VPotD: The Pride of Puget Sound.

The owner of Fairlook Antiques has a name for photographs with writing on the front.  I can’t remember what it is, though.  I think it’s a term coined by the guy who wrote the book that got turned into a stupid-looking movie starring Samuel L. Jackson.  It’s about freaky kids and fake teeth or something.  I know about this movie because I watched late night television for the first time in about five years last night.  Did you know the guy who used to play Barry Gibb on Saturday Night Live is now the host of The Tonight Show?  That’s true.

I usually call photographs with writing on the front “ruined” and tend to steer clear of them.  I liked these three, though.

the-pride-of-puget-soundvi-dot-honey a-lost-thoughtThis sentence is down here because I like to end my posts with text instead of a photo.

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VPotD: 9 out of 10 old-timey people recommend watermelon.

It tastes great on a rocky beach.

watermelon-picnicSpeaking of rocky beaches, I picked up this shot because I initially thought the woman was holding a tiny human skull.  It didn’t take long for me to realize it was just three rocks.  It’s probably better that way…and it’s still a nice photograph.  It says “Hood Canal” on the back.  I can’t remember where that is exactly, but I think it’s in the Pacific Northwest somewhere.

hood-canal(“VPotD” stands for Vintage Photo of the Day.  I’ve been posting a bunch of them recently.  Feel free to check out the others here.)

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VPotD: Hello Big Boy!

My previous Vintage Photo of the Day post featured an otherwise fine shot that was ruined by a man and his big, dumb body getting in the way.  Well, here’s a second photo from that accidental series…which I guess I’m going to have to call M&HBDBGitW.  It’s an unwieldy term, but I hope to avoid getting more of these by taking a closer look at all future purchases before I take them to the counter.

hello-big-boyI called this post “Hello Big Boy!” because that’s what the woman wrote all sultry-like on the back of the photo.  Her name is Lottie and the picture was taken in 1924.  I wonder if she even noticed the M&HBDBGitW.

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VPotD: Hey, let’s give Mary Fife a post!

The snapshot below shows Mary Fife in a fishing boat.  Some of you may remember Mary from her appearances in the Marion & Herb Timm Collection (1937-71).  She and Marion were friends in some of the earliest photographs.  I was happy to find this one as it also fits into my ongoing (women/girls)+(on/near)+(boats/ships) series.  Yes, I’m still collecting those.  I’m juggling a bunch of collections these days.  So here’s Mary out on the water with her shades and fishing rod.  I had this photo for two weeks before I noticed the guy ruining the shot.  I wonder if it was Herb.

mary-fife-fishing-in-a-boatOr maybe it was the new guy, Bill Crampton.  Bill shows up for the first time in this playful series of photographs taken at Post Falls, Idaho on 5/22/38.  It looks like he might’ve been Mary’s date.  He’s got his hand on her hip and is grinning like silent movie star Harold Lloyd in that first picture.  Then a cigar-chomping Herb joins the couple for the second shot.  The guys mug it up and Mary gets caught cracking her knuckles and grinning at the ground.  Unless there was a fifth person at the falls with them, that second shot was taken by Marion.  How do I know?  Well, she changes places with Bill for the final picture…the group hug!

They all seem to be enjoying themselves.  Especially Herb.

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The Month in Music & Books (8/16)

This post features the best music I picked up in Seattle during the last week of July along with the reading and listening highlights from August.  I was in full-on acquisition mode for much of the month and reading like crazy, so I really had to narrow things down to avoid doing a three-part post.  A lot of great titles were left on the cutting room floor, but here’s the best of the best:

best music and books (8:16)

(let’s call it 15%)

Beth and I were sitting around one evening listening to one of my all-time favorite recordings, Ella Fitzgerald‘s studio version of Rodgers & Hart’s “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.”  I mentioned that although I had Ella Fitzgerald’s Cole Porter songbook and much of the one dedicated to the Gershwins, what I really wanted was The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books box set that I’d seen in person a couple times back in the 90s before it went out-of-print and started selling for ridiculous prices.  The box set includes meticulously reproduced versions of all eight of Ella’s original songbooks…Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer.  That’s more than 250 songs spread out over 16 CDs.

And then I found it two days later at Everyday Music!  The box was complete and everything was in excellent shape, so I decided to buy it even though it was quite expensive.  I don’t regret it at all.  It’s just about the best thing in my collection and I have no doubt that it’ll provide me with years of enjoyment.  In case of fire, grab Ella (and Lucy).

