Comic Books #19: Even More Pre-Code Nastiness

Dr. Wertham's 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, was a national bestseller - it tapped into the fears of parents from sea to shining sea and led to the a frenzy of censorship in the comic book world. 

As I mentioned in my last Pre Code post, there certainly was a lot of nastiness to be found. Thanks to the Internet, we can all now view these old comics and see that they were, in fact, pretty damn graphic.  The irony, however, is that Seduction of the Innocent was so poorly researched, that much of its content was simply made up! 

Of course, the public didn't give a baker's f**k about facts, and Seduction of the Innocent became a sensation. Check out a few of these imaginative fabrications from the book...


Trivia Newton-John #14

This round of Trivia Newton-John we're asking a very simple question: (1) Who is the woman in the picture above?

The image is from a 1961 issue of Hush Hush magazine.

As usual, once the correct answer is put in the comments, I will award the prestigous Trivia Newton-John award to that person for proud placement in their blog's sidebar.  Good luck and act quick - these are usually answered pretty quickly!

The question has already been answered correctly.  This time the award goes to my main man, Bill at Samsara Samizdat, a blog that features the unique combination of sexy vintage babes and political observations.  Congrats! Here is your award....

Vintage Wheels #1: Cars in the 1970's

You can tell a lot about the culture of a particular decade or time period by its movies, its music, and its cars.  I've talked about a lot of aspects of the 1970's here on Retrospace, but I don't think I've said much about 70's wheels.  Well, it's high time I did.  And speaking of "high" let's start with vans...

Vans were nothing more than a enclosed mobile space in which to smoke weed and have sex.  Many of you reading this post were conceived in the back of these love machines.  Nowadays, vans are for soccer moms - they're always full of kids and are equipped with a TV and plenty of cupholders for Starbucks and juice boxes.  Back in the day, they didn't have all that fancy shmancy stuff - the only thing you'd likely find in the back would be shag carpet and a massive bong.

Muscle cars were the choice vehicle of young men in the 70's. They were literally an extension of your manhood. They had but two purposes: attracting chicks and making that blacktop your bitch. They weren't necessarily expensive, even bag boys owned them. However, the key was tricking out the engine to where it became a gas guzzling Bat out of Hell.


Vintage Reads #4: Horror Paperbacks

I still remember my first experience reading a horror paperback in the 1970's. I don't recall the title, but it had a burning clown doll on the cover, and it began with a couple teenagers screwing and getting whacked by a killer in the basement of an abandoned house.  The sex and violence were graphic, the prose was poor, the story was unoriginal,.... I LOVED IT!

To this day, I still love a good piece of trashy horror from the 70's and early 80's.  You just have to take them for what they are - you can't compare them against Steinbeck and Dostoevsky.  These pulp authors cranked them out one after another for a pittance, and for the most part, never came anywhere close to achieving long term success or recognition. Nevertheless, many were amazingly effective at scaring the crap out of you.


What Was on TV: Saturday, March 14, 1987

I sounds almost cliche to say this, but I've got over 200 channels and cannot find a thing to watch.  I can count on three fingers the number of current television shows that I enjoy watching.  I just missed the boat on the whole reality television thing - I can't get into it. I can't for the life of me give a flying shit about any of these people - why should I care which slut takes home the "bachelor"? or whether the "nanny" can fix some scary dysfunctional family who should probably all be euthanized...

But I digress. I feel like opening up an old TV schedule and checking out what was on TV 23 years ago.  Let's take a look at Saturday, March 14th.  You'll have to click on the images to be able to view it full size anf follow along.


Ads #31: Shame Tactics

I've talked a lot about the "sex sells" marketing tactic on Retrospace, but there may be another method that's just as persuasive - "shame sells".  Make the buyer think he is the most repugnant, degenerate piece of shit on earth because he doesn't use your product. It's genius.

Take for instance, the Shower to Shower body powder ad above: this ad would have us believe that people will be shouting in pain and vomiting by your mere presence until you add a little of their glorified baking powder, and suddenly the whole elevator loves you!

Just For Laughs: 15 Cracked Magazine Covers

As an adult, I can perhaps appreciate MAD magazine as the better quality humor mag over Cracked; however, back in the day, I lived and died for the next issue of Cracked.  This magazine was like crack cocaine for me and my elementary/middle school friends. It trumped MAD because it rarely dealt with politics or adult oriented films. Instead, it centered on (1) monsters, (2) Star Wars and (3) sitcoms like Mork & Mindy.  What more could a boy growing up in the 1970's ask for?


