Rags

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: As I mentioned yesterday, the scanner here at Deitch Studio has made a permanent exit. It didn’t really owe us much as it was acquired in 2007 according to our Amazon records and survived a couple of Deitch publications in their entirety – of course not just the finished products requiring huge files of high resolution scans, but the many stages of sketches, not to mention this blog and the daily demands made of any scanner. It died halfway through a scan of the back cover of Kim’s next book, almost but not quite making that final last gasp. RIP old friend.

Mr. Deitch’s requirements of size and resolution make replacing this piece of equipment a somewhat more complex matter than it would appear – as I understand it, the model we currently have (a direct descendent of the only kind we have ever owned) was designed for things like scanning x-rays than with cartoonists necessarily in mind. The scanner in question is no longer produced (of course!) but as I am in charge of technology here at Deitch Studio I have taken it under advisement and I am researching a replacement.

Meanwhile today, I present a recent acquisition via the photo the seller supplied. Rags, the Famous Rotograph Cat turns out to have been a hard working little fellow. From kittenhood he was dressed up and posed – in tiny men’s suits, baby clothes, a dunce cap and the like, or in juxtaposition with baby chicks, bunnies or other small animals that a cat like Rags was perhaps more interested in snacking on. Looking at this scrappy little tabby fellow, I have to assume that while he would have preferred a life of leisure, however despite certain indignities, his days as a photo model, (hopefully) complete with meals and a warm, dry place to live was preferable to what many of his cohorts could opt into.

From the accounts I can find of the Rotograph Company, it would appear that Rags was a fellow resident of Manhattan. Situated at 684 Broadway from 1904-1911, the Rotograph Company inhabited a handsome building near Fourth Street which, according to Google Earth photos, appears largely intact from that period today. For some reason Kim and I both got Rotograph and Rotography all mixed up with photogravure (a photo intalglio print making process) and instead it appears these folks just made this name up. In fact their line of photo postcards were indeed real photos (as per a tiny printed boast on the back bottom of the card) either produced directly for sale or made as commercial items for others. During their brief existence they coughed out more than 6,000 cards, many which are actively resold today. This particular card was mailed from Niagara Falls, NY on the afternoon of July 30, 1907 and arrived in North Sterling, Ohio on August 1 at 6 AM.

When I reflect on working animals I tend to think that dogs (at least many of them) enjoy having a job. It seems to me that a dog in films is having a glorious time of being put through his or her paces with a master or mistress lurking just behind the camera, rewards in hand. It is the same instinct that makes them herd sheep well. They like to hang out with the humans and be a part of something. It is difficult to imagine cats as anything but more diffident to such a role. However from what I read, evidently with enough of the right cat treats many cats are willing to sing for their supper as well and do so in films and performance venues. The question of if they enjoy it hangs unanswered. While I occasionally remind Cookie and Blackie that they have “jobs” this usually means curling up on the bed with me when I am under the weather or allowing me to pick them up and “kiss their little cat face” – which they hate of course, but it is after all, work.

On Instagram I follow a heavy set tabby with the moniker Larry the Security Cat who is a rescue living in a thriftstore called BLUvintage in Delaware. I only recently realized he has a broken paw which has healed quite crooked and is evidence that he had a rough early life on the street. It would appear that his duties these days are light – largely confined to pets, chin rubs and posing with strangers. He posts frequently and has over 7,200 followers. I found him via a mention in the New York Times. It seems like the right amount of genteel work for this fellow and a good trade-off to end a hard life on the street.

Meanwhile, our friend Rags appears to have gone onto star in his own book, Kittens and Cats in 1911. It is my hope the residuals were enough for him to retire on at that point.

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Cookie, posing in her best Rags imitation yesterday, and on Blackie’s cushion, which she stole.

 

Today a shout out to fellow feline blogger Historical Felines for their post on Rags which helped inform today’s post and can be found in its entirety at Aristocat!

 

Travel

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This little kid clutching (his?) toys is my jumping off point for a brief post before grabbing my roller bag and hitting Amtrak for a business trip this morning. This photo was part of the birthday loot from the great Antique Toy Shop (I like to promote my friends and a link can be found here!) in Chelsea. This little fellow in his winter togs has his toys so he’s ready to go wherever.

As a child who had to travel with a certain retinue of toys, I can remember that decision making process even now. There were, to some degree, toys which had to go with as I remember. Squeaky the dog was probably the primary one and there was a koala bear (and a successor one) that also did some road time. There were toys of the moment and toys to entertain (Colorforms anyone?) but those two toys were the mainstays of maintaining happiness abroad. Of course travel when I was small was rarely more than a trip to my grandmother’s house. The Butlers were not a traveling family for the most part. It is, however, all relative and leaving the house was travel when I was a tot.

I am a mix of contradiction about travel. There is an adventurous side of me that gets a gleam in my eye at the thought of a trip to a remote Buddhist enclave hidden in the Himalayas and only accessible via three days hike with our bags strapped to yaks. (I have been to Tibet twice and would love to go another time; Patagonia and Machu Picchu via a trip with the Met Museum, Russia and Europe. The Buddhist kingdom of Mustang has long been on my list.) And yet I am always conflicted about actually leaving home and routine – Kim! Kitties! Morning coffee at the computer with Kim and them. I am both the daughter of my father, who happily traveled world-wide in his job as a cameraman for ABC News, and my mom who has rarely left New Jersey and has only flown, to my knowledge, twice in her life.

I guess as a child I mitigated that travel anxiety to some degree by having my toys with me. As an adult you instead run through the plethora of bits you don’t want to forget – a myriad of charger cables, shoes for the event on Sunday, socks, a plethora of appropriate ID if flying, instructions for the hotel and restaurants. (I once showed up in Boston for a conference with only the name of my hotel, sadly a generic one like Hilton, and no address. The cab driver made a lucky right guess with the first try as there were several in town. Since then I always check that I have that.) It is a pity that there really is no adult substitute for toys.

I travel for business with some frequency, although as Pictorama readers know these days I sometimes also travel with the orchestra. (I have written about my orchestra adventures from Florida to Shanghai and samples can be found here and here.) There is comfort in being of that well oiled machine, and once I am under the purview of the great road manager Ray Murphy I am secure in the knowledge that I will get where I am going on time, will be well fed, and in general all will be good and run with military precision.

However often, like today, I will travel on my own and only meet up with them briefly for a concert. I am, of course, all competency and capableness once started – not to mention that these days I am blessed with an extraordinarily efficient assistant in the form of a human dynamo named Sandra. She has organized me almost in spite of myself for this particular trip which I paid almost no attention to in the fray of other work needing to be tied up. Thank you Sandra!

I will drag my heels about getting out of the house to some degree although not enough to endanger my actual schedule; I am too compulsive for that. The suitcase is half packed on the floor causing some distress among the cats already. Kim is off to the MoCCA comics con shortly and I am left with a nagging desire to be in two places at once. I am always good once I begin. Travel efficiency will kick in and I have people I am looking forward to seeing in Boston, as well as those I will enjoy meeting. A few days in Boston is largely an enjoyable outing.

Traveling with Kim is of course entirely different, although we don’t do it very often. For me in many ways, having Kim with me and going somewhere is sort of like taking my toys with me. I will have to write about that as well. Now if only we could figure out bringing the cats.

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Not my bear but one like it via the internet.

Squeaky in 2015

Squeaky the dog. He’s clearly worse for all that travel!