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Flannery O’Connor to Lit Professor: “My Tone Is Not Meant to Be Obnoxious. I’m in a State of Shock”

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 - 8:00 pm

When Flannery O’Connor started writing in the middle of the 20th century, short stories — or at least fashionable short stories that were published in The New Yorker –unfolded delicately revealing gossamer-like layers of experience. O’Connor’s stories, in contrast, were pungent, grotesque, often violent moral tales dealing with unabashedly Christian themes. They definitely weren’t fashionable at the time. Yet since her untimely death at age 39 in 1964, O’Connor’s reputation has only increased. Even for readers who aren’t immersed in Catholic theology, her stories — which pair outlandish, often comic characters with harrowing, existential situations — have a way of burrowing into your consciousness and staying there. For O’Connor, the gothic tales were a means to an end: “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”

In 1961, an English professor wrote to O’Connor hoping to help his students understand “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The story, perhaps the author’s most famous, is a slippery, troubling work about a family of six casually murdered by an escaped convict called the Misfit in the backwoods of Georgia. The story’s main character is clearly the Grandmother. The story is seen through her eyes, and she is the one who ultimately dooms the family. Yet the professor didn’t quite see it that way:

We have debated at length several possible interpretations, none of which fully satisfies us. In general we believe that the appearance of the Misfit is not ‘real’ in the same sense that the incidents of the first half of the story are real. Bailey, we believe, imagines the appearance of the Misfit, whose activities have been called to his attention on the night before the trip and again during the stopover at the roadside restaurant. Bailey, we further believe, identifies himself with the Misfit and so plays two roles in the imaginary last half of the story. But we cannot, after great effort, determine the point at which reality fades into illusion or reverie. Does the accident literally occur, or is it part of Bailey’s dream? Please believe me when I say we are not seeking an easy way out of our difficulty. We admire your story and have examined it with great care, but we are not convinced that we are missing something important which you intended us to grasp. We will all be very grateful if you comment on the interpretation which I have outlined above and if you will give us further comments about your intention in writing ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find.’

O’Connor was understandably baffled by this reading. Her response:

28 March 1961

The interpretation of your ninety students and three teachers is fantastic and about as far from my intentions as it could get to be. If it were a legitimate interpretation, the story would be little more than a trick and its interest would be simply for abnormal psychology. I am not interested in abnormal psychology.

There is a change of tension from the first part of the story to the second where the Misfit enters, but this is no lessening of reality. This story is, of course, not meant to be realistic in the sense that it portrays the everyday doings of people in Georgia. It is stylized and its conventions are comic even though its meaning is serious.

Bailey’s only importance is as the Grandmother’s boy and the driver of the car. It is the Grandmother who first recognized the Misfit and who is most concerned with him throughout. The story is a duel of sorts between the Grandmother and her superficial beliefs and the Misfit’s more profoundly felt involvement with Christ’s action which set the world off balance for him.

The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction. Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.

My tone is not meant to be obnoxious. I am in a state of shock.

Flannery O’Connor

You can hear O’Connor read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” below. We have more information on the 1959 reading here:

Via Letters of Note

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Flannery O’Connor’s Satirical Cartoons: 1942-1945

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Flannery O’Connor to Lit Professor: “My Tone Is Not Meant to Be Obnoxious. I’m in a State of Shock” is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Flannery O’Connor to Lit Professor: “My Tone Is Not Meant to Be Obnoxious. I’m in a State of Shock” appeared first on Open Culture.

Read The Very First Comic Book: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (1837)

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 - 11:30 am

Comic books, as any enthusiast of comics books won’t hesitate to tell you, have a long and robust history, one that extends far wider and deeper than the 20th-century caped musclemen, carousing teenagers, and wisecracking animals so many associate with the medium. The scholarship on comic-book history — still a relatively young field, you understand — has more than once revised its conclusions on exactly how far back its roots go, but as of now, the earliest acknowledged comic book dates to 1837.

The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, according to thecomicbooks.com’s page on early comic-book history, “was done by Switzerland’s Rudolphe Töpffer, who has been considered in Europe (and starting to become here in America) as the creator of the picture story. He created the comic strip in 1827,” going on to create comic books “that were extremely successful and reprinted in many different languages; several of them had English versions in America in 1846. The books remained in print in America until 1877.”

Also known as Histoire de M. Vieux BoisLes amours de Mr. Vieux Bois, or simply Monsieur Vieuxbois, the original 1837 Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck earned Töpffer the designation of “the father of the modern comic” from no less an authority on the matter than Understanding Comics author Scott McCloud, who cites the series’ pioneering use of bordered panels and “the interdependent combination of words and pictures.” You can see for yourself at the web site of Dartmouth College’s Library.

Alas, contemporary critics — and to an extent Töpffer himself, who considered it a work targeted at children and “the lower classes” — couldn’t see the innovation in all this. They wrote off Obadiah Oldbuck‘s harrowing yet strangely lighthearted pictorial stories of failed courtship, dueling, attempted suicide, robbery, drag, elopement, ghosts, stray bullets, attack dogs, double-crossing, and the threat of execution as mere trifles by an otherwise capable artist. So the next time anyone gets on your case about reading comic books, just tell ‘em they said the same thing about Obadiah Oldbuck. Then send them this way so they can figure out what you mean. You can read The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck in its totality here.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Read The Very First Comic Book: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (1837) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Read The Very First Comic Book: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (1837) appeared first on Open Culture.

How Did Everything Begin?: Animations on the Origins of the Universe Narrated by X-Files Star Gillian Anderson

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 - 8:31 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMPIOHSEwF8

Back in November, we brought you the BBC series of short animated videos, A History of Ideas. Produced in collaboration with the UK’s Open University and narrated by Harry Shearer, these fun introductions to such philosophers as Simone de Beauvoir and Edmund Burke, and such weighty philosophical topics as free will and the problem of evil, make challenging, abstract concepts accessible to non-philosophers. Now the series is back with a new chapter, “How Did Everything Begin?,” a survey of several theories of the origins of the universe, from Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical speculations, to Hindu cosmology; and from theologian William Paley’s design argument (below), and the theory of the Big Bang (above).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNPSiaU62yk

The two videos here present an interesting counterpoint between the origin theories of astrophysics and theology. Though current day intelligent design proponents deny it, there is still much of William Paley’s argument, at least in style, in their explanations of creation. First propounded in his 1802 work Natural Theology, the theologian’s famous watchmaker analogy—which he extended to the design of the eye, and everything else—gave Charles Darwin much to puzzle over, though David Hume had supposedly refuted Paley’s arguments 50 years earlier. The Big Bang theory—a term created by its foremost critic Fred Hoyle as a pejorative—offers an entirely naturalistic account of the universe’s origins, one that presupposes no inherent purpose or design.

As with the previous videos, these are scripted by former Open University professor and host of the Philosophy Bites podcast, Nigel Warburton. This time around the videos are narrated by Gillian Anderson, whose voice you may not immediately recognize. Rather than sounding like Dana Scully, her famous X-Files character, Anderson speaks in a British accent, which she slips into easily, having lived in the UK for much of her childhood and now again as an adult. (You may have seen Anderson in many of the English period dramas she has appeared in, or in British crime drama The Fall or Michael Winterbottom’s uproarious adaptation of Tristram Shandy.)

These fascinating speculative theories—whether scientific or mythological—are sure to appeal to fans of the X-Files, who can perhaps begin to believe again, or remain skeptical, thanks to news that Anderson may reteam with Chris Carter and David Duchovny for a reboot of the classic sci-fi series.

Watch the remaining videos in the series below:

Thomas Aquinas and the First Mover Argument

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJH18VqdttY

Hindu Creation Stories

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ6hVl84sjg

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How Did Everything Begin?: Animations on the Origins of the Universe Narrated by X-Files Star Gillian Anderson is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post How Did Everything Begin?: Animations on the Origins of the Universe Narrated by X-Files Star Gillian Anderson appeared first on Open Culture.

A Dazzling Gallery of Clockwork Orange Tattoos

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 - 5:00 am

Alex, the protagonist of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange takes teenage rebellion to psychotic extremes, but one act he and his droogs never indulge in is getting tattooed. It doesn’t even seem to be on their radar. How different things were in 1962, when the book was published!

I have no doubt that director Stanley Kubrick (or designer Milena Canonero) could have devised some iconic ink for the 1971 film adaptation, but it would’ve been gilding the lily. Movie Alex Malcolm McDowell’s single false eyelash is so arresting as to be instantly recognizable. It deserved its star billing on the updated book cover that coincided with the film’s release.

It’s also just one of many Clockwork Orange-inspired images that decorates fans’ hides now that tattooing has hit the mainstream. What would Alex think?

