Tag Archives: inspiration

WORDPLAY REX

There’s a reason why I consider this post the “king” of the Wordplay Series.  If you continue reading and follow the math, you might just see it as you read.  It is what we all need to know but don’t really want to see:  an inarguable example of our self-destruction and probable demise.  I hope we all see it; we are capable of so much more.
 
As usual, it all starts with one little word, in this Wordplay example, that word is:

profit

prof·it

[prof-it]

noun

  1. Often, profits.
    1. Pecuniary (pecuniary: of or pertaining to money) gain resulting from the employment of capital in any transaction. Compare gross profit, net profit.
    2. the ratio of such pecuniary gain to the amount of capital invested.
    3. returns, proceeds, or revenue, as from property or investments.
  2. the monetary surplus left to a producer or employer after deducting wages, rent, cost of raw materials, etc.: The company works on a small margin of profit.
  3. advantage; benefit; gain.

verb (used without object)

  1. to gain an advantage or benefit: He profited greatly from his schooling
  2. to make a profit.
  3. to take advantage: to profit from the weaknesses of others.
  4. to be of service or benefit.
  5. to make progress.

verb (used with object)

  1. to be of advantage or profit to: Nothing profits one so much as a sound education.

Origin:

1250–1300;  (noun) Middle English  < Middle French  < Latin prōfectus  progress, profit, equivalent to prō- pro-1  + -fec-,  combining form of facere  to make, do1  + -tus  suffix of v. action; (v.) Middle English profiten, derivative of the noun

That’s what we put in the dictionary; its definition, but what about the word’s meaning? A word’s definition is not the same as its meaning.  A word’s meaning is determined by how we use the word in our everyday lexicon and many times, the meaning we give to a word is not even remotely related to its definition.  Or is it?  We are the designers and builders of our own reality, so to distort a word’s definition to give it a meaning that yields some kind of benefit to someone is both wasteful and absurd. We created words and language, assigned the definitions and the meanings; why go through all of the trouble to alter a words definition to achieve a particular meaning as subtly and clandestinely as we do?  It’s almost as if someone or something else had created language and definitions and “we” were purposefully altering something that “they” established as a rule.  Who are “they”?  We’re only fooling ourselves and cheating ourselves and in the end we really can’t, because our sense of self-preservation doesn’t permit it.  We end up facing ourselves in a mirror and the person looking back knows what the deal is.  Let’s start the sequence.  Look at the very last listed definition of the word “progress” above; it says ‘to make progress’.  Progress; isn’t that what life is supposed to be all about?  Making progress?  Improving your ‘station’? Making a better life for our children? You know, progress:  We make progress by making money which is also how we believe our ‘station’ is improved and making money is pretty much the only way that anyone believes they can make a better world for their children.  Progress.  Progress IS profit, according to our own dictionary.  To progress is to profit, also defined as ‘making money’ (definition #1) and that’s how we ended up where we are.  We succeeded in creating a world where the entire point and purpose of a human life is to ‘make money’.  That is what we believe.  Still doubtful?  Okay, let’s continue the sequence.  Given the established and formal definition of the word ‘profit’ just examined, it would be correct to state that since the point of it all is to “profit”, then by definition, all of us would be “profiteers” and the definition of a profiteer should be something to the effect of “a person who works or labors specifically to make profits” or at least that what the rules of linguistics yield.  Let’s see.   Following is the definition of “profiteer”.

profiteer

prof·it·eer

[prof-i-teer]

noun

  1. a person who seeks or exacts exorbitant profits, especially through the sale of scarce or rationed goods.

verb (used without object)

  1. to act as a profiteer.
 Confused yet?  You should be.  If this is the definition of profiteer, then the definition of profit must be “the EXORBITANT pecuniary gain…..”  and “the EXORBITANT monetary surplus…”, but it isn’t, so once again, according to the rules and language and linguistics, by including the word “exorbitant” (defined as “exceeding the bounds of custom, propriety or reason, especially in amount…) a distinction is made and therefore “profiteer” doesn’t mean ‘everyone who benefits from any kind of profit in any way’, it means ‘a person who abuses the practice of profiting’ (because that’s what a person is doing when they make an exorbitant profit).  That slight distinction (sigh of relief) is what lets the vast majority of us off the hook, right?  Please.
 
