Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Spacey Between Us


Kevin Spacey was the celebrity that I least expected to ever see associated with a scandal.

I've been a fan of his for nearly 20 years, ever since I watched American Beauty in a hotel room while on a business trip. To say that the past few weeks have not been an easy time for Kevin Spacey fans is an understatement. At many times it has felt like a nightmare that I cannot wake up from.

I'm sad, and confused. I don't know what to believe. I'm at a loss as to what to do with the DVDs of his movies I own. I can't bear to toss them and yet at the same time it's going to be a while before I can bear to watch any of them again.

I don't know how much I'm allowed to say about the allegations against him here on this blog only because the AdSense police have already flagged my site a few times for content that violates their terms and conditions. There's no need for me to rehash it all here anyway; everyone knows why Kevin Spacey could be in serious trouble.

The conflict for me is that the allegations are just that: allegations. There's no concrete evidence as of this writing that anything Spacey has been accused of has actually taken place. Some of the incidents also supposedly occurred over 30 years ago. And yet there's so many of them, too many to not believe that at least some of them are true. Not to mention he checked himself into rehab, which seems to indicate guilt and acknowledgment that he has a real problem.

In a matter of days, an entire career that was built up over decades was demolished. He was even removed from his next film to be released, All the Money In the World, replaced by Christopher Plummer. It's one of the biggest Hollywood scandals to date and we're all witnessing it.

I'm shocked because as a fan who followed Spacey's career during the past several years, I can tell you of the numerous humanitarian work the man has done when not performing. He has always cited his mentor, Jack Lemmon, with "sending the elevator back down" or helping others with their careers once you've done well for yourself. His foundation did just that, by giving grants to promising new talent in the entertainment industry.

Spacey has also participated in the Best Buddies Challenge, which teams participants with individuals with developmental disabilities on a bike ride; there's several photos online of Spacey charming kids and babies during this event. He also visited the Atlanta Children's Hospital in 2016 to entertain the kids while making the movie Baby Driver there (the film where another actor recently said he treated everyone like a bully on the set), even introducing the patients to a young singer whose singing wowed him while he was in Nashville.

He's visited a nursing home dedicated to retirees from the world of showbiz, participated and emceed at numerous charitable events, and pretty much every dog he's adopted during the past several years came from a shelter.

This is the Kevin Spacey that his dedicated fans believe him to be, which is why the stories about his behavior that have been coming in droves since October 30 are so disturbing. How could this be the same man so many people are claiming violated and used his power to intimate others?

And if it weren't for him, I never would have discovered Bobby Darin or at least, it would have taken me much longer to do so.

Although it is not an excuse for his behavior, if it is indeed true, but the stories about his childhood and upbringing that his brother Randy Fowler was telling the press may explain a lot. I remember Fowler tried exposing his family's secrets a good decade ago but it didn't get picked up by the press and I dismissed them, thinking he was simply a jealous older brother trying to make a buck off of his famous younger one.

But maybe we have reason to believe Fowler, despite his eccentric appearance (he's a limo driver who also may be a Rod Stewart impersonator. And he looks nothing like his younger brother Kevin.)

If Fowler's story about he and Kevin's father is true, then it's tragic and soul shattering. Fowler claims the patriarch was emotionally, sexually, and physically abusive and while he isn't sure if Kevin ever got attacked, he was on the receiving end many times. Mother Kathleen knew but didn't do anything to try and stop it, or protect her kids. Fowler also says their dear old dad worshipped Adolph Hitler and once made him quit the boy scouts when he learned the scoutmaster was Jewish. In pictures that have surfaced over the past few weeks, Thomas Fowler -- Randy and Kevin's dad -- is even shown sporting a Hitler mustache and similar hairstyle.

Thomas Fowler was a struggling writer who was often unemployed. The one family vacation Randy Fowler remembers was to visit a nudist colony. He said they were short on money so often that he and his siblings didn't visit a dentist for several years.

Randy believes that his father's genes, unfortunately, may have been passed onto his brother Kevin, which explains the numerous allegations stacking up against him. He says many stories Kevin has told to the press throughout the years, such as being kicked out of military school, were really Randy's experiences. He says Kevin retreated into acting and disappeared into becoming someone else as a way of dealing with a miserable home life.

(Spacey, by the way, was the mother's maiden name and he adopted it before embarking on an acting career, as Randy said Fowler didn't sound Hollywood enough.)

