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Category Archives: Chicago

This sample of the unique argot of early 20th-century Chicago youth gangs is from sociologist Frederick Thrasher’s landmark study The Gang: A Study of 1,313 Gangs in Chicago, published by the University of Chicago in 1927. I haven’t heard the term “loogin” since I left my hometown of Winnipeg, where I think the preferred spelling was “loogan.” There it signified a loud, loutish, potentially dangerous hoser. I wonder if Thrasher wasn’t missing the mark in overlooking the sexual connotations of both fruit and punk, usage of which as a synonym for catamite dates back to the 16th century.

Dallas Morning News, October 14, 1922. I’ve been invited to appear on This American Life again (yay!), this time to talk about the great Gland Larceny Panic that gripped Chicago and squeezed in 1922. While refreshing my acquaintance with the story, it struck me that I could have done a better job organizing and analyzing the available material, plus I never cross-posted any ‘nad theft stuff from the BNFTP annex at the Chicago Reader‘s site. Anyway, I’m going to give it another go. Read More »

The Daily Inter-Ocean, May 22, 1879. In today’s history lesson, we trace gay nightlife in Chicago back to the first term of the Hayes administration. Read more.

Kansas City Times, June 23, 1918. Read more.

Pomeroy‘s Democrat, 1869-1870. This is kind of a Frankenclipping of tweets I gleaned from 3 or 4 editions of Pomeroy’s Democrat, which is a fascinating paper. Editor and eponym Mark “Brick” Pomeroy was a lippy freethinker, a vicious negrophobe (I mean even by the standards of his day), a hack political partisan, a fizzing misogynist, a staunch Mason and a terminal smart aleck. I adore his writing. Olive Logan was a contemporary actress and author and boy, did Pomeroy ever have it in for her. He’s always taking these random shots at her about her immense feet, how they eclipse the footlights when she’s on stage, etc. Palpitators, I am delighted to learn, is an archaic name for falsies. “Grecian bend” = “among women, an affected carriage of the body, the upper part being inclined forward,” says a 1913 Wesbter’s.

Chicago Defender, February 10, 1917. Read more.

Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1920. Nativist fretting over the “Yellow Peril” was sky-high in the Roaring Twenties, and four years after Helen here spoke her ethnocentric mind, Congress passed the Asian Exclusion Act as part of the comprehensive new Immigration Act of 1924. The borders were reopened to Asians again in 1965.
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Omaha Morning World-Herald, May 13, 1895. Even as tied-to-the-tracks dramas go, this story’s a weird one. Or even as real-life precursors to Park Chan-wook films go, for that matter. Read more.

I forgot to publicize this one over at the Reader.

Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1887. This here item is a Rosetta Stone in relation to this previous and cryptic item. The orange grove here stands in for similar sucker bait in the other padlock story. Apparently the standard of industry in Chicago circa 1903 was to tempt the bumpkin with the spectacle of some sort of explosion, but the bad guys who hustled Peter Ferguson instead offered to show him where a car had driven into. Claro que si, no?
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