Monday, February 13, 2017


Valentine's Day is upon us, and its a safe bet that after the holiday tens of thousands of Americans will be newly engaged. And it's a sure bet that an awful lot of these brides and grooms-to-be will end up spending an exorbitant amount of money on the ceremony and reception. Weddings in America have turned into lavish, showy (and show-offish) affairs, especially when compared to weddings of past decades.

A couple of weeks ago I clicked on an article on MSN called "7 Things That Americans Waste Their Money On." Not surprisingly, item number seven was weddings. The average cost of a wedding today in the States is $26,645. Let's let that figure sink in a moment and do some comparison shopping. The Vince Lombardi trophy, made annually by Tiffany and Co., is worth $25,000. When I looked at gently used Audi A4s the other night online (just for kicks), most of the ones listed that were a few years old with modest mileage were priced around $25K.

$26,645 is also enough to put a down payment on a mortgage and buy yourself a decent living room set, or at least a nice sofa. In fact, in that article I cited, one of the comments left was by a man that attended a wedding of two 20-somethings. The bride revealed that she and her new husband had very little saved for a home, but she was hoping her retired dad (who paid for the wedding) would help her out with that, too. 

Sigh. Millennials. 

OK, with all fairness the rise of the bridezilla started taking place a good twenty years ago, if not more...so it's not just Millennials that have expected a royal wedding-type affair but people from my generation as well. The question is, why? Why waste all of that money on an over-the-top day that few people are going to ultimately remember, except for the couple getting hitched?


The photo above is of my parents on their wedding day -- February 1, 1946. As you can see, my mother didn't wear a bridal gown; she wore her best dress and a fur jacket. My father never gave her an engagement ring. She decided she really didn't want one, when she knew the money would be best served in a savings account to pay for a place to live (decades later, she got a tiny diamond on one of their anniversaries.) Speaking of which, my parents actually lived in a converted chicken coop for a short while on my grandparents' farm while my father went to work and saved money.

That was how it was for a lot of these past generations; they had more common sense when it came to saving and spending. They also weren't so selfish; they were grateful for what they had. 

It used to be that couples would have their receptions in the church basement, or at a local restaurant or the VFW.  Even celebrities kept their nuptials low-key back in the day. When Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward exchanged vows in 1958, it was at a wedding chapel in Vegas. Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman at Marylebone Register Office in 1969, and the bride wore a belted yellow coat. One of the reasons for these underwhelming settings were to thwart the media and fans and keep the event more private (not that it worked judging by the throngs of weepy female fans that showed up that day, upset that they were not the one Paul chosen.) 

When Celine Dion married René Angélil in 1994, however, the wedding was as melodramatic as one of Dion's power love ballads: it featured a massive wedding "cake" comprised of over 2,600 French profiterole (or cream puffs), a seven pound headpiece made of Austrian crystals, real white doves, and artificial snowflakes.

A lot of other celebrity couples seemed to have over-the-top weddings in the '90s. I'm not sure if that's what started to drive the expensive wedding phenomenon, but personally I do think it's possible to spend way too much on an article of clothing that you're only going to wear one day out of your life and never again. Thus came the rise of wedding planners an numerous wedding magazines and websites, all revolved around making your special day as perfect as possible.

Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against people spending and enjoying money, particularly if they actually have it. However, it seems to me that too many young couples are spending a fortune on their weddings when they don't have it. A lot of people would be better off if they tried to curb the expenses and socked that cash away for a downpayment on a starter home instead.

I guess the question is, why? Is it because they're selfish, spoiled, and/or have low self esteem issues where they feel some need to show off a bit? Sadly, some couples also expect guests and members of their wedding party to spend a fortune because of their selfishness, whether they can afford it or not. Thus, we've seen the rise of the destination wedding in recent decades, where couples get married on a tropical beach or another exotic locale. Not only is this expensive for the wedding party, but a bit of an inconvenience as well -- they're being forced to take a vacation whether it works with their schedule or not.


