Literary looting at Smith College Book Sale
Smith College Book Sale
March 23-25, 2012 @ Maryland State Fairgrounds
"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - CiceroYesterday, Amy and I went to the opening day of the three-day Smith College Book Sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds, an annual rite of spring for movable typeface geeks like us who remember the pre-Kindle days when knowledge was passed from one person to another via the printed page (as well as videotape, audiotape, and vinyl grooves - as Analog Anarchronists, we collect these beloved information distribution formats as well!). We skipped the 10 a.m. opening, because the organizers charge $10 the first hour - a price diehard collectors, hoarders and book (re)sellers are only too willing to pay - but there was still plenty of good stuff on offer after that, especially at the Vintage table.
In the lobby, I made a quick stop at a very sexy, hourglass-shaped ATM machine that was slightly smaller than the petite Ms. Linthicum and withdrew $100 from my rapidly dwindling checking account (can't wait for payday next week!), but it wasn't really necessary as both Amy and I fought our natural tendencies to stockpile books (and assorted other media) - a habit we've been weaning ourselves from since the demise of our beloved Daedalus Books store at Belvedere Square store in Govans - and spent less than $55 dollars combined for the day.
Maybe it's because we kept running into people we knew there, a veritable Who's Who of local book (and music) collecting nerds that included Chris Siron and Lynne Parks (amazing local artists who rummage through old books looking for vintage cover art and line illustrations for their collages - an example of which is shown below)...
Chris Siron's "Transmutation of a Conniption" (2006 collage)
...Charles Brohawn of The Tinklers (who's always on the lookout for bird books and polka records), musician Bob Tiefenworth and his wife, photographer Denny Lynch, and even Dave Cawley (as shown below left).
Dave was actually on break from his 9-to-5 claims adjuster gig just down the road, where he was busy denying insurance claims with a gusto that has seen "Davey Denial" ("It's Not Just a River In Egypt!") rise rapidly to the upper echelon of insurance industry management; Davey D. had stopped by to check out the Modesty Blaise and other vintage comic books for sale in his beloved collector's corner, where last year he scored some early Flash Gordon comics.
Dave and I are admittedly (unabashedly!) on a Modesty Blaise kick (Joseph Losey's oft-maligned kitsch-cult film adaptation - starring a flying-over-the-gaydar Dirk Bogarde, Terence Stamp and Monica Vitti - of the book and comic serial series by Peter O'Donnell is one of Dave's faves and he will enthusiastically sing you the theme song at the drop of a hat!) and it's hard to resist the tales of a spy who's "courage and cleavage in equal parts" and whose hobbies (like ours) include "danger...intrigue...espionage...sex."
Modesty Blaise: "Courage and cleavage in equal parts. Adventure is her game and her equipment is fantastic."
On our way in, Amy noticed a poster announcing that a film crew would be videotaping throughout the day for a upcoming documentary. Wow, I thought, maybe it's MPT doing one of those Rick Sebak- or Antiques Roadshow-style profiles about flea markets and avid collectors, but it turned out it was just two Stevenson College students doing an asignment for film class about this one event. I guess I'll be in it, because they filmed me, Charles Brohawn, Denny Lynch and his historian friend talking about what attracts us to the book sale.
"I just came to be in the movies," I confessed. We all signed releases, just in case Frederick Wiseman or Erol Morris wants to sign on for a development deal, and when they asked us to state our names and occupations, I replied, "I'm a card-carrying Librarian and a hoarder" or something to that effect. Geeze, the last time I signed a release was for Andrew Kolker and Louis Alvarez's People Like Us: Social Class in America (2001); the filmmakers had filmed a segment on the 2001 Hampden Honfest I attended - one which also featured Hampden native Kelly Conway in character as "Stella Gambino" (ertswhile soap opera reviewer on WJZ-TV's Soap Dish) - and I recall missing the film's premiere in New York City the week of 9/11 (poor Kelly attended the screening and was stuck in lower Manhattan all week - timing is everything!).
"(Mad) Man About (Gentrified) Town" Tom Warner adds a "yeah" and a "right" to the intense sociological debate about class in America in "People Like Us."
