A chance to exorcise your Cardboard Fetish …

   Reliquary officials describe the “Son of Cardboard Fetish” exhibition as a companion and update to last year’s popular “Cardboard Fetish” exhibition at the Pasadena Central Library.
   While the exhibit is brand new, cyber travelers can take a look at last years version with a couple of neat videos (If I can manage to navigate my way to such things, anybody can):

   I’ll quote directly from their press release: “Son of Cardboard Fetish” mixes nostalgia, affection, irreverence and social commentary in its celebration of baseball trading cards.  A highlight of the display is a selection of artworks and artist-designed baseball cards by Chester Crill, Greg Jezewski, Jon and Steve Leonoudakis, Richard Newton, and William Scaff.

   The exhibit marks the first time the Leonoudakis Brothers have shared their collection of baseball card curiosities.  Jon is unveiling his “Villains” baseball cards, an homage to the 1964 Topps set, featuring a group of the greatest villains in cinema history from Ernst Stavro Blofeld to Norman Bates, all depicted in the uniforms of Jon’s two most hated teams, the Dodgers and the Yankees.  Brother Steve has gathered together distinctive groupings of baseball players on cardboard, ranging from guys with greasy hair and crew cuts to guys with double chins and giant wads of tobacco, the latter collection affectionately entitled “Men with Lumps on Their Faces.”  There’s even a special group of players who share the Leonoudakis ancestry, entitled “Baseball’s Greatest – and only – Greeks.”
   I can get in trouble trumpeting the artistic mischief of spectacular Yankee haters, since a significant percentage of our readership holds a dramatically divergent view, but the all-in-good-fun spirit of these kinds of programs makes them irresistible.
   I doubt I can improve on Jon Leonoudakis’ own words: “I first became aware there was something odd about baseball players when I opened a pack of Topps to find the venerable Nellie Fox smiling back at me with a lump the size of tennis ball in his cheek  (Don’t know why he didn’t make it into this collection).  I had no idea what caused that lump but soon became aware that a number of other ballplayers were afflicted with similar deformities.
   “Little by little I came to notice other common peculiarities: some guys had crazy names, some looked old before their time, and some were just plain old. I started looking for other distinctive groups: guys with greasy hair, guys with crewcuts, guys with double chins.  Add to that various printing flaws, home-grown mutilations, and a special page for players sharing my ancestry (glorious Greeks) and voila! We have this strange little collection of baseball card curiosities.”

   But, as they say in the biz, there’s more. As part of the “Son of Cardboard Fetish” Exhibit, the library was slated to hold a book signing with Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards, on June 10. I understand that most of my readers don’t have the ability to get to that event in person, either, but I wanted to let  subscribers now about the unique book.
   I’ve only had it a few days and have been able to read just a couple of chapters, but that’s more than enough to recommend it for those who love baseball cards and can be flexible enough to see often touching linkages between the seemingly trivial and the patently profound.
   More on this when I have time to actually finish the book. There’s airport time looming in the future with a trip to San Francisco, and we all know airports can be useful in catching up on your reading, along with sharpening your ability to take your shoes on and off.
   Yes, I remain openly bitter about that numbskull with the exploding shoes.

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