Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


An Artist in the Family

I guess it should come as no surprise to followers of this blog that there was an artist in the family. That he appears to have been as eccentric as I should also be expected. A drawing by Dell Linderman 1906.

"Untitled" by Dell Linderman 1906 graphite Collection Jim Linderman



Crowd Pleasers Photographs by Reno Bush

Four Daredevil Photographs from Reno Bush, Photographer (Souvenir, Air Views, Cameras, Film, Photofinishing) Bloomsburg, PA Circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman

Mixed up Confusion! The MYTH that Bob Dylan Went Electric

One of the greatest misconceptions and misunderstandings about music in the 20th century is that Bob Dylan "went electric." This concept has become so central to "understanding" his myth and oeuvre that it is basic to rock and roll history. One of those commonly understood notions not questioned at all. Dylan went electric at Newport, someone yelled "Judas" during the tour with the Hawks and the next thing you know howling acid rock has ruined youth from here to Carnaby Street.

Only it is wrong...and like virtually everything we assume to be true, it doesn't hold up.

Want to know who REALLY went electric? Muddy Waters, and he did it when Bob Dylan was a toddler. It wasn't done to startle the establishment (another myth) it wasn't done to "create shockwaves in popular culture" and it certainly wasn't done to piss off Pete Seeger. It was done so Muddy could be HEARD. Chicago wasn't Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Mr. Waters wanted to be noticed in the loud, smoky juke joints of the south side of Chicago. So he plugged in and played, amplification simply being natural to any musician hoping to entertain a dancing crowd.

Know who else went electric? George Jones, the finest country singer alive. Among his earliest recordings were the tunes cut by one "Thumper" Jones. A shameless attempt to cash in on the Rockabilly scene, but again, a decade before Dylan supposedly gave the music world an electric shock to their ass.

And who else went electric? Dylan HIMSELF years before Dylan! Released as the b-side to Corrina, Corrina in 1962, Mixed-Up Confusion is a song written and recorded by Dylan with an electric band on November 14th 1962 during the sessions for his second LP. You can find it...and you can rock out to it, well before Peter, Paul and Mary got rich off Blowin' in the Wind.

In a curious little aside, Dylan's drummer during the 1965 tour was Levon Helm, who quit the tour claiming he was tired of being booed at, but was more likely upset Bob was usurping his role as leader of the Band. Which wasn't the Band yet, but still. There is also speculation Levon didn't get along with Dylan's wicked manager, Albert Grossman. This year Levon snatched "Best Americana" Grammy from fellow nominee Bob Dylan. Revenge is sweet, even if 40 years later.

By the way, the illustration here is a painting by Bob Dylan from around 1967. I guess painting was something he did long before we think too.
Jim Linderman

Spend Saturday Night Encased in Ice with Rella

Girl number six was Rella Finney, who I can not tell you won, but she did emerge to sign this card. My understanding is that the trick here is no trick...you hope the ice preserves your body heat, but then I haven't taken the time to research it. Sometimes mystery is fine. Real Photo Postcard, c. 1940? Collection Jim Linderman


Daredevil Real Photo Postcard circa 1910 Collection Jim Linderman
(NOTE: Browse above for similar, no less dramatic stunt!)

A Yard of Heaven! Panoramic Pair of Bible School Participants from Grand Rapids Michigan

(click to enlarge)

A yard of Heaven! "Yard Long" or panoramic photographs are frequently seen but seldom as crisp as this pair showing 1942 Bible School Students and their teachers from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Too big for my scanner, and a shame as they are splendid. There is a slight "row" in one row...(second row on the left, detail shown) but all in all, the little monkeys behaved and each holds their little Bibles with respect. Photographed at the height of World War Two, it is exceptional to realize virtually all these children had a father serving in the Armed Forces. We can also surmise most of the teachers had husbands or sons serving. A beautiful pair of integrated images at a time when segregation was still common, and together a splendid example of what panoramic photos are for. The special cameras used for these giant pictures were developed as early as the late 19th century and their high resolution is still a marvel.

Harshberger began commercial photography in Grand Rapids in 1921 and closed the shop in 1949.

