Friday, April 13, 2007

pop detrius

I collect paper ephemera...old trash magazines, mainly...but I own a wide variety of things. Old cookbooks, newspapers, tickets, menus, programmes...anything that had a real dynamic look to it, anything that made me smile, I've been grabbing up for years.
Note: the pictures that follow are worth a click to enlarge. They're legible and the detail is pretty good. I just may be getting better at this stuff.

I particularly like to come upon things in less than ideal condition, because then I can savage them up for collages and 'found poetry' (which I maintain I invented years ago but never got credit for.)

Here's the problem: I've organized. I like to organize, and I like to see what kinds of categories my brain has been cooking up while I wasn't aware of it. So fine; I have tons of images from the 20's on up to the early 70's all laid flat in manilla envelopes, separated into categories and labelled.

...But for why?

I look through them every few months and I enjoy them. Then I put them all away again.

This is making me nuts! I am not the sort of person that keeps things around if they aren't useful. This stuff is just accumulating. Pointlessly.

I've framed some and display them...well and good for the few I want to look at for awhile. Others simply appeal to me as whole objects...the age of the paper, the style of the art, the content, the signs of use, the smell.

Archival stabilization is out of the question unless I can do it myself, for cheap. Nothing here is commercially valuable.

Maybe this bothers me more than it should because I grew up with a person who had OCD- the hoarding variation...and I'm really leery of assigning emotional value to objects and owning. I'm in no danger of this stuff taking over, though. The whole collection lives in three suitcases.

Owning these things does make me feel rather 'wealthy'... at least, they seem very 'important' to me. I just really, really like old graphic art, and I really, really like old lowbrow publications. But I don't want to be like Scrooge McDuck in his money vault, fingering my old copies of Movie Mirror and chuckling alone in a room.

Ideas? thoughts, suggestions, me toos...all welcome, y'all.

Here's one bit of trivia I've learned while poling my pirogue through the sloughs of American culture......

1. What popular household product was also marketed as douche?

a. Orange Glo
b. Scope Mouthwash
c. Ipana Toothpaste
d. Neatsfoot Oil
e. Pledge Paste Wax
f. Mop and Glo Floor Wax
g. Pine-Sol
e. Spic-And-Span
f. Mumm

....The answer my friends, is blowin' in the wind. Do you know? I do.
And I have proof. So tune in next time and find out!


  1. Mop-and-Glo sounds good!
    Thanks, just made me feel better about the huge stack of magazines I've kept.(There is a valid reason, of course.Of course there is!)

  2. Okay, now you have renewed one of my favorite pasttimes.

    I am now off to google retro/vintage clothing from the 50's.

    Yes, I love old clothing. Have been known to sport the wide skirt dresses of that era complete with neck scarf.

    My 29th bday is supposed to be glamour 40's. Yes, I have to get it out of my system somehow.

  3. I know Lysol was, maybe Pine-Sol too?

  4. Anonymous3:18 AM

    spic and span? ::snort::

    and how can neatsfoot oil be a household product it's for putting on horses' hooves - well it is round here - please don't tell me it's that!

  5. open a museum and collect your tax break. i don't know about warshington, but in michigan the only things you need to have to be a legal museum are
    1. regular visiting hours (say, 4-5 one day a week), and
    2. a phone number
    that's it. i know this because my dad's airplane club were contemplating museum status, but decided against it because they would have had to install a phone line -- something they've been deliberatlely avoiding for years because they don't want their wives calling them and telling them to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home.

  6. I'm a compulsive collector as well, with a real 50's slant. I read something last year that suggested the OCD effect can be caused in childhood by a bump on the head. Strangely enough, I fell down the stairs at age 1.

  7. You're speaking with someone who is also afflicted with paper ephemera-itis.

    Not only do I accumulate it, I've hauled it cross-country on more than one occasion at great expense.

    I fear that my fate is sealed along with NYC's Collyer Brothers ; the compulsive hoarders who died surrounded by their stacks of newspapers.

