Stick to your own kind

(There are passages in the middle of this of extraordinarily crude obscenity, which should be exposed and reviled, not hidden away. I offer this warning, but no apology.)

Over rice pudding (that characteristic, iconic dish of American roadside eateries), a confrontation between Zippy the Pinhead and a Roundhead enforcer of law and order, a mysterious Masked Man attired all in white (someone much resembling the Lone Ranger, defender of American goodness, power, and purity), over Zippy’s citizenship status and his freedom of action — a confrontation set in the Village Diner in a mythical Wild West (an establishment much resembling a diner of that name in Millerton NY):

(#1) The standoff at the Village Diner

Claim A

ZP: Pinheads are Wild West citizens, free to move about the territory as they wish.

MM: Not at all. Pinheads are alien interlopers, who must be interned in camps we call circuses, with their own kind, in locations reserved for them, away from real citizens.

Claim B

ZP: Some Pinheads are clever and wise, some are silly, ornamental, and entertaining, but they are all harmless. In any case, Pinheads are entitled to dress and act as they wish (within reasonable limits set by fair and just laws).

MM: Not on the street in front of respectable citizens, they aren’t. They’re deranged, dirty, and dangerous — scarcely distinguishable from wild animals. My duty as the protector of American values is to rope them up and drag them to the camps. In fact, I would prefer to shoot the hell out of the sonsofbitches, but current bleeding-heart laws tie my hands and prevent me from giving them the punishment they deserve.

As I like to say, all stories are moral stories. Even — well, really, especially — the stories in children’s books and in the comics, both of which might seem merely frivolous.

Bill Griffith understands this, and returns periodically to matters of moral urgency in his Zippy strips, usually with the lightest of hands, casting Zippy as the wise fool. But here Zippy stands, arguing the case of his people in court (against heavy odds, given that the other side is backed up by guns). Even the ridiculous rice pudding theme and the hi-yo-Silver pop-culture Lone Ranger visuals were not enough to keep me from weeping in despair. Something I had never before done over a Zippy strip.

Days of tears and rage. A dark and obscene interlude. Then, I promise you, I’ll get to lighter things, as for any old Zippy strip.


Oh, but you who philosophize, disgrace and criticize all
Bury the rag deep in your face, for now’s the time for your
— Bob Dylan, on “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” at the hands of William Zantzinger

“He’s a no-account son of a bitch; he’s just like a scum of a scum bag of the earth.”
— William “Billy” Zantzinger, on Bob Dylan


At one point, I came face-to-face with an attacker who repeatedly launched for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd, “Get his gun and kill him with his own gun.” I was aware enough to recognize I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm. I was electrocuted again, and again, and again, with a taser. I’m sure I was screaming, but I don’t think I could even hear my own voice.
— D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, testifying on 7/21/21 before the U.S. House committee investigating the 1/6/21 attack on the United States Capitol

“You want an Emmy? An Oscar? What are you trying to go for here?” the male caller said. “You’re so full of shit, you little faggot fucker. You’re a little pussy, man.”
… “You little faggot. You’re a punk faggot. You’re a lying fuck,” the man said. “How about all the scummy Black fucking scum for two years destroying our cities and burning them and stealing all that shit out of the stores and everything? How about that? And assaulting cops and killing people? How about that you fucker.”
“That was shit on the goddamn Capitol. I wish they would’ve killed all you scumbags because you people are scum,” the caller continued. “They stole the election from [REDACTED] and you know that, you scumbag. And you fucking — too bad they didn’t beat the shit out of you more. You’re a piece of shit and you’re a little fag. You fucking scumbag.”
— from a roughly one-minute-long voicemail received by Fanone while testifying (first reported by CNN, quoted here from CBS News)

Sorrow for Fanone; things actually got significantly worse after the passage above, and he ended up pleading for his life. Sorrow for the legislators of my country and their staffs, who were the objects of the crowd’s rage. Sorrow for the Black people of my country, maligned by Scumbag Caller. Sorrow for my own people, the faggot fuckers of this world.

Scanning the strip. This and that.

Rice pudding in Dinerland. See my 11/11/17 posting “Rice pudding in the land of quilted steel”, on rice pudding (with a recipe!) and its role in American diner culture.

The verb buffalo. From NOAD:

verb buffalo:  [with object] North American informal [a] overawe or intimidate (someone): she didn’t like being buffaloed. [b] baffle (someone): the problem has buffaloed the advertising staff.

