My 2¢ and Then Some, on the $10
Bill to Come
It was announced last July
that by the end of the year, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would
announce the decision on which woman was selected to grace
a newly designed $10 bill. Now December has come and gone,
and in lieu of an announcement… a postponement. Until
sometime in 2016. As Mr. Lew explains:
"As a result of the tremendous amount
of engagement, we have many more ideas than we had originally
anticipated. Therefore, we are taking additional time
to carefully review and consider a range of options to
honor the theme of democracy as well as the notable contributions
women have made to our country."
In this heavily politicized environment
in which we now live, we had better get this right; we
had better not offend.
As it is, Women on 20s, a grassroots
organization started in 2012, has expressed disappointment
that their goal of replacing the face of Andrew Jackson on
the $20 bill with an iconic American woman, will not come
to pass. Why a “20”? To coincide with the 100th
anniversary in 2020 (when the new currency will actually be
issued), of the nineteenth amendment giving women the right
to vote. Which of course, followed the birth of the nation
by a mere 144 years. (Happy 90th Birthday to Ma and to
the 19th Amendment!; SEPTEMBER,
2010 MUSE-LETTER). But let’s not go there today.
The selection of a woman for any form of currency
could get a little sticky. What if you printed tons of money
that nobody liked and didn’t circulate? The last two
“woman currency” efforts —Susan B. Anthony
and Sacagawea appearing on dollar coins— never caught
on. Though perhaps it was not a gender issue, but simply that
we like our dollars in paper? They seem more valuable and
less “foreign” that way, I guess. And they don’t
weigh us down. But still.
The only woman ever featured on the front
of paper currency, was Martha Washington on a $1 Silver Certificate
in the late 1800’s.
The only other woman to appear on paper,
was Pocahontas in 1875 on the reverse side of $20 bill, via
a piece of artwork entitled "The Baptism of Pocahontas."
Why these came and went so quickly, I have
Frankly, I’m fiscally conservative.
Not about spending money, but in terms of what it actually
looks like. I’ve always been partial to the boring institutional
green color of our currency, and the stone-faced men who appear
on it. It all suggests some serious monetary heft and stability,
which for me, separates “our” cash (bucks, dough,
moolah, cabbage, lettuce, clams, bones, smackers,) from “theirs.”
Theirs, invariably, comes in all sorts of colors and sizes
often looking like board-game fare to me. And in lieu of folks
in high governmental places, theirs, sometimes even defers
to those in the arts.
A £10 note from Ireland for example,
features a portrait of James Joyce on the front, along with
a quirky poetic quote from one of his works on the back. Could
you imagine an F. Scott Fitzgerald ten dollar bill, with his
closing line from The Great Gatsby on the flip side:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back
ceaselessly into the past.”? It’s almost un-American.
I didn’t even like when they moved the
heads off center… changed Old Hickory’s portrait
(but made his “do” even larger, which like his
politics, ran amok)…added watermarks willy-nilly on
most denominations that I’m aware of (“What’s
in your wallet?”)… and made other assorted changes
that all had to do with thwarting the more sophisticated forgery
that is now possible in a high tech age. But I, no Luddite,
do concede that it was all for the better. And so yes, a woman
on our “greenbacks” is something long overdue.
The appearance of any new face on our paper
currency, is something seen less frequently than Halley’s
comet. The last time it happened was in 1929 with the addition
of Alexander Hamilton, (replacing Andrew Jackson, who was
upgraded to a 20). Just 128 years after his fatal duel with
Ironically, it is now Hamilton who is under
the gun (again) and will be trying to compete with a woman
for face time—he won’t go away altogether Mr.
Lew has assured us— when the new sawbuck is put into
circulation in four years.
Enough on the history of money, so who should
Naturally as might be expected in our “polling
frenzy” environment, the public has been invited through
various venues to weigh in on the issue. According to a piece
in Time magazine this past August:
“About one in three Americans (29%)
say the women’s rights advocate and longest-serving
First Lady in U.S. history, Eleanor Roosevelt should grace
the bill, the McClatchy-Marist poll found. That puts her
ahead of Harriet Tubman, who is in second place with 20%,
as well as Sacagawea, Amelia Earhart and Susan B. Anthony,
who each received 11%. Sandra Day O’Connor, the
country’s first female Supreme Court justice, received
As for Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea (whose
name I never could pronounce), I would say that ship has sailed.
design by Ron Vazzano©
The aforementioned Women on 20s,
has also posted its four “Final Round Candidates”
on their website: Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa
Parks and… Wilma Mankiller?
