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Are Your Greetings Seasoned?
November 27, 2011 2:40 PM   Subscribe

"I can’t even tell you how excited I was to finally see the cards that “killed my grandfather” and drove my family into extreme poverty. I actually think Haruo did a pretty good job interpreting my grandfather’s original sketch, considering the severely confusing nature of his drawing. It’s anybody’s guess as what my grandfather expected to get back, but needless to say it wasn’t this beautiful card." Bradwick J. McGinty III tells the story of the Japanese cut-away Santa cards from 1955, similar in style to the yōkai and kaiju illustrations seen previously. (via)
posted by filthy light thief (74 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I call shenanigans. Very cool cards though.
posted by iamck at 2:49 PM on November 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


An interesting side note is that my grandfather had to travel all the way to Grantville, Georgia to use a “colored” lawyer, due to the fact that the Irish were considered “colored” in Georgia until 1963.

wha? really.
posted by sweetkid at 2:53 PM on November 27, 2011


Real or not, i don't care, those are magnificent and surreal. :)
If real, i can just imagine that they were so ahead of their time, now they will probably sell great, and yes, i did buy some. :)
posted by usagizero at 2:59 PM on November 27, 2011


I also call shenanigans, but it was a good story. The cards are pretty funny, but I wonder if people receiving them context-free that they were just poking fun at Japanese people. It'd be better if he could print a humorous summary of their "history" on the back of each card.
posted by swingbraid at 3:04 PM on November 27, 2011


Yeah, this seems weird and unlikely. All that being said, this had to be an awkward pitch meeting:

A few years after my Grandfather returned from the war he decided to start a greeting card company. Armed with one terrible idea and no artistic ability whatsoever, he turned to someone he had met during the war for help, a young Japanese solider he had shot in the face named Haruo. My grandfather spoke no Japanese, and Haruo spoke no English, so how they actually got together is beyond me or anyone else in my family.


There is some blarney here. I am not the least persuasive person in the world, but I cannot see looking for financial backing for a project from someone I (a) have no language in common with and (b) shot in the face.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:04 PM on November 27, 2011


wha? really.

very clearly a put-on, but the story is amusing and the card excellent.
posted by The Whelk at 3:04 PM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Poison Gift Liver" is an interesting construction for me, as "gift" is the German word for "poison".

What a fascinating card to have been created all those years ago. They have a true underground comic feel to them, even with the Japanese connection. I'd have expect to see these next to R. Crumb in a book somewhere.

I don't do Christmas cards anymore -- I quit spending money on things like that years ago. But if I did, I'd be ordering some of these to send out. I remember distinctly doing cards, one of which was a Grinch in the style of the Bathtub Mary, complete with a rhyming prayer, made to paste onto undecorated novena candle glass. And another which was (shortly after her death) an angel tree topper with Princess Diana's face.

So yeah, I'm all about the tasteless, challenging Xmas cards.

Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 3:05 PM on November 27, 2011


The cards have an url printed on them, in case anybody thinks they might actually be from 1956.
posted by Jehan at 3:07 PM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I appreciate that he put on a tie for the newspaper photo. Great cards, too.
posted by theodolite at 3:09 PM on November 27, 2011


Mr. Bradwick J. McGinty
Claims to have been banjaxed
by a wee Japanese company
for simply being a grand
potato faced Irish American.


Would that we could all be so brilliantly banjaxed.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:10 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The cards have an url printed on them, in case anybody thinks they might actually be from 1956.

Well, in all fairness, if you RTFA, you'll see that the new cards are an attempt to recreate the cards which were done in the 1960s, of which no examples exist today.

So yeah, they have a URL on them. Because they're not originals.

(Whether the story is true or not, they've covered their bases on that particular point.)
posted by hippybear at 3:12 PM on November 27, 2011


So yeah, I'm all about the tasteless, challenging Xmas cards.

I've already got some ordered for my family members that raised eyebrows at my Edward Gorey cards they got the past few years. ;) My friends who also love crazy stuff will love them though, and i love weird artists, the world needs more of them, even with a bit of performance art involved. ;)
posted by usagizero at 3:13 PM on November 27, 2011


slight derail: one of my all time favorite cards is a Gorey of skaters in Victorian clothing dropping fruit cakes through a hole in the ice.
posted by Cranberry at 3:16 PM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, in all fairness, if you RTFA, you'll see that the new cards are an attempt to recreate the cards which were done in the 1960s, of which no examples exist today.


