“Do not rush onto the train!” A PSA-style poster that appeared on Japanese subway cars in April of 1979.
I love writing about Japanese pop culture, everything from obscure garage rock to game shows to that weirdo Japanese erotica stuff. While I’m not claiming to be some Japanese culture/sub-culture idiot savant, I am rather dedicated to continuing my exploration of a place I’ve sadly never visited. Yet. Today I’ve got something I know our readers are going to dig via of my favorite Internet spots Pink Tentacle—a collection of perplexing PSA posters that were displayed on subway cars during the mid-70s and early 80s. The word puzzling and Japanese pop culture often walk hand in hand, and these public service announcements are quirky, to say the least, when it comes to reminding train patrons to behave appropriately. And yeah, “manspreading” on the train was apparently quite the problem back in the day. How rude! Even aliens did it. Who knew?
Getting back to the posters, as you look through the images you’ll see that many of them use stuff borrowed from American pop culture—you know, like Jesus and Superman—to help convey their messages. There are also a few that are preoccupied with reminding folks riding the train to not leave their umbrellas behind or the perils of leaving your chewing gum on the subway platform for someone, like Superman (don’t laugh, it could happen) to step in it. Oh, the HORROR.
“Space Invader” March 1979.
“Three Annoying Train Monsters” October 1982.
“Don’t Forget your Umbrella” October 1981. I guess we finally now know what Jesus would actually do.
I don’t know why there are Donald Trump novelty condoms, but there are, and here I am blogging about them. They exist and that’s just #sad, in my opinion. I don’t know how trustworthy these condoms are. Trump condoms? Nacho’s face hardly inspires confidence in such a crucially important product. I’d use them with extreme caution. I certainly doubt that they’re made in the U.S.A. if they’ve got his ugly mug on the packaging.
If you were about to fuck someone and he pulled out his Donald Trump novelty condoms, ask yourself seriously if you really want to go through with this? How important is your dignity to you, anyway?
Believe or not, there are several manufacturers of Trump jimmy hats. I’ve posted where to buy them underneath the images.
Once upon a time, families gathered in front of the fireplace to have their photographs taken. The flickering flames, the giver of warmth, the focus of a family at rest was quickly and dramatically usurped by technology—first the wireless then television from the 1950s onward. Now kith and kin gathered together to pose in front of the flickering cathode ray. Next time some know-it-all from the last century tut-tuts your obsessive use of a smartphone or numerous hours spent clicking “like” on Facebook, just remind them that once upon a time they too did the very same when they sat and supped from the glass teat of television.
Though television has been around in one form or another since the 1920s, it wasn’t until the fifties that TV became the first choice for family entertainment. America pioneered the way, producing a golden age of dramas and serials and films. For most people, TV sets were expensive, very expensive. They were considered valuable assets, signifiers of a family’s wealth and status. To own a color TV in the 1950s was to be part of a much-hyped affluent jet set (and presumably a big Perry Como fan as his show was just about the one thing to watch in color during that decade). Up until the late 1960s color TV sets were still pretty much a rarity.
I was a wireless kid. My parents first rented a TV sometime in the late sixties-early seventies. Even then, a new TV was way too expensive for many British families to buy outright, so most people rented their TV sets from companies like Granada or Radio Rentals. “Great service you get/Renting your color set/From Granada” went one of the cheesy ads for TV rentals in 1977. TV sets came in ornate boxes sometimes with doors on the front to disguise the set as some kind of tasteful item of furniture—a drinks cabinet maybe or a redwood sideboard credenza. And don’t be fooled, most TV pictures were pitiful when compared to today’s 4K sets as TV signals were atrocious. The public spent most evenings fiddling about the TV aerial trying to find a better picture. Applying a ball of tinfoil was the sole option to improve the signal, decidedly low tech “hack” that was a common enough sight.
Yet, TV was everything. And that’s why people posed for photographs in front of their expensive, valuable, and trusted friend the electronic eye.
For the past decade or so, artist Oliver Wasow has been collecting found images on the Internet and organizing them into some kind of order. Pictures of families celebrating birthdays, or blurred images, or teen titans working out, or people holding cameras, or children holding guns, or just couples arm-in-arm or dressed for a night out. One set that particularly attracted my attention consisted of people standing beside TV sets looking proud and happy as if introducing a new family member to the camera: “Here’s our new grandchild,” or “Here’s my new husband.” These images brought back memories of how TV sets were once such very potent symbols of status. And how people once considered the TV set as being a part of the family—a companion—strange though that may seem today. Just look at the joy some of the following people show on their faces while in proximity to their little box of delights.
More found photos of people posing with their TV sets, after the jump…
A custom action figure based on the 1982 slasher film, ‘Pieces’ by Dan Polydoris of Death By Toys. $40 (two available).
