1957 Union Pacific Calendar Art

by Derrick Bostrom


I couldn't resist this calendar when I saw it last week during a visit to a local antique store. Not only are the photos exquisite, but each one comes with all the technical info: f-stop, exposure, film type, etc. Ironically enough, the photographers themselves are not credited! But here's the real hell of it: the last page states that "prints suitable for framing of any of these calendar subjects...may be obtained free of charge by writing Union Pacific Railroad...!" Since I assume this offer is no longer valid, allow me to honor the spirit of their largess by offering them to you myself. Click on each photo for more info. 

The stately temple in Salt Lake City, Utah is the chief sanctuary of the Mormon church

The Domeliner "City of Portland" glides through the grandeur if the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

Hoover Dam lights reflect on the smooth surface of Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada

Pikes Peak in Colorado, perhaps America's best known mountain

Cedar Breaks in Utah presents a series of vast chasms eroded into thousands of strange architectural forms

Sun Valley, Idaho provides everything for an ideal summer vacation

The Great White Throne and Angels Landing in Zion National Park, Utah

Yellowstone Lake mirrors the blue of the sky in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

One of the many sublime views of the Grand Canyon from the north rim in Arizona

Mount Hood, Oregon viewed across the fruitful Hood River valley

The Teton Tower in rugged splendor above the Snake River valley in Wyoming

Tipsoo Lake and Mount Rainier in Rainier National Park, Washington

Looking west into the trackless Pacific from a colorful garden and Laguna Beach, California

Sun Valley's year-round outdoor ice skating rink, recently enlarged to standard Olympic dimensions

This powerful gas turbine-electric locomotive exemplifies progress, a Union Pacific watchword

The smartly luxurious main dining room of an Astra Dome dining car


"The Changing Face Of Phoenix"

by Derrick Bostrom


You'll Like Living In Phoenix

The day after Christmas, my wife and I attended a hockey game at the Jobing.com Arena. This state-of-the-art facility stands adjacent to something called the "Westgate City Center." On what was once a quiet corner in Glendale is now erected this new mall "concept:" a pre-fab fake "town," surrounded by lots of freshly bulldozed, freeway-accessible real estate: "Shop Here - Dine Here - Live Here - ONLY HERE!" "LIVE WHERE YOU LIVE!" I'm sure there are several of these sorts of places in your town as well.

This "multi-use destination" is mostly comprised of restaurants as big as city blocks. The "food," served up in different shapes and "flavors," is your typical modern corn and soybean based cuisine. What these places offer is not so much "nutrition," as a Disney-fied, sports-bar kind of "atmosphere" designed to simultaneously stimulate and dull the senses.

As we stood huddled beneath five-story-high images of Carlos Santana and Mel Gibson, we watched a teenage fake-rock band supply the soundtrack to house-sized video displays broadcasting ads for local casinos and upcoming "tribute "concerts. At one point, an ugly long-haired dude in a shiny shirt came on the screen. He sat on a brand new leather couch, moving his lips inaudibly. Above his luminous head appeared this grave message: "$998."

Spaces like the Westgate City Center make Phoenix's older box malls look like palaces of subtlety and restraint. But the kids that milled around the grounds that night seemed just as enthusiastic about their current shopping arrangements as our grandparents' generation must have been. And as these old photos from "Arizona Highways" clearly show, nothing evokes "civic pride" like a new retail innovation. These photos leave little room for debate on the matter, taken as they are from an article entitled "Phoenix - City Of Shopping Centers."

Most of the businesses in these pictures are long gone, but if you look closely, you might recognize something of what remains.


Champions On Parade

by Derrick Bostrom


Whatever happened to the grand livestock of yesteryear? The one's we'd to proudly parade up and down the central arteries of town? The ones for whom only our fanciest ranching duds would do? The ones we'd pose our children in front of? The ones our popular local photo magazine would so graciously feature in four colors between its covers? Long since eaten I'm afraid, and their decedents relegated to the evil confines of some factory farm hidden out of site up in the hills somewhere. The only time they get their pictures in a magazine these days is if they're lucky enough to have some PETA spy smuggle a camera into one of their torture sessions.

