Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Freaks & Geeks

Bob Langmuir, collector of rare books and African Americana, took a while to realize that the circus trunk he'd bought contained the greatest discovery of his career.

Freaks & Geeks

20080228_inq_drubi28za Bob Langmuir, collector of rare books and African Americana, took a while to realize that the circus trunk he'd bought contained the greatest discovery of his career.

All he knew was that three 11-by-14-inch prints were strange:

A black man in a coat and tie, wearing a jeweled turban and tiny smirk.

A snake devouring a rat.

And, even more frightening, a tall man in sunglasses, standing on a stage, with his arms folded and tapered into sharp points where there should have been hands.

"They were clearly art shots," recalls Langmuir, 57, a white-haired, white-bearded man in owlish glasses, sitting in his workshop under a giant pastel painting of Humpty Dumpty. "I thought they were special."

Only when he brought the trove back from a Brooklyn dealer to his West Rittenhouse Street place, and spread the papers over his long desk, did he glimpse just how special.

Paging through tax documents, calendars, dream journals and correspondences to a couple named Charlie and Woogie, he came upon an entry in a 1964 address book that read:

Diane Arbus, 1311/2 Charles St., WA 4-4608.

Had he just found a mother lode of lost prints by the legendary New York photographer?

The wrong era

20080228_inq_drubi28b The paradoxical part was that Bob Langmuir really wasn't a big Diane Arbus fan. Wrong era. He was more taken with older ephemera, which is what drew him to the belongings of the African American performer and businessman who turned out to be the smirking man in the turban.

The man was Richard "Charlie" Lucas. Born in Mississippi in 1909, Lucas had been a sword-swallower, hot-coal walker, and African wild man in sideshows across the country. By midcentury, he was working in a Times Square emporium called Hubert's Dime Museum & Flea Circus as an inside talker - emcee for the assortment of human curiosities on display.

And that, it turns out, is where Lucas befriended a female photographer who was moving from shooting fashion to shooting those on society's fringes.

Langmuir had been drawn to African American culture since his boyhood, growing up in Delaware County at the edge of the black community called Morton. His first buying and selling was of jazz and blues 78s he found at People's TV, Tire & Record Store.

After leaving school, he jumped from adventure to adventure, joining the Merchant Marine, roaming around Europe and Russia, hopping freight trains, staying in missions, working as a roadie for Muddy Waters. He was scouting books and papers at auctions and junk stores when he settled down in 1978 at a Center City shop called the Book Mark. His business lasted a good 20 years.

He and his partner had wound down the business when he bought that circus trunk in 2003 that contained what he felt were rare Arbus prints.

More proof

20080228_inq_drubi28c Jeff Rosenheim, curator of photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was not so sure.

At first, Langmuir says, Rosenheim said the style in the photographs seemed different from what he knew of Arbus', telling the collector, "You'll have to sell me on them."

Meanwhile, Langmuir learned there was much more to the collection. He returned to Brooklyn, and the dealer - a Nigerian named Okie - handed him a second envelope of photos. Langmuir tried to stay calm. He was burning up.

He peeked inside, and saw 19 more prints, and a note, written in the same handwriting he'd found in Lucas' address books:

"Pictures enclosed for you, Suzie and Dingo. (Went to Amusements of America Carnival in Hagerstown, MD. I saw my first geek.) Diane."

That was the Eureka! moment. Before anything else could happen, Langmuir needed to show the prints to the Arbus estate for authentication. Months more passed.

Right as his professional life was at the verge of greatness, his personal life was falling apart. His mother died. He was in the midst of a bitter divorce. He was fighting depression, and losing the battle.

Still, Langmuir pursued the last pieces of the collection. He acquired more photos, from a Florida collector and from the artist Richard Merkin in New York.

Finally, word came down from lawyers representing the photographer, who had killed herself in 1971. What Langmuir had discovered: at least 30 vintage photographs from before 1963 that Arbus, herself, had printed.

On April 8, Phillips de Pury & Co. is set to auction the photographs and Charlie Lucas' archives in New York. The collection is on exhibit in Los Angeles now. Germany is next. A New York Times article priced the pieces at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In 2004, when a fellow collector named Gregory Gibson proposed writing a book on the discovery of the photos, Langmuir said the story was about his own spiritual journey as much as anything.

