76 Names Found in Luc Sante’s Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, In No Particular Order

Hon. Fernando Wood, N.Y - NARA - 529874

  1. Sadakichi Hartmann
  2. Fernando Wood
  3. Junius Brutus Booth
  4. Edward C.Z. “Buntline” Judson
  5. Diamond Jim Brady
  6. Baby-Face Willie
  7. Colly Cibber
  8. Laloo the East Indian Enigma
  9. Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy
  10. Gallus Mag
  11. Owney Geoghegan
  12. Charles Solomon aka Silver Dollar Smith
  13. Slippery Johnny Leipzinger
  14. Cross-Eyed Murphy
  15. Mustache Ike Witkoski
  16. Big Feet Louie Gorden
  17. Stitch McCarthy aka Samuel Rothberg
  18. Blonde Madge Davenport
  19. Big Mame
  20. Swipes the Newsboy
  21. Scotchy Lavelle
  22. Chinatown Nellie
  23. Gin Buck
  24. Eddie the Plague
  25. Johnny Basketball
  26. Commodore Dutch
  27. Louie (the Lump) Piaggi
  28. Chick Tricker
  29. Harry Hamburger
  30. Monk Eastman
  31. Johnny Spanish
  32. John “Old Smoke” Morrissey
  33. Christ Tracy
  34. Larry the Lug
  35. Limehouse Chappie
  36. Herman “Beansy” Rosenthal
  37. Gyp the Blood
  38. Red Light Lizzie
  39. Hester Jane Haskins aka Jane the Grabber
  40. Shang Allen
  41. Hell-Cat Maggie
  42. Slobbery Jim
  43. Patsy the Barber
  44. Sow Madden
  45. Cowlegged Sam McCarthy
  46. Skinner Meehan
  47. Hop-Along Peter
  48. Kid Shanahan
  49. Kid Twist
  50. Kid Jigger
  51. Kid Twist
  52. Kid Glove Rosey
  53. Pugsey Hurley
  54. Wreck Donovan
  55. Tom the Mick
  56. Beany Kane
  57. Piggy Noles
  58. Wild Bill Lovett
  59. Banjo Pete Emerson
  60. Ephraim “Old” Snow
  61. George Washington Dixon
  62. George Washington Plunkitt
  63. Marm Mandelbaum
  64. Dr. Jakob Rosenzweig aka the Hackensack Mad Monster
  65. Annie Walden the Man-Killing Race-Track Girl
  66. Hoggy Walsh
  67. Slops Connolly
  68. Googy Corcoran
  69. Goo Goo Knox
  70. Baboon Dooley
  71. Red Rocks Farrell
  72. Pretty Kitty McGown
  73. Eat-’em-up Jack McManus
  74. Stumpy Malarkey
  75. Rubber Shaw
  76. One Lung Curran

[Top: Photo of Fernando Wood; Image Credit: Wikipedia]

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A Bird Shit On Me and Other Moving Tales

I just moved a few weeks ago. The whole experience induced brain-exploding misery and exhaustion, but I did get a few stories out of it, which I guess is one of the good things that comes out of moving. Here are some things I remember about the times I’ve moved during my life:

1. When I was in kindergarten, we moved from an apartment to a house. Before we actually moved, my brother, sister and I walked through the house with our parents. There was an old Italian couple living there with their adult son. The only thing I remember was that the mom – in my memory, she looks like Strega Nona without the kerchief – was cooking meatballs in the dimly lit kitchen. When we moved in, our house smelled like a heady combination of grease and pure gasoline. It was February and we had to keep the windows open for a while.

