Thursday, January 20, 2011

ELLE DARK'S 1950's TIME MACHINE



Oh the expressions on their faces ! I will never, ever get tired of posting this one. Sexy, sweet toons from Arthur de Pins.
Oh the expressions on their faces ! I will never, ever get tired of posting this one. Sexy, sweet toons from Arthur de Pins.
The 1950s - a short series of posts
I’m more than slightly fascinated by 1950s America and if you’re not then I apologise for being boring but if I was writing a work of fiction I don’t think I could invent a more improbable time or place.
In the 1950s the country was enjoying a period of unprecedented affluence but had no real sense of security. The great depression was still in living memory, WW11 was even more recent, the atom bomb was casting a dark shadow over the nations psyche and then there was the over-hyped ‘communist menace’.
This was the decade when ‘teenagers’ were invented, when cars looked like spaceships and space-travel was becoming a possibility, and when rock ‘n’ roll changed the face of popular music forever.
This was a time when the FBI got into bed with the Mafia, the CIA secretly murdered people and subverted democracy abroad, and the super-rich like Howard Hughes pulled the strings of puppet politicians.
Racism was institutionalized, segregation was a reality for many, and society was rigid and intolerant of deviation from the ‘norm’. Under the shiny, plastic surface it was an age when dark forces were at work that the public simply weren’t aware of.
It was as though in the 1950s people inhabited an agreed fantasy and, while I suppose thats always true to some degree, then there seemed to be a much bigger disconnect between reality and the shared fantasy than usual.
It was a strange, bright, brutal, exciting, deeply corrupt, dark, exuberant, paranoid, optimistic time .. the 1950s. More posts on random 50s subjects to come ..
Ellie
The 1950s - a short series of posts
I’m more than slightly fascinated by 1950s America and if you’re not then I apologise for being boring but if I was writing a work of fiction I don’t think I could invent a more improbable time or place.
In the 1950s the country was enjoying a period of unprecedented affluence but had no real sense of security. The great depression was still in living memory, WW11 was even more recent, the atom bomb was casting a dark shadow over the nations psyche and then there was the over-hyped ‘communist menace’.
This was the decade when ‘teenagers’ were invented, when cars looked like spaceships and space-travel was becoming a possibility, and when rock ‘n’ roll changed the face of popular music forever.
This was a time when the FBI got into bed with the Mafia, the CIA secretly murdered people and subverted democracy abroad, and the super-rich like Howard Hughes pulled the strings of puppet politicians.
Racism was institutionalized, segregation was a reality for many, and society was rigid and intolerant of deviation from the ‘norm’. Under the shiny, plastic surface it was an age when dark forces were at work that the public simply weren’t aware of.
It was as though in the 1950s people inhabited an agreed fantasy and, while I suppose thats always true to some degree, then there seemed to be a much bigger disconnect between reality and the shared fantasy than usual.
It was a strange, bright, brutal, exciting, deeply corrupt, dark, exuberant, paranoid, optimistic time .. the 1950s. More posts on random 50s subjects to come ..
Ellie
The 1950s - The Bikini 
The 1950s was fascinated (and terrified) by the Atom bomb and the fascination was reflected in the scandalous new swimsuit being called ‘the Bikini’ after the Bikini atoll where an Atom bomb test was carried out. What a weird connection, Sex and WMD !!
Of course then (as now) there were people who love to be outraged and always look for it diligently and they were duly scandalized and denounced the bikini as immoral and anti-christian. Some things never change, do they ?
The 1950s - The Bikini 
The 1950s was fascinated (and terrified) by the Atom bomb and the fascination was reflected in the scandalous new swimsuit being called ‘the Bikini’ after the Bikini atoll where an Atom bomb test was carried out. What a weird connection, Sex and WMD !!
Of course then (as now) there were people who love to be outraged and always look for it diligently and they were duly scandalized and denounced the bikini as immoral and anti-christian. Some things never change, do they ?
The 1950s - The Invention of the ‘Teenager’
At the mid-point of the 20th century America was a conformist society, paranoid about threats to its newly expanding prosperity and deeply insecure beneath a brash exterior. The over-hyped ‘red-menace’ was scandalously exploited by corrupt politicians like Joe MCarthy for their own benefit and society generally was fearful of the rise of the ‘teenager’ as a force to be reckoned with.
Previously you had been a child until you were old enough to be a ‘grown-up’ and there was nothing in-between. Now, with the rising levels of affluence the young had purchasing power and the market, never slow to react, began to woo them.
Fashions in clothes, movies and music were hastily concocted and marketed to ‘teenagers’ thus confirming a sense of identity. The older generation, who felt control slipping out of their hands, took it all far too seriously and over-reacted. Those darn juvenile delinquents should know their place and behave !
Perhaps the most quintessentially ‘teenage’ movie of the 1950s was ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ starring James Dean as a confused teen railing against the hypocrisy of the older generation. He made it cool, indeed almost obligatory, to be ‘misunderstood’ and ‘rebellious’.
While ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ was encouraging American kids to embrace their inner angst movies like ‘I Was A Teenage Werewolf’, in which a hapless teenager gets furry-faced and menaces his town, reflected both teenage feelings of alienation and the older generations growing anxiety over the ‘teen menace’.
If only parents in the 1950s could have known what the 60’s would bring they’d have been grateful for what they had, but thats another story ..
The 1950s - The Invention of the ‘Teenager’
At the mid-point of the 20th century America was a conformist society, paranoid about threats to its newly expanding prosperity and deeply insecure beneath a brash exterior. The over-hyped ‘red-menace’ was scandalously exploited by corrupt politicians like Joe MCarthy for their own benefit and society generally was fearful of the rise of the ‘teenager’ as a force to be reckoned with.