2 Songs About Something (#7): Being Completely Lost

1. "Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons

I'll start by saying that Dale Bozzio would eat Lady Ga Ga for a snack. Message to Lady Ga Ga: try again.

And here's the rub: Missing Persons was never really critically appreciated as a legitimate band, yet they were chock full of talent.  Nearly every member of the group worked with Frank Zappa at one time or another.  Plus, their music, given the benefit of the doubt, is actually quite impressive - a lot more melodic and original sounding than what comes on the radio today.

Too bad Bozzio had to go to the slammer for animal cruelty.

Download here

2. "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith

How strange that a supergroup as big and successful as this would choose for the debut album cover a topless prepubescent girl holding a phallic looking spaceship. Add to that - no text on the cover announcing who they were.  Can you imagine this sort of suicidal marketing plan by the big record companies of today? Not a chance. 

What role Clapton, Winwood and Baker had in its choosing, I don't know; however, the music within is solid gold from beginning to end. 

Download here

Mini Skirt Monday #35: Dance Fever

I like to look at an old photograph and try to determine what's going through their head when the picture was taken.  What was this dude in the above image thinking? I think he feels like a douche frolicking in a circle with a bunch of girls. I think he's silently praying for it to be over.

I'm not sure what's going on with these two. They appear to be prancing along some "higher plane of consciousness" if you get my meaning. Kids - don't do drugs.  But if you do, please refrain from dancing. This is what you'll look like.


When Ashtrays Were Everywhere

If you had to name just one thing that stands as the biggest difference between the 60's and 70's and our modern day, you might as well say "smoking".  It's hard to imagine, unless you were there, how omnipresent cigarettes were back in the day. You were never more than a stones throw away from an ashtray.

Game show hosts took long hard drags while they did their shtick, people smoked on airplanes, doctors smoked right in front of you, even Barney Rubble enjoyed a fag once and a while...


Vintage Style #10

The gaudiness of Vegas collides with the gaudiness of the 1970's resulting in a band with an unprecedented level of fashion dysfunction.   I give you...... The Dave Bunker Show! (applause)

I don't mean to ridicule Mr. Bunker (that's him with the beard); he was a talented musician who built his band's unique looking guitars himself. It's just unfortunate that Vegas and the 1970's had to intersect squarely on his band. Tragic, really.


Still Waiting on the DVD #4: Ten Great TV Shows

Want to watch seasons 1 through 6 of The L Word? No problem. It's on DVD. Want to watch the complete first season of Dirt, starring Courtney Cox Arquette? No problem. That's on DVD too.

How about every single season of Survivor? Got it. The Anna Nicole Smith Show? Check. All six seasons of the The George Lopez Show? Coming right up.  The Wonder Years? ....... SORRY, YOU'RE SHIT OUT OF LUCK!

I stare in amazement at the DVD shelves of Best Buy. I see an entire row of Rescue Me; but the TV shows I want to see are just not there.  I try Netflix and Amazon with similar results.... there's some incredible shows that just have never made it to DVD; meanwhile, total crap like JAG has a full TEN SEASONS on DVD!  Ten seasons?!?!  It was on that long? Who knew?

So, here's a list of 10 shows that I'd love to see again. I'd buy them in a second if they were made available. 

1. The Wonder Years
My understanding is this show is tied up because of its frequent use of popular music.  Record companies are a bunch of greedy bastards, and won't let you use their songs like they used to (without shelling out big bucks).

2. James at 15
Wanna know what it was like to grow up in the 1970's? After School Specials are a good source, but this one's even better.

3. CPO Sharkey
Don Rickles at his most condescending, insulting, patronizing best.

4. Logan's Run
Underrated sci-fi gem, with Heather Menzes lookin' fine. Why this is still only available through iTunes is beyond me.

5. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
A sparse selection from season one is all that's available of this groundbreaking, controversial show.  Yet, you can buy the complete first season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.  AAARRRGG!

6. Fernwood 2nite
Irreverent and wonderful spin-off from Mary Hartman starring Martin Mull and Fred Willard.  Worth a try just for curiosity's sake if you haven't seen it. 

