WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER EIGHT: PART NINETEEN: THE FALL
After the row with Conklin, I would perform various chores, like running small errands for Cool Slopp and performing sundry small services such as walking his little dog Eomonn up and down the main street of Noxtown–which itself presented a challenge–since the very sight of the little Pomeranian dog excited derisive snorts from the bhoys and yekkmen who lounged in front of vacant boarded up buildings–not to mention the endless endless bar-rooms, taverns, rookeries, beer halls, beer gardens, knock-out joints, groggeries, flophouses, and all such other other iniquitous dens of low vice as lined the street on either side. Picture if you will a run-down fleahaven district times three and you might have some idea of sounds of Noxtown in those long-ago days of the rumble of horse-drawn carts and the roar of trucks and the cries of tireless pushcart vendors yelling FRUIT FRUIT FRESH FRUIT and PIE PIE PIE-NAPPLES and ICE ICE ICE-Y ICE. The bricks of houses were worn pink with age; the numbers identifying the house had their golden surfaces rubbed off and were black and red with rust and wear. Even the white cobblestones were worn grey and brown with the hooves and dung of a million horses; the window-panes of every grimy house were grey with filth. In secluded places, you could see worn out tramps and bindlestiffs sleeping off a drunk while lying in their own filth as well as in the garbage which had been swept from off the main sidewalks and into the alleys where they would go to find shelter and in some cases would make their home–or at least, their resting-place, since they had no home.
In that long-ago Noxtown, massive warehouses on all sides are flanked by mean boarding-houses, cathouses, dry goods stores, filthy chop-houses, old-clothes vendors, pawnshops, dirty half-boarded tenements, and other metropolitan eyesores. Very little natural light makes its way to the level of the street, and any vegetation growing in the vacant lots tend to be ferns and weeds of the wildest and heartiest sort. What you do see plenty of are horses and carriages and people streaming by and horse-drawn and some electric trolleys slowly bumping their way on steel rail-road tracks up clogged thoroughfares.
A commonplace sight on high noon of any given weekday was that of Ladies of Easy Virtue emerging sleepy-eyed from their warrens staggering in housecoats to the nearest pharmacy to buy a jolt of whatever waker-upper or knock-out drop they happened to be dependent on. Some dress up in colorful silks of pink or blue as the mood strikes them. Some sad whores with pinched faces and a surly mien wear the brightest and most gaudy colors, while some of the more winsome exemplars of their trade venture forth looking as drab as a rainy Monday.
The scrappy little dog, with a thin rope tied to his threadbare collar, would joyously approach and sniff any and all obstacles as hove into his path, and like as not would bark at the bleary-eyed whores, some of whom looked down upon him with a fond stare and cooed and called Eomonn their little darling, and others, more ill-tempered, and usually with faces bruised by riotous living or perhaps by the brutality of their fancy men would kick at and curse the wee mite. At which point I would yank on the rope and practically drag Eomonn away by his hind legs, even though he would continue to bark as though he were a lion attempting to harry a small mouse, instead of being a very small dog barking at human beasts twenty times his size.
The worst of these beasts were the brutal men, some of whom dressed sharp but looked for all the world like human swine, who seemed to have no occupation other than hanging out upon the street and hooting derisive insults at any stranger they might happen to see. These are men who have never had anything like a home life–they didn’t even have the luxury of being raised by a whore in a cathouse–and they took out all of the bruises and smarts inflicted upon them by the world upon any luckless stranger who passed their way. These were ugly men with low and ugly thoughts which they weren’t the least bit shy in shouting out at me as I tugged at Eomonn, sometimes with such force as to nearly sweep him off his feet, as the slackers and loochers and blodgers and lubbers howled their villainous insults and invectives:
“Oh! You Kid!”
“Aww, save it for your fuckin’ mutt!”
“Come over here kid, I wanna talk to yuh!”
At which point I would walk faster, and the same shabby gent would howl after me:
“Kid! Don’t let ’em kid you! Don’t let ’em kid you, Kid!”
The worst part of this ordeal was when a Smash Conklin, leading an enormous brute of a dog struggling against his metal chain-link leash, would allow his animal to attack little Eomonn, who always stood his ground. I grew practiced at whisking him up in my arms and leaping up to get away from the snapping jaws of the larger animal who seemed to be intent upon making a snack of the tiny pomeranian in one, or, at most, two bites. Many’s the time I remember running both for my life and that of little Eomonn as the sun set low over the harbor and I would hear behind me the mocking, snarling laughter of the b’hoys and the Yekkman as Conklin would finally restrain his dog but I would care not but instead go on running and running, until I found some safe portal, knowing but not knowing that, over the course of a short life, there was no portal that can truly be said to be safe.
And to this day I can still hear a phlegmy voice shouting after me:
“Kid! Don’t let ’em kid you! Don’t let ’em kid you, Kid!”
CAPTAIN FUTURE BLOCK THAT KICK
S.J. Perelman’s “Captain Future, Block That Kick!” is still a very funny feuilleton.
14 KINDS OF FACEBOOK PEOPLE YOU WANT TO BLOCK
JERRY LEWIS HOSTS BOB HOPE ON THE TONIGHT SHOW, 1970
TERRIFYING VINTAGE ADS
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
6* DAILY UTILITY
OBNOXIOUS BAR PATRONS
MISTRANSLATED CHINESE SIGNS
HOMEMADE FISH STICKS
HOW TO TURN YOURSELF INTO A FACEBOOK BOT
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
WE ARE ALL FACEBOOK NEOPHYTES
Why are people so inappropriately forthcoming on Facebook? Because they are what I will coin a phrase and call ‘primitive’ users of the medium, who use it in an archaic way as though it were an older medium rather than adapting their behavior to the use of the medium utilizing its full capabilities. Like the greenhorn who divulges personal information in a business letter. Like the stale old stage convention of having the audience applaud whenever a special guest star makes a stage entrance. It takes time to adapt to a new mode of communication. Some people never do. For some folks, the half-life of Not Getting It is forever. Ultimately, Facebook is an advertising platform. Those who use it as such profit from it; those who do not do so are providing free content for the marketplace of free-floating ideas which the internet has become.
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. 717.
DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER
Every teenage boy is Frankenstein, and every father of a teenage girl is the angry villagers.