age 15-16: a playlist

edgier selections

I remember hearing this on the John Peel Show while in London. I never owned their record
I still think she's extraordinary

sillier selections

I think they hold up for me. Really fun, and their schtick was amazingly thorough.

Another John Peel Show find that, for me, existed on homemade cassette only. 

Not having a good day today, so I decided to seek comfort by regressing and spent the last few hours rifling through Youtube. I did this once before and posted with a slightly earlier playlist. I have to say my music tastes in those years (12-14) were pretty damn impressive, but by this age (15-16), having already given up on the Clash, I was starting to succumb to questionable choices. But, hey, anything's interesting 30 years on, from an anthropological point of view at least. I went down hill from here, falling precipitously in college (eg. Thompson Twins, Scritti Politti).

Reading list: The Face (a brilliant magazine, nothing like it in the US at the time), New Musical Express, and I-D once in a while. Wish I still had those magazines...


chronophages and trade cards

What a great job title: Drawing Master
"Rose, Fancy Ruling and Graduating Engines"— geometric lathes that produced the ornamental designs and sets of fine lines
used on the border of this card and the ones above
"Dealer in Natural and Artificial Curiosities..."
My God, think of the things an antiques dealer in 1801 must have had...
Haberdasher at the Three Pidgeons in Long-Acre, near Drury-Lane, London.
Sells all Sorts of Threads,
Thread and Inkle Tapes,
Manchester & Beggars Tapes,
Boot Strappings,
Quality Bindings,
Silk Ferrets & Galloons,
Silk & Worsted Gartering,
best Silk and Cotton Laces,
Stay Strapping & Silver Twist,
drawn Pockets,
Borders and Huzzeys,
Ticken Pockets & Stomachers,
Shirt & Waistcoat Buttons,
best London Pins and Whitechapel Needles,
Manchester & Irish Ticks,
Russils and Tabbies of all Sorts,
Paduasoy, Taffaty & Sattin Ribbons,
best Belladine Silk, of all Colours,
Whalebone and Whalebone Busks,
Hooks & Eyes,
Silesia & Scotch Cloth,
Shagreens and Sar[?]
Wadding & Hair Cloths,
Pocket Fustians
Coates of Arms, Seals, Cyphers, Shop-cards, Bills of Parcels, Circulary Letters, to imitate hand-writing,
Benefit, Concert, Masquerade cards
Several years ago I was chatting with an Italian friend whose English had been heavily inflected to begin with, and after a few years living in Paris it was downright mysterious. He complained of some activity that was "a true chronophage..." 
"What is in English? Very time consuming"
"Chronophage" = literally "time eating." Yes!
Herewith the results of some of my chronophageous pasttimes (looking at old ephemera online; gathering word lists): 18th and early 19th century British trade cards from the exhaustive collection in the British Museum. As per my previous post on Brooklyn trade cards, what has been interesting me most these days is the wording: The lists of strange and exotic items available, the curious and arcane services proffered.

I love the fact that these items were as common as today's supermarket list of low-fat yogurt, BBQ sauce, and lighter fluid, but I have little or no clue what any of them are.
Flambeaux and Links
Gallipoly Oil
Gum Arabic and Dragon
Hartshorn shavings

Neats-foot oil
Pearl ashes
Salt Prunelles
Scouring sand
Tea Papers
Tobacco Marks
White Chamber oil


Imbeciles, Crackers and Misfit Parlors

This fantastic card was composed and printed letterpress specifically for Smith & Pressinger,
unlike many common trade cards. It features some beautiful type and a stock engraving of
a well-dressed, laughing black guy which I actually think is fun and sensitively drawn. Am I wrong?
Metal type in 8 faces plus one size change and ornament
The caption on the front, lower right, says "Imbeciles!"
"Brooklyn Cracker Works"
What I wouldn't give for a corporate T-shirt from that place
What was the "one" to be taken "at night in a glass of hot milk"? Chloral hydrate? Bromide? Oreo?
"with neatness and dispatch."
A tasteful and Aesthetic-style card that surely spoke to all the "Chinamen", classical statuary
and palm trees on Fulton Street...
I practically swooned when I first saw a card for a "Misfit Parlor."
They are establishments selling what we'd call "seconds" or "irregulars"
I am especially interested in the phrasing of old trade cards:
"unusual advantages in our balcony" sounds appealingly flirtatious to me
Its all about the juxtaposition here: Flesh, Food, Toilet
Hidden by the Witchery of Art
I've been trolling around looking at old trade cards and these here are in many respects an unremarkable assortment of them. The most vital facts about these cards are that they're all from businesses that were on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, and that they currently reside at the Brooklyn Public Library's Fulton Trade Card Collection. Most of the cards in the Fulton collection are typical of late 19th century style business notices: generic preprinted chromolithographed artwork that was imprinted by letterpress job printers and personalized for the business. And as was commonly the case, most of the colorful/humorous/picturesque artwork used on the business card had absolutely nothing to do with the business. [Read more about that in the Handy Book of Artistic Printing.]

