Welcome to my own spot
Sue is constantly complaining about my ramblings and frustrations with varying areas of the hobby, but keeps reminding me that LAMP is a reference site and CAN NOT take a stand on many issues. She has been badgering me to start a place that I can just ramble/ I fought this and figured that I didn't have time. But after me ranting about numerous things going on, she has become insistent (I think she just don't want to listen). ANYWAY, let's see how this works...
This area has NOTHING to do with LAMP, LAMP Sponsors, or anything else really.. Just ramblings of an old battle scarred war horse that's been around the hobby for close to 4 decades on just about every level. With that said, I'll call my area:
Monday August 30, 2010 - OK, this is beginning to form a pattern... it seems that all the small aggravations seem to fester and about every 4 months.... My stupidity meter blows a gasket... and I just can't stand it anymore!!! I mean, you can only take so much stupidity... and let me tell you, being around politicians in Louisiana, you have to have the stupidity limit pretty high. SOOOO, here is my latest RANT!!
When I first started collecting... oh, some 35 years ago or so, there was problems with framers....AND after 35 years, it's EXACTLY the same. NOTHING has improved! We've heard LITERALLY HUNDREDS of complaints against local framers.... Well, YESTERDAY, I received ANOTHER complaint from a collector saying that they carried their posters from the 1930s that had been linenbacked to the local framer. When they had to take a poster out of one of the frames, they noticed that the framer had trimmed the linenbacking (without asking) right up against the poster and the edges were beginning to unravel. They went back to question why and present the standard procedures with movie posters, the framer became irate and began bashing the hobby saying our procedures were all WRONG.
THAT is the FIRST problem with framers. They make things look real pretty, but quite often, you don't know what they actually DID to your poster until a LOT later (sometimes YEARS!!) when you pull it out of the frame.
For the last 10 years, we have dedicated ourselves to preserving, documenting and educating... and trying to help solve as many problems as possible.... So, I decided that it was time to make a presentation to the framing community to try to find some common ground... Let them know the needs and standard procedures of the movie poster community in hopes that it could start some discussion on how to eliminate some of these complaints and problems. So I chose the 'supposedly' most prestigious framer forum and simply went asking if there were framers there that were familiar with movie poster framing. I didn't want to be confrontational, but was hoping it would open some dialog to explain the differences between art prints and movie posters.
Almost immediately, some started calling me a name.... 'Evergreen Slug' which I didn't understand but the tone was NOT good... A couple of others started attacking both LAMP AND Sue Heim, saying that she wasn't real (and we were only trying to get our LINKS up....( I guess they consider Sue the Professor Powers of the framing world). One framer... a Larry Peterson that owns a framing shop in Wilkes Barre, PA, kept yelling (in all caps) YOU"RE WRONG ...TAKE IT DOWN.. No reasons, no points. I guess that would take too much thinking.. It reminded me a little of Rainman when he couldn't get his underwear from KMart.
I tried to explain that the hobby had some particular differences than art prints, such as drymounting was NOT acceptable and actually DRASTICALLY reduces the value of the poster...That when a collector entrusts their precious collectible to a framer, they expect them to AT LEAST be knowledgable about what would reduce the VALUE of that piece in the hobby...... but it all fell on deaf ears.
A couple seem to try to make some points, but most of them were irrelevent, so after 'WASTING' most of my Sunday, I came to the conclusion, (and I NEVER thought that I would EVER say this)..... TRYING to have a LOGICAL discussion to resolve the framing problems was a BAD IDEA.... In all my years of dealing with every level from collector to institution administrators, I have never encountered such a rude group that held themselves out as 'professionals'.
I did go looking to find out what the slur was that they kept calling me... and I found a post in their forum archive from May 31, 2002 from a Ron Egger who owns a framing shop in Two Rivers, Wisconsin...... EIGHT YEARS AGO... Here is his post:
And then afterward:
So NOW, you know what the framing community THINK of us... EIGHT YEARS LATER, we are NOW LABELED to the framing community. I came away with the DEFINITE message that we're IGNORANT because we don't CONFORM our hobby to THEIR standards.
As a slur, when one of their members who used to be vocal against poster collectors, it was announced that he had closed his shop. The response was " At least he got away from the evergreen slugs! "
My initial response was to shout out to ALL movie poster collectors ... BEWARE OF LOCAL FRAMERS!!! and to GRAB YOUR POSTER AND RUN!!!!
I was contacted by a couple of framers (2) that seemed sincere in trying to resolve some of the problems and establish a guideline that FRAMERS could use, but then they never responded back to any emails.
