In the early 80s, I attended a performance of the Second City in Chicago with a group of close friends. We were seated next to two gentlemen that we recognized immediately as John Candy and Eugene Levy.
It was around the time of the release of the The Blues Brothers movie and John Candy had a supporting role in the film. Eugene Levy hadn't hit it big by the time we sat down to watch that evening's performance on Wells. Nonetheless, he was known to us through his work on the brilliant TV show SCTV, but, it was Candy, the rising star, who took our breath away.
The question at our table was how to get John Candy's attention. I came up with a plan. I told everyone at the table to sign a napkin with some schmaltzy autograph-type line like "All the Best" and "To A Great Friend" and so forth. I gathered up all the napkins and toss them on Candy's table. Candy thought the idea was hilarious; Levy not so much.
John Candy waived me over. A moment later I stood in front of the two comic geniuses. Candy was smiling and Levy wasn't. I shook Candy's hand and sheepishly told the star how much I admired his work. I knew Eugene Levy and was a fan of his also, but, for some reason, all of the energy and attention was coming from Candy.
John asked if I'd like a drink as the waitress came over to the table. Facing Candy, I asked, "Orange Whip?" He nodded in recognition of his great line from The Blues Brothers. "Three Orange Whips!" I said to the waitress. Without missing a beat, she snapped, "There's no such thing as an Orange Whip." Candy laughed. He told the waitress to bring beers instead. Candy, pointing to the pile of signed napkins, asked if he could return the favor and present me with an autograph. Shook up by the waitress and overwhelmed by the actor's kindness, I was having trouble forming complete sentences. I just nodded and said something like, "...thank you, yes, thanks." He presented me with the autograph featured in the post. On the napkin, he wrote, "Where's the money you owe me?" and signed it.
I glanced at Eugene Levy. He had an odd look on his face: a mixture of hurt and insult. I'd failed to even acknowledged him in those brief moments. I'd been absorbed by John Candy and his warmth, humor, and charm. Levy looked disappointed and angry, and I felt I'd intruded enough, so I thanked Candy again for the autograph and excused myself without waiting for the beer to arrive.
I'm sorry Mr. Levy for that slight. My nerves, the excitement, and the thrill of that moment got the best of me. I wished I'd asked you for your autograph. To this day, I cherish the Candy autograph--it's one of the great pieces of ephemera from my life.
Search eBay for John Candy memorabilia.
Mutoscope cards, according to MutoWorld, were produced in the '40s and dispensed by vending machines for around two cents a pop. They have a distinctive size of 5.25" x 3.25". All Mutoscope cards carry the inscription 'A Mutoscope Card' on them somewhere. The format was used for other subjects such as cheesecake photos, cars, sports and movie stars. The pinup series can be broken down by the six series produced by Brown & Bigelow and Louis F. Dow, both major players in the calendar art business.
Several of the cards in this fine set offered on eBay, according to the listing, are 1 of 1's. "These Beautiful cards, while easy to find," the listing continues, "are tough to find in high grade condition due to chipping corner wear and their susceptibility to wrinkles. The set was culled from a two different vending cases choosing the best 64 examples from over 700 cards."
Search eBay for more Mutoscope stuff.
ILLUSTRATIVE 2009 will return to Berlin to celebrate the cutting-edge works of contemporary graphic art for the fifth time. ILLUSTRATIVE Berlin 2009 is a project of Illustrative e.V., a non-profit organization based in Berlin. The project is led by Katja Kleiss und curated by Pascal Johanssen. ILLUSTRATIVE showcases an international scene of artist-designers, whose works have been inspired by subculture movements like comic and graffiti as well as by applied arts like illustration and book art. The exhibition explores the merging of infinite materials and techniques in widely unprecedented combinations, which challenge learned ways of seeing (e.g. the latest development, where illustration and graphics are translated into the third dimension or new narrative strategies in 3D-animation).
From the 15th of October to the 1st of November, works ranging from drawing, graphic prints, painting and monumental mural collages to graphically inspired 3D-illustrations, book art and animation will be on show. With more than 60 artists from all across the world, ILLUSTRATIVE brings together an inspiring cornucopia of visual contemporary culture in the Villa Elisabeth located in the heart of Berlin.