The little monster’s ego would’ve have relished the notoriety, but I bet he’d have had a snicker, too, at the lengths to which eager chellovecks and devotchkas will go. It’s the kind of thing his dim droogie Dim would do—mark himself up permanent when he could’ve just as well have bought a totebag.

Whether or not you personally would consider making a salute to A Clockwork Orange a lifelong feature of your birthday suit, it’s hard not to admire the commitment of the passionate literature and film lovers who do.

In assembling the gallery below, we’ve opted to forgo the photorealistic portraits of McDowell—particularly the ones that recreate the aversion therapy scene—in favor of the graphic, the creative, the jaw dropping, the sly… and the unavoidable Hello Kitty mash up, which we’re kind of hoping washes off.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and cartoonist, whose latest comic celebrates Civil War firebrand, “Crazy Bet” Van Lew. Follow her @AyunHalliday

A Dazzling Gallery of Clockwork Orange Tattoos is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post A Dazzling Gallery of Clockwork Orange Tattoos appeared first on Open Culture.

Whitney Museum Puts Online 21,000 Works of American Art, By 3,000 Artists

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 - 4:00 pm

Soir Bleu by Edward Hopper, 1914.

The trend has now become delightfully clear: the world’s best-known art institutions have got around to the important business of making their collections freely viewable online. We’ve already featured the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Rijksmuseum, and the National Gallery (as well as new, internet-based institutions such as the Google Art Project and Art.sy). Today, we bring news that the Whitney Museum of American Art has joined in as well.

The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz, 1907.

“Last week, the Whitney Museum massively overhauled its online database,” writes Hyperallergic’s Becca Rothfeld. “The museum of American art expanded its online collection from a paltry 700 works to around 21,000. The digital reserve now includes over 3,000 pieces by Edward Hopper, in addition to offerings from a wide swathe of art from the United States, including the likes of Mike Kelley and Martin Wong.” Rothfeld also notes that all this digitization has happened during the museum’s physical move, currently underway, to a building in the Meatpacking District with 63,000 combined square feet of indoor and outdoor gallery space.

Morning Sky by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1916.

We non-New Yorkers have, of course, already booked our flights to experience the Whitney’s new digs. But since the building won’t actually open to the public until May, all of us, no matter where we live, will have to content ourselves for the moment with what the museum has put online so far. Fortunately, it has put a lot online: you can browse their digital collections by artist here; you’ll notice a great deal of Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Andy Warhol already available for your browsing pleasure.

via Hyperallergic

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Whitney Museum Puts Online 21,000 Works of American Art, By 3,000 Artists is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Whitney Museum Puts Online 21,000 Works of American Art, By 3,000 Artists appeared first on Open Culture.

Slavoj Žižek Names His Favorite Films from The Criterion Collection

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 - 3:00 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqpxT_iJ8Mc

Slavoj Žižek – the world’s most famous Slovenian, the “Elvis of cultural theory” – readily admits that he’s a big fan of movies. After all, there are few better ideological delivery systems out there than cinema and Žižek is fascinated with ideology. In his documentary The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, he parses some beloved favorites in unexpected ways. So Taxi Driver is not only an unofficial remake of The Searchers but also echoes America’s recent foreign policy blunders in the Middle East? Okay. So Titanic has parallels with the Soviet propaganda movie The Fall of Berlin? Sure. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, at its heart, articulates some very cynical notions of government? Actually, I sort of suspected that one. Žižek’s tendency to make wild, surprising rhetorical leaps and his penchant for dropping nods to pop culture alongside references to Karl Marx and Jacques Lacan have turned him into that rarest of people – a celebrity philosopher.

Last fall, Žižek stopped by the office of The Criterion Collection where he rattled off some of his favorite movies from its library. His commentary is incisive, fascinating, occasionally flip and often funny. As it turns out, Žižek is not a fan of Milan Kundera; he is one of the very few people out there who prefers Roberto Rossellini’s late films over his early Italian Neo-Realist masterpieces like Rome, Open City; and he ended up being a personal inspiration for Ang Lee’s film, The Ice Storm. You can watch him talk in the video above. Below is the film list, along with some choice quotes.

Trouble in Paradise (1932) – dir. Ernst Lubitsch
“It’s the best critique of Capitalism.”

Sweet Smell of Success (1957) – dir. Alexander Mackendrick
“It’s a nice depiction of the corruption of the American press.”

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) – dir. Peter Weir
“I simply like early Peter Weir movies. … It’s like his version of Stalker.”

Murmur of the Heart (1971)- dir. Louis Malle
“It’s one of those nice gentle French movies where you have incest. Portrayed as a nice secret between mother and son. I like this.”

The Joke (1969) – dir. Jaromil Jireš
“The Joke is the first novel by Milan Kundera and I think it’s his only good novel. After that it all goes down.”

The Ice Storm (1997) – dir. Ang Lee
“I have a personal attachment to this film. When James Schamus was writing the scenario, he told me he was reading a book of mine and that my theoretical book was inspiration [sic]. So it’s personal reason but I also loved the movie.”

Great Expectations (1946) dir. David Lean
“I am simply a great fan of Dickens.”

Rossellini’s History Films (Box Set) – The Age of the Medici (1973), Cartesius (1974), Blaise Pascal (1972)
“Rossellini’s history films, I prefer them. These late, long boring TV movies. I think that the so-called great Rossellinis, for example German Year Zero and so on, they no longer really work. I think this is the Rossellini to be rehabilitated.”

City Lights (1931) – dir. Charlie Chaplin
“What is there to say? This is one of the greatest movies of all times.”

Carl Theodor Dreyer Box SetDay of Wrath (1943), Ordet (1955), Gertrud (1964)
“It’s more out of my love for Denmark. It’s nice to know already in the ‘20s and ‘30s, Denmark was already a cinematic superpower.

Y Tu Mamá También (2002) – dir. Alfonso Cuáron
“This is for obvious personal reason. I do the comment. [He did the DVD Commentary for the movie] Although, I must say that my favorite Cuáron is Children of Men.”

Antichrist (2009) – dir. Lars Von Trier
“I will probably not like it, but I like Von Trier. It is simply a part of a duty.”

Žižek goes on to say that he oftentimes enjoys the DVD commentary of a movie more than the actual film. “I am a corrupted theorist. Screw the movie. I like to learn all around the movie.”

And below you can watch Žižek’s take on John Carpenter’s overlooked gem, and leftist parable, They Live!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18qD9hmU9xg

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Slavoj Žižek Names His Favorite Films from The Criterion Collection is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Slavoj Žižek Names His Favorite Films from The Criterion Collection appeared first on Open Culture.

Dominic West, Stephen Fry & Benedict Cumberbatch Read From a Guantánamo Prisoner’s Diary

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 - 11:31 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YozKFwQKq_0

For more than a decade, Mohamedou Ould Slahi has remained locked up in Guantánamo, despite never being charged with a crime. He’s just one of many prisoners trapped in a Kafkian state of legal limbo. Confined to a single cell, Slahi has written a haunting, 466 page account of his experience. And, after years of litigation, and some 2,500 redactions by the US government, his diary is finally being published. You can read the declassified manuscript online over at The Guardian. To get some context on the whole affair, you can watch a short documentary above, which features readings by Dominic West (McNulty in The Wire). Below, we have more readings by Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth. Yet more readings can be found on SoundCloud.

Stephen Fry

 

Benedict Cumberbatch

 

Colin Firth

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

Dominic West, Stephen Fry & Benedict Cumberbatch Read From a Guantánamo Prisoner’s Diary is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Dominic West, Stephen Fry & Benedict Cumberbatch Read From a Guantánamo Prisoner’s Diary appeared first on Open Culture.

How “America’s First Drug Czar” Waged War Against Billie Holiday and Other Jazz Legends

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 - 8:44 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJMeTR227h8

The U.S. government’s so-called “War on Drugs” predates Richard Nixon’s coinage of the term in 1971 by many decades, though it is under his administration that it assumed its current scope and character. Before Woodstock and Vietnam, before the creation of the DEA in 1973, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics—headed by “America’s first drug czar,” Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger, from 1930 to 1962—waged its own war, at first primarily on marijuana, and, to a great degree, on jazz musicians and jazz culture. Anslinger came to power in the era of Reefer Madness, the title of a rather ridiculous 1938 anti-drug film that has come to stand in for hyperbolic anti-pot paranoia of the ’30s and ’40s more generally. Much of that madness was the Commissioner’s special creation.

Like so much of the post-Nixon drug war, Anslinger staged his campaign as a moral crusade against certain kinds of users: dissidents, the counterculture, and especially immigrants and blacks. According to Alexander Cockburn’s Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press, Anslinger’s “first major campaign was to criminalize the drug commonly known as hemp. But Anslinger renamed it ‘marijuana’ to associate it with Mexican laborers,” and claimed that the drug “can arouse in blacks and Hispanics a state of menacing fury or homicidal attack.” Anslinger “became the prime shaper of American attitudes to drug addiction.” And like later despisers of rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop, Anslinger’s hatred of jazz motivated many of his targeted attacks.

Ansligner linked marijuana with jazz and persecuted many black musicians, including Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. Louis Armstrong was also arrested on drug charges, and Anslinger made sure his name was smeared in the press. In Congress he testified that “[c]oloreds with big lips lure white women with jazz and marijuana.”

“Marijuana is taken by… musicians,” he told Congress in 1937, “And I’m not speaking about good musicians, but the jazz type.” Although the La Guardia Committee would refute almost everything Anslinger testified to about the effects of smoking pot, the damage was already done. (Anslinger’s prosecution of jazz musicians, particularly Louis Armstrong—paralleled that of another power-mad, paranoid bureaucrat, J. Edgar Hoover.)

Anslinger did not simply dislike jazz. He feared it. “It sounded,” he wrote, “like the jungles in the dead of night.” In jazz, “unbelievably ancient indecent rites of the East Indies are resurrected.” And the lives of jazz musicians “reek of filth.” And yet, writes Johann Hari in his book Chasing the Scream (excerpted in Politico), his campaign largely failed because of the jazz world’s “absolute solidarity” in opposition to it. “In the end,” writes Hari, “the Treasury Department told Anslinger he was wasting his time.” And so, “he scaled down his focus until it settled like a laser on one single target—perhaps the greatest female jazz vocalist there ever was,” Billie Holiday.

Anyone with even the most cursory knowledge about Holiday knows she had a drug problem in desperate need of treatment. And, of course, Holiday wasn’t addicted to a relatively harmless substance like marijuana, but to heroin, which—along with alcohol abuse—eventually lead to her death. Yet, as Cockburn writes, Anslinger had “hammer[ed] home his view that [drug addiction] was not… treatable,” but “could only be suppressed by harsh criminal sanctions.” Accordingly, he “hunted” Holiday—in Hari’s apt description—sending agents after her when he heard “whispers that she was using heroin, and—after she flatly refused to be silent about racism.”

Recruiting a black agent, Jimmy Fletcher, for the job, Anslinger began his attacks on Holiday in 1939. Fletcher shadowed Holiday for years, and became protective, eventually, “it seems,” writes Hari, “fall[ing] in love with her.” But Anslinger broke the case through Holliday’s viciously abusive husband, Louis McKay, who agreed to inform on her—something no fellow musician would do. In May of 1947, Holiday was arrested and put on trial for possession of narcotics. “Sick and alone,” writes Hettie Jones in Big Star Fallin’ Mama: Five Women in Black Music, “she signed away her right to a lawyer and no one advised her to do otherwise.” Promised a “hospital cure in return for a plea of guilty,” she was instead “convicted as a ‘criminal defendant,’ and a ‘wrongdoer,’ and sentenced to a year and a day in the Federal Women’s Reformatory at Alderson, West Virginia.”

After her release, Holiday was stripped of her cabaret license, restricted from singing in “all the jazz clubs in the United States… on the grounds,” writes Hari, “that listening to her might harm the morals of the public.” Two years after her first conviction, Anslinger recruited another agent, a sadist named George White, who was all too happy take Holiday down. He did so in 1949 at the Mark Twain Hotel in San Francisco—“one of the few places she could still perform”—arresting her without a warrant and with what were very likely planted drugs. White apparently “had a long history of planting drugs on women” and “may well have been high when he busted Billie for getting high.” (See the declassified case against her here. Her manager John Levy is erroneously referred to as her “husband” and called “Joseph Levy.”)

A jury refused to convict, but Anslinger gloried in the toll his campaign had taken. “She had slipped from the peak of her fame,” he wrote, “her voice was cracking.” After her death in 1959, he wrote callously, “for her, there would be no more ‘Good Morning Heartache.’” For her part, though Holiday “didn’t blame Anslinger’s agents as individuals; she blamed the drug war,” writing in her autobiography, “Imagine if the government chased sick people with diabetes, put a tax on insulin and drove it into the black market… then sent them to jail…. We do practically the same thing every day in the week to sick people hooked on drugs.”

Many jazz musicians, but especially Holiday, paid dearly for Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ “war on drugs.” Hari documents the “race panic” that underlay most of Anslinger’s actions and the egregious double standard he applied, including a “friendly chat” he had with Judy Garland over her heroin addiction and kid gloves treatment of a “Washington society hostess,” in contrast to his relentless prosecution of Holiday. His persecution of Holliday and others was accompanied by a propaganda campaign that demonized “the Negro population” as dangerous addicts. As Hari points out, Anslinger “did not create these underlying trends,” but he promoted racist fictions and manipulated them to his advantage. And his singling out of cultures and groups he personally disliked and feared as special targets for vigorous, prejudicial prosecution helped set the agenda for anti-drug legislation and cultural attitudes in every decade since he decided to go after jazz and Billie Holiday.

Hari’s book, Chasing the Scream, is now available on Amazon.

Related Content:

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Louis Armstrong Plays Historic Cold War Concerts in East Berlin & Budapest (1965)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How “America’s First Drug Czar” Waged War Against Billie Holiday and Other Jazz Legends is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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The Public Domain Project Makes 10,000 Film Clips, 64,000 Images & 100s of Audio Files Free to Use

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 - 5:00 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEIoaaazk60

Sure, we love the internet for how it makes freely available so many cultural artifacts. And sure, we also love the internet for how it allows us to disseminate our own work. But the internet gets the most interesting, I would submit, when it makes freely available cultural artifacts with the express purpose of letting creators use them in their own work — which we then all get to experience through the internet. The new Public Domain Project will soon become an important resource for many such creators, offering as it does “thousands of historic media files for your creative projects, completely free and made available by Pond5,” an entity that brands itself as “the world’s most vibrant marketplace for creativity.”

So what can you find to use in the Public Domain Project? As of this writing, it offers 9715 pieces of footage, 473 audio files, 64,535 images, and 121 3D models. “The project includes digital models of NASA tools and satellites, Georges Méliès’ 1902 film, A Trip To The Moon, speeches by political figures like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., recordings of performances from composers like Beethoven, and a laid-back picture of President Obama playing pool,” says a post at The Creators Project explaining the site’s background.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIh0HgjRSBM

In the Public Domain Project’s expanding archives you will also find clips of everything, from rocket launches to film of old New York to very, very early cat videos, to, of course, mushroom clouds. I imagine that some future Chris Marker could make creative use of this stuff indeed, and if they need a score, they could use a concerto for pizzicato and ten instruments, Chopin’s “Nocturne in E Flat Major,” or maybe “Johnny Get Your Gun.” Alternatively, they could part out the very first documentary and use the Public Domain Project’s bits and pieces of Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie CameraWhatever you want to create, the usable public domain can only grow more fruitful, so you might as well get mixing, remixing, and sharing, as Pond5 puts it, right away. Visit The Public Domain Project here.

via The Creators Project

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A Cabinet of Curiosities: Discover The Public Domain Review’s New Book of Essays

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Public Domain Project Makes 10,000 Film Clips, 64,000 Images & 100s of Audio Files Free to Use is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Jean Cocteau Delivers a Speech to the Year 2000 in 1962: “I Hope You Have Not Become Robots”

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 - 4:30 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-x-wNiN4Hk

Jean Cocteau was a great many things to a great many people—writer, filmmaker, painter, friend, and lover. In the latter two categories he could count among his acquaintances such modernist giants as Pablo Picasso, Kenneth Anger, Erik Satie, Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf, Jean Marais, Marcel Proust, André Gide, and a number of other famous names. But Cocteau himself had little use for fame and its blandishments. As you’ll see in the short film above, “Cocteau Addresses the Year 2000,” the great 20th century artist considered the many awards bestowed upon him naught but “transcendent punishment.” What Cocteau cared for most was poetry; for him it was the “basis of all art, a ‘religion without hope.'”

Cocteau began his career as a poet, publishing his first collection, Aladdin’s Lamp, at the age of 19. By 1963, at the age of 73, he had lived one of the richest artistic lives imaginable, transforming every genre he touched. Deciding to leave one last artifact to posterity, Cocteau sat down and recorded the film above, a message to the year 2000, intending it as a time capsule only to be opened in that year (though it was discovered, and viewed a few years earlier). Biographer James S. Williams describes the documentary testament as “Cocteau’s final gift to his fellow human beings.”

