Of Soft Money and Swing States

My dearest logrolling Leopold,

Oh, oh OH! How I covet your suffrage. Ever since my ill-timed and ill-lit incarcerations, I've wanted nothing more than to stuff your ballot box with chads of every color. Alas, my mildly felonious past has incited the local election authority to unceremoniously and infelicitously wrench my franchise from me, leaving me with only one effective means of electoral recourse: I must run for orifice!!

I have been told that grabbing hold of voters who swing is the best way to ensure a reliably firm caucus, so I have plumped up my stump speech, bronzed my war chest, and thrill to the task of bundling a wad of hard money from a coterie of silent but firm backers. My first campaign appearance for a group of elderly citizens (whom I grandfathered in with gusto) was a raging success - I experienced an auspicious surge amongst those with a penchant for teabagging! But I have much work to do - I must get my hands around more pork, create a variety of urgent earmarks, and ensure we don't have mudslinging or instant run-off between our members.

And so, on Friday, November 9th, I beseech you to vote for the winning ticket of Jaggery and Not Waving But Drowning at The Living Room! (This, of course, after casting a rather more important vote on November 6th.) Both merchants of manic mellifluousness will be joyfully making their case for four more albums at 10:30pm, and unlike politics, it's free!

With steadily rising inflation,


Mata Hari Kari

My dearest Leopold,

When I last plundered your eyeballs with tales of my indelicacies in the wild American west, I was just about to be showered with golden liquid riches beyond the dreams of Midas, Croesus, or the fabled sultan of sheikh, Ar-Kelli! Alas, I failed to grasp the oozing spoils firmly enough in hand, and lost them in a rather unfortunate round of canasta to a cock-eyed Canadian cardsharp who fleeced me of cash, credit, cufflinks, and clothing, leaving me naked and penniless on the cold streets of San Francisco. My coin-purse having scrunched tightly back up, I found refuge with a sympathetic seaman who hid me below-decks in exchange for helping with all the below-jobs the crew required. It was quite disorienting at sea - with the rough and tumble knot-work, lashing, and tying fast, I scarcely knew where I was bound, or where the vessel was heading. A fortnight into the voyage, I finally, thrillingly, came on the deck of the steamer to see the familiar curve of the Pont Neuf pass overhead, just moments before the gendarmes arrested me as a stow-away.

But enough of that! As brevity is both the soul of wit and of lingerie, let us not talk endlessly of the past, when what is of prime importance is the future!! A future which I very much look forward to enjoying once I am freed from this pustulent Parisian prison. The dour decor is abysmal and the lighting does absolutely nothing for my dewy skin, but the guards do seem to appreciate my industrious use of the glorious holes between my cell and the outer antechamber.

And though this next tidbit may come as a bit of a shock, my dearest lambchop Leopold, it should be noted that I have, in recent weeks of my incarceration, been keeping company with a most fascinating creature of the female persuasion. Not since the plump Persimmonia and her wretched rhesus macaque have I found my interest pricked hard enough by the fairer sex to mete out the necessary blandishments! But this lithe gazelle - Mata Hari, as she is known among the haut monde - and I have ever so much in common. She spent years taking off her clothes for jewels and approbations, she's been accused of spying for the Kaiser, and much of her family died of syphilis - oh!, what a wondrous kindred spirit. The firing squad bayonets loom large in the courtyard below, so we endeavor to make every moment and every hole count.

And when I am freed from this place (it is only a matter of time, dear lickity lips, for I have bribed, connived, and groped my way out of far worse than this!!), I shall celebrate her foreshortened life at a fete in her name - The Mata Hari Ball! Do join me on Saturday September 15th for music, dance, and international intrigue at the House of Collection, featuring those ribald raconteurs Not Waving But Drowning, Balkan brigands Sherita, folk fanciers Strangled Darlings, plus belly dancing by Paige and Renata that would make our namesake proud, and so much more!

$5 in costume, $10 without - perhaps you fancy yourself a: Spice-island sailor, turbaned Turk, seductive saboteur, double-agent from the demimonde, Javanese viceroy, Hapsburg highness, Dutch East Indie Rocker, Pigalle pixie, feisty firing squad fodder, bejeweled Balinese bellydancer, fin de siecle femme fatale, monocled military attache, sheik chic, bizarre czar, Austro-Hungarian archduke, absinthe-sipping Abyssinian assassin, Belle Epoque bohemian, or a kaiser, courtesan, or concubine from Cairo to Casablanca.


Westward Ho!

My fairest fleshy Leopold,

I am delighted to report that the news of my demise has, once again, come prematurely. You may have heard from the gossipmongers that I was hung, and that I also faced my death at the gallows. But fear not, my gullible goblin-gobbling gargly-goose. Although I was formerly in the calloused clutches of a lynch mob deep in the deep south, manhandled to within nine inches of my life, I greased their grip using my nimble tongue, tossing off their frenzied fingers and bursting forth into an explosion of fame and good fortune!

