Intl. Notebook Jul 12 2014
STATES OF ORIGIN
Home is where the art is.

Of all our intermission cards this is our favorite because it looks like a dude wearing psychedelic sunglasses. Can you see that or is it just us? Anyway, we’re having a break Stateside. It’s been a few years. We expect to find plenty of fresh pulp because, frankly, nobody collects that kind of art like Americans. We’ll be in Los Angeles, Denver and points between, and the website will be idle for about a week, maybe nine days. If this is your first visit please have a look around. There are thousands of time-killing articles and tens of thousands of pieces of unique art to see. We’ll get you started. Try the interesting posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

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Intl. Notebook Jul 9 2014
APACHE TERRITORY
The light is the end of the tunnel.

The Apache nuclear test, which was part of Operation Redwing, is one of the archetypal post-Hiroshima atomic images. We’ve even seen it described as beautiful. Based on pure aesthetics, perhaps that’s true. But of late, global events have reminded many people that these weapons are still the number one threat to human life. In fact, the current state of geopolitics makes the use of nuclear weapons inevitable—i.e., all the nations that have them, such as the U.S., Russia, China and others, routinely break international law, while those that don’t have them are routinely bullied and attacked. In such a two-tiered system, non-nuclear countries believe ultimate security can be derived from only one thing—the acquisition of nukes. It’s a recipe for global failure. The Apache nuclear test occurred at Enewetak Atoll in the South Pacific today in 1956. 

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Intl. Notebook Jun 6 2014
MIXED SIGNALS
The divide between fact and propaganda is never so clear as in hindsight.


Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day—the Allied landings in Northern France—and since most observances take the same form, we thought it would be a good opportunity to look at the event from a different angle by sharing something you might not see anywhere else. So above and below are some front and back covers of Signal, a German propaganda magazine printed from 1940 to 1945 and distributed in neutral, friendly, and occupied countries. These are from Yugoslavia, and their text is Croatian. Glancing at the images is to marvel at the always yawning chasm between propaganda and reality, for though Signal showed Hitler’s soldiers defeating foes while winning hearts and minds, when most of these were printed his army was not only the most hated entity in the Western world, but was already in the process of being fatally smashed in the crucible of a bitter Russian winter against a hardened foe that had always considered ice, snow, wind and frostbite its most important allies.

Once the other allies, led by the U.S., dragged the Germans into a two-front war, defeat was assured. That outcome could have been forestalled perhaps by the development of advanced technology, particularly a German atomic bomb, but it never quite happened. And yet under the direction of the Wehrmacht and Hasso von Wedel, winning imagery kept spinning from the web of German presses, depicting beautiful frauen cavorting in the homeland and smiling soldiers abroad doing the tough but necessary work of unifying Europe. But the intended recipients of these messages had begun to understand the truth—the Germans were finished, and the devastation they had wrought on foreign lands was coming home to roost. When bombs finally fell like rain on Berlin and enemy soldiers stormed the ramparts east and west, Hitler’s imagined 1,000-year Reich was over. It had lasted barely five years.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 5 2014
A DROP IN THE OCEAN
What’s another nuclear bomb, more or less?

This nuclear test, which was codenamed Dione, was a 34-kiloton blast conducted by France in the South Pacific at Mururoa Atoll, which along with its sister atoll Fangataufa was the site of nearly two hundred atomic detonations. The bomb was named after one of the thousands of Océanides, who in Greek mythology were aquatic nymphs born of their father Ocean and their mother the sea goddess Tethys. We only mention all that because we love how the French can poeticize even the worst thing ever created by humanity. Anyway, the test was today in 1971, and if that seems late for an aboveground test, it wasn’t—France exploded its last nuclear bomb on Mururoa in 1996. 
 
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Intl. Notebook May 9 2014
SUMMER READING
Pulp fiction and nude sunbathing—two great tastes that go great together.


As the weather warms and spring morphs into a long rejuvenating summer, a group in New York City has devised a way to wring the most out of the upcoming season. Formed when two pulp aficionados learned that in NYC women can legally go topless anywhere it’s legal for men do so, the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society combines reading and sun worship in the most pleasing way. They meet in Central Park, private rooftops, and anywhere else that suits their fancy. They’ve been around for several years, but this year their story has been picked up by media outlets such as The Guardian and Huffington Post. They aren’t quite what you’d call a viral sensation yet, but certainly their reach has expanded of late. Since we’ve been combining pulp with bare bodies for years, we thought we’d better join the chorus of support.

In our little nook of the world a four-block walk puts us plop on the nude end of our local beach. Perhaps that’s why when we wandered over to the Society’s blog, it was the pulp that interested us more than the skin. On that score we have to say that the group almost looks like a publicity arm for Hard Case Crime. Not that there’s anything wrong with Hard Case or its many entertaining publications. The company filled a market void withshinily packaged, much-appreciated pulp novels. But in our opinion, the true pulp aficionado finds it just as much fun to dig through the musty shelves of a dark, ancient bookshop as to loll in the sunshine. When we see photos of Society members enjoying the scuffed and moldy fruits of New York’s famed secondhand bookstores we’ll know they’re true pulp fans. In the meantime you can learn all about them here.