2. Once, my parents moved without me. I wish the reason were more dramatic, but I was just at camp. And by camp I mean hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains with ten or so other ninth graders, but that’s a story for another day. The last time I drove away from that house, on my way to the airport, I forgot to look back at it one last time, which I felt very badly about while I was away. I’m a very sentimental person and it seemed important that I gaze upon the hydrangea bushes I hid in during so many games of manhunt, not to mention the Japanese maple with a hidden fire ant population I discovered when I still liked to climb trees and the house’s red bricks that I so hoped would one day become covered in ivy a la Madeline. But when I got home, I realized that taking one last look didn’t matter. Our new house was only, oh, ten blocks away. In the past ten years, I’ve gotten to take a lot of last looks. (FYI, our old house looks like a piece of shit now.)

3. My mom helped me move into my apartment before my senior year of college. This turned out to be a good thing, because I didn’t have a car or any real help. Also, I needed someone to help me get the free bed frame and mattress a friend who had graduated had given me from the maze of a basement in Evanston, Illinois where she had stored it. It turned out that someone had glued this free Ikea bed frame together. It was particularly difficult to move. It also fell apart more than once. But hey, it was free.

4. When I moved to Manhattan two years ago, it was super easy. My mom, my brother and I packed up two cars and got everything into the apartment easy peasy. But my roommates didn’t move in for a few days so I was really just left with a bunch of pieces of furniture. No TV, no internet, no plates or tables. Or utensils. My first night, my friend Emmet brought me a housewarming gift of two wine glasses and two bottles of wine that we promptly drank. He also brought me a marble cheese board. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t eat meals of cheese off of that piece of marble for days.

5. My friend dropped my air conditioner out of my bedroom window whilst helping me move out of my old apartment last month. There was no harm done, except to the air conditioner, which broke into four pieces. Luckily, the person who formerly lived in my new room left behind a tiny, thirty year-old air conditioner, secured to the window with a few strips of painter’s tape.

6. After approximately twelve non-consecutive hours of moving, while waiting to take one of approximately sixteen trips in a U-Haul and then in a Prius to move stuff from one apartment to another, a bird shit on my shoulder and a little bit on my face. I didn’t care. My arms were too tired to wipe it off.

7. I’m so tired of thinking about moving that I can’t tell you anything more about it. I’m content to put it be hind me for a while as soon as I finish writing this sentence.

Reading The Go-Between

Unknown man; Jean de Menasce; Leslie Poles ('L...

Unknown man; Jean de Menasce; Leslie Poles (‘L.P.’) Hartley; Sylvester Govett Gates; Hon. Robert Gathorne-Hardy, by Lady Ottoline Morrell (died 1938). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve recently become interested in astrology. But only because one of my friends likes reading astrology charts and I like hearing things that I’m supposed to identify with and deciding whether or not I do. Would I be a great private investigator? I don’t know, chaosastrology.net, but I’d like to think so. (I like Veronica Mars.)

I bring this up because I just finished The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley (pictured above, in a time and place I would have liked to experience) and there’s a lot of stuff about the Zodiac in there. I would even go so far as to say that the Zodiac is a theme. OK, the main character and narrator’s name is Leo – my sign! – so it’s definitely a theme.

Anyway, I liked this book. A lot. Which is why I’m writing about it here. It has all of my favorite things ever: a child narrator, commentary on the declining British aristocracy at the turn of the 20th century, classism, a doomed love affair, fake spells, deadly nightshade, and people speaking French without any English translation. I feel like my heart and brain are exploding after writing all of that out.

And I hadn’t even heard of this book until a few weeks ago when I freakishly went through the entire catalog of books published by NYRB and listed out all of the ones I want to read. (There are approximately one million books on that list.) I ended up buying it at The Strand shortly thereafter – and only because it was one of the books that didn’t require me scrambling up a ladder to reach. Though I probably wouldn’t have scrambled because I don’t like putting myself in situations where I could be physically harmed. I actually was very close to buying the other L.P. Hartley book on the shelves, Eustace and Hilda, a novel written in three parts. One of the parts is called The Shrimp and the Anemone and if you know anything about me, you know how much that title would appeal to me. But I ended up buying The Go-Between because it seemed like a more significant and famous work and also the back cover had a quote from Ian McEwan and talked about how the book was made into a movie starring Julie Christie, whom I admire.

