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When Chicago Gangsters Carried Business Cards

In the 1970s and 1980s, Chicago street gang members were proud to show off their affiliations—so proud, in fact, that they actually carried business cards. “Street gangs made business cards displaying their symbols, nicknames, territories, and enemies as a means to assert their pride, recruit new members, and serve as general tokens of affiliation,” Brandon Johnson writes in his new book, Thee Almighty & Insane, a photographic collection of these historic “compliment cards."

These cards, he writes, document not only “the specific histories of these gangs and their members, but also the social dynamics of a violent and contentious time period in the city of Chicago.” Gang members created cards with the names and symbols of their group, adding slogans, hand-drawn graphics, and acronyms that are loaded with meaning for the initiated, but might not mean much to a layperson, as Johnson explains:

"For example, an upside down symbol or name is a sign of disrespect. Acronyms ending with the letter ‘K’ mean ‘killer’—so ’S.D.K.’ would be short for ‘Satan Disciples Killer.’ One Insane Pope card within these pages has the name ‘Larkin’ crossed out with ‘is dead’ and ‘G/L’s’ handwritten beneath, indicating that the Pope's leader Larkin was killed by the Gaylords."

The Old English typography and Playboy Bunny icons decorating the cards belied the violence of their bearers. The paper cards look a little like they should belong to a manager at Medieval Times, rather than deadly criminals. Check out a few Johnson collected for the book:



Preorder the second edition of Thee Almighty & Insane: Chicago Gang Business Cards from the 1970s & 1980s for $30 here.

[h/t It's Nice That]

All images courtesy Brandon Johnson / Thee Almighty & Insane: Chicago Gang Business Cards from the 1970s & 1980s.

Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books
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Design
Inside This Pop-Up Book Are a Planetarium, a Speaker, a Decoder Ring, and More
Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books

Designer Kelli Anderson's new book is for more than just reading. This Book Is a Planetarium is really a collection of paper gadgets. With each thick, card stock page you turn, another surprise pops out.

"This book concisely explains—and actively demonstrates with six functional pop-up paper contraptions—the science at play in our everyday world," the book's back cover explains. It turns out, there's a whole lot you can do with a few pieces of paper and a little bit of imagination.

A book is open to reveal a spiralgraph inside.
Courtesy Chronicle Books

There's the eponymous planetarium, a paper dome that you can use with your cell phone's flashlight to project constellations onto the ceiling. There's a conical speaker, which you can use to amplify a smaller music player. There's a spiralgraph you can use to make geometric designs. There's a basic cipher you can use to encode and decode secret messages, and on its reverse side, a calendar. There's a stringed musical instrument you can play on. All are miniature, functional machines that can expand your perceptions of what a simple piece of paper can become.

The cover of This Book Is a Planetarium
Courtesy Chronicle Books
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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