Much pleased to have been selected as Blurb "Book of the Week" at the Blurb Blog Blurberati HERE
"A card player faces off against five versions of himself. A young boy poses with a snake around his neck. A woman in devil horns takes the stage. Welcome to the world of Jim Linderman, a collector who specializes in American folk art and ephemera. His new Blurb book, Vintage Photographs of Arcane Americana, shows off such an astounding array of characters and scenes that it’s hard to write this Book of the Week post and not sound like a carnival barker.
Vintage Photographs of Arcane Americana is Linderman’s twelfth book with Blurb. Previous books cover, among other things, pin-up girls, painted backdrops, and religious photos and ephemera. Linderman’s books are not for the feint of heart (or those lacking a sense of humor or adventure). But if you’re the kind of person who’s fascinated by carnival sideshows, or spends hours pouring through boxes of old photos in antique stores, you’ll find a kindred spirit in Linderman.
You can get Linderman’s books in either printed form or as ebooks, the latter priced at $5.99 – making a long strange trip through the delights of folk Americana extremely affordable. You can check out 30 pages of Vintage Photographs of Arcane Americana below (but be advised: Besides card sharps and snakes, you might see a bit of old-time nudity too). Reality TV has nothing on the car wrecks (both literal and figurative) in Linderman’s book."
Funky Furniture Eccentric Handmade Vanity with Flash Outsider Art on Wood African-American or Dutch?
A very small (25" tall) handmade vanity "thing" from Muskegon, Michigan circa 1930 or so. While the piece is made by hand with an eccentric construction, the paint flash strikes the eye first. It strikes the eye hard!
In my travels and years of collecting, anytime I see a piece of furniture with sawcut edges, unusual construction and more than anything such decoration, especially with gold, I think the piece could likely be African-American. Scholars will point out such characteristics and make a good case, but we will never really know.
Muskegon and Muskegon Heights in particular have a slightly higher percentage of African-American residents than some Western Michigan cities, and I have seen a good many pieces of furniture like this from barbershops which came from Black neighborhoods over the years.
On the other hand, I have seen some damn crazy rustic country furniture from Peckerwood Gulch with some wild paint, and sometimes the tallest bottle trees grow in Caucasian gardens.
Handmade, paint-decorated Diminutive Towel rack with drawer thing, circa 1930-1940 collection Jim Linderman
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The Weegee show "Murder is my Business" at the International Center of Photography in New York is certainly a must see, and I thought I would post a little Weegee curiosity to celebrate it. While Weegee is often thought of and portrayed as something of a lone wolf prowling the streets at night with his camera, which is certainly true, he was also a social creature active and involved with the photographic community. He participated in social camera club shoots and had friends who did the same. In addition to the crime and nightlife scenes in the ICP show, he had a successful active and creative role in the places you might not think...including this unusual gig as "technical assistant" to a most unusual photo layout in Photographers Showplace magazine in the December 1956 issue.
Photographer's Showplace was by far one of the most interesting periodicals for the photographic community at the time, it had models and nudes, but was actually serious about it, unlike the large number of "under the counter" publications claiming to be "figure studies" but which were little more than soft-core pornography skirting the law. It was also entertaining without being too technical...serious about the emerging art and craft of modern photography, but light on the jargon.
Here are bits from a painterly picture set. As you see Weegee is credited as "Technical Assistant" although his precise role is not described. Certainly he checked his light meter! Maybe he found the model (identified as Rae Chandler) The artist (the one with the brush) is Ralph Therrien, and the photographer is James Pappas. An unusual collaboration of painting and photography from a time when both arts were experimenting. The layout is extensive, no less than 12 photos are presented, several full-page and in color.
Interestingly, the same issue has a full page spread which claims to be the first published example of Weegee's unusual photographic experiments, abstractions which are referred to as the "Weegeerama Kaleidescope" which is a post for another day.
Though a big fan, I have posted only once here about Weegee, but had fun putting it together. Revisit my piece on the relationship between the photographer and the pin up girl Bettie Page HERE which I am still grateful for being allowed by the ICP to use images from their collection to illustrate.
Images from Photographers Showplace Magazine December 1956, Creative Publications. Collection Jim Linderman
Although this is by far not the most beautiful example, early Navajo Saddle Blankets are among the most lovely and interesting objects of art created. While most American Indian art collectors prefer the large (and remarkable) chief blankets and intricate rugs, the modest little saddle blanket with a simple, utilitarian elegance and design are not to be ignored.
Also known as "empty field" rugs because they NEEDED no design in the middle (the saddle would cover it anyway) color and more intricate weaving is confined to the edges. They have also been known as "blanks" but the empty center is hardly a void. With natural variations in the sheep wool, many actually see the landscape from which they emerged in the empty field. If you have been in the extraordinary environment where the Navajo worked, you will agree.
The textures are created by what were once known as "lazy lines" but there is movement towards eliminating the term. The lazy line, one shown at top in close-up, is a diagonal line caused by sectional lines in the weaving. (Trust, there was nothing lazy about the women who created these works of art)...and the term is itself indicative of the attitude which kept the art of native peoples confined to ethnology and natural history departments instead of fine art museums for too long.)
Saddle blankets are small (this one 28 x 30 or so, the more desirable "double" blankets are twice the size) This is also a fairly course, thick piece. A worker, not a shower. Browse the web for some much more extraordinary examples.
Navajo Saddle Blanket circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman
Well, what can you say? We COULD be generous and speculate the masks are green and they were going for a spaceman mystery zombie rock vibe, but who knows. Whether minstrel or mishap, it is quite a photo one must admit.
Circa 1955 anonymous snapshot collection Jim Linderman
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Labels: Minstrel Show
I am proud the new book ARCANE AMERICANA was mentioned on Boing Boing, and also welcome any new followers here from the review.
Feel free to follow VINTAGE SLEAZE and old-time-religion as well!
Copies of the book or ebook for iPAD can be ordered HERE or by clicking the cover over on the right. 120 Pages. Thanks!
I would call these fake beatniks, but then there were less "real" ones than I could count on two hands. Burroughs, Cassady, Kerouac, Ginsberg...that's IT. Plenty tried, but nope, WAY too square. Lawrence Lipton tried, but the beret was just to hide his bald spot. One could add Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti to the short list of the real thing, but certainly no more. That is seven beatniks in the whole damn tribe.
You COULD make an argument to include Herbert Huncke, but then you would have to dump all the others and he would be the ONLY beatnik. Herbert makes the original seven beatniks look like poseurs. Actually, so does Neal Cassady. So let's settle on two. There were two real beatniks.
Truly, Beatnik was much, much, much ado about nothing. But boy did the media jump on it. Sheesh...it was during the post-war Eisenhower years, and ANYONE who didn't have two kids, a garage and a mortgage had something suspicious going on, so let's give them a label and put them in Life Magazine.
Untitled (Beatniks) Original 8 x 10 photograph, No Date Collection Jim Linderman
An average of 15 calories per packet, and invented for several reasons. One, because kids in the 1960s were using the once common "cubes" to dose with LSD. (I am kidding...sorta.)
The sugar packet was invented by Benjamin Eisenstadt, who founded the company which is now known as "Sweet 'N Low. He was sick of refilling and unclogging sugar dispensers in his Brooklyn cafeteria. Sugar Packets don't spill, usually, and children don't unscrew the top and screw things up on the table.
In the old days, sugar was so valuable, it was stored in locked "sugar chests" now prized by folk art collectors. Today the average child has enough in their breakfast cereal and lunchtime soda that what appears above doesn't even matter.
The collectors of sugar packets are known as Sucrologists. I do not know what they are called in the restaurant trade, but I myself have left with a pocket full, and I don't even LIKE sugar that much.
At the time these came out, around the height of the nascent modern day women's movement, they were pretty controversial. Well, not really, but they WERE noteworthy. One was Margaret Sanger, and there are still clowns who hate her.
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I seldom write about music here, as music is personal. I've said before, there is nothing more pathetic than a fellow making an "I love you" mix tape (or whatever they call a compilation these days) for a woman who has left him. It won't work, it never does, and don't do it. You can't talk someone into loving your music, OR you.
There is a point or two here, I guess. First of all, The Rolling Stones Facebook page has been posting extraordinary footage for their followers. So join up.
Second, one of the most audacious moves in the entire 20th century was for two pale, war-torn skinny British kids to somehow decide to become the greatest blues band in history. Read Keith's autobiography and marvel. How two kids, one of whom had obtained the mail order address for Chess Records in Chicago, met and not only dreamed but DID is one of the most extraordinary accomplishments to happen during my life. Their odds would have been better had they decided to be basketball players. I need not point out the two little goofballs were white and in the wrong country.