500,000 maps & 365,000 postcards. That's what attendees at the Ephemera Society's upcoming meeting in Chicago will be treated to. On September 11, 2009, the ESA will hold a Regional Meeting and private viewing of two treasured archives, according to an ESA flier.
The group will visit the Newberry Library in the morning where they will view the collection of ephemera and more than 500,000 maps. Later, the ESA will visit the Lake County Discovery Museum in nearby Wauconda and a private tour of its world-renown Curt Teich Postcard Archives with more than 356,000 postcards, including ones from more than 10,000 American towns and cities.
For details on the trip, visit the ESA's Web site.
I recently featured an interview with Carin Berger, an award winning designer, illustrator, and author. We talked about her illustrations, cut paper collages, are made with scraps of ephemera, used clothing catalogues, and old ticket stubs. Basically, any odds and ends that she can find. It was such a treat to talk with Carin that I wanted to feature some of her award winning work in today's post.
According to information from Carin's Web site, her first two children's books, Not So True Stories and Unreasonable Rhymes, and All Mixed Up, were published by Chronicle Books and she has illustrated Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky, Greenwillow Books, 2006. The Little Yellow Leaf and Ok Go!, both published by Greenwillow Books, are her two most recent books. Design clients include Random House, WW Norton, Little Brown & Co., Pantheon Books, Penguin Putnam, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Carin has been awarded the 2006 Founder's Award from the Society of Illustrators, the Best of Show from 3 x 3 Magazine for the Children's Book Show, and the Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award. Her newest book, The Little Yellow Leaf, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2008. Her work has been featured in some of the most prestigious trade publications, including CA Magazine, Print Magazine, How Magazine, and 3 x 3 Magazine, and it has been included in shows for the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration. Her books have received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and School Library Journal and have won numerous awards.
After interviewing Dave Dube a few months ago, he began a wonderful habit of leaving thoughtful comments on a number of posts. Since his words provide a wonderful backdrop to many of my recent posts, I thought I'd feature several of his comments in today's post:
Thank you, Dave. I appreciate the time you've taken to comment—you've added a lot to this blog's content.
While not technically ephemera, the Bridge Music Project has an historical and ephemeral feel that I felt would be right at home on the ephemera blog. Joseph Bertolozzi is forging a unique identity as a 21st century musician with works ranging from full symphony orchestra to solo gongs and many of his compositions can be heard at JosephBertolozzi.com. After reading the following interview with the composer, I think you'll not only agree, but want to rush out and get a copy of his amazing CD. The Bridge Music CD is on the Delos Label (DE 1045) and available online (Amazon, etc.) and in all major music stores.
ephemera: Tell me how the Bridge Music concept came into being?
JB: In September 2004, after returning home from a performance at the US Tennis Open on "The Bronze Collection," my solo percussion project, my wife made a striking gesture toward a poster of the Eiffel Tower in our room as if the Eiffel Tower were a cymbal or gong, with the word "bong!" And I said, 'Of course!' Everything vibrates, why not the Eiffel Tower?
After considering the possibilities, I realized quickly that I don't have any contacts in Paris nor do I speak French. So I searched for a suitable domestic monument, remembered Eiffell was one of the preeminent bridge architects of his time and thought a suspension bridge would not only have a lot of surface area from which to play, but also have a harp-like visual. With the knowledge that the Hudson Quadricentennial was approaching in (then) 5 years, I looked over the Hudson River and found that the Mid Hudson Bridge had the most positive attributes: 90 percent of the surfaces to be played were reachable from its sidewalk; it was situated in a beautifully scenic spot; had its shores close enough together to make the event intimate (unlike, for instance, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge further down river which is so long that they had to compensate for the curvature of the earth).
