OCTOBER 2, 2015
Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO

Flattery is a kind of bad money, to which our vanity gives us currency. –Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“I’m on the train quite a bit, and about the only pleasure I get, other than swindling salesmen in crooked card games for laughs and pocket money, is in talking to George, the Pullman Porter. Everyone calls them George, but it helps to get acquainted with them and get to learn their real names, because they can do you a powerful heap of good. Although I did play a lousy trick on one of ’em once.     

“I recall one time I was taking a train and as I was disembarking I said to the Pullman Porter, “Here, Boy, is your tip.” Wouldn’t you know it, he comes running after me in the lobby of the train station. “Mistah Boss, you done gib me a hunnert dollah bill–by mistake!” He handed it back to me and I looked at him with a level stare and turned and gave the bill to another Porter who was standing nearby.  And I says to the first Porter, ‘That there will teach you to hang on to what you got!’ 

You can bet that there was a lot of rolling of the bones and razor fights in the Pullman caboose on THAT night! And that the boon who won all the simoleons with a pair of shaved dice was feastin’ on fried chicken and watty-melon.” 

Count Justin Victor turned to me. “Ain’t that right, me fine laddy-buck?”

It was all I could do to gulp out, “Yes Sir!” Up until that moment I wasn’t even aware that the Count knew I was there–and drinking in every word.

“That’s the thing about cash money,” the Count resumed complacently. “It acts like a catalyst.You can take a thoroughly static situation and introduce the cash on the barrelhead and suddenly…haw! You should see the pickaninnies scramble when you toss ’em a heated nickel! But they’ll grab at ’em all the same. Even pennies. This, in the French Quarter of N’Orleans. Yob, if you train yourself to look at the world through the eyes of a Zigaboo, you can get one over on nearly any man. Don’t let their fat lips and bug eyes fool you–those babies are shrewd. If they make you smile at them and laugh out loud, it’s all a part of their plan. I know one old coon used to go to the tobacco store and ask for ‘Mister’ Prince Albert in a can–because there was a white man on the front and he didn’t want to cause offense. I know another darkey who used to get upset whenever they would spray for mosquitoes. He’d start in to grumbling that ‘The white man don’t want us to have NOTHING’. 

“I should talk, though. A Boog saved my bacon. I’d of caught the 11:59 if it weren’t for a railroad porter. The train was just pulling out of the stop I had intended to step off at and was moving at what I thought was a slow clip, but looks can be deceiving and the Pullman porter grabbed me by the sleeve and said ‘Nuh uh, Boss, you ain’t gettin’ off THIS train nohow.’ I gave that man a twenty dollar tip. Another time, I got a Porter good and drunk one night in a Mex dive in Juarez, and he told all. Bohunks and greenhorns are always stingy tippers. They’re afraid they’re being cheated, I suppose, and usually they are. Backcountry Southerners eat like pigs and are tight with their dough. New Englanders have better manners, but have a reputation for being tightfisted. Specially them billygoat farmers from the North Country.They’ll hold onto that dollar ’til the eagle screams. Talking about Michigan, people from the upper peninsula are shitheels. The best tippers are from Califor-ny-ay and anywheres west of the Mississipp’. Don’t ask why it should be so, but ’tis. Professional baseball players are the worst–a bunch of illiterate, rowdy drunks. Traveling salesmen are usually reliable. You never know how a woman  will tip, but usually they will. Young whores in the bloom of their youth are always generous. Religious types are downright parsimonious. Some of them will even give you tracts. 


“Yes, the birds who work the Pullman cars are crazy shrewd. You better believe it, Yob. You may call them gorillas, but they can make a monkey out of all of you–they are the crème de la crème. They can take one good gander at you and size you up for a con men quicker than you can say ‘Jack Robinson’. How can they tell? My guess is that the good con man blends in with his surroundings, but he’s also apt to be just a little too good at it. Like he’s too clean; his fingernails are too buffed; his shave is too close. He’s extra careful about his clothes. And his hat is always spotless. Jigs have good people sense. They can always tell a con man from a drummer. They can also tell a good white man from a mucker.

“Worldly success in other men is something a good con man can see, and, better, sense. You can’t kid a kidder. Sure, maybe con men are just as certain to lose their own money due to drink or gambling or wild women or all three, but somewhere in their noggins they know what they’re doing, even if they can’t stop themselves. Other people don’t–unless they’ve been wised up. It’s funny how that works. I doubt that one con man in ten trusts banks, or puts much stock in pettifogging financiers. They’d rather roll up their dough in a window shade, or sequester it away in a money belt or some such gimmick. And then, because it’s ready to hand, why, they WILL spend it. Or, worse still, someone will rob them of it, or a wise cop will shake them down. That’s why I always carry 200 smackeroonies in walking around money sewn up in my jacket. Because you never know. My money or my life? I seldom have to think twice.

