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Marlon Brando egg advert mystery solved: The strange story of Joe Flynn and his scrambled dream
07:45 pm



Click here to read larger image.
Some years ago, my Dad’s uncle, Art Berkell, passed away, leaving behind a lifetime of clutter for us to deal with. I grabbed what I thought I could use; filing cabinets, a desk, lots of Kodachrome slides. I trucked it off to storage and figured, like everyone else who rents a space to keep crap, that I’d bring it all home when I had the room. 

Many years went by, and I finally decided to either donate the stuff or chuck it. Filing cabinets just don’t hold the same fascination for me in the computer-age world that they once did; they’re just big steel boxes that take up room, so they were the first items on the chopping block. There was still some stuff in the drawers, though, so I emptied it into a box and brought it home to parse through, just in case there was anything important in there. Most of it was garbage—travel receipts, tax snippets, business cards, forms—but one thing caught my eye: a folder with a name scrawled on it in Uncle Art’s handwriting: Joe Flynn.

I know “Flynn” is a fairly common Irish name, but there was an actor named Joe Flynn who did a lot of television and Disney movies in the 60s and 70s, so my curiosity was piqued. To my surprise, the folder indeed contained clippings of the actor, and correspondence and old legal papers indicating that Uncle Art had been a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Mr. Flynn. There was also a pack of matches labeled “Joe Flynn’s Personal Eggs,” featuring a caricature of the actor, as well as a snapshot of a delivery truck painted in a similar fashion, and other related clippings. I’m thinking, what the hell was this? My family has been here in L.A. for 90 years, we’ve crossed paths with lots of interesting people, but of all the stories I’ve heard, I never remembered anyone referencing Joe Flynn. I picked up the phone and called my Dad, and asked if he remembered any kind of connection between his uncle and the actor.

He immediately replied, “Oh, that’s that goddamn egg thing.”

He went on to tell me what he remembered about “Joe Flynn Personal Eggs.”  Apparently, Flynn, an Ohio native, had a few chickens in his backyard. On Sunday mornings in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he would go out to the henhouse and personally select a giant basket of fresh eggs for breakfast. His neighbors and actor friends would crowd around the table for omelettes and scrambles, which Joe gleefully served with a flourish. It was a fun, invitation-only affair, like an exclusive poker circle, and a great way to recover from a long night of partying.

Unfortunately, everything changed when actor Wally Cox slipped up and told his friend Marlon Brando about the breakfasts. Brando immediately called Flynn and demanded to be included. Soon, Sunday mornings weren’t enough; he started showing up at Flynn’s door at all hours, demanding his “personal” eggs. In desperation, Flynn offered to always have a bowl of freshly scrambled eggs on hand, ready to be delivered, by driver, whenever Marlon was hungry… if only Marlon would stop haunting his kitchen in the middle of the night. This arrangement worked for a short time, but Brando soon insisted that Flynn cater to his friends as well, as a premium for his “continued best-friendship.”

By this time, Flynn was spending a good portion of his week cracking and freezing tupperware bowls full of eggs, and he finally announced that he would start charging people for his “personal egg” services. As my Dad remembers it, Flynn figured people would stop pestering him for eggs if he put a price on them, but because he priced them so reasonably, the plan backfired. Flynn was forced to lease a separate property in Van Nuys in order to raise enough chickens and eggs to keep up with the increasing demand—which is where dear old Uncle Art enters the narrative; with his older brother Al, he held the deed to the vacant lot on Orion Avenue where Flynn moved his operation.

Legal correspondence regarding the Orion Ave. property sent to my great uncle, Art Berkell, found in the filing cabinet. Click here to read larger image.

Facing rising costs (and apparently prodded by Brando), Flynn decided to sell his eggs, pre-scrambled and frozen, to the general public. He bought ad space, had his promotional materials printed, and built a small cinder-block warehouse curbside on the Orion Avenue lot.  The public wasn’t buying, though, and after struggling along for several years, a tired and disgusted Flynn was on the verge of shuttering the whole operation when everything changed in the spring of 1962. Producer Ed Montagne (The Phil Silvers Show) contacted Flynn and offered him a significant part on the new sitcom McHale’s Navy as Captain Binghamton, the role for which he is probably best remembered.  The show was a moderate hit, and Flynn quickly realized his egg endeavors could benefit from his newfound notoriety.

