Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Five Retro Tunes to Ring In the New Year

You've probably noticed that Go Retro has a snazzy new template (cue the theme to The Jeffersons, "We're moving on up!"). It was a long overdue, needed, and timely change, especially considering this is the week we "ring out the old, ring in the new." So to help us all welcome and celebrate a new year, why not play some retro songs that remind us of the holiday and new beginnings? (Note to Prince fans: I'm excluding "(Party Like Its) 1999" from this list because it's overplayed anyway and he doesn't allow his actual recordings to be posted online. Who's the party pooper? Nor will you see Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" here.) Here's five songs that are a little more unique to help us usher in 2016...

"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" - Ella Fitzgerald (1960)

This lovely song was recently used in a commercial for the college football playoff, of all things, which isn't a bad thing -- it drove a lot of people to YouTube to hear the entire song and get some exposure to The First Lady of Song. It was written in 1947 by Frank Loesser and has been covered by everyone from Fitzgerald to Zooey Deschanel. 

"Don't Rain On My Parade" - Bobby Darin (1966)

Does this song seem out of place here? Let me may not be about New Year's but it is an inspirational, kick-in-the-butt song to grab the new year by the horns and enjoy it. I've mentioned before how my musical hero Bobby Darin lived each day like it was his last because he knew his time on earth would be limited, and there really is something inspiring about his delivery of the Funny Girl song. No offense to Babs Streisand, but I feel like the song was custom-made for Darin and his bravado. 

"Ding Dong, Ding Dong" - George Harrison (1974)

All of the Beatles released Christmas songs, but Harrison was the only fab to pay homage to New Year's with the catchy, horns-punctuated "Ding Dong Ding Dong." Plus, those clever lyrics: "Yesterday, today was tomorrow. And tomorrow, today will be yesterday." Judging by the video, maybe another line should be changed to, "ring out the old, ring in the NUDE." That George -- I knew there was a reason he's my favorite Beatle! 

"Move On" - ABBA (1977)

I bet you thought I was going to include ABBA's "Happy New Year", right? In my opinion, that track is a downer. ("Here we are, me and you. Feeling lost and feeling blue.") C'mon, Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, and Anni-Frid, you guys can do better than that! Somehow I feel that the inspirational "Move On" is more appropriate to start a new year with. 

"Funky New Year" - The Eagles (1978)

I'll be honest -- I feel a bit guilty that I don't like The Eagles -- one of the '70s' biggest bands -- more than I should, and I've always preferred Don Henley's solo work. Having said that, "Funky New Year" makes me want to explore more of their underrated tracks -- it was released as the B side for their more popular single, "Please Come Home For Christmas." 

I hope all of you groovy readers have a happy, safe, and healthy New Year's Eve and day...and that 2016 gets off to a great start for you. Let's all make it a funky new year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

When Coffee Was Just Coffee

At what point does a cup of coffee stop being a cup of coffee? Probably at the point you add caramel brûlée flavoring to it followed by a ridiculous amount of corn syrup and whipped cream on top. 

I don't get our country's and society's obsession with oversized, unhealthy, sugar-saturated beverages that are marketed as "coffee." Doctors and the media will list many nutritional reasons for our growing obesity rate -- fast food meals, the high cost of healthy food, and consumption of soda are often cited as some dietary culprits. But confectionary beverages such as the variety sold at Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks are not to be overlooked. And as far as I'm concerned, most of these can't be considered coffee -- at least not in the traditional sense. A coffee drink should be comprised of freshly brewed java, with some optional dairy and sweetening. How can you even taste the brewed coffee in the drink when it's buried by the flavors of white chocolate and enough sugar to send the healthiest person into diabetic shock?

It used to be the above coffees from General Foods were the start of the flavored coffee craze, in the '80s. I remember these -- they were actually pretty good for instant coffee, and kept things simple.

Today, Starbucks has over 50 current varieties alone of its frozen frappuccino beverage listed on its website. I remember when Starbucks first introduced the frappuccino; I loved them. At that time they were merely slushy frozen coffee made with milk and sugar. Now they have a Red Velvet Cake Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme, a Strawberry Shortcake Frappuccino Blended Creme, and a Cotton Candy Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme. I tried to find the combination that sounded the most sickly sweet and ridiculous; I think the Frappula Creme Frappuccino may be a contender. Here's the description:

White chocolate sauce, milk and ice are blended together then layered on top of mocha sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Finished with a drizzle of raspberry syrup and whipped cream for a drink so good, it's scary. 

You bet it's scary. I'd be scared for my health after sucking one of those down! So basically, it sounds like there really isn't any coffee in this drink -- just different syrup combinations, whipped cream, and sugar. Yay for American tastebuds and waistlines! The calorie content for a 16 ounce grande size of this beverage made with whole milk is 450; I actually thought it would be higher, around the 600 calorie mark. The sugar content is a whopping 56 grams. To put that in perspective, you could have a whole cup of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream which contains 42 grams of sugar for roughly the same amount of calories. 

