Comments on Wyllis Cooper of THE GOSWOGII
Joined: Mar 14, 2003
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Posted Jun 10, 2012 - 8:29 AM:
Think QUIET, PLEASE! is impressionistic? Literate? Well, you haven't reckoned with ... THE GOSWOGII!
And who are the Goswogii?
Apparently, in the 1920s, our good friend Wyllis Cooper collaborated with another advertising copywriter to produce a series of impressionistic "word portraits" for a kind of literary-humor-commentary column in the Chicago Tribune.
Here's what I've found so far: a description of a small press book which seems to have collected some of the material; a published letter from Cooper discussing his authorship; and a bunch of actual Goswogii items (three from 1923-24, plus all I could find from 1921).
The Advertising Conference.
By the Goswogii.
Illustrated by Ervine Metzl.
Chicago: Holiday Press, 1927.
175 copies, numbered.
Square 12mo, pages not numbered.
Small illustrations by Ervine Metzl.
Paper over boards, cloth spine, small pictorial label on front.
Printed at the Lakeside Press.
From Richard Henry Little's Chicago Tribune column "A Line o' Type or Two."
"Used by courteous permission of R.H.L. from the Chicago tribune."
W. A. Kittredge, art director.
[Letter in a 1937 issue of ADVERTISING & SELLING, found on GoogleBooks]
... The Guiding Spirit
Somewhere in a recent issue of ADVERTISING & SELLING there is a statement something like "...Bill Cooper, who when not writing copy was contributing those smart little articles signed "The Goswogii" and giving his friends 'leave to print,'" and so on.
At this late date, I rise to point out that the statement is not quite accurate. The "Goswogii" things were written in collaboration with Norman Gregg, himself a copywriter of no mean renown, and myself; and I am sure that people around Chicago knew that then and still know it -- if indeed they remember. Norm was the guiding spirit in those bathtub-gin days, and if the pieces had any merit, he should be given a major portion of the credit.
WILLIS COOPER, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, Beverly Hills, California
[The statement referred to appears in "A Midwestern Ad Man Remembers," March 25, 1937, page 58. Editor.]
[January 4, 1924 Chicago Tribune]
THE ADVERTISING CONFERENCE.
La Plaza de Toros. Matadors of MSS. Picadors of polysyllables. Toreadors of technique. "It is my thought. . . ." Two quart fountain pens. The expansive mahogany. "In the final analysis. . . ." Memoranda as thick as confetti. "The dominant note. . . ." Business generators. Human dynamos. Eight dollar scarves. Spats. Glistening push buttons. "The fundamental idea-r. . . ." Yes-Men "yessing" at intervals. Secretaries with the air of duchesses. "Now your reaction. . . ." Blue pencils waving like grain. Copy being dessicated. [sic] Properly-coached office kinder with important telephone slips. "Dealer acceptance. . . ." Jovian frowns. Media. Brummellian linen. Freshly gilletted jowls. Sparkling digit tips. "Reader interest. . . ." Hushed reference to SEP. Also The Gentle Countryman. "The copy motif." Experts hurling banderillas at king's English. "Consumer resistance. . . ." Heavy atmosphere from Coronas. "Our extensive research. . . ." Some reverent mention of M. Condé Nast. Also qualitygroup. Eke lithrydig. Mayhap farm press. "Something constructive. . . ." Distinguished-looking horn rims. "Our minds meet. . . ." Adipose portfolios. Majestic prospecti. Uppercuts of agency argot. Punches of professional patter. Trade analyzing between rounds. Awestruck bozo in $35 suit clinging in befuddled condition to the ropes, practically unnoticed. Whozee? Merely the client!! S'all.
[January 17, 1924 Chicago Tribune]
THE FAMILY HOTEL.