You may recall that, only a few short months ago, I was pegging all my assets on the prowess of my prize fighting rooster, my pride and joy, my Dixie Rector. Sadly, amidst all the blood, sweat, and feathers, my mighty cock was blocked by a pusillanimous piece of poultry named Prince Albert, who pierced and pecked my champion in the most indelicate fashion until he fell, useless and well-beaten. Owing to certain (and perhaps overstated) guarantees I had made about stamina and endurance, an angry, purple-faced crowd soon soon began to swell around me with nooses held high, bent on choking me and my exhausted chicken.

And it was then, my precious pants-defying pumpkin, that inspiration struck!! "Friends," I orated, "Gold mines have run riot out in the West, where the bowels of the earth are at this very moment being gouged with their long and occasionally crooked shafts, plunging ever deeper until gleaming treasure spews forth from the very living rock, showering the fortunate prospector in filthy lucre. I can give you that golden shower, my friends! Indeed: I shall find untapped glory holes just waiting for their lodes to be dredged! I'll sluice through sulfurous shafts! I'll jump every claim, blast every chute, ferret in every fissure, and assay every vein! Convey me westward forthwith, put a nice hard pick in my hands, and I will descend to new depths and dive face-first into countless crevasses until I bring back riches enough for all of us! I will go down as long as it takes until you all come and come again into your just desserts!"

My silver tongue prevailed once more: those credulous cow-humping cretins credited me a ticket to California and enough coins to flimflam and hoodwink my way up and down the Gold coast for a fortnight, which is precisely what I intend to do. Oh my foamy Ferdinand, I do hope you'll rush to join my golden West Coast debauch for Confederate-funded cocktails and music by those ministers of melodic madness, Not Waving But Drowning!! (And in the meantime, do enjoy their latest music zoetrope.)


Of Bloodsports and Border States

My Piquant Peafowl,

I do declare: I have reached the end of my wattle. The lingering memory of the Late Unpleasantness has my southern parts inflamed with indignity. And though our withdrawal method from the Union may have proven imprudent, I, for one, shall rise again!! With the coming of tomorrow, I shall boldly beget a much-needed victory in that most eruptive arena of southern pride: fighting gamecocks. But let me not cluck about my current roost before I comb through my recent travails!

You see, my beloved bantam, I hastily evacuated the borscht-stained bowels of Count Strokmenov's antechamber not long after my last missive, having been for some time cuckolding the count with one of his guests (a certain Major Dix: a handy Southern gentleman who adopted me as his own personal yank-ee). After unceremoniously seceding from the Count's churlish clutches, I came quickly with the Major and also traveled with him to his family's pullet plantation in the Carolinas - the land of pastoral pride, pellagra, poll-taxes, and plucky poultry. The major sought to protect our fledgling romance from the clutches of his hen-pecking wife, and thusly installed me as his personal butler.

Now, the Major had a fondness for all manner of bloodsports (in and out of the boudoir), and favored gamecocks for their delightfully obdurate thrusting. I studied the sport's nuances under his expert tutelage, gulping down the output of our sessions with great enthusiasm and a natural feel for when the cocks were about to hit bottom. Soon, I began to harbor my own cock-rearing plans. And rear I did: a creature of such rich purplish plumage, it is an envy to all who stroke it. A beast whose head trembles with anticipation at dawn, ready to spew forth his noisy issuance. My champion, my warrior, my Dixie Rector. The Major's privates have been a great help in grooming this magnificent fowl - fluffing his downy beard and polishing his plump cockscomb. And now Dixie is ready to fight!!

I beg you, my comely cloaca, to join me in Dixie's land as Not Waving But Drowning rouses the masses with their champion cock. I furthermore beseech you, my gossamer gizzard, to enjoy this reel-to-reel zoetrope entitled "Thanks a Lot, Lancelot" by those very same Not Waving But Drowning musical miscegenators. Please don't let my distended absence get your hackles up, my muffed hen! Soon we'll be together again, and you shall certainly be a sight for sore eyes, as well as sore knees and a sore soft palate.


To Russia with Lust

Oh Frothing Font of My Desire,

Curse my stoppered pen! Curse my impotent instrument! The gushing torrent of ink which once exploded from its tip and pooled upon paper in procreant prose has dried to a disappearing dribble of viscous non-verse. And unless I penetrate further into hitherto untapped depths of literary stamina to disgorge chapter after sweat-drenched chapter, I fear my first novel will lack the length and girth necessary to make itself felt in the well-heeled yet over-stretched salons of St. Petersburg's literary elite (size-Czarinas, all of them!).

As you've no doubt gathered, my bookishly besotted babushka, I have become a novelist! And what's more, a Russian novelist - da, pravda!! You see, after raking in the spoils at Monte Carlo and joining a mathematically unstable but not un-pleasantly carcinogenic menage a vint a sept with a traveling contingent of Kracovian tobacconists (an affair whose denouement featured a saturnalia of Pole smoking hitherto undreamed of by mere mortals - so many Poles, so few hours!), I landed on the doorstep of Mother Russia. Fresh-faced and smoky-breathed, I immediately caught the eye of a certain Count Strokmenov, a disarmingly hand-some Russian aristocrat who is known throughout Europe for his exceptional manual dexterity (as evidenced by his favorite pasttime: performing sinuous Slavonic fugues on the organ while simultaneouly juggling a set of flaming balls and fixing himself a Pink Russian).