Such beverages aren't coffee; they're desserts. Not to mention these drinks aren't very manly. Could you imagine a man from the '50s, '60s, or '70s drinking such a concoction? What about Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks, who took his coffee black?. "Diane, I sure could use a pick-me-up. I'm on my way to the diner. Nothing quite hits the spot like a Butterfinger mocha with chocolate syrup, almond milk, and extra whipped cream. Damn fine cup of sugary garbage!"

Let's stop this insanity, folks. Just give me a regular ol' cup of Joe, hot during the winter and iced on occasional during the summer. A teaspoon or two of sugar -- depending on the size -- and some milk and cream, thanks. 

Damn straight. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Howdy, Partner: What the Kiddos Wanted to Be For Christmas in 1959

This will be my last post before Christmas, so before we get into it let me just wish all of my readers that celebrate it a very merry, healthy, and safe one. I hope Santa is good to you!

Today's post is just something quick I observed while going through the 1959 Sears Christmas catalog a while back and that is that apparently every little boy and girl at that time was obsessed with cowboys. I could see if Sears had a few pages of the clothing and accessories, but it was more like a dozen or so...and just when I thought there couldn't possibly be more in the same catalog, it started up again several more pages in. 

I guess it shouldn't be surprising considering the prevalence of Westerns that existed on TV at the time -- Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and Wanted: Dead Or Alive, not to mention the popularity of Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. But it's funny just the same to see so many pages from one catalog devoted to the phenomenon...and only a couple of pages showing alternate dress-up clothes such as a jet fighter pilot and servicemen.

And the toy guns!!! Could you imagine all of this fake weaponry being sold today? Out of curiosity, I did a search on Amazon for toy guns and saw mostly space-related and Nerf pistols. 

It was a simpler time to be sure...and sure makes a better choice than a kid aspiring to be a rap star or a Kardashian. So here's a round-up of cowboy and cowgirl related merchandise, from the 1959 Sears Christmas catalog. Giddy-up!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Meet Tula, One of the World's First Transgender Models

During the late '80s or early '90s one of my sisters brought over a knitting book she had recently purchased of sweater patterns inspired by famous artwork throughout history (a really '80s theme if I ever saw one.) All of the models were British and one in particular was very striking looking. Her name was simply stated as Tula. It was a couple of years later that we recognized Tula as she was being interviewed on The Phil Donahue Show, and we were floored to learn that she used to be a man.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Killer With the Voice of An Angel: The Murder Trial of Claudine Longet

"It's a shame because Spider accomplished so much in his life. Claudine Longet only accomplished two things: marrying Andy Williams and getting away with murder."

-- Steve Sabich, brother of international skier Spider Sabich. 

Years before the celebrity murder trials of O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector, and Oscar Pistorius, Claudine Longet -- singer, actress, dancer, and former wife of Andy Williams -- found herself in court, accused of killing her boyfriend. Many believe that she got away with it. It's a sad, sordid tale that involves Williams, an Olympic skier, and even The Rolling Stones. Read on for the details...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ring in the New Year Like a Mad Man (Or Woman) With Chairish

Mad Men may have retired to series heaven on that great big television in the sky back in May, but the 1960s spirit of the show lives on. I was inspired by Chairish -- an awesome site for buying and selling exquisite vintage furniture and home goods -- to put together a "Hostess With the Mostest" style board of must-have retro bar accessories. It was a no-brainer what my inspiration would be for this post. My fantasy bar cart and goodies ensemble above would make Roger Sterling and Don Draper envious and would enable any host/hostess celebrate the new year in mad style with his or her guests. 

1. First I chose the beautiful, two-tier Mid-Century Italian Tricom Chrome Bar Cart. The country of origin is a little nod to the Mad Men episode "Souvenir" in which Don and Betty Draper traveled to Rome and (unsuccessfully) tried to strengthen their marriage. The wheels allow it to roam easily from office to office. (Listed price: $425.)

2. Next, I added this Mid Century Glass Colony Flower Ice Bucket -- just enough groovy flower power for the ladies, but in earth tones so as not to turn off the guys. Plus, it looks great with the glass and chrome bar cart. (Listed price: $24.)

3. Add in some classic Dorothy Thorpe Martini Glasses in a set of eight. (Listed price: $199.)

4. Now it's time to add a in pop art...color with this set of MCM Russell Wright Eclipse Cocktail Glasses in highball and lowball sizes for savoring any kind of cocktail. All are rimmed in gold for a classy touch. Great for serving those Bloody Marys...or Roger's cream when his ulcer starts acting up. (Listed price: $200.)

