Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.–Emerson
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TWELVE: PART SIXTY-SEVEN: THE EASTERN GATE OF PARADISE
“You should know, Mawny,” said Glen Phillips to William Batchelder Tallent, “that there’s an old saying among editors: Those who can’t write, report. Put a writer in an empty white room, and he’ll create a whole world outside of the room. Put a reporter in an empty white room, and he’ll describe an empty white room. If he’s a great reporter, maybe he’ll write an editorial on ‘The Tragedy of the Empty White Room.’ By the way, the editorials tend to be the best part of the newspaper–only, nobody bothers to heed them. Just like Cassandra! Haw!
“Listen: no matter how great a reporter you might eventually become, you should know well that certain people have held the whip-hand from time immemorial. And they sure ain’t about to let hold of the old cat o’ nine for any arriviste reporter snoop who fancies himself as some sort of hawkshaw, dedicated to righting wrongs. If you’re going to persist in acting like that–like a a child–they’re going to treat you like a child. Better you should become a shyster lawyer–that’s a profession that the Big Boys respect, as much as they’ll hate you. They can make you into their tool, you see. A pimp for the Imperium, as it were.
“Before you go off half-cocked and start into crusading against all the plutocrats, you should ask yourself–what if you were in their shoes and some ass came around and started nit-picking everything you did? Someone who had no actual power over you? Someone who, for that matter, nearly everyone despises? Why, I think you would simply ignore him. And, if he persisted, you would set one of your boys to dig up some dirt on ‘im. In the unlikely event this approach failed–because, let’s face it, nearly everyone has some dirty little secret–why, they’d just throw so much money at ‘im that the pest would simply go away. But let’s say that this plan also fails to pan out. I can’t see how–but let’s just suppose. Why, I suppose the the next logical step would be to work to get the fella fired. Should be easy enough. Chum up to his boss. Better still, set the old rumor mill rolling, and then there’s hardly any crime you can’t accuse the poor chump of committing. He’ll be hoist on his own petard, as it were. Of course, just to play fair, you could tell him that it will all go away…if he simply learns to play ball. The exhortatory subjunctive, I call it. As in, ‘Nice job you got there–be a shame if anything were to happen to it.’
“The culture of the newsroom is debilitating. The news boys think that their curiosity distinguishes them from the commonplace people they are so fond of looking down upon from what they fancy is their lofty perch. Curiosity? Hah! Monkeys can do as much! It’s what you do with your heard-earned knowledge that makes a difference. Don’t tell me you believe in all that airy poppycock you read in books. I’ll guarantee you that not one of those so-called men of letters has the sense to pound sand in a rat hole. In this life, no ink-stained drudge ever changed a blessed thing. It’s business, Mawny. Business. That’s where great things are happening. It’s a sad fact, though, that most businessmen are men of action, and have no imagination, except for new ways to squeeze out another dollar.
“But I’ll be a different kind of reporter, you say. You think you’re going to beaver it out and compile a body of work that future generations will treasure up. Phaw! You’re nothing more than a dust mote, Mawny. An ant. An insignificant speck–at least, to the people who really matter. The ones who rule the world. No, it’s not the Jews. No matter what the Monks may tell you. Jews are too smart to want to run this sorry world. For that matter, so are the Jesuits. No, it’s the bent ones. The ones who are twisted up inside. The ones who have fooled themselves into thinking that they are as gods. Of course, a real God, supposing one exists, would laugh until he puked at the presumption of these arrogant fleas. But still…even fleas can bite.
“I can see from the way you act–always in opposition!–that you’re determined to forge your own path, Mawny. I can see that, and I admire you for it, even though I consider it the height of tom-foolishness to go through life causing trouble–burning bridges and airing dirty laundry and digging up skeletons–and thinking you can do it all alone. Connections are key. Consider–what options are there for a young man with few if any connections?