If these stories are true then I admit I feel sorry for Kevin Spacey. It's not an excuse for behavior that he should have known was harmful, but it may help explain a knee-jerk reaction of coming onto and groping unsuspecting victims.

And yet, does...should...all of this erase an entire career? In the past couple of weeks I've noticed that YouTube videos of Spacey have not been removed. Twitter accounts dedicated to his fans have not been deleted. Pinterest boards dedicated to him are still intact. I admit, I watched clips from American Beauty the other night and still find his performance every bit as entertaining as the first time I saw it 18 years ago. I still like the guy. It may not be the popular opinion, but it's true.

Maybe we're all waiting for the latest plot twist in this saga, and that we find out it was all just a big joke. Some are saying his career is over and that he's going to jail.

Me, I'd like to think that a year from now Kevin Spacey will give a sit-down, tell-all interview and explain himself. Hollywood often has a short memory.

I guess the next act remains to be seen.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Heartbroken Over a Heartbreaker: RIP Tom Petty


In recent years we've lost an awful lot of notable musicians and actors -- particularly those that were at the top of their game in the '80s and '90s, my growing years -- at an alarming rate, but to be honest very few of those deaths had little effect on me. The sudden passing of Tom Petty last week, however, felt like a sucker punch.

He was only 66. Maybe to some that doesn't sound exactly young but it isn't exactly old, either. I was signing out of one of my hotmail accounts and signing onto another one Monday evening when I caught the news on MSN (my browser's homepage; don't ask me why) that he had been taken off of life support after going into cardiac arrest at his Malibu home. Then came the premature announcement from CBS that he was dead, which they later retracted. When I woke up Tuesday morning, the first thing I did was check the Internet about Petty's condition, and that's when the sad news was confirmed.

Maybe it hit me a little hard because I always considered Petty to be one of the good guys. He wasn't a sellout and turned down sponsorships and licensing his music to advertisers. He genuinely cared about his fans, famously refusing to allow his record label to raise the price of his band's 1981 album Hard Promises from $8.98 to a dollar more (the record was almost renamed Eight Ninety-Eight in retaliation.) His group also resisted raising ticket prices during their Echo tour. And in 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers thumbed their noses at the increasingly vapid music industry when they released The Last DJ, which contained tracks like the title song, "Joe", and "When Money Became King", all with acerbic lyrics aimed at egotistical head honchos that valued style over substance.

He also seemed a lot like one of us. Didn't we all know some mild mannered, long haired kid in high school with an artistic streak? He wasn't wildly considered a good looking guy and yet there was something about Petty I always found sexy and attractive, if not a little bit mysterious. (His creepy Alice in Wonderland-inspired video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" is the stuff of nightmares, but it's one of the best ever made during MTV's heyday.)


He also had a wry sense of humor that seemed very similar to that of his good buddy and fellow Wilbury, George Harrison. It's no surprise to me that they became fast friends when The Traveling Wilburys was formed.

"The soundtrack of my childhood" is a rather overused cliche, but in the case of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, well, it's true. Their success took off in the late 70s and the hits kept coming throughout the '80s and '90s. I can remember driving to my hotel job for a late shift in the '90s when "Learning To Fly" came on the radio and suddenly I didn't want to go into work. In fact, a lot of Petty's songs made good driving music: "Runnin' Down A Dream", "American Girl", and "Free Falling" just to name a few immediately come to mind.

Throughout the years, in my head, I often adopted one of Petty's hits as my own personal theme song: "I Won't Back Down" while job hunting and "Refugee" and "The Waiting" when nursing a broken heart.

In the week since his passing I've read some remarks online saying that he was overrated, that his songs were overplayed, and that he didn't deserve superstar status. I couldn't disagree more. The band had just wrapped up their 40th anniversary tour shortly before his death, and I don't think you stay together and keep recording that long if you're making bad music. Petty also had an arsenal of underrated tracks that never really hit the airwaves; "Jammin' Me", "Letting You Go", "A Woman In Love (And It's Not Me)", and the Wilbury's "Last Night" are standouts. His solo album Wildflowers is also quite good. (At some point I'll compile a blog post of ten underrated tracks.)

Making the news even sadder for me is that I never got to see Petty in concert. This past summer I caught the double billed tour of Hall and Oates and Tears for Fears. Great show, but I now regret not making the effort to see the Heartbreakers. Like Paul McCartney, I just assumed Petty would be around for a good deal yet. His trademark slightly nasal/slightly southern drawl voice was still strong and on point during this last tour from what I've seen on performances posted to YouTube.

