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24th May 2014

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Pure jive talk

If you’re a hipped stud, you’ll latch on; but if you’re a homey, you ain’t nowhere, ole man, understand? Like the bear, nowhere. And, ole man, why can’t you dig this hard mess I’m laying down when the whole town’s copping the mellow jive? Are you going to be a square all you days? Ain’t you gonna click you gimmers, latch onto this fine pulp I’m dropping on you and really knock yourself out as you scoff, ace-deuce around the chiming Ben? You dig, ole man, that, from early bright to late black, the cats and the chippies are laying down some fine, heavy jive; most of it like the tree, all root; like the letter, all wrote, like the country road, all rut; like the apple, all rot; like the cheese, all rat! Understand, ole man?

— a sample of ‘pure jive’ by Dan Burley, from Dan Burley’s Original Handbook of Harlem Jive (1944), quoted in Jonathon Green’s Language! 500 Years of the Vulgar Tongue (2014).

Tagged: slangjivelanguageHarlemNew YorkjazzmusicJonathon Greenbooks

26th June 2012

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Tagged: filmsmoviesNew YorkCharlie KaufmanPhilip Seymour HoffmanSamantha Mortonstoriespeople

15th June 2012

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How Jacob’s Ladder was born

It began as a dream: A subway late at night; I am traveling through the bowels of New York City. There are very few people on the train. A terrible loneliness grips me. The train pulls into the station and I get off. The platform is deserted. I walk to the nearest exit, and discover the gate is locked. A feeling of terrible despair begins to pulse through me as I hike to the other end of the platform. To my horror, that exit is chained, too. I am totally trapped and overwhelmed by a sense of doom. I know with perfect certainty that I will never see daylight again. My only hope is to jump onto the tracks and enter the tunnel, the darkness. The only direction from there is down. I know the next stop on my journey is hell.

At that instant I woke up, in a sweat, panting. The singular thought in my head at that moment was “What a great idea for the opening of a movie.” And so Jacob’s Ladder was born.

Bruce Joel Rubin, in Jacob’s Chronicle, included in the Jacob’s Ladder screenplay published by Applause Theatre Book Publishers, 1990

Tagged: writingdreamsscreenwritingfilmsmoviesJacob's LadderhorrorNew YorkBruce Joel Rubin