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Cruisin’: Vintage photos of cars tricked out with record players
08.09.2016
11:41 am

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Muhammad Ali spinning records on his very own car turntable.
 
Though I’d be the first person to admit that drivers don’t need anything else to distract them from the road (I’m looking at you EVERYONE) I’ll also be the first person to endorse bringing back the trend of installing record players in cars immediately. Because it doesn’t get much more romantic than being able to listen to your favorite 45s during a hot car makeout session.

The driving idea behind installing record players in cars was that it would allow people to not only control what they were listening to while cruising around but it also eliminated having to put up with endless radio commercials (which sounds pretty good to me). The first “Highway Hi-Fi” was put out by Chrysler in 1956 and was available to install in several car models ranging from a Dodge to various Plymouths. The component, designed by CBS Labs was only compatible with seven-inch LP’s that were put out exclusively by Columbia Records which contained about an hour’s worth of jams for your road trip. Apparently when you bought the console Chrysler would then hook you up with six selections from Columbia’s catalog—artists like Percey Sledge and Cole Porter. Of course all this tricked out audiophilia was pretty spendy and Chrysler’s hi-fi on wheels cost a whopping $200. Which was a fortune when you consider that the average family was only making about $3500 dollars a year in 1956.

Starting in 1960 other less expensive car record player units were produced by RCA, Norelco, and Phillips that could shuffle through multiple 45s and according to an article published by Consumer Reports in 2014 the consoles worked pretty well on the road with the help of a heavier stylus. Sadly the trend had a short life and was replaced by the next big thing to have in your car in the late 60s—the forever groovy eight-track tape player.

If this post has got you thinking about installing one of these vintage gadgets in your own car I’m here to tell you that while it’s possible it isn’t going to be cheap. If you’re lucky enough to find one that is brand-new in a sealed box it could run you a couple of thousand dollars to say nothing of how much it might cost to install. I’ll leave you to think about all that while you look at images of George Harrison and the late great Muhammad Ali (pictured at the top of this post) playing around with their car turntables as well as other vintage photos of the units themselves in action.
 

George Harrison and his car record player.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Stranger Things’ on VHS is exactly where it belongs
08.08.2016
04:40 pm

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Pop Culture
Television

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The mysterious Steelberg has been re-imagining newly released movies as VHS tapes that you would have rented from your local video store when video stores were everywhere. Housed in beat up cases with torn plastic slip jackets, curling price tags, staff recommendations and various other battered stickers (Beta!), Steelberg replicates the real thing to an eerie degree.

Stranger Things is particularly effective for the very reason that it’s an homage to those 80s movies that packed the shelves of Blockbusters back in the days when you could be kind by simply rewinding. This is what we’re talking about when we talk about form following content.

More after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Comedy of Terrors: Hammer Horror Trading Cards from 1976
08.04.2016
09:03 am

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In 1976 Topps released a set of Shock Theatre trading cards that featuring gory stills from classic Hammer horror films. Each pack sold contained three cards and one stick of chewing gum. On the front cover was a cartoon of Christopher Lee as Dracula. A speech bubble from his blood-splattered mouth said “It sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice!” It set the tone for the cards inside.

Each card had a still from one of Hammer’s famous movies. For some reason there were more vampires than man-made monsters. The films featured were Dracula Has Risen for the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Dracula AD 1972, The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Frankenstein Must be Destroyed. The images were framed in red with a truly godawful joke across the bottom. There were fifty cards in total to collect. Though apparently there was no #47 and two #17s.

I remember when these came out—but was too busy spending my hard-earned pocket money on books, records and single cigarettes. I loved horror movies. I was a cheerleader for Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. But I didn’t take to this particular series because of the dumbass quips plastered across each card. With that earnestness only a child can muster I thought the “jokes” demeaned the artistry of Hammer movies. Yeah, I know…

But now: I’m older. And know a little better. Enough to admit I should have bought them just for the money these babies fetch on the collectors’ market.

View the full set of Hammer Horror trading cards over at The Reprobabte.
 
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More gory Hammer horror trading cards, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘LET ME DIE IN DRAG!’: The sleazy pulp paperbacks of ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ director Ed Wood
08.03.2016
09:07 am

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Books
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During the 1960s, several years after he’d begun making himself infamous as one of the greatest terrible auteurs in the history of cinema, Edward D. Wood Jr. moonlit as the author of lurid pulp novels, many about gay men, which he wasn’t, and cross-dressers, which he rather famously was, with a fixation on angora so powerful it made its way into his film Glen or Glenda. (That last detail is actually Ed Wood 101 stuff, and if you haven’t seen the wonderful Tim Burton biopic about him, by all means, you should—the direction and performances are superb. If you’re more the bookish type, I’d suggest reading Nightmare of Ecstasy.)

