Saturday, February 12, 2011


I’ve just finished The Faber Book of Utopias, edited by John Carey. It consists of descriptions of Utopias from ancient Egyptian to present day.
Beginning with an Egyptian Tale from about 1700 BC, when fictional narrative emerged after 1938 BC. In “A Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor” a retainer tries to comfort his master who is sailing home from a failed mission of some kind. On a paradise island, a devine snake can suffer misfortune and overcome it. E.i., stoic endurance and self control will win the day. It was only translated in 1820!
The Greek Poet Hesiod wrote “Works & Days” about 700 BC. He describes the Four Golden Ages, where life was perfect, food falling off trees, etc. Probably from an earlier Zorostrian myth.
Plato’s “Republic” is more renowned. About 360 BC, he described Socrates’ version of a perfect world. However, it comes out as a totalitarian world of compulsion & authority, with three classes - Rulers, Auxillories (Police, etc.) and workers (us!). The masses needed to believe “A convenient Fiction” or “ Noble Lie” (Brainwashing?) Favored censorship as well as controlled breeding. (I’m outa here!).
Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ 1667, shows what a great life Adam & Eve had in the Garden. Not exactly like the bible, these two had lots of sex and fun!
Louis Antoine, Comte de Bougainville, 1771 described Tahiti, a real Utopia we all still want to go to. However, the are always mosquitos in paradise as his crew ended up with venereal disease from screwing all the beautiful young girls there. (Life’s not fair!).
Oscar Wilde’s ‘ The Soul of Man under Socialism’ of 1891, really advocated Anarchy more than Socialism. His aim was to shock people into thinking, an exercise, he believed, they seldom undertook.
Karl Marx wrote ‘Critique’ in 1875.
Samuel Butler’s ‘Erewhon’ most people will remember.
Hilton’s ‘Lost Horizon’, at least we saw the movie.
Hitler’s ‘Mien Kampf’ of 1924 was always a best seller.
Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, 1949, has come and gone, except some of it came true.
The last one of the book is Lee Silver’s ‘Rembering Eden’, written in 1998
Utopia means nowhere or no-place. Distopia a not so nice place. But all try punishing criminals, not punishing criminals, and exterminating them are all methods of turning people into Utopians. We all have our own personal Utopias. What’s yours?

When I was a kid (1935), almost all the funnies were written for young people like me. There were a few exceptions, even in those days, like ‘Krazy Cat,Pogo, etc. I just realized the other day that almost all our funny papers are made for adults. What do the kids, see? Just cartoons on TV? Maybe Peanuts is still for kids, although Shultz’s humor has been that little tykes think like adults. Do little folks understand that?

It’s a funny world, though. Look at how I get my news of world events. Jon Stewart’s The Dailey Show. The Colbert Report and now the Onion News ( “News Before it’s Made”). I tried to watch the supposedly real news shows the other evening to justify my curiosity that it was absurd and could only spend about half an hour of my getting more precious hourly time before I had to abort. Let me tell you young wippersnappers (Whatever that means) how we used to get our news other than from the radio. Everyone would usually get to the movies at least once a week. The main feature (Casablanca) would be preceded by a cartoon (Mr Magoo, Roadrunner) as well as a short ‘Pathe News ‘ reel of about five minutes. It would strickly show actual events that happened the previous week usually, but only accompanied by a narrator describing the scenes. Talking heads were unknown. Of course, it was all in Black & White color.

WORD FOR THE DAY (Just in from the Gulf)

Toilet paper - You can tell a lot about a country by their toilet paper. When I first got to England, I was appalled by their TP. It was kind of like thinner wax paper! What the hell! Didn’t they know it was supposed to be kind of absorbing the stuff you were trying to wipe off? The French, they use a pink paper in a pile of small individual sheets that disintegrate when you try to use it. The Italians? They don’t give you any. I always carry a roll of TP whenever I travel to Europe, as God knows, you’re going to need it. Don’t forget to take a small flashlight into the loo with you as the light switch will invariably turn
off before you are finished and leave you floundering around in a unfamiliar toilet trying to finish up in pitch dark.
Back home here, your choices are unlimited. In my search for the true grail of TP, I have tried them all. The long & short of it is...The more they advertise, the crystal worthless the product. I finally settled on the cheapest one, Ultra-somthing from Safeway. It has all the right stuff. Easy to start unrolling without ripping half the roll apart trying to get thru the glue part, sheets tear easily and where you want them to, double sheets, strong enough not to fall apart easily, etc..

While we’re on paper products, why did it take a hundred years for Paper
Towel people to come up with “Select-a-size’ rolls? I suppose the executive who thought that up is now basking in Bermuda in his condo, enjoying the rest of his rich life on the beach. Even now, it seems there is only one company making it. And just try to find rolls that are not printed with some inane bullshit pattern that I wouldn’t have in the house in the first place. Life is soo hard!

Since I’m getting too close to the first part, we’ll skip that & talk about income tax for the Feds. I am beginning to think that exempting religions from paying taxes is not a rational decision. I know, we have determined that they are supposedly a ‘Non profit’ entity, but can you imagine how much money that must cost the US? If they’re so non-profit, how can they build Crystal Cathedrals costing millions in Anaheim? Fortunately, Billy Graham is just about dead so he won’t be giving all our presidents advice on how to run our country. Maybe Obama will be able to turn a deaf ear to the Christians anyway, as long as he doesn’t give to much to the Muslims. Most good Xians , Jews & Muslims give 10% of income to their churches, allowing all the priests, rabbis & mullas to lay around all day in luxury. Just imagine if all those zillions went to the Feds we could have continuing wars all over the Middle East. (As if we don’t already). Do you think we could look at our Health Care and maybe get it as good as Holland or France?

Being a history buff and having lived in the Islands for a year as a kiamana beach boy I recently got curious about where pineapple came from. Well, here’s the skinny - The Pineapple originated in Paraguay (That’s in South America) and somehow got to the Carribes at the time of Columbus (This area is kind of sketchy). By the 1600's the plant had gotten to the Phillipines and not until 1813 did it finally arrive in Hawaii. The rest is the history of Dole.
Now sugar cane originated in India before 600 AD. By 770 it had gotten to Bagdad and Egypt. The Sabres of Paradise brought it over to Spain thru North Africa around 1400. It wasn’t long before it got to the West Indies and on to Phillipines and later to Hawaii. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that sugar beets in Europe were cheaper and the market went to hell.