Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whatever Happened to Visiting the Barbershop?

Photo via Waterbury Time Machine
Being a female, I don't have any personal experience with barbershops; however, I wonder how many modern men today visit one. (Yes, I know that some shops cater to women, but for the purpose of this post I'm talking about the barbershop as a male-centric business.) Back when I used to get my hair cut regularly at a local Supercuts (before I finally realized that they didn't know what they were doing and were butchering my hair) I noticed that the place was loaded with male clientele. It was always a little surprising to me, because in my opinion there's nothing manly about the inside of a Supercuts--there are screaming kids, perfume-y styling products and (often, but not always) incompetent stylists who don't know how to cut hair. 
A modern London barbershop. Photo via The Daily Mail
A barbershop, by contrast, is a testosterone filled establishment. I found a really great article on the blog The Art of Manliness on why every man should visit a barbershop. For starters, the author points out how the local neighborhood barbershop used to be the place where men went to discuss news, politics, women, and anything else on their minds. Secondly, barbers know men's hair and how to cut it properly--and into any style. Thirdly, they can get a shave while they're at it--a close, comfortable shave. The blog author says that getting a shave at a barbershop is an indulgent experience, because they know what they're doing. They have the right equipment (you won't find a single disposable plastic razors in sight), know how to moisten the face with a damp, hot towel first and use special moisturizers and lotions that prevent razor burn. According to The Art of Manliness, after a barbershop shave a man feels ready to take on the world. 
Image via Vintage Metal Art
I'd also like to add that visiting a barbershop can be a right of passage for fathers and sons. I know that today there are a few hair chains that cater to squirmy, frightened children getting their first cut, and that's understandable for kids who are still in diapers. The notion of bringing them into a dark barbershop devoid of balloons and chairs shaped like horses might be too scary for them. However, once a boy is old enough I would think a barbershop visit with dad might make him feel like a big kid. 
Photo via Mr Peacock
The barbershop's popularity definitely took a hit in the 60s when the Beatles introduced the world to longer hair that moved and was free of styling goop. Perhaps it's an exaggeration, but my mother has said that many barbershops went out of business during Beatlemania. The Art of Manliness mentions a few other historical tidbits that decreased the frequency of barbershop customers: the introduction of Gillette's safety razor in 1904, the Great Depression (no extra money for haircuts) and the dip in the American male population caused by WW2. 

Today, I think there are two factors that could potentially hurt the barbershop biz: mobile devices and impatience. In our rushed society, people want to be in and out of the salon chair, while the traditional barbershop is seen as a place where you're going to be spending some time and talking to other people. For those nostalgic guys out there that don't mind and are tired of the impersonal cookie cutter haircut chains out there, perhaps an old school visit to your local barbershop is just the ticket. 

Question for the boys who read my blog: do you ever visit a barbershop? Why or why not?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: The Weather Girls

I think The Weather Girls would be awfully excited about this weekend's East Coast hurricane--it could start raining men. I don't care if the song became adopted as a gay man's anthem; the video is one of my favorite cheesy 80s videos. This hefty, man-hungry duo was made up of Martha Wash and Izora Armstead. Their original stage name was Two Tons O' Fun, and their self-evident sass and self-acceptance was sort of groundbreaking for women in entertainment during their time. Plus these ladies could really sing. After the success of "It's Raining Men", they enjoyed a few other minor hits such as "Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas)" and "Well-A-Wiggy." Armstead passed away at the age of 62 in 2004, but her daughters are carrying on The Weather Girls legacy in Germany. 

So, for my fellow East Coast readers, stay safe this weekend and for my fellow single ladies, I hope you see a hottie or two float past your window on Sunday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

All We Are Saying...Is Give Pants a Chance

If there's one thing I've noticed when looking at pictures of women's fashion from the 70s, it's the plethora of pants. Much to the disappointment of men everywhere, many women traded their 60s minis for trousers and pantsuits during the 70s era. Part of the reason for this is because up until then, many women simply weren't allowed to wear pants at their place on employment. Despite the fact that 30 years earlier actresses like Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich sported trousers, as well as the working women of WWII, they were banned from the typical 1960s office. Even on Mad Men, you won't see any female employees at Sterling Cooper Draper Price wearing anything besides skirts and dresses. To quote a memo that was distributed to employees of CBS Broadcast Center in the early 70s:

Please be advised that it is not Company Policy nor the discretion of the immediate supervisor for female employees to wear slacks during the course of their normal working hours...Slacks may be worn going to and from the Broadcast Center in the morning and evening, and/or on a lunch hour, business, and personal errand. 

