Thursday, September 24, 2009

NEW GODS (1914 - 1923) By Joshua Glenn

Members of the generational cohort born from 1914-23 were in their teens and 20s during the Thirties (1934-43, not to be confused with the the 1930s), and in their 20s and 30s during the Forties (1944-53).

Tellingly, the introduction focuses on the “G.I. second wave” (a weaselly phrase justifying a divided pseudo-generation; only a movement, e.g., an aesthetic movement, can span generations in successive “waves”), about whom Strauss and Howe gush:
Throughout their lives, [late-born members of the GI Generation] have been America’s confident and rational problem-solvers: victorious soldiers and Rosie the Riveters; Nobel laureates; makers of Minuteman missiles, interstate highways, Apollo rockets, battleships, and miracle vaccines; the creator’s of Disney’s Tomorrowland; “men’s men” who have known how to get things done…. No other generation this century has felt (or been) so Promethean, so godlike in its collective, world-bending power.
Godlike! In 1998, Tom Brokaw would insist that “this is the greatest generation any society has produced” — but it seems even that superlative is insufficient to describe the likes of Jack Kennedy, Jack Kerouac, and Jack LaLanne. So I’ve borrowed a moniker for the Partisan’s immediate juniors from a short-lived comic book series by one of my favorite Jacks from this cohort: Jack Kirby. The generational cohort born from 1914-23 may superficially resemble mere homo sapiens, but they are stronger, faster, and smarter than the rest of us; they possess superior technology; and they may even exist in a dimension outside of normal time and space. Let’s call them: the New Gods.


High-, low-, no-, and hilobrow members of the New Gods Generation include: Alfred Bester, Charles Bukowski, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Cordwainer Smith, Dean Martin, Dizzy Gillespie, Elizabeth Hardwick, Eric Hobsbawm, Hank Williams, Hugh Kenner, Jack Cole, Jack Kerouac, Jack Kirby, Jackie Gleason, Jane Bowles, John Berryman, Jonas Salk, Joseph Beuys, Juan Garcia Esquivel, Leslie Fiedler, Louis Althusser, Manny Farber, Merce Cunningham, Murray Bookchin, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, Paul Celan, Paul de Man, Ralph Ellison, Raymond WilliamsRoald Dahl, Robert Lowell, Robert Motherwell, Roland Barthes, Stan Lee, Stanislaw Lem, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk,Tove Jansson, Vampira, Walker Percy, Will Elder, and William S. Burroughs.


1914-23: [Greatest/GI Generation] New Gods


The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933
The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933

The 1914-23 generation came of age during the Depression, during which time they were kept busy by the Civilian Conservation Corps “getting things done, building things that worked, things that have lasted to this day,” as Strauss and Howe admiringly put it. The Tennessee Valley Authority was the handiwork of youthful New Gods. As adults, the 1914-23 generation fought World War II. After the war, they saved American industry, tamed the business cycle, built the suburbs and moved into them. Or so we hear, again and again, in middlebrow paeans to the cohort that shored up the gains of older (Hardboiled) middlebrows. How did Middlebrow inspire a generation to to say in harness so long, and accomplish so much? What persuasive ideology helped prevent the New Gods from kicking against the pricks?

Jack LaLanne, real-life strongman
Jack LaLanne, real-life strongman

One such ideology, it seems to me, was machismo. The New Gods venerated the macho man, and some deluded anti-middlebrows even hailed him as an antiheroic savior of sorts. This generation produced only one president, but it was the macho JFK, who brought the “best and the brightest” into the White House, faced down the Soviet Union, and put a man on the moon. Astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn are members of this generation; so is faster-than-sound test pilot Chuck Yeager.

Other New Gods who were macho men, actors who played macho men, and novelists who wrote about macho men: Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, William Holden, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Jack Palance, Anthony Quinn, Jack Lord, Ernest Borgnine, Telly Savalas, Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Woody Strode, Montgomery Clift, Charlton Heston, Edmond O’Brien, Norman Mailer, James Jones, James Dickey, James Arness, Jake LaMotta, and honorary NGs Marlon Brando, Alan Ladd, Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Rocky Marciano, Audie Murphy, and Jesse Owens. Wow! Think of all the violent buddy/caper movies the New Gods made, in the Fifties (1954-63) and Sixties (1964-73): Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957: Lancaster, Douglas); The Young Lions (1958: Bando, Clift, Martin); Ocean’s Eleven (1960: Sinatra, Martin); The Magnificent Seven (1960: Brynner, Wallach, Bronson); The Guns of Navarone (1961: Peck, Quinn); The Great Escape (1963: Bronson);The Professionals (1966: Marvin, Lancaster, Ryan, Strode, Palance); The Dirty Dozen (1967: Marvin, Borgnine, Bronson, Ryan, Savalas; and The Wild Bunch (1969: Holden, Borgnine, Ryan, O’Brien). The musk of testosterone shrouded the New Gods, making it difficult for them to see — or think — straight.
Even the women of the New Gods generation were macho: films and posters featuring “Rosie the Riveter” encouraged women to go to work in support of the war effort. Behold arch-middlebrow Norman Rockwell’s vision of Rosie:


