Hollywoodland May 11 2018
REWARD OFFERED
Crime magazine gives readers the gifts of death and mayhem.


Produced by the J.B. Publishing Corp. of New York City, Reward was a true crime magazine, another imprint designed to slake the American public's thirst for death and mayhem. Inside this May 1954 issue the editors offer up mafia hits, Hollywood suicides, domestic murder, plus some cheesecake to soothe readers' frazzled nerves, and more. The cover features a posed photo of actress Lili Dawn, who was starring at the time in a film noir called Violated. It turned out to be her only film. In fact, it turned out to be the only film ever acted in by top billed co-star William Holland, as well as supporting cast members Vicki Carlson, Fred Lambert, William Mishkin, and Jason Niles. It must have been some kind of spectacularly bad movie to cut short all those careers, but we haven't watched it. It's available for the moment on YouTube, though, and we may just take a gander later. Because Reward is a pocket sized magazine the page scans are easily readable, so rather than comment further we'll let you have a look yourself.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 3 2017
THAT'S HOW SHE ROLLS
This is great! I feel so free! This thirty seconds is totally gonna be worth six months in a body cast!

The Novel Library 1950 paperback edition of Maxwell Bodenheim's 1930 book Naked on Roller Skates has one of the most famous covers from the mid-century era, thanks to master illustrator Peter Driben. This image has appeared on prints, postcards, and even bottles of wine. You'll notice it's cut off on the right edge so that Bodenheim's name is incomplete. That's the cover, not the scan. Call it a design defect, or a miscalculation at the printer. The book is about a fifty-something traveling salesman who meets a carefree young woman who has never seen the big city but wants to experience life's thrills unfiltered—i.e. to live naked on roller skates. She uses the phrase, “Punched in the face.” She wants to be punched in the face by life. And so the two make a deal to hook up for a year and head off to New York City, where they meet gangsters, brawlers, indulge in the nightlife of Harlem, run a food stand, and try to deal with the unscrupulous characters that descend upon them. Bodenheim seemed to live as fast as his characters. Despite writing at least three bestsellers, he was broke later in life, homeless along with his wife, and they ended up murdered in a slum rooming house. We may get into that sordid tale later. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 25 2015
BLACK AND WHITE IN COLOR
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 fifty 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. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 18
1920—U.S. Women Gain Right To Vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified despite heavy conservative opposition. It states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
1958—Lolita is Published in the U.S.
Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita, about a man's sexual obsession with a pre-pubescent girl, is published in the United States. It had been originally published in Paris three years earlier.
August 17
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
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