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


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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Artist Nina Katchadouri­an Cre­ates Flem­ish Style Self-Por­traits in Air­plane Lava­to­ry

Por­traits of Vice Pres­i­dents with Octo­pus­es on Their Heads — the Ones You’ve Always Want­ed To See

Typed Por­traits of Lit­er­ary Leg­ends: Ker­ouac, Sara­m­a­go, Bukows­ki & More

The Genius of Albrecht Dür­er Revealed in Four Self-Por­traits

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

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


Image via YouTube, 1959 inter­view with Mike Wal­lace

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:

Ayn Rand Helped the FBI Iden­ti­fy It’s A Won­der­ful Life as Com­mu­nist Pro­pa­gan­da

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

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

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

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.

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

Ode to a Highflying Bird

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.”

watts children book

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 Ama­zon and 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.

Download The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe on His Birthday

poe birthday

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:

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free


800 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

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

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.

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 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

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

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.



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.


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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Ori­gins of Michael Jackson’s Moon­walk: Vin­tage Footage of Cab Cal­loway, Sam­my Davis Jr., Fred Astaire & More

A 1932 Illus­trat­ed Map of Harlem’s Night Clubs: From the Cot­ton Club to the Savoy Ball­room

Duke Ellington’s Sym­pho­ny in Black, Star­ring a 19-Year-old Bil­lie Hol­i­day

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

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

William Blake Illustrates Dante’s Divine Comedy (1827)

Just over a year ago, we fea­tured John Mil­ton’s Par­adise Lost as illus­trat­ed by William Blake, the 18th- and 19th-cen­tu­ry Eng­lish poet, painter, and print­mak­er who made uncom­mon­ly full use of his already rare com­bi­na­tion of once-a-gen­er­a­tion lit­er­ary and visu­al apti­tude. Blake may have had an obses­sion with Par­adise Lost, as Josh Jones point­ed out in that post, but it hard­ly kept him from illus­trat­ing oth­er texts. Today we have his artis­tic accom­pa­ni­ment to that text that has gone under the hands of Sal­vador DalíGus­tave DoréAlber­to Mar­ti­niSan­dro Bot­ti­cel­li, and Mœbius, to name a few: Dante Alighieri’s Divine Com­e­dy

Blake nev­er com­plet­ed the full set of engrav­ings com­mis­sioned, but only because death itself cut the project short. Still, he man­aged to com­plete sev­er­al water­col­ors and a hand­ful of engrav­ing proofs, all of which have drawn praise not just for the way they evoke the dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ments of the Infer­no, Pur­ga­to­rio, and Par­adiso, but for how they cast a some­times crit­i­cal eye on the the­o­log­i­cal and moral sen­si­bil­i­ties of Dan­te’s orig­i­nal work.

(“Every thing in Dantes Come­dia shews That for Tyran­ni­cal Pur­pos­es he has made This World the Foun­da­tion of All & the God­dess Nature & not the Holy Ghost,” Blake once wrote to him­self in a piece of mar­gin­a­lia often cit­ed by schol­ars of this par­tic­u­lar project.)

Yet Blake and Dante had com­mon ground. “Blake was drawn to the project because, despite the five cen­turies that sep­a­rat­ed them, he res­onat­ed with Dante’s con­tempt for mate­ri­al­ism and the way pow­er warps moral­i­ty — the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rep­re­sent these ideas pic­to­ri­al­ly no doubt sang to him,” writes Maria Popo­va at Brain Pick­ings, who tells more of the sto­ry sur­round­ing Blake’s Divine Com­e­dy. He stopped only when just about to step off this mor­tal coil, a moment in which his­to­ry has remem­bered him say­ing to his wife, “Keep just as you are — I will draw your por­trait — for you have ever been an angel to me.” That por­trait did­n’t sur­vive, but what he com­plet­ed of his Dante illus­tra­tions did, grant­i­ng them the sta­tus of William Blake’s final work — and, giv­en the post-life nature of its sub­ject mat­ter, a suit­able sta­tus indeed.

via Brain Pick­ings

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Free Course on Dante’s Divine Com­e­dy from Yale Uni­ver­si­ty

William Blake’s Hal­lu­ci­na­to­ry Illus­tra­tions of John Milton’s Par­adise Lost

Mœbius Illus­trates Dante’s Par­adiso

Botticelli’s 92 Illus­tra­tions of Dante’s Divine Com­e­dy

Gus­tave Doré’s Dra­mat­ic Illus­tra­tions of Dante’s Divine Com­e­dy

Alber­to Martini’s Haunt­ing Illus­tra­tions of Dante’s Divine Com­e­dy (1901–1944)

Sal­vador Dalí’s 100 Illus­tra­tions of Dante’s The Divine Com­e­dy

Dante’s Divine Com­e­dy Illus­trat­ed in a Remark­able Illu­mi­nat­ed Medieval Man­u­script (c. 1450)

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.

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