Saturday, February 3, 2007

Query: Why CPG?

Why The Califa Police Gazette you wonder...

I'm so glad you asked!

Well, older hands (much much older--those who have reached their hundred and fiftieth year or so), may recall once seeing upon the newstands a pink papered publication entitled The National Police Gazette.

First published in the 1840s, the NPG was a cross between COPS and The National Enquirer. Under the guise of warning the public of the wickedness of the world, the NPG covered crimes, celebrity gossip, and rough sports, such as boxing and rat-baiting. Supposedly, the NPG was telling you all this for your own good, because only by knowing about badness could you avoid it, but it's hard to believe that the newspaper's public weren't reading it just for the good stuff.

And the good stuff was pretty good: scalpings, lynchings, high-wire electrocutions, white slavery, abandoned women, pugilists, acrobats, women in trousers, runaway horses, runaway brides, bagnios, and all the other news that the New York Times did not deem fit to print.

And to add to the NPG's charm, it was printed on pink paper!

In the 1860s, the NPG got on the illustrated bandwagon, and began accompanying its lurid articles with lurid black and white pen and ink drawings, and that really got its readership going. Photographs were still expensive and required absolute stillness, so drawings were the only way to capture a scene, and capture the scene the NPG's artists did, filling the pages of the newspaper with lightly clad ladies, train wrecks, execution scenes, horse stampedes, dog fights, and men jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, among other events.

The NPG stayed in circulation well into the 20th century, but the rise of on-the-fly photography, and the development of cheap photo reproduction processes stole most of the paper's graphic thunder. People had other, more realistic outlets, for their baser urges, and they didn't need the NPG anymore. And eventually the paper died a unlamented death, the relic of another naughty age.

When I decided that Califa needed a similar publication, one which would act as shadow to the more respectable Alta Califa, Califa's paper of record, the National Police Gazette proved the perfect model, so I quickly appropriated the name. Alas, that my blog is not usually nearly as exciting or naughty at its namesake, once removed, still, I do strive to entertain, and to inform, and will try to be occasionally lurid, for old time's sake.

5 comments:

Erika Hamerquist said...

Hi, Madama Wilce. I'm trying to leave a query here (mainly this is a test, since I'm having trouble getting emails or comments through): Why is it Barbarick (sp) in MMA and Grammatika (sp) in FS?

Ysabeau Wilce said...

Great question, and I'll address it in a post of its very own! Sorry to hear you are having a problem with email--are you sending to the address on my website? As far as I know, it works fine.

Erika Hamerquist said...

I was attempting to email you through Outlook on your "frontispiece" page, and got an ah-ah-ah from Hotmail. I suspect the problem is all on my end. Hotmail's probably trying to strongarm me into signing up for more perks. Or else I violated one of the many electronic etiquette things I haven't figured out yet. Anyway, I unfortunately lost a couple paragraphs of scintillating wit I was in the midst of sending you. Actually, all I said was (1) thanks for the chap book, I loved it, and (2) I hope to be a diehard daily reader too, and (3) I want to be on the mailing list if I'm not already. Also, I think I mentioned that I could spend all day and then some on your blog but I only have internet access at work so I'd probably get fired and there are millions of fat cells who depend on me to bring home the bacon. And the chocolate.

Erika Hamerquist said...

Apologies if I posted the last comment twice! Once again the communication problems are on my end.

Ysabeau Wilce said...

The Internet can be a fickle goddess, and if she feels slighted can wreck all sorts of havoc on our cyber-lives. No double posts--no worries! I'm glad you liked the chapbook. I have fun doing them; we megalomaniacs enjoy controlling every aspect of production! You are added to my mailing list, and I am glad that the CPG is providing enough entertainment to encourage daily visits. Such is my goal! Cheers, and keep your chocolate dry...