He reiterates some of his long-standing artistic themes and principles: death is a form of life; poetry is beyond time and a kind of superior mathematics; we are all a procession of others who inhabit us; errors are the true expression of an individual, and so on. The tone is at once speculative and uncompromising…

Portraying himself as “a living anachronism” in a “phantom-like state,” Cocteau, seated before his own artwork, quotes St. Augustine, makes parables of events in his life, and addresses, primarily, the youth of the future. The uses and misuses of technology comprise a central theme of his discourse: “I certainly hope that you have not become robots,” Cocteau says, “but on the contrary that you have become very humanized: that’s my hope.” The people of his time, he claims, “remain apprentice robots.”

Among Cocteau’s concerns is the dominance of an “architectural Esperanto, which remains our time’s great mistake.” By this phrase he means that “the same house is being built everywhere and no attention is paid to climate, atmospherical conditions or landscape.” Whether we take this as a literal statement or a metaphor for social engineering, or both, Cocteau sees the condition as one in which these monotonous repeating houses are “prisons which lock you up or barracks which fence you in.” The modern condition, as he frames it, is one “straddling contradictions” between humanity and machinery. Nonetheless, he is impressed with scientific advancement, a realm of “men who do extraordinary things.”

And yet, “the real man of genius,” for Cocteau, is the poet, and he hopes for us that the genius of poetry “hasn’t become something like a shameful and contagious sickness against which you wish to be immunized.” He has very much more of interest to communicate, about his own time, and his hopes for ours. Cocteau recorded this transmission from the past in August of 1963. On October 11 of that same year, he died of a heart attack, supposedly shocked to death by news of his friend Edith Piaf’s death that same day in the same manner.

His final film, and final communication to a public yet to be born, accords with one of the great themes of his life’s work—“the tug of war between the old and the new and the paradoxical disparities that surface because of that tension.” Should we attend to his messages to our time, we may find that he anticipated many of our 21st century dilemmas between technology and humanity, and between history and myth. It’s interesting to imagine how we might describe our own age to a later generation, and, like Cocteau, what we might hope for them.

via Network Awesome

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Jean Cocteau Delivers a Speech to the Year 2000 in 1962: “I Hope You Have Not Become Robots” is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Visit “Mariobatalivoice,” the Cooking Blog by Steve Albini, Musician & Record Producer

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 - 11:37 am

Image by Wikimedia Commons by Freekorps

You know Steve Albini as the pioneering founder and frontman of such disturbing post-hardcore punk bands as Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac. You also know him as the in-demand producer of albums by such excellent artists as the Pixies, Nirvana, Cheap Trick, Mogwai, The Dirty Three, The Breeders, P.J. Harvey… the list goes ever on… Albini’s role as a producer—of bands both high profile and totally obscure—is legendary in rock circles, as is his curmudgeonliness, exacting personal standards, highly opinionated commentary, and exceptional musical taste.

You may not know, however, about Albini’s exceptional culinary tastes, as documented on his food blog, “Mariobatalivoice: What I made Heather for dinner.” Maintained between 2011 and 2013, the running commentary chronicles Albini’s attempts at dishes such as “Li-hing-rubbed torpedo with weird huauzontle and diced peppers” and “aged short ribs with fennel on saffron potato puree.” From the looks of things, Albini is a fine cook, as well as decent food photographer—if those are his photos. His blog description suggests they may be the work of Heather (that is, his wife, Heather Whinna).

A photo of Saffron Potato Cashew Pancakes from mariobatalivoice.

Albini’s also a very entertaining writer. No surprise there, “as anyone who’s seen his back-in-the-day fanzine rants can attest,” wrote Tom Breihan at Pitchfork in 2011. Typically understated and idiosyncratic, Albini writes, “I don’t give quantities or exact recipes because I eyeball and taste everything like anybody who cooks a lot…. We’re not ninjas. Also, some of this food may not turn out that great, so replicating it would be pointless. I have also successfully cooked for our cats.” Nonetheless, even without proportions and exact steps spelled out, “if you cook, you should be able to figure out how to make any of these meals.”

The name, he tells us, “comes from the way I bring [Heather] food in bed and present it to her using an imitation of Mario Batali’s voice from TV.” You’ll probably find your own brand of presentation, but all of the dishes look both challenging and totally worth the effort. To read about Albini’s adventures in the culinary exotic, check out the archives of his now-dormant food blog here.

via Metafilter

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1967 Cookbook Features Recipes by the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Barbra Streisand & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Visit “Mariobatalivoice,” the Cooking Blog by Steve Albini, Musician & Record Producer is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Leo Tolstoy’s Masochistic Diary: I Am Guilty of “Sloth,” “Cowardice” & “Sissiness” (1851)

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 - 5:00 am

1850 was a tough year for Leo Tolstoy. It was a time when his future successes were impossible to see while his past failures were all too obvious. A few years prior, he had been thrown out of the University of Kazan. His teachers wrote him off as “both unable and unwilling to learn.” Thereafter, he went into a spiral of dissolution, first in St. Petersburg and then in Moscow, where he drank, caroused and racked up some serious gambling debts.

Yet Tolstoy had ambitions beyond being just another debauched scion of the upper class. He struggled to improve himself. So he started a journal in 1847 while recovering in a hospital ward from venereal disease. Influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the future author of War and Peace sought to use the diary as a tool for self-exploration. For the first few years, he was an intermittent diarist. Then, in 1850, he took this tool to new lacerating levels. Part psychotherapy, part literary exploration, part inquiry into the limits of narrative and part straight up masochism, Tolstoy set out to account for his every action during the day in what he called the “Journal of Daily Occupations.”

He divided his page into two columns. In “The Future” column, he listed the things he planned to do the next day. In “The Past” column, he judges himself (harshly) on how well he followed through on those plans, labeling each one of his failures with the appropriate sin – sloth, avarice etc. There was no column for “The Present.”

You can see a selection from his journal, courtesy of scholar Irina Paperno, who wrote a nice piece on Tolstoy’s diary over at Salon. The diary entries below date from March, 1851:

24. Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice). At Ozerov’s argued about nothing (habit of arguing) and did not talk about what I should have talked about (cowardice). Did not go to Beklemishev’s (weakness of energy). During gymnastics did not walk the rope (cowardice), and did not do one thing because it hurt (sissiness).—At Gorchakov’s lied (lying). Went to the Novotroitsk tavern (lack of fierté). At home did not study English (insufficient firmness). At the Volkonskys’ was unnatural and distracted, and stayed until one in the morning (distractedness, desire to show off, and weakness of character).

25. [This is a plan for the next day, the 25th, written on the 24th—I.P.] From 10 to 11 yesterday’s diary and to read. From 11 to 12—gymnastics. From 12 to 1—English. Beklemishev and Beyer from 1 to 2. From 2 to 4—on horseback. From 4 to 6—dinner. From 6 to 8—to read. From 8 to 10—to write.—To translate something from a foreign language into Russian to develop memory and style.—To write today with all the impressions and thoughts it gives rise to.—25. Awoke late out of sloth. Wrote my diary and did gymnastics, hurrying. Did not study English out of sloth. With Begichev and with Islavin was vain. At Beklemishev’s was cowardly and lack of fierté. On Tver Boulevard wanted to show off. I did not walk on foot to the Kalymazhnyi Dvor (sissiness). Rode with a desire to show off. For the same reason rode to Ozerov’s.—Did not return to Kalymazhnyi, thoughtlessness. At the Gorchakovs’ dissembled and did not call things by their names, fooling myself. Went to L’vov’s out of insufficient energy and the habit of doing nothing. Sat around at home out of absentmindedness and read Werther inattentively, hurrying.

26 [This is a plan for the next day, the 26th, written on the 25th—I.P.] To get up at 5. Until 10—to write the history of this day. From 10 to 12—fencing and to read. From 12 to 1—English, and if something interferes, then in the evening. From 1 to 3—walking, until 4—gymnastics. From 4 to 6, dinner—to read and write.— (46:55).

Tolstoy’s regime of self-improvement wasn’t restricted to this punishing daily accounting of failures. He also kept a “Journal for Weaknesses,” which tallied up all of his moral failures, arranged in columns for laziness, indecision, sensuality etc., not to mention a series of notebooks for rules: “Rules for life,” “Rules for developing will,” and “Rules for playing cards in Moscow until January 1.”

One gets the sense that there’s a real opportunity for a line of Tolstoyan self-help books. Six Pillars of Self-Flagellation, perhaps? 7 Habits of Highly Effective Moral Failures? The Power of Spiritual Angst?

Read more about Tolstoy’s journaling over at Salon.

