Needlework A-Go Go #18: 1960s Cable Knits Pamphlet

cable knits for men and women pamphlet (1)

Are you ready for some more models with frozen smiles steadfastly staring into the distance? I know I am.  This one's from the 1960s, so you know going in that there's going to be lots of white chicks in bright happy colors wearing lots of makeup, and some manly men with pipes and jaunty swaggers.  So, what're we waiting for?.... Let's dig in!


Magazines #20: Magazine Sharity

It's time once again for you to thank me profusely and shower me with generous donations, because I've got more stuff to share.  In all seriousness, this is some good stuff.  My phone is chock full of old comics and mags; so, if you see a guy on a plane reading an old issue of Dynamite or Vampirella on his phone, tap him on the shoulder - it's probably me.  Now you too can live in the past whilst waiting in line or during boring meetings. The first offering features Rerun on the cover, so it's a no brainer that you'll have to download this one.

Download: Right On! February 1977


Found Photos #4: Celebrate Good Times

click on all the images to view full sized
Most found photos consist of either a wedding, a vacation or a party.  People just don't take pictures while they're doing mundane things like watching the tube or mowing the lawn; although, these can be the most interesting to found photo enthusiasts. The candid shot of an everyday routine captures the essence of the times better than any posed wedding photo with glasses raised.

That being said, you can still have a lot of fun with party photographs. So, let's analyze them to death, and see if we can find something interesting about them.

For instance, take a look at the photo above.  Never mind the chicks acting silly for the camera.  I'm lookin' at the dude in the back. Does this wallflower in stripes know he's being forever immortalized, but wasn't quick enough to slip out of view? At second glance, he appears to be engaged in conversation, so perhaps he's not the shady character I was hoping he would be.

It appears to be at someone's house (given the phone and end table in the back) and it appears to be winding down (given the crumbs on the tablecloth).  Must've been a lot of fun to still be acting jovial this late in the game.

Sex Sells #23: Wear These Pants and Women Will Worship at the Altar of Your Manliness

murhjani jeans ad - reggie jackson 1980

Once upon a time, the only way men's clothing was advertised was by insinuating that somehow these articles of clothing would magically attract women.  Indeed, it was as simple as buying a pair of polyester slacks - beautiful females would flock to your side as if under a spell or overpowered by a musky pheromone.  I mean, let's face it, if women weren't around, us guys would wear nothing but sweatpants and dirty t-shirts.  The opposite sex is our only incentive to dress halfway decent, so it makes sense to capitalize on that fact in marketing.

Of course, you could argue that all products marketed to men utilized this concept: namely, cars, cologne, electronics, airlines, and cigarettes.  The "sex sells" credo has largely been removed from marketing standards, except when a trendy product wants to ruffle feathers and seem controversial.

So, in honor of those days when when everything from socks and underwear to shirts and ties were marketed with the male libido in mind, here's some great menswear ads. Enjoy!


Cinema #19: 1970s Grindhouse: You Can't Go Home Again

10-18-2010 10-32-36 AM

If, like me, you read horror blogs, listen to horror podcasts, and read horror magazines, you hear a lot of the same thing: namely, "we hate remakes and lightweight PG-13 horror movies".  In other words, everyone in the horror community seems to be saying in unison that the horror movies released in mainstream theaters are sugary paint-by-numbers; they lack the raunch and nihilism of films from the seventies.  Your average PG-13 horror movie is the cinematic equivalent of a Twinkie; whereas, the exploitation films of the seventies are raw sinewy meat.

Well, I have bad news.  It's over.... and it ain't coming back.

Why do I say this? The evidence.  Any exploitation endeavor of late has failed miserably. For instance, Piranha 3D had all the elements of a good old fashioned grindhouse flick: tons of gore, a senseless plot, huge helpings of gratuitous nudity, and cheap 3D thrills.   And yet, its box office gross was less than impressive.

