Intl. Notebook | Politique Diabolique Nov 22 2013
UNHAPPY ANNIVERSARY
Fifty years on and the American mainstream media have completely retreated into an alternate reality.


Stories about John F. Kennedy’s assassination have been appearing in the media for several weeks leading up the 50th anniversary of the event, as various outlets try to get ahead of the wave of interest, but we’re purists here, so we’re sharing this poster today, on the actual anniversary of the murder. Let’s get the basics out of the way first. As we’ve mentioned before, a Gallup poll taken days after the killing showed that a majority of Americans believed Oswald was not the only participant. That percentage has gone up since, reaching more than 80%, according to some surveys. That means people who believe Oswald acted with others have always been the majority, and today are the vast majority. That’s something your trusted media outlet always leaves out, doesn’t it? The point is if you think there was a conspiracy, you are the norm, part of an overwhelming norm, rather than some crackpot minority.

It’s an important point because many of the articles published today ask questions like, “Why do people believe in conspiracies?” The problem with that question lies in its framing—it implies that we live in a world that has no or few conspiracies, that it’s silly to believe they exist. That’s very interesting, considering that in the Libor scandal up to 20 major banks conspired to rig interest rates in a $350 trillion derivatives market, that Britain’s spy agency GCHQ conspired to secretly tap into the fiber optic cables that carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic, that the bank HSBC conspired to launder billions of dollars in South American drug cartel money, that ING conspired to violate sanctions against certain types of business dealings with Cuba and Iran, that News of the World conspired to illegally hack the phones of private citizens, and that Merrill Lynch conspired to deliberately overcharge 95,000 customers $32 million in unwarranted fees. All of these happened in just the last few years. 

To listen to the mainstream media, you’d almost think there weren’t actual criminal proceedings or lawsuits extant in every example we just mentioned. It takes a willful disconnection from reality to deny how prevalent conspiracies are in modern life when hundreds of perpetrators are at this moment sitting as defendants in court because they were caught… um conspiring. If we want to delve into a few historical examples of conspiracies, then note that the NSA conspired to mislead the U.S. public about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, that American asbestos companies conspired to cover up the truth about the danger of their product, and that in 1962 the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff conspired to kill American citizens. That conspiracy took the form of a proposal called Operation Northwoods. In short, American citizens would have been killed in a series of terrorist bomb attacks that would have been blamed on Cuba. Northwoods was approved for implementation by every one of the sitting Joint Chiefs. Really let that sink in. The only reason the American government did not kill American citizens is because John F. Kennedy said no—he wasn’t interested in committing high treason and murder so he could invade Cuba.
 
All of examples we’ve cited above—a small percentage of the whole, by the way—are incontrovertible historical facts, easily referenced in reams of unearthed documents and on the internet. And all are conspiracies by definition. So the question we should be asking today isn’t why so many people believe in conspiracies, but why the mainstream media are so far removed from the factual realities of human, corporate, and political existence, why they are so resistant to the simple truth that conspiracies are how powerful actors circumvent regulations, laws, and democratic rights. Or more to the point, exactly what planet do mainstream journalists live on? Not this one, seemingly.
 
Here at Pulp Intl., we do not style ourselves as truth tellers or serious investigators. We just like pulp art and good white wine, and if we can combine the latter with our naked girlfriends, all the better. Do we think JFK was the victim of a conspiracy? Yes. But he was dead before we were born, so in truth, we don’t feel any great passion about it. But to us he is symbolic of the steep decline of the modern American mainstream press. Consider this: in a world where conspiracies incontrovertibly occur, and occur so often that it's actually difficult to keep track of them all, the American press continues to use terms like "conspiracy theory" as an epithet and treats anyone who questions the official JFK assassination story like a fool or a nut case. At the very least, that’s a disservice. At worst it's deliberate social engineering.

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Intl. Notebook Oct 31 2013
GOING UNTER
Pulp Intl. gives Berlin a whirl.