Figuratively, from the intimidating size (and stereotypically truculent nature) of the buffalo.

The Village Diner. See a comment from Larry Schourup (on a 5/29/14 posting of mine) identifying the Village Diner as the one in Millerton NY.

Masked men of the Wild West. On, the Gwandanaland Comics readers Masked Men Of The Wild West — including the Masked Rider, the Masked Ranger, the Masked Raider, and the Lone Rider. In #10, a masked man with white hat, a possibly white shirt, and a red bandanna, plus a white horse (and, it seems, an Indian companion):

(#2) The Lone Ranger in the comics? (You can view many dozens of covers of the Lone Ranger comics on-line, and the Man in White is very very rare there; note that in the drawing just above, the Masked Man is wearing blue jeans, much more practical for riding the range than white)

[Added 9/24/21. noticed my interest in this Gwandanaland volume and eventually found a copy of it to offer me for a few bucks. So, eventually, the volume arrived, and indeed it is the Lone Ranger. From the back cover: “This book reprints Dell’s The Lone Ranger #40-45 (drawn by Tom Gill). And then the explanation of its low cost: “This is an economical black & white version of our great collection.” A pale b&w photocopy, to be exact. But the covers are full-size, full-color reproductions. On the front cover, it’s clear that the shirt is light blue. On the back cover are more color shots, with the Lone Ranger in the same outfit, except that the shirt — same design — is now a darker royal blue.]

Then, the Lone Ranger, as played by Clayton Moore, on tv and in the movies. From Wikipedia:

(#3) Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels in “The Lone Ranger” (photo: Warner Bros.); the Lone Ranger always had the white hat and the white horse, Silver, but here he’s gone for the full white look

The Lone Ranger is a fictional masked former Texas Ranger who fought outlaws in the American Old West with his Native American friend, Tonto. The character has been called an enduring icon of American culture.
… Clayton Moore portrayed the Lone Ranger on television [and in two movies]

(Linguists’ bonus from the guidelines for the tv character: “He always used perfect grammar and precise speech devoid of slang and colloquialisms.” That makes the tv character sound downright schoolmarmy prissy, and in fact the guidelines generally called for the Lone Ranger to be a preternaturally Good Boy, a perfect Eagle Scout,  grown into a hunk of a man: for instance, the character wasn’t supposed to frequent saloons or drink alcohol, but to hang out in tearooms and cafés — well, manly ones. Hmm.)

Earlier on this blog. From my 9/15/19 posting “Segregation in the soapy comics”, again with some moral lessons:

(#4) Realistic cartoon characters from three Nick Dallis soap opera strips: Rex Morgan, M.D.Judge Parker; and Apartment 3-G

The characters in realistic cartoons are stylized sketches from life, while those in cartoony worlds are grossly exaggerated, some not even humanoid in form. Zippy himself is human (a Pinhead rather than a Roundhead) but cartoony

… Then there’s the segregation theme, with realistic cartoon characters mostly taking the position that realistics and cartoonies shouldn’t mix in any way: stick / keep to your own kind! (Note the meta move of having cartoon characters espouse beliefs and attitudes about cartoon characters.) With the predictable tragedy of prejudice against mixed couples, joined by bonds of affection, sexual relationship, or matrimony.

… Background: against exogamy and “mixing” in general. The exhortation to endogamy — to staying within your own clan, class, caste, ethnic group, religion, race, or other social group — was famously joined to the formulaic expression Stick / Keep to your own kind! in the song “A Boy Like That” from the musical West Side Story, which begins with Anita singing to Maria:

A boy like that
Who’d kill your brother
Forget that boy
And find another
One of your own kind
Stick to your own kind

A boy like that
Will give you sorrow
You’ll meet another boy tomorrow
One of your own kind
Stick to your own kind

… Cartoonies as an underclass. The cartoon draws out an analogy between “inferior” races/ethnicities/classes in the US and cartoonishness in the comics. Realistics call for segregation, demanding that cartoonies be kept in their inferior places (literal places, locales, where they live; and figurative places, statuses, where they rank socially). They call for segregation and oppression.

