Tech #17: Phone Thing

Have you ever seen a more ridiculous thing in your life?  These crummy pieces of paper are supposed to somehow make sense of the insanely confusing rates and save you money.

The Phone Thing comes to you from 1979, but considering the advances in telecommunications since then, it may as well be 1879.  Some of you may remember the mind numbing long distance game of the seventies and eighties.

If you'll recall, the first minute was always the most expensive.  And long distance rates were so steep that you could fill your tank up with gas for the price of talking on the phone for an hour. In most homes, long distance was forbidden except on weekends.  If you absolutely had to call on a weekday, it would have to be late in the evening and you'd have to make it super quick.


Retrospace Radio #30: Dirty Music

Captain and Tennille - You Never Done It Like That
Peter Brown - Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me?
Lil' Johnson - Hot Nuts (Get 'em from the Peanut Man)
Paul Nicholas - Heaven on the Seventh Floor
Jim Croce - Five Short Minutes
Dick Dagger's Theme  (from Dick Dagger's Big Dick Dilemma, 1973)
[clip from Frankly Fiona]
Cramming For College (from Cramming For College, 1973)
Barry White - Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe
Nice N Sleazy Does It  (from If it ain't Easy it ain't Sleazy, 1972)
Connie Allen - Rocket 69
Andrea True Connection - More, More, More
Her Magic Carpet (from Donna Does Denise, 1974)
The Grass Roots - Naked Man
Laying Pipe (from Plumbers Delight, 1974)
SpiderPussy (from SpiderPussy 2: Caught in the Web, 1976)



Album Covers #25

This is the scariest, creepiest, most disturbing album cover ever made.  Why?  Take a look behind the foliage in the upper left.  What demon haunted mind lurks within that darkened cell? (shudder)  The Corner Grocery Store is a place where evil dwells.  Stay away.

As for the child wedged below Raffi, I don't know what he's doing, but I believe it's a cry for help of some kind.


Opinions & Rants #40: POTUS Indifference

Whenever I get even slightly political here on Retrospace, it’s not long before the personal attacks start coming.  Americans are so polarized on the issues of the day that they lose control of any sense of perspective and  simple respect.  Well, here it goes again anyway….


Viva VHS#10: Horror Box Art (Part 2)

When I was in high school the only video store around was some dude's house that he had converted into a VHS/Beta rental.  There were no walls of "new releases", just shelves and shelves of videos - most of which were far off the beaten path.

The covers were fairly beat up as video stores hadn't learned to not let the customers' take the original box home yet.  They were also fairly expensive to rent, and in order to be one of the Chosen Ones issued a rental card you had to put up a hefty down payment.

One of the first movies I rented was The Gates of Hell because my friend and I thought the cover looked cool.... and here I am nearly thirty years later still admiring these same horror VHS covers.....


Viva VHS #9: Horror Box Art (Part 1)

Back in 1985, if you wanted to watch Bloodsucking Freaks or Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, you had one and only one option - your local video store.  This often could involve a good deal of shame and humiliation as you were bound to run into somebody you knew at the precise moment you picked up the most sick and disturbing VHS in the entire store.

And some of these horror film covers could be pretty damn graphic.  I remember renting Color Me Blood Red with an eviscerated victim on the cover with particular shame.  Oftentimes, I'd add a "respectable" film to my checkout to ensure the video store clerk didn't think I was the town serial killer.  Adding On Golden Pond or Yentl to the mix always seemed to alleviate any concerns.

Looking back, it's easy to see that there was nothing really to be ashamed of.  In fact, some of these covers are pretty bad ass.  In this post, I'm bringing out the box art from the horror section of Ye Olde Video Store.  Enjoy!


Magazines #35: Kung Fu Fighting

The seventies were the heyday of martial arts in pop culture.  It was everywhere you looked: Bruce Lee was larger than life, "Kung Fu Fighting" on the radio, Hong Kong Phooey on Saturday Morning, David Carradine in the evening, and Billy Jack serving up a can of whoopass on the big screen. Indeed, martial arts films were so plentiful, I could spend years devoting a whole blog on the subject and only scratch the surface.  There was even a zombie karate film(s)...... need I say more?

