DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.



Past Entries



          Last week the Litchfield County Times ran an Op/Ed column entitled The Sin Business Is Not for States. In the electronic version the County Times’ editors dropped “Not for States” from the title. Unlike the dumb columnist they were aware that sin is, in fact, the state’s business.
          The column was about state and local governments’ sorry forays in the sin business [gambling, sex and booze] resulting in bankruptcy or, at best, mediocre profits.  
          My advice to governments, both domestic and international, was to leave sin well enough alone and to the private sector. The “pros”, the bookies, bootleggers, pimps, madams and hookers, they know what they’re doing; after all they have been doing it for centuries. It is unseemly for government to engage in booze, gambling and prostitution. These are not proper governmental functions.  My unsolicited advice to government was to let them be, but tax the living beejesus out of them.
          Europe’s financial “pigs” [Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain] are desperately trying to stave off financial collapse and support a floundering Euro. There are rumors that the Euro is facing its demise. The cost of borrowing to keep governments afloat is soaring, now in the double digits. Soon the “pigs” will have to pay interest rates that American consumers have been coping with for years. Welcome “pigs” to the 19% interest rate on you international Visa and Master Card debt.
          The “pigs” are scrambling to find new revenues, restructure debt, cut costs and services and save the Euro as a currency. Retirement age is no longer 60 or 62, we are now talking   70. Even Europe’s non “pigs” are putting safety measures in effect. England has tripled university tuition and sharply reduced welfare benefits. France has instituted draconian pension reforms. Public sector wages have been slashed. Income taxes have risen. Because of this the Euro’s existence is threatened, so they say. 
          Holland, has sagely taken my advice. They have seen the writing on the wall and have found a new untapped source of revenue: commercial sex. Now do not be alarmed, the canny Dutch are not going to plunge headfirst into the sex business. They will leave sex to the “pros”, as in prostitutes, already toiling in the industry, and to the ladies sitting and trolling for customers in the windows of Amsterdam’s Red Light District [Rosseburt].    
          No, as a matter of fact, Holland is going to encourage the ladies of the night to do their utmost, to ramp up their efforts, to go the extra mile, or in this case millimeter, with the aid of Viagra to help their country. To become the Rosie the Riveters of the sex industry in this time of dire need. Holland will raise the much needed revenue by enforcing that uniquely New York City solution, the Parking Tax.
          For you foreigners and non New Yorkers, let me explain: You drive your car to Manhattan, a congested place and with little if no public parking. Parking is very much like sex, you got to, you need to, and so you must. And when you do, New York City slaps you with an 18.5% tax on top of the exorbitant ransom that those few minutes of parking cost. When you add the sales tax, the income tax paid by the owners and workers in the industry you have huge amount of cash, not to be sneezed at.
          That is exactly what Holland is doing. Since legalizing prostitution in 2002 Holland has taxed sex earnings as just plain income. While the sex trade is significant, generating a least $865 million in income according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, it remains substantially untaxed. Following New York’s example there is a 19% sales tax on each sexual transaction. Enforcing the tax on sex will generate millions of dollars in revenues.    
The Dutch are ahead of the curve. They are going to permit, then promote, then enhance sex and then tax the beejesus out of it, all to balance the budget. Now if the Greeks, the Portuguese and the rest of Europe would just follow their lead, austerity will be avoided, budget balanced and the Euro saved.





In the eyes of a prude the female derrière is “obscene and indecent”. In this case the prudes are members of the Federal Communications Commission, truly a bunch of first class asses who so decided. In the eyes of others a derrière, an ass in plain English, is a thing of beauty, something to admire, something to marvel at.    
If you had to conjure up an iconic image of a prude, who would it be? For me it would be Eleanor Roosevelt, the prune faced First Lady who was often seen sporting a Minnie Pearl hat. Would it surprise you if I told you that Eleanor once sent a congratulatory telegram to Gypsy Rose Lee, the First Lady of Burlesque, “May you bare ass always be shining” she wrote.
Gypsy Rose Lee was voted the most popular woman in America in 1940, more popular than that First Lady. That year she stripped before thousands of adoring fans at the World’s Fair in Flushing, New York. It was reported that she shed all her clothes keeping certain strategic spots covered with ribbons and sequins. She wasn’t naked.  “I was completely covered by a blue spotlight” she said and that blue spotlight sure highlighted her golden assets.
Here we had the First Lady, the first Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and in my eyes the First Prude, lauding a stripper that dared to bare it all, including her world renowned and acclaimed ass. But Gypsy Rose Lee was not just a stripper. As she often quipped “There is more to see [of me] than meets the eye”. There sure was. This was a woman of wit and intelligence. Her assets were but a bonus
In the case of the "asses" sitting on the Federal Communication Commission, it seems that the TV show NYPD Blue aired an episode entitled “Nude Awakening”. In it, one of the characters disrobes as she prepares to take a shower. Her nude buttocks, in other words her ass is visible. There is another shot which fleetingly reveals her ass once again. This flagrant display of “obscene and indecent” material took up less than seven seconds of air time. For this “explicit and graphic” depiction of “sexual organs” [the ass?] the FCC fined ABC $1,210,000. That’s more than a million bucks, to you and me.
But it took two years and a Federal appeals court to put the asses in their place and void the fine. What galls me is that we have Mike “The Situation”, Jenni “JWoww” and “Snooki” Polizzi, along with many other social retards, cavorting and shouting bleeped out obscenities on TV's Jersey Shore. I know, “That’s Cable” you say, and I say “Whatever”!
Let’s put it to a vote: Would you rather see Snooki’s fat derrière in full color, with ultra sonic sound or Gypsy’s in black and white, with a scratchy sound track playing “Let Me Entertain You”?   




