Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Amateur Diane Arbus, the Photographic OBJECT vs the Photographic IMAGE At the circus in Black and White

As I pondered posting these vernacular photographs of a 1958 circus sideshow I found last week, I was struck by their being physical objects first, images second. I am sure the entire world has gotten over this matter long ago and my even admitting to bring it up is anachronistic. However, I own these, they occupy space in my files and as they are exposed to light and dust, fingers and moisture they will age, curl and change in aesthetic and physical ways. I am interested in the physical properties of photos, the wrinkles, the spots, the foxing, the tear. Surface is just as important to a photographic object as is the image. It might be my folk art background, where authentic age, signs of use and patina is a serious precursor to value and an indicator of authenticity...why shouldn't the camera arts be the same? Invited comments. In my world, "pristine" should apply only to the magic bullet commission exhibit 399.

4 original sideshow images, circa 1958 (cropped) Collection Jim Linderman

Harmonia Baptist Church (Mechanic on Duty)

Harmonia Baptist Church (recycled garage sign)

Unknown Location, American South, c. 1994 Original 35mm photography colllection Jim Linderman

Tough Girls in Tights ON WHEELS! Roller Derby

Midge "Toughy" Brasuhn was under 5 feet tall and a firm 135 pounds. Her full name was Margorie Clair Louise Theresa Brasuhn. A member of the Roller Derby Hall of Fame. The first televised Roller Derby was broadcast from the 69th Armory building in NYC in 1946, and Tough Midge captivated them at the bars...few home televisions were in use at the time. Pretty much invented by Leo A. "Bromo" Seltzer, the sport grew out of dance marathons which were popular during the Great Depression. Is it any coincidence the oval track is back? Norma Rossner is less well documented, but I am sure, no less tough. There is a nice 4 minute clip of "Toughy" in glorious black and white YOUTUBE here. I don't know about you, but tough dames in tights fighting on wheels is pretty hard to resist. The announcer agrees... "She is BOILING" and "ROCKING AND SOCKING AT THE ROLLER DERBY" indeed.

Two original Roller Derby Real Photo Post Cards Kodak c. 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Alexander Girard of Herman Miller and Folk Art

Alexander Girard was of course a genius of modern design, and nothing I write could come close to anything already said...but I can point out that he left his FOLK ART collection of more than 100,000 objects (!) to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM, and it is an extravaganza! Bring your kids. I happened to go by myself, and wished I had someone to nudge and say "look at THAT" many, many times.

Three original Alexander Girard designed invitation cards, Herman Miller Co.
c. 1965-1970. Collection Jim Linderman

Man is Known by his Work - Mr. Ray's tribute to Ruth

Mr. Ray built this glass and cement memorial to his dead wife Ruth in Stephenville, Texas. He began in the 1920's. The large building behind is the American Legion, it remains... but today the only thing left of Mr. Ray's work is the goldfish pond.

Original 8" x 10" photo c. 1940 (detail shown) Collection Jim Linderman

Tintype of a Tintype Studio (with empty chair) The Painted Backdrop

A photographic posing chair in 1870 was an investment of $50, so this enterprising photographer took a picture of his. Practicing? Maybe. The relative purity of this image can be attributed to his frugality...the extra long Victorian chair fringe seen so often in tintype studio photographs cost an extra $15. My book The Painted Backdrop will be published in 2010.

Original Tintype Photograph, circa 1870 Collection Jim Linderman

Paul Bunyan Fakelore Urban Legend and Professor Dorson

Giant Paul Bunyan and his friend Babe the Blue Ox tower over parents and kids who have been in the car too long. Professor Richard Mercer Dorson invented the term "Fakelore" and used the big lumberman as a prime example. Somehow Paul was transformed from bawdy 19th century lumberjack tales involving seedy events, (such as peeing from a tree to make a giant urine icicle) to the lovable hard-working big guy we know today. The modern day Paul was created from authentic lumberjack tales collected by itinerant newspaper reporter James MacGillivary in 1906. Professor Dorson complained that the "real" Paul Bunyan tales were full of technical logging terms and were meaningless and obscene, whereas the popularized, kid friendly Paul became a "pseudo folk hero of mass culture" who in effect had smaller balls than a neutered Babe. (well, I said that, but he implied it.) Amazingly, the little known and under appreciated Richard Dorson also invented the term "urban legend".

