Wham-O creators Arthur "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr
Richard Knerr and Spud Melin had been friends since high school. They'd gone to college together and opened a used car business together. But it was their love of falconrey that actually sparked a chain of events that would lead to the Frisbee, Hula-Hoop, and the Slip 'n' Slide.
Richard and Spud would shoot bits of meat into the air for their falcons to grab. To do this, they fashioned their own sling-shot. One day, a man approached them wanting to get a hold of a sling shot like theirs.... the rest, as they say, is history. The partners went to Sears and got a saw, and then some lumber and strips of rubber. They put ads in magazines in comic books for their sling shots, and earned enough capital to make more items.
And make more items they did. The breadth and scope of their products is simply too much to cover in a post. They sold any odd thing that came to mind - most were amazingly bad failures, but a select few became national crazes. The Hula-Hoop nearly bankrupted them, until a year later (1958) the fad swept the country. Other items like the "mink navel stole" (a quarter sized patch to cover up women's belly buttons) never quite caught on.
Here's a look at some of the products sold by this one-of-a-kind company, Wham-O!
Labels: Kid Stuff
Glad you could drop by for another set of sinfully underplayed tunes from yesteryear. I wouldn't exactly say the Edgar Broughton Band was ever a household hame, but I must say they deserve more attention than they get. They've got that prog/acid rock 70s vibe down pat. I don't know much about them, but I've enjoyed their album immensely. The song I've selected for you is "Madhatter" from their eponymous 1971 LP.
Here's another one from 1971 called "Tuely's Day" by the progressive rock group The Road. In 1971, bubblegum music was experiencing a dry spell, and it was hurting labels like Kama Sutra and Buddha which had specialized in the brand. Prog rock is the direct descendant of psychedelic rock; the drug element, creativity, experimentation, and disregard for the mainstream were still there; however, it had morphed into a more pretentious and heavy-handed beast, often unlistenable to the average shmoe.
This is not to say all prog music was below the radar. Some groups like Pink Floyd and Yes became Billboard successess. The Kama Sutra label was hoping for a success with The Road.... unfortunately, The Road kinda sucked.
Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but The Road is the textbook example of why prog rock fell out of favor. It's so philosophical, so experimental and "intelligent".... where's the fun? No wonder people were itching for KC & the Sunshine band. By the mid 70s, prog rock had largely morphed into the AOR format and Kama Sutra and Buddha went on to score big with the Super Fly soundtrack and Gladys Knight LP's.
What became of The Road? No idea. But forty years later they're featured on a blog called Retrospace. Thats gotta count for something.
Lastly, we have ex-Tangerine Dream member, Klaus Schulze. His 1973 album, Cyborg, is surely a pioneering work in avant-garde music. It's alien sounds grow on you after a while, so I won't say Klaus is the predecesor of Yanni and Tesh, whom I hate. In fact, the strange ambient sounds remind me a bit of David Bowie's album Low. The song I've included for is called "Neuronengesang", which I assume means something like "brain song". Take a listen.
As you know by now, there's nothing to complicated about this Mini-skirt Monday thing. Just a bunch of vintage minis tied loosely around a theme. This time it's drinking. What a wonderful combination - booze and miniskirts. You can thank me later.
I'm not sure about over in Europe, but here in the States, if a man shows up in your living room looking thiis fella.... be afraid. He's either a serial killer or..... well, um.... I guess, he could only be a serial killer. This man is definitely there to kill you. Prepare to run screaming.
Decoration U.S.A.(1965) by Jose Wilson and Arthur Leamon
I came across this wonderful book featuring tons of vibrant full color photos of some amazing homes that would make a 1960s housewife swoon. The interiors would be right at home in Mad Men Season 5. It's that strange period between the traditional and battleship grey (1950s - early 60s) and the infamous marijuana-flavored 1970s style. It was the perfect blend of classic meets psychedelic, mainstream meets counter-culture.