Dan Polydoris, the founder of Death By Toys, has been creating small numbers of action figures based on films from the 80s since 2010, showing a particular affinity for the horror genre. Polydoris’ plastic characters quickly became super popular with collectors, especially those who, like Polydoris, dig on the “strange, offbeat, and absurd.” For his latest batch of action figures, Polydoris focused on eight different films from the decade including things like 1980’s Maniac, the 1981 Canuck cult classic, Happy Birthday to Me, and 1982’s Pieces starring the great Christopher George. If you just said “YES” to all of that, then listen up because I’m going to tell you how you *might* be able to make one of Polydoris’ newest rare figures yours.
Starting today, Thursday, July 20th at 12:30 CST, a small number of the figures will be available for purchase at the Death By Toys online store, and when I say small numbers I mean really small numbers. For example, Polydoris only made two of the hilarious killer “Kebab Playsets” from Happy Birthday to Me which will run you 40 bucks each. The packaging is also pretty fantastic as it uses images from the original back-in-the-day VHS tape cover art. Nice. All eight figures along with their various prices posted below. Happy hunting!
The hysterical ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ “Kebab Playset.” $40 (two available).
My absolute favorite of the bunch based on the 1980 film ‘Maniac,’ the “Bloody Scalp.” 30 bucks each (five available).
CafePress can be a weird place, man. Of course, it’s not like I didn’t know that already. I mean, all you have to do is visit the online retailer of novelty mugs and other merchandise and type in virtually any word, and CafePress will give you a litany of products to choose from on that very topic. Since my mind has taken up permanent residence in the gutter, I spent some time plugging in some of my favorite words into CafePress’ search field and the results were very enlightening.
Some of the words I gave a test drive (so you can play this fun game at home if you’d like) included the following: sex, porn, and erotica. Based on that trio, you can probably figure out some of the others on your own. While I expected to get some weird results, I honestly wasn’t prepared for all of what CafePress spit back at me. Such as a duvet cover that featured a huge color image of a penis that had been surgically cross-sectioned. I’m pretty sure even Jeffrey Dahmer would likely throw that abomination a huge nod of “NOPE.” But that was just the beginning of my travels through the underbelly of CafePress. Are you into “water sports?” And when I ask that question I mean the kinky kind that involves being peed on by your partner (or partners). Well, if you are (and I don’t judge and neither should you), then I’m thrilled to tell you that pillow cases that look like they have already been peed upon can now be yours!!
The nuttiest thing of all is that this smut isn’t cheap, and most of the duvet covers or comforters will run you over $150. I’ve always said that it costs a lot to look cheap, but now I have an actual dollar amount to attach to that saying. Everything that follows can be purchased at CafePress and is NSFW.
A tweet from former presidential candidate Herman Cain’s official Twitter page from Monday, July 17th, 2017.
A friend of mine hipped me to the weird tweets coming from idiotic 2012 presidential candidate and Fox News “personality” Herman Cain. It appears that over the last five or so days Cain has been tweeting images from David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks along with short rants.
If you’ve successfully blocked memories of Mr. Cain out of your mind, let me help you with that. This is the same guy that once referred to strategic U.S. ally Uzbekistan as “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” so it’s probably not all that surprising that his Twitter account would be a bit unhinged. However, this new stuff seems a bit nutty even for Cain. I mean, he even went so far as to post a photo of Morning Joe‘s Joe Scarborough next to a picture of John Nance in character from Eraserhead. What are you doing Herman Cain? I don’t know if I should get behind this or get to the bottom of it. Perhaps some of our more investigative-minded DM readers will be able to figure out the meaning of these strange dispatches. For now, I’ll leave you to check out screenshots of Cain’s Twin Peaks related tweets below and after the jump…
Long, long before Lady Gaga did it, way back during the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton “eras,” we had to make do with identity-redacting shades made from cardboard, like the ones the members of Negativland posed in, or the pair of “Joo Janta Super-Chromatic Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses” that came with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy computer game. While these offered peerless UV protection, and you looked cool in them, even while attending a Vogon poetry reading, they were also completely opaque, which made it hard to skate in them.
But in our modern age of miracles, you can order censor bar glasses with see-through lenses made of light and durable polycarbonate! Which is to say, ones you can apparently kind of see through! They are even available in a mirrored variety which could conceivably, under the right conditions, replace the upper portion of your face with the kind of blinding atomic glare that comes out of the briefcase in Kiss Me Deadly.
Negativland modeling the old “zero/zero vision” censor bar glasses.
A vintage shot of Chippendales dancers from the 1980s.
I’ve always found the phenomena of the Chippendales all-male striptease ensemble one of the weirdest 1980s things. And that’s saying a lot when you consider all that decade bestowed upon us—whether we wanted it or not. I mean, the music scene was pretty amazing—and if you want to arm-wrestle me over that fact, you will lose because it’s a fact. Prince put out Controversy and 1999 and Purple Rain. MTV played music videos and Larry Bird was named the MVP of the NBA Finals in 1986 after the Boston Celtics took town the Houston Rockets in Game Six. Okay, that last one is one of my favorite moments from the 80s, but it just proves my point that a lot of great things happened back then. And love them, hate them, or just plain don’t fucking get them, the dancers of Chippendales were everywhere. Just like shoulder pads and spandex.