Second, in these clips, both from 1972 I believe, what you see is what you get. 7 or 8 guys on a stage playing. No bullshit. You hear it, they played it. Someone tinkered around with it a bit later, editing and such...but this was probably one of the last times a handful of guys, including the TRUE history of rock and roll Bobby Keys on saxophone (who figures prominently in Keith's book and is today a living connection to the entire history of 20th century rock) got on stage, plugged into their amps themselves and played their songs...simple. They could create this exact sound in Mum's garage or an estate in the south of France.
Am I nostalgic or a grumpy old man? Nope. I just like authenticity. And through all the glitz and glamour of Truman Capote on the plane with them for this tour writing the story up for Jackie O, Andy Warhol and the rich folks back at Studio 54 doesn't matter anymore. These guys were a blessing.
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Hollywood is the primary force encouraging our increasingly record low approval body of lawmakers (many of whom wouldn't know how to even ask their congressional intern how to look something up for them) to limit what appears on the internet. My contribution to the protest is not a blank screen, It is this not at all subtle reminder that Hollywood has been censoring what we see for decades.
Here some proud hired anti-intellectual freedom goons show off the fine job they are doing at keeping us safe from what we want.
Who were the DPS? I don't know, Wiki is down today.
This picture is from 1929 (the year before Hollywood clamped down on what was shown on the screen officially) and likely represents one of the several organizations which emerged to stop miscegenation, various words, various body parts, sexuality of any kind and insisting on happy endings (no, not THAT kind...the kind where anyone breaking the law gets caught and punished at the end of the movie.) A year after this picture was taken, the Motion Picture Production Code was accepted and practiced by the entire movie industry...thus insuring what we choose to pay and see is light, harmless fare, safe for all and neutered of anything challenging or controversial.
Thanks guys...how about going after what I read next?
So this is the track record of the folks who today want a bill passed to limit content on the web and give authorities the right to control what appears on domains.
Take a minute to contact your probably rich, probably male and probably Caucasian representative and tell him to keep his hands off the internet. It is working fine, the rich are still getting richer, not to worry (by FAR) and the minute they start to regulate it they'll muck it up like everything else they touch.
They think they are unpopular now? Just wait until they get 60 million school kids mad at them.
Original Photograph "Motion Picture Censorship 1929" by P.E. Genereux, E. Lynn, MA Collection Jim Linderman
Does this primitive 3-D stereoview (or stereograph) work? Stare at your own nose and see. YEP! Even an amateur can make a 3-D image. So why does Hollywood persist in spending 100 million dollars each on horrible big screen crappers in 3-D with plots no deeper than a serial murderers's hasty, hand-dug shallow grave? Same reason any media company does anything these days. Scared of the Internet! The only thing missing is a slow-motion bullet splitting a tree.
Amateur Homemade Stereograph card. 1952 Collection Jim Linderman
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"It's time for accordion class" is not a phrase heard often these days. A few years ago there was a big flap in certain circles when the Grammys eliminated polka as a category. They did it because the same performer won every damn year...his competition had dwindled to nil.
I don't play and never will, but I can guarantee the first lesson, on the very first day, went exactly like this: "All right children...let's start with how to hold the instrument."
Accordion class Portrait Original Photograph by "The Camera Shop" Grand Rapids Michigan circa 1940. Collection Jim Linderman
The Most Beautiful African-American Model of the 1950s ? Lost and Forgotten Cheesecake Pinup of Color
She appears on the cover of "Tawny Models" in the early 1950s, a smut digest pretending to be "figure studies for artists" to avoid censors. She appears in 4" x 5" photo sets sold from the back of magazines...and was photographed at the same sessions which produced the most famous pinup model of all, Bettie Page.
Fifty years later, she appears on the cover of my book which could tell the story of every African-American model trying to find a place in front of the camera during the second half of the 20th century. She likely faced racism, prejudice...and as was the case for all nude models during the time, she may have faced arrest and prosecution. Today no one knows who this young African-American model and pioneer was.
"Tawny Models" though undated, was published between 1950 and 1955 with a Miami, Florida address, but that could be a mail drop or a ruse, as nearly identical booklets appear with New York addresses at the same time. Nude photographs were sold under the counter and by mail at the time, and arrests were common. "Tawny Models" was part of a large group of picture only "Art Study" booklets by a largely unknown photographer going under the pseudonym of Marno. "Marno the Photographer" actually, but he had other names too.
Likewise, the color picture here (color only because the photographer tinted the original by hand) was taken around 1955. The undated "stag picture" with the other models would have been sold as a "strip-set" of 8 depicting clothes being removed. There is no documentation available.
