Intl. Notebook Sep 7 2014
A RIP IN TIME
History’s most storied serial killer finally identified.

Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has published a story in which it claims infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper has been identified through DNA testing. The analysis was performed on a shawl found by police on the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the Ripper’s canonical victims, killed on the same night as Elizabeth Stride in what is termed by Ripper scholars as “The Double Event.” The shawl had recently been bought at auction by an amateur sleuth and passed on to genetic experts, who took samples from the fabric and found matches to the DNA of descendants of Eddowes, and to the descendants of Aaron Kosminski, an original Ripper suspect who had been questioned and surveilled by police back in 1888.

The Mail has said the new evidence “puts to end the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity,” but we imagine independent corroboration will probably have to follow before that’s true. Kosminski was of Polish descent and had emigrated from the Russian Empire to London. Police reports from the time of the murder describe him as a serial masturbator, and indeed the Kosminski DNA sample from the shawl is thought to be semen, meaning that in the few minutes after the killing he both mutilated the corpse and ejaculated over it. Presumably more details will emerge in the coming days, but the announcement of Kosminski as the killer, if true, has to rank as one of crime history’s most significant, and may bring to a close one of its most baffling murder cases.

Update: That didn't take long. Various scientists and DNA experts say the genetic analysis done on the shawl was botched due to error of nomenclature. Instead of an extremely rare genetic match, DNA extracted from Eddowes' shawl actually matches that of most people of European descent. So forget everything we wrote above.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 1 2014
AFTER THE FALLS
Monroe may wobble but she won’t fall down.


Marilyn Monroe shows up just about everywhere, and here she is yet again where we didn’t expect to see her—fronting a Malaysian film publication that appeared today in 1953. The magazine, called Filmalaya, is in English, which marks it as aimed at the British colonial community that occupied the upper stratum of society in Malaysia and Singapore. The cover photo is from a publicity series made when Monroe filmed the movie Niagara in Ontario, Canada in late 1952, and let’s just assume her perch is not as precarious as it seems and there’s a handy ledge or lawn behind her in case she goes heels up. But if she does, there are other stars in the magazine, such as Joan Collins, Betty Grable, Rhonda Fleming, Ava Gardner, and Nat King Cole.

Filmalaya represents an interesting snapshot into colonial society, as in the article about Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in London, which describes the thrills and excitement in Malaysia during the event. Doubtless, the mood around the Commonwealth probably seemed festive when viewed from inside the colonial bubble, but we doubt actual Malaysians were particularly moved. Needless to say, this magazine is rare, but luckily items from Asia are often a bargain, so this cost a mere six U.S. dollars. While the inside is nothing special visually speaking, that doesn’t matter when the magazine has this great cover and is such an informative slice of history. We’ve uploaded a few of the best pages below. Enjoy. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 28 2014
A PERFECT STRANGLER
Don’t take it personally, my dear. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, two can keep a secret only if one is dead.

We have it on good authority that Keep it Secret! is now required reading for all new employees of the National Security Agency and the cover hangs as a poster in the cafeteria. The book was written by Philip Chambers for Sexton Blake Library, which was a line of mysteries printed by London’s Amalgamated Press between 1915 and 1968, and which starred the titular Blake—a fictional British detective almost as famous as Sherlock Holmes. Over the years about two-hundred authors wrote Blake stories. Philip Chambers wrote or co-wrote seven entries in the series between 1960 and 1963, with this one appearing in 1961. The cover art is by Stefan Barany, who worked for Amalgamated on the Sexton Blake line for a couple of years but seems to have had virtually no other output. He was a very capable artist, though, based on this effort.

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Politique Diabolique Oct 14 2013
STATE OF AFFAIRS
London drug raid uncovers no drugs but raises serious questions.


Over the weekend, a squad of drug cops raided the London flat of a woman named Natalie Rowe based on what they described as a “tip from a member of the public.” The drug cops found no drugs, no drug paraphernalia, no sign that drugs had ever been consumed in the apartment. Why is this such an interesting story? Because Rowe, formerly a prominent madam who procured women for paying male customers, is mere days from publishing an autobiography in which she details early 1990s sex and drug parties attended by various Tory politicians. She claims one of the politicians was current Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He appears in the photo above with Rowe, along with what she says is a line of cocaine (in full, fat view between the yellow vase and the wine glass).

