The meek shall inherit starvation wages.
Originally published in 1949 as Spit and the Stars, which is a title we really like, Tough Kid from Brooklyn is the story of a Jewish youth who seeks love and gets involved in union organizing only to see owners strike back violently via the usual methods. The book is a reminder of two important facts—organizing or striking for better pay is often illegal, and that fact puts cops on the wrong side of justice, as well as literary protagonists. This was Mende’s only novel, though he apparently had thirteen others tucked away in a trunk. The first abridged edition from Avon appeared in 1951. The one you see here is from 1955, with a slightly different logo treatment than the 1951 paperback, but with the same uncredited cover art.
Sometimes having noisy neighbors is good thing.
Above is a rare Japanese poster for the French film Luxure, which was known in the U.S. as Sweet Taste of Honey and in Britain by the curious title Everybodys, with no apostrophe. Basically, director Max Pécas tells the story of a jilted woman—played by Karine Gambier—who checks into a luxury hotel possibly planning to commit suicide, but whose desire to live is rekindled due to hearing the honeymooning couple in the next room constantly humping. From that basic premise Pecas manages to get Gambier into all sorts of situations, including the obligatory orgy, but done with style of course, because the French take their erotica very seriously. Luxure had its Japanese premiere—in edited form—today in 1976.
Nobody knows the way, but everyone knows they’re right.
Last time we posted an Adam we miscounted and said it was our fortieth issue shared. Well, this is our
fortieth (impossible to even know at this point—41st—issue shared, we can't count). It’s an earlier one, from this month in 1955. That means it’s more text heavy, giving us plenty to read, which is nice for us, but leaving us fewer pages of visual interest to scan, not so nice for the website. So today you get thirteen images where normally we post about thirty. We could have scanned several more but getting to the pages in the center of the issue was a challenge—just removing it from its sleeve resulted in losing part of the cover. Alas.
Inside the issue you get fiction and fact, including Dick Halvorsen’s harrowing story of being shot down near Benghazi during World War II and having to trek for days through the Libyan desert to reach civilization. A few years ago 95% of Americans wouldn’t have been able to pronounce Benghazi, but now it’s a cultural buzzword—meaning to some people “cover-up” or “incompetence” and to others “witch-hunt” or “wingnut.” What a world we live in. Halvorsen’s tale, referencing a time when the Allies were informally partnered with Bedouins in the area, provides interesting historical color.
In other news we have twenty-six more issues of Adam to share. Yes, we’ve been busy beavers. Since today’s issue is already fragile as pie crust perhaps somewhere down the line we’ll just pull it completely apart in order to obtain more and better scans. We’ve sacrificed physical issues of magazines before to give them digital permanency, but not of our beloved Adam. In any case, check back for another posting of our favorite men’s magazine in a week or so. And for a quick look at some of those other thirty-nine issues, maybe start here, here, or here.
Sergio Martino’s look at the U.S. provides plenty of shock and aww.
Above, a Japanese poster for America Our Home, a movie that was made in Italy and originally called America così nuda così violenta, or "America so naked so violent." Hmm… how to describe this one. It’s a shockumentary about the U.S. by Sergio Martino of Scorpion’s Tail fame, some of which is spot-on, and very sad, and some of which is way wide of the mark, and very weird. It premiered in Italy in mid-1970 and reached Japan today the same year. Proceed with caution.
Vintage model MacGyvers herself a swimsuit.
A wise old relative once explained that one of the many habits the new generation had rejected—to its detriment—was the practice of carrying a handkerchief. He told us we should carry one because aside from nasal hygiene (actually, he used his for touch-ups only after blowing his nose directly on the ground, but never mind) it had countless other uses. We were thinking he meant maybe using it as a bandana or wrapping sundries in it and tying it to a stick Huck Finn style, but this Technicolor lithograph of a model in an improvised bikini shows us just how limited our thinking was. Circa 1955 on this print.
Mid-century paperback art and the race to judgment.
Science has given humanity a lot over the centuries. What will turn out to be one of its most important gifts is its conclusion, widely disseminated beginning in 1950 but by today firmly proven thanks to DNA sequencing, that race doesn’t exist in any scientific way. Of course, many don’t consider that fact a gift—but many people also had serious problems with the revelation that the Earth wasn’t flat. The concept of anti-black racism came entirely from the human imagination within about the last five-hundred years, principally as a means to justify the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Seen in that light, scientific proof that race doesn’t exist represents not new knowledge, but a return to knowledge that was the norm before the drive for riches caused men to deliberately warp human thought as a means to cover for mass cruelty.