7. Fridays
I've heard that Michael Richards is the one holding this one back.  This was sort of like Saturday Night Live, but oftentimes better.  Larry David was a cast member and guests like Andy Kaufman make this a MUST for DVD release.... how is that I can buy Extreme Makeover with ADHD poster child Ty Pennington, but Fridays still is unreleased?

8. Batman
Holy freeze dried Godzilla farts, Batman! Are you kidding me? How is this not on DVD? Apparently, there's a fight between 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. over who owns the rights.  Why is it no one fights over crap like JAG and The George Lopez Show, it's always the good stuff that gets held up?

9. The Six Million Dollar Man
Yes, this is not a mistake. You read it right the first time. The Six Million Dollar Man is not available.  I cannot imagine why - it can't be due to licensing and legalities, because it HAS been released on the Region 2 format.  For some reason, if you live in the United States, you are SOL.  The Fall Guy and The Bionic Woman are both out on DVD, so this just doesn't make sense!

10. It's Your Move
Remember this show starring Jason Bateman from the early 1980's? It was hilarious, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day.

If you have any old shows you'd like to add to the list, please drop it in a comment.

Album Covers #12: Family Movie Night in the 70's

There is absolutely no discernable reason whatsoever that this family should be naked. There's nothing on this album that would in any way make this cover seem appropriate. Enoch Light is basically an easy listening band leader with no business putting a nude family on the cover of his album of movie themes! (but I love it anyway). Chalk it up to the age of streaking.

That poor little kid. I'm glad they had him looking up - a look down into daddy's lap could've been a little traumatizing.  I remember the gym locker rooms as a kid - a bunch of hairy old geezers walking around with their sagging ball sacks on full display. Put a towel on for chrissake!

Interesting that they thought to put the "this album is rated G" text on the front.  In other words, nevermind that there's a man and woman butt ass naked on the cover (we did that strictly for album sales), the record is safe for the whole family to enjoy!


Cracked Magazine, January 1978

Growing up, there wasn't much I loved more than a good Cracked, Crazy or MAD magazine.  They each had their strongpoints: Crazy had Marvel superheroes, Cracked had lots of monsters and the gorgeous artwork of Severin, and MAD.... well, MAD was just awesome from front to back.

I still have all of my old magazines, and each one reminds me of a certain time.  The above Heaven Can Wait issue of Cracked was purchased at an airport when I flew from Boston to visit relatives in Ohio. I'd never seen Heaven Can Wait  (thirty years later, and I still haven't), but that was beside the point.  Who cares if your eight year old brain missed half of the pop culture references, it was still a joyous read all the way around.

So, click here to download the entire February 1978 issue. Why'd I choose this one to scan? No reason, really, I hesitate to scan an old MAD magazine since their backissues are currently available for sale on CD -and I don't want to step on any toes there, if you know what I mean.  Depending on how many of you download this issue, I may scan some more issues of Cracked and Crazy. Let me know what you think.


Retro Quote #9: John Densmore is not a Sell Out

I'm so sick and tired of seeing all these hippies, who once vehemently railed against the establishment and the "plastics", sell out like a bunch of Saigon whores. Have you had the misfortune to hear billionare Steve Jobs and co-billionare Steve Wozniak claim that they still stand for hippie values? How about faux hippies and friends of the factory farm, Ben & Jerry?  I mean, seriously, can we cut the pretense? Pretty much everyone from The Rolling Stones to Clapton has completely sold out - so, it's okay to just admit you never really believed that hippie stuff, and you just want lots and lots of money. I have more respect for hip-hop artists than the Haight-Ashbury/Woodstock crowd because at least they're honest about it. At least they admit it's all about the dolla' bill.

Why am I so hot and bothered about this all of a sudden? I guess I've just seen the Dennis Hopper Ameriprise pension plan commercial one too many times. Or maybe I'm sick of seeing The Who open up for David Caruso. It's as if all these hippie rock stars just said, "Gotcha! It was all a joke. Time to cash in." Steppenwolf should change their song to "Born to be Mild".

Needless to say, the number of 1960's rockers who still maintain some semblance of credibility are few and far between. The remaining Beatles had a few sell-out moments (do expensive Rock Band video games count?), but they were due to forces outside their control (such as, Michael Jackson owning the rights to a chunk of their songs), and The Kinks have been pretty much unwavering. However, by far, my favorite hold out has to be John Densmore, the drummer for the Doors. Here's a quote from him that he should be proud of:

“People lost their virginity to this music. Got high for the first time to this music. I’ve had people say kids died in Vietnam listening to this music. Other people say they know someone who didn’t commit suicide because of this music. On stage, when we played these songs, they felt mysterious and magic. That’s not for rent.”

