One From the Vaults

(While this evening’s entry is not of our usual musical focus, it still carries a historical value which I hope my readers will enjoy.)

After reading about James Joyce’s last words, (deeply saddening), I wanted to revisit his final interview, published in Time Magazine, issue #19, May 9, 1939, upon the publication of Finnegans Wake.

Unfortunately, my copy is archivally framed and I was too much of a dumbass to think to scan the interview pages before encapsulating it forever in its final fate. As I’ve never really had any interest in magazines, I am not a member of any of the major closed magazine trackers, and their public brethren are overrun with porn zines and offer little in the way of 1930s print.

So, against all my better judgment, I signed up for a one-time access pass to the Vault section of Time Magazine’s website for $2.50 and went to work. Whoever was in charge of scanning these archival issues did a terrible job, leaving many pages askew or missing as much as half of the page. And Time doesn’t exactly go out of its way to make it easy for users to save any of this content.

For a few minutes, I started logging the image source URLs for the 86-page issue and in about 30-seconds’ time I successfully executed a command line script which automatically scraped all of the high-res page scans of the entire issue from the Vault, compiled them in the proper sequence, and exported the resulting file to a PDF.

There were a few hiccups, as I placed a wildcard one branch too early and inadvertently initiated a media scrape of the entire history of Time Magazine.

With the task complete, I took a moment to also extract the interview article’s text and export to Google Doc, ODT, plaintext, and epub for optimal accessibility.

Flipping through the entire issue was indeed eye-opening – there was the latest news from Hitler, adverts from Martin Aircraft, “World’s Standard of Skyway Supremacy”, Camel ads targeting young women, adverts for the Studebaker and the Pontiac Eight, the new technology of aluminum foil, the latest foxtrot hits, and this gem from Monsanto Corporation:

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Settling in presently to read the interview which set me on this little project.

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Published in: on February 1, 2017 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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