Copyright 2019 FRANCIS DIMENNO

As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.–Camus


“Yeah, bo, go to heaven, go to hell, but just do SOMETHING! I’ve been to a few places in my short life,” said Glen Phillips to Billy Batchelder Tallent, “but I’ll tell you what–Noxtown has them all beat for sheer–I don’t know–je ne sais quoi. Now, lookie here, Mawny, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that folks who live in the big city are all dyed-in-the-wool cut-throat cynics like me. Let’s look on the bright side for a minute. What’s the city got that the country ain’t? Well, there are plenty of unexpected advantages to city life. Like ice. And the ice-cold ice-man. Just think of it–ice cold ice–just about any time you want it, you can buy it from the man, and he’ll bring it up to your flat, and when it’s hot out you can take it right out of the ice box. And if you want ice cream, there’s a pharmacy on every corner. You want coal, there’s the coal man. You want a bow-tie, you can go to Trench and Snook and forget about waiting on the Monkey-Ward Catalog to send you one. Yes, life in the city is fine. If you got money, it is especially fine–salubrious, even. Why, I hear they even have indoor plumbing in some of the sweller joints. Of course, there’s the problem of sewer gas, and rats coming out of your toilet. Oh well.

“Like anywhere else, there are a great many people in the city both good and bad. But the big city seems to bring out the craziness in some people. I’ve lived there long enough to see it with my own eyes. Out in the big stick country, if you walk down a strange road you may be confronted by some high-spirited youths who might invite you to wrassle with the biggest of ’em, but they are usually good-natured creatures who mean you no harm. But in the city–there’s where you’ve got to watch your step. Roving gangs of B’hoys are usually up to no good, and will do you an injury if you don’t watch your step. You will see altercations on the trolleys between angry colored ladies who resent being shoved and lumbering white men who resent being lectured. It’s not like down south, where colored ladies who give you lip are considered amusing and are mostly tolerated. Up here, the colored man has also been known to express himself against the white citizenry by using certain choice words. You must steel yourself to let it pass. Up north, the black man is free. Or so we are told.

“All the best people come to the big city–either to visit, or to put down roots. Also, some of the very worst. Nowhere else outside of a circus or a funeral are you going to find such a mix. You can go to an ice cream social in the afternoon, a book club in the early evening, a play at 8:05, and a swell dinner party after the final curtain, and then embark upon a slum expedition down by the waterfront, where you can hear flute music and dance an Irish jig with sodden dock wallopers and and disreputable wharf rats, and, if you escape with your life, you can go to bed at about the time the red-eyed sun comes peering up over the painful blue horizon, having lived and experienced more in one day than most country younkers know in a month of Sundays. You see, the City is a enormous swirling cauldron. Bean soup? It’s been soup long enough….Err…that’s a joke.”

Billy laughed. He felt it was only polite. Even though the jest was a ‘groaner’ that had penetrated by then to even the furthest backwoods.

“Like I just said, in one night alone you can meet more people than you would meet in a whole lifetime if you stayed in that little horse-trough village of yours. You can walk down the main street of Noxtown in broad daylight and see a swaggering yekkman casually assault a toff wearing a top hat and a monocle. You can see a leering brown-eyed taffy and a drunken sailor fighting over the dubious favors of a blood-mouthed soiled dove who is either just a day over sixteen or just a day under thirty–who can tell? You can see ragged Holy Joe the sky pilot, looking like a black-robed scarecrow with his turned-in white collar, holding down the fort in a public park, damning the sinners and describing crimes so despicable and using imagery so lurid that if he tried to stage it as a melodrama the Decency League would run him out of town.  And on the other side of the park, looking like a hobo, you’ll see Red John, standing on a soapbox and decrying the capitalist system in such a reasoned tone of voice you might take him for a college professor, which he is, or used to be, until he got caught being a bit too intimate with some choice portions of the student body. You might see a stolid fat Dutchman standing in his tenement doorway a-puffing away at his pipe while two filth-encrusted brutes try their very best to murder each other over a trip, a stumble, a collision,or some other imaginary insult. You’ll see the policeman on the beat, no better than he has to be, and often a great deal worse, whose formula for dealing with a ruffian or a vagabond is a lick of the old truncheon on the knee or elbow–never the head–he’s wise to that breeze–many of these brutes wear thick linings in their hats to offset the cudgel. On one street you’ll see the whining schoolboy, dragging his books along with a book strap, and one street over from that you’ll see a gutter urchin begging in the most piteous voice imaginable for a penny from the swell-looking women passing by–knowing that if he doesn’t lay hold of about five of ’em so he can rush the growler, his old man will beat him half to death. In one office you’ll see the captain of industry, barking orders at his scriveners and secretaries, and in another office in the back you’ll see at his desk bearing a crow-quill pen a shabbily dressed, superannuated clerk who looks as though he’s ready at any time to breathe his last but who still has it in him to make one, final, terminal effort to earn his crust. You can go to a Gentleman’s club and see a rich man in a tux preening like a haughty bronzed Apollo, while, holding the door open for him, you’ll encounter the sorriest looking scar-faced gargoyle in all Christendom. Where else but in the city can you walk across town for hours, and, if you keep your ears open, pick up on about twenty distinct languages, accents, and dialects?

“Some people swear by the Grand European tour, but I tell you Mawny–the Big City–there’s MY meat!”  









THE BEANO (1974)


Mama June’s weight-loss secret revealed!





Christian Disco.







All of Marvel’s iterations of Captain Marvel have been placeholder characters, seemingly published solely to keep the rights to the name Captain Marvel from reverting back to DC, who won a lawsuit against Fawcett back in 1953 over copyright infringement regarding the similarity of the original Captain Marvel to Superman.  

DC was playing hardball because Fawcett’s Captain Marvel consistently outsold their flagship title, Superman. There really weren’t all that many similarities. Captain Marvel’s powers were supernatural in origin; his secret identity was a ten year old boy; the tales were whimsical and cartoony and clearly aimed at younger children.

The original Captain Marvel disappeared in the US for 20 years. In the UK, they published a knock-off called Marvelman, brilliantly revived in the 1980s by Alan Moore under the title Miracleman. DC revived the character as Shazam in the mid-70s.  The latest graphic novel tied to the character, The Life of Captain Marvel, attempts to retcon her character by having her mother also be from outer space. It’s a big bag of wind–awful New Yorkers writing their idea of what a working class Maine accent sounds like, replete with obsessive attention to  doughnuts and drunk driving.  The boy who pined from our heroine from afar for years and years even works in–get this–a doughnut shop. And the heroine’s brother is–temporary–sent into a coma as a result of–you guessed it–drunk driving. Rule of thumb: When you run out of story ideas, always have the superhero’s friend or lover or spouse or close or distant relative also develop superpowers, or reveal that they actually come from another planet and/or the distant future.






Marijuana abuse is generally a laughing matter.  


1. “Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby ‘schooled’ to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.”

2. “The very existence of obligatory schools divides any society into two realms: some time spans and processes and treatments and professions are ‘academic’ or ‘pedagogic,’ and others are not. The power of school thus to divide social reality has no boundaries: education becomes unworldly, and the world becomes noneducational.”

3. “Equal educational opportunity is, indeed, both a desirable and a feasible goal, but to equate this with obligatory schooling is to confuse salvation with the Church. School has become the world religion of a modern proletariat, and makes futile promises of salvation to the poor of the technological age. The nation-state has adopted it, drafting all citizens into a graded curriculum leading to sequential diplomas not unlike the initiation rituals and hieratic promotions of former times. The modern state has assumed the duty of enforcing the judgment of its educators through well-meant truant officers and job requirements.”

4. “The public is indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are the result of formal schooling.”

5. “School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.”  

Pierre Bourdieu
Citation: C N Trueman “Pierre Bourdieu”

The History Learning Site, 22 May 2015. 5 Mar 2019.

