LILEKS (James)


Welcome! If this is your first visit, you might be a bit
confused. There’s a certain homogeneous look to personal /
promotional websites, based on popular WordPress
templates. The big hero image, the sidebar, the boxes with
icons and big text, all that crap. Or there’s something
quite spare, with a picture of the host in a circle.

What is this thing?

Simple: The anteroom of the internet’s most diverse,
idiosyncratic, and individually curated pop-culture
museum. Note: that’s the last time I’ll use “curated.”
It’s pretentious.

But it’s true! I am pretentious. Also, this site is a
one-man effort, assembled over two decades, its
innumerable sub-sites gathered together under general,
vague rubrics.

It’s not some idle project, occasionally updated. The
Bleat, a blog that’s celebrating its 21st year, contains a
M-F essay, some piece of old commercial ephemera, a
rotating feature on everything from cliffhanger serials to
old radio to main street America to the ads of the 1930s
or 1970s, and a link to the daily site update.

And that’s just the blog. Scroll down for the total
enormity. I hope you enjoy the site. Twenty-two years, and
counting.

Lileks

2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the
Institute?
A good question. It began
as a repository for odd things I scanned – and
by “scanned,” I mean I took pictures with a
video camera, and used a frame grabber to get
the images. Cheap scanners didn’t exist.

As time went on, anything that
was “vintage” or “retro” and could be gently
mocked went into the Institute.

HERE’S
the main page
. At present, the Institute
contains these sites:

The
Gallery of Regrettable Food.
The classic
from 1997, it spawned two books. Still updated –
with a
huge addition in 2019.

Interior
Desecrations:
bad interior design of the
60s and 70s.

The
Gobbler:
the Grooviest Motel in Wisconsin.
Redone in 2019.

The
Art of Art Frahm
: the effect of celery on
underwear elastic.

The
70s
: a brief account (only 100 pages so
far) of the worst decade ever. Also linked in
the 20th century project.

The
Permanent Collection of Impermanent Art
:
what if we treated advertising illustration with
the same pretentious analysis we use for museum
art?

Comic
Sins
: a small name for a huge site. It
contains:

Advertising
in Comics
. Arranged by genre, of course,
for all the anal-retentive types out there.

Covers:
an ongoing site. There are lots of sites on
the web that post old covers, and this without
question is one of them.

The
Funny Pages
. A study of old newspaper
and magazine cartoons. Contains several
subsites:

Lance
Lawson
, a short-lived Minneapolis
you-solve-it strip

Mr.
Coffeenerves
, a real bastard

Jerry
on the Job
, a 1920s gag strip that
used the flip-take a bit too much

High-Pressure
Pete
, another obscure 20s strip

Scoop,
the Cub Reporter
. From the WW1 era.

Briggs.
Influential and popular 19teens cartoonist.
Through 2019.

Worst
Comics Ever.
In my opinion. Includes a
bad Spirit someone was kind enough to show
to Will Eisner.

Abian
Wallgren
: his WW1 soldier comics.

Caspar
Milquetoast
: an appreciation.

Gluyas
Williams
: also an appreciation.

King
Features
: the entire 1949 line up of
artists and strips. More than fifty!

Miscellaneous
comics.

Wisconsin
Vacation Adventures.
Hi ho, it’s off to
the Dells. (Plus the Ozarks)

Gentleman
Jim:
story of a Canadian Meat Man.

Stagworld!
Ooky old men’s mags. Closest thing this site
comes to for NSFW.

Compupromo:
promotional art for the old calculating
machines.

The
Nervine Joke Book
. 1920s hardy-har
compendium.

East
is Red, Butt is Numb.
Postcards
celebrating Chinese Opera. Really.

Dorcus
Collection
: Unfortunate men’s fashions.

Story
of Bread:
1949 Promotional Brochure about
the wonders of bread.

Meet
the Dayalets!
Creepy undead vitamin
illustrations.

Dateline:
Kennel
Dogs in newspapers.

Bad
Publicity.
No such thing? Think again.

 

 

 

Also known as Miscellany,
depending on the year. This site began as a
dumping ground for ideas that didn’t fit
anywhere else. It’s grown to rival the Institute
in size. As time goes on, various sites are
moved to places where they fit in a bit better.
The main index page is HERE.
The sites are:

SCI-FI
COVERS
Illustrations from the days of
rockets and cheap paperbacks. Updated in 2016.

FRANK
READE JR
. A look at the 19th century Tom
Swift.

Big
Tiny Little
: his life in album art.

The
SS Lurline
: an old cruise ship brochure.

Migny:
a 70s Paris hotel brochure.

A
Girl in NYC
: She sent a friend a letter
in the 1920s.

Postcard
Portfolios
: The art of the souvenir
brochure

Missing:
ads from people looking for long-lost friends
in the 1940s

1960s
Hardware Circulars.
That about says it,
no?

Goodbye
to Telegrams
: the forgotten art of
telegrams.

Short
History of Swimsuits
. Old news-service
photos of bathing beauties.

The
Letters from the Antique Store
. A tale
told in ephemera.

Hotel
Stationery
. Engravings and current
views, if possible.

1953
Buick
: a gorgeous brochure for the
year’s models.

Labels
and Caps.
Just that.

Radio promotional books. So
far, just
WNAX.

