With a Weapon and a Grin:

Postcard images of France’s Black African Colonial Troups of WWI by Stephan Likosky.  (Anglen, Pa.:  Schiffer Military History, 2017)  .

“C’est le blanc qui crée le nègre.” – Frantz Fanon.

In light of Steven Bannor’s elevation to Gauleiter in the new Trump administration, this morning’s most poignant read’s been his mentor Josef Goebbels’ Principals of Propaganda.  By early afternoon I was back to a cornerstone book in my studies in the quick sands of media of our time, Jacques Ellul’s timely Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (NY: Knopf, 1968), and by twilight time back, with a stiff cocktail, to this book author Stephen Likowsky, of the New York Public Library, was kind enough to send me in hopes I’d recommend it and I do, as much to students of costume as Propaganda.

The decade I spent working with Mrs. Vreeland on her shows at the Met’s Costume Institute taught me to see history through costume.  As much as Proust, who we read together for the Belle Epoche exhibition – our point of departure, she taught me how to read the Zeitgeist of Time Past in the details of its fashions as Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project did  for retail.  Another lost art.

I was familiar with Mr. Likowsky’s collecting and writing on  Gay and Lesbian postcards through my long affiliation with postcard collector Leonard Lauder.  As the New York Public Library’s Prison Librarian, his resource and job-seeking guides for ex-prisoner’s caught my eye as my pen-pal Dempsey Hawkins parole came up on being granted.  Turning his critical eye on Colonialist racist propaganda with a well produced eyeful of a book is worthy appreciation, particularly by my Senegalese friends, as the caricatures of their Tirailleurs are its principle subject.

Subversive camp is always to be recommended for its insights.



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