Intl. Notebook Apr 18 2015
TOP GUNS
Japanese toy guns of yesteryear conjure the future while reflecting the past.


Yesterday’s Things To Come poster got us thinking about retro-futurism, so above and below you see a collection of 1950s through 1970s toy guns. Although some are tied into American or British television shows or serials, these particular guns are of Japanese manufacture and come from companies like Nomura, Yoshiya, and Daiya. The one above, for example, is a tin water gun from Crown Co. of Japan, and was designed as a tie-in with the British television series Space Patrol. You may notice the strong art deco influence—that’s common in these items and is a major reason they’re so attractive. The one just below, made of tin and plastic, ties in with the American television show Bronco, and features hero Bronco Layne’s face on the grip. Just below that is a machine gun promoting the Japanese anime hero Ōgon Bat, aka Golden Bat. And so forth.

While some of these are water guns, and others use battery power to produce lights and sounds, the ones we like best are friction guns, which means pulling the trigger causes flint-like mechanics in the chassis to produce sparks that make the gun flash and glow. The latter variety, as you might imagine, also produce a grinding/gearing noise to go along with the visual effects. We had one of these just a few years ago and couldn’t put it down. Back then though, we had no idea it was a collectible and so we lost track of it, sadly. It may still be in a relative’s garage Stateside, though, so all hope is not lost. Anyway, in addition to being fun, beautifully designed, and coveted on the collection circuit, these toys also make excellent props for provocative femme fatale photos, like here. That should put a little fuel in your rocket, and we have thirteen guns below that’ll bring out your inner space trooper.

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Intl. Notebook Apr 15 2015
GETTIN' SHORTY
I know I’m supposed to inspire awe and terror. I totally get that. But is it weird that I feel like dancing right now?


England’s tabloid newspaper/website Daily Express has an interesting story today about the discovery of a Nazi propaganda book Hitler had banned because its photos made him look undignified. The book was called Deutschland Erwache, aka Germany Awaken, and was written in the 1930s by Baldur von Schirach, the former Hitler-Jugend leader who died in Spandau Prison after his conviction at the Nuremburg Trials. His book had been mostly forgotten, but now it’s about to be republished after an intact edition was found amongst the war souvenirs of a deceased British private. The volume was aimed at younger readers, which is why Hitler was portrayed in lighthearted fashion, such as in the above rural photo showing him in shorts working his Uncle Adolf vibe.

As dedicated documenters of Hitler’s horrors, we welcome the republication of Deutschland Erwache. Anything that shows der Führer as human rather than a monster is useful, because it can hopefully remind people that he didn’t arrive here by oozing through an orifice from an alien dimension, but was rather a member of Earth’s human race—and one from just a single lifetime ago, when people had the exact same needs, fears, pressures, desires, lusts, hatreds, and political confusion as they do right now. Which means if we aren't careful and diligent everything that happened during Hitler’s rule could happen again. And we don’t mean in some benighted corner of the planet, but anywhere—even in the well-lit, well-paved, heavily-policed havens some people call home. The top photo is a good reminder that Hitler put his shorts on one leg at a time—just like the rest of us.

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Intl. Notebook Apr 4 2015
A SPRING BREAK
Pulp Intl. takes a good old-fashioned road trip.

We’re driving to a coastal party town we know and stopping at whatever interesting locales we encounter on the way. We’ll be back the tenth or eleventh, if we avoid serious injury or imprisonment. We’ll keep our eyes open, but we probably won’t find any pulp this time. Some places have it and some don’t. Sadly we’ll be traveling the “don’t” zone. Luckily we have stacks of unscanned material in our office, more on the way via the international mails, and thousands of individual posts in Pulp Intl. containing approximately 30,000 pieces of art, so a week of wandering pulpless realms won’t exactly leave us hurting for material. It will, however, bring on website withdrawal. But we can hack it—we think. Meantime, get comfy, have a snack, take a look around. We suggest here, here, here, here, and most appropriately for the time of year, here. Oh, and don’t forget our tabloid index. We’ll see you soon. 

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Intl. Notebook Mar 23 2015
TEMPLE OF DOOM
Secret Nazi lair found deep in Argentine jungle.


