“Reg Kray’s Book of Slang”

Reg Kray“Although some of Reg’s relationships with other inmates were sexual, the majority were not. It was trust and loyalty that he sought most. At Parkhurst he found them in a young inmate called Steve Tully. They embarked on a project collecting Cockney, criminal and American slang words to make into a book. During the following months Reg dredged through his memory trying to recall all the common phrases of his childhood; he also wrote to everyone he knew. Between them, and in collaboration with his now-released old friend Patsy Manning, he and Steve Tully produced a manuscript. It was named simply Reg Kray’s Book of Slang. On its completion Reg felt a tremendous sense of achievement…

… By this time Slang had been published but, due to various problems, it met with little success. Distributed through Patsy Manning, major bookshops seemed reluctant to take the title, probably due in equal parts to its infamous author and its publishing origins– and unknown company called Wheel and Deal. In 1985 it was rare for a convicted criminal to write any kind of book. It wasn’t until 1988 when Our Story, compiled in conjunction with Fred Dinenage, was published that the floodgates opened and the public’s fascination with the world of crime revealed an entirely new career option for a number of ex-cons in search of a more comfortable retirement.”

Reg Kray: A Man Apart, Roberta Kray, Sidgwick & Jackson, 2002.

CROWDS OF AMERICANS FILL “BRIGHT AND PRETTY” LONDON

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Jacqueline Bouvier, of The Times-Herald editorial staff, is in London to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The following story was written by Miss Bouvier and airmailed from London: 

BY JAQUELINE BOUVIER

LONDON (via airmail)–“Oh, to be in England now that the coronation’s here”–Robert Browning would have forgotten all about April were he to land in Britain now.

The whole country is concerned with the coronation, the whole coronation, and nothing but the coronation.

Every home one could see thru the windows of the boat train between Southampton and London bore a picture of Queen Elizabeth–pasted on the outside of the house or in a window.

“Wait till you see the old place, everything’s so bright and pretty,” said the porter, who handled our luggage when we arrived in London’s Waterloo station. “We haven’t had it like this for years”…

After the theater we went dancing at the 400, a tiny private night club in Mayfair. Lined with accordion pleated red velvet, it looked like the inside of a jewel box. Among those attempting to dance on the postage-stamp size dance floor were the Marquess of Milford-Haven.

“Crowds of Americans Fill ‘Bright and Pretty’ London,” Washington Times-Herald, June 2, 1953.

The Harriet Carter Catalog

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The Harriet Carter catalog is a pleasure to read. It has sold Americans “distinctive gifts since 1958” –ingenious inventions like plastic frames to hold baseball caps in shape during wash cycles and uniquely absorbent bath mats. In darker moments, the catalog hints at an empire swollen with decadence and paranoia. 

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SECURITY “CAMERA” STOPS TROUBLE BEFORE IT STARTS!

Authentic-looking “camera” simulates a high tech security system and makes crooks think they’re being watched. Motion-activated device “sweeps” back and forth when anyone passes by, while red LED flashes. Installs with included screws–needs no hard wiring! Uses 2 AA batteries (not incl.)

Security Camera:  $9.98    2 for $18.50    4 for $35.96

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WIRELESS DRIVEWAY ALARM puts an end to surprise visits, unannounced guests, and unwelcome salespeople by transmitting a signal each time anyone approaches your home. Simply position the weather-resistant transmitter outdoors, up to 400 feet from your house. Keep the receiver unit indoors so you can hear the alert tone. Uses one 9V and 1 AA batteries (not incl).

