Actors are con men and con men are actors. –Edward Burns
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART TWENTY-NINE: KINGDOM COME
Count Victor Justin noticed from the corner of his practiced eye that the bar was still largely empty, and so he turned his full attention to Tipsy Smith the Barkeep and Pappy O’Day the barfly and spoke, in a low voice from the corner of his mouth. It was almost as if he was a Papist who was going to Confession; and who was I to say he wasn’t?
“Never mind the circumstances of my childhood; I don’t blame nobody for nothing; I was a happy-go-lucky little yellof with a memory like flypaper. I could add sums in my head long before I was five, and I taught myself to read long before I had any schooling to call my own. I was particularly fond of music and can still recite lyrics from years ago as though I’d only heard them yesterday.
“What is a Home Without Mother? A Nation’s Orphans. 500,000 Devils! Oh, I knew them all. Nobody dast try me; even as a lisping tot I could spiel out a sentimental ballad with the best of ’em, plus I was a chubby-cheeked rascal and far cuter to boot. At first, my mother and father delighted in having me perform for guests in our wood frame home, in the front parlor, in front of a roaring fire, with spooky shadows everywhere to be seen and unseen. Father’s a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead. How prophetic that song turned out to be! What Is a Home Without Mother, indeed. Grand-Mother’s Eyes Have Grown Dim. The Sweetest Flower of All. Don’t ask me to sing them now, my voice ain’t what it used to be. Each one of those songs is like a book to me. Homeless To-Night! Many’s the time it was so. I am the very model of a Modern Major-General . I have in the past gone into character as a military man and that song was a great help to me in recalling my lines.
“Before long, my father, damn his soul, saw money in it. He would black me up good with burnt cork and take me to a blind pig, and stand me up on the bar and have me perform minstrel songs. Ev’ry Day Gwine to Be Sunday. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny. De Gospel Raft. Dem Good Ole Days Afo De War. Sing Darkies Sing. It wasn’t too long before I developed quite a rum habit, since my father would dose me with a spoonful or two of the stuff. It never affected my memory, though. It was still like a mousetrap. I remember to this day where I buried coins some forty years ago and more.
“It’s a funny thing, memory. It’s like money in the bank to me. I have never had any trouble with it. They say you should always tell the truth because it’s too much trouble to remember a lie, but that was never any problem which I found to be particularly troublesome. Quite the opposite! The more elaborate the lie, it seemed, the easier a time I had in remembering it; and elaborating on it still more.
Mother finally prevailed upon my father to stop taking me to low dives to dance and sing for the pennies they threw. Mother was a Saint. Father was a rotten brute when he was in the drink, which was most of the time. Mother was related to Lucy Webb Hayes on her mother’s side. Her family was of the quality. They never approved of father. He was a drummer–a sort of travelling salesman, when he could be prevailed upon to work, which was seldom. Either he was on a drunk, or, periodically, he got religion and attempted to atone for his past sins by doing good works, none of which involved earning money to support his family. We grew up in a sort of genteel poverty.
“Of my early childhood the less said the better. However, unlike most boys, I learned early one that the best way to get away with something is to never develop a reputation for being a troublemaker. Most boys is vainglorious, and pull their stunts to promote their own standing among their fellows. I was a thoroughly dull and somewhat unlikable boy to my fellows, and my schoolmasters thought I was as innocent as the day was long since I never back sassed or tried to wriggle my way out of self-inflicted trouble. But I was as duplicitous as the day was long, and got away with far more mischief than the so-called bad boys simply by knowing how to keep my mouth shut. And, anyway, schoolmasters is mostly fools. If they had any relish for actual life, they would be out in the world, doing manly things, not holed up in a classroom with a batch of puling and prating schoolboys.
“Even as a boy, I was fastidious. Always careful of my clothing; always clean, and smelling of soap, with clean nails and slicked-down hair, not the wild unruly mops the other boys possessed during those carefree years. I presented myself as being at least five years older than I actually was due to my deportment, which was that of a full-grown man; that, the teachers adored, and they never talked down to me and often I was made privy to certain information about my fellow classmates which was to prove very useful—whose family was rich; whose father was an incorrigible drunkard; who had a whole brace of pretty sisters, or a crazy Aunt at home that the family wasn’t talking about.
