Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. Oscar Wilde
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER SEVEN: PART NINE: THE PLAN
Cadger Tandy told Baby Boy Maddox about his dying regrets.
A vag like me has no time for regrets, but when I think back, I’m sorry about only one thing–all the times I failed–to grab for what I could–with both meat hooks—and how I failed to get mine–when opportunity came a-poundin’ on the door. I don’t never think of the narrow squeaks, Boss, no–but only of the wild chances I could of taken and didn’t, and how in so NOT doing it was to be my downfall.
Some Yellofs is crazy you know–or people say they are–only because they see more and feel more and remember more than other folk.
Me, I was a likely lad–I never lived on prayer, peace, sherbet, love and tea, and I always kept the Sabbath–and anything else I could lay my hands on–I never howled in my sleep over guilty deeds–but only for being too sleepy and dull and passing up a sure thing and letting a main chance go drifting by.
But on the whole, I got no squawk to make–only that I should of taken care of the Bully Smash Conklin when I had the chance.
A tiny blue robin’s egg–lying on the grass on the first day of spring–what snake would pass that by?
I thought of Doctor Peter Ketman, and how I might use him to further the plan to get Conklin. He was a snake oil peddler as also had the mash for Red Mary. You’d see him at the trade entrance of the Cat House—he was so low down he couldn’t come in through the front door—looking like an agitated savage—mouth wide open–wild eyes–red hair, all ablaze like a burning bush—all the while talking a blue streak, peddlin’ his linaments and suchlike. “What I is got plumb fixes ev-er-thang that ails yuh—Man–ner Beast” was his pitch. Said he was a “Doctor” but he warn’t. But he LOOKED like a doctor. A drunk doctor, gone to seed, holed up in a covered wagon, come to yon Big City ever now and again to look in on the home folk over in Noxtown, but otherwise inclined to make himself scarce.
I thought of Doctor Peter Ketman, and the next time he was likely to come to town, and all the oodles of bottled kill-devil the little man peddled. And then I thought about Smash Conklin and I wondered if I could somehow contrive a way to get into Ketman’s good graces and dose the Bully myself, and how I would go about the business.
I’d of yoked myelf to Adam’s off Ox to have put to skids under Smash Conklin, if only I’d of knowed how.
I’d of given God’s last penny to have pulled it off, for by that time I had a powerful hatred for the man–one as amounted to a craze.
I’d of have done anything to beat Uglyface and get the best of him, because there was more real white man even in a rogue like Ketman than in ten Swaggering Bobs like Smash Conklin and company. Even as a tad I had my tail out about Smash Conklin. I was so angry I could feel my eyeballs boil at the very thought of him. I wasn’t murderous by nature–but his death would be my life’s bread
All the same, I KEPT my beady little glims on Smash Conklin—and was scared to do it—and I hoped that somehow he wouldn’t notice me giving him the stinkeye—but, like I said before, Kiddies and little Yobs can go anywhere—people see ‘em, and yet, mostly, they really don’t—it’s like they don’t really matter because they’re really not there.
Nobody cared a fig about a little boy like me. In the grand scheme of things I was pretty small beer.
Smash Conklin begun to be an obsession with me; he haunted my dreams as a snorting, snarling, sneery-faced monster; an enormous figure of evil. Make no mistake about it; he WAS a devil and still is—and his mob was mostly even worse than him—but when you’re just a little Yellof you don’t never draw such fine distinctions. Bad folks is ALL bad. People who hurt you is evil and there’s no two words about it. And people who hurt your friends is worst of all.
I figured if I couldn’t get to Conklin I could at least take the gloss off his racket, and hurt him that-a-way. But, cogitate as I would, I was tearing my seat trying to dope out a scheme. I thought on it so hard my head hurt. I figured the safest thing to do in that wind was to move my tent to the other side of the hedge.
I took to beatin’ myself up. If only I wasn’t so lazy, I said to myself, top lights gleaming. So full of grand schemes and yet with no friends to help me carry ‘em out. I look around, and there I ain’t. Who am I? Just a bug. Best stay out from underfoot. Don’t want to tangle assholes with a Bobcat like Uglyface. Best be on my road. Little man, you’ve had a busy day. And other, similar thoughts of gloom. But black thoughts never did serve to accomplish much.
