gall and gumption

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Gossip and Extortion

Don't know if you caught the story about the Page Six writer for the New York Post who got caught extorting money from some New York billionaire. (Here it is in Editor & Publisher. You can find it in the LA Times too but I won't link to them since they hired that pinhead Jonah Goldberg. I'm watching Keith Olbermann interview some totally amoral guy from the Hollywood Reporter. And I don't mean amoral in a good way.

I just wanted to point out that such arrangements were common in New York in the pre-Civil War era. Charles Dickens observed it and wrote about it in Martin Chuzzlewit. It was one of many practices that disgusted him about the U.S.

`You haven't got another boy to spare, p'raps, cap'en?' said the colonel, in a tone almost amounting to severity.

`I guess there air a dozen if you want 'em, colonel,' said the captain.

`One moderate big 'un could convey a dozen champagne, perhaps,' observed the colonel, musing, `to my office. You said a spanking run, I think?'

`Well, so I did,' was the reply.

`It's very nigh, you know,' observed the colonel. `I'm glad it was a spanking run, cap'en. Don't mind about quarts if you're short of 'em. The boy can as well bring four-and-twenty pints, and travel twice as once.--A first-rate spanker, cap'en, was it? Yes?'

`A most e -- tarnal spanker,' said the skipper.

`I admire at your good fortun, cap'en. You might loan me a corkscrew at the same time, and half-a-dozen glasses if you liked. However bad the elements combine against my country's noble packetship, the Screw, sir,' said the colonel, turning to Martin, and drawing a flourish on the surface of the deck with his cane, `her passage either way is almost certain to eventuate a spanker!'

The captain, who had the Sewer below at that moment, lunching expensively in one cabin, while the amiable Stabber was drinking himself into a state of blind madness in another, took a cordial leave of his friend the colonel, and hurried away to dispatch the champagne: well knowing (as it afterwards appeared) that if he failed to conciliate the editor of the Rowdy Journal, that potentate would denounce him and his ship in large capitals before he was a day older; and would probably assault the memory of his mother also, who had not been dead more than twenty years.


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