Intl. Notebook Dec 6 2012
MODERN 1947
It was a year to remember.


Above is a photo of Manhattan, New York City, in the year 1947, looking from Battery Park toward midtown. Here you see everything—the Staten Island Ferry Building at bottom, Wall Street to the right, the 59th Street Bridge crossing Welfare Island at upper right, and in the hazy distance, the Empire State Building—at that time arguably America’s most recognized symbol. In the aftermath of a war that had destroyed Europe’s and Japan’s industrial capacity, the U.S. was the unquestioned power on the planet, with massive economic might, a military that had taken up permanent residence in dozens of countries, and a growing stock of nuclear weapons. Two years later the Soviets would detonate their first nuclear bomb, shaking the American edifice to its core. Meanwhile, all around the world, the seeds of change were taking root. Below is a look at the world as it was in 1947.


Firemen try to extinguish a blaze in Ballantyne’s Department Store in Christchurch, New Zealand.


American singer Lena Horne performs in Paris.

The hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, and the aftermath of the execution of Hisakazu Tanaka, who was the Japanese governor of occupied Hong Kong during World War II.


Sunbathers enjoy Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, and a military procession rumbles along Rua Catumbi.


Assorted Brooklyn Dodgers and manager Leo Durocher (shirtless in the foreground) relax at Havana, Cuba’s Estadio La Tropical, where they were holding spring training that year. Second photo, Cuban players for the Habana Leones celebrate the first home run hit at Havana’s newly built Estadio Latinoamericano.


Thousands of Muslims kneel toward Mecca during prayer time in Karachi, Pakistan.


A snarl of traffic near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.


The city hall of Cape Town, South Africa is lit up to celebrate the visit of the British Royal Family. Second photo, during the same South African trip, the royals are welcomed to Grahamstown.


A wrecked fighter plane rusts in front of Berlin’s burned and abandoned parliament building, the Reichstag. Second photo, a shot of ruins in Berlin’s Tiergarten quarter, near Rousseau Island.


A crowd in Tel Aviv celebrates a United Nations vote in favor of partitioning Palestine.

Men and bulls run through the streets of Pamplona, Spain during the yearly Festival of San Fermin.


Fog rolls across the Embarcadero in San Francisco; a worker descends from a tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Detectives study the body of a woman found murdered in Long Beach, California. Two P-51 Mustang fighters fly above Los Angeles.


Danish women from Snoghøj Gymnastics School practice in Odense.


Tens of thousands of protesters in Cairo demonstrate against the United Nations vote in favor of partitioning Palestine.


A beauty queen draped with a sash that reads “Modern 1947” is lifted high above the boardwalk in Coney Island, New York.


A woman in Barbados holds atop her head a basket filled with fibers meant for burning as fuel.


Mahatma Gandhi, his bald head barely visible at upper center, arrives through a large crowd for a prayer meeting on the Calcutta Maidan, India.


Major League Baseball player Jackie Robinson is hounded for autographs in the dugout during a Brooklyn Dodgers game.

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Intl. Notebook Jul 11 2012
SAN FERMIN THROUGH THE YEARS
The Festival is more popular than ever, but the art hit its heyday decades ago.

We were so inspired by our time in the Basque town of Pamplona (you may remember we went there before) that today we decided to share some vintage posters celebrating las ferias y fiestas de San Fermín. We watched the encierro, i.e. running, from a first floor balcony on Calle Estafeta, and that’s about as good as it gets, as our photo above shows. As far as the actual bullfights go, we didn't see any. Not that we're opposed. We've been to several over the years and came away with some intense feelings, mostly of sympathy for the animals. But since it isn't our culture, we don't take a stance on the practice's merits or evils. What we do take a stance on is the art of the festival, some of which we've uploaded below. The collection encompasses varying styles of graphic design, but through all the shifts the posters retained an extremely high level of quality for about fifty years. That golden period was followed by an all too typical abandonment of painterly skill, which was replaced in the 1960s by photography, and later by yawn-inducing InDesign and Photoshop technicianship. For that reason, the posters made during the 1970s and forward compare very unfavorably to the early pieces. While the artistic skill to produce great posters is undoubtedly still out there, such art might be more expensive than desktop design, which means that, as in nearly all areas of modern life, a focus on the bottom line tilts the landscape toward mediocrity. But let's not worry about that. The posters below are glorious, just like the long nights and crazy days of San Fermin. 

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Intl. Notebook Jul 11 2012
MADE IN SPAIN
Pulp is where you find it.

We’re back from our jaunt to Sevilla, Cordova, and Pamplona, and as promised we looked for and found some pulp. On a 100 Fahrenheit day in Cordova we met an antique dealer on the Plaza de la Corredera who had four crates of vintage cowboy pulps from the Spanish publishing houses Bruguera, Crucero, and Andina. The example below, entitled La Heina de Tulsa, was written by Marcial Lafuente Estefanía in 1983, just a year before his death. Bruguera cover art was often uncredited, however this one is attributed to someone identified as Garcia. We’ll get to uploading more of these later.
 

