|Intl. Notebook||Oct 18 2020|
Private island available. Great views. No services, no electricity, no refunds.
Above, an alternate view of the Dominic Chama nuclear test conducted on Johnston Atoll, aka Kalama Atoll, today in 1962. You can see the other photo here. In 2005 the place was put up for auction by the U.S. government as a potential vacation getaway or possible eco-tourism hub. We're not sure how much eco there was, considering the place was not only nuked multiple times, but used for biological weapons testing and Agent Orange storage, but it didn't matter because there were no takers, and the offer was withdrawn. It might still be possible to buy it, though, if you have any connections in the U.S. State Department. We bet your resort would get glowing reviews.
|Intl. Notebook||Oct 12 2020|
Whether by day or night the action was non-stop.
We love vintage nightclub photos, and vintage pix of people partying in general. Since Havana photos are unusually interesting, we're always drawn to them. There's a large number of Havana photos out there, but not primarily because of Cuba's political history. The photos really exist because Cuba was a pioneer of Caribbean tourism, attracting travelers beginning in the 1920s through a heyday of the mid-1950s. The island was promoted as a place of sophistication, mixed with permissiveness, unpredictability, and a touch of the primitive. This prompted various movers and shakers—from New York City businessmen to top musicians to Hollywood stars—to flock to Havana. And where important people went, cameras followed.
Was the Havana image true? Probably, based on what we've read. But it was not unique. During the same period Tangier had a similar reputation, as it attracted writers like Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, and numerous gay expatriates. During the 1960s Acapulco was knownas a great place to go for thrills. During the 1980s, Ibiza or Mykonos. The 90s, Thailand or Goa. The 00s, Tulum. Havana wasn't unusual in terms of what it offered. Bigger, yes. More convenient for Americans, for sure. But numerous far flung locales have served as paradises for foreign visitors to lose themselves and get crazy.
Most or all of the aforementioned places are considered to have changed for the worse, whether through ecological damage, destruction of historic architecture, unchecked overbuilding, overtourism, or all four scourges at once. But it was revolution that changed Havana, a fact that gives vintage photos from there a particular poignancy. A typical narrative is that while elites and tourists partied, exclusion, inequality, and poverty helped fertilize the seeds of upheaval. But we don't judge anyone in these shots. We've lived in similar circumstances in Central America. We were even partners in a beach bar in the Caribbean. We were always well aware of the prevailing socio-political problems, and we sympathized greatly with the local populations. But it didn't stop us from partying the nights away.
There's an immense feeling of freedom being in a simpler place—and for all its opulent nightclubs and restaurants, Havana is said to have exuded a primeval sensuality that intoxicated tourists and expatriates. If you live in the U.S. or some other modern nation, that feeling isn't something you can achieve by merely paring down your current lifestyle. The things you give up continue to exist all around you. By rejecting those, you become a weirdo. But by living in a less modern nation your life truly changes top to bottom, and you gain this while still existing above the local mean. That's the paradox, or the injustice, depending on your point of view: your satisfaction derives partly from the ability to take or leave anything you wish, because you are economically able to do so. You live more simply than you did, yet live better than most people around you. It isn't noble, but it's very much an attraction.
Bowles and Burroughs lived well in Tangier because it was immensely cheaper than Europe or the U.S. With the savings gained they hosted parties and had time to hone their literary crafts. They were a part of the local society, but existed in a middle-upper stratum, high above the impoverished, well below the Moroccan elites, benefitting from the general perception that foreigners from rich nations are themselves rich. That's how it was for us too. So there's inequality built into thattype of expatriate experience. It's unavoidable. A friend of ours lived in a stick shack on Cayos Cochinos for an entire year and he was still considered a rich foreigner. Everyone knows you have a choice. The Americans who partied in Cuba could never have been anything but wealthy invaders, no matter the reality of their finances, or the inclusiveness their sensibilities.
Living comfortably means the novelties one experiences seem thrilling or romantic. When we were knocking around Guatemala, El Salvador, and the Bay Islands, we turned washing our clothes by hand into an enjoyable ritual, yet understood quite well that many families' daily water intake literally depended on walking a mile to a river. Buying food from the local fruit and veggie stand was far more convenient than queuing at the supermarket for meat, and we ended up dropping to our college weight, but we were nevertheless aware that many people couldn't afford any food, and would have been disgusted at how pleased we were that our reduced fat intake meant we could show six pack abs at the beach. We helped some local families, both financially and logistically, but when your downsized existence is a choice you can never truly fit in.