After the raid Rowe made an official complaint to police, saying she suspected she was targeted because of her forthcoming book. She was quoted in the tabloid The Sunday People: “I’m not into conspiracy theories. I’d like to think the fact I’ve been unfairly targeted by the police has nothing to do with the fact my book is about to be published, which happens to be very embarrassing for the Chancellor. But it’s certainly made me wonder.” Well, we’re into conspiracy theories and we’ll just come out and say that, especially in light of all the other dubious police activity in Great Britain these days, you’d have to be willfully blind to think the raid occurred for any other reason than at the behest of an influential government official.
 
Think about it. Would a mere “tip from a member of the public” trigger an expensive full-scale drug raid, with no corroborating intelligence whatsoever, such as surveillance, reports from undercover police, or multiple complaints from neighbors? If so, any Brit with a personal enemynow knows how to ruin that person's day. A single tip will bring a phalanx of police crashing through their door. Does your neighbor's dog bark late at night? Call the drug cops. Did some total ass get a promotion you wanted? Call the drug cops. So, let’s dismiss with this “tip from a member of the public” nonsense. Clearly, a full-scale drug raid that takes place with no corroborating intelligence doesn’t occur because of some random tip. It occurs because someone with great influence wants it to happen.
 
Were we to speculate, we’d suggest that the cops were searching for anything that would justify serious charges against Rowe and cast doubt on whatever she has written. But it seems they failed to find any leverage. Do we actually care if George Osborne hoovered rails of coke in his youth? Not in the least. It puts him in the same company as many politicians, including Barack Obama, who wrote in his autobiography of how in his youth he did "a little blow.” But the raid, which looks to us like pure abuse of power, is certainly a troubling event in a country that many residents already believe is morphing into a police state. Is some plebe threatening your status and/or power? Call the drug cops. In any case, we’ve got our Kindle charged and ready for Rowe’s book.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 10 2013
LOTUS ACQUISITION
James Bond submarine car sells at auction.

We’ve shared a lot of James Bond memorabilia over the years (who can forget our Honeychile Ryder figurine), which means we couldn’t possibly let this story pass. The Lotus Esprit turbo used in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me sold at auction yesterday in London for £550,000, or about $864,000. The car is one of eight used in the film. For the sake of comparison, other Bond vehicles, such as the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger, have sold for millions. But probably the price was low here because the car, though equipped with a propeller and fins, is not a functional vehicle, according to the auctioneers RM Auctions. But what makes the story so interesting is that the car was found in a Long Island storage unit in 1989 by a construction contractor who’d bought the contents unseen. American storage companies often arrange blind auctions when rental payments on storage spaces lapse. Buyers take the chance that something valuable might be inside, but just as likely might find nothing but junk. This particular buyer had been hoping to find power tools or other useful items, but instead was shocked to find the Lotus. His purchase price for the storage unit—$100.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 15 2013
LONDON CALLING
Whatever gets you through the night.

Paul Anna Soik is another great pulp artist who we hadn’t gotten to previously, but better late than never, especially when we’re talking about this particular cover. The scene is London's Soho district near Charing Cross Road, and he presents an image of two listless souls in an urban night infused with streetlight glare, marquee glow, and a sort of carnivalsque seediness. We know the location because the Palace Theatre is in the background. The book is a realistic look at vice and prostitution, and we can assume the woman here is a hooker, though an improbably upscale one to be soliciting. But Soik lived in Canada, so maybe he wasn’t all that familiar with London street trade. This is a Harlequin book, and Soik was basically a Harlequin house artist who painted numerous covers during the company’s early years. This one, which we think is one of his best, appeared in 1955. We’ll have more from him later.

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Mondo Bizarro Aug 10 2013
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
Private British crime collection could be opened to public.

The London Metropolitan Police’s 150-year-old collection of crime artifacts, currently held in room 101 at New Scotland Yard, may open to the public in the near future if the recommendations of the Greater London Authority are followed. The GLA’s report says charging the public to view the collection could generate millions of pounds—for example, even a 90 day exhibition at could raise £4.5 million if visitors were charged £15 each. What exactly does the Met have in its possession that's worth £15 a pop? The collection, begun in 1874 as a teaching tool for rookie officers, and then called the Black Museum, contains weapons, death masks, and assorted criminal tools, as well as unique items such as the umbrella and ricin pellet used to assassinate Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978, the pots serial killer Dennis Nilsen used to boil his victims, along with some sludgelike human remains, Jack the Ripper’s infamous “From Hell” letter, and another letter he sent to London’s Central News Agency in September 1888 in which he gloated, “I am down on whores and I shan’t quit ripping them till I do get buckled.” The Museum also contains artifacts from other serial killers, including John George Haigh, John Christie, and Dr. Neil Cream. We think the items should be displayed for their historical value, but the opening of the collection is by no means a foregone conclusion. Only time will tell if the GLA’s recommendations will be met. If you want to read a detailed account of a visit to the Museum, we recommend visiting the London blog greatwen.com, where we found the above photo.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 31 2013
REGALLY BLONDE
Raquel Welch represents a high water mark for the low rent National Spotlite.


