Welcome to our latest Tale for Our Time: Jack London's sprawling tale of the Yukon and California, Burning Daylight - and, as always, I thank you for your kind words about our story so far. If you prefer those parts of this caper set in the fierce, primal northland to those set among the subtler predators of California, you may appreciate this tip from a First Week Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, Richard Woodruff:
I'd like to recommend to all the new (including me) Burning Daylight fans a 2016 documentary, Dawson City: Frozen Time. It's largely composed of newsreels, archival footage, and snippets of Hollywood films from the 1910s and 20s. Much of this footage was buried in the permafrost of Dawson for 50 or so years, discovered in 1978.
It's an amazing film, easy to picture Daylight in much of this footage, up there in the cold, cold north.
In tonight's instalment, as part of his somewhat eccentric courtship of Dede, Daylight announces he's going to build a glittering metropolis in the backwater of Oakland:
The particular hill on which they were, out-jutted from the regular line of the range, so that the sweep of their vision extended over three-quarters of the circle. Below, on the flat land bordering the bay, lay Oakland, and across the bay was San Francisco. Between the two cities they could see the white ferry-boats on the water. Around to their right was Berkeley, and to their left the scattered villages between Oakland and San Leandro. Directly in the foreground was Piedmont, with its desultory dwellings and patches of farming land, and from Piedmont the land rolled down in successive waves upon Oakland.
"Look at it," said Daylight, extending his arm in a sweeping gesture. "A hundred thousand people there, and no reason there shouldn't be half a million. There's the chance to make five people grow where one grows now. Here's the scheme in a nutshell. Why don't more people live in Oakland? No good service with San Francisco, and, besides, Oakland is asleep. It's a whole lot better place to live in than San Francisco. Now, suppose I buy in all the street railways of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, and the rest,—bring them under one head with a competent management? Suppose I cut the time to San Francisco one-half by building a big pier out there almost to Goat Island and establishing a ferry system with modern up-to-date boats? Why, folks will want to live over on this side. Very good. They'll need land on which to build. So, first I buy up the land. But the land's cheap now. Why? Because it's in the country, no electric roads, no quick communication, nobody guessing that the electric roads are coming. I'll build the roads. That will make the land jump up. Then I'll sell the land as fast as the folks will want to buy because of the improved ferry system and transportation facilities..."
Well, his dream came true: Latter-day Oakland is over ten times the size it was his day - or the promised half-a-million, give or take. But this is a new California, so, notwithstanding its Jack London Square, I'm not sure contemporary Oakland would be that congenial to Daylight and his creator.
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