We also stopped by the Jigsaw Records shop while I was in Seattle.  Although their impressive selection of indie pop, twee, and power pop recordings from other labels sometimes outshines the work the Jigsaw label does itself, I emphasized their releases when I visited the shop.  Sitting on the red box are three terrific Jigsaw CDs I picked up that day: Skywriter Blue by the Skywriters, A New Dimension to Modern Love by Popincourt, and Have You Ever Heard of Cozy Catastrophes?  To answer the question posed by Cozy Catastrophes, “No, I have never heard of you.”  I bought you anyway because the Jigsaw guy played you in the shop and your song “Coworkers in Love” felt like something I’d need to hear again.  Thanks for that.

From there we move over to the first book of the post, The Abandoned by Paul Gallico.  It’s my favorite of the eight (yes, eight!) New York Review Children’s Collection titles I read in August.  It’s about a feline-loving boy named Peter who finds himself transformed into a cat after getting struck in a traffic accident.  He soon becomes friends with a stray cat named Jennie who takes it upon herself to teach Peter how to be a cat.  There are a lot of rules, and I thought the book was at its best in the scenes where Jennie is trying to explain them.  It’s a great book, but also remarkably sad at the same time.  Peter and Jennie are strays, after all, and people and other animals aren’t always kind to them.  The are some particularly vicious cat fights that might be reason enough for some gentler readers to avoid The Abandoned.  Still, I enjoyed it.

Next comes my homemade Clishmaclaver cassette tape.  It includes both of the duo’s late-80s, early-90s releases, Hearing Double and Roots Entwined.  It’s traditional American and Celtic tunes sung by two of the loveliest folk voices I’ve heard.  I really wish someone would set up a Clishmaclaver Bandcamp or something; I’d love to have legit copies of these songs.  My car’s tape deck has a reputation for chewing up and spitting out tapes, so I’m not sure how many times I can risk playing this one.

The tall book is the first volume in Drawn & Quarterly’s Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip series.  Despite having a Moomin keychain, I really had no idea what a Moomin was before I checked out this book from the library.  Having read the thing, I still don’t know what a Moomin is exactly–maybe a Finnish hippo?–but I certainly enjoyed the comic and look forward to reading the other four volumes.  Tove Jansson eventually turned over the strip to her brother Lars.  I might read some of his version, as well.  It depends on how hooked I get.

The white square box with the drawing of the girl playing guitar on it is the C87 box set put out by Cherry Red Records.  It’s a sequel to the C86 box set from 2014 (which was, of course, an expanded version of the C86 cassette compilation from 1986, which was the sequel to C81, and on and on).  Beth gave it to me for my birthday.  It’s mostly great British indie from 1987.  I say “mostly” because the first four or five songs on the third disc are awful.  I made the mistake of using that particular CD as my wake-up music one morning.  One minute I was asleep and dreaming and then the next minute a truly terrible song was blaring in my room.  My first thought was to jump out the window.  My second thought was to reach for the remote.  Fortunately, I went with the second.

The biggest reading surprise of the month was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne.  It’s the script to a two-part play that officially opened in London at the end of July.  I didn’t think I would care for it as I was never a big Harry Potter fan to begin with (although I’ve read the series and seen the movies).  And I hate plays.  Well, I found myself curious by all the attention and hub-bub the book was getting, so I decided to buy a copy.  Although it took me about 30 pages to get used to the script format, I quickly got hooked by the story and ended up loving the book.  I loved it so much, in fact, that I only waited about a half hour before starting it over and reading it a second time.  It became only the third book in my life to merit an “immediate re-read.”

Let’s finish up with another surprise.  Despite the fact that I barely care at all about the Smiths, it turns out that I like Morrissey.  Not as a human being, of course, but as a singer.  In particular, I like six of his songs that I first heard on an EP called Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey.  After hearing Colin Meloy’s versions, I wanted to hear Morrissey’s originals.  Unfortunately, the were scattered all over the place on b-sides.  After a couple months of looking, I finally found them all on a possibly dubious collection called The Parlophone Singles ’88-’95.  The best part is that I even like most of the songs that weren’t on the Meloy EP.

