Metcalf, Nunberg books; New Yorker & Tar Beach; Black Russian (1957)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Jul 11 03:53:30 UTC 2004


Look out, Bill Clinton!!!!!!!

Wordnerd Watch
Published: July 11, 2004
To each book comes its season, and now is the time for ''Presidential Voices: Speaking Styles from George Washington to George W. Bush'' ($13 paperback, Houghton Mifflin) by Allan Metcalf, the respected philologist and longtime stalwart of the American Dialect Society. We members of the Judson Welliver Society of former White House speechwriters (Welliver was the first, for Harding and Coolidge) lap this stuff up.

In a chapter on ''Presidents as Neologists'' -- words or phrases coined by or, more often, popularized by presidents -- Metcalf includes John Adams's adoption of the Algonquian word caucus; Jefferson's electioneering, countervailing and public relations; Theodore Roosevelt's lunatic fringe and probably nail jelly to the wall. F.D.R., while in college, provided the first instance of cheerleader, and Lincoln is credited with Michigander. (The author might have added Abe's ''That is cool'' in his Cooper Union speech, meaning ''ironically desirable.'' Though environed by difficulty, he was clearly ahead of his time.) President 43 coined misunderestimate and will be remembered for his embetterment of mankind. (The word-processing demon in my computer keeps trying to change that to embitterment. A preferred form of reportorial inclusion in a military unit would be embedderment.)

Metcalf's work on presidential style, including passages useful to students of bloviation as well as inspiration, includes the inescapable mispronunciation of nuclear as ''nucular,'' committed by Eisenhower and George W., and as ''noo-kee-uh'' by Carter -- which brings us to:

''Going Nucular: Language, Politics and Culture in Confrontational Times'' ($19 hardcover, PublicAffairs), by Geoffrey Nunberg, professor of linguistics at Stanford. He cannot figure out why Bush keeps treating nuclear ''as if it had the same suffix as words like molecular and particular. It's the same process that turns lackadaisical into laxadaisical and chaise longue into chaise lounge.''

Nunberg's book, mainly a compilation of his commentaries on National Public Radio's ''Fresh Air,'' refreshingly deals with what is called in rhetoric polysyndeton, a word based on the Greek for ''using many connectives,'' like ''here and there and everywhere.'' He observes that the use of conjunctions rather than commas for drum-like dramatic effect is done more often by conservative writers. For every liberal Molly Ivins writing, ''We will have another surge of progressivism and reform and hell-raising and fun and justice,'' there are four or five conservatives like Peggy Noonan writing, ''You want to really feel it and experience it and smell it and touch it and thank God for it.''

NEW YORKER (continued)

Published: July 11, 2004

A report in the F.Y.I. column last Sunday about places in Manhattan where George Washington and other early national leaders lived credited Washington incorrectly with coining the term "New Yorker." A 1756 letter by Washington was not the first published work in which it appeared. It was used in an article in The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1746.

("Barry Popik"?--ed.)


I told you someone asked about this.  They should consult me more!

Sun but No Sand

Published: July 11, 2004

Q. When did "tar beach" become part of the New York language? And is there a particular rooftop that owns the distinction of being the first so named?

A. "Tar beach," as all roof rats know, is the urban alternative to the Hamptons on a hot summer day; it's as near as the flight of stairs outside the apartment door. The 1930's seem likely as a birth date, because it was around then that the suntan became fashionable for the masses. According to "The City in Slang" by Irving Lewis Allen, getting a tan on tar beach was often the preparation for a trip to Coney Island. "By the 1940's,'' he wrote, "city rooftops, those ersatz beaches, were given the fictitious place name tar beach, alluding to the black tarred and graveled rooftops."

The earliest recorded appearance of the phrase in this newspaper was on Aug. 30, 1941, in an article about a man who was growing 12 ears of corn, tomato plants, green peas and radishes along with colorful blooms on his tenement rooftop at 137 East 33rd Street. The grower, William H. Geis, a rayon salesman, had decorated the place with bamboo screens, deck chairs and cocoa matting. "An Eden Is Found on East Side Roof," the headline read.

But probably the quintessential Tar Beach is in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum. This one is a story quilt created by the artist Faith Ringgold, who later wrote a book based on the images called "Tar Beach." The story is about a little girl in the Harlem of the 1930's who floats over the roof of her tenement, where her parents eat, laugh and tell stories why she and her little brother lie on a mattress, dreaming that the whole city is theirs.


I spotted another citation and decided to re-check.

(WWW.NEWSPAPERARCHIVE.COM) ("Black Russian" + "Kahlua")
  Sheboygan Press  Friday, June 03, 1960 Sheboygan, Wisconsin
...are serving a drink called the "BLACK RUSSIAN." It's a con: coction and KAHLUA, a ,liqueur made out of coffee..

  Indiana Evening Gazette  Saturday, June 04, 1960 Indiana, Pennsylvania
...are serving a drink called the "BLACK RUSSIAN." It's a concoction and KAHLUA, a liqueur made out of coffee..

  Press Gazette  Friday, September 28, 1962 Hillsboro, Ohio
...water and top with sprigs of mint. B BLACK RUSSIAN Pour: oz. Old Mr. Boston.....Vodka oz. KAHLUA (Coffee Liqueur) JJ On ice cuba..

  Gettysburg Times  Wednesday, August 22, 1962 Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
...and top with sprigs, of mint. fjTj BLACK RUSSIAN Pour: or. Old Mr. Boston.....Vodka oz. KAHLUA (Coffee Liqueur) On ice cubes in..

   1. Display Ad 26 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Nov 26, 1957. p. A8 (1 page):
It's a menace to an unhappy state of mind.  Vodka and KAHLUA over ice...and goodbye to let-down and lassitude.  Next time out, ask the waiter to undermine your dark mood with a BLACK RUSSIAN!
(KAHLUA ad--ed.)

   2. Display Ad 30 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 7, 1958. p. A8 (1 page)

   3. Display Ad 35 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 10, 1958. p. A10 (1 page)

   4. Display Ad 30 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 24, 1958. p. A8 (1 page)

   5. Display Ad 29 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 4, 1958. p. A11 (1 page)

   6. On the Town
...By Paul Herron. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959). Washington, D.C.: Jul 5, 1959. p. H6 (1 page)

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