Just ahead of our post-election Tale for Our Time - a bit of Wodehousian whimsy with a dash of Noo Yawk social realism - let me put in a word for our complementary entertainment at the other end of the day: the audio edition of The Mark Steyn Show, which due to Rush duties will return on Wednesday morning. I'm delighted that some folks enjoy both, as a spot of elevenses and a soothing audio Ovaltine at bedtime.
Meanwhile, Marc Swerdloff, a First Day Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Florida, is enjoying my Lower East Side gangland accents:
Say, Mark Steyn speaks just like a New Yorker. He should run for Mayor.
Another home run Tale for Our Time!
"Just like a New Yorker"? Not really, Marc. But it's Wodehouse's version of what early twentieth-century Five Points toughs sound like, so I give it my best.
In tonight's episode of Psmith, Journalist, having seen off the foe and given a statement to the cops, Psmith assumes that they'll be banging him up in the Big House:
"I should imagine that a benevolent Law will put him away in his little cell for at least a brief spell."
"Not on your life," said Billy. "He'll prove an alibi."
Psmith's eyeglass dropped out of his eye. He replaced it, and gazed, astonished, at Billy.
"An alibi? When three keen-eyed men actually caught him at it?"
"He can find thirty toughs to swear he was five miles away."
"And get the court to believe it?" said Psmith.
"Sure," said Billy disgustedly. "You don't catch them hurting a gangsman unless they're pushed against the wall. The politicians don't want the gangs in gaol, especially as the Aldermanic elections will be on in a few weeks. Did you ever hear of Monk Eastman..? He was the first boss of the East Side gang, before Kid Twist took it on."
"He was arrested dozens of times, but he always got off. Do you know what he said once, when they pulled him for thugging a fellow out in New Jersey? He said, 'You're arresting me, huh? Say, you want to look where you're goin'; I cut some ice in this town. I made half the big politicians in New York!'"
Kid Twist, like Monk Eastman, was a real-life gangster of New York in the years before the Great War. The Kid met a violent end just before Wodehouse began writing Psmith, Journalist. He and an up-and-coming member of the Five Points Gang, Louie the Lump, were both seeing a Canadian dancehall girl called Carroll Terry. Miss Terry made the mistake (from Kid Twist's point of view) of telling the Lump she no longer wished to see him. On May 14th 1908, after Carroll's show at the Imperial Dance Hall on Coney Island, she and the Kid were walking with an associate and a second dancer to a nearby Italian restaurant when Louie the Lump fatally shot both gangsters and put a bullet in the Canuck gal's hip for good measure. Kid Twist and his gang pal collapsed and died in the doorway of the South Brooklyn Hotel.
But hey, it's New York. So you can murder two guys in cold blood on the street, and the dirty rotten stinkin' corrupt authorities will let you plead it down to manslaughter. Louie the Lump agreed to serve eleven months. "I could do that standin' on me head," he sneered. And so he did.
It's not quite Biden staffers and B-list celebs bailing out antifa rioters, but it's the same general turf.
You can enjoy Psmith, Journalist episode by episode, night by night, twenty minutes before you lower your lamp. Or, alternatively, do feel free to binge-listen: you can find all the earlier instalments here.
If you've yet to hear any of our first forty-one Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. Or, if you need an extra-special present for someone, why not give your loved one a Gift Membership and start him or her off with more than three dozen cracking yarns? And please join us tomorrow for another episode of Psmith, Journalist.