The Vintage Home #3: Kitchens

I'm not much into golf.  If I want to get drunk with friends, I'll do it in a bar where it's not so damn hot. As far as hobbies and pastimes go - collecting vintage stuff has been my bag for several years now.  It's cheaper than golfing, and I actually feel like I'm contributing to society a tiny bit.

How so? Call me crazy, but I foresee a day when books like Planning & Remodeling Kitchens (1976) are gone.  Sure there's thousands like this at flea markets across the country, but how long are these tattered and faded books going to be around? They have value - they are time capsules.  I don't think there'll be a need to preserve the 2000s because there's simply so much digitized out there, it'll never be in danger of being lost.  However, images of kitchens from 1976 aren't always easy to come by unless someone's taken the time to scan an old publication or photograph.

Mini Skirt Monday #47: Fashion Photography

Enjoy some fashion photography from the 60s and the 70s - back when the miniskirt was a fashion standard.  High hemlines are few and far between in today's catalogs and fashion mags. All I can say is light a candle and say a prayer it comes back. Keep the faith, men. Keep the faith.


Let's Get Physical! #2

The fitness craze has been around so long, that it's not entirely accurate to even call it a "craze". It's more of an innate human desire to become more attractive and physically healthy.  Unfortunately, it's also an innate human desire to take the easy way out and want instant gratification.  Thus, instead of putting on those tennis shoes and jogging at the crack of dawn, we are much more apt to shell out $9.99 for some idiotic contraption on the Home Shopping Network that promises quick and easy results.

This combination of traits has made us extremely vulnerable to charlatans and frauds.

I find it interesting to look at the fitness section of my old catalogs.  The odd contraptions being sold through JC Penney, Sears and Montgomery Wards were painfully awful.  It's certainly no better today, but some of the stuff being sold was just ludicrous..... case in point, the "air jeans".


Vintage Scan #11: Know the Joy of Better Cooking Electrically

"Cook better...live better electrically" proclaims this 1963 booklet by an electric company in Wisconsin.  I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful exuberance with which the wonders of electricity are hyped and sold in this publication (all images in this post are from this booklet). White America was at their economic peak - a life of opulence compared to 20 years prior, and the new suburban homes bought with the GI Bill were now being stocked with new fangled equipment which held great promise to the Atomic Age household. 


Artful Conception #5: Jeepers! She's Dead!

I recently read a post over at Pappy's Golden Age Comics where the ever knowledgable Paps noted that this scene - the dead chick in the forground - was repeated again and again in comics throughout this era.  The above panel originates from Crime Smashers #1, 1950 and was singled out in the infamous Seduction of the Innocent as an example of how amoral comics had become.

But the imagery didn't originate in 1950.  The same basic picture is found in 1948's Pay-Off #1...


Ads #36: More Sexist Advertising

For thousands of years, it required physical strength to survive. Thus, the man had a necessary role to fill . But, nowadays, let's face it, men are obsolete - useful, like a male Black Widow spider, only for sperm. In a stricly Darwinian sense, us men are as antiquated as a Commodore 64.

Pretty bleak outlook, eh? I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get my point.  Not so in the 1950s.  In the Mad Men days,  dad was king, lord, and emperor all in one.  Let's take a brief look at some advertising which made no apologies for putting the man on top.   Enjoy!


Mini Skirt Monday #46: From the Yearbook

Grab a college yearbook from 1968 -1971.  Take a look at what every single female is wearing. Mini skirts are freaking everywhere. 

It didn't take me long to collect the images for this Mini-Skirt Monday post.  It was just a matter of finding a yearbook from this time period, and the rest was a cakewalk.  Page after page after page of minis.  Their fellow male students must have had to take a cold shower every hour. Poor guys.

Anyway, here's 33 yearbook minis, mostly B&W. Click the "view slideshow" icon below.  I apologize if some of them are repeats from earlier Mini Skirt Mondays - it's hard to keep track of which ones I've used. Enjoy

View slideshow


Twisted Impressions #7

Call me crazy, but I think the advertisers intentionally used phallic imagery.  How could they NOT know this looks at least slightly homoerotic? Maybe they weren't as jaded and sick as we are today, but come on!

And speaking of intentional sexual imagery... you can't tell me this was not supposed to look like alley sex.


Fads #12: The T-Shirting of America

Walk down the street in any city and town in America and you’ll find that 99% of the people are wearing t-shirts. Prior to the 70s, however, it was fairly rare: t-shirts were primarily worn underneath a collard shirt. On occasion, folks would walk around with their plain white tees, but that was generally just for doing sweaty, dirty jobs. After A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), greasers would wear them, and it was fairly common for younger kids to play around in their plain whites.