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Vintage Pulp Feb 22 2012
LIFE IS A CARNIVAL
Freak show on the dance floor.

At the end of last month we posted a few images of Bettie Page that hadn’t appeared online before. They came from an issue of Carnival we were too lazy too scan in its entirety at the time. Today we have the rest of that great issue, vol. 1, no. 2, published out of Chicago, U.S.A. by Hillman Periodicals, who were the same people behind the magazine Show. The cover star is burlesque queen Lilly Christine, aka The Cat Girl, and she reappears in all her wild-eyed glory in a photo set we've placed at the very bottom of this post. We’ve seen at least two of those photos before in other magazines, however Carnival claims it was an exclusive set, shot especially for them, and indeed, that could be true, since theirs appeared before the others we saw.

After a peek behind the scenes of the Miss Universe pageant, readers get a profile of Ernest Hemingway’s most recent trip to Spain. Hemingway was visiting the Festival of San Fermin in the Basque Country town of Pamplona in order to see how his favorite sport of bullfighting had fared in the years since he’d last visited. Since the text in these digest-sized magazines scans large enough to be legible, you can read whatCarnival says about the famed festival yourself. We will note, however, that the writer’s description of Pamplona as dull when San Fermin isn’t happening is wrong. Spain in general, and the Basque Country in particular, are never dull. Trust us—we’ve spent a lot of time there. If you’re interested, you can read our firsthand observations of San Fermin here and here.

Carnival next presents readers with photos of dancer Nejla Ates, whose short set begins just below. We first saw one of these shots in an issue of Uncensored dating from June 1954, but once again Carnival seems to have gotten there first—their photos are from 1953. Ates, who for some reason often appears online unidentified, was Romanian born ofTatar descent, and danced her way through Cairo, Rome, Paris, and London, before finally gaining international fame in New York City. She appeared in three American films during the 1950s, and was the go-to cover model for Middle-Eastern and bellydancing themed album sleeves, but despite her successes suffered the usual slate of dead end affairs and romantic heartbreaks with such men as, among others, Billy Daniels, George Sanders, and Gary Crosby.

Following Ates is a photo feature on American actress and party girl Barbara Payton, who burned a swath through Hollywood during the 1950s, bedding co-stars, feuding with her studio, and generally raising a ruckus before eventually drifting into prostitution and dying at age forty of heartand liver failure. She’s described here as possessing the “assets of Hedy Lamarr, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe” all at once. Not sure about that, but we'll be finding out more about her later, because we will be examining her very pulpish life story in detail.

Next you get a great close-up photo of Jersey Joe Walcott having a disagreement with Rocky Marciano’s fist. Does that shot also look familiar? Perhaps because it was the cover of a January 1953 National Police Gazette. We had no idea that the fight was considered controversial at the time. Apparently, many thought Walcott took a dive. Since thisphoto is of the actual the shot that sent Walcott to the canvas, we have to respectfully disagree. It’s lights out, and anyone can see that. In any case, you can take a gander at that Gazette cover and learn a bit about Marciano and Walcott here.

A few more treats: panel 24, just below, contains a hot shot of Marilyn Monroe at a charity baseball game; panel 26 features actress Sheree North, who doesn’t look very impressive, which means you should clickover to our lovely femme fatale post on her here and get a sense of what a knockout she really was; and lastly, in panel 28, above, you get a killer shot of Zsa Zsa Gabor, who, believe it or not, was already nearly forty at the time and had been married three times on the way to her final tally of nine.

Looking at all these pages and visiting the accompanying links, you perhaps get a sense of how the mid-century tabloid industry was fueled by handout photos, with all the publications using the same shots but concocting editorial angles to create the illusion that the images were exclusive. But in Carnival’s case, it does seem to have published many of these images first. It billed itself as “a magazine of excitement”, and we have to agree. It’s also a magazine that, because of its tightly bound construction, we had to destroy in order to scan. But even though this particular issue of Carnival is now only loose leaves scattered across the room, there are other issues out there, and we’ll have some of them later, hopefully.  

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Intl. Notebook Jul 9 2010
UP A SPANISH TREE
What do you have to do to get a good view around here?
Those are our friends Jonael Esteban (in blue) and David Barbarin, finally settling on a vantage point from which to watch the encierro. This was after we all walked around for perhaps an hour hoping to find an unobstructed vantage point, and finally coming to the sad conclusion that the tree was the best option. With more than a million tourists turning up at the Festival of San Fermin every year, space is at a premium. So let this be a lesson—in order to see this spectacle you need to get to the route by 6 a.m. at the latest. And then you need to perch atop a fence post for two hours. Don’t forget some snacks, but forgo the liquids unless you want to risk abandoning your spot for a bathroom break. There is one other solution: for around thirty euros you can rent a balcony. If that seems like a lot of money to see a bunch of bulls pass by in less than ten seconds, it is, but at least breakfast is included. Anyway, a few of David’s treetop shots are below.
 