I joke, of course. The Arizona National Livestock Show continues to this day, going strong, "supporting youth and promoting livestock and agriculture since 1948." In fact, you can go see it this year from December 28 through January 1 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Bring your camera (hidden or otherwise).

But if you can't muster the effort to head down there (I know I can't), you can check out these glorious pix from yesteryear -- the October 1968 edition of "Arizona Highways" magazine, to be specific.

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade

Champions On Parade


John Thomson: Superstar

by Derrick Bostrom


 When I was growing up, nobody could explain my grandfather's job to me. Even when I was an adult, my mom couldn't really tell me what he did for a living. I knew he was a Shriner, because I saw his hats. I knew he liked to collect restaurant menus, because I saw the blog posts. Beyond that, all I ever knew was he had an office downtown. Last month, I finally learned the truth.

My grandmother was a regular fangirl when it came to her husband. From the 1930s right up through the mid-sixties, she kept a huge scrapbook about my grandfather, tirelessly collecting  hundreds of photos and newspaper clippings documenting the ups and downs of his career. And while my grandfather was no Frank Sinatra or Mikey Mantle, he was quite a superstar in his own right.

The story begins shortly after my grandparents' marriage and finds my grandfather working for a liberal newspaper in Syracuse, Nebraska. In 1936, the Otoe County Democrats elected him the youngest party chairman in the nation.       

John Thomson   John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson

John Thomson   John Thomson  John Thomson John Thomson  John Thomson

 

In short order, he was formally swept into the local bureaucracy, first as Assistant County Clerk, then as a trucking inspector for the Nebraska Railway Commission. Thanks to his ties to the newspaper business, or maybe just due to his basic inherent interestingness, my grandfather collected boatloads of ink throughout his career. He gathered tribute every time he climbed the ladder, garnering praise and support from peers and politicians. Along the way, he signed off on major issues of the day, and contributed "humorous" human-interest filler that would be considered inappropriate today.

 John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson

John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson

 

Alas, despite Nebraska's deep roots of progressive populism (or maybe because of it), the state couldn't sustain a consistent majority for FDR. In the spring of 1940, my grandfather managed the Democratic candidate in a special election to fill the vacancy left by the death of a sitting senator. The Republicans campaigned against the New Deal and won by a landslide. Later that year, after Nebraska awarded its electoral votes to Wendell Wilkie, my grandfather found himself out of power and planning his return to the private sector. He soon relocated to Minneapolis, reinvented himself as a successful businessman, immersed himself in the Chamber of Commerce, and continued to generate column inches in the local newspapers.

John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson   John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson

John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson

 

Around this time, his media visibility expanded and took an unexpected turn. During the war, my grandfather began appearing as a model for print advertisements. (An earlier accident kept him out of the service.) Significantly, the roles he adopted charted both his own trajectory and the country's -- out of the Depression and the war, and into the boom of the late Forties and early Fifties. The earliest of these ads portray him as an overall-clad working class hero putting his back into the war effort. Later, he's an upwardly mobile everyman in a hurry to claim his slice of postwar prosperity. Finally, he's a successful self-made man, living the model suburban dream.

 John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson

John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson John Thomson

 

After the war, my grandfather owned several successful businesses before he finally moved out west and joined CIT Corporation (yes, the very same CIT that's been struggling for its life lately). As the vice president in charge of the Phoenix office, he doled out financing for many of the construction companies that built the modern Arizona. Here, he finally becomes recognizable to me as the man who became my grandfather -- the guy with the carving utensils, serving up the holiday meals with a gruff efficiency and a policy of zero tolerance for tom-foolery at the dinner table. While these later years tend to strike me as anticlimactic, this period certainly brought him his greatest rewards. Like so many of the men of his generation who saw his country through the crises of the day, he was glad to take his place in line when it was time to reap the rewards he deserved.

 John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson

John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson  John Thomson   John Thomson

 

And yet, my grandfather lived long enough to watch his country become unrecognizable to him. He saw the Democratic party fall apart during the Sixties, prey to both its own hubris and events beyond its control. Unable to corral its own disparate elements, the party splintered. (Sounds familiar, doesn't it?) Eventually my grandfather switched sympathies. But if he found any real satisfaction in the party of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, he never said anything to me about it.

