Each Monday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets around Los Angeles.
Here's some news sure to hearten the laid-off crew of Two and a Half Men. According to local boy Dr. Frank McCoy's 1926 book The Fast Way to Health, there is a treatment for that sad condition known as “genital derangement.”
As he describes it,
“There is undoubtedly no class of disorder which has so far-reaching an effect upon the nervous system as derangement of the genital organs.”
By “derangement” he mostly meant painful and “scanty” menstruation, which he treated with a diet of wheat mush and almonds, but surely there's something in this pioneering whole-foods diet book to help soothe the loins of out-of-control male stars.
From his office at 6th and Lucas, Dr. McCoy taught this city and the world that good eating could cure conditions like “Torpid Liver,” “Bilousness,” varicose veins, appendicitis and — seriously — deafness. Your Crap Archivist lucked into a copy of this daft 'ol book this weekend at The Last Bookstore's warehouse sale on West 15th, just a mile or so south south.
The sale, like the Last Bookstore itself, offered many surprises: out-of-print glories, dirt-cheap signed firsts, and much Crap that demands to be documented.
Here's my 11 other favorite surprises.
1. God is in the Bedroom Too
“For those of you who are married, if sex is not exactly a Disneyland experience, you may find yourself asking God the same question: 'Are we there yet?'”
2. A bound notebook I found contained this touching inscription:
But then every page was blank. This is a short story just waiting to happen.
3. Pick a Pretty Indian Name for Your Baby
“Many Indian names can be mispronounced or translate poorly when rendered in English. For example, Viral suggests disease, Anant becomes 'an ant,' and names like Gopi, Anal, Naval, Deep, Asman an Anima can be completely misinterpreted.”
4. This next one is a CD from an LA musician whose shows must often be packed with people expecting someone else:
The poor guy! Even Google corrects it to “Petty.”
5. Choose the Right Mate, Lover or Friend Through Handwriting
This one proposes that perfecting your sex life means aspiring toward Joan Crawford's big bottom:
6. The Mentally Sound Dog
This is a mostly unremarkable guide to dog training, the cover and this photo notwithstanding:
7. Poetic Adventures of a Romantic Rogue
Another local work, this slender volume takes on the great subject of poets throughout the ages: that first blush of fresh love.
Here's a contemporary twist: a celebration of the art of wingmanning.
8. Here's two things you don't often see together:
Modern Tailoring for Women right on top of that one Penthouse with stills from the Tonya Harding sex tape.
9. Henny Youngman's 400 Traveling Salesmen's Jokes
“Traveling salesmen's jokes” is an antiquated term for the kind of ribald gags you might find in your dad's Playboys. “Henny Youngman” is an antiquated comedian best known for politely asking audiences to relieve him of his wife. Apparently, he was also a roller-skating cartoon who toted an armless chocolate woman as his carry-on.
In this '66 collection, Youngman indulges in the kind of material that the heroic Marc Maron recently grilled Gallagher over. Enjoy these proto-Sniglets:
“LESBIAN: A mannish depressive with delusions of gender.”
“ASSUALT: What every one likes to be taken with a grain of.”
This is why women had to say, “Take back the night — please.”
My copy is inscribed . . .
. . . and nothing will ever dissuade me from believing that “Brucie” is Bruce Vilanche.
10. Tales About Timothy
This 1945 kids' book includes one unforgettable page:
12. Columbus and Columbia
At the sale, all books went for $1 apiece, and for $15 you could make off with as many as you could shove into a banker's box. I did the latter, which means that this 1892 American history book came as part of a pile, just another couple pounds in a box swelling with biographies, curios, and Iris Murdochs, William T. Vollmans, and signed T.C. Boyles.
It probably bristled at being shoved in there with relativists.
We'll explore it thoroughly in a couple weeks, but here's two highlights now.
First, the book venerates Columbus, often cheering his “great soul” and his “sensitivity.” But it's still more honest about him than those new textbooks in Texas and Virginia:
“Columbus proceeded boldly to the general suggestion of enslavement of the natives as the best means of making them Christians, and of gathering profit by new commercial relations that might be established on the foundation of a traffic in human beings.”
Second, the award for Outstanding Achievement in the Cultivation of Sideburns goes, as always, to Chester A.
Little known fact: President Arthur was one-quarter tumbleweed.
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