Baltimore Evening Sun (27 February 1913): 6.
Proposed draft of an ordinance for immediate passage by the estimable job hounds:
AN ORDINANCE to abate public nuisances and protect law-abiding citizens from insult and injury. Be it Ordained, By the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, That any person, and particularly any female person, who, on being introduced to a stranger at a dinner reception, dance, bell, fete, oyster roast, shindig, levee, birthday party, card party, candy pull, author’s reading, wedding, wake, funeral, obsequy, vice meeting or other polite gathering, shall there and then put to the said stranger the following question, to wit: What do you think of Bergson? shall be at once knocked in the head by the nearest sheriff, deputy sheriff or police officer. And be it Further Ordained, That the informer in any such case shall receive one-half of the deceased’s life insurance, the rest to be forfeited to the State. And be it Further Ordained, That this ordinance shall take effect from the moment of its passage.
Every lover of the true, the good and the beautiful must needs be interested in the Hon. A. Toven Worm’s campaign for a reform in the nomenclature of chorus girls. Hitherto, as we all know, the terms used to designate girls of different heft, altitude and talent have run to a distressing vulgarity. The smaller girls have been called “ponies,” “broilers” or “squabs,” and the larger “hillhorses,” “amazons,” “welterwetghts” or “beefs.” It is the aim of the Hon. Mr. Worm, who represents Miss Gertrude Hoffmann in the capacity of confidential fictioner, to remedy this curse by substituting names of a romantic and poetic nature. Accordingly, he takes space in the current Sunpaper to announce that Miss Hoffmann will be surrounded on her coming appearance here by a choir of “chickens” and “canaries,” with a few “violets” and “rosebuds” for good measure.
A benign reform, but one which Mr. Worm has failed to workout to more than one place of decimals. His invention of “canaries” deserves all praise, but he makes concessions to current slang in “chicken.” Why not rename the whole hierarchy of chorus girls, from “squabs” to “hillhorses,” with the names of pretty birds? Why not begin with “humming-birds” and run up the scale to “swans,” or even to “penguins” and “cassowaries”? Why not attempt to differentiate between girls who can sing and girls who can merely stand and wait by calling the former “nightingales,” “canaries” and “mockingbirds”? I submit the following provisional and partial list to the Hon. Mr. Worm for his consideration and judgment:
- CANARIES—Singing blondes of less than 120 pounds weight, but of a generally rotund aspect.
- DOVES—Small, sylphlike creatures, demure and dumb. PARROTS–Large, gaudy girls with aquiline noses.
- PENGUINS—Stately beings in ball gowns, heavy on their feet. OSTRICHES—The grenadiers of the chorus, none less than 170 pounds in weight.
- FLAMINGOES—The so-called “showgirls” of yesteryear: Florodora sextetters.
- SWABS—Tall, resilient, necky girls, vocal only in the final chorus.
- PHEASANTS–Bunchy little ones. CROWS–Inky brunettes, large and sad.
- TANAGERS—All red-haired girls, regardless of size. (Formerly called “Zazas”).
- HUMMING BIRDS–Hundred-pounders. STORKS–Long, panatella girls, voiceless and austere.
- SPARROWS–Happy little chirpers, unbeautiful but industrious. THRUSHES–Half-portion sopranos.
- BULBULS—Deep-chested contraltos, gurgly and amiable.
And so on and so on. I offer only few suggestions. Let the Hon. Mr. Worm engage a competent ornithologist and proceed to the completion of the list. Again, he might try a list of flower-names, beginning with “violet” and running up to “chrysanthemum.” “Sunflowers” would be apt and excellent for towering, gawky blondes, and “dahlias” would fit the auburn-haired admirably. Let the hon. gent. proceed to the business at once. He has launched a laudable and long-needed reform. All connoisseurs of nomenclature look to him to give it substance and permanence.
An anonymous but hon. gent. in today’s Letter Column:
Key’s anthem has “stimulated powerfully the imagination of the American people.” What better proof than this that it is true poetry?
What better proof than this that the hon. gent. is a bad critic? His test of a work of art is that it shall fire the imagination of the American people. Does he extend the same test to other things? For example, to free silver, the direct primary, Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound and the theory that Friday is an unlucky day? All of these have “stimulated powerfully the imagination of the American people.” Every one of them, indeed, is more popular than “The Star-Spangled Banner” itself.
No; this appeal to the gallery is not sound criticism. It might be made, and with just as much success, by partisans of “The Holy City” and “Oh, You Beautiful Doll.” But the hon. gent., to do him justice, does not put his whole trust in it. On the contrary, he also argues that “competent students of English literature” are on his side. Well, let him name four such competent students, at the same time quoting exactly their encomiums upon “The Star-Spangled Banner.” For every undoubted expert that he produces, I shall give him a colytic cigar. But if he tries to ring in poets who are even worse than Key, then I shall swear out a warrant for his arrest.
As for the hon. gent’s libels upon the German people, I pass them over more in sorrow than in anger. Can it be that he is unfamiliar with “Die Wacht am Rhein,” with its clarion call to patriotism, its dignified and moving apppal to a civilized people? And if he actually knows it, can it be that he ranks it beneath “The Star-Spangled Banner” with its highfaintin’ bosh, its cheap theatricality, its tawdry braggadocia? The Germans do not rise upon their hind legs and bellow that they are brave; they merely promise to do their darndest. They do not yell that they are free; they merely pledge themselves to fight for freedom. That is the difference between German patriotism and American patriotism. And that is the difference between Max Schneckenburger, a poet fed upon blutwurst and Muenchener, and Francis Scott Key, a poet fed upon hydrogen, stick candy and “The Mysteries of Udolpho.”
Boil your drinking water! Cover the Vice Crusade! Sign the Harry petition!
The Hon. Richard Gwinn is going to the Concord Club’s bal masque disguised as a fair and faithful public official. The Hon. the super-Mahon will appear in the linoleum cassock and zinc halo of a Sunday-schlool superintendent.—Adv.
The Vice Crusade! The Vice Crusade! Alas, its gorgeous colors fade!