I had heard murmurs about his God-given graces that would have made Catherine the Great blush, and after seeing his collection of vibrating Faberge eggs, well, let us simply say that in the West, you long to get the attention of such a man, but in Old Mother Russia, such a man gets long with your attention. Alas, my imminent Russophilic rapture was not so simple: I learned that the Count - puckish Baltic bluestocking that he is - bestows his affections exclusively upon great novelists...novelists capable of twisting his subplots, embellishing his allegories, snuggling his caesura, rumpling his Roman a clef, and spreading his pages.

And thus it has come to pass: for three tumescent months I have rhythmically labored over my burgeoning masterpiece (a tome lovingly entitled "Eugene Onanism") but progress, I am chagrined to report, is damnably slow. You are intimately familiar, dear one, with my love of brevity, of crisp concision, of excising all that is superfluous; my dedication to cutting to the very essence of the matter: the nub, the pith, the meat, the rub; to fastidiously employing clean lines of non-recursive logic and un-ornamented rhetoric, as clear as a mountain stream and unburdened by simile as a lingering embrace; as unredundant and unrepetitious as a dictum which does not restate itself and then, in the same sentence, reference an epistemologically similar point. And yet, like a midget organ grinder with a cigar-wielding rhesus macaque, my greatest asset also causes the greatest chapping to my posterior. At this rate, a scant fifty seven thousand pages in, I am sooner to die a senile celibate than finish my preface before year's end.

But all is not lost! I am soon to find re-invigoration and renewed inspiration; soon to find the ink flowing once again in an extended tumult of piquant prose, lit by the flame of true literary genius! For on Tuesday May the 24th, I shall attend a magnificent intertwining of wordsmithery and music-making entitled "The Forget-Me-Not Cabinet," featuring the luminous belle lettrist Emily Rubin and that symposium of Cyrillic sirens, Not Waving But Drowning!! The climax is near!!!


Oh, The Stench!!!

Dearest Leopold,

Oh, the fetid effluvium of sulphur! Oh, the rancid rivulets of refuse! Oh, the pungent, pustule-inducing putrescence! You must help me claw my way out of this ruination, this wrecked kingdom, this, this...wreckdom, in which I've plunged deeper than I ever have before. I write to you a wanted man [and not just by the perennial parade of portly peddlers] from the frothing bowels of the Parisian sewers - fathoms from even the most basic of grooming tools. (My kingdom for a copper washbin, a kettle of hot water, a pumice stone, a cotton chamois, a silk robe, a scissored nail clipper, a rosewood cuticle stick, a nimble-fingered houseboy, and some ambergris and attar of rose.)

Allow me to recount the circumstances which have led me to this most woebegone of hygienic scenarios - the course of events whereby my hands became coated in the steaming secretions of a recently rigor-mortised regent. Whereby the local constabulary is hungry to impale my delicate flesh with their well-girthed bobby sticks. It seems shocking that a mere three fortnights past, I was ensconced safely in his majesty Archduke Armagnac's court performing with carnies and minstrels. (Yes, the very same carnival of rogues and rapscallions who had me in their sweaty clutches when last I wrote you.) For most of those three rapturous fortnights at court, I swallowed swords, juggled balls, danced with bears, and charmed snakes with an oral and manual dexterity hitherto unseen in all of gay Paris. You'll recall how I've always preferred my tops big, and under the Archduke, I performed under the biggest top of all.

His lordship was a doltish, brutish, churlish hulk of a man, prone to fits of girlish sobbing, all of which I found irresistible. The only fly in our blissful unguent was his unwashed, louse-ridden, pendulous-breasted, 2-pennied whore of lover: Queen Anne of England. Happily for the writer, she was as perceptive as she was hygienic. Unhappily for the writer, her uncanny olfactory sense sniffed out the musky taint of both the circus animals and the Archduke's befouled fingers after my furtive intimacies with him. Happily, I was out of doors pre-greasing a sheep for my infamous flaming rim trick when she descended into a murderous rage. Unhappily, she instead set upon dear Armagnac in his bed chamber with a longsword, inciting him to spurt and gush from unexpected orifices.

Later that day I came upon his corpse in shock, again and again. Bowels quaking with fear, I had no choice but to go on the lam, and also flee the law. So I clambered down a gaping manhole beneath the Parisian streets, plunging headfirst through a shaftway into spongey darkness, where I now find myself penning this odoriferous missive. Even now, I can hear her slavering hounds sniffing the back passageways for my scent. My only hope is to evacuate these tight sluice holes with great haste. I shall flee to the countryside, staying no more than a night in each village, and thereby and one step ahead of Queen Anne's revenge. Please follow me beloved mimblepoon moppet - please save me from the hooded headman's explosive stroke!


Fingering A# minor on the Organ

Dearest Leopold,

Call off the auctioneer!! Stand down the solicitors!!! Though you've not heard from me for many a steamy, tumescent fortnight, I assure you, my rummy rumplebums, that my unceremonious disappearance is quite unrelated to my penchant for frequent fellatial philanderings with feckless fops. Those erstwhile indiscretions have not once been reënacted, no matter what calumnies or codswallop the penny dreadfuls might voluminously spout upon the matter. You shall read forthwith the most fantastical yet entirely ingenuous explanation for my distended absence, involving neither the importunate placement of hands upon trousers (as I would fain apply a riding crop to no other but your most perfectly-filled jodhpurs) nor an unwelcome return to unseemly incarceration. No, my puddly pulsating-pouched possum: I have been shanghaied by minstrels!!!

Allow me to note, precious porkpie pimpim, that I have ached to play a musical instrument for as long as I was able to put rigid objects into my mouth. My tireless teenage tongue dreamed of tickling the tips of the tinker's tin flute; my fleshy fingers longed to plug the sweaty valves of the brazier's well-oiled brass hole, my barely legal lips pined to play piously upon the pastor's unstopped pipe organ.

Ah, but I nostalgically digress. As you know, I left for market three fortnights past to procure a flagon of your favorite opium-laced (mildly desensitizing) sensual unguent. Just as I completed my purchase, a band of rowdy, frothing, ring-tailed ragamuffins ripped the potent oil from my hands, soaked a dirty rag with it, and shoved it relentlessly in my mouth, drugging me into a stupor. Oh my!!! I was nearly overcome with the excitement -- that is to say, terror! -- of it all.

When I awoke, I slowly apprehended that I was in their bohemian lair - a spectral patchwork cottage filled with instruments resembling shapes most strange and daemon-like, forming a chorus of honks and scronks and crumpets and strumpets. Lo, but there are so many objects to clang and rumble: washpans and walking sticks, radiators and rocking chairs, sabres and secateurs. And oh, when the crepuscular evenings creep in, with them comes a resplendent symphony of cicada squawlings and fractious fricatives. And here is the most exciting part: the minstrels have taught me to play! All through the day and all through the night, I can fill my mouth with any number of wondrous objects, without the merest resurgence of my preadolescent predisposition for gagging! (Pastor Pohlmüncher would be so proud!) And when my lips become weary, I merely apply more unguent.

I know, my foamily phlegmatic fluglemuff, that medical authorities warn that overmuch exposure and sharing of close-quartered vapors with musical ne'er-do-wells can cause scrotal congestion and spontaneous intracranial migration, but I assure you I am being shown the utmost commodiousness. Why, they've even promised that I can return to you and your under-appreciated trousers after performing a pair of vaudevillian concerts. On September 1st at Bruar Falls, you shall hear the coquettish carousings of Delta Dreambox, followed by the convivial clanging of Cutleri, and then my cunning and cacophonous captors -- Not Waving But Drowning! And if your airship cannot convey you to Williamsburgh speedily enough, you shall have a second opportunity: Not Waving But Drowning will preview songs from their upcoming wax gramophone pressing at the Living Room on September 17th! Unfetter the spit valves!

My love for you throbs as ceaselessly as the splinter in my tongue,

The Airship Sails Again

Oh my darling Ferdinand,

I have oft said that I prefer my zeppelins the way I prefer my gentlemen callers, which is to say, taut and swollen. But oh! - how cruel fortune has twisted my quixotic quips against me: not a fortnight ago, I experienced a harrowing misadventure aboard a dirigible which also shared certain qualities that I seek out in my male companions, which is to say, it was going down on me whilst flaming.

You see my darling, the moment I received word that you had finally, blessedly rid yourself of the febrile fungal flotilla that had rendered your manhood all but un-soft-palatable to my delicate gustatory sensibilities (little appetite that I have for a potpourri of roquefort, tinned kippers, and dysentery), I rushed to the nearest airship hangar and booked a passage to the Outer Hebrides, trousers positively a-flutter! In a matter of hours I found myself aloft and surrounded by a handful of airmen, who, while not as succulent as a handful of seamen, were still sufficiently fetching in their goggles, harnesses, and jackboots as to make certain parts of my anatomy rise in concert with the resplendently rigid hydrogen-filled balloon. In short order, I joined the 50 Fathoms High Club as well as the 500 Fathoms High Club, and was just enjoying a post-coital cigarette after a spectacular induction into the 1,000 Fathoms High Club when a stray spark from my dangling Gauloise set the silk walls ablaze and sent airmen diving to muff the conflagration.

Oh my cream-filled kissyface, I truly thought the end was nigh. But, while shimmying down the rugged yet well-cut trousers of the nearest airman and readying myself for an unceremonious inauguration into the 500 Fathoms Deep Club - lo, a miracle occurred! It seems that the velocity of our atmospheric plunge extinguished the fire in the zeppelin's hull, and, though we plowed deeply into the roiling sea, the sturdy vessel clung together and surfaced in a magnificent frothing white geyser, pleasantly calling to mind the recent deckside eruption in my pants.

And now I write to you, my best beloved booboobuns, stranded on this wretched craggy isle in the North Atlantic, bedevilingly close to our long-delayed tryst amongst the Hebrides' well-shorn sheep and well-sheeped shepherds. The whipping winds leave me aching for the loving crack of your riding crop; the astringent sea spray leaves me yearning for your salty spatter. And so, that I might at long last find my way back to you, my numnums muffinkin, we shall undertake to restore our sooty, soggy vessel to its former glory. Why this very Friday we are having a boisterous fete, that we might corral scraps and skeins of silks and satins, miscellaneous muslins, and tattered tatterdemalion bits of taffeta and tarlatan to patch together a new skin for our balloon. It shall be a patchwork parade, with genteel guests outfitted in gay gallimaufry, harlequin and motley, ragdoll and rebirth, to celebrate the airship's rise from the depths, that it may soar once again!

Dashing diversions for this vernal calico carnival shall include the carnal cabaret croonings of Lady Rizo, the rabble-rousing Romani riot of the Raya Brass Band, that calithumpian quartet of choral curiosities Not Waving But Drowning, the sensuous sybaritic songs of Kai Altair, the silken sideshow stylings of Lady Circus, and the dangerously debauched dancing of Darlinda just Darlinda -- an effervescent evening of dazzling delectations and boundless beguilements!

That I might be the rook to your checkerboard,

New Years Eve: The Balls Will Drop!

My dearest Leopold,

Shipwrecked!!! Set adrift on the frigid North Atlantic! Swept southward by the currents, and marooned these past three months on a uncharted (but not entirely charmless) cannibal isle, where the natives have an unquenchable thirst for manflesh! Savaged by savages!!! Repeatedly!!! Chafed!!! Swabbed!!! But - - ALIVE!!!!

By the grace of a sympathetic (or perhaps easily amused) celestial overseer and the propitious succor of a tropical native named Ulmugbopi, I have returned to you, my dear…ever more tan and sinewy! Lo, not a moment of these six distended fortnights have passed without thinking upon you, wishing fervently that Ulmugbopi's calloused and mildly fungal hands might be as waxy smooth and firmly insistent as yours. Wishing that the red-breasted warbler's crowings aside my reed pile might be as euphonious as your sweet nothings. Wishing that the daily ration of stringy mango pap was as protein-filled as your man chowder. Wishing my testicles would finally descend after being so frostily and unrelentingly suspended by my arctic plunge into the high seas.

Ah, but how could we have ever conjectured as we parted at the wind-swept Lusitania docks (after that grandest of farewell parties) that the Fates would fling me aside like so much ambergris… but no matter! For though I was parted from you by the Fates (in parallel with a well-handled torpedo exploding on the poop deck), though I was chased by swarms of naked tribesmen who longed for my head, though I have had to spend the last of my inheritance on a stunning variety of anti-fungal creams, though my gonads are now lodged somewhere in the region of my upper abdomen, I return to you in triumph. TRIUMPH!!!!

For this New Years Eve, at midnight, my balls shall drop!!!!

I have, of course, arranged a suitably decadent fete for the occasion…the grand ballroom of Rubulad shall be given over to a sweaty ballyhoo, appropriate for all manner of dropping of balls. You shall witness a choral clambake by that crazed calithumpian carnival, Not Waving But Drowning, horns by the hip-swinging harmonious honking of The Hungry March Band, diversions by diva-led dervish delirium of I Love You Airlines, and jamboree by the gyrating gypsy goulash of the Dolomites. There is no other manner in which I would rather usher in the new decade, than with my balls dropping in conjunction with your trousers, my dearest one.

Awaiting you, constrictedly,
- Ferdinand

The Lusitania!

NOTICE! Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain or her allies are liable to destruction in these waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone do so at their own risk.

Darling Ferdinand -

When I first came upon the pulsing purplish prose of the warning notice above, I became so impassioned - and summarily bepantsed - that I came upon it again and again. Now I can think of nothing else but of plowing the bowels of the murky sea aboard that long and rigid vessel, of watching pressganged seamen swab the poop deck, of cutlassed coxswains clambering up and down erect mainmasts (some with a slight curve to the left) - and all the while flush with the delicious threat of an unexpected sub-aqueous missile up the bilge-hole. I must confess that ever since the recent and all-too-fleeting ménage à puncture wound in the Outer Hebrides between you, myself, and that rabid vole, only the clear and present danger of imminent bodily violation will sufficiently flood my torpedo's launch tube.