My ADD runs rampant at events like these, where I am easily distracted and unfocused like an "Ooh, lookit that...Ooh now lookit that!" kid in a candy store. Amy, on the other hand, is always very focused during booksale shopping sprees, limiting her hunting to Japanese language books (for her mother) and anything/everything to do with mythology-anthropology-spirituality (especially of the anti-Christian, pro-Pagan/Wiccan variety); on this day she scored at least a half dozen Joseph Campbell books (though she missed Bob Tiefenworth's score-of-the-day, the 2-disc Mythos II DVD for $4!) and Spencer Wells's The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey (we had enjoyed the 2003 PBS documentary based on his book - which attempts to trace and explain the geographical dispersal of early human migrations out of Africa to the rest of the world - so this was a great find).
Following are my disjointed, all-over-the-place (and decidely non-intellectual, compared to Ms. Linthicum's titles) scores for the day.
The Firesign Theatre - Lawyer's Hospital LP (1982)
"You mean, to Bambi?" "I not mean to Bambi - she likes it that way."
"Lawyer's Hospital" w/William Stout cover (Rhino, 1982)
Amy found this one for me (God bless her!) right off the bat. Ah, the Firesign Theatre - the Fab Four of '70s FM Radio Comedy Troupes (a true anachronism to today's iPod Generation) - how I love(d) them! This is one of their 1980s "leftover" albums for the Rhino label (the follow-up to Nick Danger, Third Eye In the Case Of the Missing Shoe), which compiles pre-existing bits into two loosely thematic LP sides. The Firesign Theatre were in essence a '60s-inspired, '70s-defined FM Radio anomaly that got kinda lost in the '80s as the comedy album concept gradually died away and this new thing called "video" and then cable television and compact discs came along. I've only ever heard a snippet of this record, one that was translated to live action as part of Firesign Theatre's 1986 video release Eat Or Be Eaten (see a clip below).
Watch "Lawyer's Hospital, Part 1" (YouTube)
As if the comedy weren't enough, this record was worth picking up just for the cover by the great "paleo-artist" William Stout, who had a comic career that any artist would envy. He started out working on Tarzan comic strips, then worked with a Hall of Fame roll call of fellow cartoonists like Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder (Little Annie Fanny), Jack Kirby, Archie Goodwin, the folks at Heavy Metal magazine, and later still did some of the surreal set designs for films like Pan's Labyrinth. He did a number of Firesign Theater covers, including the amazing In the Next World You're On Your Own (1975), as shown below:
Stout couldn't resist putting a dino on the cover!
I particularly liked the back cover of this LP for its depiction of an inter-species baseball game:
Cicada at the Bat: Pop-up Fly?
Stout also did one of my all-time favorite Bomp! magazine covers - the one for the Power Pop issue:
Who Put the Bomp?: Power Pop!
Frank Sinatra - This is Sinatra! LP (1956)
"This is Sinatra!" LP (Capitol, 1956): Love "Rain" Over Me!
Unbelievably, I didn't own this classic Sinatra LP from his 1950s "hat years" period at Capitol Records. Though released in 1956, this collection represents Sinatra singles and B-sides recorded with Nelson Riddle in 1953 and is worth it just for the rare recording of "Rain (Falling from the Sky)" - one of the least-known Sinatra songs, despite being among his greatest "emo" intrepretions (and I love how it opens with the sound of rainfall). Before I toughened up into a Macho Man, this song by George Finlay and Robert Mellin used to make me cry (I'm sensitive like that). The other essential inclement weather Sinatra tune is, of course, "Here's That Rainy Day" (but that's a song for another day, I 'spose).
Watch/listen to "Rain."
Ethel Merman - The Ethel Merman Disco Album (1978)
Special Features: Back cover is signed "To Ann and Milton, all my love - Ethel Merman" !
Aesthetically-speaking, Ethel almost slipped her disco on the dancefloor
I really enjoyed listening to this! It made me think back fondly to Love Boat; it's like something cokehead cruise entertainment director "Julie McCoy" (Lauren Tewes) would have played to amuse all the middle-aged swingers on board. As Amazon reviewer Elisabeth Vincentelli describes it:
The title says it all. This is the disco album "the Merm" recorded in 1979, a few years before her death. Rumor has it that Merman couldn't stand the disco craze that was sweeping the nation in the late '70s, recording her vocals before the instrumental tracks were laid down. Masterminded by Peter Matz, who produced, arranged, and conducted the whole thing, Merman's disco album is one of those jaw-dropping, "what were they thinking?" UFOs that periodically land on the pop landscape. Merman (at her most bombastic, vibrato-laden) barrels through eight of her signature tunes. All are taken at breakneck speed, and even dramatic show-stoppers, such as "Everything's Coming Up Roses" (from Gypsy), become dance-floor burners. Whether you find the album simply horrifying or an entrancing testimony to the power of people to lose their heads as they fall prey to a dance fad, this collision between two completely different American musical traditions is nothing short of, ahem, breathtaking.