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Intl. Notebook May 2 2014
TUMBLING OUT OF CONTROL
Our civilization has avoided nuclear destruction so far, but has it been by design or chance?


This debris cloud was generated yesterday in 1952 by the nuclear blast codenamed Dog, which was part of Operation Tumbler-Snapper, a series of tests that occurred at the Nevada Test Site that year. The people you see in the image are just a few of the 2,100 marines who observed the explosion. Last month Chatham House released a sobering nuclear study showing that there have been thirteen incidents since 1962 that qualify as “near use” of nuclear weapons. In two of those—the famed Oleg Penkovsky incident and the less famous but more serious Stanislaw Petrov incident—nuclear holocaust may have been averted only because individuals disobeyed orders. Chatham House also details many instances of “sloppy practice.” Two examples: President Jimmy Carter once left the U.S. nuclear launch codes in a suit that was taken to the dry cleaners, and in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was shot, his bloody pants containing the launch codes ended up in the hands of FBI agents who had no authorization to possess them. There are instances of sloppy practice from as recently as 2013. If you’re in the mood for some sobering reading, the report is here. 

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Intl. Notebook Apr 18 2014
A GOOD FRIDAY
It’s a perfect opportunity for another quick break.

We’re leaving the country, but we’ll be back in three or four days. Or five. In the meantime take off your shoes and stay awhile. You like Japanese poster art? Try here. Pulp cover art? Here. Blaxploitation movies? Got you covered. General mayhem and weirdness? Crime history? Check and check. Enjoy your stay.

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Intl. Notebook Mar 25 2014
EXTRACURRICULAR RADIOACTIVITY
And poof! Like magic, a mushroom cloud. Now who wants to see me saw the principal in half?

In this photo taken today in 1950 a group of Washington, D.C. high school students watch a teacher simulate a nuclear pyrocumulus cloud. He did it by using a high frequency spark to ignite a mixture of sulfur and zinc. To complete the lesson the students simply had to imagine the cloud infinitely larger, preceded by an explosion hotter than the center of the sun, emitting an energy flash capable of instantly incinerating people, followed by hurricane winds, radioactive fallout, and millions of horrible, lingering deaths. Who said science can’t be fun?

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Intl. Notebook Mar 16 2014
LUCKY PENNIES
Winning against the Odds.

Punchboards such as the one you see above originated during the 1700s, and by the early 1900s were being produced at a rate of millions per year. They hit the peak of their popularity during the 1930s and 1940s and were generally found in bars and other places of merriment. So, what were they? Basically, you’d pay pennies to select numbers and if you punched out the right one you’d win something. That something used to be money, which made these similar to lottery tickets, but when that type of gambling came under legal pressure from state governments, the prizes became goods such as beer, cigarette lighters or, in this case, cigarettes. What makes this Odd Pennies punchboard particularly collectible is the art by pin-up king Rolf Armstrong. Probably 1940-ish on this item. 

Update: We got an email from Joe R., who writes: "RE: the Lucky Pennies post, the Lucky Strikes package went from green to white in 1942 (the famous "Lucky Strike Green has gone to war" ad campaign), so there's a good possibility that this punchboard goes back to the 1930s.

Joe: Thanks for writing in. Now that you mention it, we think you're right. We took a detailed look around the interwebs and some of the other punch boards Armstrong illustrated actually go all the way back to the late 1920s, apparently. So mid-1930s seems like a good deduction on the date here.

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Intl. Notebook Mar 4 2014
SPACE ODDITY
Some invitations are harder to come by than others.

When we first saw this post card/invitation card, we assumed it was for the gala 1993 Japanese re-release of Barbarella, but we’re told it’s actually from 1968, which makes sense considering how faded it is. In any case, it's an unusual and fun souvenir from an unusual and fun movie. See the reverse below. 


 
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 31
1964—Riot Stops Stones Concert
The Rolling Stones play in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but the show is stopped after twelve minutes because of violence in the audience. Some fans are carried away in straitjackets.
July 30
1935—Penguin Launched
Penguin Books is launched by Allen Lane and begins publishing cheap, no-frills paperbacks. Lane's idea of selling books not just in bookstores, but in train stations, pharmacies and corner stores, quickly revolutionizes the publishing market.
July 29
1957—Paar Takes Over Tonight Show
Today in 1957 Jack Paar begins hosting The Tonight Show. During Paar's five year stint, his unpredictable antics and strong comedic style help turn the program into a ratings juggernaut and a national institution.
1981—Charles and Diana Marry
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer marry at St Paul's Cathedral before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated global television audience of 750 million, making it the most popular program ever broadcast.

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