It was early winter on the tundra. A shepherd was tending his flock of  long haired Musk Ox. It was getting real cold. The shepherd heard a faint bird chirp. He searched between the vegetation and found a little bird overcome by cold. The shepherd asked:"What has happened to you?". The bird replied:"I am lost and I can't fly anymore. I am trembled by cold". The shepherd thought for a little while and said to the bird:"I can help you through the night. Tomorrow you have to fly south and you will get in warmer areas.". He picked up the bird and yanked the poor thing in a big pile of fresh, warm cow manure. The shepherd and his flock moved on. The bird warmed up and started to chirp joyfully. A wandering fox heard the bird, found it and ate the bird.

What is the moral of this story?
  1. Somebody who puts you in the shit is not necessarily your enemy.
  2. Somebody who pulls you out of the shit is not necessarily your friend.
  3. When you are in shit: shut up!


Best paragraph from an American book

From "Travels with Charley" by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck wrote a book on a road trip he made in 1960. He "circled" from Long Island, through Maine then to Seatlle, all the way south to California and Texas. On his way back he stopped over at New Orleans.

In 1960 segregated schools were forbidden by law and the white people did not like that. A group of white women was waiting every morning at schools to shout insults to (black) children who went to school.

In the original manuscript, Steinbeck wrote what has been shouted there:

You mother fucking, nigger sucking, prick licking piece of shit. Why you’d lick a dog’s ass if he’d let you. Look at the bastard drag his dirty stinking ass along. You think that’s his kid? That’s a piece of shit. That’s shit leading shit. Know what we ought to do? Strip down them fancy pants and cut off his balls and feed them to the pigs—that is if he’s got any balls. How about it friends?

Most likely Steinbeck invented these words himself. It is unlikely that more or less "ordinary" women would have said such well constructed sentences. This paragraph never made it to the book but Steinbeck wrote one of the best paragraphs in the American literature:

"A shrill, grating voice rang out. The yelling was not in chorus. Each took a turn and at the end of each the crowd broke into howls and roars and whistles of applause. This is what they had come to see and hear. No newspaper had printed the words these women shouted. It was indicated that they were indelicate, some even said obscene. On television the sound track was made to blur or had crowd noises cut in to cover. But now I heard the words, bestial and filthy and degenerate. In a long and unprotected life I have seen and heard the vomitings of demoniac humans before. Why then did these screams fill me with a shocked and sickened sorrow?"

50 years later a couple of writers did the same trip again each with a different angle:

Geert Mak: "Reizen zonder John, Op zoek naar Amerika" ("Travels without John, In search of America")
Bill Steigerwald: "Dogging Steinbeck"

Both writers did a thorough research to Steinbeck's book and trip. E.g. both did exactly the same trip 50 years later They both started in Sag Harbor only a couple of hours apart without knowing about each others trip, both read the original manuscript that reveals many "secrets" that never made book. Both writers come to the same conclusion that "Travels with Charley" is a fictional book while it has been sold for almost 50 years as non-fiction. A whole bunch of Steinbeck aficionados are not happy with that...

See more on Steigerwald and Mak:
  • New York Time book review of "Dogging Steinbeck"
  • Steigerwald's website dedicated to "Travels with Charley/Dogging Steinbeck" 
  • Description (in English) of Geert Mak's book. 
  • There seems to be a English translation of Mak's book in preparation (I uncourage anyone to read both books)
  • Google for YouTube videos of both writers/books  

Other reading around this subject:

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