This past Sunday afternoon, Melinda and I saw "411 Joseph", a wonderful play about the trials and triumphs of a Jewish family by the Group Repertory Company in North Hollywood, sensitively directed by Patricia Lee Willson.
After the show her husband, imaginary bar lush Paul "Cheers" Willson, handed me a cassette copy of the Marx-Lennon stamp story on NPR’s "Weekly Edition" about which I reported last issue. After listening to Bob Edwards complete interview in the car on the way home, I was so flabbergasted, I’m including an almost verbatim transcript here for your reactions:
Bob: "And now a tale of how the breakup of the Soviet Union led to a civil war which led to a brand new postage stamp which in turn has created something of an international incident.
"It all started last summer when a region of the former Soviet Union issued its own rather funny postage stamps ... but there’s actually a bloody and disturbing story behind them. The officials who issued these stamps insist that they are the leaders of what they insist is a new independent nation called Abkhazia . . . inside the nation of Georgia. . . And a few years ago, the Abkhazians launched a civil war against the Georgian government in an effort to break away and become autonomous.
"There have been atrocities on both sides, but United Nations officials say the Abkhazians have carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign against Georgian civilians that rivals what happened in Bosnia. In any case, the Abkhazians desperately want American dollars to fuel their drive for independence; and last year they asked a private stamp company in the United States to help them design and sell catchy-looking postage stamps.
"According to a source at the stamp company who would not to give an interview on tape, someone at the firm remembered a hit comedy album by the Firesign Theatre years ago, called ‘All Hail Marx and Lennon,’ (sic) and the stamps were born.
"And then one day, the ambassador from Georgia, Teto Djabaridja saw an ad for the stamps in the New York Times, and he got very upset."
Teto: "We are upset that it’s, you know, issued by Abkhazia . . .which . . has no right to issue this kind of things. . . to make money on this, you know, unexisting country."
Bob: "So when the Abkhazians issue a stamp, they are proclaiming to the world ‘we are an independant nation that can issue stamps’ and they are basically denying reality . . ."
Teto: "You are absolutely right...it’s a very unusual way to create impression that you’re independant and sovereign country."
Bob: "And your lawyers, I understand, . . . have sent a rather threatening-sounding letter to the International Collector’s Society . . . saying that you want them to provide you immediately with the names and addresses and phone numbers of both people in America who have sold these stamps and who have purchased them."
Bob: "Why do you want my name and address if I’ve bought one of these colorful stamps?"
Teto: "We’d like to find out, you know, who these people are who try to, you know, make money in a very indecent way."
Bob: "So basically every time somebody sells and buys one of these stamps, you consider it a blow against the sovereignty of Georgia."
Bob: ". . . So what’s your favorite stamp? When you mail letters, what do you buy these days?"
Teto: ". . . We’re helping American economy; we are buying American stamps."
Incidentally, the Lennon and Marx stamps are now under full-fledged international attack! The Sony/Apple Entertainment conglomerate has sued the stamp company which issued them, saying they have no right to profit from the image of John Lennon; Sony/Apple says it owns that image. No word yet on how Akbahzia will respond.
(And what about the Firesign Theatre? Any lawyers out there interested in working for free?)
(From Avio Forum, the in-flight magazine of Balkan Bulgarian Airlines as reprinted in the New Yorker. Spelling is theirs, not Aaron’s.)
"WHY visit the House of Humour and Satire?
"Because your car or bus stops at a free parking. You walk about fitty meters without paying recket. Then enter trough the side door (ther is no main entrance yet, but it is planned to be built outside the building), confront a funny little tickert office and pay a funny small price for a ticket. Or buy no ticket at all -- instead pay even less and get abook of jokes from Gabrovo, illustrated by Boris Dimovsky.
"Have you taken a guide? -- this will slow you down -- choose the language of the tour -- Bulgarian, Russian, English, French, German. The guide (mostly a "She") leads you in the first lobby. The choice is: a strong-nerve and sense of humour test in ther Booth of Laughter, the souvenir stand -- the only place where you can buy a half cup, a quarter coin, a tea-set for people with moustache, tableware for unwanted guests, useless souvenirs for your loved ones as well as specialized issues for humour-albums, catalogues, collections of jokes, short stories and postcards. The prices have not undergone any changes compared to the outer world and may sound like a joke too.
