Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deborah Gibson's Old Nose is Only In Her Dreams

Image courtesy Star Magazine.

Yes, this is former 80s teen pop star Deborah "don't call her Debbie anymore" Gibson, after a recent nose job. Owen Wilson called - he wants his schnoz back! This is really quite tragic. Deborah was one of the rare few stars whose teenage career didn't mess her up and she recently made a lucrative career for herself on Broadway. I think the doctor that did this to her should be sued up the wazoo.

Here's a picture of Debbie from more innocent times:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If You Like Mike

Picture courtesy ClevelandSeniors.

PBS has started airing Mike Douglas - Moments and Memories. The special is being described as "a profile of talk-show host Mike Douglas (1925-2006) that includes comments from Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and Yoko Ono, and archival footage from his show, including clips of Tiger Woods, John Lennon and Marlon Brando." Check your local listings for air dates and times in your area.

I hope this classic moment of John Lennon performing with Chuck Berry will be one of the clips shown. In case it isn't, I'm posting it from YouTube here because it's well worth the expression on Berry's face when Yoko begins her famous signature wailing. To be honest, her interuption hardly hurts the already lackluster rendition:

Old School Sesame Street Full of Bad Role Models

Picture courtesy FunnyPart.com.

This is one for the gimme a break category.

It's recently been revealed that the first two DVD packages of the earliest episodes of Sesame Street (which debuted on PBS in 1969) have warning labels on them that indicate they're "intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child."

The program's executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente told The New York Times that they probably wouldn't be able to show a lot of classic images on Sesame Street today. Cookie Monster is cited as a major criminal for eating all those cookies or smoking a pipe while playing Alistair Cookie.

According to Parente, the Oscar the Grouch character would not be created now. Too grouchy and mean. Snuffleupagus is a reference to hallucinations. And in the very first episode that ever aired, Gordon befriends a lonely little girl, takes her hand and leads her home to meet his wife and eat milk and cookies.

That PBS. Such a live wire for controversial programs (remember the Arthur fiasco about the potentially gay animated character from a few years ago?) Do they not know what kids are watching nowadays? It's ironic how parents will let their brats play nauseatingly violent video games, watch the same kind of crap on TV, have easy access to porn online and in their own house, swear, run around disrupting customers in public places, and allow them to yell and punch them, but yet Cookie Monster is considered "unsuitable."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Go Retro Video of the Day: ABC

"I didn't know that Benny Hill directed music videos."

OK, I stole that line from a comment on YouTube, but man, does it fit a video that features a ballerina, clowns, and other characters that look like they came from every 60s movie that Dick Van Dyke made. It's hard to believe that at one time 80s music videos like these were considered cool, but they're also rather innocent compared to what views today on VH1. And I like ABC.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas Past

It's not often that I make fun of retro items. After all, I'm supposed to be the purveyor of retro redux. I want my suggestions to make your humble abode look like Austin Powers' shagadelic hideaway. But once in a while, I come across something I remember from my childhood that is so hideous, so tacky, and so outdated even for its time that it stops me in my tracks cold. I'm warning you, you may want to half-cover your eyes for this one. Today that something happens to be beaded Christmas ornaments from a long-defunct store called Lee Wards. A few misguided souls are selling these gems on eBay, under the delusion that these things are actually pretty enough to display on your tree.

I remember seeing a collection of these in one of the Christmas ornament boxes we'd lug down from the attic each year and personally, they are so fugly to me now that it's physically painful for me to look at them. I think my sister made these, and I think the notion behind them was that you'd be bejeweling your tree in ornaments that looked like Faberge eggs. Only in the 70s would people think that sticking beads and pins into a styrofoam made good objects d'art. Now seems like an appropriate time to blame the era's home decor on all of that marijuana consumption.

This one's called the Irish Tears design. I'm not Irish but the name must fit because it makes me tear up to look at them.

This egg shaped one reminds me of the egg from Alien. You don't want to stick your face too close to that one!

