THE INFORMATION #863
NOVEMBER 20, 2015
Copyright 2015 FRANCIS DIMENNO
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FORTY-FIVE: KINGDOM COME
Night after night I would go to the Seven Stars Saloon to hear Count Victor Justin hold forth. One night in particular, the old man was in fine form. there was a decided sparkle in his eye as he recounted tales of long ago; particularly his run-in with certain police characters.
“When I was in stir overnight on a bogus bunko rap, I ran into this nutty Yellof–some kind of crazy, dirty-faced self-styled musician–though I swan that if’n this kook was a musician then I was a heifer–he called himself ‘Prince Faraday,’ though his real name is probably lost to history, and a good thing too, says I. Anyhow, there I was, in the holding cell, and there he was, taking every opportunity to upstage me, even though he had nothing to say, because you got the distinct impression right away that he wasn’t very bright, like you could ask him how’s the weather and he would say ‘Duh’ and have to think about it, and even then he’d wait to hear what someone else had to say before he ventured an opinion. Oh well. It takes all kinds. Anyway, this ‘Prince Faraday’ Yellof was more than a mite unfriendly. Maybe the Yob was jealous of my superior eddication and vocabulary or something; it’s been known to happen, even among the dregs of society. Or maybe he was just plain ornery. Then again, I been around some, so maybe he imagined that at some time or another I had slighted him somehow, or otherwise done him an injury. Who knows?
“Now, nobody has more respect for the artist than I do. The Yellof who is a dab hand at a sketch or a portrait, or can sculpt in stone–that’s hard work, and you won’t hear me say a word agin any artist as can knock out a pastoral scene or maybe a nice little picture of a three-masted schooner–even a still-life can be a beauty to behold, just in case you mistook me for one of them vulgarians who only like a daub if’n there’s a naked si-reen portrayed therein. The kind of thing you’d see at some of the fancier drinking establishments out west, f’r instance. The man who can write a newspaper article is also A-OK with me; the newsboys tend to be some of the most wised-up characters you’re likely to find, outside of carnies and policemen. It’s the nature of their job. And that Charles Dickens–boy, was he a hoot. A fella who can spin a corking yarn like that is always welcome in my camp. Writing is a bit of a con game too, when you come right down to it. You’re convincing people to think and feel and using the power of words alone. A good writer don’t do half as much harm as a shyster lawyer, and he’s way cheaper, too. I might as well come right out and say it. I have more than a few choice words to say about so-called attorneys, and the corrupt police, and the fat-assed judges who supposedly sit above it all. They’re all a part of the big con game called life. I bear them no ill will, but I don’t have a lot of respect for them. The man who can create something beautiful out of thin air–he’s the one I’ll pay my hard-earned ooftish to see.
“But when it comes to music makers, there’s where I reserve my highest compliments, and rightfully so. Like I say, I’ve been around the world; seen the Opera in Rome and the grass skirted maidens of Polynesia dancing to hula music, and even a fiddlin’ Irish rogue perform a jig on board a Chinese Pirate Junk. But I never heard guitar playin’ like I heerd from this ‘Prince Faraday’ character. Me and him washed up at the Carny, years later.
“I will say this much about him: his out-of-tune guitar playin’ was egregiously bad–it was the sound of two cats in heat fuckin’ behind a shed back of a whitewashed picket fence by the light of the silvery moon. And his singing reminded me of the time I saw a moronic circus clown drunkenly puking into a flaming trash-barrel. You’d think that this dirty Johnny black as melted midnight from the coal dust and filth of the road would have better things to do than slander his betters. Like, maybe improve his guitar technique. No; he took the easy way out under any circumstance. Hack it out in the woodshed, that should of been his motto. His big gimmick was to insert vulgar ‘novelty’ lyrics of his own devising into the compositions of songwriters far more original and talented than hisself, which wasn’t saying much, because as far as I could see he had no real aptitude at all for what he was doing. Still, he had a cadre of slavering acolytes. You can always judge an artists by the quality of his followers. Prince Faraday had all the fat girls on his side. That’s OK, you know, if you like ’em beefy. Faraday was a little on the plump side himself, even in his salad days.
“Faraday was what you might of called a cast-off has-been; only really, he was much closer to being a perfect never-wuzzer. You warn’t going to read about him in any reference book. His guitar sounded like he had busted a hand and was raking a petrified monkey’s paw acrost the strings. If so, it’s too bad the monkey’s paw wasn’t a magic one, for he could of used that magic artifact to grant him three wishes: namely, brains, courage, and a human heart and soul. I can still hear the echoing chords of his tin pan claptrap reverberating in my unhappy ears–all his performing skill, such as it was, was concentrated in whining and puling like a castrated hog. I would say may the devil take him, only Heaven won’t have him, and Hell can’t hold him. So maybe he can roam the halls of limbo and frighten unbaptized babies and heathen scholars for all eternity.”
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