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Is Diss a System?


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Presents some of the most outstanding and hilarious examples of Jewish dialect humor

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionGeeve A. Lesten and Ari Y. KelmanNize Baby (1926) (Excerpts)Dunt Esk! (1927) De Night in de Front from Chreesmas (1927)Hiawatta (1926)Famous Fimmales (1928)Assorted Milt Gross Images BibliographyAbout the Editor

About the Author

Ari Y. Kelman is Jim Joseph Professor of Education and Jewish Studies at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. He is the author of Station Identification: A Cultural History of Yiddish Radio in the United States (UC Press 2009) and Shout to the Lord: Making Music in Evangelical America (NYU Press 2018).


"Nearly thirty years before my birth, Milt Gross had already turned the kind of English that I heard every day into great and significant art, delighting kids like me as much as he offended the Pecksniffian alte kakers who sought to purge American Jewish culture of every trace of real Yiddish and real Yiddish life. Gross was the bomb under Molly Goldberg's tukhes. Is Diss a System?, a book that needs to be spoken as much as it needs to be read, makes some of his best work available to an audience that might never have suspected what it's been missing." Michael Wex, author of Born to Kvetch and Just Say Nu "Is Diss a System? brings back Milt Gross with a bang. Artist, tongue-twisting language humorist, Gross was a great figure of American popular culture in the first half of the twentieth century, sadly forgotten ... Until now! Kelman has given us all a gift by selecting, annotating and celebrating a multiculturalism that rings with humor, humanism and a spirit we all need as much as ever. Hurrah!" Paul Buhle, editor of Jews and American Comics "Gross' high point was in the 1920s and 1930s, and if his illustrations for his columns and stories aren't as creative as the stories themselves--for my money, his dialect is as good as Mark Twain's--they still mark him as an unjustly forgotten artist and writer...Dazzling stuff." The Palm Beach Post, April 2010 "In the long relationship that Jews have had with the comic strip and its cousin, the comic book, Milt Gross stands as the missing link between the first and second halves of the 20th century." - The Jewish Exponent, April 2010 "Maybe artists today should take a hint from Gross and think more about how they can be a part of the change in mediums rather than a product of it. IS DISS A SYSTEM? shows how Gross managed just that, and brings some of his work to an audience that let him slip under the radar, exposing an artist that was ahead of his time." - Alarm Magazine, June 2010

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