The day after he died I took my mother grocery shopping and was ordering a sub from the prepared foods counter while my mother gathered cat food. One of the women behind the counter brought up Petty and we all started talking about him...how sad this was, how the music brings back memories, etc. Somehow sharing that bit of fan camaraderie with others that felt the same way helped me feel a little better.

Petty almost seemed to sense that the end was near; he had recently told an interviewer the 40th anniversary tour was probably going to be the last one, as he wanted to spend more time with his family and watch his granddaughter grow up instead of being on the road.

I guess fate had other plans. To quote the lyrics from one of his tracks on the Wildflowers album, "It's time to move on. It's time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of knowing. But under my feet, baby, grass is growing. Yeah, it's time to move on. It's time to get going."

RIP Tom Petty.


Thursday, August 03, 2017

We All Live In a Research Submarine: the USS Albacore


I'll admit it...I may have a thing for submarines.

After I watched Das Boot a few months ago, I had a thought: it would be fun to actually visit a submarine on display. I didn't even bother to look up if there were any near me, but it turns out I didn't have to. A couple of weeks later, on the day before Father's Day, my friend Patti and I were driving to Portsmouth, NH when she makes one wrong turn, then another. Then as she's turning around I tell her about the dream I had about my late father a few nights earlier: my dad was alive, and in the dream I kept telling myself I had to tell him I watched Das Boot again. Only I never did, and woke up a little bummed out.

No less than a minute after telling her this story, she points to her left and says, "Oh. My. God. Look!"

And there on our left is a huge honking submarine, the USS Albacore. And you can visit it! (Thanks, daddy!)

Last weekend we finally went back and toured the sub. The USS Albacore didn't see any warfare (although it was named for an earlier American WWII sub that sadly, sunk off the coast of Japan during the war) but that doesn't make it any less cool. This vessel was a Navy research sub, mainly used to test emerging submarine technology. (One of these was as improved ballast tank blow system, used during emergencies to help subs resurface.) Her official motto was"Praenuntius Futuri" or "Forerunner of the Future." She was commissioned in 1953 and known for her speed (27 knots for short distances) and agility. Decommissioned in 1972 (the year I was born), she sat at the Inactive Ship Facility at Philadelphia until 1984, when she was towed to Portsmouth. A year later, Albacore Park started to take shape and eventually opened to the public in 1989.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Beauty Salon Dropout: Why I Cut and Color My Own Hair In the Year 2017

A (very purple!) 1980s hair salon. Image via Scanagogo
A few months ago I made the difficult decision of emailing my hairdresser to let her know I was breaking up with her. It wasn't because I was unhappy with her work -- quite the opposite -- but she had moved twice within the past year, eventually opening up her own salon in a town that simply felt too far away for me to drive to for a haircut. I wished her good luck with the new business venture and thanked her for all of the awesome styles she gave me through the years not to mention all of the times she patiently listened while I cried in her chair over a dope that broke my heart.

What I didn't mention in the message is that I had recently trimmed my own hair and was pleased enough with the results that I had no intentions of seeing her, or any other stylist, again any time soon. I had perused a ton of DIY haircut tutorials on YouTube and finally one afternoon took the plunge myself (I actually did more then trim; I cut off about an inch and a half, which is what I wanted.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Time Ronald McDonald Hung His Head In Shame: Mac & Me


The 1980s decade was not the best time for McDonald's, branding-wise. Late in the '70s they were sued by Sid and Marty Krofft over their McDonaldland characters, which the brothers claimed were a copyright infringement of H.R. Pufnstuf and related characters. The Krofft brothers won, and McDonald's was ordered to stop using several of the McDonaldland characters in advertising and commercials. In 1987, they introduced a new character -- Mac Tonight -- who had a giant crescent moon for a head and wore a tux and shades. He sang a reworked version of Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" and landed McDonald's in hot water again when they were sued by Darin's estate for infringing upon his trademark song without permission.

Then there was the time McDonald's got involved with the movie business. The result was Mac & Me, released in 1988 and widely considered one of the worst movies ever made. I can now say that I'm one of the few that has watched Mac & Me (it's been uploaded to YouTube) and it was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life (but alas, a retro blogger's got to do what a retro blogger has to do.) I don't think there's a word or phrase in the dictionary that can adequately convey how bad this movie is, but sh*t show comes close.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Jürgen Prochnow Should Have Been a Huge Star In the States


Hey Germany, let's make a deal. I'll trade you George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, James Franco, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, and Justin Timberlake for your Jürgen Prochnow.