Click here to read larger image.

This is where the story gets a little strange and spotty; I’ve had to fill in some blanks with conjecture. Apparently, not content to simply deliver eggs to his customers, Flynn envisioned installing a strange, compressed nitrogen-powered “personal egg tank” in people’s houses, which would be topped off weekly (or even daily) with liquid eggs from his own fleet of delivery trucks. He invested a large chunk of his acting salary into inventing such a system, and by the mid-to-late 1960s had actually installed it in a number of homes around the Valley. From what I can gather, most of the people who bought into the service were other celebrities, not surprising considering the price of installation was equivalent to building a new swimming pool. Brando himself had a “deluxe” tank with a dedicated faucet installed in the kitchen of his Mulholland Drive home that dispensed not just eggs, but also a pre-mixed egg-flour batter for baking.

As the returns diminished from their friendship, Flynn, in a brazen attempt to exploit their association, published a bizarre, full-page ad featuring Brando’s likeness and apparent endorsement—without Brando’s permission. The copy I obtained was printed in a business monthly published by a local Chamber of Commerce, but I was told that it popped up in a number of Los Angeles area publications and circulated for roughly a year before Brando found out, and he was livid.  Legend has it that Brando ordered his handyman to fill his “personal egg tank” with cement so that it could never be used again. According to a long-time realtor who knows the property well (and for obvious reasons shall remain anonymous), the apparatus was still embedded in the wall of Brando’s former home as recently as 2009.

Threats, attorneys, lawsuits and more threats followed, and Flynn’s erstwhile egg empire cracked. By this time, sadly, Flynn had grown obsessed with eggs.  He refused to give up on the idea of installing egg tanks and selling liquid eggs, often referencing “my contribution to science” and “ending world hunger via eggs” as reasons to push ahead with his dream. In complete denial about his crumbling business, he continued to implore his famous friends to install his dangerously unstable delivery system, to uniformly disastrous results. This, I’ve gathered because of the numerous cancellation requests and angry demands for refunds scattered amongst the other papers, mostly dated around the same time my family was suing to evict him (and his chickens) from their property. Dad says Uncle Art (Uncle Al had died in 1969) was particularly pissed because Flynn never obtained the proper permits to raise livestock in what was a mostly residential neighborhood, and as the property owner, he was forced to deal with numerous fines and complaints from various city agencies. He ultimately won the court case, but Flynn dragged the eviction out long enough where Art was unable to make plans for the property, and he just dumped it on the market it in disgust. I’m pretty sure it’s all apartments now.

A coy letter from Jayne Meadows cancelling “personal eggs” for herself and husband Steve Allen. Click here to read larger image.
After weeks of further research, and asking my poor father an awful lot of questions, I was unable to find any trace of “Personal Eggs” after 1972, where the trail ends deep in the Los Angeles court system microfiche.  Sadly, there is no reference to it on Flynn’s Wikipedia or IMDB page.  As for Flynn himself, in the summer of ‘74 he was found naked and dead at the bottom of his swimming pool—some say under mysterious circumstances—at the age of 49, and his dream of pre-scrambled eggs for the hungry masses apparently died with him.  There is no record of Marlon Brando attending the funeral.

Click here to read larger image.

An angry letter from actor Bobby Troup. Click here to read larger image.


Posted by Cris Shapan | Leave a comment
New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ Sunkist commercial
08:45 am



Around 1988, Sunkist offered New Order £100,000 to record a special version of “Blue Monday” for a TV spot. The ad campaign proposed new lyrics for the biggest-selling twelve-inch single of all time:

How does it feel
when a new day has begun?
When you’re drinking in the sunshine
Sunkist is the one

When you need a taste for living
Sunkist is the one

As you will hear below, Barney and Hooky did stop laughing long enough to get a deadpan reading of this ad copy on tape. However, according to the band, manager Rob Gretton nixed the deal before it could go any further. A mock-up of the ad eventually came out on the band’s NewOrder Story©, a home video documentary released the same year as the Republic© album (1993). It’s an entertaining program, though my doctor has advised me never to watch it again because of the effect Bono’s contributions have on my nervous condition.

