MODERN WISDOM NUMBER 220 FEBRUARY 2017

MODERN WISDOM: AMERICA’S ONLY HUMOR MAGAZINE

NUMBER 220

FEBRUARY 2017

Copyright 2017 Francis DiMenno
dimenno@gmail.com
http://www.dimenno.wordpress.com

1. ATTENTION: PEOPLE I DO NOT KNOW. 

PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO COPY THE PRAYER POSTED BELOW AND EMAIL IT TO FIFTY PEOPLE. THE LAST PERSON WHO FAILED TO DO SO WAS REINCARNATED AS A FIELD MOUSE AND EATEN IN A LIGHT BATTER BY FRANCIS TREVELYAN BUCKLAND.

Dear God, I pray my worries will be small
I pray for parking when I go to the mall.
I pray for Dick Clark as he lowers the ball.
I pray that this year the Cubs will take it all.
I pray for the baby in her little crib.
I hope that I’m never caught out in a fib.
I hope that I’m given a clean lobster bib.
I hope that Bosso likes the cut of my jib. 
For all this I pray. In every way.
God, please send positive energies today.

2. “HOOKED!”

http://www.ep.tc/hooked/

This methodone clinic-distributed comic was yanked after only a few months. We public health librarians now know, from our superior perch of 50 years
in the future, that you aren’t supposed to MODEL the bad behavior; you’re supposed to model the GOOD behavior. Monkey see, monkey do, and
all that.

Tell me, didn’t that comic make you long to ride the white horse? Just a little? I especially like the implicit message: Girls, if you wannahang on to your junkie boyfriend, you gots to get on that horse and
ride it with him–bareback!

The same message was promulgated in DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES and in countless ofther cautionary-tales-with-just-a-fillup-of-sleazy-allure-thrown-in.

Including the collected works of James Frey.

Burroughs and Bukowski get a pass. As does good old DeQuincey.

Because that there’s art.

You can tell it’s art, because it’s confusing, ambiguous, and contradictory, mostly.

But that kind of shit won’t wash no more. Americans are not readers. They don’t go for the fancy stuff. You got to get in, speak your piece, and get out, or else they’ll just drop your post-post-modernist
masterpiece from their weary fingertips onto the shiny coffee table and turn on the TV and watch makeshift narratives until they fallasleep from the hypnotic allure of sheer redundancy.

3. POPULAR CULTURE IS SPORTS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TOO FAT TOO RUN


Given the fact that we wound up winning the WWII in 1945 on a pair of wildcard planet-busters in the post-season, why are we soconcerned about Iran and North Korea? I mean, Team Israel and the China Boys can take care of those mooks chop-chop. They’re not even in the final four, nuke-wise!

And tell me that the following is not true:

 
Yogi is a Kleptomaniacal pot-head and Boo-Boo is his paranoid punk.
 
The Banana Splits are full-blown acidheads, and lately, Snork has developed a nasty coal-burner of a meth habit.
SEE:
http://kidshow.dcmemories.com/DDC20-3g_620.jpg
But the Disney characters are the worst.

Donald Duck–went from sniffing morphine to mainlining Dilaudid.


Scrooge McDuck would go on ether binges and then wallow in his filthy hidden lucre stored in giant bins.

MICKEY MOUSE is a new world order code word for “Military Industrial Complex Keynesian Economic Yoke More of United States Engulfment.”
In his earlier career, he was suicidal. And homophobic.
He later played a secret role as Hitler’s henchman.

But the most telling evidence of the utter depravity of the Disney gang is found here:
http://www.paulkrassner.com/

In fact, all comic strip characters are polymorphously perverse. The proof:
http://tijuanabibles.org/cgi-bin/hazel.cgi?action=home&bigindex=1
ALSO SEE:
http://www.toonsportal.com/paradise.htm

 
4. WEAVING A CRAZY CONSPIRACY QUILT


The best way to get ahead?

Some would say that you must hide your bloody hands under snow-white gloves, then throw them a white hat and call it ‘The American Dream’.

In any event,  there’s no denying that the human race seems to have afiendish propensity for devising new means of killing itself off.

There are all sorts of horrific things going on with biowarfare.

Russia has exploded a fuel air bomb.

40% of deaths worldwide are caused by pollution.

Putin uses strategic bombers for long-range patrols.

And my understanding regarding conspiracies is that there are already enough Byzantine complications regarding the ways in which the American political system works, orfails to. Getting lost in the conspiracy literature is counter-productive.

So I ration myself.

The 9/11 Truthers are a case-in-point of a conspiracy theory I find difficult to place credence in.

Conspiracy theorists insist that Bush is evil and stupid. And yet he was smart enough to somehow pull off a series of enormous deceptions?

Okay, substitute “Bush’s most vehement critics” (The Nation, et al.) and scratch “conspiracy theorists,” because their world-view makes an intellectually incurious and shallow Bush inconsistent with their loony conclusions. Therefore, Bush must be a puppet controlled by theBilderbergers, Skull & Bones,33 Degree Masons, CIA, Illuminati, orwhatever the conspiracy du jour happens to be. Maybe the Old Gods–space aliens from beyond time–put him up to it.

Or maybe the way things panned out have a factual basis. Maybe–and I’m just guessing here–Bush was simply looking for a pretext tomeddle with those turbulent middle eastern countries, and the terrorist attacks that took place on 9/11 fit his schema like a glove. Big Oil and the Military-Industrial complex would benefit; pesky public health and environmental initiatives would be strangled intheir cradle, and big business–including Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol, The Prison-Industrial Complex, Big Media, and all the rest–would receive a guaranteed windfall. Is that so hard to believe? Didn’t the previous attack on the towers and the attack on the U.S.S.Cole signify the Bin Laden was up to no good? Is it really that great a leap of faith to assume he was going to strike again?

An elementary course in logic would convince many in the conspiracy theory of the truth of Occam’s razor: “One should not increase, beyondwhat is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.”

But, like fundamentalists who seek to put stupid microbiologists in
their place, belief trumps science in every instance.

Fact: There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all explanation.

Legalizing hemp isn’t going to solve the world’s problems. Proving
that 9-11 was caused by a snickering cartoon President and his evil
henchmen isn’t likely to change a damn thing. Mr. Christ is not likely to come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

But during this century, one billion people will die from
tobacco-related illnesses. You want a conspiracy? There’s your
conspiracy. It’s real and it’s statistically proven and something
needs to be done about it.

To those of you who feel overwhelmed at the mess the world is in and who are spinning your wheels:

Look, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the ruling class
has always been obsessed with money, power, drugs, and whores.

To keep their place on top, they have also grown skillful at stifling dissent.

But just because they do these things, it does not follow that they
are responsible for every bad thing that happens.

By buying into all this conspiracy nonsense, aren’t you simply falling into their trap? Adopting a mindset that is guaranteed to marginalizeyou?

Conspiranoia is a lot like black magic and hallucinogenic drugs.
Unstable people are driven to dabble in it, and, tragically, a lot of
them get so deep into it that they never come back.

Conspiranoia is good for a laugh, But when it is treated as a form of
historical belief, and proselytized as a type of alternative
religion, it is a tragic waste of our time and your intellect.

Look into Black Muslim theology.

Could anyone with any sense possibly believe it? Yet thousands do. Still.

Choose your battles. You can go through life chasing a 9-11 chimera or you could, say, boycott Altria/Philip Morris/Kraft and actuallyaccomplish something.

5.GREASERS

Let us not speak of the Fonz.

The Fonz was a mass-media-generated simulacrum of a greaser, just like Maynard G. Krebs was some Hollywood mogul’s idea of a beatnik.

