Nutsy Fagin

This formerly read-only archive of threads dates back to 1996, but as of March 2007 is open to new postings. For technical reasons, the early dates shown do not accurately reflect the actual date of posting.

Feel free to add new postings to any of the existing threads in the archived forums, but please create any new language-related threads in one of the Language Discussion Forums.

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Topic » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:01 am

Does anyone know the derivation of the phrase "nutsy fagin" or "nutsy fagan"?

DLeiter
NJ
Submitted by ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Topic imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:15 am

Other than its possible reference to Dickens' "Fagin," can you give us the context in which it is used?

Leif of Eatonville, WA, USA
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:29 am

I could not find any source that gave the origin of Nutsy Fagin/Fagin, so all of what follows is speculation. I take FAGIN/FAGAN to be the character from Dickens’ Oliver Twist and NUTSY to just mean nuts or eccentric.
________________________________________________________________________________

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang:

fagan/fagin: noun [1950’s] the penis. [the character Fagin from Charles Dickens’s ‘Oliver Twist’(1837-9); despite Fagin’s possible pedophilia and the use of ‘fag,’ no specific gay context is implied].

nutsy: adj. [1910’s] (originated in U.S.) mad, insane, eccentric, occasionally used as a nickname [NUTS adj.]
________________________________________________________________________________

I’ll fist take a look at some possible meanings implied by the use of the words and then I’ll give a few examples of how I saw it used on the web. However, I can’t be sure the web people who used it, used it in a standard way – if there are any.

OLIVER TWIST was first the book. It may have next been the 1920’s movie with Lon Chaney playing Fagin. Then it went from a London to a Broadway play in the 1960’s, … , onto television’s Masterpiece Theater in the 1990's, … In the book, which was quite a bit more somber than the more light-hearted play, Fagin was a pretty evil guy who was a shrewd and cunning villain, and a manipulator and exploiter of people. The play, on the other hand, painted him into a lighter, funny, and almost lovable character, and made the life of petty crime look pretty benign.

I think that if the original expression predated the play (think the “1950’s”Cassell date just applies to first entry and not to when FAGINS appeared as uncapitalized nouns), than it would have had to first have meant a nutty and evil person who possibly was involved with children in some way (I don’t think anything sexual). If the expression came into existence after the play (or it could have changed meanings) than I think it would imply a more jolly, crafty, semi-lovable, harmless type of guy who was a bit off his rocker (adjective nutty applied) and there might possibly be the implication that the person, again, was involved with children (in a positive way). The play did make Fagin out to be a non-violent, guy who, although he was using his boys, did treat them well.

Here are 3 examples of the use of the expression, which I found on the web:

1) A comment somebody made somewhere: ‘It matters not one whit whether a rogue Patent Office is granting protection to every nutsy-fagan idea that comes down the pike.’

2) A review of a movie I never heard of called IT’S BUDDHA’S TIME: ‘One glance in those pixilated pupils and you knew that Colonel Walter E. Kurtz was certifiably Nutsy Fagan, but he did care for his legions, nurtured and instructed them.’

3) A comment that some ski person (I guess) made on a website and signed NUTSY FAGAN:

Let's see I spend all of my money, and time for a sport where I have to
get up at some ungodly hour of a Sunday morning to go to an event that is normally an hour's drive, spend all day standing in the cold/heat/rain/snow/sleet/wind/whatever for about five minutes of pure unadulterated fun. Yup, I'm certifiable, I better go now before the men with the coat with extra long sleeves that allow me to hug myself come
along.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

All three examples clearly imply the idea of being a bit crazy or eccentric. The first seem to just imply hair-brained idea from a probably like minded person. The second example implies crazy or eccentric plus the child, or at least a younger than connection, and the third could also imply the younger person part, if the person were a coach.

This is a pretty small sample so it is difficult to judge how the word is generally used and if there is an accepted usage(s). It seems to me that this expression is probably in some slang dictionary somewhere and I would be interested in hearing the official word if any one finds it.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, Colorado – U.S.A.)
4/4/02



Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:44 am

I've been searching too, and I've found it at last!

