I’d rather smoke a cigar

I was about to head down the hill to buy a cigar.  It’s one of those forbidden pleasures I engage in a couple of times a year.  In order to curb my usage, I only buy one at a time.  That gives my guilt complex a chance to work on me before I actually lay out the cash.  It’s an awful habit.  Mouth tastes like the inside of a shoe for two days.

So I said to Sweetie “You know what…I think I’ll shlep down the hill to get a cigar.”  She said with a beautiful smile “Go ahead.  You’ll enjoy it.”    OK, I said, I’ll just check my e-mail.  Bad decision.

My home page is Google.  I love it because it pops up quickly and doesn’t shatter my eyeballs with tons of graphics and come-ons.  Unfortunately, it also has the NY Times headlines.  I’ve lately begun to suspect that the Times has joined the ranks occupied by every other rag.  Sensationalism, depression and woe are the watchwords of its day.

Food safety problems slip by inspectors

Stocks Plunge on worries over financial sector

Driver shot dead after rampage in Jerusalem

Francisco Franco is alive and will do outreach for Obama

Well, maybe not the one about Franco.  But all the rest are true and are designed to heighten your depression (isn’t that an oxymoron), drive you to drink, and draw you to the flame.

The Times is in good company.  For example, in the past, I would mount my rowing machine in the early morning, flip on the TV and check the CNN headlines.  I’d even listen to their inane analysis of why we’re in the mess we’re in.  They used to have this little graphic in the lower right corner of the screen that constantly rolled by with the S&P, the Dow and the NASDAQ.  I am blessed with less than perfect vision so I had to squint to read it.  No squinting, no bad news. Perfect, or so I thought.

Last week CNN figured that I’m not sufficiently depressed by market conditions.  So, in addition to the old squint-requisite graphic, they installed a much larger version that covers a full 20% of the screen.  Only Mr. Magoo can avoid it.  I’m drawn to it as it screams negative numbers, heading more negative, relentlessly negative.  Even if the numbers are positive (as rare as the Dodo), I watch like a deer in the headlights as they descend toward the negative.

It’s impossible to pay attention to anything else on the screen or hear the prompter-reading personality offer his negative prognostications.  I can’t pay close attention when I hear that the president who led the Countrywide Mortgage disaster is now making millions scooping up the bad mortgages he created and then selling them back to us using taxpayer money.  No, I’m gripped by that awful market graphic.  If Angelina Jolie were to parade across the screen with both lips and both breasts fairly exploding in my direction, I would probably miss it.

I can’t watch it.  So, thinking that the local news is somewhat more benign and focused on milder events like double murders, arsonists, three-year droughts, and train wrecks caused by engineers who think it’s cute to let a 16 year old run a zillion ton locomotive through my neighborhood, I click to Channel 5.  Even if Mark Kriski is a doofus, how bad can it be?  Escape is near.

 I am greeted by a less expensive version of the CNN market graphic.  The major difference is that Channel 5 can’t afford the cost of instant market updates like CNN.  Instead, the graphic changes only about every twenty seconds.  Not fast enough for day traders, but adequate for folks like me who are frozen in time and space.  So instead of watching the CNN market ticker descend two or three points at a time, it now drops in huge chunks.   Sort of like the face of a glacier falling into the sea.  I’m mesmerized waiting for the next chunk.  I can’t even relish the occasional trashing of the English language or the butchering of people’s names so ably performed by the morning crew.

Maybe I should get that cigar…and smoke it on the rowing machine.


6 Responses to “I’d rather smoke a cigar”

  1. 1 joel March 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    the problem is that you think a cigar has something to do with success. it is as Sweetie says just a cigar. so enjoy and forget that the last time you saw someone smoke one was JP Morgan.


  2. 2 robert March 5, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    i gotta think that smoking that cigar is better for your health then watching them crash our country and then buy it up cheap…so go ahead and get on down the hill…oh yea and if you only get one cigar make it a big one…


  3. 3 bbojai March 5, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    I hope everyone had a chance to watch Jon Stewart’s performance on March 4. I just watched it on March 5. He was brilliant about CNBC, AIG and all the rest. Evidently we can watch video clips online of this episode tomorrow night. I will forward it to as many of my list as I know who will be interested or you can look it up yourself. Just Google The Daily Show.

    I learned from this episode what AIG stands for. Do you know? Try Always Invest in Garbage!

    Love,and thanks, Fred!



  4. 4 Harry Levin March 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Fred, your latest blogs aren’t making me feel any better than watching CNN. I know that the simple solution is not to watch the news but I’m drawn to it like a bug to light.
    As for rowing try Modonna or Shania Twain


  5. 5 Kenley Neufeld March 5, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Gave up the cigars a number of years back; probably about the time I canceled The Nation and the 4 newspapers I subscribed too at the time. Still dip into NYT online (they have a sweet Times Reader program) and read Adbusters for my politics.

    Keep it coming Fred.


  6. 6 Ojaidon March 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Your feedback responses are growing exponentially. Your wit and wisdom is clearly taking hold on a global scale. Freud said it a little differently, though: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” (Not “still” a cigar.)


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