MODERN WISDOM NUMBER 198 APRIL 2015

MODERN WISDOM: AMERICA’S ONLY HUMOR MAGAZINE
NUMBER 198 APRIL 2015
Copyright 2015 Francis DiMenno
dimenno@gmail.com
http://www.dimenno.wordpress.com

1.MODERN WISDOM PRESENTS: THE MODERN WISDOM DYSLEXICON

BONSAI TREES. Invented so dwarves can live in treehouses.

BOULDER. Town in Colorado full of Californians too dull-witted to live in San Francisco. 

BRANDY. Judging from how easily you can set it on fire, it is a drink not for Heroes but for Neros.

BUDDHA. Pretty chubby for a guy who never ate breakfast.

BUDGET DEFICITS: Half-asset backwards financing.

BURMA.  A country where most of the roads look like my large intestine.

BUTANE. Smells worse than Phosphorus.

BUTTER. Did you ever pick up a hitchhiker because butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth–and you were eating corn on the cob?

CAMEL. A sensible animal who stores water and spits when annoyed. As opposed to people who store ammo and mow down perfect strangers on the slightest pretext. 

CANADIANS. Americans who have been strained through the Union Jack.

 2. NOIR MISFORTUNE COOKIES

  1. a) You will work harder, until you are broken.
    b) An ungrateful child will break your lonely heart.
    c) They are close to finding and crushing you.
    d) Secret foemen industriously plot your destruction.
    e) They will no longer tolerate your feckless shenanigans.
    f) Why are you rushing–when disaster is around the corner?
    g) You have good reason to be paranoid, crazy one.
    h) They all have good reason to stare at you.
    i) Your foolish eagerness to please them will prove catastrophic.
    j) One more mistake and you are doomed.
    k) They no longer even pretend to believe your excuses.
    l) Secret cameras have recorded all your crimes.
    m) Your “friends” do not have your best interests at heart.
    n) The police detective needs to ask just one more question.
    o) Your secret shame is obvious to all.
    p) It is your son who is murdering the neighborhood pets.
    q) That little monkey on your back is now a gorilla.
    r) They will find you no matter how far away you run.
    s) Remember–a stool pigeon can sing but he can’t fly.
    t) You will be disarmed by Hoboes and beaten senseless.
    u) Your youngest daughter has run off with a Chili Pimp.
    v) You can’t go to the police–they’re in on it too.
    w) Flophouse tramps will steal your only shoes.
    x) You will never convince them it was an accident.
    y) Your influential friends are of little no help to you now.
    z) Degenerate companions lure you into abject drug slavery.
  2. THE DONUT KING
    Ah ha, my lard, this prince is not an Edward!
    He is not lolling on a lewd love-bed,
    But on his knees at meditation–K. Richard III: 6, vii. I’m wondering about the Donut King. What are his private thoughts, right after June 5th, celebrated in the far-off United States as National Donut Day?

    While his minions sweep up the debris following all the deep-frying and powdered sugar, does he muse?

    What are his hopes and fears for his Australian kingdom?

    Does he brood, Macbeth-like, over his rivalry with Dunkin Donuts, a possible pretender to his throne?

    Does he fear Mister Donut, the likely interloper from far-flung Japan?

    And what of the arrivistes from Krispy Kreme? Does he not spend many a sleepless night fearing their potential encroachments; the potential that someday, once more, their star shill overshadow his?

    Does he dream?

    And in his dreams, does he mingle in a swell embassy ballroom in the Sydney Opera House with the fried dough monarchs of other lands?

    Senor Factura, from Argentina?
    Senor Sonhos, from Brazil?
    Canada’s Tim Horton (another potential rival)?
    Herr Berliner, from Germany?
    Citizen Kleinuhringur, from Iceland?
    Indonesia’s Donat Kentang?
    Mr. Bomboloni, from Italy?
    Dona Donas, from Mexico?
    Mr. Paczki, from Poland?
    Sir Gravy Ring, from the Republic of Northern Ireland?
    Vetkoek Koeksuster, from South Africa?
    Mullah Yoyo, from Tunisia?

    Do they quarrel along factional lines?

    Cake vs, Yeast?

    Jelly filling vs. cream?

    The proper role of donut holes?

    The place in their world for crypto-donuts such as Long Johns, Yum Yums, Funnel Cakes, Crullers, and Biegnets?

    And do their wild disputes erupt into insensate sectarian violence, during which the floors become slippery with lard and glaze, and no footing is secure?

    Surely Donut King must fidget upon his shaky throne as he contemplates his disparate matters of State, such as physical fitness drives among policemen, the growing popularity of Churros, and the sullying of his name and reputation among adolescent Australian Hooners who delight in creating burnouts on virgin roads.

    Heavy indeed is the head that wears the Krown!

    Forbear to judge, for we are sinkers all.
    Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close;
    And let us all to meditation.–King Henry VI 2: 3, iii.

 4. THE PROUD LAND

Well Sir, you might have heard of our little community of Somesuch in the newspaper, or maybe not. Fact is, I no longer subscribe to the newspaper. Too busy to read it. Got the lambin’ to oversee, and the cows won’t put up with no fool who sleeps away the day until the unholy hour of six a.m.

I have my own private name for our town beautiful. I call it The Proud Land. Folks here don’t tend to toot their own horn, but I’m mighty well chuffed about all the accomplishments of the fine folks of our fair community, and I’ll tell the world.  It’s God’s Country out hereabouts, and make no mistake about it.

Sure, there are some snarling backbiters who will say we ain’t such big stuff, but they’re the same types of Gloomy Guses who look at French postcards and make lewd drawings in their boudoirs with the lifted pinky finger set.  The same kind of loafers who know how to tie a four-in-hand but ain’t never changed a tire ner milked a cow and never seen how they can kick, and who sit around smokin’ smelly French cigareets and drinkin’ too much espresso coffee in that newfangled fancy shop they just opened there on Webster Street. Who are these people? So they think in French and act like they’re special. They call us “provincial”. I could not care less. Coming from them, it’s a badge of honor. So maybe our local store doesn’t have fifty types of cheese like some of them blim-blammed supermarkets they got over in big towns like Mudville and Grundy. What of it? The General Store—where I now work part time—is good enough for folks hereabouts. Has been for fifty years.

Here in Somesuch, we don’t have much truck with such folderol. This is not the place to be if you have a hankerin’ for hanging around with a load of  biggity city dubs, card-sharpers, swell-headed so-called intellectual types, confirmed bachelors, incorrigible backsliders, mackerel-snappers, jibber-jabbering foreigners, and uppity black folk. Sure, change is coming to our fair community and we just had put in a gas station pump which takes a credit card, of all the fool notions. And we did admit a negro fella to our local high school, but he keeps his trap shut and he sure can play basketball, and he don’t seem too inclined to getting in razor fights or stealing watermelons, so I guess he’s OK. And I’ll admit, we do have a weekly card game over at the Elks Club—it’s a way to get away from the hens for one night a week—and I don’t mean the chickens. But I, personally, see to it that we play nothing but penny poker. I’ll see and raise you a nickel! Can’t nobody say we’re any sort of degenerate gamblers like they have at that high-stakes casino they just opened up there in Brownfield.