Being foiled in that one thing I wanted more than anything else in life’s path—it put me off my feed and made me crazy. I would always be a wandering boy, the lad who’s only passing through, the quiet watcher on the sidelines who never adds to the show and never even ventures an opinion. A gander, a josser, a sorger, a cull, a gill. My life was sold to me for nothing by a man it didn’t belong to, and I hated that man and longed to see him in his grave.
I came in through a side door; I was nobody’s child; born ‘tween Saturday and Sunday.
I was destined from birth to be a poor trumpery beggar; a sad clown; a dog-stealer and a tramp. I was destined from the day I took to the road to be a poor stick figure; a scarecrow; a mooch.
Listen Yob: the more free you are regarding society’s conventions, and the more you ramble– the greater the chance there be that they’ll pen you in and lock you up.
Never let them catch up to you!
Imagine what it’s like as a likely lad, then–to be put in stir for vag, often for a full year–where at least they give you a laggard; thirteen clean shirts.
Well, I was a green punk;–the greenest. I didn’t know what it was like then; I surely know it now.
SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN
Some say the music world took a wrong turn with Ray Stevens–at best, a poor man’s Roger Miller, at worst, a vulgar clown. Some might essay that “Ahab the Arab,” his culturally sensitive excursion into ethnomusicology, was trivialized and therefore superseded by frivolous stuff like “Jeremiah Peabody’s Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills”. Others might proclaim that “Everything is Beautiful” was his sell-out move.
“Sunday Morning Coming Down,” however, is the Citizen Kane of country music hangover songs.
LITERAL NAMES OF US PLACES
25 BEST ONE-TIME SIMPSONS CHARACTERS
Created Equal: A Stunning Photo Series Exploring Cultural Difference in America
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
MAD MEN: BOB BENSON IS NICK CARRAWAY
And Pete Campbell was Richard M. Nixon and Sammy Glick; now he’s also Rodney Dangerfield.
6* DAILY UTILITY
ROADSIDE SEX TRAPS
ALSO SEE: GROOVIE GHOULIES: WHERE YOU GOING LITTLE GHOUL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLCoPO7Z5qo
GIGGLE COMICS 1949
OVER SEXTEEN: PRUDES WON’T THINK IT’S FUNNY
15 HARDEST COUNTRIES TO VISIT
25 LEAST VISITED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD
HORROR WE? HOW’S BAYOU?
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
JED CLAMPETT AS AMERICAN ARCHETYPE
Jed Clampett lived in a shack. Until a Deus ex machina: when up though the ground came “a bubblin’ crude.” This is our central Horatio Alger myth of the 1960s–for better or worse. But at least Jed had some sterling qualities. He deserved his wealth because he was at heart a good person–unlike the venal Drysdale, his scheming factotum and potential nemesis. Imagine what the show would have been like if Jed were vulgar and crude, like his “nephew” Jethro. Probably wouldn’t have lasted more than one season. Of course, in the 1980s there was a show like that–Dallas. It ran on and on….
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. 693.
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
I’ve just finished reading the third graphic novel in the series (issues 11-18) and found myself wondering–just where Bendis intends to go with this new Spider-man character? Not only is he an amalgam of multicultural cliches–half Black and half Hispanic–but he is also Gay, and his best friend and confidant is a chubby Asian guy. This is known, I suppose, as covering all the bases, but the character of Miles Morales is curiously flat, in spite of Bendis’ well-known talent for witty dialogue, and the current plots seem tortured into shape by the exigencies of everything else that’s going on in the ever-more contrived Marvel Universe. Captain America is now President, and the United States has been Balkanized. It seems like the fantasy world of a very bright 14-year old, or maybe a very stoned 28 year old. Not since the 1970s have we seen a comic book which panders so very hard to encompass every conceivable interest group. In order, I suppose, to lend some gravitas to the ever-more-incoherent proceedings, Aunt May and Gwen Stacy–and even Mary Jane watson—have been trotted out to grant their approval to young Miles Morales.
Here’s where I see the plot trajectory eventually heading:
1) Miles Morales loses an arm to some villain he shouldn’t be fighting.
2) Reed Richards enlists his brilliant scientist friend Curt Connors to help regrow the arm.
3) Surprise! Miles Grows SIX arms!
4) Curt Connors turns into the Lizard and menaces Miles.
5) Peter Parker returns from the dead, dispatches the Lizard, devises a cure for the extra arms, and resumes his role as Spider-Man.
(Note: This scenario for the imaginary “Ultimate” line is no more crazy than what has been going on in the “conventional” Marvel world, and if this plot is adopted I would, of course, expect to be compensated accordingly.)