Midway Postcard Gallery Volume 2 August 2010

This months gallery will be five more postcard images (called “views” in the field) from some long gone, and some still extant California amusement parks, and another sideshow performer postcard.

The first view is of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. It is a chrome postcard from the 1960’s, and shows the awesome Giant Dipper roller coaster to the left, a Paratrooper ride in action on the right, and many park patrons enjoying their day. This particular coaster was built in 1924 by Arthur Looff. Arthur’s father Charles Looff was responsible for many of the greatest carousels ever constructed in the US. This classic ride can be seen in many movies, most notably in the opening helicopter shot of the great vampire film The Lost Boys, but also in The Sting II, Sudden Impact, and Dangerous Minds. The Giant Dipper continues to thrill riders to this day, and is one of my top ten favorite wooden roller coasters in the country.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Next is a 1940’s linen card showing the amusement park at the Great Highway and Ocean Beach in San Francisco, CA. Those familiar with San Francisco will recognize the windmills at upper left which are still standing. They mark the end of what is now known as Golden Gate Park. Along the left side of the card you can see two roller coasters as well as many other amusement buildings holding rides and attractions. This view is taken from the Cliff House looking South.

San Francisco Amusement Area

Our third card is a view of the Dragon Gorge scenic railway at Ocean Park, Venice CA. Scenic railways were the predecessors of the modern roller coaster. Generally they were milder rides with small hills, and often had the cars pass by murals of various scenes inside the ride structure. To the left of the entrance you can see some coaster track. The very large dragons which guard the entrance of the scenic railway were made of wire, wood, paper mache and plaster, with a waterproof paint laid over to protect them from the elements. Judging by when these rides were popular, and by the dress of the people in the view, this card dates from sometime in the 1920’s.

Dragon Gorge Ocean Park CA[

Up next is a card from Venice Beach, Venice CA. It shows the park’s lagoon (also probably used as a landing spot for a boat ride similar to a modern Flume ride), as well as several attractions along the lagoon’s shore. These include from left to right two unmarked buildings (perhaps game booths or shops), followed by The Chicken Farm (game? Exhibit?), The Temple of Mirth, a walk through fun house, and finally Darkness and Dawn, an attraction which was more of a show that illustrated what happened to those vice ridden souls who dared tempt fate, and eternal damnation. This is an early divided back postcard dating from the 1910-1925 era.

Lagoon and Attractions Venice CA

Our last amusement park view is also from Venice Beach, Venice CA, and is a nice close-up of a ride that was once ubiquitous in amusement parks across the country, the Virginia Reel. As you can see, the Virginia Reel was a tub-like ride which held 4-6 patrons. Using a lift mechanism much like a modern roller coaster, the car was transported to the top of the ride (the unadorned track at the top of this view), and then careened down a series of spirals to the bottom, all the while spinning wildly as it descended. Quite a dizzying sensation, to be sure! I work with an older fellow who rode a Virginia Reel in his youth, and he proclaimed it one of the best rides ever, and confirmed it’s emetic potential!

Virginia Reel Venice CA

Lastly is another view from my collection of freak, or sideshow performer cards. This linen card from the 1940’s shows a family of little people known as the Doll Family (though their real surname was Earle). The Doll family consisted of (clockwise from left) Tiny, Harry, Daisy, and Grace. Harry and Grace may be familiar to movie fans as two of the stars of Tod Brownings 1932 masterpiece Freaks. Harry played the rich midget whom the trapeze artist marries with the intention of killing for his money, and Grace played his previous love interest, spurned for the trapeze artist. If you’ve not seen this film, I recommend it highly, as it is still powerful today with it’s frank depiction of the daily lives of many of the greatest sideshow performers of all time including Johnny Eck, the King of the Freaks, and Frances O‘Connor, the Living Venus De Milo.

Doll Family

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards ( or views), and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.

Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for a message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. Alternatively, the may have the information burned into the negative. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors.

 

Gamer 2009

GAMER (2009)

Synopsis: A new type of nanotechnology allows internet gamers to take control of volunteer “victims” that have parts of their brain converted to receive remote commands. Two new games develop out of this – one that feeds sinful desires of the flesh and one that pits convicted death row prisoners against impossible combat scenarios.

John Tillman, better known as Kable, is one such prisoners.

Kable has survived multiple levels of combat and is closing in on the promised freedom of surviving a very unlikely 30 sessions.

The inventor of the games and the nanotechnology, Ken Castle, seems determined to stop Kable/John from accomplishing his 30 levels to freedom and we soon get flashbacks that hint there is more to the relation of John and Castle.

Review: Although it is shot with an epileptic seizure-inducing frenetic camera and editing, the actual premise is not entirely unfamiliar to most of us – and suffice it to say that there are many homage scenes to Blade Runner.

The tones of the movie also are tinged by the previous year’s Death Race (2008).

Ken Castle is pure evil and a real cock – but in a very real way that many people are cocks when distanced by the safety of their monitor, CPU and internet connection.

In fact, many of the characters in this movie display a lot of online characteristics you might find on any assorted social network. Some ply for more fame and notoriety, while others just like to tweak with shit – but all of them are obsessed with a narcissistic energy and desire to see shit just to see shit.

But as mind-hurting as the edits are in this (and believe me, no matter how fucking fast your eye is from gaming, this movie’s edits and camera work will put a hurt on your brain), there are some nagging nuances that lingered with me after watching it.

Maybe that is because I work and sometimes socialize online on a regular basis.

I can’t say that this movie is as great as Blade Runner for me, but I can actually say that there is more to this movie than I feel was originally given credit to it. A lot more.

I plan on watching it again and who knows, it may become a cult favorite – with me being the only cult member.

Whole HOLE Rating:

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