Watch Ethel promoting her disco album on the "Tonight Show" w/Johnny Carson.
The Doors - Other Voices LP (1971)
The Lizard King has left the building!
Other Voices was the seventh studio album by The Doors and the first album released by the band following the death of lead singer Jim Morrison (a period referred to by closed-Door purists as "Morrison, A.D.") - and trust me, that's a gaping hole in the end-product as big as the Grand Canyon (or adult film starlet Liza "Black Hole" Harper's (w)rectum, to put it in layman's terms); the band had started recording tracks for this LP while Morrison was on holiday in France and it was released without much fanfare when that holiday turned into a permanent vacation with Jimbo's untimely death in a Paris bathtub. It's not very good, but I picked it up for nostalgia's sake, specifically for the Robby Krieger-penned "I'm Horny, I'm Stoned" which practically defines the dated '70s stoner-hippie vibe (and highlights Krieger's slide guitar abilities, as well). Back in the early '70s, I recall one of the cool FM DJs (Joe Buchari?) on my beloved [okay that's the third time I've used this expression, but what can I say? - I'm a luver, not a hater!) WKTK used to play this as his theme song. (WKTK was great. Another DJ opened his show with National Lampoon's "Deteriorata" (a parody of Les Cranes's 1971 spoken word recording of "The Desiderata") as his theme song, and the station would also play Firesign Theater albums in their entirety!).
Watch a BBC outtake of sans-Lizard King Doors playing "I'm Horny, I'm Stoned."
My Husband Keeps Telling Me To Go To Hell (Hardback, 1955)
by Ella Bentley Arthur and Hannett T. Kane; illustrations by R. Taylor
Picked this up for the illustrations by legendary New Yorker gag cartoonist R. Taylor, best known for his saucer-eyed characters and elegant line drawing style, as shown below:
Dick Tracy Meets the Punks (1980)
Worth it for the cover alone! Writer Max Allan Collins and artist Rick Fletcher breathed new life into Chester Gould's Dick Tracy franchise in the '80s with new storylines and characters, including "Dick Tracy Meets the Punks." Though Tracy had dealt with lots of criminal punks like Flyface, Bolo and Puckerpuss before, the androgynous "Bony" and butch "Claudine" were actual punk rockers who, along with Quiver Trembly and her brother (who bear a vague resemblance to Debbie Harry and Elvis Costello) reflect Collins' interest in New Wave rock 'n' roll (the author was a former rock musician himself). Okay, it may be corny and gimmicky, but it works for me!
Dick attempts to deconstruct post-modern rock
Sexsations (Hardback, 1954)
Gag me with a 'Toon!
This retro-risque (but not dirty!) gag book lists neither authors nor cartoonists, but is a lot of fun. It's filled with stupid jokes, poems, limericks and traveling salesmen jokes, but I got it for the great gag drawings that adorn almost every page. Lots of nudity and semi-nudity, but the language is strictly PG-13, as this was from the 1950s - when people sold the sizzle and not the steak!
Typical "Sexsations" 'toon
A Sure bet: Win, Place (and especially!) Show!
"The Highballs are on me!": Teabaggin' toon teaser?
Pet Shop Boys, Literally (Paperback, 1992)
by Chris Heath
Amy found this for me. I like the Pet Shop Boys, but I almost wish I hadn't been carrying it around all day because it only added fuel to the fire as far as another aquaintance I saw at the book sale - the gay guy who always flirts with me at the library. He's harmless and means well, but tends to follow me around like a puppy, despite my protestations of "Excuse me, that's fascinating, but I have to go find my girlfriend - ta!" The presence of that book in my hand may have led him to think I'm teetering on the fence.
Also, I'm convinced that the blue-haired septagenarian lady who rang me up (to the tally of $26.50 for the day) now thinks I'm gay (and her opinion really matters to me!).
Once in Love With Amy - sheet music
Price: $1 or $2 (can't remember!)
I bought this for sentimental reasons, for to know my Amy once is to love her forever! (Awl!)
Attention booklovers! The next rite of spring is the (18th annual) Friends of the Towson Library Book Sale, which will be held April 12-15 at the Towson Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. Like the Smith College Book Sale, I think they charge $10 for the "preview" sale held on opening night, Thursday, April 12.