Wireless Driveway Alarm    $29.98 

IMG_2215  TOILET GOLF lets you practice your putting on the potty! If you’re a golfer who can’t get enough practice time, you can now sink putts where not one has sunk them before–the bathroom! Carpet looks like a putting green; it even has a hole so you can tee off while you’re taking care of the other business. Includes putter and two plastic balls. 36″ x 26″

Toilet Golf     Set $ 17.98

2003 Harriet Carter catalog.

Vostok 1 Coffee with Milk

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Lot 233 Sale 8521 Space Exploration, 9 May 2001, Christie’s, New York

Estimate: $3,000 – $4,000
Price realized: $12,925

“Lot Description [VOSTOK 1] Flown. Food tube of the first “Coffee with Milk” taken in space. Flown onboard Vostok 1, April 12, 1961 (the first manned flight). “NO COFFEE OR MILK HAS GONE SO FAST OR TRAVELED SO FAR SINCE MAN’S FIRST USE OF THEM” (Yuri Gagarin 1961). Probably the most universal drink after water, this was the first beverage to be imbibed at Mach 25. These fluids were part of the scientific inquiry as to whether man could eat and drink in space. [With]: Letter of authentication from Ivanovsky.”

Image: A zero-gravity coffee cup floats aboard the International Space Station 2002.

Photo: Marty Sheffer

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“This view of Toronto looking north from one of the small parks on the waterfront shows two of the city’s newer tourist attractions, Commerce Court and the Toronto Dominion Centre–both of which offer a magnificent view of Toronto.”

“Photo: Marty Sheffer” are familiar words to Canadian deltiologists. Postcards of his photographs were sold in convenience stores and souvenir shops from Newfoundland to British Columbia. He shot the Fredericton Playhouse, the Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, and a giant five cent coin in Sudbury called The Big Nickel. He photographed Magnetic Hill, and downtown Toronto before its transmogrification into a tinted glass behemoth.

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Photographers were identified on a limited number of postcards, on the back or on a white strip across the bottom of the front. Sheffer shot fishing boats in Cheticamp Harbour for C & G MacLeod in Sydney, and the rock formations at Hopewell Cape for Lewis & Nugent Ltd. in Moncton. Toronto’s Royal Specialty Sales published his pictures on their wonderful Plastichrome prints. Some of the postcards of Sheffer’s work were never mailed; they turn up in boxes at shows or on auction sites, trickier to date than cards with stamps. All appear to have been shot in the mid-1970s.

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Sheffer made unique choices. He shot the Trans Canada Highway across a bed of marigolds and the Magnetic Hill Inn framed by branches of pine trees. He stood farther back than most postcard photographers, and left a lot of room for the sky in the frame. It’s impossible to look at his photographs and not eventually wonder about the man who took them; standing apart from the action, checking the light, and recording the earth around him.

Royal Specialty Sales has sold souvenirs in Canada since 1937. The company is owned and operated by Ken Feldbloom and his son David. I phoned Royal Specialty Sales to inquire about Sheffer and spoke to the kind and helpful Ken Feldbloom. “I believe Marty passed away a few years ago,” he said. He remembered Sheffer’s address, a townhouse in North York. “A very nice fellow,” Feldbloom recalled.

I had imagined a nice fellow. Contemplative, and appreciative of the beauty of ordinary things. Every year his work becomes a little rarer, and more precious. The subjects and ancillary details of his images– clothes, long, wide cars, and Adirondack chairs on the side of a dusty road– are a trail of breadcrumbs forty years into the past.

Postcards by Royal Specialty Sales and Lewis & Nugent Ltd.

The Architect’s Approach to the Design of the Whitney Museum

IMG_2199“In the designing of the project and after establishing its working and its program, we have faced the first and most important problem: what should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan? Surely it should work, it should fulfill its requirements. But what is its relationship to the New York landscape? What does it express? What is its architectural message?

It is easier to say first what it should not look like. It should not look like a business or office building, nor should it look like a place of light entertainment. Its form and its material should have identity and weight in the neighborhood of 50-story skyscrapers, of mile-long bridges, in the midst of the dynamic jungle of our colorful city. It should be an independent and self-reliant unit, exposed to history, and at the same time it should have a visual connection to the street. It should transform the vitality of the street into the sincerity and profundity of art.