Two Panoramic photographs, each 8" x 28" Charles I. Harshberger "Photos of Quality...Groups any time or place in Michigan" 1942 Collection Jim Linderman

Also posted on the old time religion blog

Tragedy Real Photo Postcard, Bullock's film and the start of Motion Picture Journalism Collinwood Fire

What can we learn from a single real photo postcard? For one thing, the horror depicted here resulted from the Collinwood School fire of 1908, which killed 172 students and two teachers trapped in school just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. The event led to regulations requiring safety bar door releases in public buildings. So every time you push your way out of a public space rather than turn a knob is directly traced to this event.

However, as this is a blog about the visual...there is an even more remarkable aspect to this event. It was captured on FILM in 1908! The film was shot as the fire smoldered by twenty-three-year-old William Hubern Bullock, a moving picture operator nearby. Bullock rushed to the fire on a streetcar with his motion picture equipment. A week later he was SHOWING THE FILM in the Nickelodeon which employed him until Police, responding to complaints from grieving parents, forced him to stop. The film was discovered in the archives of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound division of the Library of Congress in 2008, 100 years after the young cameraman filmed it. It is believed that recently discovered footage represents only a portion of what was originally filmed.

It is a haunting, extraordinary film. No bodies are shown, but the silent, stark and steamy film will stun you as you are virtually seeing the invention of modern journalism. In fact, THIS VERY SCENE is captured in the second portion of the film! As Bullock pans the crowd, it is quite likely the photographer who shot this photo is shown. That certainly makes this one of the most remarkable real photo postcards imaginable, and gives testimony to their value as cultural and historical artifacts.

Some 30 years later, "The March of Time" was a staple in American Motion Picture Theaters. Today, as we watch events like Haiti unfold in real time before our eyes, one might think of young Mr. Bullock as he rides to tragedy with his bulky equipment.

Collinwood Real Photo Postcard 1908 Collection Jim Linderman

VISTASCREEN! From the Littered Landscape of Photographica

The landscape is littered with camera technology failures. Something about capturing an image brought out the inventors, and today there is even a collector category known as photographica. They collect camera detritus. There is no shortage.

Competing technologies drive the market and pictures of pretty woman drive men.
Thus, the Vistascreen! An enterprising gent named Stanley Long in the UK decided to get into the three dimensional photographic business in 1956. View-master was up and running, but unlike Long...they were short on babes. The only thing better than a beautiful woman is one who is poking her whatnots out at you, so capturing a babe in 3-D has always equaled the moon shot as a noble goal for man. (Having just been to the Grammy awards and suffering a headache along with the rest of the well-heeled audience during the Michael Jackson "extravaganza" I can tell you not only has 3-D not progressed far, it certainly is NOT going to save Hollywood. 30 seconds into the flick, the stars were taking off their glasses to see what Celine Dion was wearing) But I digress.

Vitascreen faded with time and the Glamour shots Stanley took and sold faded as well. Today they are collector items...and guess what? REPRINTED. Modern re-issues of Stanley Long's Lifelike British Babes are available again, but the link doesn't work. I'll try to post it later


Dull Tool Dim Bulb Special Snow Blizzard Post RPPC

"Big Chief Petoskey" Snow Sculpture East Jordan Michigan Real Photo Postcard circa 1950
Collection Jim Linderman

Mr. T. B. Jackley, Sore Foot Fortune Teller and his 25,000 Mile Honeymoon (Grifters with Blisters?)

Mr. T. B. Jackley is shown with his new wife as they embark on a 25,000 mile hike, hopefully not the entire distance wearing wooly chaps. Mr. Jackley, a fortune teller from Boise, Idaho decided to walk from San Francisco to Maine on a $1500 bet and apparently depended on the kindness of strangers...this card was handed out along the way for donations. Did they make it? It appears so. In 1915, they arrived in New York City, blabbed to the press, and started walking BACK to claim their money! This wasn't the first trip Jackley took...note similar card which indicates he took a long bike ride with his brother too! (A note from the editor...as "fortune tellers" have an unsavory reputation, and I can not verify the route...if a train ticket for a pair of grifters with blisters turns up one day, I won't be surprised)

Mr. T.B. Jackley and Mrs T. B. Jackley Post card, 1912. Collection Jim Linderman

Where the Whirligig Comes From Folk Art Sculpture

The second Vernacular Photograph of sailor whirligigs and others for sale. See HERE for earlier ( and more dramatic) photo documenting a Nantucket Sailor Whirligig Maker. This snapshot likely shows two travelers, circa 1930, who stopped to take pictures near a whirligig maker on the roadside. Familar Whirligig forms include the "Indian in a canoe" and a "Sailor" full bodied whirligig along with an unusual wooden bird in a hoop and a form I do not recognize (whirling!).

