About this Blog

"In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So said the bleached-out, late lamented artist Andy Warhol. Having lived and worked in New York City, Warhol came to fully grasp the hold celebrity has on us. In this very famous sentence, he meant to point out that in a culture fixated on fame, many people will suddenly flash brightly onto the public screen, then--poof--will just as quickly disappear from public view--like shooting stars. Other individuals derive their celebrity from one stellar accomplishment (one hit song, one iconic role, etc.) that they never again match.

This blog is devoted to the one part of our celebrity culture that no one has written much about: temporary/one-shot celebrities.

The pace of modern life has quickened, and now we hear people speaking of someone's 15 seconds of fame. These "celebrities with a lower-case c" who will appear in this blog sometimes come to us from the world of entertainment, sometimes from the world of news. All are fascinating.

The need of our communications media for a continual stream of new material assures that we will have no end of colorful people who go quickly, where celebrity is concerned, from zero to hero (or villain) and back to zero. Now you see 'em, now you don't. What a crazy world, eh?

Temporary celebrities coming from the world of entertainment include one-hit recording artists; TV and movie icons who, although they might have had a great many accomplishments in their career, are remembered for one big role; standouts of reality TV; sports figures remembered for one remarkable accomplishment; and people whose celebrity came from one big role in a commercial or print ad.

News-based temporary celebrities come in many forms: mass/serial killers, other murderers of special note, sex-crime offenders, disgraced figures of government/military/business/media/religion, spies/traitors, hoaxers, femmes/hommes fatale, heroes, whistle blowers, inventors/innovators, and victims.

Celebrity Blogsburg will consider each category in turn.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Notorious celebrity: Gilbert Bland

The name Gilbert Bland enjoyed a tiny shard of temporary media-awarded celebrity in 1995 when he was caught slicing a valuable map out of an old book at the Peabody Library in Baltimore, MD.

Bland is presented here as a single example of what some people term a "slasher"--someone who defaces and steals old and rare documents.

Bland was a Florida antiques dealer who specialized in old maps. Like other slashers, he would visit the rare book room of various libraries, locate his prizes, cut them out of their books, and spirit them out of the libary under his clothing.

When caught by Peabody guards, he reportedly had four old maps on him. Eventually he was charged with the theft of some 250 old and valuable maps. In 2000, a travel writer named Miles Harvey published a book about Bland's escapades: "The Island of Lost Maps."

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