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Leo Tolstoy’s Masochistic Diary: I Am Guilty of “Sloth,” “Cowardice” & “Sissiness” (1851) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Haruki Murakami’s Advice Column (“Mr. Murakami’s Place”) Is Now Online: Read English Translations

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 - 5:00 pm

Earlier this month, the reading world thrilled to the news that Haruki Murakami would, in a new column on his official site, take on the role of agony uncle. I, for one, had to look up the term “agony uncle,” a term out of British English, a language that surprises me even more often than does Murakami’s native Japanese. It means an advice columnist, or more specifically an avuncular type of writer to whom readers can pour out their agonies.

Despite his rare public appearances and few first-person pieces available in translation, readers around the globe have surely sensed the writer’s calm manner and sympathetic ear. And when he gives advice straight-up, as when he talks about what makes a good runner or writer (almost the same thing, to his mind) he does it with succinctness and wisdom. And so we have 村上さんのところ, or “Mr. Murakami’s Place,” where Murakami will, over the next few months, briefly address all manner of reader queries submitted in January.

(Which means that, if you have anything to ask him you’ve still got a few days left to do so. Though you’ll notice that the site appears almost entirely in Japanese, the English-speaking Murakami also answers questions submitted in that language; just consult James Smyth’s translation of the question submission form if you want to go that route.)

“Do you think cats can understand how humans feel?” asks a fan named Vivian. “My cat Bobo ran away when she saw me crying.” And despite, or because of, having spent a good deal of time rendering cats as literary presences, Murakami feels a bit dubious about the issue: “I suspect that either you or your cat is extremely sensitive. I have had many cats, but no cat has ever been so sympathetic. They were just as egoistic as they could be.” “Do you have some places you always stay for a while?” asks a 20-year-old student. “An easy question. In the bed with someone I love. Where else?”

Not only do the Japanese-language questions and answers get slightly more expansive, they sometimes even take the traditional advice-column form. Take, for example, “On the Cusp of 30″:

30 is right around the corner for me, but there isn’t a single thing that I feel like I’ve accomplished.  When I was young, I thought to be an ‘adult’ must be so wonderful, but my current reality is so far away from what I imagined.  And when faced with that reality, I get very disheartened.  What should I do with myself?

(Jo & Maca, Female, 28)

I don’t mean to be rude, but I think “to be an ‘adult’ must be so wonderful,” is just wrong.  ‘Adult’ is nothing more than an empty form.  What you fill that form with is your own responsibility.  Accomplishments don’t come easily.  When you start to fill your ‘adult’ form little by little, then everything will begin.  But 28 is not really ‘adult.’  You’re only just beginning.

That translation comes from an anonymous translator and Murakami fan writing their own English companion blog to the column. It presents another urgent query from a desperate reader as follows:

My wife quite frequently belches right near the back of my head when she passes behind me.  When I say to her, “Stop burping behind me all the time,” she says, “It’s not on purpose.  It just comes out.”  I don’t think I’m bringing it upon myself in any way.  Is there something I can do to stop my wife’s belching?

(ukuleleKazu, Male, 61, Self-Employed)

I hope you’ll pardon me for saying so, but I think belching is far better than farting. Perhaps you should think of it that way.

Murakami has so far weighed in on such other matters of import as disappearing cats [translation], how to deal with rising marathon times [translation], his plans for further non-fiction writing [translation], what to do at age nineteen [translation], waning libido [translation], and his love of Iceland [translation]. Even if you don’t care about the novelist’s thoughts on these matters, do take a look at the site and its abundance of bipedal cats and sheep, jazz albums, Johnnie Walker figures, and Yakult Swallows memorabilia — in any language, a Murakami fan’s delight.

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Haruki Murakami Translates The Great Gatsby, the Novel That Influenced Him Most

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Haruki Murakami’s Advice Column (“Mr. Murakami’s Place”) Is Now Online: Read English Translations is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Haruki Murakami’s Advice Column (“Mr. Murakami’s Place”) Is Now Online: Read English Translations appeared first on Open Culture.

Batman & Other Super Friends Sit for 17th Century Flemish Style Portraits

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 - 1:04 pm

Portraits taken by Sacha Goldberger at Super Flemish

Superheroes, as you may have noticed, are serious moneymakers these days. It started when Tim Burton rescued Batman from Adam West’s campy clutches, pouring him into a butch black rubber suit that is of a piece with a leaner, meaner Batmobile. Previously unthinkable digital special effects quickly replaced all trace of Biff! Pow!! Whammo!!! Franchise opportunities abounded as the entire Justice League went on the block.

Having looked at it from both sides now, I can only conclude that something’s lost…

…but something’s gained in the portraits of Sacha Goldberger, a photographer who harnesses the power of 17th  century Flemish school portraiture to restore, nay,  reveal these icons’ humanity.

The softer fabrics and Vermeer-worthy lighting of his Super Flemish project give his powerful subjects room to breathe and reflect.

Same goes for us, the viewers.

It’s much easier to dwell on the existential nature of these mythic beings when the White House isn’t exploding in the background. There are times when tights need the ballast that only a pair of pumpkin pants can provide.

Goldberger – whose previous forays into both superheroes and Flemish portraiture feature his ever-game granny – helps things along by casting models who closely resemble their cinematic counterparts. But it’s not just the bone structure. All of his sitters display a knack for looking thoughtful in a ruff. In the artist’s vision, they are “tired of having to save the world without respite, promised to a destiny of endless immortality, forever trapped in their character.”

Find more portraits over at Super Flemish.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Batman & Other Super Friends Sit for 17th Century Flemish Style Portraits is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Batman & Other Super Friends Sit for 17th Century Flemish Style Portraits appeared first on Open Culture.

Ayn Rand Writes a Harsh Letter To Her 17-Year-Old Niece: “I Will Write You Off As a Rotten Person” (1949)

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 - 9:15 am

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I recently happened upon the Modern Library’s “100 Best Novels” list and noticed something interesting. The list divides into two columns—the “Board’s List” on the left and “Reader’s List” on the right. The “Board’s List” contains in its top ten such expected “great books” as Joyce’s Ulysses (#1) and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (#6). These are indeed worthy titles, but not the most accessible of books, to be sure, though Ulysses does appear at number eleven on the “Reader’s List.” At the very top of that more popular ranking, however, is a book the literati could not find more worthy of contempt: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Just below it is Rand’s The Fountainhead, and at numbers seven and eight, respectively, her Anthem and We the Living. (Also in the top ten on the “Reader’s List,” three novels by L. Ron Hubbard.)

One obvious takeaway… masses of ordinary people really like Ayn Rand. Which is odd, because Ayn Rand seemed to positively hate the masses of ordinary people. As Michael O’Donnell writes in Washington Monthly, “Rand… lived a life of contempt: for people, for ideas, for government, and for the very concept of human kindness.” Perhaps her most sympathetic reader, economist Ludwig von Mises, summed up the overarching theme of her life’s work in one very tidy sentence: “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.” This is apparently a message that a great many people are eager to hear. (And if any fiction is “message driven,” it is Rand’s.)

But imagine, if you will, that you are not a reader of Ayn Rand, but a family member. Not by blood, but marriage, but connected, nonetheless. You are Ayn Rand’s niece—Rand’s husband Frank O’Connor’s sister’s daughter, to be precise. Your name is Connie Papurt, you are 17, and you have written Auntie Ayn to ask for $25 for a new dress. Have you done this simply to be cheeky? You do know, Connie, how deeply your Aunt Ayn despises moochers, do you not? No matter—we have neither Connie’s letter, nor a window into her motivations. We do have, however, Rand’s replies, plural, from May 22, 1949, then again—in response to Connie’s follow-up—from June 4 of that same year. The initial request prompted some earnest sermonizing from Rand on the value of hard work, and of being a “self-respecting, self-supporting, responsible, capitalistic person.” Etcetera.

Now, to Rand’s credit, the first reply letter contains some common sense advice, and describes some situations in which other close connections apparently took advantage of her generosity. She seems to have cause for leeriness, as, granted, do we all in these situations. Borrowing from family is very often a tricky business. As was her wont, however, Rand seized upon the occasion not only to dispense wisdom on personal responsibility, but also to moralize on the worthlessness of people who fail her test of character. As The Toast comments, the letter is “30% very good advice, 50% unnecessary yelling, and 20% nonsense.” First, Rand lays out for Connie an installment plan:

           Here are my conditions: If I send you the $25, I will give you a year to repay it. I will give you six months after your graduation to get settled in a job. Then, you will start repaying the money in installments: you will send me $5 on January 15, 1950, and $4 on the 15th of every month after that; the last installment will be on June 15, 1950—and that will repay the total.

            Are you willing to do that?

Notice, Rand assesses no interest—a kindness, indeed. And yet,

            I want you to understand right now that I will not accept any excuse—except a serious illness. If you become ill, then I will give you an extension of time—but for no other reason. If, when the debt becomes due, you tell me that you can’t pay me because you needed a new pair of shoes or a new coat or you gave the money to somebody in the family who needed it more than I do—then I will consider you as an embezzler. No, I won’t send a policeman after you, but I will write you off as a rotten person and I will never speak or write to you again.

