You keep antagonizing me I’magonna knock your effin teeth outta yo mouth is what I’m gonna do said the man as he spun and chest-bumped the woman who was walking behind him. The observers of the tableau noted that she lacked any teeth in the first place. The man was tense with fury, and I wondered what to do here. Intercede if he starts to beat her? He was about my size, maybe 20 years younger, tight with fury, the sort of anger that can be transferred from one object to another in a split second. Call the cops. Note the street address, get out the phone, get ready to dial. The cop shop was just two blocks away.
He repeated the threat, then walked on. The woman stopped and turned and asked the observers: do you have any water?
No, no one had any water.
She staggered over to a truck idling at the light and knocked on the window and asked if the driver had any water. The driver did not have any water.
Well, life in the big city.
Okay, off to write the fourth column of the week. Six due, three written. Ideas today: zero, aside from the usual clutter related to something I wrote about before. Can’t nap unless I get something down! Can’t writing about something that happened at Target, because I only allow myself two of those per year. Can’t write anything having to do with grocery stores, since that would be embarrassing. Ran out last night to get something at CufB, as they were the only store open, and there was a cheerful fellow working the self-checkout area. New guy, full of enthusiasm for helping out, ready to swipe his magic barcode and enter the secret code. He said something nice about my jacket, and I said thanks and don’t worry, I won’t need your help, I know what I’m doing! I know not to buy a single jalapeño, because the machine won’t recognize it! I know that when I say I’m using my own bag, and it tells me to place it in the bagging area, and then the register says “unexpected item in bagging area” as if we didn’t just discuss this a second ago, I know which button to push! And so on, all joshing.
“You know what you’re doing, you got this covered,” he said.
“Right.” I take a brown grocery bag, and open it up. Except it doesn’t want to open. The flat bottom will not open up. “It’s stuck,” I say. “Must have some glue in it.” I struggle a little more, punching it, dreading the moment when he says Let Me Help You There Gramps because no, dammit, I know what I’m doing and I got that covered.
Eventually I got it open, so I was spared additional embarrassment.
SORRY I FORGOT AGAIN
So: another account of an internet peregrination, as we go . . .
I came into possession of an old anthology of great American writers. I have since parted with it, because otherwise it would just sit here and add to the clutter. But I scanned some details. It’s full of these dingbats and filigrees:
And we think the 20th century invented abstract art.
There's a page of the Distinguished Essayists and Literary Critics of the day. Washington Irving we know. But who are the rest of these august fellows?
Let's find out.
Ik Marvel. His real name was Donald Grant Mitchell, and perhaps his most popular work was "Reveries of a Bachelor." The book is available online, and the title is true: reveries indeed. Endless disquisitions on this or that. It has a staid pace, and is not particularly archaic. Here’s the author on young love:
What sweet little hats she does wear; and in the schoolroom, when the hat is hung up—what curls—golden curls, worth a hundred Golcondas! How bravely you study the top lines of the spelling-book that your eyes may run over the edge of the cover, without the schoolmaster’s notice, and feast upon her!
You half wish that somebody would run away with her, as they did with Amanda, in The Children of the Abbey - and then you might ride up on a splendid black horse and draw a pistol, or blunderbuss, and shoot the villains, and carry her back, all in tears, fainting and languishing upon your shoulder—and have her father (who is judge of the county
court) take your hand in both of his and make some eloquent remarks.
A great many such recaptures you run over in your mind and think how delightful it would be to peril your life, either by flood, or fire—to cut off your arm, or your head, or any such trifle—for your dear Louise.
Okay, first question: Golcondas? It’s a fort, but it could refer to the diamonds kept there, or diamonds from the region. Wikipedia notes that the “name has taken a generic meaning and has come to be associated with great wealth.”
Second question: The Children of the Abbey? At the time, no one needed to explain that. It was a gothic novel written in 1796. A reference here was like someone talking about Darth Vader in 2023. Old but still part of the cultural vernacular.
The author spends a lot of time on boyhood, wreathing each moment in a sugary fog of sentimentality. He makes short work of college. I’m the opposite. Boyhood was fine, and went well, for the most part. I wish I remembered more, and the scraps I still carry around are mostly bits of cultural recollections. TV shows, record album covers, a favorite toy. It’s when you’re out of that time that things start to get interesting.
Higgonson: Abolitionist, Women’s rights advocate.
Another of those essayists who put out a popular collection. Ah for those days, he said, envious.
Inventor of the Shredded Wheat Beard! Well, no. Poet and essayist. And more!
In addition to his literary achievements, Stedman pursued scientific and technical endeavors. In 1879, he proposed a rigid airship inspired by the anatomy of a fish, with a framework of steel, brass, or copper tubing and a tractor propeller mounted on the craft's bow, later changed to an engine with two propellers suspended beneath the framework. The airship never was built, but its design foreshadowed that of the dirigibles of the early decades of the 20th century.
Charles Dudley Warner (September 12, 1829 – October 20, 1900) was an American essayist, novelist, and friend of Mark Twain, with whom he co-authored the novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.
He first attracted attention with the reflective sketches in My Summer in a Garden (1870). First published as a series in The Hartford Courant, these sketches were popular for their abounding and refined humor and mellow personal charm, their love of the outdoors, their suggestive comment on life and affairs, and their delicately finished style, qualities that suggested the work of Washington Irving.
There seemed to be an appetite for happy things in those days.
In 1873, the work Warner is known for today, the novel he wrote with Mark Twain, was published. Called The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, it gave that era of American history its name.
Here’s an example of the humorous writing of the era, if you wish.
Ah, but there’s more.
Charles Dudley Warner is known for making these famous remarks:
Politics makes strange bedfellows.
Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
Quoted by Mark Twain in one of his many humorous lectures, Warner's quip is still commonly misattributed to Twain.
And now you know.