Let’s Misbehave – Cole Porter (1927)

You could have a great career,
And you should;
Yes you should;
Only one thing stops you dear:
You’re too good;
Way too good!

If you want a future, darlin’,
Why don’t you get a past?
‘Cause that fatal moment’s comin’ at last…

We’re all alone, no chaperone
Can get our number
The world’s in slumber
Let’s misbehave!!!

There’s something wild about you child
That’s so contagious
Let’s be outrageous
Let’s misbehave!!!

When Adam won Eve’s hand
He wouldn’t stand for teasin’.
He didn’t care about those apples out of season.

They say that Spring
means just one thing to little lovebirds
We’re not above birds
Let’s misbehave!!!

It’s getting late and while I wait
My poor heart aches on
Why keep the brakes on?
Let’s misbehave!!!

I feel quite sure un peu d’amour
Would be attractive
While we’re still active,
Let’s misbehave!

You know my heart is true
And you say you for me care…
Somebody’s sure to tell,
But what the hell do we care?

They say that bears have love affairs
And even camels
We’re merely mammals
Let’s misbehave!!!

If you would be just sweet
And only meet your fate, dear,
‘Twould be the great event
Of nineteen twenty-eight, Dear.

Ars Goetia: Bael

Bael —> The First Principal Spirit is a King ruling in the East, called Bael. He maketh thee to go Invisible. He ruleth over 66 Legions of Infernal Spirits. He appeareth in divers shapes, sometimes like a Cat, sometimes like a Toad, and sometimes like a Man, and sometimes all these forms at once. He speaketh hoarsely. This is his character which is used to be worn as a Lamen before him who calleth him forth, or else he will not do thee homage.

Notable Books of the Twenties: The Weary Blues – Langston Hughes (1926)

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes (1926)

The Weary Blues was the most important book by the Harlem Renaissance’s most famous author. Hughes rose to fame fast and furiously amid a cultural movement that marked the first time in US history that white America began to pay attention to African American literature. And with this collection of poems, he – alongside a handful of others – gave voice to a generation.

With his masterful use of language, tone and rhythms of jazz and blues music of the time, he spoke personally and powerfully to the experiences of Black Americans. While the titular The Weary Blues (included in poetry anthology Blues Poems) is his most famous poem, it is Our Land that contains one of the most memorable lines in 20th-century literature: “I, too, am America.”

“Petting Parties” of the Twenties

To some social observers, petting parties of the 1920s were a natural, post-First World War outgrowth of a repressed society. To others, the out-in-the-open hug-and-kissfests were blinking neon signposts on the Road to Perdition.

“Petting parties varied quite a lot,” says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s. “But certainly there were parties where young people did quite a lot of erotic exploration — kissing and fondling. These parties always stopped before intercourse. In that sense they had imposed limitations created by the group presence. They were not orgies and they were not promiscuous — one set of partners only.”

Petting parties, Fass explains, “allowed young people to experiment in a self-limiting way by creating peer regulation that both encouraged experimentation and created clear limits.”

One of the earliest mentions of the scandalous soirees was a Washington Times story from New Year’s Eve 1915. “Did you ever hear of ‘petting parties’?” the reporter asked. “That, they tell me, is the name applied in Baltimore to the haunters of cosy corners and ‘twosing’ in general.”

Over the next few years the ritual spread. Petting parties grew so popular they became targets of societal safeguardians who believed the make-out mania was tearing apart the social fabric.

Speaking to 1,500 students at Wellesley College in 1921, Mrs. Augustus Trowbridge — the wife of a Princeton professor — railed against “the vulgarity and revolting badness of petting parties.” She said that the loose-moraled gatherings — along with jazz music, unchaperoned dancing and lipstick — were symptomatic of a decadent society, the Coshocton, Ohio, Tribune reported on Jan. 13.

Soon the lovey-dovey wingdings were popping up all across the country. Southerners sometimes called them necking parties. They were called mushing parties in the West; fussing parties in the Midwest and spooning everywhere, the United Press noted later in 1921. Eventually some flappers began referring to party-petting as snugglepupping.

By some, young women were seen as getting out of hand. The conservative League of American Women was formed in New York to exercise, as the New York Evening World termed it, “stricter censorship over the activities and habits of the younger set.”

The powerful Women’s Christian Temperance Union also weighed in on — and inveighed against — petting parties and cigarette-smoking by girls, the Gettysburg, Pa., Times reported.

In Atlantic City, N.J., beach cops were instructed to throw ice water on seaside petting parties, the Wilmington, N.C., Morning Star observed on July 31, 1921. In Pittsburgh, 15 couples were fined for spooning, the Reading Times noted on Aug. 16, 1921.

