Saturday, April 02, 2011

Smith College Book Sale

A Fool Parts with his Money on April Fool's Day!

The annual Smith College Book Sale - a rite of Spring that dates back more than four decades - opened on April Fool's Day at the Timonium Fairgrounds and Amy and I quickly dropped over $80 of hard-earned money on yet more books. Since I work at a library, this is a little like bringing sand to the beach but how could I resist these scores (almost all of which were out-of-print or very hard-to-find titles). Hey, but at least our OCD-worthy book-mongering goes to a good cause: all proceeds going to the Smith College Club of Baltimore's scholarship fund.

My big cash outlay was $8 for out-of-print local history book by John Sherwood called Vanishing Maryland Lives. Published by Johns Hopkins Press, it features beautiful photographs by Edwin Remsberg and 66 profiles by the author (a former Washington Star and Baltimore Sun reporter) about "gone but not forgotten" Marylanders who hang on to values and skills that are quickly disappearing. I'm a sucker for this sort of thing!

Book jacket: "For more than two years, John Sherwood roamed Maryland's small towns and city neighborhoods, traveled Appalachian back roads, and sailed the Chesapeake looking for people whose work or way of life recalled the state's rich and varied tradition. Maryland's Vanishing Lives is his vivid account of the people he met on those journeys. Working in a country store or an old-time movie house, on a small tobacco farm or a weathered skipjack, Sherwood's subjects interest us as people, as stubborn survivors who have watched -- sometimes defiantly, sometimes wistfully -- as the world moved on."


I now own all of Cult Movies author Danny Peary's all-out-of-print books after scoring Close Ups: The Movie Star Book (Workman Pub Co, 1983).

Anything by Peary is interesting, especially the Cult Movies trilogy (which changed my life and informed all my subsequent cinema exposure/learning) - even the Cult Baseball Players: The Greats, the Flakes, the Weird and the Wonderful book he edited - and this was no exception. Geeze, his stuff is so rare that I now have multiples of his books, which I pick up just in case I meet someone who shares similar interests in offbeat movies. (It's my Universal Life Church Parochial Educator instinct kicking in, I suppose.)


I own a reprint of National Lampoon magazine's famous history-of-the-comics parody, but here was an orginal copy for just a dollar. A fantastic read, this alone was worth today's trip up the always-congested traffic on York Road.

National Lampoon's Very Big Book of Comical Funnies - $1!


I also scored a collection of Peter Arno cartoons. Arno was one of the best New Yorker artists of the '40s and '50s, his single panel drawings usually depicting either gallows humor or horny men of all ages lusting after babes. In Seth's It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken, the author pays homage to past comic artists like Peter Arno in the midst of his search for another comic artist of the '40s and '50s, Kalo.

New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno's caddish cartoons - $2!


Amy spotted a pile of 1960s French pop 45's - all with color picture sleeves - going for a buck a pop, so I grabbed all 17. Going by the magic marker scrawl over most of them, it looks like the original owner was somebody named "Peggy." Thanks Peg o' my heart - now I own a batch of Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan (Johnny Hallyday's erstwhile ye-ye singing wife), Sascha Distel, Yves Montand, Richard Anthony, and Pat Field records! Some of these people I have only seen in Scopitones - like Richard Anthony, the French Perry Como in his little V-neck sweater.

Johnny Hallyday: a lookalike for former Garage Sale guitarist Pat Core?

Rare copy - signed by Peggy!

Pat Field et les Pumas de l'Oklahoma - "Panorama Twist" EP:
signed by Peggy!


