Posts filed under “Press Clippings”


The De Fitte Motors Corporation has announced a recall of all De Fitte De Lay sedans, coupes, and station wagons for the years 1963 through 2024 inclusive. Consumer organizations have reported numerous incidents of brakes failing, axles rolling away, steering wheels breaking off at the stem, and rhinoceros attacks on De Lay vehicles. Owners of vehicles affected by the recall are instructed to return their vehicles to the nearest De Fitte dealer, where an interlock will be installed that will prevent drivers from operating the vehicles if they (either the drivers or the vehicles) have been in contact with a liability attorney.


Sir: I am appalled. I am also outraged. It would not be too much to say that I am incandescently furious.

What is the object, you ask, of my white-hot indignation? I have forgotten. It has been years since I was able to specify the cause of my appalledment. All I know is that I have been appalled for a good long time now, and in those years I have built up heaps of appalledness, a fortress of appalleditude, an appallation mountain as it were. I am appalled when I rise in the morning. I am appalled while I eat breakfast. I am appalled at work all day; I am appalled when I come home to my efficiency apartment; I am appalled when I lay my head on my pillow.

It is, in short, my state of unrelenting appalledification that gets me through the day. But I was not always so fortunate. I had to teach myself the skills I have so laboriously built up: no one taught me to be appalled this way. In school, outrage was not even a whole class, let alone the main focus of my education. Only in history classes was any kind of outrage specifically taught, and even then only in conjunction with very limited subjects, like slavery. Anyone can be appalled by slavery! Where’s the skill in that? It would not be too much to say that it took a lifetime of careful training and desensitization for the slaveholding classes not to be appalled by slavery.

What we need is a complete reform of our educational system. Throw out all the useless detritus of the past, which only a misguided reverence for tradition keeps alive. Children don’t need to learn math, because we have calculators on our phones. Children don’t need to learn to write, because we have artificial intelligence. Children don’t need to learn to read, because we have YouTube. What children do need is the skill to be appalled all the time, without the need of a particular subject to be appalled about. They need to learn the art of nonspecific outrage. Perhaps, if I may offer a suggestion, they can be taught to be appalled about their own education, and then it will be easy for them to generalize from there.

“Mad Marvin” Blitzmueller, M.Ed.


Sir: I write to address the most egregious example of senseless discrimination and thoughtless bias in the modern United States. I refer, as your readers will already have surmised, to the naming of sport utility vehicles, or SUVs as they are known in the trade.

Just run down the list of SUVs marketed in the United States. Chevrolet Tahoe, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Wrangler, Kia Mohave, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota Sequoia, Kia Telluride—one after another, we find vehicles named for places in the American Southwest, or for things associated with the Southwest.

Where are the SUVs named for places and things in the American Northeast? It is the most populous part of the country, and yet in the whole list of names I could only find one, Acadia, that might arguably have something to do with the Northeast. We search in vain for a Buick Utica, or a Subaru Sebascodegan, or a Hyundai Connoquenessing. We find no Jeep Stockbroker or Toyota Prothonotary to romanticize the typical native occupations of this land of legend and adventure.

Now, I could make the economic argument. I could point out how citizens of northern New Jersey would flock to dealers to be first in line for a Nissan Perth Amboy. I could enlarge upon the surefire appeal of a Chrysler Throop in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. I could make an unanswerable argument that a Kia Nantucket would revitalize the languishing limerick industry not just in the Northeast but nationwide.

But I prefer to stand on the moral high ground. This is a matter of elementary justice. A whole quarter of the country is suffering, and what shall we do about it? Shall we not say to the people of Fitchburg, “Yes, you are good and valuable people, and worthy of having an SUV named after you”?

And also, can we please stop beating around the bush and just call them station wagons? We’re not fooling anybody, you know. —Sincerely, Anne-Louise Cabot-Lowell, President, Acmetonia Chamber of Commerce.


On the advice of expert consultants in law enforcement, your Grant Borough police department has decided to implement Broken-Windows Policing. The results have been gratifying. So far we have broken the windows of five stores on Grant Avenue, all of which had failed to contribute to the Police and Troopers’ Lifestyle Improvement Fund in January. In related news, we are pleased to report that contributions to the Police and Troopers’ Lifestyle Improvement Fund for February were up 238%.


