Pulp fiction.

To close the week, a throwaway interview for a forgotten book that I enjoyed from start to finish, and learned a lot from, too. I love pulp paperbacks. This guy really knew his stuff. From March 2002. Thanks for bearing with me during Ancient Archives week; we’ll see you back here on Monday.

The blonde stands before a man at a desk. He regards her with a certain professional distance, all the more surprising given that she’s caught in the middle of ripping open her blouse, exposing her lacy underthings and ample attributes.

No one could fail to see the immediate appeal of Henry Lewis Nixon’s “The Golden Couch,” described on its cover as “a novel of the private lives and loves of psychiatrists.” The contents have been forgotten, if they were ever remembered long. But the blonde, the blouse, the 25-cent price – these things endure.

They’re the subject of “The Great American Paperback,” writer and cultural historian Richard Lupoff’s coffee-table tribute to the dime novel, pulp fiction, the sensational story – the great 20th-century innovation that took literature out of the library and brought it to the revolving rack in your corner drugstore.

Lupoff will be in Fort Wayne Sunday, appearing at Little Professor Book Company in support of “The Great American Paperback,” as well as his latest short story collection, “Claremont Tales II.”

“The Great American Paperback” is Lupoff’s “wow” volume, however – a fascinating, hilarious, comprehensive look at the forces that came together to make paperback books an institution.

Although the softcover book can be found as early as the 1930s, what we think of as the modern paperback did not arrive until 1938, when the U.S. holder of the Penguin imprint sought to test the waters for such a product with a 2,000-copy printing of Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth.” The concept was revolutionary – a book small enough to fit in one’s pocket, bound only with glue. It had no dust jacket, just a brightly printed cover to draw the eye in the crowded confines of the marketplace.

And the price! About the same as an hour of labor at minimum wage, a figure that Lupoff says has remained remarkably consistent through the years.

“People loved it,” he said of the paperback’s debut. “You didn’t have to wait for the public library to get a book, or visit a lending library” – the early, literary version of a video store, where books could be rented for a small fee. “You could own the book, and it didn’t cost much at all.”

Within a year, the paperback was everywhere, and competition for the reader was pitched. Although an almost immediate struggle began between art and commerce, most publishers were savvy enough to realize they were competing for sometimes indifferent readers, and cloaked their books accordingly.

Thus, the blonde ripping open her blouse. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” was never so true as during the heyday of the paperback, when scantily clad cover girls often promised literary titillation that the pages behind them didn’t deliver.

“I’m competing for the customer’s beer money,” sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein once said, approving this rather mild bait-and-switch. Much quality literature has appeared between paper covers, and if it takes a white lie to get readers to it, it seems forgivable. Besides, such disconnects make for great collecting: Nathanael West’s classic novel of depraved Hollywood, “The Day of the Locust,” once appeared behind a cover that suggested the book was about a plague of insects.

That cover appears in Lupoff’s book, along with hundreds of others that illustrate the signposts along the way since 1938 – the genres, the publishers and the gimmicks. These include the Ace Double, two novels in one cover; finish one, then flip the book over and start the next. Such hooks now make collectors happy, who prize paperbacks not so much for what’s in them (although some do) as what’s on them.

Lupoff, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., said his local dealers report collectors with amazingly specific tastes. “One only wants books with hypodermic needles on the cover,” he said. (Fortunately, due to a strong horrors-of-drugs genre in paperback, there are plenty to choose from.) “Another only wants cover art that features women being menaced by gorillas.”

Others like campy sci-fi covers or content, or collect the work of specific artists, who labored in obscurity throughout their careers. But what really made collecting take off, Lupoff said, was the introduction of ISBN (International Standard Book Number) numbering around 1970. Before that, publishers kept track of their work with simple cover numbers: “D-150,” for instance, might refer to the 150th work of detective fiction produced by a given house. Where 150 exists, there are 149 others to collect, and many do.

“The Great American Paperback,” like great American paperbacks, is doing well since its publication late last year. “At one point I had simultaneous reviews in Entertainment Weekly, Playboy and the Wilson Quarterly,” Lupoff noted with amusement. Just like the volumes it honors, “The Great American Paperback” has appeal that crosses cultural lines.

Posted at 12:30 am in Ancient archives |

53 responses to “Pulp fiction.”