I remember these suckers were heavy, too, from all of the beads and pins. It would be dangerous to swing one of these babies around; you could easily take someone's eye out. Hmmm...that's the only use for these things: self defense weapons!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dreaming of a Very Vintage Christmas? Head to Vermont

For years I’ve been receiving catalogs from The Vermont Country Store without giving them more than a quick flip and a toss into the recycling bag. Unfair, I know, but you can blame it on Bob Newhart. I watched enough damaging episodes of his 80s sitcom to mistakenly believe that Vermonters have as much smarts as Britney Spears on a drug-free day.

Until now. I opened up the latest edition of this unknown gem to hit my mailbox, and – where have you been all my life, Vermont Country Store catalog??? This thing is loaded with retro goodness galore. If you’re looking to recreate a 40s, 50s, or 60s home holiday atmosphere, this is the website to go to.

For starters there’s the silvery tinsel tree and color wheel, “for those dreaming of a very 60s Christmas.” They better watch it with that strapline. If people are dreaming of a very 60s Christmas, the young uns’ better stay away from the punch and brownies! The tree comes in two sizes: 4 feet tall at $79.95, and 6 feet at $129.95. The rotating color wheel is $24.95 and lends an even trippier effect to the tree by changing its color. Far out!

For decorating that tree, you can opt for glass ornaments, percolating “bubble” lights, and non-disposable tinsel. The bubble lights are 11 feet long and retail for $24.95.

For the mantel or display table, The Vermont Country Store offers adorable lighted cardboard villages that were once available in five-and-dime stores. I’ve never seen these anywhere else. Each village consists of three pieces and retails for $39.95. There are also bottle brush trees and Barclay metal figurines to complete the look.

If you’re into candles, they sell several whimsical Christmas figures that were popular in the 50s, including carolers, Santa, and reindeer.

But perhaps best of all, The Vermont Country Store is the supplier of many hard-to-find candies and treats that you won’t see in a supermarket. They have everything from Walnettos to British Quality Street candies to brandy-filled chocolate Santas, not to mention cakes, cookies, and Vermont cheddar cheese. The first 27 pages of their catalog alone are dedicated to their food items.

Not only that, but the catalog is chock full of classic toys (all of which are tested at an American laboratory for those worried about lead contamination) and toiletries that left drugstore shelves many moons ago. In fact, I’d recommend just about anything in the catalog to fellow retromaniacs except for the rather unsexy flannel nightgowns – unless you’re looking for a new method of birth control. Victoria’s Secret they’re not, but Vermont Vintage they are.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Was It The Spring? No, It Was the Riding Crop!

Layla was about Pattie Boyd, Maggie May was about an older woman that Rod Stewart had a relationship with, and Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline was about...Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. Diamond recently revealed the muse for his famous song at Schlossberg's 50th birthday celebration last week. According to the Associated Press, Diamond confessed that he had seen a photo of young Caroline in a news magazine, dressed in her riding gear, and was inspired by the "innocent, wonderful" picture. Several years later he wrote the song in a Memphis hotel room.

I'm so thankful for that last part. Taken out of context, that admission sounds a bit like the makings of a child molester. I mean, the song does sing about "hands touching hands" and "warmth touching warmth." But we know Neil was better than that. And this was a more innocent time, after all.

Still, I don't need to know who Kentucky Woman was about...

Sooooo Much Better Than Madonna's Rags

Finally, H&M is giving me a good reason to shop at their stores: they announced a partnership with Finnish fabric manufacturer Marimekko to produce about 50 items of clothing for their spring 2008 collection, to be released in April. Marimekko will be digging up retro patterns from the 50s through the 70s for the clothing line, and will feature tunics and dresses as well as shirts and shorts for men. Men? As much as I'd love to see a retro daddy wearing a patterned shirt, I doubt any straight guys will be caught dead in Marimekko, but at least H+M is going to try. Could turn out to be a waste of good fabric.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Off to The Big Grocery Store in the Sky

Picture courtesy TVLand.

No more warnings not to squeeze the Charmin! Dick Wilson, the actor whose most famous role was playing Mr. Whipple the grocer in over 500 Charmin commercials during a 21-year period, passed away today. He was 91. The first Charmin ad featuring Wilson aired in 1964, and immediately his character and the product's tagline secured a place in memorable pop culture history.

Born in England in 1916, he was the son of a vaudeville entertainer and a singer. The family moved to Canada when he was a child, and he served in the Canadian Air Force during World War II, and became a U.S. citizen in 1954.

In addition to Melanie, Wilson is survived by his wife, Meg; a son, Stuart; and another daughter, Wendy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Layla's Layout Online

I know I've been posting a lot about Pattie Boyd lately, but the woman's life kind of fascinates me. How many girls can say they were married to two of rock and roll's greatest? Now I've just discovered her official website. It's chock full of personal photos of her and George Harrison, and even more of her with Eric Clapton. Check out the Polaroids section. Clapton apparently likes animals as much as he liked alcohol. There are a few pictures where he obviously looks stoned.

I seriously think these two crazy kids need to get back together. Never mind that Clapton married a graphic designer half his age. It's pretty obvious that he and Pattie still carry torches for each other. What are the odds that the both of them released autobiographies within weeks of each other? They'd make a better couple now in their wiser older age and without the drugs and booze.

Yeah, It's Been One of Those Weeks

A little Friday sendoff for everybody...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Choking Smokers, Don't You Know the Joker Laughs at You?

One way we definitely DON'T want you to go retro is by smoking. Today is the Great American Smokeout, so snuff out the cancer sticks! Never mind what doctors used to say.

Sexiest Man Dead

So People magazine came out with its annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue. Matt Damon. Whoop de doo! And how many times are they going to put McDreamy and Johnny Depp in there?

I propose that Go Retro starts an annual Sexiest Man Dead tribute. There are so many hotties that have passed on to choose from. For example...

We had Errol Flynn:



Steve McQueen...



George Peppard (I highly recommend The Blue Max; great movie!)



I could go on and on and on. These guys were MEN, don't you think?

Sexiest Man Dead! I'll have to think about this one and whip up something in Photoshop soon.

Last photo courtesy of allposters.com.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Go Retro and Help the Environment at the Same Time

It's my kind of bag, baby! These adorable reusable retro shopping bags from Silver in the City retail for $35 for a set of five. Each holds the equivalent of two supermarket shopping bags, making them another great holiday gift idea for the retro lover on your list.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TV Land Presents the 50 Greatest Icons of TV

TV Land presents the 50 Greatest Icons of Television this Friday night, November 16, at 8 PM. If you don't want to sit through hours then I can tell you right now that MSN spilled the beans by reporting that Johnny Carson is number one.

I also heard that Jennifer Aniston made the list. What's she doing on there? I wouldn't exactly call the cast of Friends "icons." Unfunny and talentless, yes. To think that Aniston made the list but not Sid Caesar defies my hope in mankind.

It's Not Such a Small World After All

Picture courtesy the site www.bigbrian-nc.com.

Mickey's too polite of a mouse to tell you, but I'm not (neither polite nor a mouse) so I'm going to tell you for him: people, you're fat, and those of you visiting Disneyland have caused the It's a Small World After All ride to be shut down temporarily to accomodate your expanding rear ends. At least, that's the rumor that Disney won't confirm. The ride opened in 1964 (when overweight people were virtually unheard of) but lately the boats have been getting stuck and even scraping the bottom of the canals because they can't support the growing weight of portly parents and their kids.

I say, weight restrictions!!! This is pathetic when a nation can't control its appetite so badly it forces a Disneyland ride to be upgraded!

I'm surprised that people still visit this attraction; it's soooo outdated. If you want your kids to get exposed to other nationalities, all you have to do is send them to school...or take them to your local 24-hour mart! I think Disney should scrap the ride altogether and replace it with Willy Wonka's Chocolate Riverboat Ride of Horrors to show what happens to people when they eat too much junk. They could put a figure of Augustus Gloop stuck inside a plastic pipe, drowned by chocolate sauce. That'll scare the kids skinny!