New Rule (with apologies to Bill Maher): It
has got to be someone, that someone has actually heard of.
Not to mention the gift that “Mankiller” would
be to standup comics the world over, given this context. Again,
think of poor Hamilton.
vote would be for Gloria Steinem. In addition to her illustrious
career as a leader and spokeswoman for the feminist movement—
which arguably has made putting a woman on paper currency
even possible—she is also a prominent journalist and
social and political activist to this day. And yes, I’d
love to see her punim on my money. And yes, I have
a decided bias where Ms. Steinem is concerned. (“I
Was Talking to Gloria Steinem Yesterday About Nestles Hot
In addition, her name would lend itself to
a cool new monetary slang—“steinems.” As
in: “That’s gonna’ run you a few steinems,
I can tell ya’.”
Unfortunately, and I should have surmised,
that by law, only the portrait of a deceased individual may
appear on U.S. currency and securities. So there goes that
idea. I’ll go with Roosevelt then. Though Tubman, might
be a more politically correct choice (excepting in some sectors
that will remain nameless and brainless). Either way, there
assuredly will be some controversy to follow. Just make sure
she isn’t smiling. Money isn’t funny.
Cocktail Hour in a New
celebrations and stories; rewritten narratives on cocktail
napkins that speak of encounters that might have been,
with youth on our side. There we were, flirting over
a drink amidst the smoke and commuter chatter before
grabbing a train out of Grand Central Station—oh,
if only I’d have known you then. Who knows where
we might have gone; who knows the points we’d
have passed along the way.
A “Good Guy”
Considers Getting an AK-47
With bullets from the “bad
guys” flying all about us, I— a “Good Guy”
in capital letters— am considering getting a semi-automatic
military weapon, aka an AK-47.
am sick and tired of only the sickos and the terrorists among
us having these weapons designed for mass killing. And since
we are never going to stop them, or make it difficult for
them to get their hands on such weapons— and of course
why even make an attempt— I think it’s about time
that I, obviously a good guy (and I still have the glowing
report cards from my parochial school nuns to prove it), do
my part to try to level the playing field. After all, it is
so easy to do.
Even those on the FBI’s terrorist “no-fly”
watch list, who are not even allowed to board a plane, can
still legally purchase an AK-47 with no questions asked, or
any real background check required. So what’s my excuse
for having put this off for so long?
I can understand the problem to some extent.
In the old days it would have been easy to spot us. We good
guys wore the white hats…the bad guys wore the black
ones. But since we’ve stopped wearing hats altogether,
I do admit it has become a little more difficult to tell us
apart. But as I am smart, conscientious and keep in good company,
I’ll be able to find others such as myself. Which will
be important since as I’ll be a newbie to this weaponry,
and I’m going to have to rely on other good guys to
teach me how to use it. I’ve never fired a gun before,
save for a water pistol when I was a kid. But hey, no problem.
And let’s be clear on this at the outset:
there is no chance that good guys ever turn
out to be bad guys.
I don’t know about you, but when the
media interviews neighbors and family members after one of
these “alleged perpetrators” has massacred a group
of innocent people in broad daylight, I have never heard,
not even one of them say: “He was a nice guy. Quiet.
Kept to himself. Even gave the kids candy on Halloween. You
would have never expected him to do something like this.”
To the contrary, and I don’t know what
news you’re watching or reading, but all I ever hear
is: “Of course he would do something like this!
It was so obvious, you could see it coming. I even told the
kids watch out, don’t go trick or treating at our next
door neighbor’s house. He’s obviously a bad guy
kids, armed to the teeth, who is one day going to shoot up
a whole bunch of people. In fact, that’s why I’ve
never thought about moving, so I could be here to report all
this on camera to you guys when it finally happened.”
I know what some might say regarding my considering
such a purchase: Do you really need an assault weapon to defend
yourself? Especially at home? True, that in my seventy years
on earth I’ve never experienced a situation that required
me to fire off 100 rounds of ammunition in a minute at someone
trying to break into my dwelling, but you never know. And
who knows—you never know— if one day the U.S.
government doesn’t come to my apartment to take me away,
even though we have a vigilant staff manning the front desk
in my building. They did that to Japanese-Americans during
WWII, and if the “Japs” as they were affectionately
called at the time, had assault weapons to defend themselves,
for sure they would have won a shoot out with the U.S. military
and stood their ground thereby avoiding internment camps.