Well, us’uns, we like to have a laugh or two.  Sure, we believe in being a good Samaritan and like that, but when push comes to shove, we’re always ready to put on a pretty good act in order to trip up some wiseacre who’s gotten a leetle too bigheaded for his own good, if you don’t mind my sayin’. Usually, it’s some insolent whippersnapper who thinks he hung the moon, just because he has a letter sweater and a little sweetheart who lets him steal a red-hot kiss. Like, we’ll ask Lem Tuohy (‘cause that’s who I’m talking about) if he’d care to play a little game of 52 Pickup. When he says he would, I throw the cards on the floor and I says to him, “Now pick ‘em up.” That’s how we deal with youngsters who’ve grown so big that we can’t still dust their britches for ‘em! Lots of them Irish fellas is oversexed anyway. They need to learn the value of hard work so they can get their minds off of spoonin’ and skylarkin’. A good hitch in the Marines would set them straight in nothing flat, but you just try to appeal to their patriotism and they’ll laugh in your face. It’s enough to make a sturdy man want to break out the horsewhip. Though I reckon the Sheriff, he wouldn’t understand. He’s a new fella—not from around here—and he still thinks in terms of habeas corpus and like that.

I just don’t know what it is about the younger generation.

For instance, there’s our Community College, the finest in four counties, if I do say so myself. Well, every so often we get one of them longhair radical professor types who says he believes in the theory of evolution and secular humanism, and like that. These are the types we shut down in a big hurry. I don’t send my youngest daughter there to get her higher education at the cost of nearly one thousand dollars a year in order to take up with biggety notions like those. We ran that feller out of town—not on a rail—but we gave him a pretty good indication that we wanted him gone, and so he packed up his rags and he vamoosed. Pronto! (Say—maybe I should get a job there—teachin’ Spanish!)

I am glad of it, too. Some folks just don’t know when they’re not wanted. You sort of got to push them off’n a cliff before they get the message.

I may not use a lot of big words and know a whole bunch of Latin, other than E Pluribus Unum,  but I got what a lot of these over-educated fools has not got—mainly, good, manly horse sense.

No, I don’t think in ancient Greek and I don’t act psychotic—I guess that means I’m over the hill.

That Perfesser feller still bothers me, though. He was just a sawed-off little runt who took it into his twisted head that we were all a bunch of hicks just because one or two of the students liked to spit t’baccy juice in the drinkin’ fountains. He thought we was all a bunch of primitive cavemen just because we all came out in force for the big high school game, instead of going to some ladies’ sewing circle and eatin’ zwieback crumbs off’n the floor. Well, I say scratch one of them doubledomes and, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you’ll find a sissy.

I hear tell in the big city they got unspeakable orgies where people sit around and hock on the flag, but that kind of behavior by them kind of sumbitches is simply not countenanced in Somesuch.

Down at the General Store there, which is really changed from what it used to be, now it’s a convenience store, I’ve been working there to make some cash money ever since we nearly lost the farm—down at the store a bunch of the boys was settin’ ‘round chewin’ the fat and we decided that th runty perfesser needed a lesson in how we do things around here. It didn’t improve my temperament none that my daughter—she’s nineteen—had kind o’ taken a shine to him. We even had him over for dinner one day. My wife was mortified. And I’ll tell you why. I decided to have a little fun with the little feller. So when he came in smellin’ like a French whorehouse, just before he sat down t’ dinner, I showed him my shotgun. Cracked it open, asked him if he’d like to handle it. He looked at me like I was offerin’ him a pisen snake and said, “Uhhr—no thank you.” You’ll notice that he didn’t say “Sir”. These young pups is got no respect for their elders.

Anyway, it seems as though the little feller couldn’t take a hint, so we really gave it to him. Went up to his room at about 4am—me, and a few of my husky boys—and throwed a sack over his head and gave him a few well-earned thumps. He reported it to the Sheriff and like that, and the Sheriff came by and questioned me and the boys, but my wife done told him we was here the whole night long tendin’ to a sick horse.

Wife can’t testify agin her husband in court. Not that I’m a lawyer or like that.

Well, the little perfesser didn’t take the hint, so the next thing we done was that one or the other of us’uns managed to detain him on some pretext, and young to break into his room and young Lem Tuohy, who turned out to be good for something’ after all, besides being on the football team and his red hot kisses and like that—well, he went up into the perfesser’s room and played around on his computer until it looked like the runt had committed every sin in the book, including ordering up underaged hookers from overseas and the like. Well, of course the college couldn’t keep him, and I don’t hold with deprivin’ a man of his livelihood, but he should of never come nosin’ around my daughter. That is all.

Looks like Mrs. Miller comin’ in for some flour. Say, Lousia—put aside one of them pies of yourn for ME!    

  1. OWEN THE POET

It was long ago that I encountered Owen the Poet: close to thirty years have gone by. I do not recall now if that was his first name or his last, and it scarcely matters now. I had heard my frat brothers mention his name–often, no, always, with derision. 

I would walk the college campus in the fall–always the best time; a cool breeze blew but the sun shone staunchly; and the memories of the snows of winter were far off and yet were occasionally felt in the air. Nor was the heat of summer forgotten. In any event, springtime seemed a long way off. I would walk the campus and see him seated on his accustomed bench; The Pigeon Bench, some of the cruder students called it. It stood near the statue of the College Founder, and near it were the granite stairs which led to the principle library; a truly imposing edifice. 

As I have said, I think it was an autumn day, but it may have been spring. No; it was definitely the fall; I recall with great clarity that there was a certain mustiness in the air, as of over-ripened apples; that the stately oaks were not yet barren but, rather, were ablaze with early color; that it was the winter wind to come which stirred the breeze.

On a sudden impulse, I sat down upon the bench next to Owen, who, among the students, was a mysterious and aloof figure, even in his bearing. Except for being a little taller than the average–about six foot two–his appearance was not utterly nondescript–that in itself would have been a distinction–but, rather, merely undistinguished. He was thin; he had a pale, lacklustre face which, however, was not pasty in the way that so many students with difficult concentrations grew pallid by studying by night and avoiding the fall sunlight. I used to call them Lamplighters. Owen was no Lamplighter. He was, however, what you might call a beanpole, with carelessly groomed dark hair which hung over his ears, which was somewhat the fashion of five years ago; he was somewhat disheveled, but he was too clean to be a bohemian, or what the more conservative professors might call a bum.

I sat next to him–he, a senior; I, a lowly sophomore, and I was suddenly struck as dumb as though I were seated next to the prettiest girl in the class. Not that I felt any attraction to him, other than the awestruck feeling one gets when in close proximity to a celebrity, howsoever minor.

Finally, I managed to break the silence. “You’re the Poet.” As though there were only one. Indeed, I had read his work in the college literary journal; it was, unlike most undergraduate effusions, both fresh and good. Particularly compelling, I thought, was his description of “a wee squirrel” which “turns over a nut as though his heart would break.” I must admit that, at my impressionable age, I found that banal image both wonderfully wild and mysterious.

Owen said nothing.

“How do you so it?” was my next question.

He looked at me as though I were an ogre come to steal his hoarded bags of gold. It was a long, appraising look; I noticed he had a lazy eye. Finally, I suppose, he decided that I meant him no harm; that I, in my sloppy shirt and trousers, was too innocent of guile in general and meant no harm to anyone. He spoke:

“You see that maple over there?”

I peered through the reddening foliage–yes, it was the fall–and could see no maple tree. “All I see are oak trees,” I said.

“A poet sees a maple tree.”

I decided that this was some kind of Zen Koan, and though I did not humor him, exactly, I proceeded rather cautiously to play along.

“What else does a poet see?”