For me, I didn't really experience the full vigor of martial arts obsession until the eighties via Kung Fu Theater, The Karate Kid and The Master..... God, I loved that show!  I even owned a Chinese Star, although I don't think I threw the thing even once (I probably woud've hurt myself).

Anyway, this is a post about magazine covers, so here's a bunch of kick-ass karate-choppin' covers.  Get ready for lots of mustachioed gentlemen delivering and receiving severe ass beatings. Enjoy.


Catalogs #23: K-mart '77

This mini-catalog was in the December 1977 issue of Reader's Digest.  Not much to say about it except - holy crap this stuff was expensive! I guess that's what happens when you don't use Vietnamese child labor and actually pay U.S. citizens a living wage to make stuff in the States.  Novel concept, huh?

I'll include a few prices in 2012 dollars below the pictures. For instance, that $21.97 tape recorder (above) would cost approximately $83 in today's U.S.dollars



Retrospace Radio #29

A few announcements regarding the Retrospace Podcast....

First, it is now to be called Retrospace Radio.  It has annoyed me immensely over the past year or so that this isn't technically a proper podcast.  I don't ever talk - it's just music with various clips thrown in.  When I initially started these posts, I had every intention of recording myself - I even bought a mike.  That dream was short lived.  Let's just say, Johnny Fever I am not.  I sounded like Bob Ross on quaaludes.  It was awful and I've been sticking to the music ever since... but the title remained "podcast" until today.

Also, I am changing the format of these podcasts (now radio episodes).  In the past, they have been a beautiful tapestry of nostalgia - an admixture of commercials, movie clips, songs, TV themes, etc.  Needless to say, they took forever to make.  I could write ten posts in the time it took me to make a single podcast.    So, I am primarily sticking to just music, without a whole lot of bells and whistles.  This sucks, but on the upside I can now deliver podcasts much more frequently... and they'll be longer.  This one is thirty minutes.

And lastly, each episode will have a theme.  For instance, there will be episodes with songs only about drugs, TV theme episodes, porn soundtrack episodes, etc.  You get the picture.  To start with, we'll go with something simple - "instrumentals".  Enjoy.





Album Covers #24

I don't know what this Jumbo album cover means..... I just know it's the coolest illustration to ever grace a record bar none.  I want this in every classroom in America for all kids to pledge allegiance to. I want every man, woman and child to meditate upon it.  This needs to be framed by the hearth in every home and emblazoned upon billboards across this land. Some day this cover will be decoded and it will save the world.

And now prepare for more vinyl cover greatness...


Comic Books #46: Superhero Merch

I'd be a liar if I said I didn't enjoy The Avengers.  Indeed, comic book heroes have become big business in Hollywood, and I'm one of the millions who happily parts with his cash to see them on the big screen.

That being said, I still have a fondness for the days of old, when the exploits of my favorite superheroes weren't made with big-budget CGI, but rather simple illustrations on the pages of a comic book. It sounds cliched, but it really was a "simpler time"..... but the powers-that-be still tried to reach into our pockets (or our parents' pockets) via some good old fashioned superhero merchandise.   Here's some examples. Enjoy.


Mini Skirt Monday #123: Reading

Think of history's greatest combos - peanut butter & jelly, Lennon & McCartney, Simon & Simon.  Surely, the miniskirt & book ranks among them.  You have great works of fiction flanked by great works of fashion.  Great Books alongside Great Looks. High Art complementing High Hemlines. Legs 'n' Libraries.

So, I've decided to post a bunch of miniskirted gals and their reading materials. I've got so many to send your way, they won't fit in a single post.  So, enjoy Part One!


Artful Conception #15: Dead Dames

For those not familiar with the "artful conception" posts (it's been a while since the last one); it's basically a look at old school motifs and themes that are repeated over and over in pop culture art.  This one's a particularly grisly concept, but an amazingly common one - dead dames on mystery paperbacks.