But the story ever has been that attachments form even on the most barren and hostile ground. In particular, women realistics occasionally fall in love with male cartoonies, as in panel 3

… While Griffith’s cartoon treats these matters with a light and mocking touch, I take him to be offering the analogy in urgent seriousness, as a highly compressed moral lesson in comic form. Good for him.

And the title of #1. “Patriot Act”. From Wikipedia (with more detail than you probably want):

The USA PATRIOT Act (commonly known as the Patriot Act) was an Act of the United States Congress, signed into law by President George W. Bush. The name is a backronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

The Patriot Act was enacted following the September 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks with the stated goal of dramatically tightening U.S. national security, particularly as it related to foreign terrorism. In general, the act included three main provisions:

— expanded surveillance abilities of law enforcement, including by tapping domestic and international phones;

— eased interagency communication to allow federal agencies to more effectively use all available resources in counterterrorism efforts; and

— increased penalties for terrorism crimes and an expanded list of activities which would qualify for terrorism charges.

The law is controversial due to its authorization of indefinite detention without trial of immigrants, and due to the permission given to law enforcement to search property and records without a warrant, consent, or knowledge.


8 Responses to “Stick to your own kind”

  1. John Baker Says:

    My initial take on reading this was that the masked man meant that Zippy is a pinhead, not that he is a cartoony. But then I realized that I had entirely missed Bill Griffith’s point. The purpose of the hate propagated by the masked man and his type is not to protect society from purportedly (but rarely actually) genuine dangers to it; the purpose is to have an Other that the masked man and his ilk can denigrate in order to enhance their own positions. Caviling over who is the precise target of their hate only plays into their strategy.

    Incidentally, my understanding is that the Lone Ranger was always fair-minded and would have been protective of Zippy, rather than someone who would have wanted to return him to a circus. Dick Tracy might have been a better choice of villains. On the other hand, someone in the masked man’s position always seeks the appearance of goodness and purity, so if this is supposed to be an anonymous masked man imitating the Lone Ranger rather than the Lone Ranger himself, then the Lone Ranger would be an excellent choice.

    As it happens, I’ve spent a fair amount of my time working with the anti-money laundering provisions of the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001,” as the name is set forth in the Act of Congress. Yes, the contrived backronym is actually part of the short title in the statutory text.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      About the nature of the Lone Ranger (your paragraph 2). The LR of the comics and the LR of tv and the movies bear a family relationship to one another, but no more than that. (I’ve added a few comments in the text to bring out some differences in their personalities — and clothing.) Beyond that, Bill Griffiths’ Masked Man isn’t unfiltered Lone Ranger at all, but like all of Griffiths’ adaptations of existing fictional characters for the strip, the Masked Man is a Zippyland exaggeration, a burlesque.

      The LR of the tv series is a perfect straight-arrow fabrication (and would indeed never herd harmless Pinheads into camps like cattle), but the Masked Man of Zippyland is an absurdist fabrication — deeply, ridiculously fallible, also entirely capable of the thoughtless infantile abuse of commedia dell’arte and Punch and Judy shows.

  2. deety Says:

    That verb sense of “buffalo” is needed to work the claim that “Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo” is a parseable and meaningful English sentence. Right at this moment I don’t think I can label each one of them so as to make it work.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      One possible reading is: ‘bison from the city of Buffalo intimidate / baffle (other) bison’. So: Nproper Ncommon V Ncommon. Another is: ‘bison from the city of Buffalo intimidate / baffle that city’. Still another is: ‘bison (in general) intimidate / baffle bison from the city of Buffalo’. No doubt there are more.

      Those readings use the proper noun Buffalo, the (plural) common noun buffalo ‘bison, buffalos’, and the verb buffalo ‘intimidate; baffle’, plus the N1 + N2 compound type understood locatively (‘N2 from the place N1’). You will probably be annoyed to hear that there are other possibilities.

      Just to scratch the surface, there’s the repeated-N construction in I want a BUFFALO buffalo [‘what I view as a proper buffalo’], not a WATER buffalo — like I want a SANDWICH sandwich, not an ICE CREAM sandwich.

      There’s also buffalo ‘buffalo fish’. And Buffalo as the name of a device (I believe there are several different ones on the market). And Buffalo as a clipped version of the name Buffalo Bill.

  3. Robert Coren Says:

    On an entirely trivial tangent, I wonder if Officer Fanone actually said “an attacker who repeatedly launched for me”. This seems most likely to be a transcription error for lunged.

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