Take another example: Machete.  If ever there was a modern movie cut from the same cloth as seventies exploitation, this is it.  Rodriguez followed every grindhouse trope imaginable, and yet it too tanked at the box office.

And my understanding is that Drive Angry starring Nicholas Cage is yet another faithful attempt at exploitation, with senseless violence and gratuitous nudity filled to the brim.... and this film is a disaster.  I haven't seen it, but it's enough to sense a pattern here: exploitation cinema is fondly remembered by us geezers, and is worshiped by genre fans, but will never ever never be a box office success.


Vintage Style #19: When Fashion Had Style

I remember, back in 1993, I asked a friend if it was just me, or did it seem like the nineties didn’t have a distinctive fashion. She agreed, but added that it is always hard to peg a decade with a certain “look” while still in that decade. She said, “In the 2000’s, the ‘nineties look’ will be as distinctive as the ‘eighties look’ or the ‘seventies look’”.

Wrong. It’s 2011 and I still don’t see it…. and the 2000’s are no better. For instance, a picture of girl in the 1970s is instantly recognizable as being from that decade. You can even pinpoint which part of the decade – early, mid or late seventies. The same holds true for the eighties, sixties, fifties, forties, etc. What the hell happened?

The way I see it, there are only two possibilities.


Bad Songs #11: 22 Horrible Songs for Your Listening Pleasure

When I say "horrible" I mean HORRIBLE.  And I'm not talking about the fun kind of horrible where it's delightfully bad.  No.  Every one of these songs represents a bad decision, a lapse in judgement, a flat out mistake.  One can only wonder what unfortunate series of events led to the creation of these auditory nightmares.

Some songs make you want to tap your foot.  Some songs make you want to get up and dance.  And then there's these songs, which make you want to grab the nearest sharp object and jab it into your ear.

So, why punish yourself by downloading this miserable crap? I'll tell you why.  It's the same reason people slow down on the highway when there's a wreck.  It's the same reason people watch reality shows. Sick fascination.



Vintage Reads #23: More Dirty Books Front and Back

Well, here we are again reading the backs of 50 year old smutty books.... and I can't think of a better use of our time.  Our country may be in 3 simultaneous wars, at the mercy of oil rich countries that hate us, and sinking exponentially into catastrophic debt, but by God I'm going to take the time to read some frivolous trash!  You have to, just to keep your sanity. 

So, let's escape back to a day before DVDs and cable; back when dudes got their fix from paperbacks.  The covers were brilliant - eye catching, lurid, and practically begging you to buy them.  However, if that wasn't enough to make you cough up 50 cents, the back cover surely would. 

Click on the images to view them full size. Enjoy!

Needlework A-Go Go #17: Women's World Knit and Crochet 1973

Womans World Knit and Crochet 1973 (1)

Are you ready for a "fantastic collection of kicky, young fashions"? I know I am.  The basic materials of the seventies were yarn, marijuana and fondue.... sometimes all at the same time. And I am proud to be a leader in brining you one more long lost example of material number one: Women's World Knit and Crochet (1973). It is my quest to have all vintage needlework booklets ever published scanned and on the shelves of the Retrospace Public Library. 

Care for some marijuana and fondue while you browse?


Vinyl Makes a Comeback

vinyl lovers

For years, you've heard me bitching and moaning about the death of vinyl and the ungodly shittiness of digital music.  When I hear that, in the past year, CD sales plummeted another 20 percent and vinyl rose by 14 percent, it gives me hope.  When I walk into Best Buy and see hundreds of records, I am even further encouraged.  There may be a light at the end of a decades long tunnel.

Let me recount a few of the innumerable reasons vinyl is better.  I know I've said all this before, but it's time for a refresher...

1. Analog sounds better than digital.  Just ask the Foo Fighters who just recorded a fully analog LP.  It's a warmer, fuller, more organic sound.  When it's played at a high volume on a great stereo, there's simply no comparison to digital.  It's like crappy Van Helsing level CGI vs. live action.  One is just sterile and fake, the other is the real deal. 
2. Album art is miles better on a record.  The canvas is bigger with vinyl; whereas the canvas on a CD is drink coaster size, and with mp3 is nonexistent. 
3. Vinyl is tangible.  You're more likely to purchase something you can hold in your hand, and possibly keep for years, versus something that is as insubstantial as air.


