The corruption of the best things gives rise to the worst. –David Hume
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART NINETEEN: KINGDOM COME
Count Justin Victor turned to Tipsy Smith and Pappy O’Day. “As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted…what were we talking about? Not Dagoes. Ner Negroes, either. Don’t tell me there ain’t no difference. Why, I could tell you stories about the blue-gummed Big Black Bucks down south as get likkered up and run wild–stories that would turn your hair white, if ye had any, Pappy. What were we talking about? Ah, Yaas. The Gib Yellof. G.Y. Old Bog Hisself. He’s known in all the groggeries, you can be sure. Who do you think owns half the breweries and distilleries in Noxtown? And yet, he leagues himself with that dry
preacher, Reverend John Cross. That’s what’s known as playin’ both sides of the street, Yob. He walks by day and preys by night. That’s prey with an e, Yob. Does he own a few pharmacies? He does. And does he keep a weather eye on the stock of rat poison, and who’s buyin’ and who’s sellin’ it where? That he does. There might be a human rat or two who needs to be crushed. I mean literally, Yob. The G.Y. will give you change for your dollar. I can’t say no more than that, only, next time you hear of an unfortunate accident down at the quarry don’t come running to me, because I know nothing. But five will get you ten that the man who was injured and kilt was a Yob who was unpleasing in the sight of the G.Y. He will be cleansed in both blood and fire. But the G.Y. does a brisk trade in all sorts of pills and potions. Again, I can’t say more, only look at the kiddie gangs who go around snuffing those asthma powders and taking on three full-grown policemen once they’re goofy on happy dust. The remedies at his pharmacies have made
more corpses than they be graves to hold ‘em, and the most pleasant aspect of the whole sorry business is that it’s all legal. You’ve heard tales of a powder he has that he can put in a woman’s drink or sprinkle on her food, and it makes her his slave? I know that old Doc Ketman has been spreading such tales, and that is why he dasn’t show his face around here much. You two and myself are OK, but there’s a snitch among us, sure as I’m born, and if old Doc shows himself in these parts, word is bound to get back to the G.Y.
“Speakin’ of Dagoes—remember that run on the bank? Supposedly started by Luigi, the fruit vendor? More doin’s of the Gib Yellof. Something about the Second National on Main Street was displeasing in the sight of the G.Y. Maybe because he has no interest in it. But he does have an interest in the Farmer’s Bank, and the Building and Loan, and half the others in town. Now, what does the Gib Yellof have to do with the Dagoes? He can speak to them in their own tongue, it is said, and just like you talk to a woman whose virtue ye want to impair.”
“Such talk,” said Pappy O’Day, “Is not seemly in the presence of the little pitcher.”
Referring, I suppose, to me.
“Aw, he lives in a whorehouse, for Crissake. Ain’t nothing he ain’t
heerd before. He could probably teach us a few tricks, like ‘The
Chicago Cross-jostle,’ can’t ye, Tandy?” This was from Tipsy Smith. I almost fell off my chair, because I had spent whole evenings in the Seven Stars when he had spoken nary more than three words all together.
I said nothing; pretended I hadn’t heard, and the Count resumed his
“Listen to me, Yobs, when I tell you that the Gib Yellof fetches up
the bullies and blutos he recruits to do his dirty work from all the
most wretched places in all the land. He sends his agents to recruit
for human scum in places where such men gather: in the hobo jungles down by the river; in the tenement back yards huddled around trash fires; in the gambling hells and dance halls and vaudeville houses; gathered in post offices and around pharmacies; anywhere a harmful influence is to be felt, that is where you will find agents of the Gib Yellof; a church graveyard, yes, but never a church; a jail-house, sure, but never a state penitentiary; a beer-hall for sartin but never a Salvation Army meeting; a bail-bondsman’s office but not a school or college. The Gib yellof likes the sight of desperate men, but they got to still have some fight in ‘em; he don’t want them totally beaten down and broken, so he’ll recruit hoboes and tramps but never bums; he’ll recruit boys from the reformatory but never from the Sunday School; he likes card-sharps but looks down on degenerate hoss-gamblers; he don’t care if you’re handicapped just so long as you can do a job of work for him, and he don’t much care what be the cut of your jib or whether ye be black, yed, yellow or brown; just so long as you can do his dirty work without flinching. He don’t have no use for a Yellof who can speak in Latin, but one who can and will indulge in knife-play is a man after his own heart, in a manner of speaking. He don’t need a man who can raise a pile of money for the accomplishment of good works, although the philanthropist is a mask he wears by day—eleemosynary, my dear Watson.
“And when I say he has a hand in some dirty work, I have hardly
expressed the merest fraction of what I know as a fact. Look in an
issue of the Pink ‘un and if you see a great crime as has never been
solved, you might do worse than calculate that the Gib Yellof had a
hand in it somewhere. Mark my words; he is dangerous; this whole
discussion is dangerous, I am dangerous because of what I know, and if word of this little discussion ever passes beyond these four
walls–then none of our lives will be worth a wooden nutmeg.”
WORST JOBS FOR 2015
INSULTING MOBSTERS WITH DON RICKLES
BANDS FROM BOSTON
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
6* DAILY UTILITY
WHY MARVEL’S FEMALE SUPERHEROES LOOK LIKE PORN STARS
JOAN CORNELLA COMICS
FRANK SINATRA HAS A COLD
BOOKS THAT LITERALLY ALL WHITE MEN OWN
WEBSITES THAT PAY $100 AN ARTICLE
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
CAPTAIN CARVEL AND HIS FLYING SAUCER
Watch out for thet Mikey Icey Wicey. He looks like he’s on the goofballs.
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
796. THE SUPERMAN/AQUAMAN HOUR
All the super-duper heroes,
They always fight for what is right!
Live with danger and adventure,
They are Men of Might!
Superman, the Man of Steel
Performs super deeds with ease!
Aquaman’s the bold and daring
King of the Seven Seas!
Hawkman, from another planet
Swoops down on the foe!
Nothing stops the Teen Titans
Anywhere they go!
Flash defies the eye to follow
With his super speed!
Against the force of evil
The Atom will succeed!
Green Lantern’s power ring
Can accomplish anything!
All the super superheroes
Are the Justice League of America,
Men of Might!
For nearly 50 years I have been puzzling over these immortal but
cryptic lines of verse, which, admittedly, make the author of “The
Waste Land” look like a puling punk. First of all, why pair Superman
with C-lister Aquaman? That’s like yoking Yogi Bear to a microbe.
Also: “Aquaman”? What in hell kind of name is that? What’s next?
Waterman? Carbon Man? Dustman? Or should we go in a more daring direction: The Secular Humanist. Existential Man? The Post-Modernist? Also: Aquaman’s power is to commandeer the creatures of the ocean depths. Tell me: What’s so “bold and daring” about telling a bunch of fish what to do? Furthermore: if Green Lantern’s power ring really can “accomplish anything,” then what’s the point of the show? All he has to do is tell the ring to solve the problem. Total elapsed time: One minute. Leaving 59 minutes to go. No—to this very day I’m afraid that this stentorian theme song leaves far more riddles than answers behind.