Another thing I've noticed...the numerous amount of bridesmaids. It used to be a bride would have a maid of honor or maybe a couple of bridesmaids; now she usually has a throng of her besties wearing an ensemble that will most likely never see the outside of their closet again. 

The irony is that the most memorable weddings I have been to were the ones where it was obvious the couple did not spend a ton of money on the reception. Thus, these celebrations had their own unique touches whereas the ones I've been to (and one where I was part of the wedding party) that were thrown at local country clubs and involved expensive bridal gowns all kind of blur together for me as nearly one collective memory. 

When a neighbor's daughter was married about ten years ago, the reception was held in the sun-drenched rotunda room attached to their parish. It was simple, yet beautiful -- they had also hired a guitarist to perform during the ceremony. The last wedding I went to was a high school friend's; she wore a gorgeous bargain dress that she found at Filene's Basement in Boston, when they used to have their infamous wedding dress sale and her ceremony took place in a new modern chapel at her alma mater. The reception was held at a notable restaurant in Chinatown; it was a ten course meal, so that probably didn't come cheap, but overall it was a beautiful celebration that didn't go over the top (unless you count her cousin that impersonated Elvis and serenaded the couple on the dance floor.)

I'm not saying that people should hire a justice of the peace, order some pizza, and call it a day, either. I believe in a happy medium, and maybe looking for ways to save money on certain areas (such as the dress or the reception venue) instead of blowing a fortune on what's only one day out of your entire lives.

Just don't lose sight of the real reason you're getting married in the first place.

Thursday, February 09, 2017


I'm working on a new post, but in the meantime needed to vent a bit. Tonight I got an email from an ad network I work with, that also works in conjunction with Google. Someone at Google came across an old post I did on here seven years ago and said it was in violation of their ad policies. Of course, I promptly removed it, being grateful that I received a warning and a kind email asking me to take it down (I've heard horror stories about Google removing AdSense from blogs without so much as a warning.)

The blog post in question showed three vintage ads (it was part of the "Three Ads Too Good Not To Share" series that I did for a while) and one of them was an '80s ad for a phone shaped like a naked woman. I assume it came from Playboy decades ago. I don't remember what the other two ads were, but I immediately deleted the post.

I'll be honest; I only skimmed through Google's ad policies a few years ago because I always considered this site to be "clean", especially in comparison to another retro themed site that got into trouble for posting a lot of images on a regular basis that contained blatant nudity. I also stumbled upon a strange Blogger site once that had the word "crafts" in the title but contained anything BUT how-to crafts. Let's just say the author was violating all kinds of adult content rules. But because they weren't running any advertising on the blog, they were allowed to publish it.

But after getting this email from my ad network, I'm now a little bit paranoid. I removed a few posts I did last year on sexy women promoting automobile parts (too much cleavage could be a trigger...I'll work on a new post at some point that's more covered up) and a very old, brief post I did about an adult drinking game from the '60s with a suggestive name. However, even after reading Google's adult content policy and watching the accompanying video on it, there still seems to be some grey areas.

For example, I could find nothing in Google's policy about vintage ads and songs that may contain double meaning headlines, imagery, and lyrics that one could take to be sexually suggestive. A lot of blues songs from the '20s and '30s, for example, fall into this category. And yet, if a child were to hear them they probably wouldn't get the meaning. ("Sam the Hot Dog Man", for all intent and purposes, is a song about a man selling hotdogs, after all.) I'm sure we've also all seen the old Chiquita advertisement where a little boy is feeding a banana to a little girl. Would I not be allowed to show this ad on Go Retro? It's kind of hard to prove there's anything sinister behind it for real; it's for Chiquita, after all!

What about clips from The Benny Hill Show? What about sitcoms that tackled controversial adult topics, such as the infamous abortion episode of Maude?

