Monday, March 21, 2016

Cigarette Ads...Or Dating Profiles?

Before I get into this blog post, I just want to apologize to anyone that is experiencing the pop-up ads on this site that push the content out of the way until you close it. I've asked the ad network I work with if they wouldn't mind removing them, because they're a little more intrusive then I expected them to be.

Now that that's out of the way...I'd like to thank Go Retro reader Mark for making me aware of these swell Chesterfield ads some time ago. The original article they were featured in talked a lot about James Bond. In the Ian Fleming novels (as well as the earlier films) Chesterfields were Bond's smoke of choice when he couldn't get to a shop in London called Morland that made custom cigarettes for him. I actually don't think any of these ads have much to do with James Bond except for the fact they feature ladies that could easily be Bond women, but I find them amusing.

For starters, they all pretty much read like dating profiles. One even states that if you mail in 2,120 empty Chesterfield King cigarette packs, you may just score a date with the model (just in case you're wondering, the cigarette company wasn't serious about it.) But what's great is that each woman's measurements are listed. And everyone here has a waist that is either 21" or 22" around. So laughable. I'm a size 6 and my waist is 29".

Anyways, all of these ads were created sometime in the early '1960s, when the Bond film series was just heating up. By today's standards they'd be called sexist. And as you can see by the end of this post, Sean Connery himself was a Chesterfield model in 1964. Smoking and cycling -- always a great match!

And oh hey, did I mention that three of these ads feature a sultry woman named Pamela?

How can this Pamela get some of what that Pamela is getting? I guess I have to take up smoking...

I think it's pretty obvious that she doesn't have a 38" bust...and a waist that tiny is dubious, too. Shame on you with the false advertising, Chesterfield.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I'm A Woman, and I Love It When A Man Holds A Door Open For Me

Has feminism gone too far? I've seen some weird things online lately the past few weeks. First there was an article out of the UK that said men in the workplace were scared of assisting a female coworker for fear that they could be accused of sexual harassment. Another strange article spoke of "birth rape", or when a woman having a baby feels that she's been violated somehow because the doctors and nurses touched her "down there" with their hands or tools during delivery.

But the most out-there statement was one I saw today, while reading an article about a guy that was fed up with women choosing "scum" guys over the nice ones. He taped up copies of a typed note to women in general all over his town, lamenting that no one wanted him to carry groceries for them.

While I admit that his note was probably a little creepy and perhaps not the right way for him to channel his energy, it was one woman's comment on the article itself that I really took offense with. She commented with, "Things that rapists do: hold doors open for women."

SCREECH! (That was a record player's needle falling off the vinyl, in case you couldn't figure it out.) Let's wait just a cotton picking moment here...

It's a pretty sad state that society is in when women complain that guys are holding doors open for them. They find it sexist and want to be taken as an independent female. Yet, these are the same women that will complain that there are no good men yet, and that chivalry is dead.

All of which is BS, of course.

If enough women complain about something so stupid, what do you think is going to happen? Men will start saying f--- it, and NO ONE will be holding doors open for us. Way to go, feminism!

Honestly, too many women today need to chill out. One of the best pieces of dating advice that I read years ago was about how women today are too strong and independent when it comes to looking for love and while they're in the actual relationship. The guy who wrote it said it's perfectly OK to be a woman in charge at work, and commandeering the conference room. But at the end of the day, a woman still needs to be a woman while a man still needs to be a man. Too many women forget this, and refuse to let their hair down. ("Let him open the pickle jar for you," the article advised.)

I agree. Why is it so important? Because no matter how advanced the human species gets, at the end of the day our DNA is basically the same as our ancestors that walked the earth thousands of years ago. A man still likes to protect his homestead and lady, and he doesn't mind being the strong one and helping a woman out by killing a spider or disposing of a mousetrap. It's going to affirm his manhood.

This doesn't mean that women shouldn't check their tires and oil in the car, or do handy work around the house. I'm also not saying that you should be a stay-at-home housewife and wear a dress while you cook dinner for your husband. Not at all. But men and women still have roles to play because that's what makes us celebrate our differences.

I've lived at home my entire life and after my father passed away, my mother and I took to learning how to repair things here and there around the house. A few summers ago we replaced the screen mesh in the porch, which was no quick task. We had to free each section of framing by unscrewing the wooden panels around each one, remove the old screen mesh, and measure, cut, and insert the new one by then pushing it into place with a little tool that looked like a mini pizza cutter.

It was actually pretty exhausting work during the summer...and as proud as I am to say I know how to do certain things around the house, it would have been much easier to deal with if I had a boyfriend at the time that could have helped with this project.

Not once have I ever taken offense at anyone that held a door open for me, and most importantly, I always thank the person, another practice that seems to have fallen by the wayside today. I don't care if the guy is 8 years old or 80; I always appreciate it.

So don't assume that just because a guy wants to hold a door open for you that he intends to rape you! Chances are he's such being polite. He's just being chivalrous. You should be grateful that his parents or someone close to him obviously raised him right.