In fact, I'll trade anyone that's ever been featured in the pages of People magazine's annual Sexiest Men issue and anyone else that the Hollywood media deems that us warm blooded American females should be drooling over...because they say so...for your Jürgen Prochnow.

All of these pathetic American "actors", you can have them all. Just give me Jürgen. Please?

OK, if the answer is nein, I don't blame you. I wouldn't trade him, either.

But he should have been a huge star here. I'm talking bigly. (I just noticed that Blogger didn't autocorrect bigly. So it's a word after all.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Why I Simply Cannot Stomach The English Patient


In my last blog post I raved to you about a movie that totally won my heart, Das Boot. In today's blog post, I'm going to gripe, vent, grovel about and generally rip apart a film that lost it: The English Patient.

No one would be more surprised to hear this than my high school friends, who went with me to see the movie when it opened in theaters in 1996. Back then I thought it was romantic, sexy, and tragic. I suppose the crush I had on Ralph Fiennes at the time had something to do with it...this was way before he started losing his hair and turned into Lord Voldemort.

But time and life has a way of educating one's self. While watching clips of the movie online the other night, a profound realization swept over me: this is a pretty stupid movie.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Movie Review: Das Boot (Director's Cut)


Every once in a while a movie will impress me with all of the ingredients of a perfect storm: a stellar storyline, superb acting, impressive sets and special effects, and a memorable soundtrack. But it's the rare film that has all this plus the ability to hit me hard emotionally in some way. As I've gotten older, such works of art have become all the more rarer, given the way Hollywood is going these days, with its banal, never ending parade of remakes chockfull of sterile characters and overblown CGI.

I knew I was long overdue, then, for a dive into the retro movie vault to remedy this. So when my mother and I saw that our local This TV channel was airing the director's cut version of Das Boot on Memorial Day, we got excited and set the DVR. The movie was a favorite of my late father, a WWII vet that ate up anything on film that had to do with the war. It had been many years since I watched it with him on VHS, and I must confess that I simply could not appreciate it at the time, which must have been when I was in my 20s.

I'm now 45 and despite seeing it before, I was not prepared for how much this movie would affect me. I truly wept at the ending. Then I rewatched the final five minutes the morning after (as if I were in disbelief about the conclusion) and bawled like a baby.

Yes, a German war (or anti-war) movie about a submarine caused me to increase Kleenex's profits. And if this film doesn't affect you on some level like it did to me, I may have to question if you're human. Das Boot is a painfully poignant reminder that in war, nobody truly wins. But more importantly than that, it proves that even the people we perceive to be our foes are no different than us, and war affects all sides in similar ways.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Rare Alien Toys That Could Make You Rich (If You Own One)


With Alien: Covenant ready to hit American theaters tomorrow I've been having a flashback of sorts to the first or second grade, which was shortly after the 1979 movie Alien was released. One of the class bullies had brought his 18" Kenner Alien action figure to school (I don't remember if it was for show-and-tell or just to show off) and he proceeded to give away the movie's plot, in graphic detail, pumping his arm to emulate the baby xenomorph bursting from John Hurt's chest. I remember some of my female classmates actually gasping and shrieking and as terrified as I was myself to finally learn what this movie was about, I knew that I would HAVE to watch it eventually, which I did a few years later (on ABC as a matter of fact, gory chest bursting scene remarkably intact and unedited.)

Our bully didn't know it at the time, but his Kenner figure -- if he does indeed still own it and if it's still in good working condition, which is doubtful -- is now worth a small fortune. In fact, Kenner released a few toys in 1979 in conjunction with 20th Century Fox to promote the sci-fi horror thriller. The problem was obvious, however: Alien was a R rated film and most kids weren't going to see it (that, and the alien itself has a pretty phallic-shaped head.) The xenomorph figure was yanked from store shelves, making it a now rare collectible...and it wasn't the only one. So let's take a look at four Alien themed toys that could make you a pretty penny, provided you still have one in good condition in the original packaging. Keep in mind I'm only mentioning a few items released in conjunction with the first movie; the sequel, Aliens, spawned (no pun intended) several more toys.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Why I Love Bobby Darin


Happy Mother's Day to all of the retro lovin' moms out there! Not only is it Mother's Day, but it also would have been Bobby Darin's 81st birthday today. Rather then share the love for my favorite retro idol of all time in a written blog post, I thought I'd make a video for the seemingly abandoned Go Retro YouTube channel instead. Honestly, I could take all day about why I idolize this man and I even forgot to mention a few other points in the video, but you'll get my drift. (Keep in mind if you're reading this post on your email because you subscribed to receive updates that the video will not be embedded below; you'll have to visit the blog or the YouTube channel directly.)

