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

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