Saturday, July 2, 2016

Book of the Day: Ya dig?

The website Motherboard has unveiled a new example of retro-archaeology: looking at the present from the future:

New Excavations in the Valley of the Kings (Las Vegas). Silentnight Acama, Malbanchia University Press, 108, 7th New Baktun. 

Ever since its discovery in the late 5th Baktun, when we had only the sketchiest understanding of the world of the Coca-Cola peoples, the Valley of the Kings has been recognized as one of the central sites of the North American Petroleum Age. While it is currently believed that the republican period capital was located somewhere on the east coast—New York/Newark, Columbia, or Halifax being the most probable sites—the unquestionable majesty of the Las Vegas palace district makes it clear that this was the eventual seat of the American Empire…


Then there’s the famous SNL sketch of 1977, with Laraine Newman:

Announcer: The Magna Concorde Hovercraft Systems Group presents... "Archaeologicus", with your host Tina Gemini.  

[ Tina Gemini enters the stage ]  

Tina Gemini: Good evening. I'm Tina Gemini. On April 12th, 1962, a group of explorers working in the blistering desert heat in a small community near Palm Springs entered this small corridor... [ she points to a diagram on an easel of an aerial view of a hotel ] Exactly fifty paces away, they broke into a sealed opening to this chamber within... that beheld some of the most splendid examples of funerary riches known to mankind. The relics of an age gone by, perfectly preserved for us today. Join me as we discover together... "The Treasures of Morton Kamen".  

[ camera zooms in on the diagram, as the title appears over it ]  

[ dissolve to black-and-white photo of Morton Kamen and his wife ]  

Tina Gemini V/O: At the moment of Morton Kamen's death, the air conditioning in the sealed chamber was set so low that everything, including his wife Shirley, has been perfectly preserved.  

[ dissolve to black-and-white photo of Morton Kamen's shoes ]  

Tina Gemini V/O: All we know about Morton Kamen is that he was an incredibly rich man who surrounded himself with the spoils of his civilization. Powerful amulets protected his feet.  

[ dissolve to black-and-white photo of an Alligator shirt ]  

Tina Gemini V/O: While potent animal symbols, like the holy alligator were used to protect his life. He had literally hundreds of tunics like this, in virtually every color of the rainbow.  

[ dissolve to black-and-white photo of cookware ]  

Tina Gemini V/O: The sacrificial feasts were prepared in this vessel, and, miraculously, the remains of a freshwater tuna fish and noodle offering are as fresh today as the day as the day it was prepared.  

[ dissolve to black-and-white photo of Morton Kamen's golf cart and golf accessories ]  

Tina Gemini V/O: And here, the most exciting of the riches, is the famous golden chariot of Morton Kamen, used, we believe, in an ancient ritual utilizing long sticks to bat tiny balls into holes in the ground for public adulation.  

[ dissolve back to Tina Gemini, holding an audiotape recorder ]
Tina Gemini: Another find was this primitive recording device, which enables us to actually hear Morton Kamen's voice and this strange message. [ she presses Play ]  

Voice of Morton Kamen: [ thickly Jewish ] Hello! Morton and Shirley are out right now, but we'll be good to get back if you'll leave your name and number after the beep tone. Have a nice day. [ beeeeep ]  

Tina Gemini: [ she turns it off ] Did that beep-frequency brainwash callers into obedience toward Morton Kamen? You can see that people were treated as slaves with numbers instead of names. But -- perhaps the most enigmatic find in Morton Kamen's tomb... is this pair of zippered rubber underpants.

[ she removes them from their display case ]

They were found hidden in a compartment near the water chamber. Attached to them was this strange "curse" of Morton Kamen: [ she reads the label ] "Sale of this novelty item to minors is forbidden by law." Until we fully discover the significance of rubber underwear, this admonition will remain as much a mystery as why Moton Kamen and his wife Shirley were preserved to begin with. Until then, I bid thee a good night.

motel 2.jpg

But David Macaulay retired the trophy with his meticulously illustrated Motel of the Mysteries. Henry Bemis Books has the first Scholastic edition, 8” x 10.5”, softcover, 1st printing, September 1993. 95 pp. An excellent parody of the King Tut’s tomb discovery and of archaeology itself, the book is a  good reading copy. Two pages dogeared at the bottom; a previous owner’s name, “Gill” inscribed on the top right corner of the cover. Learn the truth of the “Tote ‘n Come On” bag! HBB price: $7.50.

motel 3.jpg

Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory; for pricing on this or others items, kindly private message us. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like.

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