Rube Goldberg

By: Joe Alterio
July 4, 2009

Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist RUBE GOLDBERG (1883-1970) pulls string (A) which activates bellows. Bellows (B) compresses, inflating balloon (C). Expanding balloon causes glass of water (D) to tip, soaking sponge (E). Sponge, due to increased weight of water, sinks, raising candle (F), which burns string holding back needle (G). Needle swings and pokes bird (H), which is tied to Goldberg’s pencil. Pencil (I) attached to Goldberg, who creates some of the most lasting and whimsical cartoons of the twentieth century, his machines becoming so indelibly part of the culture as to be honored with a dictionary definition all their own.

— Text and illustration by Joe Alterio. To view a gallery of Alterio’s HiLobrow illustrations, click here.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Robert Desnos | Nathaniel Hawthorne | Meyer Lansky |

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Psychonaut (1874–1883) and Modernist (1884–93) Generations.


Art, Comics, Cuspers, HiLo Heroes