30 December 2014

Closing Tabs for the New Year


T
oday has gone down the tubes worrying about how I’m going to make the rent (selling plasma looks like an option) and trying to get in shape for the upcoming year. One of the things I’m doing is closing the endless series of tabs that are open in my browser—literally hundreds of them, all (or most of them) pointing to something important or interesting or at least entertaining. Well, some of them are only Wikipedia articles I intended to edit when I got some free time, or a picture I meant to show somebody or other, or a dead link to something forgotten.
For one example, here is a link (David Edwards, “Mall cop ignores racist harassing Seattle protesters and pepper sprays black bystander instead,” Raw Story, 14 August 2014) to a story about an altercation in a Seattle mall. Some sort of demonstration against Israel was going on, and a shirtless guy (whose identity appears to be unknown) started harassing the demonstrators and apparently anybody else who happened along. (A picture sequence by Alex Garland documents the event.) Shouting “towelhead” and something that sounded like “sand n*gg*r,” the guy squared off against a passerby. The photo sequence doesn’t show who started it, but Shirtless Guy was being aggressive before the passerby—Raymond Wilford—had even showed up, so I know who I’d bet on. A mall security officer appeared. As the photos show, he walked right past Shirtless Guy and sprays something in Wilford’s face. A video beginning shortly after documents the crowd shouting that the mall cop pepper-sprayed the wrong guy. Police arrived, the mall guard took Wilford away, and things apparently quieted down. A relatively recent follow-up shows that no charges were filed against the mall guard. Scott Born, a spokesman for Valor Security Services who was not there at the time, claims that the mall guard gave repeated warnings. There is no evidence for this in the picture sequence, but of course it could have happened between pictures. The city attorney (who also wasn’t there) claims that Wilford acted aggressively towards the mall guard. (Again, this was missed by the picture sequence.) When you note that Shirtless Guy was white and Wilford black it is not hard to see why the mall guard went for the one and not the other, but as we all keep hearing, in America we live in a post-racial society, so that can’t be it.
Another tab I have open takes me to the works of Arthur Clement Hilton, whom I was doubtless researching for a parody anthology I was putting together before my life blew up when the axe finally fell on the long saga of The House Just Off Interstate Avenue. The project is actually older than that; I’ve been putting together a collection of parodies in English spanning space and time, including not only well-known parodists like Max Beerbohm and Wolcott Gibbs, but also lesser-known writers, like Barry Pain and Arthur Clement Hilton. Hilton is primarily remembered for his amazing Swinburne parody—you know the one—the ode to an octopus in an aquarium done in the meter of “Dolores”. Almost exactly one hundred years older than me, Hilton died relatively young, in his twenties. While his reputation (such as it is) rests primarily on the Swinburne takeoff, he also did amusing and apt parodies of Ouida and Christina Rosetti. (This is the one that ends:
What are nice? Ducks and peas,
What are nasty? Bites of fleas.
What are fast? Tides and times.
What are slow? Nursery rhymes.
If I recall correctly, Dwight Macdonald included this one in his anthology in spite of his claim that no parody involving fleas was ever enjoyable.) I meant to devote an entire entry to him earlier this year—and maybe I will some day—but for now this will have to do.
Another tab still open links to the Amazon page on M. R. James’ New Testament Apocrypha collection. This relates to one of my irritations over the past several years. I’ve wanted this book ever since I was young, when I used to check it out from the Vancouver library to read some of the lost books of the bible in a more reliable form than Hone’s 1821 volume. (That’s another blog entry—or rather a set of them—that I have yet to write.) Some years back thanks to this new-fangled contraption they call the internet, I managed to locate and buy a copy of the first edition—more for old times’ sake than for utility, as there are better editions out there now, and this was only a translation at that. But, I regret to say, it disappeared when my relatives thoughtfully cleaned out my room for me, getting rid of such old trash as my Lancer first-printing Conan collection, and my 1950 edition of Max Beerbohm’s A Christmas Garland. (Sad to say, many members of my family, whom I love dearly, are barbarians. Years ago I noticed that my 1875 copy of Kit Carson’s Life and Adventures (which contains an early though inaccurate account of the Modoc War) was missing. On asking about it I learned that one of my relatives had it in her room. Are you enjoying it? I asked, somewhat astonished. Well, she replied, one leg of the bedside table is broken, and it’s just the right size to hold it up.) Anyway, earlier this year, when I still labored under the delusion that I would have space for bookcases and books wherever I ended up, I looked about online for a replacement copy.
So that’s the story of three of the many things that occupied my thoughts this year. The links follow.

King staff, “Man pepper-sprayed by Westlake security says apology not enough” on King5, 12 August 2014.
Mike Lindblom, “City attorney won’t charge Westlake Center guard in pepper-spray incident” in the Seattle Times, 4 December 2014.
Arthur Clement Hilton, “Octopus” on Representative Poetry Online
Algernon Charles Swinburne, “Dolores” on The Victorian Web
Dewitt C. Peters, Kit Carson’s Life and Adventures, 1875, at Hathitrust
M. R. James, Apocryphal New Testament, page at Amazon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another year goes down. Will the new one look any better for the performance of white police/ how about a little equality under the law? rfh

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