February Letters: The GOP, Vaccines, NYPD Blue, Archie and More

Top illustration by Tim Forkes

Welcome to month two of the year. May it find you COVID-free and ready to enjoy another Groundhog Day. I always make a point of reminding you that had you elected me POTUS in 2016, Groundhog Day would be a national holiday. However, unlike some losers, I won’t cry over lost elections. Instead, I will simply share my fan mail.


Dear Jim,
Other than power and money, are there any other reasons why Donald Trump would want to be president again? At his age, is it worth the grief?
Confused By Donald

Donald J. Trump YouTube screenshot

Dear CBD,

Normally, power and money are enough reasons to entice anyone to run for the presidency. However, in Trump’s case, there is a third reason, and it is a big one; executive privilege. Trump is finding out how expensive it is to fight the law when you are not in the Oval Office. He figures if he is president again, he can stack the Justice department and FBI with his ass kissers, and they will work toward dismissing any charges against him. The best way to avoid prison is to be in charge of the legal process. What better way than as POTUS?

Dear Jim,
Should we be fearing getting into a war with Russia? Is Ukraine worth going to war over? It seems we should be outraged over Putin’s power play, but instead, all we are doing is “talking” to him. Why aren’t we doing more? If we won’t defend them, what’s the point of our huge military?
Wondering What We Stand For

Dear Wondering,

You ask several good questions. Let me see if I can answer them.

The only fear we should have is getting drawn into another long drawn-out war that is not winnable. We are not about to get into an all-out war with Russia and we are not able to pay the cost of such a war after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost us trillions. This is not to say we should not be outraged. We should. Defending Ukraine is more in line with preserving the freedom of nations than going on a terrorist hunt in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, no one in our nation, save for a few leaders glued to the military complex, want to see us in another war.

Vladimir Putin is a smart man and knows this. He understands timing is everything. Much like he did the last time he used military force while he hosted the Olympics, I will be surprised if he does not do it again while the world is distracted with the games in China. Putin also knows we have enough concerns with the Chinese government and are in no way able to fight a war with both superpowers. If we defend Ukraine, we are powerless if China decides to make a move on Taiwan.

The point of our huge military budget is to tell the rest of the world our penis is bigger than theirs, but we fail to forget their brains are bigger than ours. While we try to flex our muscles for onlookers to marvel over, we fail to invest in our infrastructure, green energy, education, healthcare, and just about everything else other nations with small manhood can do. We are no longer feared because we do not defend freedom and democracy nearly as much as we defend corporate greed.

Dear Jim,
I thought I was reading an article from The Onion, but it looks like we are now transplanting genetically altered pig kidneys into humans. Is this wise or has science and medicine gone too far?
Concerned About Science

Dear Concerned,

Yes, it is true, pig kidneys, or as I call them, Pigneys, have arrived. This is happening because there is a shortage of viable human kidneys, thanks to authorities cracking down on black marketers who prefer stealing them from unsuspecting people who wake up on a park bench after surgery. It’s the next logical step after the famous advertising campaign, Pork: The Other White Organ.

Apparently, the next thing doctors want to use pigs for are genetically altered noses. Why go through the discomfort of plastic surgery for the perfect nose when you can have one grown specifically for you? Already, they are working on the Tom Arnold the Pig and Kevin Bacon noses for men, Pretty Piglet for the ugly kid, Babe’s Button Nose for women who want to look sexier, and the matching Petunia and Porky Honkers for couples who want to look like siblings.

Dear Jim,
You recently made fun of how Trump and DeSantis both are from Florida. Can you take a serious moment and predict who will emerge as the next GOP presidential candidate, assuming it’s neither of the two?
Thinking About 24’

Dear Thinking,

Map of Florida
(United States Geological Survey)

I can’t say logically who it will be because I find it totally illogical so many people still gravitate toward Trump. In fact, when some of these fans of his are interviewed, it makes me question how sane these people are. Just today there were folks claiming they want to see Trump run and have JFK Jr. for his running mate. First off, these people believe Kennedy is alive and well and his death was a ruse. They also believe the 2020 election was a sham. I would not be shocked if they said they believe Tinkerbell is Trump’s mom and sprinkles him with pixie dust that gives his skin its orange glow.

Let’s also not forget, these are people who believe it is more important to own guns so you can use them the next time they storm Congress than it is for ALL legal citizens to have a right to vote. Now add in the sheer number of gutless white men known as either senators, congressmen, governors, or clergy who embrace this guy, it’s not within my realm to consider a serious person as a possible GOP presidential candidate.

What I will predict is a continuation of this nonsense while the evidence of Trump’s participation in the events of January 6, 2021 mount which will result in two things: Trump will be arrested before 2024 and his name will be placed on ballots as a third-party candidate while he runs for president while awaiting trial in prison. And if this happens, he will most likely take 30 percent of the popular vote and finish ahead of any GOP candidate, but behind Joe Biden.

Dear Jim,
It seems like ever since the death of Michael Jackson, we keep seeing more and more stars dying way before their time. Is this my imagination or are singers, actors, comedians, and other stars passing away earlier than ever?
Constantly Sad Fan

Dear CSF,

I do not keep track of the average age of the death of any sort of star, celestial, or entertainer. Here is what I am aware of, celebrities die early and often in shockingly sudden manner. Because they do, they grab headlines one last time as compared to the aging entertainer we have not seen perform in decades.