  1. beb said on June 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Talk to a pulp collector (“Hello”) and a pulp can only be a magazine, never a paperback, and it has to be 7 x 10 inches in size,, printed on a cheap form of paper made from wood pulp (called woodpulp) and were priced very cheaply (10 to 20 cents mostly. Pulp collectors are as pissed about Tarantino’s confused of pulp with sleazy in his movie Pulp Fiction in the same way that SF fans are pissed by the use of “sci fi”.

    That said, the fifties and sixties were an amazing era for sleazy paperback covers. And I am sometimes amazed by how they got away with in terms of skin. You just don’t see that kind of sexist work on paperbacks anymore.

    And of course the man in The Seven Year Itch, the one who couldn’t stop thinking about a nubile Marilyn Monroe just upstairs, was an paperback book editor who office walls were filled by salacious covers for serious books on psychology.

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  2. Connie said on June 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

    This makes me nostalgic for Little Professor and the other small book store chains that are gone, gone, gone.

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  3. Connie said on June 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

    This makes me nostalgic for Little Professor and the other small store bookstore chains that are gone, gone, gone.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Connie, that was my first thought too! Borders, too–at least here in the Fort it always felt like a small, local place. Amazon giveth and taketh.

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  5. Deborah said on June 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I have enjoyed reading the Ancient Archives, wish I could read more.

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  6. brian stouder said on June 14, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I remember a few ‘dirty’ books of that sort…in fact, isn’t there a scene in To Sir, With Love (a pretty good Sidney Portier movie)where the teacher assigns a ‘dirty’ paperback book that employs all sorts of literary devices (we’re talkin’ about the prose here, and not the nuts and bolts of the action), and which the students all read?

    I won’t completely surrender to old-man thinkin’ here, but b’gosh it is tempting to say my generation took in superior smut to ‘kids nowadays’ – who have at their fingertips (so to speak) an inexhaustible supply of electronic imagery, and no imagination!

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  7. Bitter Scribe said on June 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

    For me, the No. 1 pulp writer was and always will be Jack W. Thomas. A former juvenile probation officer, Thomas took the basic juvenile delinquent morality tales prevalent in 1950s and early ’60s movies and books, added a lot of sex, drugs and obscenity, and set them in the counterculture scene. His books were famous for the pouty, barely-clothed nymphets on the covers.

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  8. Kaye said on June 14, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I have enjoyed ancient archives week. Most days I thought about how things are not much different now. Today I was struck by the loss of Little Professor, specifically, as well as that entire business model. I loved LP and spent much time and money in their stores. It seems like another lifetime ago so reading they were still a going concern in 2002 surprised me.

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  9. Deborah said on June 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

    A few years back I read, The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson, I think that’s the only pulp fiction book I own. At least I think I still own it. A writer friend gave me a copy, it was on my bookcase for a long time, I hope it’s still there, it was a dog eared paperback with a salacious picture on the cover as I recall.

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  10. Charlotte said on June 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I wish publishers would bring back paperback imprints for first novels. There’s no reason on earth that someone should have been asked to shell out $23 for my first novel in hardcover — no one knew who I was (still the case) and it’s asking a lot. So, because they put first novels in hardcover, and then they don’t sell well, they won’t take a chance on a second book. Why not go back to the Vintage Contemporaries model? It’s so much easier to take a chance on a new author when you’re not being asked to spend too much.

    On the other hand, who can figure out the publishing industry? My friend Jim Fergus just told me that despite selling 650,000 copies of One Thousand White Women over the past 15 years, St. Martins still didn’t want to pick up his new book. His last two books have been published exclusively in France.

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  11. Sherri said on June 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Mass market paperbacks are disappearing, not just for first novels. More and more books that used to go to mmpb after hardcover are going to trade paperback instead. And publishers doing things like dropping your friend Jim Fergus, Charlotte, is just playing right into Amazon’s hand, who makes it easier to self-publish these days.

    I really liked One Thousand White Women. I hope that Fergus finds a way to publish his books in the US.

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  12. Maggie Jochild said on June 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Those who came out as lesbians in the early 70s and before owe a huge debt to the pulp fiction genre for giving us our own literature: even at its most self-hating (nobody ever found happiness in them), they were frequently written with knowledgeable authority by women in the life, as it were. We got a whiff of what was going on in other rooms.

