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DATELINE: 15 September, 2000

Transmitted by: Robin Miller, USA

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Event # 232: LOCK & LOAD

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RDR logo.[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following are two articles by Robin Miller which appeared in G21 in March, 1998. Enjoy!]


THE COMPLETE IDIOTS GUIDE TO G21 FOR DUMMIES - Trust me. This title will be available from any day now. They already carry 50 screens worth of "Complete Idiot's Guide to" books, and over 100 screens worth of books "for Dummies."

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager" must be one of the most popular titles in these two series, because most of the teeners I see in my neighborhood certainly seem to have been raised by complete idiots -- who probably started their relationships by reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dating," then the guide to Marriage, and so on.

But idiots seem to leave sex to dummies, along with getting into graduate school, making wine and beer, sailing, and many other unlikely subjects. Here's a frightening thought: running into someone who's read (and taken to heart), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Assertiveness. What if two assertive idiots meet? What if they both try to change lanes into the same space at the same time? If they have also read "Pistol Marksmanship for Dummies," everyone in sight is in big trouble.

Better they should stay home and play chess, another pastime for which complete idiots have their own guide.

Imagine a poor Human Resources person who, after wading through a stack of resumes written by dummies, is forced to interview half-a-dozen complete idiots. I will buy this man or woman a drink after work out of sheer pity.

"Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah," one of the applicant says. "I know all about Unix and C++ and all that, DOS, Windows, QuattroPro for Windows. See, I got all the manuals with me right here. Even one about how to build computers, see?" Then the schlump opens up his briefcase (a bit fumblingly, what with him being a dummy and all) and pours a stack of large yellow-covered paperback books on the interviewer's desk.

There are, naturally, Internet guides available for both Dummies and Complete Idiots. I know this because my limo service's web site draws plenty of responses from them. It's not a great web site, but I think I state rather clearly the services I offer, the kind of vehicle I have, and how much I charge. Take a look for yourself.

Am I right?

Now follow me through this not entirely imaginary phone conversation with a hypothetical kid who wants to hire a limo for her hypothetical high school prom.

Robin Miller
Photo of Robin Miller.

Me: Robin's Limousine

Kid: I'm looking at your web site, but it doesn't say what color your limo is.

Me: Yes it does. It's white.

Kid: Oh. Like in the picture. It looks like that?

Me: (supressing a rude comment) Yep. That's it. And that's me standing next to it.

Kid: Oh, you're a guy?

Me: If I'm not, I sure fool the wife pretty well.

Kid: How many people does your limo hold?

Me: Six.

Kid: It doesn't say that here. I bet we could get 10 or 12 in it easy.

Me: No you couldn't. Besides, I'm already booked the night of your prom so you'll have to call someone else.

Kid: But I didn't tell you what night my prom was...

Me: Trust me, whatever night it is, I'm booked. Thank you for calling. (Click!)

Now this kid will tell all her friends I'm not a nice person. If they're as stupid as she is, that's fine by me. There are enough bright teenagers out there, and limousines are in short enough supply during prom season, that I feel no need to put up with a group of dummies -- or complete idiots -- for an entire evening in exchange for a few hundred bucks.

Maybe I should write a book called "Hiring Prom Limos for Dummies." I could sell them all copies of it by mail order, and tell them to call me back after they've read it. By then (since dummies don't read very fast) I really would be booked on all of their prom nights.

Now back to G21, which was once sort of a hip/cool little e-zine that maybe 500 people saw each month, [but] that now reaches more like 100,000, among whom are no doubt plenty of dummies and complete idiots who are completely bamboozled by it.

You guys need a book that will tell you all about this site. A nice yellow book with big pages and big type and little words.

Any G21 readers want to buy a copy? Or at least reserve one? Just tell Rod, our publisher, through the "TalkBack" page, or post your desire to the G21 Bulletin Board --- along with your Visa, Mastercard or Discover card number, and we'll ship you your very own autographed copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to G-21 for Dummies" just as soon as I get done writing it.

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CONFESSIONS OF A RESTAURANT BIGOT - I am about as non-racist as an American can be, but when it comes to restaurants I am as bigoted as any member of the Nation of Islam or the Ku Klux Klan.

Remember the Spike Lee movie, Do the Right Thing?

The plot hinged on a protest by blacks against a pizza restaurant owner whose primary decor consisted of pictures of Italian athletes. He refused to add pictures of black athletes even though almost everyone else in the neighborhood -- and most of his customers -- were black.