Unusually cold temperatures caused a water-main break in the Twenty-Second Ward early this morning. The Water and Sewer Authority has sent a truck full of cheap red wine for affected residents to drink until the situation is resolved.

The Allegheny Extinguisher, Document Safe, Fireproof Tile, and Asbestos Safety Curtain Company warehouse in Chateau burned last night with a loss of all contents.

Two employees of the city accounting department, fired on Thursday, were reinstated this morning after it was demonstrated to the Deputy Director’s satisfaction that “percolation” and “peculation” are not the same thing.

In the latest reorganization of Catholic affairs in Pittsburgh, all Latin Rite churches are scheduled to become Byzantine Rite on March 14, and all Byzantine Rite churches will become Latin Rite on the same date. Maronite churches remain unchanged for the present.

Acrisure yesterday terminated its agreement for naming rights to the football stadium. The naming rights were purchased on the same day by the China National Native Produce and Animal By-Products Import-Export Corporation.


Sir: Owing to some embarrassing misunderstandings, it has become necessary for us, the members of Citizens Against Poverty, to explain our organization’s purpose and goals. Misinterpreting the name, some people have conceived the notion that we intend to fight poverty by making everyone uniformly prosperous. If we indeed held such a risible notion, we should deserve all the derision they could heap on us. Even if we lived in a science-fiction socialist utopia, it would still not be possible to make truly uniform prosperity a reality. Instead, it is our purpose to address the problem of poverty in a much more practical-minded and feasible manner by killing all the poor people. Some may call our program cruel, but a thinking citizen will see that it is in fact the opposite of cruelty to put the miserable out of their misery—to remove them from a world that has demonstrated that it has no use for them in the most concrete and unambiguous fashion possible: namely, by making them poor. If there are among your readers any forward-thinking, compassionate, and above all rich citizens who would like to see an end to poverty in our lifetime, they are earnestly invited to submit a membership application with signed credit report to our secretary, Mr. Grenville Handel-Barre, in care of Citizens Against Poverty, Fox Chapel. —Sincerely, Astoria Handel-Barre, President, Citizens Against Poverty.


Sir: After what I have been through, I have a right to speak out. After the things I have suffered, to remain silent would be simple dereliction of duty to my fellow human beings. It would be nothing short of irresponsible for me to fail to warn the world. No one ought to suffer what I have suffered when the means of preventing such suffering could be so easily made available. Our great nation must surely have the manufacturing capacity to produce enough posable James Buchanan action figures to render it unnecessary for any other soul to be put through what I have endured. Instructions for the poses could be distributed in a smartphone app automatically downloaded by every mobile operating system, so that citizens would be prepared in case the worst should come to pass. Posters could be placed in subway stations and post offices and pachinko parlors and other places of public resort to show what the danger looks like and the five warning signs to be observed in the neck hairs of otherwise normal persons. Schoolchildren could be taught mnemonic rhymes, such as “If it’s blurry, make a slurry,” or “Always drink before you blink.” Most importantly, mental-health professionals must be taught the difference between a well-informed citizen and a delusional nut case with no grip on reality, because no one ought to suffer what I have suffered. —Sincerely, The Man with the Fax Machine on His Head.


City police responded to a report of a robbery in progress at Big Tony’s Muffler & Exhaust on Bland Street yesterday afternoon. Responding officers did not arrest Big Tony, explaining to the citizen who had dialed 911 that mufflers really do cost that much these days.

City police responded to reports of gunfire in the 3700 block of Guthrie Street. Arriving officers found Miss Elzevira Pockett popping the bubbles in a roll of bubble wrap. Officers asked her if it would kill her to take up knitting instead.

Bozar the Clown was arrested at his home last night. He was charged with being quiet and law-abiding in a suspicious manner for more than six months.

Artist Eli “Bonkers” Johnson was arrested in Stanton Heights and charged with being weird in a normal neighborhood. He was released without bail on the condition that he would go somewhere artsy like Lawrenceville if he wanted to be weird like that.