Archaeologists have uncovered a set of stone ruins in Argentina they believe were constructed to serve as homes for Nazis fleeing Europe during the aftermath of World War II. The buildings are located in a mountainous, barely accessible area of the Teyu Cuare national park in northern Argentina where it meets the border with Paraguay. The archaeologists believe these are Nazi structures because they uncovered German coins minted between 1938 and 1941, and fragments of a plate made in Germany. The fact that such structures were found in Argentina isn’t a surprise—another stone house found years ago (below) in the same park is believed to have been built for Parteikanzlei chief Martin Bormann, who never got to use it. In the end the Nazis never really needed their Teyu Cuare lairs—as many as 9,000 of them fled to Argentina openly, welcomed by the government of Juan Peron.

Argentina was hardly unique in that respect. Thousands more Nazis settled in Brazil, Chile, and in the fascist dictatorship of Paraguay. Hundreds fled to the Middle East.  At least one resided for a brief time inQuebec. Via Operation Paperclip, high ranking Nazi party members such as Wernher von Braun, Kurt Debus, and Arthur Rudolph were welcomed into the U.S., mainly due to their knowledge of physics and rocketry. Hubertus Strughold (at right) was also brought over. He had a different kind of knowledge—direct awareness of and possible involvement with fatal medical experiments relating to extreme environments and atmospheric pressure. All four men were given jobs at NASA.

There’s no word yet on what the Argentine government plans to do with the newly discovered Teyu Cuare structures. The alleged Borman house still stands and even has a sign noting its unusual history. However most countries prefer to wipe out evidence of government or citizen collaboration with the Third Reich by opting to raze Nazi structures.

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Intl. Notebook Mar 17 2015
HARD NUKE LIFE
Annie was a big hit in the desert long before the Broadway musical came along.


In the photo above, department store manager Hillman Lee checks out a group of battered mannequins he had helped the U.S. government use in a nuclear test. The mannequins were placed inside House No. 1 at the Nevada Proving Grounds and subjected to the blast effects of the sixteen-kiloton shot codenamed Annie, which was part of Operation Upshot-Knothole. The images below show up on all sorts of websites identified with all sorts of tests, but these come from the Nevada Department of Energy website and are identified there as the actual House No. 1 that wasblown to smithereens along with Hillman’s mannequins (those may seem in strangely good shape to you, but keep in mind that fiberglass melts at about 37,000°F, whereas human flesh burns at about 120°F and melts shortly thereafter).

For an interesting indication of the bizarro world some people lived in during the nuclear 1950s, consider this quote from Hillman concerning the use of mannequins (which, by the way, he dressed differently as a tribute to American individuality and choice): “The outcome of this test is unpredictable, but the results of the evaluation may be a powerful factor in deciding fashion trends in the years to come.” That’s right—he thought he could learn from the test how to make nuclear blast-resistant clothes, market them, and make money selling them. Kind of makes you wonder whether humans are simply destined to fail on this planet, doesn’t it? Nuclear test Annie occurred at 5:20 a.m. today in 1953. 

Note: We got an e-mail, and the question was whether the mannequin photo was really made after the test, or before. If the photo were larger you'd be able to see that the mannequins are, in fact, a bit battered. Of course, that raises the question of whether they're radioactive. Being the morbid guys we are, we did check historical records on Hillman Lee to see if maybe he developed health problems, but there's nothing on him. Presumably he made a fortune on his nuke resistant garments and retired to a life of quiet but comfortable obscurity. Or not.

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Intl. Notebook Mar 5 2015
WHISKEY DECISIONS
Too much booze leads to terrible decisions about military secrets—and music.


Everyone knows booze makes people shoot their mouths off, so what better way for a liquor company to support the Allied effort during World War II than by producing a propaganda poster that says—basically—don’t let our product affect you the way our product affects people? The Montreal based whiskey distiller House of Seagram did exactly that when it hired artist Essargee, aka Henry Sharp Goff, Jr. to paint the above poster warning of the potentially disastrous combo of booze, chattiness, and military secrets. You can see Essargee’s signature just about in the middle of the poster.

This piece is pure genius, not just because it features a highly stylized, almost new wave Führer, but because it could be produced today with slightly different text and instead of talking about Hitler it could be cautioning that drinking too much can make you listen to punk-ass Justin Bieber. This is a message the people need today. We had no idea Hitler and Bieber resembled each other so closely, but you see that, right? Like twins, these two. Now if only all Bieber’s music could be doused with petrol and incinerated we’d be getting somewhere.

In any case, the House of Seagram and Essargee cooked up several of these propaganda pieces together, all of which are highly collectible today. We have another two of their collaborations below for you to check out, and you can see a third—entitled “Starve Him with Silence”—at our previous post on World War II propaganda from Germany, Japan, Russia, England, and the U.S. here.