Admittedly, it makes sense that mystery novels would regularly feature a dead chick on the cover.  I mean, the stories generally revolve around a murder, and the victim is usually a female.  Hence, the ubiquity of
dead chicks on mystery covers.

Still, it's a pop culture pattern that is just strange enough to warrant the attention of Retrospace.  So, here's a dearth of dead dames from the archives.


Vintage Reads #38: Romance Novels

With all this commotion about 50 Shades of Grey, I thought I'd better hop on the steamy romance novel bandwagon.  Personally, there's no possible way you could get me to read Twilight fan fiction - even the threat of torture or death wouldn't be enough. (However, I always thought an explicit fan fiction of Vision and Scarlet Witch would be pretty cool... but I digress).

Most used bookstores that sell paperbacks are packed to the gills with romance novels.  God only knows how many of these things have come out over the years.  Each individual novel never could come close to making it on the best seller list, but taken as a whole, the genre is a powerhouse, and has been for quite some time.

In the vintage blogosphere, there's a lot of resources for other genres - tons on vintage sci-fi and pulps, for instance.  Not a lot on the ol' romance paperback (Get Your Bodices Ripped Here is probably the best out there).  So, here's my small contribution.  I haven't actually read any of these, so can't comment on the content, but I can sure enjoy a good romance cover now and again.  Enjoy.

Album Covers #23: Awful Foreign Singles

When I think of great album covers, a few particularly awesome ones spring to mind.  (1) Sgt. Pepper, an obvious choice, but it's obvious for a reason. (2) Black Sabbath's eponymous LP is the high water mark for horror themed covers - Maiden's Eddie covers run a close second.  (3) The Frazetta Molly Hatchet cover(s) also kick some ass.... but I'll save this discussion for a Greatest Album Covers post.

This, however, is not a Greatest Album Covers post.  Quite the contrary.  These are freaking awful.  These are all horrible messes that demand your immediate attention.


Retro Film Report #20: Sleepaway Camp II

Refreshingly fun slasher movie. Not for fans that need their horror intense - Hostel this is not.  Sleepaway Camp 2 so meticulously adheres to the slasher formula that it is in danger of being a parody of its own genre. It has everything you expect in a slasher film, lots of boobs and blood; however, the film just doesn't take it self very seriously, and thus neither will you.

Why review a sequel rather than start with the original? Folks, this is like missing an episode of The Love Boat. Trust me, it doesn't matter.

Vintage Style #32: She Wears Short Shorts

Men's shorts in the seventies definitely lived up to their name - they were shooooort.  Ever watch a basketball game on ESPN Classic? I don't know how these guys managed to keep their package from "making an appearance" on network TV.  Ever see that episode of The Beverly Hillbillies where Jethro and Mr. Drysdale take up jogging in their little white shorts?  I feel like I know these two gentlemen intimately.  At least in a Speedo things are contained - there's never a danger of a sudden and unexpected penis rearing its ugly head. (pun intended)


Catalogs #22: Women's Sleepwear

I guess I'm just not comfortable with my manhood enough to start composing posts on men's nightwear.  Call me an jerk, but there's honestly nothing I'd less rather see than a bunch of mustachioed 70s gentlemen in their grippies.  I'll leave that to the bloggers that can appreciate that sort of thing.  Meanwhile, Retrospace will continue serving up super sized dishes of smoking hot babes in catalog pages.  This round we're lookin' at nightwear and some lingerie thrown in for good measure.  Enjoy!


Opinions and Rants #39: 5 Things That Have Gotten Worse

Drink up, ladies.  Let the sweet escape of alcohol wash over you.  Happiness is only found at the bottom of a bottle.

“This place sucks.”

We all knew that kid in high school who griped endlessly about how awful the town you lived in was.   It was more or less a scapegoat for why life wasn’t exactly the way you wanted it.  The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter where you live – the high school in Bakersfield, CA is not going to be that different than the high school in Jacksonville, FL.  Your happiness as a teen has a hell of a lot more to do with perspective and attitude than it does geography.