I went ahead with a full-out plan to do 5 live concerts to be financed with corporate advertising, but the timetable for raising the funds came at the very worst time: July-Sept 2008, just when everything was going into the tank. Subsequent months only saw corporations circling the wagons, so I had to come up with an alternate project, and a sound art installation fit the bill. Now, after having recorded the music from the sampled sounds, one can walk onto the bridge's pedestrian sidewalk and push a button at the towers to hear the music from speakers mounted overhead, or tune to 95.3FM in the park's flanking the bridge to hear a 24/7 radio broadcast.
ephemera: Truly, this is a wonderful concept. What challenges or obstacles did you encounter recording this music? How do you overcome these challenges?
JB: Convincing the New York State Bridge Authority to allow me to use their bridge in this fashion was the single most important hurdle. I did my homework and presented my plan to them in engineering terms. Then after having their permission to pursue the project, I contacted the municipalities involved (on both sides of the river, don't forget), the chambers of commerce and businesses to convince them of the economic benefits of creating a cultural/tourist attraction in their neighborhoods. Basically I was addressing their interests first; after all this is a public installation.
Ephemera: You should come play a bridge in Asheville—over the French Broad River. Believe me; no one would think you're crazy here. What did you discover as you embarked on this amazing recording project?
TB: Many people thought I was crazy, that it wouldn't sound like anything except noise and that it was just un-realize-able. I anticipated this, but it was only after I had achieved its success that I learned how many MORE people thought I was crazy!
ephemera: What are your favorite elements/recordings from the project?
TB: I like the scale and innovative use of the medium. My favorite track is "Meltdown." Every available surface of the bridge is used in this piece, a calling card, as it were, to the public that this is what a bridge can sound like. The poet Goethe is attributed with saying "Architecture is frozen music." I decided to use this great work of bridge architecture and melt it back into music.
ephemera: What resources do you recommend to anyone interested in recording ephemeral sounds like the ones in Bridge Music?
TB: I can only tell you that there are so many sampling devices out there, to use the one you are most comfortable with. I did this with professional grade software, but on a shoestring budget. We used Saw, Kontakt, and Finale and an infinite amount of patience. It's also good to keep in mind that I went through an extensive vetting process by the Bridge Authority to gain permission to do this, and the whole enterprise took five years to complete.
ephemera: Thank you, Joseph.
If you've ever dreamed of owning cattle sire papers from the 1870s, today is your lucky day. An eBay seller has announced the unearthing of the sire papers for a red and white cow named Nelly.
The auction contains all the related breeding information—readable and hand-stamped by the Livingston County Clerk, according to the listing. The seller continues, "The origins of this breed are very interesting—very little Internet trouble—and I had all the info on this document. Major Bowen from Yorkshire England imported a few hundred Dutch cows and started breeding. Thomas Weddle, a famous importer of the time, sold Betty to a man going to Michigan's Livingston County. Skinner bred the cow mentioned and all numbers for ancestors are there and correct..."
You can't make this stuff up.
Check the listing out for yourself and enjoy this truly unique and wonderful 19th century ephemera.
An eBay seller has decided to auction off his nearly complete collection of the City of San Francisco Oracle, published in Haight Ashbury in 1966 through 1968. The listing includes a number of great images from the collection.
The seller's listing states, "These are not reproductions. Twelve issues were published. This collection includes all twelve, along with five additional variations of the original editions. The so-called thirteenth issue, the Harbinger, is also included, along with a copy of The City, a 1991 magazine that celebrated the Oracle in print. Putting together a collection of the Oracle is increasingly difficult. These issues were collected years ago. Anyone who has searched for individual copies over the years knows that issues in the condition of those in this collection are hard to come by.
The Oracle of the City of San Francisco, also known as the San Francisco Oracle, was an underground newspaper published in 12 issues from September 20, 1966, to February 1968 in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of that city. Allen Cohen (1940–2004), the editor and Michael Bowen, the art director, founded the publication. The Oracle was among the founding members of the Underground Press Syndicate. The Oracle combined poetry, spirituality, and multicultural interests with psychedelic design, reflecting and shaping the counter-cultural community as it developed in the Haight-Ashbury.
It was arguably the outstanding example of psychedelia within counter-cultural "underground" press, noted for experimental multicolored design. Oracle contributors included many significant San Francisco-area artists of the time, including Bruce Conner and Rick Griffin. It featured such beat writers as Allen Ginsberg, Gary Synder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Michael McClure."