By Greasers, I’m basically talking about people whose heyday was roughly 1946-62, give or take.

Though in some communities they persisted well into the seventies and beyond.

They wore leather jackets, used Brylcreem, drove souped-up dragsters or murdercycles, and always had a deck of Luckies rolled up in their t-shirts.

And the men were very similar.

Most of them are retirement age. Some of them are pushing 80.

They are considered an anachronism.

But when we are that old, snotnose punks will have the same opinion of us.

Anyway, greasers are kind of dumb, but you have to remember that they came up in the days before people were so damn self-conscious and
reflectively apologetic about every little thing.

And I can’t think of one of them who say one thing and believe another.

Nor did they pretend to be tough guys.

They were Greasers!

The name alone was enough.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greaser_(subculture)

6. WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?

Why was this joke ever popular?

I suspect it’s part of of the grand tradition of rural humor in America.

Back when this was still an agrarian country–even as late as the end of the 19th century and right up to about 1920, farm folk, small-townfolk, and newly-migrated city folk fresh off the farm all got a big
kick out of ethnic humor, dialect humor, and barnyard conundrums.

It seems odd to us because we’re all so clever and classless and free, but back in those dark days, in spite of all the democracy-driven rhetoric, there was something of a class structure based in part
around a rural-urban divide.

Still is, to a certain degree.

Admittedly, it’s not unusual for children’s chants and the like to betray deeper significances buried in history.

On the other hand, we over-explain such phenomena at our own peril.

ANYWAY, HERE, AT LONG LAST, IS THE ANSWER:
 

WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?
He was compelled to do so by those who determine production, commerce, distribution, thought, social policy, foreign policy, everything–highly concentrated private power acting as part of a system of tyranny unaccountable to the public.–Noam Chomsky [In other words, the chicken represents the infinitely disposable worker toiling ceaselessly under the putatively irrefragable constraints of the Capitalist system, as represented by “The Road”.]

 
7. THE SITCOM

The circularity of the sitcom plot, in which nothing ever changes, is both one of its timeless strengths, yet, ultimately, also the fatalflaw which dooms the form to an artistic ghetto.

The same circularity was evident in radio sitcoms as well.

In fact, many of the present-day sitcom conventions come from radio, and, prior to that, the stage and even serialized novels.

The applause when a “guest star” enters the room. The entrance-exit lines. The tradition of changing the subject with “never mind that”(which actually dates from the 1820s or earlier).

The prevalent art form of a given era says a great deal about the temperament of the people for whom it was devised to entertain. We wax  nostalgic about the grand old movies of the 30s and 40s, though only
the good ones have risen to the top. A good 90% of those movies were b-flicks or worse, and devised only to fill the bottom half of adouble feature.

Thus, with television. There is so much time to fill that it is nearly impossible to devise enough original programming to fill it all. So ifTV is our thing, we are forced to entertain ourselves with the output
of overworked insiders who hand us machine-written plots and clichedsituations.

 
8. BRAND LOYALTIES


Brand
O.E. brand, brond “firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch,” and (poetic) “sword,” from P.Gmc. *brandaz, from base *bran-/*bren- (seeburn). Meaning of “identifying mark made by a hot iron” (1552)
broadened 1827 to “a particular make of goods.” Brand-new is c.1570 and must have meant “fresh from the fire” (Shakespeare has fire-new).

 

America may be the only country on earth where an expressed distate for advertisements of any kind gets you labelled as an elitist.

As though you were saying, “Whatever the mob adores I deplore.”

People don’t want to admit that a lot of what we choose to buy is based in whether it’s appropriately “classy”.

And that advertising does work.

And the only way you can avoid being influenced by them is by not watching television.

Though magazine ads also work; in some ways not as well; in others, perhaps even better, especially if you are the type of person whoscrutinizes them.

We all have our tribal, clan, and personal preferences, and they areshaped by forces we don’t often bother thinking about. Pointing this  out does not make me Marshall McLuhan (though I would strongly suggest
you hunt down a copy of his frequently hilarious book THE MECHANICAL BRIDE. And, while you’re at it, pick up and read Stewart Ewen’sCAPTAINS OF CONCIOUSNESS. To quote the British philosopher Michael Jagger, “THAT’S what I’m talking about!”)

I read Ewen when I was 23. Back then, I thought he had very interesting things to say about the intersection of advertising, p.r.,and social engineering that took place in the 1920s. I’ve been meaning
to take another look at him, though I have yet to do so.

I’ve just finished reading Ayres’ SUPER CRUNCHERS, which is about how econometrics are superseding ‘experts’ and their frequently inaccurate
intuitions in nearly all walks of life. Fascinating stuff, if you are willing to be schooled in how statistics actually operate.

Of course, statistics and market research go hand in hand.

Market research asks you how much you’d be willing to spend.

Statistics determine at which point you would refuse to spend any more.

Millions of dollars are spent every year advertising toilet paper. But it’s all the same asswipe. That’s my point.

OK–I admit it–I really have no idea what I’m talking about. Mankind is more akin to angel than ape, and humans are not merely a bunch ofpurblind DNA modules wrapped in a meatsicles which ceaselessly
perpetuating themselves in a monotonous clockwork masquerade of self-designated “free will.”

Free will, of course, is a philosophic conundrum that frustrated old men like Freud, St. Augustine, and Plato have been batting around fora little while. As of late, molecular biologists and other scientific types have picked up the ball, and they seem to be of the opinion that individual consciousness itself is illusory.

And no individual consciousness = no free will.

The fact that I invariably feel impelled to cite primate behavior when referencing human foibles convinces me that I may be, at heart, acrypto-determinist.

If so, it’s a good man’s fault.

News flash: ENVIRONMENT IS HEREDITY!

They are inextricable because we are all related.

To pursue the animal theme a bit further:
Since we are all one species, perhaps we use social class and the consumption of commodities as our “markers”.

Viz:

Lower class: Generic.
Middle class: Mass-produced.
Upper middle-class: Hand crafted.
Upper-class: Custom-made.

My larger point?

That ultimately, human insight into our own condition is limited.

The eye cannot see its own blind spot.

A parrot cannot persuade a God.

I don’t believe (though I haven’t really thought it through) that one is “reduced” to anything in questioning the role of free will. There
is no shame in admitting that one is merely attempting to look at human events from a newly available window of scientific insight.

Ultimately, free will depends upon the capability of people to transcend their humanness.

That day has not arrived.

And I would not care to speculate here whether it ever will. That’s for the science fiction crowd, and the double-noughtphilosopher-spies.

I am by no means as rigid and dogmatic as I appear. I do not eke out a bare existence as though I were a mere will o’ the wisp out of some existential inanition born of my deepest fears.

Or do I?


9. TOO MANY NOVELISTS?


That’s like saying the world has too many marathon runners.

If people want to stretch their horizons, then why the hell not encourage them?

Some people might suggest I browse the over-stuffed genre fiction sections of Barnes and Nobel to witness the profusion of awfulness.

Believe me, I have.

Hey, in any genre, the good stuff rises to the top. It’s like natural selection.

Don’t have much use for sci fi myself, though I recognize comic book superheroes are largely some combination of crime and sci fi, and were
heavily influenced by their pulp antecedents.

One of the best novelists today is a crime writer.

I don’t mean the legion of fictioneers who write those odious series books. You know the ones I mean. Detective with a Gimmick. Plucky Female Bail Bondsman. These are admittedly are shrewdly conceived from a marketing standpoint but usually garish and trivial from any strictly literary point of view.