Alright, I admit that if I ever was so worried
about that happening again, especially this time to a good
guy like me, I’d have to ask myself why I don’t
move to another country. Like Switzerland? They make great
watches. And cheese. But in truth, I realize that most massacres
on the public take place by people outside of government,
and outside of the home. Which is why I intend to take my
AK-47 wherever I go.
At Sunday mass, especially at St. Patrick’s
Cathedral which draws such big crowds—many of whom are
not even good Catholics, or one of us, or even live here—
I’ll be sure to take it with me. Same thing when I walk
through the throngs in Times Square—an area which might
as well have a bullseye painted on it— heading to a
Broadway show. When meeting a few friends in a bar for a few
drinks, or at an outdoor café in a tony neighborhood—you
saw what happened in Paris—I’ll have “ole
Betsy” slung over my shoulder to signal that no one
dare mess with me.
This whole thing has gotten out of hand. It’s
time to take action. Not by making namby-pamby laws preventing
the good guys from getting all the guns they want and need,
but by arming us all to the teeth with no questions asked.
But don’t worry. You’ll be safe knowing that a
good guy like me is packing some serious heat.
Quote of the Month
Greetings from the Woodlands of Northern
Last month in my Muse, I offered a poem that
I had recently written entitled, “Smile: A Monologue.”
Though well received, as it apparently struck a personal
chord with some, it did present a rather dark side of
life’s endgame. To say the least.
Then some three weeks later, I received a hard copy
Christmas letter from a nonagenarian and excellent
writer, Beverly Doran, that was in such stark contrast
to what had been the inspiration for my poem.
work has appeared on this site before (PROFILED
AND DANGEROUS: Older Drivers Get a Bad Rap? SEPTEMBER,
2009 MUSE-LETTER), and as members of the Independent
Writers of Southern California, we had once participated
together in a public reading at a Barnes & Noble
in Los Angeles.
tone, temperament, style (at times poetic), her Christmas
letter is unlike any I have ever received. It has
much to say, both in the lines, and in between them.
Presented here in its entirety exactly as it appeared
on the page, I’ll let it speak for itself.
Cats, Dogs and
Greetings from the Woodlands of Northern Virginia
Five years ago I came to live with my daughter
Judy, and son-in-law Hal, in their home near George Washington’s
Mt. Vernon farmland. There is much George would recognize
still, if he rode his horse along the shoulder of these paved
roads. The church he attended holds services nearby; the mill
and distillery are still functioning to the delight of visitors.
The houses on King Street in Old Town Alexandria
were here when he was around as was the City Hall and the
open market on the green.
Green is the word this third generation Californian
still finds a marvel. Trees and shrubs, green all summer,
are bare now. Glowing with colors all autumn, I find their
black branches still beautiful, an artful composition of black
“wrought iron like” frieze work against the newly
visable sky behind them.
Equally marvelous, to me, are the four legged,
furry members of this household. My two cats and fostered
Jack Russell terrier know that I am the “go to”
door opener in the early morning. The glass doors that open
onto my patio give them access to the back yard and the teasing
squirrels under the bird feeder. The “upstairs”
dogs have their own ‘door openers’ who are trained
to respond to the polite, single bark that tells them “I
need out. Now.”
My usual “bah humbug” response
to Christmas has faltered under the tsunami of holiday decorations
and lights that Judy unpacked the day after Halloween. An
LED holly filled glass jar in a central place among the row
of snack filled apothecary jars on my bookcase suffices for
me. Ho. Ho. Ho.
The kind people at the home care service (we
don’t say hospice) have reset the clock since the intended
six month life expectancy mark has passed with little evidence
of an imminent exit. I have honed indolence to a fine art
as I prefer to read or watch TV to attempting the stairs.
There is never danger of running out of reading material.
Judy is in charge of the books donated to the Thrift Shop
and my favoriate authors (Robert Parker, Reginald Hill and
Colin Dexter) are well represented and replenished.
My lap top is my link to the world. Judy continues
to invite me to accompany her on her Costco runs, but energy
is no longer there to match the temptation. (Now there’s
Join me at 5:00, wherever you are, for a glass
of wine and a hug.