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Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Writer's Life 1/29 - Butts, Bailouts, Bathtub

Smoking disgusts me. The following facts, culled from an article in today's NY Post, are not a defense of the practice but a knock on politicians. A recent study found that more than 50% of the cigarettes consumed in New York are smuggled in - the nation’s highest rate. A study by the Mackinac Center says that besides the tax losses, the smuggling activity has engendered violence against residents and police officers, financing of a terrorist organization; truck hijackings and counterfeiting of tax stamps; property damage; and the counterfeiting of name-brand cigarettes that are replaced with inferior products, including smokes from China. The $13-a-pack Marlboros available in Manhattan come with $4.35 state tax levy and $1.50 in city tax. Meanwhile, the city’s poorer neighborhoods are being bombarded by tobacco advertising in order to try to re-enforce brand loyalty against knock-off cigarettes. It's reminiscent of the prohibition era.

Another Post article reports that Elon Musk, the whiz behind electric cars, is so crazed by L.A. traffic that he is building a tunnel to avoid it. Is this legal? How much palm-greasing would it require to make it so? Shouldn't he be wary of being trapped underground during an earthquake?

In an op-ed piece praising George W. Bush, Kyle Smith included this eye-opening stat: the bank bailouts have returned a profit of $75.8 million to the government. I have to rethink my opposition to them.

Meet Siobhan O'Loughlin, Brooklyn performance artist profiled in the Post. She is doing an unusual one-woman show - in bathtubs. Broken Bone Bathtub is what’s known as an immersive theater experience. In this case, a handful of audience members squeeze shoulder to shoulder into a stranger’s john and listen to O’Loughlin, clad only in her rainbow cast and a generous helping of bubbles, share an earnest, meandering account of her accident (she broke two fingers in a bike mishap) and journey to recovery. It’s also participatory. Selected audience members may be invited to share their own experiences or help her wash a hard-to-reach place. Admission is $35. Here's a pic:

Last night MeTV, channel 33 on Cablevision in NYC, ran The Invisible Man Returns (1940) on its Svengoolie program. In researching the cast, I've discovered a new all-time champ in credits at IMDb. Stanley Blystone has 544 listed under his name, edging out Irving Bacon, whose credits have risen from 524 to 542 since I last checked, despite the fact that he's been dead since 1965. I'm sure avid movie fans report sightings to IMDb. What's even more remarkable about Blystone is that he
lived only to 61. How many credits would he have amassed had he lived another decade? His career began in 1924 and ended in 1956. Here are pics of these unsung Hollywood stalwarts, first Blystone:

It was a gorgeous day. I set up shop in Park Slope and felt like I was in hostile territory. There must have been a protest rally nearby, as many passersby were carry signs and placards denouncing Trump. I didn't say a word to any. It looked like the session would end with no sales, then Ting and her boyfriend, who seem like a great match, showed and bought Rising Star. My thanks.
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