As an imaginary construct, however, race is persistently powerful, which the collection of paperback fronts above and below strongly illustrate. We weren’t around when any of these were written, but their existence reveals a surprisingly (to us) lively market in such material. Were all the books you see here of great worth? Certainly not. But even with their flaws—particularly woman-blaming for rape—these books are artifacts of a fascinating racial dialogue that we suspect, on balance, was beneficial. We have forty-nine examples and there are at least a couple dozen more we didn’t include (Black Dicks for Marcie was just a bit too out there). Some of those pieces will pop up later in a slightly different themed collection. In addition to what you see here, we also put together a related group last year featuring an Asian theme and you can see that here.
, Victor H. Johnson
, Hodding Carter
, Gilmore Millen
, David Westheimer
, James Williams
, Walter B. Lowery
, Carl Offord
, Maxwell Bodenheim
, Sam Merwin Jr.
, Blair Fuller
, Don Elliot
, Lou Delarue
, Jay Thomas Caldwell
, Curtis Lucas
, Adam Rebel
, Carolina Lee
, Wenzell Brown
, John A. Williams
, Walton Fairbank
, Chester Himes
, John Taylor
, Jesse Lee Carter
, Curtis Lucas
, Ric Arana
, Worth Tuttle Hedden
, Tony Calvano
, Cid Ricketts Sumner
, Hans Habe
, Ernest L. Matthews
, Louis-Charles Royer
, Eugene Brown
, Vin Packer
, Alan Marshall
, Joe L. Hensley
, Franklin Coen
, Doris Lessing
, Kyle Onstott
, Noel Clad
, Angeline Taylor
, J. Saunders Redding
, Lionel White
, cover art
I already knew you weren’t married, silly. No self-respecting wife would let her man out wearing such an atrocious tie.
Above is a beautiful and lighthearted cover for No Time for Marriage by David Charlson for Venus Books, 1951, featuring a smiling femme fatale and her homme with his garish pin-up girl tie. The art isn’t attributed and Gary Lovisi’s reference book Dames, Dolls and Delinquents lists it as by unknown. But we think it’s by George Gross. Compare it to a cover confirmed as painted by Gross—One Wild Night, which you see just to the right. The general style is close if not identical, and the female figures on both covers wear drawstring puffsleeve blouses, necklaces, an assortment of gold bracelets, and the always popular ankle strap pumps. We sound like we’ve been watching Project Runway for the last ten years, we know, but this is what obsessing over paperback art does to you. You also notice that the pose, facial features and hairdos on both covers are nearly identical too. While it’s true Rudy Nappi also painted in this general style for Venus, his hairstyles were usually less sculptural than what you see here. We also think the similarities of No Time for Marriage to other Gross covers are too great to ignore. In any case, we hope whoever painted it was well paid at least, because the same art was reused for Joan Tucker’s 1954 novel Young Secretary.
Josep Renau Berenguer cooks up a classic poster for a classic film.
Arroz Amargo, with Silvana Mangano, Vittorio Gassman, and Doris Dowling, was originally made in Italy and called Riso Amaro, or Bitter Rice. We already delved into this particular rice paddy, but we wanted to show you this beautiful alternate Spanish poster painted by Catalan artist Josep Renau Berenguer. The movie premiered in Spain four years after it opened at the 1949 Cannes Film Festival and had a long run in Italy. That was today in 1953. If you’re interested you can read our original write-up and see the Italian poster here.
, Cannes Film Festival
, Riso Amaro
, Arroz Amargo
, Bitter Rice
, Josep Renau Berenguer
, Silvana Mangano
, Vittorio Gassman
, Doris Dowling
, poster art
Get off me, you gorilla! Don’t you girl-pimping drug dealing thieving gangsters know how to take no for an answer?
Above, a nice front for Frank Smith’s Back Alley, for Beacon Signal. A lonely call girl named Judy falls in love with a racketeer who by various vicious means has made his way from the gutter to the penthouse. Things go sour between the two and it’s clear gangster sees moll as merely another disposable babe—but she has plans to make him see her differently. 1958, with George Geygan art.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire
in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
1934—Baby Face Nelson Killed
In the U.S., killer and bank robber Baby Face Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis, dies in a shoot-out with the FBI in Barrington, Illinois. Nelson is shot nine times, but by walking directly into a barrage of gunfire manages to kill both of his FBI pursuers before dying himself.
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.
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