Sheiks and Shebas

sheikie It’s one of those
unique cultural
colloquialisms
that has completely
disappeared from
contemporary
language –

yet,
for a period
of about 25 years
centered around
the 1920’s, it was
part of the
every day
vernacular
of a flourishing
‘flapper’
subculture –

the ‘Sheik’
and the ‘Sheba’.

Although these
expressions had
already come into
use by 1919,
two movies at the
turn of the decade
were certainly
influential in these
terms gaining
wide-spread
popularity :

” The Queen of Sheba “,
a 1921 Fox production
starring a very scantily
clad Betty Blythe,
and
Paramount’s ” The Sheik “,
starring Rudolph Valentino,
from the same year.

Young people coming
of age in that era were
less inclined than
previous generations
to adhere to a rigid
social code, particularly
when it came down to
their relationships;

— but the use of these
terms not only implied
more liberality of
association, but of
lifestyle as well.

Sex appeal, open
-mindedness, and
a free-wheeling
nature was a must –

and no self
respecting Sheik
could expect his
Sheba to spend
a quiet evening
at home – when
there were parties
and nightlife –
prohibition
notwithstanding.

They didn’t call it
the ‘roaring 20’s’
for nothing, you know.

A ‘Sheba’ differed
from a ‘Flapper’ in
an important way –
although some
women enjoyed
the term being
applied to them
and took to using
it themselves, it was
generally a label
used by outsiders,
(pejoratively or
otherwise),
whereas ‘Sheba’
and ‘Sheik’ were
terms people
inside the subculture
would use to describe
themselves or their
friends.

The tensions, stresses,
and economic difficulties
of the Great Depression
and the darkening clouds
of war eventually put an
end to the light-hearted
spirit of the flapper and to
their patois, but traces of
it and them are still to be
found here on the
Muscleheaded Blog.

!!! HOY !!!

Betty Blythe in ” Queen Of Sheba ” , 1921

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The Posters of Jean Carlu

It’s not just
postcards
around the ole
Muscleheaded Blog,
ya know…..

We’re also crazy
over for vintage
poster art-

– especially those
related to La Belle
Époque, Art Deco,
Cubism, and
World War II
subjects.

If it’s got to do
with graphic
design or art,
well, we’re
probably into it.

Today’s topic is
all about what
the French call
‘affiche’ ;

— and specifically,
about one of
their best
and brightest
poster designers –
Jean Carlu.

Born in  1900,
in the Île-de-France
region of Northern
France; in a town
called Bonnières-
sur-Seine, Jean
grew up in a
family of architects –
but decided early
on, while attending
the Ecole de
Beaux-Arts,  that
his interests lay
more in the
printed image –

— and he won his
first professional
job as a poster artist
in a Glycodont
advertising contest.

He was chosen as
“Designer of the Year”
by none other than
the world famous
graphic artist Leonetto
Cappiello himself.

Tragically, that
same day he
lost his right
arm in a traffic
accident-

but he dedicated
himself to relearning
to draw with his left,
and soon he was back
at his easel; and a hint
of that missing hand
would appear in several
of his forthcoming works.

Much of his designs
between 1918
and 1925 were
in the rapidly
evolving Art
Deco style, and as
the decade played out,
he focused more on
encompassing cubism
in his designs.

His posters for theatres
like Pigalle, museums
and attractions like
Aquarium de Monaco
and the 1937 Paris
Exhibition were very
popular ;

– as were the designs
for elite French
wine labels, like
Chateau Mouton
Rothschild in 1924
and adverts for beer
like Spatenbrau.

His poster work
can be considered
in three general
perspectives:

1: Style Art :
Including
Cubism,
Surrealism,
and Art Deco.

2: Innovative Technique :
Including Photo-montage
and Dimensional Layering.

example

3: Propaganda :
Since he had lived
through the devastation
and death of World War
I, he was originally
inclined toward the
European disarmament
movement in the early
1930’s …..

— but as Hitler
geared up for aggression,
Jean Carlu found himself
creating more patriotic
and propaganda art –

including several
posters encouraging
the United States
to render aid to
the Allies, and even
‘increase production’
posters for the American
market …

— and he lived in
the United States
from 1940 to 1953.

After 1953 he returned
to his native France,
and created dozens
more memorable works,
much having to do with
travel, like his posters
for Pan American
World Airlines and
Air France.

He died in the late
1990’s; leaving a rich
legacy of stunning
color and powerful
line in hundreds of
affiche designs
from his 70 year
plus career.

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!!! HOY !!!

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Friday’s Mailbag

Hey Hey
It’s Friday !

Today’s kinda a weird
topic for us around here
at the Muscleheaded Blog
being generally considered
sinners and heathens and all.

Actually, I had to ask
somebody that was
familiar with it-

how this whole thing
worked –

– cause I personally
had never
experienced it.

I went to a parochial
school, and our religious
classes were part of the
daily curriculum.

We went to church on
Sunday, sure, but we
didn’t have to go early
for Bible class, and
until I started to
collect postcards,
I had never heard of
such a thing as a
Sunday School
‘reminder’.