What stands out most in these pictures is the use of color. It was a counter-reaction to the drabness of earlier decades but, primarily, it was due to technological breakthroughs. Pigments, plastics, and synthetic fibers were no longer just wartime science, but available for the average home. Subsequently, homes across the country exploded with color. From the book:
At this moment the American household is probably the most colorful in the world, Latin America and Southeast Asia notwithstanding.... In a country once starved for color, there is now such an embarras de richesse that we must inevitably revert, for a time at least, to a less heady and more balanced diet. With the experience of twenty years behind us, it is unlikely that we will ever again go on the all-out uninhibited color sprees of the past.
I realize I've posted on this before, but I don't think I did the topic justice - it's such an iconic image. A tour through a collection of old books, movie posters and comic books quickly reveals how incredibly common this scene is: the beast or the he-man carrying the damsel in distress.
Last time, I kind of speculated on why this image was so damn omnipresent, but I don't think I reached a satisfying answer. Here's a few theories I've come up with. Feel free to add your own.
A) The idyllic hero for men during these days was the ultra-masculine hulk, and their vision of woman was as helpless waifs. The imagery simply corresponded to the male frame of mind, but to an extreme degree.
B) After WWII, men saw women begin to assert themselves in society. Indeed, they had filled a lot of the vacant jobs while the boys were overseas. This may have been subconsciously emasculating, and the totally defenseless beauty in the arms of a brawny beast may have been subliminally comforting.
C) Young men were a primary target audience for the books, movies and comics that featured this imagery. Boys have a naturally fear of the opposite sex (whether they'd like to admit it or not), until they get older and less awkward. The weak, often lifeless, maiden was what these young lads wanted to see - as opposed to an intimidating woman of power.
Anyway, whatever the reason, to prove my point here's several hundred images to demonstrate my point. I think the sheer volume of examples silences even the most stubborn doubters out there. The "carry image" is, like it or not, an iconic part of our pop culture history.
Click on mosaics to enlarge.
Quote from Starlet Showcase:
When one is discussing actresses like Kate Hepburn, Bette Davis, or Joan Crawford, the name Joey Heatherton never seems to come up. When we're talking about serious blondes like Julie Christie, Catherine Deneuve, or Grace Kelly, Joey Heatherton's name is never uttered. When the subject is dancers, we leave Joey out and go on and on about Ginger Rogers, Eleanor Powell, Cyd Charisse, or Vera-Ellen. When the topic is monster cocaine users of the disco era, we discuss John Belushi, Carrie Fisher, and Robins Williams, but we never quite get around to Joey Heatherton. When we discuss 1960s babes, we're talking about Sharon Tate, Raquel Welch, Julie Christie, Ann-Margret, and basically all the Bond girls and Hammer horror women, but hardly ever Joey Heatherton. The only time that the name Joey Heatherton instantly springs to everyone's lips is when we are discussing mattress commercials.Too true. For someone that was so well known, well loved, beautiful and talented, it surprising how basically forgotten she's become. I remember when she was on every variety show and TV special that came on - from Perry Como and Dean Martin to Ed Sullivan, Andy Williams and Tom Jones. She had sustained exposure for over a decade on every channel on the dial.
Labels: foxy ladies
The Language and Music of the Wolves - Robert Redford 1971
If an actor is going to try their hand at cutting an album, I'd much prefer it be something like this - narrating rather than singing. I'm still feeling the burn from Eddie Murphy's album back in '85.
The first question you've got to ask: why would someone feel compelled to buy an album consisting almost entirely of wolf howls? I mean, besides the intro narration by Mr. Redford, it's just a bunch of grunting and howling. Well, upon listening to this LP, I discovered that it kind of grows on you. The howling is oddly creepy and peaceful at the same time. Just as people listen to whale sounds to set a mood, I can see the value in a record like this.
Also, I think you'll agree that it would make a pretty cool Halloween record. Minus Redford's part, the sounds are pretty chilling. Take a listen to a couple minutes from the record..
