Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


A good year is like a good cocktail - containing the right balance of sweet, sour, and bitter. Pictured: the Aviation.

Today is the last day of 2015.

Forty years ago, on this very day, I met Dee - and less than two years later, we would be husband and wife. The story of our first meeting is entertaining enough in its own right that it merits its own post, but that it took place has led to our mutual histories being what they are today. Despite - or perhaps because of - all the water that has gone under the bridge since then, I cannot imagine not having met her. Our two daughters would probably agree.  

Every year leaves a slightly different impression when one looks at it in the rear-view mirror - rolls it around on the tongue, so to speak - and as each calendar year surges to its inexorable close I always pause to savor its aftertaste, its peculiar blend of tastes and aromas. Years are like cocktails, I suppose: The best ones always have multiple layers of flavor. Months of sweetness are punctuated by dark, sour times, and once in a while an intense attention-grabbing moment of bitter grief comes along.

Leave it to Mister Debonair to work through his year-end maudlin moments by using bartending analogies. But, hey, it works. Let’s go with it...

We sit at the Great Cosmic Bar every year, and we order up our Tipple o’Life. Give us a sweet year, we say... but we don’t really mean it. (Would you order a simple syrup and soda on the rocks at a real-world cocktail bar?) It doesn’t matter what we ask for, though, because what we are served is what we’d get if we said, “Ohhh, the hell with it. Surprise me.” It’s always a surprise.

So let’s pick apart the waning year’s recipe, shall we? A warm base liquor of family and friends to provide a mellow and yet mildly intoxicating backdrop. Happy moments for sweetness. Throw in a disappointment here and a miscommunication there to provide acid notes: Unalloyed sweetness can be cloying. Then there are the bitters, the ingredient without which no cocktail is truly complete. Illness. Death. Pain. Loss. Without them, the sweetness becomes sameness. It loses its savor.

Most of us think we would be perfectly happy doing without all of that grief and suffering. Just give me a Kool-Aid, please! (Without the extra Jonestown touch.) So what if it’s a kid’s drink?

Cocktails, though - drinks for grown-ups - have bitters.

Proportions matter. You use a jigger for most cocktail ingredients. You use a dropper for bitters.

That’s because bitters are tricky. Strong. Too much, and what should be subtlety becomes intolerably in-your-face. And yet, without them, a cocktail is lifeless. Dull.

May your 2016 be the perfect draught for you, Esteemed Reader - the ideal proportion of base, sweetener, acid, and bitter. And may the Big Guy who mixeth your Cosmic Cocktail refrain from squeezing that bitters dropper too hard.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Balsamic Brussels sprouts with onions and bacon... courtesy of Houston Steve. 

Brussels sprouts for breakfast
Brussels sprouts for lunch
I like ’em when they’re soggy
I love ’em when they crunch

I roast ’em and sautée ’em
And I shove ’em in my belly
But the Missus doesn’t like ’em
’Cause they make my toots all smelly

Brussels sprouts for supper
Eat ’em every night
Those wizened little cabbages
They are a real delight

Saturday, December 26, 2015


“Pain is weakness leaving the body.” - USMC

Does this hurt?

How would you describe your pain on a scale from one to ten?

That’s a routine hospital question used to assess the need for analgesic medicaments. Since pain is nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong, you don’t want to tamp it down completely... and you don’t want to get too comfortable with pain meds, the most effective of which are notoriously addictive (and constipating). But you crave relief. You would sell your soul for the balm of Gilead that taketh away thine discomfiture.

So you are asked to rate your pain on a scale from one to ten, from minor annoyance to full-on shit-your-liver-out screamfest. It's not an easy exercise.

I think of pain as a point on a two-dimensional surface, a sheet mapped on coordinates of quality and intensity. There are dull, throbbing aches and there are intense ice-pick-like stabs. There’s the sudden zetz of a dentist hitting a sensitive spot, and there’s the intense burn of a hard-working muscle... all different pins on the Map o’ Agony.

