Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mel Simons, "Radio Collectors of America"

I’m looking forward to an interview I’ll be doing Thursday night, by phone, about The Lucky Strike Papers. The interview will be done via conference call, for the “Radio Collectors of America”; the group meets in Quincy, Mass. The group’s focus is long-ago radio shows, old TV shows, and the like. I’ll be interviewed by Mel Simons, a well-known Boston-based entertainer/MC/comedian/speaker/disc jockey/accordionist. Mel appears regularly on the Steve LeVeille program on Boston’s WBZ-AM. He’s also a fellow BearManor Media author; his books for BearManor include The Old-Time Radio Trivia Book, The Old-Time Television Trivia Book, and Old-Time Radio Memories, a book of interviews.

Mel’s web address is:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kinescopes, and Jenny Lynn

There are many pictures in The Lucky Strike Papers which come from kinescopes. During the period of early television, when programs were for the most part performed live, videotape had not yet been invented. For areas of the country which could not receive programs live—until 1951, there was no coaxial cable linking the entire country; until then, programs telecast from New York, for example, could be seen live only about halfway across the United States—kinescopes were employed.

Kinescopes (known, at the time, for their primitive and imperfect qualities) were sixteen-millimeter films made of programs as they were telecast. Yet they were made not by filming the programs directly, on stage, but by filming the shows off of a TV monitor. The kinescopes were then shipped to the cities which had not been able to see the programs live.

The images of kinescopes, in the book, were not made directly from kinescopes, but via videotapes of kinescopes.

Jenny Lynn, a magnificent artist and photographer, photographed all of the video/kinescope images in the book.

Ms. Lynn has been widely published and exhibited. Her monograph, PhotoPlay, was brought out in 2004. On March 30th, she has a one-person exhibition opening at New York’s Katonah Museum of Art. The show, called “The Object Is Art,” will be seen at the museum until June 29th. For more information:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Book signing

It was a pleasure being at “Amazing Grapes,” the wine bar and wine/spirits shop, in Pompton Lakes, NJ, on Saturday; I was there to sign copies of “The Lucky Strike Papers,” during the last two hours of the shop’s weekly wine tasting.

One man—in his twenties or thirties—told me he was buying “The Lucky Strike Papers” for someone much older, someone who knew a lot about television’s early years, and I was very gratified by this. While I believe the book’s portrait of television in the late 1940s and early 1950s will appeal to anyone who is drawn to history, and in particular to American popular culture, the book will no doubt appeal most to those who witnessed the era firsthand--or, perhaps, those who did not see it firsthand, but who have become drawn to the era, and its distinctive qualities, after the fact.

My thanks to the nice people at “Amazing Grapes,” for their kindness and hospitality.

FYI: the web address for "Amazing Grapes" is:

Friday, March 14, 2008

a reminder, Saturday book signing

A reminder about a Lucky Strike Papers book signing, taking place on Saturday, in Pompton Lakes, NJ, between 4 and 6 p.m. See the posting below (beneath the previous entry).

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A letter about "Your Hit Parade"

I recently received a wonderful letter from a gentleman in New York who read “The Lucky Strike Papers,” and was a fan of the TV show “Your Hit Parade.” He worked for years at one of New York’s TV stations, in a behind-the-scenes technical capacity. The book, he said, “brought back many fond memories of my favorite TV show. I was a fan of both the show itself and Dorothy Collins." He wrote:

“The show was telecast originally from the International Theatre at Columbus Circle during the summer of 1950. It then moved to the Center Theatre (a mini Radio City Music Hall) at Rockefeller Center in October 1950. The Center Theatre was the ideal place for this show. It utilized the vast stage itself to showcase the various songs. There were also several aprons along the front of the stage upon which the cameras were installed. Several stage areas were reused as the show progressed. A huge overhead black and white screen displayed all the action that appeared on stage. Tickets to the show were free, but had to be ordered from the Guest Relations Dept. at NBC. Everyone entering the theatre received a small packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes (four cigarettes). It was extremely colorful and reminiscent of watching an MGM musical in person…

“Technically it was the best show on TV and each show looked like a small spectacular. It was the only show that had 2 day camera rehearsals. All camera movement was done manually (no zoom lenses back then)…like watching the old Hollywood master craftsman at work, except being live, there were no retakes….”

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Book Signing

On Saturday, March 15th, I'll be signing copies of The Lucky Strike Papers at the "Amazing Grapes" wine bar, in Pompton Lakes, NJ.

"Amazing Grapes" hosts wine tastings on Saturdays, from noon until 6 p.m. I'll be signing copies of the book towards the end of the event--from 4 until 6 p.m.

"Amazing Grapes" is located at 23 Wanaque Avenue, in the Pompton Lakes Towne Square Shopping Center. The phone number is: (973) 831-5700. The web address is: