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The lost art of local 1970s department store charge cards
11:04 am


department stores
credit cards

Castner-Knott Co., Nashville, Tennessee
About a month ago, the geniuses at Liartown USA dropped a few fake vintage department store credit cards; today I decided to look into the source material for those parodies, and it turned out to be a trip well worth taking.

What I had underestimated was how different the department store market was in the 1970s. I would have assumed that even then Sears and Macy’s and a few others would have dominated the market. But the merest glance at the charge cards page at the Department Store Museum makes it abundantly clear that the market was actually dominated by locally owned enterprises.

In my neck of the woods, which was the suburbs outside of New York City, that meant Caldor; in my adopted home city of Cleveland, there was Higbee’s, which served as a key location for the movie A Christmas Story. I’m currently reading an excellent novel by Ellen Ullman called By Blood, which is set in San Francisco in the 1970s, and a store called I. Magnin is mentioned—fun to run into it today as well!

According to the Department Store Museum:

If you were a customer of one of these stores, this is the item that you personally carried in your wallet or purse, identifying you as their customer. Possessing a certain credit card was also a status symbol of the time as well.

Most of these cards did not have a magnetic strip across the back; mechanical embossers of several different types were used to imprint the raised information on the plastic card onto a duplicate sales slip.

The first four cards below are Liartown USA fakes; the “Davison’s” card (slightly smaller) is the first one that’s real. They did an amazing job reproducing the charming aesthetic of these beauties.


Much more after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Giant John Waters head bong
02:34 pm


John Waters

Image via NikkiSwarm on Instagram

I completely adore this huge ceramic John Waters head bong by artist John de Fazio. The piece is currently on exhibit in Los Angeles at Venus Over Manhattan. (Looks more like a “pipe” to me, but the Internet is calling it a “bong.”)

Fun fact: During his brief tenure at NYU in 1966, a young John Waters was involved in the first major pot bust on a college campus. University authorities asked the students involved to keep quiet about the incident, but Waters called the New York Daily News the next day giving the tabloid paper an interview about what had happened.

Photo by Nicole McClure AKA Nikki Swarm on Instagram and Twitter

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Collectible porcelain plates with nuclear reactors on them
02:26 pm


nuclear reactors

The website for Atomteller (“atom plates”) starts with the slogan “Denkmäler des Irrtums - Hoffnung von Gestern - Folklore von Morgen,” which means “Monuments of error - Hope of yesterday - Folklore of tomorrow.” So it’s clear that the site’s creators, writer/director Mia Grau and architect Andree Weissert have created this astonishing set of old school china emblazoned with German nuclear reactors with a highly developed sense of irony.

They point out that windmills are a common motif on folkloric items, and what in today’s world could be more parallel to a windmill than a nuclear reactor? Grau and Weissert write:

As cathedrals of a technological worldview, [nuclear reactors] promised independence and infinite growth. They serve as testimonials of their epoch, relics of progress and a signs of changing times. The days of windmills have long since passed, and sun is setting on the era of German nuclear power as well. High time, therefore, to show nuclear power plants for what they are: monuments of error - hope of yesterday - folklore of tomorrow.

On the underside of each plate is a wealth of information, including the precise coordinates of the reactor, the name of the province in which it is located, nearby bodies of water, the company that owns the reactor, the type of reactor, the reactor’s electrical yield as well as the dates of construction and operation. The most chilling piece of data is the final one, “meldepflichtige Ereignisse,” which means “events that must be reported to a higher authority”—good German bureaucracy-speak for “accidents.”

Each plate costs 39 euros ($43), but you can buy the entire set of 19 plates for just 680 euros ($750).


More great “atom plates” after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Adorable handmade diorama cards featuring Delia Derbyshire, Roxy Music, De La Soul and many more

Delia Derbyshire
I normally don’t care about papercraft objects, I guess because I wouldn’t know exactly how to use or display them. They seem so fragile to me. That was until I saw this adorable Delia Derbyshire paper diorama card featured via a friend’s Facebook page. It would make a perfect gift for someone who’s a fan of Derbyshire. It looks sturdy, too!

Well, It piqued my interest and I discovered they’re made by Etsy shop HeyKidsRocknRoll. Not only is there one of Delia Derbyshire but pop-up cards of Roxy Music, Grandmaster Flash, De La Soul, Stevie Wonder, Run-D.M.C., Raymond Scott and Hank Williams, too.

Sadly, it looks like someone has already purchased the one of Derbyshire. But I’m sure if you contact the Etsy shop directly and inquire, more could possibly be made.

At least I hope so! I want one!

Roxy Music

Stevie Wonder

Grandmaster Flash
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Red Red Wine: Beautiful carafes inspired by the bloodstream
09:50 am


Etienne Meneau

A diagram of our veins and arteries may look like a congested roadmap, but to Etienne Meneau the circulatory system has inspired him to design Strange Carafes—beautiful handblown decanters or vessels for pouring wine.

Each decanter is produced in a limited signed edition of eight and cost 2,500 euros—around $2,800. The carafes are made from borosilicate glass—which Meneau describes as a “chemically and thermically” robust kind of glass highly suitable for use in creating his large and intricate decanters.

The finished product may look more like a sculpture or artwork than something to pour the plonk—but after a few practice lessons training with water “you will can perfectly pour wine in a glass without any drop anywhere. The main rule of this new game is : where is the wine?.” Meneau’s most recent designs can be seen and bought here.
More wine tasting, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Cthulhu Approved: High-heeled tentacle shoes
09:30 am



Totally insane-looking—and probably not practicable footwear—tentacle high-heeled shoes made by fashion designer, costume designer and shoe designer Kermit Tesoro. I can’t imagine walking in these. Hell, I can’t even walk in heels to begin with!

I just checked out Kermit Tesoro’s Facebook page to see if he had any other equally freaky high-heeled designs and it looks like he’s also got a Venus flytrap shoe. Why not? Again, probably totally impractical unless you’re Lady Gaga or a Japanese porn star. Why can’t someone just make sensible shoes that look like alien creatures eating your feet?


“EQUILIBRIA” by Kermit Tesoro (2016)
All images via Kermit Tesoro on Facebook

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Stunning Erotic Tattoos
10:31 am


Sad Amish

I don’t have any tattoos but if ever I do consider getting one then I certainly could be tempted by these beautiful erotic tattoos by Bordeaux-based tattoo artist Sad Amish.

Unlike the more traditional ship’s anchors, bluebirds, Celtic doodles or Pictish script Sad Amish’s stunning monochrome tattoos are high quality graphic art with a wonderfully charged eroticism.

The tattoos feature women artfully posed in bondage gear, fetish wear or playfully fondling a bong while enjoying a mouthful of vin blanc. All beautifully rendered in the deepest blackest ink.

More of Sad Amish’s work can be viewed here.
More of Sad Amish’s fab monochrome skin art, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Naked Alphabet: The Human Body as Typography (NSFW)

To paraphrase L. P. Hartley: The 1970s is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

The sexual liberation that favored metropolitan areas in the 1960s spread across country during the seventies. Suddenly—or so it seemed—everybody was enjoying the “zipless fuck.” There were guide books offering useful tips on how to have a better sex life. Married couples were swinging. Nudity was celebrated. Porn was ubiquitous. Orgasms compulsory. Yet, it was still very much the male heterosexual eye that influenced everything.

In 1971, a small group of Dutch artists, photographers and graphic designers—Ed van der Elsken, Anna Beeke, Pieter Brattinga, Anthony Beeke, and Geert Kooiman captured this (newish) sexual freedom with a naked human alphabet—published in Avant Garde Magazine No.14: Belles Lettres. The letters were created using naked women—who lay, curled and bent into the appropriate shapes.

But this wasn’t just mere titillation—this artful display of female nudity was a protest “against the supposedly ‘dehumanising’ and thoroughly ‘indecipherable’ mechanistic alphabets.”

The typeface (in case you’re wondering) for these photographs is said to be Baskerville Old Face.
More barenaked letters, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Thread Bare: Examining racial and sexual identity through erotic embroidery
09:36 am


Jessica So Ren Tang

These are quite beautiful—Jessica So Ren Tang’s embroidered pinups of “suggestively posed” women.

Jessica uses embroidery to explore her Asian-American identity—“the dualism of being too Asian to be American, and too American to be Asian.” Her work includes embroidered reproductions of Chinese bowls, takeaway noodle boxes, candy wrappers and decorative plates.

In her portrait series of pinup girls Jessica has replaced their “the facial identity” with exquisite Asian textile patterns.

The patterned skin creates a broader spectrum of Asian identity; it becomes more ambiguous and fluid as identity moves between the two.