Per SIN-A-RAMA, Feral House’s excellent survey of trashy sex novels (my DM colleague Chris Bickel told you all about it not long ago), Wood wrote not just under his own name, but under at least eight pseudonyms, and according to the outstanding 2011 exhibition catalog Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks, there were more than that—they list a few books as Wood’s that are credited to I shit you not Norman Bates.

This points to a big problem in identifying Wood’s work. Some pulp pseudonyms were shared by more than one author, and the possibility exists that some books attributed to Wood were falsely credited by unscrupulous vintage resellers seeking to increase their sale price. It seems odd that Wood used pseudonyms at all—he relished in being credited under his own name, and since many of his more scandalous pulps were published under his given name, it’s hard to imagine that the tamer stuff could serve as a blow to his reputation!

If you’d care to actually read this stuff, brace yourself for collector pricing—an asking price of $200 is on the low end for some of these. A few of them have been reprinted, though, and the collection Blood Splatters Quickly compiles short stories Wood wrote for adult magazines.
 

 

 
More of Ed Wood Jr.‘s pulp fiction, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Tiny Tim plays a creepy clown in the godawful ‘Blood Harvest’
08.01.2016
04:48 pm

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Bill Rebane’s Blood Harvest would be a totally unremarkable bad movie if not for the inspired casting choice of having none other than Tiny Tim play the deeply unsettling clown “Marvelous Mervo.” Made in 1987 in Wisconsin, Blood Harvest is a riot of bad dialogue, bad acting, softcore sex scenes and a bit of splatter. Rebane’s cinematic anti-style is warmed over Herschell Gordon Lewis with a topping of moldy cheese in the form of the wonderfully silly Tiny Tim.

According to IMDB:

Tiny Tim was making a personal appearance at a beer carnival in Lincoln County, Wisconsin, in 1985, and local filmmaker Bill Rebane was in the audience. He had an idea for a horror film and decided to see if Tiny Tim was interested in appearing in it. He was. This is the result.

No part of Stranger Things was inspired by this 80s atrocity. It does have a nice twist at the end but I ain’t going to spoil it for you.
 

 
This cut is comprised of all of the scenes in which Tiny Tim appears. I generally link to sites where you can buy whatever I’m reviewing but Blood Harvest is long out of print on DVD. I found a copy for $100, but as much as I do love me some Tiny Tim playing a freaky clown, I’ll wait for the Criterion release with five hours of extras.

At the 2:32 point in the video I detect an homage to The Shining. Marvelous Mervo’s “I’m here” followed by actress Itonia Salchek looking more than a little bit like Shelley Duvall.

The credit crawl is included so you can enjoy in its entirety the fab song “Marvelous Mervo” written by Tom Zang and sung by Tiny.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
A Covers Album: Front covers of New York Rocker, 1976-1982
07.26.2016
09:44 am

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Punk

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The New York Rocker was a punk/new wave magazine founded by Alan Betrock in February 1976. It was produced by a dedicated, tight-knit group of young men and women—a “remarkable breed” of contributors—who had a passion for music that was outside the mainstream. They wrote feisty, opinionated reviews. They took their subject matter seriously, giving it the respect the well-financed music press gave to say Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, The Eagles or any other stadia-filling corporate-backed band. The New York Rocker was hugely influential early on in identifying and promoting American indie rock.

A total of 54 issues were published between 1976 and 1982 when the magazine folded. It was briefly revived in 1984 but never achieved the same success.

Just looking at these covers for New York Rocker there’s a great sense of the history and in particular the incredibly high quality of new music that came out of punk and new wave each week during the late 1970s and early 1980s—the likes of which we may never see again.
 
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More covers from the New York Rocker, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Slade: Not just for Christmas but the whole year round
07.21.2016
12:33 pm

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Music
Pop Culture
Punk

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It starts around late October every year—the loop of Christmas songs played out over sound systems and tannoy in department stores and shopping malls across the UK. Songs by one-hit-wonders and novelty acts that somehow found a place in the nation’s heart rub along nicely along with festive number ones by artists like David Bowie, Bing Crosby, The Waitresses, Wham and Wizzard.

These Christmas compilations are a good little earner for the songwriters’ pension fund. The only downside being that some of these artists are now best known for their Christmas number one rather than the quality of their back catalog. It’s a fate that could almost have happened to Slade whose festive stormer “Merry Xmas Everybody” is now “credited” with starting the seasonal race for the Christmas number one.

But Slade aren’t just for Christmas—they’re for all year round.