 Isn’t making exorbitant profit(s) (something that results in a condition called “being rich”) the most celebrated, venerated and admired thing that anyone can accomplish?  It is what everyone strives for today.  It is the goal of every college student, businessperson, worker, unemployed person, housewife and even children.  What is more admired and desired than to be the person who finds a vast quantity of the THING that everyone wants to buy and which sells for $100.00 everywhere, at a cost of $.05 (five cents) and sells a gazillion of them.  Even more admired are those who accomplish this with a THING that is commonly known to be a bauble, or a useless and gimmicky gadget that no one should waste their money on but everyone does anyway.  So powerful is this accomplishment that it overcomes human EGO – it may be one of the few or even the only thing than can do this; the human ego is virtually unrivaled in its power of human behavior.  How, you say?  That’s easy; of all the people who have actually done what is described above; the thing virtually everyone dreams of and strives for, how many have become famous?  Can anyone name just one of the people who have “accomplished” this?  Their names are not generally known and purposefully so, if we attach a name to the act described above; we have identified a crook, but by keeping names out of it, what’s left is the act alone: the practically effortless, virtually immediate and gargantuan accumulation of money achieved by exploiting a systemic defect, in this case popularity and desirability; each a result of the use of human judgment, which may just be the most defective of all systems of any kind.  This has become humanity’s “golden fleece”, it has replaced any and all other purposes or objectives in life, it is what everyone desires (secretly or openly) and it is all that matters.  It is also fraud.  Still unconvinced?  Very well, let’s proceed.
 
Look at the definition of ‘profit’ again; it’s at the very beginning.  Notice how many times the word ‘advantage’ is used in the definition ‘profit’?  It’s even the 3rd literal definition of the word.  As a noun and in the company of ‘benefit or gain’, it’s rather inoffensive and even permissible, to a degree, but it’s also a verb and here things change.  We think that “advantage” is a good thing and a good word.  It’s good to have an advantage in everything and anything; it increases the chances of success of winning exponentially.  It’s even better to have an advantage in any given situation and that no one know you have an advantage, that makes it even sweeter, doesn’t it?  It lets us say things like “They never saw it coming.” and “They had no chance.”  Definitely an advantage is a good thing, perhaps that’s why it’s considered a profit.  Let’s look at the word ‘advantage for a moment.

advantage

ad·van·tage

[ad-van-tij, -vahn-]

noun, verb, ad·van·taged, ad·van·taging.

noun

  1. any state, circumstance, opportunity, or means specially favorable to success, interest, or any desired end: the advantage of a good education.
  2. benefit; gain; profit: It will be to his advantage to learn Chinese before going to China.
  3. superiority or ascendancy (often followed by over  or of  ): His height gave him an advantage over his opponent.
  4. a position of superiority (often followed by over  or of  ): their advantage in experienced players.
  5. Tennis. the first point scored after deuce.verb (used with object)
  6. to be of service to; yield profit or gain to; benefit.
  7. to cause to advance; further; promote: Such action will advantage our cause.
  8. to prove beneficial to; profit: It would advantage him to work harder.Idioms
  9. have the advantage of, to be in a superior or advantageous position; possess an advantage over: By virtue of independent wealth, he has the advantage of his opponents.
  10. take advantage of,
    -to make use of for gain: to take advantage of an opportunity.
    to impose upon, especially unfairly, as by exploiting a weakness: to take advantage of someone.
  11. to advantage, to good effect; advantageously: The paintings were arranged to advantage on one wall.

Advantage  (etymology)

early 14c., “position of being in advance of another,” from O.Fr. advantage, from avant “before,” probably via an unrecorded L.L. *abantaticum, from L. abante (see advance). The -d- is a 16c. intrusion on the analogy of Latin ad- words. Meaning “a favoring circumstance” (the opposite of disadvantage) is from late 15c. Tennis score sense is from 1640s, first recorded in writings of John Milton, of all people. Phrase to take advantage of is first attested late 14c.