Speaking of Mailer and JFK, in 1960 the former wrote an overheated Esquire essay about the latter titled “Superman Comes to the Supermarket.” America, Mailer claimed, was the land where people still believed in heroes — and it needed a macho hero to rescue it from the triumph of Middlebrow during the Fifties (1954-63).
The film studios threw up their searchlights as the frontier was finally sealed, and the romantic possibilities of the old conquest of land turned into a vertical myth, trapped within the skull, of a new kind of heroic life, each choosing his own archetype of a neo-renaissance man, be it Barrymore, Cagney, Flynn, Bogart, Brando or Sinatra, but it was almost as if there were no peace unless one could fight well, kill well (if always with honor), love well and love many, be cool, be daring, be dashing, be wild, be wily, be resourceful, be a brave gun. And this myth, that each of us was born to be free, to wander, to have adventure and to grow on the waves of the violent, the perfumed, and the unexpected, had a force which could not be tamed no matter how the nation’s regulators — politicians, medicos, policemen, professors, priests, rabbis, ministers, idèologues, psychoanalysts, builders, executives and endless communicators — would brick-in the modern life with hygiene upon sanity, and middle-brow homily over platitude; the myth would not die.
Mailer correctly diagnosed the triumph of Middlebrow, but he failed to recognize that machismo is no solution. In fact, whenever Highbrow or Lowbrow is coded “masculine,” then Anti-Highbrow or Anti-Lowbrow is coded “not-feminine”; Middlebrow’s synthesis of these cultural constructs is: “real man” or “macho.” (When Highbrow or Lowbrow is coded “feminine,” then Anti-Highbrow or Anti-Lowbrow is coded “not-masculine”; Middlebrow’s synthesis of these cultural constructs is: “ultra-feminine” or “vamp,” another New God paradigm.) Nobrow, to continue for a moment, is neither masculine nor feminine (”angelic”), while Hilobrow is androgynous or hermaphroditic. Mailer, whose own machismo was a performance piece, didn’t quite grasp all this — not then.


During the Thirties and Forties, superman really did come to the supermarket, as the New Gods ushered in what we’ve been encouraged to regard as the Golden Age of superhero comics. Beginning in 1938 with the debut of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman in DC’s Action Comics # 1, the comic book made its debut as a mainstream art form. Comic-book authors, artists, and editors born between 1914 and 1923 include the likes of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Julius Schwartz, Will Eisner, Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, Sheldon Mayer, and honorary New God Joe Simon — who invented and refined comic-book superheroes as we know them: Superman and Batman, Captain America, The Spirit, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Daredevil, The Human Torch, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Justice Society of America. Enjoyable stuff! But with the exception of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man, it’s middlebrow.

Of course, there were New God cartoonists who weren’t middlebrow. Will Elder, John Severin, Dave Berg, Al Jaffee, and former EC Comics publisher William Gaines, for example, brought us Mad Magazine (whose successful formula, I think, is due to the fact that half of its staff were New Gods and half were Postmodernists; more on that some other time). Charles M. Schulz wasn’t a middlebrow, exactly, though Middlebrow would enthusiastically embrace and champion his work. In the late Fifties (beginning in ‘61, to be precise), New Gods Stan Lee and Jack “King” Kirby would give us the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, The Watcher, Magneto, the Inhumans, and many more comic-book superheroes who were neither macho nor middlebrow — at least, they weren’t in their earliest incarnations.

Middlebrow triumphed in the newspapers: Bil Keane, Hank Ketcham, Dik Browne, Fred Lasswell, Mort Walker, Brant Parker, and Reg Smythe gave us the middlebrow strips Family CircusDennis the MenaceHi and LoisHagar the HorribleBarney Google and Snuffy SmithBeetle BaileyWizard of Id, and Andy Capp. Ever wonder why some newspaper strips end, while others go on and on? The answer is: Middlebrow. Many of these strips, whose authors are now retired or dead, are still going — i.e., they’re immortal.


I’ve noted elsewhere that, in the era before the Partisans pioneered the so-called Golden Age of science fiction, and the New Gods pioneered the so-called Golden Age of superhero comics, homo superior and supermen were considered… creepy.

Olaf Stapledon, Philip Wylie, George Bernard Shaw, and other Radium-Age SF authors tended to agree that the superman (whose values and worldview we mere mortals can’t share, or even comprehend) wouldn’t seem friendly but cold, inhuman, alien. Even, or especially when, he is trying to help us — because he’d surely understand himself as a shepherd responsible for the wellbeing of dumb animals, and treat us accordingly. Wylie’s 1930 SF novel, Gladiator, features a superman who is nearly invulnerable (”He was like a being of steel”), runs faster than a train, leaps higher than trees, and hurls boulders like baseballs. He creates a fortress of solitude (in Colorado), fights the Germans in WWI, then adopts a secret identity, moves to Manhattan, and vows to become “an invisible agent of right — right as best I can see it.” It’s that last line that distinguishes Wylie’s man of steel from Siegel and Shuster’s; in the end, Wylie’s superman despairs of flawed mortals and abandons them.

The paradigm shift from pre-Golden Age science fiction and comic-book superhero is a telling one, isn’t it? Small wonder, perhaps, that Middlebrow — which sees itself as a shepherd responsible for the wellbeing of dumb animals, but would never be so foolish as to admit to this fact — admires the Partisans and New Gods (collectively: the G.I. or Greatest Generation) so much, and insists that they ushered in a Golden Age in SF and superhero comics! What Asimov and other historians of SF mean by “Golden Age” is that SF “grew up” beginning in the mid-1930s; at midcentury, Middlebrow was eager to have ’30s-era utopianists grow up. Does this mean that all Golden-Age SF and comic-book authors are middlebrow — witting or unwitting dupes of proto-neocon middlebrows? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that we should skeptically revisit the so-called Golden Age of SF and comic books.

Golden-Age SF authors born from 1914-23 include: Isaac Asimov (The Foundation TrilogyI, Robot), James Blish (Earthman Come HomeStar Trek novelizations), Leigh Brackett (The Long Tomorrow), Lester del Rey (editor; known for Young Adult SF), Pohl (GatewayThe Space Merchants), Gordon R. Dickson (Childe Cycle and Dragon Knight series), Philip José Farmer (Riverworld series), Frank Herbert (Dune saga), Cyril M. Kornbluth (The Space Merchants, with Pohl), Walter M. Miller, Jr. (A Canticle for Leibowitz), and Theodore Sturgeon (More Than Human, famous Star Trek episodes). Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is also a New God. Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) and Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey) are not middlebrow, if you ask me; neither are honorary New Gods Cordwainer Smith and Alfred Bester. However, Jack Vance, who cranked out 60 novels and innumerable pulp stories, might be considered a lowbrow were it not for the fact that a recent New York Times Magazine profile described him as “one of American literature’s most distinctive and undervalued voices” — which makes me suspicious.


Meet the New Gods.
Honorary New Gods: Joe Simon (comics editor), Gerald Ford, Alan Ladd, Burt Lancaster, Cordwainer Smith, Vince Lombardi, Jesse Owens, Alfred Bester, maybe Ralph Ellison (all born 1913).


1914: William S. Burroughs, Sun Ra, Jack Cole, John Berryman, Jonas Salk, Tove Jansson, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Woody Strode, Ida Lupino, Alec Guinness, Saul Steinberg, Joe DiMaggio, George Reeves (played Superman on TV), Danny Thomas, Ward Kimball, William Westmoreland, Bernard Malamud, Vance Packard, E.G. Marshall, Ernest Tubb, Paul Rand, Bill Finger, Joe Lewis, Jackie Coogan, Kenny Clarke, Clayton Moore, Allen Funt, Jack LaLanne, Billy Eckstine, John Hersey, Billy Graham, Arthur Kennedy, Dorothy Lamour, Richard Widmark, Floyd Tillman, Donald A. Wollheim, Hammond Innes, Thor Heyerdahl, Patrick O’Brian. HONORARY PARTISANS: Daniel J. Boorstin, Howard Fast, Marguerite Duras, Julio Cortazar, Dylan Thomas.

1915: Roland Barthes, Robert Motherwell, Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra, Muddy Waters, Billie Holiday, Saul Bellow, Ingrid Bergman, Julius Schwartz, Arthur Miller, Alan Lomax, Thomas Merton, Edmond O’Brien, Zero Mostel, Herman Wouk, Les Paul, Leigh Brackett, David Rockefeller, Bob Kane, Sargent Shriver, Eli Wallach, Herbert Huncke, Lester del Rey, Lorne Greene, Ross Macdonald, Barbara Billingsley, Anthony Quinn, Moshe Dayan, Edith Piaf.