And yes, I have some new posts coming your way soon!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Stay Tuned (Go Retro and Life in General Updates)


You've probably noticed (or at least I've noticed) that I haven't been posting on here as much...not as much as ideally I'd like to, anyway. To be honest, I've kind of just not felt like writing about retro topics as much these days. Traffic has taken a dip (and not surprising, ad revenue has, too.) As you know I haven't done much with the YouTube channel lately, either. Just haven't had the motivation nor the time (for my other blog, the subject matter is completely different, and making a video post for that site is just a lot easier; I just speak about whatever's on my mind...so maybe I should just do the same for GR.)

But the other reason is, I've just been busy with other forms of writing. I got laid off in August and I recently decided (after much soul searching, meditation, and letting go of fear) that I really want to make a career out of it. (It only took the universe five times to get the message through to me that marketing is not where my heart truly belongs.) I still don't know where this will ultimately lead me...perhaps working for a local magazine. I do know one thing: I am so happy right now.

I realized that last year at this time, I was working in that new marketing job...and I was not happy. I was reporting to the CEO, who turned out to be the biggest a-hole and egomaniac I've ever worked for in my entire career. I was also still getting over a broken heart, and there were many afternoons I cried while driving home. I remember thinking that profound saying, "is this all there is?" more than once. After saying to myself so many times during last summer, "this isn't the job I had in mind" the universe did me another favor, and booted it from my existence. I actually think now it was one of the best things to happen to me.

These days I'm still working the freelance gig I had before getting the full-time job, but I've also been doing work for a woman that I actually met through that last company (she got shafted by them, too.) She runs her own business and gave me a nice chunk of online content to work on, and recently reached out to me again for some additional work. A reader that reads both my blogs also told me about a travel website that needed new writers; I'm still waiting to hear back to find out if the test assignment I submitted has been accepted (if it is, they'll pay me for it and will give me more)...more good fodder for a portfolio.

I'm in the middle of an online course I bought after being laid off, on how to break into freelance writing. I have so many topic ideas for magazines and content websites and really need to get my rear into gear in that area.

Long story short, I'm back in the same "happy place" that I was two years ago. Yes, it took me two years to get through some personal setbacks and find my center again, but I'm back, baby! And I'm grateful.

Back to Go Retro...it's not going away. I'd never do that, to my readers or to myself! But it IS going to have to get a new layout soon and I really think I need to take a brief break from posting just to recharge the inspiration in this area. The current template is a big improvement over the last one, but it's getting stale now and the bug that keeps posting an entire post on the home page is getting on my nerves. The site needs a new logo, too. Ideally I want to see it look like a real site with a nice image slider up top to highlight the most recent posts.

So if you come on here and some things look jumbled/out of place, I'll be tweaking and moving things around, I'm sure.

Stay tuned...thank you as always for reading....and I hope everyone enjoys their Easter or Passover!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Sharing Some Much Overdue Love for the Bobby Darin Biopic "Beyond the Sea"


Recently I was visiting the Facebook page of a Bobby Darin fan group I follow and was surprised to see some negative comments being tossed around about the only movie made about Darin's life, Beyond the Sea. The guy that started the thread asked if Kevin Spacey (who starred in, directed, and produced the film) was drunk when he wrote the script (his fury was aimed at a scene where Darin is giving a radio interview about his support for Bobby Kennedy and drops the f-bomb, which he claimed never would have happened on AM radio in the 1960s.) Others chimed in by saying they knew other Darin fans that were infuriated by the film and were personally glad they never saw it.

To all of these Debbie downers, I have one thing to say: please remove the stick out of your anus.

Friday, March 24, 2017

America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park: Action Park


If you were a kid growing up in New Jersey in the '70s, '80s, or '90s, there's a good chance you visited Action Park in Vernon, just over the New York line. In fact, many former patrons claim it was a right of passage to survive a visit to "Class Action Park"--a fitting nickname given its notorious reputation.