Wow!  That’s one powerful definition!  Other than its use in the game of tennis the word advantage defines a characteristic, trait or situation that everyone desires.  It’s the closest thing to a “sure thing” that we can get away with.  It’s also the result of Wordplay of the word “cheating”.  The line between having an “advantage” and plain out cheating does not even exist, we just choose to believe it does so we don’t have to face the fact that it’s CHEATING.
 
Now, let’s do the math.  When you correlate the definitions and meanings of the words “profit”, “profiteer” and “advantage” and factor in the word “exploit” (a word inexplicably absent in the morphology of this entire analysis.  A word so abusively Wordplayed that it is defined – IN THE DICTIONARY – as a “striking or notable deed; feat; spirited or heroic act” AND “to utilize, especially for profit; turn to practical account: to exploit a business opportunity, to use selfishly for one’s own ends”, simultaneously.  Talk about irreconcilable, that’s probably why it’s been eliminated from the definitions of ‘profit’, ‘profiteer’ and ‘advantage’ – it would be a dead giveaway.) an inescapable conclusion is reached:  We have molded ourselves into a world where the driving force behind progress is fraud.  We reward the profit achieved through fraud but not the people who achieve it because we would then need to rewrite the definition of “hypocrisy”.  The money accumulated by profiting from an opportunity where one has the advantage, which is the same exact thing as saying ‘the money that one can accumulate by cheating in business and exploiting the flaws in human judgment in an unfair and biased way without remorse or regard for any consequence’ has become the highest possible achievement in today’s world.  It has become the point to anything and everything, the reason for living, the reason for getting up in the morning, the reason to do anything at all and that to which we owe our time and lives and existence to; it has become humanity’s new religion and money our new diety. 
 
In the end, it’s still fraud and a lie, neither of which work.  After all, everyone knows that the exploitation of a systemic defect is fraud, but it’s still what we want.  At least that’s what most of us choose to believe.  If you are still skeptical, just look in a mirror, no one can lie to the person looking back and that person can’t lie back.
 

Stop believing it.

 

We can do better.

 Citation list:

 American Psychological Association (APA):

profiteering. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 04 Jul. 2013Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved July 04, 2013, from

Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/profiteering

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

profiteering. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 04 Jul. 2013 Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/profiteering (accessed: July 04, 2013).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

“profiteering.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition.  HarperCollins Publishers. 04 Jul. 2013. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/profiteering&gt;.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

Dictionary.com, “profiteering,” in Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 04 Jul. 2013 Dictionary.com Unabridged. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/profiteering. Available: http://dictionary.reference.com. Accessed: July 04, 2013.

BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

@article {Dictionary.com2013,

title = { Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition.},

month = {Jul},

day = {04},

year = {2013},

url = {http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/profiteering},

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Simple Math

If it only makes me feel good; it’s not love.

We can do better.

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Incalculable

I continuously end up utterly perplexed every time I contemplate or think on the fact that at some point in time, we humans found ourselves with an entire planet as a blank slate, incomparably diverse and powerful minds as tools and thousands of years to do something with what we had; and the best we were able to do was turn the world into a scary place; a very scary place. The scariest part is that it appears we actually believe it is a scary place and therefore we live our entire lives – scared.

Without having to exercise any judgment at all, this is, at the very least, an incalculable waste – of so many things..

I may not be able to undo this by myself, but I can choose to not live in fear, so I did and I don’t live in fear. It’s not impossible and in fact, I can say it’s not even very difficult to do, all one has to do is to realize that all the scary stuff is make belief and props – just like in the movies, in fact, the “world” isn’t a scary place at all, we are simply told that it is, over and over again throughout our entire lives and we believe it; because we also believe that everything we are told or read is true.

