Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Cowboy and Indian Toys with Eddy Weet and General Electric

A representative sample from 5 different cut-out cardboard toy sets. I found a huge sack. I like to think the little boy grew up happy, healthy and well-adjusted, but he wasn't into them enough to make them all.

Eddy Weet ( from Shredded Wheat?) was one of the the announcers for the Nabisco Radio Theater, a 1952 show which I am sure was great if you would JUST STAY TUNED KIDS, STRAIGHT ARROW HAS A FEW IMPORTANT MESSAGES FOR YOU. The Radio show was produced by Ronald Reagan's brother, who worked at Nabisco's advertising agency and wanted to rope in a few young un's minds along with the cattle.

GE, the brains behind the "General Electric Refrigerator Wild West Rodeo" used to be America's largest corporate polluter, I guess hard times helped them drop to number 5 on the most recent edition of this prestigious list. The other sets here have no identification marks, so are spared my scathing ironical wit.

Assorted Cowboy and Indian cut-out toys, c. 1950-1960 Collection Jim Linderman

Gene Bilbrew African-American Artist of Vintage Sleaze (follow-up)

For those of you who enjoyed my articles on the illustrators for Eddie Miskin's 1960's sleazy paperback book line, in particular the strikingly demented work of Gene Bilbrew...someone is selling two covers I've never seen before on Ebay. It gives me an opportunity to crib the images and use up a days post. I pass...if you bid, good luck! If you haven't seen the earlier posts, click on label Vintage Sleaze below.

Mrs. Hortense Overholzer's Husband and his Rustic Style

R.W. Overholzer, the most inventive and eccentric rustic furniture maker ever. These days, when one thinks of furniture from Michigan, Herman Miller might come to mind. I don't see many "clean, modern design lines" in this work...I don't see any straight lines at all! Each, um...thing was made from white pine stumps left behind by loggers in the 1920's. The trees have grown back now. To purchase the "exciting, detailed account" of her husband's lifetime work by Hortense Overholzer, visit their website here. Yes, they still receive visitors and host weddings. Baldwin Michigan has only has 1,000 inhabitants or so. I believe the souvenir postcards are in color now. Bring your canoe.

Set of Kodak Real Photos c. 1950. Collection Jim Linderman

A Grateful Thanks!

I have been basking all day in the generous, thoughtful and beautiful review of "Take Me to the Water..." posted by John Foster on his Accidental Mysteries site. I have watched from afar as John has become a discriminating and elegant commentator on photography and art of all forms. His blog is adventurous reading for anyone interested in the broadest interpretation of the word art. It is made all the more fascinating by his unique "wide open eye" which is unfettered with divisive definitions...a rare thing in the art world from my view. I am humbled, grateful and thrilled. The photo above was found after production of Dust to Digital's book and CD, I wish the young lady could have been included.

"Going to be Baptized" Azo Real Photo c. 1910 Collection Jim Linderman

Painted Ladies Mail Art Mystery

Curious. I guess 1910 was a good year to paint huge hats on postcards. All are American, from various printers, but each has been doctored to the extreme. All were mailed, making the modern day contemporary "mail art" movement seem tame. I have no idea why these victorian ladies with hats galore were painted, but it is a trail I intend to follow. I suspect they COULD have been enhanced as a form of tramp art...painted by local artists on the street and peddled for pennies, a "value added" trinket. They are by various hands, but all similar. Any help out there?

Six Hand Painted Victorian Post Cards circa 1910 Collection Jim Linderman

I am a Catch-Up Envelope (Airplane to Jesus)

Church Donation "Reminder" Envelope 1929 Duplex-Richmond, Va. Collection Jim Linderman

The Beatles Rilly Big Shew (Horrors in Wax #9)

Back in 1964, when the Beatles were haircuts, not individuals...their wax effigies were rushed into production "for the kids" at the World's Fair. Close, but not close enough. Ed Sullivan was easier, he'd been around forever. Here the wax sculptor accurately captures Ed's famous flexibility. Ed realized it was important to rope in young viewers so he booked numerous rock performers, but frequently censored them. (The Stones complied, Dylan didn't, he walked) The Doors said they would change some offending lyrics, but Morrison sang them anyway. Ed banned comic Jackie Mason for flipping him the bird. David Crosby, to his credit, engaged in a shouting match with the talentless tyrant. Sullivan also cooperated with the witch-hunting followers of rabid alcoholic Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Beatles appeared on his show three times...but then hilarious Canadian "comedy" act Wayne and Shuster appeared 67 times. The Beatles went on to sell so many records, it took Troyal Garth Brooks years (and a cloned version of himself known as Chris Gaines) to catch up. Strangely, Chris Gaines also had a funny haircut.

Inside the House of Paper

Still open to the public, but please don't smoke. The wall is composed of 215 layers of newspaper. Rolled Newspapers make the furniture. Started in 1922 by Elis Stenman, the objects and walls contain tributes to celebs of the day, including Lucky Lindy and Herbert Hoover. The way things are going, this house made of paper may well outlive the newspapers of today. Visitors welcome, don't forget to check the local paper for hours...that is if they still have one.

Four postcards, date unknown. Collection Jim Linderman

True Love and the Worst Comic Book Company Ever

If the girls my age were reading these (and I think they were...) it is no wonder I always did better later on with younger women. Talk about warping young minds. Devoid of plot, inked terrible and presenting a facile view of love. There are so many continuity problems from panel to panel you'd think they were drawing a "what's wrong with this picture" game. Charlton Comics, as you might expect, paid the lowest rates in the business. On the other hand, they were the last company to raise their prices from a dime to 12 cents. Still no excuse! I found these at a garage sale hoping for some spicy entertainment, but the ads are better than the stories. I rank them just below "The Adventures of Big Boy in Restaurant Land"

Five "Love" comic books, 1960-1962 Collection (unfortunately) Jim Linderman

Feed Sack Fabric Frugality

Around 1925, cotton had replaced wooden barrels as a method of transporting large quantities of grain, feed and food. Times were lean, and it wasn't long before women began reusing the fabric for quilts, aprons and other needs, despite often embarrassing logos...who wanted an image of scratching chickens on their children's clothes? Around this time, enterprising manufacturers of feed stuffs and food stuffs caught on...when women did the shopping, they would often pick their staple foods based on the design of the fabric. It wasn't long before hundreds of colorful prints were being produced for sugar, beans, rice and cornmeal packages and frugal homemakers were saving them, trading them and quilting them. Many were surprisingly modern, others today seem retro. The 1950's prosperity and the use of paper and plastic sacks marked the end of the decorative cotton fabrics. My mother has quilted her whole life, and the top image here is a detail of a quilt she made using feed sack fabrics. Since a new frugality has been forced upon us, isn't it time for the decorative cloth sacks time to return?

Vintage Feed Sacks are affordable but hoarded by contemporary quilters. The best source to learn about them is the Schiffer Book "Vintage Feed Sacks: Fabric From the Farm by Susan Miller. Schiffer publishes an astounding variety of guide books for collectors, you will often see their inventory in large antique malls and even better at shows, where the friendly staff will be happy to share them with you. I've used Schiffer books all my life, and always stop in on the way out of antique shows to chat, browse and usually buy.

Ernest Warther Redux, Wondrous Folk Art Wood Carver from Ohio

When we last met Ernest Warther, he was in black and white (Dull Tool Dim Bulb February 15, 2009) Well, he's back and the hinted at eccentricities may now be confirmed and then some. Here is his carving of, I kid you not, 511 pairs of miniature pliers turned into a shrub...and stuck in a handmade vitrine with a picture of the artist from 1913. It required 31,000 cuts, (so he counted each stroke) no mathematics, rulers or lines were drawn...and it was all carved from one piece of wood. The other card shows his remarkable Wall of Trains and the Steel Mill he worked in for 21 years.

Pair of postcards published by E. Warther & Son, Dover, Ohio. No Date. Collection Jim Linderman

Take Me To The Water (First Review)

Various Artists - Take Me To The Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950

The latest release from Grammy Award-winning reissue label Dust-to-Digital gives music fans another reason to rejoice. A stunning 96-page hardcover book of historic baptism photographs, taken between 1890 and 1950 and compiled from the collection of noted folk art collector Jim Linderman, is accompanied by a CD of rare gospel and folk recordings from original 78 RPM records (1924-1940), featuring artists Washington Phillips, Carter Family, Tennessee Mountaineers, and more. Produced by the 2009 Grammy winner for "Best Historical Album," Steven Lance Ledbetter. The CD could easily be seen as the seventh disc of Goodbye, Babylon (DTD 001CD), Dust-to-Digital's critically-acclaimed and Grammy-nominated box set from 2003. Original 78 RPM records came from the collections of Joe Bussard, Steven Lance Ledbetter, Frank Mare and Roger Misiewicz. "Whether you have ever actually experienced a baptism or not, whether you are a believer or not, these pictures and the music that accompanies them transmit all the emotional information: the excitement and the serenity, the fellowship and the warmth, the wind and the water ... You would have to have a heart of tin not to recognize this as one of the happiest collections of archival photographs ever assembled." --From the introduction by Luc Sante. 96-page hardcover book (8.75 x 6 inches) with 75 sepia photograph reproductions from 1890-1950; CD includes 25 songs and sermons from 1924-1940.
EAR/Rational April 2009

Folk Art Sailor Whirligig Carving Mystery and the Wonder of Photograph Enlarging

Enlarging an image can have dramatic results. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) What seemed to me to be a fairly routine real photo post card of a country shop provides seldom seen documentation for an American folk art form and regional craft, while at the same time reminding that a picture does indeed tell many tales.

"Nantucket' or "Sailor" whirligigs abound to this day, but the early ones for the most part have always been anonymous. The form is common (a bowlegged, bell-bottom wearing sailor twirling his paddle arms in the wind and looking ridiculous) The whirligig supposedly has origins in strict early day religious practices which forbid play on Sunday. A Sympathetic father would whittle a toy to entertain his bored children without tainting their hands with the devil's stain...hence, a twirling motion toy which moved by wind alone! That I have never believed this tale doesn't mean anything much, but it is an interesting tidbit. Anyway, the Massachusetts or Cape Cod whirligigs are popular as craft today, and the 19th century versions, with their weathered surfaces and original paint are among the most valued folk art objects and prized by collectors.
It appears to me this gentleman in his tiny Chatham "Shavings Shop" may be the source of dozens, if not HUNDREDS of original late 19th and early 20th century whirligigs. Chatham is part of Cape Cod, and he obviously had a rousing business in the objects...at least enough to have paid to produce a real-photo post card documenting his work. Close examination reveals many folk art prizes (on the roof, several "full-bodied" whirligigs of considerable size, a fish weathervane, a large airplane whirligig and several silhouetted carvings of sailors) The porch exhibits many additional, if more standard sailor whirligigs, numerous windmill toys and a violin...perhaps our carver made fiddles as well, but at the least I am certain a visit to his shop would have been a rousing time if he felt like entertaining. That his products were called "ball bearing mills" indicates his windmills would have been state of the art. Unfortunately, the oval window sign is indistinct, it appears to read Edwards novelties. Did Mr. Edwards invent the sailor whirligig form? The card was produced by the Charles H. Smalloff Mayflower Studio in Chatham, Mass on Artura Stock of a type used around 1910 and was mailed from Massachusetts using a 1 cent stamp issued in 1912. The postmark date is obliterated, but the stamp design was superseded in 1923.
I hope this photograph reaches someone who can provide additional information on this remarkable, pipe-smoking artisan, and until I hear more I'll simply treasure the find and be happy my scanner revealed some fascinating information which contributes a bit to the history of an art form I've loved for years. I suspect Mr. Edwards was more in the habit of pushing his crafts rather than his postcards. If any others survive I would be surprised, but would love to know.

Real Photo Postcard "Shavings Shop Chatham Mass" Charles H. Smallhoff Mayflower Studio c. 1910 Collection Jim Linderman

Forty Years of the Basement Tapes and "the force of reality"

Okay folks, 2009 is the 40th anniversary of the mysterious appearance of the Great White Wonder. In 1969, I found it in a record shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan and haven't stopped listening to the material since. The heart of the 2-LP bootleg was the first release of what has been since known as "The Basement Tapes" and if you haven't heard (or LIVED) with those songs, I feel sorry for you.

As much a product of the collaboration of Dylan with the Band than a "Dylan" album, nothing in my lifetime approaches the camaraderie, the spontaneity or the soul of the 128 tracks they recorded with a borrowed microphone over the summer of 1967. Garth Hudson ran the mike and played organ. Danko, Robertson, and Manuel did what they could, and they liked it enough to bring back Helm from the oil rig he was working on. For decades bits and pieces of the informal sessions leaked out and I listened the whole time.