“A poet sees what a poet knows. There’s no imagination without knowledge. A poet knows his butterflies and rivers. Every poet knows his Shakespeare, his Milton. Even our Professors–those highly practical men–you don’t get to be a Professor for nothing–even they agree.”

“A poet,” he went on, as though he were a hermit who was glad of an audience–which in some sense he was–“A poet knows the names of all the trees in the forest. Even the ones which aren’t there. Nuts and berries. How to build a fire.”

I said nothing to discourage him, and, as though I had unleashed a flood tide, he continued, his words flowing as if a torrent. “Bees, geological features and how they got that way, and mushrooms. A poet needs to take drugs every so often to achieve that ordered derangement of the senses, but not so often as to fall into mere dissipation, which is not an end in itself but only a means to an end. How men live and how they die. Why are we even here? Mostly, I think, to observe, and to set down our evanescent impressions. We must all die–that alone is what makes life worth living.”

I said nothing to stop his speech. Perhaps I should have. Still the words came. Counterpointed by the rustling of the leaves and grasses in the autumn wind as the sun began to set at the long end of the college yard.

In truth, I was fairly enraptured. What would he say next?

“Baseball is poetic; football is not. Good posture is always necessary, even when you’re hunched over a desk and lost in thought. You must always honor your mother, but it is your duty to disagree with your father. As you grow old you will become just like him in ways which will astonish you. You don’t want to be a young old man. You want to be an old young man.”

He was beginning to lose me, but, by now, he scarcely seemed to notice I was there as his words continued to stream by me in a low monotone, yet with each word precisely enunciated as though he were reciting one of his own verses.

“So many things to know about. Great historical figures, and yet the insight to penetrate into the concerns of everyday people. Life, after all, is mostly a process of wearing us down. We want to aim for the eagles on their mountaintops, but mostly we are left to grub for roots. Ordinary people can never leave their jobs behind. Only the truly talented can make poetry their life’s work. It comes at a great price, though. It’s a pact with the devil. I think Kafka said as much. Look at “Faust”. You haven’t read it yet? Do it. That will tell you all you need to know. So many people need comforting. Don’t you know that living is a lonely business, even at its best? Accounts in, accounts out. My father is a lawyer. He doesn’t…”believe” in poetry. My mother is a saint. What can I say? It’s sentimental, it’s mawkish, it’s trite, it’s unembellished…but it happens to be true. But what people like my father fail to realize is that the poet is the true Existential Man. Earthly rewards mean nothing to him, which is a good thing, too, because, except in rare instances, they are unlikely to be forthcoming. It all depends in the end on what crowd you manage to get yourself lumped in with. Same as anywhere. That’s why, by the way, a poet should grow a beard. Sooner, rather than later. I plan to grow one this winter. Anyway, I’ve been turning it over in my mind. My father says that beards are out of fashion. A lot he knows! I think he’s afraid that I’ll turn out to be some kind of Hippie, and turn my back on material things. He doesn’t realize that I’m a poet, and a poet really has very little use for anything except books, and poetry. He doesn’t realize the infinite number of skills a poet needs to justify…’the mantle’. How to comfort a crying woman. How to draw out a stranger at a party and introduce him to people. Don’t you hate that hesitant interlude–between the time that you introduce them to somebody…and the time that that somebody finally responds? It’s always the same. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Where are you from?’ And finally, and this is the clincher, ‘What do you “do”?’ I always tell them I’m a student. ‘Oh? And what do you study?’ ‘English.’ ‘Oh, then your father must be rich!’ My father….” he paused.

“My father is an accomplished man in his own right, it wouldn’t be fair to deny him that, but I’d hardly say he was rich. Comfortable, maybe. Only he hates his job, my mother bores him, his daughter spends too much money, and he doesn’t even know what to make of me. ‘T’was ever thus!'”

By now the sun was halfway down the horizon, and that stillness which comes over the earth in the rustling fall was beginning to make me feel uncomfortable. But Owen, oblivious to the lateness of the hour and my growing discomfort and–it shames me now to admit it–my growing agitation, went right on talking as though, as in The 1001 Nights, to talk was to save his life.

“A poet should be able to describe the smell of frying bacon. Meaty, but sweet and burnt. To build a fire. I already said that. To harness the wind. My father has a peculiar misapprehension about the world. I that that…he…thinks that man can subdue the forces of nature. It’s a crock. Bet on nature every time. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards–a poet should know about these. How to chop wood, how to sew a button. A poet doesn’t need to count his money, because he never has any. I can see a future stretch before me where my mother gives me nice things and I go and sell them so I can afford to buy a jug of sweet wine. I’ve already sold my coat so I can afford to eat out every now and then. It’s no good to eat alone. Companionship is the best sauce.”

He paused.

“It’s getting late, I see. Let me think for a moment.”

We sat, in utter silence, interrupted only by the tolling of a far-off chapel bell. the lamps in the college yard suddenly glowed yellow and the red and yellow sun slipped inexorably past below the treeline, which glowed in old green and burnished orange.

“So much to say, so little time! A poet should know fine art, decorative art, bugs. The tracks of animals, how to clean a fish, how to tie a knot. That’s one thing the Boy Scouts are good for. I hated the Scouts. My father made me go. Sent me off to Scout camp in the summers. Anything to get me out of his hair. Which is funny, because he’s as bald as a peach. My mother didn’t mind it if I lay around the house. Mothers are funny that way. Homebodies. Fathers have to go out into the world. Nature red in tooth and claw. Engagement with…’the people’. I call it a bloody mess. Each individual male in this society is bred to love war. To worship it. It’s almost too obvious to say. Thank God we’re at peace now. Only–how long will it last? Anyway. A poet needs to be on his knees a good deal of the time. A poet knows that God is a very real thing, even if He doesn’t exist. It’s like the IDEA of the maple tree. His absence is His presence. All the true mystics take this as their fact. Now I’m just rambling. A poet…ahh, a poet doesn’t amount to much, and yet…in that he is everything. Who but a nut would say he was a poet? You ask me how I do it. I study the ways of man and nature. Both are inescapable things. Poets should spend a lot of time with dogs and cats. I like cats, but I prefer dogs. I just do. I can’t account for it. Poets should know the habits of squirrels and mice and snakes. All the creeping things. Poets should know God…and Satan. Poets should know how to dance. By God, that’s as important as knowing how to kiss and make love! Poets should have an imagination, but, really, when it comes right down to it, knowledge IS imagination, and if you KNOW something–really KNOW it–I can’t explain it–then imagination will always follow.”

By now the sun had completely set, and the yard was illumined almost solely by the yellow lamps and the white fleecy clouds scudding slowly overhead. I glanced at my watch, not wanting to be rude, but not wishing to miss my dinner. The Dining hall stopped serving at 7:00. 

But Owen seemed inexhaustible.

“Poets should know something about chemistry, physics, weather patterns, sickness, musculature, flowers–did I mention flowers?–friendship, similes, metaphors, geometry, meditation, migration patterns, rivers, pond life, the gathering of people in large groups, and how they behave. A poet should read the newspaper. It’s all there–fighting, killing, human interest stories. The wisdom of the ages, yesterday’s heroes, dreams of tomorrow. A poet should watch people as they laugh–sometimes they look so uncomfortable. As if they had run the two-mile. I used to do that myself. Not anymore. Exercise–who needs it? From now on, I’m not going to do anything I don’t have to do. Listen: here’s what’s going to happen to me. I’m going to simply drift along for about five or ten years, like an open boat with no rudder. Then I’m going to find a job of some kind that I like to do–something that doesn’t cause too much strain–I have no idea what that might be. Then I’ll get married. I’ll settle down, have a child or two, and continue to write until I’m really good at it. And then–we’ll see.” 

