Page 2


An Island Life WHO’S KENNEDY? Fired Humorists Plan Magazine AUSTIN Despite the lusty voice of the mass media, if you will excuse the expression, innocents survive enchanting people who aren’t “up” on things, who get across life by jumping from appetite to appetite, like a youngster crossing a stream by skipping from rock to rock. They aren’t always hillbillies, either. They live in or around cities, yet their minds are as wild and shy as a cottontail. We met one of them the other day. Davidwhich isn’t his name was in Bastrop looking for work. He couldn’t find the man who had promised him a job, so he wanted to hitch a ride back to Austin, and we brought him. David is 19. A Negro. He has three brothers and two sisters, all older than he is. He was married a year, but that’s over now and David is taking care of his yearold son, usually leaving him on his father’s “place.” David went to Manor High couldn’t believe it, but checking later with the principal we found it was true, David had gone there, midway into the eighth grade. The principal called him “slow, but a nice boy and dependable.” He guessed David’s IQ would be about 80, which means that David is far fromunectircable: , tIVCATO he IS educable because we taught him how to do square roots on the trip back, and he can do them as well as the next person now. The big danger in picking up a hitch-hiker is not that he -will kill you with a gun and steal your car, but that he will bore you to death. We have found them to be, on the whole, just common clods who can’t offer anything better in the way of conversation than grunts. This wasn’t true of David. He was a happy boy, quick to talk and pretty quick to catch on. He told us about going to high school, but said they didn’t try to teach him much. What did they read? “Oh, we had readin’ about America and all that. It’s pretty hard for me to remember, it’s been WE TOSSED a newspaper to TT ‘ him and asked him to read it for us. He got along fine on the small, most common words, but he bogged down on “defense,” and he couldn’t do anything with “instructor.” We tested him on spelling. He spelled Mississippi with three “iss’s,” but that could happen to anybody under pressure. Asked to spell chronicle, “as in Houston Chronicle,” he couldn’t get beyond first “c”. We turned to politics: Who’s the secretary of state? “That’s President Eisenhower, isn’t it?” Then who’s president? “Oh, that’s President Eisenhower.” Ever heard of Kennedy? “Oh yeah, I remember when he was elected. Now I remember.” \(But he never did recall hearing THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 Dec. 22, 1961 THE SUPERNATURAL IS OBSO-LETE. Let us put away childish things and accept our own repsonsibility. Man’s future is at stake. Send $1 for 3-month Trial Membership, or $5 for a year, to American . Humanist Association, Dept. TO-3, Yellow Springs Ohio. What’s the capital of the United States? “That’s Austin, isn’t it?” \(Later he said he had heard of WashingWe tested him on geography. But David couldn’t tell us what state was east of Texas, or north of Texas, or west of Texas. But he did know that Mexico was south. He thought there were 44 states, and he didn’t know about Alaska and Hawaii being admitted. He didn’t know who the premier of Russia is, even after being clued with “K”. He knew Joe Louis was a fighter and Jackie Robinson was a ball player, but he hadn’t heard of Ralph Bunche. As we say, he learned square roots just fine. And an hour after we told him the chemicalformula for water is H2O he could. still remember the H2 part, which is pretty good, considering that he couldn’t care less about it. David isn’t dumb dumb. He is just cut off, by whatever cause. He isn’t aware of the world out there. He isn’t mad at it; he just isn’t interested in it. Some men are islands. B.S. AUSTIN “Una cuba libre, por favor,” said my traveling companion between clinched teeth. He was none other than W.M. of Yazoo City, Mississippi, and Oxford, England. We were in a border town of Tamaulipas, Mexico, at the canteen of Servando, where we had just arrived from the Place of Bulls. Servando moved swiftly and gracefully to the center of the ar ., the audience . ‘fdigetting; he concentrated on his art, that he weighed eighteen stone. Quickly he had the ice-filled