Vintage Wheels #13: The Super Van

Even Mr. T's 1982 custom AMC shrinks with embarrassment when The Super Van rolls up.  This baby is a shaggin' wagon powered by the sun!

Unlike your typical '70s van, this isn't just your average bed on wheels. This baby has a TV, tape deck, and "lighting effects" (I wonder what 8-track is in that tape deck.... my money's on Foghat). I'd give anything for just five minutes in that Captain's Chair, wheel in one hand, CB in the other.  It would really make me sad if this fine specimen is rusting away in some scrapyard.

I'll bet it still smells like pot.

click to view full size


Vinyl Dynamite #36: Climax Blues Band

I want bands to start looking ugly again. Not ugly as in "pretentiously weird ugly"; I mean ugly as in "they obviously have not showered in months, and their pockets are probably full of mystery pills and dried vomit".  Those kind've guys always made the best music (I'm talkin' to you AC/DC!).

So, I just wanted to give a quick fist bump to one of the scariest looking groups, The Climax Blues Band.  Like so many other gritty smelly looking bands of the seventies, they cleaned up in the early eighties, had a final hit or two... then were gone. Well, I wanted to bring them back for a moment.

Here's a couple incredible songs that epitomize the change from dirty-n-fugly '70s to squeaky clean '80s.

Sav'ry Gravy is some badass funky shit. This is cannabis fueled blues at its best.

I Love You is early eighties radio-friendly gold. Is there a better crafted pop song out there? McCartney surely wondered for a moment if he'd written it.

Needlework-a-Go Go #24: Yarnvertising

Just thought I'd hit you with some truly awesome advertisements from the 1971-1972 issue of McCall's Needlework & Crafts magazine. Some stellar ads that you don't want to miss - so, read on!


Retro Film Report #18: Seven Quick Reviews

For me, finding a 60s-80s movie on Instant is often a frustrating experience. There's a whole array of long-forgotten classics buried in their vast storehouse of instantly viewable material; the trouble is finding them.... and it simply should not be so hard.

Here follows my quick and dirty reviews of a few titles I've found on Netflix:
C.C. & Company (1970)
For Those Who Think Young (1964)
Switchblade Sisters (1975)
The Astral Factor (1976)
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)
Bedazzled (1967)
Billy Jack (1971)

Retrospace Mix Tape #18: Something Man

The history of pop music is riddled with songs defining the man. Some of the best known are:
Sharp Dressed Man (ZZ Top), Nowhere Man (The Beatles), Iron Man (Black Sabbath), Spoon Man (Soundgarden), Magic Man (Heart), Street Fightin' Man (Rolling Stones), Guitar Man (Bread), Piano Man (Billy Joel), Boogie Man (KC & the Sunshine Band), Macho Man (Village People), Rocket Man (Elton John), Soul Man (Sam and Dave), Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan), Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Old Man (Neil Young), Ramblin' Man (Allman Brothers), Traveling Man (Ricky Nelson), Solitary Man (Neil Diamond), Tin Man (America) and Hurdy Gurdy Man (Donovan).
However, this is Retrospace, and we like to explore the less traveled nooks and crannies of the retro-landscape.  Thus, I bring to you a heaping helping of Something Man songs gathered far, far from your weekly Top 40. They come complete with my erudite commentary on a handful of tracks, and the full mix tape can be found at the very end of this post. Enjoy!


Comic Books #33: Dazzler - Disco Super Heroine

Any child of the seventies will tell you that the Kiss comics were a high water mark of their childhood. It was the perfect recipe: Kiss + Comic Book = Total Freaking Awesomeness.

Kiss' label, Casablanca, and Marvel tried to recreate the magic with another music-comic hybrid - Dazzler.  While Kiss fell into the glam rock genre, Dazzler was to be a disco singer/ super-heroine... and it was going to be BIG!

Well, disagreements between Marvel and Casablanca ensued, and the tie-in never came to pass. However, Stan Lee still pushed for the comic's release. And, while not the global phenomenon they envisioned, Dazzler still sold at respectable levels.

Due to her perpetual link to pop music, Dazzler became the perfect icon for the eighties: a disco queen at first, then when disco fell out of fashion, she moved on to "rock".   If you want to learn all about her, there's always Wikipedia... if you want to take a little and look at some Dazzler eye candy, there's always Retrospace.


Fads #18: Poster Girls

I've got a question for you: Do you know anyone, young or old, who has pictures of half-naked women hanging on the walls of their bedroom? I'm betting that, unless they happen to be in prison, none of your friends or children or children's friends have a single one.