I’m talking James Ellroy.

And any writer can learn a lot from true crime books such as the ones produced in profusion by writers such as Ann Rule. In fact, I’mploughing my way through a series of anthologies in Penzler & Cook’s
2002-2006 series The Best Crime Writing (in 2007 they changed the title to The Best Crime Reporting).

Not many guys will cop to reading romance.

I’ve read a few of them.

Back in the late 90s I stumbled across a cache of library discard books-on-tape in every conceivable genre, including Romance. I had a boring technical services library job, and I ended up reading every
last one.

I’ve also read some women’s fiction–admittedly, as part of a Reader’s Advisory module for professional librarians.

It’s OK–like romance with an unhappy ending. Like espionage novels with romantic intrigue instead of assassination.

As part of my thesis research I read a book by Thomas J. Roberts called An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction, (Athens, Georgia: University of
Georgia Press, 1990). In it, Roberts notes that “the saturation of the culture with books” of any kind “began to appear only within the last
two hundred years,” for “it was not until then that cheap fiction in the form of the dime novel and the penny dreadful, the direct ancestors of contemporary pulp fiction, began pouring off the presses
and into the lives of our ancestors,” when “people had the time, the conditions, the equipment, and the skills that made reading in bulk possible.”

He also notes:

What is especially to be remarked about the people who are doing this reading and who…form virtual fellowships is that they are not ruled from above. That is, the primary readers of pulp fiction are usually
characterized as the victims of the manipulative editors and writers who pretend to be their servants, and those editors and writers do give themselves credit when a genre, a writer, or a book is
successful. They are wrong, however. It is the readers, after all, who invent genres–by becoming so enthusiastic about an odd new book that
publishers and writers make other books resembling it; it is the readers who change the genres–by passing over stories that are too much like those that have already appeared; and it is the readers who
kill genres–by leaving the genres’ stories unbought on the bookstore shelves.The notion that publishers, editors and writers are manipulating the tastes of a vast, unthinking mob is one more echofrom the literary bookscape…an echo of the notion of arbiters of taste.

Further:

There is a body of literature that the academic critic and scholar of popular literature Thomas J. Roberts has called “junk fiction.” Not only their plot lines but “what the plots are carrying,” Roberts has labeled as “nets that have been used over the centuries…[which] in each period caught pieces of the life of a dying generation.” However, far from existing solely to entertain on the basest level, this type of “junk fiction” can be said to have its own logic and rationale, not so different from what we call serious fiction, in which the readers’ interests lie, not in the works of individual authors, but in the “dynamic tradition” of the genre, in which they are engaged in
“listening to the stories talk to one another.” Characters are created from role identities, relationships and responsibilities, which are
“fundamental social realities for urban humanity.” One must not assume that one can assess such fiction with no experience of it, since “every vernacular genre does produce stories that are slightly or
deeply unintelligible to the newcomer…just as there is a skill and lore required to read literature, there is for each genre a genre competency…[for] every story in every popular genre is referring deliberately or unconsciously to every other story in that genre…the
reader is not reading the text but the genre by means of the text.”


Critic Matthew Surridge claimed, “Genre codes are not necessarily impositions placed on a writer. They’re an aspect of fiction that can be manipulated.”
So yeah, we can tear out our hair one patch at a time over the fact that the field is glutted with carelessly written books intended for careless readers. But even a bad book may teach you something you didn’t know.

And nobody’s making us read that trivial outpouring of wretchedness that comprises so much of mass-market fiction. And literary fiction
can be just as meretricious, albeit in its own very special way.

Furthermore, one million bad books will not prevent that one gem from rising to the top. It may take decades, but rise it will.

I think that even writing genre fiction beats any number of other time-wasting diversions, and gives the putative writer an enhanced appreciation of the vast amount of work that goes into constructing
even a thoroughly wretched novel.

Now, encouraging people to write poetry, on the other hand, is something I definitely do not approve of.

I suspect that just about anybody who is literate could write a paragraph or two of fairly decent prose if they set their minds to it.

But, since it’s much easier to write horrendously bad poetry, they do that instead.

And then they expect a fucking medal.

Even though in far too many cases these poetasters don’t read poetry, know nothing about poetic form or history, have no poetry in their souls, and nothing on their minds that cries out for poetic
expression.

I once pissed off a published and rather respectable poet by quoting H.L. Mencken’s rather scathing remark that no man with any sense persists in writing poetry much after the age of forty.

Back when Louise Solano was running the Grolier, I overheard her saying that just about everybody who reads poetry also writes it.

All those writers, and nobody to read what they write!

I am convinced that most people who profess not to understand poetry simply profess this so they can avoid having to pass judgment on the effusions of their relatives.

You now who really likes poetry?

Prisoners.

One of the finest poems ever written was written by a man condemned to die named Chidiock Tichborne:

Chidiock Tichborne’s Elegy written with his own hand in the Tower before his execution

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen and yet my leaves are green;
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen.
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade;
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made.
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

No, it’s much better to let them try their hand at fiction.

If they really get into it, they might learn something.

Mencken once described a historian as a “failed novelist”.

HLM can usually be counted on to have a quote guaranteed to piss off anyone who takes themselves too seriously.

Vice versa, not a few novelists have turned to history. Offhand? Dickens. H.G. Wells. (Allegedly, he plagiarized another man’sresearch). Even good ole James Michener wrote a fairly respectable
(though ponderous) account of the Kent State shootings that one of my profs assigned us to read.

Some of my favorite history reads like good fiction. Notably, biography. Taylor Branch on MLK. Caro on Johnson. The now-forgotten reporter Gene Fowler on folks like Jimmy Durante and Mayor Jimmy
Walker.

I am also very fond of the labyrinthine books of Matthew Josephson and the somewhat less lumbering tomes of Bernard DeVoto. The latter’s

account of the Donner Party is tops.
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THE INFORMATION #926 FEBRUARY 3, 2017

THE INFORMATION #926
FEBRUARY 3, 2017
Copyright 2017 FRANCIS DIMENNO
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.–Victor Frankl
 
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART NINE: DAYS OF WRATH
 
“I’ll tell you the problem with people like Little Joe the grifter,” said Count Victor Justin. “They are bound by their social class and the culture they grew up in, and, since they can’t imagine any other way to live, they plough their way through life with a narrow-minded furrow. They can’t conceive of a woman being anything other than a milk cow or a dray horse, and they don’t know how to think for themselves, but, rather, they keep their friends and family around to do the thinking for them–and their advice is invariably bad, don’t you see, because they’re not with it and for it all the way, as the carnies like to say. Fact of the matter is,” said Count Victor–and I could tell that he was working his way up to a stem-winder of a peroration, “most people–the mass of men, I might even venture to say– most men live their lives according to a pre-planned and mostly played-out script. Only maybe one in a hundred stumbles across the notion that there’s a better way to live. Your mother is usually a superstitious and hidebound woman who is so afraid of the wider world that she urges you to be nice to everybody and play fair and not make any waves. Your father, who is well aware of the snares and pitfalls that await an enterprising green Yellof, will always tell you to be brave, but also to be careful–and, if he’s any kind of father at all, he will counsel you to keep your temper when expedient, and to never show your hand. This overall is good advice, and well-meaning, and they tell you these things because they love you as much as they love themselves and maybe even more, and they want to see you thrive and prosper so you’ll have children of your own. But,” he added, with a meaningful look,”the weight of all this advice can leave a Yob paralyzed, and turn him into a milksop. I don’t give a hoot in hell for a Yellof who can never deviate from a set plan. Let’s be honest, for once–most people live their lives with some very fucked-up notions which they are scared to death to examine in any depth or detail, lest their whole world fall down. They are born in a lie, they live a lie, and they suffer the consequences of that lie for their rest of their lives.
 