  • Here’s a lyric video of the Ella Fitzgerald song I mentioned in this post.  Listening to it really is one of the best ways to spend seven minutes.
  • Here’s the first song off C87, “Pristine Christine” by the Sea Urchins.  It’ll give you an idea of the kind of music the box contains.
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Billy Joel @ Riverfront Coliseum (7/21/90)

After many years of searching, I’ve finally found the ticket stub from my very first concert.  It’s not the actual stub I had with me when I saw Billy Joel at Riverfront Coliseum back on July 21st, 1990, but it is an official ticket stub from that same concert.  It came up on eBay a couple weeks ago and I grabbed it for $5.  It had always bothered me that I’d somehow managed to lose my original ticket stub (or hadn’t bothered to keep it in the first place).  I have the ticket stub from my second concert, my third concert, and my twenty-third concert, but I was missing that first one.  It’s almost enough to drive a completist like me a little nuts.  Well, I found it and here it is:

bj stub (front)bj stub (back)I remember very little about the concert itself.  I didn’t start my long-running personal journal until my 16th birthday (the following week), so I don’t even have the day’s entry to refer to.  All I remember is that I went to Riverfront Coliseum with my parents, grandmother, and a couple of aunts and uncles.  Probably Judy.  Maybe Rusty (RIP).  The venue was packed.  I remember Billy Joel sang “Piano Man” somewhere near the end.  He let the audience take over on the “sing us a song you’re the piano man” bit and I sang along.  I loved it.  That’s the only song I remember for sure.  The rest are lost to me as I didn’t bother to keep a setlist.  That habit started with my second concert.

Did you make it all the way down here?  If so, feel free to leave a comment telling me what your first concert was.  That’s the kind of thing that interests me and I’m fine with begging for the information.

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VPotD: Beatnik Pharmacist

I’m going to liven up this week with another vintage photograph from the stack.  Yes, it’s Beatnik Pharmacist!

beatnik pharmacistI can’t say for sure if this man was a beatnik.  I also don’t know if he was a real pharmacist.  All I know is he’s got funny sideburns, a sharp sweater, and is standing in front of a door that’s advertising these two things:

bromo quininepuretest aspirin

I’m going to completely ignore the fact that the sign above the laxatives says, “SEE THESE RAVING BEAUTIES”.  I’m not at all sure what to make of that part.

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VPotD: Jimmy Stewart-style GPS

I bought these two photographs because they show direction signs that should allow me to figure out the exact location where the shots were taken.  I’ll need to dig out my atlas and find a compass.  Then I’ll trace some circles and see where they intersect.  Do elementary school children still use compasses?  If so, I’ll buy a cheap one the next time I’m at Target. It should be fun.

I’ll need to find a location that’s 128 miles away from Portland and 60 miles away from Seattle to figure out where this young woman ate her lunch.
viva seattle tacoma viva viva
This next one might be a bit more difficult due to the generic names of the towns listed on the sign.  I’ll probably have to start with Avella in order to figure out what state I’m dealing with.  Then it should be easy.  How many of the Independences out there are one mile away from an Avella?  Probably not many.  Once I’ve got it narrowed down a bit, it should only be a matter of a traced circle or two to determine where these stylish girls did their leaning.
washington -->
And sure, I realize there’s probably an app that could spit out the exact locations in a second or two.  I’d rather use a compass, thank you.  Or maybe some string.  Yes, I think I could probably do it with string.

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VPotD: Kamerakids

I don’t usually purchase photographs of children, but I ended up with five of them this time around.  It all started with the shot of the sister and brother eating ice cream cones.  I have a couple other ice cream pics, so I thought I’d add them to that collection.  Then I found the hilarious little girl striking a pose on the front lawn.  Her crazy hand cracks me up every time.  Then came a gigantic bunny, a little plumper in a wagon, and a couple tricycles.

(This was the third post in my new Vintage Photograph(s) of the Day series.)

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VPotD: Sweet and Lowdown

Until I get that mysterious item I won on eBay, this website will be entirely dedicated to the stack of vintage photographs I got at Fairlook Antiques last month.  I’m calling this second post in the series “Sweet and Lowdown” after my favorite Woody Allen movie.  I love it when Sean Penn falls off the moon.

Speaking of Sean Penn, here he is as a young man practicing for his role as Emmet Ray, the second best guitarist in the world.  You may ask why he’s playing the banjo instead of a guitar, and I will suggest that you shouldn’t dig too deep into things like this.  They all fall apart upon close examination.  He’s playing a stringed instrument…that’s what matters.

sweet and lowdownAlso, is this girl playing a clarinet?  I think she might be.  I sure hope she is as I’ve called this second photo “Bonnie Goodman.”  I think that’s rather clever.  Of course, it all falls apart (again) if it’s really a piccolo or an oboe.

bonnie goodmanI try to avoid knowing too much about the man, but I think Woody Allen might also play the clarinet.  See, it all comes together when it’s not falling apart.

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