Bob Dylan once sang/wrote "Inside the museum, infinity goes up on trial" which is a good line. I have always thought it is collectors who do the work...and decades later the museums catch up. Case in point is folk art collector Herbert Hemphill, a major influence on my life. The things he collected even came to be known as "A Hemphill thing" for lack of a better description...now the Smithsonian owns them and they help define the American experience.
My point is not to detract from the work of curators, historians and scientists who work in lauded museums at all...just that they sometimes take forever to get things done. With history counting on them, they don't have the luxury of being flippant or smarmy, as I do...and accuracy really isn't my forte either, I will confess. They have to be.
But it is truly the individual collector, the independent researcher, the hobbyist and the local historian who do the serious ground work. They have the drive, the obsession and the gumption to break ground, put disparate objects together for the first time and in many cases even create a genre.
A case in point is Mr. Jay Moynahan of Spokane, Washington. I happened upon one of his books while doing some research for my Vintage Sleaze blog. "Oh..so you were RESEARCHING prostitution?" Yes, actually, I was!
Mr. Moynahan appears to be quite a story. By my count, which stopped when I reached double-digits, Moynahan has researched, written and published some TWENTY FIVE BOOKS on prostitutes. Mostly prostitutes of the the American West, which he calls "soiled doves." I truly am afraid to read one...not because I am in the least bit prudish...because I am afraid I will like it and be hooked. No pun intended. With spring gardening coming up, can I really afford to go on a 25 long book jag of Moynahan's ladies of the night?
I am truly in awe. Now I must confess most of my own personal knowledge of the role played by working women in the West comes from the Larry McMurtry books...Lonesome Dove and the like. He often has a female character, superbly defined and described, by the way....who turns tricks for the men and acts as a sounding board. Honest, hard-working, trustworthy women who happen to work in the sex industry. So although I dabbled in Native American Art for a time, I really have no first hand knowledge of Western lore. For all I know, Jay Moynahan is well known in that community and his books sell like the soiled doves themselves after the round-up was over and the pockets were jingling. But he was certainly new to me.
Mr. Moynahan is retired Professor Emeritus at Eastern Washington University in Criminal Justice. He happened to learn of a distant relative who ran a bordello in a mining town in the 1870s. Some folks doing their genealogy might be tempted to overlook such a find...Moynahan only dug deeper.
What an accomplishment! Not only for the accuracy of history and for the appreciation of the role women played in settling the west, but an accomplishment for all interested hobbyists, amateur researchers, writers and future museum curators. This is a man who has documented and created a previously ignored and shunned part of history, and I for one intend not only to read one, but I suspect many. Some of his books consist of reprinted material he has located and assembled, some are collections of photographs...Just browse the inventory and you will be as impressed as I.
Mr. Moynahan HERE.
A complete list of Moynahan books and ordering information is HERE.
If I were involved in any way with an institution of higher learning, a museum or an archive, I would be fetting Jay big time. This appears to be one serious chunk of history compiled and written by one man with a mission, and I suspect historians will recognize it for decades and decades to come.
Photographs collection of Jay Moynahan.
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE
I am pleased to add a new phrase to the teen vernacular..."SUCKING UP THE CHECK" inspired by this splendid illustration from JIVE magazine in 1962. No artist identified.
Would Cuba's Number two boy rather be a girl? Well, Raul does seem to be eying Jayne's sweater puppies with considerable envy...I'd say yes. Let's report it.
Now you have to realize these came out long before Rupert and Fox News set rigorous standards for journalism, so facts seldom get in the way, but as Dan Rather famously said "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..." Or to put it another way, where there is smoke, there is a hot tabloid rag to toss on the pile and make the fire bigger.
You know, when I was young and working as a library clerk, I don't remember re-shelving any of these...what's that about? I thought librarians were all against censorship!
It is no wonder news stands are looking sparse these days...What with TMZ and Smoking Gun, we can get our gossip fix without having to pay a quarter at the checkout. No bar codes on these...the clerk would have to study them for the price and then give you the stink eye for your questionable taste.
These are all from the 1950s, when Liz had a revolving carousel of men, George Clooney's aunt was all the buzz, Pat Boone kept a harem and Sammy Davis, Jr. was the only Black man who created news. ( In retrospect, from what I have read, Sammy certainly DID have his share of partners for a little guy with an eye-patch.)
Confidential was the big gun, but the little guns worked just as hard to snatch a quarter. How it was determined 25 cents was the price to learn "WHY ERROL DIDN"T TAKE HIS SHOES OFF" is beyond me. I'd have paid a buck!
Jumbo Group of Fifties Facts Collection Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb BOOKS HERE
So I don't really care if they can't come to an agreement over the 9 billion dollars, I only watch one game a year and they've run out of bands for halftime. Seriously. Who is going to rock the Superbowl now? Lady Gaga? Not really the football type. Foo Fighters? Maybe, and if so they would make a great "F" headline for me. A FEW folks could pump fists and wave lights during "Hero" I guess.
There there ain't no bands left. Maybe they'll put that creepy Josh Groban in an Elvis costume and drop him from a helicopter. Arcade Fire? Too Arcane. An "American Idol" reunion? The Cast of "GLEE" is already being planned at Fox, but that show jumped the shark when they stole the original version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" from astounding Iz Kamakawiwo'ole.