In the end, extreme age and deteriorating health telescoped his life into a series of restless nights and passing days. I got to know him a little better once I got older, and he always impressed me as a serious, savvy son-of-a-gun. To hear him tell it, he never knew a fool that he suffered gladly. As his photos clearly show, he was a good-old-boy to the core, even as a young man -- a true big fish in a small pond. And though I might not have believed it when I was younger, nowadays I can't help but see a little bit of him staring back at me in the mirror. I'm glad I finally found out what he did for a living.


"Love Workshop" Box Set Now Available!

by Derrick Bostrom


Say what you will about the convenience of the cloud, there are still some people who prefer the greater perceived permanence of a piece of plastic that they can stick on their shelf, toss in the back seat of their car or stash in the back of their closet. Those folks will relish the following piece of news: the Love Workshop Box Set is finally a reality!

Yep, Andy Olsen at Radio Free Phoenix has finally put final touches on his six-disk compilation of KDKB's legendary comedy program from 1976. And now, he's offering this labor of love to the public for less than what you'd pay for a tank of gas these days. Andy and his shopping cart and standing by right now, waiting for your purchase:

http://radiofreephoenix.com/loveworkshopcd.html

Whether this makes the shows archived here, at WFMU's Beware Of The Blog and at Archive Dot Org more or less of a valued public service depends, I suppose, on how you stand on this whole getting-your-entertainment-for free-from-the-Internet issue. It's moot point to me, since I received my copy for free anyway (I was, after all, a contributor). But if I hadn't, I'm sure I'd buy one just the same.

Be sure to visit the Bostworld "Love Workshop" tribute pages for more info on this great program, including audio from the show, articles from the period and a lengthy exclusive interview with one half of the "Love Workshop" creative team, Russ "Wonderful Russ" Shaw.

(Now, if someone would come forward with recordings of "Bunkhouse Capers...")


Postcard Collection: New York City

by Derrick Bostrom


I made my first visits to New York City as a touring musician, but my experiences were of a no less hayseed variety: getting lost looking for a public restroom, getting lost trying to follow directions after dark ("go east after exiting the subway..."), and my greatest moment: waking up in the back of the van, thinking I was in Buffalo and getting lost.

Eventually, I graduated from the back of a van to an actual hotel bed, as my career elevated me from the notorious CBGBs men's room to the posh washrooms of mid town. My band-mates and I would bounce from one office building to the next, discussing the poor quality of our music with the record company, the poor quality of our finances with the accountants, and the poor quality of our contracts with the lawyers. In between, we got to partake of some mighty fancy restaurants (all charged to the band, no doubt).

Now that I've returned to civilian life, my visits to The City are much less frequent. So I supplement my experiences vicariously, using visual aids. In addition to  books and videos, I've also got the family postcard collection. And while I doubt there's little I can add to the vast plethora of Manhattania already available on the web, here they are anyway:


The Damon Show, Part Six

by Derrick Bostrom


Over the years, my brother Damon has left a long list of projects behind him -- many completed, some not so much. Sometimes, the strain of trying to hold all the pieces together is just too great to sustain for any length of time. People lose focus of his quixotic vision, or he gets fed up with cajoling them into following his lead. Sometimes, there are feuds. It's always gratifying, though, when you see people committed enough to see it through to the end, especially when you can't pay them.

I don't know if all the players in these clips remain in Damon's good graces or not, but he managed to coax terrific performances from all of them. Michael Block's droll commentary in "The American Eating Show," is charming to the extreme, but I confess I have no idea what's going on with the hallucinatory visual effects Damon has added. The two gentlemen in "About Five Minutes" do an acceptable job with Damon's convoluted script, though they sound like they could have used more rehearsal time. Regardless, if nothing else, this piece succeeds in making my wife very nervous.

My brother has created a lot of music in his life. He started and disbanded more groups than I'll ever be able to remember. He's even produced music for the City of Tucson as well as a couple of churches. Just this last weekend, he joined the Unitarian Church Choir for a performance of a couple of his pieces at a service commemorating the installation of their new minister. And while everyone was very proud of him (especially his parents), in my heart, it will never supplant "About Five Minutes."


