Post-Impressions of Cities

H.L. Mencken

The Smart Set/November, 1913

NEW YORK — Cleopatra doing settlement work . . . the Twentieth Century Express running amuck . . . the turkey trot in Tammany Hall . . . nymphomania . . . Thais in the cloak and suit business.

Philadelphia — A village in long trousers . . . embroidered mottoes . . . Rogers groups . . . a cross between Fifth Avenue and Henry Van Dyke . . . Peeping Tom blindfolded.

Boston — A lecture by Peary on the North Pole . . . spectacles on the minor prophets . . . Brieux, Elbert Hubbard, “the social evil” . . . Christian Science, Gaby Deslys and eugenics discussed by clothing store dummies . . . “Sweet Adeline” played on a parlor organ.

Cincinnati — Valkyries drinking flat beer . . . dachshunds and sauerbraten . . . Jaeger underwear.

New Orleans — A Creole Carmen serving shrimp gumbo under magnolia trees … a decadent poet dancing on the levee . . . music, moonlight and miscegenation.

Chicago — A six-foot freshman in need of a hazing … a demi-vierge smoking her first cigarette … a shilling shocker without a shock.

Baltimore — “Dixie” with variations performed by fifty negroes on the jewsharp . . . steamed crabs and chicken a la Maryland . . . phoenixes, foot scrapers and Colonial house fronts . . . diamond-studded heels and lace stockings coming out of a cathedral.

Providence — Candles sputtering in the rain … an unkempt millhand in a deserted dance hall . . . imitation jewelry.

Los Angeles — Literary prophylaxis . . . Anthony Comstock removing the seven veils from Salome . . . odorless disinfectants and vacuum cleaners.

Richmond — A little middle-aged (female) member of the Southern aristocracy rushing about on a motorcycle … a shrinking violet pretending to be an orchid.

San Francisco — White slavers, Japanese farmers, houris and real estate agents opening California claret in a private dining room . . . tourists from the East . . . dolce far from everything.

Old Point Comfort — Bathing in milk and being rubbed down with velvet . . . strained honey and unrestrained honeymoons . . . souvenir postal cards . . early to bed . . . late breakfasts.

 

(Source: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101076380417&view=1up&seq=717)

Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s