Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome Away

Kodachrome photo of Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus, in the West End of London, circa 1949. Photo by Chalmers Butterfield

Kodak has announced that they are closing the last Kodachrome film development lab.

I guess it was inevitable, but millions of unhappy photographers must now feel as if they are viewing the world through a black & white lens.

There is a pretty sweet group over at Flickr dedicated to the Kodachrome film medium. There you'll find pages upon pages of user photo contributions. Check it out.

I think Paul Simon said it best:

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It's a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of edu---cation
Hasn't hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew
When I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they'd never match
my sweet imagination
everything looks WORSE in black and white

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

Mama don't take my Kodachrome away
Mama don't take my Kodachrome away
Mama don't take my Kodachrome away

Mama don't take my Kodachrome
Mama don't take my Kodachrome
Mama don't take my Kodachrome away

Mama don't take my Kodachrome
Leave your boy so far from home
Mama don't take my Kodachrome away
Mama don't take my Kodachrome

Mama don't take my Kodachrome away

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.
-Ralphie as Adult

Tis the season. That's right - for all day viewings of Bob Clark and Jean Shepherd's retro-holiday classic, A Christmas Story, on TNT.

Like everyone else I have seen this movie a thousand times and can quote entire scenes word-for-word. Even though I own a copy of the movie on DVD, and a poorly edited for television version on VHS, I still make time to watch a run or two during the holidays.

In December 2004, Brian Jones, a San Diego entrepreneur, bought the house on eBay for $150,000. Jones used revenue from his business, The Red Rider Leg Lamp Company, which manufactures replicas of the famous lamp from the movie. Vyuz San Diego has a great little article about Jones and his loving restoration of the house, and his quest to replicate the experience for the thousands of fans that make the pilgrimage to 3159 W 11th Street each year. Here's the link.

Over Thanksgiving weekend of 2007 I traveled to Cleveland with a few friends for the semi-annual A Christmas Story Convention and downtown Cleveland's Winterfest.

The house and museum are open daily to the public with extended hours during the holiday season. Check out the website for more information.

Just watch out for those mangy Bumpus hounds next door. Sons-a-bitches...

The throngs of visitors wait to enter the house.

The old man's 1938 Oldsmobile Model Six.

Taking shots in the backyard with that official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle.

Ralphie has Black Bart on lockdown.

The electric sex lights up Cleveland Street.

Merry Christmas from the Parkers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fizzy Friday: Let Your Arms Do The Talking

Just discovered these retro-pop British Schweppes ads and had to share.

I hope to see a few of these on the "telly" when I hit Little Britain a few weeks from now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Bird is the Word

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.
-Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower

Boy, ain't that the truth.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Enjoy that big delicious bird.

I know I will.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Art Deco "Movement"

Where have I been this week? Working with an interior designer on this monstrosity. Sponge faux finishing was to the late 1990s as accent walls are to this decade, and I am convinced that they are an altogether horrible fad.

I understand that people view wallpaper as a hassle, and it is true that removal can be a bothersome mess, but there are classic designs and vintage patterns still available on the market. It reminds me of the recent episode of Mad Men as the Draper's interior decorator tries to up-sell them on new furniture, only to go batshit when Betty purchases the chaise lounge. Personal style is a fickle beast.

And here's another look:

How quickly do you think the homeowners will grow tired of this design?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fizzy Friday

Ahh...the weekend.

Here's a little Thompson Twins dancing across your radio dial - just in time for the Twilight/New Moon Premiere:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Great 80s Pizza Wars

Linda and Stacy at Perry's Pizza Parlor - Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

I often wonder why the 1980s has left such an indomitable mark upon people of my generation, and, to this day, why it can still incite massive nostalgia when pieces of that decade resurface. Maybe you can attribute a little bit to Reaganomics, or the Cold War, or television, movies and advertising. Or maybe all of the above. Hell, I still remember atomic bomb drills (as if my small wooden school desk could block nuclear fallout), Quaddafi's live terrorist threats, and the explosion of the Challenger. Maybe cultural life in 1980s America was so vibrant for the simple fact that we were alive to live it during such a tumultuous period in the modern age. Don't worry be happy, right? Let's be honest though, the 1980s spawned a lot of bizarre trends. None more so than what I like to call The Great 80s Pizza Wars.

At first glance the term war may seem like a misnomer, but I can assure you it is not. American capitalism has never thrived more so than in the period between 1979 and about 1990. Industry was booming, consumer demand was high, and prices for goods were low. Parents were raking in the dough at work, and in turn their bratty-mouthed/feather-haired/stonewash jeans-wearing kids were raking in lots of dough at home...literally. We were all hopped up on drugs, overly sexed, hated school, watched too much of that damned MTV, spent all of our allowance at the malls, and ate out...a lot. Or, rather, this is how we were heavily portrayed in the media. And what did we eat? Pizza, of course.

Pizza was big business in the 80s, and pizza parlors would profit tremendously from the battle over adolescent market share. Many companies fought for a piece of the pie (pun definitely intended) of the American teenage market, and spent huge amounts of capital on advertising to this particular demographic. And we were willing captives in our own prison. If anything the advertising agencies got two major things right - we liked to hang out with our friends and eat food. Throw in some music and a bunch of the latest video games and you have us at: Hello, Welcome to ___. So what was so rad and bitchin' about 1980s pizza? Let me tell you friend.

In the decade prior to the one in which the internet sucked away all of our social skills there was something called "meaningful interaction." In order to meet up with friends you would first have to call them on a heavy plastic telephone that was attached to the wall by a long curly cord (that would somehow always reverse-curl itself; to your great annoyance). Not all at once mind you...individually! Getting to said meetup spot was always difficult. You could have your parents or older sibling drive you, but that was lame, or you could ride your BMX bike. I usually chose the bike because it was more passenger friendly for the ride home. Once you arrived you had a wide selection of booths available. You always chose the back booth with a good view of the door...but not the booth with the wide circular seat because that one was a little TOO intimate. Ordering was kind of a pain because there was always the annoying kid allergic to EVERYTHING, and you couldn't split the good toppings onto only half the pizza. You order and then wait. But, waiting was the absolute best part. With a fist-full of quarters you could either explore the uncharted levels of Donkey Kong 2 or play that new Thompson Twins single on the jukebox. And when the pizza arrived, well, it was like heaven on a 12 inch wobbly silver platter. You nab that first slice and grab the overly greasy parmesan cheese and red pepper shakers and go to town. Not too fast though. That thing is hot. You have to CUT that first slice into small pieces...then wait for the rest of the pizza to cool down. No problem have an entire pitcher of soda to kill, and good friends to share it with. "Wait, Tina made out with who?" you garble through a mouthful of steamy pepperoni.

And how many pizza parlors were there to choose from? Let's see. There was Shakey's, Pizza Inn, Pizza Hut, Mr. Gatti's, Mario's Flying Pizza, Sbarro's, Chuck E. Cheese, Showbiz Pizza Place, Godfather's, Golf N' Stuff, the mall food court, the bowling alley (although the dough tasted like Brunswick shoe leather), the skating rink, etc., etc. All the while Domino's pizza kept pushing delivery, delivery, delivery. Once their silly Noid began advertising the super fast 30 minute delivery in the late 1980s (killing several unfortunate drivers as a result) the traditional pizza parlor began to die.

Think about it...when was the last time you ate a pizza that hasn't come from some teenager's car, or a supermarket freezer first? I recall a rainy July 4th weekend while I was in college in the late 1990s, where a few of us friends gathered at a local Pizza Hut. There we sat. Drinking pitchers of beer. Playing Frogger. Eating pizza. And laughing. For hours. So, who really won the war?

