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Monthly Archives: March 2006

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Gruesome Twosome: Reheated Nostalgia Edition

Lady Flash: “Street Singin'”
LP: Beauties In The Night, 1976

The Rubettes: “Tonight”
LP: Wear It’s At, 1974 | BUY

Old was new in the mid-’70s, and this pair of enjoyably retro efforts put me in a Happy Days frame of mind. Oreo-like trio Lady Flash were formed as backup singers for Barry Manilow’s touring show. Barry himself wrote and produced “Street Singin'”, an unexpectedly funky modest hit (#27 in the summer of ’76) with lyrics and melodies that cleverly echoed various ’60s pop tunes. Interestingly, Lady Flash member Lorraine Mazzola had previously been in Girl Group faves Reparata & The Del-Rons. England’s The Rubettes were another odd duck hybrid (hey, your Glitter Rock got into my Doo-Wop!) which could’ve only emerged from the ’70s. “Sugar Baby Love” was their signature hit, but the follow-up single “Tonight” amps up the retro to charming effect. Both of these songs make me want to don a powder blue polyester prom suit, frilly shirt and platform heels to do the Stroll. Enjoy!

A Ceramic Fantasia


Just finished being wowed again while re-watching Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Yeah, we all know that it’s a gorgeously animated marriage of animation and classical music. But I think it’s fascinating how, in this movie, Disney essentially captured America’s aesthetic tastes as of 1940. For all its highbrow aspirations, the film drew a lot of its visuals from decidedly middlebrow sources. You can see it in, for example, the saucy “pinup girl” look bestowed upon the centaurettes from the Pastoral Sympony sequence. Decorated tchotckes from the 5 and 10 cent store appear to be the main influence behind the goldfish and flowers in the Nutcracker Suite sequence. The Pastoral Symphony’s overwhelmingly cute baby pegasus and bare-butted cherubs were tailor made for people who felt more comfortable with Mickey Mouse than Salvador Dalí. Let’s face it, Disney knew his audience well.

Given all that, it’s no surprise that Disney once had a contract with California pottery manufacturer Vernon Kilns to produce a line of Fantasia-inspired ceramic dinnerware and figurines. Due to the lack of success upon the film’s original release, these pieces were only available for a very short time and didn’t sell well. And now, of course, they’re highly coveted by Disneyana collectors. I’ve tried to locate photos of this stuff on various online auction sites and have them listed below. This isn’t a definitive list, but check out the photos and see if you agree that this is some of the coolest bric-a-brac ever made:

Ya Know Who You Look Like?

Both Gael and Max have linked to this fun site where you can upload a photo of yourself and it tells you which celebrities you supposedly resemble. So of course I had to give it a go. My results are below. If you want to try it, just ignore the site’s badgering to register with them — and don’t forget to laugh at the ridiculous results.

Who they said I look like: Colin Firth, John Carmack (who?), Noam Chomsky, Michael Howard (??), Grace Jones, Peter Sellers, Jennifer Garner, Robert Zemeckis, 50 Cent, Donald Rumsfeld

Past celebrities that people have said I look like: Bruce Willis, Peter Weller, Cy Curnin (lead singer of The Fixx), Andrew McCarthy, Leonard Nimoy, Alan Rickman, James Dean, Woody Harrelson

Plastic Menagerie

Something to look at: Plastic Fantasic flickr set pictures little plastic animals in gorgeously lit tableaus (via Bibi’s Box). I wish I was that good a photographer.

Has-Beens? Try Never-Wases.

Continuing today’s “found photo” theme, don’t miss this amazing gallery of publicity photos by the famed entertainment photographer James Kriegsmann (via PCL Linkdump). Jennifer Sharpe of Sharpeworld put this together and my hat’s off to her. While Kriegsmann beautifully photographed some of the most famous names in post-WWII entertainment, this gallery concentrates on unknowns from the studio’s later years. And therefore you get lots of hideously outfitted “never heard of ’em” acts like Daybreak, the group pictured here. Fantastic!


Indiana Wants Me


When FOUND magazine co-founder Jason Bitner stumbled across several boxes of old studio photographs stored in the back of a small town diner, he discovered the found photo equivalent of a goldmine — some 18,000 formal portraits of the residents of LaPorte, Indiana dating from the ’40s to the late ’60s. Some of these images have been collected in a neat new book called (appropriately enough) LaPorte, Indiana. On the whole, it’s an intriguing look at how ordinary people once saw themselves at their best. Whether the subject is a smiling baby or an elderly couple, most of are dressed in their Sunday finest and posed stiffly against neutral backgrounds. The photos are nicely arranged in ways that underline their similarity — a spread of women holding a rose by their cheek, for example. Often the same subject is shown in a formal pose, then in a more spontaneous casual pose. It’s fun to glance at the sheer variety of faces on the subjects, while the hairstyles and (often dorky looking) fashions remain constant. One unsettling spread juxtaposes a small child and an older woman wearing virtually identical cat-eye glasses. Definitely a window into another time and place.

Although the people in the photos weren’t identified, the official LaPorte, Indiana weblog points out that some current residents have come forward with names. Pretty cool! Pre-purchase the book at Amazon here.