Don’t live in fear, nothing in the human experience requires that anyone to do so; there’s nothing to be scared of except believing that we must be scared of everything we are told be scared of. There is no math I can write to express this or try to solve it; it is an incalculable thing. Why? Because the world that we think we live in not real and I don’t mean “not real” as in the Matrix movies, but not real in that what we know as our “world” and the inhuman quality of life that these scary, make-believe constructs impose on us and which we authorize by believing them, are NOT an external physical reality with its own will and judgment that imposes itself on us – it’s an imaginary construct and therefore can’t be measured or have a mathematical value assigned so as to compare any of it to the rest of the universe. Why? Because it’s not real. It is overly dramatic and poorly conceived horror story thought up by a few people thousands of years ago to try to get everyone else (who were indisputably believed to be idiots) to believe that certain things were real and scary (especially things that gave some people total authority to dictate what was real) so they could in turn, impose their will on everyone and anyone who believed the story they were told – and everyone believed, all of it; probably because the “few people” who came up with the story were our first leaders; Kings, Emperors, Chiefs, Elders, Lords, Noblemen and their various posses, so who was going to argue? This is how a small handful of us were able to define the “world” thousands of years ago and take control over the every other person living in it and how they continue to control 7 billion of us in 2013 (they still believe everyone is an idiot). In the end; thousands of years ago, before shit and shinola and when no one knew nothing about anything because everything was new, a few of us simply made up all the scary things that make us afraid and subsequently obedient, and we chose to believe them; we still continue to believe it – all of it. It is possible that we will continue to believe it, until we choose to stop, to stop believing the setup story of what amounts to a gigantic con, the biggest one and quite possibly the only one, ever. The “world”, “society”, “civilization” the concept of “sovereignty” and a few other scripted bits of nonsense are not real, they are all simply scary monsters that feed an idea which in turns allows for all humans to believe that us and them actually exists, among other things. They are the grift in the con that goes by the name of human civilization throughout history and our acceptance of all of this as “real” has allowed for everything in human history to be rigged so that the con always favors those “few” who believe they run things, generation after generation. Here’s the perplexing part; those few who have been the authors and beneficiaries of this macabre fraud are people, just like the rest of us, and that means that believe all of this shit too and live in fear just like the rest of us; they are just scared of different make believe monsters and scary things, one that supposedly have class and dress properly.

The only math I’ve ever been able to even scribble regarding this entire incalculable hallucination is that if you add all of it up, the result is zero (0). This means the when you attempt to find any value at all in the rules of the world, civilization and the human condition and the history that they imposed on humanity; there is none in the end. They do nothing and produce nothing, in terms of physics and the real physical universe – in other words it (the whole of human history) has all been for nothing.

Utterly perplexing and mind-boggling.

We can do better.

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This morning….

This morning; February 16, 2013; I went for a walk.  Yes, I said a walk.  I actually walked a whole 6 blocks, just enough to reach a street near my home with a small shopping mall that includes a quaint little outdoor cafe-type place, but where people play Sudoku and a host of other modern-day activities that are still alien to me.  I had come to think there weren’t any of these left, but it was nice to see, just as it was nice to see the two little old ladies sitting at a table in the cool morning air – oh wait, is “little old ladies” still the acceptable term?  I’m not sure if it’s already evolved linguistically, maybe the proper term now is “GILF” (you figure it out).  In any event, the two gray haired ladies were having coffee, coffee!  They were also expertly and furiously manipulating their I-pads, or Galaxy tablets, or any of the devices that we can’t live without.  They were reading the news: the Google news app, yahoo news, etc.  As I passed the cafe, not more than 3 feet from where they were sitting; this is what I overheard one of them say as she read the news app:

-”Oh great!  Shit!  As if all the crap that’s going on nowadays isn’t enough, now we seem to have developed meteors!”    

The walk back home was priceless; I had the biggest smile I’ve had in weeks.  We humans are outrageous, fickle, self-centered and even idiotic at times – but we are also spectacular!  We can do so much with what we have.  I don’t know if we actually will or not, in the face of what’s ahead, but no matter what happens, I love all of you;  all 7 billion of you – after all we’re all we have!

ctwfrank

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As to 2013

During these first 5 days of 2013; I have been asked a single question more than any other, so much so, that I’m posting both the question and my response.

The Question:   “Frank, so what’s your take on 2013 so far?”

The Response: “So far, 2013 has been like backing out of your driveway, with the parking brake on the whole way, and a boot on two of the four tires.”

I have yet to see an indication that 2013 has any intention of starting yet- in any way save that which increases fear, suspense, speculation and the total paralysis of commerce at most levels, despite what one may read or hear from “the news”.

It’s still a question mark as to what this means, it’s up to us.  If we take it as a strong signal of a catastrophic ending, then it shall be so, but if we take the total lack of structure affecting everyone, everywhere; it is also an opportunity to re-write the whole book; you know, the one that needs to be re-written desperately.   It’s up to us: all of us, not some of us.

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A curious observation

Far be it for me to resort to raw commercial endorsements.  No, that’s not what this is about; however

PROLONG2many of you know about the product pictured here:  prolong.  It’s the stuff you add to you your Christmas tree water to keep it fresh during the time it sits in the tree stand.  The stuff works great, but it’s not only that.  It also gives me such a robust boner.

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AS TO CONSIPIRACY THEORIES

I promised, so here it is.

As to conspiracy theories, those unproven high-level conspiracies that include clandestine government plans, elaborate murder plots, the suppression of secret technology and even a grand master plot that will determine the fate of humanity by a secret ruling elite.  There are a lot of these alleged schemes that have consumed years of people’s lives following trails, piecing together events and looking for clues in the hope of finding proof of one.  Almost all conspiracy theories have two things in common:  1:  They are all related or linked to political, cultural or historical events, and 2: They part from a premise that someone or some group of people are in charge and in control of things.

The question IS:  Are any of them real?

The answer is:  No, they are not real, not even the ones that happen to appear like they might.  They are very human constructs, born from the same place as science and literature, but not real.

The math:

If one were to tackle the issue of conspiracy theories with any seriousness, it wouldn’t take very long to realize that the answer to this question is directly linked to one of the conditions always present in every conspiracy theory, namely the premise that there is a person or a group of people that maintain some secret method of centralized control over the infrastructure of the human world.  If one were to find whoever is “driving”, then whoever he/she or they are would also be the source of all of the real secret plots that no one was able to prove because they are simply that good.  The discovery of “who” is “in charge” would prove that conspiracy theories were true.

So, who is in charge?  That is another question entirely.  It is the title and the reason for calculation number 182114.  That math took me 10 years to do and I will never stop kicking myself for taking that long.  Who runs the world?  Who is in charge of making the top choices? Where does the buck stop?  My mistake in doing this math was that I took the questions literally and seriously.  I thought of candidates; The Rothschild-Rockefeller dynasty, the illuminati, a secret sect made up of the descendants of the Knights of Templar (the only group of people in history to ever control all of the wealth in the world, if only for a few weeks), any of the religions that might fit the bill and even the possibility of an unknown super-secret group of people, descendants of the first Kings & rulers.  It didn’t occur to me for a moment that all of these were simply other conspiracy theories. The answer had been staring all of us in the face all the time:  Nobody is in charge.  No one has the ultimate word.  Nobody is driving the Human Civilization bus.  We are today, what we have always been; scattered pockets of humans who run into each other in the course of a lifetime and see who can impose their will on the other.  Not one single leader of any “group” or country or empire has ever contemplated the world in the macro sense.  Nobody has ever considered “all of us”, it’s always been more important for people to believe that there’s us and there is them.  It’s a much more convenient control mechanism.

Conspiracy theories are not true because in the end, nobody is in charge.  There may be some people that think they are, but they are not.  They’re just the leader of one of the many “street gangs” of the world, protecting their turf and trying to look tough.

Finally, the conclusion is simply this:  Nobody controls the events in human history or this direction in which politics and society and people evolve.  If anyone were actually in charge, we would not be in the situation that we are in.  At the rate that our infrastructure is decaying, we don’t have very long before it all just falls apart and nobody benefits from it.  There are no winners when our story plays out, and everybody losing is not indicative of leadership, even bad leadership.

There are no conspiracy theories.  There’s just whatever we decide to believe and do.

We can do better.

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How I learned about Shinola

This is the way that the story was told to me, it is the way I remember it and the way it made sense, it still does.  I don’t know this actually happened or not, but it doesn’t matter, it puts the lesson into perspective. It will tell you the tale in the same exact way; after all it is one of the most important rules of all time.

The story of shit and Shinola.

The stock market crash of 1929 and the great depression that followed was undoubtedly one of the most horrifying and impacting things to happen to a people, ever. By 1933 it had reached its peak.  Most of the pictures that we are familiar with from the “Great Depression” were taken during this time; the soup kitchens, the lines of unemployed people seeking a meal, the apple vendors.  1933 was indeed a very bad year for many. Not everyone was affected, however.  “Most” of the rich from Wall Street is not the same as “all” of them.  There were a few who weathered the catastrophe and they may not have been as wealthy in 1933 as they were in 1928, but they were still “people of means”.

The story takes place during this time.  Among the hardest hit were shoe-shine boys.  No one thinks about this much, but shoe shine boys were as much a fixture on Wall Street as stockbrokers and bankers, after all, during the 1920’s, walking was still the method of transportation of choice and on Wall Street, this meant looking sharp; a tailored suit and shoes that were shined to a mirror gloss on a daily basis by the army of shoe shine boys lining Wall Street.

In 1929, to be exact, a new product was patented and put to market.  It was called Shinola.  It was a shoe polish with a wax base that gave birth to the “spit shine”.  Within a year of being introduced, even during and after the crash, it became the only shoe polish desired by anyone who could still pay for a shine.   By 1933, however, the army of shoe shine boys sat idly, their shine boxes, rags and brushes ready, but not one cent with which to buy Shinola.  They simply did not know what to do and so they took to assembling in the mornings near the Northwest end of Wall Street, where it meets Broadway.  They assembled quietly and just sat throughout the day; during the time that they would normally be shining shoes.  At the end of the business day, they would head back to wherever it was they called home, with nothing more than what they had in the morning.

By the same token, the few wealthy Wall Street gentlemen simply went without their beloved “shines”.  One day, during this time, one of the shoe shine boys decided to not walk up the street to where all of the others would be waiting with an ominous silence. On this day, this one particular shoe shine boy decided to walk the other way, and he walked.  He walked until he got to the Brooklyn Bridge and kept walking.  Back then, there were still cow pastures in Brooklyn, even though it is hard to imagine nowadays. The shoe shine boy walked until his feet hurt and then he sat down.  He put his shine box on the ground as sat on it like one would sit on a crate.  It was only then that he looked up and realized how far he had walked.  He looked in the direction from where he had come and could see the Manhattan Skyline.  He turned to look around and realized that he was in a vacant lot with some grass and a few cows.  The cows looked at the boy with a bored expression as they chewed.  Directly in front of where the boy had put his box on the ground, he saw a fresh, steaming and aromatic “cow patty”.  For a moment, he thought that if he had taken two more steps before stopping and sitting down, he would have stepped right into the pile of dung.  He sat and stared at the pile of shit; there was nothing better to do anyway and this way he did not have to share his misery with anyone, he could take the full brunt of how bleak life was.  So he sat, for an immeasurable and uncounted period of time, just looking at the pile of dung and then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, he had a strange thought.  In some ways, the cow manure reminded him of the one thing he so needed and desired; the instrument with which he practiced his craft; Shinola.  He stared at it and stared at it and thought;
-“They’re almost the same color, and from here they could even have the same texture.”

That’s when it occurred to him.  He looked left and right so as to make sure no one was watching and reached out.  He grabbed a handful of the cow shit and swished it around in his hand, thinking.   He wasn’t sure exactly what he was thinking just yet, but he was thinking.  After a while, he just couldn’t take it anymore, he had to try and see what would happen so he scooped up some of shit in his Shinola tin, took his rag, dabbed it in the brownish goop and shined up the tip of left shoe (it was all that was left that could be shined).  He used his best moves and lo and behold, the poop gave a great shine, in fact it was so good that for just a moment, he could swear it was the shine that only Shinola could muster and for just a moment, he believed it.  That was all it took.  He filled up his tin and two empty cans he found in some trash and whatever else he could fill with cow dung.  Once he had all he could carry, he made his best effort to cover up the smell and ran back towards Manhattan, as fast as his feet could carry him.

The next day, the boy’s cries of
-“SHINE! GET YER SHOE-SHINE RIGHT HERE! ONLY FIVE CENTS!” greeted the rising sun, to the great surprise, and joy, of many.  Within seconds, the first man to get a shoe shine on Wall Street in almost 3 years, stepped up to the boy and said:

-“Well!  Just in time, too!  Looks like I’m first!”  The man boasted as he hoisted himself up onto one of the high stool-benches that were placed by the very patrons of the shoe shine boys, so that everyone walking by could see them and know that it was they whose shoes were being shined.

-“Coming right up, sir!”  The boy smiled back.  He took out his rag and his Shinola tin and got to work as if ne’er a day had passed since he last shined a pair of leather uppers.  The boy had let the cow dung dry out a bit during the night, and covered the tin quickly after dipping his rag so the smell wouldn’t give him away.  Once it was on the shoes, no one could tell the difference.  The boy was good; hunger is an excellent teacher.  In no time at all, the gentleman’s shoes where like two mirrors, gleaming in the morning sun.

-“There you go, sir.” the boy said, shyly and just for a moment, he almost hesitated, but he didn’t; he reached his hand right out, palm up where a shiny dime landed firmly, almost as if choreographed.  A dime!  A dime for a five cent shines!  None of the boys had EVER been given an entire nickel as a tip before!  The boy’s entire face lit up almost as much as his benefactor’s, who slowly got up from his perch, ruffled the boy’s hair and said: -“See you tomorrow, kid.” before continuing his walk; much slower now and making sure to greet everyone he passed.  Word spread quickly and by noon, the boy’s hands hurt.  He huddled backwards into a niche between buildings, and emptied out his pockets.  He had nearly three dollars!  THREE DOLLARS!  That would feed him, his parents and his two brothers for a week, and it wasn’t even high noon!  By the end of the day the boy added another two dollars to his daily total and it was only then that he realized that he has shined one hundred pairs of shoes and could expect the same every day!  He loved that cow manure!

One by one, the other boys approached him, simultaneously in awe and shock.  The boy looked at his friends coming towards him and reacted; covering up his tin and protecting it, like a prized treasure.  One boy asked:  “Where’d you get the Shinola?”  The boy hugged his box tighter and said “Leave me alone, all of you!  You’re not going to take it from me!”  He ran off like a bolt, straight home and fell right to sleep, exhausted.

The next morning, he gave his mother $4.50 of the $5.00 he had made.  People say that she cried tears of joy for a solid month. He kept fifty cents, thinking to buy a supply of Shinola and continue his journey towards his good fortune.  On the way to the general store, he thought; “Wait a minute!  Nobody knew the difference!  Why should I spend this money on real Shinola when the cow shit is free, after all, they do the same thing!”  He turned the other way and went to the Candy Store and had himself a Malted Milk with two scoops of ice cream for breakfast!  He had actually believed his own lie.