He was crying now.

“Metonymy. synechtode–mere rhetorical…’devices’. Do away with them. A poet should hold a crying baby in his arms. That’s the truest art. That’s all there really is.” He wiped away his tears.

“Words fail me,” he said. 

I bade him good-bye and moved away slowly, almost reluctantly. I concluded he was quite mad. I gave up my own dreams of poetry and took up squash, and drinking beer with my frat bothers. I never saw Owen again. I heard that he had dropped out of school, but I never learned of his whereabouts, and from that time to this I have not thought of him more than once. Until I decided to tell his story. And my own. 

 

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THE INFORMATION #830 APRIL 3, 2015

THE INFORMATION #830

APRIL 3, 2015

Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
http://dimenno.gather.com
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

For feudalism, caste, the ecclesiastic traditions, though palpably retreating from political institutions, still hold essentially, by their spirit, even in this country, entire possession of the more important fields, indeed the very subsoil, of education, and of social standards and literature.—Walt Whitman

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE

BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART TWELVE: KINGDOM COME

Count Victor Justin next turned his attention to Jimmy Ragmop, the red headed, red bearded, freckle-faced Polack who was kept around by Tipsy Smith the Barkeep to sort of keep the place in some semblance of cleanliness, even though any fool could see that the layers of accumulated grime were such an established fact that the formed an intrinsic part of the ambiance of the place.

Jimmy Ragmop liked to sing, and he seemed always to have an earie for all the latest tunes to come down the pike, a fact duly noted by Count Victor Justin. 

“We have here,” said Count Justin Victor, “in the person of Jimmy Ragmop nee Raczkowski, one of the variants of the human race as provided by nature in all its variegated glory. Though he is not gifted by great strength as splendid as that of the celebrated strongmen of the past, and though in celerity he is not as swift as some of the fastest members of his tribe, he nonetheless possesses two of the attributes which distinguish mankind from a mere beast. Namely, and to wit—forgive my pleonasm—I do tend to get carried away—he has a heart to sing, and he has a soul to express himself. If these seem but minor attributes when one considers how few people are at liberty to express themselves even in the most degraded ways. Perhaps this mere barroom is not an optimal location for Jimmy, here, to demonstrate his skills. And yet, nonetheless, he is herein always assured of an appreciative audience who does not mind his occasional forays into certain sentimental favorites. He sings here, in lieu of the most trig domiciles, in just the way that water seeks its own level, or a liar lies as fast as a dog can trot.”

“Hey,” says Jimmy Ragmop. “Who you are calling liar?”

“Never mind that,” said Count Victor Justin. “You will find, in this magnificent specimen of Polish Ham, the truest meaning of the word ‘Liberty’. He is as the Lilies of the field, that neither toil nor spin, yet Solomon is all his glory is not arrayed, etcetera, etcetera. For all of his Polish forebears, he is a truly antic specimen of homo Americanus—as fully assimilated into our culture and byways as the most parsimonious seventh-generation Yankee, or, for that matter, as the most extravagant Cavalier. His nature is seemingly boundless—he eats up the miles—in him is embodied the entire history of the growth of the Republic—he needs no glad-rags to announce his presence on the great stage—he simply, “Is”. He is as variable as a summer storm, and yet as plain-spoken as a barking dog who desires to be fed.”

“Hey,” says Jimmy Ragmop. “Who you are referring to as dog?”

“Go away lad,” said Count Victor Justin, “I’m trying to talk you up here. Sir Jimmy,” he said, pointing in his general direction, “exemplifies all the most grand American traditions. Slavery—yes, there is an element of that—but also song—joyful, harmonious, ineluctable music to swell the heart and gladden even those who live off the fat of the land, to say nothing of their more humble brethren.”

“Do we dare for one moment to speculate—to theorize—to, perhaps, formulate—some variety of commonplace explanation for the ebullience of this humble son of toil? No more so than for the birds. Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. In music, we see the workings of the very universe, for music consists of notes, and notes are expressions of mathematical relations, and the universe is composed of numbers, and, therefore, quod est demonstrandum, the universe is composed of music, so to speak. The musician, therefore, strikes the key-note of all there is.”

Jimmy Ragmop visibly blushed, perhaps less because of the Count’s speech, which I doubt he understood in full, and more because of the attention being drawn to him.

“Tut tut, Jimmy,” said the Count. “No need to be back’ard. Now, how can we reconcile the contradiction of this humble Bar Boy being, at one and the same time, the primus mobile? We can’t. Such contradictions were never meant to be solved. Let us, instead, interharmoniously—so to speak—weave the two strands together like a melody and a counter-melody. Is it not both fitting and meet that this practitioner of song–mired down as he currently is in this veritable Diabolo’s Den–should have the very voice of an angel? I use the word angel and devil interchangeably, because they are each aspects of the other, and you can’t have celestial angels without fallen angels. No—let me reiterate that, although our good friend Captain Jimmy has the voice of an angel, he is not entirely blameless in his personal life—eh wot? Eh wot? Do ye care to confess your depredations, Young Lucifer? “

 “Hey,” says Jimmy Ragmop. “What you mean—hunh?”

“I’ve been reading the newspapers. Ut! But never let it be said that the Count is not without his resources in other areas as well. And I would like to know several things, though of course I hasten to add that this is not a court of law and you are not on trial. Just between friends, Jimmy—who is it who eats the best bits among the Free Lunch that Tipsy Smith, our fine proprietor, is kind enough to supply his hungry customers with? Many’s the time I have seen you secretly rolling prime slices of beef into sly little cylinders and bolting them down when you think that nobody’s looking. But you sing like an angel, there’s no denying that. Many’s the time, too, that I’ve seen ye draw yourself a beer and drink it down, quick as a wink, whilst spilling nary a drop, while Tipsy’s attention is occupied elsewhere. O, but singing is thirsty work, to be sure. And so is hanging around Red Mary’s joint, hoping one of her doxies will take pity on ye on account of your being stony broke? Boys will be boys, though, of course, you are doing all of this while you are supposed to be back in the Seven Stars, keeping an eye on the bar. And then, sometimes you’re not so broke, and you squander a suspicious amount of money in her fine establishment, and one has to wonder where a Bar Boy comes upon such a seeming largesse?”

To all of these charges Tipsy Smith cocked an angry eye at Jimmy Ragmop, but give the little runt credit—he held his tongue.    

“As I have said, I’ve been reading the newspapers. Ut! But never let it be said that the Count is not without his resources in other areas as well. That, for all his sweet vocalizing, certain bar-boys might be making too free and easy with Mr. Smith’s valuable property. I have heard that certain mokes  have been bad-mouthing Mr. Smith and his fine establishment. Even going so far as to pass counterfeit coinage among the more gullible strangers who are unhappy enough to fall into this particular establishment at certain times. That certain suspicious kitchen fires might—possibly–be laid to the door of Young Angel-voice here. Mind you, these are only rumors, and rumors, as such, are certainly not actionable. Sure—and doesn’t he sing like a dream? Permit me, if you will, one further spell of philosophizing.  People who have a moiety—a mere moiety, mind you—of good common sense will realize that is people like Jimmy here were on top—if, for instance, he were to gain wider fame as a singer of songs—that all his bad qualities would likely be amplified, so to speak, as it were, in a manner of speaking. His vices would be magnified. His capricious behavior would know no earthly bounds. And his crudeness would unduly influence youngsters such as Red Mary’s whelp.”