    And every now and then, there was a hint of defiance to the “you aren’t a real woman if you don’t settle for men” rule. One was “The Price of Salt”, published in 1952, with two women who scorned the stereotype. Mama, a serious mystery reader, spotted the title in my bag an said, quietly, “You know who that’s by, don’t you?” “Claire Morgan” I replied, terrified at her recognition.

    “Not her real name. That author is your cousin Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote “Strangers On A Train.'” Our eyes met for a long minute, and I was too immature but do anything except look away. I’d kill to have that conversation now.

    Later, in my 30s, I collected pulp fiction in the form of mystery mapbacks, mainly those of Nero Wolfe and the wonderful Lockridge series.

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  13. Deborah said on June 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Maggie, Patricia Highsmith is your cousin?!!!

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  14. Prospero said on June 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I have an ace double Nathaniel West edition that contains Day of the Locust and Miss Lonelyhearts. Bought it about 35 years ago.

    How in the world did I get to be 61 years old and not know US Grant sent caucasian mail order brides to American Indians. That beats an Obamaphone all to hell. Which reminds me, we recently watched the excellent western Meek’s Cutoff on Netflix. Quite good.

    Raymond Chandler was considered a pulp fiction writer, and I’d say he was a great American novelist. Dashiell Hammet too, though not nearly in Chandler’s ballpark. The best practioner’s these days are Walter Mosley and Edgar Lee Burke. And ya know, those Elmore Leonards and Carl Hiaasens are pretty pulpy, too. I would include Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books and Tony Hillerman’s Chee and Leaphorn tribal police novels. A modern master of pulp detective fiction is undoubtedly the great Boston newspaperman George V. Higgins, who wrote the marvelous Friends of Eddie Coyle, that was made into a great noirish movie with Robert Mitchum. I would also say that Mosley is the best writer on the subject of race in America since James Baldwin and Samuel R. Delany, whose Dahlgren is a pulp masterpiece.

    That was Tom Ewell in Seven Year Itch, directed by Billy Wilder.

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  15. beb said on June 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Dashiel Hammett wrote for the upls. The Maltese Falcon was serialized in Black Mask. Raymond Chandler also wrote for the pulps and many of his novels recycled material that first appeared in Dime Detective. Erle Stanley Gardner wrote for the pulps before becoming a book author, and continued writing for the pulps through the forties. Louis L’Amour and John D. MacDonald began their careers writing for the pulps. Ray Bradbury’s short stories appeared in the pulps. Robert Heinlein began in the pulps. Paul Cain, Cornell Woolrich, Max Brand, all pulp writers.

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  16. Maggie Jochild said on June 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Deborah, yes, a remote cousin via the alcoholic-Jehovah’s Witness lineage. I never had an excuse to meet her. Mama handed me “The Talented Mr Ripley” when I was 12 and let me sort it out for myself. That one was a plus. Her letting me read Nevil Shute’s books at the same age was NOT a good idea.

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  17. Prospero said on June 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    A loan agreement is a contract, correct? How is it remotely legal for one party to a contract to change the terms of the contract by raising the interest rate after the fact? This is knee-jerk conservative bullshit because they are pissed off that their banker cash cows lost their lucrative sideline of “administering” federal education loans, a service for which they raked in dough while providing no service of any value whatever. So, Lehman and BoA pay 0.75% and mainstream Americans will pay 6%. Only a GOPer “meritocrat” could think this is even slightly fair or anything like a good idea.

    The vari-colored Travis McGee novels are some more great pulp. Harlan Ellison is a wonderful pulp practitioner, and Phillip K. Dick is probably the king when it comes to SF. It’s amazing how easily these works lend themselves to very good movies, as with Strangers on a Train. And Bladerunner. And Darker than Amber.

    No discussion of pulp fiction is complete without mentioning Sisters, by former second lady, Mrs. Dickless Cheney. It sure as hell ain’t The Price of Salt.

    Uh, that’s James Lee Burke. No idea why I typed Edgar, unless I was conflating with Spoon River.

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  18. brian stouder said on June 14, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    MaggieJ – your comment about Nevil Shute intrigued me, so I asked Uncle Google about him, and was referred to cousin Wiki, and really – it looks like it would be interesting to read a biography about that guy.

    And now, your comment intrigues me all the more. If you feel like it, tell us more!