Where does it say that? Everything I read says that they were found in an ammo box by his grandmother, which is obviously bullshit.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:19 PM on November 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, in all fairness, if you RTFA, you'll see that the new cards are an attempt to recreate the cards which were done in the 1960s, of which no examples exist today.

Actually, the text states that the pictures of are of the "actual" cards. The text explicitly says:
No one in the family had ever seen any of the cards that were produced. It was thought that my grandfather set fire to all of the cards (and the boat) the moment they arrived in the states. That is, until my mom stumbled upon this ammo case in the attic: [images with URL on card]

I can’t even tell you how excited I was to finally see the cards that “killed my grandfather” and drove my family into extreme poverty. I actually think Haruo did a pretty good job interpreting my grandfather’s original sketch, considering the severely confusing nature of his drawing. It’s anybody’s guess as what my grandfather expected to get back, but needless to say it wasn’t this beautiful card: [images with URL on card]

(Whether the story is true or not, they've covered their bases on that particular point.)

Oh, it's not. In this image, the date line reads "The Irish Press, Friday, February 6, 1956".

February 6th in 1956 was a Monday.
posted by The Michael The at 3:20 PM on November 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


the Irish were considered “colored” in Georgia until 1963.

wha? really.


colored kelly green, I guess.
posted by jonmc at 3:21 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


That link should be "In this image . . ."
posted by The Michael The at 3:21 PM on November 27, 2011


What does the japanese text say?
posted by rmd1023 at 3:23 PM on November 27, 2011


Also scans of photos in old newsprint don't look like that but whatever it's a fun art, I think I'll get some.

(Seriously did the "she was half-woman on her mother's side" not tip anyone off?)
posted by The Whelk at 3:23 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh wow, I completely mis-read that website. I thought it was saying that his modern-day friend had done a pretty good job of interpreting what the old photographs had shown of the extinct cards.

I stand corrected.

I guess one question is, what does the Japanese on the cards actually say?
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on November 27, 2011


Oh look, it's Brad McGinty on flickr. Some strong genes there.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:24 PM on November 27, 2011


(They're awesome cards and all, but this whole thing is completely fabricated.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:26 PM on November 27, 2011


So it's the christmas card equivalent of that cassette of lost beatles music which fell through from an alternate dimension where they didn't break up, and was really a mashup tape.

I'm okay with that.
posted by hippybear at 3:27 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hah, I thought it was clear that this whole thing was a decently crafted story with "old" pictures as a fun artistic exercise, plus a way to sell cards. The second paragraph is so ridiculous it would be hard to take seriously:
My dad said that instead of going to church on Sundays, my grandfather would often go “Irish fishing,” which entailed leaving before sun-up and returning late in the day with a bunch of stones. My father was never allowed to go with him, because he was half woman (on his mother’s side)
Irish fishing means collecting rocks? Half woman on his mother's side? And did you notice the burlap sacks for shoes in the first picture?
posted by filthy light thief at 3:35 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to believe.
posted by cthuljew at 3:39 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


the inclusion of the Irish Press article was just that extra slice of awesome.
posted by sweetkid at 3:41 PM on November 27, 2011


"Irish fishing means collecting rocks?"

No, Irish fishing means drinking. Picking up rocks was a red herring.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:45 PM on November 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


February 6th in 1956 was a Monday.

Actually, Feb 6th traditionally fell on a Friday in most parts of Ireland up until Vatican II.
posted by Iteki at 3:47 PM on November 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


Jesus maria y josef – It's obviously a ridiculous (and fake) backstory. But because the cards are so awesome I decided to buy a dozen.

Some of you must have been real assholes to your younger siblings in previous years.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 3:49 PM on November 27, 2011


"Irish fishing means collecting rocks? Half woman on his mother's side?"

That second para was about where I twigged to it to.

But, to be fair, those examples are exactly the sort of stories my grandfather told me as a kid.

(Well, he would've told me stories like that, if he hadn't been forced to swap his sense of humour with a Dutchman for a contraband tin of bully-beef after being captured in Singapore during the war…)
posted by Pinback at 3:52 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I bought the whole story as just a bit exaggerated until I saw the cards.
posted by empath at 3:54 PM on November 27, 2011


For those wondering, the Japanese text is just a translation of the English printed beneath.
posted by incandenza at 3:57 PM on November 27, 2011


"What a cool story! I can't believe it's real!" x5

"This is fake!" x20

"If you didn't know this was fake, you are a tool and an imbecile." x5

"Really? You're pointing out how fake it is? You must be Hitler!" x5

Let's move on to how awesome these cards are.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:59 PM on November 27, 2011


> That second para was about where I twigged to it to.