“Being a confidence man is better than being a rich man. You want my confidence? Show me the color of your money. The people I cheat are privileged to get to know a character like me, I dare say. I certainly wouldn’t give them the time of day if they had no gelt, though I might be tempted to pass a friendly word, say, with the shoeshine boy, who often gets all kinds of tips which are not money but valuable information–about the stock market and the ponies, and who’s fucking who. What rich man’s son is a stage-door Johnnie and therefore gullible and easy pickings. Like I said, Boogs are shrewd. You discount the inherent nobility and wisdom of our sable brethren at your own risk. Haw! When I think of how many tips I’ve received from lavatory attendants and even elevator operators–“A ‘tective was askin’ around about you Boss; I didn’t tell them nuffin'”–time to leave that particular hotel. For all the scrapes their tips have got me out o,f or the times they kept me out of a jam, and all the times they steered me onto a sucker ripe for the pickin’—-I ought to give the colored race a medal, is what.”

The Count didn’t always talk like that; but he was mellow with beer.   




Pittsfield triple-slaying suspect Caius Veiovis writes of disdain for ‘Twilight’ franchise – and media’s reporting skills – in jailhouse letter

PITTSFIELD – Triple-slaying suspect Caius Veiovis wants the world to know that he is not speaking with a forked tongue when it comes to expressing his disdain for the Twilight movie and book franchise.   “Pop culture inspires me to vomit hot blood,” wrote Veiovis in a jailhouse letter sent to the Berkshire Eagle.   The 31-year-old Pittsfield resident, along with Adam Lee Hall, 34, of Peru, and former Springfield resident David Chalue, 44, are charged with abducting and killing three men whose bodies were recovered from a trench in Becket on Sept.10.   Pittsfield residents David Glasser, 44, Edward Frampton, 58, and Robert Chadwell, 47, were last seen on Aug. 28. in an apartment shared by Glasser and Frampton.  Veiovis, who started life as Roy C. Gutfinski, chides the media for reporting that his adopted name comes from a character in the vampire-based romances which has inflamed the passions of legions of mostly young and mostly female fans.  “I have never seen this silly movie, nor have I read the books, nor would I ever — even now — waste my time with such useless drivel,” wrote Veiovis in a florid, almost unreadable, script.  The suspect, who really does have a forked tongue, also sports sharpened teeth and “666” inked onto his forehead. In his booking photo, Veiovis had what appeared to be a pair of horns or tusks protruding from his nostrils.  The letter, signed Caius Domitius Veiovis, underscored by an upside-down cross and “666,” was received by the Berkshire Eagle on Monday.   “My first and middle chosen names were inspired and taken from the great Roman emperors Caligula and Nero, my last — from an ancient Etruscan daemon,” wote Veiovis.


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Two arrested after Providence fight video featuring samurai sword goes viral

By Amanda Milkovits

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A daytime street brawl in Elmwood started by a couple with a samurai sword went viral on social media — and prompted the arrests of two men.

The 3-minute, 22-second, video starts with 45-year-old David Thomas carrying a samurai sword and threatening violence, as a woman with him yells at a man about working on cars outside her apartment on Balcom Street. Thomas slaps himself in the head several times, as if gearing up for a fight, ignoring an older woman trying to calm them down.

“You’re messing with the wrong dawg,” Thomas says, and flashes a hand sign. “Cranston Street. Cranston Street King.”

The fight starts, and children wail and scream. The video ends with Thomas lying sprawled and motionless in the street, the sword gone, as the man filming him points: “Yo, dawg, you got knocked the [expletive] out!”

No one called the police about the fight last week. Instead, the police learned about it along with anyone else who viewed the video after it was posted last Friday on the popular Web site World Star Hip Hop, where it took off. The video had nearly 780,000 views by Thursday morning.

Maj. David Lapatin said that police identified Thomas as the man with the sword and Luis Ruiz, 30, from Jillson Street, in Washington Park, as the man who kicked Thomas while he was down. Both were charged with disorderly conduct; Thomas told police he didn’t have a complaint, Lapatin said.

Thomas was arraigned Sunday and released with a no-contact order. Ruiz was arraigned Tuesday at District Court, where he pleaded no contest, and his case was filed.

No one else has been identified in the video, nor is it clear whether anyone was notified about the children heard shrieking and screaming “Mommy!” during the fight. Family Service of Rhode Island, which frequently responds to calls with police, was not notified.

No one appears to notice the children watching on the porch. Instead, several men are seen pulling out cell phones and filming Thomas after he was knocked down. “That’s what youse [expletive] get,” one man says.



Shappi Khorsandi 

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