  8. I just want to read the Ayn Rand comic book. Graphic fiction and fruitloop politics. The two classic refuges of the socially inept.

  9. dinah: those will sneak up on you. i kept copies of 'gourmet' for years...some unopened, still in the plastic. WHY?????
    awaiting: ooo, you would like my stuff! in fact i may even have to do an 'awaiting' special. ps-did you see the article in vanity fair magazine (the 'sopranos' issue) aboutJames Galanos? Yow!
    w2: maybe, maybe not. Maybe Captain Crunch Cereal, too. ha.
    ziggi: and people shoes. and...stuff.
    cb: oh crap. i don't want to put in a phone line either. indoor plumbing too, i bet.
    sopwith: i am beginning to smell the beginning of a meme here...what do you collect with pix! (fifties? show me!)
    mj: definitely the beginning of a meme here. You know, my mom used to talk about the Colyer (sp?) bros...also the D'Amato brothers, who lived in similar circumstances but had the place boobytrapped in died and the other was killed by a boobytrap trying to find his way out to get help. aaaaaaak!
    tim: is that not cooler than fuck???? and kafka's 'Metamorphosis' in the same ish! i had that on my wall in a frame for years. i think i'm the only teenage girl in history who read rand for the first time and though 'cool story. but what a fruitloop!'

  10. Ayn Rand was always recommended to me by stupid boyfriends I should never have been dating. The one who wrote "poetry" and loved Steely Dan was probably the worst. What was I thinking...

  11. Nope, you're not! I also read Rand and thought "cuckoo!" But in my 50s I thought "maybe not as cuckoo as some!"

  12. Anonymous2:10 PM

    I love those old ads! My thing is vintage costume jewelery. I've been collecting it ever since I was about 9 years old. I never wear any of it because I don't like to wear jewelery so I give the best bits to my mum (with the result that there isn't a surface in her house which doesn't have something sparkly draped over it!) and the rest lies around our apartment. But I'm addicted to the stuff.

    I would say that if you look through them every few months and you enjoy them then you aren't accumulating it pointlessly. When you want to get rid of some of it you will. But if you're into doing something with it all then how about using it as a covering for bookcases and tables and stuff? I bought a really cheap bookcase a few years ago and covered it with old postcards and photos and just bits pulled out of magazines, gave it a couple of coats of varnish and it looks great.

  13. You can always turn them into furniture by covering a dresser or a table with them. Decoupage, and all.

  14. I collect old memories, model railways, cars, planes, magazines, people's discarded lives.

    Hopefully this will work.

  15. Bugger, it got trimmed. In my blog, pick Archives, April 2006, and look for 'Love for sale...'

    It's OK to swear on your blog, isn't it? I guess it is, I just have the English politness thing, you see :)

  16. Do you keep them in those neat-o little suitcases behind your new furniture? That's okay then. Really how could you part with them, you might need them for a collage as soon as you do. Speaking of which, why don't you post any of your collages? That would be fun.

  17. I didn't see that...but I am telling you...I am an inch away from ordering one of these aprons

    And I have GOT to order something fromt this site...

    I can see myself, cigarette holder in hand, standing in front of the oven and saying, "Honey, How was work?"

    Ok, maybe not the last part, but I can envision myself in these glams!

  18. Well, FN, as you can see from your responses, you're not alone. If this was a habit you wanted to kick, you're asking the wrong people!

    I, for one, have several random half-assed collections, including tiki mugs, PEZ dispensers, vintage Xmas ornaments and graphic novels (the current "Tom Strong's Terrific Tales" collection, BTW, gleefully echoes those pulp comics of old). I'm a big fan of the mid-century junkola, too. Mrs. N & I have done our living room and kitchen with 50s furtiture and tchotchkes, and although I've stopped dressing exclusively in bowling shirts, the Mrs. is currently salivating over several retro dress designs at the local vintage shop.

    So, all that said, I happen to think that Frederick's ad is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen. If you make me a copy, I'll make you a copy of my cocktails menu from the 1964 World's Fair. ;o)