 
And these next photos are ones your humble authors took from ground level. We aren’t trying to turn Pulp Intl. into a travel site, so this is the last you’ll see of San Fermin (probably). But as we said in our very first post, sometimes an event can be pulp, and if ever one fit the bill, this is it. As a side note, we should mention that these Basques here in northern Spain, and the Spaniards in general, party with incredible abandon. They absolutely trash the town and then simply clean it up and do it all again the next night. Here’s an update on today’s run and gorings. Yesterday, three of the matadors who faced bulls in the Pamplona plaza de toros were hurt. One was gored on the ear, another on the hand, and a third dislocated a shoulder. We had been under the impression that when a bull beat a matador, the animal was sent back to the stables intact. Not true—at least not here. Substitute matadors were brought in, and all the bulls eventually were killed. Back with your regularly scheduled website Monday.     

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Intl. Notebook Jul 8 2010
RAGING BULLS
Pulp Intl. at the Festival of San Fermin.

The Pamplonistas thought of it, but Hemingway made it famous. It’s the Festival of San Fermin, with its central event, the encierro, or running of the bulls. The shot at top shows it the way Hemingway probably saw it; the subsequent photo shows how many people visit the Festival today. As we mentioned in a previous post, Ernest Hemingway inspired multitudes to imitate his lifestyle. His descriptions of the encierro, which he folded into the narrative of his exquisitely romantic and desolate debut novel The Sun Also Rises, exposed the English-speaking world to Pamplona's signature event. And like the bulls, the people came running.
 
The encierro happens fast. We were camped out near the beginning of the route, where the bulls are released, and they simply blazed by. There is no running “with” the bulls at that point—they rattle past like a freight train. We’ve been told, though, that after this uphill stretch, two tight turns, and some mid-course congestion, they tend to slow down a bit, which invites closer interaction with the runners, aka mozos. We saw none of that. In the few seconds we had we shot three photos, which you see just below. In the first two, the runners are looking back at the approaching horde of men and beasts, and in the third the bulls are a blur.
 
You’ve probably heard that the encierro is dangerous, but the truth of that depends on your idea of danger. Deaths average two per decade, including one last year. That isn't going to get most people quaking in their espadrilles, but injuries are common—this morning there were four minor horn wounds, one broken ankle and, we’d guess, several dozen bruises and scrapes. So the question is, how do you like those odds? The odds for the bulls are not so good—six will be killed in the plaza de toros this evening. We won’t bother with any polemics about the tradition of bullfighting, or animal murder, depending on your view. We’re not from Spain, thus we don’t feel we have the right to comment. How’s that for a refreshing attitude? 

Below, we’ve expropriated photos of some of San Fermin’s finest cornadas, which we’ll have to take down in a day or two to avoid any copyright issues. In panel 13 you see last year’s fatal goring (a horn through the top of the left shoulder, severing the brachial artery and shredding a lung), and in panel 14 you see a horn piercing the underside of an unfortunate mozo’s chin, though non-fatally. These are both atypical injuries—a bull rakes upward with its horns and usually hooks a human in the groin region (or the ass if you happen to be running away like a sensible person). In the final shot, panel 15, you see how the men of Pamplona separate themselves from the boys—in the plaza de toros they crouch en masse in the bull’s path and force it to leap over them. You want to show you’ve got true cojones? Try that.     

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 16
1943—First LSD Trip Takes Place
Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, while working at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, accidentally absorbs lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, and thus discovers its psychedelic properties. He had first synthesized the substance five years earlier but hadn't been aware of its effects. He goes on to write scores of articles and books about his creation.
April 15
1912—The Titanic Sinks
Two and a half hours after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage, the British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks, dragging 1,517 people to their deaths. The number of dead amount to more than fifty percent of the passengers, due mainly to the fact the liner was not equipped with enough lifeboats.
1947—Robinson Breaks Color Line
African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson officially breaks Major League Baseball's color line when he debuts for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Several dark skinned men had played professional baseball around the beginning of the twentieth century, but Robinson was the first to overcome the official segregation policy called—ironically, in retrospect—the "gentleman's agreement".
April 14
1935—Dust Storm Strikes U.S.
Exacerbated by a long drought combined with poor soil conservation techniques that caused excessive soil erosion on farmlands, a huge dust storm known as Black Sunday rages across Texas, Oklahoma, and several other states, literally turning day to night and redistributing an estimated 300,000 tons of topsoil.

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