Saturday, 3 May 2014

Montclair, N.J. 1970s

Mountclair, N.J. 

Mountclair, N.J. in the 1970s.

at the Two Guys parking lot in 1977 - Mountclair, N.J.

Mountclair, N.J. in the 1970s. 

PHILIP ROTH in Newark, 1968

author Philip Roth at Franks Burgers in Newark, N.J. in 1968. Photograph: Bob Peterson-Time Life Pictures.

excerpts from 'Goodbye, Columbus' edited in 1959:

I shall never forget the heat and mugginess of that afternoon we drove into New York. We were heading throught the Lincoln Tunnel which seemed longer and fumier than ever, like Hell with tiled walls. Suddenly we were in NYC and smothered again by the thick day. I pulled around the policeman who directed traffic in his shirt sleeves and got up onto the Port Authority roof to park the car. 

On the way back to Jersey: Brenda, I discovered, was asleep on a couch in the hotel lobby. It was almost 4 o'clock. It was almost dawn when we came out of the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. I switched down to my parking lights, and drove on to the Turnpike, and there out before me I could see the swampy meadows that spread for miles and miles, watery, blotchy, smelly, like an oversight of God.

Philip at home, a few years earlier...
George Tice phograph of Junked Cars in Newark, N.J. in 1973. George Tice was born in Newark in 1938. He began photographin in 1953.

It's August 1970 and Car 20 of  the Newark City Subway Line is crossing Orange Street en route to Penn Station. (photo: Bill Mosteller).
Hackensack River turns its way throught a New Jersey marshland...
Newark at the Passaic River...

Market Street. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

MAD magazine

Al Feldstein, soul of MAD magazine, dies at 88

by Bruce Weber
1st May 2014

Al Feldstein, who took over a fledging humour magazine called MAD in 1956 and made it a popular, profitable and enduring wellspring of American satire, died in 29 April 2014, at his ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana. He was 88.

His wife, nee Michelle Key, confirmed the death. In recent years, he was a wildlife and landscape painter in Montana, outside Livingston.

Al Feldstein had been a writer and illustrator of comic books when he became editor of MAD four years into its life and just a year after it had graduated from comic-book form to a full-fledged magazine.

The founding editor, Harvey Kurtzman, established its well-informed irreverence, but Mr. Feldstein gave MAD its identity as a smart-alecky, sniggering and indisputably clever spitball-shooter of a publication with a scattershot look, dominated by gifted cartoonists or wildly differing styles.

Sources disagree about MAD's circulation when Mr. Feldstein took over; estimates range from 325,000 to 750,000. But by the early 1960s, he increased it to over a million, and in the 1970s it had doubled.

He hired many of the writers and artists whose work became MAD trademarks. Among them were Don Martin, whose cartoons featuring bizarre human figures and distintive sound effects - Kattong! Sklortch! Zazik" - immortalized the eccentric and the screwy; Antonio Prohias, whose 'Spy vs. Spy' was a sendup of the international politics of the Cold War; Dave Berg, whose 'The Lighter Side of...' made gentle, arch fun of middlebrow behaviour; and Mort Drucker, whose caricature satirized movies like Woody Allen's 'Hannah and Her Sisters' ('Henna and Her Sickos' in Mad's retelling).

Another hire, George Woodbridge, illustrated a MAD signature article written by Tom Koch: a prescient 1965 satire of college sports, criticizing their elitism and advocating the creation of a game that could be played by everyone. It was called 43-Man Squamish, 'played on a five-side field called a Flutney.' Position players, each equipped with a hooked stick calle a frullip, included deep brooders, inside and outside grouches, overblats, underblats, quarter-frummers, half-frummerts a full-frummert and a dummy.

'The offensive team, upon receiving the Pritz, has five Snivels in which to advance to the enemy goal,' Mr. Koch wrote, part of a nonsensical and hopelessly complicated instruction manual that nonetheless inspired the formation of squamish teams on campuses across the country.

In his second issue, Mr. Feldstein seized on a character who had appeared only marginally in the magazine - a freckled, gap-toothed, big-eared, glazed-looking young man - and put his image on the cover, identifying him as a write-in candidate for president campaigning under the slogan 'What - me worry?'

At first he went by Mel Haney, Melvin Cowznofski and other names. But when the December 1956 issue, No. 30, identified him as Alfred E. Neuman, the name stuck. He became the magazine's perennial cover-boy, appearing in dozens of guises, including as a joker on a playing card, an ice-skating barrel jumper, a totem on a totem-pole, a football player, a yogi, a construction worker, King Kong atop the Empire State Building, Rosemary's baby, Uncle Sam, General Patton and Barbra Streisand.

Neuman became the symbol of MAD, his goofy countenance often intruding, Zelig-like, into scenes from the political landscape and from popular TV shows and movies. He signaled the magazine's editorial attitude, which fell somewhere between juvenile nose-thumbing at contemporary culture and sophisticated spoofing.

