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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Kitsch as Kitsch Can

I was going to craft a serious post about world events today, but to hell with it. Let's PAR-TAY!

Check out the bling on the woman in the little black dress. Look at those earrings! And the bracelet! And the hair! To top it all off, there's a beaded curtain and a lava lamp and a fondue pot. I was a little kid back then, but I missed out on that kind of thing, because my parents held no fondue parties (though I think we went to some Tupperware parties). My sister did have a beaded curtain in her doorway, but there wasn't room for a cool rec room with pool table in the mobile home.

(Also note that commenter "Miss Sharon" has posted a regrettable recipe to go with it. Oh, "psychedelic"! That's the effect they were going for! Not "nauseating", after all.)

That's the "Slide of the Week" from Charles Phoenix. He's been buying up other people's slides at thrift stores, estate sales, etc, and combing them for neat-o examples of mid-century American culture. Then he writes books about them. His latest book is Americana the Beautiful. I send you to the publisher's website because they have a giant version (1.3M) of the book's cover. Check out the picture of the little boy in the top center picture. He's got airplane wallpaper. Man, I woulda killed for airplane wallpaper.(And here's the Amazon link.)

Before that, Phoenix wrote Southern Californialand, which was more narrowly focused. That picture's so beautiful it hurts my eyes (Amazon link).
Now, I used to look at old pictures from the '50s, say, and experience a warm glow of nostalgia for things I never knew. There was a quality about those times, I decided, a freshness and an innocence that's been lost from the modern world.

And then I came across a an old album of photos that I took myself, with the camera I got for Christmas in 1971, and I realized that that quality is not in the times, but in the photos. It's there in the event, frozen in time. It's the once-in-a-lifetime trip, it's the family reunion, it's the Christmas you got your first camera.

Or the time you went to Opryland:

Opryland, Summer, 1972
Opryland, Summer, 1972

According to Wikipedia, that was the summer the park opened. I didn't realize it had closed! (In 1997.) My stepdad was (is) a huge country music fan, so I guess he thought we had to be first in line. I remember almost nothing about the park, except that they had ice cream bars in the shape of guitars, and we went to some sort of horse show when it was almost too dark to see.

That's a terrible picture, I know: too far away and out of focus, and the film was probably accidentally exposed before processing (the little strip of light at the top). That was a little 126 camera that had no focus controls or exposure settings. What you saw in the viewfinder was not what you saw on film, and frequently that meant you had your thumb over the lens.

Worse, though, I managed to catch no one wearing silly Seventies fashions. The best I can do is the man on the left, who's pushing one of the tiny cruel metal strollers of the era, basically half a bucket on wheels. We didn't have them fancy-schmancy padded Humvee strollers back in my day, I tell ya.

In other nostalgia news, Will Collier says that Lileks's head will explode when he sees this site.

Let's hope not. It is cool, what with all the flashy flash animations and whatnot. But, c'mon, the guy's practically a baby. He was in junior high, he says, in 1985. That was the year I entered grad school. Consider this:

What to do if you're in elementary school and you find a vintage gum wrapper in a library book:

  1. Place in Trapper Keeper.
  2. When school year is over, empty Trapper Keeper into a box.
  3. Place box in storage for decades.
  4. Wait for internet to be invented.
  5. Scan wrapper and share it with the world.

It's a wrapper for Fruit Stripe gum (MST flashback: "You are chewing the Fruit Stripe Gum of Stability. Those who enjoy it will get a civil service job with good benefits."). See, now, Lileks would've had a wrapper from gum he had personally chewed back in the Devonian.

(I sent this link to my whippersnapper brother, who loved it. He's on the high side of 30 and, like Kirk D., is too old to be collecting toys.)

I particularly commend to your attention the FIRST-EVER FULLY AUTHORIZED, FLASH-ANIMATED CHICK TRACT. Yes, boys and girls, it's a flash version of Jack Chick's "This Was Your Life." I thought the animation was clever, considering that it didn't introduce new graphic elements, but only animated the old ones. Watch it dispassionately, appreciating it for its pop cultural significance. And be sure to scream "YAAAAAA!" as you are cast into Hell.

Also good are the Flip flash toons here and here. They take a while to load, but it's OK, since there are little animations to entertain you while they do. For cute!

These wallpapers are just OK. Much better is the intro: "Attention all computer users of Earth!"

There's also a secret fun blog.