Put a simple scalar number to it if you must. Does it make you grumble and grimace? Does it cause you to involuntarily squeeze out a string of fuckbombs? Or is it that shock so sharp that it causes a sudden intake of breath? I give those a 3, 6, and 8. You don’t want a ten. That’s Hurty Hurterson country, and you do not wish to be resident therein.

I call those scary twinges The Bear, and I hate his occasional visits. I fear that Dee will be getting to know The Bear all too well as she recovers from her wrist and hip fractures... and I am hoping that when he does come, he is a meek two or three, not a ferocious nine.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Chewbaccaccino. [Photo: Jenna Robinson.]

With his coffiee
Would a Wookiee
Want some toffiee
Or a cookiee?


[Originally posted as “A Matter of Perspective” at Blog d’Elisson, January 25, 2005.]


Balm for the afflicted. Opiate of the masses. Fairy tales. Myth. The deepest truths.

Religion is a lot of things.

In today’s various wars - the War on Terrorism, the Culture Wars, the Jihad Against the Great Satan and the Little Satan, religion is a key element, if not the key element. Religion inspires us to do and be our best - but through so much of history, religion also has inspired us to kill and hate one another.

The Crusades were just one example. Western Christians think of knights in shining armor on a holy mission, but Muslims and Jews remember that slice of history differently: women and children raped, disemboweled; whole families, whole villages murdered. Not that the Muslims were that much more pleasant to live with, if you were not a believer.

And it’s no different today. Islamic fundamentalism. Suicide bombers. The 9/11 atrocities. Madrid. Bali. Executing teenage rape victims for “indecency” in Iran.

Not that the Christian fundies have given up. You have right-wing religious zealots bombing abortion clinics, shooting doctors. They even have us hatin’ on SpongeBob! The bastards!

The Jews have their own issues. Some Jews throw rocks at other Jews because they do outrageous things...like reading Torah. Outrageous, that is, if you’re a woman - at least, so the ultra right-wing Haredim say, even if you are in a women-only prayer group.

Sometimes, a little perspective is in order.

Twenty-seven years ago, I was working on a project with several technologists from one of our affiliated companies in Japan. These guys got to spend a month in Texas, learning about an alien culture and eating bizarre food. Barbecue! Chicken-fried steak!

The work required round-the-clock coverage, and so it was that one cold Sunday morning in mid-December I found myself wandering around the process area with Yamada-san, one of the Japanese technology guys. And he turned to me and asked, “Elisson-san, what will your family be doing for Christmas?”

[Actually, this sounded more like “Erisson-san, what wirr your famiry be doing for Kurisumasu?” But the meaning was plenty clear enough.]

And I answered, “Not a whole lot, Yamada-san. We are Jewish, and we do not celebrate Christmas.”

Yamada-san considered this for a moment. Then he said, “Oh, that’s OK. All you Western religions are the same to us.

* * *

Christian or Muslim, Muslim or Jew -
The difference depends upon your point of view.
Step far enough back, and that alien “other”
Starts in to lookin’ more like your brother.
When the little green men come from outer space,
They won’t ask to whom you pray or note the color of your face.
To them we’ll just be Humans - prey to be destroyed,
By the Bug-Eyed Monsters from the Outer Void.
And will God shed a tear? Will He say “Boo-Hoo”?
Well, the bug-eyed dudes are His children, too.
So we’d better stick together in our Earthly stew,
’Cause the difference depends upon your point of view.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Alvin C. Bagdasarian (1958-2015). Requiescat in pace.

The entertainment world is in shock and mourning today after news of the untimely passing of Alvin Chipmunk Bagdasarian at the age of fifty-seven. Perversely, Alvin’s death took place on the release date of the Chipmunks’ latest film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

Alvin, with the help of his adoptive father and manager Ross (“David Seville”) Bagdasarian, parlayed a series of novelty recordings into a career that spanned television and movies. He was known for his quick, lively wit and penchant for practical jokes. Fiercely proud of his Armenian upbringing, he officially changed his surname from Seville to Bagdasarian in 1997.

