Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2019 July 17 • Wednesday

Before Hugo Gernsback launched Amazing Stories magazine, which was important enough to science fiction for the genre's biggest award to be given the name The Hugo in acknowledgement, he was editor of some other magazines.

Here's an example of one: The June 1924 Science and Invention.

The cover story isn't quite as dramatic as the cover painting. It's just a two-page spread considering mostly undramatic ways the world might end, such as the sun dying etc.

The more quotidian and ephemeral content is more interesting to me. Consider this article on a new advertising method. This seems totally bonkers. Did this actually happen? Was it as crazy as it sounds?

The caption reads: "One of the most novel advertising features seen lately was obtained by releasing balloons from an airplane as it flew in a course which spelled out words. Each balloon supported a small pot of chemicals which were automatically ignited after it was released from the plane. The chemicals gave a bright flare of light, forming the words".

Imagine walking down the street only to have chemical-drenched popped balloons falling on you!

As always, there are numerous excellent illustrations to admire.

An interesting feature breaks down some fundamental movie-making techniques. This seems like a pretty cutting-edge article to have in 1924!

There's also this, about how "Girls Enjoy Astronomy Studies".

I wonder whatever happened to Isbael Hutcheson, Eleanor Loomis, Mary De Vausney and Charlotte Denny.

And then another educational feature, about how to spot gamblers who cheat! This magazine covered a lot of ground!

But we saved the best for last. Of these "Two Peculiar Experiments", it's the first that interests us.

"At St. Catherine's Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y., surgeons have found great advantage in performing certain operations with the aid of a phonograph. Surgeons removed the appendix from a patient with local anaethesia, while jazz music entertained."

Well of course it would have to be Brooklyn, wouldn't it? Fucking hipsters. (St. Catherine's was even in Williamsburg!!!)

And this is an amusing foreshadowing of Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange listening to Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" in the operating room.

But what jazz record were they listening to in Brooklyn during that 1924 appendectomy? Bix Beiderbecke made his first recording in February of that year. Sidney Bechet's first records were cut the year before.

Should health insurance cover your record shopping? Because I'm almost certainly beyond my deductible.