“You could always go into teaching. That has always been the default plan for bright young men and women of high character and mediocre breeding. Teachers are happy, they say. Sure they are. Devote your life, why don’t you, to instructing mewling cubs who would rather be doing anything in the world other than looking at your shouting face. And spending all your time devising new ways of telling surly children what to do. And never once questioning whether you’re merely a stern taskmaster who operates solely at the whim of the powers that be. Perhaps someday you’ll work your way up to college professor. You can swap wry jests in an oak-paneled room with your deracinated ‘colleagues’, and swallow more lies and Sherry than any human living was ever meant to do. Or–you could be a churchman of some sort. But that’s even worse. Spinning fables for profit. Presiding over lost souls? More like listening to old busybodies complain about how children these days have no respect, and listening to hunched-over old men as they squawk about their lumbago. Even a lazy reporter would blanch at doing that for too very long.
“So–you’re a Southerner. Go into the army, instead. They will make you into a man. Or, rather, they will make of you what they want you to be. Their creature. Blindly obedient. Be compliant enough, and maybe someday you’ll rise to become a celebrated General. President of the whole damn United States, even. It’s been known to happen. More likely, though, you’ll be wiped clean in your mind, wounded in your body, and crippled in your soul. And then you’ll be fit only to drudge away the rest of your old age–a mere pawn. You can lean plenty of skills in the army, sure. How to be a policeman, for a dead cert. And when you retire, you can get a watch and become a night watchman and doze the rest of your short life away.
“Or–here’s a hot one. You can be a lawyer. Study ponderous books, like any astigmatic scholar, and then enter a practice and drown yourself in paperwork. And end up by being miserable and hating your job. You know, I’ve never met a lawyer who knew how to have fun. Most of them end their lives wishing they had done almost anything else. Maybe you’ll end up being well off. But at what cost? Better to study accountancy. Less is expected of you, and maybe you’ll seize the main chance and become a millionaire through perspicacity and sharp practice.
“But, however you end up, Mawny, you’ll always be drawn like a fly to molasses to the Holy Trinity. Wife, children, and a mortgage on a house. And a job of some sort to pay for them all. You’ll be another Atlas, with an entire small world placed squarely on your inadequate shoulders. Alas, no Hercules will be standing by to ease your burden. You’ll be a veritable Sisyphus. Only you’ll be digging a ditch in the morning, and filling it back up again at night. Every day and every night. Until you croak.
“Well…there’s one thing you can always say about working for a living–unlike the lives of men, there’s never any end to it all.”I think you mentioned to me that your Daddy’s got a weakness for strong drink? Then you’d better leave off the booze. Another reason not to get into the reporter game. Every one I ever met is a no-good bitter-tongued two-fisted drunkard. Some of them even think they can’t work if they haven’t been lushing it up. Just like politicians. And crooks. They all have to nerve themselves with hooch to perform do their awful deeds. I’m talking about things that any normal man would quail at even contemplating.Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Covering up the truth. Kicking the props out from under the little guy. Blackmail, murder…and worse. Much, much worse.”
ALSO SEE:GRANT HART
DAVE VAN RONK
WILLIE THE WEEPER
THE REEFER MAN
THE INK SPOTSTHAT CAT IS HIGH
GIMME A PIGFOOT AND A BOTTLE OF BEER
MARIJUANA, THE DEVIL’S FLOWER
TOO MANY PILLS
THE EVIL DOPE
PEANUT BUTTER CONSPIRACY
WHY DID I GET SO HIGH?
THE ROLLING STONES
SOMETHING HAPPENED TO ME YESTERDAY
AMERICAN OVERDOSE AUTHOR MCGREAL ON THE OPIOID CRISIS
U.S. ARMY HEROIN COMIC BOOK
HARM REDUCTION COMIC
MARY WORTH CONFRONTS THE OPIOID CRISIS
NATIONAL LAMPOON (ARTICLE IN THE NEW JOURNAL NO. 2)
ALSO SEE:My father gave me a 1940 book titled 10,000 jokes, toasts, and stories, by Copeland. One of my uncles had picked it up at a sale. No profanity or blasphemy. But plenty of good, old-fashioned racist, sexist, and ethnic humor. Good clean fun.
Diner: Waiter, how was this steak cooked?
Waiter: Smothered in onions, sir.
Diner: Well, it died hard.
