Intl. Notebook Dec 30 2009
CLUB PARADISE
Cuba’s Tropicana nightclub turns seventy years old today.

Above is a vintage image of the outdoor stage at the famed Tropicana nightclub in Havana, Cuba. The Tropicana, renowned as one of history’s greatest party spots, opened on December 30, 1939 on the Marianao estate of Guillermina Pérez Chaumont. The place simply blew people’s minds, not only because of its lush setting and luxurious amenities, but because of its extravagant and highly decadent stage shows. The place billed itself as “paradise under the stars,” and if you could afford to get in, it certainly must have seemed that way. On a given night you might see mob bosses, sugar barons, and captains of U.S. industry socializing, while acts such as Pérez Prado, Rosemary Clooney, and Nat King Cole performed onstage. All these years later, despite all the changes on the island of Cuba, the Tropicana is still open, and remains the hottest and most expensive ticket around. Below are more pieces of Tropicana memorabilia, mostly borrowed from Ebay.     

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Modern Pulp Jan 3 2009
VALENTINA DAY
Thrift market digging disgorges buried treasure.

So there we were in Madrid, digging for pulp gems at the outdoor market on the Prado, when we spotted Valentina au Débotté by the immortal comic artist Guido Crepax. Since this was a French translation, rather than an original Italian edition, we figured to score it for a song. After some expert negotiations that served to lower the asking price exactly 0.0 percent, we paid fifteen euros. But at least we got the book, and what a book it is.

Crepax began the Valentina series in 1965, and nurtured it into an international sensation that ran until 1995. Basically, it was erotica, but delicately drawn and infused with a 60s insouciance and dreaminess that somehow made it both titillating and highbrow. Crepax published other famous series, and drew adaptations of Emmanuelle, The Story of O, Justine and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but the Valentina series was his crowning achievement.

Reading any of the Valentina stories is like stepping through Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, but Valentina au Débotté is Crepax at his psychedelic best, deftly immersing his heroine in typically bizarre adventures, including riding a broomstick and having sex with an octopus. Crepax died in 2003, but not before amassing many awards and seeing his work translated into multiple languages. The book we found would have lasted at most another ten minutes at the busy Prado market, but we had gotten there early, which means we’re the lucky ones who now own this treasure.
We found some scans online from the same book and posted several below for your enjoyment.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 22
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
February 21
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
February 20
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
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