My Ears are Bent

Another refreshing collection of feature stories written for newspapers and magazines by the esteemed Joseph Mitchell. You get a sense of a young man bumping around the city of New York at all hours, scouring up stories, listening to folks whine or bleat with joy. Drunks, strip joints, bars, preachers, voodoo doctors, Coney Island, pickpockets, anarchists, comic designers, George Bernard Shaw, and wrestlers.

The least interesting people to interview for an afternoon newspaper are the ones who probably should be the most interesting, industrial leaders, automobile manufacturers, Wall St financiers, oil and steel czars, people like that. They either chew your ears off with nonsense about how they are self-made (“When I landed in this country all I had was seventeen cents and a poppyseed roll and now I am chairman of the board.”) or they sit around and look gloomy. After painfully interviewing one of those gentlemen you go down in the elevator and walk into the street and see the pretty girls, the pretty working girls, with their jolly breasts bouncing about under their dresses and you rae relieved; you feel as if you had escaped from a tomb in which the worms were just beginning their work; you feel that is would be better to cheat, lie, steal, stick up drugstores or stretch out dead drunk in the gutter than to end up like one of those industrial leaders with a face that looks like a bowl of cold oatmeal.