AC (as he was often called) was famous for his stage routine in which he would drive David to the point of exasperation, usually through seeming inattention. Dave’s reaction - shrieking “Allllllviiiiiiiiin!” at the top of his lungs - would elicit Alvin’s signature response: “O-Kayyyy!” The bit inevitably brought down the house. It was later discovered that the chipmunk suffered from a mild form of ADHD as well as being partially deaf.

Alvin was found dead two days ago in Houston Steve’s garage, apparently asphyxiated. He had crawled into a sock, and it is speculated that he became disoriented while trying to extricate himself. Drug involvement is not suspected at this time.

The funeral was a private affair in which Alvin’s remains were, in accordance with chipmunk tradition, returned to the forest by Houston Steve flinging the decedent into the woods, using the sock in which he was enshrouded as a slingshot.

Brothers Simon and Theodore were in seclusion and unavailable for comment.

Monday, December 14, 2015


“...In the days of Mattathias son of Yochanan the High Priest, the Hasmoneans and their sons, there arose a cruel power against Your nation Israel, demanding that they abandon Your Law and violate Your commandments. And You, in Your great mercy, stood up for them in the time of their trouble, defending them, vindicating them, and avenging the wrong done to them. You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the spiritually unclean into the hands of the pure, the evil into the hands of the righteous, the arrogant into the hands of those who were faithful to Your Law. And You wrought great victories and miraculous deliverance for Your people Israel unto this day, revealing Your glory and Your holiness to the world. Then Your children came into Your Temple, purified Your sanctuary, and kindled lights in Your sacred courts. They set aside these eight days as a season for giving thanks and reciting praises to Your holy Name.”  - from the daily Chanukah liturgy

Many of our non-Jewish friends - and many of us Red Sea Pedestrians ourselves - are under the mistaken impression that the central story of Chanukah has to do with the so-called miracle of the oil: a single day’s supply of the consecrated oil used to light the candelabrum in the Temple having lasted a full eight days, long enough for additional supplies to be prepared.

But that story, miraculous as it may be, is nothing but a fable... a tall tale for the children, and an excuse to eat fried foods all week. The real miracle is the victory of a small band of warriors - the Hasmoneans - over a vastly superior power, the Seleucid Greco-Syrian rulers of Judea, who wanted to force the Jews to assimilate into their pagan culture. That is where the hand of the Eternal One was truly revealed.

To say that Chanukah is all about the oil is like saying Christmas is all about Santa Claus. It misses the point.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


The iconic Spaceship Earth, AKA the World’s Most Humongous Buckyball, greets visitors entering Disney’s Epcot park.

“A man enters with his children, his money and his wits, and leaves with his children only, sandbagged by a thousand catch-penny engines.” - Cyril Kornbluth, from The Advent on Channel Twelve

* * *

My visit to Orlando, Florida last week was a mini-Family Reunion of sorts. My cousin Di had rented a house in Orlando, Florida that was more than big enough to accommodate any family members who cared to join her for several days of relaxation and attraction-hopping. Dee, alas, had a full calendar, but I was able to pry myself loose from my usual weekday activities to make the trip.

One of the Must-See attractions in Orlando, of course, is Walt Disney World and its multifaceted complex of amusement parks. Since Cousin Vern, who was visiting from his home in Jerusalem along with his younger daughter, had never been to a Disney park, they made sure that that was part of the agenda. Specifically, they wanted to see Epcot, which is as close to a permanent World’s Fair as anything else on the planet.

I was perfectly happy to tag along: even though I had been to Disney World before, it had been a long time since the last time Dee and I had visited. Since then, I figured there were a few new things to see. Plus, I had an ace up my sleeve.

The last time we had been to Disney World had been in April, 1987 - more than twenty-eight years ago. At the time, Disney had been celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the park’s opening... and I was the lucky random recipient of a free park pass. That pass had sat quietly in our basement for close to three decades, growing steadily in value as the cost of park admissions crept northward over the years. It was now worth over $150... and it was high time I cashed it in.