Not so in the 1970s. I remember those poster racks being a popular attraction in every store I went to, from K-mart to Elder Beerman (my peeps in Ohio know the name).  Of course, there were plenty of  non-pin-up posters that were plenty popular.  I, for one, adorned my bedroom walls with a King Kong poster (the 70s Dino DeLaurentis remake) and a Battlestar Galactica poster. My wife tells me she had  Shaun Cassidy and David Soul posters.

I think posters of any kind in the 1970s could safely be called a "fad".


Fact or Fiction #18: Vintage Look-A-Likes

The Von Hiatt Trio
I was just going through some old pictures of bands and musicians that never made it real big (I posted on it not too long ago) and started noticing that some of these people looked miiiiighty familiar.  Like creepy familiar...

Von Hiatt and Thom York of Radiohead
What the Hell? Same lips, nose, eyes and bone structure.  Was Thom York's dad in The Von Hiatt Trio, a group that would've considered themselves lucky to get booked at a Holiday Inn?  Very doubtful. It must be my mind playing tricks on me.

Miniskirt Monday #94: Shoe Sales - A Job Worth Dying For

Google "best job in the world" and your liable to be directed to careers like "professional wine taster" and "island resort blogger".  Or, perhaps, you have personal interests that dictate what you'd call the greatest job ever - maybe baseball writer or puppeteer?

Well, hardcore Miniskirt Monday fans will beg to differ.  The greatest job in the world is... (drum roll please).... a shoe salesman between the years of 1969 and 1974. (ta-daaaa)  Any arguments to the contrary are invalid.

Sadly, as the date parameters indicate, this field is no longer the fertile ground it once was. Life was good for young Al Bundys, but sucked hard once the miniskirt fell out of fashion.

Is it a bit sad and pervy to make this claim? Maybe, maybe not. But take a look at some vintage shoe salesmen in action, and then make up your mind.


Retrospace Podcast #23

Yogi's Gang Intro 1973
"The 5th" by Ekseption  [1969]
(overdub) Clip from Superfly
(overdub) All in the Family
clip Gilligan's Island Honeybees intro
"She Was Naked" by Supersister (1970)
Micronauts commercial
Blazing Saddles clip
"Miami" by Martin Mull
Radioactive makeup commercial
Riptide TV theme
Batman TV clip
"Son of my Father" by Chicory Tip 1972

Total run time ~ 17 minutes



Ads #44: Album Adverts

Leo Sayer is the perfect example, for me, of an artist whose music would suck were it not for the intimate tie-in with my childhood.  Even the most ardent Sayer fan would have to agree that "When I Need Love" and "You Make Me Feel Like Dancin'" are both pretty cheesy.  But when I hear those songs I am psychically transported back to my childhood days in Massachusetts.

I think I've mentioned that my school bus actually had an eight track player.  We'd all request the Grease soundtrack so we could shout out the expletives in Greased Lighning.  I also have fond memories of the whole bus shouting "You make me feel like dancin', WHOOO! Dancin' WHOOO! Dance the night away."

In summary: Are Leo's greatest hits cheesy? Yes.  Will I continue to love everyone of them till the day I die? Fuck, yeah.


Food & Drink #15: Wrigley's Pan Fried Nightmares

Wrigley's Spearmint needs to stick to what they know: GUM.  Branching out was a huge mistake.

Take for instance, the dish presented above. Only a gum company could make so many mistakes in a single dish.  Are these cookies? They've got nuts and raisins.... but they're covered in ketchup, so they can't be cookies. It looks like raw meat molded into patties.... yet, the text says they are meatless.  What the f**k is this?  It's going to take a lot of gum to wash away the taste of this meal.


Opinions and Rants #37: 12 Short Arguments to Legalize It

Okay, I know - the last thing you want to read right now is another dude's opinions on why weed should be legalized.  However, my retro-infused perspective may offer a few arguments that you might not have thought of before.  Give it a read, and if by Reason #6 you still are nonplussed, move on to one of my comic book or miniskirt posts and forget you ever saw this.  So, here goes...

1) We live in a world that's falling apart at the seams - the amount of rapes, murders, and home invasions in this country is mind boggling..... yet, we spend a huge percentage of our law enforcement budget tracking down potheads and throwing them in jail.  I hope you are never the victim of violent crime, but just know that a lot of money was diverted away from a law enforcement presence in your neighborhoods  toward arresting dope smokers.


The 'Stache #1: Neil Peart

Think you can handle this moustache? I don't think so.
I think it is my duty as Grand Purveyor of All Things Seventies to establish a series of posts on the symbol of the decade: The Mustache.  Like all my regular features, I will drag it out over a number of years, and wrap things up when the Mayan Calendar comes to a close.