According to her 2012 obituary, Connie went on to became a local Cleveland actress and nurse, a person “dedicated to making the lives of others better.” According to her aunt, she should have nothing better to do—for anyone—but to pay back her debt, should she wish to remain in the good graces of the great Objectivist. We do not know if Connie accepted the terms, but she apparently wrote back in such a way as to leave quite an impression on Rand, whose June 4 reply is “damn charming!”

          I must tell you that I was very impressed with the intelligent attitude of your letter. If you really understood, all by yourself, that my long lecture to you was a sign of real interest on my part, much more so than if I had sent you a check with some hypocritical gush note, and if you understood that my letter was intended to treat you as an equal—then you have just the kind of mind that can achieve anything you choose to achieve in life.

The letter goes on in very kindly, even sentimental, terms. In fact, it may convince you that O’Donnell is dead wrong to single out contempt as Rand’s defining quality. And yet, he argues, her biographers show that “she happily accepted help from others while denouncing altruistic kindness” (and those who accept it), espousing “an individualism so extreme that it does not merely ignore others, but actually spits in their faces.” While Connie managed to escape her wrath, such as it was, most others, through their own failings of true capitalistic character or the cruelty of circumstances beyond their control, did not.

Read both of Rand’s letters here.

via The Toast

Related Content:

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In Her Final Speech, Ayn Rand Denounces Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority & Anti-Choicers (1981)

A Free Cartoon Biography of Ayn Rand: Her Life & Thought

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Ayn Rand Writes a Harsh Letter To Her 17-Year-Old Niece: “I Will Write You Off As a Rotten Person” (1949) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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31 Rolls of Film Taken by a World War II Soldier Get Discovered & Developed Before Your Eyes

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 - 7:45 am

Levi Bettwieser runs the Rescued Film Project, which salvages undeveloped rolls of film from around the world, all shot somewhere between the 1930s and the late 1990s. They have the ability “to process film from all eras. Even film that has been degraded by heat, moisture, and age. Or is no longer manufactured.” And why do they take on these projects? Because, at some point, every image was special for someone. “Each frame captured, reflects a moment that was intended to be remembered.”

Above you can watch Bettwieser processing 31 rolls of film shot by an American soldier during World War II. According to Petapixel, the rolls were found at an Ohio auction in late 2014, and they “were labeled with various location names (i.e. Boston Harbor, Lucky Strike Beach, LaHavre Harbor).” But other than that, Bettwieser knows nothing more about the vet who took these shots.

The rescue operation and the photographs it yielded are all featured in a nicely crafted, 10-minute video.

via Peter B. Kaufman

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31 Rolls of Film Taken by a World War II Soldier Get Discovered & Developed Before Your Eyes is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts Writes a Children’s Book Celebrating Charlie Parker (1964)

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 - 1:00 am

Charlie Watts’s first love has always been jazz. While his Rolling Stones band mates spent their youth listening to the Blues, Watts listened to Miles Davis and John Coltrane. And something about that seems to have stuck. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards defined what a rock star should look like in the late 60s – disheveled and flamboyant. Watts always seemed to carry himself with a jazzman’s sense of cool.

Back in 1960, when he was working as a graphic designer and doing drumming gigs on the side, Watts found another way to show off his love for jazz. He wrote a children’s book. Ode to a Highflying Bird is about alt sax legend Charlie Parker, rendered in doodle-like fashion as a bird in shades. The hand-drawn text details Parker’s life story: “Frustrated with what life had to offer him in his hometown, he packed his whistle, pecked his ma goodbye and flew from his nest in Kansas City bound for New York.”

The book was originally done as a portfolio piece but, in 1964, after Watts became a member of the Stones, the book was published. As Watts recalled, “This guy who published ‘Rolling Stones Monthly’ saw my book and said ‘Ah, there’s a few bob in this!’”

This wasn’t the only ode to Bird that Watts made over his long career. In 1992, his jazz band, The Charlie Watts Quintet, released an album called From One Charlie… which, as the title suggests, pays homage to Parker and his other bee-bop gods. “I don’t really love rock & roll,” as he told Rolling Stone magazine. “I love jazz. But I love playing rock & roll with the Stones.”

A few old copies of Ode to a Highflying Bird can be found on Abe Books.

via UDiscoverMusic

Related Content:

Charlie Parker Plays with Jazz Greats Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Rich, Lester Young & Ella Fitzgerald (1950)

Charlie Parker Plays with Dizzy Gillespie in Only Footage Capturing the “Bird” in True Live Performance

Watch Animated Sheet Music for Miles Davis’ “So What,” Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” & Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts Writes a Children’s Book Celebrating Charlie Parker (1964) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts Writes a Children’s Book Celebrating Charlie Parker (1964) appeared first on Open Culture.

Download The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe on His Birthday

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 - 11:51 am

Edgar Allan Poe was born on this day 206 years ago. BoingBoing suggests celebrating Poe’s birthday with these Vincent Price wines. But seeing that the 2012 Raven Cabernet Sauvignon runs $75.00, we’re going to steer you toward something free. If you revisit our post from October, you can download Poe’s complete works as ebooks and free audio books. Lots of great stories in one bundle. And it won’t cost you a dime. You’d have to think that Poe, who died penniless, would approve.

Find lots more literary freebies in our twin collections:

630 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free

and

700 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

Related Content:

Watch the 1953 Animation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Narrated by James Mason

Seven Tips from Edgar Allan Poe on How to Write Vivid Stories and Poems

Gustave Doré’s Splendid Illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884)

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” Read by Christopher Walken, Vincent Price, and Christopher Lee

Download The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe on His Birthday is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Download The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe on His Birthday appeared first on Open Culture.

Nirvana’s Last Concert: Audio/ Video Recorded on March 1, 1994

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 - 8:30 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=942MeOg5brQ

Yes, it’s been over 20 years now since Nirvana played their last show, and if you’re old enough to have been there, go ahead and take a moment of silence to mourn your lost youth. Given the relative paucity of raw, authentic-sounding guitar rock these days, it’s tempting to romanticize the nineties as halcyon days, but that kind of nostalgia should be tempered by an honest accounting of the tedious flood of grunge-like also-rans the corporate labels released upon us after Nirvana’s mainstream success. In a certain sense, the demise of that band and death of its leader marks the end of so-called “alternative” rock (whatever that meant) as a genuine alternative. After Nirvana, a deluge of growly, angsty, and not especially listenable bands took over the airwaves and festival circuits. Before them—well, if you don’t know, ask your once-hip aunts and uncles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=burI81FB_h8

And yet, there is another narrative—one that holds up the band as rock redeemers who broke through the corporate mold and, like the Stooges or the Ramones twenty years earlier, brought back authentic anger, danger, and intensity to rock ‘n’ roll. That Nirvana became the corporate mold is not necessarily their doing, and not a turn of events that sat at all well with the band. Their last show, in Munich, 1994 (see it in part at the top, and hear it in full above), “was anything but immaculate,” writes Consequence of Sound, a fact “almost tragically fitting.” As if presaging its leader’s decline, Nirvana’s final concert went from strained to worse, as Cobain’s voice faltered due to bronchitis, and the venue temporarily lost power. “Undeterred, they continued acoustically, but ended up cutting what would’ve been the seventh song, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’” the track that launched a million grunge garage bands three years earlier. With tongues in cheeks, they open—at the top—with The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl” (and a few bars of their “Moving in Stereo”). Surely both an homage to a great ‘80s band and a punk deconstruction of major label radio rock of the previous decade.

In a foreboding remark after the power went out, bassist Krist Noveselic quips, “We’re not playing the Munich Enormodome tonight. ‘Cos our careers are on the wane. We’re on the way out. Grunge is dead. Nirvana’s over.” The remainder of the tour was canceled, and Cobain went to Rome, where he overdosed on Rohypnol and champagne and temporarily fell into a coma. One month later, after a failed rehab stint, he was dead. Almost immediately afterward, a cult of Cobain sprung up around his memory—as much a triumph of marketing as an act of mourning. T-shirts, posters, tribute albums… the usual mass culture wake when a rock star dies young. What saddened me as a child of the era is not that the band’s last tour petered out, or even that Cobain fell apart under the familiar pressures of fame and addiction, but that in death he was turned into what he hated most—an idol. But if the worshipful merch of twenty years ago seemed tacky, it was nothing compared to t-shirts selling just weeks ago with Cobain’s suicide note printed on them. (These have since been pulled due to complaints.) And while we may someday hear the demos of Cobain’s planned solo record, we might also have been treated to something else—“our next record’s going to be a hip-hop record,” joked Noveselic. Now that would have been a novelty. Instead we got these guys.