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Intl. Notebook Feb 27 2015
FINAL FRONTIER
Sci-fi icon Leonard Nimoy dies in Bel-Air, California.

Above is a promo photo of American actor Leonard Nimoy. We’ve been working our way through the original Star Trek and last night just finished the episode “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” Watching the show for the first time since childhood, it’s easy to see now that Nimoy was the best part of it. Shatner is great in that cheesy way of his, but Nimoy is the center of the Trek universe. He was especially good when his purely logical Mr. Spock was allowed to show emotion. In “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” while possessed by a cloud-like alien named Kollos who'd never occupied a physical form before, he waxed, “How compact your bodies are. And what a variety of senses you have. This thing you call language though—most remarkable. You depend on it for so very much. But is any one of you really its master? But most of all, the aloneness. You are so alone. You live out your lives in this shell of flesh. Self-contained. Separate. How lonely you are. How terribly lonely.” Star Trek was greater than the sum of its parts. It was escapism, but it managed stunning insights into the human condition. Leonard Nimoy was often the conduit. He died today in Bel-Air, California of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease aged eighty-three.

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Intl. Notebook Feb 4 2015
L-A-N-D THAT TIME FORGOT
Before Hollywood there was Hollywoodland.

Los Angeles has always been a place where gaudy signage and programmatic architecture reigns, so when a real estate company decided in 1923 to erect a giant Hollywoodland sign on Mount Lee to publicize a chic housing development in Beachwood Canyon people hardly blinked an eye. In 1944, the development’s owners deeded the sign to the city, which by then had begun to symbolize the motion picture industry. In 1949 a storm blew down the H, and with the sign now reading “ollywoodland” debate took place about whether to demolish the rest. But the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce ponied up $5,000, contracted the Department of Parks and Recreation to repair the H and, while they were at it, take down the L-A-N-D, thus matching the landmark to the name of the city it promoted, resulting in the sign’s current, world famous form. Above and below you see a collection of photos made from the time of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s makeover and before. The sign is very small in some of the shots, but it’s there.

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Intl. Notebook Jan 16 2015
STAR NOIRS
San Fran film fest once again celebrates the best and brightest of mid-century crime cinema.

Today, once again, the U.S.’s premier film noir festival begins in San Francisco. Well, we aren’t impartial—we used to live in Berkeley, just across the Bay, and San Fran was our nocturnal playground—but we think the Noir City Film Festival is the best, that its locale the Castro Theatre is awesome, and that San Francisco, with its iconic hills, clanking cable cars, and rogue fogs, is the also the best possible host city. This year the art produced for the festival in its thirteenth year references worn pulp paperbacks, which we can appreciate, and we also love the festival line-up.

The extravaganza opens with Woman on the Run, a film we discussed recently. Apparently the last known print burned in a fire, and this year’s showing represents the culmination of years of restoration work. Since the film was in the public domain, we imagine some secondary sources existed and needed to be tracked down and cobbled together. Other classics to be screened include Clash By Night, The Thin Man, Shockproof, Cry Terror!, and twenty others. Hopefully a few of our Bay Area friends will attend the festival and report back. And to Pulp Intl. readers in that part of the world, this is your official reminder—any chance to see film noir on a big screen is an opportunity not to be wasted.

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Intl. Notebook Jan 11 2015
LIFE IS SWEET
Anita Ekberg dies in Italy.

She was born Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg in Malmo, Sweden, but became famous as simply Anita Ekberg. Some of her screen roles included 1955’s Artists and Models, and 1956’s Zarak Khan and Back from Eternity, films that made her very famous. But it was 1960’s La Dolce Vita and her portrayal of the wild starlet Sylvia for which she’s most remembered. The uniquely talented Anita Ekberg, dead in Rocca di Papa, Italy, aged 83

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
April 18
1923—Yankee Stadium Opens
In New York City, Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, opens with the Yankees beating their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox 4 to 1. The stadium, which is nicknamed The House that Ruth Built, sees the Yankees become the most successful franchise in baseball history. It is eventually replaced by a new Yankee Stadium and closes in September 2008.
April 17
1961—Bay of Pigs Invasion Is Launched
A group of CIA financed and trained Cuban refugees lands at the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro. However, the invasion fails badly and the result is embarrassment for U.S. president John F. Kennedy and a major boost in popularity for Fidel Castro, and also has the effect of pushing him toward the Soviet Union for protection.

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