We’re going to Berlin today. Vintage material probably abounds, but in such a sprawl we may not be able to find anything in the time we’re there. We’ll give it our best effort. Every trip presents us with the choice of whether to keep posting on Pulp Intl. or let it stand idle. This time we’re opting for idle. If you’re a regular visitor, you know the drill. If you’ve never visited here before, please have a look around. This is one of the most extensive pulp related websites on the internet, with content going back to 2008 comprising more than 2,300 separate articles and about 25,000 pieces of vintage art, much of it never previously uploaded to the internet. Besides book covers, other areas of specialization include Japanese film, Australian men’s magazines, American tabloids, and general weirdness. You can use the category links at right, plug terms into the search box at lower right (just under the lady wearing a kimono), use the keyword links at the bottom of every post, or simply read chronologically to the bottom of the page where the “next page” link will send you to past entries. Or, just for fun, if you click this link it will take you back to 2008, and by clicking “previous page” you can navigate forward. We’ll be back soon. 

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Intl. Notebook Oct 29 2013
NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE
A very bad end to a very bad night.

The above mugshot shows burlesque queen Bettie Page after being arrested in Hialeah, Florida. In response to an emergency call, police arrived at a local residence to find Page in the front yard battering her former husband Harry Lear. We can’t help but note that if Florida’s Stand Your Ground law had been on the books back then, Lear could have simply shot Page dead, no muss, no fuss. But Florida had a semi-sane legal code at the time, so when the police arrived they hauled her off to the precinct. That was in the wee hours today in 1972.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 30 2013
LIFE'S RICH PAGEANTS
Smiles, everyone, big smiles.

The above images show Micheline Bernardini, the former Casino de Paris nude dancer who debuted the garment known as a bikini at a 1946 Paris beauty contest. Technically, hers was not the first. Similar garments appear on figures adorning classical Greek urns—but hey, that stuff is ancient history. The modern bikini is credited to Bernardini and designer Louis Réard. Beauty contests are an interesting phenomenon, don’t you think? They’re ultimately about sex, but nobody is supposed to say they’re about sex—just like the foot massages in Pulp Fiction. But as weird and anachronistic as beauty contests are, we find the photos fascinating, so today we’ve dug up some vintage beauty contest pix. Among the participants below you’ll see Miss Italy winner 1951 Isabella Valdettaro (second photo). The dates on these range from mid-1940s to mid-1950s, except for the final shot which is from around 1935.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 29 2013
CARAVAN'S END
The learning is in the journey.

Last night’s finale of Cinema Caravan was probably the best evening of the weeklong festival. Organizers screened several short films, then the excellent band Cro-Magnon turned the event into an outdoor dance party, playing in a corner of the plaza as bottles of sake offered up gratis by festival organizers were passed from hand to eager hand. Over the course of the week we learned that Cinema Caravan is well established in Japan, migrating from city to city like a moveable feast for the senses, but that this is the first time it has been held in another country. The Basque Country doesn’t have a very large Japanese community, which made the week a real novelty for many here—the food, the drink, and the excellent music were revelations, but it was watching the films that imparted at least a token understanding of Japanese cultural values. By watching movies people learned what a culture from the opposite side of the planet finds humorous, or erotic, or frightening, or thrilling. If Cinema Caravan were to visit San Sebastian again it would certainly be welcomed with open arms. Meanwhile, there’s another film festival going on right now—the San Sebastian Film Festival, or Zinemaldia, which ends tonight and will bring another crescendo of activity to this city by the sea. We didn’t attend any of that festival’s events, but who knows—maybe next year. Below are a few shots from the week.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 25 2013
KONKURITO JUNGLE
Black and White in color.

Cinema Caravan continued last night with a screening of the 2006 anime hit Tekkonkinkreet, which is based on a best-selling seinen manga series by Taiyö Matsumoto about two orphans named Black and White living in a dystopian place called Treasure City. In the main plot, Black and White battle against Yakuza that want to come in and take over the city. From the poster you can get a sense of how dizzingly dense Treasure City’s urban landscape is, which serves as a nice backdrop for various chases, battles with robot assassins, and a confrontation with the dark side of the self in the form of a minotaur. Don’t ask—just see it. The name of the movie (and manga) is a play on the Japanese words for steel reinforced concrete, which is "tekkin konkurito," or something like that. The film may be animated, but seinen manga are aimed more or less at an adult audience, so have no fears about this being like a Disney movie. Anyway, there’s plenty about Tekkonkinkreet online so we’ll stop at this juncture. Tonight, Cinema Caravan screens something called Samurai Fiction, which sounds promising. We’ll let you know how that is. Below is a really shitty photo from the festival. Note to selves: invest in a real camera.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 24 2013
PLANET CARAVAN
Japan invades the Basque Country.

