I have a vision... It's getting clearer... It's you... buying the updated and revised edition of my book.
Above you see the cover of Old Aunt Dinah's Dream Book of Numbers. We've already talked about Gene Bilbrew's covers for 1970s dream books. We're revisiting the subject today to give you this additional look at his work, but also to take a historical angle on his specifically African American art. Playing daily numbers was an African American invention, part of an underground economy that flourished in many large cities, but reached its apotheosis in Harlem.
It's impossible to know when playing the numbers began—certainly long before the turn of the twentieth century—but the practice took off during the 1920s when a black West Indian man named Casper Holstein began using bank-to-bank transaction data published in New York City papers as the selection mechanism for his daily numbers. Previously, numbers had been chosen in various unreliable ways, but Holstein's innovation placed the selection of numbers in public view, removed any suggestion of corruption, and as a result Harlem's daily lottery thrived.
Which is exactly why the city of New York decided to take it over in 1980, a coup it managed in part by promising to use a portion of the numbers revenue toward public education costs. And of course, proving once again that politicians are the lowest creatures that ever crawled from beneath slime covered logs in miasmic swamps, the city then cut its contributions to the education budget so there was ultimately no net gain for schools, while profits were neatly excised from the black community.
Old Aunt Dinah's Dream Book of Numbers is the third dream book illustrated by Bilbrew we've shared. We're fascinated by the exotic, made-up personae on the covers. The idea of gypsies, Arabs, creoles, Asians, or very old people somehow tapping into mystical power thrived in pulp fiction, early movies, cartoons, and, as you see, even on the covers of dream books. Old Aunt Dinah is our favorite dream book invention, but the characters Madame Zodia and Princess Shaharr—the latter of whom we'll show you later—are close runners up.
For those who don't know what books like these are about exactly, we explained that in our typically roundabout way in previous write-ups, here and here. Shorter version: Dream until your dreams come true. We already have a couple more to share, and we'll keep an eye out for others. And of course we'll continue to be on the lookout for paperback art by Gene Bilbrew. You can see what he's about by clicking this link.
After you finish doing me we'll switch and I'll pick the lice out of your fur.
There's no date on this interesting shot of a model and a chimpanzee from ACME Newspictures, but since ACME folded in late 1951, we think this was made that year or in 1950, just one of many weird and wacky photos the group accumulated in its thirty years of existence. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends love going to our local beach, but since we're more fond of sitting in the nearby terraces and sipping cold white wine, this photo led PI-1 to say that she needed her very own sunscreen chimp. To which we replied that it would probably be considered animal cruelty today and she'd get destroyed online. Stupid thing to say, because her response was, “Then I guess you'll have to do it after all.” So we're heading out a little later to try and find a sunscreen chimp. Wish us luck.
In search of Schrödinger's loophole.
Hope springs eternal in the hearts of lifers. A convicted murderer named Benjamin Schreiber claims he should be freed because he fulfilled the terms of his life sentence when he died during a prison medical procedure. Schreiber, 66, suffered from acute kidney stones, and in March 2015 the condition triggered septic poisoning that rendered him unconscious. Doctors rushed him to surgery, where he died—only to be revived. This despite the fact that he had signed a do-not-resuscitate order, which did him no good at all as the doctors ignored it like it was a patient in one of their waiting rooms.
Fast forward to April of this year, when Schreiber filed an appeal stating that he had served his life sentence, and keeping him in prison was life-plus. Let's take a moment to bask in the incandescent genius of that idea. If we were ever to be friends with someone who bludgeoned a guy to death with an axe handle, it would be Schreiber. Unfortunately, an Iowa appeals court has denied his motion and he looks set to spend a second lifetime behind bars. Judge Amanda Potterfield responded to the sheer quantum weirdness of Schreiber's argument by stating, “[he] is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot.” Scientific observers say Schreiber is in fact neither, but none of them have jurisdiction over the case.
Legal rulings are dry by nature, but you can picture Potterfield reading the filing and saying to herself, “The fucking cojones on this guy.” Did she save the story for when all the judges meet up to bar crawl and boast about who contributed the most to mass incarceration? We suspect so. We also imagine that the bold attempt by Schreiber to obtain freedom via a metaphysical loophole has made him a legend in the cellblock. But the real point is this: there's a bestselling novel here, aspiring authors. Imagine the person who comes back isn't Schreiber at all, but some random soul who drifted into his body. His only chance is to thaw the chilly Potterfield, who slowly begins to see something... different... in the ancient convict's doe-like eyes. We're giving that to you. Run with it, and thank us in the foreword.