This blog is about authenticity. There is an authenticity in these tracks we have not been privilege to since, and that's all I can say without seeming inflated, maudlin or even at this stage of my life, tearing up. Manuel is gone. Danko is gone too, that hit me the hardest. (In my life of listening, I have never heard anyone give all they had the moment the recording light was on more than Danko except maybe Elmore James, and he only knew one song)

Dylan, of course, has a new disc coming out this month. Levon, a gentleman I have had the honor to meet, survived cancer with memorable courage and hosts the now legendary "Midnight Rambles" a stone throw from where the basement tapes were recorded. Sometimes Garth shows up, he still lives nearby as well. Since the complete tapes have never been legally released, I might as well crib a bit of Dylan's latest interview as well. I'm sure there are enough copies floating around that no one is going to sue me, and since I have no money I'm not too worried. If you dig around, you will probably find all the tracks. It's a lot easier now than it was 40 years ago, and when the complete set is finally released, probably after all of us are gone... they'll take their place along the Hank Williams radio shows, Willie Nelson's solo work before he hit it big and Bob Wills Radio Transcriptions as some of the most authentic, joyous and honest recordings made in the 20th Century.

Let Mr. Dylan explain it for you:

Do you think of yourself as a cult figure?

A cult figure, that's got religious connotations. It sounds cliquish and clannish. People have different emotional levels. Especially when you're young. Back then I guess most of my influences could be thought of as eccentric. Mass media had no overwhelming reach so I was drawn to the traveling performers passing through. The side show performers - bluegrass singers, the black cowboy with chaps and a lariat doing rope tricks. Miss Europe, Quasimodo, the Bearded Lady, the half-man half-woman, the deformed and the bent, Atlas the Dwarf, the fire-eaters, the teachers and preachers, the blues singers. I remember it like it was yesterday. I got close to some of these people. I learned about dignity from them. Freedom too. Civil rights, human rights. How to stay within yourself. Most others were into the rides like the tilt-a-whirl and the rollercoaster. To me that was the nightmare. All the giddiness. The artificiality of it. The sledge hammer of life. It didn't make sense or seem real. The stuff off the main road was where force of reality was. At least it struck me that way. When I left home those feelings didn't change.

But you've sold over a hundred million records.

Yeah I know. It's a mystery to me too.

Wax Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Horrors in Wax #8)

Diminutive Parisian Wax Toulouse-Lautrec appraises his next wax studio sitter through a presumably real monocle. The only person shorter in this vignette is the woman to his left seemingly with no legs. Certainly a remarkable painter AND person, his tiny size was due to inbreeding...and although he had an adult sized torso, his legs were child sized. He passed away at only age 36 of alcoholism and surprisingly, given his hypertrophied genitals, syphilis (like an earlier figure in my Horrors in Wax series).

Bill Ward Artist of Vintage Sleaze (part five)

Finally the last of the "fun fetish four" who drew covers for Eddie Miskin's mob-run paperback house in the 1960's.

Bill Ward is probably the most recognizable of the group, and I doubt there is a man over 40 in the United States who hasn't seen his work dozens of times. Ward ruled the girlie magazines of the 1950's and 1960's, producing literally thousands of drawings, one estimate places the number at TEN thousand. Double that figure for the number of breasts he drew. As boy, Ward enrolled in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, I am sure they are quite proud of that today. What set him apart from the other sleazy artists titillating returning WW2 vets as they relaxed in their suburban dens was his use of the conte crayon. It highlighted his black and white illustrations with great effect. He was paid less than ten dollars each for the most part, and because he was prolific, his original drawings are easily found today. A 350 page compilation with over 600 examples of his work was published by redoubtable Taschen. Like all the Satellite artists, he worked for many publishers and freelanced, but the covers he did for these paperbacks are not only among his best work, they have vivid color which brings them to life. If you study early American folk art, both paintings and carvings, you'll see that the feet are often too small...it lends a charming, naive quality. In Ward's case, all it does is produce a tottering, somewhat gargantuan icon which lives in the minds of every randy man. They might LOOK sexist, absurd and grotesque to you females out there, but if you enlarge an image and place that Barbie doll you grew up with over it, the silhouettes are remarkably similar. I guess you could say Ward did for the top what R. Crumb did for the bottom.
This concludes my minor contribution to vintage sleaze paperback culture. For those of you who would like to obtain your own examples, the Satellite house had five imprints under their sleaze umbrella. From 1963 to 1969 they published several hundred titles with the following imprints: After Hours, First Niter, Nitey Nite, Unique Books and Wee Hours. For the most part, there is little reason to READ them, although numerous well-known struggling authors paid their NYC rent churning them out with fake names. Bilbrew also drew a dozen or more covers for the imprint Satan.

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