Seven original postcards circa 1950-1960 Collection Jim Linderman

N.T. Brown Rucker Holy Chapel

Location unknown, American South original 35mm photograph c. 1993 Collection Jim Linderman

Measuring Steve Allen for Jack Kerouac (Horrors in Wax #7)

Wax Windbag Steve Allen waves goodbye to Wax Johnny Carson after having his head measured for waxing. I've always hated Allen for wasting the rare opportunity of having Jack Kerouac on his gabfest, but blowing it by patronizing the writer with facile "beatnik" questions and persisting to punctuate the incredible opportunity by tinkling his piano keys in pseudo jazz riffs for the whole interview. Watch, judge for yourself.

Going To Mars 350,000,000 Miles in 5 Minutes by Professor Hunt

Professor Everett Hunt's homemade and handmade book, at least a few pages from it. The text consists of a newspaper article with Indiana byline. Several illustrations. Headlines inserted into slots. A bit of indecipherable text. That the article has an April 1 date is, I believe, a coincidence. Date Unknown.

"Going To Mars 350,000,000 Miles in 5 Minutes" by Professor Everett Hunt. Handmade book. Circa 1930? Collection Jim Linderman

Conrad Schuck and his Wonder House

Conrad Schuck had more than a great name, he had a vision. The Wonder House was 15 years into construction when this postcard was published. Schuck started construction in 1925 after being told by his doctor he had only a short time to live. Rather than worrying or checking off his bucket-list...he built this eccentric marvel. It had natural air conditioning using rainwater, outdoor bathtubs and numerous innovative and downright strange enhancements. By the way, you all know by now I love postcards. So did Walker Evans. His postcard collection is on display now through the end of May 2009 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Evans built his collection for 60 years. The Met acquired the lot in 1994.
Conrad Schuck's Wonder House Curteich Linen Postcard, c. 1940. Collection Jim Linderman

Eric Stanton Artist of Vintage Sleaze (part four)

ALL MY ESSAYS ON vintage sleaze illustrators are now collected on VINTAGE SLEAZE
The third illustrator who worked for Stanley Malkin and Eddie Miskin's line of sleaze paperbacks in the early 1960's was Ernest Stanten, the son of Russian immigrants. Under his adopted name, he is today highly regarded as the king of the fetish illustrators, and as such I won't spend as much time profiling him...numerous books have been published on the illustrious illustrator. Stanton's first girlie drawings were done on sailor's handkerchiefs while he was in the navy (at age 17). Like Gene Bilbrew (see my previous entries) Eric Stanton also studied at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and again, like Bilbrew, worked for Irving Klaw, the photographer who became infamous with his photos of Bettie Page. Stanton also worked closely with his friend and studio mate Steve Ditko (no less than the creator of Spiderman) "Hey Spidey...get a load of THESE drawings" He also learned from Batman inker Jerry Robinson. Like the other artists I am adding to my blog, he drew for many publications other than the imprints of satellite distributors and until he passed away in 1999 he continued selling his work by mail order. Published collections of his work abound, but for my money, his best work was the more than 100 covers he did for After Hours, First Niter, Nitey Nite, Unique Books and Wee Hours. Examples above. Stanton's work is marked by slender, stiff, upright figures with implied seething undercurrents of passion. As Brittany Daley writes in Sin-A-Rama, they had "... tall frames and mile long legs". The women are strong and confident, if somewhat curiously adjusted, and the men are weak. There is an elegance and style seldom seen in paperback covers, and in every one there are folks with secrets.

Ramona of the Oranges

A Spanish/Mexican Hacienda made of Sunkist Oranges with an Asian Sign. What the? Since the publication in 1884, Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, "Ramona" has never been out of print. Ramona exposed the mistreatment of Mission Indians by Anglo-Americans. At the turn of the century, many "authentic" tourist traps claiming to be "Ramona's home" or "Ramona's Marriage Place" dotted Southern California. I suspect this is one, and dated 1924. It is still hard to walk a few miles in the state without finding a remaining vestige of Ramona, a woman who did not even exist. The citizens of Hemet, CA continue to perform a play based on the character, it is the longest running outdoor play in the country.

Real Photo Post Card dated 1924, mailed from Pasadena. Collection Jim Linderman

Cupid's Destiny (Voice of the Lonely Heart #1)

Dog and Pony Show 1958 Style

Literally, a Dog and Pony show. The expression once referred to acts held outside a carnival or sideshow. It now means to confuse a someone into thinking a product is necessary or improved, to bamboozle the client. There are more advertising executives than carnival acts these days, but both promise more for your money. (Though this young woman probably took more pride in her work than the folks on Madison Avenue) By the way, the term "dog trainer" (as any trainer will tell you) is a complete misnomer. Dog Trainers train dog OWNERS. Dogs are pretty much born knowing what to do.