After I settled down a little and common sense returned, I know that there are a lot of GOOD framers out there that DO CARE. It's like all the other aspects of our hobby....... NOTHING IS WRITTEN DOWN OR ESTABLISHED... Maybe it's time that this was corrected as well.
To proceed, we need to expand the framing section, but there are several different areas that need to be covered.... We will gather basic information from the different areas of the hobby and start a series to create this new expansion area. We will also start trying to gather information on collectors experiences with local framers GOOD OR BAD...
Well, there's a lot of work to be done... so, back to work!!
Friday March 5, 2010 - The past 4 months have been unbelievably overwhelming. With the last rant in October came an onslaught of lawsuits, frantic discussions and panic in the hobby. December brought panic to us trying to finalize the NSS project over the holidays and January brought panic with our 9th anniversary online, the completion of the NSS section and the release of our NSS book. We THOUGHT that we would FINALLY be able to start a slow decent from 'Total Madness' back down to our normal 'Complete Chaos', but our youngest sons wedding put a damper on that. So, here it is MARCH and we're just getting back to our normal blissful choatic state.
With this euphoria of comfort to finally return to complete chaos, quickly brought back the realization of how atrocious the archival system that this country uses really is. We are being contacted more and more by organizations asking us to help them with finding material for their projects. The academic community is no help so they quickly throw up their hands in frustration and contact us. We don't charge for this, we truly enjoy helping organizations find their material, and the only benefit that we receive beyond that is the hopes that we will run across some rare material that we can document in our archive.
I have to present you the harsh reality of how antiquated our archival system is, so you will truly understand the situation!!
With all of our advanced technology, it is really unbelievable how our archival system has remained in the middle ages. Let me clarify that I'm talking about information and documents and NOT objects like the Wright Bros airplane or George Washington's clothing. So with that in mind, let me explain:
Each of our 'institutions' is set up as a totally independent medieval kingdom, with its own hierarchies, rules, and systems. When you move to the area of documentation and research, each 'kingdom' can only document and research what they have on hand. Most institutions work with 'donations'. People donate their cherished collections, personal memoirs and items that they belived are valuable for these institutions to preserve for the benefit of others. They put their FAITH in these institutions that they will TAKE CARE of these valuable items and MAINTAIN them for the future.
These intitutions DEPEND on these donations from individuals (sort of like a commercial 'Good Will'). These institution then hire curators and archivists to protect these donations (sort of like educated security guards). THEN they go after grants and donations to cover their expenses (sort of like commercial welfare). This part is completely understandable and they do a tremendous amount of good preserving these valuable memoirs and documents.
BUT, here's where the beef REALLY starts. Let me again state that I'm talking about POSTERS and INFORMATION about posters. You have universities, museums and government facilities. Let's address them one at a time:
Universities each have their own rules, but the majority do not have adequate knowledge about posters OR the information about them. The few universities that make an attempt in these areas can only research material that has been donated to them that they have on hand, there the information that they produce is so extremely inadequate that it is basically worthless. They refuse to share any of the information that they have accumulated on the material that they DO have on hand and force you to physically come to their facility to see it (if you can get permission). The majority of the time, they even refuse to let you know what they HAVE to see if it's worth trying to go see to get the information that you seek.
Museums - Yes, they hire curators and archivists to take care of everything. They don't do any research except for specific items that they are trying to use to attract attention. The curators are basically business people that only focus on WHAT will create more attention for them OR what can they do to get GRANTS (commercial welfare) to keep funds coming in. The archivists are only employees and have to do whatever their employers tell them to do (or they don't get their paychecks). So, things that DON'T get attention or give them access to GRANT money are put into storage and basically ignored. (I went to one museum to ask about a donation they received from an acquantance 20 YEARS earlier, and it was STILL in the same box, with the yellow stick 'ems telling who donated it - ROTTING AWAY).
Government facilities - Yes, they also hire all the curators and archivists. BUT, they are very similar to museums EXCEPT they are so overburdened with red tape and pathetic decision making that very little gets done even by dedicated people trying. As an example, the Library of Congress got a new computer program to handle their film paper.... BUT it was designed by an AUSTRALIAN company so the only poster information programmed into it is for AUSTRALIAN posters!!! I asked another government facility to check on some rare poster material that they might have on hand for some research... I was told that they would have to check the microfilm because the actually posters had deteriorated to bad sitting in the warehouse.
HEARTBREAKING..... One ironic part is that since the facility microfilmed it, they could have SOLD the piece to collectors and raised much needed funds to expand, PLUS the collector would have PAID out of their own pocket to make sure that the piece was restored and would still be available for future generations. As it is, it will eventually be thrown away because it has deteriorated beyond repair from sitting NEGLIECTED in a warehouse for decades.
