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Category Archives: The French

The Inter Ocean, July 13, 1878.

Dallas Morning News, February 1, 1886. Said Frenchmen would in fact have been Quebecois rather than F.O.B. cheese-eaters. Now, your Quebecois gene pool is (no aspersions intended) a tight and tidy affair, which raises the possibility that the behavioral oddities manifested by these Gallic lumberjacks stemmed from some kinda mutation. But I’m more inclined to think that this was a culture-bound syndrome like latah, piblokto, bulimia or Republicanism. Read More »

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 6, 1890. It gives me the jibblies, the way some people shove religion down their kid’s throats.

The Pittsfield [Mass.] Sun, October 8, 1868. Accidental poetry like this was, of course, a byproduct of the telegraph. And this is recognizably the sort of thing that Thoreau was anticipating when he famously wrote in 1854 that “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate… We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.” Thoreau was a joyless old poop. I’ll take stuff like this over a dreary proto-Unabomber tract like Walden Pond any day of the year. It lighteneth the mynd, it quickeneth the spirits, it addeth to the gaiety of nations.

New Hampshire Patriot and Gazette, March 16, 1853. Que ferait McGyver?

Kansas City Times, March 30, 1921.This Tridon was a Freudian and something of a grand fromage in spreading that gospel in New York. Seems he had some significant racial and dietary bees in his bonnet too. Read More »

pockBoston Daily Journal. December 5, 1889. Tom Stoppard and Richard Powers are collaborating on an operatic libretto encompassing these items. Johnny Greenwood is signed to write the score.

Oh, just kiddin’. But the longer I stare at these old newspapers, the more I am bewitched by the cumulative insanity and variety and intellectual free-fall of these deep stacks of randomly interesting nonsense.

They put me much in mind the work of Neil Postman, whose books The Disappearance of Childhood and Amusing Ourselves to Death seemed to me very profound when I read them in my 20s. The guy’s basic theme was that print imposed rationality, but video annihilated it. That, according to Mr. Postman, was because TV equaled vaudeville and vaudeville equaled chaos. Whereas print was inherently rational.

But that’s fundamentally utopian, i.e. stupid, because vaudeville is the default condition of the human mind, regardless of prevailing medium. Am I right? I got Shakespeare and Chaucer on my side here.

P.S. I see some boffins at a Harvardian thinktank are on my side too. I would have tidied up, avoir su.

horse Daily Alaska Dispatch, August 4, 1900. By “patties” the author here means pâtés, as the next paragraph will show. It’s inferable that he is unaware that French people had been in the regular habit of eating horseflesh since the Revolution (when it was both a good source of protein and an anti-aristocratic gesture). Read More »

flamer Ballou’s Dollar Monthly, March 16, 1862. Sacre bleu! We could be looking here at the historical origins of that beloved special effects staple, The Flaming Guy.flaming guy Irwin Allen wouldn’t even be born for another half century.

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