Clerks. Back of the yards manners and sartorial investiture of grand dukes. Bellmen with tendencies of Lefty Louie and Gyp the Blood. Hard-eyed lift tenders. Pages in pea-jackets. Doormen bedecked like Grand Pajandrum of the Maccabees. Gleaming brass. Taxi starter out of Ali Baba. Dapper assistant manager dreaming of "The Follies." Titian-haired switchboard operator also dreaming of "The Follies." Cheroot stand Cerberus outpointing Duse. Copious cuspidors. House dicks in two-quart bowlers scowling at kind-faced spinster. Bedizened Phryne escaping with murder. Eclaire-eaters soaking up heat. The Paresis Club in session. Ancient barrister reading communication from absent member in San Francisco. Old men settling affairs of the world. Old ladies settling their neighbors. Swarms of gold-diggers in ermines. Dames on social register in last year's bennies. Postmen in sombre gray. Irritated lady at mail desk. Young salesmen cutting up college currency. Trunk houdinis. Notables unnoticed. Heavy ginger ale trade in conventionites' suite. Bootlegger receiving homage--also orders. Gentleman in arrears being fawned on by manager. Lobby like Miami. Rooms like Medicine Hat. Smouldering cigarette stands. Yawning telephone booths. Yawning guests. Aliens from the steppes preparing to massage tiles. GOOD NIGHT!
[December 20, 1923 Chicago Tribune]
Bosses beaming benignly on help. Holly. Kriss Kringles with Roosevelt Road accents. Poinsettias. Red candies. Red ribbands. Red noses. Much "God rest ye merrie, gentlemen" with the comma misplaced. Carols. Glees. Samaritans with bundles marked "Poor." Bootleggers with bundles marked "Pour." Department store crushes. "Little Child of Bethlehem" by chorus of Semitic voices. Ocean of mail. Tinsel. Sidewalk peddlers of toys. Odd shaped parcels. Flapper ridiculing mistletoe custom. Dense throngs at "Returned Goods" counter. High-pressure ad experts analyzing Yuletide. H. p. a. e. reacting to Yuletide. Sophisticated children pooh-poohing Santa Claus. Snowless reindeer. Coinless purses. Meaningless mottoes. Avalanches of greeting cards. References to "Tiny Tim." References to other places by jostled citizenry. Traffic jams. Yet in spite of all, the Spirit of Christmas endures. Friends of The Line ... A votre santé.
After a cursory search, here are all the 1921 Goswogii pieces I could find:
[July 30, 1921 Chicago Tribune - "PAJPROG" refers to the Pageant of Progress, an exposition (July 30 - August 14) on Chicago's Municipal Pier, now Navy Pier.]
ADDENDA TO PAJPROG LITERATURE
Sir: For your edification and perchance for publication: Fiesta at the Shrine of the Thin Dime: Monster parade with paramours, profiteers, and bootleggers in carriages--the common peepul nicknamed* hoi polloi on and under foot. Floats showing Wilson Avenue Hot Sports spending stage money; target practice in recondite flats; shellacked-haired speed artists giving passing flappers once over; more Live Ones (sic) caressing lonely t. d. Your Mayor placing wreath of succulent raspberries on Queen, beautiful like a tree full of owls. Herds of ice-cream trucks and coveys of cleaners' fords. Vamps waiting to pick up ride to work in lovely allegorical tableaux. Showers of advertising litratoor. Poor business at Green Still and Jazzbo Gardens. Can see bum vaudeville on elevated platforms free gratis for nothing. Thousands of people c2k what it is all about. Such is the pajprog.
*Nicked is right.
[August 8, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
THE MELTING POTPOURRI.
Sir: As your duly accredited reporters of civic activities, permit us to offer a vignette dealing with
A SABBATH AT CLARENDON.
The Chosen People en masse and en bloc . . . bearing with them divers and sundry edibles . . . large quantities of blutwurst, salami, schweizer-kaes, and manna . . . in fact, everything gustatory except the Leonard Cleanable . . . shapes sun dry but not divers . . . an assemblage reminiscent of the Gate of Joppa . . . scraps of conversation . . . the lowdown on the cloak and suit trade . . . pharisees . . . and your scribes . . . but we're not Bruno Lessing.