Labels: actors on record
The things they did with yarn in the 70s gives me the shivers. Crochet is fine for sweaters and scarves, but when it starts trying to be "fashionable" and "trendy", things get out of hand. Let's face it - people did a lot of drugs in the 70s, and drugs and needlework do not mix. You wind up with things like the image above. A man should never put a belt OVER a sweater.... and then combine it with an ascot - damn!
Labels: needlework a go go
All That Glitters (1977)
A Norman Lear show similar to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, but the roles of women and men in this alternate universe are reversed. Sounds kinda gimmicky. Also, Linda Gray played a transsexual..... You may need to read that last sentence twice for it to sink in.
All's Fair (1976)
Richard Crenna played the conservative political columnist and Bernadette Peters played the liberal photographer. (yawn) All in the Family did the conservative vs. liberal thing perfect - this show sounds like just another copycat.
Another Day (1978)
This one sounds awful. It starred David Groh (Rhoda's man) as the dad who doesn't like his wife (played by the late Joan Hackett) having to work to pay the bills. Meanwhile, there's the cranky, overly critical mother in law..... ugh.
Apple Pie (1978)
Another Norman Lear flop. This one took place in the 1930s and starred Rue McClanahan as a hairdresser who puts an ad in the paper to recruit people to serve as her family to cure her loneliness. One of the faux family members is Dabney Coleman as Fast Freddy the hustler...... I think I feel sick.
Arnie was just your normal blue-collar guy, until he gets put in a high level management position. I never like these "fish out of water" storylines - and this show probably grew stale quick. Of course, I could be wrong.
The Associates (1979)
This one involves a bunch of young lawyers all working for a prestigious law firm. The fact that it stars Martin Short and the bald guy from Murphy Brown gives me hope that this might've been halfway decent.
Labels: The Boob Tube
When I listen to Earth, Wind and Fire or a Zeppelin album, I find myself asking over and over again "Why can't they make 'em like this anymore?" I know it's a tired cliché, but I haven't heard an adequate explanation for the decline in music.... until recently.
The author, Raymond Chandler, wasn't speaking about the music biz specifically, but I think it applies here perfectly.
Without magic, there is no art. Without art, there is no idealism. Without idealism, there is no integrity. Without integrity, there is nothing but production.
From now on, when I here the computer modified voices on the radio (I can't call them songs, really), all sounding the same, I will no longer scratch my head and wonder why. I'll just recite these words of wisdom and be on my merry way.
If you've ever had the opportunity to take a ride on an old train that's been restored, it's a remarkable experience. There's so much room, there's a beautiful bar/lounge, comfortable seats, big windows... I could gush all day. It beats the hell out of flying coach - packed like sardines with big sweaty passengers who all seem to be in bad moods.
Today, a round trip Amtrak ticket from Chicago to Los Angeles will run you about four to five hundred dollars. Actually, that's cheap compared to the 1961 price of around $120 bucks, which, adjusted for inflation, is about $875. Ten dollars a month for a year doesn't sound too bad... until you realize that ten dollars in 1961 is the equivalent to seventy-three dollars today!
Here's something that every housewife was drooling over - a fridge you didn't have to defrost! Many of you probably have no experience with a fridge/freezer with no auto defrost, so it's easy to underestimate the power of this convenience. One advantage was that Suzie Homemaker no longer had to get on her hands and knees while her appliance drained all day. It wasn't an easy job.
Another advantage was that you could actually see your frozen foods! Without auto defrost, your ham and turkey looked like snowdrifts in your freezer. Plus, everything stuck together like they'd been slathered with Super Glue. Best of all, your fridge and freezer didn't smell like hot sick ass. The air in auto-defrost appliances actually circulated.
The nifty pink color was sure to make the neighboorhood wives green with envy. But the cherry on top had to be the ice maker.
