ATD 336-357

Revision as of 15:02, 26 May 2007 by Chemiazrit (Talk | contribs) (Page 345)

Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.

Page 336

Rail girls?

Makes me think of b-girls, or bar girls [1]. Seems appropriate, given the context, to imagine r-girls are the rails' equivalent.

White City
The neighbourhood of extravagant buildings made for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. (First mentioned on page 3).

Jackson Park
The site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Wikipedia

"hoping for some glimpse of her White City, but saw only the darkened daytime one"
"The White City... impressed everyone who saw it (at least before air pollution began to darken the façades) that plans were considered to refinish the [alabaster] exteriors in marble or some other material. These plans had to be abandoned in July 1894 when much of the fair grounds was destroyed in a fire. The fire occurred at the height of the Pullman Strike; since the strikers set other fires that very week, it is possible the fire was set by disgruntled Pullman employees." Wikipedia

Pynchon has mentioned the decay of the White City earlier in the novel.

Page 337

Mrs. Dragsaw
??? Speculation: dragsaw (pic) is a real word (definition) and certainly a funny name, especially for a woman hiring waitresses in a restaurant that serves lunch. Pynchon has a penchant for funny, if not outrageous, names.

City in Ross County, Ohio. wiki

Page 338

funds or supplies advanced to a mining prospector (or a person starting a business) in return for a promised share of the profits.

Maude Adams
American actress, 1872-1953. First to play Peter Pan on the American stage (1905). Wikipedia article. Not to be confused with Bond Girl Maud Adams!

Mock Duck's boys
In the era of soysage, sunburgers and seitan, Mock Duck has just about dropped from public consciousness. A gluten-based vegetarian substance with at least an imagined resemblance to roast duck. Oriental grocers sometimes still carry it.

Page 339

en deshabille
partly dressed in a loose manner.


let's say a short vacation
Maternity leave.

Hop Fung
Not sure, but "wing hop fung" supposedly means "together forever prosper" [2]. Anyone?

Wing=Forever, Hop=Together, Fung=Prosper

Chinese. "Celestial Empire" is a translation of one of the native names for China.

"A hanger-on, go-between, or message runner, particularly one involved in the drug traffic—the speculation being that such persons usually hang about in lobbies" cite

"Chop Suey stories!"
The Chinese in America making an industry out of fulfilling the natives' fantasies. Both the white-slavery dramatizations ("comediettas") and the dish chop suey itself are inauthentic but expected by Anglo tourists.

On Leong
One of the many Chinese-American societies originally created for mutual support and protection (a tong [3]) that became a criminal organization. The On Leong were influential in many major American cities around the turn of the century.

Also known as the On Leong Laborer and Merchant Association [4]

Page 340

Hip Sing
Like the On Leong, an influential Chinese-American criminal organization [5].

Perhaps also a "hip" parody of the cook in Bonanza, Hop Sing.

Bloody Angle
Site of 20 hours of sustained combat at the Battle of Spotsylvania, 1864, thought possibly the most severe sustaned engagement of the American Civil War [6].

Word had gotten around
Dahlia's experiences on Broadway play out like a perverse parody of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. Like Dahlia, Dreiser's heroine is a small town girl who makes the transition from bit-part player to star. Furthermore, Dahlia arrives in New York City in 1900, the same year that Sister Carrie was published.


Page 341

Members of a Chinese-American criminal gang. (The word later came to apply to corrupt politicians.)

day club
??? Speculation: what Pynchon is humorously calling a nightstick used in the daytime.

Glans penis-shaped helmets

Glans penis-shaped police helmet
The odd, short-brimmed helmets worn by police officers in New York around the turn of the century and still worn by English police today [7].

Mock Duck...firing two revolvers at a time in all directions
Incredibly, Pynchon seems to be referencing the Hong Kong films of John Woo. The image of the Chinese gangster firing two guns simultaneously is a Woo trademark, first popularized in the 1986 film A Better Tomorrow and repeated in subsequent Woo films such as The Killer (1989) and Hard-Boiled (1992). The image was so closely associated with Woo's favorite leading man, Chow Yun-Fat, that it was even reprised for Chow's subsequent films in Hollywood. According to Woo, the image of the outlaw firing two guns simultaneously was inspired by the final scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This is interesting in light of the Butch Cassidy references in the Telluride section of ATD. [wikipedia]

Page 342

acid magenta

Con McVeety

worst acts
Itself a cliche, e.g, Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose.