Most people love trade cards for the chromo- artwork: the bouquets, gamboling cherubs and baskets of kittens that the well-known Louis Prang (
see the NYPL collection) specialized in. Not me. While I like and admire the artwork, especially the Aesthetic style scenes of "Chinamen", sphinxes and Japanese storks, I've lately been focusing on the wording of the cards. The naive taglines, awkward names, overly intrusive punctuation and the incredible lists of goods and services on offer are what interest me the most right now. The lists—O the lists! I love word lists and when the these are made from items strange, arcane, outlandish and antique— all the better. More on this type of card, of which the below is a pale, enervated descendant, in next post.
Addendum: I found a really nice overview of illustrated trade cards worth a perusal.


Jersey Shore: the Pantone series

with props to Doug Clouse

cringe-worthy part II

I've written about word aversion before— words that when spoken or read give one's viscera a toss.

Language Log, a group blog about language and linguistics originally started at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the UPenn (so they really mean business!), makes a distinction between word aversion and word rage.

"Note that we are NOT talking about "word rage" ....where people get angry at jargon or slang... or upset because a word or phrase is felt to be incorrectly used, or annoyed at language that they perceive as redundant, overly complicated, pretentious, a cliché, trendy, or politically incorrect. Rather, [word aversion is] where someone finds a word "revolting", "ugly", "disgusting" in itself."

I realize it is often difficult to separate words from their associations, if not actual meanings. Previously I wrote
"words that make me wince are veggies and yummy. I also hate tummy*... I recently got an email from a potential date that used the word "tummy" prominently and it nearly made me physically ill. I still get a shiver of disgust just thinking about it. ...."
In truth, I probably just dislike the associations of those words rather than the sounds themselves because "gummy" doesnt bother me at all.

Since my earlier post, a few other offending words have accrued in my mental list:  jegging, webinar
, zumba, hubby, tootsies, gastropub, urethra, zesty.  A friend adds:  orgasm, classy, smegma, phlegm. Who's to argue with that list? Oh and she agrees with me on webinar ("so inelegant!"). I add, as an aside, the store Shoegasm literally makes me avert my eyes.

My cousin made an unusual submission of words he dislikes because of their semantic imprecision
their "first impression is not what they really mean." Among them: degustation, deracinated, exiguous, phlegmatic. This list is perhaps too lorgnettes-and-lace-pocket-squares for this post, Bob, but thanks for being a sport. (Ironically, I actually like the way these sound.)

Interestingly, I discovered Huffpost had a piece on
Words So Disgusting That It's Hard To Hear just a few days ago. Perhaps revulsion is simply in the air.

* perhaps I hate the tinny quality of those words: Tinny and Woody words


Rockaway Frolics II

Two friends and I explored more of Rockaway yesterday
(Mack Sennett Comedy girls, 1917
We found 86th Street beach a bit more genteel
The facilities were pretty good!
We had delicious hamburgers, beers, and even a glass of rosé from Rippers.

(Brighton Beach 1900)

 Police and National Parks Security patrolled periodically
(Sea Breeze beach, Florida, about 1905)
There were more food choices at 96th Street but it was a little crowded
(Atlantic City, 1900)
click for LARGE image! 1923

There were some crazy-looking people!
I wish I'd covered up more— I got a burn.
(Fashion show at Rockaway, 1913. Click for LARGE image! )
We searched for some original bungalows.
There were a few, but most were in sad shape
(Rockaway Bungalows, 1910)


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