Bernard Sumner talked about the ad in a 1999 Q&A with fans. One Peter Rees of Shrewsbury asked what the lyrics were supposed to have been, and Barney did his best to remember:

“How does it feel/When you’re drinking in the sun? Something something/Sunkist is the one/How does it feel/When you’re drinking in the sun/All you’ve got to believe/Is Sunkist is the one.” I didn’t write them. We got offered £100,000 to do it. I kept laughing when I was singing it, so Hooky got a piece of card and wrote “£100,000” on it, held it up, and I sang it perfectly. But then Rob Gretton turned up and he put the kibosh on it. There’s a remix of Blue Monday by Steve “Silk” Hurley and it’s got the Sunkist lyrics on it.

And Peter Hook discussed the commercial in a contemporary interview with SPIN:

Is it true that the band did a commercial for Sunkist?

“They asked us to try it. So we tried it and it sounded so bad that we couldn’t let them have it. They originally told us they wanted to use ‘Blue Monday’ and we thought, ‘Fine. Great.’ So then they said, ‘Right, when are you gonna do this voice over?’ Voice over? We tried singing the changed lyrics and we started rolling around on the floor. They were offering us a fortune, but the cringe part of it was too heavy.”

What were the changed lyrics?

“Sunkist is the one,” Hook says through clenched teeth. “Oh, never mind.”

In the clip from NewOrder Story© below, Sumner reminisces about the failed deal and the ad mock-up shows what might have been. It pairs the “Blue Monday” soda jingle with footage from Sunkist’s early 90s “Drink in the Sun” campaign (“the sun comes up with an orange grin,” barf) and New Order’s wonderful “Touched by the Hand of God” video. The beach-babe imagery is of a piece with the Baywatch video for “Regret.”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Ghostface Killah live at ‘Toastface Grillah’ (plus free grilled cheese sandwiches)
02:14 pm



There’s a grilled cheese restaurant in Perth, Australia called Toastface Grillah, in obvious homage to Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah. This past Sunday Ghostface performed in the back alley behind the restaurant to a throng of delighted fans (who also got to eat grilled cheese sandwiches—total win-win).

According to a redditor named enigma2g, Ghostface “did an interview on an Australian radio station called Triple J and the host told him about the shop, Ghost replied by saying ‘I might go check that out.’ Pretty cool that he did.” Indeed.

Here’s Ghostface Killah live at Toastface Grillah singing “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit” and “C.R.E.A.M.,” both off of their 1993 debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers):

via HUH.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Naughty but nice: Suck on these Kama Sutra-inspired lollipops (NSFW-ish)
11:26 am



If you have a taste for rude food or randy candy then you may enjoy getting your tongue around these “Kamasugar” lollipops by Italian artist and photographer Massimo Gammacurta. The lollies are inspired by erotic positions from the Kama Sutra and creator Gammacurta describes his tempting confections as “Sweet love-making,” giving each a sense of passionate frenzy by the use of color, drips and splashes.
More sweet treats, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
At long last, Paul Stanley’s ridiculous Folgers coffee commercial surfaces
03:39 pm



In 2000 Paul Stanley taped a commercial for Folgers coffee that never made it to air—it’s been hotly sought after for video scavengers ever since. Audio of the commercial has been on YouTube since 2008, but not the video. Yesterday, a YouTube user named John DiMaggio uploaded it for all to see. It’s a bizarre commercial set in a big top circus tent that doesn’t play to Stanley’s delirious, voluble strengths—in other words, why is Paul Stanley in this commercial and not Paul Williams? No reason that I can see.