Just how dangerous was this place? It was so treacherous that while researching it I came across commenters on various sites that sustained broken noses, broken bones, skin burns, concussions, near drownings, and more. One said his mother worked at a nearby hospital, where she helped tend to a never-ending stream of kids coming into the ER with injuries from the amusement park. And they were the lucky ones. The place eventually became responsible for six deaths including an electrocution.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How Not To Let Yourself Go (Especially If You're Over 40)


"It'll never happen to me," I used to say when I was younger. "I'll never let myself go."

But then I was laid off in August last year and guess what? I did kind of start to let myself go, at least on some days. And let me tell you, it can be a dangerous slippery slope.

Getting up later then usual and lounging in my PJs on my laptop until 10:30 AM on most mornings became the norm.

I went quite a few days without wearing makeup, especially if I wasn't planning on leaving the house that day (who was going to see me? Before you answer "the UPS man" I can assure you we don't order much online and there really have not been many through the years that I would consider attractive.)

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Elle Macpherson Kicked My Butt: My Favorite "Vintage" Workout Tape


Side note: here we go again; the blog template put the entire post on the homepage (grrrrr.) To leave a comment, here's the actual link to the post to do so (which also includes the title): http://www.goretro.com/2017/03/elle-macpherson-kicked-my-butt-my.html

When I was younger, I went through a brief period where I wanted to look like Elle Macpherson. And if I couldn't have Elle's face and body, I would have at least settled for her impossibly long legs. Eventually I decided that I was beautiful in my own unique way, but when Elle released a workout VHS in 1994 -- called Elle Macpherson: Your Personal Best -- I jumped at the chance to emulate The Body's body through exercise.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Three Reasons Why I Almost Never Go To the Movies Anymore


The last time I went to a movie theater was in January to see the Ben Affleck film Live By Night. Before that, it was a good year earlier, to see The Peanuts Movie in December 2015 and Spectre the previous month.

And the last before that was Big Eyes, in December 2014.

As you can see, there's a pattern here. I'm only going to the movies, on average, once or twice a year. And as it turns out, I'm in good company. Recently I came across the following chart showing the results of a survey taken just last month polling Americans about their moviegoing habits. (You have to subscribe to the site to get access to all of the source details, but you get the idea....however, I would be curious to know how many people they actually polled.)

Source: Statista
Hollywood should be alarmed by these stats; according to this, a combined 45% of those surveyed--nearly half!--stated that they never or almost never go to the movies. Of course, I believe there's a few obvious reasons for this: it's cheaper to rent and watch a flick on on-demand or from your local library  or stream it vs. paying a high ticket fee to see it on the big screen.

But for me personally, the reasons go a little deeper. Going to the movies isn't quite the joyful experience anymore that it was for me in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Here are three ways how moviegoing has changed from earlier decades--and hence, three reasons why I'm hardly going to a movie theater anymore (hopefully these won't make me sound too curmudgeonly.)

1. Less Movies Being Made That I Actually Want To See

I didn't watch any of the award shows this year, or last year for that matter. Part of the disinterest is because I've grown tired of listening to actors use the awards stage as a soapbox for their political beliefs. But mainly, most of the movies being nominated lately just don't appeal to me and even just the films being made in general feel very underwhelming.

When my friend and I went to see Live By Night, we had to sit through about eight previews and I can honestly say not a single one appealed to either one of us. It was one dark looking, shoot 'em down, action-oriented, CGI riddled hot mess after another...the new Vin Diesel movie, another with Keanu Reeves (John Wick: Chapter 2...was there even a chapter 1?), Kong: Skull Island, a dumb-looking comedy, and some horror flick that takes place in a Swiss mental asylum.

Where were the previews for the intelligently written dramas; something that looked like it might have a compelling story behind it and is capable of pulling some heartstrings? It doesn't seem like there's much that fits that definition in the pipeline for 2017.

Speaking of which, it seems lately that when Hollywood does produce a drama, it's a depressing one with no point or redemption to the story. For example, one of the winners at the Academy Awards the other night was Manchester by the Sea. I had no interest in seeing it and since recently learning the entire plot, will definitely pass. This movie (warning: spoilers ahead) is about a young man who lost his three children in a fire (that he set while drunk) and spends much of the film depressed and wallowing in his self misery. Although it was deemed an accident, his wife blames him for the fire, divorced him, gets remarried and has a kid which makes him even more depressed. He gets a chance to better himself when he is named the guardian of his teenage nephew after his brother passes away, but apparently botches that up too, and at the end of the movie he's no more happier than he was at the beginning of the film. The end.