The Economics Of Christmas Vacation, as Explained by My Wife to Her Ten-Year-Old Niece

by Derrick Bostrom


My wife leaves her instant messaging client on all day while she's working. No wonder it takes her 60 hours a week to get anything done. It doesn't help matters that her ten-year-old niece periodically bombards her with interruptions. On the other hand, some of the transcripts are good enough to withstand the test of time:

Niece: I have a question.

Wife: k

Niece: How come you are coming Christmas Eve instead of a day earlier or something?????

Wife: because Uncle Derrick has to work

Niece: why?

Wife: he can't leave until Christmas eve

Wife: he works at a retail store, and during Christmas retail stores are filled with busy shoppers

Niece: he can work at our store

Wife: that isn't how it works

Wife: he supports his store only

Niece: poopie

Wife: well, in these troubling economic times, one wants to make sure they keep their employer happy

Niece: they're the same. aren't they

Wife: no, not at all

Niece: howcome

Wife: well, for one thing, your store already has someone doing uncle derrick's job

Niece: can't they both work?

Wife: the company can only pay one of them at a time

Niece: o

Wife: and then who would do uncle derrick's job at his store?

Wife: plus it wouldn't be fair to all the people who depend on him at his own store

Wife: if there were problems, they'd be in trouble right before the holiday

Niece: how would they depend on him

Wife: he keeps the computers working, makes sure all the prices are right, and makes sure the cash registers work

Niece: o

Wife: so you see, it's very important for him to be there on such busy shopping days

Niece: why

Niece: hmmmm?

Wife: imagine if you went to the store and they said "sorry, we can't sell you these things that you need because the computers aren't working right now"

Wife: because Derrick decided to abandon us and go see his niece a day early

Niece: sooo

Niece: i would go to a different store

Wife: and then all the people who worked at his store would lose money because you bought things somewhere else

Wife: that's not fair to his co-workers

Niece: why

Wife: they might get sent home early and not get paid since they couldn't sell anything

Wife: and then they'd have to take back the Christmas presents they bought for their kids because they had no money

Niece: no they wouldn't

Wife: yes, they would

Wife: they count on the money they get at Christmas time to make up for days that aren't as busy

Wife: some day you'll have a job, then you'll understand

Niece: no I won't

Niece: i am going to be a astronaut

Wife: an astronaut - so what would happen if one person didn't show up for a launch?

Wife: the rest of them couldn't go

Niece: yes they could

Wife: no, they couldn't because each of them has a very important job to do

Niece: yes they could

Wife: not really - you need people to be able to help each other.

Niece: what?

Wife: each person has their own skills and training. They work together and help each other

Niece: no

Wife: it's called teamwork

Wife: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teamwork

Niece: ok

Wife: A general dictionary defines teamwork as a "Cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause, unison for a higher cause, people working together for a selfless purpose, and so on." Applied to workplaces teamwork is a method that aligns employee mindsets in a cooperative and usually selfless manner, towards a specific business purpose. Today there is no business or organization that does not talk about the need and value of teamwork in the workplace.

Wife: In order for teamwork to succeed one must be a team player. A team player is one who subordinates personal aspirations and works in a coordinated effort with other members of a group, or team, in striving for a common goal. Businesses and other organizations often go to the effort of coordinating team building events in an attempt to get people to work as a team rather than as individuals

Niece: 0123456789

Wife: ok i have to go now, one of my teammates needs my help


Things I Should Throw Out: "The Kind Adults Want"

by Derrick Bostrom


Like so many guys my age, I made my first connection with male sexual identity in the back of mass-market magazines like "True Detective" and "Man's Adventure." Naturally, I was drawn to the so-called "adult" content in these tiny sidebar ads, but what strikes me now is how juvenile they are, and how devoid of any actual females. They almost seem to suggest that pictures, films or stories about women are much better than the real thing.

When I got older, I began to experience the "skin trade" up close. I remember visiting my first downtown adult theater when I was eighteen or nineteen. This place was different from the "peep show" places that offered curtained smut loops for a quarter. This was an real "theater" that showed full-length films. It shared a strip of commercial property with a pawn shop, a liquor store and an anonymous storage facility. It had no lobby or backstage -- just a screen and a low platform at one end of a small room and a 16mm film projector at the other end.

