Mad Matt’s Money Review
illustration by Kevin Banks
I am a miser and a poor one. I am 79 years old, have emphysema, a bad prostate and psoriasis of the scalp. I live in a boarding house and therefore I have no life to speak of. Except, of course, my money. Cash only. I keep it all in a place you’ll never find. On Saturday nights I take some of it from my stash to admire. This has been my solitary habit for many years, ever since I got too old and couldn’t manage the other one. But I’m old, and the Blue Cross doctor has informed me my emphysema will kill me within a year. Now I wish to share my fetish with some of you younger people. My last wish is to cultivate an appreciation of good old, trusty, slimy greenbacks among the younger generation. In my day, a dollar was worth something! So read on – and maybe you’ll learn something from somebody who knows what the hell they’re talking about. But just remember – these ones are mine, all mine, mine! You’ll never get any of it! Har! Har!
H08489789E – An old favorite, by George, and that’s whose face graces the front of this classic greenback. This one had been around the block a time or two before falling into my grubby clutch in 1989, so it’s a shade dishevelled. It has a slightly lined, faded texture – classic machinewash. Tide or All, I would guess, and I was glad I could rescue it before some other idiot could repeat that punishment. It still retains some of the newly minted smell, though overlaid a tad with hand-grime, urinal cake and pocket lint. From the Saint Louis Reserve Bank, which has produced consistent though unspectacular singles, fives and twenties over the past several decades.
B72764407R – A heart-stopper. This one took me the moment I palmed it at the 7-11 on Mass Ave. last year. I have not favored many of the bills with Treasurer Catalina Vasquez Villaponte’s signature, but this one obviously got by her. A New York mint with all the requisite highs and lows that town is famous for. This one has refreshingly crisp face-lines marred only by a slight faze in the upper left numeral. A single, by the way. The reverse begins with a slightly muted overall tone followed by a bold, striking eye above the pyramid. It finishes with a rather weak right shield that would be disappointing if not for the notion it conveys of faded glory. Nothing but a quaint idea, like the rest of them, but moving nonetheless. If this dollar was a woman I would make love to it.
A691641057A – Down and dirty. I have often thought that Abe’s expression says everything there is to know about this one. The portrait here makes him look muddled and out of place, a faint air of disapproval long since subdued by the sights passed before him. And no wonder – this finski reeks of the gutter, of being passed over the counter of the neighborhood packy in exchange for a pint of Dubra a few times too many, of a cheap night watchman’s blowjob behind Waldbaum’s at two in the morning, of five dollar’s worth of regular in a some young punk’s beat-up ’81 Camaro before hitting the Brass Rail for a night of pool and vomiting. And yet it possesses an air of innocence – as if some golden-haired pre-teen angel had kept it in her money jar on the bureau next to the teddy bear. The girl gazes with awe and reverence at Lincoln’s face from time to time and he, in turn, regards her paternally. This goes on for a year or more before the weekend her parents go away to Hampton Beach and she fishes Abe’s countenance from the jar and trades it for a box of the Today sponge. Dear Abe, the things we’ve seen.
B44801265D – Fifty dollars is not a lot of money these days, so why do most of you young slobs see only two or three of these a year? Probably because gas stations don’t like giving $46.65 change for a pack of cigarettes and a Trojan! U.S. Grant – you old drunk! Fifty dollars – how about fifty pounds, as in should have lost for the picture, you fat excuse for a president! I keep this one only because it’s a fifty.
E35660252Q – Bank of Richmond, Virginia. This one is fairly new, and I picked it up only after its first few folds and crinkles. I like this one because it bespeaks the classic South, and Virginia’s own son (that’s right, George again) gazes almost defiantly from the portrait – his revolutionary fervor tempered by a steeled presidential dignity. Or is he reminiscing on his plantation nights with Brown Sugar? Here is the dollar as the Fed wants us to see it: Stately, reserved, unmoveable, with Martha hovering just off the scene. Culled, I suspect, from an Old Money Family’s income trust. It smells very faintly of horses and English soap.
1990 – A quarter, yes, a quarter! It takes four of these to make a dollar and therefore, I can only love them one-fourth as much, but if a quarter was a dollar, well – I’d be four times as rich! And this is why my heart aches every time I see a quarter.
B95300248D – I love a ten and often imagine when I see one that I am driving the car pictured on the reverse lithograph of the U.S. Treasury building. I am pulling up to the curb, where I will park and enter through the grand columns in front, where I will be greeted by a deferential Treasury official and led to a room piled high with sacks of bills. The official asks, “Very good, Mr. Matt, and how much would we like today?” and I say, “Oh, only half a mil today, if you don’t mind,” seeing as I took away fifteen the week before and don’t wish to appear gauche. I can easily make it up the following week. I pull away from the curb with ten sacks of new twenties in the back seat, right underneath the grand crested “The United States of America” header. Then I head for the massage parlor and pay absolutely nothing! Har! God bless America!
Well, that’s all the space I have for this review. Next issue: C-notes, twenties, and more of my favorite singles. Coming this Fall I will have my mitts on a genuine ten thousand dollar note. Get ready! And remember, cherish each and every bill before 1995, when they’ll change the colors and move the picture to the side like every other country’s cheesy Monopoly money! Why not give us tits and ass if they want to change the money, is what I want to know! How about a little centerfold action?! Dead presidents on one side, Miss December on the back! They might as well start giving us yen! Well, if I’m not dead by then, until next time! Har! Har!