The supposed holy grail of the poster world is the US one sheet for the 1927 film Metropolis. It is said that it will immediately bring $1 MILLION dollars. It is known that they DID exist because we have the US pressbooks that show them. A little museum or government facility is PROBABLY sitting on one in a box in their warehouse ROTTING because they don't know what they have!!! No, not all posters are worth a million... BUT take a look at our Top Selling List and you'll quickly get the idea. I GUARANTEE there are a HUGE number of RARE posters sitting in boxes in these institutions.... ROTTING!!
As a researcher, my 'beef' with this system is that EACH institution hoards the information that they have on the material in their possession (the Good Will donations that they received). It becomes privy possesions and they won't even share it WITH EACH OTHER. I made an inquiry at the Library of Congress and was told WHERE the information was. When I asked why they they didn't also have the information, I was quickly told that other institutions wouldn't share information with them..... THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS!!!. (so they bought our books to get the information :)
So as these educated security guards... I mean curators and archivists, get more education and letters behind their name, the governement hires them to create the systems that the government uses. This has created a myriad of loopholes and problems. For example, WHY in this age of a computer in each household can't one institution SHARE a list of what they have with other institutions. WHY has no repository been set up to consolidate this information...So if you're looking for a particular piece, you literally have to go from institution to institution asking IF they have anything on that title. Do you realize how many HUNDREDS of institutions there are????? colleges, universites and museums - EACH with their own system, and EACH protecting their own information and SOME not even recording what they have. Consequently, after a few institutions, organizations that NEED information throw up their hands in frustration....
OK.. you say WHAT kind of information? How about production codes which are the markings that studios used to identify stills. They started marking them around 1910 so for 100 years they've been marking them (our book is the only one out there). What about National Screen Service.. 70 years they dominated the industry (again, our book is the only one out there). Each poster produced out of the tens of thousands of titles was created by artists... where's the information on what artist did what poster? Each poster produced was printed by a lithographer.. where's the information about the lithographers? posters can be identified by lithography plate numbers.... who has EVER done any tracking (besides us) on these plate numbers? and on and on and on...
This isn't the kind of information that brings crowds and brings MONEY to the institutions.... so to them it's considered WORTHLESS. So... down the drain it goes!! I always had these wonderful dreams of archivists caring and preserving all of these donated treasures for future generations, but the past few years have opened our eyes to one blatantly cold hard fact.... It boils down to ..... MONEY. Does it make them money?
Here is something to consider
FILM preservation was first brought up by Will Hayes in 1926 and by the mid 1930s, film preservation was a movement that continued to grow. Since that time, film preservation groups, societies and organizations have literally spent BILLIONS of dollars on film preservation. BUT with all the time, effort and money that has been spent on film preservation .... 80%.... EIGHTY PERCENT of the silent films that were produced in the US have been lost FOREVER!!!
Having the film is truly wonderful, but when there is no film available, the NEXT most important items of documentation and research concerning ANY film would be the accessories - i.e. posters; stills; pressbooks; lobby cards, etc. Do you know how many film poster preservation groups, societies or organizations there have been over the past 80+ years to help preserve this extremely important material....ZERO
Considering the BILLONS of dollars that have been spent by organizations on film preservation, do you know how much money has been allocated in a similar fashion to preserve the film accessories... ZERO
With the gross neglect and tunnel vision by our archival community, what are the odds that the next generation will have ANY significant amount of film accessories preserved? ZERO
In other words....
If you want to preserve that special collection you have for the future -
DON'T DONATE IT TO A MAJOR FACILITY!!
Monday October 5, 2009 - WOW!.. It's October... I started several ed-Itorials during September, and something always interupted me and I never finished ANY of them.... I will try to look over a couple and bring them up during the month... HOWEVER... My rant for the DAY is...
Because of all the fakes and problems in the industry, everyone has been looking for a 'Savior' from the ripoffs and fakes. One company rushed to try to fill that need and help. They were almost immediately hit with the first obstacle and were crucified. I would compare anyone trying to put up an Authentication Service right now to "a high wire walker on a windy day walking without a net walking across a river full of hungry piranha".
One of the major problems is that what was being presented and CALLED a Certificate of Authenticity was more of an analysis... (fake or NOT fake) but it was being used by the auction house as a verification of ORIGINAL ISSUE, ORIGINAL RELEASE, ORIGINAL YEAR, ORIGINAL POSTER, etc. etc.
