Intl. Notebook Nov 28 2017
DARK MIRROR
This tabloid doesn't reflect well on anyone.


Every tabloid has its focus. NYC based National Mirror dealt in sexual violence. Some sample headers from this issue published today in 1967: Undertaker Sells Human Flesh to Sex Ring, Virgins Tease Plumber to Death, Over-Sexed Lover Bites Off Teen's Nipple, Motorcycle Gang Tortures Co-Ed. You get the gist. To offset the parade of horrors there's also some sports, cheesecake, hollywood gossip, and a bit of the weird. Of the stories fitting the last category, by far the top finisher in the bizarro sweepstakes is the article about a woman who said she laid nine eggs after being overcome by a compulsion to sleep in a hen house. “Doctors reacted cautiously to the claim. There was no reason to doubt [her], but there was no reason to believe her either.”

Huh? No reason to doubt her?


An egg is an egg,” said Justin Case, 51, head of the Silver Sands Medical Association. “How can we tell?


Of course, the story is pure fiction. You know that. The clue to the editors knowing it's fiction is in the good doctor's name—Justin Case. But as always with these tabs, the real question is whether any readers believed it. We don't think so. But we think some readers believed other readers believed it, and laughed about how dumb those people were. Making some people feel good by encouraging them to think others are dumb is a formula similar to that used by many cable news programs. For example, rather than interview a smart person who disagrees with the audience's point of view and would blow it to smithereens, they get a shill who's paid to be baffled and made to look foolish, thus reinforcing viewers' beliefs (and keeping them glued to the telly).


Way back when PSGP lived on Venice Beach in Los Angeles he was approached one morning by a film crew for something called Street Smarts, which was a segment that appeared on some late night talk show. He can't remember which one. The point of the show was to ask questions and watch people get them spectacularly wrong. After being plucked from his morning foot commute precisely because these Hollywood types thought he looked like a jock moron, PSGP answered 38 of 40 questions on camera correctly. He still remembers the two he missed: he failed to identify a photo of Britney Spears, and when asked what capital gains are, replied, “I don't know exactly what they are, but I know they're something I'll never have to worry about.” Laughter all around.


Of the 38 correct answers, getting gestation period right sticks in his mind. Presumed to be a moron, he was expected to answer with something about menstrual cycles, but instead said, “It's the period of time it takes a single cell to develop into an autonomous life form.” Raised eyebrows all around. The producer guy then said, “You were great. You looked great. You're really comfy on camera. You're funny. There's only one problem. We need you get some questions wrong. I'm not supposed to pay you, but I will if you do that.” He then re-asked several questions which PSGP now got wrong. The segment was later put on television for the entire country to point at and say, “Well, you know a guy like that's a fuckin' idiot. Just look at him.” Amazing what you'll do for twenty-five bucks when you're broke.


Anyway, we suspect basically the same thing went on with cheapie tabloids—i.e. that they were mainly designed to reinforce stereotypes for the enjoyment of basically closed-minded people. And today isn't the first time we've noticed the similarity between these old tabloids and today's cable news. Widely circulated magazines like Confidential and Hush-Hush served powerful roles by—it seems to us—nurturing and disseminating various regressive beliefs about smoking (harmless), students (spoiled), feminists (ballbreakers), blacks (the real racists), Europeans (commies), commies (godless), and sex (easily available to everyone except you).


We've had a lot of opportunity to ponder the whole concept of vintage tabloids because we've done more than 350 entries on them over the last nine years. Many of those entries, probably a hundred at least, come with multiple scans from our personal collection. Basically, Pulp Intl. is internet ground zero for vintage tabloids. No other website even comes close. We have some scans from today's issue of National Mirror below, and if you want (or dare) to go down the rabbit hole, you can see aaaaaaall those other tabs at our handy index right here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 21
1950—Alger Hiss Is Convicted of Perjury
American lawyer Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury in connection with an investigation by the House unAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), at which he was questioned about being a Soviet spy. Hiss served forty-four months in prison. Hiss maintained his innocence and fought his perjury conviction until his death in 1996 at age 92.
1977—Carter Pardons War Fugitives
U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all of the country's Vietnam War draft evaders, many of whom had emigrated to Canada. He had made the pardon pledge during his election campaign, and he fulfilled his promise the day after he took office.
January 19
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
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