The non-vintage eyeglasses tipped me off before I even started reading.

The story was cute, but kind of unnecessary and not up to the awesomeness of the card. Which I first saw a couple weeks ago on image boards, thanks to somebody who posts pics to image boards without citing sources.
posted by ardgedee at 4:11 PM on November 27, 2011


But what's all this have to do with Joe Coleman?
posted by crazylegs at 4:18 PM on November 27, 2011


I mean, this is obviously very very fake but the cards are cute.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:21 PM on November 27, 2011


People's faces looked harder back then, even the young ones. Hipsters just can't get that hardness in the face.
posted by telstar at 4:27 PM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Mr. McGinty is also presenting this neat kaiju cutaway.
posted by pajamazon at 4:29 PM on November 27, 2011


More accurately, the Japanese text is just an overly literal, likely software-produced translation of the English adjacent to it.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:30 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, the bit about the Irish being considered "colored" in Georgia until the 1960s is the sort of brilliant hilarity you believe at first.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:31 PM on November 27, 2011


Psssst. It's an advert, guys.

Funny how you can tell the photos aren't really old, from the very first one. Maybe it's the film stock.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 4:33 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I could tell from the first picture that this was a fake. There's just something...not 1956 about it. I think the quality is too good, even though it's been run through a Photoshop filter or two.

Anyway, funny post, and that card is awesome.
posted by zardoz at 4:34 PM on November 27, 2011


HEY I DON'T THINK THIS IS REAL
posted by desjardins at 4:43 PM on November 27, 2011


I CAN TELL BY THE PIXELS
posted by desjardins at 4:43 PM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think more things in life should have an option to CHECK THIS BOX FOR JEWISH SEASONING.
posted by gimonca at 4:56 PM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


People's faces looked harder back then, even the young ones. Hipsters just can't get that hardness in the face.

Also, they often had much bigger, sicky-outier ears. I have a strong suspicion Dumbo (1941) had something to do with big ears getting bred out of the species. I'm not even kidding. Also, The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Roman noses.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:03 PM on November 27, 2011


Er, sticky-outier. If you have sicky-outy ears, consult a physician immediately.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:08 PM on November 27, 2011


@hippybear
So it's the christmas card equivalent of that cassette of lost beatles music which fell through from an alternate dimension where they didn't break up, and was really a mashup tape.

but with bonus not-quite-racism
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:22 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are people actually debating whether or not this is real?
posted by codacorolla at 5:24 PM on November 27, 2011


I CAN TELL BY THE PIXELS

Have you seen quite a few shops in your time?
posted by middleclasstool at 5:26 PM on November 27, 2011


Other than the references to outdated (and mythical) racial policies in the south which endured far too long, is it racism, or is it cultural difference spoofing?
posted by hippybear at 5:26 PM on November 27, 2011


There's something awesomely Robert Williamsy about that cutaway Santa and his Stomach Prince.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:53 PM on November 27, 2011


is it racism, or is it cultural difference spoofing?

Neither? If anything, it's a parody of or an homage to those yokai and kaiju drawings linked above. It's hard to pinpoint why, but I could tell the illustrations weren't done by a Japanese artist. It's clever how he created the back-story so that it's supposedly an interpretation by a Japanese illustrator of a design created by an American, but the overall touch or something about the illustration gives it away. And the Japanese on the card is just too literal and ridiculous (which is probably on purpose). I thought it was funny and well-done.
posted by misozaki at 6:00 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


misozaki (or anyone else), could you provide a translation of the Japanese? Is it really just the same phrases as shown in English?
posted by filthy light thief at 6:03 PM on November 27, 2011


@hippybear

i will answer as soon as i figure out the difference between 'race' and 'culture'
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:05 PM on November 27, 2011


filthy light thief, the Japanese is really just a very literal translation of the English. Too literal. That's why it comes across as awkward, and gives it away as something done by a person who doesn't really understand Japanese. (Or purposefully done by someone who does for the comedic effect.)
posted by misozaki at 6:09 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, Feb 6th traditionally fell on a Friday in most parts of Ireland up until Vatican II.

What's the joke here?

posted by The Michael The at 6:34 PM on November 27, 2011


it's about Ireland being really Catholic and Church reforms
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 PM on November 27, 2011


These are hilarious, and I just ordered $20 worth to send to all of my crazy friends.
posted by mrbill at 7:20 PM on November 27, 2011


The cards have an url printed on them, in case anybody thinks they might actually be from 1956.