One thing I noticed right away was that the ancient paper ticketing system had given way to a high-tech magnetic card that you would simply tap against a reader when you needed to use it. On entry into the park, you simply tap the card, put your index finger on a fingerprint scanner, and presto! You’ve been Mickified. It’s only a matter of time before iris-scanning and automatic stool-sampling technology is added to the admission process.

Your bags are also searched before you enter, presumably for contraband food, drink, and weapons of mouse destruction. It’s not as thorough as a full-on TSA security scan - or, for that matter, the way they check you before allowing you in to see The Masters Tournament - but it’s still something that was unnecessary three decades ago, alas.

My brother (the Other Elisson), Cousin Vern (a pseudonym), and Yours Truly. 

Epcot is a peculiar sort of place. The name is a lowercase version of its original moniker, EPCOT: the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. As originally envisioned, it would have been a living, active city, with actual residents doing whatever people were going to be doing in the future - pushing buttons at Spacely Sprockets, perhaps. But the job of being an actual residential community ended up in the lap of nearby Celebration, a town that Disney built in the unusable crappy swamp and scrub land on the other side of Interstate 4. Epcot, meanwhile, would be a full-time theme park.

As noted above, part of it is a sort of permanent World’s Fair, with several countries represented by their appropriate pavilions, shows, restaurants, and gift shops... with each country’s area staffed by natives of that country. The other section is a mishmash of attractions having to do with the Earth, space, the land and seas, and energy. It’s a bit like those retrofuturistic projections of life in the 1960’s from the 1939 New York World’s Fair, with the flying cars and the twelve-lane superhighways - in this case, the 1990’s as envisioned by the people of the 1960’s. That faint aroma you smell everywhere is the vague pong of anachronism. Even the typefaces have a vaguely “I bet this looked really ultramodern in 1973” look to them.

Spaceballs? No, just the Mission: SPACE® ride.

So much of Epcot seemed unchanged from the last time we’d seen it, except perhaps for the price tags: Most of the really new stuff is in parts of the Disney empire that we would not see on this visit. Perhaps the biggest change - and it may be subtler at Epcot than at other outposts in Walt’s empire - is that Disney has supplemented their own traditional stable of animated characters with major acquisitions: Pixar, Marvel, and even the Star Wars pantheon. Seeing someone wearing a Darth Vader helmet with built-in Mickey Mouse ears is a jarring reminder of how much larger the world of Disney has become.

For cynical old me, one dose visit every thirty years or so is about right. Yet, surprisingly, there are people who never tire of the place. While grabbing a beer with Cousin Vern, I struck up a conversation with a gaggle of women at the Rose and Crown (the English-style pub), who happily informed me that they visit the park every year. They’re not locals, either - they have to get in a plane and stay in a hotel room. This, Esteemed Readers, made my head explode a little.

Every. Fucking. Year.

And that, I suppose, is the peculiar appeal the Disney parks have. People love this place, to the point of pathology. Why go to nasty real Morocco or stinky real Paris when you can go to fake ones right here, get food that vaguely sounds like it might come from those places, avoid passport hassles, and spend just as much money or more?

Lest you think I’m just a cynical old bastard, let me reassure you that I am not immune to the Disney magic. Hell, we even saw Mickey Mouse himself just outside Les Chefs de France, the (vaguely) French restaurant. Check it out:

Mickey Mouse? Or Ratatouille? You decide.

Perhaps he’s a bit large to be Mickey Mouse. (Also, he’s out of uniform!) Maybe this was Ratatouille instead.

Friday, December 11, 2015


The Doors, circa 1969. From left: John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison. [Elektra Records - Joel Brodsky, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.]

They say these things happen in threes.

First it was Jimi Hendrix, who died in September 1970. Mere weeks later, Janis Joplin was dead as well. The following summer, Jim Morrison, the demented genius behind the musical group The Doors, joined them, completing the trifecta. Three legendary musical talents snuffed out within a nine month period, all at the tender age of twenty-seven - a bizarre coincidence. Less coincidental was the fact that drugs and alcohol played a role in all three deaths.