The Count paused for effect. During which time he glanced over at me. “Imagine Jimmy Ragmop if he, by right, given his immense talent, were to dominate the world. He would prove, no doubt, to be the most unmitigated scoundrel who ever walked the earth, instead of the mild, and—dare I say it—rather bleary-eyed wretch he currently presents himself to be. Instead of the angelic dunce, he would no doubt find himself a raft of crafty advisors and present himself as a veritable Beezelbub of wicked intrigues.”

“Imagine, too,” said the Count, “what the consequences will be when Jimmy Ragmop the singer and idiot savant takes it into his wooly head to marry one of Red Mary’s whores and make an honest woman of her. One can see in the cards which I hold in my hand the following scenario play itself out. (He paused to consult his tarot deck.)

“Oh, my, this is quite rich,” said the Count, with a delighted expression on his somewhat less than benign visage. “Jimmy the Ragmop is quite the boy.”

It took a considerable amount of coaxing to prize the truth from the Count, but, eventually, he relented.  

“Jimmy has sold his talent in the service of a cruel and capricious master. Whether this be Tipsy Smith or some future employer is difficult to say. He takes on all sorts of jobs related to his avocation. He plays piano in a cathouse. He takes a job in a piano store. He ventures forth to the big city and makes the acquaintance of several popular composers. He becomes their agent in presenting their newest compositions to the public. He takes to the vaudeville stage. Soon he is quite well known. He becomes prosperous, and has many children, but that prosperity comes with a price, for he is compelled to entertain some pretty unsavory characters. There…the cards abruptly stop.”

People looked at Jimmy Ragmop with a new respect from that time on. Even his old nemesis, Smash Conklin, was content to simply ignore him, rather than bedevil him with snarling insults, as was his habit in the past. But Jimmy Ragmop, as though wishing to avoid his wonderful fate, was, from that day forward, without song, and, as a matter of fact, he seldom spoke again. Damn the Count, for ruining him—but damn Jimmy, too—for letting it happen.

1*SALUTATION

I LIKE PIE, I LIKE CAKE

THE FOUR CLEFS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SnPpY8CsIs

2*REFERENCE

SERIAL KILLER QUOTES

http://www.allthingscrimeblog.com/2014/05/11/51-best-disturbing-quotes-from-19-disturbed-serial-killers/

3*HUMOR

THE MICHAEL GROSS INTERVIEW

http://www.tcj.com/the-michael-gross-interview/

4*NOVELTY

CONTRA THE LEARNING CONE

http://t-machine.org/index.php/2008/11/21/10-of-what-we-read-is-not-what-we-remember/

5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

WHAT EPISTOMOLOGY ARE YOU?

https://www.qzzr.com/quiz/17d1b70c-c863-4d2c-a5ed-4968c92773cf/fi9xdWl6emVzLzQ5MzA0

6* DAILY UTILITY

Network theory sheds new light on origins of consciousness

http://disinfo.com/2015/03/network-theory-sheds-new-light-origins-consciousness/

7*CARTOON

This Pixar Artist Took Your Favorite R-Rated Films and Turned Them Into a Children’s Book

http://mic.com/articles/82665/this-pixar-artist-took-your-favorite-r-rated-films-and-turned-them-into-a-children-s-book

8*PRESCRIPTION

5 Powerful Shifts Transforming the Future of American Society into Something Unrecognizable and Frightening

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/5-powerful-shifts-transforming-america-society-unrecognizable-and-frightening#.VQ7yKgbojQg.facebook

9*RUMOR PATROL

CIRCULAR REASONING

https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/fallacies_list.html

10* LAGNIAPPE

Crime Wave: Vintage photos of when Chicago was a gangster’s paradise
http://dangerousminds.net/comments/crime_wave_vintage_photos_of_when_chicago_was_a_gangsters_paradise

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

WRITERLY WRITERS

Writerly writers write by writ but witting writers write with wit.

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
789. BILL COSBY

Bill Cosby speaks in an inimitably halting fashion–a form of speaking which he probably picked up from the drunk and drugged victims of his sinister rape scenarios.

THE INFORMATION #829 MARCH 27, 2015

THE INFORMATION #829

MARCH 27, 2015

Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
http://dimenno.gather.com
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone. –Orson Welles

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE

BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART ELEVEN: KINGDOM COME

The Count was a man of many contradictions. He was a tall and slender man, but he could make himself look short and dumpy and completely spent as he sat upon a chair and allowed his face to grow slack, the better to meet his interlocutors face to face and convince him that he didn’t hold himself to be any better than one of them.  He was a man whose hair was a glistering black, but in certain shades of light you could, if you stared hard enough, detect shining hairs of pure white. There was one fugitive chin-hair sticking out from his otherwise perfectly shaven face; there was one thread loose in the sleeve of his  otherwise splendid sack suit; I noticed that one of the laces of his shoes was ever so slightly frayed. Did these flaws indicate a character defect—or a desire to be seen as human, even fallible in a way that other men were fallible? Were they the silent cry of a man who wished in his heart of hearts, in spite of all his palaver, to be regarded as Just One of the Boys? The formulation of such questions was barely within the grasp of my immature mind; I’m not sure if, howsoever long I live, I will ever be able to figure out an answer.

After Doc Ketman made his departure—I very nearly tried to follow him, but was glad I didn’t—there was an awed silence.

“Is all that accurate what you said was in his cards?” said Adam O’Day to Count Justin Victor.

“Of course it was. Do you expect me to say I made it all up?”

“No, but…” said Adam O’Day in a timid voice.

“No, But—!” he roared, laughing. And then he grew cold and serious. “Of course, there were some things that the cards had to say that I didn’t care to tell him.”

“Tell US,”  said Adam O’Day.

“Give with the gen,” said Musky Dan.

“Ack! Tell us all about the Abbey Lubber.,” said Jim Whitey.

“I hear tell he’s a Buck Fitch,” said Pappy O’Day.

““Aww, get wise to yourself and stop your chaffing. It’s you who’s the lecher,” said Adam O’Day.

“Why, you brazen-faced  Gollumpus–mind you don’t break the molasses jug,” said his father.

“He’s a real gooney-bird,” muttered Jack the Painter. “Him and his prayers.”

“What you got agin prayer, anyway, Jack?” said Jim Whitey, in a mock-kindly way.

“Don’t you get started on me,” said Jack the Painter. “You’re nothing more than a sundowner with snakes in your boots. If it wasn’t for the Doc and his liquor cure, you’d be cutting out paper dolls in some bughouse. I have nothing agin the Doc—I just wish he didn’t mumble his prayers over me.”

“Gwan, Count,” said Adam O’Day. “Tell us more about the Doc.”

 “Nothing will induce me to divulge that information,” said Count Justin Victor, putting his pale white thumbs under his red suspenders in the manner of a farmer pondering the possibility of a thunderstorm.

“Suffice it to say,” he said, in a pompous voice, and then, remembered where he was, as good con men always do, he lowered his voice and spoke in a confidential tone. “Suffice it to say that he is a master of myriad mysteries;  a nabob of hidden knowledge. I bear no ill will against the man, even if he reeks of the dust of the road and even if his toil involves treating the sick and coming into contact with people at their most desperate. I was trolling for a kind of a messianic image, here, but I don’t think it will do. Yes; he is a man of prayer, but yes, equally, he is a man accursed by destiny to lay down no roots but, rather, to wander the earth. You may think these are grand words to lavish upon a man widely regarded as nothing more than a mediocre medicine show quack, NOR a very prosperous one, but what I say is the genuine certified 100 per cent truth.”

