Modess - Why?

I need to keep an eye out for more old copies of McCall's magazine. That's where yesterday's soap ad came from, and on the very opposite page of the same magazine we find this fantastic ad for Modess. What does Modess make? I can't tell. Maybe they make sedatives? Or slightly oversized marble busts of King Louis the Sometheenth? I dunno. This ad is going for the soft sell, which in this case means spacey and weird.

"Modess... because." Ooooo, I get it. See, wealth and opulence make children out of reasonable, intelligent people. Notice that, when a person achieves a level of richness, their justification for their disgusting self-indulgence reverts to that of a third grader. "Why?" "Because." "Because why?" "Because. That's why." You just say it more slowly, and with an effete air of detachment, when you've just spent twice a normal adult's monthly salary on (I think) a dress. Just for that annoying rich asshole flair, you could also do that little gesture with your hand that people always use when they say "...a certain je nais sais fluh."

Wait! Wait! Hold the phone! I just did a thing where you ask Google what the hell something is, and you're not going to believe this. Modess was a brand of SANITARY NAPKIN! BAH hah hah hah! That dress could hide a lot of napkins.

Well done, Modess. That's an ad campaign so great that one would never guess what they're selling without being told! Money well spent.

Well, that kind of shuts down the rest of this post. I was having fun going on a tear about annoying rich people, but now I just look a little silly. I'll leave a note to have the editorial staff delete paragraph number two. They need the exercise. They spend most of their time turning my "teh"'s into "the"'s. A nice juicy deletion will do them good. Maybe if I just fill up the post with some jokes I can take an early lunch? Okay, need some jokes. The picture looks like a magazine cover. Let's go with that.

Joke #1 - Alternative Lifestyle Monthly. In this issue - Marble Marriage: Overcoming anti-statuism.

Joke #2 - Rich Asshole Magazine. This month: Are you assholey enough? Take our quiz and find out! Also, ten more insults in Spanish to use on the help. The solution to last month's crossword: all the answers are "money".

Joke #3 - Bored Heiress and Debutante Illustrated. This issue: the statue, the chair, or the flowers? Which to lazily caress first? The answer may surprise you! Also this month: Three new prissy lawn games: Raquet Prance, Hedge Maze Meander, and Knicker Knocks. Croquet is SO last century!

Joke #4 - Elite Elocution Quarterly. This issue: "Grand" or "mahvelous". Which sounds snootier?

Joke #5 - Illnesses of the Rich and Delicate. This month: "the vapors", the daintiest summertime fever! Also: Hot or not? Hair failure, consumption, lumbago, dropsy, many more to try!


Ivory Snow - Overposed.

It has become clear to me that general interest magazines of yesterpast are decent, but magazines that focus on men's or women's interests are brilliant. When advertisers try ever so hard to portray a fantasy of hairy machoness or, in this case, delirious femininity, you're in for a good time.

Ivory Snow soap, 1951. Whether she's doing laundry or just about to put on a string of pearls, the woman of 1951 likes to get spacey, dreaming about cleaning, being clean, cleaning again while dreaming about how great it was being clean the first time she cleaned a minute or two ago.

The only shot in this ad that seems even a little natural is the one with the baby in it. That's probably because babies are resistant to holding a balletic fairy-like pose for more than a second or two at a time. More on that picture later.
"I often like to sit at my hovering glass table, with pearls poised above my creamy white neck, staring off into the formless blue void. What? You've never been to blue? Oh, I positively adore living in the formless blue. My address is Pantone 534c, you know. Sometimes my darling husband and I talk of moving to another area of the void, but after so many years at 534c, I couldn't imagine living in any other color. Excuse me, I need to resume staring off with poised pearls, all the while daydreaming of mountains of snowy white soap flakes. Bye now!"

"Oh! There you are again! Hello again! You caught me doing my other favorite thing: pausing endlessly while apparently hanging laundry for my loving family, while staring off into the formless blue void You know, it may seem strange to have the washing machine in the back yard, but that's one of the great joys of life in the formless blue void. One place is much like the next, even to the extent that the word "place" ceases to have any meaning. That, and indescribably wonderful Ivory Snow! Must run now! Lots of creepy staring to do. Do drop by again!"

