Intl. Notebook Jul 27 2016
PEGASE IN FLIGHT
It doesn't look like much now but wait until it spreads its wings.


This image shows the first instant of the French nuclear test Pégase, which took place at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia today in 1970. Pégase is of course French for Pegasus, but this particular aerial phenomenon isn't something you ride through the sky to perform acts of heroism. The protrusions at the bottom of the plasma ball are wires used to stabilize the testing tower vaporizing, a phenomenon you can see in better detail here and here. You can also see a typical testing tower with wires intact here.

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Intl. Notebook Jul 11 2016
CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC
Acme semaphores and intersections of history.

A couple of days ago we shared a photo of Martha Vickers sitting atop an old-fashioned traffic signal. Such devices—with flags that popped up bearing the words “stop” and “go” as a bell rang—were known as semaphores. The particular type seen with Vickers was manufactured by the Acme Traffic Signal Company and used primarily in the Los Angeles area. Other cities had different types of signals. For instance San Francisco primarily had Wiley traffic signals. Acme semaphores were general around L.A. during the 1920s and 1930s, but due to the tendency of birds to set up house inside the flag mechanism, the signals were soon deemed inadequate. They were eventually replaced by standard three-light traffic signals, with the last semaphores coming down during the mid-1950s. Like us, you may be aware of Acme semaphores thanks to their appearances in Warner Brothers or Loonie Tunes cartoons, or perhaps you even remember them from personal experience. Well, today you get to ride down memory lane, because above and below we have a collection of photos of these elegant inventions, with mid-century L.A. providing the backdrop.

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Intl. Notebook Jul 6 2016
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
Ericsson robot bridges the communication gap.

This interesting photo of a giant robot holding a telephone was shot in Mexico City and documents an advertising effort from the Swedish communications company Allmänna Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, known in Mexico as simply Teléfonos Ericsson. The robot was one of many temporarily suspended above the streets of Mexico City's historic center around 1930. Want to see another 1930s promotional robot? Check out Elektro.

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Intl. Notebook Jul 2 2016
REVOLUTION DAYS
Comprehensive photography book looks back at Cuba during the 1960s.

Seems everyone's talking about Cuba these days. Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the island in ages, and every megacorporation from Home Depot to Major League Baseball wants to do business there. By any measure, Cuba's is a remarkable story, particularly its educational and medical accomplishments in the face of an economic blockade that keeps out everything from computer chips to breakfast cereal.

Despite that embargo, Cubans can convincingly claim to be better off than residents in nearby capitalist nations like Honduras (highest per capita murder rate in the world), El Salvador (thousands killed each year by rampaging drug gangs), Haiti (59% poverty rate), and even Puerto Rico ($70 billion in debt—an astonishing $20,000 per resident). But one thing Cubans don't have is the opportunity to accumulate wealth. That may be about to change.

At such a moment, then, it seems like a good opportunity to look back at Cuba as it was during the heady days during and just after the Cuban Revolution. Cuba la fotografía de los años 60 is a large volume of images from that time, shot by such figures as Ernesto Fernández, Alberto Korda, and Raúl Corrales. The photos are mostly rare, and the technical quality is consistently high. We scanned the images below several years ago (the book appeared in 1988), but only just got around to sharing them today. As a bonus, there's an eloquent preface written by Roberto Fernández Retamar, which we've uploaded in its entirety.
 
If you've followed Pulp Intl. for a while you probably know we lived in Central America for some years, spending most of our time in Guatemala, but traveling around to numerous countries on the isthmus and in the Caribbean. So the region is a subject of some interest to us. Cuba will gain plenty from being allowed to reconnect with the world, but it will lose plenty too. It's impossible to know what sort of balance will be struck. Cubans, excited but also concerned, hope for a better one than exists in many of its neighbor countries, but only time will tell. 

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Intl. Notebook Jun 29 2016
STATE OF AROUSA
She's a real Bettie—no mistake about it.


This tattered but still attractive Lebanese magazine is called Al Arousa, which means “the bride,” we think, and it dates from 1957. The seller says that's Spanish actress Isabel Mestres on the front cover, which shows what he knows—the star of this photo-illustration is obviously American model Bettie Page. There she is wearing the same ensemble at right.
 
Page used the outfit in a burlesque loop known on the internet as simply, “Harem,” which features her being introduced by an emcee and doing a little hip swaying on a sound stage. It's a short, non-nude performance—two facts that may disappoint some—but if you want to check it out try here. We're thrilled to have come across this magazine cover, and we'll mark it down as our second best Bettie Page discovery.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 28 2016
IDOLO WORSHIP
A Schell of her former self.