Pizza Inn 1976 - Texas City, Texas (I grew up right down the road)

Who the hell wants to eat pizza with Billy Bob staring creepily over your shoulder? - Showbiz Pizza Place

Godfather's Pizza Logo

Great Shakey's Pizza Ad (circa 1981) - courtesy of

Mario's Flying Pizza - Bay Area, Texas

Mr. Gatti's Pizza Logo

Mr. Gatti's Commercial

Shakey's Pizza Commercial

Showbiz Pizza Commercial

Pizza Hut Commercial

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jack White to Produce Rockabilly Queen, Wanda Jackson

It's no secret that Jack White is an electrifying musician. Having sold millions of records with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and most recently, The Dead Weather, it's always cause for excitement to learn of his side projects. I had the chance to witness him perform up close in 2008 while touring with the Raconteurs (see video clips below).

This news on Pitchfork this morning hit me like a ton of bricks (or a ton of grammys): Jack White to Produce Wanda Jackson.

His work in 2004 with Loretta Lynn on Van Lear Rose was both thrilling and beautiful. I cannot wait to see what he can do with this Oklahoman flashbomb.

Old Enough - The Raconteurs 2008

Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs 2008

You Don't Understand Me - The Raconteurs 2008

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fizzy Friday

Tuesday's post was about the legendary Million Dollar Quartet. It's only fitting then that I add a few of the songs.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lamborghini Miura

The 1967 Lamborghini Miura is often hailed as the world's first supercar. Named after Don Eduardo Miura, a legendary breeder of fighting bulls, Miura's Bertone body was as stunning as its mid-engined mechanicals that were inspired by Ford's own line of sports-racing super machines.

The sensational body and innovative engine set the seal on the credibility of the three year old automaker. Top speed from the 350bhp V12 was over 170mph.

In 1969 an upgraded model (Miura S) was introduced which sported a 375bhp engine. And in 1971 Lamborghini took it a step further with the SV; a 385hp road eater.

The Miura was discontinued in late 1972 to make room for the legendary Countach, which was introduced just two years later.

Specification: 1967 Lamborghini Miura
Engine location: Mid, transverse
Engine: V12
Bore and stroke: 82 x 62mm
Capacity: 3929cc
Valve operation: Twin overhead camshafts per bank
Horsepower: 350bhp @ 7000rpm
Transmission: Manual five-speed
Drive: Rear
Chassis: Steel box section
Suspension-front: Wishbones and coil spring
Suspension-rear: Wishbones and coil spring
Brakes: Disc
Top speed: 171mph
Acceleration: 0-60mph (6 seconds)

Credit for a few of the stunning images above.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Salute to Our Veterans

Be sure to take a moment from your busy day to thank a Veteran.
They are the real heroes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Million Dollar Quartet

An old fashioned barrel-house session with barber shop harmonies resulting.
-Bob Johnson

On December 4, 1956 in Memphis, Tennessee, four of the wild-est, primping-est, cussing-est, wailing-est, and rocking-est dudes aligned like planets with the Sun recording studio to crack a barnstorming jam for the ages.

This gathering, which happened by pure luck for Sun owner Sam Phillips, resulted in the most spirited festooning of songs in the short history of rockabilly music. Good thing Phillips left the tapes running.

By the time the taped session was made public in 1969 the careers of the four artists had veered off in wildly different directions, but their carefree and youthful exuberance remains locked forever in that moment.

We also have these photos of the troubadours in the prime of their playing days...

Jerry Lee Lewis rocks the piano.

Carl Perkins in studio.

The man in black - Johnny Cash.

Jerry Lee Lewis salutes his fans.

Carl Perkins and Elvis greet fans.

Johnny Cash.

Jerry Lee Lewis playin' and wailin'.

Elvis croons.

Carl Perkins strums that geetar.

Jerry Lee Lewis and his rockabilly circus.

Elvis in the Sun recording studio with Sam Phillips.

Carl Perkins works the stage.

Jerry Lee Lewis (and his hair) lights up the room.

Elvis Presley driven to frenzy.

Jerry Lee Lewis onstage.

Johnny Cash mocks the establishment.