WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART TWENTY: KINGDOM COME
“Ye might as well know, Yob,” said Count Justin Victor to the loafer
Adam O’Day and the barkeep Tipsy Smith, “that me and a whole lot of others who ain’t common plugs owe our livelihoods to the Gib Yellof and the payments as gets funneled to him by way of the bluecoats and the town officials. Police Captain Tom Aston is a wealthy man because of us. Don’t see why he wouldn’t tip us a friendly nod every now and again.
“But it’s the great pantomime of life that crooks and cops are painted as irreducible foes. That’s all eyewash and window dressing for the chumps as believe everything they read in the newspapers. Or worse, the old fools that don’t believe anything in the newspapers and who get angry because of something they read.
“Haww…. I could tell you certain home truths about the newsboys that would curl your toes! Why, did you know that the last place to look for justice is in the newsroom? And I’ll tell you why. Folks credit reporters for knowing what’s what; for having kokum. And, to a certain extent, they do. But allus remember that their editors and publishers are only after one thing, and that is selling bits of paper with ads on ‘em. Everything else is window-dressing to them.
“Listen to me! There’s three layers of lies in every news story. First
of all, there’s the so-called testimony of the eyewitnesses. I’d say
that nine-tenths of these people didn’t even know what they were
seeing. And why should they? They have their own lives to lead. Why be observant? It don’t pay to see too much. Not, of course, unless you’re in my line of business. That’s why pickpockets are so
successful. Because most people are oblivious to what’s going on
“Not that I would ever stoop to such work. Confidential agents such as myself prefer to let the sucker hand over the goods on his own
volition, with maybe just a little gentle prodding. It is far beneath
us to boost goods from a merchant or crack a safe. Leave that for the gonsils. So—first of all, you have the witless eyewitnesses. Then you have the reporter. They are all cynical cusses, to a man, and they think they’ve seen it all, and you can’t tell them anything—they will jump to a conclusion, and once they land on it they land on it hard. And then there’s the editor. Even if the eyewitness is solid; even if the reporter happens to quote him exactly—the editor needs to justify his salary, don’t he? So he’ll jazz the thing up to sell some papers. Making mountains out of molehills—that’s his job. The publisher’s happy, the reporter gets his salary, the people get their blood and guts, and everything’s Jake, except for the poor sap who they misquoted, and who, if he knows what’s good for him, will keep his blubber shut and won’t talk to no more newsboys.
“Because getting a newshawk to change his mind is harder than pulling teeth, and I should know, because I was in that line once upon a time when I was on my uppers. Pullin’ teeth, that is. Also did a little press work here and there. Handbills, and the like. Selling ads to the saps for “Who’s Who In Fat Punk, Nebraska.” Or you bite the Masons for a donation for the sick babies of Chump Junction, Omaha. There’s a little bit of a Hamfatter in every Mason. All them people who belong to the fraternal organizations have the intellects of small boys.
“I done a little bit of everything in my younger days. Even sign
painting. I was no good at it, though, and it was too much hard work.
“Did my share of Doctorin’, too, out west. Most people manage to get over being sick all by themselves, you know. But the patients still think some magic pill or tonic is going to work wonders for ‘em. So you send ‘em to your pal, Dingbat the Druggist, for a bottle of sugar pills, bite ‘em for five smackers, and shoo them on their merry way. Everyone gets what he wants, and everybody’s happy. It’s the folks as have the real ailments that you got to be careful of. Them’s the folks you send to a real doctor. Let him take the blame when the sucker croaks. Meanwhile, always have your bag packed and ready to leave town on a moment’s notice. Those hashish pills you give to ladies with female complaints don’t always suit ‘em. And spooning laudanum into the mouths of sick babies is not a long-term solution neither.
“So, anyway, I know the newsboys and all their devious ways. Them and the police are tight as the fingers of a fist. Of course, they’re two very different types of birds. They often only have one thing in common—they was in the army. And your newshawk was in the rear echelon like the smart boys they are while your copper was right there on the front lines, like a stupid lummox.
“Cops and Muckrakers are the same in a lot of ways. Both their little
hearts go pitter-pat when they get wind of a murder shack, or, let’s
say that the President of the First National Bank ran down a
pedestrian in his horseless carriage—that’s something new, and that’s news, and it all goes into the hopper. (Imagine how much dosh that Bank President has to ladle out to keep it from the Police Blotter and the front page of the paper. Haww….)
“Police write the reports and reporters get the story. Both sides of
the fence are covered in glory. But I’m getting off the subject.
Reporters and Cops are also both liars. A cop will swear up and down that the prisoner must have blowed his own head off, and a reporter will write it down just like he says it, because he knows that if he don’t, some other Gee will do it for ‘im. Cops live for a live case, and reporters live for scoops. I’m talking about the good ones. The bad ones are lazy; that’s all. And usually drunks in the bargain. But all cops and reporters is drunks. Some of them hold their liquor
better; that is all.”
THE MODERN LOVERS
THE BEST AND WORST PLACES TO GROW UP
BEAR VS. GORILLA
LIBRARY BARCODE FAILS
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
FAKE BEATLES PHENOMENA
6* DAILY UTILITY
CDC Predicts How You Will Die Based On Where You Live
THEMES IN CHEMICAL PROHIBITION
TEN POPULAR MIND CONTROL TECHNIQUES
MAGGIE GET THE HAMMER
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
EVERY MAD MEN EPISODE RANKED
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
797. JERRY LEWIS VS. BING CROSBY