Saturday, September 9, 2023

Brown v01n01, January 1954 / New York, New York, It's a Hell of a Town

Hot off the presses -

Sara Vaughan graces the cover in a sharply designed orange, black and white design for the first issue of Brown, January 1954.  At Flickr

Brown v01n01 (1954-01.Sepia)

A pocket-sized edition, download it to your phone and you can have it in your pocket, too!

Get the Darwination Edition .cbr live and direct here.

or read it online at the Internet Archive or access alternate formats here.

I'm taking a new approach with some of these pocket magazines.  I absolutely adore them, but the two page splash (essential in how they are designed and read) can make for an intensive edit if executed with seamless joins.  I'm going to go with a fairly roughshod approach where the seam shows on most of these just so I can get through more of them and keep the line moving.  There is always the option to scan them in two page spreads, but the production is so poor that parts of the photos are often meandering to either side of the staple (speaking of, I don't like that staple near my glass).  And on that note, the way the pages line up side to side with the photos and page numbers can kind of be all over the place, even in some of the better produced mags like this one.  A strict archival approach might go with a two page spread, as is, scan (still absolutely beautiful and a great option) to show the printing eccentricities, but I'm going with something in the middle here (versus a presentation like that SHE I did recently or one of my favorite scans that Teen-Age Gangsters one-shot).  

But editing notes aside, let's dig in.


Who published this? is a reasonable first question to ask looking at a v01n01.  My first guess would have been that it is a John Johnson publication, but the New York address rules that out quickly - plus Johnson liked to have his name printed somewhere on his magazine covers 😏 There's a photo inside of the Girl of the Month reading DARE in here which also might be a clue - publishers just love to show pictures of pretty girls reading their magazines:

One of the issues of Dare lists Milt Machlin as editor and publisher, so I'm leaning towards this as a possibility.  More sleuthing required unless one of you gumshoes or knowing readers might clue us in down in the comments.  The publisher is something you like to know about a magazine to put it in context with other magazines, but the indicia shell game can make that hard.  For this magazine, there's the question of whether it was "black owned" or if it was a known publisher aiming at a black audience -  an interesting question but of secondary importance to the content.  A white-owned magazine might genuinely serve a black audience in manner and scope just as black-owned magazine might peddle a profitable and exploitative variety of sleaze.  And my regular readers know I don't mean this as knock on sleaze *cough*

I guess what I'm saying is the best way to know the soul of a magazine is to read a magazine, so let's do.

The opener

The Kinsey Report.  Such a huge phenomenon, all the magazines wanted a piece of this naughty report everyone was talking about. SEX SELLS, and omg we are having it.  What's even more taboo than sex? Interracial sex.  Some frank talk about white boys dreaming of black girls, because, surprise, they do.  Why no data on black respondents in Kinsey?  Brown and the people on the street have some ideas, mostly having to do with modesty.

Or wait. Maybe if Kinsey had black interviewers on his team he could have gotten the lowdown?  Maybe blacks are actually more religious and old-fashioned??  Followers of the faith? (and you have to love how the writer gets the digs in at these womanizing preachers, so good).  And what would an article on sex be without a girl in bikini and heels.  Pay no attention, men, to that graph on the left.  It looks like your wife is more apt to fool around over 30 👿

What a gem, followed by Basie AND Ellington?!

White, Black, and Red all over, you've got to love the look of the magazine here with the neat use of the red ink to accent the photography and layout.  Analog graphic design may have things to teach.  Great pics of The Duke, The Count, and Lockjaw, and if you had a time machine this might be the sort of event you'd pick out to visit. Hell, it's nice just to visit in our magazine time machine.  Ellington is in a class of his own, but Basie is up in that pantheon, too. (Darwination movie recommend, shout out Kansas City, The Last of the Blue Devils (1979)

Next up, a survey of events affecting the black man in the armed forces.  Interesting mention here of narcotics addiction following those who serve overseas home as well as quick mention of racial animosity within the services (swept under the rug?). Followed by an article on blacks captured in Korea - is the black man more vulnerable to enemy brainwashing? 

No doubt the commies like to use race as a divider in propaganda. Hell, both right wing and left wing politicians in the U.S.A. like to do this too.  So these poor fuckers get out of miserable P.O.W. camps AND have to be under suspicion of red influence?  Damn. Beating white COs in front of black prisoners to win them to your side? Damn.

After such depressing reportage, it's a good time to cut to cheesecake - 

A snake charmer at Club Savannah.  Slither and hiss, yikes, mama

One more full story excerpt.  It's not just white and black racial tension in New York, what about this influx of Peurto Ricans?  And if you don't think there are some similar tensions today, you're crazy. Mexican work crews often get jacked on paydays here in Memphis - carrying cash, unlikely to report if illegal, not likely to be packing, but there's a racial component, too.  

With the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, there has been much "birth of hip-hop" docu material, and I am flabbergasted at footage of New York in the 70s.  Of course, I don't know what Harlem looked like at the time compared to the Bronx, but here we see Harlem twenty years earlier.  Today we see new tensions regarding immigration in New York what with a broken border and southern governors sending busloads.  There are no easy answers, but perhaps an immigration bill is in order. Compromise? You know, sausage making and negotiating and the like? Fixing problems instead of stamping feet and taking ridiculous open border or no new immigrants stances?  Just an idea.  The wings have this country tied in knots, all posture and no progress.  (sorry, I try not to get into too much politics here but sheeeeeeeit)

Also in the issue, black fraternities, Milt Campbell, Joe Louis, a Parisian hairdresser perfects hair straightening, Eartha Kitt, and more.  Really a great mag with a fascinating perspective, I've got more of these we may see down the line. But that's true of so many titles, and I do like to stick and move pop pop pop

To the gods of love and the sun, Aissata on the back cover

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