Tonight I deleted the album cover that Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass did with the woman strategically covered in whipped cream from an old post on the band. According to Google's adult content policies, even nudity that is strategically covered is a no-no. They already flagged me a year or two ago for the pantyhose post I did about 7 years ago. It was because one of the images I used showed a topless woman that was covering herself up by crossing her arms in front of her.

I get that Google wants its publishers to be squeaky clean for its advertisers. I have no problem with that. But I think some rules may be just a tad strict. The irony is any kid can go on Google of all places and within three seconds, instantly find images of nudity, pornography, and other adult content. The chances of someone finding anything even remotely close to that on Go Retro is pretty slim.

All this to say, if you go looking through Go Retro and can't find a post that the "you may also like" widget is recommending to you...well, this is the reason why. And I'm also in the process of scrubbing anything that might raise another red flag. I've written the contact person from the ad network and asked them questions about the gray areas. In the meantime, at least Facebook doesn't have these same policies...yet. So images that might get me into trouble here are OK for me to share there.

I think I'll start by digging up that old Chiquita ad...

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


"Attention, Kmart shoppers! This is your blue light special..." Although Kmart has tried on and off through the years to resurrect its blue light special (which apparently lives on digitally via its website) I bet it's been decades since you've heard those words announced in a Kmart store.

Heck, the last time I visited a Kmart was at least ten years ago, and I've never returned to one since. The store felt old, dirty, messy, and seemed dimly lit. The merchandise, aesthetics, and employees made Walmart look like a Sachs Fifth Avenue. And ever since Kmart purchased Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 2004 it's been nothing but downhill for the two retail giants. In fact, last month it was announced that 108 Kmart stores and 42 Sears locations across the country will be shutting down for good this year.

Did you know that Kmart once opened up a small chain of fast food restaurants, called Kmart Chef, at some of its store locations in the late '60s? The first one opened in 1967 at its Pontiac, Michigan store. They were free-standing restaurants that served burgers and the usual sides but closed in 1974 after operating at only 11 locations.

Through the years Kmart has experimented with introducing similar perks at its stores -- the closest thing to Kmart Chef today is K-Cafe, which serves a full breakfast menu in addition to other food options, but several of these have also been removed from remaining stores. Kmart also has a few odd features that never progressed past one operating prototype, such as Kwash (a laundromat in Iowa City) and Kmart Dental, an in-store dentist office in Miami.

Despite trying to revitalize their branding after 2000 and bringing onboard Martha Stewart's merchandise and other notable brands, it seems they just couldn't compete with the likes of Target and Walmart. It's a sad legacy for S. S. Kresge, the man that founded the company in the late 19th century (the first Kmart opened in 1962.)

So, let's take a look back at some vintage Kmart imagery from back in the day.


I love that there's a cop in this artist's rendering of the store's grand opening. Someone's gotta keep those unruly shoppers in line!


The very first Kmart to open, located in Garden City, Michigan.


The TV department in the early '60s.


The Kmart camera shop, in the pre-digital days when film needed to be developed.


A Kmart Chef restaurant...and double cheeseburgers for 44 cents!


The shoe department...so well stocked and neatly displayed!


Telescopes for less than $10....a bargain.


"And when we're done, you can ride in the trunk with the parcels."


Way neater and cleaner looking than the last Kmart I was ever in.


Rapid growth in the '60s.


A Kmart Grill restaurant.

Photo credit: John Strickler
Yes, even President Trump and his first wife visited a Kmart back in the day. The story behind this photo is that the Trumps stopped into the Sanatoga, PA store to buy bedsheets for Don Jr., who was attending Pottstown's Hill School in the 1990s. PLEASE -- no nasty comments -- I'm including this photo for its nostalgic context!


And that's one sign we'll probably never see the likes of again. RIP Kmart.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Note: Damn you, buggy Blogger template! It put this entire post on the home page again without showing the title or comments section. Time for a new template. In the meantime, to leave a comment (I know you want to!) please use this link to the properly formatted blog post: http://www.goretro.com/2017/01/hollywood-remade-chips-and-its-going-to.html

As I'm sure you know, Hollywood has been running out of original ideas over the past 20 years or so. In that time, it seems there's been an excessive amount of remakes of TV series and older movies and most of them have sucked.