5. You can't have a bar cart without a cocktail shaker. This Art Deco Silver Cocktail Recipe Shaker is engraved around the side with recipes for popular drinks in case you forget what goes into a sidecar. (Listed price: $499.)

6. These Mid-Century Modern Bar Tools hail from Japan (shhhh...don't tell Roger!) (Listed price: $79.)

7. This Mid-Century Walnut Serving Tray with toothpick holder is the perfect accompaniment for serving appetizers with the drinks. (If Pete wants to bring his chip 'n dip, that's swell, too.) (Listed price: $78.)

8. What's new, pussycat? Because Danish modern teak was so popular during the '60s, I simply had to include these adorable kitty cat and mice Danish Modern Cocktail Forks. (Listed price: $77.)

Get ready to party like it's turning 1970! (OK, that conga line scene below is from the Christmas party scene that took place around 1965 or so, but who's being picky?)

I'm actually a little envious myself that I don't already own this bar cart and accessories I picked out. 

A big thank you to Chairish for recognizing Go Retro and inviting me to participate in this smashing post idea! I hope the site will give you some great retro holiday gift and entertaining ideas.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Wanna Curdle? Why I Love Cottage Cheese

I love cottage cheese. Well, somebody had to say it. 

Cottage cheese is often overshadowed these days by Greek yogurt, and gets a bad rap due to its high sodium content. Those who went on diets in decades past probably hate the stuff, because they ate it until it came out of their ears. President Richard Nixon's favorite lunch according to a book about our U.S. presidents that I read years ago was a scoop of cottage cheese atop a pineapple ring. Not a very manly lunch, but perhaps he was inspired by this bizarre commercial from back in the day showing grown men (including Peter Graves) and shirtless boys noshing on Borden's cottage cheese mid-day:

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Most Amazing Thing (To Me) About John Lennon's Legacy

As hard as it is to believe, tomorrow is the 35th anniversary of John Lennon's death. For the past few weeks I've grappled with what I could write about on Go Retro in regards to Lennon that doesn't already get mentioned on a regular basis. I know the Internet is going to be teeming tomorrow with tributes and editorials and any opinion here is just going to be a drop in the bucket compared to the big media sites.

But here goes -- for a while I've been thinking about what is the most amazing thing (to me) about John Lennon. Yes, he was a messenger of peace and yes, he had a quick wit and trademark Liverpudlian sense of humor. And yes, there is that splendid body of musical work that includes not just what he accomplished with the Beatles, but all of his post-Fab compositions. Even discounting the experimental screeching tracks he recorded with Yoko Ono and the years vacant of new music where he focused on being a househusband and doting dad to son Sean, he left us with a remarkable solo song catalog, not the least of which is Double Fantasy, where every track (yes, including Ono's) hits it out of the ballpark for me. That album will always be on my list of top favorites, even if it is bittersweet that it was Lennon's last one before his untimely death.

So what IS the most amazing thing about John Lennon's legacy? I believe it is this...that such a flawed human being is still so revered, worshiped, and loved 35 years after his death. And I don't mean this in a bad way.

John Lennon was a flawed human being...but then again, show me someone who isn't. Lots of demons drove this man, starting with an unconventional childhood where he was raised under the wing of his Aunt Mimi, his mother's watchful sister. His father, a merchant seaman, was never around, and Mimi contacted social services twice for the right to look after John. His mother was eventually struck and killed by a drunk, off duty policeman when John was 18.

Lennon had a rebellious streak in school, often coming (literally) to blows with his peers and teachers, eventually being thrown out of college. He didn't treat the women in his life very well including Ono at times (although by the time of his death he was enjoying a strong relationship with her and had really seemed to find peace and happiness in his life.) He only married Cynthia Powell because he got her pregnant, later meeting who I believe was his true soulmate without a doubt, Ono, and divorcing Cynthia to follow his destiny.

And then he betrayed his soulmate by flirting with other women and taking one to bed right in front of her at a party, an incident that prompted their "Lost Weekend" period of separation in the marriage (where Yoko played pimp and gave her blessings to him and his mistress of her own choosing, May Pang.)

I could go on and on...drug usage, a hot temper, the falling out with McCartney (I can't fault Lennon here...McCartney was the real cause of the breakup of the Beatles as far as I'm concerned) and most heartbreakingly, the way he eventually pushed aside his first (and way more talented of his two children) son, Julian, after Sean was born.

But none of it matters. Lennon was a human being like all of us, a real person with faults. Towards the end of the life, he seemed to come to terms with it all and most likely would have strengthened his relationship with Julian in the coming years, had he lived. And I believe that's why us fans still love him so. We sympathize with him, we get it, and we forgive him for his mistakes.