Personally, I don’t
know what would be
worse, since if missed
my classes, that means
I skipped school-

– and we’d have a gruff
old Mother Superior
banging on the front
door of my house PDQ.

Resistance is
futile, sinner.

But for some reason,
these cards seem even
more invasive than that.

Maybe it’s the
guilt-trippy tone –
– the ‘you let us all
down’ kinda thing….

And I’m told that it
was a way of a guy’s
pastor of ratting you
out to your parents
that you had opted to
go fishin’ instead of
draggin yourself to
Sunday School.

My buddy remembers
getting one from his
church – and his sister
was apparently on their
send-one-every-week list.

Funny, she’s the type of
girl who’d be sending
them out now.

Anyhoo…

They were a big
money maker for
the postcard publishers,
and were thought to
really improve the
attendance of the
classes that used them.

There were several
types sold…

one called a “Rally Day card”,
which was used primarily in
New England…

A 1905 book called
“How To Conduct
A Sunday School” explains:

“(Rally Day) is used as a
means of rallying the forces
again for the work of fall
and winter. When a general is
preparing for a battle he is
said to rally his forces.
When a sick person begins
to recover it is said of him
that he his rallying. When a
bookbinder brings together
in one place the different
sections of a book to be
bound into one he is said
to be rallying the book.
All of these phrases may
be applied to the Sunday
school work; we are rallying
our forces for the great
campaign of the fall and
winter.”

Another were
“Attendance Committee”
notices –

– they seem pretty harsh
and demanding in tone,
and were used a lot
in the South, and were
the kind my buddy’s
sister got.

Still others were of the
“Look At How Much
Fun You’re Missing”
theme.

And of course, you
had the more generic
“We noticed you
weren’t there, Sunday” type.

All in all, they seem
anachronistic
and patronizing,
but then again ,
maybe if you grew
up with them, they’d
just be another relic
from the past;

although I’m informed
that some churches are
still using them.

Just think of the postage
they woulda wasted on me.

!!! HOY !!!

.

The Yellow Kid

Maybe you remember
the time I posted the
story of “Buster Brown“-
a comic strip that used
to run in newspapers
owned by William
Randolph Hearst,
in many affiliated
and syndicated
newspapers
around the
United States…

The main character
eventually became
an advertising
device for a shoe
company.

But, many folks
don’t know that
the artist who
created Buster
by the name of
Richard F. Outcault,
created a more
historically important
comic character,
“The Yellow Kid”.

You’ve heard the
expression
” Yellow
Journalism “ ?

Well, the term is
originally derived
from a reference to
the Yellow Kid comic
strip …

(“Yellow Kid
Journalism” was
the original term)

…expressing the
idea that newspapers
would print
almost anything,
including a Sunday
Color Comic Strip
Supplement in order
to sell newspapers.

( Which it did . )

It was also one of
the first comics
to use ‘speech
balloons’- when
the strip was
originally called
Hogan’s Alley “.

One other thing
it did, I guess,
was prove the
absolute
ruthlessness
of Randolph Hurst
as a publisher –

– he hired Outcault
away from his original
newspaper (Joseph
Pulitzer’s
New York World)
with a monetary offer
that the man just
couldn’t refuse –

– Pulitzer responded by
continuing the strip
with another artist
(George Luks )
and a slight variation
in the characters -> ->

So, in effect, the
Yellow Kid was running
in two versions in two
different syndications,
for about a year.

While the Luks version
was discontinued in 1897,
the Outcault original
out-lasted it another
two or three years.

If one looks closely,
it can be observed
that the Kid was a
product of the
urban slum
poverty that
was endemic
in New York
City at the time;

But, according to
Outcault himself:

” The Yellow Kid was not
an individual but a type.
When I used to go about
the slums on newspaper
assignments I would
encounter him often,
wandering out of doorways
or sitting down on dirty
doorsteps. I always loved
the Kid. He had a sweet
character and a sunny
disposition, and was
generous to a fault.
Malice, envy or
selfishness were not
traits of his, and he
never lost his temper.”

Societal tastes
were changing
rapidly at the
turn of the
century, and
since Outcault
did not have
any control of
the copyright on
“The Yellow Kid”,
he was disinclined
to continue the strip –
although the character
continued to be used in
all sorts of advertising
items and novelties –
from dolls and soap,
cigarette packs,
to buttons, fans,
and even liquor.

Yellow advertising ?

Perhaps.

But the character
represents a point
in time when people
were becoming
increasingly aware
of the horrors of
tenement living
and the
plights of the
disadvantaged,
and the eventual
demise of the Kid
probably had
more to do
with the fact that
people no longer
thought stuff like
human suffering
and poverty
was at
all funny.

And here’s
to that.

!!! HOY !!!

.

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Googie For You

A friend of mine
sent me a couple
pictures, and a
riddle —

She asked :

what would you
call this style of
signage?

I thought
about it,
and came up
with all sorts of
descriptive names
that really didn’t
narrow it down,
for some reason-
– retro-futuristic
was the best I
could come up with.

She then let the
cat outta the bag —
(what the cat was
doing in there in
the first place,
well, don’t ask…. )
and told me about
something called
“Googie Architecture”.