A week later, 30 female workers from the CBS offices in the Manhattan area organized and held a "pants-in" (not to be confused with a "pants-off"...ha.) These rebellions took place at high schools as well. 

Nurses also led the pro-pants movement for working women. Around 1970, if you got sick and found yourself in the hospital, you'd be cared for by miniskirted nurses--who struggled to keep their modesty while bending and lifting during their daily duties. Fed up with the idea of dirty old bedridden men (and doctors) looking up their skirts, seven nurses at Queen of Angels Hospital in Southern California petitioned for the right to wear pants, and won. Their victory was front page news and several other hospitals quickly followed their lead. 

Pretty soon, there was no turning back. In 1972, public education rules were reformed so that schools were required to treat boys and girls equally and that meant female students were no longer restricted to wearing only skirts and dresses. Women had won the right to wear pants in the classroom and the office. The fashion trend quickly made its way onto the TV screen, as characters such as Maude Findlay and Mrs. Partridge made pants a closet staple. And although many guys out there may not agree, women born after 1970 (like me) salute our sisters who came before us and gave us more workplace clothing options. 

That isn't to say that these new options were always sexy and flattering. I scanned the following images from a funky little book called 70s Fashion Fiascos by Maureen Valdes Marsh. Um, we fought for this?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beetle Love Through the Years

Make no mistake about it, the iconic Volkswagen Beetle is one of my favorite cars--ever. I owned the "New" Beetle when it was introduced in 1998, and admittedly still miss it. Supposedly, the latest incarnation of the model is due to start hitting VW dealerships any day now in the U.S. In the meantime, I found the coolest Facebook page dedicated to the Bug called Beetles, Bugs and Buyers. It has a most impressive collection of Beetle photos through the decades. Here's just a small selection of them...if you're a Beetle owner or lover, then check them out and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Now Vote for Me for Boston's Most Valuable Blogger!

Folks, we did it. The blogs that are in the running for Boston's Most Valuable Blogger have been announced, and Go Retro made the cut! I'm in TWO categories: "Lifestyle" and "Everything Else." I can't thank you all enough for your support, and for going out of your way to nominate me. 

Our work is not done yet, we all have to vote! Voting opened today and runs through September 9. You can cast your vote once a day *per category* through then. Here's the link to all of the categories and you can vote for Go Retro under the Lifestyle category, Everything Else, or both!

It seems like an awful lot of work for me to win a $50 gift certificate, but no doubt the public link may direct some more readers and fans this way, so that's always a good thing. I plan on checking out all of the other Boston blogs as well. Good luck to all!

Vote away and THANK YOU again for your support!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vantastic Part 2: More Shaggin' Wagons

My first van post from a few weeks ago generated such a response that I simply had to do a follow-up. I must admit that the more I browse through scanned photos of customized vans, the more I can appreciate these forgotten painted beauties. While the sight of an old VW Bus on the street makes my heart go pitter-patter, I think the customized van is in an automotive league of its own. So get ready for some more van photos, van ads, and van tidbits...some of which my readers clued me into.

First of all, Luis reminded me that The Hardy Boys drove a van in the 70s TV series The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. Perhaps I had forgotten because my five-year own brain was too distracted by the raging crush I had on Shaun Cassidy at the time, but the van was a fixture of just about every episode. There was even a toy model that you could assemble.

Joe Hardy looks a little young to be behind the wheel! And boys, where are your seat belts? Ah well, it was a different time for sure.
Funny, the model looks different than the on-screen van. 

The Charlies Angels gals drove a very Barbie-dollish looking pink van, perfect for helping to pat down the bad guys...
Next, I could spend hours, honestly, looking at scanned van magazines and advertisements from the 70s and 80s on Flickr. This Jaws themed one is pretty cool...and wait! Is that a racer or a van at the bottom? Very clever!
Copyright b9owner
Copyright matbergman
Copyright matbergman
Copyright matbergman
Copyright josephkenney2
Copyright josephkenney2
Courtesy JustACarGuy
Thrush, apparently, is not just a yeast infection but the same of a muffler manufacturer. There's a whole slew of old Thrush ads that I found selling the message that hot chicks love to handle hot pipes and other car parts. By the way, I found this ad over at a tremendous blog called Just A Car Guy. If you're an auto/motorcycle enthusiast, I highly recommend checking it out! 