I'm telling you, dammit, something's changed. His eyes are like whirlpools of pain and sadness. Look for yourself and tell me you can't see that this is not the same man as before!
Give us a second. We'll get our Bitcoin wallets.
When you have a website, every scam, grift, and cheat on the world wide web finds its way to your inbox. They're all amusing, but this sextortion gambit is by far our favorite. Have a read:
ATTN: The last time you visited a porn website with teenagers, you downloaded and installed the virus I developed. My program has turned on your cam and recorded the act of your masturbation. My software also downloaded all your email contact lists and a list of your friends on Facebook. I have the editor .mp4 with you jerking off to teens, as well as a file with all your contacts on my computer. You are very perverted! If you want me to delete both files and keep the secret, you must send me the Bitcoin payment. I give you 72 hours only to transfer the funds. If you don't know how to pay with Bitcoin, visit Google and search how to buy Bitcoin. Send $2,000 USD = 0.2407261 BTC to [snip].
As soon as you open this email I will know you opened it. I am tracking all actions on your device. This Bitcoin address is linked to you only, so I will know when you send the correct amount. When you pay in full, I will remove both files and deactivate my program. If you choose to not send the [money] I will send your masturbation video to ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES from your contact lists that I hacked. FINAL WARNING. You have the final chance to save your social life. I am not kidding!!
Who is this guy, Trump, with the exclamation marks and caps? We gather this has been sent to millions of computer users, pedophiles all of course, except for us. Well, if one in a thousand suckers pay, that's a pretty nice racket. Could this be why Bitcoin has been going up in value lately? Hmm... These scams have been said to come from Japan or China, and because Bitcoin wallets are in public view it's possible to see that people are actually paying. The poor, sad souls. Anyway, we got a grammatically horrendous follow-up:
I give you the last 72 hours to make the payment before I sending the video with your masturbation to all your friends and associates. The last time you visited a erotic website with young teens you downloaded and automatically installed the SPY software that I created. My program has turned on your camera and recorded the act of your masturbation and the video you were watching while masturbating. My software also downloaded e-mail contact list and list of your Facebook friends from your device. I have both the editor .mp4 with your masturbation and a file with all your contacts on my hard drive. You are very perverted! If you want me to delete both files and keep your secret, you must send me the Bitcoin payment. I give you last 72 hours to transfer the funds.
To which we say: you think we're fucking amateurs here at Pulp Intl? Our monitors don't have webcams. See below. Now back to masturbating.
Scientist takes 7,000 pound elephant on a one way trip.
We don't just read fiction around here. We're deep into Tom O'Neill's Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties. We may talk about the book later. It's full of anecdotes from the ’60s, and last night we came across the story of Tusko and his acid trip, which occurred in August 1962. Tusko was an eleven year-old Indian elephant that had the misfortune of finding himself at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Oklahoma City at the same time a crackpot scientist named Louis Jolyon West was at the University of Oklahoma studying the effects of LSD. Why West wanted to dose an elephant is too complicated to go into here, but let's just say he anticipated the resultant data having human applications.
In order to perform the experiment West had to calculate how much acid to give Tusko, and he decisively fucked up. He administered via syringe more than 1,400 times the human dosage (other accounts vary in this regard, but O'Neill relayed the story directly from West's notes). After the injection West stood back to observe the result. Said result, according to West's notes, was “Tusko trumpeted, collapsed, fell heavily onto his right side, defecated,” seized, and died.
Other versions of the story contain more detail. Apparently Tusko ran around his pen trumpeting (presumably the elephant equivalent of “I am tripping balls, dude!), before falling over. West, his keen scientific senses detecting trouble, decided to calm Tusko by injecting him with either Thorazine or promazine-hydrochloride (accounts vary) and phenobarbital. These doses were also massive, because once you've wildly overestimated the amount of LSD to give to an elephant, it's best to also wildly overestimate the amount of tranqs he might need. These second injections, running into the thousands of milligrams, may have been the actual cause of Tusko's death. We have profound sympathy for all the animals stuck on Earth with us casually murderous, ravenously omnivorous humans, but even in the endless annals of animal cruelty there are episodes so bizarre you can only marvel. Committing elephanticide using LSD is one of them.
After the Tusko fiasco West eventually made his way to a research position in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, and was there at the same time as Charles Manson, which is why his story appears in O'Neill's book. You'd think he'd been run out out of Oklahoma City on a rail, but you'd be wrong. He had CIA connections, and cruelty is an asset in those quarters. He had already dosed humans without their permission during his days at the CIA's MKUltra program, so it actually represented an improvement in his ethics to do the same to an elephant. They say LSD can bring you into contact with the divine. That must be true, because the story of Louis West and Tusko is a work of divine comedy. And just to give it a tinge of pathos, below is a photo of Tusko on his first birthday, when he had no inkling his life would be cut short in the service of pseudo-science.