Now, you might
not believe me,
but according to
Wikipedia,
” Googie architecture
is a form of post-modern
architecture, a subdivision
of futurist architecture
influenced by car culture,
jets, the Space Age, and
the Atomic Age;
originating in Southern
California during the late
1940s and continuing
approximately into the
mid-1960s. “

Damn,
I shoulda
knowd that.

You could have
beat me over the
head with a stupid
stick —

— cause I never
even heard of it,
even though I’ve
always LOVED
that style.

I remember a lot
of those in Miami
Beach, and in
Wildwood, N.J. as
well —

— not to mention,
the most famous
Googie Style sign
of all time —

The Welcome to
Fabulous Las Vegas
sign.

You can still see a
lot of it, if you look
close, on Motels,
Car Washes, Drive
In Theatres, Bowling
Alleys — it was a style
that was extremely
popular in the early
space age —

— expressing a very
optimistic, light hearted
view of what was coming
in society.

It can be recognized
by the dramatic use
of parabolas,
boomerangs,
flying saucers,
atomic shapes,
unusual neons,
and geometric
figures like
balls, oblong
triangles, etc…

– usually combined with
a pastel or bright color
motif.

I think Donald Fagen’s
song:
What A Beautiful
World – I.G.Y

really hits this style
right on the money.

And, I figured
I’d give you
some samples of
Googie signage
to look at while
you listened.

Cool,
right ?

If you’ve got pictures
of Googie that you’d
like to see featured
here, just send em
right along…

We got plenty
of room !

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!!! HOY !!!


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The Simple Things

I’m a believer.

Yes, I am.

I’m a believer
that the simple
things in life
are usually the
best.

That the simplicity
of an invention or
a device adds to
it’s value.

And when you take
a simple idea and
over complicate it,
you make the whole
world a bit more
frustrated.

I just had a run-in
with the electronic
soap dispenser at
work.

You put your hand
under the sensor
and * VOILA * ,
no soap.

Move it,
and it dumps
a copious amount
of soap on the
counter.

Try it again –
just for giggles.

It literally came
all over the
sink, but me,
I got no joy at all.

And my hands
are still dirty.

yes, I ran the old reverse

Or take
surfing, man.

A clear enough
concept –

Good healthy fun
– sea, sun and surf –
and plenty of
exercise, right?

Until in 1948, this
guy comes along and
invents an electric
surfboard.

It costed $345 in
1940’s money –
and was powered
by 8 storage
batteries and
weighed a
staggering
164 pounds.

HUH ?

Who’s that
supposed
to be for, anyway?

Ahhh-
the world
of stupid inventions.

Take the world famous
phone-answering robot,
invented in 1964 by
Klaus Sholes.

Hey, maybe it makes
sense – until you
realize that this
mechanical marvel
didn’t really answer
the phone at all-
it just picked it up
and held it .

Your two year old
could do the same
thing, but you’d
yell at him.

Simple?

Ha.

Take an egg-

— you don’t get
much simpler
than that,
right ?

So what’s some
over-inventive
schmuck
go and do?

Makes something
to square-ify hard
boiled eggs —
called
“The Egg Cuber”.

It’s gone through
several incarnations
since it’s inception….

But the question
still remains:

WHY ?

– and –

WHO wants to eat
a square egg?

Handerpants ! 

You may well say.

And that
is a real thing,
handerpants,
should you
ever desire to
own such.

The
function / purpose
of it remains, alas,
a mystery.

!! HOY !!!

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Getting A Good Tan

Ladies……

Let’s just say
your husband
has been
a naughty boy.

Tsk, tsk.

You don’t wanna
trade him in
for a new model,
necessarily,
but you feel like
you need to
straighten him out.

What are your options?

Well, one that might have
been used by your great-
grandmother might just
surprise you.

An article in the:
New York Evening World
from
 July 08, 1916 leads
off with this leadline:

” One of them’s a cop,
but wifey tans him with
a bread board just the
same, and another gets
licked with a lemon
squeezer when he
misbehaves. “

It goes on to say:

“The controversy was
started by an innocent
little document from
Mrs. McC of Brooklyn,
who declared frankly
that grown persons,
are better for the
occasional whipping,
adding that her own
husband had been
changed from a drinker
and a smoker into a
model man with a
good job, money
saved and a fine
home, by the judicious
application of these
wifely principles : 
Spare the rod and
spoil the husband
was this matron’s recipe
for domestic happiness. “

In turn, the husbands
wrote back, complaining
of the trend:

“Last night I stayed out
rather late at my club,
and when I returned
home I received the
surprise of my married
life when my wife handed
me the first spanking I
received since my boyhood
days.

“This morning at breakfast
I remonstrated with her
and attempted to stick
up for my rights, whereupon
I was taken from my meal
and given another intro-
duction to my wife’s riding
crop. A spanking at night
is bad enough, but to start
the day with one is simply
indescribable.”

Ahem.

I pass the highlights
of this little article
along with no comment,
but I’d be interesting in
hearing yours.

!!!! HOY !!!!

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