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Polari: The secret language of gay men

polarisjs.jpg
 
“How bona to vada your dolly old eek” may sound like gibberish, but it is in fact a warm greeting often used by gay men in England between the 1930s and early 1970s. It literally means: “How good to see your lovely/pleasant face,” and is a delightful example of the secret language Polari.

Polari comes from the Italian word “pralare” meaning “to talk” and is a mixture of Lingua Franca, Yiddish, Italian, Cockney, and slang and was a common language used by circus performers, actors, sailors, criminals, and prostitutes in the UK and Ireland from the late 16th century on. In the 1930s, Polari became the secret language for gay men to gossip in public, cruise for partners and identify one another. Polari fell out of use in the late sixties, after the UK government decriminalized homosexuality in 1967. It also fell out of favor with the more politically correct gay liberationists who saw Polari as an outdated and unhelpful stratagem.
 

 
Yet, Polari persists to be used today, and for anyone who wants to zhoosh up their vocab, then have varder at this beginner’s guide to Polari:

ajax  -  nearby
alamo  -  hot for you/him
aunt nell  -  listen, hear
aunt nells  -  ears
aunt nelly fakes  -  earrings
aunt nell danglers  -  earrings
barney  -  a fight
basket  -  the bulge of male genitals through clothes
batts  -  shoes
bibi  -  bisexual
bitch  -  effeminate or passive gay man
bijou  -  small/little
blag  -  pick up
blue  -  code word for “homosexual”
bod  -  body
bona  -  good
bona nochy  -  goodnight
bonaroo  -  wonderful, excellent
bungery  -  pub
butch  -  masculine; masculine lesbian
buvare  -  a drink
cackle  -  talk/gossip
camp  -  effeminate
capello/capella  -  hat
carsey  -  toilet, also spelt khazi
carts/cartso  -  penis
cats  -  trousers
charper  -  to search
charpering omi  -  policeman
charver  -  to shag/a shag/ have sex
chicken  -  young man
clobber  -  clothes
cod  -  naff, vile
cottage  -  a public lavatory used for sexual encounters
cottaging  -  seeking or obtaining sexual encounters in public lavatories
cove  -  friend
crimper  -  hairdresser
dally  -  sweet, kind
dilly boy  -  a male prostitute
dinari   -  money
dish  -  buttocks/backside
dolly  -  pretty, nice, pleasant
dona  -  woman
dorcas  -  term of endearment, “one who cares”
drag  -  clothes, esp. women’s clothes
doss  -  bed
ecaf  -  face (backslang)
eek  -  face (abbv. of ecaf)
ends  -  hair
esong  -  nose
fantabulosa  -  fabulous/wonderful
feele/freely/filly  -  child/young
fruit  -  queen
funt  -  pound
gelt  -  money
handbag  -  money
hoofer  -  dancer
HP (homy polone)  -  effeminate gay man
jarry  -  food
jubes  -  breasts
kaffies  -  trousers
khazi  -  toilet, also spelt carsey
lacoddy  -  body
lallies  -  legs
lallie tappers  -  feet
latty/lattie  -  room, house or apartment
lills  -  hands
lilly  -  police
lyles  -  legs
lucoddy  -  body
luppers  -  fingers
mangarie  -  food, also jarry
martinis  -  hands
measures  -  money
meese  -  plain, ugly
meshigener  -  nutty, crazy, mental
metzas  -  money
mince  -  walk (affectedly)
naff  -  awful, dull, hetero
nanti  -  not, no, none
National Handbag  -  dole, welfare, government financial assistance
ogle  -  look, admire
ogles  -  eyes
oglefakes  -  glasses
omi  -  man
omi-palone  -  effeminate man, or homosexual
onk  -  nose
orbs  -  eyes
oven  -  mouth
palare pipe  -  telephone
palliass  -  back
park, parker  -  give
plate  -  feet; to fellate
palone  -  woman
palone-omi  -  lesbian
pots  -  teeth
remould  - sex change
riah/riha  -  hair
riah zhoosher  -  hairdresser
rough trade  -  a working class or blue collar sex partner or potential sex partner; a tough, thuggish or potentially violent sex partner
scarper -  to run off
schlumph  -  drink
scotch  -  leg (Scotch egg=leg)
screech  -  mouth, speak
sharpy  -  policeman (from charpering omi)
sharpy polone  -  policewoman
shush  -  steal
shush bag  -  hold-all
shyker/shyckle  -  wig
slap  -  makeup
so  -  homosexual (e.g. “Is he ‘so’?”)
stimps  -  legs
stimpcovers  -  stockings, hosiery
strides -  trousers
strillers  -  piano
switch -  wig
thews  -  thighs
tober  -  road
todd (Sloanne)  -  alone
tootsie trade  - sex between two passive homosexuals
trade  -  sex, sex-partner, potential sex-partner
troll -  to walk about (esp. looking for trade)
vada/varder  -  to see / look
vera (lynn)  -  gin
vogue  -  cigarette
vogueress  -  female smoker
willets  -  breasts
yews  -  eyes
zhoosh  -  style hair, tart up, mince
zhoosh our riah  -  style our hair
zhooshy  -  showy

