Eric Godtland and Dian Hanson have lovingly compiled a picture book about crime magazines from the mid-20th century called True Crime Detective Magazines 1924-1969. It's loaded with exceedingly lurid, attention-grabbing magazine covers and illustrations.
At the height of the Jazz Age, when Prohibition was turning ordinary citizens into criminals and ordinary criminals into celebrities, America’s true crime detective magazines were born. True Detective came first in 1924, and by 1934, when the Great Depression had produced colorful outlaws like Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, and John Dillinger, the magazines were so popular cops and robbers alike vied to see themselves on the pages. Even FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover wrote regularly for what came to be called the “Dickbooks,” referring to a popular slang term for a detective.
As the decades rolled on, the magazines went through a curious metamorphosis, however. When liquor was once more legal, the Depression over and all the flashy criminals dead or imprisoned, the “detectives” turned to sin to make sales. Sexy bad girls in tight sweaters, slit skirts, and stiletto heels adorned every cover. Cover lines shouted “I Was a Girl Burglar—For Kicks,” “Sex Habits of Women Killers,” “Bride of Sin!,” “She Played Me for a Sucker,” and most succinctly, “Bad Woman.”
True Crime Detective Magazines follows the evolution and devolution of this distinctly American genre from 1924 to 1969. Hundreds of covers and interior images from dozens of magazine titles tell the story, not just of the “detectives,” but also of America’s attitudes towards sex, sin, crime and punishment over five decades. With texts by magazine collector Eric Godtland, George Hagenauer and True Detective editor Marc Gerald, True Crime Detective Magazines is an informative and entertaining look at one of the strangest publishing niches of all time.
In the 1950's Vikki Dougan appeared on the cover of Life, on countless LP sleeves, in the pages of Playboy, and in magazine ads for grooming products. Deanna of Kitsch-Slapped, who posted a ton of photos and a bio about Dougan says, "you may not recognize her from the front, but you likely recognize her backside — hence her nickname, 'The Back.'"
"Vinegar valentines" are insult greeting cards popular in the 19th and early 20th century. Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix shares a fine selection of these snarky missives. "Happy Valentine’s Day, I Hate You"
This is the difference between low kinetic energy (top) and high kinetic energy (bottom), as illustrated in the 1956 Disney book Our Friend the Atom. It may be useful in visualizing some of the ideas presented in my recent feature on space radiation.
From Fresh Photons, a fantastic blog chock full of science pictures.
It's Christmastime, and if there's anything that can unite a nation, even one that doesn't universally love the holidays, it's a collection of wonderfully weird vintage Christmas videos. And even if you don't like the holidays, you'll probably still enjoy these strange (but fun) attempts at whimsy and festivity.
The video is freakish not for the video itself, but for how freakishly progressive it was when it was made -- in 1913!
(Video link) A local election in Cincinnato, Ohio came down to one vote from one person who thought it just wouldn't matter. But as it turns out, that person was the wife of Robert McDonald, who was running for a city council position -- and the race ended up tied. Katie McDonald just couldn't make it to the polls on Tuesday, and now the election will be decided with a coin toss.
Except for the coin toss, this was basically the premise for a 1956 episode of Popeye the Sailor, "Popeye For President," in which Miss Olive Oyl was too busy doing household chores to go cast her own tie-breaking vote for either Popeye (I-Spinach Party) or Bluto (I-Blutocratic Party). What's great about this vintage cartoon is not just the message about the importance of voting, but all the jokes that can be made about two "politicians" offering potential voters "stuff" and doing actual physical labor for the single woman vote.
(Video link) While we wait for Jose Padilha's upcoming (but delayed) reboot of RoboCop, here is an old clip from Entertainment Tonight featuring the 1987 movie's star, Peter Weller. On the set, he goofs around a bit, talks about the robo-suit, and reminds us why RoboCop is such a timeless and awesome piece of cinema. I'd buy that for a dollar, but YouTube is actually free! (via Blastr)
I love these images of diseased cells that are currently for sale on Etsy. The photos appear to be prints made from slides taken at Duke University in the 1970s. You can pick up a set of six 8x10s for $24 or four 8x10s for $16.
This is a page from Gustavademecum for the Island of Manhattan: A Check-List of the Best-Recommended or Most Interesting Eating-Places, Arranged in Approximate Order of Increasing Latitude and Longitude — Prepared for the convenience of mathematicians, experimental scientists, engineers, and explorers. Which is possibly the best name for a dining guide ever.
Physical chemist Robert Browning Sosman passed this pocket-sized guidebook out at conferences and updated it regularly between 1941 and 1962.
The key feature: Sosman's ... somewhat unique ... observations about the restaurants he visited. And the fact that much of that information was encoded in a sort of proprietary shorthand, cribbed from scientific symbols. The result looks something like a cross between restaurant listings and an alchemist's workbook.
In each of the guide's at least 15 editions, Sosman reviewed 300 restaurants, relaying facts like cuisine and cost, as well as esoteric observations like tableside lighting (measured in lumens) and waiters' estimated IQs. All of it was written in a mashup of mathematical figures, glyphs, Greek, and astrological symbols. A sigma meant there was samba dancing. A lowercase "m" suggested that Madison Avenue types frequented the restaurant
Sadly, the Saveur.com story that this comes from doesn't include a cheat sheet guide to deciphering Sosman's shorthand. A major disappointment. Perhaps one of you can add to the information here?