[Ads-l] a couple of quotations: sources needed

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Sep 3 00:12:40 UTC 2015

An article in the August 14, 2015 TLS refers to an "apocryphal description"
by Dorothy Parker of the Bloomsbury group as "living in squares, painting
in circles and loving in triangles".  It's not in YBQ -- i didn't look in
the other quote books I have, and in general, I don't look things up
on-line -- sorry about that.
Whoever said it, it's a witty remark, and all too true.
It's been taken for the title of a new book on the group, by Amy License:
Living in Squares, Loving in Triangles.

The other quote may well be remembered only by me.  I read it in a 1920s or
1930s book on Prohibition in New York.  Probably one that's in my bookcase
right now, but which one?
Owney Madden was the head of a bootlegging gang based in the west side of
Manhattan.  A war broke out among the gangs operating in the city, there
were shootings and killings, and the police began shutting down speakeasies
and raiding hidden breweries and warehouses.  Madden said "Why don't they
leave us alone?  We are only killing each other."
I lived in NYC in the 1970s & 80s, when we averaged 4 or 5 murders a day.
It seemed that every day I would read in the newspaper that a granny
sitting on her stoop, or a kid in a playground, had been killed by a bullet
meant to hit some goof a block away.  I would remember Owney, and think,
"those were the good old days".  Owney had faults, but in general, if he
thought he needed some one dead, that was the guy who wound up dead, and
the grannies and little kids of his day were quite safe.
Meanwhile, I have just read the definitive biography of Owney, which
doesn't mention it.


George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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