John Dillinger's body—most of it anyway—to be exhumed in September.
At the request of his family, Great Depression-era gangster John Dillinger will be exhumed from the Indianapolis grave where he was buried in 1934 after being shot down by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. There's been no official explanation for the request, however the dig should resolve a couple of pieces of Dillinger folklore. The first would be whether it's him in the grave at all—an urban legend that the FBI shot the wrong man has simmered since his death. And the second would be whether there's a cock attached to the corpse—a particularly odd legend suggests that Dillinger had a monster member that was somehow snipped before burial and whisked away by a morbid collector.
The rumor of body part theft is no surprise. Grave robberies had been a problem in the U.S. throughout the 1800s, and while these had waned by 1934, as a precaution Dillinger was buried under scrap iron and slabs of concrete covered by a layer of poured cement. The bit about him being hung like a mule is harder to trace. Some say it was caused by a morgue photo which appeared (if you really used your imagination) to show him with an erection, but being the subject of at least one Tijuana bible certainly didn't hurt either. In the dirty comic “A Hasty Exit,” which we think was published in mid-1934 before his death, Dillinger uses a massive unit to pleasure his girlfriend Evelyn Frechette and her pal Nellie. Of course, everyone in Tijuana bibles had dinosaur dicks, but we're speculating here.
It's possible the public won't find out why Dillinger is being brought back above ground (though DNA testing to prove ancestry seems like a good bet), or whether all the famed gangster's parts are intact. We doubt most people actually care. But for us pulp followers the story is somewhat interesting, because Dillinger is an icon of the pulp era.
As a bonus, the story has also served as a reminder that we have many more filthy Tijuana bibles we need to upload. We'll get to that as soon as we can. In the meantime, while we all wait for that September exhumation to finally settle longstanding urban legends, you can satisfy your historical interest in John Dillinger by exhuming his Tijuana bible here.
Make your money dreams come true.
Do you ever play the lottery? We don't, except occasionally the local Christmas lottery in which a 150 kilogram pig is the prize. But presumably, if you play the lottery it's in hopes of winning a mountain of cash rather than a mountain of pork. Well, hope no more. Above you see just the ticket to help you score those megamillions. Zodia's Book of Numbers was published in 1972, but you'll still find it for sale rather cheaply on auction sites.
The way it works is, first you have a dream— Go ahead. We'll wait.
Okay, now you take elements from your dream, such as “coffee” or “kettle” and inside the book you''ll find those words assigned a three digit number, which you then sprint with down to the local convenience store and feed your hard earned cash into the ravenous maw of state sponsored voluntary taxation. Or if you speak Spanish, there are also entries in that language. Because scams are nothing if not inclusive. And in addition to a useless number the all-seeing Zodia also provides something more permanent—a useless fortune related to the word you looked up.
Here's an example. Say your word is “key.” You check the book, and it says: Key 934—To dream of a key means a plan will succeed with advice from friends. If the key opens a door success and money are assured.
All well and good, but the reason we're sharing this item is because the cover was painted by Gene Bilbrew, a unique African American paperback illustrator of the 1960s and 1970s. He's one of those guys we've talked about whose work has been reevaluated in recent years and become highly collectible. An example appears in the post below. We also put together a collection a while back, which you can see here. And apparently, Bilbrew made an industry of illustrating these dream books, because this is second we've found. Look here.
Daring design never caught on but remains beloved automotive curiosity.
Would you believe Jean Pierre Ponthieu, the inventor of this modular automobile, called it a pussycar? Seriously. Not because it was supposed to facilitate the owner's dating life but because it was miniature. We suspect it was a play on the word “pussycat.” Hey, he was French. Anyway, as an inventor Ponthieu dabbled in many areas, including animatronics and gun holsters, but cars are really his lasting legacy. He considered this one, which first hit the cobblestones in 1968, “the car of the year 2000.”
Of the ten pussycars Ponthieu built, a few survive and are prized relics of mid-century retro-futurism—i.e. shit that was visionary but never caught on. In the case of Ponthieu's auto erotic, the main drawback is obvious—if you cracked up, which was always a possibility in French traffic, you'd spill out of it like a bloody yolk. Amazingly, this isn't even Ponthieu's most famous car. He also built the film version of the car used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That sounds somewhat sexual too, doesn't it? Don't blame Ponthieu. This time it's on Ian Fleming. More pussyrific images below, and video here.