Since the dawn of civilization, there have existed certain “types” or “themes” that have persisted in the written word and art. For instance, the folklore (i.e. fairy tales and mythology) of basically every culture on earth all share striking commonalities. The gods of Greece are not all that different than the gods of India and the Norse gods. In fact, many of them share the same stories. The Epic of Gilgamesh is strikingly similar to the Biblical story of the Flood.
Indeed, comparative mythology is an academic field unto itself, and has some well known spokesmen. The Golden Bough by Joseph Frazer is one of the greatest surveys of humanity ever written, and Joseph Campbell has also written some great works demonstrating the intersecting lines across the millennia.
But these themes are not limited to our distant ancestors. You can see the archetypes continuing to this day. For example, the Star Wars saga is not all that different than Arthurian legend which is not that different than countless other Hero Cycles in other cultures. We may be more cognizant of our commonalities today, but they persist nonetheless.
I love looking at old computer literature. They always had such an unrealistic utopian vision of the computer's potential.
World of Tomorrow - School, Work and Play (1981) paints a picture of a world where computers make every facet of your existence better. Many thanks to The Pointless Museum for scanning this for us. NOTE: SORRY FOLKS, I JUST CHECKED THESE LINKS AND THEY NOW LEAD TO BAD PLACES. REMOVED 7/18/15
Note: They've also scanned both 1971 and 1979 ediitions of the book How It Works... The Computer as well as World of Tomorrow... Health and Medicine. All worth a look.
Labels: vintage technology
I was watching the movie Shock Waves the other day (a 70s film about aquatic Nazi zombies), and it occurred to me that any movie, no matter how badly put together about aquatic Nazi zombies would be awesome.
Making a movie should be a cake walk – just utilize the Retrospace list below, and the movie will write itself. Take for instance, this one…
Cave-Dwelling Nympho Cheerleaders
Tell me you wouldn’t go see this movie. You’d have to be M. Knight Shyamalan to mess this up. Other examples I've come up with include:
Switch-Blade Voodoo Sasquatch
Satanic Robot Assassins
Atomic Flesh-Eating Stewardesses
Toxic Shape-Shifting Orca
Kung Fu Stripper Vampires
Hell-born Ninja Hookers
Bionic Disco Time-Lord
Homicidal Jedi Bikers
Bare-Naked Space Cannibals
Undead Pimp Vigilante
Notice to Spielberg and James Cameron: Contact me. There’s more where these came from.
I had a lot of fun thinking of these (during a very boring meeting at work). I wonder if any of you could come up with some more. Drop them in a comment, I'd love to hear them.
I've got a bunch more photos of vintage parties that I didn't use up in the last Decade of Decadent post. So, I thought I'd throw some more at you, along with some thoughts, recollections and quotes interspersed.
Question: What's the difference between a 1970s dinner party and a porno?
Answer: About 15 minutes. (ba-doom ding!) I'm here all night, folks.
This quote from director, William Freidkin, kind of encapsulates the mentality of the time nicely. I think you can see how a "live for today"/"who gives a damn" mentality could arise in this atmosphere:
"America was going through a national nervous breakdown. It started with the assassination of John Kennedy and then the assassination of Martin Luther King, then Robert Kennedy, then the onset of the Vietnam War in which America stumbled very badly and has never really recovered. The 1960s ended with the Charles Manson murders – the murder of Sharon Tate and a bunch of people for no apparent reason at all by a bunch of drug-infested people who were aimless and sort of adrift from the American culture."
The radio is blastin'Parties were fun in the eighties and nineties, and they’re still fun today. But I’ll wager the best parties since Caligula held court were in the 1970s…. and by “best” I mean dangerous and depraved. I wasn’t quite old enough to host my own wicked 70s orgy, but I wasn’t blind either. There can be no debate – the gloves came off in the seventies, and all hell broke loose.
Someone's knocking at the door
I'm lookin' at my girlfriend
She's passed out on the floor
I seen so many things
I ain't never seen before
Don't know what it is
I don't wanna see no more
- “Mama Told Me Not To Come” by Three Dog Night
As I’ve said many times before, cultural change is gradual, and the boundaries that define a decade are superficial and arbitrary. The process began in the late sixties by 76 million Baby Boomers pounding on the door of the status quo. It reached its zenith in the seventies, and began to fizzle out in a cocaine fueled haze by the mid eighties.