"Dog Act and Trainer" Original snapshot c. 1958 Collection Jim Linderman

Two Ways Two Dollar Bill "Bought with a Price, Sold under Sin"

In 1906, William J. Seymour, the son of former slaves, was learning to preach in Houston when he met Neely Terry, an African-American woman from Los Angeles. She invited the preacher to her own church, an offer he accepted. Soon members of the church he visited were speaking in tongues for some reason, and several weeks later even Seymour was doing the same. Word of this miracle traveled fast among the Black, Latino, White and Asian residents of LA, who gathered in such crowds the porch of the church collapsed forcing them to regroup in a former stable on Azusa Street. Following near "round the clock" preaching, the church was criticized in a front page story in the LA Times titled "Weird Babel of Tongues" and strange happenings were reported far and wide. The members were called "tangled tonguers" and "holy jumpers". There were reports of the blind seeing and members of various languages being able to converse with each other as easily as brothers. One reporter even described the events as a "...disgraceful intermingling of the races...they cry and make howling noises all day...the people appear to be mad...they have a one-eyed preacher who stays on his knees with his head hidden behind wooden milk crates". That would be Rev. Seymour. Such is the "Azusa Street Revival" which is easy to look up, don't take MY word for it... and which eventually withered and splintered only to regroup later as the Pentecostal movement. Curious beginnings indeed for a church which now claims 500 million members, and who distribute bible publications still from Des Moines, Iowa where this bill originated in 1944.

"Two Ways" Two Dollar Bill, Open Bible Publications 1944 Collection Jim Linderman

The Jesse James Gang Plans (Horrors in Wax #6)

The Wax Jesse James Gang rustles up some robbin' plans under the glow of a bent-up retro modern lamp. "They were a handsome bunch, who built a Robin Hood atmosphere" according to the reverse of the card. Well...I am not sure about either of these assertions, but the James Gang tale is a familiar one and you can make up your own mind about their fable-like (and physical) characteristics. For a far LESS familiar tale of a similar gang of thieves also based in Missouri, check out The Bald Knobbers, shown here as depicted in the 1919 silent film "The Shepherd of the Hills" who are just as interesting, and at least they took care to hide their handsome faces.

James Gang Wax Postcard c. 1960 Collection Jim Linderman

Rem Wall and his Green Valley Boys

A real photo post card of Rem Wall and his Green Valley Boys. How my little sister found it for me, I have no idea. When I was a child growing up in Michigan, the Green Valley Jamboree was televised once a week and I never missed it. (There was only one station, and I vaguely remember the boys sandwiched between Sky King and some other moral play disguised as a cowboy story) They were great though, and while the show aired out of Kalamazoo for thirty years (yes, that's right, thirty years) It appears NO TAPE or FILM exists, at least none that I can find. It seems such a shame. Not only because I would love to re-evaluate the music imprinted on my tender brain, but because there is a dynamic at work here which you might find interesting. Note the microphone. ONE. As a soloist performed, he would maneuver his way towards the center. If harmony was called for, several would squeeze in. Emotional highs and lows were expertly created by the team leader moving close or further away. This is why you will see authentic musicians, who have earned their chops playing dives for decades, move their hand mike depending on their vocal skills, the message they would like to impart, the sound they hear in their own head and wish to share. Bass Solo? Get out of the way! Fiddle break? C'mon in Bob! (his real name) The stationary steel guitar was amplified, he's fine in the back. Remard and his boys had a single or two, they've been uploaded on youtube. But I sure wish we had the visuals. If someone finds some, I'll let y'all know.

Rembert Wall and his Green Valley Boys RPPC c. 1960 Collection Jim Linderman

Organizing your photographs with the DYMO Embosser

DYMO was founded in 1958. Who can forget that satisfying crunch as a letter was squeezed out? That frightening first check for spelling errors as a long phrase was clipped off? The pride one felt when applying the brown "wood grain" labels to virtually anything within reach? DYMO invented the Embosser and changed anal-retentive organizers forever, including this photographer who took the concept of "caption" one step further.

Anonymous Vernacular Photographs with Dymo Labels 1950-1965 Collection Jim Linderman