The correct spelling is "Nutsey Fagan" and it's a popular song of 1923--"Nutsey Fagan, Nutsey Fagan, you're the guy for me!" I'm trying to find out who wrote and get a copy of the sheet music.

--Ken Atkatz katkatz@spier-ny.com
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:58 am

My late father was old enough to have used this phrase conversationally. (d.o.b. 1888, NYC) He used it as an expletive, similar in intensity and meaning to, "Rats!". It cannot have had any anti-semetic quality, as suggested by the,"Fagin", of ,"Oliver Twist", or my father would not have used it. The derevations so far submitted don't conform to the manner in which my father used this expression, so I suspect there is another, as yet undiscovered, origin.

Cordially,
"C" (ahimsa@inreach.com)
7/3/2002 [Happy Fourth of July!]
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:13 am

My fathers uncle was an entertainer in New York City in Greenwich Village and later as burlesque annoucer and was known professionally as Nutsy Fagan his name was John Fagan
I understand his grandson or great grandson has taken the name up as a stage name and has a stand-up comedy act or is a writer.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:27 am

I worked with a man who said his father was the original nutsey fagan, and I have seen many news clippings to prove it , nutsey fagan was a friend of johnny weismueller the olympic gold medal swimmer and later on in his life was (tarzan) in the movies, nutsey was famous for swimming around manhatten island in chains and other daredevil swimming acts. I believe his first name was john, all this happened in the late 1920`s and thirtys.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:41 am

My Pop worked for the telephone company in NewYork Cityin the 50's ans 60's. At that time men worked in "gangs" based on ethnicity. He would come home with stories ofhis gang and the pranks and practical jokes they played on each other. Nutsey Fagan figured promenantly as an instigator of wild adventures like putting boxes of soap in toilet tanks and waiting for some unsuspecting person to flush. One morning when I was about 10 (1961) a big box of salt water taffey appeared at the back door at the crack of dawn. Pop said Nursey Fagan had put it there.
fdailey81@mac.com
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:56 am

I once saw a nutsy Fagan comic strip from the funny papers in the 50's. Nutsy had nothing to do with the Oliver Twist character.
mugsy1@netzero.net
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:10 am

My dad told me that Jackie Gleason used to do a bartender skit on his TV show and he would always talk to and about Nutsey Fagan, but you never saw the character.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:25 am

In the movie The Producers, Zero Mostel calls someone a "Nutsey Fagan"
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:39 am

The Greenwich Village/burlesque performer "Nutsy" Fagan was a regular on a very popular 1920s radio show that was broadcast from a Greenwich Village night club. The name of the show escapes me at the moment. The battle cry/catchphrase of the show was "Cuckoo! Horsefeathers!"
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:53 am

I worked with a man called john fagan who`s father was called nutsy fagan. He was a friend of john weismuller, and was known for swimming around manhatten island in the twentys or thirtys. The john that I worked with showed me many newspaper clips on the exploits of his father. if john ever sees this website, please give me a e mail. laarmstron@yahoo.com
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:08 am

The responses that identify Nutsy Fagan as a burlesque/vaudeville entertainer in the 1920s and 30s are correct. Nutsy Fagan was my paternal grandfather, and the term originated with him. My brother, who is a comedian, now uses Nutsy Fagan as his stage name. To laarmstron@yahoo.com, you must have worked with my father, John, who passed away in 1993.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Nutsy Fagin

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:22 am

HELLO TO THE RESPONDER TO MY QUESTION ABOUT NUTSY FAGAN. I APPRECIATE YOUR QUICK RESPONSE. I ALSO WOULD LIKE YOU TO EMAIL ME DIRECTLY AT laarmstron@yahoo.com TO SWAP INFO ABOUT YOUR LATE FATHER WHO I PERSONALLY KNEW WELL THANK YOU, I AWAIT YOUR REPLY. LANCE ARMSTRONG.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Post Reply