Here's a P.A.G. first. Goofy Photoshopping for no good reason. The baby picture was begging to be messed with. Fire would have been a little predictable. X rays seem funnier today.


Tony Cardena's Short Van - Back to front.

I'm pretty sure the name on the front of this van is "Tony Cardena". I can't find any trace of such a man on the web, but there is a Tony Cardenas in L.A., involved in local government. I don't think that's him. In any case, I want this van. It's called "Spaced Out" by the terribly clever creator.

This is what they call a "section" job. The vehicle is cut vertically in two places, and a section of the body is just removed, like sliced bread. It looks like they took out about twenty inches of wheelbase in this case. If you put enough power to the rear wheels, a van like this will wheelie pretty easily. Note the wheelie bars just aft of the rear wheels. By the looks of the chubby tires and side pipes, "Spaced Out" probably spent some time pointed skyward.

It makes the car almost always harder to drive. The steering gets sensitive and very twitchy, making it tricky to drive at low speeds and crazy at high speeds. This is all theory, though. I've only heard about sectioned hot rods - never driven one. Maybe you could do some tricks to slow down the steering, bringing the car back to sanity?

But that's not the point. This mechanic took a van, already a tall and kind of goofy looking thing, and made it shorter, which has the net effect of making it look even taller and goofier. Hooray for crazy mechanics with a sense of humor! I want a goofy van like this one.

"Spaced Out" is very much a 60's / 70's kind of hot rod. Hot rod designers like Tom Daniel made funny or weird looking cars, like this van. If you watch any of the gearhead shows now, you'll see that hot rod builders these days are obsessed with making scary or "badass" cars that reassure the owner of his masculinity. What are they afraid of? Why do their cars need to convey menace? I prefer ridiculous rods.

When I lived in Orange, California, I used to occasionally take a drive to Art Supply Warehouse, in Long Beach. Right near the store was a brake shop that had a sectioned van like this one, all in black, sitting by the street... sort of on display. I heard it had no motor, making it less of an object of lust for me because I definitely would want to drive my pudgy, nearly undriveable amputee van. I didn't have any money at the time anyway. I could barely afford my imported Japanese drawing pencils.


Eagle White Lead - Paint so bright, you'll die.

Lead paint wasn't banned until 1977, and even now it is still sometimes used in military applications and parking lot stripes. Note to self: try to ignore those delicious "peel-n-eat" stripes at Jewel. (I often shop hungry). So, is it fair to make fun of this ad from 1943 for trumpeting lead's virtues as a paint additive? Absolutely not. So, let's begin.

During WWII (not to be confused with Nintendo's Wii), Americans were tightening belts and rationing food to help defeat "Jerry" (a pejorative name for the Germans) and the "Japs" (A pejorative term for the Japanese, although it's just an abbreviation so why does it make me feel like a jerk just typing it?). So, people were inclined to skip painting their houses, apparently, maybe to save money and maybe to keep from diverting supplies from the war effort.

Lead, when added to paint, helps the paint in almost every way. It helps with adhesion, flow, and weather resistance. The delicious, peeling, flaky irony is that the very lead paint that the Eagle company was so proud of would have made a fine weapon for the war. Although it wouldn't have blown people up so nicely as explosives, it would however lead to stunted growth, delayed nervous system development, memory loss, headaches, abdominal pain, insomnia, delirium, cognitive impairment, vomiting, weight loss, kidney failure, learning disabilities, coma, seizures, and .... reproductive dysfunction! *Meeeeeroop*. Also lots more.

So, how early did we know lead was a bad paint ingredient and terrible cupcake topping? Well, according to the Wikipedia* article, Dioscorides, a second-century Greek physician, noted that Lead "made the mind give way". History is filled with observations and evidence that lead in your blood is super bad news. Soooo, lead paint was legal in the United States until 1977? Doubleyou tee eff? We can only speculate.

We can also speculate that the happy fella in the picture (one of a fine pair of Disembodied Floating Heads, by the way) may want to think about having children before he paints the house. technically, the ad isn't lying. Lead makes paint work very well, so long as you park your house on the moon and rent an apartment on Earth. It's doesn't help that Eagle White Lead came in in a container that made it look just like butter.

