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The Durst of Times

Will Durst
ATM charges are "convenience fees," but whose convenience?

By Will Durst

San Francisco, where last year's tourism figures were the highest ever. Maybe we should turn the town into a theme park and all of us can be rides. I wanna be the cranky beer-drinking picnicker listening to a ballgame in Golden Gate Park leaning against a tree.

  • In front of a state Senate committee, the top regulator of California's banking industry testified that charging consumers ATM fees was necessary to keep banks profitable. Some banks charge $1.50 for transactions by noncustomers and $2 for their own customers using other banks' ATMs. Also, there are 50-cent fees for talking nasty behind an ATM's back.

    Conrad Hewitt, a Pete Wilson appointee, which is like saying the lint that keeps the coins in the banking industry pocket from jangling together too loudly, told the Senate, "ATM charges are convenience fees." Aww, isn't that sweet. They're really just thinking about us. It's only for our convenience they're ripping giant holes the size of the Death Star in our wallets. Well, thank you thank you thank you, Mr. Bank, but I think you forgot one eensie weensie little thing. IT'S MY MONEY. I'm letting you guys hang on to it and then you invest and lend it out and make your money that way. Remember? In March 1996, Consumer Reports found over 100 different charges and fees imposed by banks. I certainly hope they start to lose interest in my convenience pretty soon or I'm going to end up broke. Somebody contact the feds. I think they have those closed-circuit cameras pointed in the wrong direction.

    San Francisco, where a study says the average cost of congestion per commuting driver is $950. Of course, that's not even including the price of Prozac.

  • So the deal is, former heavyweight champion of the world Riddick Bowe couldn't cut it in the Marines. Lasted 11 days in boot camp before he was "allowed to withdraw" from Parris Island, S.C., because "he had problems with the corps' regimented lifestyle."

    Yeah, right, we all know that's bull. He was just sick and tired of drill instructors asking him for his autograph, and younger smaller recruits begging him to eat their dessert. Maybe the guy should have started easy and tried the Citadel first. Shannon Faulkner lasted longer than he did, and as far as we know, Riddick didn't have his shirt set on fire with nail-polish remover.

    The toughest part is going to be when he tries to get back in the ring. You know that other boxers are going to mock and scoff and taunt. At least the ones who can remember to punch and talk at the same time, which is not a whole mess of them. I can see Mike Tyson in his high-pitched squeak telling Bowe to "get down and give me infinity." Andrew Golata may try to do the same, although I'm not sure Riddick Bowe will be able to understand anything over the screams of pain from his groin being pummeled. I guess his Marine motto will be "Semper Bye."

  • Ian Wilmut, a British researcher working at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland, cloned a sheep the other day, and people are flipping out like their morning coffee was spiked with major doses of primo Owsley acid. The purple kind. If you can clone a sheep, then all sorts of ethical questions lie in wait right around various similar-looking corners, not the least of which is: Will society be better off with hundreds of Heather Locklears littering Hollywood Boulevard? And what happens when the industry is flooded with cheap fly-by-night Cloning Clinics producing substandard clones, like Xeroxes without any toner? Imagine the streets full of Heather Locklear clones who weren't smart enough to dye their hair and get their teeth fixed. Frightening, isn't it?

    A presidential advisory board on bioethics is going to push cloning to the top of its agenda, which means President Clinton has finally found a way to beat that tricky 22nd Amendment and succeed himself. The good news is you can't clone from dead cells, so Hitler is off the board, along with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, that still leaves Bill Gates eligible as a donor. Can't wait for Windows 2000. Probably comes with cloning capability. And it still won't work as well as a Mac.

    Will Durst is a clone daddy wannabe.

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  • From the March 1997 issue of the Metropolitan

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