Anonymous Snapshot Untitled "For Sale" Whirligigs c. 1930 Collection Jim Linderman

Land of Big Trees Serious Big Wood

Click to make Big Wood even bigger.

Collection of Giant Tree Postcards and Real Photo Postcards 1880-1940 Collection Jim Linderman

Monsters of the Gilded Age: The Photographs of Chas. Eisenmann Book Review from the Past #2

I am not going to open a debate on the appropriateness of circus sideshow freak photographs. To be sure they are among the most striking of images and these photos were taken so the performers could sell them for a dime each to the audience...so who can begrudge the process? 100 years later Diane Arbus took similar photographs, but rather than being used as souvenirs or trade cards, they made her career. Never one to shy from the disturbing, overlooked or neglected, I am attracted by the taboo of these images, and they still manage to make the desperate attempts of contemporary artists to "shock" pale by comparison.

Continuing to review books which have been forgotten or deserve another look, this is the fairly obscure "Monsters of the Gilded Age: The Photographs of Chas. Eisenmann" by Michael Mitchell. Published in Canada in 1979, and likely a small edition, it is expensive today on the used book market but available.

Despite the author's intensive research, more is known about the performers shown than the photographer. Eisenmann worked with his wife on the Bowery in New York City for ten years and specialized in theatrical portraits. He then turned the studio over to Frank Wendt, (a photographer I am profiling and intend to publish a book on before long) then vanished. By 1904 he was gone. What IS known remains in the photographs, sharp, crisp, perfectly posed and lit pictures of some of the most remarkable humans ever captured by camera.
Mitchell describes the environment of the working portrait photographer in the Cartes de visite and Cabinet Card era (Eisenmann worked in both) and produces a 110 page book with an example of the artist's work on nearly every page. Each performer is identified and discussed thoroughly, and while it might not be a book you will leave on the coffee table, it certainly will attract interest if you choose to share it.

The book is out of print unfortunately, and though it was reprinted with a slightly different title in 2003, I can only find used copies for sale. Images by Eisenmann turn up on ebay frequently and many have been reproduced on the web.

At the Circus in Black and White #16

Untitled (Clown at Clyde Beatty Circus) Original Snapshot 1962 Collection Jim Linderman

The Haiti Box The Alan Lomax Library of Congress Recordings

Details on how to purchase AND have a portion of price donated HERE


Summer is just around the corner!
Amateur Vernacular Photograph circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman

Big Fish, Big Fella and the Quileute of La Push Washington?

Said to be a snapshot of La Push, Washington, which would indicate the pieces may have been carved by members of the Quileute Native American tribe. If so, I would love to hear from anyone who can identify the location or provide information on the carvings. The tribe has a fascinating history, which includes the breeding of special woolly-haired dogs in order to make blankets of their coats(!) I would also like the sculptures moved to my front yard, but that seems unlikely.

Untitled Snapshot, circa 1950? Collection Jim Linderman

Jim Linderman Interview 2010

Grand Haven Collector Nominated for Grammy for Historical Album
John Sinkevics, Grand Rapids Press January 31, 2010

GRAND HAVEN -- Jim Linderman jokes that the historical compilation of gospel songs and yellowed photographs probably ranks as one of the worst-selling Grammy-nominated albums ever.

But the Grand Haven collector, who worked 10 years as a CBS News researcher, also credits his peculiar fascination with old photos and roots music for producing something truly Grammy-worthy, because it preserves a rarely documented slice of American history.

"I guess I'm a popular-culture historian. I've always found a niche that no one else had paid attention to," he says, sipping coffee at his dining room table. "I just know no one had ever done a book on it before.As a result, "Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950" is up for a Grammy tonight for best historical album, with Linderman listed as a "compilation engineer."

Linderman, who will attend the ceremonies in Los Angeles, spent more than a decade buying old pictures of river baptisms from around the United States. He then teamed up with Atlanta's Dust-to-Digital record label, which paired 75 of those photos with vintage recordings of baptism-related gospel songs and sermons. Linderman also wrote an introduction for the book.

"These pictures convinced me there is an art to photography. What they depict is so striking," Linderman, 56, says. "I knew I had something important, and I knew (Dust-to-Digital producers) would do a good job. ... Everybody who sees it, loves it."