Page 343 a week..silent discussion.. "Ten?" and the deal was done.
Curious deal here inluding the oxymoron but surely not cents nor dollars.
Ten dollars in 1900 has the purchasing power in 2005 of

$239.93 using the Consumer Price Index
$205.36 using the GDP deflator

dime museum

A random collection (very roughly equivalent to the Spanish word zarzuela). In music halls and variety theater an olio, here an act or acts unrelated to the "real" show, would go up in front of the curtain during long scene changes.

Bogoslaw Borowicz

Page 344

strange tilings...mathematical issues
This passage alludes to aperiodic tilings Wikipedia such as the one discovered by Roger Penrose Wikipedia. See "The wallpaper in particular presented not a repeating pattern at all" in annotations to p. 182.

Dr. Ictibus
The Latin word ictus is from the past participle of īcere, to stike, blow, stab, wound; it can also refer to the wound itself. Ictibus, is the ablative plural case for ictus, thus we have Dr. Took-away-the-wounds.

Safe-Deflector Hat
Dave Garroway supposedly had a hat that calculated the angle to be safe from falling bricks, if I recall correctly. Wikipedia

Something to do with Saint Odo, patron saint of rain?

Perhaps a reference to Star Trek: Odo was the shape-shifting security officer of the space station Deep Space 9. Star Trek Wiki

Or to the anarchist Odo in Ursula LeGuin's novel The Dispossessed.

In any case, Odo's onstage speech reflects the Mad Scientist's lab assistant in dozens of horror movies.

a dancer; a ballet girl.

a coon revue
Musical entertainment with African-American performers—or just as likely white performers in blackface—doing skits and singing songs that perpetuated a range of stereotypes: step-dancing, exaggerated dialect, lax morals, etc. Coon material was extremely popular in New York and elsewhere in the Jim Crow era (and it hasn't disappeared yet).

Williams and Walker
Bert Williams and George Walker, well-known vaudevillians who sometimes billed themselves as "The Two Real Coons." Williams was first to cross the color line as a headliner in the Ziegfeld Follies. Here is a good account of their careers.

Calpurnia... Mrs. Caesar
Calpurnia was the wife of Julius Caesar and is a minor character in Shakespeare's play. She's a model of rectitude and courage, not someone who would like the subordinating title 'Mrs' which is thus a joke.

Page 345

Liu Bing
Lubing? Like Lew Basnight as Lube-ass night see notes for page 36.

Courage, Camille
Coo-RAZH, of course. The play Camille was adapted from The Lady of the Camellias (La dame aux camélias, 1848) by Alexandre Dumas the Younger. In all French versions the character's name is Marguerite, so this gag only works in English-speaking countries.

Lillian Russell
American actress and singer (1860-1922) Wikipedia entry. Yes, she generally did wear a hat in her photos.

Continuing Pynchon's running joke of naming AtD's women after flowering herbs.Wikipedia

I.J. & K. Smokefoot
Speculation: Smokefoot is the name of a song written by Bobby Keys, Jim Gordon, and Jim Price. It appears on the 1972 album "Bobby Keys." Bobby Keys was a very much in demand session sax player, appearing on many well-known albums, including the Stones' "Sticky Fingers" where he plays an extended solo on "Can't You Hear Me Knockin." While this is not at all related to what's going on in AtD at the moment, it is a way that Pynchon comes up with names and Pynchon surely knows who Bobby Keys is.

Along with speculation, the name Smokefoot has some nonmusical grounding. There's a fairly numerous and widespread American clan named Rauchfuss. Their surname, obviously, is German—like those of some nonfictional department store magnates (Gimbel, Bergdorf, Saks). If the first immigrant Rauchfuss had translated his name into English it would have come out Smokefoot. Although a moderately large Google search does not turn up a Rauchfuss or Smokefoot in the business, it is not irrelevant that one form of this name is current in the population.

Quaternions based on 'i * j * k'.

Not too sure about this connection: the choice of i, j, and k in the definition of quaternary space is arbitrary, as are x, y, and z in more conventional definitions of three-dimensional space. Could just be that Pynchon just wrote a little three letter sequence in alphabetical order. Is there anything in the text that would support the connection between the department store and quaternions?
Well, x, y and z are just as arbitrary—but when you see the sequence you think "coordinates, 3-space, vectors." So i j k in the book's context does suggest a link to quaternion notation. This merits a closer look.

Ladies' Mile
Broadway from 9th to 23rd Streets, Gilded Age location of all the most fashionable shops [8]

Page 346

Whispering, making a low continuous indistinct sound [9].