But the freedom you feel is real. Offloading the burdens of modern life brings legitimate satisfaction. The pursuit of pleasure takes on a special joy. We hit bars, parties, and gallery mixers continually. As foreigners there's no social stigma to drinking every night. Unless you have a job—and we didn't—it's how you form a social circle. Locals generally disapprove, but their judgements carry little weight. So when welook at Havana partying shots we don't quite see oblivious, entitled people, because we know it isn't that simple. Most of them knew what was percolating. Stability was diminishing fast. There was a dissolved parliament, large protests, a 1953 battle in Santiago de Cuba, and other signposts on the way to change. It was clear the fun could never last.
The assortment of people you see here are caught on film like insects caught in amber, long dead but preserved. They're having a few laughs, enjoying some drinks, executing deft turns on dance floors, making their small, temporary marks on the world, leaving behind images showing them for one sliver of a moment in timeless eternity. Things changed in Havana, and now things have changed for all of us. If circumstances where we can dance and laugh and shout together in hot crowded places without fear of sickness ever return, be sure to embrace them fully. We don't just mean in some far flung tropical enclave. We mean anywhere. Because if it isn't a virus that takes those pleasures away, it'll be the march of years. You'll want to have done your best with this gift called life.
An ice cream vendor patiently waits for potential customers to emerge from the Capri Hotel and Casino, 1958.
Fashion model Jean Patchett and author Ernest Hemingway, who habitually went shirtless, lounge at Finca Vigia, his house in Cuba, 1950.
Above, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, the "Cocktail King of Havana," inventor of the Papa Doble daiquiri, and owner of the famed bar El Floridita.
Liberace performs on stage at the Tropicana with headline dancer Ana Gloria Varona, 1954.
A Coke and a smile from two soft drink vendors.
Patrons enjoy drinks at El Floridita, 1955.
Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante stands by while Marlon Brando tries his hand—or both of them—at the conga drum at Hotel Packard, 1956.
Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky, on the right in this shot, attends the opening of the Hotel Riviera in December 1957.
Famed entertainer Zulema dances the rhumba at the Zombie Club, 1946.
Three women liven up the room from their perch on the bar at Cabaret Kursal.
Cesar Romero and Tyrone Power enjoy a drink and a chat at Sloppy Joe's Bar.
Revelers including Errol Flynn and Desi Arnaz, Jr. form a conga line during the Yoruba festival known as Dia de Babalú-Ayé.
José Abeal Otero, founder of Sloppy Joe's Bar, mixes up a giant batch of liquid magic. No, this isn't the same person as above, Ribalaigua. They were both small, dapper guys.
A firebreather thrills onlookers in front of the Saratoga Hotel, 1949.
This photo shows Nat King Cole and his wife Maria Cole, along with Martin Fox, who was the owner of the Tropicana, accompanied by his wife Ofelia and an unknown fifth party.
U.S. born vedette and movie star Tongolele, aka Yolanda Montes, poses outside the Capri Hotel and Casino, 1958.
Meme Solis and Elena Burke pose at the entrance to the 21 Club, located in the Capri Hotel.
These photos show Silvano Chueg Echevarría, a master of percussion and an iconic musical personage. Let's go back to that Marlon Brando photo for a sec. Brando was an aficionado of percussive instruments. During that 1956 jaunt to Cuba he made it known that he wanted to buy drums from real percussionists. One of the musicians he met was Echevarría. All the Havana percussionists knew of Brando, of course, but thought he was a musical dilettante. At some point he finagled his way onto a nightclub stage, sat in with a band, and truly amazed onlookers with his ability on the conga. He wasn't a master, but he was pretty good. He won respect, and bought his drums.
Raquel Revuelta, Manuel Corrales, and Mariano Rodriguez leave the famed bar Bodeguita del Medio and walk through the Havana night to other locales, other adventures, 1958.
CubaHavanaTropicanaErnest HemingwayJean PatchettLiberaceNat King ColeMaria ColeOfelia FoxMartin FoxTongoleleYolanda MontesAna Gloria VaronaMarlon BrandoGuillermo Cabrera InfanteCesar RomeroTyrone PowerMeyer LanskyRaquel RevueltaManuel CorralesMariano RodriguezJosé Abeal OteroConstantno Ribalaigua VertSilvano Chueg EchevarríaErrol FlynnDesi Arnaz Jr.mafia
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 29 2020|
This is the best Laff you'll have all day.
We've posted three issues of Laff magazine over the years, and we return to that publication today with an example from this month in 1946 featuring starlets, showgirls, and burlesque dancers of the highest order. You get Jane Russell, Adele Mara, Vera Ellen, and Myrna Dell, amongst others, but the winner in these pages is Acquanetta, aka the Venezuelan Volcano, who gets a striking tropical themed centerfold photo. In addition, you get a bit of sports coverage—specifically baseball, which is appropriate with the MLB playoffs starting tonight—as well as numerous cartoons.