For the past few years, we have been asked over and over to set up an Authentication Service.. and as I have told them, the first major problem is that THERE IS TOO LITTLE DOCUMENTATION for verification. We're working on that as fast as we can. But even when we fill in more documentation, there are STILL too many problems in setting it up CORRECTLY. For that to be done, you almost need a COUNCIL OR EQUIVALENT, because the areas that need to be covered are:
We can do several of the points but NO ONE can do ALL of them. You might have some that have been in the industry forever and can tell some of the major posters, and CLAIM that they can immediately TELL the fakes... All that I can say to that is ... GREAT!! Talk is cheap! Put your MONEY where your MOUTH is... start your Authentication Service and BE THE NEXT WIRE WALKER!! And let's see how long before YOU meet the piranha.
And for those who are yelling for someone like Smithsonian... or the Academy .. or Library of Congress needs to put something together... EVERY ONE of these ARE OUR CLIENTS. They get information from US. Posters are considered the TRASH of the archival process. When I asked them about what was being done, I was told that they had more important material to commit their time to. I was told, "A Van Gogh is more important than a movie poster". So you THINK that they are going to commit their limited funds to setting up an expensive 'forensic lab' to figure out some lowly piece of archival trash for collectors..... WAKE UP FROM YOUR DREAM WORLD!
just my 2 cents
Sunday August 30, 2009 - You know what amazes me!! How many people that knew about the fake problem when we announced it this past week.... OR should I say, how many people SAID that they knew... All we heard was "I've known about this for months"... Hell, the only person that didn't jump up yelling that they knew about it... was some little 'newbie' that was silent. And if everyone knew about it... why was it such a shock??? AND if everyone knows about the problem, then why hasn't something been done. It's like.. no one will put up a STOP sign at an intersection until somebody's been killed.... HAY.. OUT THERE!!... SOMEBODY'S GETTING KILLED!! AND IT'S THE HOBBY!!
OK.. let's go over this again and take a look at a couple of different areas that need to be addressed...
RESTORATION... A restorer is like a genie in the bottle. They can produce AMAZING and MAGICAL results.. BUT with bad influence they can also create UNTOLD HAVOC. Some guidelines need to be established if this hobby is to survive. Over the years, we have proposed several ideas to establish those guidelines, but each has fallen on deaf ears. And this is NOT one of those.... 'I knew about this'..lines.
Let's break this 'I knew' crap and take a real look... When we started LAMP in January 2001, we tried to introduce a simple Restoration Code to alert a buyer that restoration had been done on that piece and how much. It was a simple code that would fit with any grading system that you used but at the same time show that some sort of restoration had been done. At the time, there were 2 major Camps in the hobby... the Hershenson Camp and the Kisch Camp. We sent the code around and got the endorsements of both Camps AND numerous larger dealers in the hobby... Our Proposal is still on LAMP covered with cobwebs... Here it is.
We KNEW problems were coming enough that we CREATED A WHOLE SECTION about it in our 2002 LAMP Reference Book (Learn About Movie Posters). NOBODY LISTENED!!
In 2004, we addressed the problem about what restorers use to fix the posters, because we sent 2 posters (an R47 and R54 Gone With the Wind) to a restorer that put them in a solution and desolved the bottom 1/3 of each poster completely OFF. We had to PAY a different restorer to FIX THEM. Over the years different restorers use different chemicals, and what happens when they conflict? They eat the poster!!!
We proposed a Restoration Certificate to show a picture of the poster before and after and a breakdown of what was done and what material was used. This could then be passed to the new owner when sold and be a permanent record that in 10 or 15 years, if another restorer was needed, he would know what was done previously and what was used. It was also a great record for insurance.
We approached several auction houses and restorers with this and they agreed to use it if collectors wanted it. NO ONE SEEMED INTERESTED IN IT... So we put the certificates that we created online for anybody to use OR to use as a guideline... Well, they're still on LAMP covered with cobwebs as well... Here they are
BUT, the major point that MUST be established and SET UP as an industry standard. HOW MUCH OF A POSTER HAS TO BE ORIGINAL TO BE ACCEPTED AS AN ORIGINAL POSTER? 10% - 25% - 33% 50%. THIS NEEDS TO BE ESTABLISHED AND ACCEPTED INDUSTRY WIDE OR THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY.
We addressed this also in our 2002 Learn About Movie Posters book. I'll QUOTE from our book, "Can a good restorer take one-tenth of a poster, restore it and call it the original poster? If this is the case, can they take one old poster, such as Gone With the Wind, cut it into ten pieces, restore each into TEN Gone With the Wind posters, each containing a part of the original posters?"
