Programming note: If you missed Steyn's Song of the Week earlier today on Serenade Radio, it repeats on Monday at 5.30am UK time - that's 9.30pm Sunday North American Pacific time, or about three hours from now.
Meanwhile, welcome to Part Twenty-Two of our current Tale for Our Time - our summer diversion by Jack London, Burning Daylight. Thank you so much for your kind words about this latest caper. James Laurie, a Mark Steyn Club member from the corrupt precincts of Pennsylvania, writes:
What a blessing to be able to enjoy Mark's readings of classic literature. It's that English lit course I was never offered at Temple U.
Thank you, Prof. Steyn. :)
Well, I'm not sure whether each and every selection warrants a place on an Eng Lit course, James. And many of those that do ought to be taught in high school. Instead, as far as I can tell from the novels inflicted by teachers round these parts, the object is to select such dreary boosterish contemporary literature as to bore the pupils into never willingly picking up another book in their lives.
The lesson is don't wait to be "offered", James. It'll be a long time a-comin' from today's educators.
And with that, let us gallop on to tonight's episode, in which Burning Daylight finds he has fallen afoul of the media:
He was in the thick of his spectacular and intensely bitter fight with the Coastwise Steam Navigation Company, and the Hawaiian, Nicaraguan, and Pacific-Mexican Steamship-Company. He stirred up a bigger muss than he had anticipated, and even he was astounded at the wide ramifications of the struggle and at the unexpected and incongruous interests that were drawn into it. Every newspaper in San Francisco turned upon him. It was true, one or two of them had first intimated that they were open to subsidization, but Daylight's judgment was that the situation did not warrant such expenditure. Up to this time the press had been amusingly tolerant and good-naturedly sensational about him, but now he was to learn what virulent scrupulousness an antagonized press was capable of. Every episode of his life was resurrected to serve as foundations for malicious fabrications. Daylight was frankly amazed at the new interpretation put upon all he had accomplished and the deeds he had done. From an Alaskan hero he was metamorphosed into an Alaskan bully, liar, desperado, and all around "bad Man."
Not content with this, lies upon lies, out of whole cloth, were manufactured about him. He never replied, though once he went to the extent of disburdening his mind to half a dozen reporters. "Do your damnedest," he told them. "Burning Daylight's bucked bigger things than your dirty, lying sheets. And I don't blame you, boys... that is, not much. You can't help it. You've got to live. There's a mighty lot of women in this world that make their living in similar fashion to yours, because they're not able to do anything better. Somebody's got to do the dirty work, and it might as well be you. You're paid for it, and you ain't got the backbone to rustle cleaner jobs."
The socialist press of the city jubilantly exploited this utterance, scattering it broadcast over San Francisco in tens of thousands of paper dodgers. And the journalists, stung to the quick, retaliated with the only means in their power-printer's ink abuse. The attack became bitterer than ever.
Tales for Our Time began as an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proved very popular, and is now in its fifth season. If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo side of things, give it your best in the comments section below. But, either way, do join me tomorrow evening, right after my Monday Tucker appearance, for Part Twenty-Three of Burning Daylight.