Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ain't It a Kick In The Head...Or a Kick In the Groin

Somehow I missed this one, maybe because it never received any publicity, but apparently late last year a bunch of people thought it would be a really novel idea to sing and banter along with a dead celebrity, namely Dean Martin, on some of his old classics. The result was an album of "duets" done a la a series of "Duets" albums with Frank Sinatra and other singers after his death. Now you can see why "Forever Cool" didn't receive much publicity. Singers and stars like Martina McBride, Joss Stone, Chris Botti, Kevin Spacey, and Shelby Lynne contributed to the project.

Now don't get me wrong. When Natalie Cole redid her famous dad's "Unforgettable" with him post-mortem it was indeed unforgettable. They shared the same blood, after all. But I sampled "Forever Cool" on Amazon and Finetune and the only suitable match for Dean's voice is Kevin Spacey's, still fresh from emulating Bobby Darin in "Beyond the Sea." He sings along with Martin on "King of the Road" and "Ain't That A Kick In The Head." But some of the others...eh, furgettaboughit. Check out the promo video on the Amazon site and listen to what Robbie Williams has to say, namely that he wants to BE Dean Martin.

Let's make one thing clear: Robbie Williams will never be Dean Martin. If you still want to torture yourself, the CD is selling for $13.97 on Amazon. Better yet I recommend any of Dino's "best of" CDs and that you just listen to the one and only (and emphasis on the word "only") Dean Martin.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Volkswagen Goes Retro with New Ad Campaign

Picture courtesy MediaPost.com.

Let me just say that I have a soft spot for VW Beetles. I was practically in love with Herbie growing up, and my second car was the newly designed Beetle that VW launched in 1998. So when I saw this latest ad campaign for the famous German car maker, my heart went pitter-patter all over again. With the help of advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Volkswagen has resurrected its original Beetle as the star of a series of very retro black and white print ads that are reminiscent of the ones they put out in the 1960s, right down to the sans serif type. On TV, the car comes to life as Max, the talking veedub with a German accent (he sounds a lot like Mike Myers' Dieter of Saturday Night Live) who stars in his own talk show. It's a clever campaign for VW, waxing nostalgia. To see the similarities, check out this vintage 1968 print ad courtesy AdClassix.com:.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month: Charlton Heston!

Well, who else could I pick for April's Retro Hottie of the Month? Charlton Heston was a legend. Before there was Gladiator, there was the classic Ben Hur, and if you've never seen it you need to get thee butt to your local video store or library and rent it, now. Just remember that it was made before computer special effects, which makes the chariot race scene all the more astounding. Heston was 84 years old.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Happy Birthday, Peace Symbol!

A famous pop culture and social icon recently celebrated a notable milestone, but the birthday boy isn’t an actor, singer, or any other famous human. Instead, we’re talking about the peace symbol, the beautifully simplistic arrangement of straight lines and a circle, which just turned fifty years old yesterday and enjoyed its pinnacle of fame in the 1960s.

The peace symbol was created by a British graphic designer named Gerald Holtom in 1958 as the logo for the Campaign of Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the UK. According to the web site PeaceSymbol.org, Holtom said that the graphic was of himself: “I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya's peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.” Holtom further explained that the inspired lines are a combination of the semaphore letters N (for nuclear) and D (for disarmament.) It was officially introduced at a British ban-the-bomb rally on April 4, 1958.

Bayard Rustin, a close associate of Martin Luther King Jr., was in the UK at the time to participate in a march with the CND. He took the symbol back with him to the States - and the rest is history. The famous sign was adopted by the American counterculture, even if it did earn the snide nickname “the footprint of the American chicken” by those who believed that anyone who did not want to go to war were cowards. Other cynics tried to claim the symbol had antichrist beginnings, a rumor which just isn’t supported by Holtom’s explanations. It’s a versatile anti-war mark with an impressive resume, having been used in marches by groups who support civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, environmentalism, and antiapartheid, among others.

Holtom purposely didn’t trademark or copyright his creation, with the belief that as a symbol of freedom, no one should ever have to pay or seek permission to use it. As a result, it’s been replicated commercially just about everywhere, on everything from t-shirts to Beanie Babies to even a flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I even own a pair of earrings in the shape of the iconic design.

There’s even a newly released biography dedicated to the symbol, called “Peace: The Biography of a Symbol” by Ken Kolsbun and Michael Sweeney, which is a collection of images and historical tidbits about one of the simplest, but most powerful graphical creations from the 20th century. The hippie counterculture of the 60s and 70s may have faded away long ago, but the peace symbol has never gone out of style. Long may it serve as an international reminder of peace for all.

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