Hell yes. In this day and time when EVERYTHING is for sale and disposable, it's nice to see that there's still something out there that money can't buy. There's still music that didn't end up just another product to be gobbled up and disposed of by consumers. Get this: Cadillac offered him 15 MILLION DOLLARS and he turned it down (much to the consternation of his bandmates). Stay strong, John!

On one occasion the temptation grew too strong, and Densmore sold out to a British tire company. The sound of Morrisson's voice alongside this piece of crap commercial made his stomach turn, and he donated all proceeds to charity.  I'm sure The Lizard King forgives you, John.

So, as I watch Graham Nash perform a duet to his counterculture anthem "Teach Your Children" on American Idol and hear The Who play background music for a Nissan commercial, it is comforting to know there are few out there that really did believe in what they were doing.  Their music meant something more than a paycheck.

15 million is a lot of money, and I can't honestly say I'd be able to resist that much money waved in front of my face. That being said, the day I hear Mister Mojo Risin singing the theme song to a Shoney's All You Can Eat Breakfast Buffet will be a sad day indeed.


Vinyl Dynamite #22: All in the Family (1971)

I must admit, I never really enjoyed All in the Family when it originally aired.  I was a little too young to "get it" - references to Black Panthers and venereal diseases went way over my head.   Rewatching it as an adult, I can appreciate the humor and the quality of writing; however, the content was so topical that it doesn't quite "ring" like it must have in the 1970's. 

That being said, I found myself really enjoying this record.  It's just a bunch of clips from the first season, but great fun to listen to. I hope you'll enjoy it as well. 

Sample track: "Why God Made Hands"

Side One
Those Were the Days Theme
Why God Made Hands
Sweety Pie Roger
A Station Wagon Filled with Nuns
No Ribs?

Side Two
Do You Love Me?
God Is Black
VD Day
Archie's Hangup
Bacon Souffle & Women's Lib
Jury Duty
Shove Yours


Ads #30: Craven Cigarettes

So, I found this old Canadian periodical and with this cigarette ad on the back, and the wife and I start laughing in amazement. There's actually a brand of cigarettes called "Craven"?!?  As if the health warning on the pack didn't make the smoker feel bad enough! While they're at it, why don't they just add "you worthless pussy" on the label? Might as well.

I did a little research on the brand (and I do mean little), and found there's a brand of cigs called "Craven A" found in Canada, Vietnam, and Jamaica, where it is the country's brand of choice.  Bob Marley even referenced them in a song. It got its wonderfully deprecating name from the Earl of Craven. So, I guess it's not so bad, but it was good for a quick laugh, anyway.


Vinyl Dynamite #21: Martin Mull (1972)

In the 1970's, I remember Martin Mull from his various TV roles - on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Fernwood 2-Nite, as well as a number of guest appearances.  In the 80's and 90's, he was on Rosanne and any number of TV commercials and a bunch of awful movies, the worst of which was the Brad Pitt slasher flick, Cutting Class

Who knew that he was such a cool and talented dude? Look at him now, and he's just a fuddy duddy spokesman for Red Roof Inn, but in 1972 he kicked ass. Mull was a talented musician and comedian, and this album is a surprising gem. I can't really describe what type of music this is - maybe Randy Newman crossed with Frank Zappa? Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Download the album

Listen to a sample track: "Miami"

Download the song here

Side One
Ventriloquist Love
Livin' Above My Station
Loser's Samba
Dancing in the Nude

Side Two
Partly Marion
(I Made Love to You in a) Former Life
Margie the Midget
Hors D'Oeuvre
Songwriter's Blues

Note: The download does not contain the last three songs on side two. Don't ask why. Long story.

Hooray! Retrospace Wins Another Award

Jon's Random Acts of Geekery has bestowed on Retrospace the "One Lovely Blog Award".  A big thanks to Jon, who runs a "lovely" blog himself. I'm supposed to pass it along to ten more blogs. So, this time I'd like to recognize those bloggers who, not only have great blogs, but regularly comment on Retrospace.  I'm sorry that I don't have enough time to reciprocate and comment on their blogs much, but that's just the way things are right now.