I also picked up, strictly as a curio, a 45 by some kid that looked like a Teutonic Justin Bieber: Heintje. Unfortunately, it's very Heino, without the sunglasses-wearing Kraut's "charm." Apparently, Heintje Simons was a Dutch child singing star, whose single "Mama" hit big in Europe in 1967 - he also scored that year with a version of the Harry Simeone Chorale's hit "The Little Drummer Boy." This one was a lullaby called "Du Sollst Nicht Weiden" (Don't You Cry), which I think was later covered by das Dusseldorf punk-rockers Die Toten Hosen (as "Baby, Du Sollst Nicht Weiden"). The flip is "Ich Bau dir eine Schloss" ("I'll Build You a Castle").

Meet der old school Bieber: Heintje!

The coolest thing about the single was the cool European 45 spindle adapter than came with it. I had never one shaped like a Mercedes symbol before!


My final vinyl pick (for $2) was of a record I used to own, Gordon Jenkins' musical tribute to New York City, Manhattan Tower. Jenkins later would win fame in the '50s and early '60s working as a conductor/arranger for Sinatra (Where Are You?, No One Cares, and September of My Years - the latter earning him a Grammy) and Nat King Cole. I had given my copy of Manhattan Tower to a library patron obsessed with the song "Married I Can Always Get," a song whose awkward sentence structure always reminded me of the way Yoda spoke in Star Wars.

Originally composed in 1946, Jenkins was given the Key to New York City by its mayor when Jenkins's orchestra performed the original 16-minute "Manhattan Tower" suite on the Ed Sullivan show in the early '50s. In 1956, he expanded "Manhattan Tower" to almost three times its length, released it on this Capitol Records LP, and performed it on an hour-long television show. Though both versions of Manhattan Tower are currently available on CD, it's nice to have the original artifact. Especially for an all-things-Sinatra-related completist like myself.


Amy also spotted a bunch of cool National Geographic maps and (unmarked) postcards at the Ephemera table going for 50 cents each. She scored Medieval England and Meso America maps, while I got ones for Japan and the "Peoples of the Soviet Union" (mainly so I could have a good reference for all those "-stan" republics - like Borat's "glorious nation of Kazakhstan," Uzbekistan Turmenistan, etc.)

Stan and Deliver: Peoples of the Soviet Union

Amy really scored on the postcards; an antiquities junkie, she found a slew of Stonehenge and Mayan ruin postcards. At a table right across from the Ephemera table, she also picked up a beautiful coffee table book called Myths, co-authored by Joseph Campbell (aka, The Man!) - with a great global gods family tree (an essential resource!). It was rather pricey, but looked worth it.


Somebody got rid of an entire collection of Granta magazine, but my tote bag was getting heavy, so I limited myself to just two issues (at $3 an issue): Krauts! and Gazza Agonistes.

Krauts!: What is the new Germany? ‘Krauts!’ seeks the uncomfortable answer to this simple question. With Günter Grass on neo-Nazis, Hans Magnus Enzensberger on the new European – the immigrant, Ian Buruma on Buchenwald, and Martha Gellhorn on why she’ll never return to Germany. Now anything to do with Nazis is always a good read, but what sold me was seeing that this ish included the Haruki Murakami short story, "Lederhosen," in which a couple gets divorced over a pair of shorts. I can totally relate; some things really are worth fighting for.

Gazza Agonistes: Ian Hamilton’s story of soccer superstar Paul Gascoigne (Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, England) at play, on show, in the press, in pain, in distress. This is a fan’s account of a player’s life and of a fan’s obsession, of a sports celebrity and of our apparent need to have one. (As a Spurs fans, I had to get this one!)


Sharing is a Good habit:

Finally, because it's always nicer to give than to receive (except when it comes to playing Mega Millions), I picked up some gifts. For my friend Chris Schatz, who always wears his Captain Harlock t-shirt, I scored a mint Japanese Space Pirate Captain Harlock manga for $3.

And for my co-worker who's into cult movies, I scored a used copy of the RE/Search #10: Incredibly Strange Films book for $4 (goes for $25 new). Like the Danny Peary Cult Movies books, this is one of those titles that is a no-brainer to pick up whenever and wherever you spot a copy on the cheap.

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