Preface to Bagels, Barry Bonds, and Rotten Politicians
by Burton S. Blumert by Burton S. Blumert
Anna Marie Robertson, "Grandma" Moses, lived 101 years and was recognized as one of America’s great Folk artists in the twentieth century. Her work continues to be exhibited in fine galleries throughout Europe and the US.
Amazingly, she had never painted a stroke until her early 70s!
Well, move over Grandma. Here comes Blumert.
In my first seventy years I had written letters, a handful of articles for trade publications, and my share of angry missives to the Editorial Page. I had composed subscription pleas for the old Rothbard-Rockwell Report (RRR) newsletter and proudly produced fundraisers for LewRockwell.com (LRC).
All good stuff, I must admit, but not exactly creative writing.
And then a fateful day. I was complaining bitterly to Lew Rockwell how shabbily the media was dealing with Pat Buchanan.
"They’re playing the anti-Semitism card against poor Pat and it makes me mad AS hell."
Lew’s response was typically terse.
"Write it up," he grumbled.
On November 1st, 1999, my first article appeared on LRC, followed by more than a hundred others, many included in these pages. I’ll not earn any literary awards, blue ribbons, or Pulitzer prizes, but that doesn’t mean a twit. It’s the rush you experience when editor Rockwell advises that your submission meets his demanding standards, and that you’ve made the LRC page.
Look, we all know that Lew Rockwell stands alone as a libertarian thinker and writer. His prose is crisp, clear, and he never wavers on principle. A wag once wryly observed that Murray N. Rothbard would never win a Nobel Prize in economics because he wrote too clearly. Lew shares that precision with Murray, his great mentor.
But, I have news for you; writing is just another skill for Lew. He is the most exacting and creative editor on the Internet and is proficient in every phase of that craft. I’ve watched him cast his editing magic since 1990 at the old RRR and now at LRC, but what amazes most is Lew’s impact on his writers.
Keep in mind that most LRC authors are amateurs who earn their livelihood in other venues. (I should add that Lew pays his writers nothing, zero, bupkis.) Sure, they glow when receiving friendly e-mails from appreciative readers, but winning approval from editor Rockwell is their true reward.
"Gee, Blumert," a pal observed, "you see things through a warped lens."
"Listen, Buster," I replied. "The only thing funny about you was when you came home from school to find that your parents had changed the lock on the front door."
What is humor? Why do we laugh? Steve Allen, the late, great humorist answers the question as follows; "Humor is the social lubricant that helps us get over the bad spots."
Steve’s right. In most jokes the victim has been betrayed, robbed, maimed, or even killed. He is often stupid and always ridiculous.
Just like the fellow who arrives home early one day to find his wife in bed with his best friend. Our fool runs to another room, returns with a gun and proceeds to point the pistol to his own head. Waves of laughter come from the bed.
"What are you laughing about?," he shouts. "You’re next!"
Political humor takes a different twist. The satirist studies these oft’ dangerous politicians/bureaucrats, extends their cruel and calloused behavior to the absurd, and we laugh. If the satirist is too good at what he does, he may wind up with his head in a noose.
The "loveable" Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides us with overwhelming evidence of such behavior every day at every airport, and we laugh through our tears.
Here is a snippet of pure satire from the essay "Revisiting The Friendly Skies" (p. 20). Blumert is at the Security Check Point and the young TSA agent is about to use the electronic wand on him.
" I hope you’re in good health," she said. "Earlier today I short circuited an old dude’s pacemaker."
"Good Lord," I stammered. "What happened to him?"
"Well, after a few scary moments we finally revived him. It was nice that they gave him a free upgrade to first class."
If you’re going to write political satire, you had better be funny. Not necessarily, "falling off your chair, gasping for air, funny," but the bulk of your readers better, at minimum, be breaking a smile or two.
"Blumert, your last article was not funny. In fact, it was over the line and tasteless," wrote the e-mailer. His outrage was directed at my article, "Blumert Almost Qualifies As A Suicide Bomber" (p. 46).
I knew I was treading on hazardous ice with this piece. After all, nothing is conceptually more horrible than the image of innocent people being blown to bits.
I wrestled with the dilemma of submitting, or not and decided, Yes, that there was no better way to express my abhorrence of this dastardly act.
Dear reader, if you are troubled by anything in this volume, that’s okay. I can handle it. But, if you don’t laugh out loud at least ten times, I will be devastated. You wouldn’t disappoint me, would you?
My deep appreciation goes to Dr. David Gordon for lending his brilliant editorial skills to these pages. Also, thank you, Lew Rockwell for your constant support and friendship through the years. Without your counsel and encouragement, this volume would not exist.
If there are any errors of commission, omission, or anything really stupid in the pages ahead, I would love to place the blame elsewhere, but I alone bear the responsibility.