I was born before 1977, so I probably lived in a house that had lead paint in it. Am I fine? Maybe. Can I be sure I wouldn't be taller, smarter, or faster if I'd grown up in a forest instead? Maybe, but I craaf befoo woo fraaff blaaaf a faaaf.

* A note on Wikipedia: Wikipedia has been found to be nearly as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica on scientific topics, in a study conducted by the science journal Nature. The more controversial a topic is (politics, religion, etc), the more likely it is that the Wikipedia article on that topic is to have errors, hyperbole, invective, or other useless opinion as part of it's content. In matters of science or history, Wikipedia is a really good source of information. Also, articles are flagged by editorial moderators if they don't cite their sources, or are poorly written. The Wikipedia article on lead poisoning has no such flags and LOTS of citations. It looks pretty air tight. For the casual researcher, Wikipedia is not infallible, but a pretty good tool if you know what to look out for.


Curta Portable Calculator - Ten clocks in one fishing reel.

I found this ad in the back of  a 1952 copy of Popular Mechanics. I may have looked right past it if I hadn't read Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson. The Curta is featured in the early parts of the novel.

The Curta Portable Calculator is a mind-injuringly complicated mechanical pocket calculator, developed in the forties by Curt Herztark. The price in the ad is $134.50, which in modern money is $1075.18. "Wow" is right. Curtas are currently selling on Ebay starting around a thousand dollars, going up to several thousand for rare examples. Somehow, a few sellers are clued in enough to understand the value of a Curta despite not being able to spell "wonderfull". You'd think they'd be listing the device as a fishing reel. Oh, sorry... "Fishing real".

The Chicago address on the ad is almost certainly an importing company. Herztark seems to have  lived out his postwar life in Austria, and to have maintained control of the commercial rights to the Curta.

Cliffs notes version of the Curta's invention, courtesy of the Summarization Department of Phil Are Go! now follows. Herztark filed a patent in 1930's Vienna for a mechanical pocket calculator, though he had not built one yet. In 1938, the Nazis stuck him in the Buchenwald concentration camp on grounds of partial Jewishness. Never missing an opportunity to be dicks, the Nazis decided that the Curta calculator would make a nice gift for Hitler, so they told him to finish the design in prison, and in exchange they'd declare him an Aryan after they won the war... if the device were determined to be "really worth something". Herztark did so, but the war did not go exactly as the Nazis had planned, and riding on the virtue of his invention, Herztark  managed to build his business and make money after the war.

So, this device was designed by one man, in a prison camp, working with paper and pencil and maybe a few rulers.

The Curta worked by entering numbers via the sliders on the sides of the device. Turning the crank on the end added the digits, and the result was displayed in a little window, also on the end of the unit. To subtract, the crank was pulled outwards, like a watch stem, and then rotated. Other functions like multiplication could be carried out with further manipulations of the crank and carriage adjustments, all of which engaged different sets of wiggly bits inside, which in turn  motivated the gnomes to run the functions.

The Curta was fantastically reliable despite it's unreasonable mechanical complexity, and they only fell out of use in the 1970's with the advent of electronic calculators. Few were returned to the company under warranty, but many were returned after owners, being retards, disassembled them. Many of the Curta's components are visually identical, but functionally distinct, and curious owners often wound up spending half the Curta's value in service charges to get them put back together properly.

It is a historical irony that the owners of disassembled Curtas could have mathematically worked out just how retarded they were, if only they hadn't disassembled their Curtas. But in that case, then they wouldn't be retards. The only solution of this logical impossibility would be to own two Curtas -  one to take apart and one to calculate your idiocy afterwards. If both were eventually disassembled, the owner would probably find a way to be killed walking down to the post office to send the units back to the company. History has shown time and again that stupid is always expensive.


Kooking Kornir 3

 Create your own party time ecological disaster with a sperm whale core sample and starfish pinwheels! The best whale meat is extracted from a depth of 18 inches, about three feet behind the base of the skull. Tip: failed government research facility auctions are a great source of inexpensive test drilling equipment! Whale is low in fiber and medium in fat, so it's sure to please the pickiest guests! Garnish with starfish, turtle slaw and olives. For extra color, serve with a saucepan of beige fluid, sprinkled with moths. Their wives will be positively pink with envy!

