Proper Format Required | Newberry

Proper Format Required

Okay, where are your footnotes? This is an institution with some reputation in the field of scholarly research, y’know. The Newberry is a place where we have semi-colons and know how to use ‘em. What do you mean by handing in such poorly-documented stuff? It all counts toward your final grade.

Here’s this nifty book of Japanese prints: elegant, graceful, old. But the cover and text are all in Japanese. We have no way of knowing whether we’re dealing with a $40,000 masterpiece or something a local junior high school had its students color.

Okay, maybe I can excuse that one. There ARE people in Chicago who can read Japanese and one of them may drop by the book sorting shelves. But look at these. Yes, they are original artworks, and rather nice ones, too. There’s talent there, and wit as well. These took real ability and a sense of humor, a rare enough combination to make them potentially valuable.

But who painted them, and what ARE they? High school class assignments, tattoo flash art, or what? It would be nice to think that some great twentieth century cartoonist was having a little fun on the side, but the style doesn’t look the least bit familiar to anyone who has seen them. So talent, a sense of humor, AND originality? You’re right. Probably worthless.

Would the person who donated this program from a major exhibition opening please raise their hand? AND explain this doodle inside the front cover? It was a major event, socially: chances are Truman Capote was there, and Andy Warhol, and anybody else who was anybody in 1975. This doodle does NOT look as if someone was just making sure their pen would work. No, this doodle was scribbled onto that page on purpose. But again, who? Why? It doesn’t especially look like the work of anybody who might obviously have been involved. The artist whose show it was doesn’t seem to have doodled much, and Andy Warhol would surely have doodled a soup can (we’ve HAD books with his doodled soup cans inside.) Was it the model for the picture on the cover? His initials are wrong…if some viewers are correct, and those are the letters G.G. in the middle of the doodle. Someone with the initials G.G. COULD have been at the opening, but she was the Field Marshall of the Chicago street gang that was busy turning itself around. And it might not be the initials G.G., as some other viewers claim, but the eyes of a doodled face. (Giacometti was involved in the show, too, but I don’t think he’d have doodled this way. Or would he?) Couldn’t you have had the celebrity initial the…or ARE those the letters G.G.?)

On the other hand, we think we’ve figured out the Norman Mailer inscription. He inscribed it to a first name only, but the inscription suggests they were working on a movie together. Looking through the cast and credits of the movie, we could find only one person of that first name, AND this person was a Chicagoan. This person also died a couple of years ago, so it would stand to reason that his book collection might have been dropped off here. Be nice to have some confirming data. Besides, inquiring minds are going to ask us “So what was Norman like to work with?” Right now all we have to go on was that the recipient never burned the book, but that’s all. IF we’ve picked the right person.

A few footnotes could have saved us some heartache, folks. If you’ve forgotten how to do them, we’ll sell you a book on it (which MAY have belonged to a Nobel Prize winner. But we don’t know for sure, so we can’t tell you that.)

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