Truclent life-guards . . . park gendarmes of a ferocity . . . tan of all shades . . . 22d Street burnt sienna to Roosevelt Road gamboge . . . long queues of perspiring patrons waiting to rent ancient swimming gear from big-hearted concessionaires . . . bathing garb of every hue . . . bathing beach bearing monicker of y.m. . . . bathers from near and far . . . and from Wilson Avenue . . . bathinganswimming . . . well, some of 'em.
[August 10, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
LAY OFF, MACDUFF.
Sir: We was to the pajprog. Impressions:
Flatfeet lustily blowing horns. Colored ladies displaying ennui. Searchlights. Gobs. Fire apparatus with portrait of grandfather of y. m. festooned on hose-cart. The original horn.* Soldiers in fourrageres purveying Didmore Hearst's Pink 'Un. Aldermen betraying trepidation. Flapper with radio-phones on her ear-buns. Cake-eaters in poses plastique. Skyrockets. Raucous-voiced ballyhoos herding lovesick on L. P. bumboats. A gentleman enveloped in flames leaping high in the empyrean. Interesting little tad from Springfield with tired ma and pa. Hard-faced recruit in Victory Medal bawling out pedestrians who venture near Holy Gate. Display of hosiery, badly-filled, by incipient vamps on carousal. Learning that press cards don't get you nowhere.
*Marking spot where hammer sank.
[August 14, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
Sir: Knowing how few simple burghers have ever dared these awe-inspiring precincts, we venture the Main Street on
THE HOTEL DIGIT-MANGLERS.
Head barber anxiously emulating John Q. Napoleon. Ethiops with extended palms. Air of hauteur and hostility over all. Timid youth with Congressional Medal and four planes retreating before blasé stares of beauty chorus. Blonde charmer back from vacation near Forrest, Ill., prattling of Adirondacks. Semitic gentleman in a monolog about New York. Blue-eyed siren, formerly of Grand Junction, Kas., panning cookery at the Ritz. Distinguished Arctic explorer snubbed by sloe-eyed Circe gunning for cake-eater with patent-leather hair. Titian-haired princess--once in Milwaukee via whaleback--elaborating on California climate. Silk-shirted peddler being adored by entire company. Ennui by duchess, forced to walk two blocks by a dead one the night before. Odors of cosmetics. Faint pink aura from nail-powder. Scraps of conversation re Palm Beach, Mardi Gras, and Estes Park, delivered in the soft Southern drawl of Wilson Avenue. Composite of Queen of Sheba and Ninon l'Enclos gives our sandwich-clamps a bored swipe. Tender of cheek with distrait insouciance. We escape, leaving two bits. Rattle of pans. THE GOSWOGII.
[August 16, 1921 Chicago Tribune - The post script about Pittsburgh is in reference to a running gag in the column.]
Sir: We tremblingly essay to filch Sinclair Lewis' thunder with a pastel of
Actors striding the Rialto. Press agents bearing palms and garlands. Business agents with sticks and morning coats. Chorus frails alert for pie-cards. Backgammon taxi-drivers glaring at Orange cab-drivers. Imposing doormen and taxi switchmen in violent raiment. No orchestral din. Genial blackamoors extolling the scintillating shine for three thick nickels. Visitors from the hinterland using the tunnel under Boul Mich. Adipose gentleman pursuing his trulywarner. Ben Turpin. Assorted citizens following Ben Turpin. Corpulent coppers tootling whistles. Belligerent street-car mahouts on furlough. Callow youth furtively entering lady barber shop. Vaudevillians telling of prowess in Muskegon and South Bend. Over all, the brooding grandeur of City Hall. Selah.
P. S. -- We'll bite. Why is the h in Pittsburgh?
[August 23, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
Sir: After a brief respite in which other exponents of the terse and staccato displayed their wares, we assail you once again, this time with
THE MENU MAIDENS.
