- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
Makes me think of b-girls, or bar girls . Seems appropriate, given the context, to imagine r-girls are the rails' equivalent.
The neighbourhood of extravagant buildings made for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. (First mentioned on page 3).
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.
??? 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
funds or supplies advanced to a mining prospector (or a person starting a business) in return for a promised share of the profits.
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.
Actually, Mock Duck was a Tong leader in New York City, most active 1900 through 1912. Sai Wing Mock, aka "Mock Duck" was renowned for his eccentric combat style; while hatchets, clubs and knives were standard weapons in street-gang warfare, Mock Duck's method was to sow chaos and fear by crouching in the center of the street, putting his head down, drawing two .44s and firing wildly in all directions. (He was reportedly a terrible shot.) (While Pynchon does add a lot of goofy names and implausible characters to his fictions, it's the inclusions of the real ones that hold the history together.)Infanttyrone 16:10, 11 December 2007 (PST)
partly dressed in a loose manner.
- more precisely, in this case, the French word for what Americans call a "négligée" (strange to translate a French word with another French word!). Very light indoor garment that one would never wear outside the house. "En déshabillé" literally means "in a déshabillé" or "wearing a déshabillé".
A 19th century first name. Perhaps a pun on the fact that she has not been modest.
let's say a short vacation
Not sure, but "wing hop fung" supposedly means "together forever prosper" . 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.
One of the many Chinese-American societies originally created for mutual support and protection (a tong ) 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 
Like the On Leong, an influential Chinese-American criminal organization .
Perhaps also a "hip" parody of the cook in Bonanza, Hop Sing.
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 .
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.
Not sure if it refers to a specific hat or a family of hats, but It was used in the title of a fashion article published in the New York Times on Feb. 23rd, 1908 . Most likely a casual girl hat, opposed to evening wear.
Members of a Chinese-American criminal gang. (The word later came to apply to corrupt politicians.)
??? Speculation: what Pynchon is humorously calling a nightstick used in the daytime.
Glans penis-shaped helmets
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]
There is an actual Tong leader being referenced here; Mock Duck was known for his two-gun style, but his methods were much different than Chow Yun-Fat's. Wikipedia Entry
Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City-centered music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Wikipedia
Acid dye is a member of a class of dye that is applied from an acidic solution. 
Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Veety or a variant (Veety has been written as MacVittie, MacVittye, MacVittae, MacWittie, MacWitty and many more) include: Alan MacWittie who settled in New England in 1685; Duncan McVittie arrived in Philadelphia Pa. in 1775. 
Itself a cliche, e.g, Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose.
..seven-fifty 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
to leave quickly or in a hurry. The phrase "in some haste to absquatulate' seems a bit redundant.
Found this interesting piece of knowledge on Freedictionary.com  which explains the origins of a lot of the words used in AtD: "In the 19th century, the vibrant energy of American English appeared in the use of Latin affixes to create jocular pseudo-Latin "learned" words. (...) Absquatulate has a prefix ab-, "away from," and a suffix -ate, "to act upon in a specified manner," affixed to a nonexistent base form -squatul-, probably suggested by squat. Hence the whimsical absquatulate, "to squat away from."
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.
It is very unlikely that it was an Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae), which has a length of 3.0cm - 3.5cm (approx 1 1/4"-1 3/8"). Most likely refers to another (unwinged) species, called the Rhinoceros Cockroach or Giant Burrowing Cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros) which is indigenous to Australia and can weigh up to 35 g (1.2 oz) and measure up to 3.15 in (80 mm)  Still a far cry from "the size of a sewer rat".
Borowicz is a polish name, patronymic from a pet form of Borowy, or from Borzyslaw, Bolebor, or some other personal name formed with the element bor ‘to fight’.
Found a reference to a Bogoslaw Borowicz in a scientific paper entitled "During Latency, Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 DNA Is Associated with Nucleosomes in a Chromatin Structure" (!), published in 1989 in The Journal of Virology. 
A Floorshow is a series of acts at a night club. That anyone could take this literally as "a display of floors" is both hilarious and very Pynchonian.
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.
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.
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.
- also the (feminized) French term for "extra"
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). For a partial list of coon references in AtD, see annotation to p. 48.
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.
One of three approaches to exegesis are possible here.
- 1) The name is a Chinese pun on English sounds and meanings.
- 2) The name is a reference to someone with this name.
- 3) The name is a reference to Chinese meanings in a Chinese or English pun.
An example of the first approach:
- Lubing? Like Lew Basnight as Lube-ass night see notes for page 36.
Two examples from the second approach:
- Here, it is a woman, but in history Liu Bing was
- 1) The birth name of Emperor Chong of the Han Dynasty (143-145) who became emperor at the age of 1, and died a year later.
- 2) A high-ranking official of the Song Dynasty, (lived 433-477).
Third approach: mix and match meanings for "Liu" and Bing".
Liu can mean:
- lovely; beautiful; tassel; pomegranate; to flow; to spread; to circulate; to move clear; deep (of water); swift; precious stone; leave (message); to retain; to stay; to remain; to keep; to preserve; tumor; sulfur; bessemerizing of matte; lutetium; pure gold; sewing of wind; bay horse with black mane; large horned-owl; willow; skein; tuft; lock; creel; fish basket; the number 6; a clod of earth; land; the sound of the wind; to soar; to stroll; walk a horse; to stroll; to linger; dripping of rain from eaves, reheat by steaming
Bing can mean:
- soldiers; a force; an army; weapons; arms; military; war-like; ice; arrow-quiver; Trachycarpus excelsa; arecas; the third of the ten heavenly stems; the third position; third; number three; get rid of; put aside; reject; keep control; hold back; sad; mournful; bright; glorious; authority; handle; hilt; bright; brilliant; luminous(surname); to grasp; hold; maintain natural property or endowment; report to (a superior)bright ; shining, splendid(surname); ancient city name; happy; plate; scabbard; round flat cake; cookie; cake; pastry; furthermore; (not) at all; simultaneously; also; together with; to combine; to join; to merge amalgamate; combine; nightmare; start to sleep; ailment; sickness; illness; disease; fall ill; sick; defect.
So, Liu Bing might mean "lovely arecas," "six cookies," "gold handle," "six soldiers" etc.
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.
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.
Broadway from 9th to 23rd Streets, Gilded Age location of all the most fashionable shops 
Whispering, making a low continuous indistinct sound .
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?
Paris 1900? Wikipedia
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
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
Brand of expensive Champagne.
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."
??? 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
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.
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 .
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 ???).
"Little Bug." (Wasn't Herve Villachaise supposed to be well endowed?)
in the wallpaper
Cf Lew on cyclomite.
Mickey Finn in the punch is a drug-laced (clasically chloral hydrate) knockout drink. See Wikipedia.
A brand of cigarette.
came for me
On page 69 Erlys left this note: "I'll be back for her when I can."
A category then used for buildings that fell between single-family dwellings and boardinghouses - see here
The Palazzo Pitti is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence. Wikipedia
Daughter of Erlys Mills and Luca Zombini.
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
A patent medicine composed of senna, sodium bicarbonate, essence of wintergreen, taraxicum, sugar and water, used as a laxative. Wikipedia entry.
The U.S. minted three-cent coins until 1889.
La Forza del Destino
Literally, the "force of destiny." An opera by Verdi wikipedia
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.
The knot in which Psyche kept her hair, as shown in ads for White Rock mineral water during this time frame. Pictures here.
an area of northeastern Italy with its own particular cultural and historical identity. Wikipedia
Italian sausage-makers do use donkey meat; look for salame d'asino or mortadella di asino. It is not imported into the U.S.
From Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualitites p. 939 of the 1995 translation by S. Wilkins. Musil and his lead character Ulrich had both served in the Austro-Hungarian army.
- Considering the window display of German intellect, Ulrich was reminded of an old army joke: "Mortadella." This had been the nickname of an unpopular general, after the popular Italian sausage, and if anyone wondered why, the answer was: "Part pig, part donkey."
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.
"a fine black powder of platinum; used as a catalyst in chemical reactions" cite
Pynchon may also have had in mind a black hole or "Black Body Radiation," which was discovered around 1900. 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. Wikipedia.
Italian for "Sunk, isn't 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.
Doubles the image...
Suggestive of quantum doubling, i.e. universe splitting in one version/solution of the Multiverse problem.
Italian: you understand?
All-purpose Italian expletive, not too crude. Translates into English as damn!
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.
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 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).
Bert Snidell was first mentioned on page 75.
Hindoo, or Hindu, shuffle is one of numerous ways of shuffling playing cards. For a description Wikipedia.
A well-known vanishing act of a small object involving sleight of hands. Wikipedia.
The Light Over the Ranges
Against the Day
Rue du Départ