A 1971 graduate of Grand Haven High School who moved back to West Michigan from New York in 2008, Linderman freely admits he's a bit of an eccentric. He describes himself as an "Americana iconoclast" who takes a non-traditional approach to collecting historical photos, music and objects.

"I'm a historian. I'm interested in the arts and how they relate to other cultural experiences. For me, it's all about authenticity," he says of his obsessive collecting. "I'm interested in obscure things. ... I'm interested in getting way down deep. That's where the contributions are made."

When Linderman decides to collect something, he goes all out. Over the years, he's collected ice-fishing decoys, delved into the seminal recordings of punk, jazz, blues, country and gospel music, and self-published a book based on a collection of photos of nude women whose faces are hidden from the camera.

"I'm constantly torn between Sunday morning and Saturday night," he quips.

He's compiling photos of circus-sideshow freaks as well as antique tintypes, small metal sheets containing photographic images. These tintypes feature portraits of people in front of elaborately painted backdrops that became popular more than a century ago. Linderman said no one's ever explored the art of these backdrops, which could be the subject of another book.

"If it wasn't for collectors, this stuff would be gone," Linderman says. "I just like doing things that aren't normal. I've never been interested in the mainstream."

It's an unconventional streak that extends to Linderman's teen years. That's when he'd sneak out of a window at home to watch then-fledgling punk icon and Muskegon native Iggy Pop and his band, the Stooges, play the Grand Haven Roller Rink. That's also where he saw early shows by rock bands MC5 and Alice Cooper.

It continued after he graduated from Central Michigan University and earned a library science degree from Western Michigan University. After working five years for Upjohn pharmaceutical company in Kalamazoo, he headed for New York City, mostly because he wanted to explore the punk-rock music scene at clubs such as CBGB's and the Mudd Club.He worked as a researcher for CBS News for 10 years and later as a librarian for a major advertising agency. Suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema, he left New York for health reasons a little more than a year ago, returning to Michigan with his actress wife, Janna, to be closer to his parents, Craig and Beverly Linderman.

The idea behind his Grammy-nominated project was born when he spotted a photo of a river baptism in a book on African-American art about 15 years ago.

Intrigued by the human emotions and spiritual power displayed in the faded, wrinkled and scratched photos, Linderman began collecting them "because you can feel something going on in the pictures and because images are reflected in the water. As an artist, they're striking. The people (are) nervous. They're cold. They're wet. They're literally being saved. It's not just a picture, it's an event that's been captured."

At first, he pored over photos at yard and garage sales. Later, he scanned auctions on e-Bay, snapping up every baptismal photo he found.

With about 120 photos in hand, he contacted Dust-to-Digital, because the label specializes in historical compilations and reissues of rare gospel, blues, folk and country recordings. The label liked the idea and tracked down a host of historical 78 rpm recordings of baptismal services and related gospel songs by performers ranging from The Carter Family to The Southern Wonders Quartet.

Linderman concedes the project is "a break-even" proposition financially, because it targets a small niche audience. "They're not pop songs, so I knew (the album) wouldn't be a financial success, but I knew it would be an artistic success," he says.

Still, the rare photos will get more exposure come the spring: Linderman sold his collection to New York's International Center of Photography, which plans to open an exhibit of the photos in May.

While Linderman says fewer than 2,000 copies of "Take Me to the Water" had been sold as of early January, Dust-to-Digital's Steven Lance Ledbetter notes "sales have been steady. ... We hope the Grammy nomination and forthcoming exhibition at ICP in May will help the book and CD reach a wider audience."

("Take Me to the Water" is available online at amazon.com and dust-digital.com; Linderman also sells other books on his Web site.)

Linderman concedes "Take Me to the Water" faces stiff competition in the Grammy's historical album category from "The Complete Chess Masters" (a Little Walter compilation), "My Dusty Road" (a Woody Guthrie collection), "Origins of the Red Hot Mama" (a Sophie Tucker tribute) and "Woodstock -- 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm." Regardless, he's "thrilled" to be nominated for his "labor of love."

And after returning from Los Angeles, he'll hunker back down in the office of his Grand Haven home, tracking down more obscure, historical photos while listening to post-war blues music.

"I'm an artist. I do consider what I do the art of collecting," he says. "I have no shortage of ideas."

G0121Grammy river baptism.jpg