Roald Dahl

1916: Roald Dahl, Walker Percy, Jackie Gleason, Elizabeth Hardwick, Walter Cronkite, Dinah Shore, Jay McShann, Irving Wallace, Eugene McCarthy, John Ciardi, Herb Caen, Gregory Peck, Betty Furness, Glenn Ford, Harold Robbins, Carl Burgos, Charlie Christian, Robert McNamara, Fred Lasswell, Martha Raye, Jack Vance, Walter Cronkite, Sherwood Schwartz, Kirk Douglas, Shirley Jackson, Betty Grable, Olivia de Havilland, James Herriot, Francois Mitterrand, Perez Prado, Mary Stewart, Francis Crick.

1917: Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Manny Farber (anti-middlebrow film critic), Jack Kirby, Robert Lowell, Leslie Fiedler (anti-middlebrow critic), Dean Martin, Eric Hobsbawm, David Goodis (Noir author), John F. Kennedy, Will Eisner, Buddy Rich, Ella Fitzgerald, Arthur C. Clarke, Roger W. Straus, Jr., Jane Bowles, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jane Wyman, Jerry Wexler, John Raitt, Robert Mitchum, Ernest Borgnine, Sidney Sheldon, Carson McCullers, Bill Everett, Tex Williams, Rufus Thomas, Robert Bloch, Irving Penn, Sheldon Mayer, Katharine Graham, Lena Horne, Phyllis Diller, Dik Browne, Caspar Weinberger, John Lee Hooker, Mel Ferrer, Red Auerbach, Louis Auchincloss, June Allyson, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, James Harry Lacey, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Anthony Burgess, Desi Arnaz, Vera Lynn, Raymond Burr, Ferdinand Marcos, Joan Fontaine, Heinrich Boll, Reg Smythe.


1918: Juan Garcia Esquivel, Louis Althusser, Elaine de Kooning, Mike Wallace, Rita Hayworth, Ingmar Bergman, Nelson Mandela, Art Carney, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, Elmore James, Howard Cosell, Robert Aldrich, Philip José Farmer, Madeleine L’Engle, Theodore Sturgeon, Stirling Silliphant, John Forsythe, Joey Bishop, Mickey Spillane, Mercedes McCambridge, Sam Walton, William Holden, Betty Ford, Jack Paar, Richard Feynman, Julius Rosenberg, Eddy Arnold, Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, Leonard Bernstein, Ted Williams, E. Howard Hunt, Bob Feller, Spiro Agnew, Jerome Beatty, Jr., Joe Williams, Gamal Abdal Nasser, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Muriel Spark, Ida Lupino, Richard Hoggart, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Anwar Sadat.

1919: Paul de Man, Merce Cunningham, Eva Gabor, Eva Peron, Pete Seeger, Iris Murdoch, Art Blakey, Jackie Robinson, J. D. Salinger, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ernie Kovacs, Frederik Pohl, Robert Stack, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jack Palance, Jennifer Jones, Lawrence Tierney, Nat King Cole, John Cullen Murphy, Bernard Krigstein, Liberace, Richard Scarry, Pauline Kael, Anita O’Day, Sir Edmund Hillary, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Doris Lessing, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Shah of Iran), Mikhail Kalashnikov, Dino De Laurentiis .


1920: Charles Bukowski, Charlie Parker, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, Eric Rohmer, Richard Adams, Sun Myung Moon, Paul Celan, Federico Fellini, Hank Ketcham, Timothy Leary, Saul Bass, Dave Berg, Norman Lear, DeForest Kelley, Walter Matthau, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, Mario Puzo, Howard Nemerov, Jack Webb, Arthur Hailey, Montgomery Clift, Carmen McRae, Peter O’Donnell, Denver Pyle, Peggy Lee, Brant Parker, Ray Harryhausen, Leona Helmsley, Bella Abzug, Shelley Winters, Mickey Rooney, Jayne Meadows, Dave Brubeck, Jack Lord, Rex Allen, An Wang, James Doohan, Ronald Searle, Alfred Peet, Boris Vian, Werner Klemperer, Ravi Shankar, Thomas Szasz, Pope John Paul II, Yul Brynner, Maureen O’Hara, Ricardo Montalban.

