Psycho-geographic Impressionism

Tim Gilmore

Tim Gilmore

Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” – from Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geograhy, 1955

From Burrow Press, an interview with Tim Gilmore by Hurley Winkler:

Hurley Winkler

Hurley Winkler

Before I ever met TIM GILMORE, I met his writing. I was a teenager, eager to explore the dozens of overgrown abandoned sites strewn throughout my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. I was still cautious, though, and did what any millennial would do before entering a sketchy building—I Googled it. That’s how I found Jax Psycho Geo, a blog Tim keeps to document his exploration of mysterious places in Jacksonville. Tim’s website not only gave me courage to explore, but introduced me to some of my favorite pieces of creative nonfiction.

Hurley Winkler: I want to ask you about your blog, Jax Psycho Geo, since that’s where I first started reading your work. What let you to start writing a blog?

Tim Gilmore: To begin with, I wanted to write this huge, sprawling postmodern novel. I wanted to represent the entire city as a novel somehow. And if you did that, you’d have to just sample everything you could sample, whether that was something hugely and historically significant, like Axe Handle Saturday, or if it was a woman falling asleep at her piano in Queens Harbor.

So I did that, and then realized that it was just huge and unwieldy. I wanted to expand so many of the smaller stories into bigger stories. I started the website, and originally, the first stories were all parts of what I thought was going to be this novel about Jacksonville. Instead, I put them all up [on the website] in a couple of days. That was five years ago.

HW: And you just kept going.

TG: I’m pretty obsessive, as you know.

HW: You use the word “sample.” What do you mean by that?

TG: Like sampling in music. You can’t represent the entirety of anything, because that wouldn’t be a representation. Anytime you try to represent something, you misrepresent it automatically because it is a representation. It’s not the thing, and it can never be the thing. It seemed to me that the way to picture an entirety of something was to show glimpses—almost impressionistically—of what might be happening all over town at the same time. That’s the most you could ever see of the whole picture.

Read More at Burrow Press

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Hidden Wadsworth Camp

State Hall of the Austrian National Library.  Image:  Lauren Pressley

State Hall of the Austrian National Library. Image: Lauren Pressley

See more hidden room images at A Pretty Book.

Moving right along with my Wadsworth Camp research, I just found out that Camp’s The Abandoned Room was originally as The Secret Room Murders under the pseudonym Tory Hageman. I don’t think Amazon.com will mind if I quote them directly:

Tory Hageman was a house pseudonym used by the Grates River Printing Company for mysteries printed between 1899 and 1921. The publishing house specialized in producing books that were meant primarily to be entertaining and pioneered the technique of producing long-running, consistent series of books using a team of freelance writers to write the books, which were published under various pen names. Many of the writers later became famous under their real names.

‘The Secret Room Murders’ was originally written by acclaimed mystery author Wadsworth Camp in 1917. It was also released as ‘The Abandoned Room: A Mystery Story.’

By no means a classic, The Secret Room Murders is fairly entertaining, and the fact that Charles Wadsworth Camp wrote it under a pseudonym is definitely an interesting addition to the growing body of Camp trivia. Keep in mind that not all books by Tory Hageman were written by Wadsworth Camp. It was a name used by a publisher for several different authors, to give a series of books a sheen of continuity. This was not an unusual practice – it was also used in the Ellery Queen novels.

Enter Shavertron

Some of you know I like to lose myself in arcane archives, looking for unexplained mysteries and secret histories. Enter Shavertron, a website created by Richard Toronto, and a major influence on my novel-in-progress, Tamper.

The following is a direct quote from one of Mr. Toronto’s many editorials:

The original Shavertron was a fanzine devoted to the Shaver Mystery and the life and times of Richard Sharpe Shaver and his editor, Ray Palmer. This leaves the playing field wide open since the Shaver Mystery is rife with UFOs,  a race of evil weirdos living inside the earth,   mind control, a high-tech Elder Race pre-dating our history, abductions, conspiracies and, of course, the sci-fi pulp zine scene of the late 1940s.

“The ‘mystery” began in a 1945 issue of AMAZING STORIES magazine with an article titled “A Warning to Future Man.” Editor Ray Palmer and writer Richard Shaver collaborated from there to bring Shaver’s unusual cosmology into the world of sci-fi pulp zine literature.

The Shaver Mystery gasped its last breath when Shaver and Palmer died within two years of each other in the mid-1970s. We stopped publishing Shavertron in 1992 since most Shaver Mystery readers were gone (mostly dead) with few leftovers to take their place.

Writers like Jim Pobst, Brian Tucker, Doug Skinner, Tal, Timothy Greene (Mr. UFO) Beckley , Mary Martin (The Hollow Hassle), Branton, Bill Bliss and Gene Steinberg did what they could to keep the Mystery going.

The scene eventually merged with water cooler chit-chat about UFOs, abductions and government conspiracies, all of which were a big part of the Shaver Mystery. Back in 1947, the Shaver Mystery was a bizarre topic of household conversation (probably at cocktail time). Today it’s obscure sci-fi history…though it is now being rediscovered by a new circle of oddity seekers and outsider art buffs (Here and Here – Bill). 

Lugosi Shines Again

From Cult Movie Press, here is the introduction to Vampire Over London by Frank Dello Stritto and Andi Brooks:

In 1931, Bela Lugosi became world famous playing Count Dracula in the now classic film.  He became forever linked to his great portrayal, and stereotyped as a movie monster and mad doctor.  He would never escape the shadow of Dracula.

“In 1951, with horror films out of fashion and 68 year-old Lugosi all but out of work, he and his wife Lillian went to England to star in a stage production of Dracula.  Their hope was to bring Dracula to London’s West End, in a revival that would propel Lugosi back to stardom.

“The story that grew around Lugosi’s 1951 Dracula told only of failure.  The production was allegedly under-funded, and run by amateurs who hoped Lugosi’s name alone would bring success.  After some clumsy delays, Dracula opened, flopped and closed.  Lugosi was never paid; and he and Lillian were stranded in England until the Mother Riley film gave him the cash to return home . . . 

“Not quite – for the myth did not match the few facts available.  Clippings files in libraries and private collections showed that the 1951 Dracula had played in various cities in Britain over many weeks.  Playbills turn up at memorabilia fairs, as do the postcard-size photo portraits, autographed in blood-red ink, that Bela handed out to his British fans.  Memoirs and histories of post-war British theatre mention the 1951 tour.”

Click her to read more of this joyfully well-researched journey into the archives…