successful fires

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jun 6 17:35:10 UTC 2000

At 1:02 PM -0400 6/6/00, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:
>     [...]  A very major gambler and criminal
>power-broker and financier named Arnold Rothstein had been murdered.
>An Irish-born cleaning woman who worked in the hotel where Rothstein
>was last alive said that she had seen him talking to a man she
>described as "a big feller, and as Irish as Paddy's pig".  The cops,
>reasoning shrewdly, thought that the description was not
>inappropriate for George McManus, who was considerably taller than 6
>feet and who was on poor terms with Rothstein.  Nothing came of this.
> Rothstein's murder generated a lot of heat but even more pressure to
>cover it up, and covered up it was.
>Aha! So that's the reference of one of the half-stanzas in a long poem by
>Nash that I memorized many years ago:
>     See Rothstein pass like breath on a glass,
>     The original Black Sox kid.
>     He riffles the pack, riding piggyback
>     On the killer whose name he hid.
>We usually associate Nash with light verse in grotesquely long, unmetered
>with absurd rhymes, but "A Tale of the 13th Floor" is a Halloween (or
>Walpurgisnacht) ghost story/morality tale, rigorously rhymed and metered
>in the
>stanzas of Oscar Wilde's "Ballad of Reading Gaol".
>-- Mark
and for the uninitiated, the "Black Sox kid" reference in the Nash line
Mark quotes is to Rothstein's legendary role (rumored or actually
confirmed?) as the major figure responsible for bribing the underpaid and
ill-treated 1919 Chicago White Sox to throw (deliberately lose) the World
Series of that year to the heavy underdog Cincinnati Reds.  (all very well
depicted in the John Sayles movie "Eight Men Out" from the Eliot Asinof
book of the same name.)  This, in turn, bequeathed us "Say it ain't so,
Joe" (supposedly a disillusioned kid beseeching Shoeless Joe Jackson, one
of the eight bribees later permanently banned from baseball) and,
eventually, "Field of Dreams".  Quite a legacy for Mr. Rothstein.


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