The Cosmic Improv Group initiates Dr. Kathorkian’s Robber Baron Knitting School*

Humor/satire:  Cosmic Improv Group Series

knitspread0116

by Dr. Kathorkian
an alter ego of katharineotto.planetearth.ind
and katharineotto.wordpress.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 – In the Cosmic Commune everyone is just plain folks, so it isn’t unusual for John D. Rockefeller or JP Morgan, Sr. to visit, even though they remain uncomfortable in a place where everyone ignores their pretensions.  People laugh at JP’s temper tantrums, and servants poof out of his employ when he throws food at them.

JP Morgan appreciates my willingness to be seen in public with him, because I am so civilized.  He wants to learn how to knit.

Really?  Go buy your own knitting needles, yarn, book, and other paraphernalia, and I’ll begin to believe you’re serious.

He says he’ll do better than that.  He’ll find a group of investors to buy a knitting needle manufacturer, a couple of sheep farms, and a publishing house.  He’ll get them to buy up all the cotton farms, too, so we can make more cotton yarn.

I say thanks, anyway.  Just learn how to knit, first, and maybe you’ll know something about the businesses you’re investing other people’s money in.

I can hear JD Rockefeller chuckling on the other side of the honeysuckle hedge.  I even get a partial smile from JP, and the hint of a twinkle in his eye.  Andy Carnegie says nothing, but I can feel his intense energy and interest.  He’s seeing a market for steel knitting needles.  JD, of course, sees a future in plastic knitting needles and acrylic, but I tell him up front that plastic and acrylic are low-yield investments for knitters.  I know he wants to sell cheap petroleum products, because no one can afford to drive, but give this knitter natural fibers and metal needles, and you can sell your transparent petroleum scam elsewhere.  Individuals need gas for power tools and other tools of survival, tools they can afford without going into debt.

JP becomes upset when I say this, but I tell him to stuff it.  Debt is what got us into this mess, and it’s your fault.  People can’t be free if they are in debt.  If you’re not free, you can’t have a democracy.

He threatens to leave.  I tell him that’s fine, but I’m not invalidating his job or career.  Banks still have a role to play in the Cosmic Commune, but banks need to reestablish their own credit and credibility.  By helping people learn how to manage money and get out of debt, both banks and taxpayers prosper.  You don’t get value for money with promises, whether from bank notes, insurance, or government, so don’t take it personally.  I’m a “pay as I go” kind of person, as I am immortal and a very lazy, selfish soul who enjoys freedom.

A financial debt is a karmic debt that must be paid sooner or later.  If I pay up front, I keep the books balanced at all times, unless I am tricked or otherwise maneuvered into untenable positions.

Cut losses, say I.  Whoever obtains money from me under false pretenses has his own karmic debt to pay.  Cutting losses buys my freedom from dishonesty.

So, I tell JP he looks good if he comes clean, to a certain extent, and recognizes that a debt-backed currency steals from the present to invest in an unpredictable future.  JP appears to take this in.  He doesn’t respond.  I go back to work.

After awhile, he looks up and asks me to show him how to knit.  I demonstrate the moss stitch, saying the knit and purl stitches are the foundation for all knitting patterns.  The technique is easy, but the strings of possibilities extend in all directions.

He asks if he can try, and I hand him my work. He makes clumsy efforts, drops a needle, then begins to get upset because stitches fall off, and yarn is getting tangled around his feet.

I tell him to sit still.  “Do not move,” I say.  “I’ll rescue my knitting and you in the process.”

So I grab the work before he loses too many stitches, untangle the yarn, and stow it all away for repair later.

I hear Andy chuckling, and even JD has risen and come around the honeysuckle hedge, grinning, to watch JP knit.  JP looks sheepish, but he is also puffing up his chest, as if he has accomplished something significant.

“It takes as much skill to be a good knitter as banker,” I tell him.  “A good banker can’t afford to lose credibility with his customers, because credit is his product line, just as knitters make socks.”

JP lights a cigar, and I poof up some wind to blow smoke away from the table and us.  I make it a light breeze, just enough to rustle leaves on the plants a little, to help them sing.

All three Robber Barons look astounded.  I don’t make a big deal out of asking the wind for help, but they glance at each other and me and begin to wonder what besides knitting I can teach them.

They also begin plotting how they can control the wind for profit.  I see them operating in boardrooms and Congress to build huge wind turbines, manipulating public resources with their misguided motives.

“You don’t control the wind,” I tell them.  “The wind is free.”  I say it will go where it will.  It only does your bidding if you approach it respectfully and in a cooperative spirit.  Ask the leaves on the trees to intercede, better to energize them into a flutter and explore their greater environments.

JP’s eyes begin to glaze over, and I realize I’ve said enough.

Fast forward to next day, and all three Robber Barons have bought expensive knitting needles, yarn – gold yarn by JP – and pattern books galore.  Andy wants to knit an Irish sweater, with complicated cables, and Scottish wool.  JP wants to make a vest out of gold thread.  JD wants a bright red crew neck sweater, simple but big, but he’s having trouble deciding between that and a pair of argyle socks.

While out shopping, they also bought a few knitting stores, textile manufacturers, farms, and other knitting tools.  Andy bought another shipping line.

The knitters are hot to trot, vying with each other to dominate knitting.  I try not to show my amusement, because so far, not one of them knows how to cast on the first stitch.

Meanwhile, they have brought so much stuff to the table that there’s no room to spread out, so I poof us a larger table and conjure up a coffee stand for me, to avoid spilling my coffee and damaging their stuff.

I suggest they start by knitting a swatch, and I try to show them how to cast on.  Andy catches on quicker than the others, because he grew up working with his hands and has more manual dexterity.

JD, who has now joined the table, sits next to JP.  Both have large hands and are clumsy, but JD manages to cast on 20 stitches first, then starts jostling JP’s elbow. This makes JP drop a needle and lose more stitches.  He explodes in rage and tosses everything on the ground.

By now we’ve drawn a crowd, and everyone starts to twitter and point fingers.  JP blushes and poofs himself away, leaving his assets behind.

*Inspired by The Robber Barons, Matthew Josephson, 1934, 1962

 

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Dr. Jekyll visits Bethesda

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