Sunday, December 11, 2005


Yu Chen, my graduate assistant, was unable to work tonight, so I'm stuck at Cook Liberry for 13 hours straight. What bullshit. The place is packed with hopeless nincompoops studying for finals and coughing on me when they ask questions.

Fortunately I had Henry Louis along to entertain me; the second volume of his autobiography is primarily a series of exquisite vignettes about drunkards, prostitutes, politicos, and other scandalous characters. Particularly engaging is his tale of a young Pennsylvania Dutch gal from Red Lion, PA who flees to Baltimore in search of a cathouse in which to sell herself; after being ravished by her beau (from the big city of York) she thinks this her destiny. I lived in Red Lion for a few years, and used to commute from there to Baltimore daily. At the turn of the last century this would have been an arduous journey by horsecart and rail.

Mencken had moral hypocrites pegged:
I made up my mind at once that my true and natural allegiance was to the Devil's party, and it has been my firm belief ever since that all persons who devote themselves to forcing virtue on their fellow men deserve nothing better than kicks in the pants. Years later I put that belief into a proposition which I ventured to call Mencken's Law, to wit:

Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.
Amen, Henry.

No comments: