|Intl. Notebook||Jul 6 2017|
This photo shows the crater made by the Sedan nuclear test, also known as the Storax Sedan test, which happened today in 1962 as part of Operation Storax. The crater is the result of an explosion that displaced twelve million tons of earth, and at 320 feet deep and 1280 feet in diameter is the largest man-made crater in the United States. It's also—bizarrely we think—listed on the National Register of Historic Places, especially weird when you consider that it sent two radioactive plumes wafting northeast from the Nevada explosion site, cross country from state to unsuspecting state, to settle especially heavily upon Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Illinois. Of all the nuclear tests conducted in the United States, Sedan ranked highest in overall activity of radionuclides in fallout, distributing nearly 7% of the total amount of radiation which fell on the U.S. population during all of the nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site. Historic indeed. You see the explosion that caused all that below.
|The Naked City||Jul 25 2016|
Robert Baker and Trudy Jo Baker had just been married, aged twenty-six and seventeen, and were driving across the U.S.'s rolling midwestern states. They were embarked on their honeymoon, but when they saw a soldier named Larry Kirk hitchhiking outside St. Louis, trying to get home for Christmas, they gave him a ride. They later shot him in the back while he was sleeping in the car, robbed him of $12 and his watch, then dumped his body in a weed-choked field near Xenia, Illinois. When the couple was finally caught and tried, Robert Baker was sentenced to 99 years in prison, and Trudy Jo got 30 years at the Illinois Reformatory for Women.
|The Naked City | Mondo Bizarro||Mar 1 2013|
Partying was the lure, but robbery was the motive. In the town of Joilet, Illinois in mid-January four people—Joshua Miner, Alisa Massaro, Bethany McKee, and Adam Landerman, seen from clockwise above, invited two acquaintances into Massaro’s house where they strangled them. When police arrived on the scene they found the bodies of Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins, below, face down inside the house with plastic bags tied around their heads. Local police chief Mike Trafton said at the time, “After the homicides were committed, [the killers] continued the party atmosphere, I guess I would say, without getting into it any further.” Yesterday the public found out what he didn’t want to get into back in January—at least two of the killers had sex atop the bodies of the victims. Joshua Miner told police after his arrest that his girlfriend Alisa Massaro said “years back that she wanted to have sex with a dead guy.” She can cross that off that bucket list. Problem is, if prosecutors get their way she and her cohorts may be kicking the bucket sooner than any of them ever imagined.
|Vintage Pulp||Aug 3 2012|
|Intl. Notebook||Mar 4 2012|
And now for something completely different. At an antique store we happened to run across a few vintage candy boxes, which we stole some shots of and cleverly brightened and reoriented in Photoshop. Are candy boxes pulp? Close enough, we say. Certainly the design work on them is worth note. The above box, with its pin-up style image, adorned the lid of Chicago, Illinois based Goldwyn Co.’s line of summer candies. No idea when they were produced, since candy boxes don’t carry copyright dates, but we can assume from the art that we’re looking at an early 1940s product. We suspect the rest of the boxes, which we've shared below, are from around 1930. Check out yet another interesting vintage candy box and the controversy surrounding it here.
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 31 2012|
It's been a while since we've had any Bettie Page on the site, so we were pleasantly surprised yesterday to have found some shots of her in a 1953 issue of Carnival magazine. Actually, there were about forty great images of various people, but rather than try to scan all of them, we decided to break the issue into two or more posts. So today, we're uploading only the below shots of Page demonstrating for readers the various legal constraints on disrobement for strippers in different states, with Kansas being the most conservative and Louisiana being the least. We'll have more from Carnival later.
Update: We've posted more images from the magazine here.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Jan 16 2012|
In our continuing search for rare magazines of high entertainment value (if sometimes dubious quality), we stumbled across the above gem—the first issue of the self-described sexploitation film graphic Flick. Published in the U.S. out of Libertyville, Illinois, it was basically just reviews of x-rated films in tabloid form. The publishers admit in their introductory editorial that the tabloid market is glutted, but insist America needs a magazine that helps porn consumers separate the wheat from the chaff. They do it with utter seriousness and, as a bonus, also throw in some musings on film history, with discussions of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Theda Bara, Jean Harlow, and Hedy Lamarr, who all had pre-Hays Code flirtations with screen nudity.
It might be difficult to imagine actors appearing nude on screen during the 1920s and 1930s, but the idea back then was that, because the medium was considered an art form, motion picture nudity was no different from nudity in sculpture, photography or painting. Theda Bara's and Jean Harlow’s screen nudity was merely implied, but Hedy Lamarr went all the way in her 1933 Czech-made romance Ekstase, aka Ecstasy, in which she ran starkers through the woods, giving audiences a gander at her backside and breasts. She was known at the time as Hedy Kiesler, but it’s her.