Gibson spent four years researching and writing, and says he saw Langmuir, whom he'd known for 20 years, go through an epochal change. "As much as he is a genius at discovering old paper, he turned his attention inward and discovered things about himself. It was remarkable to watch the progress of that. In a way, that might have been the most satisfying part."

Gibson's book is called Hubert's Freaks, and is set to be published in mid-March by Harcourt.

Last year, Langmuir was remarried, to a teacher. He's looking forward to using proceeds from the auction to go into schools with his wife and enliven history with real artifacts from African American history.

"I'm not going to do anything differently," he said. "I've already started to do the differentlies."

Bob Langmuir has managed to put himself back together again.


Inquirer Photos by Jonathan Wilson
..........
Ok, that was today's column. I couldn't resist posting it as a blog because I loved the pictures. But where are the Arbus shots? We don't have rights to reproduce them. But if you want to see them - in person - how about a field trip to New York?
elme
Posted 03/06/2008 03:23:55 PM
BEWARE -The WEAPONS of MASS DECEPTION:

(WMD's): NBC, MSNBC - owned by GE
CBS - owned by Westinghouse
CNN - owned by AOL Time Warner
Most of  "the Mainstream Media"

THIS ELECTION IS ABOUT - 29 NEW NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS (Big MONEY)
AKA: Dick Cheney's NEXT Big ENERGY MONOPOLY RIPOFF ... ( Plan)....

Whether Cheney's PLAN succeeds ....OR NOT.... is UP to ALL of YOU.

We all know CORPORATE POWER is in control of our government and ROBBING us every way they can. The "NEWS" media is NOW nearly totally under the CONTROL of Powerful CORPORATE Interests.

The Corporate-Controlled "news" media have interlocking Boards of Directors (same member serves on multiple boards) and all of them serve to enrich their CONGLOMERATED Corporate Masters. (*see FAIR website LINK at the end of this post.)

(YOU can HELP Get the Word Out: Please post this NEWS thruout the Blogsphere and in any NEWS media you can find.)

REAL News you won't see on TV:

Obama is the pre-packaged "New & Improved Chocolate Flavor" Presidential candidate being Marketed like a PRODUCT - hyped & PUSHED by GE and its WHOLLY-Owned subsidiaries NBC & MSNBC...along with Westinghouse & its subsidiary CBS...while slamming the Clintons all day every day. (Assisted by...CNN/FOX/ and a lot of newspaper & radio media dependent on advertising $$$.) GE is the 2nd largest corporation on the planet. 

Obama is IN with the Nuclear Industry: Excelon Corp of Illinois has been one of his largest contributors from his entry into politics to the present. Excelon is the largest nuke operator on the planet;owns Con-Ed of NY; more nukes in Illinois than any other state.

GE, Westinghouse, Excelon & 3 consortiums of other companies are planning to build 29 new nuclear power plants. Their Wholly-Owned & Wholly Influenced "News" media are selling the Obama Product because Obama is in favor of Nukes.

In 2005 Obama Voted FOR the Cheney Energy Bill (H.R.6) which ENABLED the nuke industry to make its Plans to build 29 new nukes-by Guaranteeing Taxpayer Payback of any nuke loans that default. (No nukes were built for the past 30 years because the banks wouldn't loan the money - too risky)

Obama Voted FOR the Cheney Energy Bill-despite the fact the Congressional Budget Office rated the risk of default on the nuke loans at 50% or greater. (Does that sound like...GOOD...JUDGMENT to You?)

[NY Times has several articles about the nuke plans & a map showing all 29 locations; Wikipedia covers the subject]

Clinton Voed AGAINST the Cheney Energy Bill and said her Energy Plan does not include nuclear.

? "Its about the FUTURE ...... Turn The PAGE" ?

Nope. Its about Turning the PAGE BACK to the PAST: Obsloete 50 yr old nuke power plants-the dirtiest most expensive kind/centrally-controlled MONOPOLY POWER-instead of deploying New, Clean, Green De-Centralized Inexpensive Energy.