Mini Skirt Monday #71: More Minis in Advertising

cera liquida dabri (liquid wax)

Around 1970 miniskirts were featured in nearly every advertisement out there. Case in point: check out the  ad above.... if it's in a furniture wax ad, it's bound to turn up anywhere.  The formula seems to be: text + product + miniskirt = sales.  I'm not saying it's always an example of the tried and true "sex sells" marketing strategy, but rather just relying on the mysterious magic of the miniskirt.  If you've got a product to sell, whether it be to men or women, hitch your wagon to a star - the miniskirt.  Let's see a few more examples of this unbeatable formula in action....


New Retrospace Views Revealed!

As I'm sure you're aware, Blogger has added some new fancy gadgets or apps or whatever you want to call them.  They basically allow you to view blogs in a variety of ways.  Personally, I'm happy the way Retrospace looks on the screen right now (I've changed it up a bit), but maybe you like a cleaner less cluttered look.  If so, you may want to give the new Blogger views a try...

Sidebar view (http://my-retrospace.blogspot.com/view/sidebar)


Tech #11 Typewriter Days

Remember when an adding machine was the size of a two car garage?.... or when you had to take out a second mortgage to afford a calculator? It's become clichè to point out the alarming advances in technology; but when you really stop and think about it - it's still frickin amazing.  It's hard to believe that things as commonplace as a copy machine didn't exist when I was a kid.  To make a copy we used carbon paper! And that was the only record of the transaction.  There were no databases or hard drive storage, or CDs, etc.


The Hepcats Jive Dictionary


I know Retrospace is typically the domain of the sixties and seventies, but The Hepcats Jive Talk Dictionary (1945) is just too good to pass up.  All the groovy slang from that era is here.  It's the lingo of Sinatra and Cab Calloway; a helluva lot cooler than the Urban Dictionary could ever hope to be.  Here's a few examples:

MARBLE TOWN, graveyard
FAG HAG, girl chain smoker
COKE FRAME, attractive body build
BROWN ABES, pennies
WHISTLE BAIT, gal on the make
COFFIN VARNISH, bad liquor

Granted, several of the words are incomprehensibly racist; but then, it was what it was.  It's a pretty interesting read, and a wonderful slice of life back when Count Basie and Duke Ellington were the kings of cool. Enjoy.


Fotonovelas #1

vintage fotonovela (9)

I'm nowhere close to an expert in this subject; however, I do know enough to tell you that adult comics from Europe and Mexico during the seventies were INSANE. And when I say "insane", I mean grotesque, violent, pornographic batshit crazy.

These adult fumetti, as they're called, have garnered a niche following of late (what fringe interest doesn't have a cult following these days?).  There's entire blogs devoted to them; in fact, I was first introduced to them via The Groovy Age of Horror, which has mercifully branched out from this topic.  They are interesting for a few minutes the way a train wreck is interesting; but, after a while you just start praying for it to go away.

Fotohistorias or fotonovelas are comics with photographs rather than illustrations. The fotonovelas from Spain, Argentia, and Mexico were primarily about romance and soap operas (telenovelas).  However, there were adult fotohistorias aplenty.

The images in this cover gallery are examples of some awesome cover art from Araña Negra and other related fotonovelas from the seventies and early eighties.  I'd love to provide you with some adult fumetti covers, but this blog is rated PG-13.  No can do.


Vintage Scan #19: T-Shirts!

As a kid in the 1970s, I had a special connection with that most important of all outerwear the T-shirt.  It was its heyday, and people really did wear them as a sort of personal statement. My stoner neighbors wore Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult tees, girls at school were adorned with Shaun Cassidy and Andy Gibb iron-ons, and I wore the hallowed Pete Rose shirt till it was threadbare.  I guess I was a bit of a nerd in my younger days because I also liked to wear my super sexy Close Encounters of the Third Kind t-shirt.