I know someone out there right now is saying, "But Pam, that was a movie about what life is really like; sometimes there's no happy ending."

To which I say as an optimist, I would rather my money be awarded with knowing that the possibility for a happy ending can still exist in this world.

I'm not saying that Tinseltown should be giving us nothing but technicolor lollipops and sunshine, but if you're going to make a sad fictional film, at least give moviegoers a silver lining to it.

At least Manchester by the Sea isn't a remake, or the latest of a long list of sequels (do we REALLY need another Pirates of the Caribbean installment?)

I could dwell on this all day, but bottom line -- there just hasn't been much coming out lately that I want to see, and that includes renting it on on-demand.

There's been very few films during the past decade that have dazzled me with a combination of a compelling plot, juicy dialogue, authentic looking costumes, sets, cinematography, etc. and that includes Best Picture Oscar winners in recent years, like Spotlight and Birdman. Snooze. Lately I find myself skipping over the latest releases for on-demand, and curling up with a book instead.


2. The Rising Cost of Going to the Movies

I know that nothing is really exempt from inflation, but it's crazy to fantom that a family of four can easily drop around $75 or more on an afternoon at the movies today if they get regular priced tickets plus some snacks. It seems every time I've gone to the movie theater, the price of popcorn has gone up yet again; you'd be better off saving the money for an actual meal before or after the show (except the smell of that popcorn is so damn addicting.) I realize that theaters have added a lot of perks such as reclining seats, bars, and reserved seating to the modern moviegoing experience, but personally I'd rather have the "luxury" of paying only $8 a ticket, be allowed to bring in my own food and drink from home if I wish, and watch the film in a standard stadium seating theater.

Some movie chains do offer memberships where you can see a movie for free or receive money off the cost of a ticket after you've seen so many films, but I can't help but feel this is a marketing ploy to help offset the cost of lost business in recent years.

3. Putting Up With Other People

Thankfully this really hasn't happened all that often, but right in the middle of Live By Night, a couple came in with a young child--perhaps no more than 5 years old--who then proceeded to talk and make a fuss until one of the parents took him to the concession stand to get a snack. But...WTF? The movie was rated R. I realize the kid was with his parents, and believe it or not, he did quiet down once he had food, but I do have to question why anyone would bring a child that young into a movie that contained violence and profanity. It seems that a lot of parents these days do not want to be bothered with hiring a babysitter, so their solution is to push the limits and take their kid anywhere, even if it's typically a venue for adults only.

As my friend and I were leaving the theater, a couple behind us was actually complaining about what happened as well, and we ended up chatting with them a bit about how one parent should have taken the boy to see a kid's movie while the other parent watched the Ben Affleck film.

Then there's the whole mobile phone thing...it's sad that movie theater chains must remind us before the coming attractions that mobile devices should be turned off, and ringtones set to vibrate. However, as we all know, it doesn't always happen.

OK, I've griped enough. If you're not really going to the movies all that much, either, let me know your reasons why in the comments!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

You're a Ford Salesman, Charlie Brown!


A lot of people think that A Charlie Brown Christmas, which originally aired in 1965, was the first time that Charles Schulz's beloved Peanuts characters appeared in animated form on the small screen. But it was actually in the late '50s and early '60s that the American public got to see Charlie Brown and the gang brought to life for the first time, when they were commissioned to promote the new Ford Falcon. 

I'm currently half-way through reading the David Michaelis biography of Schulz, called Schulz and Peanuts, that was published in 2007--a couple of years after Schulz's death--and this advertising campaign was a revelation to even me, a lifelong Peanuts fan since I was about three years old. So let's take a look back at this cute and charming campaign that was released during the Mad Men golden age of advertising.


The comic strip had been around for a decade by this time--first as Li'l Folks in 1947, which evolved into Peanuts by 1950. By the late '50s, the income that Schulz was making from the success of his strip was booming--not just from drawing it, but because he was now getting licensing deals from companies. A manufacturing company called Hungerford Plastics Corporation had started producing the very first figures of Peanuts characters--made of polyvinyl--in 1958 (needless to say, an unopened figure in mint condition is worth a small fortune today.) Hallmark began their relationship with Schulz in 1960, introducing Peanuts greeting cards and paper goods. 

