The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men,
and a hundred million cowards.–Gregory David Roberts, SHANTARAM
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER NINE: PART EIGHT: THE MAYOR OF HELL
In his younger days Cokey Stolas, for all his fondness for snorting asthma
powders, was also a known trencherman who would gobble and grunt his
way through a virtual banquet every noontide at the Pink Elephant
Restaurant. He could easily chow his way through two whole chickens, a
pan-fried steak, and three different chocolate desserts–let’s just
say he warn’t much of a dab hand for eating his vegetables.
After lunch, Cokey Stolas unbuttons his vest and strolls across the
street, where he spends the early afternoon puffing on a big Havana
and holding forth at Feist’s Cigar Store, ranting about ‘the progressive
menace,’ and ominously saying as how “in other towns the hangman is
kept busy stringing up these derelicts.”
Present were Philo Marbas, the liquor-store proprietor; Nathaniel Bune
the petty clerk, “Foxy” Zepar the local ward-heeler, and some half
dozen other men of leisure–Noxtown locals who stroll in and out,
and who make the place their afternoon retreat.
As Stolas held forth they all listened in a state of awe.
“Why do we permit these levelers to preach their nonsense gospel of
soak the rich? If they ever worked a day in their lives, or even took
a regular bath, I could perhaps see some merit to their claims, but why
do we allow these agitators to breathe the fresh air of the land of the
free? The bearded rascals need a shave and a haircut and a freshly
shined pair of shoes before I would even so much as let one of them in
Nervous haw-haw from the assembled.
“They’re not like us. They have no head for business and no respect
for money. They’re either ignorant rabble or over-educated goo-goos,
and there’s no in-between! How dare they talk such rotten guff about
nationalizing the railroads and providing old age pensions! Why do we
suffer these radicals to live? With all their loose talk about free
hospitals and public education and the right to form labor unions. The
only rights the workingman has are those that the factory owner
chooses to give ’em, and I will say for a dead cert that I will close
down every one of my mills rather than kow-tow to these asinine wobblies,
and their gobbling demands for ‘safety measures’ and ‘fair pay’!’
A smattering of applause from Zepar, who turns around and, seeing that he’s
the only one clapping, with a red face, desists.
“They claim they can’t support a family on what I pay ’em. I say,
‘Don’t have so many damn kids!’
Applause fills the room.
“And if you do, don’t count on me to feed your lazy brats! Put ’em to work!
“You see those smoke stacks on the horizon? That’s the smell of money!
And if I can’t use the river for dumping my dyes and chemicals just
like every other honest businessman, I might as well close up shop!
Nobody cares about the time and effort it takes to maintain a payroll!
What about MY rights? Listen–I hire people who are there to work–I’m
not in the business of giving gainful employ to a scrofulous pack of
scroungers and whiners! You might call me the worst kind of
reactionary, but do you know who uses that kind of lingo? Socialists!
And worse–anarchists! The day I’m forced to hire some blue-gummed
Senegambian or rat-eating John Chinaman to work in my mills is the day
I hang up my hat and retire! Chiselers and loafers who don’t want to
work ain’t gonna dictate to me how I run my business! Not no how!”
Stolas pauses here, to take a nip from a pint bottle, then resumes.
“And I’ll tell you another think. Most of these poisonous agitators
are anti-Christ and anti-God and anti-money and anti-everything!
Scratch a radical, and you find a felon–or a bomb thrower! These
so-called progressives seem to think that business is there for one
purpose only–to sink our hard-earned money into an endless rat hole
of give them this and give them that! Listen: Is it Uncle Sam or Uncle
Gimme Gimme Gimme? Is our proud national symbol a bold American
eagle–or a lazy flea-bitten tramp?
Stolas paused again, to take a deeper and more significant nip.
