Showing posts with label 1956. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1956. Show all posts

Friday, September 20, 2019

Art imitates life imitates art imitates . . . oh, dear

March 19, 1956: I Love Lucy

The Ricardos and Mertzes are in gay Paris. Lucy wants an honest-to-goodness Parisian designer gown. Ricky doesn't want to spend that kind of money.

Lucy has an idea (Here is where everyone needs to run for their lives). She will go on a hunger strike until Ricky buys her an honest-to-goodness Parisian designer gown. Lucy has another idea (If you're still around, you deserve the Armageddon that's about to descend on you and all). She will have Ethel sneak her food, so that the hunger strike actually isn't. Lucy hides the food all over their hotel room.

Ricky feels guilty. Ricky gives in. But then Ricky finds a roast chicken in a camera bag. Ricky grabs the dress box and runs off. Ricky and Fred decide to "show" Lucy and Ethel. Ricky and Fred have Jacques Marcel "designer dresses" made out of potato sacks and put phony Jacques Marcel labels on them. And as a crowning touch, they give Lucy and Ethel a feed bag and a champagne bucket as "designer hats."

People stare at Ethel and Lucy. People laugh at Lucy and Ethel. Humiliation abounds. Ricky and Fred feel guilty. Ricky and Fred buy them real Jacques Marcel dresses (again).

Later . . . Ricky, Fred, Lucy and Ethel see the sack dresses and unique "hats" on models for Jacques Marcel. But Lucy and Ethel had burned their unwitting "designer originals."

Cue face palm from Ricky.

Sept. 20, 1967: D.H. Holmes ad, Baton Rouge, La.

Holy crap.
And that's why you come to this here little blog, folks. There's no absurdity that I won't notice.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How sweet it is, the holiday of the disembodied head

Oh, holiday of the
disembodied head, how we love thy floating '50s splendor!

Thy strings are lush   . . . and so are we, for the Christmas parties are upon us.

How we adore thy understated album covers -- oh, how mine soul is made warm by the crackles of the record which spinneth upon phonograph platter!
Thy martini, thy orchestra, they comfort me! And, lo! Thy floating head on the back of thy LP cover, it doth not creep me out!
Album cover of the disembodied head. It's a '50s thing.
Instead, it giveth me the comfort of sepia memories of a time long past, when verily the heads without torso spread across record albums and advertising like grains of sand upon the ocean shore.
May thy Christmas album be flippeth unto Side B, and may the joyful, soothing sounds of mine youth sound unto the people forever more!
My cup of egg nog runneth over. Surely music and jocularity will follow me all the days of December, and the soundtrack shall evermore float upon the aether . . . like Jackie Gleason's head.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Let's dance!

Here's some of what's been on the old record player the past couple of days.

In 1956, Capitol Records got Benny Goodman and some of the old orchestra gang together to recut some of his classics in hi-fi. And boy do they sound good in high fidelity, pointing out the advancements in recording technology in just the decade and a half or so since the originals came out on 78 r.p.m. discs.

THE ALBUM, The Benny Goodman Story, featured selections from the motion picture of the same name that had just hit movie houses all across America.

What's interesting about this album, which just may be a first-run pressing -- given the packaging and red Capitol label, which changed to turquoise sometime that same year -- is how the cardboard LP sleeve came inside a paper outer sleeve. I don't think I've ever run across that sort of packaging before for a record album.

And that's your bit of vinyl-nerd bait for the day, all the way from the fabulous '50s.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ads that will embarrass y'all in 60 years

For the hell of it, I've been going through some mid-1950s editions of Television magazine, immersing myself into an archival wayback machine.

Trade advertising was fascinating then -- at least to me -- sometimes dry, sometimes cute, occasionally  sophisticated . . . and too often, through the clarifying lens of 2015, horrifying.

Let's just say my little "wayback" exercise is a quick and effective manner of coming to grips with how a culture you were reared in -- and, frankly, didn't think much about at the time because people never see the forest for the trees -- actually was pretty horrifying in many ways.

IN THIS CASE, looking back at 1955 and 1956 through the lens of a television camera, we see a culture that was both deeply racist, quick to stereotype and completely hung up on the glories and nobility of "the Lost Cause." We see a culture dedicated to whitewashing (both literally and figuratively) its defining narrative and embracing an identity that you could sum up as They Who Give the Finger to the Yankees.

The South's past: Not forgotten because it's not really past.