Source: NPR

Blue Skies – Josephine Baker (1927)

I was blue, just as blue as I could be
Ev’ry day was a cloudy day for me
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door
Skies were gray but they’re not gray anymore

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Bluebirds
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my how they fly

Blue days
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on

I should care if the wind blows east or west
I should fret if the worst looks like the best
I should mind if they say it can’t be true
I should smile, that’s exactly what I do

Aba Daba Honeymoon – Helen Kane

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the chimpie to the monk
“Baba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the monkey to the chimp

All night long they’d chatter away
All day long there were happy and gay
Swinging and singing in their hunky tonky way

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Means ‘Monk, I love but you’
‘Baba, daba, dab’ in monkey talk
Means ‘Chimp, I love you, too’

Then the big baboon one night in June
He married them and very soon
Since they came from their aba daba honeymoon

Way down in the Congoland
Lived a happy chimpanzee
She loved a monkey with long tail
(Lordy, how she loved him)

Each night he would find her there
Swinging in the coconut tree
And the monkey gay at the break of day
Loved to hear his chimpie say

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the chimpie to the monk
“Baba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the monkey to the chimp

All night long they’d chatter away
All day long there were happy and gay
Swinging and singing in their hunky tonky way

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Means ‘Monk, I love but you’
‘Baba, daba, dab’ in monkey talk
Means ‘Chimp, I love you, too’

One night they were made man and wife
And now they cry, “This is the life”
Since they came from their aba daba honey-

Aba, daba, daba

Aba, daba honeymoon

Notable Books of the Twenties: The Trial – Franz Kafka (1925)

The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)

Kafka wrote the trial between 1914 and 1915, but it wasn’t published until 1925, a year after he died (mainly because his chronic self-esteem issues led him to make his best friend promise to burn his manuscripts after his death. Fortunately for the world, the friend ignored his dying wish). The Trial is a dark, melancholy story of confusion and existential dread, about a man suddenly arrested for a crime that’s never revealed to him.

The novel was one among a small oeuvre that compelled the poet WH Auden to call Kafka “the Dante of the 20th century.” The book, in short, encapsulated the growing fears of the time surrounding totalitarian oppression, alienation and bureaucracy in the modern world. And it’s influence on contemporary thinking was profound. We’re all conflicted, torn between worlds, trapped in situations from which we can’t escape. The Trial embodies that modern malaise, and even spawned a word for it (we all know it): Kafkaesque.

Lois Long “Lipstick” and Tables for Two at the New Yorker

On January 17th, 1920, when Prohibition became the law of the land, a new kind of woman was born; a woman who drank, smoked, and (gasp!) danced with members of the opposite sex in illegal watering holes known forever as “speakeasies.” No one, man or woman, described these dens in such delicious detail as The New Yorker magazine’s cabaret-reviewer and resident dancer til dawn, “Lipstick.” “Lipstick,” nom de plume of Connecticut-born Lois Long, was one of the original New Yorker contributors, along with such famous writers as Dorothy Parker, E. B. White, and Alexander Wollcott, and outlasted nearly all of them – her career at The New Yorker spanned nearly 45 years.

At age 23, Long began writing her column, “Tables for Two”,” reviewing nightclubs across the city (most of them situated between 42nd and 60th Streets), with the magazine footing the bill. The Tenement Museum does not cover such expenses for its employees, in case you were wondering. Long, taking over the column from a fellow who called himself “Top Hat,” chose to be known as “Lipstick.” Since her identity was hidden behind the page, she often had a bit of fun with her readers, describing herself as a plump middle-aged woman, or a distinguished gentleman. Long was a broad with a great sense of humor and adventure – perfect for 1920’s Manhattan.

Her nights were filled with jazz, gin, and jitterbugging, and all of it made it into her column, which became extremely popular. According to historian Joshua Zeitz, author of Flapper: Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern, Long’s exploits often found their way to the office: “She would come into the office at four in the morning, usually inebriated, still in an evening dress and she would, having forgotten the key to her cubicle, she would normally prop herself up on a chair and try to, you know, in stocking feet, jump over the cubicle usually in a dress that was too immodest for Harold Ross’ [the founder of the New Yorker] liking. She was in every sense of the word, both in public and private, the embodiment of the 1920s flapper.”

Source: tenement.org

Notable Books of the Twenties: Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf (1925)

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

“We are trembling on the verge of one of the great ages of English literature,” Virginia Woolf told an audience a year before she published Mrs Dalloway, her fourth novel, to rapturous critical reception in 1925. She may not have been talking about her own work, but for the nearly one=hundred years since its publication, it has been near universally credited with changing the game of writing about the philosophy of life, high society, and most of all, the psychology of feminism.

Written in the same stream-of-consciousness style pioneered by Joyce in Ulysses, it follows Clarissa Dalloway, a high-society hostess in post-war England as she prepares to throw a lavish party, across a single day. “Mrs. Dalloway was the first novel to split the atom,” The Hours author Michael Cunningham famously wrote. “It is one of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century.”

Notable Books of the Twenties: The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

More than once has Fitzgerald’s masterpiece about the delusion of decadence in the age of excess been branded ‘the greatest of great American novels’. Which says a lot for a book that can be read in a day. It’s brilliance, in part, lies in its brevity.

Echoing Noel Coward’s words in 1925, when he sang, ‘Cocktails and laughter, but what comes after?’ Fitzgerald used The Great Gatsby to call out the unbridled hedonism of the Jazz Age, which roared through the 1920s, and led to the devastating economic crash of the 1930s. ‘I was within and without,’ says protagonist Nick, ‘simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.’

Reviews upon its publication, however, were mixed. Influential critic HL Mencken said it was ‘in form no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that.’ And yet, history proved it a piece of prescient genius, a book woozy on its own foresight, not to mention its gorgeously taught, lyrical prose.