You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man
In You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, W.C. Fields tells a customer that his grandfather’s last words, “just before they sprung the trap” were, “You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump.”
If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.
—Elmore Leonard character Rayland Givens, perhaps from the TV show
(photo by flickr user Guilherme Nicholas)
Pictures from an Institution
Sometimes you meet, coming down the leafy path along which you are walking, a man dressed as Napoleon; as he talks to you, you look at him with distrust, pity, amusement—carefully do not look, rather. But as the two of you walk along, and people come up with wallpaper designs full of Imperial bees, rashly offer their condolences on the death of the Duc d’Enghien, ask for a son’s appointment as Assistant Quartermaster-General of the army being sent to the Peninsula, you realize that it is not he but his whole society that has “lost touch with reality.”
—- Randall Jarrell
Grass is important to the German public — I would go so far as to say “necessary” — because he has accepted being the emblem of the “German problem.” For instance, in his play, Grass is trying to force his countrymen, on both sides of the Wall, to admit the truth about at least one incontrovertible fact in German history: that the June, 1953, manifestation, which the East Germans describe, in Grass’s words, “as the work of Nazis sent in by the West” and which the West Germans call a heroic “uprising of the people,” was, in fact, “neither one nor the other, but a simple workers’ demonstration. The intellectuals, the church, the bourgeoisie abstained completely,” Grass said to me (slipping, for the only time in our talk, into real bitterness). “It was neither the Nazis, nor was it the whole German people. That would be too easy. I subtitle my play ‘A German Tragedy’ because, by telling a few lies, everyone got off the hook.”
Naturally enough, I asked Grass what he would have done in the circumstances. He would not, he said with some anger, have told the German people, as the Adenauer Government implied in 1953, that keeping peace and quiet was the citizen’s first duty: “Rühe ist die erster Bürgerpflicht.” For Grass, the horror of this attitude was its calculating hypocrisy, which he finds everywhere in West German society.
Low-Tech Coffee Roasting
What Is An Anarchist?
The judge, to Ammon Hennacy, who had just pled “anarchism” to the charge of illegal demonstration, in Salt Lake City – “Mister Hennacy, what is an anarchist?” Hennacy – “Judge, an anarchist is a fellow who don’t need a cop to tell him what to do!”
One of my earliest memories, when I was not yet three years old, in Ohio. A neighbor had a reflecting telescope and we were observing the full moon with it. The adults were, anyway. When I was hoisted up and looked into the eyepiece, I was convinced there was a pancake – yellow, with bubbles – at the bottom of this tube and I was baffled by why we would be looking at it through a tube and not taking it out and eating it. Clearly, a hungry child.
An early experience that reinforced my distrust of grownups.
Photo of moon by flickr user coniferconifer
Business Lesson of the Day: Point of View
When I worked at the outsourcing company, in the call center, for quite a while I was the only one on the night shift. So I was always happy to see people in the morning, and was usually quite chatty.
The company hired a service to take care of their plants. They’d moved twice in the short time I’d been with them, each time to a larger space. Early one morning, I was chatting with the fellow who came around to trim and water the plants. Remarking on the size of the new space and the size of his job, he told me “I remember when you were a three-plant company!”