Suddenly, he glanced over at where I was half seated, on a low bench near the bar, with a shoeshine kit in case Red Mary came in and raised hell about me being there; in which case I could say I had only stopped in to shine a gent’s shoes. “You there—shine boy. Would you like to have your fortune told? I usually charge ten dollars, but will do it in exchange for a fresh coat of polish on my footwear.”

That was the Count’s way—fancy talk where plain speech would do. But nobody begrudged him. He WAS grand.

The Count drew five cards from the tarot deck and grew very serious. “You will settle in a place. Word of your probity will spread throughout the town. People will consult you, even on matters which lay outside of your normal sphere. You will be well-regarded—even loved. Here the signs become less clear. I see…I see a woman in your future. Perhaps a child. Hers or yours, it is hard to say. But then the old cycle will begin again. You will have a change of fortune which will result in disappointment. You will seek to escape your situation, and you will therefore abandon your loved ones to their cold fate. You will achieve some success in your new location, but it will come at a cost. You will be challenged. You will be rescued by the powers of Divine Love. You will become intoxicated by it. It will be as though you have been reborn. But then your base and earthy desires will temporarily get the better of you, and you will be ruined. But, in the very process, you will finally achieve the wisdom you have so long been seeking. Finally, there will be another relationship in your future. For good or ill, who can say? The cards are far from clear on the matter. “

And do you know what? Every word he said came to pass!

“No,” said Count Victor Justin, “Old Doc Ketman is a sad case. A sad case indeed. Extraordinarily gifted. Well-beloved—but unable to show his own love. No wonder he grew so upset when I mentioned Red Mary. But it’s written all over his not unhandsome face. A lisping toddler could discern the truth in what I say in that regard. Hate can be well-concealed…but love is obvious to one and all. “

1*SALUTATION

STEPPENWOLF

MONSTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sk3sURDS4IA

2*REFERENCE

FEAR IN AMERICA: 9 Industries That Scare You Into Buying Things You Don’t Need

http://www.alternet.org/fear-america/9-industries-scare-you-buying-things-you-dont-need

3*HUMOR

JOE E. ROSS: KING OF SLOBS

http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2011/01/king-of-slobs.html

4*NOVELTY

LATEST FOOD RECALLS

http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Recalls/default.htm

5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

48 THINGS EVERY MAN SHOULD KNOW

http://www.ranker.com/list/things-every-man-should-know/ryan-kaiser

ALSO SEE:

STAYING ANONYMOUS ONLINE

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/it-insider/21-tips-tricks-and-shortcuts-to-help-you-stay-anonymous-online/ar-BBijfak

6* DAILY UTILITY

Eight Ways of Looking at Intelligence

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/06/eight-ways-of-looking-at-intelligence/

7*CARTOON

UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS PROPAGANDA

http://www.cracked.com/article_18464_the-17-most-unintentionally-hilarious-propaganda-posters.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_19337_the-7-most-unintentionally-hilarious-propaganda-campaigns.html

ALSO SEE:

BACKFIRING PROPAGANDA

http://www.cracked.com/article_21165_6-works-propaganda-that-backfired-in-hilarious-ways.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_18623_6-acts-propaganda-that-backfired-hilariously.html

INEFFECTIVE PROPAGANDA

http://www.cracked.com/article_19886_the-17-most-hilariously-ineffective-propaganda-posters.html

8*PRESCRIPTION

The 30 Greatest Character Actors in Hollywood History

http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2014/the-30-greatest-character-actors-in-hollywood-history/

9*RUMOR PATROL

THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OF CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

http://disinfo.com/2015/03/the-intellectual-character-of-conspiracy-theorists/

10* LAGNIAPPE

FIGURES OF SPEECH

https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/schemes.html

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

MAD 21 COVER

http://4cp.posthaven.com/mad-number-21-cover-by-harvey-kurtzman-1955

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
788. Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism

http://disinfo.com/2015/03/intellectual-hipsters-meta-contrarianism/

THE INFORMATION #828 MARCH 20, 2015

THE INFORMATION #828

MARCH 20, 2015

Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
http://dimenno.gather.com
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

Our logrolling, our stumps and their politics, our fisheries, our Negroes, and Indians, our boats, and our repudiations, the wrath of rogues, and the pusillanimity of honest men, the northern trade, the southern planting, the western clearing, Oregon, and Texas, are yet unsung. Yet America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for metres.                 –Emerson

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE

BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART TEN: KINGDOM COME

It was just when Count Victor Justin was lathering Musky Dan with the old soft soap that Doc Ketman chimed in with his very own peculiar speech, full of lingo, declamations, incantations and soft words to soothe a trouble soul. Jimmy Ragmop the bearded Polack, looking as thin as a wraith–he was there, as was sullen leather-faced Jack the Painter with his gray ponytail. Both Adam O’Day and his Pappy were in attendance, and, as always, Tipsy Smith was at the bar.

“Jesus, I will arise,” said Doc Ketman.

 “Aww, stop your bazoo,” said Adam O’Day.

 “Enough with the Jesus stuff,” said Tipsy Smith, as he wiped a filthy glass with an even filthier bar-rag.

“I’ll comb your hair,” said Pappy O’Day.

“Don’t try to come over on me with your stupid prayers,” muttered Jack the Painter.

“Crown Him with many crowns,” sang Jimmy Ragmop the Bar Boy, in his usual quavery baritone that was hard to listen to.  

“Enough, already, with the Jesus stuff,” said Tipsy Smith, still wiping the same glass.

“He can’t help himself—he’s plum loco,” said Adam O’Day.

 “Loony,” said Jimmy Ragmop.

 “A pain in the hinder parts,” muttered Jack the Painter.

 “Go fry your face,”  said Pappy O’Day.

 “Do you know what you’re about?” said Musky Dan, though not in an unfriendly way.

 Then Jim Whitey chimed in, only half sarcastic. “Don’t make light of the Doc. He’ll cook the devil in his feathers. Cross him, and you’re coopered. He may sound like he’s speaking Double-Dutch but every word that comes out of his pie-hole is certified magic. He’s no Tom Cony; nor is he frumpish any when it comes to sheer gall. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair! I may be nothing but a washed-up Funny-Man, but Doc here is the genuine article—a dyed in the wool, blown in the glass prophecy man. I’ll bet he can even tell us what a whole bunch of nines are—can’t ye, Doc? Look at him setting there, and nary a peep out of him. But I’ll bet that if’n he wanted to, he could knock me galley-west. He’s hand in glove with some powerful forces. Not exactly sinister, ner are they as pure and white as the driven snow. No, he’s a slushy sort of character—gives me the wihim-whams to look at him too hard. He’s full of kimbaws and Old Miffy, him. Always making with the Jesus stuff. Don’t you know that’s his talisman?”

 “Sanctus Itorius res, call the rest,” said Doc Ketman.

 “Ye hear all that sanctified Latin-talk a-drippin’ from his yap? He’s no common magsman or mander, him. No, he’s no lubber from the never-never country. He’s got some book-larnin’, and what he says ain’t no pishery pashery or ribble rabble. Trying to get one over on him is like looking for a pinhead in a load of hay.”

 “Howya doin’, Doc? Hey?” said Tipsy Smith. “Can I draw you a short beer?”

 “If you wouldn’t mind. I am terrible thirsty. All this talkee-talkee has got me spent. And if thou hast any flowering afflictions, I shall catch them by the wave of my hand. If they be white, brown or red, they shall and must now all be dead.”

 “Shit and damnation!” croaked Pappy O’Day. “What kind of talk is that? Grog blossoms are the only flower you’re likely to see in these parts, Yob—you, with your yerbs and berries and suchlike. Garlic and elderberry syrup for a cold! Coltsfoot for a cough, Stinging nettle for a sneeze. Whiskey, tobacco smoke and skullcap to stupefy your baby as has the colic! You see—you’re not the only one who can work the yerbs. Now, it’s all very well and good to have a good yerb doctor around, I’m not denyin’. Where ye been, ye old rogue? In stir?”

 “If you wouldn’t mind, I have been sorely afflicted. Physician, heal thyself is the old saying, but I myself have been unwell and no amount of vinegar and honey could set me right. Only fasting and prayer. Jesus, do thou lock my heart into thine. No, I haven’t been in the jail house, though in the course of my rambles I drew mighty near. I have roamed the countrywide and traveled the whole land over, from Salvation Row to Eden Prairie; from Grundy, Mulligan and Geechy to Blackwell, Kimbo, and The Devil’s Crossroad. I have seen the Ascended Masters; have visited with the ministers who say Repent Or Else; have had commerce with the Our Lady of the Salt River. The word of God, the milk of Jesus’ mother, and Christ’s blood, is for all wounds and burnings good.”

 “Have another beer, Doc. It’s on the house.”

 “I thank you most kindly. If I seem a bit subdued, it’s just that my travels have taken a great deal out of me. Jesus, let my body and my soul be commended unto thee.”

 “Y’see?” said Adam O’Day, “He always comes on strong with the Jesus stuff.” Only he wasn’t angry, because he was laughing like a gooney-bird. 

 “Wild-fire and the dragon, flew over a wagon, The wild-fire abated and the dragon skated,” said Doc Ketman.

 “What’s so great about your Jesus, anyway?” said the insufferable Pappy O’Day.

  “The Lord was crucified. That is all,” said Doc Ketman, and descended into a gloomy funk as he contemplated the bubbles in his beer. “May God guard my senses that evil spirits may not overcome me.”

 It was then that Count Victor Justin saw fit to barge into the proceedings. “I have heard a lot about you, Mister Ketman. I hear tell from the real medical practitioners that you ain’t no Doc at all, but only a common sort of quack. Mind you, I don’t believe all that I hear. I know full well that the Docs hereabouts have a good reason to be jealous of your skills. Far be it from me from spread such lies, even if they have some basis in truth. For I see that you are a man who has both strength and virtue. Because your heart is pure, you can bear the burdens of ten ordinary men. Burdens which would fell a soul less worthy than your own. Your virtue lies principally in the steps which you refrain from taking. But you are a man who only truly lives in your dreams. Terrible yet glorious dreams.  You will either find redemption or ruin yourself by means of a duel or some other conflict.  This takes place in a large city such as this one. There will certainly be a contest of some sort. There is no question about that.  Following that contest, you will be filled with inspiration. You will go on a long journey—longer than that which is normal. While on that journey, you will be betrayed by treacherous companions. But you will also meet with compassionate strangers. I see this cycle play out over and over again. But all I know is what the cards tell me—that someday you will be united with Red Mary.”   

 Tipsy Smith was so astonished at this prophecy that he dropped the glass he was obsessively polishing, and, as he attempted to pick up the pieces, pricked the entire tip of his finger on a large shard of broken glass.

 Doc Ketman roused himself to his full height and made the following pronouncement:”Blood, thou must stop, until the Virgin Mary bring forth another son.”

 And the bleeding stopped. 

 Doc Ketman then went into a trance and delivered up a speech so fantastical it is hard to remember all but the gist of it. Nevertheless, this was the essence of what he had to say: “The devil wipes his tail with the poor man’s pride. And Jesus, do thou accompany me.” 

 He then vanished into the smoke and left the Seven Stars Saloon to the startled befuddlement of all and sundry.

 1*SALUTATION

THE REPLACEMENTS

KISS ME ON THE BUS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDH6W-bU8wo

2*REFERENCE

FIFTEEN NEW CARS TO AVOID

http://www2.forbes.com/autos/15-new-cars-to-avoid/

3*HUMOR

OFFENSIVE BAND NAMES

http://diffuser.fm/offensive-band-names/

4*NOVELTY

“TWISTIN’ IN THE JUNGLE”:

INSANELY COOL COMPILATION ALBUMS

http://jrsprintsofdarkness.blogspot.com/2015/03/twistin-in-jungle.html?zx=1cbd3898fa3580e4

5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

US AIRSPACE

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10150345232740313&set=vb.6139406863&type=2&theater

6* DAILY UTILITY

25 MAPS THAT EXPLAIN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

http://www.vox.com/2015/3/3/8053521/25-maps-that-explain-english

7*CARTOON

BEST ACTION COMICS COVERS

http://comicsalliance.com/best-action-comics-covers/

ALSO SEE:

OLIVE OIL’S DARK SIDE

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/olive-oils-dark-side

8*PRESCRIPTION

TEN CHEAPEST US CITIES

http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/real-estate/T006-S001-10-cheapest-u-s-cities-to-live-in/index.html

ALSO SEE:

WHY YOUR BOSTON SUBURB SUCKS

http://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/boston/why-your-boston-suburb-sucks

9*RUMOR PATROL

WEIRD FACTS ABOUT VITAMINS

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/8-weird-facts-about-vitamins

ALSO SEE:

FACTUAL GOOGLE RANKINGS

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530102.600-google-wants-to-rank-websites-based-on-facts-not-links.html#.VPjjR9JM-mQ

10* LAGNIAPPE

FIVE YEAR TIME LAPSE OF THE SUN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-41gAPmUG0

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

Lunatic Republican: Blacks Will Be Allowed To Break Any Law They Want While Whites Go To Jail (AUDIO)

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/03/05/lunatic-republican-blacks-will-be-allowed-to-break-any-law-they-want-while-whites-go-to-jail-audio/

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
787. GILBERT GOTTFRIED ON HOLLYWOOD’S TREATMENT OF COMICS

http://observer.com/2015/03/gilbert-gottfried-gets-vocal-on-hollywoods-treatment-of-comics/

THE INFORMATION #827

MARCH 13, 2015

Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
http://dimenno.gather.com
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
https://dimenno.wordpress.com

“It is—or seems to be—a wise sort of thing, to realise that all that happens to a man in this life is only by way of joke, especially his misfortunes, if he have them. And it is also worth bearing in mind, that the joke is passed round pretty liberally & impartially, so that not very many are entitled to fancy that they in particular are getting the worst of it.”—Herman Melville

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE

BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART NINE: KINGDOM COME

In the advent of the New Year, Count Justin Victor—master of the pigeon drop, the fraudulent insurance claim and wizard of the shell game and three-card Monte artistry–made a rare appearance at the Seven Stars Saloon. Normally his type of Confidence Man did not deign to mingle among the sports and guzzlers of a low dive centrally located in the Blowtown neighborhood of Noxtown, site of the former skid road back when Noxtown proper was little more than a lumbering village. His accustomed haunts were much more in a line with lingering for a visit with a prominent visiting potentate ensconced in the opulent Royal Penthouse Suite at the McKinley Hotel, or cheering on James Lee from the vantage point of the luxe clubhouse at Churchill Downs, or even cleaning up on bets placed ringside on Underdog Tommy Burns  at the Pacific Athletic Club in Los Angeles. He had a gentle large face adorned by satiny blond muttonchop whiskers and depthless blue eyes which induced even the most surly hayseed to trust him on the instant. “May God Bless You,” was his insistent refrain, and he was seldom at a loss for an occasion to utilize this interesting benediction.

