A Chinese Scholar’s View of America in 1934

Let’s first discuss the enduring nature of American Pop Culture by comparing Hollywood in 1934 to Hollywood in 2015…

Nowhere in the world is the clown, the pretender, the imitator, the exhibitor of indecency, the promoter of vice and immorality, namely the actor, so glorified, deified, and worshipped as in these United States.” –from An Oriental View of American Civilization by No-Yong Park (Pao), Ph.D. 1934, Hale, Cushman & Flint.

What the Chinese Scholar Thought of America in 1934

What the Chinese Scholar Thought of    America in 1934





This is an extremely interesting book – not only because Dr. No-Yong Park contrasts life in China with life in America in the 1930s, but for how much has changed here (“The American Woman and Her Shortcomings”) and for how much has not (“Clown Worship in America” – i.e. Hollywood). The author signed in both English and Chinese characters on the first free end-page.


(Last year, I reviewed different features of this book in a poetry format)

Make It Rain

Note from California:

Weather is a great tease. Today the dark gray clouds, seemingly bulging with water, threaten to burst and pour rain. The earth is parched and cracked; spring blossoms plead for even a drop or two. But like a sloppy drunk, cut off from another round, the earth must sober up and face yet another day of endless drought. The dark clouds are only bluffing.

Rachel Carson's Early Warning Climate Change Books, 1950 & 1962

Rachel Carson’s Early Warning Climate Change
Books, 1951 & 1962

This is Earth Day 2015. Those of us facing water restrictions in California are shocked by the dried-out reservoirs and by lake water levels that can no longer float a boat. We have to wonder what would have happened here if people in power had paid more attention to Environmental Activist Rachel Carson’s Mid-Century warnings about the dangers of chemical pollution and cyclical climate changes. The classic books she wrote (shown above) are: The Sea Around Us (1951) and Silent Spring (1962). Both are original hardcovers; one a book-club edition.

Cooking Home on the Range (probably Viking)

Long gone are the days of cooking scrapple, pork fruit cake, wild porcupines and Russian Fluff. Or maybe not. Most likely there’s an up & coming gourmet celebrity chef  who will soon introduce us to re-invented pioneer cooking. Put a new “spin” on it, as they say. But she or he will not be cooking over a campfire – but over a Viking stove.

Pioneer Cooking in Nebraska and Wyoming,  Gumbo Coffee, yum....

Pioneer Cooking in Nebraska and Wyoming, Gumbo Coffee, yum….

I put these two cookbooks together, even though I found them at different times. They are “of the moment.” I feel a surging interest in everything authentic “Americana” -from handmade quilts to quails-with-mayonnaise. These should sell quickly. A competitive chef’s menu, at a fancy restaurant, can’t be far behind.

Cooking in Wyoming is the Wyoming Centennial Edition of 1990. The Nebraska Pioneer Cookbook, compiled by Kay Graber, is (c) 1974. Both are softcovers in stiff wraps. Wyoming is spiral-bound.

What the Futurists Saw, 1909-1912

We declare that the world’s splendour has been enriched by a new beauty; the beauty of speed.”  From the Manifestos of Futurism, published in the catalogue of a Futurism art exhibit held at the Sackville Gallery, London, in 1912. Artists are often the true Seers.

Bold Italian artists predicted Society's worship of Speed

Bold Italian artists predicted Society’s worship of Speed

I’m in love with this 1961 Futurism catalog from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) exhibit in 1961, New York. The art inside the hardcover catalog is interesting, but just as compelling are the four Futurist Manifestos, found at the back of the book. An excerpt from the Initial Manifesto of Futurism is printed above. In its day, Futurism #Art was shocking and alienating to some; today, as the artists foresaw, Speed rules our lives.

It Pays To Advertise (or it used to)

The internet wiped out most of the appetite for buying print and radio ads. Slowing demand for buying TV ads can’t be far behind. Advertisers are now heading for The Social Network. Tags are the new jingles. Say goodbye forever to “Tony(r) the Tiger, Coke is It(c) The Kodak Moment (c). Say hello to Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat & all the other apps birthing as I blog. And, oh yes, say hello to branded blogs.