“If anything, I predict the man of the future will be even more set in his ways, for all his infatuation with aeroplanes and horseless carriages and electrical lighting and wireless telegraphs and all the rest. People will forget what it is to live independent and free, what with their fascination with new conveniences. Stupefying palliatives–that’s all they are. Toys to make fat men chuckle. Life is a game, Yob. It has always been a game, and it always will be. It’s the stupid oafs versus the arrogant shits. And the arrogant shits are all rapacious businessmen, shyster lawyers, quack doctors, corrupt policemen, and crooked politicians. The only honest people are in the nuthouse. Too much truth will do that to a man, you know.  That’s why most weak culls cover their heads and hide, like simple field mice. And, like crawling vermin, they are always afraid of taking too much. They only thing they’re good at is eating shit. They are born slaves. Loyal to a fault, even when it leads to their own downfall. To survive in this world, Yob, I tell you that you need to be more like me. If I sense that a Yellof is dragging me down, I cut him loose with no ceremony at all. From that day forward, he is simply dead to me. I do not take such a step lightly. I am not a mean man; I WANT a Yellof to succeed, just so long as his business interests and mine are not at cross purposes. But once he starts in to drinking too much, or sniffing happy dust, or making a fool of himself over a woman, or developing a bad gambling habit, why, then, I won’t have any more to do with him. I don’t much care what people think of me, and I will be a bohemian when I can get away with it, but one thing is certain–people do judge you by the company you keep, and it’s better by far to have no friends at all than to have a weak and needy friend with a bad reputation.
 
“It may seem cold to you, but in this short life a man has got to divest himself of certain liabilities, like a clingy woman or a squalling bairn. Too many distractions get in the way of forging your own path. That’s why I admire people like the Gib Yellof–no sentimentality from that quarter! He has a fine eye for female flesh, but he doesn’t let himself be tied down to any one zook. And he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Try to puzzle him out–and he’ll laugh in your face. And then he’ll have you killed–for asking too many damn fool questions. Reporters won’t go near him. The last newshawk who tried to grill him, why, the Gib Yellof drove him barking mad. He told me later that it was easier than knocking a sick baby off the pisspot. As far as he’s concerned, he’s always right, and anyone who opposes him or even questions him has got to be crushed underfoot like a bug. He’s always suspicious of people who nose around. He runs his office like an Oriental despot. His underlings practically worship the ground he walks on. Even though he treats them no better than slaves. Worse–because at least slaves have job security. But there’s no such thing as a cushy berth with the Gib Yellof. One mistake–and you’re out. Two mistakes–and you’re dead. He tells them how to dress, what to eat, and where to be at all times. He will brook no opposition to his ultimate goal–to turn the whole city into his willing thralls.” 
 
“Now, that right there, Yob, is the kind of Yellof you ought to aspire to be.”
 
*NOVELTY
MASTURBATING TO MTM  SOCIETY
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
CIRCLE OF CONCERN VS. CIRCLE OF CONTROL
 
9*RUMOR PATROL
STEWART BRAND: THE LAST PRANKSTER
10* LAGNIAPPE
WHITE RESENTMENT ON THE NIGHT SHIFT AT WALMART
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix & Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock. By Barney Hoskins. Da Capo Press, 2016. 402 pages, hardcover.
Review by Francis DiMenno
 
If you read this book expecting to get some interesting and previously obscure gossip about the characters listed in the title, you certainly won’t be disappointed. But one of the key names listing from that impressive title roster (along with Paul Butterfield, Todd Rundgren, and Jules Shear) is that of a man named Albert Grossman. Although he is not quite the hero of the piece–his motives are too mixed; he is, after all, not a musician but a businessman–the enigmatic Grossman plays the role of the central protagonist (and sometimes antagonist) of the narrative. Maybe you’ve heard of Grossman. A big man in every sense of the word (he was indisputably quite the gourmand), he was famed for managing and promoting the careers of not only Bob Dylan, but also, at various times, steering (or failing to steer) the artistic development of other musician clients, notably The Band, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Jesse Winchester. (Allegedly Hendrix was too mobbed-up for even Grossman, widely known as a talented “fixer,” to extricate him from his difficulties, though this is only mentioned in passing.) . As Woodstock’s primary benefactor, Grossman also funded and oversaw the construction of various restaurants, a recording studio, and a record label, Bearsville, which prospered for a time, but folded in 1984. You might remember the label as the home, even as late as the early 1980’s, of such luminaries as NRBQ, the DBs, and even Foghat (!) Even after he died, Grossman’s legend lived on; he  posthumously bequeathed to the town a theater and concert venue which he directed his widow to manage.
 
Apparently, Grossman was on Dylan’s mind when he was holed up with members of The Band and recording the loose and in many cases wry and whimsical numbers (which were yoked to some Band numbers recorded off-site) and officially released in 1975 as “The Basement Tapes”–numbers such as  “Nothing Was Delivered” and “Too Much of Nothing” are said to refer to Grossman.There is also speculation that Grossman was the “Dear Landlord” of Bob Dylan’s post-motorcycle-accident LP John Wesley Harding, and a few other Dylan songs from that LP have allegedly been written about him, including  “I Pity the Poor Immigrant,” “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest,” and even “All Along the Watchtower” (“businessmen they drink my wine”).  
 
It was perhaps inevitable that Dylan would become estranged from Grossman. The story of how this took place forms the core of the book. Levon Helm’s manager Barbara O’Brien explains that “Maybe Albert was a wise businessman, but I think he’s the model for what managers shouldn’t do. I was a pit bull for Levon, but there are ways to do it so you don’t piss everybody off. Albert wanted to be as big as Dylan and Janis were, and he took too much from them The guy was an empire, but his personality stopped you from wanting to embrace it.”
 
However, the book as a whole, though shot through with stories about Grossman, is only secondarily about him and the artists he managed and the dozens of acts he signed to Bearsville Records (some successful, but many not.)  If Grossman is in the foreground, in the background is the milieu of Woodstock, New York, a town–you might almost call it a village–of some five to six thousand souls located 103 miles from Times Square in New York City. Sardonically referred to as “Peyton Place” (the name of a trashy tell-all gossipy novel of small town life which later became a phenomenally successful television series), Woodstock was also known as “The Laurel Canyon of the East Coast.” Similarly, its rustic environs nurtured–and sadly, in the late 1970’s, even eroded and destroyed–the careers and lives of many talented people. However, perhaps this was inevitable. According to Village Voice writer Perry Meisel, “Woodstock seems to have been woven out of so many contradictions that it couldn’t have held on for long in any case. The sweet country setting got canceled by big city tensions; the ambiance of a retreat by the prevailing deference and cool…even after the music and the people had both become absurd.” 
 
