Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dunt Esk

This is the problem with blogs: You start blogging in an idle moment, and one thing leads to another and you wake up one day to find that you have readers. And readers, no matter how coolly disinterested they are nor how they are getting the deal free gratis for nothing, eventually become something like customers: they begin to have expectations. They expect frequent deliveries of new material. For the blogger--excepting, I guess, the fanatically driven or the logorrheic--the situation is like being a columnist, like one of our heroes at the great gray New York Bugle, with all the problems and responsibilities inherent, only you're not being paid. You're still bagging groceries to pay the rent, and that profession like all others has its seasons and its crises.
Maybe the association of ideas is why today we're featuring the work of the great Milt Gross, who knew from daily deadlines in his decades of newspaper employment. These are from his (criminally) out-of-print Nize Baby (1926), a work in prose and drawings that is one of the funniest books ever, and is especially recommended to children of immigrants, even if your home language wasn't Yiddish. But to reduce its matter merely to the comedy of ESL is to do it an injustice--imagine it as an episode of E. C. Segar's Thimble Theater with Finnegans Wake performed by the Marx Brothers. Even Smokey Stover fans will have to give it up to Milt, who as far as I'm aware actually coined the immortal password "banana oil."
So anyway, postings have become scarcer around here, and they may well become scarcer still, as our unpaid author contends with a mountain of past-due obligations, each of them with a promissory note attached to its curly little tail.