I have no memory of the films I saw that day. What I do remember was how after the first movie, a woman came out on the stage. To a soundtrack of the current disco hits, she removed her clothing, lay down on her back and and spread her legs. She lay there for a few minutes, then got up and left.

This was a surprise. The theater had not advertised live entertainment. A few minutes into the next film, I noticed someone coming towards me down the aisle. Before I could make out the figure clearly, I heard a woman's voice. "Can you give me some money for my dance?"

I quickly fished out whatever was in my pocket and gave her what she wanted. She rubbed the bills against her chest, moaned a little, and slid the money into a pocket. Then she moved on to the next patron. I watched the movie for a little while longer, but I knew I'd have to leave soon. I didn't have enough cash left for any more tips.

Up until that day, I had always assumed the "adult entertainment" business to be entirely one-sided and exploitative. It now occurred to me that the woman had actually derived some pleasure from the transaction, albeit second-hand, and not of a perverse nor prurient nature. It was the pleasure she got from keeping a roof over her head and providing food for her family. As I drove home, my guilt feelings in no way assuaged by the insight, I wondered which one of us had gotten the better end of the deal.


Taming The Beast Inside Of Me

by Derrick Bostrom


About a year ago, when national treasure Merlin Mann took a brief hiatus from his blog, 43 Folders, he recruited a selection of substitutes to post in his absence. Much to my amazement, I was one of his recruits (due no doubt to Merlin's love of the Meat Puppets and not anything he might have encountered in these pages). Time permitted the completion of only two pieces, and I fear neither revealed much in the way of useful tips and tricks for his life-hacking hungry readers. I was more interested in poking fun at the whole idea of "productivity strategy" than I was in actually being "productive."

As it turns out, I wasn't as far off the mark as I thought. Merlin's return to 43 Folders has seen him take just the same kind of turn. His rants against "fiddling," of allowing "tools" to get between you and your work, have become increasingly shrill, as he twists somewhat publicly in the wind, trying to kick his message up a notch. I guess fatherhood will do that to you. I've noticed that getting older certainly does. I myself have begun to enter serious re-evaluation mode about the current state of my own "creative work."

What better time, then, to "reblog" one of my 43 Folder articles. This particular piece was never promoted to the front page, so hardly anyone read it anyway. And after all, Christmas is coming, and daddy's got to get out there on the street corner and hustle a flower or two. If a filler post helps give a man some badly needed breathing room, well, so much the better:

It's the central contradiction at the heart of our all-too-finite existence that we cannot reconcile the uncontainability of our dreams with the futile limitation of our resources. It's no wonder we've come rely on strategies to get through the day. In David Allen's world, the metaphor is the overloaded information-driven workplace. For Merlin, it's the in-box. Much like baseball, which employs elaborate rules to 'score' the uncontrollable moment when pine touches horse-hide, or Civil War reenactments, which apply a comforting tactical grid to our nation's most chaotic psychic trauma, GTD derives its power from our need to impose our will on random events. No matter what fate has in store, all we have to do is write it down and throw it in a box.

But some situations require us to think outside the box.

I've never been very good at handling demands from the outside world. I haven't answered my telephone in decades. When it comes to something like getting a haircut, visiting the dentist or changing the oil in my car, I'll either lie awake all night worrying about it or forget about it altogether. So I desperately wanted to believe in any strategy that could help me dispatch unpleasant tasks without the need to obsess over them. Once I made that initial leap of faith, the rest came surprisingly easy. Sure enough, I was amazed to discover how quickly I could swat down those hated chores with my very first trusted system.

As self-loathing abated, I looked forward to the promise of projects that might actually cause me personal satisfaction upon completion, and not merely relief. But external obligations sprout all by themselves, like weeds. I found myself spending far too much time whacking tedious projects off my plate and not nearly enough on the ones I truly loved. I came to understand that if my only motivation was avoidance of the pain from open loops, I'd do nothing but battle these impositions for the rest of my life. I knew I'd have to rethink my system.