Overall, this book is a fairly comprehensive account of all the goings-on in this somewhat isolated Catskills community; a more complete account would probably tend to verge on tedium. The book serves as an East Coast counterpart which complements Hoskyn’s earlier, equally all-inclusive  book about the Los Angeles scene titled “Waiting For the Sun”, which similarly covered the respective careers of The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, Little Feat, the Eagles, Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt,  and Joni Mitchell, among others. In my opinion, the main shortcoming of the book has to do with Hoskyn’s disinclination to provide much of a biographical backstory regarding the principle players. Ffor example, we are told that Janis Joplin comes from Port Arthur Texas, and that she was “pockmarked and bacchanalian”–and that is virtually all we are told about her early life. Much the same can be said regarding just about all of the principal characters in this story. This lack of backstory is particularly problematic in the case of Albert Grossman. Who was he, really? How did he get to where he ended up–as virtually the founding father of “hippie” Woodstock? I understand how an author might wish to limit the scope of his research to manageable proportions. (I certainly have no complaints regarding the amount of work which went into compiling this historical account.) However, a sentence or two of somewhat deeper biographical detail would not have unduly taxed the patience of the reader, and might have provided him or her with potentially valuable insights. Instead, we are left with a cluttered landscape of musical icons who do their thing on stage and off for a few or several years, and then pass from the scene. All the same, the chief pleasure of this book lies in the fact that, in its heyday, Woodstock was quite a scene indeed.   
 
*11A BOOKS READ AND REVIEWED
ARCHIE 2. WAID. ***1/2
BATMAN & ROBIN 7. ROBIN RISES. ***1/2
BLACK CANARY 2. NEW KILLER STAR. **1/2
CHICAGOLAND DETECTIVE AGENCY 3. ROBBINS & PAGE. ***
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FLETCHER HANKS. KARASIK, ED. ****
COSPLAYERS. SHAW. ***
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS 1. ENLISTED. **1/2
EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS. BISKIND. ****1/2
EXCALIBUR. LEE & HART. ***1/2
FLYING COUCH. KURZWEIL. ***
FIGHT CLUB 2. PALAHNIUK & STEWART. ***1/2
GODS AND MONSTERS. BISKIND. ****
THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN BODY. LIEBERMAN. ****1/2
I HATE FAIRYLAND 2. FLUFF MY LIFE. YOUNG. ***
JACOB BLADDERS & THE STATE OF THE ART. MURADOV. ***1/2
KINDRED. BURLER, DUFFY, JENNINGS. ***1/2
THE MAN IN THE GRAY GLANNEL SUIT II. WILSON. ***1/2
MARY ASTOR’S PURPLE DIARY. SOREL. ****1/2
MY TURN. O’HARA. ***1/2
PARACUELLOS. GIMENEZ. *****
PETROGRAD. GELATT & CROOK. ****
PULP FICTION. [FILM.] ****
REUNION. GIRARD. ***1/2
ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT. O.: BITE AND BARK. ***1/2
ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT. CIVIL WAR II. ***1/2
SHIELD: ARCHITECTS OF FOREVER. ***1/2
SMALL TOWN TALK. HOSKYNS. ****
SOFT CITY. PUSHWAGNER. ****1/2
SPIDER-GWEN 2. WEAPON OF CHOICE. **
TEEN TITANS 2. ROGUE TARGETS. ***
TEEN TITANS 3. THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. ***
TETRIS: THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY. BROWN. ***1/2
WAITING FOR THE SUN. HOSKYNS. ****
WE ARE ROBIN 3. JOKERS. ***1/2
THE WORLD OF EDENA. MOEBIUS. ****1/2
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
901. THE ROAD
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is an awful lot like a post-apocalyptic version of “Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy.”
 
903. HATE RADIO

The hate radio demographic skews strongly toward alcoholic ex-servicemen who hide pints of cut-rate vodka in the glove compartments of their supersized cars and who wear double-breasted suits from 1951 and sport fedora hats three sizes too big for their shrunken heads with a fishing fly in the sweatband.

903. LAST TANGO RAPE SCENE CONTROVERSY

THE INFORMATION #925 JANUARY 27, 2017

THE INFORMATION #925

JANUARY 27, 2017

Copyright 2017 FRANCIS DIMENNO
francisdimenno@yahoo.com

http://dimenno.wordpress.com

The funny guy doesn’t get the girl until later in life. High school, college, everyone still wants the brooding, dangerous guy you shouldn’t have. –Will Ferrell

WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE

BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN

CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART EIGHT: DAYS OF WRATH

“When it comes to Yellofs like Little Joe the lickspittle Grifter,” said Count Victor Justin, “it’s like they’ve never managed to leave high school behind. Or, maybe, it’s like they left some part of themselves behind back in high school. You see that in a lot of people who are currently residing in the Happy Home. How would I know? Being a janitor in the laughing academy is one way to hide out from your creditors, as well as your descendants, and that’s all I have to say on that topic. Most plug-uglies dast not go near the place. It’s like they have a superstitious fear of the insane. Like it’s contagious? And who’s to say they ain’t kee-rect? I know many an alienist who is almost as nutty as his patients. You notice that your average Happy Valley Sanitarium is out in the country, and very seldom in the city. That’s because man was never meant to live in vast conurbations. Man was always intended to dwell in peaceful harmony in the garden of Eden, with ponds where the ducks walk on the backs of the fishes and the fucking ripe grapes just drop right into your fucking cake-hole. Most of the people I talk to nowadays, they think that when you say ‘Paradise’ then you’re talking about a game of craps. But I’m talking about Arcadia. The notion that there was some sort of country paradise where the lamb lay down with the lion and smart and educated people sat on the cool verandah sipping strong waters while slaves did all the work. Ah, well, The North put paid to that notion. Instead of grinning darkeys on the old plantation singing their songs of devotion to “de Massa,” and sleeping on goose-down mattresses with a picture of a watermelon carved into the bedstead, the North would prefer to have them all working in their dark satanic mills where birdies drop dead from the sky with nary a chirp on account of all the smoke and industry and prosperity and the smell of money. I suppose it’s a matter of whether a poor man had rather drop dead in a field of mown hay or in a filthy alley behind a factory. In the mind of Northerners, tradition counts for nothing, as it is so much bushwah. That’s because in the minds of the wheelers and the dealers and the movers and the shakers, tradition is what gets in the way. 

“In my mind, your typical public high school is like a factory. Or maybe it’s more like a hospital–a hospital where they amputate your imagination. And i have found pedagogues to be the worst kinds of fools. Imagine a man who is only fit to look after a bunch of overgrown bairns! High school students are barely even human, the lot of them. They are kind of like your cousins.They are stupid and impulsive. They talk too loud and say embarrassing things, and the less they have to say the louder they talk. In fact, they insist on their right to monopolize conversations and bore you with their pompous childishness and jejunity. A callow lad of fifteen has nothing to say to me that I want to hear. Present company excepted, of course. You know how to keep your mouth shut. And that attribute will take you a long way–in the grift.”

And Count Victor Justin looked at me through slits of eyes with a gaze that was ninety-five per cent cold calculation,  with about five percent human kindness mixed in.

“High School is not real, Yob. It’s a dress rehearsal. It’s fantasy land. All the world’s a stage, and high school is the backstage, where Yellofs learn the lines that are going to carry them through the great play. ‘I’ve been sick.’ ‘I forgot.’ ‘It won’t happen again.’ And the teachers all recite their lines in response, as if by rote. ‘I’ll need a note from your doctor.’ ‘That mistake will cost you.’ ‘I’ll let it go this time, but see that it doesn’t happen again.’ ” I pity the teacher who isn’t cut out for ordering bairns around and wiping their snot noses for them and occasionally dusting their britches, too. If a grown man can’t get one over on that lot, then what the hell good is he? Trouble is, what you end up teaching your charges is the same old shit that you yourself were taught 20 or 30 years ago, when you were a schoolboy. The same old useless rot. 

