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December 14th, 2023

Dick Pics

Back when I was a teenager and big box department stores were a thing, I used to go shopping, mostly for LPs at the E.J. Korvette’s across Rockville Pike. It was classic suburban car culture retail, with a massive, and I mean Massive, parking lot surrounding a huge store that sold everything from lawn mowers to blue jeans to jewelry and watches to TVs. They had a legendary record department, and I would go there often to browse the movie and TV soundtrack titles. In their day they had a bigger soundtrack selection than anyone else.

I would also browse the book department. One day I saw this paperback title on the shelves and my jaw dropped, completely taken by surprise and completely embarrassed.


I don’t think I was more embarrassed by the Sticky Fingers album cover when I first laid eyes on it. I could not believe a book with thAT title was allowed on the shelves, even if I knew it was obviously not, could not possibly be about…er…those kinds of dicks. I picked it up and looked at the back cover blurb and saw that it was, yes, a collection of pulp detective stories, which I wasn’t much interested in at the time.

I briefly considered buying a copy as a joke. But I was probably still struggling with my emerging sexuality and didn’t want mom seeing it because she was already questioning my lack of interest in girls and my stash of 16 and Tiger Beat magazines.

Time passes, the universe expands, and along comes the Internet and email and social media and and smartphones and this cover became something of a running gag with me whenever the topic of sexting and dick pics came up. The little inner Baptist boy in me will in no way allow the grown up me to engage in online conversations like that. But the Mad Magazine inner tweenager in me loved joking about it with photos of Dick Tracy, Dick Nixon, Dick Clark, and this book cover.

Once, a certain someone down in Florida told me during one of our conversations not to be sending him any dick pics (I’ve often wondered later if he wasn’t actually trying to give me ideas) and I made the usual jokes back at him. Maybe that’s what started our downhill slide. My sense of humor often irritated him, which irritated me.

So when the other day a friend joked when I was bellyaching about Facebook unilaterally removing one of my posts, that I was posting too many dick pics, and I replied with the cover of this book. He laughed, I laughed. And then I began thinking about it more.

I never really got into hard core noir detective fiction but I have loved some of the movies in that genre. After watching and loving the 1975 Robert Mitchum version of Farewell My Lovely, I decided to pick up a random Raymond Chandler book…he was said to be the gold standard of detective noir…and see if I might want to read him.

At the Crown Books in Congressional Plaza I saw and picked up a copy of one of his novels, I forget now which one, and I Just Happened to flip it open to a scene in it where Marlow is roughing up a young homosexual for some information. Chandler writes that the kid tries to swing back but those little queer boys just don’t have the muscle or the skeletal hardness to put up much of a fight.

The contempt was just dripping off the page and I put it back, and never picked up another Raymond Chandler book. But I still love that film version of Farewell My Lovely. I even bought a copy of the soundtrack by David Shire, which set the tone for the movie perfectly.

But the book I often joked about still intrigued me for, perhaps, a different reason: it’s alleged pulp fiction roots. I have long been a big fan of a particular pulp fiction character: The Shadow. I have a bunch of paperbacks, written by Walter Gibson under the pen name Maxwell Grant, with those amazing pulp art covers.

The only other artist to do the character justice was Michael Kaluta in that amazing series of DC comics that are now collector’s items, and really every time he does the character…

The Shadow was the only pulp character I ever enjoyed reading. For some reason I never got into Doc Savage stories, although those are also said to be a gold standard in pulp fiction. But given how much I’ve enjoyed pulp stories about The Shadow I knew I could actually digest pulp fiction…it just had to be good pulp fiction. If that’s not a contradiction in terms.

So after Yet Another dick pics joke about that book I thought, let me actually try reading it. It’s an anthology so maybe I end up hating some of it, but liking others. So I did a little digging and came up with this hardbound first edition in like new condition, for not very much money.

I posted a version of this to my Facebook page, because most of my friends and classmates still don’t seem to get blogs. Now I wait to see if Facebook deletes this post too. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of social media…hahahahaha…


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