Lennon's been called a hero throughout the decades -- and while some may take offense at the use of the title, it isn't that inaccurate. Heroes don't have to perfect and in fact, many fictional ones often are not. I read an article the other day that stated, "Heroes are both like people we know and not like people we know. Like ourselves and maybe, in some cases, better selves." 

The feeling was mutual. Despite his immense fame, John Lennon just wanted to be like one of us -- to walk down the street and eat in a restaurant without having to play the role of "Beatle John." He finally did achieve that normal level of anonymity while living in his adopted New York City where he told a radio interviewer hours before he died that he loved the freedom NYC gave him. 

And of course, there's the magnificent music. Thanks for it all, John -- you're always in our hearts. We all shine on. 

Friday, December 04, 2015

Why I Miss the Old Victoria's Secret

What has happened to Victoria's Secret?

I hesitated posting this tonight because it would technically be the second "rant" of sorts on Go Retro in one week. I hate to sound like I'm complaining or being cranky, especially when I really have been in a super mood lately. But the draft for this post has been sitting in limbo on Blogger for a few weeks now, and with the Victoria's Secret fashion show about to air next week, I might as well get on with it and get it out of my system. (Warning...this is kind of a lengthy post.)

And what I need to get out of my system is...Victoria's Secret sucks. It is so far removed now from the store I was a regular customer of in the '90s. I'm actually going to make a prediction here: I wouldn't be surprised if, five years from now, we hear about the demise of the chain. 

I first wrote about the downfall of Victoria's Secret here a good 5 or 6 years ago, but the topic is worth revisiting. A few weeks ago, VS sent me a new "Angel" card in the mail (their cutesy name for their store card) and a $10 birthday gift card. I thought I might be able to use it towards a nice blouse or at least a long-sleeved t-shirt. 

Then I started to notice something very weird as I went through their website. Hey, wait a minute. There were no jeans. No dresses. No suits. No blouses. Nada. There were some tops, but they literally looked like rags. 

What the bleep happened to all of the clothes?

I deferred to Google, and saw a news announcement from last year saying that Victoria's Secret was discontinuing a lot of their clothing line. Apparently, a lot equals everything but the undergarments, swimwear, and cheesy "PINK" line aimed at teens and college students. 

WTF, Victoria's Secret? Why? Most baffling about the corporate change is the fact that the clothing assortment made the company a lot of money; between $500 and $750 million annually according to sources. 

Now granted, it isn't the end of the world that Victoria's Secret no longer sells a wide variety of clothing; I've always had plenty of other retailers to choose from. But it's disappointing to me that they're choosing to cater to a younger, selfie obsessed demographic and ignoring the spending power of older women. (And by older, I mean women in their 30s and 40s.) 

And she's wearing gloves and earrings!
I realize, of course, that today's society has been dressing down so much with each passing year it seems. Young women are no longer expected to wear suits and professional clothing to the office, and corporate dress codes have been tossed out the window. It's all about wearing hooded sweatshirts, jogging pants, and other athletic "inspired" fashion, especially for those young 'uns. 

Sadly, that means today's image of Victoria's Secret is so drastically different than the one I was a customer of a good 20 years ago. I hate visiting their stores today. I only go just to stock up on cotton bikini panties, one of the few good things they still make. The music is loud, the stores attract girls who look way too young to be perusing sexy lingerie, and the shop itself with its techno modern interior feels cold. This is a stark 180 from what their image used to look like. 

Throughout the years the chain has been through so many owners and management that kept changing the brand's focus, and that's part of the problem. In 2000, the new chief executive at that time, Sharen Jester Turney, complained that the catalogs showed too much cleavage and were a dorm room Playboy substitute; I actually think that describes today's incarnation of the catalog more accurately. 

I tried to locate a photo online of what the shops originally looked like, with no luck, so I guess I'll just have to briefly paint it with words. Picture, if you will, a store that looked like a French or English boudoir from the 1900s. Pastel shades, cozy waiting chairs outside the changing area, and classical music softly being piped through the walls (in 1991, the company actually hired the London Symphony Orchestra to record a CD that was sold in the stores.) And the clothes were beautiful; sexy yet classy. It definitely wasn't a place that would have appealed to teenagers. You had to be a certain age to enter a Victoria's Secret store with confidence. I think I was 19 or 20 when I first walked into one and began buying their clothing through their catalogs. 

Interestingly enough, VS was founded by a man and meant to be a place where a man could comfortably shop for lingerie for the woman in his life. Roy Raymond and his wife started the company in 1977 after Raymond became dissatisfied with the dowdy selection of female undergarments and lingerie being manufactured at the time; push-up bras and other sexy selections during the '70s were considered tacky novelty items and mostly sold by the slightly sleazy Frederick's of Hollywood.

