Copyright 2017 FRANCIS DIMENNO
It is far easier to see brave men die than to hear a coward beg for life.― Jack London
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART THIRTY-SIX: DAYS OF WRATH
“Of course,” said Count Victor Justin to his young protege (the by now thoroughly shocked Cadger Tandy), “Maybe if Jesus came to Noxtown he wouldn’t be any sort of businessman at all. Maybe he would go west and be a crook–The Gethsemane Kid–a notorious train robber–him and his twelve known associates. And leave us not forget about Kid Judas, the Dirty Little Coward that Shot Mr. Howard and Laid Pore Jesse in His Grave.
“But, then again, maybe He wouldn’t turn outlaw for long. Maybe He’d make Him that one last big score and lam it down to Mexico, like all the smart Yellofs do. If a Yob is frugal he can live for a long time on very little, down in old Mex. Leastways, as long as he leaves the Senoritas alone. It’s warm there, and the people are friendly. He might even grow a thriving cult, down there in the desert. What need would he have for money? It might just suit Him to have none. After all, to Him, I suppose, money is a false God. Render unto Caesar, et cetera. But then again, in America, money is the only God that people worship with any sort of conviction–and always with the great faith that money can do anything. Unlike praying to God, which does nothing.
“You will find, Yob, that unscrupulous businessmen–robber barons and their ilk–are there any other kind?–are very similar to the people who are called outlaws and brigands. And it has to do with the lust they have for gold. And they way they treat people in order to get it. Fair play? Faugh–a man who goes strictly by the rules is a pushover; a chump; a Yellof who deserves to be swindled; a Squarehead; an oaf; not very far removed from a greenhorn or a sucker. There is one thing you have got to learn about the world–and that is the way the world works. You cannot go through life as though you were deaf dumb and blind to all the corruption that takes place all around you, every minute of the day. You know what I say to the man who demands a Square Deal? I say ‘Root hog or die.’ To those people–reform pimps and poverty pests and such, who rail about corruption from their pristine and simon-pure soapboxes while they secretly dine on prime rib in the comfort of their own homes, I say ‘Facts is facts and that’s the way it is and if you can’t be like the rest of the world then shut your filthy gob.’ I don’t know why the God-gaspers and gospel-garglers and bible-pounders ever got the job of giving people free advice–those birds know fuck-all about life–at least, life the way it is really lived. You might as well consult a eunuch regarding his opinion about the best nigra whorehouses in Storyville.“Small businesses are slightly different. A small business thrives on the kindness and gullibility of its customers. People take a personal interest in the small storekeeper; and, on the other hand, it’s their good will that keeps him in business. And so naturally he takes a personal interest in all his customers. At that level, it’s just good business. The Pharmacist asks how’s your lumbago; the grocer gives out free penny candy to all the little crumb-crushers the proud Mammy drags into the store; the cobbler who doubles as the mush-faker repairs the occasional bumbershoot gratis. But none of them birds is in business to lose money. They don’t lend their dough to floozies, or their improvident younger brothers, or to their slightly dotty uncles. Not if they expect to prosper.
“The big boys, on the other hand–their motto is The Public Be Damned–and rightly so. What does the penny-pincher ever do for them, except cost them precious ooftish with their vague complaints and querulous demands? Nobody ever forms a romantic attachment to their bank, or to the power company, or to the streetcar line. So those magnates will crush the kind-hearted without a second thought. Not only because they like to–but because they can. There’s one thing you absolutely have to learn in this world–you can’t argue with money.
“Now, you will find that the easiest people to exploit are the ones who consider themselves sympathetic. They have a certain image of themselves as kind-hearted, and you can milk them until they run dry with a sob story that would be enough to make a stone gargoyle cry. ‘I am a helpless orfink,’ you can say. ‘My Mama was an angel who died when I was but two years old. I learned to read a little, and to cipher by the rule of three, and I’m not afraid of hard work. But at the age of seven I was yanked out of school to be thrust into the cold hard world. I was made the ward of a wicked drunken farmer who starved me and beat me and worked me worse than a mule.’ See if you don’t make enough to buy you coffee and cake with that line of wretched patter. I tell you, it’s a dead cert! The patsy might even offer to blow you to a feed. By all means, let ’em! Be sure to order meat and other nourishing provender when they do. Don’t eat the hard rolls–they’ll settle in your stomach like a lead sinker–but be sure to put ’em in your napkin and take ’em along for later.
“The classic sob story works on women much better than it works on men. Nigras also tend to be kindhearted, even though they usually don’t have much. Germans? Forget it. They’d sooner die than un-ass so much as one red cent. Irishmen will come across, if they’re a little tipsy. Forget Englishmen. They’re moochers themselves, a lot of them, and they hate a fellow piker.
“Now, there are some folks who will want to put you to sweat for your pittance. Carry bags, chop wood, run errands. Tell ’em to go to plumb straight to Hades, unless you’re absolutely desperate. And that you should never be–once you know the ways of the world. The first time you get into some money, buy yourself a Masonic ring, and learn the signs and the handshake. They just might get you out of a lot of trouble someday. And it certainly don’t hurt to carry a Bible along with you at all times. Lots of coppers are Catholics, and will look favorable-like on a Yob as can spout scripture gibberish.
“Above all, you’ve got to look the part of what you’re going to play-act. Only an amateur goes out as neat as a pin to beg for ooftish. And when they do, they usually get what’s coming to them–which is precisely zilch.”
This list reminds me of how Elizabeth Bishop used to tell us that she did not want her work included in anthologies of female poets.
She considered herself first and foremost a poet.
She refused to allow herself to be ghettoized.
This was probably a weighted list chosen by a committee. (Composed entirely of women. As though gender were itself a criterion for the determination of gender-based musical quality.) Thus virtually guaranteeing special pleading, and mediocre results. Notice how they had to stretch to come up with 150 selections.The Roches, Laura Nyro, the Raincoats, and Sinead should have been ranked higher.
Madonna and the Runaways, lower.
They must think The Roches really suck to rank them at #150
And what– No love for the Tammys?
And I guess Phil Spector must be a woman. How else to explain the inclusion of #20?
THE ANNA KARENINA PRINCIPLE
WHAT IS THIS FLACCID JAZZ CRAPOLA?
And what’s with all the shouting sycophants?
And what the hell kind of lyrics are these:
Ahnn…uhnnnnn…uhhh uhh uhh
And when hea–ararararararararrt is open and when heaararararaararrt is opened
You will change just like a flower slowly openin’
And when heaeaeaeaeaeaARRRRRRRRRRRRRRrt is opened
You will change just like a flower slowly openin’
And what in hell is this happy horseshit?
Ruminations on Mortality While Listening to the Ramones
When I consider how my life was spent
Listening to the Ramones and sniffing paint
And Carbona and glue and other jive
I think myself lucky to be alive.