Tuesday, March 31, 2009


A Life in Pictures
Tyhimba Jess, Tom Waits (introduction)
hardcover, 2008

A visual biography of blues great Huddie Ledbetter (Midnight Special, Rock Island Line, Goodnight Irene), discovered by a music anthropologist from the Library of Congress in a Louisiana prison while serving time for assault and murder, consisting of unpublished photographs, news clippings, concert programs, personal correspondence (including letters from Woody Guthrie), record albums, awards and other memorabilia discovered only recently from a basement trunk in New York City.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Indian Firework Art
Gavin Alpert
concertina-style binding, 2001

Nearly impossible to find these days but this is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind book, presented as a continuous, fold-out board of nearly 24 feet (86 pages), adorned with reproductions of Indian firework labels, most from the Cock Firework Company from the . Comes in its own firework box.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Schuster
Craig Yoe
hardcover, 2009

A showcase for the rare and recently discovered erotic artwork by the most seminal artist in comics, Joe Shuster. Created in the early 1950s when Shuster was down on his luck after suing his publisher, DC Comics, over the copyright for Superman, he illustrated these images for an obscure series of magazines called "Nights of Horror," published under the counter until they were banned by the U.S. Senate following the notorious Brooklyn Thrill Killers trial in 1954.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Fred Rosen
paperback, 1995
$29.95 (out of print)

In 1978, sideshow performer Grady Stiles Jr., known as Lobster Boy (the sixth generation in a family afflicted with a condition known as electrodactylyl), picked up a shotgun and murdered the boyfriend of his eldest daughter. Placed on trial and convicted of the crime, he was granted 15 years probation due to the prison system's lack of facilities to cope with someone afflicted with his handicap. A dozen years later, Stiles himself was gunned down by a 19-year-old hitman hired by his wife and stepson in retaliation for years of physical and emotional abuse.

Quite simply one of the most bizarre biography/true crime books in print.


Crime & Punishment Photographs from the Burns Archive
Stanley B. Burns, MD
hardcover, 2008

The Burns archives is well known for its private collection of historical photographs. Previous books include A Morning's Work (medical anomalies), Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America (dead people) and American Dentist.

Drawing from its extensive bounty of crime photos from the the 1890 to 1950, this is a treasure trove of unique images examining the ever-changing standards of the American justice system -- images from water torture at Sing Sing prison, whipping posts, penitentiary life, and the notorious deadly work camps of the South, to executions: hanging, firing squads, and the electric chair.

justice befalls the neighborhood pedofile

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Theodore Roszak
paperback 2005

'A sprawling novel that comprises, among other things, a magical mystery tour of the history of cinema, an acid satire on Hollywood and what passes for today's cultural avant-garde, a metaphysical puzzle, an exploration of the psychological impact of films and a parable about the modern spiritual wasteland. UCLA film scholar and critic Jonathan Gates becomes obsessed with legendary German expressionist filmmaker Max Castle, who went to Hollywood in the mid-1920s and whose vampire and ghoul B-movies are viewed by cult fans as deeply troubling evocations of evil. On the trail of Castle's dark past, Gates and his ex-girlfriend, tough-minded film critic Clare Swann (a thinly disguised Pauline Kael), encounter medieval gnostic heresies, secret societies, Orson Welles, a teenage genius albino movie producer and an aged Dutch ex-vamp who practices tantric-like sex.'

Described elsewhere as Sunset Boulevard meets The Name of the Rose (and I would offer Ragtime as well). Without a doubt, perhaps the best work of contemporary fiction to date on the art, history and lure of the movies. Required reading for all film buffs and film-makers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Gregory Gibson
2008 hardcover
$24.00 JFJFJsale $11.95

Subtitled 'The Rare Book Dealer, the Times Square Talker, and the Lost Photos of Diane Arbus' -- this is a must-read for bibliofiles, sideshow enthusiasts, Arbus fans, and most of all collectors -- anyone who dreams of that one big score -- the priceless item with the $5 pricetag hiding in some corner at a fleamarket, garage sale or antique store.

'From the late 1950s until her death in 1971, renowned photographer Diane Arbus took pictures of oddball performers at the now-forgotten Hubert's Museum, a typical freak show in New York City's seedy Times Square. One frequent subject was Charlie Lucas, first a freak himself, later an inside talker. In 2003, Bob Langmuir, an anxiety-ridden, pill-popping, obsessive antiquarian book dealer from Philadelphia, unearthed a collection of photographs and memorabilia, including Lucas's journals and what he thought were Arbus's photos. This trove of genuine American kookiness came to dominate his life. Following Langmuir's quest—from the slums of Philadelphia to the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art—as he gathered, priced and ultimately came to understand this collection.'