These cartoons—the laffs in Laff magazine—tend to be sexist by today's standards, but then so is this entire website, really, which is an unavoidable side effect of focusing on vintage fiction, art, and photography. We hope the historical significance of the material overshadows all else. In any case, we included the cartoons despite their mostly lame humor, due to the fact that they're high quality illustrations well worth seeing. All that and more appears here in forty-plus scans and zooms, and you can see the other issues of Laff by clicking its keywords below.
LaffAdele MaraAcquanettaJane RussellMyrna DellVera EllenJoy SkylarHarry DanningDoreen DeMosDoris DeanPat HuttoVirginia Dewmagazine artburlesquebaseball
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 15 2020|
Photographer blinded. Says pearly gates opened and heavenly light struck him in the eyes.
Marilyn Monroe was possibly the most photographed person of her era, but we bet most of you have never seen this shot. The divine Miss M. accidentally flashed a photographer while socializing at a May 1962 Democratic Party fundraiser in New York City. It was a semi-formal affair, but formality only applies to one's outer layer, clearly. To make matters even more interesting, this was the night she famously sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy.
The Pulp Intl. girlfriends love this shot, but when we pointed out that it might not be distinct enough, they got the implication right away and begged us not to do a zoom. Well, we can add that vain hope to the many others they've expressed over the years. Look below. The really interesting part is pondering whether Monroe's sugar cookie was out of the oven from the get-go, or if it happened during the fundraiser. Hmm... Were Monroe and Kennedy ever simultaneously absent that night? There's nothing quite like eating an extra dessert.
|Intl. Notebook||Aug 26 2020|
We're on top of the world and the view is fine.
We're back online. Did you ever doubt us? Truth is, this was not a seamless move. Problems cropped up in almost every area. Internet acquisition was very tough. Our workload (again, we actually do have jobs) have piled up to dangerous levels. Travel problems linger, which is to say we haven't yet determined how to get the indispensable Pulp Intl. girlfriends here. And don't even bring up the health thing—one of us caught something before leaving, but had a negative virus test just days before traveling. Whatever that thing is has lingered, so hopefully there aren't a lot of false negatives with these nasal swabs they give you. We'll work it all out somehow. Advice: don't move during a pandemic, and especially don't do it during a dangerous surge in virus cases. But we had to. Just look at our new view. That's worth any amount of discomfort and inconvenience.
|Intl. Notebook||Aug 17 2020|
Pulp Intl. takes a long day's journey into the night of Spain.
It's intermission time. But wait—didn't we just have an intermission? Indeed we did, but this next one can't be avoided, because we're moving. We mean physically, not online. This is going to be a long, tricky journey that delivers us to our new home—Cádiz, Spain, which you see above, and below, night and day. Once we arrive there we'll have to contend with getting internet set up. The provider (who we've only spoken to by phone) has been comically overconfident, but we're experienced in these matters, and we know—even if they don't—that they'll botch it somehow or other.
We're looking forward to this move. Cadiz is an intimate, active place, with an excellent nightlife and a world famous carnival, which we hope to enjoy if the killer virus is somehow vanquished. But even if that takes a long time or forever, Cadiz is still a nice city to walk around in, a visually inspiring place with numerous old buildings, a maze of streets, and at least a hundred outdoor terrace bars. This outdoor lifestyle is what attracted us—if the virus lingers and we can never go indoors again, we'll still be in good shape.
We know what you're thinking. Isn't undertaking a major move during a pandemic imprudent? Well, we're impulsive like that, and hope to pull it off without contracting anything. Assuming all goes according to plan, we'll be back online with new inspiration, new material, and—crucially—a new scanner to help us get back into the swing of posting old tabloids. Figure seven to ten days, end-to-end. Wish us luck. Meantime, we have some fun posts to help build the anticipation for our glorious return. Look below the photo.
Assorted covers of Luchadores de Espacio.
Desperate embraces on vintage book covers.
Our amazingly extensive tabloid index.
Voyeuristic paperback cover art.
Everything we've ever posted about Japanese pinku icon Reiko Ike (warning: nakedness).
A whole lotta love from the vintage French nudie mag Folies de Paris et de Hollywood (warning: nakedness).
Everything we've ever posted related to sci-fi (warning: nakedness—just kidding).
Femmes fatales in red.
Have suitcase, will travel.
Some of the most beautiful magazine covers we've ever seen.
Film noir, in all its variations.
Laura Gemser, in all her glory.