So my frolicsome first mate, do say that we can rendezvous on The Lusitania! I've forgiven your past indelicacies (momentary lapses in mental faculties, assuredly), and look only to the tantalizing maritime adventure that awaits. Why, I've heard that in addition to the carnal thrill of periscopic U-boat sightings, there are such cultural fineries and entertainment indulgences to be had! I've heard that there will be a back-porch ukulele swing band called The Moonlighters, and a brass band from the edge of Tsarist Russia playing lively Balkan dances called Veveritse! And the very gaslight cabaret who played at our ecstatic reunion after your unjust imprisonment, Not Waving But Drowning, will stomp and holler! And there will be winsome dancing girls named Darlinda and Paige that could bring a...certain sort of man to the very brink of madness! I've heard there will be zoetrope projections and a one-act play of a very personal and circularly-referential nature! All of this in the most magical floating vaudevillian salon - the House of Yes! Do reply with haste, that I might come across your parchment with great volume.

Unceasingly yours,
- Leopold

No More Schizophrenic Outbursts, Sir!

Kind Leopold –

No matter what has been spoken of me in the broadsheets, no matter what the town criers (many of whom I have known intimately) may have cried – hear me, dear sir: I am not mad.  I have as firm a grasp upon my faculties as I had upon your manhood throughout our tortured, distended farewell.  And though Persimmonia’s solicitor might have momentarily convinced the ingenuous authorities of my derailed derangement in the form of sodomy, coprophilia, and schizophrenia, please do not believe these slanderously outré charges against any of us.

I write these words to you under pitiably discomposed circumstances: I am forced to employ my nightshirt, a gamehen bone, and my own excrement, as my gaolers will not entrust me with quill and ink.  Continuous solo re-enactments of our too-brief stolen intimacies combined with my florid fecal scrawlings have marked the dark passage of fortnights in the bowels of this wretched Institution of Mental Hygiene (which the careful reader might correctly infer is a misnomer of the highest order).

Please consider this note a proxy - I shall write a more thorough missive in my next installment (and though the parchment might be less sticky, the prose will be just as pungent).  But it was critical that I alert you at once to the goose-pimpling good news: my ceaseless legal petitionings and increasingly shrill bleating, keening, and clucking noises have had their due effect, and my release date has been set for this Friday!  I will celebrate this long-awaited, eruptive release at the social event of the season - a party in my honour!! - entitled 'A Night in Bedlam'.  We shall salute the motley multitudes with whom I’ve spent these twenty gamey, close-quartered months: the vision-plagued opium votary Mr. Ving Poon, the phrensied syphilitic chancres of Mr. Cockburn, the inbred incantations of Archduke Arturo, the disordered multi-dimensioned dementia of Dr. Diphthong-Diphthong, Mrs. Maypenny's malcontented muttering melancholia, Corporal Kippering's cataleptic consumption, Madame Hafhaar's hysterical heebie-jeebies, Reverend Aikin's acute inflammatory auto-suggestion, and Mr. Hardon's husky homosexuality.

So until I might stockpile a sufficient quantity of "ink" to write again, please envisage the following costume ideas for this blistering ballyhoo from Bellevue to Bedlam: striped asylum finery, unhinged hobo haberdashery, soporific confinement couture, erratic talismanic trousseaux, slavering shut-in separates, delirious opium den drapage, frenzied Freudian frippery, or any manner of delusional Louis XIV, Charlemagne, Moses, or Joan of Arc accoutrements.  Dreaming of our imminent reunion is the only thing that keeps me from defenestrating myself.

With unrelenting sanity, 
- Ferdinand

You Meddlesome, Borish Lout

Ferdinand –

You do not know me, sir, and yet I am all too familiar with you and your detestable unbidden interlopings. While your squalid upbringing and low social standing have undeniably exacerbated your penchant for dispensing bedlam upon your betters, it cannot excuse the wreckage you have done to my dear heart, my precious pumpkin, my lumlums Leopold.

When I met Leopold in Tangier late last Summer's eve, he was suffering from a variety of physiological and spiritual maladies, including both Mongolian brain flukes and opposable pleurisy. Only a woman's satiny touch (focused in a rhythmic, cupping motion) could restore him to his bygone state of health and fettle. My feminine ministrations - along with the skilled efforts of my pet rhesus macaque Hieronymus III - were put to the ultimate test, but with the liberal application of ether and whale-oil lubricant we proved victorious!

You see, Leopold is in acute need of a woman of true maidenly sensuality and rotundity. A full-figured flower whom he can care for and fertilize – lithe as a lily carved of ivory, or a lovingly taxidermed Heironymous II sculpted of ambergris and attar of rose. You sir, on the other hand, walk as though you've befouled your small clothes, and look as though you can smell it. I'll be perfectly blunt so that my subtle verbal manoueverings are not lost on you: Leopold's erstwhile desire for the male member is pitiably misplaced. He was, as can be vouchsafed by my solicitor, ensorcelled by your masculine whiles for only the briefest of lamentable moments. (As well as those of the local stable boys and most of the clergy in the surrounding parish.) (And there was that one sodden, bewhiskered tinker two nights past.) But hear me, sir: what he truly desires, in the deepest and most secret antechambers of his soul, is to be wrapped in the hairless, veinless arms of the fairer sex.