Jachin and Boaz
The two pillars on the porch of Solomon's Temple. Wikipedia entry. They also appear on the Tarot card of The High Priestess in the A.E. Waite Rider deck, whose designer, Pamela Colman Smith, is mentioned in ATD at p. 186. Wikipedia entry.

just a kid
Dally was born c1889, so 14 or 15?

newly introduced
Paris 1900? Wikipedia

Page 347

Yosemite Falls
For pictures see Wikipedia.

"Her Mother Never Told Her"
"Her mother never told her the things a young girl should know.
About the ways of college men, and how they come and go, (mostly....go).
Now age has taken her beauty, and sin has left its sad scar;
So remember your mothers and sisters, boys, and let her sleep under the bar" Lyrics

the Tombs
NYC prison.

Page 348

Saturday night in Kipperville
Most likely a reference to the story Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, wherein Mike and promises to dig the cellar for Popperville's new town hall in one day using his steam shovel Mary Anne. The citizens from Kipperville and other nearby towns all come to watch. Read the Amazon description.

Areca is a genus of about 50 species of single-stemmed palms in the family Arecaceae, found in humid tropical forests from Malaysia to the Solomon Islands. wikipedia

A woman belonging to the demimonde; a woman whose sexual promiscuity places her outside respectable society.

Perrier Jouet
Brand of expensive Champagne.

ticker-tape machines
Before the crawl at the bottom of the screen, you could get a Dow-Jones ticker installed in your home or office to bring you the latest from the market. Other ticker services delivered news, sports scores, etc., all printed out on a narrow paper tape. On days of special celebration, New York City allowed people to throw ticker tape from buildings—which on any other day would be a misdemeanor—hence the fossil expression "ticker-tape parade."

Page 349

Oomie Vamplet
??? Pure speculation: oomie. Vamplet has a definition, but also sounds like a vamp (a woman who uses her sex appeal to entrap and exploit men) who is small. Also, to vamp in music is to improvise simple accompaniment or variation of a tune.

Kate Chase Sprague
Kate Chase Sprague was the daughter of Civil War era cabinet member Salmon P. Chase and wife of Rhode Island Governor William Sprague. She was accused of having had an affair with New York Senator Roscoe Conkling. wikipedia

Congo violet
evidently a real color: Violet dyes: trisulphon violet 2B, Congo violet; from a patent application, # 4025164. www.patentsonline. A quite dark violet, I think, is implied...lots of associations to Congo.

"Funiculi, Funicula"
A very popular Neapolitan song composed in 1880 by Italian composer Luigi Denza (cf p.353) to commemorate the opening of the first funicular (inclined railway) on Mount Vesuvius. The song's huge success made the Neapolitan songs spreading all over the world. In the '50s Mario Lanza made this song popular in the US but with slightly changed English lyrics. For the lyrics in its original Neapolitan dialect and English see [10].

At least three times in AtD we have an instrumental tag to identify the nationality of a person entering the scene. Here it's the Italian one (never mind that Zombini's family comes from northern Italy, not Naples); there's also a four-note plinka-plinka to announce a Chinese person (on page ???) and an alphorn solo to cue a Swiss person (page ???).

Page 350

"Little Bug." (Wasn't Herve Villachaise supposed to be well endowed?)

in the wallpaper
Cf Lew on cyclomite.

Mickey Finn
Mickey Finn in the punch is a drug-laced (clasically chloral hydrate) knockout drink. See Wikipedia.

Page 351

Sweet Caporal
A brand of cigarette.

came for me
On page 69 Erlys left this note: "I'll be back for her when I can."

"French flat"
Used to describe a chiffon made in India; and a kind of sequin (now antique, of course). Source: Ebay and online sites.

Based on the context, it did not have anything to do with fabric. It referred to a special style apartment. The question is what style?

Pitti Palace
Late fifteenth century Florentine palace, possibly designed by Brunelleschi.

Italian: skyscraper.

Daughter of Erlys Mills and Luca Zombini.

Page 352

Little Nemo
A full-page color cartoon Wikipedia by Winsor McCay, started on October 15, 1905. Published in the New York Herald until 1911.

melted icebox ice
(How nasty would this have been?)

Tin-glazed earthenware wikipedia

Fletcher's Castoria
A patent medicine composed of senna, sodium bicarbonate, essence of wintergreen, taraxicum, sugar and water, used as a laxative. Wikipedia entry.

three-cent pieces
The U.S. minted three-cent coins until 1889.