 

 
For those who wish to learn more, then have varder at Paul Baker’s Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang, which should improve your cackle over a few veras down the bungery.

But Polari wasn’t always kept a secret, in the 1960s, comedy writers Marty Feldman and Barry Took subversively brought Polari into every British household with their hit BBC radio series Round the Horne. Through their characters “Julian” and “Sandy,” as played by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, Feldman and Took were able to use Polari to get many an innuendo and double entendre-laden sketch past the BBC’s censors.

Here’s your host Kenneth Horne visiting Julian and Sandy’s “Bona Books”:
 

 
Mr. Horne visits Julian and Sandy’s “Bona Suits’:
 

 

 
Morrissey’s Bona Drag (“Nice outfit” in Polari) album and the single “Piccadilly Palare” (about male prostitutes working London’s Piccadilly Circus) brought Polari into the 1990s.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Scenes from Marc Bolan’s funeral
07.07.2014
03:49 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Marc Bolan
Gloria Jones


Marc Bolan and Gloria Jones at Rod Stewart’s party at Morton’s on the night that he died.
 
Although many of his songs refer to cars, Marc Bolan himself was deathly afraid of driving, fearing a young death. Despite owning his famous white Rolls-Royce (among many other ostentatious vehicles) he never learned how to master an automobile. On September 16, 1977, two weeks before Bolan would have turned 30, returning from a party thrown by Rod Stewart, he was killed when the purple Mini being driven by his girlfriend, American soul singer Gloria Jones (she recorded the original version of Ed Cobb’s “Tainted Love”) hit a chainlink fence and then a tree near Gypsy Lane in Southwest London. Neither passenger was wearing a seatbelt. The accident occurred less than one mile from Bolan’s mansion in East Sheen.

The funeral held four days later at the Golders Green Crematorium was attended by Les Paul, Rod Stewart, Bolan producer Tony Visconti, Eric Clapton and a contingent of sobbing fans. A swan-shaped floral arrangement calling to mind Bolan’s first big hit record, “Ride a White Swan” was displayed at the ceremony. Gloria Jones, hospitalized with a broken jaw and arm was not to find out about Marc’s death until the day of his funeral. Within a few days their home was looted by thieves.

The crash site has become a shrine to his memory with fans making pilgrimages to leave flowers and tributes and is maintained by the T.Rex Action Group. Today Gloria Jones runs a charity dedicated to Bolan’s memory in Sierra Leone.

The images here are courtesy of a new website devoted to nostalgia, Flashbak and the Press Association. Follow Flashbak on Twitter and Facebook.
 

A young couple comfort each other in front of the floral white swan.
 

Members of Marc Bolan’s family. Gloria Jones’ brother, Richard Jones, in hat behind them.
 

Rolan Bolan’s godfather David Bowie—who would quietly provide for Gloria and Rolan and paid for his education—arrives at the service.
 

Rod Stewart and friend.
 

 

 

What was left of the purple Mini.

If you go to the 4:15 mark below, you’ll see color footage of Marc Bolan’s funeral.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Presidents with Boob Faces’ is perhaps the most important artistic movement of our time
07.07.2014
06:16 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
presidents
boobs


George Washington
 
Emily Deutchman is the Picasso of people who do watercolors of US presidents with boobs on their faces. I mean it! I cannot fathom her equal, much less envision a successor to her artistic idiom. Her Presidents with Boob Faces series is 44 canvases of commanders-in-chief with mammaries fused to their mugs. For Lincoln, it’s the beard, for Reagan, the neck sag—it’s all very intuitive. All the paintings are based off of official presidential portraits except for Obama, which uses the Shepard Fairey graphic. And what is the purpose of her work? From her website:

Presidents with Boob Faces takes the tradition of presidential portraits and, with wry humor, subverts the solemnity of these iconic figures by transforming their faces with schoolboy “boob doodle.”

The work twists the historic grandeur of portraiture and national pomp with this lowbrow interjection. While enjoying the comedic potential of George Washington with boob cheeks, Deutchman also engages with a painterly series and the ready-made both provided by the presidential portraits. The use of the series explores the permutations of one concept played out 44 times and the possibility of diversity found in that idea.