“Show me a man who had a miserable time in high school and I’ll show you a man who didn’t know how to play all the angles. A man with no grift sense. If you can’t master the hoops and ladders of graduating from such a place, then you deserve anything you get, says I. You are nothing better than a weakling with a feeble intellect. The playground is a jungle. Survival of the fittest is the name of the song. Avoiding the myriad pitfalls of being bossed around for several hours a day by a bunch of lackeys–there’s the key. It’s not so much what you do–it’s what you manage to avoid having to do. Like the Egyptian notion of the afterlife. They took along small statues of slaves–to do their work for them. Which just goes to show–it’s always better to have a slave to do they heavy lifting–even in heaven.

“I’m convinced that only yobs who are supremely indifferent to their own fate are capable of mastering a few simple tricks to make high school into an endurable experience. First and foremost, you must be willing to fight anybody who comes along, and bite them in the face if it comes right down to it. Nobody will ever give you a hard time again, I’ll warrant.  I don’t care how tough you think you are–nobody likes getting bitten in the face. 

“Meanwhile, you have to learn a lot of dry and useless facts that nobody gives a hoot in hell about. Never once, while cheating at cards, did I ever ponder the causes of the difference in climate between Eastern and Western Washington State. Never once, while cozening an out-of-town sucker with the good old gold brick, did I wonder about five of the principal crops of the United States, and the section where each crop was raised. Never once, while rolling a drunk, did I have good cause to mull over the principal wine exports of Portugal. And not one time, in all my travels, nor during all my time in stir, did I ever have good cause debate the difference between Puritans, Pilgrims, and Separatists.

“Most of all, there’s the endless teaching of American history! Such a dry and useless topic! We haven’t been around long enough to have a history. All there is, is gossip. And, even at that, you never learn any of the interesting stuff in the classroom. The schools would have you believe that the Presidents are a bunch of plaster saints to be worshipped at the altar of the constitution. But that is far from the truth. They never tell you about any of the real skinny. Like how Ben Franklin was a dope fiend. And George Washington used to ‘swill the Planters with bumbo’—essentially, he was following the British custom of bribing his constituents with alcohol in order to get elected. Adams was famed for his aristocratic tastes. He had a weakness of Sherry wine. Jefferson allegedly had a substantial wine cellar. Van Buren was very fond of whiskey. Frankie Pierce was the world’s biggest tosspot. Of course, his oldest son got killed in a train wreck right before his eyes, so maybe that was why he figured there was nothing left to do but get drunk. Honest Abe Lincoln never drank. Maybe he should have. His Vice President, Andrew Johnson, was said to over-indulge. Lincoln defended him. “Andy ain’t no drunk,” he said. This rumor gained currency because at Lincoln’s second inauguration, Johnson had a few drinks to steady his nerves, and made a fool of himself. Johnson was a slobbering drunk, and that’s all there was to it. Grant was a known booze hound, but he didn’t drink while he was in the White House–or, so they say. Grover Cleveland loved to rush the growler. And nobody knows for sure if Teddy Roosevelt is a drunk or not–all they know is that he’ll sue you if you say he is.”

1*SALUTATION

XTC 

TRAVELS IN NIHILON

You’ve learnt no lessons 
All that time so cheaply spent 
There’s no youth culture 
Only masks they let you rent
Travels, travels in Nihilon 
We’ve seen, no Jesus come and gone
Fashion, their vampire 
Drapes itself across your back 
As you fall from style 
It waits rebirth on its rack
Building your whimsy 
Hypnotising you to need 
Dance goes…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6y3RQEPkpQ

COMMENTARY
http://chalkhills.org/articles/XTCFans20080629.html

ALSO SEE:

XTC

MELT THE GUNS

https://youtu.be/eBGc5h1yWHQ

SEE ALSO:

XTC 

ENGLISH SETTLEMENT (1982)

A great drummer’s album. Especially “No Thugs In Our House.” And the bass on “Knuckle Down” is particularly fine.

https://youtu.be/grNqazfyDkc

2*REFERENCE

FOOD STAMP FABLES

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/01/food-stamps-snap-welfare-soda-new-york-times/

3*HUMOR

THE DYNAMITE EATING GOAT

https://butterscott.bandcamp.com/track/the-dynamite-eating-goat-bonus-track

4*NOVELTY

CANVA: AMAZINGLY SIMPLE GRAPHIC DESIGNER SOFTWARE

https://www.canva.com/

5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

HOW IKEA USES FOOD TO TRICK YOU INTO BUYING FURNITURE

http://nypost.com/2015/06/03/how-ikea-uses-food-to-trick-you-into-buying-furniture/

6* DAILY UTILITY

NICKNAMES OF THE STATES (1884)

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2017/01/18/a_nickname_map_of_the_american_states_from_1884.html

7*CARTOON

ISIS COLORING BOOK

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3351025/Jihadi-John-beheadings-attacks-Western-cities-Controversial-anti-ISIS-COLORING-BOOK-features-atrocities-committed-terror-group.html

8*PRESCRIPTION

BUMWINE REVIEWS

www.bumwine.com/

What’s the word? / Thunderbird / How’s it sold? / Good and cold / What’s the jive? / Bird’s alive / What’s the price? / Thirty twice.”

It is said that Ernest Gallo once drove through a tough, inner city neighborhood and pulled over when he saw a bum. When Gallo rolled down his window and called out, “What’s the word?” the immediate answer from the bum was, “Thunderbird.”

ALSO SEE:

For Scots, a Scourge Unleashed by a Bottle
“…the drink had been mentioned in 5,638 crime reports between 2006 and 2009 (the bottle was used as a weapon in 114 of them).”
www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/world/europe/04scotland.html?th&emc=th

“It goes straight to your head,” he said, “but it’s not my cup of tea.” (Mr. Rooney noted that his cup of tea is half a bottle of vodka a night.)

SEE ALSO:

Stick McGhee 

Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0lmX06odhw

9*RUMOR PATROL

David Talbot names Allen Dulles as ‘the Chairman of the Board of the Assassination’
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024105197

ALSO SEE:

THE CRIMES OF “MY WAY”

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/02/the-many-crimes-of-frank-sinatra-s-my-way/346700/

10* LAGNIAPPE

ED’S REDEEMING QUALITIES

MORE BAD TIMES

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSvCNBxF6dI

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA

FUCK WHITE PEOPLE

https://heatst.com/culture-wars/south-african-national-gallery-to-feature-f-white-people-exhibition/

CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.

  1. TRIPLE PARENTHESES

Certain alt-right people were using (((this))) is a signifier of Jewishness–for two years!– until they were finally called out.

In a June 2016 article detailing the phenomenon, Mic also reported that an extension had been developed for the Google Chrome web browser known as “Coincidence Detector”, which automatically places the triple parentheses around the names of individuals who “[have] been involved in certain political movements and media empires”. The extension contains a list of 8,771 names, including common Jewish names and surnames, those of media personalities who have been critical of Trump, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as organizations such as Ben & Jerry’s and Kars4Kids.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_parentheses

  1. CRUMB ON TRUMP

http://boingboing.net/2017/01/17/robert-crumb-interviewed-about.html

  1. TRUMP’S BEST QUOTES AS COMIC BOOKS

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/01/15/donald-trumps-best-quotes-comic-books/

  1. WHAT IS THE WITTIEST PIECE OF SARCASM SAID BY A POLITICIAN?

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-wittiest-piece-of-sarcasm-said-by-a-politician

  1. WHAT IS THE MOST DEPRESSING ONE-LINER?

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-depressing-one-liner

THE INFORMATION #924 JANUARY 20, 2017

THE INFORMATION #924
JANUARY 20, 2017
Copyright 2017 FRANCIS DIMENNO
francisdimenno@yahoo.com
 
Who does evil, is never short of excuse.