Naturally, as a certified retroist, I am always interested in T-shirt ads from the seventies.  Here's a few pages I scanned the other day. Click on the images to view full sized. Enjoy.

Magazines #19: Photoplay 1977

Photoplay Magazine (Jan. 1977)

The more I look at the 1970's, the more I realize that both everything and nothing changes.  In other words, the big picture is basically the same today as it was forty years ago, but what changes are the details.  Forty some odd years later and we are still celebrity obsessed with grocery store checkout aisles lined with weekly magazines devoted to celeb blather.  What changes are the the names and, to the trained eye, certain nuances such as tone, standards, and what information is deemed important.

But enough of my own blather, let's take a look at the January 1977 issue of Photoplay!


Vintage Reads #22: Old School Religion Books

Without getting into too deep a discussion about the state of organized religion during the late sixties, early seventies, suffice it to say things had gotten very "lovey dovey" and "touchy feely" in most churches.  The reasons for the change from the prevailing traditional liturgies and customs to more "free and open" practices are lengthy and complex.  The primary factors, however, were undoubtedly related to the counter culture that bloomed during this period.  Millions of Boomers had come of age, and you could be assured that their churches would look nothing like places of worship.of their forefathers.

How did the counter-culture infiltrate the once rigid and impervious walls of organized religion.  Certainly there is strength in numbers, and the Baby Boomers had an overwhelming majority. It also helped that the biggest of all organized churches, the Roman Catholic Church, opened the floodgates with Vatican II.  Catholic parishioners had been used to a centuries old Latin Masss; then one day, they were greeted to something completely different.  The incense and Latin hymns were gone.  In their place were puppet shows, cheesy felt banners, and lots of guitar strumming.  The church I attended actually went to playing music by Cat Stevens.  Ride on the peace train, baby.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not passing judgement.  There's a lot to be said for injecting a breath of fresh air into   a religion that has grown stale.  And nowhere is that fresh air more evident today than in old religious and spiritual books of the period.  Decades have passed, the Boomers have grown older and more conservative, and the churches have gradually drifted towards the middle.  All that remains as evidence of this period are the books.

Browse through the religious/spiritual works published during the seventies and what's instantly striking are the day-glo psychedelic covers.  Sort of a mix of Peter Max, Haight-Ashbury rock poster art, and "Op Art" as it is called.   Goodbye magisterial leather bound religious work, hello dust jacket that could serve as an album cover for The Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Some day someone with an appreciation for these small works of art is going to start a blog or make a coffee table book about them.  There's literally thousands of them.  Admittedly, most are awful, but many are quite good, and serve as wonderful glimpses into the spiritual life of the 1970's.


Retrospace Confidential #2: Hong Kong Phooey

Last September, the True Retrospace Confidential post rocked some readers' worlds.  It seems the tawdry information compiled on The Great Gazoo was just a little too raw for the reading audience.  But journalists don't turn a blind eye to the truth when the truth isn't pretty.  In the grand tradition of The E! True Hollywood Story and VH1's Behind the Music, this series of posts will bring you the harsh reality, warts and all.  Stories should never be candy coated for mass consumption, and this exposé is no exception.

This is a tale that is well familiar to those in the acting business: you pretend to be a character so well, that you eventually become that character.  The line between the actor and the part he plays becomes blurred.    In this case, the line between Penrod Pooch, the actor, and Hong Kong Phooey, the part he played, was not only blurred, but erased altogether.

Prior to the role he is known best for, Penrod paid his dues playing second fiddle to small time lounge acts like the Pease Door Industries Singers shown below.  In this rare photograph you can make out a young Penrose at the lower right.