This is merely to say (in simple locution so that a cretinous jackanape such as yourself might hope to grasp it), that if you value what remains of your deservedly-impugned manhood, you will not even entertain to dream of appearing at any place of social intercourse at which my newly-betrothed and I will be in attendance -- much less the gala event of the social year.

As you know, the highlight of the masquerade season is very nearly upon us, and any personage of quality or careful upbringing shall find themselves preparing for an exceptional evening of intimate musical saturnalia. (This, naturally, will exclude you.) Not Waving But Drowning, that calithumpian carnival of choral curiosities, will be playing at the Zebulon Café next Tuesday at 8:30 in the evening. Joining them will be the sinisterly seductive stylings of the Evil Horns’ Noir, a syndicate of silver-horned sirens, as well as the bracingly bawdy burlesque of Darlinda Just Darlinda, a buxom belle of boundless beauty.

If I or any of my underpaid and occasionally testy menservants see you within a buzzard's tongue of the Zebulon Café Concert, we shall be forced to take immediate and irremediable action. This is no idle threat: in addition to being a master of the rhythmic cupping motion, Hieronymus III is an expert in the art of flinging both Cathayan shuriken as well as his own waste, with deadly accuracy on each count. Rest assured that, should you show your doltish sloping forehead come Tuesday, your life will be as short as it is nasty and brutish.

With unrelenting sincerity,
- Persimmonia & Hieronymus III

On Valentines and St. Rumpuspumpus

My Dearest Leopold,

Allow me forthwith to beg forgiveness for the unplanned abeyance in our written intercourse...an act which may appear at best mildly indecorous and at worst exceedingly vulgar. And although I wish the former would more correctly apply, I fear you know my loutish tendencies all too well, my dearest friend and occasional nighttime companion. And it is, by the by, a matter of social intimacy (and a rather timely matter at that) which has caused me to retrieve my ink well from under the sheep pelt and find a lump of wax large enough to burn as I put these words to parchment and put my most private parts in your hands. Lo, that it was more than a metaphor.

You see, my kind man and periodic pillow-mate, I find myself in a most indelicate situation not once, not twice, but thrice over, and your calloused yet capable hands are perhaps my only deliverance. I have recently quartered above a smithy, and take my meals with the smith, his son, and their mule. You chuckle, no doubt, as you envisage the warm glow of the forge, the stools around the low table waiting to be pushed in, the family life that I molded myself to like so much pig iron. Alas, there was no chuckling the night that I was caught sneaking from the lad's room en route to the hay loft by the smithy (whom I had serviced only half of the hour earlier...the passage of years have in no way dampened my output, dear incidental reciprocator.) The smithy, apparently unaware that his offspring and his pack animal had a shared interest, ran me out like a common courtesan. Oh!

And so here it is, nigh upon the eve of Saint Valentine (the attribution-denied penner of great works of romance) and I, your loyal yet infrequent mattress warmer, am wretchedly, dissolutely alone. And this unforeseen separation, crisis of crises, leads us to the crux of the matter: I have no gentleman nor equine escort with whom to attend Va Va Voom! A Sexalicious Social at Rubulad (338 Flushing Avenue) this very Valentine's day. Why, there is to be live music by such well-known cabaret mendicants as Paprika, Lady Rizo, and at 11pm my personal favorite Not Waving But Drowning (the very dose of curative music I had recommended for treatment of rumative colon in my last missive.) There will also be disc jockeys (mmm, the thought of all things jockey transports me to my final vigourously unvirtuous moments with that handsome and pliant mule) - Nickodemus, Ursula 1000, and $mall ¢hange. And oh, the vaudevillian delights of Shanimal, Tanya O'Debra, A. Richard Whipper's Tale of Valentine Woe (a Slutty Puppet Show), and many more. But will I be forced to spend this most romantic day alone, dear intermittent invoker of compromising pet names? Or could you find it in yourself to don your tightest, most buttocks-silhouetting trousers, catch the next airship out of the Hebrides, and come to my heaving side?

And if you cannot make it here in time for St. Valentine's Day (the Day of Love), surely you will fly in for February 25th, on St. Rumpuspumpus Day (the Day of Wanton Lust for Inanimate Objects)! I will be celebrating that night in traditional fashion, with a magistrate's stained scapular, two large kippered herring, and a well-fondled bust of Swinburne. And of course, no Feast of the Rumpus could reach its engorged and somewhat painful conclusion without the sweet strains of music to render the unyielding flesh more pliable to the sticky demands of holy ritual. I, for one, shall be at Rockwood Music Hall (184 Allen St) at 9 of the clock listening to the dulcet tones of Joanna Erdos and Midnight Show, followed by Not Waving But Drowning whilst I try and subject my masculine decolletage to the rigors of the Rumpus.

So, my sweet Leopold, don't let your booboo buns huggy honey bear languish melancholic and alone through the holidays. Come to me before I do something rash with this herring.

- Ferdinand

A Note from the Apothecary

Dear Sir,

Your kindly wife wrote to me in a great deal of distress not three days ago. It seems that you are undergoing some sort of dreadful dyspepsia or perhaps a series of maladies of the bowel that have rendered relations between the two of you rather strained of late. As I have some skill as a physick and herbalist, she asked if I might not prepare some elixir or tincture that could convey you back into the plum of health.

