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Police Files, October 1958

On the morning of Tuesday, September 8th, the lonely strip of county road lying between Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, was visited by death. Bloody, brutal and wanton death at the hand of a man with insane, murderous greed in his heart.

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Mimi Lipson, Food and Beverage (2009)

Pinky’s New York deli is not in New York, and it’s not really a deli either. It’s a coffee shop in a long, dark room. The chairs scrape unpleasantly on the brown quarry tiles, and the square tables are arranged at an angle so the waitresses can squeeze between them and the Plexiglas-topped half-wall separating the dining room from the kitchen. Under the glass on each tabletop is a cutout of a smiling fish that says, “Catch of the Day.” The catch of the day is always chipped beef.

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Ikkyu, translated by John Stevens, Wild Ways (2003)

Stilted koans and convoluted answers are all monks have,
Pandering endlessly to officials and rich patrons
Good friends of the Dharma, so proud, let me tell you
A brothel girl in gold brocade is worth more than any of you

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Mark Kingwell, Glenn Gould: Extraordinary Canadian (2009)

Gould lived not only in his music but as his music. The busloads of Japanese pilgrims, the academic conferences, the panel discussions, the mounting scholarly trail, the coffee-table books, films, commemorative stamps, devotional tattoos, and a bull market in personal relics— the whole apparatus of Gould’s cult of personality, in his posthumous iconic existence— amount to nothing except a puzzle. And that puzzle is, How did a performer of other people’s music, however brilliant, a person who in another era would have been considered little better than court hostler or an able cook, achieve a status of almost mythic dimensions?

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Stephen Calt, Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary (2009)

goofer dust
I’m gonna sprinkle a little of that goofer dust, all around your nappy head
You wake up some of these mornin’s, find your own self dead
— Charlie Spand, “Big Fat Mama Blues” (1929)

A concoction, said to consist of graveyard dust, used in malevolent black witchcraft. [Newbell Niles] Puckett (1925) reported: “Some hoodoos burn a kind of powder called ‘goopher dust,’ which represents the person being hoodooed, who is perhaps miles away at the time. This causes the conjured individual to lose his personality and to become sick or insane.” [Zora Neale] Hurston (1935) wrote: “It will be noted that frequently graveyard dust is required in the practice of hoodoo, goofer dust as it is often called.” The term goofer is of African origin and has been linked to a Kikongo word, kufwa, to die. (cf OED).

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P.G.Wodehouse, Fish Preferred (1932)

“When I was about five,” resumed Hugo, removing his cigarette from the holder and inserting another, “I attended my first dancing school. I’m a bit shaky on some of the incidents of the days when I was trailing clouds of glory, but I do remember that dancing school. At great trouble and expense I was taught to throw up a rubber ball with my left hand and catch it with my right, keeping the small of the back rigid and generally behaving in a graceful and attractive manner. It doesn’t sound a likely sort of thing to learn at a dancing school, but I swear to you that that’s what the curriculum was. Now, the point I am making—”

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Sam Curzon, “Legs” Diamond (1962)

Juvenile delinquent, petty thief, muscle man, rum rummer, strike breaker, army deserter, mail robber, hijacker, narcotics peddler, kidnapper, playboy— and killer! These were the many occupations of “Legs” Diamond, one of the most notorious hoodlums of the Roaring Twenties.

Rarely arrested, never convicted (except in his youth), he blazed a hot lead trail through the New York underworld, glorying in the headlines announcing his exploits, sneering openly at society and law while collecting women and money with his vast greedy hands.

This was “Legs” Diamond, the “clay pigeon,” who spent a decade dodging the bullets of rival gangsters and the police, until he wound up, his body riddled with slugs, on a cold slab in the morgue.

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Kenny Wisdom’s forthcoming novel, Strange Fate of Proud Beauty, rumbles through a case involving two blondes, blackmail and a double dose of MURDER! He grew up on Dean Street.

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