I come from the deep countryside. My family was in farming. I was not really exposed to business. Coming from that environment, I just wanted in my life to go overseas – that was a childhood dream because I wanted diversity, contacts, cultural meetings with others. –Jean-Pascal Tricoire
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART SIXTY-ONE: KINGDOM COME
“Here’s a cute little riddle for ye,” said Count Victor Justin to the assembled barroom loafers. “Why are cows cannibals?”
“I dunno,” says Pappy O’Day, in a quavery, querulous voice.
“Because…they eat their Fodder. Haww….”
Count Victor Justin took a big slug of beer, emitted an audible burp, then resumed his sarcastic diatribe regarding rural life.
“Oh, fiddle-dee-dee! It’s a life in the big stick country for me! Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah! Yes siree! Mucking around with a pen full of sleepy, baby-eating hogs…sitting on the porch with a lazy, tussive hound dog…staring at the ass of a rachitic mule…working your fingers right down to the bone…a Sisyphean task…and all to do a thankless job that’s never done. And when the neighbor needs to build a barn, you’re supposed to drop everything and be Johnny-on-the-Spot, because that’s what neighbors do for each other. Bah! And if tramps burn the barn down with their smelly pipes, that’s another night’s sleep sacrificed in trying to put it out.
“And then you have that whole hick mentality as hates anything and anyone as likes to get up to some hijinks. No liquor, card-playin’, dancin’, or any other decadent pursuits. Life is mostly hard work to these country bumpkins. They get their jolly times out of finding a red ear at the huskin’ bee, and castrating pigs, I reckon. Small wonder that any lad with any sense gets the hell off the farm just as soon as they humanly can.
“Farmers are some angry people. I know that I would be angry if it was my bounden fate to scratch in the dirt for my sustenance. Like a headless chicken. In the broiling sun. In the freezing rain. When the ice and snow make going outside to shit a misery. The futility of it all is staggering. Farmers are never happy, even when things are going well, which they never do. Because there’s always hard work to be done. Looking to the ground all the time. They surely must dream of pulling up weeds and chopping cotton. Using a seed drill is their idea of a good time. Fear is the operative word for the clodhoppers on the farm. Fear of wild women. Fear of electricity, and labor-saving machinery. Fear of anything new, or different. They are all Bible-pounders to a man–superstitious, nativistic, isolated, dumb. Frozen in place by implacable fate. Always moaning about their crops, their crops. Dependent on blind luck for the sun and rain. Faugh! Even the most snivelling grifter has more gumption than any dumb farmer. Because even your everyday grifter manages to make his own luck.
“The only thing worse than being a farmer is being a farmhand. Considered fit only to follow orders and do all the filthy muck-work about the farm. No hope of advancement. Trapped in the company of a slack-jawed imbecile for the 18 hours a day he works beside him, for bad rations and short pay, and a bed mattress made of corn husks.. Slave to a slave. Only difference being, a farmhand can run away eventually. Become a hobo, live in the jungles, maybe poison some wells.
“Worse than being a farmhand is being a farmer’s wife. Old before her time, forced to take care of a houseful of squalling brats, condemned to do all the cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing–all of it hard work, if the truth be known–never a moment to herself, married to a snaggletoothed oaf who will most of the time barely grunt three words at her…no wonder so many women on the farm die before their forty–they’re only considered fit to be baby-making machines, and once their usefulness in that field is expended, they’re allowed to simply wither on the vine.
“Worse than being a farmer’s wife is being a farmer’s son. Just as the old man is about to turn into a husk and blow away, there he has a younger version of himself to do all the hard chores. That’s why farmers are hell-bent on having as many children as possible–to provide workhorses for the farm, and security for his old age. And worse than being a farmer’s son–being the farmer’s daughter. Prey to every bumpkin swain for miles around–no Nickelodeons, no theaters, no ballroom dancing, no cotillions–just a life of mud and muck and endless misery vaster than the eye can measure. I suppose that even worse than that would be a rancher’s daughter, than which there can be no worse fate.
“What does a farmer know? He is only fit to be a farmer. Put him to work doing anything else, and he’ll make a royal botch of it. He’s not a mechanic or an engineer. His clumsy muscles aren’t particularly suited to the construction trades. Some of the worst roustabouts we’ve ever had at the Carny were farmer boys. Sure, they were willing to work–but they were as dumb as a fence post. Put them to work putting up a tent and you’ll find that about all they were good for was pounding stakes into the ground. And any monkey can be trained to do that. The farmer is not an educated man, or else he wouldn’t be siphoning his life away in a patch of mud. He has, at most, two books–the Bible, and the Monkey-Ward catalog, with which he wipes his ass. He is emotionally paralyzed, intellectually stupefied, and physically exhausted every day of his life. All this talk of the complications of running a farm is a load of hooey. Running the mitt camp at a carnival is a lot more complicated. Farmers are just like the freaks in the ten-in-one–they expect you to fall all over them and worship them just because they provide a service that nobody else is willing to do. But you don’t see street-sweepers putting on such airs. You don’t see your average dishwasher say that the work he does is in accordance with God’s plan. Your average bartender is leagues smarter than your average farmer. He not only dispenses beverages to a man with a thirst, but he frequently offers a sympathetic ear in the bargain, something no farmer has ever been known to do. The fact is, these bewhiskered scoundrels have been getting away for too long with their song and dance about how necessary to human survival their sainted profession happens to be. Balderdash! Your 20th century farmer has a 16th century mind!
“No, I wouldn’t be a farmer for all the tea in China. I aim to take it easy–even if I have to starve. But I haven’t missed too many meals by using my wits–something which no farmer has ever done in the history of this great Republic–long may she wave.”
SUGAR CHILE ROBINSON
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN VOL. 1. ***1/2
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN. NIELDS, ED. ****
AVENGERS: TIME RUNS OUT 3. ***
AVENGERS: TIME RUNS OUT 4. ***
DEEP DARK FEARS. KRAUSE. ****
DESCENDER 1. TIN STARS. LEMIRE. ****
DICK BRIEFER’S FRANKENSTEIN. YOW. ***1/2
EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE. ***
EMPIRE: UPRISING. WAID. ****
GRAYSON 2: WE ALL DIE AT DAWN. ***1/2
GREEN ARROW: QUIVER. SMITH. ***
GREEN ARROW 1. HUNTER’S MOON. ***
GREEN ARROW 2. HERE THERE BE DRAGONS. ***
GREEN ARROW 3. THE TRIAL OF OLIVER QUEEN. ***
GREEN ARROW 4. BLOOD OF THE DRAGON. ***
GREEN ARROW 6. BROKEN. ***1/2
GREEN ARROW 7. KINGDOM. ***
HARLEY QUINN 3. KISS KISS BANG STAB. ***1/23
INJUSTICE: YEAR THREE VOLUME 1. ***1/2
JUSTICE LEAGUE: A LEAGUE OF ONE. ***
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK 6. LOST IN FOREVER. ***
MORNING GLORIES 9. ***1/2
THE OVEN. GOLDSTEIN. ***1/2
ROCKET RACCOON 2: STORYTAILER.
SECRET WARS: PRELUDE. ***1/2
SPIDER-GWEN: MOST WANTED? ***
SPIDER-VERSE: WARZONES. ***
UNCANNY AVENGERS 1: COUNTER-EVOLUTIONARY. ***1/2
UNCANNY AVENGERS 5. AXIS PRELUDE. ***1/2
WEIRD LOVE: THAT’S THE WAY I LIKE IT. GUSSONI & YOE. ***1/2
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