By the way, I apologize for the stupid commercial you might have to ignore while waiting for the link Here. Corporate interests have already ruined You Tube! The copyright lawyers scrub it every day for good videos not sanctioned by what is left of record labels, and anytime a video reaches twenty viewers, they sell ad space to help rich get richer.
It's over. Downloading has killed the Great American Rock Band. I didn't really want to watch the Superbowl on my hand held anyway.
Images from Stan Johnson's Scrapbook, Muskegon, Michigan circa 1925. Collection Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE
(Click to Enrapture)
Sunny Jim the Evangelist had more slogans than Burger King. The problem was, no one knew what the hell they meant. They all sound like T-Rex song titles. The content of the letter has Reverend Jim "calling in the big guys"...that is requesting legal help "from out of state" but it does not reveal his digressions. A shame. I suspect Sunny Jim has a Shady story.
Letterhead of "Sunny Jim" The Evangelist Dated 1916 Collection Jim Linderman
(A post also on the old-time-religion blog)
Folk Art Masterpiece. Four feet long and entirely made of hand-dyed rice kernels, each single piece placed by hand. I thought it was a pretty good (and pretty large) hooked rug until I got about fifteen feet away. 100% rice, whole-grain....and each tiny kernal vegetal dyed. Click to enlarge. I am inclined to run a "guess the number of kernels" contest but then I would have to count them myself.
When does a now extinct child's craft become a work of art? Well, for one thing, when it gets this big. No child made this. 4 feet x 3 feet and framed like the serious construction it is. This took longer than the hardest puzzle and I presume tweezers were involved.
Now tedious and repetitive folk art pieces like this used to be common, or at least smaller versions were. Certainly television took away much of the motivation, I suspect sleeping pills and sedatives have as well...obsessive art is far less seen than it used to be. This certainly would have won first prize at the State Fair around 1900 had it been entered, but there is no attribution other than the Midwest.
I have seen portraits of clown heads made of aquarium sand. I have seen entire buildings made out of corn-cobs. I have seen a Harley Davidson motorcycle constructed of dried beans. If there is a person bored and a wooden board, something will be made. But I could look 20 years full time and not find a piece as balanced, as big and as beautiful.
"Make-do" Applied Rice constructed "painting" circa 1900. Collection Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books
Club DeLisa in Chicago's Bronzeville was THE place for African-American floor shows and Jazz during the 1950s. It was run by four brothers and presented the finest in African-American entertainment (all the while allowing gambling in the basement.) From Albert Ammons to Joe Williams. "The Harlem of Chicago"
Like to be your own boss? Consider the Nightclub photographer. One of the few photography genres seemingly without scholarship or museum shows (If you know of one, let me know.) They were and are often women (Noted photojournalist Ruth Orkin started as one, so did a female character in Dick Tracy) Weegee also worked the clubs.
I could probably compile a long list of photographers who started out with a speed-graphic and a tip tray, but I'll leave it up to a doctoral student needing a project.
Big operators in famous clubs printed their own cardboard frames to sleeve the photos. One could go late...folks are more likely to spend the money for a portrait after a few drinks. They appear in hard-boiled novels all the time...being in the club affords them opportunities for both evidence and blackmail. Many a plot turns on the appearance of a "surprise" photograph taken by a pretty dame with a shutter. Nightclub photographers also have provided many historical images of performers as they often had the only camera in the club.
As popular today as it was in the 1950's, I am not sure how long it will last. Whether the cellphone camera will kill the nightclub photographer is questionable...there is glamour missing in a digital picture, and If I were a young photographer starting out today, I would get a big camera with a collapsible bellows and carry it around clubs.
Anonymous Original Nightclub Photo Club DeLisa circa 1950 with original sleeve
Collection Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books in print HERE
A young boy or girl practices not moving his or her lips. Charlie McCarthy was once the world's most famous blockhead, sidekick and as unlikely as it seems (since the whole point is to SEE the ventriloquist) radio personality. He was owned by Candice Bergen's father.
Actually, now that I think of it, Charlie had a whole lot more personality than Ryan Seacrest.
W.C. Fields: "Quiet, Wormwood, or I'll whittle you into a venetian blind."
Charlie: "Ooh, that makes me shutter!"
Other Vent Figures HERE
Vernacular Snapshot of a child with ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy Circa 1940? Collection Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE
A randy rogues roundup of Ray Ban wearing rounders! In the old days, you didn't have to worry about your picture turning up on the web inadvertently and ruining your job chances (until I came along, that is.) The one without shades would now be 108 years old, so I think I am okay exposing him. All from an unnamed "Swingers" magazine which had a key for a logo (you know...put them all in a bowl and hope you don't select Wilber's) A 1973 issue for you cultural historians.
My favorites are the ones which indicate "have trailer in woods" and one I didn't select which reads "loves polaroid parties" but actually they all look like want ad killers to me. Thrill seekers...but what thrill is there is going to the mailbox every day to find only bills. One is clearly Tony Clifton, one guy seems to want the dames to pay HIM, and the brother had to paint his sunglasses on. All in all, I think I would stick to the regular meeing places...bars and amateur volleyball games.
I was going to post these on the Vintage Sleaze blog, but I'm saving that for a little essay on the women some day. Some of them are more creative in covering their mugs.
Group of swinger's shots from Swinger's Life 1973
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE