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  INCOMING! FEBRUARY 14, 2005.  
   
   
 

Monday

Look out! It's crazy destruction days!

Al Capone was widely known for his position as head of the Chicago mob, but none of Capone's indiscreet criminal acts garnered more attention than his famous "St. Valentine's Day Massacre." Four years earlier, George "Bugs" Moran shot Capone's mentor Johnny Terrio four times in the chest. Terrio survived, but not before handing over his crime empire and his insatiable thirst for vindication to his protégé. On February 14, 1929, Capone dispatched his henchmen to dispose of his crime syndicate's rival, Moran and his North Side Gang. Capone's cronies disguised themselves as policemen and, in a pretend raid, came in guns blazing, killing seven men while screaming "SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND" with laughably poor Puerto Rican accents. Moran was not one of the dead. Running late, he saw what he thought were policemen (actually Capone's men) at his hideout and drove away.

Hmm, a disgruntled man in a position of great power acting out of revenge attacks a man for trying to kill his father figure. I know I've heard this somewhere before …

But the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" in Chicago

 

 
 

was really nothing compared to what would happen 16 years later in Dresden, Germany. On February 14, 1945, the Allies firebombed the small city. The Allies contended that Dresden was pumping out munitions for the German army. This assessment is widely disputed, and Winston Churchill himself expressed doubts about the bombing after the war. The bombing of Dresden is also the major subject of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s novel "Slaughterhouse-Five." Vonnegut was a German prisoner of war in Dresden and in an underground bunker during the bombing.

Oh yeah. I guess it's also Valentine's Day. While canoodling with your significant other and enjoying a six-dollar bottle of wine and takeout Indian food in your embarrassingly small apartment, take a moment and remember the true meaning of Valentine's Day: Violence solves all problems.

 

 
 

Tuesday

Look out! It's crazy dollar days!

Democrat Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania delivers his budget address to his legislature in Harrisburg tonight, and his tires aren't the only thing likely to be slashed. Rumors abound that Rendell's new budget will contain comprehensive cuts to the state's Medicaid program, which provides benefits to low-income adults and children. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that about one in seven Pennsylvanians receive Medicaid benefits. Well, it's about time these benefits were lowered a little. Lord knows that the poor have been riding the "Cadillac of the Medicaid System" for far too long. Let's downgrade these folks to the Pinto they deserve before something good actually happens.

Also, on this day, the decimalization of British coinage was completed. For years, going to England was a nightmare for the math-deficient. Before 1971, the primary coinage had 20 pence equal to one shilling. Twelve shillings made one pound sterling. However, there were also crowns, farthings, guineas and sovereigns, all in varying

   
 

amounts and none really compatible with any of the others. But as of February 15, 1971, 100 pence became equal to one pound. The shilling was revalued at five pence and eventually phased out in 1980.

Pre-1971, Americans buying something while traveling through the UK were required to hold all of their money in their outstretched hands and say, "I've got this much." These days, Americans just go to England to laugh and point at "Big Ben," then buy a souvenir pair of boxer shorts that have "I've Got Your 'Big Ben' Right Here" printed across the front.

 

 
 

Wednesday

Look out! It's crazy dictator days!

In the late 1950s, Cuba was in bad shape. Fulgencio Batista had been ruling the country since 1952, and its once-proud economy was in ruins. A young lawyer named Fidel Castro, exiled after several unsuccessful attempts to overthrow the Batista government in the early 1950s, clandestinely returned to Cuba and raised an army of 800 men. These men, united under another young revolutionary named Ché Guevara, spent a nearly two years battling Batista's U.S.-supported military. Eventually, Batista's forces fell apart, and he fled the country. On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro was installed as Cuba's Premier, a position that he holds to this very day despite several botched attempts to remove him. Today, it's generally acknowledged that if wearing the same jacket for 40 years and smoking three Cuban cigars a day won't kill Castro, nothing will.

Incidentally, as very nice anecdotal evidence as to why he hates America, Fidel Castro did not have a tryout with the Washington Senators or the New York Yankees in the 1950s. Most conventional evidence points to Castro being a competent but undistinguished pitcher in his college days.