My cousin Vern (an obvious pseudonym) feels personally responsible for Morrison’s death. He may very well be right. And after you know the story, Esteemed Reader, perhaps you can decide for yourself.

Vern grew up in North Miami Beach, not quite old enough to be in the vanguard of the Generation o’ Hippie Freaks, but old enough to have worn a Nehru jacket back in the day. One summer, after spending a few weeks with us in New York, he returned home with an armload of LP’s in which was represented groups as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Vanilla Fudge, and Dr. John. That was when he introduced me to the music of The Doors.

Of course, anyone who listened to Top 40 AM radio in early 1967 was already acquainted with The Doors, thanks largely to their hit “Light My Fire,” which for the purposes of the format had been chopped down to about three minutes. (To hear the full seven-minute version of the song you had to listen to FM radio, where album-oriented rock music stations with deep-voiced DJ’s and high fidelity stereo sound were beginning to get popular - or you had to buy the LP.) Vern had all of The Doors’ albums and delighted in reproducing Jim Morrison’s trademark scowls.

Vern saw Jim Morrison’s scowl - and a whole lot more - at what has since been dubbed “The Miami Incident,” the infamous concert in Coconut Grove on March 1, 1969 in which Morrison reportedly exposed himself. That show was going to be trouble no matter how you sliced it: There was standing room only, the seats having been removed; there was no air conditioning; the band was an hour late showing up; and Morrison was both pissed and pissed-off - three sheets to the wind and angry. That there would be a whipout of the Lizard King’s Ding was not foreordained under these circumstances, but given Morrison’s increasingly erratic behavior, it’s hardly surprising. What is surprising is that there wasn’t a full-blown riot.

Morrison was subsequently arrested and convicted on several charges including indecent exposure, but died before his appeal was resolved. He was pardoned posthumously in 2010; unto this day his bandmates continue to deny that he exposed himself at that concert. But Vern knows the truth... because he saw it with his own eyes.

Asked by the Miami police to testify at Morrison’s trial, Vern had been horrified at the prospect of having to help convict one of his musical idols. Because he was a minor at the time, he could not be compelled to appear at the trial - and his mother, my redoubtable Aunt Marge, rendered the matter moot by exercising her veto power. Morrison was convicted, but it was not an ironclad case without Vern’s eyewitness account. An appeal would likely have been successful.

On such little matters do the heavy wheels of History turn. For Vern is convinced that had he testified, Morrison would have not only been convicted, he would have seen no point in an appeal. Which would have meant serving six months at hard labor in Florida’s notorious prison system.

Jail time. Hard time. Who knows but that that might have been the catalyst for Morrison’s repentance of his evil, dick-exposing ways? He might have turned his life around, given up alcohol and drugs, and eventually gone on tour with Anita Bryant, Jackie Gleason, and the Lettermen (all of whom performed at a “Down with Obscenity” rally shortly after the Incident). Why, he might be alive today, going on Doors reunion tours and generating hit after gospel-rock hit, had Vern done the Right Thing.

But probably not.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


[If Dear Abby can get away with reprinting the same frickin’ Holiday Columns every stinking year, why not Elisson? We are therefore pleased to offer this eleven-year-old Editorial Response previously published here and at Blog d’Elisson, one that is both timely and appropriate to the season. Chanukah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 6 this year.]

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the electronic-mail communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of Lost in the Cheese Aisle:
“I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there was no Judah Maccabee and that Chanukah is a load of crap. Papa says, ‘If you see it in Lost in the Cheese Aisle, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, was there a Judah Maccabee?” - Patty O’Furniture
Patty, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All they care about is that fat red-suited guy who schleps presents to Yenemvelt and back. All minds, Patty, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, goornisht, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Patty, there was a Judah Maccabee.

