Vernacular Architecture in the Desert Old Man Kelly and his Rhyolite Bottle House









Are bottles good insulation? I guess. You never heard Tom Kelly complain, but then he lived in the Death Valley desert and it probably only got cold at night, but certainly well below freezing. (Actually the maker never lived in the house.)

I bought this photo because I like vernacular architecture. Little did I know it is seemingly the most documented bottle house in the world! HERE is the link to Rhyolite, where the house is documented in excruciating detail, with pictures from 1905 when the house was built, all the way to a fascinating group of photos showing the restoration one hundred years later.

It was an adobe construction, and the bottles came from one of the 53 (!) saloons in the town at the time. Yet today, it is a ghost town!
Mr. Kelly was 76 years old when he started construction. The complete story is HERE and quite a story it is.

I haven't dated my snapshot exactly, but it seems pretty early in the history. I have cribbed a few photos of the site, but do check the above links, it is a fascinating story, and a wonderful example of documentation, restoration and teamwork.



Snapshot of Kelley's Bottle House collection (top) Jim Linderman
Other Photos Rhyolite Site

Black Ink Lost and Forgotten African-American Cartoonists of the Negro Pulps



















Anyone out there need a doctoral project? I can't do it, my plate is full, but I do have a knack for ideas and a small pile of fairly scarce magazines aimed at the African-American market from the 1950s and 1960s.


Even the magazines are fairly hard to come by...search "Bronze Thrills" for one. A major publication which ran decades, yet it seems our major institutions and collectors have dropped the ball. Same with Copper Romance, Tan, Jive and more. Even the larger circulation magazines such as Hue and New Review are hard to come by. Ebony and Jet, both out of Chicago's Johnson Publications are far better documented, and in fact the organization recently graciously made the entire text of Jet available online (and what a resource it is.)


I started rounding up a few African-American magazines for a series I am putting together on the Vintage Sleaze site: "Afro-Antics the Black Pinup" another unfortunate neglected victim of institutional racism. Until the "Black is Beautiful" movement of the late 1960s women of color were few and far between the pulp covers, and you might enjoy the discoveries I am making for the essays.


However, as I look for dark models I could not help but to notice some wonderful, and in terms of humor and quality, "equal" cartoonists we do not know. Since cartoonists love to create indecipherable signatures and the mastheads never credited them, these Black inkers are lost in time.


There ARE some known Black cartoonists of the era. The remarkable book on Jackie Ormes by Nancy Goldstein of two years ago is wonderful. There have been exhibitions on fairly well known black cartoonists such as Ollie Harrington, E. Simms Campbell, Wilbert Holloway and Leslie Rogers. There was even an issue of "All-Negro Comics" in 1947, but there was only one issue. Ishmael Reed blamed the demise on distributors who refused to carry it. At least the comic is easily found on the web today.


But certainly someone should know of Butch Austin AKA Mr. Jive who drew strips for Hep and Jive Magazine, and the others here who I can not even identify, not being an expert. Here are but a few examples from my quite modest little pile of magazines. One day I hope someone will put together the tale better than I ever could.

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Spiritualist Medium's License to Steal Mrs. Crocker's Crock of Crap Speaking to the Dead



Now I think science will side with me on this one...you can not talk to the dead. They are dead! But some charlatan, fraud, fake, criminal money-grubbing scam artists think they can. (Well, to be a little more accurate, the thieves only CLAIM they can speak to the dead, they don't actually think they can. They can't and they KNOW it.) So essentially they are fibbers, liars, scoundrels, shysters, confidence men, swindlers, cheaters, mountebacks, quacks, grifters and dishonest deceptive false-posing spurious shysters. Bunch of crooks.



I asked Mr. Crocker here to respond to my charges, but she failed to reply. She is dead. Not "medium" dead....dead.



Mrs. Addie M. Crocker's Medium's Certificate from the Michigan State Spiritulalist Association
1912 and press photograph Collection Jim Linderman

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Mark Schneider Master Artist of the Pulp Sir! Neglected Hero of Magazine Illustration Sir! Mark Schneider Sir!















As something of a researcher, I am reminded daily the inadequacies of the internet. If you kids out there think you're writing a good paper based on what is available at your fingertips, you have more learning to do. A case in point is Mark Schneider.

Go ahead, look him up.


Lots of fake Mark Schneiders trying to cash in on the master artist's name, right?
Pfft!. Let's remedy that right now. Henceforth, when one searches for Mark, hopefully they will find this small tribute to the strange painter of pulp who has eluded webdom until now.

God Bless Taschen books, for they at least gave Schneider his brief brush with fame for his paint brushes instead of the brush-off. A paragraph in their colorful tome True Crime Detective Magazines 1924-1969. Okay, so they besmirch by calling him "...a marginal talent at best" and practically blaming him for the demise of painted covers on magazines...in this case saying SOMETHING is still better than saying nothing at all.


Schneider was the house artist at Volitant Publications, AKA Histrionic Publications, AKA Mr. Magazine Inc. See why I like "true" crime? You can't make it up! When Mr. Magazine Inc. needed the lurid, they turned to Mark. He must have been working on a short deadline too...just look at his work. Let's say the editor needed..oh...I dunno...a freaking atom bomb going off while a couple prepares for coitus or a pondering Yeti considering his cold, lonely plight. Not an easy photo shoot. Call Schneider!