But Count Justin Victor was no Count; he was born, mired in abject poverty, in the deepest depths of Blowtown and had come up hard until he contrived a way to make trickery serve as his way to elude the iron laws of nature and to insinuate his eventual entrée into the highest levels of high society. Very few—in fact, virtually none–were astute enough to question those swimming blue eyes. He had aged but poorly during those ensuing years—mingling with the swells and seldom, if ever, taking exercise had added fat to his formerly muscular frame, and his face reflected the myriad vices enjoyed by those who lived without a heed for the morrow.

His double-breasted sack suit of the finest worsted  featured lapels in the latest fashion; one-and-a-half inch-wide red suspenders with leather tabs held up his fitted trousers, which were cut with a modish straight leg and high waist with a plain finished hem. He looked as though not one gram of lint would even dare approach the precincts of his frock coat.  What, you might ask, was the likes of him doing in the disreputable precincts of the low groggery? His motives were inscrutable. Perhaps he wished to mingle once more with the hoi polloi from whose number he had once himself emerged. Or maybe he was casting his eye about for an opportunity to ply his swindling arts upon an unwary but prosperous stranger—though this laudable motive seemed unlikely given the usual clientele of that grim establishment.  

Count Victor Justin was uncanny good at listening, and even better at persuading his listeners that he had the real gen on virtually any topic. He gave the strong impression–whether fabricated or genuine–of being a sophisticated world traveler.

Soon enough, he tangled with Musky Jim, who was wise to his many tricks.

“If you’re such a sockdologer, your Royal Silkiness” said Musky Jim, “would ye care to sure with we commoners how you came by the title of ‘Count’?”

“Well, said the Count,”strictly speaking, I’m an Earl. But I prefer the French title, for any number of reasons. Perhaps you would like to speculate, for the benefit of our misinformed friends?”

“Well,” said the irascible old man, not willing to let it go at that, “what in tarnation makes you an Earl? That’s a hereditary title, and, the last time I checked, your old man was a dustman.”

“Ahh,” said the Count, “quite so, but if one is married to a countess, that automatically elevates one’s stature to that of an Earl. I was sharing a snifter with Edward the Seventh, and he said he had no objections to my assuming the title.”

“That’s a load of Bambosh,” said Musky Dan. “You was never in England in your whole life, and if you was an intimate of King Edward, then what the hell are you doing in this dramshop?”

“Unlike some people, my friend, present company excluded, I do not have a powerful need to always commingle with swells and toffs. The real value of a well-lived life is to be found in maintaining an unbiased and absorbent mind. For all you or I may know, Sir, you yourself might very well be a veritable prince in disguise–one of nature’s noblemen–a member of the natural aristocracy which has made this proud land late–an uncrucified savior–not a blackleg or a bludger or a doddering old sheep’s head but an uncertified critic and observer of the passing parade in all its variegated splendor. Some have told me you are nothing but a hard-mouthed man, but I sense in you a repository of the wisdom of all ages. It says something for the power of the almighty mind that such a seemingly frail organism–and take no offense, my friend–none of us is getting any younger–should house such a capacious and probing mind. You could have been most anything, Sir, in your day–a lawyer, a Governor, even a Count or, if you prefer, an Earl such as myself. And yet I would deign to wager that within your own circumcised sphere you are counted as a man of respect, one upon whom very little is lost. Now, I realize that some of the jealous members of this establishment might say that I am waxing all soapy, but a dignified head such as yours deserves no less an encomium than that which my modest powers of rhetoric can bestow. Don’t you agree?”

Musky Dan was so flummoxed by all the unexpected praise that all he could do was open in mouth like a gasping fish. His final word on the matter of the Count was as follows: 

“Well, I’ll be d-d-damned!”    

 1*SALUTATION

HEROIN PIG

Walter Sickert And The Army Of Broken Toys

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-hpOrr3J5o

ALSO SEE:

HEROIN OVERDOSES

http://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/03/05/heroin-overdose-deaths-are-skyrocketing-in-the-u-s-infographic/

2*REFERENCE
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS

http://time.com/3722915/best-social-networks/

3*HUMOR

DUMBEST JOB APPLICANTS

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/funny-interviews/

4*NOVELTY

ROSICRUCIANS

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/tag/rosicrucians/

5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

10 FILMS THAT INSPIRED MAD MEN

http://www.vulture.com/2015/03/10-films-that-inspired-mad-men.html

6* DAILY UTILITY

BEN CARSON APOLOGIZES FOR SAYING PRISON MAKES PEOPLE GAY

http://time.com/3733184/ben-carson-gay-prison/

7*CARTOON

EAT RIGHT TO WIN

http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics432.html

8*PRESCRIPTION

TURBOTAX SCAMS

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/03/04/unprecedented-surge-in-online-tax-scams-raises-questions-about-turbotax/

9*RUMOR PATROL

16 REPUBLICANS WHO MIGHT RUN NEXT TIME

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/President/2013/0114/Jeb-Bush-for-president-16-Republicans-who-might-run-next-time/Jeb-Bush

10* LAGNIAPPE

THE PROP COMEDY STYLINGS OF SUPERMAN

http://livingbetweenwednesdays.com/?p=53

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

100 YEARS OF PROPAGANDA

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/06/13/100-years-of-propaganda-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

ALSO SEE:

SOVIET PROPAGANDA POSTERS

http://io9.com/the-most-sensational-and-lurid-soviet-propaganda-poster-1464264698

ANTI-COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA

http://io9.com/anti-communist-propaganda-is-more-awesome-than-any-horr-1460028336

11A BOOKS READ AND REVIEWED

AMERICAN SHORT STORY MASTERPIECES. CARVER & JENKS. ****1/2

AMERICAN SHORT STORY MASTERPIECES. STOWBRIDGE. ****

THE ANCHOR BOOK OF NEW AMERICAN SHORT STORIES. MARCUS. ****

THE ART OF THE STORY. HALPERN. ****1/2

THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES OF THE CENTURY. HILLERMAN. ****

BIRDS OF PREY 5. SOUL CRISIS. ***

BURLESQUE PARAPHERNALIA. SCHNEIDER. ***1/2

ESQUIRE’S BIG BOOK OF FICTION. MILLER. ****

FIERCE PAJAMAS. ****

FIFTY BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES. FOLEY. ****

I REMEMBER BEIRUT. ABIRACHED. ***

JESUS’S SON. JOHNSON. ***1/2

KILL MY MOTHER. FEIFFER. ***1/2

MIRTH OF A NATION. ***1/2

MS MARVEL. NO NORMAL. **

THE NORTON BOOK OF SHORT FICTION. BAUSCH & CASSILL. ****1/2

SPAWN OF MARS. WOOD. ***1/2

SUDDEN FICTION. SHEPHARD & THOMAS. ***1/2

THINKING THE 20TH CENTURY. JUDT & SNYDER. ****

THE VINTAGE BOOK OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN SHORT STORIES. WOLFF. ****

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
786. THE AMERICAN CREDO

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23858/23858-h/23858-h.htm