Until Raymond sold the company in 1982, Victoria's Secret was mostly marketed to men. After the new owner, Leslie Wexner, took over he changed the focus to female customers. That included revamping the colors and patterns of the product line as well as the look of the stores and expanding them into malls across the U.S. 

Only their sleepwear and undergarments were sold in the stores; the regular clothing line was marketed through their catalogs. Many of the items were credited to a manufacturer called Moda International and some of it was made in Italy and the U.S. When I worked at a hotel during my college years and then secured my first office job about a year after I graduated, much of my wardrobe was comprised of purchases from Victoria's Secret. The quality of their clothing at that time was quite good; I had dresses and suit jackets from them that were lined and tailored. 

Recently I dug up the following photos, that were taken about 13 or 14 years ago. (Yes, that's John Mayer with me; a friend at the time won free tickets to his show when he was just starting to make a name for himself and it included a "meet and greet" before the performance. Don't be impressed -- he acted like a douche. And I''m 99.9% sure he was stoned. Ah, memories.)

The reason I'm even including these pictures is because the dress I'm wearing there came from Victoria's Secret. It was lightly lined and had a kind of '60s paisley print and ruffled three quarter sleeves. I miss it -- I donated it when I went up a dress size and now that I've lost the weight, wish I had held onto it. 

Victoria's Secret also sold the best jeans, their London Jean collection which was discontinued some time ago. To this day I've tried on and bought many other denim brands, but I've yet to find ones that fit me quite like London Jeans did. And the nice thing about them is they came in a wide variety of styles and if you don't like low-cut jeans that teeter on the edge of your hips, VS gave plenty of options!

And the models that were employed by VS back in the day compared to today...well, there's no comparison. Just look at my intro graphic at the top of my post. The models that made it into the catalogs were gorgeous and classy, and included Karen Mulder, Stephanie Seymour, Jill Goodacre (Harry Connick Jr.'s wife), Helena Christensen, Elle Macpherson, Tyra Banks and later, Heidi Klum. What used to be sexy and natural looking has now been replaced by over Photoshopped, underfed girls with no remarkable features in my opinion. Most of them are significantly younger than the models used during the '90s; still clearly in their teens. 

On December 8, several of those girls will strut their stuff wearing over-the-top costumes that look like they came from Elton John's yard sale in the annual televised Victoria's Secret fashion show, which is the only thing the company seems to be known for these days, sadly.

Ironically, Frederick's of Hollywood appears to me to have better quality clothing these days, and they still use attractive adult women for their models. 

I've done enough grumbling; the brand's old image is gone like the wind and it'll never be back. But my memories of the older catalogs have been saved online; here's some scans I found on a Tumblr page showing what Victoria's Secret used to sell and what the image looked like. Just take a look, and then visit the retailer's website to see what I mean. Talk about a fall from grace.  

Stephanie Seymour modeling a top and leggings that I seriously would choose over anything I saw on the Victoria's Secret website the other day. 

Jill Goodacre. 

Claudia Schiffer also modeled for the catalogs. 

A beautiful nightgown and robe being modeled by Tatjana Patitz for the catalog. Why they still can't sell clothing like this is beyond me. 

Honestly, this suit would still be in style today. I remember that I wanted it -- but $189 was a splurge for an office Christmas party outfit in the '90s!

Cafe Retro!

This is adorable. I would totally wear this sleepwear in the summer. 

I had a riding jacket from VS along with one of their turtleneck sweaters and wool skirts. 

Like I said, their London Jeans were the best...and that price! Seriously, you couldn't get better quality for the cost at the time. 

Heidi Klum modeling winter accessories. I still have (and wear) the white fur headband and gloves. 

Those London Jeans again...the best. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Why We Need to Bring Back the Anti-Pollution Advertising Campaigns of the '70s

Americans are trashy, and I don't just mean reality TV families. 

On any given day, I'll find litter on the street in front of my house that was thoughtlessly discarded by a passing driver, usually during the evening. At first it used to be a beer bottle or two (drinking while driving is a whole new low onto itself) but now I find fast food bags and containers, plastic bags, coffee cups, beer boxes (they drank an entire six-pack behind the wheel?), juice containers, and snack food wrappers and boxes among other items -- the variety would make Oscar the Grouch have an orgasm. 

Mind you, this doesn't happen every day. But it does happen often enough, and to our neighbors, that it makes me wish I could hurl the garbage back at the offender's car if only they would drive by again and I had superhero powers to identify the guilty party. 

Pretty soon most of the country is going to be covered with snow, and we're going to forget about the litter problem for a few months. But come springtime and melting, everything that got tossed will be re-exposed...and it sure is an ugly sight, especially in the barren, limbo month known as March before the trees have blossomed and the grass turns green again. 