Above is our second issue of Colleción Idolos de Cine, this one featuring Austrian born actress Maria Schell. Not well known now, Schell was an acclaimed figure who won best actress at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival for Die Letzte Brücke and won the Volpi Cup for best actress at the 1956 Venice Film Festival for GervaiseAs we mentioned before, we found these obscure Idolos magazines in Barcelona a while back and grabbed six. You can see the previous issue we posted here.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 24 2016
WHEN PIGS FRY
Wow, something smells amazing.


This photo shows the debris cloud of the nuclear test Priscilla, which was part of the series of tests codenamed Operation Plumbbob, conducted during the summer and autumn of 1957 at the Nevada Test Site. For this particular blast, more than seven hundred pigs were garbed in suits made of different materials to test various means of protecting living tissue from thermal radiation. Guess what? It didn't work. The pigs survived, but with third-degree burns over 80% of their bodies, making for one of the cruelest, but undoubtedly most mouth-watering nuclear tests in history. 

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Intl. Notebook Jun 15 2016
RIE THINKING
Rie Nakagawa loses battle with cancer.


We talked just last week about Rie Nakagawa's film Danjo Seiji-gaku: Kojin jugyo, aka Man & Woman Sexology: Private Lessons, and we also wrote up her film Kaben no shizuku, aka Beads from a Petal back in February. News came that she died of cancer in Tokyo yesterday. Though known mainly for her roman porno films, she had continued working and had appeared on television as recently as last year. Japanese cinema is a bit less luminous today.

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Intl. Notebook May 26 2016
CINEMONDE VERITE
Lifestyles of the French and famous.


Does this image of Karin Dor look familiar? Possibly because it’s the same one we used in a femme fatale post on her late last year. It was made to promote the film You Only Live Twice, and appeared in many places, here for example on the cover of the French magazine Cinémonde. Focusing pretty much exclusively on movies and movie stars, Cinémonde launched in 1928 and lasted until 1971, with seven years of dormancy from 1940 to 1946, and another two in 1969 and 1970. The examples you see here are all from the mid- to late-1960s, when director Maurice Bessy moved toward less conservative graphics than in the past. Generally Cinémonde cover stars were women, often French, but every once in a while a guy made the cut, such as the fronts with Marlon Brando and Gérard Philipe below. We’ll get to the interiors of Cinémonde a bit later.

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Intl. Notebook May 6 2016
NEW NUDES ARE OLD NUDES
French photographer earns raves for fresh look at the nude form... except for one little thing.


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to be impressed by those who do. Especially when it comes to art. The very nice image above was shot by Parisian photographer Dani Olivier. He has published three photo books, exhibited his pieces all over France, as well as in galleries in such places as Kiev, Moscow, and Los Angeles, and describes his work as an effort to create nude portraits “that [haven't] been shot before.” Ah, but they have been shot before, Dani, they surely have, and by one of your countrymen, no less—Fernand Fonssagrives, as we discussed here.

The photo we posted back in 2012 was one from the Fonssagrives canon that had never been seen online before, which makes it worth a gander, but for those disinclined to click over there, an example of Fonssagrives' work from 1956 appears below. Very similar, no? We have a feeling Olivier would exclaim, “But Fonssagrives' light is dots, while mine is sperm, you idiot!” Well, dots, sperm—maybe Fonssagrives' is sperm too, but seen head-on.

There's no doubting Olivier's light patterns are more varied and detailed, however Fonssagrives might have gone in a similarly precise direction had he possessed similarly superior projection technology. In any case, we love Dani Olivier’s work. But the quote about its originality caught our eye, as well as the fact that none of the articles we checked on him mentioned Fonssagrives, so we were pretty much compelled to bring up the old master, who certainly deserves his just due.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 08
1980—John Lennon Killed
Ex-Beatle John Lennon is shot four times in the back and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Chapman had been stalking Lennon since October, and earlier that evening Lennon had autographed a copy of his album Double Fantasy for him.
December 07
1941—Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor
The Imperial Japanese Navy sends aircraft to attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its defending air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While the U.S. lost battleships and other vessels, its aircraft carriers were not at Pearl Harbor and survived intact, robbing the Japanese of the total destruction of the Pacific Fleet they had hoped to achieve.
December 06
1989—Anti-Feminist Gunman Kills 14
In Montreal, Canada, at the École Polytechnique, a gunman shoots twenty-eight young women with a semi-automatic rifle, killing fourteen. The gunman claimed to be fighting feminism, which he believed had ruined his life. After the killings he turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.

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