September 2006


Up In The Crown No More


This September 11th, will mark the fifth anniversary of That Day. And little by little, its negative impact continues to spread across the land, in ways large and small.

And so, for example, with each new terrorist threat disclosure— in mind-numbing variations on a theme— the process of boarding a plane becomes evermore taxing.

First it was the many checkpoints of identity verification. Then it was the shoes. Now, it’s the confiscation of a tube of ChapStick® (…or toothpaste … hair gel … bottled water) from a carry-on. One dare not imagine what might next be in store.

If say, some “jihadist” decides to hide an explosive in a tooth cavity, will we now be subject to a dental examine before boarding? (“Say, ah!” “Rinse!”) Or worse, if other hidden crevices in the human anatomy were to be…well…we’d best not go there.

We can deal with the inconveniences of air travel. If we must fly without being able to administer to our chapped lips en route, so be it. We are Americans. We are of hardy stock. We can live with it. We understand.

What we can’t live with—and far less understandable— is the decision finalized by Park Service Director Fran Mainella on August 4th, that the public, permanently, will be disallowed to ascend the steps inside The Statue of Liberty.

It has been deemed both a fire hazard and security risk. Though it is obvious, that the former reason has been added to soften the true concern regarding the latter. In reality, in the 120 years since the Statue opened (October 28, 1886), there had never been a fire or hint of one within its tight passageways (other than perhaps, the metaphoric reference we will make below).

In effect, this means, that no one will ever again enjoy the pleasure, aye the emotional rush felt from looking out at the world through her crown.

Maybe it is because we grew up on The Lower East Side so close to her at the tip of Manhattan; that we are Statue-of-Liberty-ophiles, obsessed with its magnificence as a work of art and engineering marvel; that we are moved by its symbolism of the immigrant experience (see our website) and the raw power of Emma Lazarus’s famous poem …but this one hurts!

Not that we’ve been up to the crown more than three or four times over six decades; the last visit coming some 14 years ago as recorded in our journal:

September 2, 1992

“We beat the traffic and throngs and were up in the crown before eleven. I carried Dylan (our son; not yet four years old that day) up the whole way; some 354 steps.

You could not want a better day weather-wise. Just perfect in temperature and sun and wind and earth and fire.”

No big deal? Perhaps. Traversing all those steps was no day at the beach. And of course, as with all attractions, there were often long lines.

But from this day forward, no one will ever again be allowed the chance to experience this small but cherished moment, as we did that day.

To be sure, the sense of safety we have always enjoyed in this country, can no longer be assumed in a “post 9/11” world. But if you shut down access to those distinctly American touchstones as a tactic in defense of fear, you start to shut down the valves that pump the heart blood to our way of life.

Not being allowed access to the Statue of Liberty, is directly counter to all she symbolizes. The irony here, could not be greater. And we are all diminished for it.

       *                                 *                                 *


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Pluto

(with apologies to Wallace Stevens)


In a world measured in light years
It lasted but a human lifetime:
Deemed planet-worthy in 1930;
From our solar system nixed in 2006


Downgraded to the status of “dwarf planet”
What is to become of its three known moons:
Charon, Hydra and Nix?
Do the sins of the father
Transfer to the sons? Or moons?


Might there now be sober
Of all dwarfs in general?
“Dopey”, demoted, deemed to be lacking
In sufficient levels of human intelligence—
Ergo: Snow White and the Six Dwarfs?


In the interest of political correctness we request
That Dwarf Planets shall heretofore all be addressed
As Sized Challenged Orbital Mass.
(Though SCOM is some circles is accepted).


Size does matter after all.


The Little Enigma That Couldn’t


Nothing is forever.
Even in a universe
Said to be infinite.


Will there be a grace period
This fall on science tests
When grade school kids write
“9” not “8”?
And how do we explain it
To those who hold trust with us?
First Santa Claus. Now science laws?


The planet proceeded the dog
Who first appeared
In the 1930 cartoon The Chain Gang
Mickey’s Pluto being named for the planet.
Walt Disney must be turning over
In his Cryonics tank (an urban legend).


Speaking of Cryonics
Some say: “just an icy ball
Not worthy of “planet-hood.”
Then consider Alaska
Frozen in statehood.



Forget for a moment the status of Pluto;
Consider what has become of New Orleans.


In the future when revisionists
Once again reconvene
To redefine what has been rediscovered
Will we on Earth make the cut?