If these morons, who just purpetrated the fakes had placed a portion of the original poster in each, I doubt very seriously that they could be convicted, because they DIDN'T create a FAKE..... they restored a PIECE... which is NOT illegal... MARK MY WORDS!! THIS IS COMING unless changes are made!
No, these won't eliminate the fakes... But they will help stabilize the hobby and give a foundation to stand on. After that EDUCATION is the ONLY way to eliminate fakes.... We have tried our best to adopt a very wise concept... do not give them a fish... teach them HOW TO FISH.
Over the 'decades', we have learned a very valuable lesson. It doesn't matter if the poster is a fake or not. It is what everyone THINKS that it is a fake or not. If word is passed that a particular poster is fake, whether or not it is, the price will reflect what the hobby THINKS... NOT what it actual IS. If EVERYONE know HOW to tell the fakes, then you have eliminated the fakes.
Time will tell..
Friday August 28, 2009 - We issued a LAMP August Newsletter yesterday (there's a link to it on our home page) and it has really become crazy around here with a lot of Wednesday taken up in preparation for that. It covered the announcement of the movie poster lawsuit that has been hanging over the hobby. But before I get into that area, I had planned a follow-up to my Saturday post and I wanted to mention it before it was lost into the lawsuit and restoration problems.
On Tuesday, August 25th, we received an announcement through the archivists forum about UCLA that really sent me ballistic and totally establishes the incompetence of the academic system and their responsibility in being THE official record keepers of our historical documents.
The letter stated that the UCLA Art Library was permanently closing due to lack of funds. My first response was... 'Yeah, right'... but it is being sent out by UCLA professors who are mounting petitions to try to save it. So this is either total incompetence of management with BRAVE UCLA Professors trying to do something about it OR moronic UCLA professors who don't have a clue making announcements about things they know nothing about. Either way is sad... Here is the letter that includes the petition info:
So more information gets buried by the keepers of the flame where you can't get to it. Pathetic system.
Saturday August 22, 2009 - This past week, we had a sad event that I doubt anyone in the hobby would be aware of, which is probably why Sue has pushed me to start this page.
As most of you know, we have been extremely vocal about the horrendous current achival system that allows so much critical information to be lost, without ANY programs even PLANNED to try to bring our archival system into the digital age. Each institution, museum, university, etc. (even the Academy and Library of Congress) is set up by the collections each one has in hand and limited to that. Any information outside of what is in hand is not even CONSIDERED. LAMP has undertaken the HUGE task of trying to collect, document, preserve and present as much information as possible in all areas associated with film posters. We are trying to create the overall picture and NOT just what is in a specific collection.
Well, 20 years ago, someone else realized that the same thing was happening with the movie trailers and took on the task of finding and saving what he could. Jeff Joseph formed a company called Sabucat (Sabucat.com) and collected, repaired and presented this collection of film trailers. Over the 20 years Jeff saved over 60,000 trailers and is considered the 'savior' of movie trailers. You could call and have access to this huge amount of film history. If left up to our archaic archival system, these ALSO would all have been 'LOST forever' (just like 80% of ALL silent films that were released).
Unfortunately, time, technology, and the huge overhead expenses of storing such a vast amount of inventory caught up with Jeff and last week Jeff was forced to shut down Sabucat. Although it is so very fortunate that the love of this material caused Jeff to slave for 20 years preserving this history, UNFORTUNATELY, he is having to turn it over to UCLA film department because he can't afford to keep and maintain them. So the very system that caused the problems, now has this wonderful collection and it will now be 1000 times harder to ever view any of these great trailers.
Jeff was one of the few that we know of that had also taken up the 'Impossible' task of documenting and preserving a portion of the ENORMOUS amount of information that our academic system is LOSING.
I heard a few voices saying they were sorry to see him go... but I didn't hear a single voice of praise or thanks for the 1000s and 1000s of hours Jeff spent searching, repairing, and preserving. I guess that is just the sign of this society... what have you done for me 'today'.
Sad indeed..on many levels..
Saturday August 22, 2009- frustrations... last Monday, my computer had a heart attack and died. It's the one that we bought a few years ago that they tried to force us to use Vista. They had sabotaged it and did everything to keep you from changing the format back to XP, so I had to re-wire it to be able to make the change. So, maybe that was to blame for the early 'croaking'. Anyway, I ordered a new one (this time a Dell) that came in yesterday and now it's been 10 hours of trying to move programs and information onto a new computer which is no fun. Especially when it looks like I might have lost my old emails and address book.