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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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By Abba Bayer, '40
The Magpie, June 1939, v. 23, n. 2., p. 4.

There's madness in the air. New York is having a World's Fair and everything is there from exotic gardens, beautiful girls, a Hall of Science, to Ford cars and Child's flapjacks; and there is a trip through the World of Tomorrow—ironically labeled "Democracity." That's madness—a bold Yankee kind. Yet in Northern Europe, a madman is running amuck and the world awaits his next move. And, in Southern Europe, and in the Ear East, other less spectacular egomaniacs are mad for land and places in the Sun. And purges make people satisfied with government. And thousands cheer when they speak—'cause they dare not jeer. And there's fear in our hearts till we remember—

"Whom the Gods destroy
They first make mad,"

so we let go with awing and jam sessions and jives, the key word of today's music. Five thousand school kids stamp in the aisles and go mad to the tune of Benny Goodman's clarinet when his gang makes a personal appearance. Yes, we've a new kind of art. It started with Van Gogh, he gave his madness immortality and insanity is now common after-dinner talk. Salvador Dali paints weird pictures and breaks a window in a Fifth Avenue department store because the management is sane enough to exhibit them as such.

You've seen the women's hats and Jai-Alai games. They're different, they're precarious, and they're surely mad. "Swing Mikado" and "Hot Mikado," colored hotcha renditions of Gilbert and Sullivan, are the biggest hits on Broadway. And Marion Anderson is barred from Constitution Hall in Washington; down there they still see the Mason Dixon Line.

Yet life remains the most wonderful thing in the world for this tipsy-topsy chaos will go on bang exciting and thrilling and good so long as men with dreams make parks and remodel tenements, and education gives boys a chance to think straight and so save themselves and their forests from futile war.

And that's a kaleidoscopic picture of this sad, crazy, sage, mostly glad, altogether mad age.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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