Some say our disregard for clean spaces has its origins in the 1960s. One of the more shocking moments of Mad Men for me personally -- (even moreso than the gory foot-amputation-by-John-Deere scene) was the dirty (no pun intended) revelation that Don and Betty Draper were litterbugs. I think it was during season 2 that we saw the Draper family enjoying a picnic in a nice local park when at the end of the afternoon, Don pitches his empty beer can like he's Randy Johnson, and Betty simply lifts up their blanket, dumping their food leftovers and paper plates all over the ground. They check the kids' hands to make sure they're not dirty (hypocrites!) then drive away like it was no big deal. Here's that scene again, in case you want to take a trip down memory lane:

Gah! (As an aside, how cute was Sally (Kiernan Shipka) back then? I had forgotten how little she was when the show started.) 

Apparently it was this kind of behavior plus the surplus of discarded cigarettes everywhere that eventually led to anti-pollution movements in the 1970s. (Although personally, if you ask people who actually lived during the Mad Men generation, they'd probably tell you that littering is a worse problem today.)

Woodsy Owl and Iron Eyes Cody (aka "the Crying Indian"...and by the way, he was really Italian, not Native American) became the icons for a cleaner America during the decade. 

But it didn't last. The proof is in the trash I constantly see on the streets, wherever I drive and when I used to take a lunchtime walk near the office park where I once worked, there was one wooded area next to the sidewalk that was just a dumping ground for passerby. There's really no excuse for it. Is it due to laziness? Ignorance? The need to free their hands so they can use their mobile phones while walking? I know the world is struggling with a lot of heavy problems right now and trash is the least of our issues, but we really need to bring back some PSAs to remind people to use trash receptacles. We especially need it more than ever with so much plastic and dangerous materials getting dumped on the ground or in the oceans, which endangers wildlife. 

And sadly, this is mostly an American thing, at least compared to our European counterparts. A friend of my mother who travelled to Italy and Austria earlier this year marveled at how tidy and clean the public spaces were.  I can confirm that England was the same way when I took a vacation there a few years ago. The London streets and tube stations were spotless. It was even more amazing to me once I realized they don't really have a surplus of trash bins everywhere; most of them were taken away years ago to prevent the IRA from planting bombs in them. Yards were spotless, particularly in the village of Bath. Did I see any trash on the ground outside the Abbey Road studio? Hell to the no! The Europeans take so much more pride in their public spaces, it seems. Even while watching one of the travel shows on PBS, you won't notice much rubbish on the ground. 

So, here's hoping that maybe, just maybe, this post will inspire someone out there who litters to change their wait until they're home to empty their beer cans into their own trash or recycling bin, or seek out a trash can for their empty Starbucks cup. 

And if you need some inspiration, here's some PSAs that were aired on TV back in the day. Really, if the infamous, powerful image of that crying Indian doesn't pull at your heartstrings and inspire you not to litter, you may be missing a soul. 

Go retro, folks. Dispose of your trash properly and responsibly. It really doesn't take much work. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Selected Pages From the 1972 Spiegel Christmas Catalog

When I was a kid, there was nothing I loved getting in the mail more than the big, fat Sears Wish Book Christmas catalog every autumn. As I entered my teen years and left toys behind, however, it was the annual Spiegel holiday catalog that quickly became my favorite. I was a big Spiegel fan for many years, particularly throughout the '80s and '90s. Their clothing was classy and definitely a notch above Sears' fashion. Sadly, like most other retailers they discontinued their print catalogs some years ago and after visiting their site recently it seems both the quality and quantity of their clothing has deteriorated. 

Luckily, we have the site WishBookWeb to thank for keeping vintage department store catalogs alive and well online. When I was over there the other day I nearly orgasmed from "flipping" through the 1972 Spiegel holiday catalog -- it was published the year I was born and gives a fascinating glimpse into the fashions and interests of Americans at that time. I'd repost all 436 pages if I could, but that would probably break the here's (in my opinion) the best of the best...what the groovy good girls and boys (and men and women) of 1972 were asking Santa for that year. Can you dig it? 

(Brace yourself...this is probably going to be an epic post after the jump, so prepare for lots of scrolling and some placed commentary here and there.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Much to Be Thankful For

What a vegan Thanksgiving looks like: turkey hugging, corn grilling, and a kid playing the accordion!
I want to take a moment like I usually try to do this time of year and thank all of my readers for continuing to visit Go Retro. This was kind of a crazy year for me and it continues to be a bit of a roller coaster ride for some members of my family but one of the things that keeps me consistently motivated and in an upbeat mood is getting inspiration for posts and having a platform to post them on. And if I didn't have people reading the site, then there wouldn't be much point in posting. I hope all you groovy people have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

I'm also really thankful for both my emotional and physical health, my family (including my cats; they're family, too), my friends, the roof over my head, the money in my savings account, my car, laughing at my own silly jokes, my freelance jobs that are helping me gain experience towards a more full-time career, and of course, Christoph Waltz. Oh, he's not retro enough? Well, I'm grateful for all of the pop culture icons, movies, music, design, trends, experiences, etc. that inspire my posts and keep this blog going. And I still miss Mad Men. Just thought I'd mention that.  

