One hundred and fifty years ago today Joshua Abraham Norton donned the purple robe of empire. I keep a portrait of him on the wall of my cubicle, near Cervantes, who despite the lapse of years might have been an appropriate godfather to him.
He had two mutt dogs, Bummer and Lazarus, who followed him about. When Bummer died in 1865, Mark Twain wrote the dog’s obituary.
“In what other city,” Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “would a harmless madman who supposed himself emperor … been so fostered and encouraged?”