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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Anaconda Standard, December 2, 1916. My mince pie experiment was surprisingly successful. Only 1 out of 10 volunteer subjects so far deemed it disgusting. Other responses ranged from “weird but good” to “really good.” I’m not sure that mince pie is poised for a comeback, but it does exert more persistent appeal than I would have thought.
P.S. One subject got back to me about a nightmare. Hers concerned an abrupt and unexpected obligation to sing showtunes onstage before a large audience. She rated it a 5 on a scale upon which 1 is emotionally neutral and 10 unbearable torment.

(Chicago) Daily Inter-Ocean, March 12, 1896. For no other pie did people behave this way.

Albany Journal, April 24, 1860. Guy doesn’t mince his words. Higginson, I should add, was this guy.

Philadelphia Inquirer, December 11, 1888. “Overindulgence”–not too strong a word, I guess.

Critic-Reporter (Washington, D.C.), February 8, 1872. I sometimes honestly wonder if I’m not getting in over my head with my mince pie researches. Might I be about to awaken a slumbering ancient evil, per about 3,000,000 direct-to-video DVD releases?

And yet I must press on with the work, because lemme tell you, new shit is coming to light faster than I can assimilate it. In addition to these exciting new archival developments, this is a very big day in the Hope Chest Experimental Kitchens, where I am in the midst–nay, the throes–of preparing my very first batch of mince.

And lemme also tell you, this is an extremely labor-intensive pie. Yesterday I got my minced beef ready; today, having earlier shopped for suet and mace and brandy and good stuff like that, I am preparing to chop fruit and start mixing up test batches of mince.

Tomorrow I will be asking a panel of randomly-selected test subjects (i.e. strangers at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner party) to sample the pie, evaluate its flavor, and get back to me about any physical or psychological side-effects. (And no, I don’t know if this is exactly ethical on my part, okay? But such is my Faustian–Frankensteinian? Mengeleian?–dedication to the advance of historical knowledge.)

Anyway, an account of the results plus an essay on the social history of mince pie will consequently be published in the Chicago Reader, unless of course I can’t make bail.

But before I can proceed with mixing the meth, er, mince, I must wait for my boiled cider to reduce to its appropriate consistency. It was while waiting for my cider to boil that I discovered the above horror, and many other things too strange and wondrous to even think about as I stand here on the threshold of the Hurt Locker.

As for the above item, all I can say is this: Before I put any pies in the oven, I’m definitely gonna put vents in the pastry. (Is this is what people mean when they say “Everything happens for a reason”?)

Baltimore Afro-American, December 14, 1929. William K. “Hello World” Henderson
was this crazy old bastard who built a high-powered radio station down Shreveport way, primarily as a vehicle of self-expression. He’d get on the air at night and drink and ramble on about why the Republicans sucked and how Herbert Hoover was a “yellow shit” and a “cross between a jackass and a bulldog bitch,” then he’d play some hillbilly or blues records. Then he’d be back on the air to rail about how the chain stores were sucking the life’s blood out of the South, then he’d play some more records and . . . well, you get the idea. He’s the grand daddy of all shock jocks. And also of all disk jockeys–you weren’t supposed to rely on records as programming back then.

And he was easily one of the most popular, if not the most popular broadcaster in the nation. His loyal rural fan base extended all the way up to New England. KWKH’s signal pretty much covered the map because Henderson didn’t bother with bureaucratic niceties like assigned wavelengths and signal strength. He’d boost his wattage according to his mood, and do it right on the air too. He’d yell at his engineer, “Give us more power, doggone you, give me all the power you’ve got!”

Another of his favorite pastimes was baiting the Federal Radio Commission (precursor to the FCC), who, you’ll surmise, were not big KWKH fans. Once he telephoned the regional radio supervisor at his home in New Orleans and started cussing him out on the air. Several years ago I heard Howard Stern perpetrate a virtually identical prank on the chairman of the FCC.

I guess I don’t have to add that he was something of a racist too. Well, I would have to add that if this were an academic forum. I’d have to go on and on about it, and then maybe offer some feeble theoretical construct establishing that broadcasting itself is inherently racist, as are indeed the very principles of radio wave propagation. If I could just do these simple things, I’d be a big professor of media right now, instead of a homeless blogger living under a bridge.

Aaaaanyway, Henderson and KWKH are the subject of a fascinating chapter in my compulsively readable book American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age (“Subtly hilarious!” raved the Journal of American History; “Vivid and exciting!” cheered the American Historical Review; “A bit of a slog,” complained my mom). And hey, I just noticed that Amazon has discounted it just in time for Chri–er, the Festive Gift-Buying Season! Do your bit for the economic recovery, folks.

Bellevue News-Democrat, January 28, 1921. Oh, those suave Italians and their dark arts of seduction. Without the Mann Law, where would we all have been?

The Daily Picayune, February 24, 1888. Like a gentleman what? Is pounding him into ecstasy?

The Daily Picayune, February 24, 1888. Oh man, I’d my eyeteeth for access to such an institution. Bet they served mince pie, too. Though I know a lot of Canadians (really–a lot) who would take grave offense at the idea that the noble game of crokinole originated among bean-eating Yankees.

Baltimore Gazette, April 21, 1836. Turn it into potato flour to make special hosts, would have been my commercial suggestion. Or just run it through a mandolin and deep-fry ’em in profile.