Related Content:

Watch The Last 48 Hours of Kurt Cobain on the 20th Anniversary of the Musician’s Suicide

Kurt Cobain’s Home Demos: Early Versions of Nirvana Hits, and Never-Released Songs

The First Live Performance of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Nirvana’s Last Concert: Audio/ Video Recorded on March 1, 1994 is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Cab Calloway’s “Hepster Dictionary,” A 1939 Glossary of the Lingo (the “Jive”) of the Harlem Renaissance

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 - 5:00 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owV8PlYC1L0

The lists are in. By overwhelming consensus, the buzzword of 2014 was “vape.” Apparently, that’s the verb that enables you to smoke an e-cig. Left to its own devices, my computer will still autocorrect 2014’s biggest word to “cape,” but that could change.

Hopefully not.

Hopefully, 2015 will yield a buzzword more piquant than “vape.”

With luck, a razor-witted teen is already on the case, but just in case, let’s hedge our bets. Let’s go spelunking in an era when buzzwords were cool, but adult…insouciant, yet substantive.

Lead us, Cab Calloway!

The charismatic bandleader not only had a way with words, his love of them led him to compile a “Hepster’s Dictionary” of Harlem musician slang circa 1938. It featured 200 expressions used by the “hep cats” when they talk their “jive” in the clubs on Lenox Avenue. It was also apparently the first dictionary authored by an African-American.

If only every amateur lexicographer were foxy enough to set his or her definitions to music, and creep them out like the shadow, as Calloway does above. The complete list is below.

What a blip!

By my calculation, we’ve got eleven months to identify a choice candidate, resurrect it, and integrate it into everyday speech. With luck some fine dinner whose star is on the rise will beef our word in public, preferably during a scandalous, much analyzed performance.

It’s immaterial which one we pick. Gammin’? Jeff? Hincty? Fruiting? Whatever you choose, I’m in. Let’s blow their wigs.

Bust your conks in the comments section. I’m ready.

HEPSTER’S DICTIONARY

A hummer (n.) — exceptionally good. Ex., “Man, that boy is a hummer.”

Ain’t coming on that tab (v.) — won’t accept the proposition. Usually abbr. to “I ain’t coming.”

Alligator (n.) — jitterbug.

Apple (n.) — the big town, the main stem, Harlem.

Armstrongs (n.) — musical notes in the upper register, high trumpet notes.

Barbecue (n.) — the girl friend, a beauty

Barrelhouse (adj.) — free and easy.

Battle (n.) — a very homely girl, a crone.

Beat (adj.) — (1) tired, exhausted. Ex., “You look beat” or “I feel beat.” (2) lacking anything. Ex, “I am beat for my cash”, “I am beat to my socks” (lacking everything).

Beat it out (v.) — play it hot, emphasize the rhythym.

Beat up (adj.) — sad, uncomplimentary, tired.

Beat up the chops (or the gums) (v.) — to talk, converse, be loquacious.

Beef (v.) — to say, to state. Ex., “He beefed to me that, etc.”

Bible (n.) — the gospel truth. Ex., “It’s the bible!”

Black (n.) — night.

Black and tan (n.) — dark and light colored folks. Not colored and white folks as erroneously assumed.

Blew their wigs (adj.) — excited with enthusiasm, gone crazy.

Blip (n.) — something very good. Ex., “That’s a blip”; “She’s a blip.”

Blow the top (v.) — to be overcome with emotion (delight). Ex., “You’ll blow your top when you hear this one.”

Boogie-woogie (n.) — harmony with accented bass.

Boot (v.) — to give. Ex., “Boot me that glove.”

Break it up (v.) — to win applause, to stop the show.

Bree (n.) — girl.

Bright (n.) — day.

Brightnin’ (n.) — daybreak.

Bring down ((1) n. (2) v.) — (1) something depressing. Ex., “That’s a bring down.” (2) Ex., “That brings me down.”

Buddy ghee (n.) — fellow.

Bust your conk (v.) — apply yourself diligently, break your neck.

Canary (n.) — girl vocalist.

Capped (v.) — outdone, surpassed.

Cat (n.) — musician in swing band.

Chick (n.) — girl.

Chime (n.) — hour. Ex., “I got in at six chimes.”

Clambake (n.) — ad lib session, every man for himself, a jam session not in the groove.

Chirp (n.) — female singer.

Cogs (n.) — sun glasses.

Collar (v.) — to get, to obtain, to comprehend. Ex., “I gotta collar me some food”; “Do you collar this jive?”

Come again (v.) — try it over, do better than you are doing, I don’t understand you.

Comes on like gangbusters (or like test pilot) (v.) — plays, sings, or dances in a terrific manner, par excellence in any department. Sometimes abbr. to “That singer really comes on!”

Cop (v.) — to get, to obtain (see collar; knock).

Corny (adj.) — old-fashioned, stale.

Creeps out like the shadow (v.) — “comes on,” but in smooth, suave, sophisticated manner.

Crumb crushers (n.) — teeth.

Cubby (n.) — room, flat, home.

Cups (n.) — sleep. Ex., “I gotta catch some cups.”

Cut out (v.) — to leave, to depart. Ex., “It’s time to cut out”; “I cut out from the joint in early bright.”

Cut rate (n.) — a low, cheap person. Ex., “Don’t play me cut rate, Jack!”

Dicty (adj.) — high-class, nifty, smart.

Dig (v.) — (1) meet. Ex., “I’ll plant you now and dig you later.” (2) look, see. Ex., “Dig the chick on your left duke.” (3) comprehend, understand. Ex., “Do you dig this jive?”

Dim (n.) — evening.

Dime note (n.) — ten-dollar bill.

Doghouse (n.) — bass fiddle.

Domi (n.) — ordinary place to live in. Ex., “I live in a righteous dome.”

Doss (n.) — sleep. Ex., “I’m a little beat for my doss.”

Down with it (adj.) — through with it.

Drape (n.) — suit of clothes, dress, costume.

Dreamers (n.) — bed covers, blankets.

Dry-goods (n.) — same as drape.

Duke (n.) — hand, mitt.

Dutchess (n.) — girl.

Early black (n.) — evening

Early bright (n.) — morning.

Evil (adj.) — in ill humor, in a nasty temper.

Fall out (v.) — to be overcome with emotion. Ex., “The cats fell out when he took that solo.”

Fews and two (n.) — money or cash in small quatity.

Final (v.) — to leave, to go home. Ex., “I finaled to my pad” (went to bed); “We copped a final” (went home).

Fine dinner (n.) — a good-looking girl.

Focus (v.) — to look, to see.

Foxy (v.) — shrewd.

Frame (n.) — the body.

Fraughty issue (n.) — a very sad message, a deplorable state of affairs.

Freeby (n.) — no charge, gratis. Ex., “The meal was a freeby.”

Frisking the whiskers (v.) — what the cats do when they are warming up for a swing session.

Frolic pad (n.) — place of entertainment, theater, nightclub.

Fromby (adj.) — a frompy queen is a battle or faust.

Front (n.) — a suit of clothes.

Fruiting (v.) — fickle, fooling around with no particular object.

Fry (v.) — to go to get hair straightened.

Gabriels (n.) — trumpet players.

Gammin’ (adj.) — showing off, flirtatious.

Gasser (n, adj.) — sensational. Ex., “When it comes to dancing, she’s a gasser.”

Gate (n.) — a male person (a salutation), abbr. for “gate-mouth.”

Get in there (exclamation.) — go to work, get busy, make it hot, give all you’ve got.

Gimme some skin (v.) — shake hands.

Glims (n.) — the eyes.

Got your boots on — you know what it is all about, you are a hep cat, you are wise.

Got your glasses on — you are ritzy or snooty, you fail to recognize your friends, you are up-stage.

Gravy (n.) — profits.

Grease (v.) — to eat.

Groovy (adj.) — fine. Ex., “I feel groovy.”

Ground grippers (n.) — new shoes.

Growl (n.) — vibrant notes from a trumpet.

Gut-bucket (adj.) — low-down music.

Guzzlin’ foam (v.) — drinking beer.

Hard (adj.) — fine, good. Ex., “That’s a hard tie you’re wearing.”

Hard spiel (n.) — interesting line of talk.

Have a ball (v.) — to enjoy yourself, stage a celebration. Ex., “I had myself a ball last night.”

Hep cat (n.) — a guy who knows all the answers, understands jive.

Hide-beater (n.) — a drummer (see skin-beater).

Hincty (adj.) — conceited, snooty.

Hip (adj.) — wise, sophisticated, anyone with boots on. Ex., “She’s a hip chick.”

