Thursday, January 18, 2007

Art Buchwald Passes Away

Art Buchwald just passed away, and with him one more spark of innocent American humor dies, a tradition that started with Mark Twain. This tradition continued with "The Greatest Generation," and now seams to be fading away in what passes today for humor - mostly cynicism, lewdness, and sophistry. The kinds of things the humorist and intellectual Steve Allen decried before his passing away a few years ago in his book Vulgarians At The Gate. Another example: Joseph Heller, another member of The Greatest Generation, could write biting satire without resorting to vulgarity and the cheap shot.

I admit to enjoying shows on Comedy Central, but it has always been a guilty pleasure for me. I ain't no prude, but I avoid Vegas comedians like Andrew Dice Clay precisely because their vulgar nonsense does nothing to contribute in any positive way to our culture, and in my opinion leads us collectively as a society down a slippery slope that may not have a very funny ending after all.

I will sincerely miss Art Buchwald and those like him. The world is not the same; it has just become just a little colder; and I am greatly saddened by his passing.

Below is something Art wrote in 2002 about Vegas and Homeland Security.

Homeland security by Art Buchwald

( Reprinted from Jewish World Review April 26, 2002 )


It's hard to believe, but Las Vegas has just won the title of "Best Homeland Security Town in America." I went there to find out why.

The first thing I learned is that Vegas has its own satellite in the sky, looking down on the roofs of all the casinos. On the roof of each casino are men staring at TV monitors that show everything going on in the casinos. They are particularly watching the floor bosses. The floor bosses are watching the pit bosses, who are watching the dealers, who are watching the crapshooters. The customers are watching the dealers in hopes of hitting blackjack.

Security men at all the doors are watching everyone come in and out of the casino. Single men are watching chorus girls and single women are watching chorus guys.

The youngsters are watching the animals in the cages and the animals are watching the children.

And the IRS is watching EVERYBODY 24 hours a day.

The film "Ocean's Eleven" showed a group of men robbing a bank at the Bellagio. The reason they allowed the producers to film there is that it could never happen in real life.

Sig Rogich, my informant, said, "Many of the ideas now used by homeland security originated here in Las Vegas years ago. For example, in the good old days, before the town became respectable, the dealers had to stretch out their arms to make sure they weren't hiding any chips in their armpits. It was known as the Bugsy Siegel Stretch."

"In the old days, did the casinos make women empty their handbags?"

"Only if they went over their limit at the slot machines."

Rogich continued. "The beauty of Las Vegas is that everyone knows they are being watched, so they're not upset by it."

I said, "And everyone expects to win, so they don't care who is watching them as long as the watchers promise them the jackpot. What keeps the customers so happy?"

"The shows, the food and the lights. Everyone is willing to pay a price for being strip-searched."

"Is it true that the high rollers are spared the indignities of homeland security?"

"High rollers fit a certain profile, and the casinos want to make them as comfortable as possible. Therefore, we have private rooms where the big spenders can take off their shoes without missing a deal of the cards."


Post a Comment