The seventies were the decade of manliness and machismo.  Baby Boomers were in their prime, and now it was time to start broadcasting their virility via tight pants and mighty womb brooms.  These were beacons of manliness the way a stag's rack and a lion's mane are signals of their raw manhood.

Mind you, the homosexual community took it up a notch, so I can't lay all the credit to hetero seventies swingers.  But none - I repeat, NONE will ever top the feather duster that adorned the upper lip of the great Neil Peart.

Don't let the Adidas and Geddy's grandma pants distract you from that goddamn amazing mustache
I know there have been other great mustaches in rock: Frank Zappa and Freddie Mercury spring to mind. But none can compare to Peart's gargantuan thigh tickler. It's almost unfair that he could be the undisputed king of both drums AND moustachemanship.  Indeed, how many other musicians do you know that have a Facebook page devoted to their facial hair?


Vinyl Dynamite #35: Hold Your Ferret Aloft and Other Crazy Fabulous Song Titles

Hold Your Ferret Aloft by Clive John (1975)

I won't lie to you.  Sometimes I like something just because of the title. Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) wouldn't have been half as good without that title... and I'm not sure I would be so attached to Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Flesh! album were it not for that wonderful title. Steinbeck could have called his book The Joads Look for Jobs, but he went with The Grapes of Wrath because he knew we are all suckers for a title.

.... and if you've got a penchant for the strange and odd, then you're going to be especially suckered into these songs with weirdly awesome titles. I could've easily drawn everything from 70s prog rock, which reveled in awkward titles more than anybody; however, that would get old quick.  Also, please note that this is just a small collection of oddly amusing titles - this is by no means a list of the "funniest" song titles ever.... that's a topic for another post, perhaps. Until then, enjoy!

Miniskirt Monday #93: Stairways to Heaven

Yes, it's true we're engaging in undeclared wars on three different countries, our economy has fallen into the abyss, and our country is as divided as it has ever been since Lincoln.... but we still have one thing good goin' for us - miniskirts on Monday.

This time we're looking at minis on steps and stairs. Long a source of potential embarrassment to girls and a source of joy for boys, the stairs and bleachers at school were both a blessing and curse during the Age of the Mini.

They also serve as the perfect place to pose for the camera whilst wearing minis as sitting could result in the dreaded "upskirt" photo for all perpetuity.

So, bring on the miniskirts - and stairs!


Occult #11: Josie Possessed

In the last Occult post, I showed you a story in Archie comics that seemed a bit heavy handed with the occult. Well, that was nothing, folks.  In this one, Josie becomes possessed by an evil spirit... and it is disturbing as shit.  

I know Archie comics became "born again" at some point in their history, but this ain't it - the rest of the issue is completely "normal".  The Josie issues before and after this issue were free from overt religious messages.... so, I don't know what the f--k is going on here. 


The Boob Tube #28: 1960s Sitcom Sociology

I grew up on sitcoms that prided themselves on realism: All in the Family, Good Times, Rhoda, One Day at a Time, etc. (Thank you Norman Lear); but this wasn't the case just a few years prior to the Bunkers hitting prime time.  In the 1960s, situation comedies consisted of genies, witches, martians, monsters, and a talking horse.  It all was a bit silly, but well crafted fun nonetheless.  We certainly wouldn't still be reminiscing about it four decades later if it hadn't been any good, right?

Maybe I'm reading too much into these things, but if James Franco can compare Three's Company to Molière (if you haven't already heard, don't ask), then I'm entitled to a few words of boob tube sociological analysis.

I can't help but notice that the sitcoms of the 1960s followed the same basic formulas from the "fish out of water" trope.  You know the gag: the comedic hilarity ensues when a person(s) is somewhere where he or she doesn't belong (i.e. Crocodile Dundee and 3rd Rock from the Sun).  It's a fail safe formula.

But what the fuck was going on in the sixties that nearly every sitcom was about not fitting in? Think about it: Darren spends most his time blowing a gasket over Samantha's eccentric family ruining his reputation.  Major Nelson spends all his screen time fretting over looking strange and out-of-the-ordinary.  In fact, all those shows: The Munsters, The Addams Faily, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Beverly Hillbillies all touch a nerve about not fitting in in this new world of the "perfect" white picket fence Pleasant Valley Nuclear Family lifestyle.


