Grifter and his gimmick (trying again without diacriticals)
DanCas1 at AOL.COM
Mon Dec 13 04:49:42 UTC 2004
A Grubber, a scrounger (for suckers and marks)
The Grift unlike the Graft is not driven by politics, but by the “craving”
(mianta, desire, lust, craving) of the mark (marc, target) for the sure thing
scam at the end of the Grifter’s crooked rainbow.
HICKEY: (exhortingly): Next? C’mon, Ed. It’s a fine summer’s day and the
call of the old circus lot must be in your blood. (Mosher glares at him, then
goes to the door...Hickey claps him on the back as he passes) That’s the
MOSHER: Goodbye, Harry. (He goes out, turning right outside.)
MCGLOIN (glowering after him): If that crooked grifter has the guts — (He
goes out, turning left outside...) (O'Neill, The Iceman Cometh, p. 685.)
In Goldin & O’Leary’s American Underworld Lingo, Grift and Graft are
“Grift, v. To work any of the less brazen forms of crime; to live by graft
and cunning in criminal operations; to operate as a pickpocket, shoplifter,
card-sharp, carnival swindler.”
At the end of the day, a grifter - like a grafter - is a grubber and
scrounger for moolah (muil oir, piles of gold or money). “I tell you, Grubber,
there ain’t big scores on the grift, but there ain’t no big hits (long prison
terms) either...” (Goldin & O'Leary, American Underworld Lingo,Underworld
Slang, NY, 1950, p. 87).
Up until the 1960s, the head-grifter in a carnival was called the “Conducer.”
Conducer, (Carnival). A carnival man who controls the gimmick on the crooked
gambling wheels and games of chance. “That conducer has plenty of grift
sense (sixth sense of a thief). He feeds out a lot of come-on (inducement)
prizes, and the suckers love it.” (Goldin, O’Leary, p. 47).
Ceann duaiseoir (pron. kan-doozer)
Manager of the prizes and prize winners.
Ceann-, head-, a manager.
Duaiseoir: (pron. doozher): prize, prize winner.
The conducer controls the “gimmick.” The gimmick is the “hook” or trick.
“ The dicks (detectives) won’t bother the combo (syndicate) in this tank
(town). The gimmick is in.” (Goldin & O'Leary, pp. 80-81.)
Here is gimmick as it’s spelled and defined in Irish dictionaries, followed
by its American “slang” definition.
Camog: A trick, a deceit; a hook; anything crooked; a stick with a crook;
anything curved; a device; a catch, a clasp. (see Dineen, O’Donaill, Dwelly)
“Gimmick, 1. (Carnival) Any of the various devices to control a gaming
wheel. Gimmicks may be operated by means of a footboard (see “Ikey Heyman” axle)
or hidden lever to control the spin of the wheel... The tripod, gaff, or
gimmick is always rigged so it can be dismantled at a minute’s notice if police
investigate. 2. The trick; the catch; the deceptive element, whether concrete
or abstract. 3. Any safety attachment on a lock; any gadget that complicates
matters and confounds the tamperer. 4. Any device or means by which the
element of chance is removed and an outcome prearranged: the fix. Gimmick, v. To
trick; to cheat; to use any kind of gimmick.” (Goldin & O'Leary, pp 80-81)
“Gimmick, slang, 1926, American English. A gadget or device for a trick or
deception. Perhaps, alteration of “gimcrack,” a useless trifle.” (Barnhart, p.
Gimmick is not in Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology
A Camog (Gimmick) is the opposite of a gimcrack. A gimmick (camog) is very
useful. If it's useless, it ain't a gimmick.
The Irish Studies Program
New College of California
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