Sometimes Deutchman uses photographs of actual boobs to append her portraiture, leaving the viewer wondering if they’re admiring a legit tit. Personally, I’m partial to the Gerald Ford—is it the smile that draws me in, or the fullness? Maybe it’s just my insatiable desire to discuss the oft-overlooked Ford administration? Should you be taken with the beauty and vision of Deutchman’s work, you’re in luck! All paintings are for sale, and she asks that you contact her at presidentswithboobfaces@gmail.com for inquiries!
 

George W. Bush
 

Ronald Reagan
 

James Madison
 

Abraham Lincoln
 
More Presidential boob faces after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Laurie Anderson on ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and ‘Yankee Doodle’
07.04.2014
07:05 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Laurie Anderson


 
In this highly amusing “personal service announcement” shot sometime during the 1980s in the smoky kitchen of a greasy spoon somewhere, Laurie Anderson praises the lack of nationalistic bombast in our national anthem and describes “Yankee Doodle” as a “surrealist masterpiece.” The clip can be found on her Collected Videos, released in 1990. Unfortunately, it’s available in VHS format only.

Anderson is a national treasure—I can’t think of anyone else delivering a disquisition this thoughtful, original, whimsical, vivid, and bizarre (in the loveliest sense). As it happens, I agree with her on both counts. We’ve heard an awful lot of national anthems during the World Cup, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” is one of the finest out there; of course, “Yankee Doodle” is delightfully silly.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Le Cabaret de L’Enfer: Turn of the century Paris nightclub modeled after Hell
07.02.2014
06:53 am

Topics:
History
Occult

Tags:
Paris


 
As a general rule, theme bars are embarrassing affairs. You have your corny waitstaff, your overly literal decor and a sense of forced performance that’s… annoying. Once in a blue moon though, there has been a theme bar so fucking cool you would sell your soul to get in. Tragically, you would have to strike some kind of deal with the devil to go to Le Cabaret de L’Enfer, since the Paris red light district nightclub opened around the turn of the last century and closed sometime during the middle of it. Very little information exists on L’Enfer, but the detail in the decor is absolutely gorgeous—almost Boschian elements of twisting human, animal and skeletal forms—couldn’t you just die?

An entry from National Geographic says that the doorman and waiters dressed as Satan and an order of coffees with cognac was translated as “seething bumpers of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier.” Okay, so that’s a little bit corny, but come on, it’s a goddamn hellmouth! If you’ll notice the external photographs, some cheeky (or possibly just opportunistic) mind opened a club next door called “Ciel,” the French word for “Heaven.” I appreciate the consistency, but let’s be honest-which bar would you rather go to?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roughly translated: “L’Enfer (Hell), the only cabaret like it in the world, every night from 8 to 2:30 in the morning, devilish attractions, torment of the damned, round of the damned, the boiler (whatever that was), metamorphoses of the damned
 
Via Retronaut

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Punk Rock and the Situationist International
07.01.2014
04:21 pm

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
Situationist International
Guy DeBord


 
“The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities.’”—Karl Marx

“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”—Guy DeBord

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”—Guy DeBord

“We are not working for the spectacle of the end of the world, but for the end of the world of the spectacle.”—Raoul Vaneigem

“Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.”—Guy DeBord

“We’re not here to answer cuntish questions.”—Guy DeBord

On the Passage of a few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1956-1972 is an interesting short film by Branka Bogdanov primarily documenting the work of ultra-leftist French philosopher Guy DeBord, author of the influential post-Marxist study of late 20th capitalism Society Of The Spectacle. The film explores the Situationist International’s role in inciting the Paris riots of May 1968 and the influence of the SI’s nihilistic aesthetics on the punk rock era.

Interviewees include Greil Marcus, author of Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, the late Malcolm McLaren and Sex Pistols graphic designer Jamie Reid.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Weird private photographs of Hitler practicing dramatic gestures for his speeches
07.01.2014
08:19 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler
 
Hitler is the human symbol of evil, but his rise to power in Germany in the 1930s obviously can’t be explained by reference to that alone. There must have been some deep, underlying appeal to the man himself. In 1940, in a review of Mein Kampf, George Orwell (!!!), who was not yet the famous author he would become, wrote:
 

But Hitler could not have succeeded against his many rivals if it had not been for the attraction of his own personality, which one can feel even in the clumsy writing of Mein Kampf, and which is no doubt overhwhelming when one hears his speeches. I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler. Ever since he came to power—till then, like nearly everyone, I had been deceived into thinking that he did not matter—I have reflected that I would certainly kill him if I could get within reach of him, but that I could feel no personal animosity. The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him. One feels it again when one sees his photographs—and I recommend especially the photograph at the beginning of Hurst and Blackett’s edition, which shows Hitler in his early Brownshirt days. It is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself. The initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is there. He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds.

