CSotD: Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief

In Candorville, Darrin Bell has been letting his alter ego, Lemont Brown, ponder the Pulitzer.

It’s funny stuff, in part because I share Lemont’s previously expressed view that plaques are for haques, and also because Darrin most certainly has won his share of Lucite, including the RFK award.

And if you’d like to know more — and why else would you be here? — you can go read this CSotD entry from the Kenosha Festival, in which Bell not only discusses the Kennedy award but tells the derivation of Lemont Brown’s name, which I have just spoilered.

However, there’s a lot more there and it’s a fun read, so have a look.


And as long as we’re talking about people like the RFK people and the Pulitzer folks who get it, let me momentarily weigh in on the NYTimes kerfuffle, which is an example of people who don’t.

And who perhaps should have hired the wife in this Frank Reynolds classic, because, as I have said many times before, editors are chosen and promoted for their knowledge of grammar and punctuation and I have rarely met anyone above the rank of copy desk with the slightest sense of humor.

Or metaphor.

Or wonder.

Such that, while I was a bit shocked that anyone could be quite so clueless as not to notice the potential insult of the images in that cartoon, it simply seems like an absurdity that proves my point.

And if my opinion were at all in doubt, the NYTimes has responded, not by promising to hire someone with a sense of wit and some competence in evaluating cartoons, but by punishing the poor clueless schlub who approved the cartoon but whom they were responsible for hiring in the first place.

And they’ve declared that, from now on, all their cartoons will be drawn in-house.

Which I think means that they want to be able to sit the cartoonist down to explain to them that the donkey is a Democrat and the elephant is a Republican and the person they are both tugging on is a Voter.

Because how else could anyone possibly know?

One more note: We’ve been through this before, but arguing over what was intended and what you got out of it is simply a sign that the cartoonist did a poor job.

If you want to argue over a Dali painting or “Gravity’s Rainbow,” be my guest, because those creators have labored mightily to craft intricate and confusing works for people to interpret and misinterpret.

A political cartoon can be nuanced but it shouldn’t be open to obvious misinterpretation. The goal is communication, and whatever the artist intended is irrelevant if the tools and symbols are sure to impose unintended meanings.

If one person doesn’t get it, that’s expected. If 20 or 30 or 100 people take it the wrong way, that’s on the artist.

Know your tools. I wouldn’t hire a carpenter who drove nails with a pipe wrench, even if his method worked.

And speaking of not knowing how things work:


Juxtaposition of Forever

(Drew Sheneman, 2019)

(Herblock, 1964)

One advantage of growing up in a very small town is the diversity of people who make up your friends and acquaintances.

If you were white collar in a blue collar setting, one of the outcomes of such an upbringing is a deep shudder and revulsion when people in high places fail to understand how others live.

It’s probably why I was so struck — almost distressed — by Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party,” in which a privileged little girl struggles to reconcile the gap between her life and that of a working-class family in the village below, whose young father was killed in an accident.

And her family, more focused on planning their party than on someone else’s grief, is of no help.

I had the same response when I heard that Donald Trump — whose father didn’t love him but did make him a millionaire before he was out of knee-breeches — has proposed charging refugees for the privilege of seeking asylum.

I disagree pragmatically with states that deprive felons of food stamps, because it’s a stupid policy that will only increase recidivism.

But, though I am used to Trump’s lack of empathy, I am genuinely, gut-twistingly emotionally repulsed by his arrogance on this matter.

But Mansfield wrote her story in 1921 and Herblock drew his cartoon in 1964 and so maybe this is just something we need to live with.

At least until Diderot sees his goal become reality.


Which reminds me

The Nib published this extended list of May Day quotes, illustrated by Sam Wallman.

It’s a good piece well illustrated, to which I will simply add a few things I put together when I was writing about women’s suffrage.

Consider the two, taken together, a late May Day bouquet:

Speaking of things we’ve heard said, and said again, far too often for far too long.


And then there’s this

I’ve already complained about this, but Pat Bagley drawed it up real good, and, while I doubt either one of us is gonna make a damn bit of difference,  like Pat, I just wish they’d quit admitting it each time and then returnething to it like those proverbial dogs.

Still, it’s good to see I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I’m almost sorry I wasted Spike Jones’ famous horserace earlier, though perhaps I can make up for it by writing new lyrics to a George Jones classic:

Well the race is on & here comes 
Biden up the back stretch
Bernie’s a goin’ to the inside
Kamala’s holdin’ back, she’s tryin’ not to fall
Pete is out of the runnin’
Corey’s scratched for another’s sake
The race is on and that’s how we’ll call it,
So the nation loses all




5 thoughts on “CSotD: Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief

  1. I have to admit, I didnt understand the Times cartoon. I didnt understand the context, I didnt understand the outrage. I mean, I get it: an odd choice of a seeing-eye dog leading a clueless wonder. But that’s as far as I got in terms of understanding why everyone was so direly upset about it. I’d be more upset about the fact that it just wasnt doing its job and indeed appeared more of a mess than it was probably worth.

    Another part of me wonders if the fact that artist is Portuguese might have something to do with it, that there’s some cultural thing there that makes the choice of dog breed somehow relevant? I dont know. But the more I read, the more it seemed like people were all upset without being able to say exactly why they were upset. The star of David on the collar? Cheeto wearing a yarmulke? So it identified the dog as Bibi and says Trump is falsely aligning himself with Bibi — neither of which were big surprises and werent especially offensive, as far as I can see. So what was I missing here?

  2. Machs nix. There were enough similarities to deliberately anti-Semitic cartoons of the past for people to assume the coincidences were deliberate, though I’d suggest that if you ever decide to comment on the topic that you run your idea by someone more conversant with der Sturmer, etc.

    However, the bottom line is that quarreling over intentions is a mug’s game. If I draw a bird and everyone says “What a nice horse!” it’s a picture of a horse and my intentions are irrelevant.

  3. And I’d add that the a cappella breaks in that song are truly brilliant.

  4. You’re missing the point. Right wingers are agend-izing this cartoon to fit their narrative against the NYT. And the cowards at the NYT are bowing to their baseless complaints.

    It’s not what they see in the cartoon, it’s what they can use.

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