Monday, November 12, 2007

For the Retro Pop Culture Book Lover on Your Holiday Gift List

Images courtesy of Amazon.com.

Tis' the season for holiday shopping, and what better gift to satisfy the retro pop culture lover than a book? Here are some new ones I recently came across...

First up is PoPsie: Popular Music Through the Camera Lens of William "PoPsie" Randolph by Michael Randolph and foreword by Quincy Jones. William "Popsie" Randolph was a photographer who was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time: just about any recording studio or nightclub from the 1940s until his death in 1978, which means his photographs capture a who's who of anyone on the music scene in the mid-20th century. Lucky him. Among those his lenses preserved are Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones. Each photograph is introduced with text by his son Michael, who chose the best among his father's 60,000 negatives. Hardcover, 226 pages, retails for $19.77 at Amazon.

Next, for the TV fan there's the book Sitcoms: The 101 Greatest TV Comedies of All Time by Ken Bloom, Frank Vlastnik, and John Lithgow. The book celebrates situation comedies from television's 60-year history, with chapters chock full of trivia, cast lists, and behind the scenes looks at everything funny that graced the small scene from I Love Lucy to Seinfeld. Hardcover, $19.77 on Amazon, 336 pages.


















Lastly, who among us who knits hasn't always said to themselves, "I wish I knew how to make a Mr. T or Queen Elizabeth doll?" Well, now you can satisfy your sick yearning soul with Knitted Icons: 25 Celebrity Doll Patterns by Carol Meldrum. Other celebs who have their images violated by worsted wool include all four Beatles, Madonna, Elvis, and some unusual personalities including Chairman Mao and Che Guevara. What, no Ralphie from A Christmas Story in there? Sure to become a cult classic knitting book, it comes in hardcover, 112 pages, and retails for only $10.85 on Amazon. Happy shopping! Be sure to use an Amazon code when you order!

Remembering...

Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Today is Veteran's Day. I hope everyone remembers all of our veterans and says thank you to those who are living as well as those who are no longer with us. But most of all, I hope for peace.

Happy Retro Holidays

Images courtesy fabulousstationary.com.

Down with cheesy holiday cards that feature Santa Claus hat wearing puppy dogs and wide eyed cherubs waiting for Saint Nick! Tell the folks at Hallmark to shelve the glitter paint and sappy sentiments. If you're like me, you like your annual holiday greeting to be a little more trendy. You like abstract (yes, that triangle is a tree - what's wrong with your eyes?) You like retro. You've come to the right blog posting. I just discovered the site fabulousstationary.com and their lineup of personalized holiday cards. There's one problem: they're not exactly...well, cheap (unless you think being set back $45 for 25 cards is a bargain) but hey, there's no one stopping you from using the inspiration to whip up your own designs in Adobe Illustrator.



Just as fun are MOMA's annual holiday card lineup. Their coolness factor gives these cards the greatest chance of not being tossed out after the holidays have ended and are available through the MOMA site and in certain stores, including Papyrus. They average between $15.95 and $20.95 for a box of eight cards.



Last image courtesy MOMA.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Coasters, The Platters, and The Marvelettes: Together At Last At Twilight Time

Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing three doo wop/vocal groups from the 50s and 60s perform under one roof. Let me correct that: I saw the current members of three doo wop/vocal groups perform under the same roof, because I'm pretty sure there are few surviving members of The Coasters, The Marvelettes, and The Platters still alive. Despite that, you’d never know that you weren’t listening to the real thing.