This also seems like an appropriate time to mention a new blogging venture I started about a month ago, just for fun: Positively Pam. I wasn't even going to initially mention it here on Go Retro for a while because a. its topics are not retro-related at all and b. I didn't want to announce is unless I found myself actually posting to it and as it turns out, I have. I started it to write about the law of attraction and the success I've had with it and to also have a suitable place for the more personal posts. I actually had a similar second blog a few years ago that I deleted and I found myself missing it, so "PP" is its resurrection (I don't know if I'll keep the name...after I purchased the domain, of course, I thought of another one I like better.)

But please be assured of one thing: Go Retro ISN'T GOING AWAY nor do I plan on slowing down with the posts here. Not at all! I can tell you right now that 95% of you readers will have no interest in it. But there are many people out there who are into the law of attraction, and I can tell you that it has improved my life in so many ways. 

So get down with the turkey and pumpkin pie and don't fight with your siblings or in-laws! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Chipmunks As You've Never Heard Them Before

I don't know anyone who has ever purchased a Chipmunks album and I don't know who would want to -- who would purposely pay money to subject themselves to that kind of torture? Nonetheless, the Chipmunks' Christmas song, "Christmas Don't Be Late", remains a holiday novelty favorite of mine precisely because it is a novelty that you only listen to a couple of times once a year. And OK, it is cute, too.  

A few weeks ago, however, a guy named Brian Borcherdt started to make some online headlines. Borcherdt is a musician who wondered what would happen if he took the Chipmunks' covers of previously released music and....sloooooowed.....themmmmm....downnnnn. To 16RPM, to be exact. The result is some pretty mesmerizing music that been's called goth, guttural, and metal. I actually couldn't stop listening to one song after another on the Soundcloud page Borcherdt set up, chipmunkson16speed. I've also embedded my personal selections below. It's pretty heavy stuff; have a listen by clicking on "read more" below.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Whatever Happened To...The Family TV Drama?

Have you noticed something missing from this year's fall network TV line-up? We have a surplus of crime/murder/detective shows along with hospital dramas (Grey's Anatomy is STILL on the air?), sci-fi/fantasy and the usual reality TV and sitcom pap. But the one thing missing from all of the major networks right now is an hour-long family drama. Just to be certain, I looked at the list of shows on the sites for NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. There's none to be found. 

And I'm not talking about comedies such as Modern Family (which really isn't all that funny anymore) or the Dallas-like Blood and Oil (which is being canceled because it's a stinker.) I'm talking about shows I used to love like Judging Amy (which co-starred Tyne Daly), Sally Field's Brothers and Sisters, and Once and Again, which was a mature drama about a widowed man and a divorced woman finding love again in their middle age and the effects their partnering had on their children. Then there was the very short-lived teen drama My So-Called Life that developed a cult following despite airing for only one season. It seems that the TV execs have forgotten about the fan bases these shows attracted and that many of us crave seeing thoughtful shows backed by decent writing and character development that reflect some of the very life situations we often find ourselves in. (Not too many of us, after all, can relate to being a superhero...I'm looking at you, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans.)

We don't need any more crime, action, and fantasy shows on TV right now. I just want to watch a nice drama that revolves around the life of a somewhat relatable family. The last successful family drama that aired was Parenthood -- which ended its fifth and last season earlier this year. Without it, the current TV landscape seems a bit bare. (Sadly, there are some misinformed folks out there that believe that Keeping Up With the Kardashians belongs in the same category.) 

As usual, I must give kudos to the Brits in this area, because they've always been heads and shoulders above us when it comes to producing quality TV dramas. I believe there's a reason why Downton Abbey became such a big sensation here in the States -- the heart of this show, underneath the extravagant costumes and settings, is about a family. Two families, really, counting the lives of the downstairs staff. No fantastical computerized effects or outlandish plots here; just brilliant writing and acting. I think there's going to be a lot of melancholy viewers -- including myself -- after the final season airs after the holidays.

Speaking of the British, there's a new BBC One series currently being filmed that piqued my interest because it co-stars Lee Ingleby, who I mentioned a few months ago when I wrote about Inspector George Gently. It's called The A Word. The "A" in this case doesn't stand for one of our favorite swear words, but autism. The six-part show is about a family whose "youngest son is diagnosed with autism and they don't feel like every other family anymore." 

