What is Toni Schlesinger’s Significant Object? Is it a bird, something like an osprey, piping plover or laughing gull? (Fuck piping plovers, hah!) Is it a plane— perhaps even the Concorde? Might it be— wild guess— a pair of Civil War-vintage scarlet pantaloons? (That’s what I wear to the beach over my bikini so I don’t get sand burn.) Is Toni Schelesinger in possession of a clam, or some other broken bivalve seen scattered across the beaches of Rockaway at low tide? It’s loon-acy, man! Is the peninsula indeed mightier than the sword? I will say this unequivocally: Edward Bulwer-Lytton was and remains a greater writer than 99.999% of “the goddamn douchebags” (as Samuel Butler had it) who mock him unread. What is the significance of Pelham (1828), Paul Clifford (1830), Eugene Aram (1832) or the exceptional crime story Night and Morning (1840) to Toni Schlesinger? (If ya’ll knew her you could ask her, she ain’t scary; meanwhile there’s Jim Knipfel and Rienzi (1835)) Could this thing of ours— hers, really, but here she offers it unto the world— be used to set up mast and sail on that swart ship? What is her relationship to the well-known “Schlesinger Swindle” of New York criminal legend? Hint: it has nothing to do with Kennedy courtesan and ersatz historian Arthur Schlesinger; ain’t patronyms a bitch? At least she’s not a Schulberg! Deathless memorial to Budd upon his recent passing: “See ya’, schmuck.” —Caz Dolowicz
Born on Sands Street in 1923, Caz Dolowicz is the author of Caz Dolowicz’s Syndicalist Obsession: An Informal History of the Brooklyn Labor Lyceum and Clara Bow’s Legs (Grove Press, 1972), winner of Williamsburg Book Award, the Bancroft Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
“There Is No I In Clams” (2009) by Amber Tides, photograph courtesy the Rockaway Beach Camera Club.