Pierre Bourdieu developed the cultural deprivation theory. This theory implies that higher class cultures are better when compared to working class cultures. Because of this perceived superiority, people from upper and middle classes believe people who are working class are themselves to blame for the failure of their children in education. Bourdieu also believed thatMarx influences cultural capital. Bourdieu also believes that people should not assume that the higher class is better that the working class. Bourdieu argues that working class failure in schools if measured by exam success, is the fault of the education system, not working class culture.

Cultural reproduction – the major role of the education system, according to Bourdieu, is cultural reproduction. This is the reproduction of the culture of the dominant classes. These groups have the power to impose meanings and to impose them as legitimate. They are able to define their own culture as worthy of being sought and possessed and to establish it as the basis for knowledge in the education system. However, there is no way of showing that they are any better or worse than other subcultures in society.

Bourdieu refers to possession of the dominant culture as cultural capital because with the education system it can be translated into wealth and power. Cultural capital is not evenly distributed throughout the class structure, and this largely accounts for class differences in educational attainment. People who have upper class backgrounds have a built in advantage because they have been socialised in that dominant culture. Bourdieu says that success in life depends on the earlier accomplishments in life, e.g. primary schools were the best time to succeed. Children from the dominant classes have internalised these skills and knowledge during their junior years. The educational attainment of social groups is therefore directly related to the amount of cultural capital they possess. Thus middle-class students have higher success rates than working-class students because of middle class subculture are closer to the dominant culture.

Bourdieu is somewhat vague when he attempts to pinpoint the skills and knowledge required for educational success. He bases his studies on the style the children present themselves rather on the content. He suggested that the way a student presents him/herself counts for more than the actual scholastic content of their work. He argues that “in rewarding grades, teachers are strongly influenced by the intangible nuances of manners and styles”. This means that you are more likely to succeed, because you are closer to the dominant class. The emphasis on style discriminates against working – class pupils in 2 ways:

i) Because their style departs from that of the dominant culture, their work is penalised.

ii) They are unable to grasp the range of meanings that are embedded in the grammar, accent, tone, delivery of the teachers. Since teachers use “bourgeois parlance”, as opposed to “common parlance”, working-class pupils have an in-built barrier to learning in schools.

The habitus – this refers to the lifestyle, the values, the dispositions and the expectations of particular social groups. A particular habitus is developed through experience. Individuals learn in the best way by what they see in life and how to expect life. Because different social groups have different chances and experiences in life, the habitus of each group will be different. People control values but they are not, in total, captives of the habitus. They are free to act and choose what to do but this will lead them to making certain choices such as behaviour. The point of view of Bourdieu says “Individual have to react in particular events, many of which are novel, but they tend to do so in terms of behaviour that they have come to see, as reasonable, common sense, behaviours. This means that the habitus is an infinitive capacity for generating product. This includes the idea of thought, perceptions, expressions and actions-whose limits are set by the historically and socially situated conditions of its products. Taste, class and education.

Bourdieu uses a survey for his study; he claims that peoples taste is related both to upbringing and to education. The taste could include art, films, music and food. He claims to show that there is a very close relationship linking cultural practices to educational capital and secondary, to social origin. Different tastes are associated with different classes, and class factions have different levels of prestige Legitimate taste has the greatest prestige and includes serious classical music and fine art. According to Bourdieu, the education system attaches the highest value to legitimate taste and people find it easier to succeed in the education system and are likely to stay in it for longer. Once you have acquired a certain amount of legitimate taste through upbringing and education, then you can start to cultivate your own. However, good taste on its own does not guarantee a well –paid job, but it does help in some cases.

The social function of elimination – Bourdieu says that a major role of the educational system is the social function of elimination. This involves the elimination of members of the working class from higher levels of education. It is accomplished in two ways: by examination failure and by self-elimination.

Working class students already know what they have to do in school. They know that if they work around working class boys, they don’t have a big chance of succeeding.

To conclude, Bourdieu says the role of education in society is the contribution it makes to social reproduction. Social inequality is reproduced in the educational system and as a result it is legitimate. The education system help maintain to dominance of the class.

Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex


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