Now in full disclosure, regular followers of this blog know virtually everything I post comes out of a shoe box behind me. In this case, having come to the appreciation of Schneider, it should be confessed I had to crib these images from the very web I chastise. The owners might not know what fine pieces they have, but they do now.



I have a bone to pick here with Pulp Magazine collectors. (A bone to pick not unlike the vultures hope for from the fellow lacking Vitamin E above) For some reason, Pulp collectors seem to like GOOD art. A big mistake. Folks might like and might appreciate your collection, but a LAUGH is worth a thousand "good" covers. I got one at each and every Schneider cover I found here. Now you guys start doing some real work and load the Mark Schneider archives up on here. My neck hurts.


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Simple Robin's Egg Blue Birdhouse




A simple robin's egg blue birdhouse which welcomed Michigan spring 50 years. I like to think it was a collaboration between a boy, his father and a jigsaw.
Brief essay on the Birdhouse HERE


Collection Jim Linderman

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Fishing MEN Who Fish Fish Vernacular Photograph collection Jim Linderman















On the line. See "sister" post HERE

"Friend Bill, Better run down for a weekend, I need some help. The big ones are coming easy. This was on May 22, 24 and 30. 12 pickerel and yesterday 21 bass and 4 pickerel. Going out June 16th for four days to get some of the big boys that have my name on them. Yours, Earl"

Group of Fishy Fotos collection Jim Linderman

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Set of Handmade and Paint Decorated Folk Art Chairs




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Nothing better to cheer up a man stuck in permanent winter than a folk art discovery. Two chairs here (from a set of four) I obtained over the weekend. They are from a bar in the "thumb" of Michigan. I only have room for two in the house, but the others will keep just fine in the garage until it warms up and I can use them on the porch. Dapple paint which looks like smoke decoration gives a subtle hint of the Michigan landscape around 1920, and the scallop tops provide just enough rustic feel without making me feel like I'm in a hunting lodge. Michigan is known for mid-century modern, this being Herman Miller country, but we have more than our share of woods. Creamy! Score!

Set of Folk Art handmade chairs, circa 1920 Eastern Michigan. Collection Jim Linderman.


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Big Benny Binion's Pile of Bills


Reporters on the tube have trouble illustrating the size of the national debt. They should have asked Benny Binion for help. Here, Benny's big bundle of bills (one million dollars on display) competes for attention from a big-hipped better. Binion founded the Horseshoe Casino in Vegas. What set the Horseshoe apart from other casinos was the lack of a betting limit. He didn't dick around with entertainers much...it was all about the play. And to prove he could cover the bets, he put a million dollars in the lobby. Read more about Benny HERE


Binion's Horshoe Real Photo Postcard circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman

Death as a Way of Life Post-Mortem Tintype Photograph collection Jim Linderman


I know this hurts. A post-mortem tintype photograph circa 1870 depicts a mother holding her recently passed away child. Infant mortality was high and children were often photographed as a memento before burial. An image to share with family members, and nearly every post-mortem photograph is the only image of a loved child. Then, an all too common practice for young mothers. Today, merely a collectible category for early photography collections.


If a photographer can create art in a scene this sorrowful, then he or she is an artist indeed.


Early in the 18th century, death as a youngster was not as rare as it thankfully is now, at least here in the United States. It was also not uncommon for children to be given miniature coffins as playthings or told stories which placed an emphasis on death. Games children played and the rhymes they recited were gruesome indeed. Inevitable but unfortunate. I call it a failure in the design.

Post-Mortem Tintype photograph Collection Jim Linderman

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Mat Mugs! The Wonderful Photomatic Photograph Machine and Mutoscope. William Rabkin Fast Talking Genius of the Photomatic Machine and the Claw








Let's all take a minute to thank the International Mutoscope and Reel Company! No one provided better value for your time and your dime. "Photomatic" photographs are but one example of their product line.

Photomatic machines were plopped down where folks killed time. Railroad stations mostly...the same places Starbucks wedges their six dollar a cup baristas
today. The company created the Mutoscope too..probably the first general circulation machine which displayed moving pictures. Drop a coin, peep in and see something you think you never saw before! It was like peering through a keyhole, but for some I suppose it was the first time their eyes were tricked by the moving image.

Mutoscope could suck a coin out of a parking meter. They created weight and fortune machines and arcade games but as far as I know the Photomatic machine was the only one with a chemical bath built right in the machine.

Time magazine profiled the owner of International Mutoscope Reel company William Rabkin in 1934 calling him a "fast-talking Jew"...don't they all? In the article they credit Rabkin with inventing THE CLAW! That's right...the machine at the carnival which allows one to move around a tiny steam shovel and pick up useless trinkets instead of the valuable watch sitting on a pedestal among the junk.

Now I hate to give credit or praise to a company which referred to their customers as "marks" but it was all in good fun. No one kicked Mutoscope machines if they lost (or rather WHEN they lost) as the process was as good as the prize.


Now the photo machines took a few minutes to develop your photograph...but you were stuck there anyway. Back then, unlike today, modes of transportation were always late. (snicker)

What I have not yet figured out is how they got the cool metal frames on the photo.
As you can see from the reverse, they were not only smart, they were brilliant. One here allows the owner to peel out a built in stand for displaying the photo on your dresser, the other reveals Photomatic was also in the lucrative "photo ID" market... Imagine how many of THESE were produced as World War Two loomed.


Photomatic photographs collection Jim Linderman


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