“Of course, back in those days, the boys were educated separate from the girls. I’m not saying I didn’t have an eye for the gentle sex. It has proved to be my undoing more than once, but now I’m an old man, and past such concerns, because the blood no longer runs so hot, so I now can look upon the works of the fairer sex with something of an objective, and, admittedly, a somewhat jaundiced eye.”
As if to prove that such was the case, he visibly noticed that some rather tawdry molls had come into the bar; but he seemed hell-bent on telling his story rather than seeking their company, so he kept his seat.
(I’D GO THE) WHOLE WIDE WORLD
NO, IT’S NOT YOUR OPINION, YOU’RE JUST WRONG
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OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRING LINE
G.G. ALLIN’S RESUME
TOO SOON TO TELL
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
Presents the Slick Overproduced Commercial Pop Thing™
Here follows a Skeleton Key to the Finnegan’s Wake of Rock Albums. Well, not exactly. More like Bizarro Superman comics. But anyway, note the interpolated commercials, just like that ’60s classicThe Who Sell Out (and don’t think for a minute they have never heard that album). Butterscott, in case you don’t know because you’ve been living in a cave on Mars (or even if you haven’t), specializes in the delicious literary device known as travesty: a “burlesque of a serious work or subject, characterized by grotesque or ludicrous incongruity of style, treatment, or subject matter.” The cover copy promises that two-thirds of the album is not re-treads of earlier songs, and I suppose that’s true. I will admit that it’s nice to see an Elvis-oid version of “Mindless Boogie,” the band’s passive-aggressive tribute to (among other things) the fabled star-making machinery. “Kissing the Velvet Glove” is a classic late-’60s psychedelic rock farrago with the equally classic low-affect sardonic Butterscott vocal touches. “Legoagogo” is a “Fame”-like disco song which bravely tackles the ubiquity of Legos. While pretending to celebrate them. Sadly, no commercial potential here. Sorry boys – we can’t USE you. Better go back to driving a truck. “Wheelchair Woman” is a proto-metal song which addresses the menace of the overbearing cripple. Edgy stuff, man. Ginger Baker would hate it. “Rekkid Grouch” concerns Your Typical Record Store of yore and takes us into fake-Monkees territory. “Pajama Mama” takes on, with electo-funk, the sociological phenomenon of daytime pajama wear. “Solitude for Two” is a Motown send-up with goofy doo-wop elements and a kicking bass line which makes it, like, an even more authentic fake. “Groggy Froggy” is a “Louie Louie”/“Banana Splits Theme” send-up which is actually quite catchy. “Hot Buttered Toast” is a nod to quaint Kinks numbers such as “Have a Cuppa Tea.” Pop music a la The Association gets eviscerated in “Moist” – also see “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by The Shondells. “Slim Kim” pays obvious tribute to sports anthems like Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll” – and to Kim Fowley, the LA songwriter, producer and impresario. “Bartleby” is another re-run, reminiscent of kludgy rock a la The Move, which devolves into a psychedelic freakout. “Thank You Captain Obvious” is a lyrically deft send-up of faux-marching bands. “How’s Yer Hair” – another re-run – is an introspective number in the style of Bread, with superadded Beatlesque pomp in the coda. “Kalliope Krouch” is a twisted children’s song – with an important message about drugs! “Wannitbad” is a country rock parody with dirty lyrics. (Sorry Boys, etc.) “Infinity Forever” caps the proceedings with a grandiose pronunciato—a bit like Todd Rundgren, maybe. Plus, there’s a bonus track, “Hey Ho and a Bottle of Brew.” There’s lots of nifty songs here. You look at their obsessions and realize that they’re also yours and you wonder what you’ve done with your life. And then you laugh. Because they’re funny, and bitter, and so are you now maybe, just a little bit. (Francis DiMenno)
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
806. BERNIE SANDERS: NAZI?