An ad campaign has already begun on the TV media to re-package & re-name nuclear power plants as: GREEN & CLEAN -for- everybody too young to remember the 1970's anti-nuke movement and all the Bad News about nuclear energy. 

Don't be taken in by the ad campaigns - Google:'nuclear waste dumps' & read about the hundreds of BILLIONS of gallons of nuke waste at the Hanford Washington dump; 14 tons of plutonium stored at Rocky Flats, Colorado; Barnwell, South Carolina; leaking into groundwater and rivers; plutonium released into the air around Denver from 500 instances of fires at Rocky Flats; nuke waste stored ON-SITE at every nuke reactor in America...presenting hundreds of potential "dirty bomb" targets for terrorists.

Is it true that Obama takes No Contributions/ NO MONEY from Registered Federal Lobbyists?

Yes. It's a LawyerSpeak/Trick of: Speaking a Small truth covering up a Big Lie.

Nope, doesn't take money from REGISTERED FEDERAL Lobbyists.

DOES take money from STATE Lobbyists, Not Registered Lobbyists, AND the wives, husbands, law partners, 
...of REGISTERED FEDERAL Lobbyists. Gets money from the same big corporate donors as any other candidate.

Obama's campaign finances are involved in the prosecution (by Patrick Fitzgerald) and trial of his friend of 20 years Antoin Rezko. Some of the funds... allegedly...extorted by Rezko went into Obama's campaign coffers. 

Curiously, Iraqi Power Plants amd fraud are also involved in Rezko's trial. (Google: Obama -Rezko- Alsammarae-Auichi- IRAQ POWER PLANTS). With the Rezko trial looming over his head Obama, in all good conscience, should not have run for the Presidency - given all the unanswered questions about his involvement with Rezko; including Obama's meeting with Rezko and Rezko's friend Iraqi Billionaire Auichi. Obama's LACK of good conscience in running for President - given the very high risk that the Rezko trial will result in the election of a Republican - reveals Obama's lack of good conscience and his lack of any regard for his party, his country, or its people. Obama should withdraw from the race. 

GE & the same wealthy people who sold the "new & improved vanilla flavor" Presidential PRODUCTS: Reagan & Bush/s 1 & 2 - are behind the massive ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN to sell you OBAMA.

At the beginning of this campaign season a large majority of voters were looking forward to electing Clinton. Then Obama stepped in and started the dirty campaigning that has created the DIVISION he so hypocritically decries. Obama played "the race card" so he could win in South Carolina. He was caught red-handed playing that race card-but the media blamed it on Clinton -even though they all knew they were pushing THE BIG LIE.. 

With nearly ALL "the mainstream media" pimping for Obama & slamming, smearing, and lying about the Clintons-it is truly amazing enough voters have seen thru the Media-Created Obama "movement"-for Clinton to STILL be in the race.

The only way a very small minority can CONTROL a very large Majority is: DIVIDE & CONQUER -Exactly the same Republican Strategy/Deception they have successfully pulled for most of the last century And ALL of this century, so far. . .

GE, the nuke industry/wealthy have hedged their bets & they will get 29 new nukes IF either Obama or McCain is elected.

Ladies & Gentlemen, Dads & Moms buy nothing GE & Westinghouse are selling - not Obama, not a washing machine, a dishwasher, 29 nuke power plants, or a garbage disposer .... because there is no garbage disposer for Radioactive Nuke Waste. Do not allow them to poison the earth and your children anymore.

For further Info see Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting website:
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3258
daniel rubin
Posted 03/07/2008 04:23:13 PM
Jimmy Hoffa's buried under the Inquirer.
rent a car
Posted 05/16/2009 06:09:43 AM
At the beginning of this campaign season a large majority of voters were looking forward to electing Clinton. Then Obama stepped in and started the dirty campaigning that has created the DIVISION he so hypocritically decries. Obama played "the race card" so he could win in South Carolina. He was caught red-handed playing that race card-but the media blamed it on Clinton -even though they all knew they were pushing THE BIG LIE.. 
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Daniel Rubin Inquirer Columnist
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Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Karen Heller, Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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