“As you can tell, I’m down on the South,” said Count Victor Justin, “but I’m even more down on the yellofs as sniff happy dust and catarrh powders and such. No good has ever come of such behavior. Horse turns you into an imbecile who thinks he’s above it all, and the talking powder makes you into a monster of selfishness and conceit. Small wonder, then, that these were the two most popular novelties among the men who worked on the midway. As far as the catarrh powders go, they have their uses, I suppose: where do you think the talker got his jabbering jitters; how does the kinker who works the circus show have the stamina to persist; and what about the fellow who pounds tent stakes in the hard ground for eight hours straight; where does he get his energy from? As for circus clowns, they all smoke muggles, and some of them have got the morphine habit on top of that, so they can deal with the pain from taking all of them pratfalls. Don’t even bother to ask me about clowns, because I might just tell you.
“OK,” he said, “you asked for it. Most of the clowns you see on a circus lot are lammisters. Their makeup makes a splendid disguise. What was their crime to begin with? The usual, predictable array–picking pockets, petty theft, vandalism, loitering, begging, mayhem, public intoxication, vending without a licence. But quite a few of these clowns were also kiddy-diddlers who got run out of town. Face it–anyone who hangs around where kids gather is a likely suspect; not only for that loathsome vice, but for others as well, such as peddling drugs. The high school janitor; the soda jerk. You name it. Hell, in Blowtown, all the soda jerks are flying high on the happy dust. You can see it in their eyes. Their pupils are the size of pinheads. Also, young folk who don’t want to be tampered with should beware of people who have a great deal of contact with the general public. Store clerks; bellhops; anyone who works in a restaurant. If you could peer at the world through these spectacles of mine, you would see that nearly everyone you meet is running some kind of con or another, or concealing a loathsome vice, or, likely, both.
“Say, no one ever got fat pitching fast balls past ME. Let me tell you something that’s a stone cold fact. J’you ever watch an old man throwing bread to the birds from a bench in the park? I have; and I’ll tell the world. Me, Yobs, I divvy all the people in the world into two main categories. I call ’em pigeons and sparrows. The rich man throws out the bread crumbs. The pigeons are big enough to bully their way through the scrum of shitbirds and gather up those crumbs. But the sparrows are nimble enough to snatch those very same crumbs out from under and fly far far away. Now, be advised: it’s a sure fact that in any gathering of any size, there’s scads of pigeons–but it’s the sparrows who get fat. Me–I’m a sparrow.
“Down South,” said Count Victor Justin, “there are a good many otherwise harmless church-going God-fearing elderly women who suck down that good Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup like lemonade. Some of them, of course, prefer the stupefying joys of soothing Chlorodyne, while still others swear by the salubrious effects of that fine old McMunn’s Elixir. Some of the ladies like their chloral, while still others take bromides. The menfolk, of course, have their tanglefoot moonshine and the like. The hidden truth of the matter is that the whole southland is to this very day still infested with drug fiends of every stripe and kidney. But it’s all on the q.t., you see, and people just don’t talk about it. Only the pharmacist knows, and the good old family G.P.
“To be sure, you could always find a croaker who was more than willing to prescribe such slop. Not the family doctor–heaven forfend! But for a dead cert you can always go find some permanently befoozled old quack who’s lost his license, maybe, but he still has his prescription pads and will wallpaper the rooms of your flophouse bedsitter with ’em, just so long as the ducats are forthcoming and the ooftish bird sings. Lots of these script-grinders? All too often, they are dope fiends themselves. And the druggist who looks the other way when a twelve-year-old walks in with a half-sawbuck and walks out with 450 grains of morphine? He’s probably got money troubles that are caused by a weakness for gambling at cards, or visiting prostitutes, or indulging in strong drink. It doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes pharmacists also get tripped up by the dope habit. Such a man, of course, is a walking gold mine for the enterprising loocher or Birney blower.
“Let us not talk of the Negroes and the Mexicans, who also indulge in these drugs. They are the poor and downtrodden, who feel that living as they do has no purpose other than a quick and early death. Of course, many of these specimens are now in the federal penitentiary. It’s a white man’s country, after all is said and done. If you’re going to smoke muggles, you’d best hie yourself down to Mexico, where such things aren’t necessarily frowned upon. I hear tell you can also get cocaine and heroin there, too, and good and cheap. It’s a wonder that any hop head or gen pox eater ever leaves that country! As for the negroes, the straw bosses down in New Orleans used to give them regular jolts of dope to keep them working inhumanly long hours on the levee, but lately they’ve stopped doing that, I suppose because of general disapproval, and mostly because the police believe that black beasts run wild when they snort too much of the snow.
“The beautiful south,” said Count Victor Justin, in a tone which meant he was preparing to wrap up his peroration, “is, beneath its placid surface of euphoric darkies strumming banjos and the marse and mistress contentedly resting on the verandah, little more than a seething cauldron of incest, drug-taking, nances, and savagery.
“Even in the schoolyard, the children all sing:
Three six nine
The goose drank wine
The monkey chewed tobacco on the railroad line
The line broke
The monkey got choked
And they all went to heaven in a little rowboat
I should worry, I should fret
I should marry a suffragette.
Don’t go out with Jane no more
Don’t go out with Mary
Don’t go out with girls any more
Woops! I am a fairy.
“Haww… Yea, verily, a small child shall lead them. Indeed!”
THE AMERICAN JEWISH ACCENT
POLARI: THE FORGOTTEN SECRET LANGUAGE OF GAY MEN
THE BUDDY RICH BUS TAPES
Here there be Devils!:JACK CHICK AND HELL
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
The Depression Radically Changed the Way Americans Ate
MARCELLA HAZAN’S TOMATO SAUCE
CHARLTON’S ANSWER TO THE FLINTSTONES
100 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE NEGRO
ONE HIT WONDERS OF THE 1960S
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
THE DEFAMATION OF THE AMERICAN TRADITION
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
869. TV CARTOON PRODUCT MASCOTS WHO STEAL AND HOARD
Scott Shaw once told me that it was a common strategy in 60s commercials aimed at kids to trot out a character who so coveted the product that they were willing to steal it. Or hoard it. Or both. Vide: Lucky Charms; The Trix Rabbit.
SONNY, THE COO-COO BIRD
KOOL AID MAN