“Never be rude to an Arab, an Israeli, or Saudi, or Jew. Never be rude to an Irishman, no matter what you do” go the lyrics to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus ditty lampooning our political correctness. Yet for all its crassness and seeming insensitivity it does have a message for this New Year.


While the ditty sinks deeper in being downright offensive by hectoring us to “Never poke fun at a Nigger, a Spick, a Wop or a Kraut. And never put down….” it ends in a catastrophic explosion, “kaboom”. Keep on doing what we are now doing, denigrating all that is not “us”, and we will end up with an explosion that will destroy us all.
For all of its political incorrectness, Monty’s Circus preaches tolerance albeit with puerile humor. The Circus, so aptly named, goes on to note that “there are Jews in the world, there are Buddhists, there are Hindus and there are Mormons and then there are those that follow Mohammud [sic], but I’ve never been one of them” before staunchly proclaiming “I’m a Roman Catholic”. By explicitly naming the world’s many religions Monty Python has tacitly given them recognition and their just and proper due.
 Tolerance and understanding is what we need in this New Year. If we learn to leaven tolerance with puerile humor and remember that “the world today seems absolutely crackers, with nuclear bombs to blow us all sky high, there are fools and idiots sitting on the trigger. It’s depressing and it’s senseless, and that’s why…” we should all sing Monty Python’s Gospel of Tolerance, with all of its irreverent wit and wisdom.




Most of us take the elevator unless something prevents us, forcing us to creak up or down the stairs. In late November my offices were in the throes of renovation. The elevator landing was being sanded and painted, so you had to walk down six flights of stairs. As I meandered down the little used stairs, at some landings I was confronted by this large yellow and black “cd” sign with “fallout shelter” below with an arrow pointing to the left.
          Unwittingly I went beyond the ground floor and found myself in the basement. My building was probably built in the 20’s, well before the Second World War and its aftermath, the Cold War. Down in the basement were more “cd shelter” signs and tucked in the corner were some olive drab barrels labeled “survival supplies - drinking water”. Stacked next to them were a dozen dusty aluminum containers labeled “shelter - food”. I had stumbled upon one of the last vestiges of the cold war, a fallout shelter. 
          That brought back memories of the early 50’s when I was a kid attending Public School 22 in Flushing, New York. My teacher, Ms. Anita Tully, she who all the boys lusted after, would have us sit at our desks and when the bell started ringing, announcing the monthly civil defense drill, made us hunker down under our desks. “Duck and Cover” was what that stupid maneuver was called. The shelter of our wooden desks was supposed to shield and protect us from the blast of an exploding atomic bomb. Having survived actual bombs during the “Big War”, and having witnessed at first hand the destruction wrought, I thought then and now “Fat chance! What a crock!”

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          Frank Emi died yesterday at the age of 94. I had never heard of him until his obituary caught my eye in this Sunday’s New York Times. Then the magnitude of the crime that we perpetrated on him, and then compounded, sunk in. It made my head hang in shame, especially in light of the not as yet repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
          After Pearl Harbor, in one of the most constitutionally illegal and reprehensible Executive Orders ever, Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the detention of more than 110,000 American citizens and permanent resident in makeshift “detention centers”. To me these were nothing less than concentration camps. The only transgression that these Americans were accused of was that they were of Japanese descent, deemed “threats to national security” by that Executive Order. So much for due process and “innocent until proven guilty”. It was the purported “Champions of Justice”, the President and the Supreme Court of the United States that perpetrated the foul deed.
          One of these was Frank Emi. He was born on September 23, 1916 in Los Angeles. He was married with a kid running a food market when he was interned. Back then you couldn’t really rebel, you had no choice but to go along, get along, even though it was at the end of a fixed bayonet.

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