1921: Raymond Williams, Joseph Beuys, Will Elder, Murray Bookchin, John Glenn, Carol Channing, James Blish, Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith, John Severin, Patricia Highsmith, Donna Reed, Vampira, Mario Lanza, Betty Friedan, Wayne Booth, Abe Vigoda, Betty Hutton, Richard Wilbur, Cyd Charisse, Alan Hale, Jr., Al Jaffee, Harry Carey, Jr., Nelson Riddle, Jake LaMotta, Erroll Garner, Bill Mauldin, Nancy Reagan, Harvey Ball, Gene Roddenberry, Charles Bronson, James Jones, Rodney Dangerfield, Steve Allen, Simone Signoret, Dirk Bogarde, Peter Ustinov, Satyajit Ray, Andrei Sakharov, Leon Garfield, Monty Hall, Stanislaw Lem, Deborah Kerr.


1922: Jack Kerouac, Stan Lee, William Gaines, Charles M. Schulz, William Gaddis, Charles Mingus, Les Baxter, Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Judy Garland, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Ava Gardner, Howard Zinn, Bea Arthur, Ray Goulding, Hal Clement, Dorothy Dandridge, Betty White, Quinn Martin, Telly Savalas, Arthur Penn, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, Kathryn Grayson, Helen Gurley Brown, Carl Reiner, Russ Meyer, Thomas Kuhn, Bil Keane, Sid Caesar, Jackie Cooper, Barbara Bel Geddes, Veronica Lake, Samuel Youd (John Christopher), Paul Scofield, Patrick Macnee, Yitzhak Rabin, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott, Yma Sumac, José Saramago

1923: Norman Mailer, Hugh Kenner, Joseph Heller, Hank Williams, Alan Shepard, Chuck Yeager, Brendan Behan, Franco Zeffirelli, Marcel Marceau, Henry Kissinger, Sam Phillips, Charlton Heston, Philly Joe Jones, Fats Navarro, Cyril M. Kornbluth, James Schuyler, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Jim Reeves, Philip Whalen, Bob Elliott, Jean Stapleton, Anthony Hecht, Paddy Chayefsky, James Dickey, Dexter Gordon, Ed McMahon, Don Adams, Bettie Page, Aaron Spelling, Albert King, Al Lewis, Anne Baxter, James Arness, Bob Dole, Mort Walker, Bob Barker, Sumner Redstone, Denise Levertov, Nadine Gordimer, Gordon R. Dickson, Freeman Dyson. HONORARY POSTMODERNS: Italo Calvino (Italian author, Invisible CitiesIf on a winter’s night a traveler), Roy Lichtenstein (all born 1923). Also: loathe as I am to make exceptions, let’s do it for postmodern authors William Gaddis (JR) and Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse Five), who were almost born in ’23: December 29, 1922; and November 11, 1922, respectively.

HONORARY NEW GODS: Lee Marvin, Max Roach, Marlon Brando, Rocky Marciano, Audie Murphy, George H.W. Bush (all born 1924). Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, at the age of 18, Bush postponed going to college and became the youngest naval aviator in the US Navy at the time; that’s so New Gods.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

David Goodis Heads Student Body


David Goodis

Editor of SPOTLIGHT, student newspaper
of Simon Gratz High School, was elected President
of the Student's Association at yesterday's term
elections.  He lives at 4758 North Tenth Street.


Editor of Spotlight Named President for
Coming Term

David Goodis, editor of the Spotlight, the student newspaper of the Simon Gratz High School, Seventeenth and Luzerne Streets, was elected president of the Students Association of Gratz was elected yesterday for the coming term at yesterday's elections.

According to the new method of elections recently adopted at Gratz, students are elected for office at the end of the term, instead of the customary elections at the beginning of the term.

Monday, September 21, 2009

David Goodis Report Card, Simon Gratz High School, 1935


Report of David Goodis

Adviser M. FULLER

Term Ending FEB 1935


Interesting to note his grades in English and French.  A "G" in Gym.

The report card is signed by Mollie Goodis and William Goodis.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

David Loeb Goodis, Year Book Picture, 1935

A Bundle of engery,
a fountain of thought,
Few like "Dave" have e'er been wrought.

President of Students' Association
Editor-in-Chief of SPOTLIGHT
Track Team
Swimming Team
Debate Team
Philosophy Club
Capitan Monitor
Finance Committee
No Smoking Committee
Chairman of Gala Night - Corridor Committee.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

GOODIS at Simon Gratz High School, February 1935

                The Senate is the supreme symbol of student government at Simon Gratz.  It is composed of senators from each grade in the school.  The 12A Class is also represented by two vice-presidents - a boy and a girl.  The president, a high senior, presides over the Student's Association: and holds a position of honor, dignity, and responsibility.  The Senate must perform many duties.  It must enact laws, appoint committees, supervise student activities, and sponsor a semi-annual color day.  The Senate has been especially fortunate this term in having an excellant president in David L. Goodis; and splendid senators who have been worthy representatives of the student body.

