Of weeks ago, Salmagundi reprinted Mark Twain's...


September 04, 1992

A COUPLE of weeks ago, Salmagundi reprinted Mark Twain's spoof of a politician's confession of all his imperfections. The item drew this response from Frank Matthews of Baltimore:

"Your piece on Mark Twain and politics (Aug. 19) reminded me of a definition in Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary:

"Embalm -- To cheat vegetation by locking up the gases upon which it feeds. By embalming their dead and thereby deranging the natural balance between animal and vegetable life, the Egyptians made their once-fertile and populous country barren and incapable of supporting more than a meager crew. The modern metallic burial casket is a step in the same direction, and many a dead man who ought now to be ornamenting his neighbor's lawn as a tree, or enriching his table as a bunch of radishes, is doomed to a long inutility. We shall get him after awhile if we are spared, but in the meantime the violet and rose are languishing for a nibble at his gluteus maximus."

Mr. Smith adds: "Apparently, Mark Twain's burying his aunt under the grapevine was an act of careful husbandry."

* * * SOMETIMES a good idea can turn sour in a brief moment -- especially for entrepreneurs who venture into the realm of politics to make a buck.

Take the case of the St. Louis man who decided to cash in on the Ross Perot phenomenon. He had 80,000 Perot t-shirts produced and was ready to make a killing when -- bam -- the Perot balloon collapsed. Surely some of these t-shirts will be grabbed up as collector's items. But what about the other 79,000?

Here's a suggestion: Donate the shirts to the folks hit so hard by Hurricane Andrew. The St. Louis businessman could claim a tax write-off and at the same time help some people in need. We're sure Mr. Perot would approve.

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