We already live in a pretty messed up, overly politically correct, narcissistic society. Let's not make this any more complicated than it should be.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Forgotten Guitar God: Terry Kath

Today's average music fan probably wouldn't recognize the name Terry Kath. Nor would some classic rock fans, unless you are a diehard fan of the group Chicago and know that he was one of the group's founding members. I admit that until recently, I didn't know much about Kath myself and I consider myself a Chicago fan. Growing up in the '80s, it was Peter Cetera that I always thought -- for the longest time, and if somewhat erroneously -- to be the face and voice of the band, particularly due to the music video era. I was disappointed when he left his bandmates in the mid-80s to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Jason Scheff. Since that shake up, the band has never sounded the same again (although recently I listened to Chicago's latest album -- released in 2014 -- called Chicago XXXVI: Now, and thought it sounded better than the monotonous pap played on modern "pop" radio stations today.)

Next month Chicago will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cetera won't be there; he changed his mind about reuniting with the band for the ceremony when some of the guys told him to "take a chill pill, dude!" after he made some song suggestions (or maybe he's just a control freak, but either way there's still some bad blood between him and his bandmates.) But even more tragically, guitarist Terry Kath won't be there, either, because he died in 1978 from an accidental gunshot wound.

For the first decade of Chicago's existence, Kath was not only the heart and soul of Chicago (formerly The Chicago Transit Authority when it debuted on the music scene in 1969, until the real Chicago Transit Authority threatened to sue over the name's copyright) but the band's voice and face. His deep, soulful vocals, especially on hits such as "Make Me Smile" and "Colour My World" were what earned him the moniker "the white Ray Charles." But Kath's talent ran deeper than that; his guitar playing skills put Eric Clapton to shame, and Jimi Hendrix even admired them. A famous story is that after Hendrix watched Chicago perform at the Whiskey A Go Go, he told the group's saxophonist, Walter Parazaider, "I think your guitarist is better than me." At the end of this post, just watch Kath's blistering guitar solo on "25 or 6 to 4" from a 1970s Tanglewood show. It would be easy to dismiss his lightning speed finger work and say that it's all improvised, but I don't think it is -- there's clearly a method to his madness, or it wouldn't sound so good. Music writer Corbin Reiff once referred to Kath as "one of the most criminally underrated guitarists to have ever set finger to fretboard."

He was also musically experimental. Mostly self-taught, Kath once got frustrated with a guitar instructor because he just wanted to begin pounding out rock and roll chords. He mastered using a wah-wah pedal and enjoyed experimenting with amplifiers and distortion devices. Robert Lamm, Chicago's keyboardist, recalls Kath trying to invent an auto-picking device that would play a guitar. Kath, along with Chicago's manager, helped finance the Pignose amplifier company, with Kath becoming the company's main endorser. His trademark guitar eventually became the Fender Telecaster, decorated with several Pignose stickers and the Chicago Blackhawks logo.

Kath never shows up on any lists of the greatest guitar players of all time. Sadly, much of that may be due to the fact that he died so young, and so tragically. Kath had developed a strange fascination with guns during the 1970s and had taken to carrying them around and even playing with them, a habit that started to frighten the other band members. He even got into a fight with Beach Boy Carl Wilson during a party after Wilson knocked a gun from Kath's hand while he was playing Russian Roulette (whether the gun was actually empty or not I wasn't able to confirm.) On January 23, 1978, Kath was partying at the house of a roadie friend, Don Johnson (not the actor) and after the guests had left, pulled out a semiautomatic 9 mm pistol and began playing with it, telling Johnson that it was empty. However, there was still a round in the magazine chamber. He put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, dying instantly. Supposedly his last words were, "What do you think I'm going to do? Blow my brains out?" He was just a week away from his 32rd birthday.

The real cause of his death, however, was most likely drugs. "Drugs and guns are a bad combination", the band's drummer, Danny Seraphine, later said. It's hard to believe given Chicago's romantic, ballad-clad image of the 1980s, but during the '70s decade they were the epitome of the phrase, "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" -- and no one was putting away more cocaine than Kath. He was also becoming increasingly unhappy and depressed, despite being married with a young daughter by the time of his death. The other band members were becoming increasingly concerned about Kath's drinking and drug use. It seems Kath had two sides to him; his bandmates have described him as a big, burly, lovable and kind teddy bear of a man who would do anything for them, but who was also clearly dealing with some demons. Kath may have also been disappointed with the direction the band was headed towards with Cetera's soft ballads. He wrote at least one song and performed at least one lead vocal on every Chicago album released while he was alive.

Because Kath's legacy in the music world seems to be fading with every passing year, his daughter, Michelle Kath Sinclair, has been directing and producing a documentary about the father she was barely old enough to remember. The Terry Kath Experience: A Daughter's Journey is set to be released some time this year, after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. For the documentary, Sinclair interviewed all of the original members of Chicago (except for Cetera; whether he turned her down or she chose to exclude him is a mystery.)

Says Michelle on the official website for the documentary, "The idea to make a film about my father came to me many years ago when, in looking through old photos of him, I realized that I didn't know his full story. I've since learned that his is the quintessential story of an all-American boy raised in the midwest, who, at a young age, picks up a guitar, falls in love with it, and goes on to become a famous 70's rock star. With all the highs and lows that come along with success, my father's life ended suddenly before my 3rd birthday.

My journey of discovery began with the first interview. I could only have dreamed that making this film would bring me this much closer to my father and would help me better understand the man he was and the decisions he made. Meeting these people and hearing their stories are memories that will stay with me forever. I am forever grateful to all that have helped me to take this journey and to discover this man."

I'm looking forward to seeing this documentary and learning even more about Kath, but in the meantime here's some live performances showcasing his amazing guitar skills, as well as a clip about the upcoming documentary.

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