Alas, there are but two problems with this noble request. Firstly, the lady-like decorum of her letter left the particulars of your ailments outside of the written word, rendering a precise curative impracticable. The second, perhaps more serious problem, is that, due to a small misunderstanding with a local magistrate, or perhaps I should say, too great an understanding with said magistrate's comely wife, I am now sadly writing to you in chains from within Newgate Prison, awaiting the next assizes, thence to be transported, no doubt, into some hellhole prison island off of Tasmania where I shall be press-ganged into a short life of rum, sodomy, and the lash, with a special emphasis on dysentery.

But as I've never let personal ignorance nor the force of Law nor impending soggy death to interfere with my medical practice before, let me list a few common infirmities and their cures, that you may be relieved of your pains thereby:

A) For the Gout, Scrabbity, Blarget of the Nostrils, Sloke, the Staggers, or Cloggets, I prescribe a strong dose of music made with old instruments, preferably accordions and banjos and strange things with tin horns from abandoned amusement parks. There should be waltzes and snatches of old folk tunes and ideally the faintest hint of creaking boards and attic dust.

B) For the Consumption, a Rumative Colon, Grey Blubbets, Oozing of the Pancreas, or Schlumutitus of the Gums, I recommend music made with electric instruments... guitars that howl and buzz, drums that kick down walls, bass lines meant for the kind of parties we don't get here in jolly old England (particularly within the walls of my present incarcerative quarters.) A million watts of sound channeled into white-hot needles of energy should serve your viscera's needs.

C) For Cripers, Crupers, Croakers, Cluckens, a Cusping of the Chordate, or a Fimple on the Greeb, I would advise listening to songs made with tender care, written in flashes of inspiration and then polished and labored over with love and attention by musicians who revel in their craft. People who believe an album is a unified work of art that ought to be considered in its entirety. People who like hidden puns and naked confessions in equal measure. People with chiseled features and rock-hard abs.

As fortune may have it, I do know of a place where one might purchase a bolus with all of these recommended ingredients, a cure-all so powerful that Pestilence himself fleas before it, guaranteed to mend bones, lance boils, and moisten even the grispiest of chorbles - it is the new record by Not Waving But Drowning!!!! Here at last, within your reach, an end to woe and strife!!!! The beginning of a new life of eternal lightness and joy!!!!!!!

You may order this medical treasure in two places. For the actual physical record you may go here. For those who demand immediate satisfaction, digital 'mp3 files' of the whole record may be purchased here, and may be found on 'Itunes' and 'Amazon'.

And with that, my good man, I bid you farewell, and may God bless your troubled bowels.

- Doctor Leopold von Pangloss

A Tale of Two Trousers

Greetings Leopold,

When last we spoke, you might perhaps recall that I had involved myself in an indelicate (but it must be noted pleasurable) tete a tete with an age-dappled dowager, as fecund as she was florid. Unfortunately, a fortnight past I discovered that her better half was as fine a shot as he was fond of self-adjudicating vigilantism, and I thereby lost my trousers but gained three drams of lead shot in my right buttock. My first instinct was to demand a daybreak duel for milady's voluptuously veined hand, but since I was as recently shot as I am inclined to prolonged bouts of cowardice, I declined to give him satisfaction.

Once I had set upon the open road in my unceremoniously bepantsed state, I was overcome by feelings of nostalgia for those languid well-pantsed afternoons that you and I whiled away together on the Scottish coast, minds and fingers aflutter. I knew then what lay ahead, and managed through a smidgeon of legerdemain and perhaps one or two inconsequential acts of criminal larceny to raise enough to copper for a one way dirigible ticket to the Outer Hebrides. I am due to touch down on your well-sheeped village at 9 of the clock tomorrow evening (winds permitting). I do hope you will agree to meet me at the airship platform with the item that I left in your care lo these many years ago. I think of them often, and with great intellectual arousal. I wonder if you have laundered and pressed them, or perhaps let them out about the cuff. I wonder if you have considered widening the wales, or lengthening the inseam. Oh how I have missed your inseam.

In the meantime, though I know few entreaties could persuade you to leave the cozily pungent confines of the Ewe Complete Me ranch, I have one such enticement up my bloused sleeve. Were you to proffer my trousers to me, I would be placed as deeply into your debt as your strapping hand would be deeply placed into my aforementioned trousers. In return for your masculine solicitude, I would be the Shepherd to your Bo Peep at what is certain to be the social coup de grace of this, our fragile age. On Saturday 18 October, my favorite musical novelty act will be celebrating the release of their new wax gramophone pressing entitled "Any Old Iron". It is said in the more rarified critical circles at Versailles that the sound of the record is not unlike that of a brace of Eskimos being bludgeoned to death with an accordion, a sewing machine, and a startled parrot in rapid succession. To this, I agree as vigorously as I desire my pants.

Consumptively yours,
- Ferdinand