Trick your guests into eating vegetables by arranging them into the shape of a human face! Get in on the exciting luau/tiki trend with this war god veggie mask, featuring eggs, peas, broccoli, and asparagus mustache. If your guests are "adventurous", tell them the eyes are inedible. They'll be thrilled to find that they're really pressed haddock cylinders! Add some ketchup for dipping, and "viva la border!"

Celebrate the jet age by showing off your gelatinous food skills. Everything's better when it vibrates! Our futuristic whipped ham tower dominates a raised dish, encircled by olives, radish roundels and prostrate baby corns. Proceeding downfield, you'll witness thousand island soup and carrot noodle sauce, flanked by three lobster aspics. Not to be forgotten is our throat-watering tomato gelatin with chicken breasts in suspension. Marshmallow fluff on top and shrimp toes around the edges bring this mission to a close with spacey style! Houston, we have an appetite!


Studebaker Starliner - Kermit's other car.

Time's a little short today, so that's perfect for a nicely painted car ad that I can't really make fun of. The Studebaker Starliner was an attempt at an  "economy" car in an era when nobody asked for one. In 1952, cars were giant, bulbous piles of chrome boobs. It's strange that America was so repressed at the time, when the cars were so clearly an outlet for that squashed sexuality. You can try to hide it all you want, but it will always find a way out. In the fifties, Americans chose to express their sexual frustrations by making cars with styling details sometimes phallic, sometimes boobular, but always childish in their obsession. Compared to it's peers, the Starliner is downright modest.

So, yeah, Studebaker wanted this to be a lightweight compact. How'd they do? The Starliner weighed 3,220 pounds. By comparison, a 2010 Volkswagen Jetta weighs pretty much the same. The Studebaker probably had more room inside, too. Granted, all the things that make the Jetta ten times safer than the Starliner also make it heavier. Crumple zones mean the body has more metal origami in places you can't see from the outside. Airbags and antilock brakes and all the electronics that govern them all add weight. Ever see how much wire there is in a modern car? Wire is made of metal, and there's lots of it. The Starliner is bigger and more deadly in a crash than a modern car, but the weight's about the same.

This is basically true of all old cars. I was just all geared up to laugh at the Studebaker's bulk because of the way they brag about trimming out all the "burdensome excess bulk", "like a sleek, new-type jet plane." BAH hah hah hah hah! "New-type". Oh, The Fifties, don't ever change.


Bactine - Doesn't sting sissies.

This 1955 ad for Bactine uses a weird green color as sort of a gastric spot color, just to grab your attention. I don't know if it automatically draw the eye of anybody but weirdos like me who enjoy ugly colors. Usually spot colors are one of the standard CMYK inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black), but this one must have been a custom mixed pea green. My hat's off to you, freaky art director of the past! May your grave be warm and velvety soft.

More importantly, there's a photo of a seven year old boy in hot pants making an owie face. His mother looks so disappointed in him. BAH hah hah! If only we were a fly on the wall in that room... doodley doodley doodley doodley. doodley..

Joke #1 - Really, Cecil? Tears? What's going to happen to you when I send you away to military school? I am, you know. Mommy's going to be a country singer, and you're in the way.

Joke #2 - Yes, it stings a little, doesn't it? You know what grandma says? A little Bactine on the outside, a little on the inside! Mommy needs a snort, too. Mmmmmmm. In fact, forget the knee. I'm going out for more Bactine. Grandma knows what's up.

Joke #3 - I don't know why you want me to cut you, Rory! And who is this "Mick" you keep talking about? My name is Mommy! What have you been watching on the TV?

Joke #4 - Ungh! It's no good, Mom! It's going rotten! You better take off the leg! Do it! Cut it off right about ... here! Do it fast! Before I lose my nerve! You can cauterize the stump with the Bactine.

Joke #5 - Jeez, Balthazar! It's only a little scrape. That's what you get for playing with girls. *Sigh.* Grammar school is going to tear you apart.

Joke #6 - You made a good choice, getting in a fight on your first day, Rodney. It'll let the others know you're hard! You may want to reconsider wearing the hot pants, though. Word in the yard is you're already got yourself a bitch!

Joke #7 - You know, Webley, we go through a lot of Bactine. It seems all I do is look after you. What about MY needs? Maybe mom was right when she told me these May-December relationships just don't work out.