When's the last time you cleaned your doorbell?
We like a good tonguing. Everybody does. But even the gentlest tongue can create soreness after a while and that's what happened in Salinas, California, when a nocturnal tonguer irritated the town. The tale began when a family alerted by its security system to the presence of a nighttime visitor reviewed video footage and was surprised to discover that an unidentified man had come lick, lick, licking at their front porch door. They posted a frame from the video on social media and alerted police and neighbors to the menace. The good people of Salinas can now rest easy—the assailant has been identified as Roberto Daniel Arroyo, a thirty-something local citizen, possibly homeless. A motive for his actions has yet to emerge, but since he was obviously looking for some sort of recognition by playing to the security camera, we think boredom and/or loneliness may have been factors. Can't rule out psychoactive drugs either.
But here's the interesting part. Tonguing doorbells isn't illegal. Filthy, yes, considering all the bodily dirt embedded in them. But illegal? No. A porch is an invitation to the public to inquire whether a domicile's occupants are present. You can't just stand on the street and yell at the house. And certainly there's no law stating you can't touch a doorbell with your tongue. It's no worse than fingering it, when you really think about it. And there's also no law against being in public at 4 a.m. Well, not technically. Our non-U.S. readers may be interested to know that cops will often hassle you when they see you out at that hour, but it isn't actually illegal. So Arroyo broke no laws by tonguing the doorbell. It was weird as hell, but within the bounds of legality as normally interpreted. Unfortunately, he complicated his situation by stealing some electrical cords. The law is pretty clear on that. Jail may be in his future. And there, once the inmates learn of his proclivity for tonguing things, boredom and/or loneliness are not likely to be problems.
Most parents would do anything to give their kids a good education. Or would they?
Today in 1964, when this National Star Chronicle hit newsstands, the headline was supposed to be outrageous. Today it's just sound fiscal strategy. The average U.S. college student graduates with more than $30,000 in debt. Figure about $200 a go and the average mother would have to prostitute herself 150 times to generate thirty g's. Of course thirty grand is the outstanding debt. That amount doesn't count what's spent apart from going hat in hand to a bank or loan company. So let's break it down from the top to get a better sense of the actual costs of higher education in the currency of tricks.
Say you have a daughter who wants to go to a good school. Tuition at the school we attended, for example, is $51,000 per year now, so let's round that down to 250 tricks. Plus room and board, figure another 100 tricks. Add in occasional doctor visits, court costs, and freebies extracted by dirty cops and you're looking at probably another 100 tricks. Ancillary costs, such as condoms, Astroglide by the case, a fly wardrobe to attract clients, various stints in therapy, figure another 100 tricks. Or maybe the therapist takes payment in sex. They certainly do in pulp fiction. Could be a bit of a savings there.
The final tally scales up or down based on level of attractiveness, reputation for good service, self-promotional ability, etc., but pencil in 550 tricks—a rough average—to send your daughter through a good school. If it's a son you're sending add another 175 tricks because he'll turn into a total fuck-up at some point before straightening his shit out and managing to graduate late. Say you go though all that effort. Know what happens at the end? The thankless kid never fulfills their career ambitions and accuses you of ruining their life. That's the worst trick of all. But hey—nobody ever said parenting was easy.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—Blaine Act Passes
The Blaine Act, a congressional bill sponsored by Wisconsin senator John J. Blaine, is passed by the U.S. Senate and officially repeals the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, aka the Volstead Act, aka Prohibition. The repeal is formally adopted as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.
1947—Voice of America Begins Broadcasting into U.S.S.R.
The state radio channel known as Voice of America and controlled by the U.S. State Department, begins broadcasting into the Soviet Union in Russian with the intent of countering Soviet radio programming directed against American leaders and policies. The Soviet Union responds by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts.
1937—Carothers Patents Nylon
Wallace H. Carothers, an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont Corporation, receives a patent for a silk substitute fabric called nylon. Carothers was a depressive who for years carried a cyanide capsule on a watch chain in case he wanted to commit suicide, but his genius helped produce other polymers such as neoprene and polyester. He eventually did take cyanide—not in pill form, but dissolved in lemon juice—resulting in his death in late 1937.
1933—Franklin Roosevelt Survives Assassination Attempt
In Miami, Florida, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to shoot President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, but is restrained by a crowd and, in the course of firing five wild shots, hits five people, including Chicago, Illinois Mayor Anton J. Cermak, who dies of his wounds three weeks later. Zangara is quickly tried and sentenced to eighty years in jail for attempted murder, but is later convicted of murder when Cermak dies. Zangara is sentenced to death and executed in Florida's electric chair.
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