The same year that he shot the commercial, Stanley discussed the commercial in an interview: “Life is strange. I got a call asking if I was interested in singing a Folgers commercial. And, like many other things, I thought, ‘Why not?’ I wasn’t at all concerned with who thinks it is okay or not okay, cool, not cool, rock ‘n’ roll or not. I had a blast doing it, and, like I said, isn’t that what this is all about?”

The word (as related by John DiMaggio) is that “focus groups asked ‘who is the old, creepy guy?’ and the agency pulled it.” Seems plausible enough. The soft-focus business with the trapeze artists reminds me of nothing so much as a Cialis commercial.

via Ultimate Classic Rock/Thank you Annie Zaleski!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Tis the season for a serving of sheep’s head?
05:04 pm



In Norway, an old tradition has recently been revived: a meal of a sheep’s head with all the trimmings. Sound weird? It sure does, even more so when you learn that the eyes and ears are considered an especial delicacy.

A serving of Smalahove consists of a half-head, boiled potatoes and rutabagas mashed with salt, pepper, cream, and butter. The most scrumptious parts of Smalahove are the ear and the eye. The reason is that the meat at these locations is quite fatty—and the eyes and ears taste best when they are still warm. Yesterday the German magazine Stern ran a story about Smalahove by Denise Wachter. Smalahove is a dish with strong associations with Christmas. Interestingly, an EU directive forbids the serving of smalahove from adult sheep due to fears of scrapie, a degenerative disease of sheep and goats, even though scrapie apparently is not transmissible to humans. So smalahove is made exclusively from lambs.

Here’s what the OECD Studies on Tourism Food and the Tourism Experience: The OECD-Korea Workshop has to say about it:

[Gyimothy and Mykletun] describe how smalahove (salted, smoked and cooked sheep’s head) has become a part of the destination brand of Voss, a small town in west Norway. The preparation of smalahove involves burning away the wool from the head, leaving the skin intact and brown in colour. The head is then split into two halves by means of an axe, and the inner organs except the eye and the tongue are removed. It is carefully cleaned, salted, and dried for some days before it is smouldered on a cold smoke of fresh juniper, dry oak or alder. Having been both salted and smoked, the head could be preserved in an airy place for some months. The preparation of the dish is simple. The half head is first watered and steamed for three hours, then served with potatoes boiled in the skin and with stewed Swedish turnips.

A couple hours’ drive inland from the city of Bergen on Norway’s west coast, the town of Voss has taken up the cause of smalahove and converted it into a source of significant tourist revenue. In the past, fermented milk or beer was served with the sheep’s head. Today it’s aquavit—cumin schnapps. The sheep was once slaughtered right there on the farm; today it’s the butcher’s job.

With thanks to Thomas Schlich!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ad of the day: Have a döner kebab with Hitler
12:32 pm

The wrong side of history


I really love this commercial for a döner kebab joint somewhere in Germany—it would be nice if I knew which one! Perhaps the clientele they’re looking for knows where it is. Maybe it’s a chain?

The commercial follows the template of the recent Snickers campaign, which plays on the potentiality of low blood sugar to turn you into something like an cranky, ogre-ish version of your normal self—thus a nougat-and-nut candy bar between meals is the only thing that can restore you to your proper self. So a football coach needs a Snickers bar to stop being Robin Williams (RIP) and so forth.

Here some local purveyors of Turkish cuisine appropriate the ultimate symbol of evil, Adolf Hitler, to make the same point. You don’t need to know too much German to understand what’s happening, but I’ll supply some translations anyway—my German isn’t entirely up to the more slangy variants they use, but I’ll do my best. Adolf is riding behind the shotgun seat and being impatient, he says something about going to Stalingrad, in a possible reference to Bruno Ganz’s portrayal of Hitler from Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 2004 movie Downfall that has since become the well-known “Hitler Reacts” viral sensation for the meltdown scene in which Hitler finally realizes that the war is lost.

