Red White and Blue Lay-offs

After a brisk hike to the summit of a booming expansion in the late 90's, America suddenly finds itself racing shadows down into the valley of constriction.

We've changed in many ways in the last two months. We've changed in many ways in the last two years. Excess has acquired the faint odor of decay. Decadence has become decidedly un- patriotic. Consumers are buying less. Major League Baseball has proposed sloughing off a couple of underperforming teams. Airlines have shrunk schedules and staffs to the point of eliminating what were laughingly referred to as meals on many routes. Even 60 Minutes is laying off producers, although the negatives in Andy Rooney's safety deposit box of Don Hewitt and the goat seem to be secure.

These are all good ideas. This whole contraction thing is the perfect way for us to connect back. To the basics. To what's important. To get back down to fighting weight. Stripped to run.

But we can do more. Oh, we can do so much more. And I'm just the guy to help. I suggest these Further Necessary Red White and Blue Contractions...

- Politicians. Lose a couple. Especially the ones stalling airport security legislation.

- New wave coffee shops marketing their own CDs. Pushing water through ground up coffee beans qualifies you to push water though ground up coffee beans. They have DJ's and record producers for the other stuff, Mister Barista.

- Restaurant prices. $40 entrees. Still? Hello? Anybody home? Then they continue to cry because people have stopped coming. Makes you just want to hit somebody in the neck with a 10 inch saute pan.

- Michael Jackson comeback attempts. If there isn't a statute of limitations on re-incarnating freaks, there should be. Let's set it at none.

- Banks continuing to charge 19 percent interest on credit cards while the prime rate has dropped below 5. I'm familiar with the protocol of conducting war crimes tribunals after the war, but then again, rules are meant to be broken.

- Bill Gates. Is there any way we can convince the Justice Department to somehow compress his reach and ambition down to something approaching human scale? Kind of a unifying gesture. You know, for the kids.

- Smiley faces. I know. I know. I know. The ubiquitous face of American optimism and pluck. But for Christ's sake, give a guy a break, would ya? Just a wee tad too Forrest Gumpy, if you know what I mean. Makes you realize exactly why the French mock us. What, am I alone here?

Will Durst has a feeling he is not alone here.

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