MAD made fun of itself as well. The staff was referred to on the masthead as 'the usual gang of idiots,' and the magazine warned readers not to take it seriously even as it winkingly promoted its importance. Its irreverence made it especially popular with teenagers - many comedians have confessed to slavering over issues in their adolescence - and in its tone and fearless targeting of sacred cows it anticipated social satire vehicles like The Harvard Lampoon, National Lampoon, 'Saturday Night Live,' 'The Simpsons,' 'South Park' and The Onion.

Albert Bernard Feldstein was born in 24 October 1925, in Brooklyn-NY, to Max and Beatrice Feldstein. His father made dental molds. Attracted to drawing as a boy, Albert won a poster contest sponsored by the 1939 New York World's Fair.

He attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and, after graduating, took classes at the Art Students League. He also worked part-time for a studio that produced comic books. During World Waw II, he served stateside in the Army Air Forces.

After the war, Mr. Feldstein was a freelance writer and illustrator before going to work for William M. Gaines, the publisher of EC, short for Educational Comics and, later, Entertaining Comics. At EC, Mr. Feldstein created Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Tales From the Crypt and several other horror and suspense titles.

Mr. Gaines also published a comic book, full of irreverent and sometimes juvenile humour, called Mad, the brainchild of Mr. Kurtzman, and a second humour-based comic, Panic, an offshoot of Mad, edited by Mr. Feldstein.

The early 1950s were a grim time for comic books. Moralizing newspaper columnists and eventually Congress attacked them as having a corrupting influence on America's youth. When Mr. Feldstein's horror books were singled out, EC nearly went out of business, and in 1955, Mr. Feldstein temporarily lost his job.

MAD began to flourish under Mr. Kurtzman, but he and Mr. Gaines clashed, and when Mr. Kurtzman left in 1956, Mr. Gaines hired Mr. Feldstein to replace him. He was its editor until 1985.

By then MAD was a victim of its own success. With its brand of satire increasingly available in many other publications and on TV, its circulation had been in decline for a decade. Mr. Gaines, who died in 1992, sold the magazine in the early 1960s to the Kinney Parking Company, which went on to buy Warner Brothers and the company now known as DC Comics as well.

Today, MAD, published by the DC Entertainmente division of Warner Communications, has a much lower circulation than it did at its peak, but an active and popular website.

After his retirement from MAD, Mr. Feldstein pursued a painting career in Montana and had exhibitions in galleries in the West.

His first marriage, to Clair Szep, ended in divorce. His second, to Natalie Lee Sigler, ended with her death in 1986.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by 5 children, a step-daughter, 3 grandchildren and 2 step-grand-sons.

As editor of MAD, Mr. Feldstein had a palpable influence on popular culture at large. To cite just one example, in 1965 MAD published letters and photographs from college students who said they had been inspired by the squamish article to field team. (Whether this was true or not is difficult to prove.) One letter writer, from Marquette University, said the school had its own squamish team and that 'at last tally, we have lost 2 Deep Brooders and 1 Dummy, who were suspended for sportsmanlike conduct during the course of play.'

Al Feldstein  (1925 - 2014)

Dave Berg (1920 - 2002)

Dave Berg, created Mad's 'Lighter Side' strip, dies at 81

LOS ANGELES, May 24 (AP) — Dave Berg, who affectionately spoofed what he called "the human condition" in the pages of MAD magazine for more than 40 years, died 16 May 2002, at his home in Marina del Rey, California. He was 81.
Mr. Berg created the magazine's enduring "The Lighter Side of" comic strip. He began working for Mad as a freelancer in 1956, introducing "The Lighter Side of" in 1961.
"They were satirizing commercials, movies and TV programs," he once told Contemporary Authors. "I added something new: people. That's when `The Lighter Side' was born. It was more than just gags, it was a psychological and sociological study of the human condition, and truth in humor."
He often put friends, family members and colleagues into his cartoons, among them William M. Gaines, the publisher of MAD, whose head appeared mounted, like a deer's, on a wall.

He also drew himself into the strip regularly as Roger Kaputnik, an Everyman with an always-present pipe.
Mr. Berg "saw the American scene as a wonderful example of our culture, our society and our life, and did comments on that," said Nick Meglin, co-editor of Mad.
Dave Berg was born in Brooklyn, NY in 2 June 1920Berg attended the Pratt Institute when he was 12 years old and later Cooper Union School of Art in New York, landing a job inking backgrounds for the newspaper comic strip "The Spirit" when he was 20. In 1940 he joined Will Eisner's studio, where he wrote and drew for the Quality Comics line. Berg's work also appeared in Dell Comics and Fawcett Publications. In the mid-1940s, he worked with Stan Lee on comic books at Timely Comics (now Marvel Comics), ranging from Combat Kelly and The Ringo Kid to Tessie the Typist. He also freelanced for EC Comics and other before moving on to MAD, which he described as "the main attraction, the big event, the grand opening."

During World War II, he was a member of the Army Air Corps and served as a war correspondent in Iwo Jima, Guam, Saipan and Japan.
In addition to his magazine work, Mr. Berg wrote and illustrated 17 books for Mad, including "Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Living," "Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Things," and "Mad's Dave Berg Looks at the USA."
He also produced two humorous books on religion, "My Friend God" and "Roger Kaputnik and God."

by The Associated Press
published 25 May 2002.