It wasn't until the posse from "The CB Bears Show" noticed Penrose (or "Penry" as he was often called) doing a comedy routine at a Sunset Blvd. strip joint, and recommended him for the part of Hong Kong Phooey.  And for the first few months of taping, things couldn't have gone better.

Mini Skirt Monday #70: Mini Skirt Mix Tape

There's an ample amount of songs with "miniskirt" in the lyrics; however, only a handful with it in the title. Here's the only ones I could dredge up from the past - if you can conjure up a song that I missed, please leave it in a comment.

I'm not making any promises about the quality of the songs - some are good some are bad.  But all of them have "mini skirt" in the title, and that should count for something. Enjoy.



Retrospace Podcast #16

Time to take in the savory sounds of another Retrospace Podcast.  This level of sonic splendor cannot be recreated in the lab; many scientists have tried and failed. It is a miracle of Nature. The Retrospace Podcast is the serendipitous result of unexplained cosmic irradiation of a Foghat record steeped in the ectoplasmic bongwater of the ghost of Boz Scaggs, who, ironically, is still alive.

Indeed, I have the solution to the global energy crisis: at 95 degrees Celsius this podcast turns into liquid energy.  A single Retrospace Podcast, when heated, can power a city the size of Tupelo. We're still working out the kinks, though (for one, at high temperatures the podcast becomes unstable and can cause brain damage in pets).  So, until this podcast becomes a worldwide commodity, take a listen to the newest episode.



Vintage Men's Mags #11: Stag Magazine

vintage men's magazine (78)

If you've been reading Retrospace, you know I have a special place in my heart for the men's action mags of the 1950s and 1960s.  Each cover is a smack upside the head - a stunning display of vibrant colors, manic action, and lurid headlines.  Inside, they were chock full of sensational tales, extreme paranoia, and masochism gone mental.  The magazines penetrated the male psyche - far below the cortex, deep down into the reptilian center. 

Stag began as an offshoot of Esquire in the 30s, but joined the ranks of the aforementioned action mags in 1951 when it was bought out by Magazine Management Company Incorporated.  Don't recognize the name? This was the parent company of Marvel - the publisher that gave us Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, etc.


Fads #16: Big Hair

B&W portrait

Once America pulled itself out of The Great Depression and the boys were home from WWII, women started wearing elaborate time-intensive hairstyles; notably the beehive and the bouffant (popularized by Jackie Kennedy).  Throughout the sixties, the sky was the limit to how high a woman could pile her 'do.

Among the younger generation, a more flat hippie style became trendy... but it didn't last long.  The seventies certainly had its share of big hair, most notably among southerners and country music singers (i.e. Dolly Parton)

Amazingly, the big-ass hair kept on truckin' through the 1980's.  Of course, the bouffant and beehive were long gone, but enormous hairspray drenched mounds of hair were as synonymous with the decade as skinny ties and Ray-Bans. It's interesting that the big hair thing finally died when guys started sporting them, most visibly among glam rock bands like Poison.

Since then, I don't think big hair has made any sort of comeback (although it still may be in effect in parts of New Jersey).  I must admit that I kind of like the big hair look, but I understand it was a hassle, and like most things these days, quick and easy is the name of the game.

Well, in honor of those bygone days of mountainous hairstyles, I've got some nice photographic relics for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.


Ads #40: Columbia Record and Tape Club

In 1981, my parents finally gave in, and my dumb ass joined the Columbia House Record and Tape Club. I'd been asking for years to no avail.  It seemed like the biggest bargain in town - 13 albums for a penny.... where do I sign!  All I had to do was agree to buy 8 more later on - what a sweet deal!  After my parents relented, I spent hours poring over the vast selection, carefully choosing each record as if my very life depended on it. I still remember the records that came in a nice big box three weeks later:

Stars on 45
At the time I actually thought I was going to get a Beatles greatest hits LP; instead, I got a Beatles medley sung by a cover band to a disco beat.

The Bee Gees - Spirits Having Flown
Yes, I know it was released in 1979; but in '81 I was evidently still wantin' some "Tragedy".