glass squared away, just as the banderillero squares away the bull and poses that sacrifice to artful death, before the matador kills. Blending himself into the movement, Servando made a right pass of rum with one hand, a left pass of coke with the other, and finished with a superb natural pass of lime, delivering the opportune libation to M He killed it .. . opportunely … with precision … with a single thrust of his right arm. “Ole,” I said. The mortal and necessary spot that every matador must reach is hardly larger than a silver dollar and sits between the shoulders. “Poor little bulls,” said my companion, the internationally known sports enthusiast. “Pobres toritos.” “Death is the point of difference,” I said. “Across the River we do not believe in it. We are atheists, so to speak, about Death. But here there is Ritual in Dying and Art in Living. Even tomorrow’s stew had its Moment of Truth. It is all very significant.” “Otra cuba litre, por favor,” said M Just then a street waif entered Servando’s and approached our table. He was bearing ,a bundle of lugubrious looking printed matter, which he sold us for ten cents. He was an aggressive salesman and we were curious. AT FIRST GLANCE his sheets seemed to be a modest news paper, like the Texas Observer; close examination proved that they were nothing but diatribes, burlesques, and caricatures in verse of the principal merchants, government employees, and other well-known citizenry. The publication was decorated with skulls, skeletons, tombstones and other funeral objects. The writing took the form of epitaphs under such names as Engineer Agustin Straffon, Guadalupe Trevino Kelly, Jonathan Martinez, and Juan Kuan. AUSTIN Three of the undergraduate executives of The Ranger, University of Texas campus humor magazine, who were recently fired for allowing -some naughty words and one suggestive numeral to appear in the magazine in acrostic fashion, Thursday announced that the spirit of flaming youth has not been extinguished by disciplinary action and that within three months they intend to begin publication of an off-campus humor magazine entitled Bacchanal. Dave Crossley, who was cashiered as associate editor of The Ranger, said that theirs will be an ambitious undertaking on a Southwest Conference scale, with Bacchanal serving all eight campuses of the SWCand, if it goes well, eventually branching out as a national collegiate humor magazine. He said they will proposition Bill Helmer, ex-editor of The Ranger and now editor of the New York girlie magazine Escapade, to come back and take over Bacchanal as editor. “He’s always been pretty wild,” Crossley. “This kind of magazine has been his idea for a long while. We’ll take him at his word now and dare him to do it.” Crossley said they would not Along with the local gentry, we saw the name of . Fidel Castro. This epitaph, written in the rotund tongue of masters such as Cervantes, Henry Gonzalez, George Parr, and Picasso, appeared as follows: FIDEL CASTRO Deten to paw twist:lam y repasa fijamenbe que en ester tunkba corriente race kin ratero Cubcmo. Su suerte bri116 en un astro que muy pronto se apag6 . , y al pobre barbndo Castro ni su mama le quad . Rendered freely into the telegraphic monosyllables of Shakespeare, Maury Maverick, Red Berry, and Satchmo Armstrong, the epitaph goes as follows: Stop, Christian, gaze beneath And meditate on Doom: In this cheap grave and tomb There lies a Cuban thief. His fate was like a planet That fizzled out and died; The bearded man was on it Not even mama cried. We also found an epitaph on La Television: With this modern invention The people are driven mad With or. without intention They all must endure the fad. The artists incredibly bum, The writers, the actors, announcers, Admit that some were bouncers And others agrarian scum. Finally Satan, the Just, Has taken away their dole; He skimmed off all of this crust And dumped it down in a hole. “Otra cuba libre, por favor,” said my globe-trotting companion, the famous editor W “What is this? Que es esto?” “Ah,” said Servando, “newspaper people -write it.” He made make the mistake of such canius journals as Campus Illustrated, which, he said, “tries to tell the students what they should be interested in. Last issue their lead article was ‘Is Academic Freedom Dead at Tampa .University?’ As if anybody cared.” Crossleymade it repeatedly clear that it would be sheer joy to put out a campus humor magazine without what he called the dampening spirit of faculty censorship groups. He said the UT authorities wanted them to put out “a kind of student Alcalde, with some mild humor,” .and that when they refused to go along with this plan, the authorities just waited for the first opportunity to discharge them. “But we shouldn’t have used the word and the number,” said Crossley. “And we’re not trying to defend its being in there. We just say the faculty board was awfully glad to get rid of us because they didn’t like anything about our style of Ranger.” Crossley gave this other forecast of the founding of Bacchanal: It will be 64 pages, costing 49 cents in Texas, 50 cents in other states. They will print 15,000 copies the first fling, costing between writing motions. “Writers,” he exclaimed, increasing writing’ motions. “Today is the Day of the Dead. The second of .Novernber. The Commemoration of the Faithful Defunct Ones. It is the custom.” “Ah,” said W “la costum bre.” “Si, senor; across the River you have one -custom: Give away candy. Make little children sitIC’Ovel 4 about big shots. Make big shots dead.” Servando roared With laughter. “We call this calaveras . . .” He beat amiably on his skull. “Skulls,” he said. “Bone,” he shouted, his belly shaking. “Man work all his life . . .” “Si, trabajar,” said W , toy ing with his glass. “What left?” demanded Servando, driving his question home with a sudden shrug that shoved his shoulders up to his ears. “Skull! . . . bone. See, here is my big friend, the mayor.” Servando put his finger on the Mayor’s name with respectful delight. “Dead!” he explained with finality. “My point,” I said to W “They have the Tragic Sentiment of Life. It enriches everything.” “Tomas,” said Servando, “you write for me . . . one calavera?” “What about?” “About you friend! Make everybody laugh. Feel good on Day of the Dead.” “One calavera, one cuba.” “Sure,” said Servando, “make favor to friend.” “Seguro,” said Willie, “los amigos.” I fixed the rhymes and let go: Pause, Christian, drop a tear For one who died too young, Recording Texas dung And watching conservatives leer. In Spain and Yazoo City, In England he hath trod; Now he lies under sod Who once was young and. pretty. “Bueno! Mucho bueno!!” exclaimed W “Otra cuba libre, por favor. Otra calavera. Escribe $3,400; and $4,000. They won’t be able to sell them on-campus, probably, but they will place them in bookstores and on news stands nearby. The organization will have one circulation and one news representative on each of the Southwest Conference campuses. Bacchanal will be “a lot like the Ranger.” but “improved and expanded.” There will be a number of columns, one of them covering “funny things, odd, unusual things” occuring on the various campuses, such as .”this IBM machine up at TCU or SMU that fouled up, got reversed and ‘put most of the students on scho-pro. Lots of things like the bottom of the column material in the New Yorker.” There will be chaste girlie photos, such as appear in The Ranger, “but a lot better quality photography.” With Crossley in the new enterprize will be Lieuen Adkins, excirculation manager of The Ranger, and Kerry O’Quinn, ex-art director of The Ranger. The ousted editor, Jack Lowe, may contribute to the new magazine, but he is not expected to take a staff part. mas.” “See. You friend like very much. Write about some big politico on the Other Side,” said Servando, setting down the glasses. “Some good friend . . . licenciado. He like.” “-Si,” shouted W , “algun grande amigo.” Inspiration gripped me. Hating myself for what I was doing, I came out with another calavera: Here lies a liberal solon, Familiar with the facts. Relaxing on his colon He let them pass the tax. While drawing funny faces And other sort of doodle, He drew a broader basis For all their tax and boodle. “You friend,” asked Servando, “is he a coyote?” “No! Oh, no.” I protested. “He is a very good manhe is for the people. Isn’t he, W ?” I said to my companion, the well-known essayist and encyclopedia of fact. “Si! Si, senor. Seguro. Esplendido. Es un hombre grande de Harris County. “I can’t think of anyone else,” I said.