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  19. brian stouder said on June 14, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    An article for Jeff tmmo (wherever his travels find him)


    The lead:

    TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Three Purdue engineering students are facing dozens of felony charges after prosecutors say they illegally accessed their professors’ accounts and altered their grades to better scores.
    According to Tippecanoe County court documents, on Jan. 3 the director of Information Technology Security Services for Purdue University (ITaP) contacted Purdue police concerning a student logging into a professor’s University computer account and changing grades.

    (I bet the comments at the end of the story end up heavily IU-centric!)

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  20. Deborah said on June 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I love Tony Hillerman’s Chee and Leaphorn novels, obviously because of where they take place.

    Another good detective series is Dona Leon’s that take place in Venice, I forget the name of the main character.

    It’s raining again in Santa Fe, yippee!

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  21. Deborah said on June 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Speaking of Nevil Shute, does anyone remember the PBS series in the 80s, A Town Like Alice? I loved that.

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  22. brian stouder said on June 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    My all-time fave PBS series list, in no particular order, is as follows:

    Playing the King (original recipe)

    and Ken Burns’ magnum opus – The Civil War

    The Burns series actually affected United States history at that time – if we believe Carl Woodward’s account! – wherein General Schwarzkopf* (spelling?) and Colin Powell had an obscenity-filled phone conversation after the general heard that some in the Bush-41 administration had compared him to McLellan(!!) – based the then-ongoing first-run of the series

    *not for nothing, I believe Nancy wrote at least a few really funny columns about General Schwarzkopf, who is from this general area (IIRC)

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  23. LAMary said on June 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I remember that one, Deborah. It was excellent.

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  24. Charlotte said on June 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Deborah — you should see if you can find Louis Owens’ Nightland — like Hillerman if Hillerman was a funny-but-pissed-off Indian. Set in your part of the world. He was a wonderful writer — one of my mentors. Wound up teaching at the U of NM (and sadly, killed himself, for which some of us are still trying to forgive him).

    My favorite pulp writer is Ross McDonald — such a great writer and so good with women characters (which some attribute to his wife co-writing with him). My sweetie turned me on to those …

    And yes, the Fergus thing is a mystery. Every bookseller I know is flummoxed …

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  25. Prospero said on June 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    My ex-wife and I were fanatical about the Poldark Masterpiece shows. Serious swashbuckling. Apparently, the Beeb is remaking Poldark, but they will have a hard time replacing Robin Ellis as Ross and Angharad Rees as one of TeeVee’s great tough redheads of all time, Demelza. Hell, I’d watch it if they brought those two back in middle age. Alas, Ms. Rees died last year, according to IMDb.

    On the Beach was another book that got the nuns pissed off at me in 8th grade. Why? I have no idea. They really didn’t like my reading The Ugly American, though.

    I remember being very surprised to learn that Tony Hillerman is anglo. He certainly seems to understand Hopi, Zuni and Navajo culture. Skinwalkers is a very fine read and The Blessing Way is even better. It’s a great writer’s decision to have Chee, the younger of the partners be the one most tied to traditional ways while Leaphorn, the elder, is a skeptic. Skinwalkers and Coyote Waits were both made into very good TeeVee movies with Wes Studi and Adam Beach. I think Graham Greene was also in both. He is currently in the SyFy channel show defiance. Three excellent actors.

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  26. Deborah said on June 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Charlotte, thanks for the tip. I will definitely get Nightland, I googled Owens and it sounds like a good read.

    I’m currently reading the latest John LeCarre, A Delicate Truth, and I finally finished The Warmth of Other Suns, which I loved. You’re right Brian, Florida comes off horribly.

    Prospero, I saw those TV movies about Leaphorn/Chee they were pretty good.

    It didn’t rain as much today as last night. We’re hoping that the monsoon season will start early this year what with all the fires etc. It’s not as bad as CO, those people there can’t seem to catch a break.

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  27. Prospero said on June 14, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    One thing about movies with native American characters, they always have Wes Studi, Adam Beech and Graham Greene in the casts, so the acting is always good.

    My new favorite female singer, Aoife O’Donald with a hot bluegrass band on a great old bluegrass standard.

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  28. brian stouder said on June 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Deborah- didn’t it just hurt your heart, as Ida Mae just keeps on keeping on, all the way to the end?

    Anyway, I am so glad our daughter is reading it; and it makes her smile that I’m in for the Hunger Games series. If I could make a trade this good another once or twice, I’ll feel like a success as a dad!