So anyway, Hitler barks something about Stalingrad, and his buddies have had enough. The guy in the shotgun seat says, “Digga,* we agreed to your request, don’t you notice that?” Hitler slaps him lightly on the cheek with his glove, saying “Don’t you notice that?” Then his buddy in the back seat says, “Olli, what’s with you? Dig in to this döner sandwich, digga.” Adolf says, skeptically, “Why?” Back seat buddy says, “Every time you get hungry, you turn into a real Führer.” Adolf says, “into a Führer?” and they all chime in, “Yeah, into a Führer,” with the driver adding, “It’s true.” Once the döner sandwich has been consumed, Adolf reverts back into his mustachioed self and (I think) lightly protests that it’s not better this way. The text on the bottom says simply, “You’re not you when you are hungry.”

One might be tempted to call this commercial offensive, and certainly it’s a little on the flippant side. But the Turks occupy a marginalized role in Germany, they’re the out-group. So it’s fun to see them (not that I know they’re Turkish, the food is certainly Turkish in origin) appropriating the ultimate symbol of German oppression for their own ends. Don’t be such a Hitler about it! Jeez.

via Schlecky Silberstein
* Note: Commenters have pointed out that my first rendering was not right. I had initially misheard this as the German word Neger (which is not the N-word, so don’t even, it means “Negro”), which I loosely translated as “nigga.” It’s actually the slang term digga, which loosely translates as “buddy.” My appreciation goes out to the commenters.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Three Dadaist recipes from Man Ray
09:54 am



If you happen to see an affordable copy of The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook in a bookstore—assuming there are any bookstores left—grab it. It looks like most online booksellers’ copies are going for between $100 and $200 this holiday season, but I found one for just $8.50 a couple years back, so there must be other affordable copies out there.

Published in 1961 by Contact Editions in Sausalito, the cookbook collects John Keats’ recipes for pike and duck, Isak Dinesen’s oysters au naturel (not much of a recipe, really), Marcel Duchamp’s steak tartare, Lillian Hellman’s shrimp creole, Edgard Varèse’s boeuf bourguignon, Pearl Buck’s spare ribs, Robert Graves’ yellow plum jelly, Paul Bowles’ recipe for majoun—the Moroccan cannabis candy that fueled The Sheltering Sky and Let It Come Down—and much else. I can’t say I’ve used the book much for cooking, mainly because the recipes are so heavy on meat. But even if, like me, you don’t plan to whip up a batch of Enid Foster’s brains in beer anytime soon, where else can you come across things like Man Ray’s “Menu for a Dadaist Day”? Here are three mouthwatering, kitchen-tested Dadaist favorites that will have your family clamoring for seconds.

Le Petit Dejeuner. Take a wooden panel of an inch or less thickness, 16 to 20 inches in size. Gather the brightly colored wooden blocks left by children on the floors of playrooms and paste or screw them on the panel.

Déjeuner. Take the olives and juice from one large jar of prepared green or black olives and throw them away. In the empty jar place several steel ball bearings. Fill the jar with machine oil to prevent rusting. With this delicacy serve a loaf of French bread, 30 inches in length, painted a pale blue.

Dîner. Gather wooden darning eggs, one per person. If the variety without handles cannot be found, remove the handles. Pierce lengthwise so that skewers can be inserted in each darning egg. Lay the skewered eggs in an oblong or oval pan and cover with transparent cellophane.

Mmm! Just like Mom used to make.


Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘I don’t like human flesh, too salty for me’: What dictators like to eat
10:32 am



A new book Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants by Victoria Clark and Melissa Scott offers a surprising taste of the favorite foods of some of the world’s most infamous dictators.

Though Adolf Hitler was thought to have been a vegetarian—something that was apparently confirmed by der fuhrer’s food taster—it appears old Adolf was a big fan of fledgling pigeon stuffed with tongue, liver and pistachio nuts. So he was more of a part-time vegetarian. Also let’s not forget that Hitler donated a pint of his blood to make blood sausage to celebrate a Nazi last supper according to Robert G. L. Waite in his biography The Psychopathic God. Blood sausage aside, by the end of his life Hitler’s table manners had gone to pot and he wolfed “down his food in a mechanical way…..bit his nails at table, and ran his index finger back and forth under his nose, and stuffed himself with cake.”
Like all top Communists, Joseph Stalin liked to eat while others starved. It was all for the good of the cause, which in Stalin’s case meant six hour banquets “where copious amounts of semi-sweet Khvanchkara wine were consumed, leaving guests puking and incontinent.”