The latest show to get the big screen remake treatment is CHiPs. I didn't even know this was an actual thing, until the preview showed up in my Facebook feed the other day. I'd embed the trailer but to be honest, some of the content may violate Google's rules. So I'll link to it here.

Well, then. OK, the first thing is they didn't even "spell" CHiPs correctly. The movie poster and IMDB listing for it spells it in all caps: CHIPS. The proper spelling uses a lowercase "i" and "s". But that's the least of this movie's problems...


I feel just a little hypocritical right now because I wasn't a CHiPs fan. I remember watching only a handful of episodes in the late '70s and early '80s. And let's face it: most vintage shows are a little bit cheesy, especially when it comes to injecting humor. CHiPs would usually end an episode with Ponch trying to impress a lady that he met, and failing miserably as the boys were off duty and socializing. But my first thought after watching the trailer (and I couldn't finish it the first time I viewed it) is that the movie looks like it's going to be really disrespectful to the series. Not just the series, but the original actors--Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox--as well. And worst of all, it seems very disrespectful of law enforcement professionals.

The trailer portrays "Ponch" (Michael Peña) and "Jon" (Dax Shepard)  as two goofballs doing tricks on their motorcycles and carelessly damaging other vehicles while they sing along to a horrible auto tuned song about the California Highway Patrol. Actually, from what I've heard, these two guys are actually undercover and merely posing as characters named Ponch and Jon. Jon is covered with scars (not to mention Shepard's tats) and is shown popping painkillers. And what's up with the crotch shots and implied homophobia? This is supposed to be funny?

It was reported yesterday that Erik Estrada (who became a real-life reserve officer for the town of St. Anthony, Idaho last year) deemed the new movie "pure trash" and he also retweeted tweets from people condemning the film. (He has since tried to downplay his thoughts on the movie, but I shared his original knee-jerk reaction.)

Now, the original CHiPs had a lot of humor in it, and it gets classified as a "light drama" that showed very little violence. It didn't take itself too seriously. But, much like Adam-12, it still portrayed police officers as helping ordinary citizens in dangerous situations and it also inspired some fans to pursue a career in law enforcement.

The CHIPS reboot focuses on catching corrupt cops within the highway patrol division, and Jon trying to impress his wife (played by Dax Shepard's real-life wife, Kristin Bell) with his uniform.

Speaking of Shepard, we can blame this train wreck on him; not only does he star in CHIPS, but he wrote the script, directed the movie, and produced it as well. I'll be honest -- I never watched Shepard's series Parenthood and I've never seen any of his films including Employee of the Month, Let's Go To Prison, and Without a Paddle. I've seen some interviews with him and find him likable, despite his awkward first name (his mother named him after a character in a cheesy romance novel) and the fact that his face reminds me at times of Barry Manilow once he started to get plastic surgery. He's also into vintage wheels, and posted a photo of a gorgeous 1960s Lincoln on his Instagram page, so I give him props for that. But if he's as funny and talented as everyone (or at least, the comments on YouTube) say he is, then I think he could have approached the CHiPs project with a little more decorum. I don't get how a scene where Ponch accidentally bumps his face into Jon's underwear-covered genitals is supposed to be funny.

Audiences of my generation don't need another movie remake filled with frat-boy humor, we need films with original story lines. And not to sound like a superficial girl, but let's face it -- Pena and Shepard are not as cute as Estrada and Wilcox were:


Oh, well. When will Hollywood learn? Even if this movie bombs, they'll just continue to remake shows into pap. Let's just hope they never do this to Adam-12.

For nostalgia's sake, here's the cool opening theme to the TV series. Wonder if the movie will eft that up, too.