All three groups had several hits that harken back to the days of pre-Beatles rock and roll (in fact, the Beatles performed The Coasters’ Young Blood and Searchin’ on the BBC, covered The Marvelettes' Please Mister Postman and John Lennon and Ringo Starr each recorded The Platters' Only You (And You Alone) during their solo careers. It was a time when performers could actually sing and harmonize and often choreographed simple moves while on stage. I can't remember the last time I heard any of these groups on the radio. Today's oldies stations very rarely delve into the treasure chest of anything on vinyl before the Fab Four came along, as if they invented the music genre and anything before the British Invasion is considered pap. I'm not knocking John, Paul, George, and Ringo, by the way; I just wish that radio station managers wouldn't forget the glorious songs that topped the charts during the 50s and early 60s. The chance to see them perform live, even if they weren’t the original members, was a treat.

If you’re familiar with The Coasters, who opened the show, you could probably surmise by their whimsical hits such as Yakity Yak (which was sung, rather badly, by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Twins) and Charlie Brown that their stage persona is a gas as well. Wise cracking with glittery suits, they immediately made it clear that this was a party, as they interacted with the audience and brought them to their feet by performing the aforementioned hits, as well as Searchin’, Poison Ivy, and Young Blood.

The Marvelettes were an all-girl group that had pleasant vocals, but could benefit from the guidance of a professional wardrobe designer. Their spandex gowns were extremely unforgiving to their less than svelte figures, and combined with the stage lighting it was pretty obvious that they weren’t wearing bras; thankfully, there were only adults in attendance. They covered Heat Wave (which was not a Marvelettes hit), Please Mister Postman, and Don’t Mess With Bill, which was preceded by a bit of comedic dialogue and the assistance of a male audience member, who was all too happy to get down with three braless women in front of hundreds of people.

But the most outstanding portion of the show belonged to The Platters, sans Herb Reed, one of the original founding members who is still alive. They oozed class and elegance (their female member wore a beautiful pink gown with matching gloves that put the Marvelettes’ garb to shame) and immediately launched into Only You (And You Alone), Twilight Time, The Great Pretender, and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - all unforgettable melodies reminiscent of a time when boys actually asked girls out on dates and made out in the backseats of their father’s Chevy. They also performed The Shirelles’ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and Jackie Wilson’s Your Love is Lifting Me Higher, each member demonstrating powerful vocals that made my eyes teary at times.

The only disappointment during the evening was that the four member backing band (which included a lead guitarist trying way too hard to emulate Eric Clapton in appearance and playing) overpowered the first two groups, to the point that if you weren’t already familiar with the song being sung you’d be rendered helpless in deciphering the lyrics. They were also strangely devoid of a saxophone player, which means many of The Coasters’ hits didn’t sound anything like the original recordings. The sound quality was much better during The Platters’ stage time, because their ballads required a softer touch. That, and having to listen to one member of The Coasters constantly ask the audience who was still in love – a little annoying to a single woman who had taken her mother to see the show!

But these were minor gripes. It was a fabulous show that I'll never forget and hopefully not the last time I’ll get to hear such harmonizing in person.

A Look Back at 1977 Fashion, JC Penney Style (or Lack Thereof)

There's good retro...and then there's bad retro. It's unnecessary to state which category these fashions belong to, but in JC Penney's defense (or offense) they always did have the worst clothing. I mean, these pictures are from 1977...the height of the disco era...and I don't see any sexy threads that I'd wear on the dance floor. It's only been during the last year or so that I've looked at JC Penney's Sunday flyers and seen things of decent quality that I would actually wear.

Anyways, these photos are circulating email right now and were passed onto me yesterday by my good friend Jude. I don't know where they originated from or I'd give the instigator proper credit, but really, the copyrights belong to JC Penney. Having said that, here's a sampling. Brace yourself...