Some stubborn projects defy the equation: the pain of doing them far outweighs the pain of leaving them undone. For these tasks, I've created an entirely new type of context, which I've set just above and slightly to the right of 'deferred.' I call it 'punishment.' Tasks falling into this category include certain home plumbing repairs, financial drudgery which I haven't figured out how to automate yet, or anything that tends to remind me of my inevitable demise (such as pruning photo albums of recently deceased pets or trying to read anything set below 12-point type). In other words, this context would include any task that would tend to ruin my day if attempted.

I save those tasks for when my day is already ruined. Whether I've overplayed my hand somehow and allowed my demons to surface, or just simply made the colossal miscalculation of allowing myself to 'believe' (whatever that means), that's when I pull out the punishment list. Suddenly, the tasks on this list don't look so foreboding -- that's when I know its time to jump on them. The benefits to this approach are threefold: first, I receive my self-administered comeuppance, second, I move a dreaded project forward, and third, if the project truly belonged on the list in the first place, then it's likely I'll get the opportunity to bang my knuckles against the pipes hard enough to restore emotional equilibrium.

This may sound a little extreme, but it works. The last time I tried this method, I was hoarse from screaming at my tools and there was a pile of broken pipes and kitchen paneling out behind the house. But my newly-installed under-the-sink reverse osmosis unit worked like a charm! Furthermore, I'd completely forgotten whatever was bothering me in the first place.

Give it a try, but make sure you have plenty of band-aids on hand.


Postcard Collection: Chicago

by Derrick Bostrom


I haven't been to Chicago in over a dozen years, but I still have my memories. Unfortunately, most of them involve trying driving around the club trying to find safe legal parking for two vans and a trailer. So the next best thing for me are these postcards from my grandfather's collection, some of which date back a hundred years, to the 1893 World’s Exposition.

Aside from the postcards, the closest I've been to Chicago recently has been through a book and DVD by "This American Life" host Ira Glass and illustrator Chris Ware, "Lost Buildings." The DVD tells the story of a kid who's love for the work of architect Louis Sullivan led him into the orbit of photographer Richard Nickel. Forty years ago, Nickel traced an ever-shrinking circuit, documenting the progress of urban renewal as it consigned more and more of Sullivan's buildings to the wrecking ball. Increasingly frustrated by the loss of these historic monuments, Nickel finally met his end inside the old Chicago Stock Exchange building. Seems he'd been trying to rescue an ornate specimen of staircase railing from demolition when the floor above him collapsed.

No doubt, many of the older subjects of these postcards are long gone as well, and the ones remaining are not long for this world. Who knows? One day, I might actually get back to Chicago, create a circuit of my own, and find out.


The Damon Show, Part Five

by Derrick Bostrom


In the early fall of 1996, my friend Bruce Sandig and I traveled down to Tucson to appear in a video for my brother's cable television show. I guess Damon must have been desperate to fill time on his November episode. Why else would he invite Today's Sounds on his show?

Any doubt I might have had that Bruce would balk at having to perform "Let's Turkey Trot" dressed up like a pilgrim was quickly laid to rest. He jumped at the opportunity to appear on television. So, we visited the local party store for some paper hats and scored some shirts and vests from Goodwill. We completed the ridiculous ensemble with some black biker shorts from Wall Mart. Then we drove down to Tucson to meet up with my brother. I tortured Bruce during the drive with my off-key demos of songs that didn't make it on the record.

As the video clearly shows, our holiday garb was an actual cut above our regular street clothes. For our pantomime studio performance, we both wore hideous shorts and polo shirts. Then we donned our costumes and hit the park, where we danced and chased the birds. We were supposed to be duck hunting (shade of Elmer Fudd), but I'm not sure our exaggerated expressions denote hunger so much as a kind of pained longing (for what, I'm not sure).