The photograph below shows a sunken sculpture court between the sidewalk and the building, spanned by the entrance bridge; it shows the glass front of the lobby facing Madison Avenue, and the sculpture gallery which provides contact with the street and with the passerby. While the inverted pyramid of the building mass calls attention to the museum and to its special dedication, the mass is surfaced with a most durable, retiring, and serene material: a warm gray granite which is rather dark and has a mild play of reflection of the surroundings…”

Marcel Breuer, The Whitney Review 1965-1966, The Whitney Museum of Art,  1966.

Constructing “The Color Purple”

Screenshot (585)“I don’t always know where the germ of a story comes from, but with The Color Purple I knew right away. I was hiking through the woods with my sister Ruth, talking about a lovers’ triangle of which we both knew. She said: ‘And you know one day The Wife asked The Other Woman for a pair of her drawers.’ Instantly the missing piece of the story I was mentally writing–about two women who felt married to the same man–fell into place.  And for months– through illnesses, divorce, several moves, travel abroad, all kinds of heartaches and revealations–I carried my sister’s comment delicately balanced in the center of the novel’s construction I was building in my head…

…Just as summer was ending, one or more of my characters–Celie, Shug, Albert, Sofia, or Harpo–would come for a visit. We would sit wherever I was sitting, and talk. They were very obliging, engaging, and jolly. They were, of course, at the end of their story but were telling it to me from the beginning. Things that made me sad often made them laugh. Or, we got through that; don’t pull such a long face, they’d say. Or, You think Reagan’s bad, you ought’ve seen some of the rednecks us come up under. The days passed in a glaze of happiness.”

In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, “Writing the Color Purple,” Alice Walker, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1983.

CELEBRATING AMERICA’S SPIRIT TOGETHER 2001, THE 54th PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL CANDLELIGHT DINNER

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Guests at George W. Bush’s inaugural candlelight dinner were presented with a twelve-page program entitled Celebrating America’s Spirit Together. It featured photographs, an introduction, the entertainment, the menu, a gold rope tasseled bookmark, and four pages of Candlelight Dinner Underwriters, Sponsors, and Hosts.

The introduction obliquely acknowledged the contentious Florida recount. “As we witness the orderly transfer of power, in the grand and glorious tradition that has become the great American heritage, we anticipate the renewal of that spirit…” David Woo of The Dallas Morning News photographed George and Laura Bush waving out of windows, the Ford administration’s masterful photographer David Hume Kennerly shot the Cheneys with their grandchildren, and Charles Ommanney (nicknamed “Chuckles” and “Lion King” by George W. Bush) shot the president and the vice president at a rally.

There is a fin de siècle feel to Celebrating America’s Spirit Together. “Linda and Ken Lay” were underwriters and Lehman Brothers, Inc. were sponsors. Just two years before the congressional cafeteria renamed chips “freedom fries,” the candlelight dinner’s “green beans” were a highfalutin “haricots verts” on the menu.

Before the Introduction of the Cabinet Designates, the tenor Dennis McNeil and the soprano Teri Bibb sang The Phantom of the Opera Medley— probably some form of “All I Ask of You.” Bibb had played the role of Christine over 1000 times on Broadway and also performed for the Clintons. The new president wore black cowboy boots embroidered with his initials and the presidential seal.

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Two hundred and thirty-one people, corporations, and organizations were listed as Candlelight Dinner Underwriters, among them: American Airlines, AT&T, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., The Boeing Company, BP, Citigroup, The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsi Co. Inc.,  Enron, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Motorola, Fannie Mae, Frito-Lay, General Electric, General Motors, Microsoft, John W. Henry & Company, Inc., Hicks, Muse, Tate & First Incorporated, IBM, Kmart, Kraft, Mr. Ronald Lauder, Lockheed Martin, Merrill Lynch & Co,. Inc., Motorola,  Safeway, The Dow Chemical Company. Philip Morris, PhRMA, Tyson Foods, Trident Capital, Inc.,Visa U.S.A., Inc., The Washington Post Company, and The Washington Redskins.