Joke #8 - Well of course they pick on you! A sweater with hot pants and wing tips? Hell, I'd push you down, too! You're lucky that's all they did to you.

Joke #9 - For pete's sake, Hunter! Would you stop cringing? I haven't even touched you yet! Jeez, what a pansy you turned out to be. I'm glad you're already sitting on the toilet.

Joke #10 - Boy, those bullies really did a number on your knee, Clovis. We need to get them to leave you alone. Hmm. I could be wrong, but I think shorter shorts may help.


Chicago Chinatown 1964 - Who runs Bartertown?

I bought this postcard for $2.50. That's more than I try to pay for a single postcard. Some antique vendors try to charge up to $5 for just one frikkin postcard. I'd pay that much if it were the postcard that Hitler sent to his boyfriend wishing him a merry Siebenschlafer, or something of equal historical significance. I betrayed my own rule of postcards because I really like Chinatown.

This is the view looking north on Wentworth Avenue in 1964. You can barely see, in the distance, the cool pagoda style gateway that, in my mind, marks the coolest street in Chicago. Dissenters may dissent, but they can also get their own blog and shut up.

One year in 1999 or so, it was a Thursday. A buddy of mine came over because we both had nothing going on, and hanging out was always inexpensive and pretty funny. He said "wanna go to Chinatown?" The drive to Chinatown from where I lived at the time was about 26 miles, so it was more than a jog across the street but less than an epic road trip. It was something to do.

Now, this friend's brother was, at the time, training to be a cop. I can't remember why he was on the phone with him, but he insisted that Chinatown was dangerous, as if we might get messed with by the triads or something. We had both been to Chinatown a handful of times before, and had never felt as though we were in any particular danger, except for the danger of finding non-authentic Chinese knickknacks at affordable prices, and possiby seeing gross things in fish tanks. So, yeah, we went to Chinatown. I brought a minidisc recorder (the only one ever bought), and a pair of stereo microphones that looked exactly like a pair of earbuds. We recorded ourselves driving to, walking around, and driving back from Chinatown, thinking we'd be funny. The whole time, calling it Bartertown - the rough and tumble city from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, where you could buy anything, if you survive! We did our imitation of Master and Auntie looking at plastic gods and jade elephants. "Me buy imported brick-a-brack! Me king A-Rab!" "Who run barter town?" "Mahster Blahster runs bahtah town." Etc.

I do not have these recordings any more, which is fine because these are things that are funny when they happened, but don't deserve retelling after the fact. Wups.

So what's there now? Here's the same view in Google Maps.

View Larger Map

You can see that Won Kow is still there, but the orient Shoppe and the other cool neon sign across the street are gone. Booo.

If you go to Chinatown, I recommend the Three Happiness restaurant and Joy Yee Noodle.


Briggs Bathtubs - Inspecular Gadget.

Say you're a professional artist (Don't worry... it's only pretend.) and you have to paint a bathtub, but it has to look like the star of the show. Glorify it. Make it look impossibly shiny and clean. Despite the fact that it will share the page with your painting of a mother and child, the viewer's eye must be drawn to the tub. What do you do?
Well, the first thing you do is put the tub in the middle of the picture, nudging the humans off to the side. But more important than that is your rendering of the tub. You put lots of time and effort into the specular highlights of the porcelain. The whaaa highlights? Specular highlights.

"Specular" (unmultiplied Scrabble value: 12 points) is a term used to describe a particular type of light reflection, best described by describing it's opposite: diffused reflection.

"Diffuse" reflection is light bouncing off an object in all directions. Simply put, diffuse reflections are what really show you the shape of things, and whether a plane is facing the light source or whether it's in shadow. If for some reason your eyes were polarized and you could only see diffuse reflections, you'd get by just fine. In fact, you may not even notice most of the time. Decent sunglasses are polarized against specular light, which helps fishermen see into the water, instead of being dazzled by sparkly things on the surface, like sunlight. Matte finish surfaces are perceived only by their diffuse reflections.

Specular reflection is light bouncing off an object and shooting into your eye in a straight line, or pretty much the same as when they hit the object. Shiny things do this. They're more complicated to paint because they retain most of their information about the light source, as opposed to diffuse reflections which have been scattered and confused by the reflecting object. But, if you need to glorify an otherwise mundane object in order to get your paycheck, specular is your friend. Just like the bathtub in this ad. You may guess that the sunlight bouncing off the water, blinding fishermen a few sentences ago is all specular reflection. If you guessed that, you're right.

