Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Don't Want Nobody Nobody Sent..."

Are you from Chicago? Are you familiar with some of Chicago's more sullied and storied events; I'm thinking, you know, like its political history? Well, maybe you know the phrase "Don't want nobody nobody sent."

The phrase references the surprise appearance of official investigators looking into shenanigans involving money and votes and access and open public processes and who gets to be in charge and why. Come to think about it, that's hardly a historical reference for Windy City politics. It's kinda timely today.

Anyway, an up-and-coming news sleuth filled me in on that phrase and it's certainly something our man Frank might be worrying about. I'm at the point in The Titan in which the Republicans just won City Hall, a significant purge of the long and profitably entrenched Dems. This purge was financed by one Hosmer Hand along with some other wealthy colleagues, with on-the-ground tactics carried out by very colorful hirelings who always have one grudge or another against any power structure.

The real goal of Mr. Hand's upheaval, interestingly, is not political power. Rather, it's revenge at you-know-who. That's right: Frank Cowperwood. And you probably know why - because Frank stole the affection of the young Mrs. Hosmer Hand, turning the elderly husband into a vengeful cuckold. Actually, this same call for retribution comes from many in Chicago. Frank moves through social circles like a tomcat.

But, now, Aileen has met Polk Lynde and there are sparks within a dangerously charged atmosphere. More on this latah...

How about that name "Hosmer Hand?" Is that great or what? What about "Polk Lynde?"

No author is better than Dreiser at creating, describing, presenting and commenting on his characters, usually presenting all of those descriptives in the same sentence, or remarkably few sentences. Consider how he expands on Polk Lynde's personality: "He (Polk) was comparatively young - not more than Aileen's own age - schooled, if not educated, at one of the best American colleges, of excellent taste in the matter of clothes, friends, and the details of living with which he chose to surround himself, but at heart a rake." Schooled, if not educated - ever meet anyone like that?

Polk's father is a wealthy farm implement manufacturer. Polk is the gilded heir; money is just to fight off boredom. Consider how Drieser sets Polk's relationship with hard work, risk, capital, labor, showing up for work everyday, i.e., reality: "He (Polk) realized that the business itself was a splendid thing. He liked on occasion to think of it with all its extent of ground-space, plain red-brick buildings, tall stacks and yelling whistles; but he liked in no way to have anything to do with the rather commonplace routine of its manipulation." A contemptuous, pompous and arrogant rake - I would say finely crafted by Mr. Dreiser.

I'm getting long-winded, so I just have to pose a rhetorical question now. As accomplished as Dreiser is at descriptions, characterization, historical recounting, psychological insight and commentary... I'm wondering after 327 pages, will the sum of The Titan be greater than its great parts?

Oh - now I'm really carrying on, but I checked the ticket prices for "Tragedy" in New York. Some sections are sold out - I think for the opening night.

Keep in touch.


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