Finally, there were several cheesy films that revolved around the van craze of the late 70s/early 80s. Brother Bill and Luis clued me in about a 1977 teen sexploitation movie simply called The Van with the rather far out tagline, "Bobby couldn't make it...'til he went fun-truckin'!" That pretty much sums up the's about a kid who blows all of his money on a customized van to win the girl of his dreams...but what a van it is! I haven't seen the movie yet, but I think you'll agree that you can't help but share Billy's anticipation and excitement in this scene where he views "The Straight Arrow" for the first time:

Some final words of advice, aimed at the American Pickers guys: ditch your Mercedes Sprinter for a retro American custom Dodge. It's groovier and better suited for vintage picking in my opinion!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

I Love Lucy in a Miniskirt

I couldn't let the day pass without recognizing what would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday. I'm sure you've seen or heard about Google's page by now, but in case you haven't and you're an I Love Lucy fan, definitely check it out! It's one of the best Google tributes to a notable figure that I've seen. 

I could, of course, embed all of the famous clips from I Love Lucy here, but I know you've seen them all several times over. Instead, I wanted to post this kind of a rare clip that a friend on Facebook shared, apparently from a mid-60s TV special where Lucy got down with the mod swinging London scene. I have no idea what the name of the special was, but it featured music by the Dave Clark Five. Too groovy. Happy Birthday, Lucy!

I Want My V-66!

This week marked the 30th anniversary of MTV. While a few retro bloggers paid tribute to the milestone, I was fondly thinking about the local (and free) music video TV channel that I grew up with, V-66. For me and fellow kids whose parents didn't have cable, V-66 (which has been referred to as "the poor man's MTV") was truly our savior and a way to keep current with 80s music videos.

I discovered V-66 quite happily and accidentally while flipping the channels on the TV in my bedroom one day. I believe they were airing a Duran Duran video at the time--"The Union of the Snake" to be exact--in all its glory and I was hooked immediately! Quite often I had to fiddle with my rabbit ears to eliminate the static on this station, but it was worth it. It was the first time in many cases that I could put a face as well as a personality to the names of my favorite singers and bands, and gain exposure to new ones I hadn't heard on the radio. At first, V-66 apparently had a very limited run of videos because I seem to remember the same ones being repeated constantly (including some of Weird Al Yankovic' can imagine what a drag that became!) but as word-of-mouth and their popularity grew, so did their video music library. In fact, they eventually developed a reputation for airing videos of lesser known, local Boston area bands among the heavy hitters. 

Some of the earliest videos I can recall seeing were those by Cyndi Lauper, Culture Club (the first time I ever saw what Boy George actually looked like was from the video to "Karma Chameleon," Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates (my faves!), the local band 'Til Tuesday, as well as heavy metal groups (Twisted Sister--yikes) and rap acts (Run DMC.)

V-66 first took to the Boston area TV airwaves on February 12, 1985. The two guys who launched it were long-time New England area radio personalities, John Garabedian and Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg. Of course, the goal was to compete with MTV and that meant hiring several "VJs" to host shows and interview musicians (I mostly remember VJ David O'Leary, since he was the cutest one.) Some of the acts who visited the V-66 set included local Boston band Aerosmith, Howard Jones and Fiona. After 66 days on the air, V-66 had amassed a pretty nice fan following and celebrated its new found success.

Since this was a local station with limited revenue, the channel had a very off-the-cuff, unrehearsed, but fun personality all its own. No, the VJs were not as polished as the ones on MTV and maybe the set wasn't as cool, but that was its endearing quality that many viewers still remember. It seems that everyone who worked at this station knew how to have a blast on the air, and that often resonated on the screen.

In 2008, a documentary was made about the history of the channel called "Life on the V: The Story of V-66." This trailer should give you a better idea of what watching it was like...and check out the 80s hairstyles!

