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Julie's Tacky Treasures

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Dear Dead Days

This book, which I discovered as a teenager working in a public library, was an early inspiration to my tacky work: It contains a few of Addams' hilariously macabre cartoons, but most of the book is a bizarre collection of public domain photographs (Many from the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Division), maudlin Victorian-era etchings, old advertisements of justifiably forgotten products, and accounts of disasters, freaks, and everything one would normally want to keep in the closet about one’s family. The jacket describes this book as his “...outrageous assault on nostalgia. No one could have killed it more effectively – or hilariously.”

The captions, if there are any, are completely deadpan. A photograph of a crowd of people climbing on the remnants of a train wreck is titled, "Souvenir Hunting." All is presented at face value, with no commentary. The freakish pictures speak for themselves, which is why I used to check the book out from the public library over and over again during my two-year tenure at the Wheaton Library.

Charles Addams must have had a fascination with weirdness that fed his art, just as a fascination with tackiness has fed mine.

Copyright © 2000-2010, Julie Mangin. All Rights Reserved. April 2, 2016