 “The 2000s suck.”

I have to be very careful writing posts at Retrospace that I don’t become that same whiney and annoying kid.  Indeed, the same can be said for time as it can for geography. If you’re a miserable wretch now, you’d probably be a miserable wretch in 1967 and 1975 as well, if you catch my drift.

So, let me state for the record that I am a very happy guy.  I’m gainfully employed, I have the leisure time to devote to blog posting nearly every day (I’m writing this on a plane to Massachusetts BTW). Most of all, I have a wonderful wife and wonderful children.  No complaints.


Ads #53: Cosmetics & Perfume

1981 lipstick ad
The timeline continued...
8AM Wake up naked and alone in bed.  Overcome by feelings of guilt and self loathing. 

8:30 AM Cry bitterly in shower.

9AM Leave twelve messages on his answering machine.  Call him a "stinking son of a bitch" in last message.

11:30 AM Drinks at the world famous St. Regis Hotel.


Viva VHS #8: Hick Flicks

I've posted before on one of my favorite genres of film - the hick flick (i.e. hicksploitation).  The genre can cover everything from Smokey & the Bandit and Six Pack to Deliverance and I Spit on Your Grave, depending on how loose your definition is.

Certainly, the movie poster is the bigger canvas, and subsequently often has the best artwork. However, the VHS box art could be quite interesting as well (often just modified versions of the movie posters).  Of course, some were downright awful.  Here's some from the Retrospace collection.  Enjoy.


Mini Skirt Monday #122: Pants vs. Minis

Hey, girls. Want to be the one the guys are looking at in a group? Wear a miniskirt.

Want to blend into the scenery instead? Wear pants.

Okay, I'm oversimplifying.  But like it or not, there's certainly some truth in what I'm saying.  I'd love to see the Harvard psychology department do a study with the following photographs.  Take a test group of self-proclaimed heterosexual males and have them look at the pictures and track where their eyes gravitate and linger.

And before I'm scolded let me say that you, as a female, may very well be comfortable enough in your own skin to not give two shits if guys are undressing you with their eyes.  In fact, it may be something you are trying to avoid.  If so, more power to you.  But that doesn't change the scientific certainty that the gal in the mini will be the one male eyeballs will hover over, whilst the gals in slacks are just background noise.

And one last point.  (Note: The more readers Retrospace gets, the more nitpicking emails I get). I understand the hypothetical scenario of an intensely unattractive woman in a miniskirt alongside a gorgeous woman in tight jeans. There's always exceptions to the rule.

When this gets published in some scientific journal.  I want my name somewhere on that paper.  Now, let the experiment begin...


Fotonovelas #2

Tragedy thy name is Fotonovela!  You want to see vintage pics of sadness, brutality, and perversity, there is no better place to look than the Spanish language rags known as fotonovelas.  Basically, they're like comic books but with photos instead of illustrations.  They come in all types of genres, some fairly benign, and some so incredibly audacious they literally scream for attention on Retrosapce.

I've covered more than my share of over-the-top vintage adult periodicals. There's the often depraved fumetti, and the much maligned crime magazine.  Of course, those men's action mags were no slouch in the over-the-top department either.  But I'd have to say the fotonovela is easily a contender for being the most audacious, ribald, batshit crazy of them all.


Album Covers #22:Awesome Dutch Singles

So, my wife just asked me why I'm posting a bunch of sleeves from Dutch singles.... and, honestly, I couldn't formulate an answer.

Quite honestly, I could think all day long and still not be able to put into words why I'm posting these.  It's not because there's no reason - it's that the reason is too esoteric for the uninitiated to fathom.  Vinyl art is a goddamn transcendental experience for those that "get it".  It's beyond kitsch, it's beyond nostalgia, it's beyond humor.... the only way I can put it into words is it's an existential walk with Jesus.