Monday, January 09, 2017


We live in very impatient times. Just the other day I was watching a DIY YouTube video on how to trim your own hair (don't tell my stylist!) when I noticed the same person left these three comments:

STARTS AT A WHOPPING 8:21!!! UGH

Hello! DID YOU REALIZE YOU SPENT 25 MINUTES JUST CUTTING TWO DAMN STRIPS OF HAIR?!

Ugh I'm going to go punch a baby, bye!

Really??? Did it not occur to this person that other options were available; namely, fast-forwarding through the video...or finding a new one to watch altogether?

Likewise, there's a video clip currently being passed around Facebook, that you may have already seen, where an author named Simon Sinek is being interviewed on an online talk show called Inside Quest and starts listing everything wrong with Millennials, particularly in the workplace. Among the points he makes is that Millennials are an impatient bunch; having grown up with the Internet, social media, and texting, they've come to expect instant gratification--he says their brain actually gets a hit of dopamine every time someone likes their social media post--and unfortunately, this is causing problems when it comes to forging a career and forming relationships, as these goals usually do not happen overnight.

Here's the clip in question--it's 15 minutes long, so get some popcorn first. And, if you're not a patient person (heh heh), he starts his point about patience at the 7:20 mark. :)



It may seem like I've been coming down hard on Millennials on Go Retro lately. To be fair, I don't think it's just younger people that haven't learned the virtue of patience. I think older generations are losing it, too.

You can see it for yourself first-hand every time you get behind the wheel of your car. One thing I don't miss while not working an out-of-the-house job is driving on the highway. The posted speed limit is a joke; very few drivers abide by it, and if I only had a dollar for every time I saw someone drive in the breakdown lane during congested traffic I'd probably never have to work again. Speeding, tailgating, switching lanes constantly, and cutting other drivers off has become normal, everyday occurrences. So is refusing to yield to oncoming traffic when entering a highway or rotary. People do not want to wait for anybody or anything. That includes refusing to pull over for ambulances and fire trucks. I'd like to ask some of these fools if there is a trophy or prize money waiting for them at their destination.

But perhaps one of the saddest and most dangerous signs of impatience on the roads is refusing to stop for a school bus. Last year the news reported on numerous close calls; too many to count. Lots of kids were almost hit by cold, uncaring drivers that ignored the bus' stop sign and lights and sped by just as children were either waiting to get on a bus, step off of it, or cross a street to board one.

What is wrong with people?

I get that people have places to get to, particularly the office, but causing a car accident or someone's death is too high a price to pay to make it to work on time. Or maybe they're just late for their pedicure appointment, or on their way to go shopping at the local mall.

Technology now spins the world at warp speed; we text instead of sending an email, the thought that we once used dial-up access to get online is ancient and painfully slow compared to instant WiFi access, and we can brew a cup of coffee in less than 30 seconds with our Keurig machines. There's nothing wrong with this kind of speed, but we shouldn't expect it to spill over into every single area of society in order to make us happy.

When someone is trying to lose weight, it seems most people expect to drop 10 pounds in a couple of days....and when they don't, they give up. It takes a lot of time and work to change an overweight coach potato body into a sculpted, slender one.

Instant gratification is like a drug, as Sinek says in the video above. But there's something to be said about biding your time and working towards a goal. When I was a kid, I loved saving my allowance money to buy a special toy I'd had my eye on for a while. My parents didn't give me the money in one fell swoop; I earned it by doing chores and socking it away. Even today, as an adult, it feels a lot more satisfying in most instances to have to wait for something; you appreciate it a lot more and know you worked for it, vs. having something handed over to you right away.

Luckily, there are still some things about modern life that still require patience. A human pregnancy still lasts, on average, for nine months (although I'm sure some Dr. Frankenstein out there will figure out a way to speed up the gestation period.) Relationships, whether of the platonic or romantic variety, still need time to blossom. Nature, for the most part, is still on her own timetable -- seeds don't sprout and emerge from the soil overnight.

We need to be reminded of this, and relearn how to savor life while waiting for something. Or, to put it more bluntly, a lot of people really just need to chill out.
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