The images throughout this post are from this time period. Every one of them looks like it’s about ten seconds away from being a porno. Indeed, any adult party during the 70s was in danger of becoming a porno at any given moment. The men and women sit among their liquor bottles and cigarette ashes poised for the inevitable – alternative eroticism, experimentation, and promiscuity. Surveys during the 1970s reported that by age nineteen, four-fifths of all males and two-thirds of all females had had sex.
The movie The Ice Storm perfectly captures the “key party”, where married couples put keys in a communal pot, and party goers blindly selected keys to see who they were going home with. It was not at all uncommon. The feeling of emptiness and regret that was felt as a consequence is handled expertly in the film.
A lot of factors converged in the 70s to make the sexual revolution happen. The Perfect Storm consisted of (1) widespread drug use, (2) counter-culture values permeating the mainstream, (3) the birth control pill, (4) a total embrace of the sexual revolution by the media (5) a “live for today” mentality brought on by the threat of nuclear annihilation and Vietnam, (6) the women’s liberation movement, and, finally, (7) the majority of the American population hitting their sexual prime at the same time.
No wonder the parties were incredible! And by “incredible” I mean sweaty, drugged, and often diseased.
Now that it seems imminent that big corporations will finally get a stranglehold on the Internet (i.e. Google + Verizon) and begin censoring, blocking, or slowing sites they don't like, I wonder if there will always be such an amazing selection of out-of-print albums to download. Indeed, the Wild, Wild West is about to become a well manicured suburb, if the government doesn't step up and stifle.... and I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.
Anyway, let's gather rosebuds while we may. One of my favorite things to do is meander around the Internets and downloading albums that you can't readily find on Amazon, iTunes or Rapsody. Every once and a while you land on a gem. To keep my sanity at work, I keep these in constant rotation in my office.
I'm currently enjoying the psychedelic sounds of Kaleidoscope. I may be the only office in North America playing their songs, but, hopefully, you'll be joining me in that endeavour.
We can all sit around and celebrate the wealth of choices available on DVD that were heretofore unavailable. Indeed, Netflix offers us tens of thousands of titles that were all but lost. But before we get too overjoyed, let's remember there's a lot of movies that actually were released on VHS that still have yet to make it to DVD.
Truth be told, the DVD revolution wasn't exactly a tidal wave of titles from yesteryear; more like a ripple. Many ended up stalled in the courtroom or were released, but with horrible picture quality. And now, many insiders in the business say that the variety of titles are actually going to start diminishing. In other words, the selection of movies is going to actually get narrower rather than wider!
The good news is, once we've all moved passed the DVD/Blu-Ray, and start watching everything via the Internet, the selection will rise exponentially. There's no overhead in manufacturing the discs and shipping them. Companies can offer obscure niche titles and only have the cost of buying the rights..... which shouldn't be too much of an expense for B-movie titles. The big complaint from distributors is that, as soon as they buy the rights and invest in marketing, producing, and shipping, the damn thing has already been ripped and widely available in a torrent somewhere.
Labels: Not on DVD
I came across this little comic book from the UK the other day, and thought I'd share. It's called TV 21, and it's from September 25th, 1971. Admittedly, I had to look this up on Wikipedia to find out what this is all about:
TV Century 21 (known as TV 21 from September 1968) was a weekly British children's comic of the 1960s and early 1970s. It promoted the many television science-fiction puppet series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Century 21 Productions. The comic was published as if it were a newspaper from the future, with the front page usually given over to fictional news stories set in the worlds of Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and other stories.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Silver Surfer, Star Trek and Spider Man comics; but, was a bit disappointed to not see any Gerry Anderson stuff like UFO or Thunderbirds. I guess, by 1971 they'd stopped all that.