Styx - Paradise Theater
My friend and I would lay in his room, crank up the volume and listen to this LP over and over.... as if this was Sgt. Pepper or Miles Davis.  How embarrassing.

Queen - The Game
Now here was a good purchase.  Sadly, I would trade it for a Depeche Mode cassette tape five years later.  Not one of my proudest moments.

Air Supply - The One That You Love
I'd love to tell you I bought a Sex Pistols or Sabbath LP, but I'm all about honesty here, folks.

Steve Martin - Wild and Crazy Guy
"Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia. King Tut."  You remember it.  You liked it too, I know you did.

click to enlarge


What Sci-Fi Universe Would You Live In?

Yes, I know, it’s kind of a geeky question.... okay, it's a very geeky question. But I can’t help but ask it – where would you rather live, the Star Trek universe or the Star Wars universe? How about the Logan’s Run universe or the Buck Rogers universe of the 25th century? Inquiring minds want to know. Don’t answer too quickly. Let’s take a minute to look at each of these and more, and then come to an informed decision.

Blade Runner
A shitty dystopian cesspool, but maybe not too shabby if you like city life. However, the level of pollution and overcrowded dinginess is a little over the top, so I’d have to rule it out.

Uhura and Spock

Star Trek
Sure, it’s got a unified multicultural peace going for it, but how fun would it be for the Earthlings? Not everyone can be Captain Kirk cruising around the galaxy doinking every sexy alien that comes his way. No, the Star Trek Earth is a socialist communal never-never land. Too kumbaya for me.

Star Wars
Unless you’re a Jedi, this Universe sucks. Tattooine and Geonosis are godforsaken deserts. Hoth is a godforsaken ice cube. Dagobah is a godforsaken swamp. Mustafar is a godforsaken lava planet. Alderon gets blown up. There’s the Ewok and Wookie forest planets – no thanks. Naboo is boring as hell. Coruscant is the city planet, but not exactly a dream world. Then there’s all these wars raging. Not “no”, but “hell no”.

Retro Badass #4: Chuck Norris

1983 Chuck Norris

I know the whole "Chuck Norris Facts" thing is over a year old, but I can't help it - I still find them funny.  Here's some of my favorite Chuck Norris Facts; feel free to leave me some of your own favorites in a comment.  I can never get enough of these.

Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.

When Bruce Banner gets mad, he turns into the Hulk. When the Hulk gets mad, he turns into Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris’ sperm can be seen with the naked eye. Each one is the size of a quarter.

When Chuck Norris does division, there are no remainders.

Whoever said “only the good die young” was probably in Chuck Norris’s kindergarten class.

Guantuanamo Bay, Cuba, is the military code-word for “Chuck Norris’ basement”.


Vinyl Dynamite #29: Barbarella


It doesn't get much groovier than this, folks.  Bob Crewe always had that hep bachelor pad music vibe, and with the Barbarella soundtrack he added a dash of psychedelia.  The result: some of the grooviest far-out music ever recorded.

In Hollywood's unfaltering quest to remake everything ever made, they have moved on to this little gem.  I hate to tell them that, unless they're going for an Austin Powers style parody-comedy, it can't be any good.  Barbarella was very much a product of the times; a day-glow cosmic explosion resulting from the collision of both the swingin' Casino Royal aesthetic with the hippie psychedelic culture.  It would be like remaking Easy Rider or Saturday Night Fever - an exercise doomed to stupidity.


The Groovy Age of Travel #6: Why We Complain

Airline security, seventies style

Ever asked yourself why people are getting so upset about the recent airline security business? Does it seem a little petty - maybe a bit whiny? I mean, they're just trying to look out for our safety right?

I think it may have more to do with overall shitty experience of flying than any moral stance against full body scans.  Once upon a time, you could smoke on planes (they had little ashtrays in the armrests), they served you a full meal, and the stewardesses were hot.  There was a fear of hijacking during the seventies, but overall it was nothing compared to the shared misery of today.