Wait a minute, you pronouce "URL" as "earl" and not "you are ell"?
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:23 PM on November 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I certainly don't.
posted by silby at 7:25 PM on November 27, 2011


The art is cool enough without the bogus story. I wish he hadn't felt the need to wrap it up like this.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:32 PM on November 27, 2011


Ah, Google Translate, we meet again!

The line "Check this box for Jewish Seasoning"

reads more as:

"Look at this box in regards to the spice of Jewish people"...

But yeah, they're funny, in an "aren't-those-Asians-crazy!" kinda way.
posted by jet_manifesto at 7:38 PM on November 27, 2011


Yeah, the fat faced man thing looked a bit off to me, literally translated as shibo-kao-otoko, rather than just using debu. Then again, my Japanese is pretty lousy, so I could be off.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:42 PM on November 27, 2011


How hard do you have to have your leg pulled before you start wondering why you've gotten taller on one side and your shoe is missing?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:37 PM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


misozaki (or anyone else), could you provide a translation of the Japanese? Is it really just the same phrases as shown in English?

Hey! I-I'm someone else! It is as DoctorFedora says: "the Japanese text is just an overly literal, likely software-produced translation of the English adjacent to it." (The English itself is meant to resemble poorly translated English, of course, but it's not like it's paired with Japanese that makes sense. Dude obviously devised the askew English and added the Japanese accordingly.)

The most interesting thing about the Japanese is that the translation of "CHECK THIS BOX FOR JEWISH SEASONING" is "ユダヤ人の調味料については、このボックスを見て", which misunderstands "check" to mean "examine, look [for something]" (as in "check under the sofa") as opposed to "write a checkmark to alter the box's binary state from OFF to ON".
posted by No-sword at 8:59 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I CAN TELL BY THE PIXELS

Actually, you can. I'm not bitching about it being fake, I just want to analyze the attempt (beyond the earnest leg pulling) because I guess I'm a continuity nerd.

But, yeah. Pixels. If the faux newspaper clipping is black and white, why is it printed with a four-color process halftone complete with fake Moire rosettes from bad plate registration? Because it's the "process halftone" texture plugin in photoshop rendered in black and white.

Other details was the "film stock" look and feel (digital). The torn up old "photos" are obviously new photos composited on old printed photo stock as borders. The brand new ammo can was another dead giveway, not to mention I think the 7.62 round is post-NATO, and I think maybe that can design wasn't around until the Vietnam War.

As for the cards, I think they're kind of offensive. I like the Monster Santa weirdness, but the faux Engrish is iffy and could just do without all the tone deaf back story.
posted by loquacious at 9:22 PM on November 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh loquacious, can you just talk bad retro pastiche making all day? I am enjoying having a vocabulary to back up " newsprint doesn't look like that "
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 PM on November 27, 2011


The guy should have at least changed his shirt in one of the photos.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:17 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, I looked a bit at the ammo can - I was pretty sure it was from much later than the 50's, but the 7.62 round was introduced earlier than I thought (very late 50's). I think you're right with the Vietnam era, but none of the ammo can otaku websites I could find listed years for cans that looked like that. Because I'm a nerd but I don't know photoshop filters, so I do what I can and spend time researching ammo cans.

The cards remind me of the "Japanese store with crucified Santa display" urban myth.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:22 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I owned a copy of that rocks and minerals book as a kid in the '70's, and it was not 20+ years old at the time. Nevertheless, I was taken in.

But I don't care.
posted by jon1270 at 5:04 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


@loquacious - Yeah the cards are kinda offensive with the fake Engrish and trying to make fun of Asians not getting Western culture and all that, aren't they?

That coupled with the horribly faked old newspaper clippings and ridiculous backstory just make me dismiss the guy who created the thing as a putz.
posted by Gev at 5:20 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which card shows the plate of beans?
 
posted by Herodios at 7:47 AM on November 28, 2011


The "Asians not getting Western culture" was built into the premise:
My grandfather spoke no Japanese, and Haruo spoke no English, so how they actually got together is beyond me or anyone else in my family. The idea involved creating American-style greeting cards for both the Japanese and the American markets. It also required Haruo to create all the artwork and handle all of the printing. My grandfather would simply mail Haruo photos of what he wanted, and Haruo would see to the rest.
The Japanese artist could be anyone who didn't understand English, and was sent this picture and given some artistic license to make it into a card. It makes sense that he's Japanese with the notion that the resulting image is a homage to similar drawings of Japanese monsters.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on November 28, 2011


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