Here are a couple of examples from my long illustrious career as The Guy Who Is Pretty Good At Shiny Things, wherever it is that I work. This is the hood of a bulbous 50's car. Please ignore the chrome. We're only talking about the paint. I painted it in layers which not only makes changes easier, but now helps me show what the hell I'm talking about. At the top is the base layer, or diffuse lighting. This shows the shape of the object. In the middle are the specular reflections alone. These show the gloss of the object.  On the bottom are the combined diffuse and specular lighting. See how it kind of makes you want to lick the car? The artist for the Briggs bathtub ad needed to understand diffuse and specular lighting to make the tub lickably shiny.

Sometimes you need to make something not at all nice seem appealing and nice, like a pipe wrench. "Wrenches! Whee!" some of you may say. Most people don't get sweaty over tools, so in order to bring lusty excitement to the wrench, I paid special attention to the shinyness of the handle, the rim of the knurled adjuster barrel and the brand new, unmarred metal of the business end of the wrench. This coasted through approval without changes, which is good because I wouldn't know any more tricks to make the wrench look desirable, apart from re-rendering the wrench to look as if it were cast from gold. Gold wrenches are the most expensive, useless wrenches you can buy because of gold's horrible tensile strength and fatigue life. Fortunately, gold wrenches are almost impossible to buy. Your money is better spent on a nice new bathtub anyway.


Catalina Fabrics - Overposed and underexposed.

Today witnesses the first of a new category on Phil Are Go!... overposed photographs. I think I see enough of these to call it an idiom of the mid century. Photographers and art directors put their models in poses that we would call corny or silly. It doesn't look very realistic, and rather than sending us into teh store waving our wallets, we just laugh and turn the page.

Today's picture comes from Holiday magazine - the lifestyle journal of the privileged, moneyed and useless. Its pages are filled with ads for Chris Craft yachts, expensive whiskey and resorts around the world.

Pacific fabrics made swimsuits. Maybe they still do. I don't care enough to check today, partially because time is a little short. I won't make fun of the old fashioned modesty of the swimsuits apart from saying they're too modest. They look like they're wearing lampshades. I dunno. Maybe pacific also made lampshades?

No, the reason we're here is to laugh at the little girl. Nobody has ever stood like this unless they were told to by an art director or a choreographer. She's overposed.

No little girl points the toes and flips her arm out like a songbird, as if she's exploring a delightful wonderland, animated for her by Disney.

"Oh look mummy. Some of the little villagers are fishing for their supper. How darling!" "Yes, sweetums, and your daddy's mercury extraction plant is just across the water there. It's the reason you'll never work a day in your life, and the reason all the villagers are having flipper babies. Isn't that cute of them?"

I have some more overposed ads in the stockpile, so look forward to seeing these pop up from time to time. Or don't, but they'll still be popping up. Isn't that darling of them?


Super Ads of the 70's! - More punishment for the guilty.

I'm not done with you, seventies. I recently paid contractors LOTS of money to scrape hundreds of pounds of fugly from my bathroom, courtesy of the seventies. It was worse than anything that ever went down the toilet and couldn't be disposed of with a flip of a chrome handle. Better Homes and Gardens' back pages bring us more evidence in the mounting case against 1973 middle America.

I'm kind of angry that the seventies made me doubt my understanding of "authentic". I looked it up. "not counterfiet or copied". So, as I thought, "authentic replica" is an oxymoron. The picture doesn't clearly show what you're getting. I'm pretty sure it's a clock stuck in a picture, made to look as though its on a pole in the street. The ad copy is nicely honest though. "Rosewood finish plastic parts". They didn't have to tell you how crappy their clock is, but they did. Stupid honest hippies.

I'm sure I saw this fabric and yarn bird hanging in some model home when my mom was a realtor in the seventies. The seventies had a strange fixation with pictures woven in yarn on canvas. If you wanted to add that "bought at a craft fair for the mentally challenged" charm to your home without any of that icky "helping the disadvantaged" guilt on your mind, you could order this kit... with instructions. Yes, apparently people needed help creating something this awful. That's like a child needing directions on how to mess her diaper.