The female counterpart of the cake-eater. Like an army, menu molls travel on stomach. Dollars for display but not a dime for dinner. Lurk in restaurants seeking men they know. Kindly smile or nod of recognition means eats. Male pie-cards cannot escape siren smirks. Vacant chair opposite impressionable he-person spells meal-ticket. Check--not companionship--big idea. Lunch-Lorelei order ham on rye and scuttle Ja-Moch by selves. With gilded youth, want works, including name of president and "not responsible for umbrellas." Think bill of fare target. Shoot all over it like 18th Infantry rookie. Take carte-du-jour for newspaper. Know waiter hears them reading. Call double sirloin light snack. Can name more salads than chef. Eighty-nine pound Victual-Vamp will out-eat Livingston County thresherman. Species indigenous to Chicago. Range from Venus to Blackstone. Ages from seventeen on.
[September 1, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: Almost we had it a vacation. The Junior Goswog's wife went away for two weeks. That accounts for our failure to look at the assignment-hook. But here we are again with a near-Whistler of
LA SALLE STREET.
Archaic cabs and ancient jehus. Bond salesmen in blatant vestments. Bank stenogs with rolled phoenixes. Would-be financiers with handfuls of college currency. Little Tea Shops. Pigeons. People looking through grills. People who ought to be looking through grills. Forbidding police tumbrels with haughty bailiffs. Western Union mercuries. Traffic jam in the Boulevard Andrew Jackson. Stretchnecks from Pekin and Weston aghast at traffic jam. Pastry snakes discussing big deals. Gentlemen seeking employment. Gentlemen fleeing from employment. I. C. S. lawyers with imposing brief-cases. Scurrying saffron taxis. Ditto umber taxis. Eke cerulean taxis. Arrogant town cars. Apologetic flivvers. Street-cars diving into tunnel. Street-cars clambering out of tunnel. Forbidding skyscrapers frowning on The Bourse. The Goswogii, hand in hand, like babes in woods, in awed silence. THE GOSWOGII.
[October 7, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: May we not express to E.G.D. our gratitude for his masterly handling of the nether strata? And m. w. n. present you with a visualization of our city's main drag? Voila, then ----
Gadding throngs peering in shop windows. Queues of vaudeville patrons. Doormen in habiliments of a brilliance. Shoppers trailing their young. Red and yellow street cars trailing their young. Vociferous vendors. Grimy-faced department stores. Blonde Ethels and Irenes in rapt admiration of gaudy cinema posters. "Adults only." Recruiting details looking for victims. Near-burlesque shows. Dirty-faced vamps ogling invidious youths. Lady-barber shops. Three gilded spheres. Hopeful disabled soldiers entering Leiter building. Hopeless disabled soldiers leaving Leiter building. Pimply-faced striplings exploring wayside book-stalls. Cacophonous gentlemen peddling Henry's Pogrom Press. Milling multitudes. Congestion of fruit and vegetable carts. Signs reminiscent of the Levant. The Goswogii in bewilderment.
[October 15, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: The absence of the scintillating sunset in the last few jours has inspired us to reminiscences of
Ancient dames in dashing knickers or annette-kellermanns. Demure flappers in flapping denims. Sad-eyed young men talking of their missions. Loud-voiced young men talking of their commissions. Soulful artist whose medium of expression is made by Mr. Eastman at Rochester. Baldheaded young man, crossed in love, drooling of Indigo Ordinances. Hot sand. Hot sun. Water crystal clear. The soft drone of little waves. A hawk off yonder in the blue. Just laziness. Then the gorgeous sunset. Rapt admiration by schoolmarm once in Switzerland. Hand riding for Grand Cañon by second schoolmarm. Third coming fast from behind for Lake Louise. Golden Gate entry making spurt. Leads into discussion of Bakst and Leon Tourbouloise. Ends by each thinking others cattish hussies. Scent of steak frying. Scarps of talk -- "the proper appreciation of Oomslagus" -- "such an atmosphere for one's brain-children" --. The inevitable camp-fire. The irrepressible chorister. "Now let's all be merry." Sage talk by woodsmen and trappers from Hyde Park and Wilson Avenue re hunting and lures. The Goswogii escape to sleep under the stars and pines.