 –Italian proverb
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART SEVEN: DAYS OF WRATH

“Speaking of stinking hillbillies and incompetent confidence men,” said Count Victor Justin, “there was one Yellof of my acquaintence named Little Joe, who hailed from the Crossroads of Ohio, which is perhaps the most insignificant city in the United States. He was the damndest piss-poor excuse for a fraudster I ever met, a real cross-roda clown, and believe me when I tell you I’ve met some real legends. He went by the handle of Joe Ivy, but was also known under the monicker of  Lulla, or Little Joey, because, of course, he was a spiteful midget man. A square-headed layabout with big ideas about his own importance entirely incommensurate with cold, hard reality. A man completely without a conscience.  A born criminal. Like most money-loving Dago shrimps, he was deluded into thinking he was a big man. But he was little more than a filthy dwarf, both inside and out.  He was most notable for his perversion of the moral faculties. Now, I’m hardly a one to talk–but the uphot was that everyone he encountered knew, as if by instinct, that he was a police character, and that kind of put a crimp in his grift, since scrupulously honest people wanted nothing to do with a desperado like him, and even certain shady businessmen had the sense to stay far away from this highbinder. Which made him, in his way, something of a legend–as a bottom-feeder. He broke the heart of at least one normal-sized college girl, by making promises he never had any intention of keeping, regarding marriage. Plus, he treated her horribly. Called her insulting names, accused her of being too high-hat and stuck up.  I heard all kinds of terrible stories, since I happened to have in an with one of the girl’s best friends. 

 
“Growing up in Monkeytown, he associated with some of the damndest loochers you ever heard up. Kids with names like Zook, and Carmooch. And the Calabrese Boys: Carmen, Razzy, and Ro-Ro. He also used to hang around and mooch up to the Salvatore Brothers: Sally, Sam, and Sonny, offering to deliver their packages for them and groom their horses and do them other little favors, because rumor had it they had juice with the Gib Yellof. That’s the only time Little Joe would every put himself out for anybody–always provided there was something in it for him. Doing things solely out of the goodness of his heart probably never once occurred to him.

“Little Joe was one for the books. He was a vagabond, a spendthrift, and a dipsomaniac, and he was filled with temperamental peculiarities.  An alienist would probably say that he was a victim of a constitutional psychopathic inferiority. Or maybe he would say that he was just plain inferior. Like I said, he fancied himself a big man, and was always pushing himself forward as the life of the party and a hit on any stage–but he was as deficient in talent as he was lacking in height and incapable of morality. He wrote rotten poetry; strummed the ukulele execrably, and couldn’t blow the cornet to save his life, though he professed to be a maestro of the instrument. Maestro? My-ass-tro! In fact, he was something of a jack of all trades, and master of none. Like most midgets, the only thing he was really good at was being short. When I recently met him again, he was a three-time loser: a kleptomaniac tramp who had become an ailing con with a coal-burner of a hop habit. What makes it all the more tragic is that his father grew up around the Marsh in Monkeytown and later on was some kind of semi-professional ball player who, of course, never touched any of the hard stuff. The old man strutted around with a striped bow tie and made out like he was running for state representative, and even handed out a business card, but I don’t think anybody ever voted for him, mainly because they suspected that he was not a Calabrian, but actually a treacherous Sicilian. Anyway, Little Joe was a scrappy little Yellof, always getting into fights with Yobs who were bigger than him, which was no surprise, since everyone was bigger than him. Plus, he had no scruples at all. I once saw him steal a lousy dollar from a crazy Negro beggar.

“Anyway, me and Little Joe was in stir together for awhile. It was south of here, in Crooked Creek, a one-horse tank town where the local sheriff didn’t like our looks and threw us in the jug the minute we stepped off the train. I, of course, was impeccably attired, as always, but somehow the sheriff fixed on the midget man and just lumped me in along with him and threw us both in the pokey, just to be safe. We might both had gotten off scot free, only Little Joe has to sass the sheriff in his charmingly autodidactic way: ‘I’d enjoy to understand, Officer, why it is that you are rousting us.’ ‘I don’t like your look, Shorty,’ say the Sheriff. ‘That’s the reason why.’ So Little Joe tries to fight with the sheriff, who pistol whips him and lays an enormous gash on his cheek. Me, I just stood there. Let the lawman pistol-whip the stubby brute; it didn’t make no never mind to me.  And that’s how we both ended up in the jug.

“While we were in there, just to pass the time, I ask Little Joe why it is that he was all the time so hell-bent on making things hard for himself. ‘It’s on account of where I grew up,’ says he. ‘I got kicked out of school. I got let back in, but I was two years behind everybody else. Later on, I was a janitor. A janitor don’t get a whole lot of respect, you know? I grew up in Monkeytown. Me and my Yobs were frustrated all the time.  There was never nothing to do, except maybe read a book, or some damn stupid thing like that. We sat around and we had nowheres to spend our nervous energy, except on beating on each other. I took so many blows to the head that I can hardly think straight anymore. I like kids, you know? Kids don’t judge you. They don’t call you a poison midget man and other such bad names. That’s why I like kiddies. When we was kids there wasn’t nothing to do. Really. Seriously–come down to Monkeytown some time. There’s nothing to do, except maybe play stickball in the swamp, or hang out in the Onion Field. And you can’t do that every day. It’s boring. And who wants to read a book? That’s boring. And besides, you get enough of that book reading in high school. And besides, books are for sissies. The high school was next to the Onion Field. It was a dump. You didn’t learn nothing there. You don’t need no education, anyways. Not to work in no nail factory. My Dad–he basically works, comes home and goes to sleep. Nobody’s paying him to do nothing else; he does that on the side. It’s all he can do to make sure we got enough to eat and some decent clothing. But he don’t take you to a ball game or nothin’. He’s too tired, now that he’s gotten older. I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me; I’m proud of growing up with the Yobs in Monkeytown; that’s just the way it is. That’s how I got ahold of the grift. We had nothing to do, so we decided why not make some money and rob some Yellofs. Anything is better than letting older Yobs boss you around. Plus, we wanted to earn some respect. In Monkeytown, they only way you can earn respect is by being badder than everybody else. People are always waiting to screw you in the ground; you got to screw them first. You got to get them before they get you. You have to take care of yourself, first and foremost. Sure, I’ll steal from a beggar. What’s he doing out there begging if he can’t protect himself? Sure, I’ll give some lip to the chuckleheaded country younker Sheriff. There ain’t nobody that can tell me that I ain’t every bit as good a man as they are. Even if I am a janitor. Sure, if some Yellof comes up to me with a knife, I’m going to give as good as I get. I had a lot of friends who died, so I ain’t afraid to die. So what if I use hop, and get the yen shee habit, and become a bird-cage hype? Life is too short. I’ve seen people get shot, and fall into the water and get drowned, and I’ve heard of people who were bumped off. Shot, stabbed with an ice pick, strangled with piano wire, you name it. So I don’t care. I just live for myself and for today. I’m my own man, and I go my own way. No snobby skirt is ever going to tie me down. I don’t take nothin’ too seriously, because I can die at any time.’

“To say that this heartfelt speech,” said Count Victor Justin, “had little to no effect on me would be the understatement of the year. Stupid whining Dago. Always bitching and saying that life is tough. Maybe if he had cracked open a book every once in awhile instead of snorting strange powders all the time, he maybe might yet have made something of himself. But now he’s just a crack-brained pygmy married to a gimp–and hopefully, right now he’s safe–safe in his baby’s arm!”