Needlework-a-Go Go #23: Yarn-valanche

Yarn Goddess
Let me give you a quick lesson in 1970s Yarnology. Nowhere will you find (1) better examples of bad seventies fashion and (2) hotter looking seventies babes. It's having your breath taken away by the combination of unbelievable threads and dynamite foxes.  This is as close to Nirvana as you're likely to get, my friend.

I dig the brown outfit; but, didn't both Margaret Thatcher and Prince have a haircut like that?

The gal on the right appears to be half woman, half Chia Pet. Does the outfit require regular watering?

One thing about these home woven yarn creations is that they were often see-through.  In the 1970s, this might get you noticed - in the 2000's, it might get you arrested.

You know what? If my girlfriend is going to wear an outfit like that, I honestly wouldn't mind dressing like a complete jackass. I think it's a pretty fair trade, don't you?

"This is the future calling. Just wanted to let you know that letting someone take a picture of you in that layered Hula skirt was a big mistake. Bye." (dial tone)

Look! It's Yarn Lass and Craft Gal! I wonder what their super powers are? 


Food & Drink #14: Real Food!

In Twinkie Deconstructed, the author attempts to track down each ingredient in that wonderful icon of junk food. The list of what goes into the "natural and artificial flavors" alone would make your head swim.  I took a look at my frozen burrito and nearly had a heart attack when I saw "titanium dioxide" listed as an ingredient.  WTF?  That stuff's in paint!

But then, one wonders if all the hype over these strange and mysterious chemicals that go into so much of what we eat is really a big deal.  It's true that a Big Mac and fries can sit on my back patio for literally months without so much as a hint of degradation; while their homemade counterparts become spoiled and mold covered within a single day.... but does that in and of itself prove they're harmful to us?  Maybe that means they're just EXTRA good for us.... where does hard science weigh in on this?

The fact of the matter is, the food my parents were serving me 40+ years ago wasn't exactly straight from Mother Earth.  When did it all go to hell?... or maybe it never did. Hmmmmm.


Twisted Impressions #11: Betty & Veronica

One thing that amazed me whilst looking through these old Archie comics is how quickly Dan DeCarlo would get Betty and Veronica naked - or damn close to it.  DeCarlo had a long illustrious history of drawing naughty cartoons for Playboy (and other adult publications), so I guess it shouldn't surprise me.  Plus, it was the seventies, and everybody seemed to be in some state of undress during that decade.

I've been accused of having an overactive libido when it comes to retro-observations; and I'll agree that I have, on occasion, put a sexual spin on something when it wasn't there. However, I don't think that is the case today.  There's somethin' sexual goin' on in my 1970s Archie comics that I heretofore had not acknowledged.


Vinyl Dynamite #34: Jesus Music

Newsflash: Some of the best music to come out of the seventies was actually Jesus Music.  For many of you (and I include myself in this mix) this is actually a hurdle to get over.  Not that I have anything against Christianity, I don't - but IMHO, Christian music of any kind has largely sucked for the past thirty plus years.  So, unfortunately, when I hear the label "Christian Music", I am automatically starting off on the wrong foot.  It's sad but true.

I won't use this post to go off on any religious tangents; however, I will give a single statement that encapsulates my feelings on the subject:

The so-called "Jesus Movement" may be the closest mankind has come to actually practicing the teachings of Jesus.

It was a brief moment in time where all the pieces finally fell into place.  It was non-judgmental (i.e. devoid of hate), with a strong emphasis on living the "simple life" and helping your fellow man.  It didn't take long for the movement to become hijacked, and its positive qualities were soon warped beyond recognition (ex. the emphasis on Love was quickly transformed to mean sex without consequence).  

But I think this is where I'll step off the pulpit.  That's a topic for another post.  This one's about some kick ass Jesus Music. So, no matter what your creed, it's time to get our groove on....

Mini Skirt Monday #92: Stripes!

Why do I bother writing anything in these Miniskirt Monday posts? No idea, but here goes: These are images of girls in miniskirts that are striped.

Now that that's cleared up. Let's look at some pictures.


School Daze #5: How the U.S. Strikes It Rich Again: A Three Step Plan of Sheer Genius

Want to know how the U.S. can get back on its economic feet? Let's face it, we've suffered a roundhouse kick to the nads in the past few years - we've come damn close to tapping out, but somehow we're still in the mix.  If history is any guide, I believe I have the one and only answer to getting out of this mess.

Here's a hint: It will not involve giving Wall Street more taxpayer money for successive bailouts. It will also not involve giving corporations more tax incentives to stay in the U.S. - that may lead to another jobless recovery, but the middle class will still remain royally f***ed.  No, those aren't the answer.  The answer is.... (drum roll, please) ...... science education.