MOST PROLIFIC COMIC STRIP ARTISTS
What comic strip artists has been the most prolific producer of strips in the last century?
Among artists of the United States in the 20th Century, that would possibly be Will Eisner, comic book pioneer and also said to be the father of the modern graphic novel.
Or perhaps Al Capp.
Alfred Gerald Caplin (September 28, 1909 – November 5, 1979), better known as Al Capp, was an American cartoonist and humorist best known for the satirical comic strip Li’l Abner, which he created in 1934 and continued writing and (with help from assistants) drawing until 1977. He also wrote the comic strips Abbie an’ Slats (in the years 1937–45) and Long Sam (1954).
Chester Gould and Harold Grey also had long runs with their respective strips.
As did Charles Schulz.
And George Herriman.
Mention should also be made of Milt Caniff and Roy Crane.
It is quite possible that Osamu Tezuka outdid them all.
Buddha, Vol. 1: Kapilavastu: Osamu Tezuka: 9781932234565: Amazon.com: Books
It is no coincidence, I suppose, that along with Elzie Segar, Frank King, Walt Kelly, and Cliff Sterrett, those are some of my favorite comic strip artists.
E. C. Segar
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
6* DAILY UTILITY
PRINCE NICO MBRAGA
HAW HAW HAW
NOT SAFE FOR WORK
VIDEO: HAW HAW HAW HAW
Here are three good, all-purpose replies I’ve learned.
1) dass alri’, dass alright. (Good for panhandlers.)
2) God bless you. (Even better: God bless your day. Hand gesture optional.)
3) I feel so sorry for you. (With an exactly modulated tone of voice, this one works very well.)
ALSO SEE:THE NINE CANONICAL RESPONSES TO U MAD
9* RUMOR PATROL
THE FIFTH RISK
BASED ON A TRUE STORY
Biopics nearly always take quite a few liberties. So do TV documentaries. I never place much credence in such sources. It kinda burns me up when I hear somebody say that they know something for a fact because “I saw it on the History Channel.” Which Spy Magazine once, rather puckishly, referred to as “The Hitler Channel.” It smacks of a grade-schooler’s logic that “TV is my friend…and my friend wouldn’t lie to me.”
I have found these books, though dated, to be full of excellent techniques for detecting Things That Just Ain’t So:
11*DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
ASK LIEUTENANT RICK: ADVICE TO THE LOVELORN COP
Why do chicks get all upset when you throw shit at
I dunno. Sensitive, I guess. Buy her some chocolate
candy and let her stuff her pie-hole.
My wife won’t sleep with me when I rub myself with
bacon fat to keep the chiggers off. What’ll I do?–Reb
Women are kinda nutty, ain’t they? Give her a bottle
of perfumey water. Frails dig that kinda foo-foo crap.
Dear Officer Rick:
I was babysitting the kid and let him play with a hand
grenade. Sure, he pulled the pin, but turns out the
pineapple was a dud. Now the wife says I’m
irresponsible and she wants a divorce. What’s she
Dames–who can figger ‘em? Bring home a dozen roses.
Maybe that’ll shut her trap.
The wife wants an expensive wristwatch for Christmas
but I’m broke.What should I tell her?–Slim
Wristwatch, hell! Tell her there’s a clock on the
12* CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE
INTERNET POLITICAL DEBATE METHODOLOGIES
The burger king school of rhetoric.
Matchbook college logic.
Ice cream socialism.
Maculate scalded dog surdity.
Fraidy-cat O’Fear reticence.
TYPICAL INTERNET PRONOUNCEMENTS, TRANSLATED
My opinion is the only opinion. And those who call me l’il fascist will be defenestrated.
I long to suppress your ideas because I’m an American and you’re a terrorist nyah nyah nyah and everything you write is a thoughtcrime because it personally disturbs me because it is written using words of more than half a syllable and cats are bad and mice are good and I’m going to kill mommy’s cats and bring all the mice into the house.
People I do not like are actually unpeople who must be disappeared down the memory hole because I have necrotising fascismus.
I pretend to be a super-liberal, but people I disagree with ought to be exiled.