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Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are, Second edition ISBN 978-0970007483
I owned a jewelry store in New Jersey. I sent letter sized 4 page newsletters to 1400 customers 3 times a year for 23 years with a variety of short articles, 69 in total The newsletters had articles about consumer and middle class issues, money, economics, and the lighter side of life. The newsletters were an instant hit when I started them in 1997. They were so popular — people would call to thank me for sending them — I can’t believe I’m not rich. Most pages have 3-5 short articles but some articles are up to 7 pages. There are 394 photos and illustrations and 1122 articles, each with a headline-like title, as well as 88 notes at the end of the book in the same format. There are many articles about the past which are eerily resonant today, hence the title. Examples are an 1899 prediction that the Chinese will start to mass produce goods “not for their own use, but for us and at such ruinous prices that the labor market of the world will suffer a terrible blow,” (Made in China), the man who really sold snake oil (Snake Oil). The economy was stupid in 1896, too: “Leak Through Economics” is from Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech. That morally corrupt new music is old, shown by a series of quotes about the waltz in 1813, ragtime in 1902, Stravinsky in 1913, swing in 1936, jive in 1944, rock and roll in 1957, and hip-hop in 2007 (All Shook Up). The Great Recession got you depressed? It’s happened before, in the year 33 in ancient Rome (Oeconomia est, O Asine!). While in Rome, go down to Pompeii and read the Graffiti on the walls: “Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than when they ever have before!” (The Handwriting on the Wall). The book goes from A (Attention Winos) to Z (Zen and the Art of Canine Maintenance). Here is a sample of the diverse topics in the book: an elephant who didn’t get a peanut because it was paid for with a lead slug flattening the offender with a stream of water (Never Cheat an Elephant), counterfeiters who printed money while in prison in 1899 (Passing the Buck), a man who sat on an ostrich egg until it hatched (Professional Screwball), women riled up by a tax on corsets (Boob Married Men Tax Corsets!), airline barf bags with ads on them (Ad Nauseum), and a 1927 robot who answered the phone and who, when asked his favorite book at a booksellers convention, replied “Is Sex Necessary?” by James Thurber (Is Sex Necessary?). The article is accompanied by a wonderful photo of a woman hugging the protesting robot.