The resulting image also captures an erotic charge between the model’s pose and the sensual nature of the embroidered patterns. Each portrait is hand embroidered on a piece of 8” x 10”  fabric. More of Jessica’s work can be seen here.
‘Girl 04’ (2016).
More of Jessica So Ren Tang’s fabulous work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Eighties will flash before your eyes with these covers from The Face magazine
09:59 am

Pop Culture

The Face
Nick Logan

The Specials’ Jerry Dammers on the cover of The Face #1.
I had a weekend job in a small newsagents in Easter Road, Edinburgh, working behind the counter selling papers, magazines, cigarettes, sweets, ice cream and fizzy drinks. You got to know the customers by what they bought. The woman with the Pekinese who always ordered a quarter of Parma violets on a Sunday afternoon. The old drunk who chain smoked in the shop while waiting for the Saturday night sports final. The kids who thought I didn’t see them trying to steal penny chews when my back was turned. It was a fun job. I liked it. The people were good, the work was easy—if the hours long.

Every month a selection of magazines came in—some ordered for customers, some on spec. One month, a new magazine arrived. Glossy, bright, full of articles about music, film, books, politics and fashion. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. This was no cheap youth pop mag. It was well-produced, high quality, beautifully designed (by Neville Brody) with smart intelligent articles by a college of young, sassy writers—Julie Burchill, Charles Shaar Murray, Ian Penman, Paul Morley, and Stuart Cosgrove. The magazine was called The Face. I bought it and placed an order thereafter. This was in May 1980.

The Face was the pop culture magazine of the 1980s and 1990s. No other magazine (or weekly music paper) ever came close to the quality or content of The Face. It was edited by Nick Logan from a small office on Mortimer Street, London. Logan had previously been editor of the NME when he made that paper hip, relevant and essential reading. He then started Smash Hits based around a “vague notion of a kids’ pop magazine.” It proved to be massively popular. Its success allowed Logan to try out another idea—The Face.

The Face was the bible for most late teens-twentysomethings during the eighties. In 1983, I was editing a student magazine. This collegiate journal had been a languishing students’ poetry mag. Inspired by Logan—I reinvented it as a student version of The Face. I filled it with interviews featuring the Fun Boy Three, Annie Lennox, Blancmange, Aztec Camera, Spear of Destiny, The Young Ones, Julie Walters, Neil Jordan, Fay Weldon, Tony Marchant and anyone I thought might of interest to my fellow students. Of course, as a tip of the hat I had to interview Nick Logan, the man who inspired it all. I traveled on an overnight bus to London and arrived in the offices in Mortimer Street. This was how I described him back then:

Nick Logan was born thirty-five years ago in London. He was educated at Leyton Grammar School, London. He left school at the age of fifteen. He is a thin. Smartly dressed. Wears glasses. Not easily impressed—ambitious, modest, talented. An ideas man as much as a leader.

From school Logan worked as a reporter on a local paper, the Walthamstow Guardian. He worked there for five years turning his hand to everything “subbing, proofing, editing and layout” before joining the NME as a staff writer.

I wanted to know about The Face. Logan said:

“The Face is what I would have come up with if I’d had more time at NME. I mean we used to say, ‘What could we do if we owned the magazine?’

“The first issue was started on a kitchen table and half in the corner of somebody’s office. A part of it is still done at home. My house is full of bits and pieces of The Face. You can physically trip over it at home.

“My wife [Julie] looks after back issues, keeps the books, pays contributors.”

The Face had a small staff: only two full-time employees—Logan and Intro/Front Desk Leslie White. There was also designer Brody—who was responsible for “80% of the way The Face looked” and assistant editor Paul Rambali.

The Face was individualistic. It didn’t try to compete with the weekly music press.

“There would be little point in that anyway. What we try to do is offer an alternative view or take a different line on a subject which others might cover as well.

“What interests The Face is very much what interests the staff of The Face—though that’s not to say we approve (if that’s the right word) of everything we report on.”

Each issue took four weeks to produce. The first week the staff recovered “shell-shocked from finishing the last one” and started planning the next one. Features were commissioned by the second week. Then the layout began. During the third week pages were proofed, photos reversed.

“In the fourth week: I disappear to the typesetter in Kilburn so I don’t have the hassle of people coming in. Then Leslie and Paul come down and give a hand. It’s bloody hard work. I’ll finish about six. Eat. Go home and work till twelve or one. That’s when it gets particularly nasty. You’re no longer living. You feel totally worthless. Useless. You can say it’s only one week—-but doing it after 37 issues you feel really bad.

“The short-term ambitions are to get a few extra sales. get more ads. Get better features and photos. And more readers. It’s just been standing holding up the wall collapsing.”

It was all worth it. For The Face changed so many people’s lives. I know it changed mine.

Below is a selection of covers from the first 50 issues of The Face. Check out pages from The Face here.
Paul Weller #2.
Bryan Ferry #3.
More choice covers from the first 50 issues of The Face, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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