FOURTEENTH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.–Charlotte Bronte
Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.–Oscar Wilde
Consistency is found in that work whose whole and detail are suitable to the occasion. It arises from circumstance, custom, and nature.–Marcus V. Pollio
The lawyer’s truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency.–Henry David Thoreau
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER SEVEN: PART ONE: THE PLAN
It was late April of 1986, and colder and wetter than usual for that month. Shrubs and trees were budding still, but crocuses were wilting and buttercups had briefly flowered then withered. Baby Boy Maddox sat up on my dusty brown futon. His head was shaven—he was on one of his Spartan kicks—and he was feasting on some three-day old hamburger I had put under the broiler for him. It was about 9pm and although I had to go to work early the next morning, I contrived to stay awake long enough for him to resume his tale of the run-in between Cadger Tandy, his hobo mentor, and Cokey Stolas, the Big Man. Every so often the rumble of big trucks would interrupt the steady roar of traffic proceeding down the main street which ran directly below my second-floor slum apartment.
“Listen Yob,” said Maddox, “Like I said before, the world mought be round, but it’s hung at crazy angles, and is crooked all the way around. Now, Cadger Tandy may have been a bum, but he was no dog meat tramp. He was MY Bum. And so I paid close attention to the story he told me about the mad crew that ran Noxtown.
“Tandy said that even as a lad he was bound to get his revenge on some truly bad guys for what they done to the Prosty, Red Mary. He was taking on a wrong crew. Jim Whitey, the loony killer Joey. A murder man with smiling eyes. Mad Tom Stocking, the fast-talking morphodite and thespian. Some said he gave the best head in the show business. Jerry the Rigger, carny lush, a cracked actor who looked like an evil Uncle Sam. And worst of all that crew–Uglyface Smash Conklin, drunken bully and washed-up pug, who hated Red Mary like the pox and hated me even worse, like the black bottle poison.
“And running the whole show you had some other fellers too, like Judge Rance Sniffle the bent vice lord, and Cokey Stolas, The King of the Rackets. The only two Yellofs I had on my side were Dr. Peter Ketman the medicine show man, and Tipsy Smith the barkeep, who feared and hated Smash Conklin. Tipsy, I knew, was how I was going to get back at Uglyface. And how I was going to do it was to use him to put Smash in Dutch–with the Big Man. Only I never could dope out just how.
“I already done told you about Cokey Stolas. Some say he sold his soul to the devil. And those were his friends. His enemies swore he was the devil his own self. He was like Judge Rance Sniffle multiplied by ten—a big-bearded, square-rigged fancy-pants oaf with a big head and a bloated body like a South Seas whale—and he never went anywhere without his mahogany walking-stick. The handle was the head of a skull with rubies in the eye sockets. They say he used it once to beat a poor drover half to death as was whipping his horse—not because he felt sorry for the poor dumb brute but just out of sheer cussedness. That was his sense of humor, you see—you beat the horse, so I’ll beat up on you.
“But he DID like horses. ‘Horses understand me,’ said he, ‘Because they know I am their friend.’ Stolas, y’see, was a well-known horse-player, and a high-up member of the Fancy. He liked to wager big on races and was always to be seen at the track and a lot of the time he won, too—I don’t know much about gravity or other scientifical stuff, but it seemed like all kinds of good fortune just kinder naturally flowed in the Big Man’s general direction and it was bad cess to you if you got in the way of him or his luck. THAT was the kind of backing Smash Conklin had; THAT’s what made him so proud to strut his stuff like the ruff-tuff creampuff he actually was. I suppose one reason the Big Man took a shine to him was because in the not so distant past he had won many a sou from wagerin’ on Smash Conklin in the prize ring.
“Not that Cokey Stolas was exactly what you’d call grateful to any man. I don’t believe that devil ever had such a human feeling in him. You could rescue his brat from the kiddie-snatchers one day, and yet, if you dast to cross him, why, the very day they’d find your headless body on the slag heaps. And, like as not, your hands would be chopped off and hung on a rope around your neck. On any pretext at all—look out for a screamer—Cokey Stolas would have it hot and short with you and, right after you backed away, he’d make an arrangement and his boys would do ‘the big job’ and Mr. Deathy would end your gripe and you’d be a-goin’ to the Lordy. Nobody ever said The Big Man was a softy. He was King of Noxtown. Wise Gees called him the Bee Eye Gee, as if to even say his name out loud was likely to get you into Dutch.
“Some of them Wise Gees didn’t even go that far—when talkin’ of ‘im, they would hold the flat of their palms over their heads, and didn’t say another word, as if to signify ‘The Big Man’. Say what you will about him, but he did his business with a big spoon. They called him Cokey, I heerd, because he had the ass-mer and so he was always snuffing from the white remedy he kept in a little bottle. In his later years, he wasn’t a drinking man much, except for gallons of lager taken with large meals—he was a great stodger, him–a greedy grizzle-guts and trencherman of the size and shape of Mr. Diamond Jim. He never kept company for long with squirts and dandies; he had great pull; only other big men could keep up with him; and even THEY were afraid that at any time he might call them out. He never stood long for driveling fools and idiots, or old bricks and pantaloons. He lorded it over with a kind of contemptitude on men who weren’t up to his mark. You never knew when the Bear might stand up on his hinder legs, but, whenever he did, it was Katy Bar the Door.
“And this was the man—and there was me, a lowly runt—errand boy for a Prosty–and this was the man I was going to somehow use to get back at Smash Conklin. I surely had my work cut out for me.
“Like an ant–trying to steal a whole loaf of bread–fresh bread–‘midst a driving rainstorm.”
THE DAILY PLANET
GUESS YOUR AGE GAME
It said I was 31. Haw!
Chubby Parker & His Old Time Banjo
King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O
PROF OR HOBO?
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
SHADOW OVER BOSTON
6* DAILY UTILITY
ARE THE BANKS ALREADY ORCHESTRARING ANOTHER MELTDOWN?
HISTORY OF DONALD DUCK
LIVE ON NOISE FROM NEVILLE 1985
JFK & IKE: CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
IKE ON JFK ASSASSINATION
WALKING ON THE SURFACE OF THE MOON
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
Sentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment.-Norman Mailer
Mailer wasn’t always right, but on this issue, at least, he was spot on. Sentimentalism is all-pervasive and is used as a tool to bludgeon people into a type of stupefied conditioned response. But do not mistake being sentimental with having genuine human feelings. That wasn’t his point. There is a distinction between mawkish sentimentality and sympathetic sentiment which often eludes the non-specialist unversed in the ways of literary matters.
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. 684.
AMAZON REVIEW: INVISIBLE MAN BY RALPH ELLISON
I thought that the book “Invisible Man” set a very bad example for youngsters. I do not know why it was allowed to be published. The Negro who is the narrator has no invisibility powers whatsoever and he was also very insolent in a manner that a person of my generation and upbringing finds extremely offensive and also it sets a dangerous example for the better class of Negro. I read the first twenty pages and then I put it aside. I think that instead, most people would far rather see a heartwarming movie such as “Driving Miss Daisy.” One star.