Left to right -- Harold Berman, Frank Weiss, John Calhoun, Norman Abramson, Samuel Slawetsky,
William Adams, DAVID GOODIS, Vera Gellard, Lillian Becker, Jane Wilkie, Rose Korn, Sydney
McIlraevey, Evelyn Coleman, Helen Bacauskas

Monday, September 14, 2009

DARE-DEVIL ACES, February 1946

FEBRUARY 1946, Volume 33, No. 2

Cover art by Fredrick Blakeslee

When war birds roar over bullet-scarred skies, a certain breed of fighters will always vow: "I am knocking out enemy wings today - or this is my last dogfight!"

DECOY MANEUVER by Logan C. Claybourne
White-faced, tense, he went up for his last fateful dogfight - a man who had to give his life away - to save another man's medals!

Robert Sidney Bowen, Jr. (1900-April 111977) was a World War I aviator, newspaper journalist, magazine editor and author who was born in Boston, Massachusetts and died of cancer in Honolulu, Hawaii at the age of 76.  He is best known for his boys' series books written during World War II, the Dave Dawson War Adventure Series and the Red Randall Series. He also worked under the name R. Sidney Bowen and under the pseudonym James Robert Richard.  

During this time, Bowen lived in Wilton, Connecticut, writing seven days a week, from 9 to 5, in an office that he rented over an old garage. He averaged 10,000 words per day, and could complete a novel in ten days. He also never revised his work, believing that any tampering with the story would ruin it.

Frederick Manley Blakeslee was born December 4, 1898 in Buffalo, NY. He studied mechanical drafting and basic art training at the Albright Art School in Buffalo.

He worked from 1915 to 1920 in the drafting department of the Curtiss Aeroplane Factory, which was only three blocks from his family home. He was transferred to a Brooklyn factory in 1921, and afterwards studied art at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, and received his certificate in 1926.

Blakeslee became a leader in the field of avaiation pulps, as well as a top cover artist for railroad pulps. He was also a top pen & ink man, who drew over one thousand interior black and white story illustrations for Popular Publications, his primary publisher. Blakeslee painted 423 pulp covers — 306 of those appeared on every issue of Battle Birds, Captain Combat, Dare-Devil Aces, Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds, andG-8 and His Battle Aces, which was an amazing feat that no other pulp artist can claim.

He and Harry Steeger (publisher and founder of Popular Publications) lived on Long Island and were both sailing enthusiasts. They volunteered for the civilian Coastal watch during WWII and "watched for U-Boats" while they were doing their sailing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

David Goodis is my favorite writer though I hardly know why.

David Goodis is my favorite 
writer though 
I hardly know why.
  1. "HIGH, WIDE AND HELLBOUND" (Fighting Aces, 1941) By David Goodis
  2. "THE VALLEY OF HELL" By Curt Benson
  3. "DEATH IS OUR BUSINESS" By Orlando Rigoni (pseudonym for Leslie Ames, Carolyn Bell and James Wesley)
  4. "FIGHTER'S UP" By Kenneth L. Sinclair
  5. "BOMBERS BEWARE" (?) By Ray P. Shotwell
  6. "FOKKERS OVER CHATEAU-THIERRY" (Fighting Aces, 1941) By Lance Kermit
  7. "KILL OR BE KILLED" By Robert J. Hogan
David Goodis wrote more than 400 pulp stories under his 
own name and several other pseudonyms.

Watch this space for more information about this 
prodigious output!

Saturday, September 12, 2009



By: Joshua Glenn

Dwight Macdonald, anti-middlebrow critic

A reminder of my generational periodization scheme:

1844-53: [Progressive Generation] Prometheans
1854-63: [Progressive, Missionary Generations] Plutonians
1864-73: [Missionary Generation] Anarcho-Symbolists
1874-83: [Missionary Generation] Psychonauts
1884-93: [Lost Generation] Modernists
1894-1903: [Lost, Greatest/GI Generations] Hardboileds
1904-13: [Greatest/GI Generation] Partisans
1914-23: [Greatest/GI Generation] New Gods [David Goodis (1917)]
1924-33: [Silent Generation] Postmodernists
1934-43: [Silent Generation] Anti-Anti-Utopians
1944-53: Boomers
1954-63: [Boomers, Late Boomers, Post-Boomers, Generation Jones] OGXers
1964-73: [Generation X, Thirteenth Generation] Constructivists
1974-83: [Generations X, Y] Revivalists
1984-93: [Millennial Generation] Throwbacks
1994-2003: [Millennial Generation] TBA