Police are asking witnesses with information about the theft by embezzlement of the Police Informant Reward Fund to keep their mouths shut if they know what’s good for them.


Sir: What is to become of future archaeologists? That is the vital question that no one is asking. It is all very well to talk about environmental responsibility and honoring Mother Earth and other such foofaraw, but a healthy environment will do us archaeologists no good if we are unable to function in it.

The archaeologists of the future will be simply delighted with the late twentieth century and the early twenty-first. Think how much they will have to learn! A consumer culture that wraps perishable items in printed plastic, and then throws the plastic away into giant repositories, is a culture that is practically devised with the needs of archaeologists in mind. Think of the treasures for future archaeologists to discover in the smallest municipal landfill! Why, the libraries of Nineveh or Nag Hammadi are nothing in comparison.

But now come these environmentalists and their parade of thou-shalt-nots, and city councils start banning plastic bags. How will future generations know what supermarkets their ancestors patronized? And worse yet, under the pervasive influence of these insidious ideas, or perhaps I should say the insidious influence of these pervasive ideas, major suppliers of consumer goods are beginning to advertise that their packaging is biodegradable. Biodegradable! Has it never occurred to them what a disservice they are rendering to the archaeologists of centuries to come? What if the Epic of Gilgamesh had been written on biodegradable tablets? But that is exactly what we are doing with the marketing copy on every biodegradable package. Think how future generations will lament the loss of “Brenneman’s Wheat Shards Are Your Best Fiber Friend”!

What can be done? The ordinary citizen can do much. Above all, I urge your readers to sign the pledge currently being shoved in their faces at busy corners in major retail business districts. It has been difficult for us to compete with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many of us proudly bear the bruises and black eyes incident to such competition, but we have established a presence that cannot be ignored in every business district in the city. Sign the pledge to patronize only retailers who stock properly packaged goods, goods whose packaging will convey a wealth of information to archaeologists centuries or even millennia from now. One person may not accomplish much, but millions of us working together cannot possibly fail. We must all do our part to build a better tomorrow for archaeology.

Montague F. Pickenspade,
Archaeologists for a Better Tomorrow


Sir: When are we going to rein in these artists? They have lost all sense of discipline. Art is completely out of control these days. I was just in an art gallery looking for some free wine and cheese, and I happened to glance at some of the paintings on the wall. Do you know what I saw? Pictures! They were pictures of recognizable people and objects rendered in colored paints! I saw a portrait of a woman in a business suit, and a picture of a bowl of fruit, and some sort of seascape with waves crashing on rocks.

What makes these artists think they can get away with this stuff? Images like those are what cameras are for! Art is not supposed to have recognizable things in it. It is supposed to be splotches of paint in random patterns, or straight lines, or—better yet—a blank canvas with an explanatory plaque. These things are art because no one enjoys them, and the purpose of art is to create a visual expression of the unenjoyable. Art is supposed to be a purgative experience, a mortification of the aesthetic sense that leaves us feeling hopeless and empty, so that we will be easier to control. But these—well, I can only call them pictures, not paintings, and they are not mortifications at all. Some of them were quite pleasant to look at. Art that is pleasant is art that is not doing its job.

It is clear that artists are not capable of regulating their own behavior, so it is time for the government to step in. We have agencies and bureaus. We have a whole National Endowment for the Arts. What are these government agencies for if not to tell artists what to do with their brushes? We have standards for food additives, standards for education, standards for packaging. It is time we had strong and enforceable standards for art. What do we pay taxes for, anyway? We have a right to expect art that is depressing, confusing, boring, and above all non-representational.

Therefore I am calling on our elected representatives to shove all other business to the side until this pressing emergency is addressed. This is a bipartisan issue if ever there was one. Every citizen, of whatever ethnicity, gender, religion, or party, has the right to aesthetic mortification. It will not be an easy struggle. Bureaus and agencies will have to be created. Inspectors will have to be hired and trained. Government agents will have to be armed and transported to offending galleries. But it will be a struggle that will unite America.

—Sincerely, Hickory K. Crosshatch, Concerned Citizen.