This blog series, Big Picture, Small Picture, provides a contextual collage for a chosen piece of literature. The information here is culled from newspapers, newsreels, periodicals, and other primary sources from the date of the text’s original publication.
“Nobody, friends”—Polyphemus bellowed back from his cave—
“Nobody’s killing me now by fraud and not by force.”
-Odyssey, Homer (translated by Robert Fagles)
Valentine’s day, Chicago, 1929. A group of Al Capone’s henchman, dressed as police officers, walk into rival mob boss Bugs Moran’s headquarters and gun down seven men, including the infamous Gusenberg brothers. When the real police arrive and question Frank Gusenberg, the bullet-riddled hitman’s whispered last words uphold the mafia’s code of silence: “Nobody shot me.”
One year later, on the west coast, residents of San Francisco open their windows and strut down the inclined avenues, enjoying the city’s second warmest February day in recorded history. To celebrate the lover’s holiday, they turn the radio on and dance to the latest hits, including Marion Harris’s sultry and crackling lament, “Nobody’s sweetheart.”
You’re nobody’s sweetheart now,
Cause nobody wants you somehow.