High-, low-, no-, and hilobrow members of the Partisan Generation
include: Albert Camus, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Clement Greenberg
(whose 1939 Partisan Review essay, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,”
and 1953 Commentary essay, “The Plight of Our Culture,”
are important anti-middlebrow treatises), Cornell Woolrich,
Dwight Macdonald (whose 1960 Partisan Review essay,
“Masscult and Midcult,” and various New Yorker essays
from 1952-62, among others, are important anti-middlebrow
treatises), Emmanuel Levinas, Ernie Bushmiller, Fats Waller,
Flann O’Brien, George Orwell (whose 1936 essay
“Bookshop Memories” and 1945 essay “Good Bad Books,”
among others, are anti-middlebrow), Hannah Arendt
(who conflated totalitarianism and the homogenizing
effects of mass media when warning about threats to a
public sphere of liberal discourse and critical judgment),
Hergé, Isaiah Berlin (who complains of middlebrows in
a 1936 letter), Jackson Pollock (whose abstract
expressionism the arch-middlebrow Norman Rockwell
parodied savagely), Jacques Tati, Jacques-Yves Cousteau,
Jean-Paul Sartre, Julio Cortazar, Lawrence Durrell,
Marguerite Duras,Marshall McLuhan (a critic of
middlebrow magazines like Time and Life),
Mary McCarthy (who, like her friends Macdonald,
Arendt, and Greenberg, was savagely anti-middlebrow;
and she was married to a key anti-middlebrow
critic of an older generation, Edmund Wilson),
Maurice Blanchot, Mervyn Peake, Northrop Frye,
Paul Bowles, Paul Goodman, Paul Ricoeur,
Phil Silvers, Rachel Carson, Robert E. Howard,
Robert Johnson, Roberto Rossellini,
Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir,
Simone Weil, T.W. Adorno (as noted,
a key anti-middlebrow critic), Walt Kelly,
Willem de Kooning, and Woody Guthrie.

In addition to anti-Stalinist leftism, high-, low-, no-, and hilobrow Partisans were entirely responsible for EXISTENTIALISM (the postwar existentialist philosophers and psychologists — Camus, Sartre, Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Viktor Frankl, Rollo May — as well as supposedly existentialist writers and filmmakers like Genet, Beckett, Ionesco, Cioran, Antonioni, Kurosawa, Adamov, were all born from 1904-13); NOIR FICTION (except for David Goodis [1917] , the important noir authors — Jim Thompson, Dorothy B. Hughes, Charles Williams — were born from 1904-13; honorary Partisan Cornell Woolrich was born in ’03) ; and ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM (Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, David Smith, and Clyfford Still were born from 1904-13; honorary Partisan Mark Rothko was born in ’03).

After reading the above paragraph, who can still argue that the tightly knit 1904-13 cohort ought to be lumped into some amorphous, sprawling pseudo-generation like the GI/Greatests? I ask you.

Partisans are also entirely responsible for the first wave of GOLDEN-AGE SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY, which, if you ask me, is a middlebrow version of what I’ve named Pre-Golden-Age or Radium-Age SF (published 1904-33). Born from 1904-13: Robert A. Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers), Fritz Leiber (The Wanderer, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series), L. Sprague de Camp (continued Conan series), L. Ron Hubbard (Battlefield Earth, invented Scientology), Lester Dent (Doc Savage series), Fredric Brown (SF stories), Jack Finney (The Body Snatchers), Nelson S. Bond (SF stories), Ross Rocklynne (SF stories), Clifford D. Simak (Way Station,City), C.L. Moore (SF stories; one of the first women SF writers), A.E. van Vogt (Slan, The World of Null-A), A. Bertram Chandler (Rim World series), Edgar Pangborn (A Mirror for Observers), and Eric Frank Russell (Sinister Barrier). Four other Partisans started as Radium-Age SF writers: John W. Campbell Jr. (The Black Star Passes; as editor of Astounding Science Fiction, single-handedly ushered in the so-called Golden Age of SF); Jack Williamson (The Legion of Space series; after Heinlein, the “Dean of Science Fiction”); Eando Binder (Earl Andrew Binder & Otto Oscar Binder, known for their SF stories; Otto later wrote nearly 1,000 Captain Marvel stories); and Robert E. Howard (Conan series).

Honorary Partisans George Orwell (1984) and John Beynon Harris (John Wyndham: The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos) made important contributions to SF, as did the following Partisans not known primarily as SF writers: Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, Anthem), Samuel Beckett (Endgame), Pierre Boulle (Planet of the Apes), Hergé (The Shooting Star), Louis L’Amour (The Haunted Mesa), and B.F. Skinner (Walden Two). Al Capp wrote “The Time Capsule,” a genuine SF adventure starring Li’l Abner, which appeared in Satellite (August 1957); and without Partisans Joseph Campbell, Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon), and Buster Crabbe, we’d have no Star Wars. Alfred Bester is an honorary member of the New Gods; Edmond Hamilton is an honorary Hardboiled.

