2004, June. Yiddish schlimazel was one of the ten non-English words that were voted hardest to translate by a British translation company.
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:
1. Sign emblazoned on the front of an Indian made to order tailor shop on the main road between Paradise by the Sea and the Outskirts of Hell:
“ONCE TRIED, NEVER TRUSTED.”
2. Jomtien Beach Paradise Condominium pool rule # 5:
“MONTHLY VISITED; SKIN DISEASE NOT ALLOWED”
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
I leave today. I do not know when I will get a chance to write again, but if I do not get an opportunity before I return, please have Happy Holidays.
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Attached is Chapter 2. It is primarily back story and semi-autobiographical (the bane of inexperienced writers like me. I assume one grows out of it) It most likely will be dropped or redistributed in any final version, if there ever is a final version.
He arrived at SFO at 11:30 in the morning. If he rushed he could check in at the posh Fairmont Hotel on the crest of Nob Hill in San Francisco, shower, shave get a bite to eat from room service and walk the one block from the Hotel to the Cathedral where the service was to begin at one o’clock.
During the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel, the thought of Sam’s death prompted him to drift into musing about his own life.
Vincent Joseph Biondi was the eldest son of Marsha Cohen Biondi and James (Jack) Biondi. Vince as he was called was named in the Sicilian tradition after his paternal grandfather Vincent Biondi who with his new wife Elisa during the early part of the twentieth century left the little mountain top Sicilian town of Muselmeli whet they lived and whose only claim to fame was that it was the home and hideout of long time mafia chieftain Salvatore Rinna and emigrated along with many of their neighbors to the United States.
Vincent and Elisa settled in the working class Italian neighborhood in Yonkers New York called Nanny Goat Hill. Vincent eventually got a job in downtown Manhattan as a cutter in the fur trade. They had two daughters Regina and Seraphina neither of whom ever married but they were inseparable and happily lived together their entire lives.
James the middle son called Jack because his name was Giacomo in Italian, was born in 1925 in their rented house on the slopes of Nanny Goat Hill. After a stint in the Army, at the end of World War II , Jack returned to the Yonkers and joined his father’s trade. There he met his wife to be, Marsha.
The New York fur trade at that time was mostly run by Eastern European Jewish families with italian and jewish working class laborers doing the cutting and sewing of the fur coats that would then adorn the backs of the wealthy New Yorkers who could afford such things.
Marsha was a refugee who along with her aunt Estelle were the only members of their family to escape the Holocaust in Poland.
She worked for the same company that he did. They worked together in a large room, matching thin strips of fur, usually mink, to one another, tacking them to large plywood boards containing the pattern for the garment and finally stitching the narrow pieces of fur together to make the fur coat. The job was tedious and required great skill in matching and sewing the pieces together.
They married, in spite of the strong objections of Jack, Elisa and Estelle. They settled in Yonkers in a duplex on the Hill near Jack’s parents and Estelle came to live with them. Two years after Vinnie was born Marsha gave birth to a baby girl who they named Estelle. Jimmy the youngest was born three years later and Marsha declared that was rough children for her.
In the neighborhood, because his mother was Jewish, Vinnie was often called neighborhood the older boys in the “Kike”. His parents wanting Vinnie to have a good education struggled to send Vinnie to private and, parochial schools or when they just could not afford it, to public schools in good neighborhoods where they lied about their address to get him in. In these schools, not knowing his mother was jewish and often bereft of many other italian students, Vince was at times referred to by the other students as “Guinea” and by one teacher as the little WOP. Vinnie had a lot of fights during this time in both his neighborhood and his various schoolyards. At times he seemed to get into a fight or two almost every day. He lost most of them. That is probably where he developed his pugnacious nature and his heightened sense of insult.
Anyway after a checkered academic career through high school and a local Jesuit run university he drifted into law school, a fitting career given his Jewish and Sicilian genetic makeup except Sicilians in Italy and here in America preferred government service to the private practice of law while their Jewish brethren appeared more attracted to private practice. Vinnie, true to his genetic background bounced around between government jobs and private practice.
After the breakup of his first marriage Vinnie, as he usually did when things got bad, decided to pull up stakes and get away from it all. So he migrated to San Francisco California where due to a number of unforeseen events he, to his surprise, ended up as a partner with the esteemed McKenzie Reed Law Firm.
Vinnie never considered himself a particularly good lawyer. What attracted the Firm to Vinnie was not his legal acumen but his knowledge and experience with and in politics. Not the glad handing, back slapping and stabbing kind but the back room deals and payoffs that real politics was all about. Vinnie excelled in negotiating and revising bits of pending legislation so that the firms clients could maintain or preferably increase their income and wealth at the expense of the public.
It was also a plus that Vinnie was also a staunch member of the Democratic Party in an otherwise Republican firm. While the firm had many contacts within the Republican party, they needed entrée to the Democrats on behalf of their clients whenever that party was in power in the state or federal government. Vinnie fit the bill.
Vinnie mostly hated his clients as well as many of his partners. But because he was quite vocal in firm meetings about injustices he perceived being foisted on the employees, paralegals, associates and junior partners, as impervious to personal approbation, the other partners elected him to the management committee, primarily to shut him up he figured.
1. From the Princess Bride:
Fezzik: “You never said anything about killing anyone.”
Vizzini: “I’ve hired you to help me start a war. It’s an prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition.”
2. The Wisdom of Baba Giufa:
Seeker: “Baba Giufa, what is the nature of God?”
Baba Giufa: “Kingfish.”
Seeker: “Kingfish! What does that mean?”
Baba Giufa: “Do you agree that in God is contained the ideal of all things?”
Seeker: “Yes, I think so.”
Baba Giufa: “And do you not also agree that when you look around you in the world most of what we consider success has been obtained by fraud and deceit?”
Seeker: “Well yes, I guess I mostly agree with that too.”
Baba Giufa: “Then you must also agree that, Kingfish is God.”
3. Today’s Cognitive Bias
Information bias – the tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action
“A father shall immediately put to death a son recently born, who is a monster, or has a form different from that of members of the human race.”
Roman law of the Twelve Tables (Table IV, Law III)