Sadly, this station only existed for about two years before a lack of advertising revenue forced it off the air. This tribute site has several wonderful comments on moments from the station's history that I don't remember. Seeing as how MTV doesn't really show music videos anymore, it seems that this programming format and concept holds a ton of fond memories for folks of my generation. 

Do you remember V-66, if you grew up in the Boston area during the 80s? Or did you have a local music video channel in your area? If so, leave a comment--I'd love to hear your memories! 

Friday, August 05, 2011

Nominate Me for Boston's Most Valuable Blogger!

Friends, it isn't too often that I ask my readers for a favor, but I came across this local blog contest and thought it would be fun if Go Retro got at least a nomination. The rules are the blog must either be about the Boston area OR written by a blogger local to the area. That would be the latter for me, although from time to time I do try to cover something retro that's relevant to the locals (such as my post last week about Pleasure Island.) Winners are going to get a snappy $50 gift certificate to Amazon...I sure could use it to add some retro music to my CD collection...or maybe a DVD or two of a beloved vintage TV show!

Not sure what category Go Retro would fit best into, but perhaps the "Everything Else" category. So, if you love me and feel like saying a few (and they mean few--the equivalent of a tweet) kind words about the blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Now back to good retro stuff...

P.S. To thank everyone for their time, I have another blog giveaway item coming soon! 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

New Fave Show: American Pickers

As you probably know, I've never really discussed a modern television show on here with the exception of Mad Men; however, I'd like to break tradition to spread some love for my new favorite reality show American Pickers, which airs on The History Channel. If hearing the phrase "reality show" makes you want to run away screaming, let me make my case that anyone with an interest in vintage items or pop culture, especially from the 20th century, could benefit from watching this show. After seeing a few full episodes online, I've learned what "trench art" is, how much a Beatles "butcher cover" in perfect condition is worth, and about the different types of surfboards that were made during the 60s.

The show follows two guys, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they travel the U.S. in their van looking for anyone with a sizable and potentially valuable collection of vintage items that they can "pick" through to resell for a profit. Mike and Frank get their leads from Danielle, their assistant/accountant back at their store/warehouse they call Antique Archeology. Many of the people who own these treasure stashes are true American characters--farmers, bikers, mountain men, and former hippies as well as serious collectors. Some might also call them pack rats or hoarders, but the stuff they've amassed is usually awe-inspiring (well, except for maybe the old dude who was keeping GARBAGE along with junk in a scary, dark attic that Mike and Frank compared to the house from The Blair Witch Project.) Some of the items that the guys have picked and purchased include antique motorcycles, neon car dealership signage, rare toys, a gasoline pump, vintage NASCAR auto parts, and a 1939 Ford "Woody" Wagon. 

Admittedly, there's two reasons why I love this show: first, you never know what the guys are going to find, and you actually learn a bit about American history along the way. There's a bit of a romantic aspect to the show considering many of the people Mike and Frank visit are a dying breed. Secondly, that Mike Wolfe makes me light up like a pinball machine--what a hottie! My nickname for him is "The Hunk of Junk." The fact that he's a man who knows his retro stuff is truly the icing on the cake. Like me, Mike gets really excited when he sees an old car or a cool vintage lunchbox. (A common favorite phrase on the show is "Honey Hole"...don't worry, I won't go there.) OK, I admit it--that's definitely what made me notice the show, but both guys, who have been friends since their school days, can be a riot together. Mike in particular loves poking fun at Frankie's expense (in one episode, he forced the chubby Frank onto an old stationary exercise bike and cranked the speed up to full force, while laughing his ass off like a high school kid.)

Oh, to be in Danielle's spot...sans Frank.
The show is not without its criticisms; there's rumors online speculating that one or both dudes may be gay (I won't repeat the nasty play on words of the show's title) and many viewers consider them to be crooks who are ripping innocent people off. While the show often shows the guys scheming behind the scenes for good price haggling, as Mike put it in one of the episodes (I'm quoting verbatim), "we like to make sure items go to their rightful place." They've donated picked pieces to museums on occasion and they are, after all, self-employed and trying to make a living.

Anyways, I think I've made my point. I am addicted to American Pickers. You can visit the show's site to get the schedule, watch clips and full episodes and learn more. 'Dems good picking over there. Are you a fan or a foe of this show? 

Oh, and about that Honey Hole...

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