Saeng il chuk ha ham ni da! Happy birthday, Kim Jong-Il! Asia's favorite dictator was born on this day in 1942. While Castro seems like one of your more cuddly dictators, Kim Jong-Il mostly comes off like the crazy old man that use to live next door to you and would make your parents come and get your Nerf Football when it accidentally landed on

 



 
 

his lawn. Thanks to his mandatory military conscription, North Korea's military numbers over one million men between the ages of 18-25. Of this one million, 550,000 stand on the South Korean border with knives in their teeth, urging the freedom lovers to "come and get it."

If taunting his neighbors to the South is not enough, Kim Jong-Il and North Korea also demanded a Czech ban on the Matt Stone/Trey Parker film, Team America: World Police, claiming that "it hurts the image of [their] country." Hey, Kim: I wouldn't be too concerned about the image that the movie projects. We've already got some preconceived notions about your country. Why don't you work on getting your population clean food and water, and maybe tone down the fist-shaking and angry yelling at everyone? Team America is the least of your problems.

By the way, Kim is a chick's name.

 

 
 

Thursday

Look out! It's crazy driving days!

On this day in 1972, the Volkswagen Beetle became the most heavily produced car in history, surpassing the Ford Model T, when car #15,007,034 rolled off the assembly line. Developed by Ferdinand Porsche as an affordable car for the German people, it became a symbol of the 1960s counterculture in the United States because of its modesty compared to the extravagant gas guzzlers of the era (it was virtually indestructible and easy to hide weed in the hubcaps). In fact, Albert Klein of Pasadena, Calif., held the world record for highest mileage vehicle with his 1963 VW Beetle. As of January 1993, Klein's Beetle had been around for 1,442,044 miles.

Another great use for the Beetle is in those "World's Strongest Man" competitions where Scandinavian men with lots of consonants in their name actually drag them as far as they can, thereby showcasing themselves as the world's strongest, but least useful, people. The old Beetle was mostly phased out in the mid-1970s to make way for the Volkswagen Golf, but was relaunched to critical acclaim and immense popularity in 1998.

Do you enjoy the reality TV? If you do, then you're

 


 
 

in for a real treat. The 10th "Survivor" kicks off on CBS tonight. The location of this competition is the South Pacific island of Palau, mostly known for being one of the world's least populated independent nations. Twenty hopefuls compete in a variety of endurance and intelligence testing feats, with the winner scoring $1,000,000 and a brand new car and proving once again that today's American is above nothing if they can win a little fleeting fame and some cash.

It would be bad taste not to mention that today is also Paris Hilton's birthday. The hotel heiress, amateur porn star, record producer and TV intern turns 24 today. According to British and Australian tabloids, Paris is set to invite Prince Harry to her birthday party, adding that she thinks that William is the hot one and Harry is the fun one. Is this how far the royal family has fallen? That a raunchy socialite talks about them like they're Olsen twins? Paris's parents have reportedly offered "hotels for life at any location" to the Prince if he shows up at her party. That'll entice him, because the guy who's fourth in line for throne of England is really concerned about not being able to get a hotel room.

Fucking rich people.

 

 

Friday

Look out! It's crazy discovery days!

Today in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home of the elderly Jew and early bird special, it's Day One of the "Reclaiming America for Christ" convention. Dozens of people will flock to Ft. Lauderdale like books, er, moths to a bonfire to rediscover and reclaim our great land for their Lord. On the agenda for today are grass roots training sessions about "putting Darwin on trial" and "what a former gay rights activist has to say about the homosexual agenda." There are also general lectures and Q & A with some (relatively) famous theologians. If you attend, make sure you stick around for the evening activity. I hear they might go to Wolfie's Deli and Restaurant in Miami and show open disdain for a Hebrew.

I've had my tickets for months, but there's still availability … so act now!

Speaking of things in outer space, February 18, 1930 was the day that Pluto was discovered. When discovered, Pluto was thought to be the ninth

 

 

planet revolving around our Sun. However, because of its diminutive size, it's been reclassified as an asteroid and back to a planet several times since its discovery. Right now, it's a planet. Its extremely elliptical orbit actually makes it the eighth closest planet to the Sun at certain points in its orbit. Since 1999, it is the ninth, and will remain so until 2226.

The story of the astronaut that felt the trees and could tell that he was on Pluto by the bark is thus far unconfirmed.

 

Geoff Wolinetz is co-editor of Yankee Pot Roast. His first book will be out sometime between Fall 2005 and never.

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INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.