#725 MARCH 29, 2013
Copyright 2013 FRANCIS DIMENNO
I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.–Hermann Hesse
If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself. –Confucius
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. –Oscar Wilde
It is better to be alone than in bad company.–George Washington
If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad.–Hans Eysenck
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER SIX: PART FOUR: BIG TROUBLE
“And there was more to Stolas!” said Baby Boy Maddox, quoting the final testimony of his dying mentor Cadger Tandy.“I ain’t even told you the half of it! I don’t have time to get into all of them but he was also spoken of, and only in whispers, by dozens of secret names.”
“They called him The Red Hot Pistol. Mostly because he’s hold the littler derringers hidden in his big fist and creep up in yuh without a word of warning and come up to the back of your head and press the pistoleros to your scalp and PAM PAM PAM you’d be dead. If you dast to cross him. Even if you didn’t. And just as cool as a cucumber he would rifle your pockets and off he would go. These were exploits I never seen but only heerd about, from his younger days out West. As he grew long in the tooth he turned some of the bloody work over to others. That’s how he became known as The World’s Biggest Cake Eater. It was kind of a joke—he warn’t no furriner—not as far as anybody knowed—where did he come from—who could say?—the place down below, maybe. Some of the oldest folks in town still remembered when the volcano exploded on the other side of the world. That was the Year Without a Summer—another one of the many secret names of Stolas.”
“They also called him Doctor Jitters. Maybe because he was always kkk–kool kalm and kollected. It was code. He was also known as Mr. First Of May. I’m guessing because that was the day when the Spring thaw was complete, and all sorts of unshirted hell broke loose. The day when all sorts of Yellofs ended up kicked to the curb with broken arms and broken legs. Folks would then say—allus in whispers–that it was likely the work of Crusher the Secret Bone Breaker. What they meant was, that was more of the doin’s of Stolas.”
“They called him Jealous Daddy—not because he was a playboy—far from it—but likely because of his famous aversion to women folk and their chatter. They called him the Ice Cream Soldier—not because he was soft and molten when the heat was on, but because he wasn’t. In his early years he was known as The Young Elephant. He was a behemoth of a man, but maybe there was some other reason I was never told of. Later on, they called him Smelly Jumbo. I guess because he was always well-dressed—diamond stick pin—a real big rock, too—and knobby cane—dressed to the nines, he was, when he was out in society—but he would sometimes overdo it with the foo-foo water. But he kilt a man right there on the spot when heheard him pass a comment about it. That’s one of the many deeds that earned for him the name Mr. Sweet Revenge. And maybe that’s the very deed that earned for him yet another nickname–Mr. Six Months Away From The Bin. Behind his back though. Veddy hush-hush.”
“The Big Man didn’t appear much in any of the newspapers. Hardly never, Y’see, he didn’t like nosy reporters much, and they didn’t much like him—in fact they feared and hated him. Even the best of ‘em. Especially the best of ‘em—they knew what HE was about. One time a nosy cub reporter as didn’t know better passed some comments in print about the mysterious ‘Mayor of Money Land.’ That kid was found jammed up in low by-place, reeking of rot-gut and with a dead prostitute in his bed and him smeared all over with her blood. Twenty years says the judge, and the kid was never seen nor heard of again.”
“Listen! When menfolk wanted to talk about him and at the same time NOT talk about him, they would make veiled references to names he was knowed by that was even more clandestine, and only repeated in whispers among the closest friends. That’s how you’d hear the men in saloons and post-offices and jail lobbies having a quiet talk amongst themselves. You hear, they would say, about the latest doin’s of My Friend Secret Mark? You hear tell about the bite the Sheriff took out of the Bitter Apple to cover up that copper as got mauled? You ever find out how Mr. Fatal to Romance shook down the Madam of Canal Street? Ain’t it just the beatenest thing you ever heard , about how the Slob Killer clobbered three drunk firemen on election day? They get thrown in the clink—he waltzes away free.”