It really made perfect sense for there to be an Ian McEwan quote on the back cover because it turns out that the story of The Go-Between is kind of exactly the same as Atonement except told in a much less modern, less dramatic manner. (Except for the deadly nightshade! The presence of deadly nightshade is always so dramatic!) I like/love Atonement (except for the middle part, I hate the middle) and I think that my level of like/love for The Go-Between is the same. I was sort of bored at times with all of the beautiful prose. That’s OK to admit, right? Sometimes perfectly lovely prose makes me just want to skip entire paragraphs so that I can get to the part that tells me what the point is.

So then, what’s the point of the book? I think – I’m hesitant to even give my opinion on what the point is because I got an 80 on a paper in the last college English class that I ever took and haven’t been confident in my analysis skills ever since – that the novel is about childhood, remembrance, and the profound experiences that not only color our memories, but also mark our passage from one stage of life into the next. So, the same things that Atonement is about. (Now I’m wishing that I had written a college English paper comparing these two books.) And the same things that I’m interested in exploring in my own fiction.

As a writer, I try to get something out of every book I read and reading The Go-Between gave me a lot to think about in terms of my own writing. I’ve been trying to write a short story, set sometime in the early twentieth century, from a child’s perspective and have struggled a lot since I wrote the first draft. I’ve gotten really hung up on some of the details because it’s based on my own family history. I’m still developing as a fiction writer and I’m trying to get to the point I’m able to infuse my stories with manipulated versions of real life events and histories without feeling any kind of attachment to them, but it’s been difficult. However, after reading The Go-Between I feel compelled to try my luck again with my own story because I think it’s a good one. I just need to work at it.

Aside

Beginnings

My history of publishing things on the internet is spotty at best. I was very dedicated to updating my AOL Hometown page, which I recall prominently featured a picture of Sailor Jupiter (of Sailor Moon fame), when I was in middle school. It was all downhill from there. I tried to start a movie quotes website in 7th grade – even though my parents still wouldn’t let me watch Rated R films – but never got around to actually putting any movie quotes on it. I have no idea if either of those sites still exists, but I hope that they don’t and I don’t plan on finding out if they do.

Honestly, I’ve never been that good at updating personal websites or internet profiles. (For evidence, please see here and here. However, I’ve more or less stayed on top of Twitter.)

I’ve had the same journal since my senior year of college, which I only feel like writing in after I’ve seen an ex-boyfriend or am annoyed by my parents because my emotional age is somewhere between 16 and 22. I also make a lot of lists in that journal. Of things I need to do, things I want to do, books I need to read, places I should travel, stories I should write. And then I never do anything on the list. Or like, I do one thing and then I forget about the list and when I come back to it weeks or months later I think ugh whyyyyy did I ever write this I knew I was never going to do anything. The one exception to this is my list of Time’s 100 Best Novels 1923-2005 (in 2009). My list only because I wrote it out in cursive and have (very neatly) crossed off each of the books I’ve finished since. I’m too lazy to go find it now but I’ve definitely read at least 20 of those books since the time I wrote it out. And I regularly consult it when I’m trying to decide what book to read next. However, I almost never end up reading anything on it now because I’m still upset/embarrassed about failing to finish The Golden Notebook.

And I guess that list is sort of related to the point of this first post. I think a mixture of laziness and self-consciousness has prevented me from starting and keeping a blog of any kind. BUT I don’t want to get too serious right away on here. (I’ll be honest, I was totally sober when I wrote the first sentence of this paragraph but I’ve had a couple glasses of prosecco now so I’m feeling less like public self-analysis?) I just want to state that I’m trying to make a change and would like commit to writing here consistently – for a while at least. And that’s mostly because I paid for emphatichands.com and I don’t like to waste things I pay for. (I do go to the gym a lot more now that I pay for it.)

Here’s to hoping that the middle and end of this blog are as good – in the sense that I’ve already written a lot here – as the beginning.