So, here goes the list of recipients of the "One Lovely Blog Award" in no particular order:

If I Didn't Have a Sense of Humor

Retro Hound

The Bewildered Brit

Capewood's Collections

Samsara Samizdat

Go Retro!

Apachedug's Teepee

Booksteve's Library

Welk Musical Family

I encourage Retrospace readers to check out their blogs, and I encourage the winners to pass the award along to ten more blogs that you feel are worthy.  We bloggers need all the positive feedback we can get!... Even if the award itself is painfully gaudy - but it's the thought that counts, and this award is well traveled (over a year it's been circulating). So, congrats to the winners!

Six Degrees of Markie Post

Here I go again. Haven't done one of these in a while. In case you missed them, these are posts where I simply link a retro celeb across six people and see where the connections wind up. 

1. Markie Posts's father, Richard F. Post, is an award winning physicist. He has the distinction of being the lead scientist on the team that invented those high speed magnetic trains - the maglev train. This "Intrack System" can make trains faster than airplanes. Ridiculously expensive to build, but Markie's dad's highly efficient magnetic trains may become the transportation of the future.

2. Senator Harry Reid, the senate majority leader since 2007, is one of the most vocal proponents of the maglev train.  In fact, he campaigned to get 45 million dollars to build a maglev train from Disneyland to Vegas - I'm not sure what the status on that is.  Harry Reid played himself in the movie Traffic.

3. After Harrison Ford turned down the role, Michael Douglas took the part as drug czar in the film. His daughter is led to a life of drug abuse by her boyfriend, played by Topher Grace. 

4. As a child, Topher Grace was babysat by Chloë Sevigny.

5. Chloë Sevigny garnered controversy for performing UNsimulated felatio on Vincent Gallo in his film Brown Bunny.

... and finally...

6. Gallo was once in a punk band called GRAY, whose members included internationally known artist Jean-Michel Basquiat!

How strange that I once again wound up on an associate of Andy Warhol.  This happened last time with Six Degrees of Boom Boom Washington. Weird.

Warhol, Post and Basquiat


Food & Drink #6: Gum in the 70's

Throughout my early childhood, it seemed like all gum was pretty boring - Juicy Fruit, Chicklets, Big Red, etc. Don't get me started on the chalk flavored cardboard in baseball card packs.  Then, along came these big ads in the back of comic books for "cool" gum brands like Hubba Bubba and Big League Chew.  Gum was transformed from the lame old crap your grandma handed you, to awesomeness of epic proportions.

Hubba Bubba was cool because it didn't stick to your face when you popped a massive bubble.  Remember the Old West gunfighter commercials?

Big League Chew kicked ass. It had a pouch like it was chewing tobacco (which, like the candy cigarette, was especially cool), and the ads featured cleverly drawn athletes, perfectly suited for the elementary school boy market.

Fruit Stripes were a personal favorite.  The sudden rush of flavor was like a hypodermic needle of concentrated & flavored high fructose corn syrup applied directly to the sweet tooth.  Unfortunately, like heroine, the "high" was shortlived.  I think the flavor lasted a total of five minutes.

Bubble Yum and Bubblicious both had strong original flavors, and their flavor somehow made it to the ten minute mark.  Guaranteed to make your pearly whites yellow and cavity laden within days.

Freshen Up - A squirt of God-knows-what on your first bite, but became blander with each successive bite. No thanks.    

Am I missing one?


Tech #3: Rememberances of Electronics Past

You can always count on electronics to be hyped way beyond what they truly deliver. I don't care what the ad shows, an ape will not emerge from your television set.  Given the fact that this ad is from 1978, chances are the image will be so grainy, you'll be lucky to even tell there's an ape on television at all - your rabbit ears were a long shot from digital high definition TV.

Mini Skirt Monday #34: Archie Comics

Poor Millie, she looks lower than last year's hemline. Yes, folks, it was all about the hemline in the late sixties and early seventies, and comic books of that time reflected those styles.  Perhaps nowhere was it more clear than in Archie comics. It was the perfect venue to parade the newest fashions - it took place in contemporary times, and it involved nothing but a bunch of teenagers. Archie was like Cosmo for middle schoolers.

The In Crowd (the mastermind behind I'm Learning to Share) has an excellent Flickr set called Archie Comics of the 1960s as a Mirror to Fads, Fashions and Trends.

