MAD DOG: How Come Our Heros Aren't Sandwiches?
Everyone wants to be remembered after they're gone. That's why cemeteries are filled with tombstones, libraries are overflowing with autobiographies, and subway cars are covered with graffiti.But there are better ways to go about this. One is by donating your money instead of leaving it to your ungrateful children -- not only does this ensure a form of immortality, it also has gives you a tax deduction and revenge at the same time. Typically, a few million dollars will buy you a building named in your honor at the college of your choice, a philanthropic foundation which can hand out grants to people who can't make an honest living, or if you play our cards right, a couple of politicians.Another way is to invent something. Thomas Crapper gained immortality when he came up with the flushing toilet. Samuel Morse was lucky enough to have a code named after him which no one uses anymore except to tap out S-O-S while sitting in their attic wearing an aluminum foil helmet hoping to contact aliens. Alexander Graham Bell had a huge telephone company preserving his name until the government decided to break it into a bunch of little companies with names like Bell Atlantic, Bell South and Nynex, the latter not being named for Alex but rather for the Greek god of busy signals. But the epitaphial jackpot goes to German inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a man who will be remembered as being the namesake for both a dirigible and a rock band that won't go away despite having broken up a couple of millenniums ago and having been grossly overplayed ever since.Then there's politics. Generally speaking you need to be a winner to have a building, monument, or unneeded dam project named after you. That's why we have things like the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building. Okay, so sometimes being a winner isn't nearly as important as looking good in women's clothes.This means that in any given presidential election you can safely assume that one person will end up with something named after them while the other will wind up as a hard-to-find footnote in the World Almanac. Lincoln has his memorial. Franklin Roosevelt will soon have his. Even George Bush is going to be honored if the Senate has its way. They recently passed a measure that includes a provision to rename CIA headquarters the George H.W. Bush Center for Central Intelligence. Not bad for a guy who only spent a year there.Presidential wannabes don't attract this kind of attention. Do the names John Fremont, James Blaine, and Walter Mondale mean much to you? And what about that Republican from a few years back who helped us sleep through the debates -- what was his name? -- oh yeah, Bob Dole.Interestingly, it's Dole and not Clinton who's been honored first. While Clinton's name has been attached to a bunch of lawsuits, Dole has already seen a Washington landmark named after him: the Robert J. Dole balcony.That's right. High on every D.C. tourist's list of places to visit -- right after the White House, the Bureau of Engraving, and the store where Monica Lewinsky bought her kneepads -- is the Robert J. Dole balcony. In case you missed it on your last trip to our nation's capital (Motto: "Over 10 billion crimes committed!"), it's probably because it didn't exist until a few years ago. Well, the balcony existed, it just wasn't a national treasure yet.You see, when Bob Dole resigned from the Senate so he could concentrate on annoying the Democrats, his congressional colleagues knew they had to honor him. After all, he was the longest running Senate Republican leader in history who didn't end up behind bars. Maybe the only one.While most businesses give retirees a watch after 35 years of service, the United States Senate gives out balconies. This really isn't as great as it sounds, since it doesn't tell time, you can't use it to hypnotize anyone, and worst of all, it's too big to wear on your wrist. On the plus side, though, it's easier for tourists to find: just look outside Dole's old Capitol office, which is right by the Howard Baker Suites and down the hall from the Lyndon Johnson PAC Money Night Depository.Luckily Bob Dole wasn't an entertainer or he would have been awarded a sandwich rather than a balcony. For reasons that died with George Burns, entertainers are commemorated by either having a star embedded in the sidewalk on Sunset Boulevard or a tuna, chopped liver, and pastrami sandwich named after them at the Stage Deli in New York City.While legend has it these sandwiches were invented by -- or at least eaten by -- their namesakes, the truth is they get their designation so the same tourists who go around Washington looking for the Robert J. Dole balcony will ask a Stage Deli waiter for a "Henny Youngman on whole wheat toast," causing the waiter to think, "I wonder if Moishe can still get me that Uzi he said his cousin was trying to get rid of?"Maybe sandwiches would be a good way to honor politicians. A Jesse Helms would be crab with deviled tongue. A Newt Gingrich would be anything on a Kaiser roll. A Gerald Ford would be a Sloppy Joe while a Jimmy Carter would be peanut butter and jelly. A Ronald Reagan could be pure ham and cheese (though sometimes they'd forget to include the cheese) and, instead of a balcony, Bob Dole would be remembered as a mayonnaise sandwich on untoasted white bread. And President Clinton? That's easy. Just rename the Whopper in his honor.