But the biggest deal offered to Schulz at this time was when the Ford Division of Ford Motor Company approached the cartoonist for the exclusive rights to have the Peanuts characters promote their new compact car, the Falcon, across all advertising channels including television, print ads, and billboards. Schulz worked closely with Ford's advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson, even consulting on the script, and had the final approval on the children selected to voice the on-screen characters.


The partnership also introduced Schulz to former Disney animator Bill Melendez, who would go on to produce all of the Peanuts animated television specials (and also provided the voices for Snoopy and Woodstock.)

The Falcon, which was touted as a compact car with a lot of space and great gas mileage, was a huge success for Ford, no doubt due to the Peanuts partnering. And no matter how many other deals Schulz was offered through the years, he regarded the Ford licensing as a huge milestone.


Here's all of the Ford Falcon/Peanuts commercials that I could locate on YouTube, including a few clips where characters introduced The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show in the early '60s. The one huge difference I notice between these commercials and the Peanuts TV specials is how Linus is portrayed; instead of the mature and worldly-wise philosopher we came to know and love, he actually comes across in the Ford commercials as very innocent and child-like. Lucy isn't quite the crabby boss lady yet, either. And Charlie Brown isn't being called a blockhead or having footballs yanked away from him!

Also, if they wanted to go for true Peanuts authenticity, the announcer would be speaking in that infamous "wah wah" sound.













Charlie Brown channels Bob Dylan here...






Monday, February 13, 2017

From Simple to Showoff: Why Do Weddings Today Seem To Go Overboard?


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

Clean Up Time


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

An Ode to A Fallen Retail Giant: Kmart


"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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hollywood Remade "CHiPs" and It's Going To Suck


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

Whatever Happened To Patience?


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.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Scenes From a Few Vintage Restaurants

Porpoise Room Cocktail Lounge, Marineland Of The Pacific, California
Have you ever noticed how the inside of virtually every restaurant today, especially nationwide chains, all kind of look the same? One of my favorite restaurants in my area is one that used to be a Howard Johnson's back in the day, and while the interior has been updated, it's quite beautiful, modern, and unique compared to so many other places in the suburbs. A few months back I did a search for "vintage restaurants" on Flickr and ended up falling down a rabbit hole of mid-century design eye candy. The photos I uncovered reminded me of a couple of now-defunct restaurants I went to as a kid. Although some of these places may be tacky by today's standards, at least no one can say they weren't original.

Most of these came from Flickr users William Bird and SwellMap; they have plenty more where these came from (including a ton of great old travel images) so check out their pages sometime if you desire more. In the meantime, let's take a trip back in time to the '50s, '60s, and '70s when many restaurants (and there's some lounges in here as well) had their own unique theme and look...

El Toro Steak House, Trenton, Ontario


Everglades Roof, Miami, FL


Rubaiyat Continental Dining, Ann Arbor, MI


Manning's Cafeteria and Buffet, Seattle, WA


Marineland of the Pacific, California


The cocktail lounge at the Mountain Shadows Hotel, Scottsdale, AZ


Christmas at Mrs. K's Toll House, Silver Springs, MD


Castaways Wreck Bar, Miami, FL


Le Palais, Atlantic City, NJ


Michelle of the Denver Hilton, "Bridge In the Sky" -- this restaurant was located on the bridge in between the Denver Hilton and the May D&F department store, and sold Michelle's ice cream and pastries. In Denver, CO (obviously.)



Howard Johnson's on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, PA



Purple Tree Manger Vanderbilt Hotel, New York, NY



Trott Inn Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA



Swiss Chalet, Bismarck Hotel, Chicago, IL



Canfield's Big Rock Cafe, Malibu, CA



The Clipper Room, Yankee Clipper, Fort Lauderdale, FL



Dutch Youngman's Famous Drive-In Restaurant, Monterey, CA



The Acapulco Room, South Of The Border, SC



King's Arms Tavern, Williamsburg, VA



The Ramada Inn Coffee Shop, Los Angeles Airport, CA



Bush Garden Japanese Restaurant, Seattle, WA



Jacques French Restaurant, Chicago, IL



So. Many. Plants.

If this post brought back memories of an unforgettable restaurant, please let me know in the comments!

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