Your Truly is featured in the second clip as well, an unintentionally hilarious version of "MacArthur Park" by David Martin and "The Bostrom Arts Ensemble." This is a live performance, of sorts, with Damon and I (on piano and drums respectively) backing up Martin, who sings and plays trombone. It's an eccentric rendition to say the least. Martin's howling performance is made all the more eerie by his striking "hippie" garb. Adding to the instability of the preceding, Damon insisted that he and I play along to a pre-recorded computerized track. There weren't enough channels for a click track, apparently, so I was forced to comp along to the barely audible bass part in my headphones. Damon and I don't so much "play" the song as hunt desperately for our places in the arrangement. If anything, Martin saves the mess with his oddball intensity and frankly misguided commitment to the material.


Things I Should Throw Out: "True Romances" Magazine

by Derrick Bostrom


Here's one I should seriously throw out. This coverless 1947 edition of "True Romance" was already in tatters when I found it in the back of a dusty gift shop in Oatman. But I fell in love with the magazine's beautiful postwar art direction, as well as its haplessly out-of-date take on feminine empowerment -- that is to say, landing a man. The advertisements were especially poignant, offering guidance on how to manage such typically tragic social disasters as halitosis, menstruation and "borderline anemia." And the advice doesn't stop at the altar. The helpful hints for homemakers are equally plentiful. No doubt, many of our own grandmothers used Drano to combat humiliating "sewer germs," treated "childhood constipation" with Fletcher's Castoria and curbed "spousal indifference" by douching regularly with Lysol brand disinfectant.

These ads are unrecognizably archaic. As one insists, "before your daughter marries, it's your solemn duty to instruct her on how important douching is to marriage happiness. But first, make sure your own knowledge is as up-to-date and scientific as it can be!" In another, "color authority Carol Neuschaefer" touts the latest "miracle ingredient" in this season's line of beauty products. Another one shouts, "She's Engaged! She's Lovely! She uses PONDS!" Next to a photo of the product surrounded by engagement rings ("diamonds for some of America's loveliest girls!"), reads a list of "beautiful women of Society who use Ponds": Mrs. Henry L. Roosevelt, Jr, Mrs. Richard C. Du Pont, Mrs. Anthony J. Drexell III, The Lady Victoria Montagu-Douglas-Scott and Mrs. Francis Grover Cleveland.

I'm ashamed to confess how much I paid for this museum piece. I was badly gouged. But I dutifully paid up and brought it home, tore it apart and scanned the highlights. I now present the best parts to you, not just for entertainment, but for your education as well. You never know when certain peripheral factions in our society might take the main stage and try to turn America's past into its future.


Things I Can't Throw Out: Mass Market Paperpack Reprints Of Classic Comics And Humor Magazines

by Derrick Bostrom


Nowadays, there's a thriving industry devoted to archiving the best of twentieth century periodicals. If it's not being sold on DVD, it's been issued hardbound on acid-free paper. If nothing else, there's always the share bloggers. But when I was a kid, you could only read ABOUT the great comics. You might be able to piece together Harvey Kurtzman's non-MAD/Little Annie Fannie career from third-party sources, but you'd never actually get to see of it without doling out some seriously hefty coin.

Sure, Peanuts never went out of print, and back then Pogo trade paperbacks weren't yet impossible to find. And the occasional fan publisher would bring out the odd EC reprint or coffee table book devoted to classic newspaper strips. But for me, the real gold came from second hand book stores (remember those?) or rummage sales. I remember when I was twelve years old, finding a coverless copy of Kurtzman's "Trump" Number 2 from 1957, for probably no more than a dime (ten comics for a dollar, no doubt). The following year, when I became a Kurtzman fanatic, I was astounded to realize what I had. The same goes for the odd paperbacks I'd pick up during a dull summer vacation day, or inherit from older friends and family. Years later, I'd realize that the poorly printed black and white paperback of sci-fi comic stories was actually reprints from EC's "Weird Science!"

The days when you could find these kinds of old mass market paperbacks by accident in the back of a thrift store are pretty much gone. Reading them is out of the question. These things are so old, it makes my hands dirty just to get near them. Some of 'em are so brittle I can't even open one without the spine shattering and the pages turning to powder right before my eyes. But I can scan the covers and share them with the rest of you. Meanwhile, I'll be pre-ordering my hardbound reissue of Kurtzman's "Humbug," set for release this fall. And if someone doesn't hurry up and release reprints of "Trump" and "Help!," I may be tempted to share them myself.