La Forza del Destino
Literally, the "force of destiny." An opera by Verdi wikipedia


Page 353

Luigi Denza
Luigi Denza (2846-1922) was an Italian composer. In 1898, he moved to London and became a professor of singing at at the Royal Academy of Music. Among the hundreds of songs he wrote, the most popular one was the Neapolitan song (1880) Funiculi, Funicula (cf 349). Wikipedia.

Psyche knot
The knot in which Psyche kept her hair, as shown in ads for White Rock mineral water during this time frame. Pictures here.

Page 354

sweetheart; beauty.

Border area of Italy,Austria and Slovenia, N. of Trieste. Its main provinces are Udine, Gorizia, Pordenone and Trieste. It's not part of the South Tyrol. It's been part of post WWII disputes with Jugoslavia and it's subject to still ongoing polemics on the conflicts between antifascist groups and local fastist-supporting population (s. Foibe)

donkey salami
Italian sausage-makers do use donkey meat; look for salame d'asino or mortadella di asino. It is not imported into the U.S.

like Austria, with gestures

One of the finest news films ever shown on TV concerned a regional election in this part of Italy. The candidates spoke excellent German but used their arms and hands in a highly un-German way.

platinum black
"a fine black powder of platinum; used as a catalyst in chemical reactions" cite

This whole paragraph describes what amounts to a Black Hole, from which not even light can emerge.

No. It describes the "Black Body Radiation" discovered around 1900. It's quite different from a black hole. Of course, the latter is much much more popular. In physics a black body is an ideal body that absorbs without reflection all of the electromagnetic radiation (light is one of them) incident on its surface. Since in here there is no extreme gravity involved but blackness, with the author's engineering educational background and with the topic of "light" frequently discussed in the book, and Zombini here is talking about light reflection, clearly reference to black body radiation is more appropriate. Wikipedia.

affondato, vero?
Italian for "Sunk, isn'it?" as in the battleship game.

bloody horror shows
A reference to the Grand Guignol theater in Paris, which opened in 1897, known for its gory shows. Wikipedia entry.

Page 355

Doubles the image...
Suggestive of quantum doubling, i.e. universe splitting in one version/solution of the Multiverse problem.

Italian: you understand?


Porca miseria
All-purpose Italian expletive, not too crude. Translates into English as damn!

Teatro Malibran
The 900-seat theather was built in 1677 for drama, opera and classical concerts. It was originally named Teatro di San Giovanni Crisostomo and later changed to Teatro Malibran to honor Maria Malibran, a well-known soprano of the early 19th century. During its long history the theather has been refurbished and rennovated numerous times, most recently in 2001. It is a beautiful landmark theather. It's doubtful Teatro Malibran is a proper venue for magic shows. For the beautiful indoor and outdoor pictures Teatro Malibran.

Page 356

Example of Pynchon's marvelous ship names (e.g. USS Scaffold and Susannah Squaducci in V.); perhaps a play on Titanic.

Chinese Gong Effect

East Rumelian
East Rumelia was an autonomous Bulgarian province, fomerly an Ottoman dependency south of the Balkans. After the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 it was to be ruled by Turkey but with a Christian prince as part of a complex territorial power-balance agreeable to all Powers at the 1878 Congress of Berlin. Interestingly, an area in which the Glagolitic alphabet was propounded (see P.252).

Erlys remembered
(Why not Dally?)

Page 357

Bert Snidell
Bert Snidell was first mentioned on page 75.

Hindoo shuffle
Hindoo, or Hindu, shuffle is one of numerous ways of shuffling playing cards. For a description Wikipedia.

French drop
A well-known vanishing act of a small object involving sleight of hands. Wikipedia.

Annotation Index

Part One:
The Light Over the Ranges

1-25, 26-56, 57-80, 81-96, 97-118

Part Two:
Iceland Spar

119-148, 149-170, 171-198, 199-218, 219-242, 243-272, 273-295, 296-317, 318-335, 336-357, 358-373, 374-396, 397-428

Part Three:

429-459, 460-488, 489-524, 525-556, 557-587, 588-614, 615-643, 644-677, 678-694

Part Four:
Against the Day

695-723, 724-747, 748-767, 768-791, 792-820, 821-848, 849-863, 864-891, 892-918, 919-945, 946-975, 976-999, 1000-1017, 1018-1039, 1040-1062

Part Five:
Rue du Départ


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