“They talked about his doings everywhere. In the back-yards and vacant lots next to ruined buildings. In the lobby of the station house and the John Raines Hotel; in the halls of the pest house and the bug house. Where is The Crazy Dog? What has Commander Dope been up to? Stay outside and lay chickee—watch out for Mr. Here Comes the End of the World.
And finally, they called him Mr. Really Real . Because he had a way of talking you up while talking down to you—a way of telling you things that could chill your spine—make you feel the way you do after too much bad coffee on top of too much strong rotgut the night before. He made it so you couldn’t figure out if you was Jesus—or the Devil Himself.”
“Here’s what he said to me once—me, just a sprat, an ear sore, a pimple on his nose. Who’s have think he’d of even noticed me? But that was the genius of Stolas, he noticed everything. EVERY THING.”
“So there was I, as was looching about in Tipsy Smith’s groggery and he leans down all big and frightening like and he tells me: ‘Listen, My Fine Young Gent–Nothing you do and nothing you say is unimportant. It all means something to someone. So do go on. But remember: Everything you do and everything you ever hope to do is useless, and will be forgotten, and you will be forsaken. So give it up. Put the word ‘nothing’ on your ‘things to do list’—and then cross it off.’”
“Maybe this will help you understand why they called him one more thing, too. They called him Old Man Trouble. And I think–after you hear the rest of my story–ye’ll nae longer wonder at the reason why.”
I THINK IT’S GOING TO RAIN TODAY
THE OLDEST CULT KNOWN TO MAN
HENRY BREWSTER COMICS
Schlock-meister Myron Fass was looking to cash in on the short-lived comic book boomlet of 1966, and this strange document of teenaged life as allegedly lived during that era was the result. It’s a strange mix of old ideas and the dawning realization of a newly emerging sensibility; it is a fascinating social document, made more so by the uncanny artistic choices of veteran comic book artist Bob Powell.
MYRON FASS: DEMON GOD OF PULP
BAD MAGS: BORN TO BE BAD
K-TEL RECORDS: “SUPER-BAD IS BACK”
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
TRAV S.D.: THE IRISH IN VAUDEVILLE
6* DAILY UTILITY
UNCLE SAM’S BACON BLUES
THE AMERICAN DREAM HAS BECOME A GAME OF SURVIVAL
SEVEN MUSICIANS KICKED OUT OF BANDS THEY HELPED TO START
Where’s Syd Barrett? Maybe Roky Erickson should be mentioned as well. But you know how these journalists are–they always go for the easy sell.
THE TWENTY WORST LYRICS EVER
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
Paul Simon’s legacy is patchy, to say the least. Looking at his work without allowing either the personal or the political to intrude, for every example of a truly fine song you find a corresponding example of insufferably pretentious drool (The Dangling Conversation, Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall,& c). He does, however, seem to have staying power. For all their melodramatic grandiosity, his best songs may very well stand the test of time. But there’s something not quite–pure–about even the best of his songs. They seem too calculated. Calculated to evoke a sentimental response; to tug at the heartstrings. The jouncy nostalgia of a song like “Kodachrome” is cunning and catchy but also seems–like many of his more popular songs–to all too often amount to little more than crafty kitsch.
It is truly difficult to emotionally detach ourselves from songs which form the background to our lives. But I’m simply trying to be brutally objective. I’ll admit he’s come up with about a dozen or so good songs, which is more than most people ever manage. But there’s no reason why Simon shouldn’t be held to the same standards as any other artist, and, when his work falls short of being as good as it could be, it is not snobbery, but an aesthetic impulse, which impels a critic to point this out.
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. 679.
ANTI-WAR SONGS: A SELECTION
PART FOUR: ANGER
THE MARINES HAVE LANDED ON THE SHORES OF SANTO DOMINGO
PEARLS BEFORE SWINE
EVE OF DESTRUCTION
HUNG UP DOWN