Vintage Style #9: Soul Crushing Fashion Advice

I found this little gem at a flea market the other day. Imagen the possibilities: a book about how to dress and manage your appearance written in 1977!  With every page I turned, another horrific fashion atrocity was revealed.  The fact that, of all possible fashiones to choose from to grace the cover, the publishers decided on an African American woman in some sort of bizarre housemaid outfit says it all.

The picture above is from Chapter 6: "Heads Up for Good-Looking Hair".

"...Some styles help to cover up a long skinny neck. Others can hide ears that stick out or a forehead that is too wide."


Vintage Scares #12: LSD - A Case Study

In 1938, Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann accidently ingested lysergic acid dethylamide, thereby discovering the hallucinogenic properties inherent in a fungus that grows on rye. It was known as "St. Anthony's Fire" in the old days, but now it was concentrated into a pure form, and the effects would be far reaching.

Initially, it was embraced by everyone from Washington to Hollywood: the CIA experimented with it and even Cary Grant admitted to dropping acid sixty times.  However, once it found its place in the 1960's counterculture its mainstream acceptance declined. California was first to criminalize the drug and the rest of the country soon followed.  LSD now had a bad reputation.

image source

In 1969, when the educational film "LSD: A Case Study" was made, LSD was the hippie drug of choice, spurred on by the likes of Timothy Leary, Ken Casey, and acid rock concerts. Parents were disturbed, and hospitals were beginning to fill up with hippies thrown into LSD induced psychoses. Ronald Reagan and Ed Meese began to wage war on the drug and the word was sent to schools to warn kids of the dire consequences of LSD use.

The funny thing about this particular educational film is that it actually makes LSD look appealing. If I wasn't tempted to use the drug before, this film changes all that and makes it look rather interesting. Watch the whole film here or at the bottom of this post.

It starts with a rather cool and happening party. If I were a kid in the 60's watching this film, I'd want to be at this party. 1 point for LSD, 0 points for abstinence.


Cinema #9: What Made Us Laugh: Comedies Through the Decades

I was talking with a friend recently about the ebb and flow of comedy in the cinema – how it changed with each passing decade. It’s truly interesting to note how comedy was fairly nonexistent during the 1970’s, and came back with gangbusters right before the start of the 1980’s. Let me explain…

Gritty realism thrived in the 1970’s – this was the era of hard core pornography becoming acceptable in the mainstream. Horror movies demonstrated a level of taboo shattering violence that had never been seen before, and haven’t been seen since. Godforsaken horrors like The Exorcist and The House on the Edge of the Park knew no boundaries – they served only to shock and horrify at all costs.

Beyond horror and porn, dramas also exhibited a gritty nihilism. The Deer Hunter, Midnight Cowboy, Dirty Harry, Dog Day Afternoon, etc. were real and they were raw. So where does the comedy movie fit into this rather bleak environment? The answer: it doesn’t.

Vinyl Dynamite #20: The Liverpool Scene

Here's an underplayed album that probably is not what you expect - The Amazing Adventures of the Liverpool Scene (1969). Looking at the cover, it seems like just another cheap record capitalizing on Beatlemania.  A cover featuring a gang of Liverpudlians looking young and hip certainly fits the profile of a low budget Beatle knock off.    Thankfully, it's not even close.  This is an album of free form poetry about Che Guevara, Batman, and LSD intermixed with talented musicianship.

First of all, the Liverpool moniker was no longer as fashionable as it was back in 1964. And unlike the Buckinghams who were actually from Chicago, these guys were really from Liverpool. In fact, the people on the album cover (which include the bandmembers) are in front of a British pub where the band regularly performed and lived on the second floor.

They started as poets, integral parts of the Mersey Sound. It's claimed that Alan Ginsberg, the guru of the beat generation and LSD-aholic, was a big fan of their work. Personally, I'm a fan of the big fat singer, Adrian Henri, who I'm told would bounce and flail around on stage in big sweaty leaps and twirls. Apparently, he could balance a beer on his belly while downing another. Impressive.


Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This!

I miss a lot of things about the seventies; one thing in particular is the very simple (yet extremely effective) TV commercials. They weren't as funny or slick as the commercials of today.... but thirty years later, and I remember them like it was yesterday.  They were cheap and not very flashy, but they stuck to your brain like glue. "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is."  How simple, but how amazingly catchy.

