THE INFORMATION #912
The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.–Adam Smith
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART NINETY-FOUR: KINGDOM COME
Early in the Autumn, during a balmy Indian Summer evening, when the moon was full and bright, Count Justin Victor signalled me to meet him at the back entrance of the Seven Stars, and, when we had emerged into the filthy alley, asked me if I wished to accompany him on a walk. Since he usually gave me at least a fifty-cent piece, I greedily and eagerly assented.
“Listen, Yob,” said he, as we strolled through Holly Park, “I know that you’re practically an orphan and you practically live in the streets and you only ever lay your head to rest in the cathouse with the zooks and morts. I know that you have practically no one to talk to; that you have almost no friends who are your own age. Smash Conklin is always on your case; the copper on the beat looks at you sideways, and none of the fruit vendors trust you to keep your hands to yourself. I also know that you skip school a lot; that you hardly even bother to go; that you’d rather hand around with the loochers and bummers over t’ The Seven Stars. I know that Red Mary hardly gives a hot damn whether you even go to school or not, because she’s got her own problems with Smash Conklin and Cokey Stolas and all that lot. That is unfortunate. Don’t you know that if you don’t learn your readin’ and cipherin’ that you’ll constantly be cheated?
“But the cold hard fact is this: that that here in Blowtown, nobody gives a good goddamn if you kids run wild or not. Then again, how could you expect them to give a hoot in hell, what with the honest few working 12 and 14 hour days and the grifters and sharpers half-hoping you won’t get on your high horse with them, and therefore welcoming signs of badness in the tender young. I have seen many a loocher tell a child that he was a smart boy if he cheated an old junk peddler out of a nickel, or stole a bucket of beer out from under a rummy, or socked a toddler in the eye to take away his piece of penny candy. It’s dog eat dog in this part of the world. Nobody admires weakness in Blowtown, and that’s a dead cert. The only way to get ahead is to get in with a gang of ruffians who consider themselves to be wise gees. Book-learnin’ and all its associated notions are accounted as useless in this neighborhood. Piety? Don’t be a chump! Respect for the old? That’s for weak sisters, and mollycoddles. Visiting the sick and giving alms to the poor? Why, it’s enough to make a cat laugh! Try to do something decent, and all the b’hoys will say that you’re putting on airs, and they’re likely to waylay you in a cul-de-sac and leave you with two generous shiners for your trouble. Everyone respects a belligerent cripple, but nobody likes a smooth-faced son of a bitch who carries around a sanctimonious air. You would do well to remember that last detail above all others.
“Because nobody wants or needs a goody two-shoes. If you’re going to run errands for all the old yellofs, why, then you’d best make it clear that you expect to be paid–otherwise, folks will account you a softie, and you’ll never live it down. Why invite trouble? The only thing the kids around here are good for is to raise a ruckus and cause riots. Breaking shop windows and terrorizing old ladies. Setting fires and blowing up small animals with firecrackers. And the so-called adults ain’t much better. Getting drunk. Getting into fights. Women getting beat up. Whole families coming out to avenge her honor and getting into fights with other whole families. The faintest sign of disrespect is a signal to launch into a full-blown Donnybrook. And for what? All these loathsome drunken brutes have to do around here to amuse themselves around here is to fuck, and fight, and then fuck some more. Nobody expects a yellof to do well. Hell, nobody expects a yellof to live much past 25. By 30, you’re a wreck. By 40, you’re an old man, and ready for the boneyard. And very few who grow up in Blowtown and continue to call it their home ever manage to escape it. It’s like scorpions in a bottle, y’see. You try to crawl out and the others always drag you back down. What makes you so special, that you should maybe be a clean and decent person, and make something of yourself, maybe? Maybe be a man of substance? Fat chance of that. In order to accomplish anything, you must flee from here, and venture far. The further the better. Because it’s a known fact that people can’t stand to see someone rise above their circumstances. The poor are jealous and the rich are scornful of you and your humble origins. They call you an arriviste, and worse.
“People will tell you that once you grow up in the gutter, you never lose your taste for it, and to be sure, there’s some truth in that. Any number of telling details will give you away, and alert people who are socially skilled will be wise to the fact that you are far from being to the manor born. You might as well try to hide the fact that you have three eyes. People can tell from the smallest signs that you are not a member of their tribe. The rich will despise you if you’re low born, and the poor will resent you if you are trying to better yourself in any material or even immaterial way. You may say that I’m a cynic, but any man who tells you otherwise is either a liar or a fool. You may not be a cynic–yet. Or maybe you already are. Me, I say that it’s never too soon to be with it and for it. But be wise–once you sup from the devil’s long spoon, it won’t be long before he has you putting your fingers in his fire.