I actually don't see anything wrong with the cover. They're dressing pretty much the way people dress today:



I feel for this child...too many memories of polyester pants from Sears:



This one's really a Halloween costume. It's called "Sleezy Larry the Used Car Salesman":



A sneak peak at the costume design of The 40-Year Old Virgins, the sequel to The 40 Year-Old Virgin:



Nothing says "I love you" like his-and-hers cowboy shirts. Actually, there are a lot of Hollywood couples who should be wearing these instead of the down-to-the-crack pants and booby-showing tank tops. It would be a vast improvement:



It's not easy being green, is it? Of all of these photos, I actually have the least qualms about this one. If you break out the wedding albums of any of my siblings, who all married during the late 70s/early 80s, you'll see Easter egg pastel suits galore. And to be honest, if I had to choose between a man in a mint green suit or a man with the goatee, baseball cap, and big belly look of today you can be sure I'm going home with the male Doublemint twins.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Camelot and Other Stuff Remembered

Cover copyright Vanity Fair 2007.

Sometimes I really like Vanity Fair. Finally, a magazine you can actually read and learn from versus the multitude of rehashed beauty and clothing advice rags. The November 2007 issue is abound with retro goodness: beautiful photographs of John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy taken by Richard Avedon in 1961 (some seeing the light of day for the first time) in all of their black-and-white glory, an excerpt from Eric Clapton's new autobiography, a Q&A with former Pink Floyd band member Syd Barrett, and a study of the rise and fall of the dance craze the Twist. Don't miss it while it's on the newstands. You can also access it all though the Vanity Fair site.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tony Bennett, Scam Artist!

Consumer fraud alert! Tony Bennett is a con artist! Bennett's "new" CD, Tony Bennett Sings the Ultimate American Songbook, Volume 1 (You mean there's going to be a volume 2? Another excuse for this man to be in our faces!) is pissing fans off because it isn't a newly recorded album at all but a compilation of previously recorded tracks from Bennett's career ao artfully disguised as a new collection of songs. One reviewer on Amazon.com sums it up so beautifully: "Sorry Piasan, this CD is a major let down. We expect more from you."

You know, I never cared for Tony Bennett's singing. I just shake my head at him sometimes and think, "Bobby Darin's dead and this guy is still kicking...why?" I hate to be the one to dispense tough love to the Bennettmaniacs out there but to me his singing voice is mediocre; nothing special. His "Duets" album was good only because he provided half of the singing!

Also, he's trying to rip you off bigtime! The old big nosed bastard only cares about making a quick buck! He already is sitting on top of a big pile of money; why does he need to sell his artwork (which I think are better than his singing, by the way) as well? He or his record company could've at least made the real premise behind the album a little more truthful...like calling it, "Mr. Banana Nose Takes Your Wallet!" Haw haw haw!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together With Carol Burnett

The next genius to attain PBS' American Masters status is comedienne Carol Burnett. PBS will air “American Masters — Carol Burnett: a Woman of Character" on November 5; check your local PBS station listings for the exact time. Burnett's variety program aired for 11 years, and I still have fond memories of watching it as a kid with my parents. I plucked a few interesting excerpts from a recent interview with Burnett that I found on the PopMatters site:

She doesn’t watch television much these days, Burnett admits. “Now, it’s all pretty much reality shows, and they can only go so far. And I miss the good dramas and I miss good comedies. And I do miss variety. I mean singing, dancing, sketches, costumes, guest stars. I mean, maybe somebody can come back and a network would have the faith in someone who would do that. I can think of a few people who would be wonderful, but it’s really the suits, they run it.”

Here, here, sister!

“The synergy was just right and wonderful ... I feel sorry for anybody kind of starting out today that might want to do what we did, because I don’t think it can be done anymore,” says Burnett.

“I don’t think a network would have the faith in it, nor would they want to put the money into it. It would cost a lot more now to do what we did then.”


It's so sadly true. I love the old variety programs, but I also don't think they would work today simply because we don't have the talent. I don't want any part of a variety show where Britney Tears, Messica Simpson, or any hip hop "singer" is brought on as the "special musical guest."

I recently found this Glenn Miller tribute that Burnett's show did in the 70s, and I'm not ashamed to admit it made me tear up...especially when Harvey Korman starts singing "The Gal From Kalamazoo." My Glenny would be happy; it makes him so proud.

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