You would think that the American networks would have thought of producing a show like this already, especially given the increase of autism diagnoses during the past decade, but as usual the British are way ahead of us. I'm going to make a prediction, though; one of them will copy this show with American actors and writing and it won't be half as good as the UK's production. They did that with an awesome British crime drama called Broadchurch; the American version was called Gracepoint which was cancelled after one season and lousy ratings despite co-starring David Tennant, who also stars in Broadchurch. Weird? Confusing? Yep...but that's American television for you. Here's hoping The A Word comes to PBS or is released on DVD for American audiences. 

The last family TV drama that I watched and enjoyed was NBC's The Slap. This was another copycat production, too; the original series was Australian. But it was well done, well acted, and revolved around a family and how an unruly kid getting his face slapped at a family gathering caused repercussions for everyone (and yes, I and virtually everyone else I know who saw the show felt the bratty kid deserved the slap.) But it does bring up a point: networks don't have to invest a ton of money into a series they hope will last a few seasons. They could do what the Brits do and dole out a quality six-part family series once in a while. 

Anyways, I've probably rambled on enough about this topic. Television is cyclical; I was looking at the line-up of what was airing on NBC in the 1967 and it wasn't all that different than today's schedule. Get Smart, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Dragnet, Star Trek, and Tarzan were all on the menu. The family drama as we know it -- excluding the soaps -- really didn't take form until the late 1980s and 1990s when shows like Thirtysomething started to depict the lives of average people on the small screen. 

Here's hoping that after the holidays, something resembling a family drama is back in the works for 2016 or the 2016 fall season on American TV. Until then, I guess I have PBS, YouTube, and Hulu to get me through. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

How the Germans Put On A Football Fashion Show Back in the Day

This morning I saw a video on Facebook of young German people getting down in colorful workout duds from the late '70s or early '80s -- I assumed the funky music backing it was the original audio. After looking for it on YouTube so that I could embed it here, I discovered that this was not Germany's answer to the Solid Gold dancers, but a football (soccer) fashion show! Needless to say, the original Tyrolean sounding backing music doesn't have the same effect as the edited clip, but it's still entertaining. Perhaps the most comical part is the audience applauding at the end. 

Either way, it's perfect for a Friday...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Strange/Funny Vintage Ads From Thanksgiving Past

Thanksgiving is rapidly becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of holidays -- it just doesn't seem to get much respect today, with retailers bombarding us with Christmas promotions right after Halloween. So maybe it's a little ironic that I found a slew of Thanksgiving advertising from decades past to poke fun at, but it's like they say: even bad publicity is better than none at all. So without further ado, here's a few ads from back in the day that gave me a couple of chuckles...and reminds me of a time when Thanksgiving seemed to be a little bit of a bigger deal to some consumer brands... 

Friday, November 13, 2015

I'm Your Vehicle, Baby: 10 Sexy Songs About Cars/Driving

It's now mid-November, so the last thing any of us in my part of the country would be doing right now is going for a drive with the top down or the sunroof open. However, I was thinking lately about how many songs have been written about cars and driving...and more specifically, sexy songs. It's pretty easy for cars to inspire lyrics about making out...or doing the back seat with your honey. Here's ten sexy songs from the past few decades that sing of driving and/or automobiles guaranteed to get your engine running.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Crazy A$$ Christmas Crafts Circa 1972

There's a tongue twister of a title for you! Given the relentless Christmas advertising that begins as soon as the Halloween costumes come off, I had promised myself that I would resist posting anything related to the yuletide holiday until the day after Thanksgiving. But when someone sends me scans that include a Toni Tennille wannabe wearing a clear, apron (?) how could I not share it sooner?

We can thank the lovely Therese from TrekkerScrapbook (a must-visit for any Trekkies) for this delightful atrocity, Wright's Christmas Book of Trims. Therese came across this booklet in her mother's house and was kind enough to scan and send it to me. It came out in 1972 -- the same year I was born -- and features all of the usual crafts that scream Christmas. You know, clowns, owls, and belts. Yes, the '70s truly were a different time. Let's take a look...if we dare.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

How to Be a Bond Girl

My best Bond girl "impersonation." What should my name be? Wait -- I shouldn't ask that of male readers!
I guess you can tell already that this post is not exactly going to be the deepest, juiciest, and most provocative piece of journalism that I've written for Go Retro. However, the newest James Bond flick, Spectre, opens this weekend and to quote Dieter from Sprockets, "I'm as happy as a little girl." A Bond girl, that is.

Maybe it seems silly to be writing a post on how to be (or really, feel and look like) a Bond woman but given the way the average American woman currently presents herself in some parts of this country, it isn't the worst thing to aspire to look like a female from a 007 movie. There's a lot we can learn from Bond women -- and thankfully, you don't need to give yourself a saucy, sexual-sounding name or paint your entire body head-to-toe in gold to emulate one. So without further ado, here's six common noticeable traits from Bond women through the decades that can help you unleash your inner Pussy Galore.

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