“When I say the Wobblies are a damned menace I am quite serious. Why
are these police characters even permitted to roam our streets? I fail to
see why WE should continue to support these loafers. Maybe if they cleaned
themselves up and got an honest job they’d think twice about making a
spectacle of themselves–marching in parades and protesting on the
streets–throwing rocks at policemen–they’ll be throwing bombs,
next–just a bunch of radicals–ought to all of ’em be deported
whether they were born here or not–Christian Charity is all very well
and good–but it can be taken too far–why do we allow and even
nurture these vipers in our bosoms?
It was a rhetorical question. Stolas paused to take yet another nip.
His face turned bright red as be began speaking in a louder and more
“What itches me the most is that these slackers and no-goods and
God-haters and no-account parasites actually have the right to vote!
That deplorable state of affairs is in no small part to that imitation
Cowboy in the White House. President McKinley–for all his faults–too mild on
the radicals for my taste–too much of a humanitarian–at least he was
a REAL Republican. THIS man is a conceited demagogue! All that talk
about national parks–that’s socialism! Impulsively inviting a jigaboo
to lunch–that’s a slap in the face of every white man! He must have
been on one crazy drunk to pull a tomfool stunt like that! And all
that canting talk of his of National Greatness–while with both hands
he’s busy giving away the store! It’s a wonder Wall Street hasn’t
crashed a half-dozen times while this toothy maniac grins and
bloviates from his rotten perch. He denigrates businessmen–the very
businessmen who vainly try to teach him common sense as he blathers and
prates on and on about a square deal for loafers and chiselers. He
don’t give a rat’s ass for men as work hard to keep this country busy
and on the beam. Hogging the limelight, declaring with all the
solemnity in the world that black is white, turning the front lawn of
the White House into a zoological garden–is there no act of gross
vulgarity to which this man will not sink? He cries about corruption
while his hands are dirty with finagled loot as he consorts with
boodlers and outright villains! He’s been bought–but what’s even
worse is that he won’t stay bought! His craven name will reek with
odium as long as it is remembered–and God Speed the day when King
Teddy is once more a back number! He is as big a blackguard as has
ever befouled the halls of history! He doesn’t fight crime–with his
lawless acts and feeble-minded preachments, he, rather, incites it! He
is a liar and a most atrocious liar, one who never tells the truth on
any occasion when an outright lie would suit his needs far better, and
sometimes he will lie when the truth will do just fine–he lies, it seems,
simply to keep in practice. He has the morals of an alley-cat and he
uses punch-drunk rhetoric that would shame a Bowery Bum!
The assembled listeners were respectfully quiet as Stolas took a final
nip and worked his way up to his climax.
“Listen: That pistol-packing buck-toothed maniac they have sitting in
the West Wing right now is a HERETIC! When has that scoundrel or any of his
detestable dupes or sworn acolytes ever so much as met a payroll? And
yet this hypocritical bully dares to talk about the wealthy as though
somehow they are the sworn enemies of the republic–instead of its
very life’s blood and purpose! Savior of the common pee-pul! He’s
living in a fool’s paradise–but mark my words–every dog has his day!
The local yokels and petty bureaucrats who composed Stolas’s audience
applauded vigorously at the end of this peroration.
Because, like I told you before, over and over and over again,
it just didn’t pay to get on the wrong side of the Big Man.
ABERIKULA EN LA HAVANA
MRI SCANS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
HUMOROUS ADS FROM VIZ COMICS
PENDULUM WAVES: HARMONICS IN ACTION
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
21 things you have to explain to out-of-towners about Boston
6* DAILY UTILITY
THE LEGACY THAT POVERTY IMPRINTS UPON THE BRAIN
HISTORICAL NAME ANALYSIS TOOL
10 FILMS THAT PREDICTED THE FUTURE
LITTLE MAN WITH A CANDY CIGAR
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
NOSTALGIA AS AN EXPLANATION OF HOLLYWOOD REMAKES
We tend to be nostalgic for things which struck us at the age of
ten–when our taste is at an all-time low.
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
Yawn. More like Snore-o. Is there any time and place more
snooze-inducing than Spanish California?