"Mortimer Bird" was designed by Dino Kotopoulis. Who? Apparently, he's still kicking aorund, doing "art". here's one of his more current pieces. It's not Snoopy's doghouse. It's a frog. No really. Try closing one eye. No? Try jamming an icepick into your forehead. Still no? Wiggle a little to the left. Careful. remember your skull is a fulcrum and when the handle goes left, the tip goes to the right. There!  A frog, see? The Greeks invented civilization. Then came Dino Kotplopooutiplios to stink up the joint. Thanks, Dino.

Hey, guess what? A thing stitched into canvas with yarn, that's what! This time it's an owl with blephartis, which is pretty cruel, considering owls have such big eyes. Poor thing has so much crust over it's eyelids, it can barely predate. Misfortune as art, both for the animal and the owner. Still, it demonstrates more ability than Kotopoulis, and the artist isn't even credited. Pity is, when hung on a wall, these things are really hard to accidentally spill coffee on. Better make an extra pot. Better display them on the floor in front of the sink, or under the car, right over that black stain on the concrete.

Your TV is in color. Why are you still teleconversing in black and white? Get with the times, OLD MAN! Check what the KIDS are into! Step aside for the revolution, OLD MAN! Wait, what? Oh, they're only colored plastic phones. The revolution apologizes.

I'm sure the ad would like you to imagine the word "color" spelled in color... and also the phone picture in color. I'd like one covered in the halftone pattern, like in the picture. These aren't even seventies phones. It looks like someone bought the molds for old rotary phones from the forties and began casting them in colored plastic. The handset is that old pointy-back design that is painful to hold on your shoulder. $16.95 in 1973 money is $80.94! Holy Fonzie! Do you know how many 8-tracks that is?

 I knew a guy in high school whose mom had a rack of tiny spoons like this in the living room. I thought she ran an orphanage, or was a habitual adopter of babies whenever there was nothing on TV. Neither of these things were true. The real explanation is that some women begin to like tiny decorated spoons at the age of fifty five. The orphanage story actually made more sense. Couldn't he just have told me that his mom was the percussionist in a jug band?

Sometimes assholes need help in driving their friends from their lives. Enter, the "talking toilet". I don't know anybody who would come back to my house after experiencing the talking toilet. The tape could maybe be used in less obnoxious ways? "I'm sorry I'm out of toilet paper. I forgot to run to the store. You'd think the time I used in recording this message could have been better spent buying some toilet paper? That's probably why you should find better friends, huh?"

the seventies had a problem finding adequate storage for all of it's clip-on ties. The clip-on tie holder also works with real ties, but to grab the attention of their early seventies customers, they went with the clip-on photo. This tells you something about the seventies.

True enough, seventies. Nobody's purfect. But you know what? You, as a decade, were amazingly non-purfect. Your energies were seemingly spent in devising ever more ways to be regrettable and embarrassing. Your large scale projects were often great, but anything that cost less than a hundred dollars in the seventies was pretty much unforgivable. Apology rejected!


Pittsburgh Wallhide Paint - A blank wall.

By contrast to yesterday's rant against the clutter parade of 1970's mainstream sensibility, we at GO! present this wonderful ad from 1957 for Pittsburgh Paints. Lovingly scanned and presented in 1674 x 2200 breathtaking pixels, this delightful example of Danish design can be yours for the low low price of clicking through the image below and doing the old right click "save image as".

What's this? A wall without junk hanging on it, unpolluted with macrame owls or sentimental embroidery reminding us to feel a certain way or do something to flowers with our noses? Sure, the picture is trying to sell us paint, so naturally the big blue wall is the star of the show, but who doesn't like blue? Why not leave the wall a big blue rectangle? What's that you say? I'm quite mad? Don't tell that to the Danish or they'll whack you in the ear with a flat-pack bookcase.

What's with the Danish and minimalist design? Wikipedia doesn't help much. The article just mentions Denmark's "late industrialization" and tradition for quality wood construction.

I think it was World War 2 that made people eager to put as much distance between themselves and the past as possible. The furthest thing from the past will always be futurism, right? But maybe that's an oversimplification? Art deco was very much the style of the explodey-shootey 1940's, and the geometric simplicity of deco can be seen as a direct ancestor of the stuff in this picture. At the time, the modernist movement probably seemed completely new, but maybe it's only our perspective from fifty years in the future that shows us the similarity to it's conceptual progenitor, deco.