“In fact, if you’re already of a certain dark cast and you find yourself in a certain kind of rainy day and black cat mood, you can come very easily to the conclusion that nobody around here gives a tinker’s fart if you live and die. It makes you want to wander out to the woods, lie down under a blanket of leaves, and croak right then and there. You picture how, centuries later, they might find your bleached bones and wonder who you were and how you came to be there.
“Everyone has their black moods. They pass. For a time, you may think that life has no purpose ner meaning. But it does. It does. You got to use it to better yourself in every conceivable way possible. And then you get to use your elevated position. You get to use it to get even with all the crumbs that ever done you dirt. It’s very important that nobody ever gets away with nothin’. They all must pay. ‘The question is which is to be master–that’s all.’ That’s the iron law of nature, and I can tell from looking at you, Cadger Tandy, that you’re nothing more or less than Destiny’s Tot.”
THE COLLINS KIDS
LET’S HAVE A PARTY
SHORTNIN’ BREAD and HOT ROD
LORRIE AND LARRY COLLINS
JOE MAPHIS AND LARRY COLLINS
THE FIGHT TO SAVE COMICS FROM THE CENSOR
GRIN AND BEAR IT
LOVE IS… ARCHIVES
READ COMIC BOOKS ONLINE FOR FREE
EIGHT CARTOON CHARACTERS THAT RAN FOR PRESIDENT
“Brilliantly Wrong: The Cartoons of The Onion’s Stan Kelly”
THE ONLY EDITORIAL CARTOON WORTH READING
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
6* DAILY UTILITY
Y’all, You’uns, Yinz, Youse: How Regional Dialects Are Fixing Standard English
JACK KIRBY’S THE PRISONER
BAT LADY COMIC BOOK ART
ARE YOU LOST IN THE WORLD LIKE ME? (VIDEO)
QUEEN FOR A DAY
A truly ghastly show with the smarmiest, most passive-agressive host in the annals of show business…. A train wreck for young and old!!!–Michael Karp
I remember it well, and it made me very uncomfortable even at that tender age. It appeared to be an endless parade of melancholy women vying for most pitiful, which it was, as measured by that ridiculous meter…and then, the robe and THAT HIDEOUS CROWN!–Carl Smith
THE UNIVERSE IS FAR BIGGER THAN WE THOUGHT
GREAT BARRIER REEF PRONOUNCED DEAD BY SCIENTISTS
THE ROLLING STONES
COCKSUCKER BLUES PART ONE AND TWO
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
THE GROWING CHARM OF DADA
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
871. BOB DYLAN’S PLAYBOY INTERVIEW
Genius? Or the ravings of a marijuana-addled eight year old? YOU decide!
PLAYBOY: Mistake or not, what made you decide to go the rock-‘n’-roll route?
BOB DYLAN: Carelessness. I lost my one true love. I started drinking. The next thing I know, I’m in a card game. Then I’m in a crap game. I wake up in a pool hall. Then this big Mexican lady drags me off the table, takes me to Philadelphia. She leaves me alone in her house, and it burns down. I wind up in Phoenix. I get a job as a Chinaman. I start working in a dime store, and move in with a 13-year-old girl. Then this big Mexican lady from Philadelphia comes in and burns the house down. I go down to Dallas. I get a job as a “before” in a Charles Atlas “before and after” ad. I move in with a delivery boy who can cook fantastic chili and hot dogs. Then this 13-year-old girl from Phoenix comes and burns the house down. The delivery boy – he ain’t so mild: He gives her the knife, and the next thing I know I’m in Omaha. It’s so cold there, by this time I’m robbing my own bicycles and frying my own fish. I stumble onto some luck and get a job as a carburetor out at the hot-rod races every Thursday night. I move in with a high school teacher who also does a little plumbing on the side, who ain’t much to look at, but who’s built a special kind of refrigerator that can turn newspaper into lettuce. Everything’s going good until that delivery boy shows up and tries to knife me. Needless to say, he burned the house down, and I hit the road. The first guy that picked me up asked me if I wanted to be a star. What could I say?
PLAYBOY: And that’s how you became a rock-‘n’-roll singer?
BOB DYLAN: No, that’s how I got tuberculosis.
THE VENTURES OF ZIMMERMAN