Intl. Notebook Jul 2 2016
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. 


Intl. Notebook Jun 29 2016
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.


Intl. Notebook Jun 28 2016
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.


Intl. Notebook Jun 24 2016
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. 


Intl. Notebook Jun 15 2016
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.


Intl. Notebook May 26 2016
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.


Intl. Notebook May 6 2016
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.


Intl. Notebook May 4 2016
It's a hard job but they make it look easy.

What better way to complement the collection of paperback covers above than with photos of actual dancers doing what they do best—making their strenuous and often unglamorous work look easy and fun? We present assorted burlesque dancers, showgirls, and strippers from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, both onstage and off, photographed in such hot spots as London, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, New Orleans, and of course New York City. Among the performers: La Savona, Lilly Christine, Lynne O'Neill, the gorgeous Misty Ayres, Patti Cross, Tina Marshall, Carol Doda, Nejla Ates, Lili St. Cyr, Wildcat Frenchie, and more. If you like these, check out our previous set of dancers here. 


Intl. Notebook Apr 21 2016
Enterprise goes into dry dock for repairs.

The eleven-foot model of the U.S.S. Enterprise used to shoot television's Star Trek that has been housed in Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution since 1974 is receiving an overdue restoration. The Smithsonian requested photos from fans or studio staff who could help them return the metal ship to its exact condition from August 1967, when the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” aired. Why that episode? We don't know. In any case, the Enterprise has been modified eight times over the years, and the museum was looking specifically for interior photos or shots of the ship disassembled so they could see how the interior structure was originally arranged. Photos emerged and the Smithsonian is now busily at work rehabbing the starship to its full luster. Since the original framework was wood, the two engines tend to sag over time, so one change being made is to reinforce the interior with a metal collar designed to keep the engines properly aligned. Repainting the exterior is also on the agenda. When finished the Enterprise will be displayed in the museum's new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, which opens in July. The timing is of course no coincidence. This year—September 8 to be exact—will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Star Trek's premiere on NBC. 


Intl. Notebook Apr 19 2016
If you're hearing this it's already too late.

This curious photo shows a bit of pulp-era technology—the acoustic mirror or acoustic locator. It was used to detect the approach of aircraft. The examples above and below are from Japan, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and other countries, and date from the 1930s to the eve of World War II, when they were replaced by radar systems. Apparently, these worked quite well, picking up engine noise from miles away. But as aircraft became speedier the effective range of the devices decreased—enemy planes would reach the site where a mirror was located within a minute or two of being detected. At such speeds, a spotter with a good pair of binoculars and decent visibility would see the planes the same time a mirror heard them. But before airspeeds increased these were the surest way to detect an oncoming aerial attack or reconnaissance flight, particularly at night. In addition to portable mirrors, some countries used cast concrete to construct massive versions that had a twenty-mile range. Great Britain built the last set of these in 1943 when fears surfaced that the Germans had developed a means to jam radar. Built to endure weather and time, some survive and have become tourist attractions. We have ten more crazy acoustic mirror designs below for your enjoyment.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 28
1919—Volstead Act Passed
The U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, paving the way for alcohol Prohibition to begin the following January. The Act, named for Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Andrew Volstead, was supposed to create a better society but instead helped lead to the rise of violent organized crime gangs. The law wouldn't be repealed until 1933.
1922—Mussolini Comes Into Power
During the second day of the event known as the March on Rome, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini officially takes control of the Italian government when King Victor Emmanuel III cedes power. Supported by a coalition of military, business, and right-wing leaders, Mussolini remains in power until 1943, when defeat in World War II begins to look inevitable.
October 27
1994—U.S. Prison Population Reaches Milestone
The U.S. prison population tops 1 million for the first time in American history. By 2008 the U.S. Justice Department pegs the number of imprisoned at 2.3 million, and the overall U.S. correctional population, i.e. those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole, at 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.
October 26
1951—Churchill Becomes Prime Minster Again
The Conservative Party wins the British general election, making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time. Churchill is nearly 76 at the time, making him the second oldest prime minister in history after William Gladstone. Churchill remains PM until 1955, when he steps down at 81 due to ill health.
1964—The Night Caller Is Executed
In Australia, Eric Edgar Cooke, who had earned the nickname Night Caller, is hanged after being convicted of murder. He had terrorized Perth for four years, committing 22 violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths. He becomes the last person to be executed in Western Australia.

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