My recent get-rich-quick schemes had turned into get-broke-even-quicker schemes. I had opened the Donald Trump Barber College & Humility School. Motto: “It’s Huge!” So was my debt. It closed with a minus 2 percent of the vote. Still, these days politics is where the money is, so my next venture was the Draft Joe Biden campaign. But Joe couldn’t make up his mind, should he or shouldn’t he? As George Will said about another indecisive politician, “He makes Hamlet look like George Patton.”
After that enterprise folded, I launched Surfers for Bernie Sanders until I found out Sanders just turned 74 years old, and his surfboard would need a handicap sticker. Too late, or too early, I made a down payment for a gigantic ballroom to hold the Rick Perry Presidential Inauguration Ball. Then I tried to hit the jackpot by appealing to the really big spenders, but Sheldon Adelman hired a concrete truck and asked for my shoe size. The Koch Brothers introduced me to their third brother, Knuckles.
I sought advice from my financial guru, who was in his usual executive suite. “Welcome to Walmart,” he said, pushing a cart to me. I explained my problem. “You’re too late to get in on the kale religious fad, or the Kale Mary Play as we financial wizards called it. So invest in the next big craze, lion hunting. Dentists will pay thousands to shoot a lion. You can even supply a script about how the lion was about to attack a little old lady in a wheelchair when you dropped that beast with one shot at a thousand feet, and that was the end of Simba – it’s what the kids who rode him in the playground called him.”
After giving it some thought, I dropped the plan, mainly because I can’t stand the sight of blood — if things get out of hand, my own blood. My next job was as a stock broker and adviser. OK, so I got Enron and Exxon mixed up. It’s an easy mistake to make. The lawsuit should be settled soon. And I agree, steam locomotives did not regain their prominence. My advice to buy redwood seeds was only for long-term investors.
I wanted to buy the Texas franchise for Tesla, only to discover that there aren’t any franchises for the car in Texas. Elon Musk, the driver – so to speak – behind the super-vehicle, is trying to sell directly from the factory to the customer, but the all-powerful Texas Auto and Roll Bar Dealers Monopoly Association explained to the Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott that such competition was “a violation of the American free enterprise system” and “restraint of trade” — their trade. “Who does Musk think he is selling directly to the customer? Michael Dell?” The dealers’ statement to the lawmakers was reportedly accompanied by large campaign donations, but I doubt there was any connection.
My efforts to get rich quick were not going well. I was offered the job of food taster for Dick Cheney, but I wanted something safer, like being a human cannonball at the circus. I attempted to get a job with the NFL, but was turned down when I wrote on my resume, “Ball pressure inspector for Patriots.” In desperation, I returned to politics. Hillary Clinton hired me as an excuse counselor, but I was fired after I advised her to tell the 14th Congressional investigative committee, “My laptop was destroyed during the attack I led in Benghazi.” Jeb Bush’s campaign was clearly in trouble and needed my help. That’s when I came up with a new slogan: “Dynasties Forever!” It didn’t fly. Neither did: “A Bush for President – He’ll get it right this time.”
I needed some wisdom on money matters, so again I checked with my financial adviser on a Sunday afternoon during visiting hours. “People are tired of Classic Coke,” he said through the thick glass. “Sell the idea of Coke-Cola II or the New Coke. The public will eat, or drink, it up.” When I made my proposal to Coca-Cola executives, they put me in a bottle and tossed me into the sea. I moved to Hollywood where I made a pitch to a group of producers on my script about a hirsute mug maker who teams up with a druggie chef, “Hairy Potter and the Stoned Saucier.” Disney said it was a Mickey Mouse idea. My next pitch was about a Russian monarch’s attempt to run a saloon, “Czar Bars.” I had no better luck with that or with “Indianapolis James.”
So much for Tinsel Town. I approached UT-Austin with a plan to erect a statue on campus to Henry Wirz, the commandant of the Andersonville POW camp. “After the Civil War, he was the only Rebel officer hanged as a war criminal. We’ll call it ‘Yankee Justice.’ It should go over great with all the Longhorns who got rid of Jefferson Davis.” I escaped with only a rope burn around my neck. That’s when my contract was cancelled to make Stars and Bars license plates for Texas’ Sons of Confederate Veterans. Down but not out, I tried to open a pub in Galveston featuring memories of the island’s past. But it failed. Guess I shouldn’t have named it “The Chaos & Debris — Ike’s High Watermark.”
It was then that a pattern in my family’s failed business attempts dawned on me. Ebenezer Ashby thought Revere said it was two if by land. Another ancestor had trouble translating Sioux for Custer. “Twenty” and “two thousand” sound a lot alike in that language. It was much the same when Jose Ashby thought JFK said “Bay of Figs.” Granduncle Private “Sleepy” Ashby was a lookout at Pearl Harbor, and his story is self-explanatory. Finally, I applied to Jade Helm 15 to carefully monitor the Texas State Guard. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned my brief stint as a health inspector for Blue Bell.
Ashby is broke at email@example.com