Light-skinned, short natural hair...the photographs, while cropped here for discretion, could have been taken then or now. Just one of the thousands of models who worked for five bucks a session, now lost, and always anonymous. Something of a rebel in a field which seldom took note of African-American beauty. This model who today would be called "a fresh face" would likely be well into her 70s, but since the racket was tough she might not be around at all.
Tawny Models Camera Digest circa 1950 Photographs by "Marno" and Hand-Tinted photograph by Rudolph Rossi circa 1955, Collection Jim Linderman
Additional, un-cropped and uncensored photographs of the model appear on the "adult only" website Camera Club Girls HERE
A previously "unposted" real photo postcard of Princess Wee-Wee, A.K.A. Princess Weenie Wee, Winnie Wee, The Animated Chocolate Eclair, The World's Smallest Perfect Woman and Harriet Elizabeth Williams. Wee Wee was weaned in Bryn Mawr, PA, born 1892. Her "Linked-in" profile would today include stints at Dreamland Circus Sideshow 1908-1917 and Barnum and Bailey, dates unknown. She also apparently toured on shows with Count Basie, Pine Top Smith and other prominent "Negro Vaudeville" routes. She appeared in one film, "The Music Goes Round" in 1936 according to one source. I haven't seen the film.
Not surprisingly, there are dozens of photographs of Ms. Wee Wee, nearly all with her standing next to a prop (either a person or a piece of furniture) which puts her wee-weeness into perspective. Whether this chair is normal-sized is unknown. There are numerous claims made as to her height and weight. I think wee suffices.
Real Photo Postcard circa 1910 Collection Jim Linderman
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Painter, picker and professional woman hater Albion Clough of Maine strums up some attention here in a circa 1940 real photo postcard. His stuffed friend announcing the next meeting of the Woman Haters club is "Brother Bill" and the paintings are for sale, but I can't find one today. I haven't checked Sotheby's online yet. Clough seems to be playing one of those cheap Roy Rogers type guitars, but he later obtained a lovely resonator.
In the late 1930s, Clough appeared in a newsreel or two. He claimed his woman hater club had 100 members, and apparently a championship convention was held on occasion to pick the best woman-hater, but Albion always won.
To see his brother, active 40 years later, one Royal Robertson, click HERE. I am afraid Robertson out-hated and out-painted Clough, but they certainly would have gotten along. I'd have visited Albion too, but I wasn't born yet. Albion Clough passed away in 1944. More information on the hermit appears HERE.
The famous Little Rascals episode of the Women Haters club (titled Mail and Female) appears, in part, below along with the Three Stooges short Women Haters Club (which was shot entirely in rhyme!) made in 1934. I am not sure if Clough saw either.
SEE ALSO "In Situ American Folk Art in Place" HERE
World's Champion Woman-Hater Albion L. Clough Real Photo Postcard Collection Jim Linderman
Baldy Wetzel, or Charles "Baldy" Wetzel played in speakeasies, tent shows, and for phony doctors selling snake oil. What he also did is shown here...setting the record for the longest continuous piano performance. 48 and 1/2 hours. That is one considerable piece of honky-tonk, but Baldy played for well over 50 years, so what's a few days?
As you can see, Baldy was hurting when the photo was taken. Not only do his friends place a wet compress against his neck, one helper massages his foot sore from damping the foot peddle.
Baldy started out in Pennsylvania and was playing 42nd street in the 1930s. Soon he added musical director for Ziefield Follies and George White's Scandals. Baldy was Paul Shaffer before there was a Paul Shaffer. He was proud to claim to have led the first dance band to feature a vocalist. He passed away in Toledo at the age of 79 in 1970.
Original Photograph circa 1930 (Inscribed to Fritz Savers from "Baldy" Wetzel) collection Jim Linderman
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Lake of the Woods has 14,552 islands, 65,000 miles of shoreline and one devil. Here he is, on a real photo postcard with no date. The United States owns part of the lake, Canada owns the rest. It is the 6th largest lake, and once in a while the two countries used to argue over ownership, but I guess things have settled down. I do not know who owns the devil today, but he is still there.
Communities which rest on the lake include Obashkaandagaang Bay, Anishnaabeg of Naongashiing, and Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum. The devil is in the spelling, Google thinks I did them wrong. If you are planning on a vacation, the link is HERE.
Devil Watching Gap Lake of the Woods Real Photo Postcard, no date Collection Jim Linderman