the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

What Does This Symbol Mean?

I just came back from hearing Pink Martini at the Hollywood Bowl and I was feeling like quite a trendsetter.  After all, I bought their first CD before anyone even knew who they were.  And now they’re playing with the Los Angeles Philarmonic.

Then I turned on my computer and started looking at a couple of blogs.  Suddenly I wasn’t feeling quite like a trendsetter anymore.  Why? 

Because of this photo:


I’m always seeing photos on other blogs with people making this gesture.  I’ve never made that gesture.  Ever.  Am I missing out on something?  And on what occasion would I make this gesture?

I’ve done the middle finger.  I’ve done the Roger Ebert’s thumb up.  I’ve done the peace sign.  I’ve done the shoot ’em fake gun.  I’ve done pinky-squared.   But no one has ever seen me make this odd gesture.  And frankly, for the trendsetter that I am, I have no idea what this gesture is all about.

Does it mean "Look at me!  I’m a wild devil.  That’s why I’m wasted"? 

Is it "Let’s go Texas Longhorns!"? 

Is it "I’m too drunk to make the correct peace symbol"? 

Or is it "I’m bullish on the stock market!"? 

I really have no idea what it means, except that people look pretty stupid when they’re making it.   


  1. Tuck

    And why does this guy only have four fingers?

  2. Storm

    I always thought it was the Texas longhorn. Yet that’s because I was born and raised and Texas.

  3. Tatyana

    I think the guy just bought tickets to the local (Algarve, Portugal – local, I mean) corrida; “Don’t miss corrida in Lagos! Guillermo Fernandes, once in your lifetime!”

    Me, I went to Flamenco concert instead.

  4. cannot be trusted

    Coming from the punk rock/indie rock scene myself, this sign was ubiquitous with “rock out” or “fuck yeah” etc. It is called “the horns” and it became so pervasive that it’s meaning was long forgotten. It has it’s roots in metal music and originally stood for “devil’s horns.” Now that I’ve sufficiently geeked you out…I’m out as well.

  5. Melanie

    I love Pink Martini! They’ve been a godsend to the ballroom dancing folks of the world.

    I wish they’d frequent the east coast more. 🙁

  6. modigli

    I’ve seen that gesture, too, and it makes me think of heavy metal.

    Here’s another part of it that confuses me, though: sometimes instead of having the horns facing up, they will point the horns to the side. It looks kinda like a telephone, that way, actually. Then they move it like a martini shaker.

    Now, what does that mean?

  7. Susan

    Yeah, I second Cannot Be Trusted’s explanation.

  8. jamied

    Gene Simmons said that he invented that hand gesture on his new show, “Gene Simmons School of Rock.”

  9. Neil

    Here’s a website that offers another explanation — and shows some great photos of the Bushes making the sign.

    “The first image Represents the horned god of witchcraft. Pan or Cernunnos. Note the thumb under the fingers and given by the right hand. The next image is a sign of recognition between those in the Occult. When pointed at someone it is meant to place a curse. Note the thumb over the fingers and given by the left hand.”

    Also — how to give “the finger” in different cultures:

  10. Bill

    When I was very young the sign meant bullshit. This is still my preferred meaning. It gives many of the photos where the gesture is used an even more entertaining significance.

    However, I’m with Cannot Be Trusted’s explanation. Although it’s also possible it evolved out of aging metal bands’ arthritic efforts to wave “Hi!” to the wife and kids.

    (And I, too, love Pink Martini. I wonder what a metal Pink Martini would sound like?)

  11. meme

    in Italy it means ‘your wife is fucking someone else’ it also means you’ll get your ass kicked if you do it.

  12. ms. sizzle

    Wait a sec- Pink Martini’s are now popular and considered trendsetting? Shit! I saw them back in Seattle on my first trip there. It was awesome. No one knew who they were. I love their music. Since I am so tragically unhip and don’t follow the current music scene, I had no idea I was falling into some sort of trendsetting trap.

    It’s like what happened with me and Tori Amos all over again. Is nothing sacred? *sigh*

  13. cookiebitch

    I’m so uncool I can’t even do the Star Trek Vulcan hand thingie. So this is a complete mystery to me. Maybe it means “I lost my other fingers in a tragic tractor accident.”

  14. Bama Girl

    When the bushes made that sign they meant, “hook-em horns” which is a Texas Longhorns football thing. So, you have to change the meaning with the context. If you are at a Metallica concert, it means, “I’m with the devil, watch out for me!”

  15. bluewyvern

    Well, there goes your Cool Hunters job.

  16. The Moviequill

    it means that’s the guy who stole my last beer at the Ozzy concert

  17. Atomic Bombshell

    I always thought that was “one for each hole” …But I wish I didn’t know that.

  18. ekramer

    isnt a pink martini something you drink
    at coctail parties.

  19. Leesa

    I thought the same thing Atomic Bombshell said.

  20. Jesse Ruderman

    My first encounter with “the horns” was

  21. jeezus

    it means this guy is with !__!


    umm, it means rockstar.
    as in he “parties” like a rockstar. ever heard that song? Or he like’s Rock??!!??

  23. Karen

    thats awesome

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