This week the ever-growing San Sebastian Film Festival in the Basque Country of Spain kicked off with the usual round of premieres at the city’s Kursaal and celeb walks along the seafront on Zurriola Beach. But in the city’s old quarter in a plaza tucked between an old church, some residential buildings, and a wooded hill, a group of Japanese deejays, musicians, foodies and cinephiles launched a weeklong festival-within-a-festival they’re calling Cinema Caravan. Last night the bill included a classic Nikkatsu roman porno, the 1973 Tatsumi Kumashiro comedy Yojôhan fusuma no urabari, aka The World of Geisha, starring Junko Miyashita. The film was projected outdoors while a Bedouin-style tent served as a bar/club, and two Japanese bodegas dished up soba noodles and fish. Before and after the movie the Japanese singer Naoito played beautifully, and the rest of the time world-class deejays spun tunes. All this in a plaza redecorated to resemble to a Japanese garden.
 
The San Sebastian Film Festival is a worthy event, and this year’s version has stars like Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhall, but it’s also expensive and chic and probably off-putting to some. Cinema Caravan, by contrast, is intimate and inclusive and everyone can feel a bit important. The event’s website says it best: Unfurling a screen for outdoor viewing in the different landscapes of our journey, we set the stage of non-routine experience in an everyday place. And in the process, we learn from those we meet on the road, their wisdom on how to live, and experience their varied cultures. Pulp Intl. is here all week, and if you’re in this part of the world (interestingly, our analytics tell us Spain is Pulp Intl.’s fifth most popular country) then consider stopping by. The festival runs through Saturday night with more movies, food, deejays, live music, dance, and fun. 

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Intl. Notebook Sep 10 2013
LOTUS ACQUISITION
James Bond submarine car sells at auction.

We’ve shared a lot of James Bond memorabilia over the years (who can forget our Honeychile Ryder figurine), which means we couldn’t possibly let this story pass. The Lotus Esprit turbo used in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me sold at auction yesterday in London for £550,000, or about $864,000. The car is one of eight used in the film. For the sake of comparison, other Bond vehicles, such as the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger, have sold for millions. But probably the price was low here because the car, though equipped with a propeller and fins, is not a functional vehicle, according to the auctioneers RM Auctions. But what makes the story so interesting is that the car was found in a Long Island storage unit in 1989 by a construction contractor who’d bought the contents unseen. American storage companies often arrange blind auctions when rental payments on storage spaces lapse. Buyers take the chance that something valuable might be inside, but just as likely might find nothing but junk. This particular buyer had been hoping to find power tools or other useful items, but instead was shocked to find the Lotus. His purchase price for the storage unit—$100.

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Intl. Notebook Aug 29 2013
NOW YOU SE IT
They may have looked like a match made in heaven, but their marriage was hell.

Se was founded in 1938 and was Sweden’s first photo magazine, basically repackaging the Life and Look formula. In fact “se” means “look” or “see” in Swedish. During World War II (during which Sweden was neutral) the magazine became a leading voice against Nazism and Swedish Nazi-appeasers. The 1970s saw its circulation dip, and the editorial staff turned toward nude images as a way to maintain market share. The magazine finally closed down in 1981. Se made Marilyn Monroe its cover star numerous times, and the above issue featuring Monroe and her new husband Joe DiMaggio appeared in early 1954. Monroe and DiMaggio had a turbulent marriage, and a short one—274 days after the wedding she filed for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. Several sources claim that DiMaggio was violent toward Monroe. We were able to dig up several covers from the years 1954 to 1957, which you see below. We’re interested in this publication and so we’ll try to buy some full issues to share later. 

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Intl. Notebook Aug 27 2013
GABY CHIC
There’s only one way to tan—the Gaby way.

Gaby Suntan Lotion was a popular sunscreen manufactured during the 1940s by Gaby, Inc. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and above is a stand-up cardboard counter display touting its famed greaseless composition. Other versions of the ad informed consumers that the lotion was also alcohol free. Of course, what drew us to this is the pin-up style art painted by an unknown, not its SPF qualities. But it does it inspire us work on our tans a bit. After all, summer’s almost over.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 17
1961—Bay of Pigs Invasion Is Launched
A group of CIA financed and trained Cuban refugees lands at the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro. However, the invasion fails badly and the result is embarrassment for U.S. president John F. Kennedy and a major boost in popularity for Fidel Castro, and also has the effect of pushing him toward the Soviet Union for protection.
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".

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