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Volume 3, Number 6
June, 1998

The National Asylum

by David Mandell

 Looking at the news lately, you have to wonder if we have become one big Mad City. The most famous name in the nation's capital is Lewinsky and its biggest cultural attraction is Kenneth Starr's grand jury room. Competition for the top ten acts of lunacy has been spirited but the winners are:
  1. Sandy Berger, the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States takes a break from preparing for war with Iraq to give a policy briefing to John Travolta. When questioned about his priorities, Berger claims he was just getting the star's autograph. One can imagine Saddam Hussein, huddled in his bunker, fearing that new American germ warfare plot, code named Saturday Night Fever.
  2. Paul Simon creates a Broadway musical, The Capeman, and his investors lose eleven million dollars. The Capeman recalls the story of a double murderer in song and dance. To Simon's surprise, theater goers are reluctant to spend seventy five dollars for an evening with a killer. The New York Time's critic likens The Capeman to an animal needing to be put out of its misery. As the play is mercifully canceled, Simon talks about a Capeman concert tour.
  3. The dean of Fordham Law School, John Feerick, arbitrates the dispute between the National Basketball Association and Golden State Warrior player, Latrell Sprewell. Sprewell, under a year's suspension for choking his coach, wins the arbitration. Feerick reinstates his contract and overturns Commissioner David Stern's year long suspension. Sprewell will resume his estimated sixteen million dollar contract once the NBA season concludes. The dean finds that choking the coach is not an act of moral turpitude. Students at Fordham Law School will now be given the opportunity to choke their professors when a poor grade is awarded.
  4. In Connecticut, a judge orders criminal charges dismissed against a defendant because the judge says he is too busy to conduct a trial. An incredulous prosecutor reminds the judge that his job description includes judging. The judge scoffs "do whatever you want" and sets the defendant free. The state Supreme Court overturns the judge and rules in a landmark decision, that yes, judges do have to judge.
  5. Courtroom madness continues in Florida. Flight attendants sue the tobacco companies claiming exposure to second hand smoke caused them to suffer illness. Shortly before the trial concludes, the attendants settle with the industry and celebrate their victory. When the fine print is read, the attorneys rake in an estimated forty nine million dollars while the attendants win only the right to sue again and incur more legal fees. You have to wonder if the attendants were exposed to another form of smoke on those airplanes.
  6. Time Incorporated celebrates its seventy fifth birthday with a celebrity party at New York's Radio City. Time boasts that the planet's most important people are its guests. Included in Time's pantheon is Dr. Jack Kavorkian. Fortunately for Time, no one eats spoiled food and needs medical assistance.
  7. If Dr. Jack's presence was not enough madness, the mayor of New York announces a campaign to make New Yorkers be nice to one another. Barricades are placed on the intersections to prevent jay walking and New York's finest are assigned to catch the miscreants crossing against the streets. Meanwhile the Mayor proposes spending millions of the city's treasury on building a baseball palace for George Steinbrenner, the millionaire owner of the Yankees.
  8. The professional golf tour expends enormous effort in a losing court battle to keep golf carts off its tournament courses. The tour directors claim that carts will damage the integrity of the sport and many ill informed people (myself included) buy their argument. Some of the legendary figures of golf testify that the carts should be banned. Yet on the very next tour event, the players use the dreaded carts to accommodate the time demands of the television network. The golf tour executives easily win the hypocrisy championship.
  9. The United States Olympic Committee sends National Hockey League all stars to Japan for the winter Olympics. The presence of the pampered all stars is supposed to introduce hockey to the masses. When the US team loses some players trash their rooms, proving that they can be just as obnoxious in Japan as they are in the US.
  10. The ultimate act of madness comes from our prison system. A convict facing a midnight execution asks for a cigarette with his last meal. The warden denies the request, citing the prison's smoke free policy. We can't risk the inmate getting cancer before we give him the needle tomorrow.
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