XMAS
in 1960s women’s mags
.

MOVED, and not on the index
page, but still lurking:

1961
Monkey Wards
: Almost every color picture
in the catalog, with more than 130 pages.

A
week in TV Guide
. Every page of a 1967
issue, embedded with links to YouTube residue.

LA
1962
: Every page of a dining guide,
embedded with links and pictures to whatever
remains from the last days of the post-war
world.

LA
1941
: An earlier version of the dining
guide.

 

 

 

The
American Motel.
The great signs of the
days before the chains changed everything.
Ongoing throughout the year..

Coffee
and Chrome
: old restaurant postcards.

 

 

keep forgetting about
this site. It’s a salute to wavy lines in tiny
pictures! It’s odd to forget something like
this, because it has approximately 13
bazillion pages.

Curious
Lucre
: the money of other lands. I
won’t break them out by nations, but there’s
about 50.

The
Gallery of Corporate Allegory
. The art
of Stock Certificates.

First-Day
Covers
: lots of vignettes of people,
places, and events celebrated by the Postal
Service. It’s not as dull as it sounds.

 

 

Cities Old and New. Some
of these sites are new; others are in need of
a refresh. We have:

Minneapolis.
It has old views,
present view
s, and the U
of M.
Currently undergoing a site-wide
overhaul.

New
York
. Old postcard views of
office buildings and hotels; a look at
Times Square;
some of my
shots.

Ghost
Ads
. Faded pictures painted on brick
walls.

Main
Streets
. Bygone town centers before
the malls emptied them out.

Main
Streets at Night
: neon!

Malls
of Yore
: 1960s mall postcards.

Modern
Churches
: modernism applied to
religious structures.

Small-Town
NODAK:
Google street views of old,
tiny downtowns on the edge of America.

Main
street on Google Street Views
. Links
to the ongoing Bleat feature celebrating the
greatest documentary project of the 21st
century.

 

 

I’ll get around to all of
them eventually, I hope. For now there are
four decades under consideration.

The
Oughts & Tens
. New in 2019, and
underpopulated.

 

The
Twenties
. Ongoing at present;
magazines cover
s, and a rather
significant selection of movie
ads from Film Daily magazine,
and some
spicy – but SFW
– publications.

 

The
Thirties.

Sears
1934:
100 pages from the catalog,
scanned, color-corrected, and annotated.

Magazine
ads
. I don’t know how many, exactly.
Over 200.

Bygone
hooch
. A site devoted to brands that
have passed from memory.

A
kitchen brochure
. What things looked
like.

Magazine
covers.

Music.
Playlists of the hits of each year.

The
1933 World’s Fair
. Yeah, we need
another site about this – but it has some
stuff you might not have seen.

 

The
Forties.

Patriotica:
a big collection of WW2
ads
, brochures for the
home front
, and more.

Childhood
magazines.

Non-war
cultural ephemera
, like wallpaper
catalogs
, 1941
Gudie to LA
, Homemaker’s
Guide
, and more.

 

The
Sixties.
The Twilight of the Grown-Ups.
You’ll find sites with these topics:

Ads.
Of course.

Catalogs.
Huge! Two year of fashion.

Dream
Homes
. A collection of rambler art.

LA
Dining 1962

Chain
Store Age
. An industry periodical.

World’s
Fair 1964.
There are bigger sites, I’m
sure.

Circulars.
Meant to be tossed, but someone kept them.

Radio
spots
. A few brisk examples of period
shilling.

 

 

The
70s
Lots
of brown horrors. We have:

The
Ice Follies
. Three years of programs.

The
Faces of Match Game
. Says it all.

The
Faces of the Price is Right.
The
hairstyles!

Punk 77: how to be a punk

Search.
My favorite show when I was a kid.

Sears
1973:
a small selection of fashion.

Sears
1976:
Bicentennial styles.

Bad Cartoons: Saturday morning horrors.

Swoon, girls: Odd Bobby Sherman comic.

Radio.
PSAs and beautiful music from early 70s
airchecks.

Dorcusella:
lingerie from the early 70s

 

The
80s
New in 2019, and spare.

1986
Catalog.
Weekly throughout 2019.

 

 

 

Mass Media, seen through
two particular filters.

New
version of Black and White World
: it’s
better, but there’s less there.

Old
Black and White World
. As the title
suggests: the visual media before color.

The
Jazz Age.

Hard
& Snappy: the 30s.

Film
Noir.

Forties
dramas and musicals.

Fifties
morality.

Monster
Movies!

Bug-Eyed
Monsters
: early sci-fi

TV,
including Perry
Mason
.

The
Disney Project
.

Oswald
and other early shorts.

A rather
comprehensive collection of Cartoon
Titles.

Small
Films
: Movies from buzz.mn &
lileks.com. Additional 80s KTCA films viewable
at my YouTube
site

 

 

LISTEN
Selections from Old Time Radio; library music
no one was ever meant to think much about.

The
Diner
My old KSTP AM-1500 radio show is
back in podcast form. Over eighty half-hour
episodes available – with some original shows
from the 90s as well.

Bleatophany.
Remixes and compositions.

 

 

Your
Hos
t Bio, family stories, dog
photography

Travel
Where I was.

Photos
What I saw.

Contact
Where I am.

 

 
 

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