 
As Orwell points out, Hitler’s appeal was largely symbolic, and, just as with every American president from FDR to Nixon to Reagan to Obama, he understood that public presentation has to be carefully staged and place a premium on non-verbal, one might even say precognitive aspects to politics and ceremony. In the preface to Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote, “I know that men are won over less by the written than by the spoken word, that every great movement on this earth owes its growth to orators and not to great writers.”

Hitler understood the power of oratory, and his success in that arena was not accidental; it was the product of a great deal of practice and careful adjustment. Heinrich Hoffmann was Hitler’s personal photographer, who took an astonishing two million pictures of the Führer. Here we see a series of photographs by Hoffmann of Hitler practicing his exaggerated hand gestures to be used in future speeches. Hitler actually characterized different effects for the various poses, such as “gebieterisch” (domineering) or “kämpferisch” (pugnacious).

After he saw the negatives, Hitler ordered that the photos be destroyed, but Hoffmann hid them away. After the seizure of his archives, they were released to the public.
 
Adolf Hitler
 
Adolf Hitler
 
Adolf Hitler
 
Adolf Hitler
 
Adolf Hitler
 
Adolf Hitler
 
Adolf Hitler
 
Adolf Hitler
 
via Downtown Camera

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Anatomical Venus: The gory idealized beauty of wax medical models
06.30.2014
06:24 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
anatomical Venus


From the “Josephinum Museum” of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Late 18th century
 
The importance of anatomical models cannot be overstated in the education of medical professionals, but these learning tools have not always been so… clinical. Behold, the “Anatomical Venus,” idealized female forms first popularized in 18th century Europe, intended for the education of both medical students and a curious public (men and women were most often segregated for viewings). The figures were usually made of wax, which is malleable and conducive to bright colors and the “ladies” were often adorned with jewelry, ribbons and elaborate makeup.

Disturbingly, some of models look dead, while others are depicted as if they were flayed alive—some even appear to express a level of eroticism. The detail and care in craftsmanship only ups the uncanny factor. Fair warning, quite a few of these are probably not safe for work, and not just for anatomical gore. Boobs, even waxen or terra cotta medical boobs, can get a person in trouble with the boss, and the creepy bedroom eyes of these disemboweled beauties could definitely give the wrong impression as to your perversity. I saved the most unsettling (at least in my opinion), for last—a decidedly unimpressed woman giving birth… the doctor’s hand is featured.
 

From La Specola museum. Florence, Italy, 1818
 

From Museu d’Història de la Medicina de Catalunya. Barcelona, Spain, 19th century
 

From La Specola museum, Florence, Italy, 18th century. By Clemente Susini. Note the tiny fetus.
 

From La Specola museum, Florence, Italy, no date given.

Depicting eyelid surgery. From Musée Orfila, Paris, France, no date given.
 

Giovan-Battista Manfredini, late 18th century. Actually made from terra cotta, not wax.
 

Late 19th century
 

Jules Talrich, Paris, late 19th century.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Anarchist icon Emma Goldman’s warning about capitalism from jail, 1893
06.23.2014
10:08 am

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
Anarchism
Emma Goldman

emma g mugshot
 
Red Emma’s mugshot

When state senator Wendy Davis held her 11-hour filibuster in Texas last year to block Senate Bill 5 and its restrictions on abortion, it was hard not to think how much better (and entertaining) anarchist firebrand “Red Emma” Goldman would have been if she’d have been the one speaking for so many hours. Davis incited a loud but well-behaved demonstration outside the capitol building in Austin. If Emma had been the orator, there would have been an actual riot. And fires.

Journalist Nelly Bly did a series of profiles of well-known anarchists for The New York World in 1893. She visited 25-year-old Emma in the notorious Tombs jail in New York City shortly after her arrest for inciting a riot at the Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia. Emma was demurely waiting for her friends to bail her out prior to the trial, where she was found guilty and sentenced to a year at Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary. After the obligatory description of Emma’s appearance and clothes (“a little bit of a girl” with “pretty and girlish” hair and dressed in “modest blue serge Eton suit, with a blue muslin shirtwaist and scarf” ), Bly elicited a prescient quote about, among other topics (like free love and marriage), capitalists:

Everything wrong, crime and sickness and all that, is the result of the system under which we live, she continued earnestly. ‘Were there no money, and as a result, no capitalists, people would not be over-worked, starved and ill-housed, all of which makes them old before their time, diseases them and makes them criminals. To save a dollar the capitalists build their railroads poorly, and along comes a train, and loads of people are killed. What are their lives to him if by their sacrifice he has saved money? But those deaths mean misery, want and crime in many, many families. According to Anarchistic principles, we build the best of railroads, so there shall be no accidents… Instead of running a few cars at a frightful speed, in order to save a larger expense, we should run many cars at slow speed, and so have no accidents.’