The history of TV Commercials, 1948-83

The history of TV Commercials, 1948-83



Sorry, Charlie--

Sorry, Charlie–


This large softcover book, Mighty Minutes,  is a fairly amusing walk down TV Advertising’s Memory Lane. As I read through it, I thought I saw the fine hand of Don Draper and his Mad Men storyboarding and pitching some of these commercials. This book covers the late ’40s ( Texaco’s quartet) to the late ’70s & mean Joe Greene downing his Coke.  A lot of 1960s commercials are in here – if not Don Draper’s genius, at least Matthew Weiner’s reference book. We grew up (or older) on these TV commercials. They formed our world view. They made us believe in fantasy – just as I wish to believe Don Draper created some of these ads. Well, he didn’t. No wonder some of us are so disappointed.

Marilyn Monroe Confidential – Not

Despite what you may think, today, there are no Secrets.  Every secret revelation on the internet follows you around like a bag-man waiting for a pay-off. This is good to know.

Yet, another tell-all

Some secrets, better left secret

Maybe Marilyn Monroe didn’t care if people knew how much she suffered emotionally. But, then, maybe she did care and would have been further traumatized by the dark revelations in this book. Sadly, there are too many books with too many different salacious  “secrets” about this tragic actress – actress is a description that finally would have pleased her. I’ve collected, read and sold many Monroe tell-all books. My conclusion is her photographs define her far better than any book I’ve read.

Photos from "Marilyn Monroe Confidential" by Pepitone & Stadiem

Photos from “Marilyn Monroe Confidential” by Pepitone & Stadiem



The House-Keeper (Only if you’re lucky)

In the old days (Mid-Century), “House-keeper” meant the little woman who tended to her domestic chores around the house. These days, for The 80%, “House-keeper” means you’ve paid off your student loans or refinanced, so you get to keep the condo.

The "Little Woman" brushes off the lint - one of her house-keeping chores

The “Woman of the House” sprays insecticide on her clothing to prevent moths; just one of her house-keeping chores


The Good Housekeeping Housekeeping Book, 1947

The Good Housekeeping Housekeeping Book, 1947

This is an awesome vintage book: the color photos are amazing and the 14 chapters are endearing: “The Weekly Wash,” “You Can Fix It Yourself, Sometimes” and “Ironing,” are a few of the helpful house-keeper hints found inside. This book is sought-after by collectors. It’s a nostalgic  look back on life in Post-War America, when nearly all wives were housekeepers. This is Hardcover. 491 pages. First Edition.


A memorable cosmic event can be as small as finding a ladybug clinging to a flower leaf or as large as holding a winning lottery ticket. Those transfixed by the small moments sail over the moon far more often than those waiting for a big pay-off. This is Bliss

Over The Moon, collage by CK

Over The Moon

This is a small art card by CK; a mini collage composed of distressed vintage book and magazine pages. This is one of her collages from the 2010 series. You can find her art on eBay, at The Sophisticated Reader 2. Her “Over The Moon”collage inspired this post.

You Won’t Need No Compass

If you follow your heart in your life’s work, you won’t need no compass for the rest of it.

Joseph Lonewolf working his pottery

Joseph Lonewolf working his pottery


One of the first books on a Native American artist, 1975, The Dandick Co.

One of the first books on a Native American Master artist. 1975, The Dandick Co.


The late Joseph Lonewolf was born in 1932 in Santa Clara, New Mexico. He grew up in a pottery-making family. Moving to Colorado, and working a number of menial jobs, and later, as a mechanic, Lonewolf returned to his home to help his mother complete her last pottery creations. The passion to create his own pottery was strong, and he formed pots between his shifts working at a print shop and an equipment company. He received guidance from his ancestors, The Mimbres People, who lived from the 10th-14th Centuries in New Mexico (the ancestors of the Pueblo people of New Mexico). Lonewolf used the precision techniques he use as a mechanic to craft the pottery of his ancestors. He followed his heart and eventually began making pottery for the public in the 1970s. The pottery he left behind is now highly-sought-after and collected world-wide.

The Message Is The Message

Even today, the best and most creative promoter can sell anything to anybody with the right message. The medium is no longer the message. The Message is The Message.

The classic book every stock speculator must read

The classic book every stock speculator  must read


Now Selling: Reminiscences Of A Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre. Originally published in 1923, and republished in 1985 by Traders Press, this is a fictionalized account of a stock speculator who knew how to make and break the Markets (1917-1940). This is loosely based story of a true Market speculator. One highlighted sentence (by the previous owner of the book) The public bought anything that was adequately touted.”   Amen