Slade were Noddy Holder (guitar, lead vocals), Jimmy Lea (bass, violin), Don Powell (drums) and Dave Hill (lead guitar). They were according to Paul McCartney the heir apparent (along with T.Rex) to The Beatles and The Stones. From 1970-1975 Slade had seventeen top twenty singles, six number ones—three of which went straight to the top of the charts—and sold over six-and-a-half million records in the UK alone—a feat not achieved since the days of the Fab Four.

I was first introduced to Slade by my older brother. As kids we shared a bedroom which meant anything one of us played on the record player both of us had to hear. This is how I was introduced to a lot of music I might never have tuned into—it was a shared experience unlike the i-pod users today who dwell in their own little jukebox. Slade may not have started off as one of my favorite bands—but I sure as hell grew to like them and appreciate why they were brilliant and in their own way, very very revolutionary.
 
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The album that started it all off was Slade Alive—one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. A garish red gatefold LP that everyone seemed to own. One listen to that whole album explains why Slade were such an influential and revolutionary band—go on just stream the sonic armageddon at the climax of last track side two “Born to be Wild”—it’s eight minutes and twelve seconds of Slade delivering the future of rock ‘n’ roll music.
 
More from Slade, plus concert footage in East Germany from 1977, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Artist gives old photographs a superhero makeover
07.20.2016
09:45 am

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Art
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Someone’s dead relatives just got a makeover. Artist Alex Gross takes discarded vintage photographs, paints on them and turns them into portraits of pop culture icons like Batman, Superman, Electra, Wonder Woman, Super Mario and Marge Simpson. These mixed media paintings raise questions about the relevance of history, family and memory in our neo-liberal consumerist world—where fictional characters have far more currency and longevity than familial ties or dead relatives.

Gross is best known for his beautiful, disturbing and surreal paintings that explore modern life.

The world that I live in is both spiritually profound and culturally vapid. It is extremely violent but can also be extremely beautiful. Globalization and technology are responsible for wonderfully positive changes in the world as well as terrible tragedy and homogeneity. This dichotomy fascinates me, and naturally influences much of my work.

I like Alex Gross’s paintings. I like his ideas. He is painting a narrative to our lives—and like all good art he is questioning our role within this story and the values we consider important in its telling. More of Alex Gross’ work can be seen here.
 
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More photographs reborn after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Behold the ‘New Romantic’ Barbie: A vintage ‘Boy George’ doll straight from 1984
07.15.2016
10:32 am

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A 12-inch version of Boy George made by toy company, LJN in 1984.
 
Back in the magical year of 1984 toy company LJN put out a 12-inch version of a prominent member of the New Romantic movement, George Alan O’Dowd—otherwise known as Boy George—which came ready to party dressed in a “Color By Numbers” themed outfit.
 

A print ad for the Boy George doll by LJN.
 
Billed on the box as “The Original Outrageous Boy of Rock!” the toy Boy was fully poseable and his long hair came styled in one of his signature looks—braids tied with colorful ribbons to match the makeup on his face. Little Boy George also came with a microphone, hat and “posing stand.” Noted as an appropriate plaything for ages four and up, had I received a Boy George doll when I was a kid I would have promptly burned all of my Barbies in the backyard while Boy and I twirled around the fire to the sounds of “Karma Chameleon” playing on my boom box. Good times.

If you’re like me and had no idea that this delightfully dolled-up version of Boy George even existed and now must have one of your very own, you’re in luck as I found a few for sale on eBay. During my very important “research” for this post I also came across footage from a UK television show doing a feature on a Boy George doll (that came in two sizes—one rather alarmingly large) put out by a UK Culture Club fan club during which the gorgeous looking Mr. O’Dowd is presented with one of his very own—which he holds while singing a version of Cliff Richard and The Drifters song “Living Doll.” You can see that surreal event below along with a few images from die-hard CC fan, Flickr user KAZZ who went the extra mile and created custom outfits for her Boy George doll. All of this proves once again that the 80s were indeed much cooler (and a lot weirder) than most of our collective memories give it credit for. Enjoy!
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Did Joan Crawford really ‘gag’ because Bette Davis smelled bad? This 1962 letter says she did
07.12.2016
09:34 am

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Okay, so there’s this letter floating around the Internet supposedly written by Joan Crawford addressing Bette Davis’ (allegedly) offensive body odor. The letter is dated August 11, 1962, so that would have been during the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. The letter is written to “Bob” which is probably director Robert Aldrich. Now I’ve tried to find its provenance and if this thing is actually real and came up empty handed. I couldn’t find anything except for an Instagram account that posted the image.

Could this be an Internet hoax? Absolutely. But I must add, the two were known to have an extremely icy relationship.


 
h/t Mike McGonigal

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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