Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gauche (Blogophilia 12.5)


It is a French word meaning left.  In some circles, like Paris, it still has a bit of cache.  The Rive Gauche is known for its offbeat life and cafes.  Pretentious people still like to insert foreign phrases into their speech to make people think they are sophisticated.  

But Gauche, like its English counterpart, has another meaning.  Since left is opposite of right, it has been used as a placebo  for words like sinister, evil and awkward.  To say something is Gauche is to refer to as ugly and out of fashion.  Or maybe even evil. When I was a child, my sisters would always refer to something as gauche, rather than gross or ugly.  

In I was in elementary school, I had a subscription to MAD magazine.  Like most kids, I read it cover to cover.  Unlike most kids, I began trying to emulate the writing styles.  I knew each of the “Usual Gang of Idiots” by name and specialty.  Don Martin and his offbeat misshapen people.  Dave Berg’s Lighter Side, which poked fun at the foibles of suburban life.  Antonio Prohias with Spy vs. Spy and all the others. Art and writing diabolically conducted by the team of Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines.   And all terribly, terribly Gauche.  

But the one artist that stands out more than the others, is Al Jaffee.  The breadth and depth of this man’s insanity is something to truly behold.  Bill Engvall stole “Here’s your sign” from his “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.  The MAD Flag Poster.  The list goes on.   He wrote offbeat poetry, incredibly insightful prose and put out some of the wackiest art known up to that time.  He invented the fold-in.  



I would stare for several minutes at the poster in the back of every issue, wondering what the answer to the question would be.  Then I would carefully take the corner of the page and gently swing it over, trying not to put a visible crease.  And then, I would violently slap the page in place and have a great laugh.  

Even today, I still will seek out an issue at the newsstand and when no one is watching, fold the page and spoil the joke for everyone else.
It’s so much fun. 

17 comments:

  1. Great write... I use sneak peaks at Mad at the newsagency when my mother wasn't looking... didn't really see one cover to cover till I was 17.

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    1. At one point, I had about 160 issues (from 1968-1981). They have long since gone, but I can still remember the best fold ins.

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  2. I would buy them one at time, never had a subscription. Late 60s to early 70s.

    Did you ever get any National Lampoon magazines? I had one in college that had a section on tag. You could buy a helmet with a flashlight, etc. and we had one kid totally believing it was a fad. hahaha

    David II

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    1. Of course. I got in trouble for having the March 1976 issue in school (It's called "In Like A Lion). And it was the late 1970's editorial staff that became the writers for the original Saturday Night Live crew.

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  3. Mad Magazine was my favorite reading material! Thanks for the memories! 8 points Earthling! :)

    Marvin

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  4. Mad magizine was not permitted in our house - had to go to friends to read it. So I missed more than a few issues and never really got to reread/peruse it like many of my peers.

    TM

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    1. Your parents thought it would warp your mind.

      Looking back, I think they might have been right.

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  5. I thought everyone read MAD but juding by the comments here some kids weren't allowed. Guess that proves how forward looking it was. You don't see stuff like that anymore. Not much good satire. Very impressed you found a pic for this. And how sad you got rid of your copies. They would be worth a fortune

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    1. Only a couple of them would be valuable. #166, which Alfred is replaced by a raised middle finger has some value. The copy of the MAD special with Al Jaffee's flag is really valuable complete (about $100 in pristine condition).

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  6. Never heard of Mad Magazine, but at least you got to enjoy it, lol.

    Ev

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  7. i've never read MAD mag. but i have to say i'm intrigued.

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  8. I never read the magazine, but I recognize the goofy smile and the MAD anytime I see it. I think my brothers used to read it but I do not think my parents would have read it or known if it was something they should have ben reading. My dad might have....

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  9. Opps! forgot to put my name in! This was Joanie

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  10. thanks for the *snort* on my blog :D

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