There’s also a non-nude love scene containing what some critics believe is the first cinematic depiction of an orgasm. As you can imagine, Ekstase was controversial. Only four-hundred prints were ever made, and most of those were butchered by censors. By the 1940s, the only complete copy known to exist was in Russia. It had first been Hungarian property and had been exhibited in Budapest in ’33, but because the Hungarians had fought alongside Nazi Germany and helped conquer swaths of Russian territory in the early 1940s, when the Russians reversed those gains and occupied Budapest in 1944, they sort of helped themselves to a few choice cultural treasures.
Elsewhere in this inaugural Flick you get reviews of the adult films A Hard Man’s Good To Get, Sisters in Leather, College Girls, and Jack Hill’s first full-length effort Mondo Keyhole. The editors remind readers that their magazine is a collector’s item. At the time—January 1970—they probably imagined it would be quite valuable in forty-one years. Well, we got it for $4.00. But just for the hell of it, maybe we’ll hang onto it for another forty-one years. You never know. By the way, if you’re curious, you can actually see that famous Hedy Lamarr nude scene here. It is not a complete version, though. We doubt a complete one exists. See ten scans from Flick below.
|Vintage Pulp||Sep 8 2011|
This September 1960 issue of Startling Detective tells readers that police are bungling the investigation into the murders of three Chicago women who had been found dead in Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. Two months after this issue hit newsstands, authorities arrested a park employee named Chester O. Weger, and a jury convicted him of one of the killings. However, this case is still controversial. Did police overlook hair samples that indicated more than one killer was present? Was Weger’s confession obtained unlawfully? Weger relatives and backers answer yes to both questions and say he was framed. The police, for their part, admit the fifty-year-old investigation wasn’t perfect, but say their predecessors arrested the right man. With evidence now generations old, there’s no easy resolution. The situation also illustrates one of the classic paradoxes of criminal justice: i.e., a convict who has no hope of parole unless he admits his guilt and takes responsibility for his crime, but who, conversely, has no hope of a retrial or dismissal unless he maintains his innocence. It’s a fascinating ongoing drama. This is our first posting of Startling Detective, but we plan to revisit this venerable true crime magazine a litte later and get into the stories in detail.
|Politique Diabolique||Jan 10 2009|
Rod Blagojevich’s colleagues took turns on the floor of the state legislature and voted to impeach the beleaguered governor, with many also taking the opportunity to denounce him. Rep. Lou Lang said, “Here we are on Nixon’s birthday and the governor sounds a lot like Richard Nixon.” Rep. John Fritchey was more specific, declaring, “My Illinois is not the Illinois of George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, but Abe Lincoln and Barack Obama.” Said Rep. Jack Franks: “The plague that has been brought upon us by Rod Blagojevich will be lifted.”
While the 115 voted, Blagojevich jogged. But afterward, he spoke at a press conference, and had some harsh words for Jack Franks: “Plague? Plague? Fuck you, Franks, I got your plague right here, buddy. I got all seven plagues, you wanna get all Biblical with me. I got a fucking river of blood for you, and some hail mixed with fire, and I got some big fat frogs raining down on your ass, too. How you like me now, tough guy? Hey, tan much, George Hamilton? How ’bout you ease up on the UV bed? By the way, who’s paying for those sessions? That coming out of your pocket? Yeah, fat fucking chance, you hypocrite. Hey Frankie boy, I just remembered, I got another plague too. I got that unhealable boils plague. Yeah, I got a big fat unhealable boil for you right in my shorts, you fucking asshole.”
|Politique Diabolique||Dec 11 2008|
In the U.S., Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been snared in an FBI sting operation. His crime wasn’t the usual men’s room sexual solicitation. No, he was caught trying to sell Barack Obama’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Under Illinois law, the governor of the state has the authority to appoint a successor when a Senate seat is vacated. FBI recordings reveal Blagojevich, a Democrat, discussing the appointment with virtually anyone he felt had something to offer in return. What incredible balls.
The conversations apparently were close to bearing fruit. Recordings reveal Blagojevich weighing a $500,000 offer from an as-yet anonymous source. Also on his wish list were such goodies as an ambassadorship, a cabinet post, possibly the establishment of a non-profit foundation in his name, or even an appointment for his wife to some powerful corporate board. President-elect Obama was not involved in these negotiations, it seems clear, because in one recording Blagojevich rails against Obama staffers for refusing to play along with the scheme, at one point declaring, “They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.”
There seems very little chance Blagojevich can spin his way out of this mess, considering at one point he says a Senate seat is “a fucking valuable thing—you just don’t give it away for nothing.” Sadly, Blagojevich may be more rule than exception in Chicago politics. Slate magazine reported back in 2006 that the region is considered one of the most corrupt on the American political landscape, and has produced more indictments over the years than any area save central California/Los Angeles and south Florida. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris have been formally charged with soliciting bribes and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.