A low place to haunt, should you be so inclined…

Rand, McNally & Co.’s Handy Guide to Chicago and World’s Columbian Exposition (1893) contains the following entry among its sightseeing options:

Socialists and Anarchists.—These gentry, who received such a salutary lesson in the execution of their leaders, may be found in some of the beer halls of the West Side—beer, anarchy, and socialism being seemingly inseparable companions. Longhaired, of alien birth, entirely innocent of honest work or any kind of bathing, they “haunt low places and herd with the ignorant, possessing just enough knowledge to be mischievous.” They met their Waterloo in the Haymarket Square on that memorable 4th of May. 1886. Now, other than for occasional fatuous and firebrand utterances, the public would be entirely ignorant of their existence. To use a now celebrated phrase, they seem to have fallen (perhaps fortunately for their fraternity) ” into a state of innocuous desuetude.”

Those who can attest to the inseparability of beer and anarchy may enjoy Well-Aged & Slightly Bitter, with Just a Touch of Funk, the beer review blog that I have, after much arm-twisting, decided to give a try.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.


  1. This entry reminded me of a 19th-century cartoon that Frank Brooks once showed me, labeled “A Frothy Anarchist,” with a poem appended. A google search turns up the poem and source, though not alas the cartoon itself:

    “You’re a swigger of frothy lager, and you smoke a rank old pipe.
    Likewise you’re a brawling Anarchist, of the laziest kind of type.
    You never comb your matted hair; and it’s tossed about like the seas,
    While your foul breath gives forth the odor of the rankest kind of cheese.
    You’re only a crazy crank at best, and you’re mean enough to try
    To beat the honest brewery-man, and drink his big vats dry.”

    Now that is some witty stuff.

  2. P.S. – I’m not sure where the phrase “frothy anarchist” originates, but it pops up over and over in the late 19th and early 20th c. literature.

    Am I right in thinking that “innocuous desuetude” comes from furry lovable Grover (Cleveland)?

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