Stalin’s love of epicurean excess did not go unnoticed as future commie leader and shoe-banger Nikita Khrushchev remarked:

‘I don’t think there has ever been a leader of comparable responsibilities who wasted more time than Stalin did just sitting around the dinner table eating and drinking.’

Uncle Joe’s favorite chow was chicken with walnuts and spices. His chef Spiridon Putin was the grandfather of current Russian premier Vladimir Putin. Small world, eh?

Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini used to touch his balls every time he thought someone was giving him the evil eye. Il Duce loathed pasta and potatoes claiming they gave him a sore head, but he loved rough-chopped garlic with oil and lemon, which was no doubt a major duvet lifter come bedtime…

‘He used to eat a whole bowl of it,’ his wife Rachele once fondly confided to the family cook. ‘I couldn’t go anywhere near him after that. At night I’d leave him to sleep alone in our room and take refuge in one of the children’s rooms!’

Fidel Castro was very fond of turtle soup, but as turtles are now an endangered species, Castro now only likes “plain” food such as lamb cutlets, salted cod, fried bananas and lobster. What no beans on toast?
It has often been claimed that President Idi Amin “Dada” was a cannibal, who enjoyed chowing down on the faces of his enemies. When asked by a reporter if this was true, Amin replied:

‘I don’t like human flesh –- it’s too salty for me.’

Now you know. In fact, Amin’s favorite food was apparently oranges—probably quenching all that human saltiness—and was said to eat up to 40 oranges a day, claiming the fruit kept him healthy and gave him the horn.

Another man of the people, Kim Jong Il had expensive tastes in food and sent his chef around the world in search of:

Iranian caviar, Danish pork,Thai mangoes and Japanese rice cakes flavoured with mugwort, at $120 a pop.

Big daddy Kim Jong also loved raw fish—basically fish that had just been pulled out the water and were thrashing about in their death throes. He also employed a woman to ensure his rice grains were exactly the same size. Talk about fussy eating…

His son Kim Jong-un apparently has a liking for Emmental cheese, which may or may not explain his alleged gout.

Libya’s deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi was well-known for his dreadful flatulence, often expelling loud smelly farts during interviews and meetings with dignitary. If only the old farter had known the cause of this noxious gas was his favorite food—camel’s milk. Indeed, no part of this poor beast was allowed to go to waste, and Gaddafi especially enjoyed camel hump and couscous.

Saddam Hussein had a taste for only the best farm-fresh beef and lamb, which had to be trimmed of all its fat. He was also particular about his olives, which had to come from the Golan Heights. His favorite tipple was Grand Old Parr whisky and his favorite candy Quality Street.

Malawi’s former dictator Hasting Banda liked “dried mopane worms” that is the caterpillar of the Emperor moth, which he ate as a snack like potato chips.

If you fancy learning how to eat like a dictator, then order your copy of Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants by Victoria Clark and Melissa Scott here.

Below, Eric Idle’s classic Rutland Weekend Television sketch “Cookery Time with Lenin.”

Via the Independent and Mashable.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Culinary couture: Hyperrealistic fake food jewelry is a thing
04:11 pm



Pasta Bolognese necklace
My husband asked me a few days ago what I wanted for the holidays and I told him I didn’t know. But after seeing these fake food jewelry designs by Japan-based company Hatanaka, I think I just may want a Beef Bowl necklace, dammit!

I hate these and I kind of love them at the same time. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with wearing a bowl of fake beef around your neck, okay? I mean it’s not like they’re selling something weird, like salami necklaces or bacon earrings…

From what I understand, these fake food accessories are selling like hotcakes worldwide. Almost everything on the Hatanaka website is currently sold out. There are still a few items available, but it’s a limited selection. Hopefully they’ll be updating their website in time for the holidays.

Curry necklace

Spaghetti Carbonara necklace

Curry rice with spoon necklace

Sushi earrings

Shark fin necklace
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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