He existed as certainly as dedication and courage and devotion exist. He kicked some serious ass back in the day, Judah did, throwing the Greco-Syrians out of Judea and reclaiming the holy Temple. His struggle was a struggle against assimilation, against those who would be seduced by the pop culture of the day. He fought his battles so that we Jews would retain our cultural identity and not be swallowed up in the prevailing pagan mainstream. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there had been no Judah Maccabee! It would be as dreary as if there were no Pattys. (Or furniture.) There would be no candle-lighting then, no singing Ma-oz Tzur (or even those stupid dreidel songs), no commemoration of the miraculous rededication of the Temple. No Judah? We would even today be schmearing ourselves with olive oil and burning pig hearts as sacrifices to Zeus. And our Christian friends would have no Christmas - for the culture that gave rise to Jesus would have been wiped out. The eternal light - the ner tamid - with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Judah? You might as well not believe in fairies. Or the Matzohball That Does Not Sink. Or Eliyahu ha-Navi. You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the seder tables of the world to catch a glimpse of Eliyahu, but even if you did not see him, what would that prove? Nobody ever sees Eliyahu ha-Navi drink his wine at the Seder table, but that is no sign that there is no Eliyahu ha-Navi. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. (Although those footprints in the grass were more likely made by your Papa as he tried to sneak back into the house with a snootful of booze after the office Xmas party.) Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You can tear apart the knish and see the tasty filling inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Patty, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Judah Maccabee? Thank G-d he lived - and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Patty, nay, 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to chase the Greco-Syrians out of Judea and combat the forces of cultural assimilation, making glad the heart of childhood.

Happy Chanukah!

[Originally posted on December 25, 2004.]


Mom, displaying her usual million-watt smile in a photo taken about thirty years ago.

Today is Mom’s birthday. She’d be eighty-eight years old now if she were still walking the planet with the rest of us... but, alas, she is not. She must celebrate her Special Day by eating ambrosia and quaffing nectar in the World to Come, with the stars of heaven serving as candles for her cake.

We will observe the occasion in our own way, as we have done for over a quarter-century. On the first night of Chanukah - tomorrow - we will serve a Memorial Dinner consisting of Chinese take-out and Dee’s most excellent potato latkes. We’ll kindle the first candle on the chanukiyah (the special nine-branched candelabrum used on this holiday)... and we will remember a special lady whose smile would light up a room like all the candles in the world.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Rubber Soul album cover art [Wikipedia].

Rubber Soul, the album that marked the beginning of the Beatles’ transition from adorable moptops to psychedelic rock music icons, was released fifty years ago today.

If you wanted to pick the album that best demarcates the “old Beatles” sound from that of the “new Beatles,” this would be the one. The discs that bookended it - Help! and Revolver - could not have been more different.

Over the years, I’ve had my favorites amongst their many albums, but with the passage of time I grow stronger in my personal conviction that Rubber Soul is the best Beatles album of all. Rolling Stone has referred to it as their “accidental masterpiece,” and perhaps it was. Even after a half-century it doesn’t seem dated, and pretty much every tune is not merely good, but excellent. Check out the menu:

Drive My Car
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
You Won’t See Me
Nowhere Man
Think for Yourself
The Word
What Goes On
I’m Looking Through You
In My Life
If I Needed Someone
Run for Your Life

Not a dud in the deck.

Back in April, 1993, Dee and I had the good fortune to see Paul McCartney play at the Astrodome in Houston... and, yes, we took the girls along as well. The first song he played was “Drive My Car,” and I cannot begin to tell you, Esteemed Reader, what emotions boiled up in me as we heard that voice singing that song. It was as though almost three decades had peeled away almost instantaneously... incredible. It sounded new... and it still does.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates once stood
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Was the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glowed world-wide welcome. And still her eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

“But should that ‘refuse’ be of darker skin,
Or Asiatic features, think again.
Our welcome is not limitless, you see.
If we’re selective, none dare call it sin -
Those that flee tyrants, we fear to take them in
At least until it’s safe - and that is who knows when?

“So keep your homeless, keep your tempest-tost.
Who knows what welcoming that lot could cost?
(Those Hindus, Buddhists, Mussulmen, and Jews
Possessed with all their strange beliefs and hues)
And do not try to send them all to me. 
The eagle flies each Friday, but freedom isn’t free.”

[Apologies to Emma Lazarus]