"Then comes a panmorama of crooked, straight and broken mirrors that reflect all your inner faces and thoughts. Then you are kindly asked to the fourth floor -- once there you’ll understand this strange order of four."
Gil Kopatch is a 27-year-old Jewish standup comic. So what? Well, he does his thing on television -- in Israel. In an article from the November 8th edition of the LA Times by Marjorie Miller, she tells the story of his extremely controversial appearances on a Friday night variety show, satirizing passages in the Parashat Hashavuah and causing Deputy Health Minister Shlomo Benizri to declare that he’s "shocked to the bottom of [his] soul."
Gil’s most dreadful transgression has been to refer to Noah’s private parts on public television, "Noah danced in his tent with his boulboul exposed."
Well, we know what "Dole" means in Persian, but can anyone out there give us an adequate translation of "boulboul?" We’ll wait.
From that beautiful eyetalian poetess and writeress Vanna Bonta, who has her own website and will be signing copies of her sci-fi mistressspiece "Flight" at Borders at 7:30 in Encino November 20th -- a joke worth repeating:
An Irishman walks into a bar in Dublin, orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more. The bartender asks him, "You know, a pint goes flat after I draw it; it would taste better if you bought one at a time." The Irishman replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in America, the other in Australia, and I’m here in Dublin. When we all left home, we promised that we’d drink this way to remember the days when we drank together." The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.
The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way: He orders three pints and drinks them in turn. One day, he comes in an orders two pints. All the other regulars notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don’t want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your great loss." The Irishman looks confused for a moment, then a light dawns in his eye and he laughs.
"Oh, no," he says, "everyone’s fine. I’ve just quit drinking."
FROM VANNA BONTA:
"Thank you so much for this mention ---- >>and will be signing copies of her sci-fi mistressspiece "Flight" at Borders at 7:30 in Encino November 20th :<< "except it’s *Barnes & Noble* (not Borders)! (The one on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, nearest cross street Havenhurst.) 7:30 to 9 PM (Wine and food afterward at Rosti’s, the Tuscan food place right next door.) Quantum amore, Vanna
NBC reports that the Peruvian airliner that went down with 70 souls into the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 2, did so because workers had forgotten to remove duct tape they’d placed over key sensors which monitored airspeed, altitude and air pressure, after polishing the 747’s exterior. Where’s a Best Boy when you need one?
Dr. John Scialli (inventnor of Planet Zappa) replies to our story about Urban Fairytales: "Ring around the Rosie was not about victims of the Plague but rather a warning for kids to beat a wide path around their playmates who had fallen victim to Roseola, named for the bright red rash which follows a very high fever (104-106). This is a viral disease which kids still get but is no big deal, just one of those rash fever things which isn’t German Measles but in the Dark Ages was deadly. (Next week, the origin of the word pfluffernutter.)" We’ll be waiting.
Brad Shrieber, screen scribbler, teacher, reviewer writes: "I am intrigued by your reference to Eve Merriam’s version of Mother Goose, as I have been sending out on occasion a proposal called ‘OTHER GOOSE: NEW RHYMES FOR DYSFUNCTIONAL TIMES.’ Fer example:
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
It followed Mary everywhere,
Despite her shrieking "NO!"
It followed her to church one day,
The preacher called her "Sinner!"
So that very night, Mary’s mom
Made roasted lamb for dinner.
There was a little girl,
Who had a funny curl
That dangled in front of her face.
She was subjected at school
To much ridicule
‘Til she sprayed certain classmates with Mace."
Associated Press comes through again! In Miami Bitch, a flea-ing robbery suspect was bitten by a German Shepherd named Chuck -- no, that’d be too weird -- named Myrus. "Come here, doggy, doggy!" coaxed petty thief Ricardo "Wayne" Culberson, and then according to patrolman Bobby Hernandez, who collared him, the armed robber and taxi-snatcher bit Myrus on the neck -- a third-degree felony. Myrus has not yet pressed charges.
And from the "real" Chuck Sheperd’s funny "Planet Chuck" from May 14th, the story of an escaped ferret who clammered up a vicar’s cossack at St. Michael’s Church in Bamford, England. Reverand Stephen Grey turned grey, but maintained his churchy cool. "I was trained to carry on regardless, " he intoned, "but I must admit the prayers speeded up a bit towards the end."
© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor