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Constructive comparisons between 1919 and 2021

I’m back. Listen, every 40 years I take off two weeks.

It’s the new year. For females, new time for fake nails, fake lashes, fake hair, fake teeth, fake boobs, fake behinds, fake cheeks and fake whatever else works. In olden days nobody had these things. Nobody had money either. A 1915 manicure — using high-gloss car paint — under a quarter. The manicurist kept the change. A man earned $687 a year. In 1920 a car — $500. Gas in 1915 — 12 cents a gallon. NYC apartment — $60 a month. Air-conditioning was a broken window. Milk — 9 cents. Bagels — with or without a schmear, this I don’t know — 6 cents. Women’s shoes — $7. Men’s — $3. Movie theater — back when we had those — 15 cents. High life was a radio — $35. Couple’s night out at a diner — 70 cents. First-class stamp — 2 cents. Life insurance — a buck a month.

1919, a century ago, summarized as the worst year in 20th century American history, got us the rotary dial telephone and Hotel Pennsylvania as the world’s most popular hotel. Plus revolution. Terrorism. Race riots. The flu pandemic’s third brutal wave. Workers on strike. Progressives pushing. Citizens feeling alienated from the government. Bombings in the first wave of U.S. anarchy. President Woodrow Wilson: “I predict with absolute certainty that within another generation will be another world war.”

Now with more laffs

Forget that everything old is new again. Now everything new is new again. Chris Rock has a spiffy upcoming Netflix special, due Jan. 12. The thing’s called “Tamborine.” His recently old special had programmed in it a very few very special laugh-grabber knee-slappers that somehow got left out. Not one to overlook a guaranteed guffaw that somehow got sliced onto the cutting room floor, he has now mixed into this new special some of his special leftover jokes from that last special special.

Have a for-instance: “Racism doesn’t stop. Now it’s called ‘prices.’ Prices is the new Jim Crow. A Four Seasons doesn’t say ‘No Blacks Allowed.’ But a $4,000 dollar a night hotel suite sure does.” Four Seasons will clearly be thrilled with this product placement.

Pay attention

From 2015 to 2019, NY, the milk cow, sent $116 billion more to the feds than it got in state aid, while Mitch McConnell’s home state Kentucky — of which surely some of you have heard — got $148 billion more than what it contributed … Also, there was just an upstate ad “against wealthy NYC people’s intrusion.” It actually said “NO MORE NYC people moving here” … And my year-old interview just reappeared on Town & Country magazine’s web site. Not sure why but I thank them for making me immortal.

Know your rights

Some are saying one who gets a pardon can no longer refuse to testify by pleading the Fifth. He’s required to spill his beans. Threatened by serious jail time for another crime, loyalty goes south. A commutation is more limited. The conviction stands, and possibly putting yourself in further jeopardy remains. But your Fifth Amendment rights stay in place. To help a buddy, but be sure you aren’t forced to roll over and provide dangerous testimony in future, commutation is the best bet. Just saying.

Farewell, friend

I was away and wanted to say one more goodbye to my great friend Howard Rubenstein. NYC was Rubenstein country. He repped the Big Apple’s big names. Visit his Park Avenue apartment — Hillary was in it. Or Al Gore. Or some president. Or Trump, Murdoch, Steinbrenner, Leona, the Cardinal, UJA or that 10-minute Brit Duchess Sarah Ferguson. We all loved LOVED Howard.

Discussing his profession over Zoom: “Odd how nobody ever asks a proctologist how does he do his work.”

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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