Of course, to be fair. one Minnesota TV station had a trade ad touting itself via the ugg-a-mug stereotypical language of the American Indian, but you have to admit that the South set the standard for casual bigotry in the United States. We Southerners leave our subtlety at the door.

NOW, this has me thinking about matters not of the past but of the future.

My wondering goes something like this: When future generations of Americans -- or whomever -- look through the cultural output of post-millennial America, what things will horrify them that we hardly think about at all? Which of our cultural assumptions will testify against us and our age?

You know, sort of like watermelon-eating black children, branding yourself with the Confederate battle flag or the "gallantry" of Nathan Bedford Forrest?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Party like it's 1959

This is your audio-geek moment for Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Today, we'll party like it's 1959.

Above, the 12-inch, Electro-Voice full-range speaker of -- more or less -- that vintage. I got it via eBay, the best Internet friend of vintage-audio geeks like yours truly. The last part of the previous sentence, I suppose, also could be written sans hyphen and be just as accurate.

Anyway, this "Wolverine" driver from the venerable company is what folks bought when they embarked upon building themselves a "hi-fi" speaker. Basically, it's a woofer, mid-range and tweeter all in one.

Folks back then often got fancy and added a "crossover" and separate mid-ranges and tweeters just like what prevails today, but I'm lazy. Besides, a speaker enclosure with just a good  full-range "coaxial" or "triaxial" speaker was pretty common back then.

Combine something like that with a vacuum-tube amplifier, and that's what you call "vintage sound." I do love me some vintage sound -- probably because I'm a vintage audio geek. No hyphen.

BUT TO GET a vintage speaker for my vintage tuner and vintage amp, I needed an equally vintage cabinet. One, it must be noted, that wouldn't permanently disfigure our checking account. (You'd be surprised at how much a nice, half-century old hi-fi speaker can monetarily disfigure.)

Hello, eBay!

And hello to a Wharfedale W-60 speaker cabinet that's about the same age I am, sans guts. Or a woofer and tweeter, to be technical about it. Fifteen bucks . . . plus some rejuvenating oil, a black marker, a little wood stain and some elbow grease, which turned scuffs and worn-away veneer into gorgeous "character."

Of course, with old speaker enclosures like this, the only thing that's meant to come off is the back. That's bad when the screws that hold the speaker in are too short . . . and in the wrong places for the new-old Wolverine you bought to go in that box.

I had to do something that wasn't pretty . . . but it worked. And nobody will see it, so who cares?

Breakage of particle board and application of duct tape may have been involved.

Is what I am saying. Don't judge me.
AND VOILA! The finished product, voicer of "vintage sound" from my vintage hi-fi setup.

I think it's happy. See?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Midcentury mesmerized

This little Realistic vacuum-tube FM tuner, circa 1956 and manufactured for Radio Shack by Harman-Kardon, kicks serious audio booty.

Fifty-six years old. Monophonic -- in '56, there was no FM multiplex stereo yet. And it sounds like a little bit of heaven. It's just stunning when you get a strong signal into it, particularly on classical music.

The less overprocessed the station's audio is, the better . . . but 56 years ago, that really wasn't a problem, was it? The FM "loudness wars" still were decades away.

I plugged this little gem -- the first to bear the "Realistic" brand -- into my Soundcraft mixer in the Revolution 21 studio, and I'm running it through a Crown D-75A amplifier for now. It really is amazing; the sound just jumps from my Electro-Voice studio monitor speakers.

I'M KIND OF afraid to hook this mono mini (it really is very small) up to the stereo multiplexer -- it might never leave the studio if I do, as opposed to what I have planned for it.

Think I'm exaggerating? Here's a 44-minute MP3 of the thing tuned into the local classical and classic-rock stations. Dear God.

I ALSO got the matching Realistic five-tube, 10-watt amplifier (manufactured by Grommes), which is a real beauty. See?

I've yet to hook that up -- eventually, the Realistic tuner will be paired with it to make a complete 1950s hi-fi system.

If anyone would like to donate a vintage 1956 hi-fi floor speaker. . . .

For now, I'm "making do" with an early-1970s University Sound floor speaker. (Note ironic quote marks. Nothing about a vintage University floor speaker constitutes "making do.")

You'll note the tuner and amp say "Radio Shack Boston." In 1956, there was one Radio Shack, and it was in Boston.

This concludes Your Daily Geek for Tuesday, July 10, 2012. Live long and prosper.