Her body drives men wild. But it isn’t Raquel Welch being quoted on the cover of this National Spotlite published today in 1967, though the juxtaposition of text makes it seem so. No, the line came from a little known actress named Donna Selby, who National Spotlite scribe Hugh Wells interviewed in London. The story is rather amusing, as Wells tells readers how Selby appeared in only a bathrobe, made a pass at him, gave him an unwanted kiss and even licked his ear. He claims to have fled the room, saying to the actress, “I predict that you’ll go places—and quickly too!” But he was wrong about that—try as we might, we can’t find mention of an actress named Donna Selby anywhere.

But getting back to Raquel Welch, the cover shot comes from one of her most famous photo sessions, the same one that produced this excellent image and many others. Welch had gone briefly blonde, and the resultant photos are the only ones we’ve seen of her with golden hair. You know what would make her presence here even better? An interview. But no such luck. National Spotlite is simply making good use of a handout photo. Moving on, readers are treated to a nice shot of Patsy Ann Noble, aka Trisha Noble, just below, who we discussed back in 2009, and alsoappearing in the issue is German actress Dagmar Hank, who acted in several movies between 1958 and 1965. Lastly, in the centerfold you get Molly Peters, who was a Harrison Marks model and whose most notable cinematic output was a bit part in Thunderball.

You have to give National Spotlite credit—unlike many middle tier tabloids of the period this one managed to actually feature relevant and semi-relevant personalities. That comes as a surprise, since it was owned by the infamous Beta Publications of Spotlite Extra and Close-Up Extra fame. But as the flagship paper, National Spotlite doubtless had a higher budget. The masthead tells us it even had offices in New York City and Montreal, which is kind of impressive. Within a few more years, though, the paper regressed to the same form as Beta’s cheaper imprints and was reduced to putting out issues like this one. Like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, for a while National Spotlite coulda been a contenduh. It just never quite made it.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 3 2013
BETTIE PAGES
She knows how to make love to a Kamera.

It’s a proud moment finding new material on one of the world’s most famous pin-up queens. This pocket-sized collection entitled Intimate Studies of the Fabulous Betty Page (name misspelled) was put out by Harrison Marks’ London-based Kamera Publications, Ltd. in the late 1950s. We gather that a reprint was published in the 1990s. This is not that version. It's the original. We saw one go for $172.00 on an American auction site, but this one came from Hong Kong and cost less than one tenth that amount. We managed to score some other Kamera digests too, and we’ll try to get some scans from those up at some point.

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Femmes Fatales Jun 11 2013
G-L-O-R-I-A
Just about five feet ten a-from her head to the ground.

These two shots by famed Italian photographer Angelo Frontoni show dancer and actress Gloria Paul, who was born in London but was of Italian extraction and spent most of her career in Italy. She worked steadily beginning in 1961, and appeared in such films as The Intelligence Men, For a Few Dollars Less, and Darling Lili. In 1996 she was the victim of an accident in which a water tank in her home fell through the roof of her shower and broke her back. After time in a wheelchair she eventually regained the ability to walk, but her dancing career was over.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 25
1938—Archbishop Denounces Dance Music
The Archbishop of Dubuque, Francis J. L. Beckman, makes headlines in the U.S. when he attacks swing music as a degenerated musical system destined to gnaw away at the moral fiber of young people. His denouncement follows on the heels of the music being banned in Germany due to its African and Jewish origins.
1993—Vincent Price Dies
American actor Vincent Price, who had achieved the height of his fame acting in low budget horror movies, and became famous again as the macabre voice in Michael Jackson's song "Thriller," dies at age 82 of complications from emphysema and Pariknson's disease.
October 24
1929—Stock Market Crashes
Black Thursday, a catastrophic crash on the New York Stock Exchange, occurs when the value of stocks suddenly declines and continues to decline for a month. The event leads to a subsequent crash in world stock prices and precipitates the Great Depression. This after famous economist Irving Fisher had declared that stock prices had reached a permanently high plateau.
October 23
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.

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