So, how did the t-shirt become such an omnipresent fashion in the U.S.? In large part, we can thank the hippies. Not only was the t-shirt popularized as a source of self-expression (example: tie dye shirts), but the entire culture changed to a less buttoned down lifestyle. Starched collars were out and t-shirts were officially in.


A Flea Market Archaeology Expediiton with Gilligan

On those rare weekends when the kids are busy and there's nothing pressing for me to do, I like to take part in one of my favorite pastimes - flea market archaeology.  I find a flea market within a reasonable driving distance and proceed to scavenge every square inch, looking for items from the 60s and 70s. It's like a treasure hunt for me - there's nothing better than finding an old Dynamite magazine buried under piles of crap, or discovering that Grape Ape lunchbox hidden in a dark corner way in the back.

I used to wonder how those metal detector folks on the beach could possibly find enjoyment from this hobby.  I think I can understand it now - it's the thrill of the hunt. Every collector knows that the real fun is in the collecting.What butterfly collector would want to be just given a butterfly collection - hell no, you want the fun of tracking down the butterfly.  I think if I was a multi-millionaire and could just buy up everything on ebay, the thrill would be gone.

So, to give you a little taste, I decided to take you along with me this time.  I snapped some photos with my Android as a poked through a local flea market.  I won't show you the things I bought - those will be highlighted (as usual) in future posts.  But check out some of things I dug up...


Vintage Scares #13: Lurkers

There's nothing scarier than an ordinary scene being disrupted by the sudden realization that there's something sinister lurking in the shadows.  I think that's why the Three Men and a Baby ghost was such a phenomenon - the movie was the very definition of ordinary, and yet you are struck with the image of a ghoulish child in the background.  See if you can spot The Lurker in the advertisement above.

Vintage Wheels #5: Chicks 'n' Rides

I imagine one day we'll all be driving weird looking vehicles powered by some alternative fuel.  I don't know what that fuel will be - maybe that orange dust they sprinkle on Cheetos, maybe magnetized butter, or maybe LOW fructose corn syrup, who knows? However it turns out, we'll always have the memories of those gas guzzling, carbon monoxide belching, groundwater contaminating son-of-a-guns we call automobiles.

I think a big reason we've procrastinated in developing an alternative energy transport is because there's something about a cool car that makes a man feel like a man. I'm not sure why that is - perhaps, it's just brilliant marketing. Indeed, in the vintage world (i.e. the 50s - 70s), automobile ads and shows always had a strategically placed sexy woman near the car. Somehow, the image of a lovely model poised atop a granola powered econo-transport just doesn't seem to have that same "oomph".

So, without further ado, let's get on with the women perched around oil sucking, smog spewing, traffic fatality machines of yesteryear. Enjoy!


Magazines #3: Boys Life Magazine - Be Popular and Kill Things

Paging through a November 1965 issue of Boys' Life magazine, I was struck by two definite recurring themes: (1) be popular at all costs and (2) "happiness is a warm gun". Article after article and advertisement after advertisement is either about fitting in or firing weaponry.... sometimes both.  It's no wonder these Boomers rebelled and started a peace loving counter-culture!

The caption to the photo at the top of this post reads: "What's the sign of a popular boy? He's outgoing, friendly, fun to be with, building much of his life around others. How do you measure up?"

I wonder how many boys read this and instantly felt like total shit.

Mini Skirt Monday #45: God Hates Miniskirts

According to an Awake magazine from January 1968, mini-skirts are pure diabolical evil - an abomination that could only have come from the bowels of deepest Sheol. Ladies, just know that Lucifer smiles at high hemlines.

The periodical was published by the Jehova's Witnesses and it attempts to explain all the horrible wrongs being committed in the world (television is evil, music is evil, hippies are evil, yada yada yada) and how to shield yourself from the snares of sin.  I'm sure it was published by a bunch of guys like George Rekers, the anti-gay co-founder of Focus on the Family who, recently, was caught with a male prostitute he'd ordered online.

I won't get into a religious discussion (this is, after all, a Miniskirt Monday post), so suffice it to say that I am not an atheist, but am not dumb enough to believe that an omnipotent trans-dimensional Creator of Time and Space could give a flying fart how you're dressed. Give me a break.


Needlework A Go-Go #5: More 70s Needlework

What do you think of when you think of the 1970s? CB radios, disco, Jimmy Carter, eight track tapes, and bell bottoms, maybe?  Not me. I think of needlework. 

You read it right the first time.  As the custodian of Retrospace and self declared historian of the seventies, I am telling you that needlework was every bit as big as anything you might come up with.  The number of crochet, needlepoint and "make it yourself" books and magazines that came out during this time is unfathomable.

They were everywhere, so plentiful that they still lurk around every corner.  I'll wager there's not a flea market in this land that doesn't have at least one needlework guide for sale.  Check in your own home - I'll bet you find one in the attic or propping up your old couch with the missing leg.

View slideshow

So, click on the little icon above to check out a slideshow of when needlework was the "in" thing.  When even The Bandit was handy with the needle and thread.


Rollermania #3

Grown-ups had their discos, bars and pool halls, but the children of the 70s had the roller skating rink.  Many of them are still around today, but their day in the sun has long since past.  Major cities with a large enough population to support them have impressive rinks; however, most cities and towns across America have rinks that haven't been remodeled in thirty years. Many of them are long since closed - vacant and tattered reminders of a distant time.

The roller skating rink was around long before the 70s - they were often enormous with live organ music.  In the 70s they metamorphized into a disco themed haven for teens.  They had everything you could want - loud music, poor lighting (all the better to get away with stuff), an equal measure of girls and boys, pinball machines and, later, a video arcade.


Obscure Grooves #4: Disco Explosion

I'd love to sit here and slam the hell out of these songs - disco music is such an easy target; however, you can't knock it when you put it in perspective. Disco music wasn't meant to appeal to the Neil Young crowd. It wasn't meant to convey a political or moral statement. It was meant to be played at a dance club at 2 o'clock in the morning to an audience hopped up on cocaine looking to uninhibited recreational sex..... Neil Young can kiss it.

So, with having said that, here's a few obscure disco tracks from the 70s. Enjoy!

"D.I.S.C.O." by Ottawan


Bad Songs #5: "Who Are Parents?" by The Shaggs

I guess if it weren't for a few well known musicians like Kurt Cobaine and Frank Zappa proclaiming their love for The Shaggs, you wouldn't be reading this post right now.  They would've been lost to the sands of time like so many other unknown acts of their era.

I have to believe the "respect" given to The Shaggs is more akin to the "respect" given to someone like Ed Wood, Jr.  Their creative product is so overwhelmingly bad that it becomes endearing. 

I don't own their 1969 album, Philosophy of the World, so we'll use the mp3 provided by the wonderful music blog The Rising Storm.  The song is called "Who Are Parents?".  Enjoy.

Kid Stuff #13: Terrible Games for the Whole Family to Dread

There's certainly been some awful games produced over the years. The Full House, Kojok and Beverly Hills 90210 board games come to mind. However, I think it's unfair to call games like these the worst. After all, if you were a fan of those shows, you might have actually enjoyed them. I'm looking for games that are horrible by any standard.

I've come across a few vintage games that seem beyond the pale.  They're so bad, I can't conceive of a human being of sound mind enjoying them. For instance, the French cheese card game...

"I've got 3 Roqueforts and 2 Pouligny-Saint-Pierres. Read 'em and weep."

"Not so fast, son. I've got hand full of Crottin de Chavignols and Neufch√Ętels. I win!"


Foxy Ladies #11: Jan Speck

I must admit, I don't know a whole lot about the Price Is Right model, Jan Speck - the information on the internets is sparse.  She was the wife of John Badham, the director of Saturday Night Fever, and she appeared as minor characters in movies like Stakeout and Short Circuit.

What I do know is she is a stone cold fox.  There's been a lot of famous ladies who've broken free of Barker's harem, such as Dian Parkinson, Janice Pennington, Cindy Margolis, and Anitra Ford (who was featured in a Mini Skirt Monday post). But I'd like to give props to one of the lesser known Price Is Right mamas - Jan Speck.


Dungeons & Dragons #4

As I've been looking back over some of these old D&D books, magazines and gaming materials, it really has made me realize what a great past-time it was back in the early eighties. My fingers are itching to role those strange looking dice once again.

First of all, let me be perfectly clear: I am not a fan of fantasy.  Watching the LOTR Return of the King was torture for me.  I was praying for Sam and Frodo to die in that stupid volcano.  I was rooting for the orcs and the big dumb eyeball.  This movie had two problems: (1) no Smokey and (2) no Bandit.

That being said,  D&D was a blast even for a non-fantasy aficionado.  It wasn't a solitary activity like video games often are - you played it with a bunch of friends in the basement.  And I know D&D folks are often portrayed as social misfits, but back in 1981-83 I didn't find this to be the case at all.  We had many guys in our group that were not geeky at all.

It was a great use of the imagination, and it had all the things boys love: monsters, hot dames in distress, and battle axes. Plus, life is a bitch in junior high - lots of rules and tons of social awkwardness.  D&D provided a nice escape.

Retrospace Zeta #7

Time once again to check out some of the interesting imagery being posted on Retrospace Zeta.  First up is a picture of a Chinese woman printing dirty pictures under the nose of Mao.  Nothing special about it really, but I was fascinated to see numerous sites where people theorized about the source of this curious image - I mean real academic discussions! 

You can take an image and upload it to TinEye and it will reverse search billions of images and try to track down its origin.... it ended up being some Russian political site discussing communism.  Little do all these people know, I grabbed this photo from an old National Lampoon!

How do I know it's mine? I can tell by how the image is cropped; it's cut from a larger image at exactly the same points.  Hilarious.

Anyway, here's a few of my favorite images from Retrospace Zeta from the past month or so. Enjoy.

Mini Skirt Monday #44: Paperback Minis

Body Language - Pan book cover

Do they still use cheesecake to push paperbacks? I don't think so - all the paperback covers I see today are 90 percent the author's name, a smaller title, and an itty bitty semblance of an illustration.  Well, before I launch into a long and vitriolic speach about the glory days of the paperback, let's get on with the miniskirts.  I present to you a small gallery of vintage paperbacks featuring the mini - most images are from Flickr, so click on the image to be directed to the image page and view full size. Enjoy!


Does It Get Any Better Than This? A Soul Train Line Dance

I ask you, since the dawn of mankind, has there ever been anything so wonderful as this Soul Train line dance to Curtis Mayfield's "Get Down"?   The clothes, the 'fros, the grooviness - this is as funktastic as it gets, folks.

If a genie were to grant me three wishes, I would wish (1) to be black, (2) for it to be 1972, and (3) to be in that Soul Train line dance..... if I got four wishes, the fourth would be for world peace.


Opinions and Rants #26: Why Everyone Is Broke

For those of you who missed it, the last time I wrote a politically oriented post I was verbally spanked by a wave of angry comments. Basically, the overriding message was: “Stick to The Six Million Dollar Man and Hong Kong Phooey posts, asshole!”

Well, every once and a while, I get the urge to express an opinion on current events – and given that Retrospace is a hobby, not a job, I can pretty much write whatever I want. It’s still in keeping with the theme of this blog because it is a viewpoint based on a retrospective – a viewpoint which steps back to get a perspective on the entire century.

Given our horrific economic situation, I can’t help but trace the chain of events leading up to our current state of affairs. This sort of thing isn't created out of nothing – it comes from increments of change over a period of decades.

During WWII, the United States was able to climb out of depression, due in no small part to the fact that global competition was still piles of burning cinders. The GIs came home, bought a house in the ever growing suburbs and went to work. From the doctor to the TV repairman, all were paid a decent living wage.

Obscure Grooves #3: At the Movies

Up the Creek (1984) was a mediocre piece of eighties junk that sat unrented on bottom shelves of video stores across this great land in the 1980s.  I imagine some tried it out simply for its intriguing cover art and were surely disappointed.  It definitely met its quota for sexual references and juvenile humor, but overall failed to top anyone's list for favorite comedy.

The soundtrack is equally lame.  It features songs by Shooting Star, a band that had a lot of promise (was the first band to sign with Virgin records), but ended up being a lackluster version of Triumph.  Hear for yourself in "Get Ready Boy" from the soundtrack.  I swear there were a billion songs that sounded exactly like this in the early eighties.


The Retrospace CB Radio Slang Dictionary

In 1973, the US government imposed a 55 mph speed limit in response to the oil crisis. The citizen’s band radio had been around for years prior, but now became very useful to truckers. It was used to find gas stations that hadn’t run out of fuel, and let other truckers know about speed traps which had sprung up everywhere after the new speed limit was established.

In the 50s and 60s, you had to be licensed to use a CB and had to use a registered call sign. However, once the CB became widely used on the interstates throughout the country, all rules were thrown out the window. Truckers started making up their own “handles”.

Well, it was around this time that America became fascinated with the blue-collar lifestyle – this “lust for lowbrow” has been covered extensively on Retrospace. Nothing epitomized the fad more than truckers – they were the cowboys of the 70s, wild and free, answering to nobody. It was only a matter of time before their means of communication captured the public interest.


Retro Film Report #10: The Ambushers (1967) Part Two

When we last left Helm, he'd gone apeshit after being drugged by Francesca, ripping her clothes off then passing out cold.  Fortunately for him, Sheila shows up and the tables are turned on Francesca. 

If you'll recall, Sheila was supposed to be insane.  She'd driven her top secret flying saucer into the jungles of Acapulco and been captured.  Months later, the US government finds her wandering around the jungle, crazy as a shithouse rat. What happened? She seems in perfect control.

Retro Film Report #9: The Ambushers (1967) Part One

To the Atomic Age hipster, the spy was the ultimate bachelor badass. Reckless, yet never ruffled. Daring, yet tender. His Beretta in one hand, his other hand holstering a martini.  He was an epiphany of suave.  For my money, no one personified this better than Dean Martin in his Matt Helm movies.  Indeed, The Ambushers is a celluloid cocktail of cheesecake and Dino mojo, shaken not stirred.