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Kel’s Reading Room, wherein here and there, now and again, to this one and that one I’ll offer up the overlooked, overwrought, hallucinogenic and old school.

Part Two

The first Reading Room offering, back on page 78, is GK Chesterton’s Lepanto.
This second dissemination is a free verse poem by noted pessimist and salty bridge burner, the notably blacklisted Ms Dorothy Rothschild Parker, whose cremated remains stayed vagrant, moving from hand to hand for seventeen years until her ashes were claimed by the NAACP and laid to rest in a memorial garden outside their Baltimore headquarters. I like to think that Ms Parker would have loathed this comic strip and its author, on general principles.

Here, from the February 1917 issue of Vanity Fair, is Dorothy Rothschild Parker’s magnificent rant


I hate men.
They irritate me.

There are the Serious Thinkers,
There ought to be a law against them.
They see life as through shell-rimmed glasses, darkly.
They are always drawing their weary hands
Across their wan brows.
They talk about Humanity
As if they had just invented it.
They have to keep helping it along.
They revel in strikes
And they are eternally getting up petitions.
They are doing a wonderful thing for the great unwashed,
They are living right down among them.
They can hardly wait
For The Masses to appear on the newsstands,
And they read all those Russian novels,
The sex bestsellers.

There are the Cave Men,
Specimens of Red-Blooded Manhood.
They eat everything very rare,
They are scarcely ever out of their cold baths,
And they want everyone to feel their muscles.
They talk in loud voices,
Using short Anglo-Saxon words.
They go around raising windows,
And they slap people on the back
And tell them what they need is exercise.
They are always just on the point of walking to San Francisco,
Or crossing the ocean in a sailboat,
Or going through Russia on a sled.
I wish to God they would!

And then there are the Sensitive Souls
Who do interior decorating, for Art’s sake.
They always smell faintly of vanilla
And put drops of sandlewood on their cigarettes.
They are continually getting up costume balls
So that they can go
As something out of the Arabian Nights.
They give studio teas
Where people sit around on cushions
And wish they hadn’t come.
They look at a woman languorously, through half-closed eyes,
And tell her, in low, passionate tones,
What she ought to wear.
Color is everything to them - everything;
The wrong shade of purple
Gives them a nervous breakdown.

Then there are the ones
Who are Simply Steeped in Crime.
They tell you how they haven’t been to bed
For four nights.
They frequent those dramas
Where the only good lines
Are those of the chorus.
They stagger from one cabaret to another,
And they give you the exact figures of their gambling debts.
They hint darkly at the terrible part
That alcohol plays in their lives.
And then they shake their heads
And say Heaven must decide what is going to become of them.
I wish I were Heaven!

I hate men.
They irritate me.

Pepperpot Piper is written & illustrated by Joseph Kelly
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