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  29. Deborah said on June 14, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    You are a success as a Dad, Brian, don’t for a minute think you aren’t. And yes, Ida Mae was my favorite, what a great lady.

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  30. brian stouder said on June 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Why, thank you very much, Deborah! I think we have lots of good dads hereabouts, and Happy Father’s day to all of ’em – and to the special women without whom none of it would be possible!

    I will say, the older I get, the less certain I am of anything. Presumably this is the way of the world, eh?

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  31. Crazycatlady said on June 14, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Beb is an expert on pulps. He has a huge collection. Do I know what they are worth? No. But he’s happy!

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  32. Prospero said on June 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Flannery O’Connor as a character in a novel. Excellent idea.

    And the unself-consciously pulpish cum psychedelic Inherent Vice, by Thomas Pynchon is a treat to read. Slumming, sorta, but with inimitable style.

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  33. Sherri said on June 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Can we trade one of our general officers for this guy? Our generals seem to have a hard time getting their heads around the problem of sexual assault in the armed services.


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  34. Deborah said on June 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Sherri, that guy is fantastic. So direct, so simple, wow!

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  35. Prospero said on June 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Surely there are lawyers her. How can the GOP change the interest rates on student government loans unilaterally. I never went to law school, but I got a few Little Rascal’s through. If you sign a contract, you cannot change the terms single-handedly. Where do these disgusting POS GOPers get off deciding that Lehman and BoA pay 0.75% and students payy 6.2% when they signed on for 3.2% Danny. Marks. How do you defend this grotesque lawlessness. They signed a contract. The terms of a contract are sacrosanct. How do the GOPers think they can just change this shit? How is that remotely legal? It can’t have anything to do with the market. The market says the rate is 0.75% you moronic bitches.

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  36. Prospero said on June 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I am not joking. If the government entered into a loan agreement at a certain 5 can congress just change it to fuck over likely ObMA VOTERS? Well that is what they did. And this is more serious than the whatsay

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  37. Rana said on June 15, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Prospero, from what I remember of my own student loans (and that’s over a decade ago) there’s a clause in there about variable interest rates, same as with credit cards. So what they’re doing may be skanky and horrid (and it is), but I doubt it’s actually illegal.

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  38. Minnie said on June 15, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I salute Lt. Gen. David Morrison’s lack of ambiguity. What the hell is the matter with our armed services that leaders don’t unequivocally condemn mistreatment of women.

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  39. Prospero said on June 16, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Rana, maybe it’s legal, but setting the interest rates at 0.75% for the big banks that took down the economy while increasing the student loan rate by doubling it is such obvious quid pro quo legislation it is not legal, it’s bribery of public officials, thanks to Citizens United. For which it’s likely Scalito got Koch Kriminal Konspiracy Kash. From what I understand of Contract Law, that sort of adversary provision would render the contract null. And no, I do not have any student loans. And people are worried about the NSA collecting telephone numbers with no conversations attached? Dumb as shit. Dumb as grunt.

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  40. alex said on June 16, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Facial expressions that seem to be saying “Get your fingers out of me.”

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  41. coozledad said on June 16, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Alex: That’s a good photo essay. Says volumes about the essential depravity and loneliness of fundie America.

    You can just about hear the wind carrying dust through those sullen-ass backwaters.

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  42. brian stouder said on June 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Alex – that was indeed good stuff. The back-story preceding it immediately reminded me of an older essay one of the women hereabouts linked to a month or two ago…I can’t remember who wrote it, but it elucidated the essentially distorted view that any photograph presents; that photos present themselves as prima facie “truth” in and of themselves, and invite the viewer to blithely see them as a whole-truth, rather than as the distortion that it must inevitably (and always) be.

    Still, as Cooze says, one can definitely hear that foresaken wind in several of those shots

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  43. Deborah said on June 16, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Creepy, creepy pictures Alex, especially 10 of 12. That poor girl looks miserable.

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  44. Prospero said on June 16, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Too many of those photos came from Arpaio country, where perverse child abuse is much less important than driving while brown:


    Or maybe the sex criminals just went to Hawai’i to unverify the birth certificate.

    Them fundigelcalicictament thang. They be a trip ain’t they? As a Catholic white guy, I reserve the right to look down on redneck assholes. We are all the last bastion of acceptable targets of bigotry.

