What’s playing on the stereo in the picture above?
As part of the ongoing Personal Improvemet Effort, or PIE, I have been using Spotify to explore music previously unknown. This is assisted by the fact that I am tired of 94% of the music I have. It’s all perfectly sorted with album art and genres and the like, and most of it bores me. But I have to have it around in case I want it. You grow up depending on radio, or those moments when you can listen to an album without interruption, you’re scarred. You have to have it all at your fingertips.
This doesn’t even include the hard drive of music I don’t actively dislike, but don’t care to listen to. I have 5.44 GB of 1920s music, for example. Half as much for the 1910s. Now and then I listen for instructive purposes, especially since the 10s are so maddeningly out of reach but so familiar. Basic cultural literacy means being able to identify the era a song was recorded, right? Not there's ever a test, but it's a good thing to know, like type styles and suit-lapel width and all the other quotidian detials.
As for the banner image above, I wonder what most people under 40 think is playing in the background. It’s not rock and roll. That would be ridiculous. Perhaps the Doodletown Fifers. Perhaps some Gleason make-out music. Perhaps Neil Hefti’s latest, the one with that clever harpsichord. Looks a bit late for folk music.
Well, we've a lot of previous eras to study half-arsedly today, so let's get to it.
Fifties and sixties sci-fi zines are interesting artifacts of the time before nerd culture was accepted, absorbed, and co-opted by the overculture. They’re also a bit pathetic. Oh, I know, they kept the flame alight, they argued passionately about the genre and its discontents, the authors were interesting free-spirits, but in retrospect they sound like beard-pickers who couldn’t get laid.
I got a copy of this:
All typewritten, with amateurish drawings - well, not for the era; back then, those were standard drawings. Rotsler was a frequent contributor to 'zines. It wasn't a zine without a Rotsler.
In the back there are letters. I skimmed them, expecting “I really enjoyed ish 34’s ‘The Moon Be Not a Maiden,’ but I wish there was more (fill in the person’s sexual kink disguised as some means by which society is organized.)" That’s usually the case. But hey:
I thought: is that who I think it is? Or rather, her husband?
if you’re of an age in the sci-fi world, that name stands out. Sure enough, the next letter . . .
I remember the name, as will all Star Trek fans from the time when the series was on the air. As the story had it, she led the effort to reverse - successfully - the cancellation after season 2.
Then I thought: They gave their addresses? They gave their ADDRESSES? I blurred it out above because all these years later they might be living there still.
Here’s the thing: the entire letters column consisted of people bitching about the politics of rival cons, and the central point around which it revolves, the maypole of the dispute, is how much of an ass Harlan Ellison is. A lot? A huge amount?
I went back to the first letter:
Well well well - the author of Psycho, and of course the Redjack! Redjack! Trek ep where the voice of Piglet was Jack the Ripper.
Let’s take a look at his house.
Holy crow, all these guys writing to a zine? What was this zine?
Psychotic was a science fiction fanzine edited and published by Richard E. Geis (July 19, 1927 – February 4, 2013).
Geis’s fanzine publishing activity is a sometimes confusing tapestry of title and numbering changes, and for those interested here’s a time line: He started publishing Psychotic in June 1953, while living in Portland, Oregon, producing the first 20 issues by July 1955. The 3-issue first series of Science Fiction Review followed, continuing the numbering system of Psychotic. He then took a 12-year break from fanzine publishing, returning in November 1967 with the 21st issue of Psychotic (now living in Venice, California) and continuing through the 27th issue in September 1968.
And so on. There will be more in this week’s Bleat+, when we see the Houses of the Sci-Fi Stars.
BTW, Bloch's wiki entry says he wrote into fanzines quite a lot, in addition to his professional output. In other words: he was on Twitter, and replied to DMs and mentions.
The route to this one was twisty, and began a year and a half ago with a matchbook I can’t even find anymore. But it brought us to Gatesville, Texas. It's 1965.
There are three notable things about this page: 1. The absence of international news. It’s all local. 2. It’s a weekly; only came out on Friday. 3. It has no comic strips.
This was the big story of the day. It consumed huge swaths of the paper. Gatesville had never seen anything with this quantity of swank.
The owners took out an ad, although that seemed superfluous; every room was booked for the opening, and the amount of free publicity the paper gave was enormous.
Everything is as you like it. Odd that it says it's been open for a few weeks - all this hoohaw makes it sound like it's the first day the doors are thrown open.
Doors are always thrown open if it's a Grand event.
Local companies that helped build the motel took out ads to praise it, and make sure everyone knew they were involved in this great boon.
The gracious lobby:
The lone swag, the stone wall - real napalm-era stuff.
The accolades just kept pouring in:
Mr. Tatum does not seem overly enthused about his position:
The proud Littles:
The Chateau Ville was sold to out-of-towners - not even Texans - in 1981, and it made front-page news. The “major transaction” was “one of the largest in the town’s business history.”
At some point after 2013 the hotel changed its name to Rodeway, which must have caused some folks to shake their heads.
Why’d they have to go and do that, now.
Ollie Little died in 1991. Ruth Little died in 2004. His obit mentioned the motel. Hers didn’t.
When I said it didn’t have comics, I meant “the funny pages.” No editorial comics. Instead, they ran this.
Jack B. Hamm (March 5, 1916 – December 22, 1996) was an American artist from Wichita, Kansas who is recognized both for his Christian-themed artwork and editorial cartoons, and for his books on drawing technique. He both studied and taught at the Frederic Mizen Academy of Art. As a cartoonist and comic strip letterer, he worked on the Bugs Bunny, Alley Oop, and Boots and Her Buddies comic strips before attending Baylor University to study theology.
His work drew praise from such diverse folks as "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, Norman Vincent Peale, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Some homespun observations from JA:
Who wrote it? Can’t tell. The author wanted anonymity, and he got it.
There is a Cowhouse Creek. Please visit its wikipedia pages for a wealth of information. No, really. Do.
Note that Mr. Herring, who passed to his reward at the age of 93, is survived by ONE HUNDRED AND SIX PEOPLE.
What of the motel today, you ask? That's tomorrow, in Main Street. No peeking ahead.
That'll do; now we're off to the 80s. See you around.