Home-cooking (n.) — something very dinner (see fine dinner).

Hot (adj.) — musically torrid; before swing, tunes were hot or bands were hot.

Hype (n, v.) — build up for a loan, wooing a girl, persuasive talk.

Icky (n.) — one who is not hip, a stupid person, can’t collar the jive.

Igg (v.) — to ignore someone. Ex., “Don’t igg me!)

In the groove (adj.) — perfect, no deviation, down the alley.

Jack (n.) — name for all male friends (see gate; pops).

Jam ((1)n, (2)v.) — (1) improvised swing music. Ex., “That’s swell jam.” (2) to play such music. Ex., “That cat surely can jam.”

Jeff (n.) — a pest, a bore, an icky.

Jelly (n.) — anything free, on the house.

Jitterbug (n.) — a swing fan.

Jive (n.) — Harlemese speech.

Joint is jumping — the place is lively, the club is leaping with fun.

Jumped in port (v.) — arrived in town.

Kick (n.) — a pocket. Ex., “I’ve got five bucks in my kick.”

Kill me (v.) — show me a good time, send me.

Killer-diller (n.) — a great thrill.

Knock (v.) — give. Ex., “Knock me a kiss.”

Kopasetic (adj.) — absolutely okay, the tops.

Lamp (v.) — to see, to look at.

Land o’darkness (n.) — Harlem.

Lane (n.) — a male, usually a nonprofessional.

Latch on (v.) — grab, take hold, get wise to.

Lay some iron (v.) — to tap dance. Ex., “Jack, you really laid some iron that last show!”

Lay your racket (v.) — to jive, to sell an idea, to promote a proposition.

Lead sheet (n.) — a topcoat.

Left raise (n.) — left side. Ex., “Dig the chick on your left raise.”

Licking the chops (v.) — see frisking the whiskers.

Licks (n.) — hot musical phrases.

Lily whites (n.) — bed sheets.

Line (n.) — cost, price, money. Ex., “What is the line on this drape” (how much does this suit cost)? “Have you got the line in the mouse” (do you have the cash in your pocket)? Also, in replying, all figures are doubled. Ex., “This drape is line forty” (this suit costs twenty dollars).

Lock up — to acquire something exclusively. Ex., “He’s got that chick locked up”; “I’m gonna lock up that deal.”

Main kick (n.) — the stage.

Main on the hitch (n.) — husband.

Main queen (n.) — favorite girl friend, sweetheart.

Man in gray (n.) — the postman.

Mash me a fin (command.) — Give me $5.

Mellow (adj.) — all right, fine. Ex., “That’s mellow, Jack.”

Melted out (adj.) — broke.

Mess (n.) — something good. Ex., “That last drink was a mess.”

Meter (n.) — quarter, twenty-five cents.

Mezz (n.) — anything supreme, genuine. Ex., “this is really the mezz.”

Mitt pounding (n.) — applause.

Moo juice (n.) — milk.

Mouse (n.) — pocket. Ex., “I’ve got a meter in the mouse.”

Muggin’ (v.) — making ‘em laugh, putting on the jive. “Muggin’ lightly,” light staccato swing; “muggin’ heavy,” heavy staccato swing.

Murder (n.) — something excellent or terrific. Ex., “That’s solid murder, gate!”

Neigho, pops — Nothing doing, pal.

Nicklette (n.) — automatic phonograph, music box.

Nickel note (n.) — five-dollar bill.

Nix out (v.) — to eliminate, get rid of. Ex., “I nixed that chick out last week”; “I nixed my garments” (undressed).

Nod (n.) — sleep. Ex., “I think I’l cop a nod.”

Ofay (n.) — white person.

Off the cob (adj.) — corny, out of date.

Off-time jive (n.) — a sorry excuse, saying the wrong thing.

Orchestration (n.) — an overcoat.

Out of the world (adj.) — perfect rendition. Ex., “That sax chorus was out of the world.”

Ow! — an exclamation with varied meaning. When a beautiful chick passes by, it’s “Ow!”; and when someone pulls an awful pun, it’s also “Ow!”

Pad (n.) — bed.

Pecking (n.) — a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1937.

Peola (n.) — a light person, almost white.

Pigeon (n.) — a young girl.

Pops (n.) — salutation for all males (see gate; Jack).

Pounders (n.) — policemen.

Queen (n.) — a beautiful girl.

Rank (v.) — to lower.

Ready (adj.) — 100 per cent in every way. Ex., “That fried chicken was ready.”

Ride (v.) — to swing, to keep perfect tempo in playing or singing.

Riff (n.) — hot lick, musical phrase.

Righteous (adj.) — splendid, okay. Ex., “That was a righteous queen I dug you with last black.”

Rock me (v.) — send me, kill me, move me with rhythym.

Ruff (n.) — quarter, twenty-five cents.

Rug cutter (n.) — a very good dancer, an active jitterbug.

Sad (adj.) — very bad. Ex., “That was the saddest meal I ever collared.”

Sadder than a map (adj.) — terrible. Ex., “That man is sadder than a map.”

Salty (adj.) — angry, ill-tempered.

Sam got you — you’ve been drafted into the army.

Send (v.) — to arouse the emotions. (joyful). Ex., “That sends me!”

Set of seven brights (n.) — one week.

Sharp (adj.) — neat, smart, tricky. Ex., “That hat is sharp as a tack.”

Signify (v.) — to declare yourself, to brag, to boast.

Skins (n.) — drums.

Skin-beater (n.) — drummer (see hide-beater).

Sky piece (n.) — hat.

Slave (v.) — to work, whether arduous labor or not.

Slide your jib (v.) — to talk freely.

Snatcher (n.) — detective.

So help me — it’s the truth, that’s a fact.

Solid (adj.) — great, swell, okay.

Sounded off (v.) — began a program or conversation.

Spoutin’ (v.) — talking too much.

Square (n.) — an unhep person (see icky; Jeff).

Stache (v.) — to file, to hide away, to secrete.

Stand one up (v.) — to play one cheap, to assume one is a cut-rate.

To be stashed (v.) — to stand or remain.

Susie-Q (n.) — a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1936.

Take it slow (v.) — be careful.

Take off (v.) — play a solo.

The man (n.) — the law.

Threads (n.) — suit, dress or costuem (see drape; dry-goods).

Tick (n.) — minute, moment. Ex., “I’ll dig you in a few ticks.” Also, ticks are doubled in accounting time, just as money isdoubled in giving “line.” Ex., “I finaled to the pad this early bright at tick twenty” (I got to bed this morning at ten o’clock).

Timber (n.) — toothipick.

To dribble (v.) — to stutter. Ex., “He talked in dribbles.”

Togged to the bricks — dressed to kill, from head to toe.

Too much (adj.) — term of highest praise. Ex., “You are too much!”

Trickeration (n.) — struttin’ your stuff, muggin’ lightly and politely.

Trilly (v.) — to leave, to depart. Ex., “Well, I guess I’ll trilly.”

Truck (v.) — to go somewhere. Ex., “I think I’ll truck on down to the ginmill (bar).”

Trucking (n.) — a dance introduced at the Cotton Club in 1933.

Twister to the slammer (n.) — the key to the door.

Two cents (n.) — two dollars.

Unhep (adj.) — not wise to the jive, said of an icky, a Jeff, a square.

Vine (n.) — a suit of clothes.

V-8 (n.) — a chick who spurns company, is independent, is not amenable.

What’s your story? — What do you want? What have you got to say for yourself? How are tricks? What excuse can you offer? Ex., “I don’t know what his story is.”

Whipped up (adj.) — worn out, exhausted, beat for your everything.

Wren (n.) — a chick, a queen.

Wrong riff — the wrong thing said or done. Ex., “You’re coming up on the wrong riff.”

Yarddog (n.) — uncouth, badly attired, unattractive male or female.

Yeah, man — an exclamation of assent.

Zoot (adj.) — exaggerated

Zoot suit (n.) — the ultimate in clothes. The only totally and truly American civilian suit.

BONUS MUSICAL INSTRUMENT SUPPLEMENT

Guitar: Git Box or Belly-Fiddle

Bass: Doghouse

Drums: Suitcase, Hides, or Skins

Piano: Storehouse or Ivories

Saxophone: Plumbing or Reeds

Trombone: Tram or Slush-Pump

Clarinet: Licorice Stick or Gob Stick

Xylophone: Woodpile

Vibraphone: Ironworks

Violin: Squeak-Box

Accordion: Squeeze-Box or Groan-Box

Tuba: Foghorn

Electric Organ: Spark Jiver

via The Art of Manliness

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Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Cab Calloway’s “Hepster Dictionary,” A 1939 Glossary of the Lingo (the “Jive”) of the Harlem Renaissance is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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