       *                                 *                                 *


1927: A Monologue of Introduction

(excerpted from a musical Broadway Nights and Radio Days;
August 26, 2006; monologue written and performed by Ron

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. And welcome to the third annual Follies, as we take you back to those Broadway Nights and Radio Days. Yes, take ya’ back to that time in America, when optimism soared like an eagle. In fact like the Lone Eagle himself— Charles A. Lindbergh aka “Lucky Lindy” (singing)

Lucky Lindy! Up in the sky
Fair or windy, he's flying high.

Ah yes, he flew solo clear across the Atlantic and landed in Gay Paree (an aside to the audience) — we liked the French back then—May 21st, 1927.

Yes, “indeedy” deed. Anything was possible. It was after all, (drum roll and symbol clash off stage) “The Roaring Twenties.” (Charleston song starts up in the background ) —flappers ‘n floosies and bathtub gin; speakeasies through which a river flowed of boot-legged liquor, right out of the South Side of Chicago—compliments of… Public Enemy #1, Alphonse “Scar Face” Capone.

America was prosperous and the party was on. And to keep it humming, we were finding new ways and places and people to entertain us all.

On the silver screen… Al Jolson was starring in first “talkie” The Jazz Singer, —(goes down to one knee doing a Jolson voice impression)

Ah, you ain’t heard nothing yet!

And not far behind— Walt Disney’s first animation would soon follow: Steamboat Willie! (Pulls out a plush facsimile of Steamboat Willie from inside jacket pocket).

And Radio, as we will show you later on this evening, was also moving into a brand new day, in a “variety” of ways.

Straight from the campus of Yale, directly to radio station WABC in New York City, came Rudy Valle, setting young hearts aswoonin’, romantically crooning, through his magnificent megaphone (picks up a megaphone and sings through it):

Oh, I’m just a vagabond lover
In search of a sweetheart it seems.

backed by his group, the Connecticut Yankees. It was in many ways…the beginnings of the music and song, that was to redefine the fun-loving spirit of the good ‘ole U.S of A.

You like Jazz? A few newcomers were coming on the scene; inventing it, right on the spot! You might have heard of these cool cats: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong? Thomas “Fats” Waller? “The King of Swing,” himself, Benny Goodman? (picks up a clarinet a blows a long sour note)

But if you wanted a simple story told through the magic of song… well that, that my friend, was the birth of the Broadway Musical, as we have come to know and love it until this very day.

And tonight…we reprise, one such electrifying show taken right out of those Broadway Night’s and Radio Days… a hit which opened on September 6th 1927 (and speaking of hits…Babe Ruth had hit three home runs that very afternoon in a doubleheader against the despised Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park… but I digress) …anyway, this show would not stop until it had clocked, 557 performances, closing on January 5, 1929. Hmmm… 1929.

Of course by the autumn of that year, the news coming out of Wall St. would be bad. And for a while, the party would be over. (sings)

Say don’t you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time;

Say don’t you remember, I’m your pal
Buddy can you spare a dime

The work of the Devil himself.

But for tonight…something heavenly…and the news is all good. “Ladies and gentlemen”, we bring you: Good News! As performed by the Cup of Water Players!

       *                                 *                                 *


Labor Day

New characters had gathered
about the grill
drawn by the promise
of good food and drink;
the scent and sizzle of a work in progress—

the usual suspects were missing.

Chalk it up
to estrangement and churn—
the long drawn out marriages
that have melted like butter;
those we’ve decided to no longer talk to;
others who’ve upped and moved away
for reasons as old as pilgrims.

Still others now lie six feet under.

Chalk it up
to the play of seasons;
the constant hand of change.
Still that one bee wearing
his best yellow jacket
always seems to wind up in the bottom
of a bottle of beer
by end of day.

Someone will notice.

As someone did the year before
and someone before that—
and another still even before that—
and remark about how drunk
that bee must be.
Ironic laughter— the play on words.
Then another will say:
“I can’t believe that the summer is over.”
And someone will mention how delicious the ribs.
“How long did you let them marinate, might I ask?”

Forever my dear. Forever.

Ron Vazzano


       *                                 *                                 *


Humuhumunukunukuapuaa: A Small Fish Story

“The humuhumunukunukuapuaa is one of several species of
triggerfish. Classified as Rhinecanthus rectangulus, it is endemic
to the salt water coasts of various central and south Pacific Ocean
islands. It is often asserted that the Hawaiian name is one of the
longest words in the English Language and that ‘the name is longer
than the fish.’”
The Free Online Encyclopedia

“A bill reinstating the critter, known as humuhumu for short, as the state fish of Hawaii passed the Legislature on Monday, April 17, 2006.”
The Associated Press


So maybe there is hope for Pluto and for us going up in the crown again one day, after all.


       *                                 *                                 *



Web Design by Computaid
Copyright © 2004-2007