Superstardom is not for the faint of heart. Their sudden passing is primarily because they have achieved such a great level of fame. Because of this, they have people in places who can keep their private battles out of the news. Many people had no idea that Tom Petty had a serious addiction to heroin in the 90s. Knowing this, it might not be so shocking he died of an accidental overdose of pain medication.

Who knew about the chronic pain suffered by Prince? Unless a star announces they are dealing with a serious issue, we spend our time marveling at their talent.

Being a performer also requires being “on” all the time. We have no idea just how physically demanding it is to be a rock star and go on a world tour for eight months. The demands of touring often result in drug use that eats away the body. Taking something to get you high to perform is followed by taking something strong to bring you back down, which results in something like the use of both cocaine and heroin. When a tour ends, there is the pressure from a record company telling you to get back in the studio to record. Long recording sessions and little sleep result in more drug abuse.

Also, these celebrities are different from athletes and are not being drug tested or in physical training year-round. You don’t get a body like David Crosby doing CrossFit but needles and powder will do it. And yet, he’s still alive somehow just like that crazy old chain smoking and beer guzzling uncle of yours.

Just remember, for every Betty White, there are the Deans, Presley’s, Jacksons, Sagats, and Macdonalds of the world.

Dear Jim,
Based on what I have read from you, I assume you are fully vaccinated. I am as well but I know others who are not. Is there anything I can say to convince them to get vaccinated or is it a lost cause by now?
Worried About Losing Friends

Dear Worried,

Yes, I have my vaccinations up to date and am glad you have as well. About all I can suggest is if you have friends who are not and they want to get together, tell them to get back to you once they can show proof of being vaccinated. Otherwise, you are left having to lie to them about why you can’t see them.

Be warned, the truth will probably result in losing a friend while the lie is most likely to let you keep someone in your life who doesn’t care about whether they might infect you.

You might be worried about losing some friends, but if you value living, you will know what to do.

Dear Jim,
I have some television questions to ask. Is there a television series you wished did not end? What series was a pleasant surprise for you? Finally, is there a series you hope is never remade or rebooted? Thanks.
TV Fanatic

Dear TVF,

I immediately thought of two shows for each of the questions you asked.

More recently, I would have enjoyed watching Jane The Virgin and wished it had continued. I found the characters still fresh and funny and given the concept, it could have easily continued for a long time. Unfortunately, I do not think network execs saw it the same as I did.

Another show I wish did not end but can understand why was my favorite talk show, Merv Griffin. Merv closed up shop in the early 80s and has since passed. I enjoyed his show more than most talk shows of his day because he mostly just chatted with older stars who had nothing to sell the public. They had conversations about the people and events they had in common along with some marginal singing by Merv rather than relying on silly bits or guests plugging their latest venture.

In the pleasant surprise department, my first thought was something my wife and I just began watching recently, This Is Us. Sure, it’s a little bit sugary, but not so much so that it fails to look at the sort of real-life experiences of three siblings unfold over the course of their lives. It does a great job of bouncing back and forth between past and present and is far more upbeat than 30 Something was from the 80s.

The other series I was more than just pleasantly pleased with was Kim’s Convenience. This Canadian comedy is hilarious and may have ended one year too soon but that’s better than jumping the shark. If you are a fan of The Office, you will enjoy this show.

YouTube screenshot
Dennis Franz on NYPD Blue

Two of my favorite television shows ever were All in the Family and NYPD Blue. Both were perfect for their time and were emulated but never equaled. *Andy Sipowicz and Archie Bunker were both New Yorker bigots who over the years grew and held together casts of memorable characters.

Bobby Simone’s death was every bit as sad as Edith Bunker’s. The fighting, love, and impeccable writing etched both shows in my memory and for those reasons, a remake or reboot of either are pointless.

I realize, as I answer this, other than Merv, the other five shows have a heavy emphasis on race and racism. Given my History major emphasis was on race relations, it makes perfect sense these shows, as well as another favorite of mine, Shameless, makes viewers consider what is often not talked about enough in our homes.

Dear Jim,
What has been the craziest thing to happen to you so far this year? Has your January gotten off to an unusual start or are you as boring as ever? My year began by piloting a plane under a bridge before getting into a fight with a horse I eventually knocked out. Can you top this?
Never A Dull Moment

Dear Never,

Normally, I live a mundane life. My days are predictable as are my afternoons and evenings. However, this year has gotten off to an equally crazy start as yours. Among the amazing things I experienced last month was using up two gift cards in less than one hour, showing up to work the first day under our new owner and being told I was no longer needed (I showed him by taking home the leftover cheesecake I brought in for my previous boss’ going away party), and opening an account with GrubHub. It’s a good thing February is a shorter month. I can’t afford this much craziness two months in a row.

That’s a wrap on this month’s fan mail. Try not overdoing it like I did in January and enjoy all the offerings of winter. Until next month, be safe and be happy.

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*Editor’s note: At the time, February 23, 2003, showing bare derriers was just not done on network television. But there he was, Dennis Franz as detective Andy Sipowicz, showing his butt on TV. We were shocked, but the producers and network (NBC) were not fined for showing his butt, but showing that of female actor Charlotte Ross. Misogyny at its strangest? An appeals court threw out the fine.