Click on images to view full size, or just download the whole thing from Rapidshare. Any Brits out there can tell me what or who the hell "Stewpot" is? (see the last page)
Labels: vintage scan
It is with a sad heart that I confess that I have yet to see the 1968 hippie classic Wild in the Streets. It's available from Amazon (as a two-for with Gas-s-s-s), but Netflix doesn't have it yet, and I'm too cheap to buy it.
It seems like the Boomers were obsessed with taking over the country in the late sixties - a plethora of songs and movies proclaim the fact that their numbers outweigh the older generation. Wild in the Streets doesn't sound like it's ashamed of this opinion, and basically preaches that the Boomers should rise up and start takin' over.... which they actually did, but reality was much less dramatic.
Labels: vinyl dynamite
I found this old newspaper insert from 1975 and thought I'd share. It's an advertisement for Ethan Allen furniture stores, and it really has some nice photos of 70s interior
Screwballs is the perfect early eightees teen comedy. It has all the necessary elements : an imbecilic plot, tons of horny teenagers, and loads of gratuitous T & A.
I say "early" eighties because around 1985 John Hughes wiped the slate clean and movies like H.O.T.S., Porky’s and Hardbodies went bye-bye (and wouldn’t be revived again until American Pie). Screwballs stands perched at that magic moment when movies like this were in every theater. However, unlike its cousins Risky Business, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Last American Virgin, this one had no serious elements whatsoever.
For my money, no magazine is a better time capsule of 1970s living than Apartment Life. The magazine eventually became Metropolitan Living in 1979; a glossy coffee table magazine with no character. But for a few glorious years in the 70s, Apartment Life perfectly encapsulated the culture, the fashion, the look and the feel of the time.
I've scanned a few pages from the May 1977 issue (and I've posted another issue here), but nothing can take the place of sitting down and reading it. Priceless.
I came upon this seemingly innocent 1978 children's book recently, and nearly passed it over. Then, I started reading it, and it began to give me an eerie feeling. It's like the beginning of Deliverance, where it initially looks like a happy nature outing, and slowly becomes more and more foreboding. Indeed, the great outdoors is nice, but it also has a dark side - as Tennyson said: ""Nature, red in tooth and claw".
In this story, Willie and Isabella are taken deep into a swamp, "the Heart of Darkness" if you will, by "their guide Johnny". I hate to sound overprotective, but I'm not sure I'd send my kids with ol' Johnny.... something's not right about him. The quote "He got a real pretty mouth ain't he?" comes to mind (Deliverance).
Labels: vintage reads
Can't get enough giant floating eyeballs? Well, I've got just what the doctor ordered. Indeed, old books (and comics and magazines as well) were overflowing with enormous disembodied eyes. And I'm lapping it up and begging for more.
So, enjoy this installment of vintage faceless eyeballs; but, don't think for a minute this will be your last. I have only begun scratching the surface (the cornea, if you will) of the great surplus of old-school headless eyeballs. Peace out.
Question: How do you know when you've got too much leisure time?
Answer: When you're making collages of giant eyeballs.
Well, it had to be posted sooner or later. I spend a lot of time looking through old books, magazines, movie posters, etc. and I start to notice patterns within our collections of print media of years past. One theme I notice over and over again is the "eye in the sky". The imagery goes back to pre-history, it was an Egyptian symbol, a facet of the Hindu religion, and a major part of the symbology of the Freemasons. Our Founding Fathers were all a bunch of Freemasons, so the big-ass eye wound up on our currency.
I think the most recognizable use of the disembodied floating eye theme is on the dust jacket for the original The Great Gatsby. But, of course, the giant floating eye found its natural home in the artwork of genre fiction, most prominently in science fiction.
So, if you like the collection at the top of this post, check out a couple more I've put together. And let me just close by saying that "The Eye in the Sky" by Alan Parsons Project has been stuck in my head ever since I started on this. Please, dear God, make it stop.