The boy shined another 100 pair of shoes that next day, and 100 more for each day after that for 5 days.  His grin was so wide it challenged the great breadth of Broadway itself.  Everyone was HIS regular customer and he was only shoe shine boy on Wall Street, all thanks to cow’s four stomachs and what they left behind.  He would run to the field in the late afternoons, filling up his tin with more of the precious brown goo that had made him so happy.  Yeah, it wasn’t really Shinola, it was better than Shinola!  He laughed to himself all the way back across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, all of this took place in late July, did I mention that?  Oh, yes, it was the dead of summer – and a hot one.  Manhattan was hotter than anyone wanted to even guess at, and then some.  The few rich men who had been getting their daily shines from the boy paraded themselves back and forth on Wall Street; to their meetings, their lunches and dinners, their offices and their homes.  None of them were the wiser; no harm, no foul thought the boy.  The summer sun thought otherwise however, and after five days and five layers of cow shit on all of those shoes it began, to cook – actually to bake.  Baked cow shit on leather; I don’t know if I can even imagine what that would smell like.

On the fifth day after shining his first pair of shoes with the manure, the benefactor of that shine was having a luncheon meeting with another businessman together with their respective wives.  They were in the fanciest restaurant around, high noon on a Wednesday.  The place was packed with the few businessmen left in a country gone bankrupt.  At exactly 12:07 pm.  The caked on dung on that first man’s left shoe, where the first dab of cow shit was so carefully applied five days before, finished baking and cracked, a slim plume of heat escaped from the crack, rising higher from the ground.  In seconds the other shoe also cracked and a plume of shit-steam began to rise from it as well – and then another, and another!  In ten minutes, the restaurant smelled like an outhouse.  When it no longer became possible to ignore, it was that first man to have his shoes shined who spoke first.  He threw his napkin on the table in a fit of rage and gave his lunch companion the foulest stare he could muster and blurted:  ”Well, Sir!  I never…”  The sheer insolence of the accusation brought the other man to his feet immediately and he retorted “What say you, man?  Me? Look to your own loins for the source of the stench, non to mine!”  Almost immediately, the same scene played out at virtually every table, and the few rich men left in America, found themselves having a knock-down, dragged-out bar-type brawl in the fanciest eatery on the Lower East Side.

Back to the first man, the one who got the first shine and who started this brawl, he received a jarring left hook that floored him.  The man landed with a THUD, right at his opponent’s feet.  After recovering his wits, he realized he was no more than two inches from the man’s shoes and saw the cracks that had formed where earlier there was the shimmering mirror-like shine.  The man took in two enormous breaths of the stench before recognizing it and screamed; “Bull Shit! This man shined his shoes with bull shit!” and laughter roared from his belly.  It spread quickly too, calming heated tempers with the thought of a man resorting to bull shit to shine his own shoes!  That lasted for about thirty seconds before every other man realized they were in the same predicament.  The laughter suddenly came to a screeching halt and a dumbfounded silence hung in the air – no one knew what to say, they had all played the fool that day.  Once again, it was the first man who spoke:  “The shoe shine boy!  We all got our shoes shined from him; he’s the only one out there!  He’s made fools of all of us.”   The men stormed out of the restaurant and straight towards the boy’s spot on the side of the road.  When the boy saw the literal stampede of men coming at him, he didn’t have time to even react.  They were upon him at once and literally kicked the boy’s ass all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge where they warned him to never show his face on Wall Street again or they might just forget he was a boy.  He was never heard from again.   His first customer was ridiculed by all of his peers for being the first sucker to buy the cow shit shine and the ensuing lambasting ruined him and few others as well.  These were tender times, after all, there was a Great Depression going on – but not so great that an entire city couldn’t stop to laugh at one man who could not tell the difference between the cow shit that was used to shine his shoes and the Shinola that he thought adorned them.   Sure, you could hardly tell the difference in the shine.  In the end, they both shined your shoes, but one of them is SHIT.   No one is allowed to make that mistake, ever.  And so it was that it came to be that to know the difference between shit and Shinola is one of the more important things, literally or metaphorically, that we must all never forget.

That is how I head the tale, one warm day in December in 1973; I now give it to all of you.  Share it if you like, remember it or forget the story, but never forget the lesson.  Shit can imitate many things, but in the end, its shit and we know this from the onset.  Remembering this will save your life; more than once, without fail.

I always say that we can do better.  Maybe this is a start.   I love you all; all 7 billion of you.

Ctwfrank.

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