No matter how smart you are you spend much of your day being an idiot. Hmm… I hate to advocate cigars, alcohol, drugs or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me. Self-righteousness has killed more people than smoking. So why is the government minding Grumpy’s business?…

Besides too much reading, writing and over-exercising, two other vital activities that keep me from killing assholes are drinking — perhaps a tad more than a tad less — and smoking cigars. Do you think five or six a day is a tad too much?


And what I really like to do is drink a beer while having a cigar at Grumpy’s where they always have the game on. In fact, most everyone I know there – even my imaginary friends — have long smoked at Grumpy’s corner tavern in South Philadelphia. Especially ‘Grumpy.’

Or did.

That is before Grumpy – aka Joe — got an official letter last week. I think it was from the Liquor Control Board. Or the city Department of Licenses & Inspections. Or some such bureaucracy of fascist puritans.

In case you’re having a mind fart, a puritan has the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be having a good time. Or at least finding some contentment on this planet.

And the fine is gonna be at least $1,500… or much much more. For smoking without a license — even though Grumpy has applied and been inexplicably denied a smoking license for years!

And when Grumpy, who fulfills the aging physique of a middle-aged linebacker who never removed his helmet, lugubriously informed us, the entire cabal of 30 or 40 regulars just slumped. It was as if someone stuck a pin into the steroid-muscled guys so deeply that even their girlfriends’ tattoos sagged lower than their breasts.

What a revoltin’ development!

And you can imagine the hootenanny of outrage and protests this bummer elicited. The emotional halitosis spewed. Cavemen grousing around an illegal campfire.

‘This ain’t right!’

‘For this I pay taxes?!’

‘We are becoming a communist country!’

‘The city is a bunch of assholes!’


How erudite. Man making use of his intelligence – inventing more stoopeedity. Such as it is with Philadelphia public schools’ finest.

A few approached me for some verbal tutoring.

I explained that I don’t give out free advice no mo’.

So they bought me a beer.

Hmm… If we are what we consume I am cheap, fast and easy. So I studied their disturbed faces for a nanosecond and reckoned: A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stoopeed ones who need the counseling.

So I asked these congregants gathered about the altar of truth: How many of you freemen voted in the last election a couple of weeks ago?

They searched my deleterious words like a hungry wolf sniffing its prey. And finally a mighty, sculpted one, who must have been AWOL his whole high school year of mental health lectures, growled: What’s duh point. It don’t change nothin’!

Au contraire!

I said if you don’t vote you can’t complain. I noted that if you can’t decide whom to vote for, then do as I do: Always vote against – usually against the incumbent. That way you keep turning the crooks over before they get to steal too much — like Grumpy’s right to have a smoking bar since just about all of us smoke in here. In fact any proprietor should have the right to make his place smoking or non smoking. An owner is not going to do something that is bad for business. The business of America really is supposed to be about business.

Isn’t it?


Your only remaining power in this fascist state, I continued, is your vote. Even if you lose, the powers-that-be get nervous. Now you’re a voting bloc. And they have to contend with you. Organize. Sign petitions. Assault your committeemen. Ward leaders. Councilmen.

In other words: Never underestimate the power of ‘stoopeed’ people in large groups, making politics very personal.

Our job, I said after a long, deep quaff, is to make a noise so over-deafening that when we are no longer here our silence is even more deafening. The government should be minding its own business – whatever that is. And we should be minding ours.

In other words there are more than enough no-smoking places.

Apparently that wasn’t exactly what they wanted to hear. Because it required work. That is, working on much more than their steroid muscles. In other words, working smart. They wanted some instant high-strength gratification. They wanna break ‘sumting.’
You know: Put me in coach I wanna kill my dinner.

It not that I am adverse to violence — that and drugs , alcohol and cigars have always worked for me.

Nevertheless I tried to explain in simple words of few syllables that a democracy is the most difficult form of government there is. It requires an educated, enlightened involved electorate.

And, as my oft quoted dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy used to exhale between omnipotent puffs on his omniscient corn cob pipe: The reason our politicians are able to rob, rape and pillage so easily is because the rest of us are too busy watching fooootbawl!

Now, I posed, do you want to whine and bitch? Or do you want to exercise your right to protest?

Hmm… I must have been speaking a language with which they were unfamiliar.

The trouble for them seemed to be that this democracy thing did, indeed, require work – which to them is anything other than drinking, getting laid and watching what other people do on TV.

“Children of a lesser g-d,” I snorted, “if you don’t work on politics, politics will work on you.”

At that I related my episode the day before at my local pharmacy – one of the largest chains in the country.

The pharmacist, a Southeast Asian woman whose serious eyes are too close together, said she couldn’t refill my anti-gout Allopurinol pills because the prescription was expired. But I needed them that day – not after she or I could track down my doc and get my 28 years on the pill renewed.


Anyone who has been afflicted with an attack of gout can well identify with the pain screaming women endure giving birth – only it comes out your big toe. And I often reminded my doc that the best medicine I know for rheumatism is to thank the Lord it ain’t the gout. But if it is, allopurinol is about the oldest, most effective ancient mariner on the market. It is no more potent than aspirin.

So I pleaded with my dominatrix pharmacist to use ‘common sense.’ And do what pharmacies do in Europe – that is not require a doc’s prescription for most non-narcotic pharmaceuticals. And perhaps she could obtain the ‘mandated’ prescription faxed later from my physician.

She said that while she may not agree with the law, she was just following orders – which is precisely what all ‘fascist puritans’ utter.


At that moment I was not calm. I thought about explaining to this female-canine that that which is not ‘just’ is not law. But instead, in exasperation, I snorted something to the effect that if she didn’t give me my damn pills – now! — I was going to take my gout infected foot and stomp on her bloody throat.

Hmm… Obviously I needed a cigar… and a beer…

In addition I said I was going to return with a letter I would write that she should use as a petition and get her fellow puritans here and at other stores to sign. It will simply notify the authorities that you were going to begin giving out non-narcotic pills – with or without a prescription. So cease and desist the stoopeed law and let sanity reign.

The steroid-muscled lamenter at Grumpy’s interrupted: “She’s not going to do nothing,” he groused.

Au contraire, moi bon amie.

What she did do was fill my prescription – then and there.

And if she did it for me because I was making a noise, then she will do it for you, I said. And you… and you… and you… That’s how you start creating change — you make a noise that is over-deafening…

My fellow beer consumers needed to drink much much more to relieve lingering bouts of doubt. Finally I offered that: If you think your voice is too small to make a difference, try sleeping in the same room with a mosquito.

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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