The unique art of French illustrator Jef de Wulf.
|Intl. Notebook||Aug 16 2020|
Your Honor, I swear I didn't kill them. My wife and her lover were on fire well before I walked into the bedroom.
If you rub two sticks together fast enough you can make fire, so why not two people? But the lovers referred to on this cover of Midnight from August 1964 didn't burst into flames from the sheer intensity of their fucking (though we love that image). They were allegedly doused with gasoline and set ablaze by a Colorado man named Ricardo Anlando, who wasn't a husband, as we suggested in our subhead, but a spurned admirer. He incinerated his unrequited love because she married another man, which goes to show that hell hath no fury like an incel scorned. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but if there's an opportunity to serve it as flambé, some will take it. There's another fire themed story in this issue about a mother who stuffed her newborn into a furnace. No need to fret, though. The building janitor saved the kid and the mom went to prison. So you get a happy ending to counterbalance the sad one. We bet neither story is true, though. Just a hunch.
|Intl. Notebook||Jul 20 2020|
Or how we took the opportunity to travel while it was there.
We're taking a break to wander a bit. We were debating it, in this age of virus, but three factors swayed us. First, we're going entirely by car rather than mass transit. Second reason is that virus cases will certainly rise from here onward, so we probably won't be able to travel as safely later. And the third reason is if we haven't seen nature, hills, and empty ocean when and if a second wave of the virus comes through, we probably won't survive a new quarantine. Well, that's an exaggeration. We'd survive. But we might kill our neighbors.
Anyway, this is our shot at travel, so we're taking an all-day road trip to a distant peninsula and theoretically we'll be back in a week. As usual, we've selected a few posts for first time visitors to glance at. They represent a small cross section of more than 5,600 posts in the website, which probably encompass more than 30,000 pieces of art, much it seen online for the first time here. Some good items reside here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Make yourself at home, but don't break anything.
|Intl. Notebook||Jul 16 2020|
What a hypnotic sight. Maybe one day we'll have a Space Force and threaten to rain fire down upon the planet.
In this photo made today in 1969, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and a crowd of others watch Apollo 11 lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Back then it must have seemed almost miraculous. A bunch of theoretical scientists in the U.S. and Soviet Union said manned spaceflight would work, the politicians went, “Great—here's some billions of dollars or rubles to make it happen.” And years later it did when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. But Apollo 11 was the big one, in our opinion. It's one thing to toss a person into space in a hollow cannonball like Sputnik, and another bowl of pancake batter altogether to send people to another world and bring them back alive. Opinions vary, of course, but we think this flight was and remains the most important rung on humanity's celestial ladder. As things are developing, with countries reneging on their promises not to exploit space for monetary or military gain, it would be better for both the cosmos and Earth if there are no more rungs for a while. Neil Armstrong's quote, when he set foot on the moon, was, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” We've taken a giant leap backwards since then.
|Intl. Notebook||Jun 16 2020|
First do no harm—to your bank account.
National Enquirer wins the 1968 Obvious Award with this header articulating the entire essence of U.S. healthcare. The quote is attributed to “the nation's leading doctors,” but here's the thing—if this group were actually the nation's leading doctors there would be no problem of people dying due to lack of funds. The reality is that the American Medical Association—the nation's actual leading doctors—for decades consistently opposed national health care programs, so the headline should read: If You're Sick Money Makes the Difference Between Life & Death. Nation's Leading Doctors Are Fine with That.
The primary mandate of unions is to obtain the highest possible compensation for its members, so one can hardly be surprised at the AMA's opposition to changing a profitable system. Still, its history with national healthcare probably isn't widely known enough. The group's lobbying efforts defeated President Harry Truman’s plans for universal healthcare back during the 1940s, and similar un-Hippocratic mobilizations slowed or stopped attempts by later presidents. The AMA is also the group that paid then-actor Ronald Reagan to record that famous 1961 spoken word LP claiming Medicare—aka trying to help seniors live longer—would lead to a socialist dictatorship. You can check that out at this link.
Elsewhere on Enquirer's cover, serial bride Zsa Zsa Gabor explains that after she dies she doesn't want to be remembered as “the one with a lot of husbands,” but rather someone who “had the courage to keep on trying to find love.” She didn't get her wish. And the funny part is that in 1968, when she foresaw her future reputation, she wasn't finished marrying. Not even close. Having already walked down the aisle on five happy occasions, she ended up making the trip four more times. We have a lot on Zsa Zsa in the website. This rare pin-up for example. If you want to see more just click her keywords below.
National EnquirerZsa Zsa GaborBilly RoseCharlie ChaplainJ. Edgar HooverRonald ReaganHarry Trumantabloid