visiting a sick childrenís ward- there are Moslem & Hindu kids, mostly. They are starving & sick. Does she help? No. To the heathens she offers some bread & vittles ONLY if they will say a Catholic vesper with her. The kids that will not she DOES NOT feed! She was a sick & evil woman- GRACE, MY ASS! Itís easy to nail a Custer, Hitler, Stalin, or Ted Bundy as evil- but that CUNT is right there frying with the boys. Letís hope her skirt-wearing Polish boss soon joins her! Or as the old disco song goes: ĎBurn, baby, burn!í Re: White men & their Jazz obsession- letís face it- the music is dull, the infatuation borders on fetishistic. Rock on, baby! As for abortion- the pro-choice label is for cowards who have ceded the dialectic to lunatics- such as Mama T, Bubby!]

 
Return to Bylines
Bookmark and Share