I know a lot of these commercials actually started much earlier than the 70's (Mr. Whipple was around in the 60's), but these are what I remember most... and often wish I could forget.  I never said they were enjoyable - just diabolically effective. 

Take for instance the Charmin commercial - why was this such a phenomenon? I think it had a lot to do with a very bizarre sexual subtext.  The way those women couldn't keep their mits off the toilet paper, and squeezed while gasping orgasmically.... you can't tell me there wasn't something a bit naughty going on here.  And Whipple always had to have one last squeeze... in private.... and he was ashamed.


10 Reasons to Love Old Country Music

I cannot tell a lie - I love old country music (and I hate new country music). As the purveyor of a site called Retrospace, it's not exactly shocking to learn that I prefer the older songs. But let me explain and give you 10 good reasons to love old time country...
  1. Willie Nelson claims to have smoked reefer with President Kennedy on the roof of the White House.  I believe him, and that definitely adds a point in country music's favor.  Plus, Willie's Red Headed Stranger is an epic piece of work that I'd stack up against any album from any genre.
  2. The Dukes of Hazzard
  3. Outlaw country in the 1970's was as rebellious as anything rock music.  Waylon Jennings, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard, and Hank Jr. were drinking, smoking weed, and kicking ass every bit as much as Aerosmith and The Stooges. Sing it with me: "Hank, why do you drink? Why do roll smoke?..." 
  4. If you are a true blue fan of the 1970's as I am, then you can't help but appreciate country music.  The 70's were all about blue collar and the lust for lowbrow.  The Dukes of Hazzard and Hick Flicks like White Lightning, Every Which Way but Loose and Convoy were the bread and butter of the decade.  Truckers were the heroes and rock stars of the decade - and country music went hand in hand with the trucker image.
  5. The 1980's were a continuation of country's golden days: Kenny Rogers, Urban Cowboy, Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, Barbara Mandrell, Ronnie Milsap, Randy Travis, George Strait, and best of all.... the theme song to The Fall Guy
  6. If you love rock and pop music from the 70's, you are automatically guilty of loving country music.  Country was officially on its way into the mainstream when the Byrds actually put out a country LP (the unsuccessful Sweethearts of the Rodeo). It wasn't long before Southern Rock was one of the most successful genres on the market.  The Eagles had a definite country & western flair, as did Jimmy Buffett and Skynyrd, and tons of top ten hits like "Let Your Love Flow" and "Nights Are Forever" were unabashedly country sounding.  
  7. Take this job and shove it!
  8. I freaking loved Hee Haw.  Sure, it was possibly the only show stupider than Mama's Family, but that was part of its charm.  Three words: Hee Haw Honeys.
  9. If British people can love country music so can you.  The Hollies recorded "Long Cool Woman", The Beatles did "Act Naturally" and The Stones did "Honky Tonk Woman" - need I say more? (Check out the ad for The British Journal of Country Music below).   
  10. Anyone who's seen Walk the Line can't help but walk away with some respect for Cash's music.  Too often, old country music is stereotyped as "tears in my beer" twanging - this puts an end to those kind of generalizations.
Unfortunately, I can't give the same recommendation for country music of today.  The outlaws are gone, and we're left with a bunch of pop stars who look and sound no different than their pop counterparts.  I think when Garth Brooks and Shania Twain hit the jackpot in the 90's, breaking all kinds of sales records, country music became big business and was as polished and air brushed just as much as any boy band or flavor of the month.

That being said, there's certainly some good country music out there if you look hard enough.  Waylon Jennings' son and Alison Krauss are a couple examples.  Perhaps, there's a good deal out there, but I must admit that I've stopped looking.  Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood have sent me elsewhere. 

Let's just see Kenny Chesney try and write a song like this... ain't gonna happen.

Download "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams, Jr. here


Catalogs #1: The 1981 Sears Catalog

I've scanned 64 pages from a 1981 Sears Spring/Summer catalog. I expect no payment in return, only your abiding loyalty to Retrospace. My only reward is the big smiles on your faces (which I can't see, and if I could, would probably creep me out). I initially planned to scan the whole damn catalog, but then common sense (and hyper-laziness) took over, and I settled on a selection of pages throughout the catalog.

To download all the scanned pages from the 1981 Sears catalog click here (rar file via Rapidshare).

Or you can view the pages via a slideshow...