[October 20, 1921 Chicago Tribune - Ursus was a long-time regular contributor to the column.]
"WHAT," queries Ursus, who asks more questions than he answers, "just exactly what is a couple of Goswogii? Sensitive, impressionistic souls, one would surmise."
CONTRIBS are born, not made. The Goswogii are unique. They have mastered and passed beyond even the pat phrase stage. They have learned the color sense of words. Between two short periods the Goswogii can pack the complete life of a city street, a sunset, a multitude of human documents or what you will. Indeed, some of the Abroad at Home series recall to us a critic's analysis of Humouresque -- "the rhythms of Grand street reduced to a violin solo."
[October 24, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: Thank you for the compliment, as the Senior Goswog said when the boss asked him to change a ten dollar bill. But to the sterner business of the day, which is -- a delineation of
A dissipated old man just sobering up. . . . Maculate sidewalks. Musty odors. Sons of Shem alert for business. Furtive hooligans. Jezebels unashamed. Pugnacious youths in conclave. Uncouth sounds. Tinhorn business men. Chinese establishments reeking vaguely of yen hok. Bathing-girl photographs. Inadequate kiosk serving Will Hays. Unhoused mail in piles. Brighteyed ladies seeking general delivery. Five-dollar silk shirts reduced from $16.85 to $9.39. Tiny nooks of the "coffee-and." The modern and the ancient jumbled together. The shrill lament of truck sirens. School-madams disdaining the district of their headquarters. Hoardings screaming of theatres, soaps, tobacco. (The Goswogii agree with Joe Pennel.) "For rent" signs. The grim bulk of a constabulary barracks. . . . THE GOSWOGII.
[November 1, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: Pursuing our accustomed beat t'other day, we ran across
Piano house after piano house. More piano houses. Red-haired advertising man rushing out of Chinese refectory. Wraiths of former honka-tonks. Musical utensils. Crash of the "L" above. Snappy young medicos hospital-bound. Cafeterias upstairs and down. Busy hives housing cinematograph companies. Divas on constitutionals. Muzzle-loading street cars. A Coliseum not unlike Rome's. A Colosimo's more like Rome. Voters whose ancestors roamed Mombasa and Ashantee. Spectral mansions. Thoroughfares in upheaval. Overflow from the adjacent motor mart. Weird manufactories. Dank corner lots. The falak al aflak of the panhandler. THE GOSWOGII.
[November 4, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: Apropos of the genial Doc's Peerage, we are constrained to inform the widely-advertised world that, not unlike the tender demoiselles of the poet, we are twice. The Goswogii (italics, please, Hank) -- Junior and Senior -- titillate the Underwood with equal facility. However, the abroad at home etchings would not be, in a word, complete without the Unter den Linden of the Sixth City --
Ingratiating shoplets. Acquisitive blondes. Windy corners. Legs of a variety. Raiment chaperoned by innocuous people. Acres of plate glass. Pompous bootleggers. Admiring bankers and capitalists. Sedate banks. Affluence in sedans. Chauffeurs in slicker uniforms. Officers of the Territorials in glistening Sam Brownes and starched pants. Dicers. Ulsters. Burglars. Spats -- oodles of spats. And sticks. Notables incog. Bevies of chattering eclair-hounds in belted plaid overcoats. Humorous old gentlemen in club windows. Dignity on foot. Stretchnecks craning to see personages. Ladies of uncertain age trying to reach Art Institute reprimanded by redneck cop in oversize uniform. Gesticulating salesmen. Manicures in fur coats. Millionaires in no coats. Beautiful girls conversing stridently. Rumbling Jagannath ripping up asphalt. Visitors guiding on Gum building. Pillar of cloud by day marking I. C. Pillar of fire by night, and Thomas Cusack indicating Park Row. THE GOSWOGII.