If I walked into a pizza place and saw pictures of Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan on the walls, I'd probably turn around and walk out... Especially if the girl behind the counter was Hispanic and the guy making the pizzas looked Oriental.

When I go to an Italian restaurant, I want my pizza made by someone named Guido or Tony or Mario, and I want to see a motherly woman named Maria behind the counter. On the walls, I want to see pictures of Italians, maybe a few badly-painted scenes of Naples or Palermo, and a couple of hanging Chianti bottles. Not California Chianti, either.

Now let's turn this around and go to Braznell's Caribbean Kitchen. When I go there I don't want a blonde waitress named Muffie, and I don't want to see a bunch of Irish guys in the kitchen. The staff in this place had better be (and is) 100% black, and the decor should not (and does not) include pictures of famous New York investment bankers.

My favorite Mexican restaurant, El Tacquito, is owned by a middle-aged Mexican widow. The waitresses might deign to take your order in English , but they write it down and relay to the kitchen in Spanish. The tables have little Aztec designs on them. Posters -- in Spanish -- for Mexican beers and soft drinks are on all the walls, mixed with pictures of Mexican rural scenes, and the background music is contemporary Mexican pop. Even though El Tacquito is located in a heavily Polish neighborhood, the only way you would know this while eating there is if you looked out the front window and saw the Kosciusko Savings and Loan building across the street.

My favorite deli is Attman's, on East Lombard Street. I've seen people of many ethnic origins eating there, but I have never heard anyone complain about the fact that Attman's is, always has been, and probably always will be staffed almost entirely by Jews, even though Attman's is in the middle of a primarily black neighborhood.

The best oyster shuckers in Maryland are black and work from little stands along the highways. They aren't going to hire Jewish oyster shuckers, but plenty of Jews buy from them. Texans make the best chile and shouldn't hire anyone but fellow Texans to do it. People from Arizona shouldn't try to make New England boiled dinners. Italians should stick to pasta and veal and leave curry to Indians and Pakistanis who grew up eating it.

These may be stereotypes, but they're so often true that we should take them seriously and be suspicious of anyone who tells us they're not.

Mixing restaurant ethnicities can be dangerous.

When I was a child --- 35 years ago in Orange, California --- there was a local restaurant called "Walter's Minnesota-Style Chow Mein." One night, out of sheer curiosity, my father took us there.

It was the worst Chinese food we ever ate.

So bad that my father later took some of his coworkers there so that they, too, could taste just how bad it was.

Indeed, the joint's only source of repeat business seemed to be people who brought friends in to show them how horrible Minnesota-style Chinese food could be, since no mere verbal description could do justice to its complete lack of flavor.

Over the years I've tried vegetarian "San Francisco-style" barbecue (horrible), Kosher pizza (you could gag on it) and many other sad mixtures of food styles, but Walter's still remains my all-time culinary low.

But some people never learn that; when it comes to ethnic food, they shouldn't upset the natural order of things.

For several years, my primary source of Southern-style barbecue was the Bitman's carry-out in the Westside Shopping Center on Frederick Road. It was staffed entirely by blacks and patronized by barbecue lovers of all races.

Then one day I went to the place and found nothing but Koreans behind the counter. They claimed they were using the "original" Bitman's recipes, but what they turned out was greasy, inebible stuff that was nothing like the tender perfection staunch Bitman's fans had come to expect. They had kept the original Bittman's decor -- blank white walls with nothing on them -- but the ambience was no longer there. Perhaps the Koreans were too courteous for their clientele (Bitman's staff had always been rather rude, sort of, "What'cha want? Spit it out. I'm busy!" in their dealings with customers), but I believe most of us could have dealt with this change if the food quality had stayed high.

A year later the place was closed.... and no one missed it.

We can pass all the anti-discrimination laws we want, and talk all day and into the night about multi-culturalism, but Chinese will still make better Chinese food than Jews, African-Americans will still make better southern-style barbecue than Koreans, and I'll still want my Mexican food made by Mexicans, my French food made by chefs named Henri or Pierre, not Irving or Mohammed, and when I want German food I'd rather go to a place called Haussner's than one called Abi Obanju's.

Call me a restuaraunt bigot. Go ahead.

But when you look into your heart, you'll find that you are one too, unless you think McDonald's is the height of American culinary expression, in which case your opinion isn't worth hearing anyway.

ROBIN MILLER is a G21 Alumnus (1997 - 1998) and Editor-in-Chief of and He can be contacted via e-mail at He refuses to accept the blame for our publisher now living in Maryland.
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