Private Eye‘s Dirty Digger appeared in the program as “Mr. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corporation.” The Honorable and Mrs. Hushang Ansary contributed–  prior to the Iranian revolution Ansary had been appointed ambassador to Washington, Minister of Economics, Minister of Finance and head of the National Oil Company by the Shah. Seventy-four people, corporations, and organizations were Candlelight Dinner Sponsors, and seventeen people and corporations (including American Express, Hewlett-Packard, and Walt Disney World) acted as Candlelight Dinner Hosts.

Entertainment: Dennis McNeil and Teri Bibb, Phantom of the Opera Medley, Con Te Partiro, An American Hymm

Introduction of Cabinet Designates: Mel Martinez, Senator John Ashcroft, Anthony Principi, Elaine Chao

Menu: Horseradish Crusted Filet of Salmon, Sweet Potato Puree, Sauteed Winter Spinach, Rack of Lamb Bordeaux, Wilted Napa Cabbage and Mustard Greens, Haricots Verts, Wild Rice with Currants, Butterscotch Mousse, Sauce Caramel.

 

IMG_2158 “Welcome to the Candlelight Dinner celebrating the inauguration of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B Cheney.

Tonight we join together on the eve of the inauguration of the 43rd president of the United States, to celebrate America’s spirit together ‘united in our heart and one mind’ as Thomas Jefferson said in his inaugural address 200 years ago. As we witness the orderly transfer of power, in the grand and glorious tradition that has become the great American heritage, we anticipate the renewal of that spirit and look forward with hope to the promise and challenge of the future.

We celebrate tonight the diversity of our people and our shared devotion to our truly unique American spirit as we anticipate our nation’s grandest and oldest tradition– the swearing-in of a new president.

Tonight we gather together to celebrate that solemn and majestic occasion and to wish Godspeed and all our best wishes to our new leadership, as they assume the power, the burden and the glory of the highest offices inour land.
Thank you for joining us in this historic Candlelight Dinner honoring our new president and vice president and in celebrating America’s spirit together.
God Bless America!”

The Secret Diary of Vladimir Chertkov, Aged 54 1/12

Tolstoy and ChertkovLeo Tolstoy’s relationship with his wife Sonya was very tumultuous– today it would probably be called dysfunctional. Circumstances weren’t improved by the constant presence of the count’s disciple Vladimir Chertkov. The prototypical Kato Kaelin, Chertkov wrote down every word of the Tolstoys’ quarrels in a journal he later published.

December 1, 1908:

“Sonya Andreyevna, turning to Lev Nikolaevich, irately asserts that the property rights of all his written, unpublished works belong to the family. Lev Nikolaevich objects. She runs to her room and fetches a pocket diary written in her hand and reads her own record to the effect that Lev Nikolaevich had given as public property only those writings which had appeared in print during his lifetime (and after 1881). Lev Nikolaevich begins to object. She shouts him down. Finally in a resolute, authoritative tone, he obliges her to hear him. (She had just said that she was not concerned about herself, but that her children would assert their own claims.) Lev Nikolaevich: ‘You imagine that our children are like rogues who want me to do something opposed to that which is most dear to me.’ Sonya Andreyevna: ‘Well, as for being rogues, I do not know, but…’ Lev Nikolaevich (firmly): ‘No, let me finish speaking. According to you it appears that the children will play the dirtiest trick possible on me. And a dirtier trick is is impossible to play. You know the principles for which I’ve renounced these rights– the principles of my faith, and what do you wish, that these principles should be turned into hypocrisy? I gave you my fortune, I gave you my early writings, and now it seems that I ought to give my own life– that for which I live. Yet I daily receive abusive letters, accusing me of hypocrisy. And now that you desire that in very fact I should become a hypocrite and a scoundrel. It is astonishing to me how you torment yourself without any need.’ And he left the room, firmly closing the door behind him.”

Sonya: The Life of Countess Tolstoy, Anne Edwards, Simon and Schuster, 1981.