Kids always want Joe Hayes to tell The Gum-Chewing Rattler. And why not? It combines so many things kids love to do—chew bubble gum, tell tall tales, and drive their moms crazy—with the wild, impossible claim that a rattlesnake chewed gum and blew a bubble with it!You see, when Joe was a boy, that’s what he told his mother—that bubble gum saved him from a rattlesnake’s fangs! Really! Don’t worry—Joe’s mother didn’t believe him either.In 2005, Joe Hayes received the Talking Leaves Award from the National Storytelling Network for his contributions to the literature of storytelling.
One of Japan's foremost twentieth-century photographers, Shomei Tomatsu has created a defining portrait of postwar Japan. Beginning with his meditation on the devastation caused by the atomic bombs in 11:02 Nagasaki, Tomatsu focused on the tensions between traditional Japanese culture and the nation's growing Westernization, most notably in his seminal book Nihon. Beginning in the late 1950s, Tomatsu photographed as many of the American military bases as possible--beginning with those on the main island of Japan and ending in Okinawa, a much-contested archipelago off the southernmost tip of the country. Tomatsu's photographs focused on the seismic impact of the American victory and occupation: uniformed American soldiers carousing in red-light districts with Japanese women; foreign children at play in the seedy landscape of cities like Yokosuka and Atsugi; and the emerging protest- and counter-culture formed in response to the ongoing American military presence. He originally named this series Occupation, but later retitled it Chewing Gum and Chocolate to reflect the handouts given to Japanese kids by the soldiers--sugary and addictive, but lacking in nutritional value. And although many of his most iconic images are from this series, the best of this work has never before been gathered together in a single volume. Leo Rubinfien, co-curator of the photographer's survey Skin of the Nation, contributes an essay that engages with Tomatsu's ambivalence toward the American occupation and the shifting national identity of Japan. Also included in this volume are never-before-translated writings by Tomatsu from the 1960s and 70s, providing context for both the artist's original intentions and the sociopolitical thinking of the time.Shomei Tomatsu (1930-2012) played a central role in Vivo, a self-managed photography agency, and founded the publishing house Shaken and the quarterly journal Ken. He participated in the groundbreaking New Japanese Photography exhibition in 1974 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and, in 2011, the Nagoya City Art Museum featured Tomatsu Shomei: Photographs, a comprehensive survey of his work.
Veterans of World War II have long sung the praises of the PX—a little piece of home in far-flung corners of the world. Though many books on that war tell of combat operations and logistics in detail, this is the first to tell the full story of the Army Exchange System. The AES was dedicated to providing soldiers with some of the comforts they had enjoyed in civilian life—candy, beer, cigarettes, razor blades, soap—whether by operating an exchange close to where they were fighting or by sending goods forward to the lines, free of charge. The beer may have been only “3.2,” but it was cheap and, unlike British beer, was served cold, thanks to PX coolers. And a constant supply of cigarettes and chewing gum gave GIs an advantage when flirting with the local girls. In chronicling the history of the AES, James J. Cooke harks back to the Civil War, in which sutlers sold basic items to the Yankee troops for exorbitant prices, and to the First World War, when morale-building provisions were brought in by agencies such as the Red Cross. He then traces the evolution of the PX through World War II from the point of view of those who ran the service and that of the soldiers who used it, blending administrative history with colorful anecdotes and interspersing letters from GIs. Cooke views the PX as a manifestation of American mobility, materialism, and the cultural revolution of mass consumerism that flourished in the 1920s, serving soldiers who were themselves products of this new American way of retail and expected a high level of material support in time of war. He emphasizes the accomplishments of Major General Joseph W. Byron, chief PX officer from 1941 to 1943, and his deputy, Colonel Frank Kerr. He also tells how the PX dealt with the presence of large numbers of women in uniform and the need to meet their demands in exchange offerings. By 1945, General Byron could boast that the Army Exchange Service operated the world’s largest department store chain, serving the grandest army the United States had ever put in the field, and today the PX is still a central factor of military life. Yet as Cooke shows, the key to the AES’s importance was ultimately the way it bolstered morale—and helped give our fighting men the will to keep fighting.