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Monthly Archives: November 2005

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A Reader in Phoenix Writes

This is the neatest thing: in their June 15th, 1940 issue, The New Yorker published a colorful two-page map of the 1940 New York Worlds Fair. I came across this paging through The Complete New Yorker (for some reason, the map is not listed in the software’s search engine). I mean, look:

Isn’t that the greatest? I now find that the NYer covered the Fair extensively. They commissioned covers and cartoons, wrote about the exhibits and music presentations, and even ran “Talk of the Town” pieces on such matters as broadcasting radio reports of news from Europe at the fairgrounds (they noted with relief when the practice was stopped).

Actually, I happened to be reading Thomas Kunkel’s swell bio of New Yorker founder Harold Ross, Genius In Disguise. Every time an interesting article is mentioned in the book, I make a note to look it up. In the process, I wind up finding other stuff to make note of, until I have too way much stuff to read. A vicious cycle that never ends. Anyway, some other finds:

  • A lively profile of teenage debutante Brenda Frazier by E.J. Kahn, Jr. (June 10, 1939) Frazier was sorta the Paris Hilton of her day, an unpretentious yet glamorous young lady who somehow became Miss Hot Thing of late ’30s New York. Kahn’s profile is actually sympathetic to Miss Frazier and fascinating to read.
  • In 1938, Life magazine ran a controversial yet popular photo feature called “The Birth of a Baby”. The New Yorker‘s takeoff is a hilarious two pager called “The Birth of an Adult” (April 3, 1938) written by E.B. White and illustrated by Rea Irvin.
  • Geoffrey T. Hellman’s three part profile of industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes began in the February 8, 1940 issue. I haven’t read this one yet, but it devotes some space to the Bel Geddes-designed General Motors Worlds Fair exhibit called ‘Futurama’ — ’nuff said.
  • There’s also the profiles which made Harold Ross the enemy of powerful men — former friend Alexander Woolcott (March 18, 1939), the famous Henry Luce profile written in Timespeak (November 28, 1936), Walter Winchell (a multiparter that begun in the same 1940 issue as the Worlds Fair map!), Readers Digest founder DeWitt Wallace (November 17, 1945).

Suffice to say that these stories are from only a short period during the Ross Era. Does anyone else have interesting old New Yorker articles to share? It’s going to be a long winter.

More Retro Videogames at Flickr

Someone has assembled a large Flickr pool of retro videogame magazine pages that was inspired by my Videogame Ads of 1982 set. I think I owned this very issue of Electronic Games magazine.

7 More Wonders of the World

This week only, we’re having a blowout sale on vintage View-Master reels at eBay. Most date from the late ’40s/early ’50s and have travel destinations, fairy tales, or TV/movies as their subject. They’re old, they’re cool, they’re going to the thrift store if someone doesn’t buy them!


Can’t Live Without My Radio

Every morning when I do my bathroon stuff, I used to turn on the Music Choice radio stations carried on DirecTV and have them play in the background. There was something comforting about this routine, wall to wall music channels tidily lined up in their own genres, seemingly programmed by robots. It had to end, though. On the 15th, DirecTV discontinued Music Choice and instead are simulcasting stations from X-M Satellite Radio. The change got me excited — not only are there more stations with the new setup, there’s more diversity as well. Cursory listens to several of their stations reveals that they live up to the hype, with some disappointments. I was a little bummed that the X-M stations have deejays and annoying promos, but I guess that’s what most satellite radio listeners want — a listening experience that’s exactly like broadcast radio, only without the ads. For me, the ideal radio experience would be an “iPod shuffle” kind of deal, nothing but music programmed in a way that’s full of surprises. But I guess that’s asking for too much, right? I love X-M’s idea of having stations themed around decades from the past, but except for the ’40s one they’re saddled with unimaginative “fun oldies” style playlists. The most promising station might be an uncategorized one called Special X. When I first tuned in, Lorne Greene’s one-shot hit “Ringo” was playing — performed in French. That’s more like it!

PS If you want an interesting online radio experience, try Pandora (thanks Brad!). Simply type in the name of a favorite artist, and Pandora comes up with an eerily accurate playlist of similar yet diverse sounding music. Pretty cool, and it even prompted me to buy a great song off iTunes that I’d never heard before (that would be Marlena Shaw’s dynamite rendition of “California Soul”).

Defiantly Modern


Biomorphic shapes and beautiful colors galore from Alvin Lustig (1915-1955), via Lustig’s designs are very simple and “of their time” in the best way possible. The variety of things he accomplished across such a brief career is amazing.

Bottom of the Pops

Just finished a mix devoted to songs that placed on Billboard‘s “Bubbling Under The Hot 100” chart between 1966 and 1981. Quite a fun disc to assemble, with samplings from New Wave, Soul, Country, ’60s Pop and Disco. On a similar note — Pitchfork’s Worst Record Covers (via MetaFilter). Good for a few laughs; contains this priceless observation: “One day, the dawn of Photoshop will be seen as the absolute nadir of human artistic endeavor.”