[November 8, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: While lunching at one of our leading Mongolian hash-temples our alert cashier suggested to the ubiquitous Oriental engaged in bringing our pooch-chicken and yarbs that he would listen to Drdla's "Souvenir" by the orchestra. Whereupon the worthy soon returned, bearing a Ming atrocity, kilned in Connecticut, which he announced was "velly nice siouvenir -- twenty-fi' cent." Yet the serious busines at hand is stringing together the pearls of thought heard
Between the Acts.
Red-nosed gentlemen going out from force of habit. Large pink ladies in crêpe de chine industriously fanning. Ushers with water-trays. Venders of confections raucously crying their wares. "Yes, I got it at ---" Crescendo by orchestra. "Just then he looked over at our table ---" Interruption by charlotte russe youth staggering out for satisfying chesterfield. "Isn't he too good-looking ---" "Just think, it only cost ---" "-- saw it in N'Yawk ---" "and I sure told him what." Couple from Wilson Avenue cuddling. Comments on the various actors -- most disparaging, indicating sophistication. Blasé youth returning with killing rainbogarden strut. Ricochets off knees getting back to side of ennuied dame. Couple from Fairbury, Ill., admiring decorations. Snorts by bird who came in on ducat -- therefore cynical. Disjointed remarks from all sides from which we gather show is "fair" to "awful." The asbestos ascends. The violins utter a final wail. The last hurdler reaches his chair. The Goswogii settle back to enjoy the next act. THE GOSWOGII.
[December 7, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
ABROAD AT HOME.
Sir: Apropos of the recent change in structures spanning the turbid stream that holds our city intact, may we offer for your connaisance
The Passing of the Brig O' Wells Street?
Spectral bascules on beam-ends. Toiling tugs snorting disdainfully. Sea-gulls full of fish and curiosity. Staccato rattattat of riveters like mitrailleuse. Oily water swirling past ancient piling. Alert fuglemen directing delicate antennae of hoists. The brilliant nimbus of an acetylene torch through the dusk of a winter afternoon. Rattle of cable through sheaves. An academic rivet describing a parabola to its goal. Clumsy barges moving with the grace of a dancer. A river with reverse English. Staid citizens aghast at change in daily routine and routing. Thousands of police diverting pedestrians. Thousands of cheer-checks diverting policemen. Pall of smoke and fog. Workmen moving like djinns through the darkness. Glowing forges. Glowering foremen. Stretchnecks regretting distance from scene of action. Confusion. Turmoil. Chaos. A job for Cheops. Business as usual mondaymorning "on the advertised."
[December 18, 1921 Chicago Tribune]
LINES ON TYPES.
Sir: Filling a long-felt need, we now rise to the occasion with a series of delineations of various types of the s. c. human race, instead of word-etchings of localities. Just as a starter, The Goswogii present
A type roaming Wilson Avenyeh, Monroe Street, and other dressed-up districts. Not without form, but void. Characterized by six-point collars, music-rule cravats, burnished hair with Sunoco finish. Trick hats. Funny britches with bell-bottoms. With female prototype, lean languidly on boulevard lamp-post, conversing out of lower left-hand corner of mouth. Has seen everything -- knows everything -- experienced everything -- in his own bailiwick. Generally purveys haberdashery or supplies impetus to a spencerian in brokers' office. Not to be confused with the type that dresses in the Mode, yet are of the Hard Hardest. (Vide M. Georges Carpentier and The Honorable, The Bri'ish Polo Team.) Blossom in cafeterias, rialto, statelake. Moral code of the hyena. Classifies all women as "live ones" or "dead ones." "Live ones" buy them lunch and take them to cabarets. The "dead ones" spoof them. Cake-eaters' intellect largely in the ankles. Think Julian Street is a thoroughfare. Think all farmers are hicks. (Take these birds to Peoria and some slicker'd steal their right eye, if you get what we mean.) Demon telephonists. Much-thumbed address-books. Genus differs from the "dude." THE GOSWOGII.
(In preparation--"The Stretchneck.")
THERE is now on the presses, we don't mind confiding to you, a booklet of the Abroad At Home Series of The Goswogii.