‘If you do away with money and employers, who will work upon your railroads?’ I asked.

‘Those that care for that kind of work. Then every one shall do that which he likes best, not merely a thing he is compelled to do to earn his daily bread.’

‘What will you do with the lazy ones, who would not work?’

‘No one is lazy. They grow hopeless from the misery of their present existence, and give up. Under our order of things, every man would do the work he liked, and would have as much as his neighbor, so could not be unhappy and discouraged.’

(I was going to include Emma’s famous blintz recipe, which she included in a letter to her long-time friend and lover Alexander Berkman, but to obtain a copy you have to donate $10 to the Emma Goldman Papers at the University of California at Berkeley. Other writings of hers can be found for free at the online Anarchist Library.)

Newsreel footage of Emma at a press conference upon her return to the U.S. in 1934:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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The spectacular steampunk aircrafts of Charles A. A. Dellschau
06.23.2014
08:11 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
steampunk
Charles A. A. Dellschau

Dellschau
 
If you’re fond of Howard Finster, Jules Verne, Grandma Moses, or the improbable discovery of Vivian Maier’s photographs, the story of Charles A. A. Dellschau is a wildly improbable and intoxicating combination of those elements. How so? Born in 1830, Dellschau was a Prussian butcher who emigrated to the U.S. around 1849—upon his retirement a full fifty years later in 1899, he took up an intriguing hobby, to act as draftsman for the “Sonora Aero Club” of Houston, Texas, a club interested in kooky aeronautical crafts about which it is unclear whether it even existed. What is clear is that between the ages of 69 and his death in 1923 at the age of 92, Dellschau filled at least 13 notebooks with approximately 2,500 utterly awesome large-format drawings and collages around the theme of steampunk-ish dirigibles and other flying machines. Rebecca J. Rosen elaborates:
 

Dealers and historians eventually tracked down some additional Dellschau works, including a series of three journals called Recolections [sic], that also tell the story of the Sonora Aero Club and its inventions, with “ink drawings of fanciful airships that ... look for all the world as if they had flown off the pages of a Jules Verne novel,” as flight historian Tom D. Crouch describes them.

All together, the shoestring-bound books contain some 2,000 pages, each a double-sided collage replete with calligraphy (often in a code that is still today only partially deciphered), drawings, and newspaper clippings. (Dellschau referred to the clippings as “press blooms,” as though they were preserved flowers.) Each page—or “plate,” as Dellschau called them—is dated and numbered, though the counting starts at number 1601. The estimated 10 volumes with the first 1,600 drawings are presumed lost or destroyed.

 
According to Dellschau’s writings, the club was a secret group of flight enthusiasts who met at Sonora, California in the mid-19th century; one of the members had discovered the formula for an anti-gravity fuel he called “NB Gas.” Anti-gravity fuel! Even if that development never worked out, the vitality and energy of drawings Dellschau made in his 80s would humble most of the twentysomething art school students you would encounter today.

Curiously, there are traces of the Aero Club in lots of places in California—just not in Sonora. According to historian Tracy Baker-White:

“I haven’t found them in Sonora in the 1850s, but I’ve found them in Napa Valley in 1900, or in San Francisco in 1872, or in Stockton in 1872. There are possible links, but there’s nothing that is in Sonora.”

We often use the words “rare,” “unseen,” “unknown” to describe seldom-seen videos or paintings, and often it isn’t quite right, it’s just that very few people have seen them. In the case of Dellschau, however, it really seems to be true that between the years of 1923 and sometime in the 1960s, his work was actually, literally unknown. His works ended up in a landfill, and if not for the eagle eye of used furniture dealer Fred Washington, they’d remain unknown today. Since then, Dellschau’s spectacular works have received their due attention, including exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum in New York and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. For an overview of Dellschau’s work, see Charles Dellschau by Thomas McEvilley et al.
 
Dellschau
 
Dellschau
 
Dellschau
 
Dellschau
 
Dellschau
 
More incredible pics of Dellschau’s work, plus a UFO expert tries to bring Dellschau into the fold—all after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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