1*SALUTATION
Lula Côrtes & Lailson


2*REFERENCE

P.T. BARNUM: THE GREAT AMERICAN HUMBUG
 
ALSO SEE:

The Sad Stories Of The Ringling Brothers’ “Freak Show” Acts

3*HUMOR
WHAT DID 1930S MUSICIANS MAKE OF ROCK & ROLL?
4*NOVELTY
FATS WALLER
THE JOINT IS JUMPIN’
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
TEN THINGS WHICH WILL SOON DISAPPEAR FOREVER
10* LAGNIAPPE
FRIEND AND LOVER
REACH OUT IN THE DARKNESS
 
ALSO SEE:
ROD STEWART
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
HITLER’S SECOND BOOK
 
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.

THE INFORMATION #923 JANUARY 13, 2017

THE INFORMATION #923
JANUARY 13, 2017
You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly. –Hank Williams
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART SIX: DAYS OF WRATH
“What I find offensive is that all the Yellofs north of the Mason-Dixie line,” said Count Victor Justin, “are operating under the hideous misapprehension of conflating backward and violent hillbillies with all the fine people of the Southron. I say that nothing could be further than the truth. The two groups are, as a matter of fact, inimical to each other. A Southern man prides himself on his ability to feed himself and his family. Once he has sown his wild oats, he is generally a law-abidin’ and church-goin’ man who only gets drunk maybe two or three times a week and knows how to behave himself in mixed company. He doesn’t go out of his way to mock a blind man, or trip up a cripple, or lynch a Negro who knows his place. You can say none of those things about the Hillbilly. Back in my day, before the term was even invented, we used to call them ridge runners. Stump jumpers. Poor white trash. Any man who was triflin’ and mean and didn’t wash much and fired off his revolver in the public square and got drunk and more often than not fell asleep in a hog pen, well, that there was the type of Yellof we was all warned by our parents not to associate with. Sure, you might invite Zeke or Clem to talk about hosses in back of the stable, and you might hire him to cut some brush on your property with the proviso that he could also keep all the firewood he could haul off–but you certainly wouldn’t invite him into your parlor to consort with the ladyfolk. The fact is, there’s nothing especially noble about these gadabouts. They are only slightly better than the swindling gypsies who go from door to door offering to sharpen your scissors and knives as they contrive to steal everything that ain’t nailed down. They’re just a bunch of rural clowns. A batch of neurasthenic country boys so bewilderingly lazy that they wouldn’t holler Sooie if the hawgs was eatin’ ’em.
 
“What’s really sad is that these briar hoppers are held up as a repository of some kind of ancient and unknowable folk wisdom, when, in fact, all these brush apes are is illiterate Irishmen who you wouldn’t look twice at if you saw them drinking in any city street corner saloon. As a matter of fact, these very same citified Irishmen can be found in the police court, for beating their wife after she drank up all the beer; or in a pool parlor, hustling suckers and getting into donnybrooks with the local firemen; or on the front stoop of a run-down brownstone slum, egging their children on to fight the neighbor boys with sticks and bottles while longshoremen and dock wallopers gumming cheap stogies lay down bets and an old harridan screeches from the first floor window and a discouraged old hunchback cowers in a basement entrance and a beleaguered policeman tries and fails to restore some sort of order. 
 
“The stupid fly cop in the big city has got his work cut out for him, walking a beat where you see the dregs of humanity act out their little savage dramas all the live-long day. Is he going to go after two she-males smooching it up in a cellar club? Nit! Not unless some goody-two-shoes social worker complains that the neighborhood youth are being corrupted. That’s one nice thing about being a short-tempered yellof who takes no guff–when you’re wearing a police uniform, you get paid for fighting. And you eat more regular than any two-bit Palooka I ever knowd of. 
 
“And that’s the wonderful thing about the way that men like the Gib Yellof have arranged things and made the world work. You can easily hire one half of the immigrant working class to beat the other half into line. You have swell churches where a family, howsoever degraded, can escape their vermin-ridden tenement, if only for an hour or two each week, and feast all they want on some good old-fashioned pie in the sky. You have the Missions, which feed the poor just enough so that they don’t starve and are therefore not as tempted to got out and steal their supper. And you have the gin mills and beer gardens, where working brutes can drink themselves into a reckless stupor. 
 
“Now, the problem with these hillbillies is that when they come to the big city, they don’t understand that they have to show up to work at the same time every day, and leave at the same time at the end of the day. Nobody wants to hear their stories about how they was feelin’ rite poorly, or about how the babby was teethin’ and couldn’t nobody grab so much as a wink of sleep. That’s the problem with hillbillies. They’re self-centered. Everything is about them, and their sorry sense of independence. They can’t conceive of a world in which nobody is interested in their idiotic excuses. 
“So between the Irishman festering in the slums of our great cities and the hillbilly in his natural habitat, there isn’t much of a choice. You can either come to the big city and work in a factory, and spawn a dozen crumb-crushers, of whom about two survive, and be washed up by forty and ready for the boneyard by forty-five. Or else you can starve out in the woods, subsisting on a diet of stolen cackleberries and fried squirrel brains. It all started with the bloody British. Sending their convict trash over here and populating the backwoods with some of the most insolent idiots and damndest desperadoes who ever drew breath. These castoffs were notorious Yellofs, and good for nothing. I’ve seen better looking monkeys at the zoo–who had more hope of posterity, to boot. What is the matter with these stupid hill folk? They seem to delight in basking themselves around their outdoor fires, swilling moonshine and swatting flies and swapping fabulous yarns, while their toothless fat wives sweep the dust with a straw broom from one corner of the yard to the other. They are so stupid that they don’t ever know how many children they have. And if anybody asks ’em, they have to roll a pumpkin under a bed and count ’em as they come out!
“I know it for a fact that Hillbillies make for terrible con artists. At best, you can train them to be the lowest kind of carny, but that’s about it. They’re not with it and for it. They don’t even know what that means. I’ll put it another way–of all the people who just don’t get it, they’re the people who just don’t get it the most. They can’t be taught because they won’t be taught. No matter where they find themselves, they’re convinced that their way is the best and only way. No wonder they go in for nonsense like snake handling, and speaking in tongues, and sodomy. I sometimes think that they’re barely even human–that’s how degraded they are, no matter where you encounter them. They are little better than beasts, and by’m’by are only fit to be culled. 
 
“I know of whereof I speak, Yob. I have heard about their bonfires in the woods–late at night–dancing–naked–laughing–their babies drunk on moonshine–passed out in the fire–and roasted pieces of their infants being passed around the group in unholy communion–they taste, it is said, like lamb chops. Too horrible!”
1*SALUTATION

The Psychedelic Animated Video for Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” (1979)
http://www.openculture.com/2016/06/the-psychedelic-animated-video-for-kraftwerks-autobahn-from-1979.html

2*REFERENCE

ANTI-FASCIST READING LIST
4*NOVELTY
CANDY CIGARETTES
 
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST

How to Make Small Talk As If Life Isn’t a Constant, Crippling Nightmare

11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
884. JOHN CARPENTER VS. THE NAZIS
 
885. ROBERT CRUMB HATES YOU
 
886. R. Crumb Doesn’t Hate “You.”
R. Crumb Hates The New York Observer.
http://slumgoddess.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/r-crumb-doesnt-hate-you-r-crumb-hates.html 
 
887. ROBERT CRUMB IS DEAD TO ME
 

888. Fanboy Rampage: Jacques Hyzagi Vs Robert Crumb

889. The (London) Telegraph feature article on the Crumb Exhibit
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/artists/robert-crumb-in-the-studio/?cid=sf24217843&sf24217843=1