Much like Gene Simmons and his devotion to slapping the word KISS on anything and everything, the Chippendales’ empire did the very same thing. From calendars to a board game and even a mini hand-held movie viewer so you could watch the beefy dancers in the privacy of your own home, there was something “Chippendales” for everybody. The calendars were incredibly popular items, and are nearly impossible to find now. I’ve included a few choice color photos from the calendars as well as some black and white print ads (which you can buy here) featuring individual dancers. Lastly, I included footage from a workout tape put out by Chippendales called Muscle Motion that is about as cornball as anything I’ve ever laid my eyes on. And trust me, these eyes have seen some cornball shit that you can never unsee. I hope you enjoy this gyrating trip down memory lane!
A waitress taking an order from one of Alcatraz ER’s many dining “cells.”
Because Japan truly strives to keep things weird, Alcatraz ER is one of two different jail-themed eateries in Shibuya, a bustling trendy neighborhood in Tokyo. As its name implies, Alcatraz ER incorporates both a jail and hospital setting theme going as far as to handcuff incoming patrons as they lead them to their drinking and dining “cell.”
The interior of Alcatraz ER looks like a set design from the horror film franchise Saw, and the shock tactics don’t stop with the decor. Just opening the menu is a glimpse into hell with items such as “Sausage in the shape of a bowel” that comes with a pair of scissors so you can cut it up and eat it, and a dessert item called “Napkin Jelly” that is served on a sanitary pad. Beer is served in bedpan urinals and a drink called “Sperm Juice” comes to you in a cup with a banana protruding out of it that looks like a penis that just blew a money shot. As much as I love the grotesque, just writing this post made my gut churn. And I suspect the images I’ve posted below of Alcatraz ER may have the very same effect on your digestive system and are without a doubt, quite NSFW.
In 1980, Paul McCartney released his first solo album since 1970’s eponymous McCartney. Cleverly titled McCartney II, it’s a so-so album at best, as a fair few Sir Paul’s albums are, and it remains noteworthy mostly because he recorded it entirely by himself while Wings was in stasis pending their breakup a year later, and because it contains “Temporary Secretary,” a wonderfully bonkers experiment in synth based electro-pop that’s held up well enough to have earned some overdue respect in recent years.
The lead-off single from that album was the kinda crappy but virulently catchy “Coming Up.” It boasted a chipmunk vocal effect that struck a lot of people as so weird that Columbia records promoted the single’s B-Side, a 1979 live version of the song performed by Wings in Scotland, as the US single, which actually worked, and the live version became the one that ended up on best-of comps. There’s a great story about John Lennon hearing the song for the first time, related by Tom Doyle in Man on the Run:
Lennon was being driven by [personal assistant] Fred Seaman through Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, when he first heard “Coming Up” on the radio. “Fuck a pig, it’s Paul,” he exclaimed, before turning up the volume and nodding along. “Not bad,” he decided at the song’s conclusion. He asked Seaman to buy him a copy of McCartney II and set up a new stereo system in his bedroom specifically so he could listen to it. The next day, “Coming Up” was still rattling around John’s head. “It’s driving me crackers,” he told Seaman, before venturing the opinion that even if its parent album was patchy, at least Paul was back trying to do something eclectic and experimental.
“Fuck a pig, it’s Paul”: The immortal words of one of popular music’s most politically aware and sensitive bards.
That McCartney album is credited by some sources as one of the factors that motivated Lennon to get off his ass and record the music that would find its way onto Double Fantasy, his last album of new music released in his lifetime. But lest anyone think all was hunky-dory between Lennon and McCartney, Lennon also had some sharp words about the cringeworthily goofy “Coming Up” promotional clip—in which a video-composited McCartney played every instrument (except Linda McCartney’s backing vocals) in a band called “The Plastic Macs,” a dig at Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band—saying that it must have been a dream come true for McCartney, who always wanted to be the only member of the band.
Trainspotters will note that in addition to portraying his own younger self in that video, McCartney also pays homage to Ron Mael of Sparks, Hank Marvin of The Shadows (easily mistaken for Buddy Holly), and Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, among others. In 1980, that was a difficult technical feat which won that video a lot of attention. Now, of course, such compositing techniques are far more effortless, and director Adam Harding has used them to pay ridiculous homage to (or make fun of?) that classic McCartney video with Melvins drummer Dale Crover, in a hilariously stripped-down way. “Bad Move” is Crover’s first solo video, from his first full length solo album The Fickle Finger of Fate on Joyful Noise. (Yes, he did a solo E.P. in 1992 as part of a KISSparody the Melvins did. And then there was last year’s six minute $100 record/art object Skins…) In Crover’s video, he plays three members of his band, sharing his stage with Acid King bassist Dan Southwick in costume as The Birthday Party’s Tracy Pew (!!!), and producer Toshi Kasai as keyboardist—well, I honestly can’t say who that’s supposed to be.