THE BIRD, THE FINGER, THE LEGEND.

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With roots that can be traced all the way back to the days of ancient Greece– flipping the bird, as I like to call it, (or giving someone the finger) is the world’s favorite naughty gesture.  But there’s definitely an art to it.  The subtle nuances of the physical fingering, facial expression, and context of the act itself, can make it anything from phallic and vulgar, to friendly and fun-lovin’–sometimes even deeply profound.

Love it or hate it– this bird you cannot change.  Oh yes I did.

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Circa 1989, New York, NY — Marlon Brando distinguishing the middle finger of both his hands on the set of the picture The Freshman.  The “nonchalant double-fisted fuggetaboutit” flip.

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Circa 1954, USA — Director Elia Kazan on the set of his 1954 film East of Eden with Marlon Brando and James Dean. — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Sygma/Corbis.  The “I’m not smilin’ for no camera, and you need to get yer own schtick, kid… oops, did you catch me flippin” you off” flip.

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Aug 22nd, 1957, Washington, DC — James R. Hoffa, heir-apparent to the Presidency of the giant Teamsters Union, as he appeared before Senate Rackets probers. Investigators reported that they have been told that former heavyweight champion Joe Louis “was paid $2,500 to sit in the courtroom for two hours” during Hoffa’s recent bribery-conspiracy trial. Hoffa, who was acquitted, told the committee: “If he was paid $2,500, he was not paid by Hoffa. I know nothing about it.” — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS.  The satisfying subversive “Something’s in my eye, your Honor…” flip.

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Sept 16th, 1976, Binghamton, NY — Vice President Nelson Rockefeller gives a crowd of young hecklers an upraised middle finger gesture at the Broome County Airport during a brief stop here while on a campaign trip with Vice Presidential candidate Bob Dole (L, Background, out of focus).  Rockefeller said he was “responding in kind” to the demonstrators. Love it. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS.  The “I could buy and sell you, you little smarmy toad” flip.

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