All of the above topics are fascinating. But I will restrict myself, in this limited space, to the following notes on Abstract Expressionism and BIG BAND SWING (Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Chick Webb, Tommy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Shep Fields, Artie Shaw, Bob Crosby, Woody Herman, were all born from 1904-13).

Writing under the anti-middlebrow pseudonym “Hektor Rottweiler,” honorary Partisan T.W. Adorno rejected the claim that jazz of this (or any) sort was a musical form whose spontaneity and primitivism expressed liberation. Jazz, he scoffed, combines “the lament of unfreedom” (the music’s pseudo-spontaneous elements, e.g., moments when a a soloist takes center stage, and improvises a solo) with unfreedom’s “oppressed confirmation” (the music’s unchallenged rhythm, the steady pounding of the drum). Like Middlebrow itself, Big Band Swing dialectically transforms contrariness into smoothness; instead of revolutionary energy, Adorno found in the music only the “half-resentful, half-compliant” submission to slavery that (he wrote) characterizes the blues from which it sprung. In its very form, according to Adorno, Big Band Swing reflects a social order (one diagnosed by the Modernists and Hardboileds) in which coercion has been relocated within spontaneity, authority within liberty.

                                                 Barnett Newman's The Death of Euclid (1947)

Influenced by the anti-middlebrow art movements Surrealism (e.g., the automatic art of Pollock, De Kooning, Hofmann) and Cubism (e.g., the simple, unified blocks of color of Newman, Still, Rothko), Abstract Expressionism might seem to be a redoubt of anti-middlebrow cultural production during an era in which Middlebrow triumphed in the west. The anti-middlebrow art critic Clement Greenberg, who regarded Abstract Expressionism as highbrow art, argued persuasively that this was the case. However, the impression of intellectual, aesthetic, and perhaps most importantly, political freedom evoked by Pollock’s psychologically intense action paintings, Rothko’s spiritually overwhelming multiforms, and Smith’s witty connect-the-dot sculptures, for example, were easily coopted by CIA-funded propagandists in order to reassure Americans that we — unlike the recently defeated Nazis, and particularly the ever-more powerful Communists — were on the right side of history. The question is: Were those propagandists high-middlebrow? highbrow? Or anti-lowbrow?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


RAF ACES, March 1942 edition

artwork by Rudolph Belarski (1900 - 1983)

Author: RAF Aces (David Goodis; Alexis Rossoff; Norman A. Daniels; Robert Sidney Bowen)
Publisher: Better Publications NY

Vol. 1, no. 3. Cover by Rudolph Belarski for "Spitfire Serenade" by Goodis. Includes "Blitz Buster" by Rossoff; "Clipped Wings" by Daniels; "The Vulture of Thermopylae" by Bowen. Special R.A.F. Features: "Thumbs Up"; "The R.A.F. in Action" (true stories); "Medal Winning Heroes"; "Men Behind the Planes"; "The British Air Training Plan"; "The Battle of the Atlantic". 

True Action Stories of The Men With Wings!

1942: With the war and paper shortages, titles are killed left and right, including The Whisperer and The Avenger, whose adventures continue in Clues. The Griffon leavesFlying Aces. Another World War II air-war hero, Captain V, begins appearing in Popular’s Battle Birds.

David Goodis

Alexis Rossoff

Norman A. Daniels

Daniels published under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms, writing sports fiction, westerns, science fiction, and romances, as well as radio scripts for the Nick Carter radio series. After the demise of the pulps in the fifties, he covered the same wide variety of genre for paperback publishers.

The Masked Detective. The Detective was created by Norman Daniels and appeared in The Masked Detective, beginning with its Fall 1940 issue. Rex Parker, a reporter for the New York Comet, fought the strange and unusual as well as the ordinary kind of evil and crime. He is a master of disguise, a very good ventriloquist, and a trained boxer as well as an expert at savate. (He's also billed as the "world's greatest crime sleuth," but I think we can set that aside as hyperbole) His beautiful girlfriend, Winnie Bligh, another reporter for the Comet, often got in trouble and required Parker to rescue her. The Detective's opponents were not particularly memorable, although there was one "white-hooded master menace" and also a deluded art vandal.

Rudolph Belarski

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

THE READER'S DIGEST, October, 1944

Did David Goodis contribute this piece of writing to the October 1944 edition of The Reader's Digest.  It was entitled "Picturesque Speech and Patter"?

Cut picture and title of work courtesy of Herbert Goodis.