The ad had this guest designer Pipsan Saarinen Swanson to design their sample room, who apparently was the daughter of Eliel Saarinen. Who? Looks like he was an architect who became famous in the 1900's for his art nouveau designs. Art nouveau was big in the late 1800's and early 1900's (right before the deco movement) and was characterized by shapes and lines of plants and animals. Lots of birds and lilies. It's really swoopy and organic, but you can still see the groundwork being laid for the whole deco thing to happen. It had things in common with the leafy-swirly classical era, but at the time, nouveau must have seemed mind-blowingly new.

Yeah that's great. So why does Danish modern still work on (some of) us, here in the shiny electronic future? The same reason some people still like claw foot bathtubs and banisters covered with swirlicues. History is pretty long, and whatever you're into, you can find it if you go back far enough. Nothing's new after all. As for me, having spent nearly twenty years in one art job or another, you get a lot of people telling you to "Add more this" or "make it more...everything!", and you don't get paid until they get happy. Generally, people make you add more and more junk until it makes you want to throw up, then take away one thing and call it done. So, when I'm not on the clock, I want to take things away till all I have is a big blank square.

Antoine de Sain-Exupery said this: "In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.

That being said, tomorrow we'll eviscerate some more garbage from the seventies. It's just too fun not to do.


Super Ads of the 70's! - Plan your next garage sale now!

The seventies were unforgivable. We can blame the hippies. They took the close-to-natureness of Native America and smeared it on everything from French Classicism to native Moroccan crafts. But, it was always done with the restraint and judgment of a tuna cocaine casserole. Thank you, seventies! Thank you for making regrettable crap from all other eras seem positively shrewd in comparison!

The never-less-appropriately-named "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine from 1973 fills it's back pages with ads selling things to fill your house with domestic warmth. Let no patch of wall go un-decoupaged! Let no shelf go un-bric-a-brac-ed! Let's explore!

Capture the exotic magic of a Moroccan Bazaar in this authentic harem robe. It flatters every figure by obscuring it in a rectangle of coarse hemp fabric. How is this a "harem" robe? Maybe it's what concubines wore on their way from the shower to get into their silk harem bikini veils? People in Morocco wore this because they had nothing else. If they had pants and shirts, they'd ditch the burlap blanket under a donkey first chance they get... or sell it to some idiot American for enough money to eat for a month.

"Delicately styled to blend perfectly with any decor", as long as you're Marie Antoinette. Isn't this a reproduction of the same telephone that Napoleon used? It'll go perfectly with my 16th century dishwasher.

Having a twenty inch tall grandfather clock is like a Cadillac bicycle. Everyone will know your ambitions outpace your means. Really, if you're struggling to afford the mini grandfather clock without a chime, maybe you should just save your money for groceries?

So, with this attractive "go-go barn" in place, you then have one more obstacle to cleaning the cat box. The energy spent lifting the barn and finding a place to put it could be better spent just removing the poos from the litter. Is there such a thing as water-repellent cardboard? Honestly, I'd rather look at a tray of cat dump.

Wow, Madge! Is that a real Tiffany lamp? It sure is, Gloria! You know Tiffany, right? Tiffany Gorbanstern? She made that wonderful apple brown betty at the church rummage sale last year? She made this as part of her work release program. She says that making basket lamps is the only thing that silences the voices in her head.

Tired of effortlessly hiding that ugly can of comet under the sink? Sick of the humiliation of having your friends know you clean your bathroom? Why not replace that silly can with this giant, heavy, breakable, refillable porcelain container? Specially glazed to be extra slippery in wet hands! Also a great place to hide your stash when the pigs raid your pad! (Not responsible for snorted cleanser.)

Dying to get that "hand made by a groupie" look for your entryway, rumpus room or breakfast nook? Buy this yarny stitchy flower thingy and you can look forward to the pocket change you'll earn from selling it to your neighbor at your next garage sale.

That's good advice. I have some flowers growing in the back yard, next to the dumpster. That way I can save a trip. Thanks, trite embroidered catch phrase! Enjoy your new life under a pile of orange peels and coffee filters!