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for April 23, 2003

by Your Diva, Robin Pastorio-Newman

[Courtesy of a concerned friend of Altrok, Bob Stein:
"My wife has a 7 month old patient who will be undergoing several brain surgeries - May 1st and May 7th, 2003 - to remove several tumor-like growths in her brain. The child's parents have been notified by NYU Medical Center (the hospital) that they have a shortage of type A- blood, which the baby will need (or O- universal, which is rare).
"If you live/work in the NYC area, and would like to donate blood this week for her surgery, please call 212-263-5440 and speak to Aretha at the NYU Blood Donation center on 34th and 1st. Let her know this donation is for the 7 month-old patient having surgery on May 1st and 7th. Appointments can be scheduled, and special consideration will be given to donors to get them in and out quickly due to the urgency of the situation."]


Below, please find a rumor. It cannot be verified through sources or statistics because like any rumor it changes form in memory. In other words, Your Darling, Your Diva, Your One True Love forgets where she was and with whom she was bending an elbow when this little gem hit the air. Here it is: last year, when the State of New Jersey tried to raise revenue and punish smokers it raised taxes on cigarettes. So many people quit smoking the plan backfired and the state lost money.
It's a rumor. Like any other rumor, possibly like that a Pop Rocks & Coke cocktail detonates child stars, this one has a greater power in the imagination than in real life. New Jersey's up a financial creek without a paddle? Yep, that's a lock. People quit smoking cigarettes and possibly lead healthier lives? Sounds pretty good unless they took up new and exciting vices like smoking that yummy crack. A plan to punish a portion of state residents who aren't committing crimes fails to do so? Well, by gum, that's downright entertaining. Just like in true stories, there's more than one side. How can the state with the most superfund sites pretend smoking is more dangerous than just living here, breathing brown air, eating in Greek diners and driving the Pulaski Skyway at night? When push comes to shove, secondhand smoke is probably a lesser danger to New Jersey residents than having the Lexus break down on Route 206, where international earthquake rescue crews would leave us to die and call it Miller Time rather than step out of the Hum-V near a garden store.
Life, as they say, isn't fair, and terrible things happen to nice people, and nothing in the world is safe. Putting harnesses on your children doesn't render them safe. Buckling your seatbelt doesn't mean a semi won't land on your sunroof. Aliens could be flying around your bunker, and what does it matter, really? You live in New Jersey, someone you know has or has had cancer, or you may get it. Prim paranoia will not prevent what science can't fix. The human body is a frail vessel - you're going to die someday. So let's talk about the Health Network.
Your Lace Bustier loves seedless grapes peeled by oil-slicked cabana boys, but lifts her own wrist and ankle weights five days a week. Exercise sweat is sexy, my sweet, so Your Racerback gets up at 6, mutters "I meant to do that" until 6:30 when the Health Network offers a step aerobics show with a cursory beginning but no actual name and no end credits. Sometimes the instructor is pert Tamilee Webb. Sometimes it's the enthusiastic Petra Kolber, she of the charming mixed European accent. Uniquely, this program offers twenty uninterrupted minutes of exercise, a commercial break, then five or so minutes of execrable fashion advice. It's a fantastic format. By the time short women are being advised that Bolero jackets are the next big thing, Your Cross Your Heart's in the kitchen praying to the Caffeine Gods. Eventually, curiosity leads a gal to investigate this silly program, and as anyone with a desk job knows, it's almost a rule that one * must. * It's on TV, and everything on TV's online, so how hard can solving the mystery be? Hard, as it turned out. Sneaking up on the program guide doesn't help. The listing says "Aerobics. Description: aerobics." Flipping to the Health Network at random times to find out what else useful they might offer reveals that former MTV VJ Mark Goodman co-hosts the bland Fitness, Resort & Spa. Wait, Mark Goodman? Yes, after ten minutes of slack-jawed staring, Your Underwire can confirm that one of the few people on MTV who ever had an ounce of credibility can describe seaweed wraps in dramatic detail, but probably doesn't know a thing now except that his paychecks clear. A google search of the Health Network yields many results for zealous hospital conglomerates and one for the Discovery Health Network. The TV schedule for the Discovery Health Network offers grim - though efficiently lighted - docudramas about uplifting infant surgeries at the hour when Your Camisole stretches her hamstrings. Gilad Janklowicz's Bodies In Motion immediately precedes Exercise Show X, and Gilad's connected. His show schedule page suggests Bodies In Motion is on at 6 a.m. on the Health Network. The Health Network has been bought by the Discovery Health Network, which has set its sights on getting a little too up-close and revoltingly personal with stay-at-home, breast-feeding mommies who fear melanoma and menopause. Really! That's what younger sisters are for.
Oh dear. Has Your Guinea T taken exercise advice from phantom instructors about to vanish into the ether? It seems likely. Some sensible arrangement frequently gets mowed down by paranoia. For instance, Mayor Bloomberg's anti-smoking legislation might seem like a step in a sort-of-maybe-positive direction, but including bars in a smoking ban was asking for trouble, and trouble it produced. It's odd to exclaim "Poor Man!" about a three-hundred pound bouncer, but that Poor Man was killed when a crowd of angry drunken smokers snapped, and happened to have weapons. Everyone should have known this was going to happen, and probably will again. It is hard to imagine bar proprietors, already under siege by the opposing forces of Alcoholic Beverage Control boards and underage drinkers will find inventive ways to let smokers trot outside, smoke without disturbing the neighbors, and come back inside to settle tabs. It's hard to imagine bands not smoking on stage. I mean, really, if rock stars are shooting up in the bathrooms, smoking seems like the least of all problems, doesn't it?
The administration's edict was that every employee should have a smoke free work environment. Having worked in bars and restaurants, Your Water Bra is in a position to assert that possible cancers fall at the very, very bottom of a bartender's list of problems, crowd control is near the top, and having one's personal safety jeopardized by a guy who doesn't want to stub out a cigarette is bullshit. If Mayor Bloomberg wanted safe workplaces for bar and restaurant workers, he might've considered the power of decent ventilation and he wouldn't have put waitresses in the position of being unarmed combatants in his personal war against tobacco.
But don't worry, Jersey residents, you don't have to feel left out of Dodge City. Rumor has it the same kind of anti-smoking legislation is coming to New Jersey in 2004. Remember: safety first, because you can't fire if the safety's on.

©2003 Robin Pastorio-Newman

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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