Decade of Decadence #10: Adult Movie Newspaper Ads

Around 1967, burlesque venues (go go dancers, topless bars, strip clubs, etc.) started to dry up in favor of adult movie theaters. It was, of course, a lot cheaper for a theater owner to pay for a loop of film versus a bunch of live girls.  Plus, the loosening of restrictions on adult movie theaters provided a novel allure to male audiences; whereas, burlesque seemed a thing of the past.... at least for a while.

The downside was that the whole experience took on a different tone.  Before, it was acceptable to take the wife to the Playboy club, or go to a business lunch at the local topless bar.  Now, the adult XXX theaters lent a sort of seediness to the whole affair; dapper gentlemen stayed away, while legions of trenchcoats flooded the dark and smokey theaters downtown.

By the mid-1980's, the VHS revolution completely destroyed the adult theater business - which makes these newspaper ads all the more interesting.  They come from that brief moment in time, roughly 1967 - 1984, when adult cinemas were in their heyday.  It's damn near shocking for me to look at an old newspaper and see these rather explicit ads.  Sure, they can still be found today, but the sheer number during this time period is breathtaking.  Have a look...


Retrospace Mix Tape #17: Circles

Crazy Circles by Bad Company (1979)

I have a dream that one day all the citizens of earth will have their mobile devices filled to the brim with a generous helping of Retrospace music.  Then, and only then, can we achieve world peace.

I give to you not only a mighty playlist of bitchin' grooves, but also some homespun album artwork courtesy Retrospace.  This time 'round we've got a bunch of songs with one thing in common: all have the word "circle" in the title.  Have no fear, Elton John's "Circle of Life" is nowhere to be found on this mix tape.  Not only would that be an unforgivable affront to good taste, but I would also expect Disney lawyers to Kaiser Sosa my ass within five minutes of this posting.

Anyway, on with the mix tape. We'll spotlight a handful of songs, and the mix tape in its entirety is at the end of the post.


Important Things to Know #12: Krug & the King

When I learned Chuck Berris of The Gong Show wrote "Palisades Park", I was a tad surprised.

When I learned Alan Thicke sung the theme to Diff'rent Strokes, I was mildly interested.

But when I learned that the most convincing homicidal rapist in the history of cinema wrote "All Shook Up", I nearly shit myself.

Wes Craven's Last House on the Left (1972) is easily the world's most disturbing and nihilistic 90 minutes of celluluid that's not a snuff film.  Everyone who sees this film walks away with a hollow feeling in the pit of their soul.  The lead rapist murderer in this film is Krug Stillo, a vile sociopathic menace, who was played with ultra-realism by David Hess... who also happened to be a writer for The King! Even more shocking - he also wrote for Pat Boone (remember "Speedy Gonzalez? That's Hess!)

What's worse is that Hess didn't stop there. He played a homicidal rapist in Hitch Hike (1977) AND House by the Edge of the Park (1980).  That's right - he's back to playing a homicidal rapist in two more films. House by the Edge of the Park was directed by the same guy that did the infamous Cannibal Holocaust, so you know it's not the feelgood hit of the Summer.  Hostel looks like a romantic comedy compared to this sick and twisted film.

What a dark turn this guy had!  I wonder what happened in his life that he went from writing catchy pop songs to spending the better part of a decade raping and killing women on the big screen.  I'm not knocking him for it (Hess died last month BTW). In fact, I commend him for leaving such an endelible mark upon two very different art forms.  This was truly a guy with some depth - someone who could not only write benign pop fluff, but also get deep into the mind of a monster.



The Boob Tube #28: Lesser Known TV Babes (Part 2)

Back by popular demand is another round of hotties from 70s and 80s primetime TV.  This period was a Golden Age of sorts for bit part actors and actresses to get their moment in the limelight - it just seemed like every show (in particular, the hour long dramas) lent themselves to a buttload of cameos and "guest appearances".  Love, American Style started the ball rolling, then The Love Boat and Fantasy Island made it their bread and butter. In the 1980s, cop shows like TJ Hooker and Hunter kept the trend alive.  By the time the 1990s rolled in, the heavy reliance on small-time actors and "guest appearances" was getting a bit tired.

Anyway, here's another group of lesser known babes that made the prime time rounds in the 70s and 80s, only to drift off into relative obscurity. See if you recognize them.

Retro Quote #12: Favorite Movie Quotes as Told by Archie Comics

Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Just for the hell of it, I thought it would be fun to have the cast of Archie Comics recite some of my favorite movie lines.  I only hope you have as much fun reading it as I did making it.