    Fotos don’t mean much in the days of the internet. Like magic on TeeVee. Make a 747disappear? They did that on a Jimmy Smidts series. I’d like to convince myself that the napalm girl and Bobby dead on the floor of that hotel were photo-shopped. Then there is pulp news:


    Brought to you by GOPer chickenhawks.

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  45. Prospero said on June 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I’m a sadly-ass dad, but I have a righteous daughter that stands up for herself, and won’t tolerate shit from anybody. I am proud of that.

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  46. brian stouder said on June 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Pros – that’s all any dad could really wish for.

    I want my daughters to be absolutely intolerant of senseless stuff (aka shit); and I want my sons similarly unaccepting of (and unaffiliated with) senseless shit.

    It’s like that scene in Steve Martin’s movie The Jerk, where he is shown the difference between shit and Shinola*.

    What else can a dad offer?

    *I think the National (and the Indiana!) Republican Party is completely flummoxed on this point; and more is the pity, eh?

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  47. Deborah said on June 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Little Bird called her dad and wished him a happy father’s day. He ended up hanging up on her after he went into a tirade about Obamacare and abortion. Great dad, huh?

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  48. basset said on June 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I have no daughters, am not Catholic, and have never seen The Jerk… so I will wander off in a completely different direction. Anyone have any recommendations for software to keep your home accounts on? Just the simple stuff, checkbook and so forth… thanks. Quicken seems to be the default standard, my nearly innumerate self didn’t do too well with it though.

    Meanwhile… neighbor’s son, recent high school graduate, is just back from Bonnaroo. Where he, by his own account, watched and enjoyed the complete performance of the Wu Tang Clan, whoever in hell they might be, and soon afterward stayed in place for the first few minutes of Paul McCartney’s three-hour set and left to go crash in his tent. I don’t understand this at all.

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  49. LAMary said on June 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    My sons’ dad summoned them to visit today. Actually he summoned them to get themselves fifty miles up the coast to Malibu yesterday which would have included them sleeping over, but they opted for brunch today, then put that off to late lunch today. I had no input on that decision but I’m still glad they did it that way. I think they’re fed up with the short notice “invitations” with no regard of their plans. What they did instead of schleppping to Malibu was help me with yard work, fly a Zagi on the hillside, and helping me make braised short ribs for supper.
    Zagis are remote controlled gliders, wing shaped. With the updrafts here you can keep one going for very long periods. They’re great fun.

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  50. brian stouder said on June 16, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Basset – my lovely wife and daughters have been visiting Mickey Mouse all week, and I’m basically operating as if it was 1992. That is to say, I can do email and blogs like this one, but Facebook (etc) is not in my portfolio…so I’ve not seen the wagonloads of photos she’s been posting, and that then draw FB comments, for which I see the email notices(!)

    So you’re not alone in your cluelessness…but I will say that The Jerk is worth a rental, if you see it on the 99 cent-rack.

    Mary, ugh. The terrible dark secret of Father’s Day is – we don’t deserve it; or if we do, Mothers certainly deserve…at least a month, yes? Something like – Mother’s May, I think.

    But the Zagis sound very neat. (I bet I’m missing some cool photos of those, too!)

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  51. brian stouder said on June 16, 2013 at 10:58 pm


    Well, or – OLD news alert – regarding a thing that Nancy wrote about in her print column, many years ago. She (or her husband) might remember the twisted steel thing on the front lawn of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, named “Helmholtz”.

    When it was first built, some people (including me!) thought it looked about as artistic as a demolition site. But over the years, the thing grew on me, until it was as much a part of Downtown Fort Wayne as young Abe Lincoln in front of Lincoln Life, or the Powers Hamburger stand, near the Federal Building.

    And this morning, an impaired driver smashed into it – and now it’s damaged


    an excerpt:

    The Museum of Art said on its Facebook page that the sculpture’s steel was severely twisted. S afety inspectors are expected to inspect it on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.

    There are any number of too-easy jokes to make here, but reading the story I predict that the drunken driver smashed into the thing on purpose, and he will therefore deserve additional criminal charges. This isn’t terrorism, but it looks pretty nihilistic nonetheless

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  52. Brandon said on June 16, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    @alex, @Coozledad: Purity balls are something strange. Coozledad, have you read Max Blumenthal’s book Republican Gomorrah?

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  53. LAMary said on June 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Zagi photos:

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