Previously you had been a child until you were old enough to be a ‘grown-up’ and there was nothing in-between. Now, with the rising levels of affluence the young had purchasing power and the market, never slow to react, began to woo them.
Fashions in clothes, movies and music were hastily concocted and marketed to ‘teenagers’ thus confirming a sense of identity. The older generation, who felt control slipping out of their hands, took it all far too seriously and over-reacted. Those darn juvenile delinquents should know their place and behave !
Perhaps the most quintessentially ‘teenage’ movie of the 1950s was ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ starring James Dean as a confused teen railing against the hypocrisy of the older generation. He made it cool, indeed almost obligatory, to be ‘misunderstood’ and ‘rebellious’.
While ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ was encouraging American kids to embrace their inner angst movies like ‘I Was A Teenage Werewolf’, in which a hapless teenager gets furry-faced and menaces his town, reflected both teenage feelings of alienation and the older generations growing anxiety over the ‘teen menace’.
If only parents in the 1950s could have known what the 60’s would bring they’d have been grateful for what they had, but thats another story ..
The 1950s - Rock ‘n Roll 
Causing almost as big an explosion as the Atom Bomb in the 1950s was the birth of  Rock ‘n Roll. Until then young people had nothing to listen to but the  same music as their parents, essentially bland ballads, a bit of jazz if  they were daring, or novelty songs. Now they had their own music and  their parents hated it, which made it all the more attractive.
The crossover of what was essentially black music, mixed up with a  dash of country, to a wider white audience was enabled by this man,  Elvis Presley, who was the total package of talent, looks and charisma.  He didn’t invent rock ‘n roll but for millions he personified it. His  importance to the history of music can’t be over-stated. John Lennon  once famously said … “Before Elvis, there was nothing”.
The 1950s - Rock ‘n Roll 
Causing almost as big an explosion as the Atom Bomb in the 1950s was the birth of Rock ‘n Roll. Until then young people had nothing to listen to but the same music as their parents, essentially bland ballads, a bit of jazz if they were daring, or novelty songs. Now they had their own music and their parents hated it, which made it all the more attractive.
The crossover of what was essentially black music, mixed up with a dash of country, to a wider white audience was enabled by this man, Elvis Presley, who was the total package of talent, looks and charisma. He didn’t invent rock ‘n roll but for millions he personified it. His importance to the history of music can’t be over-stated. John Lennon once famously said … “Before Elvis, there was nothing”.
The 1950s - Cuba and the Red Menace
Poor America. As if crazy rock music and rebellious teenagers weren’t enough to worry about in the 50s, there was the liberation of Cuba by Castro.
This deeply offended the American big business and mafia interests who had ruthlessly exploited the island and regarded it as their personal cash-machine. They conspired with the CIA and American politicians to overthrow Castro and replace him with a big-business and crime-friendly puppet.
The CIA undertook terrorist attacks on Cuba as well as many illegal and wacky assassination attempts and even mounted a comically botched invasion. Thankfully for the people of Cuba they all failed, as have the fifty years of vindictive and inhumane economic sanctions since.
As an historical footnote .. the ‘Red Menace’ scare of the ’50s served well as a tool for keeping the American public compliant and enabled their corporate rulers to plunder the resources of other countries until the ‘fall’ of communism several decades later. It was then hurriedly replaced by the ‘Terrorist’ scare which now fulfils exactly the same function. There must always be an external ‘menace’.
Looking back on Americas troubled relations with the tiny island of Cuba, Noam Chomsky wrote “Cuba has probably been the target of more  international terrorism than the rest of the world combined and,  therefore, in the American ideological system it is regarded as the  source of international terrorism, exactly as Orwell would have  predicted.”
The 1950s - Cuba and the Red Menace
Poor America. As if crazy rock music and rebellious teenagers weren’t enough to worry about in the 50s, there was the liberation of Cuba by Castro.
This deeply offended the American big business and mafia interests who had ruthlessly exploited the island and regarded it as their personal cash-machine. They conspired with the CIA and American politicians to overthrow Castro and replace him with a big-business and crime-friendly puppet.
The CIA undertook terrorist attacks on Cuba as well as many illegal and wacky assassination attempts and even mounted a comically botched invasion. Thankfully for the people of Cuba they all failed, as have the fifty years of vindictive and inhumane economic sanctions since.
As an historical footnote .. the ‘Red Menace’ scare of the ’50s served well as a tool for keeping the American public compliant and enabled their corporate rulers to plunder the resources of other countries until the ‘fall’ of communism several decades later. It was then hurriedly replaced by the ‘Terrorist’ scare which now fulfils exactly the same function. There must always be an external ‘menace’.
Looking back on Americas troubled relations with the tiny island of Cuba, Noam Chomsky wrote “Cuba has probably been the target of more international terrorism than the rest of the world combined and, therefore, in the American ideological system it is regarded as the source of international terrorism, exactly as Orwell would have predicted.”
Tags: blog retro 1950s
The 1950s - Motorvatin’ 
I’m no expert on the history of cars (or anything else for that matter) but I do have a genuine fondness for the American cars of the 50s. With their exuberant colors, swooping lines and futuristic chrome fenders they expressed the extravangent vulgarity and optimism of the era.
Car-makers then weren’t afraid to take stylistic chances and cars had individuality, not like the little boxes designed by committee that have since replaced them. Its not surprising that some people have seen them as a visible manifestation of the American Dream.
Those dream-cars from the 50s now lying rusting in junkyards and you could almost see that as a metaphor for the American Dream itself. The one thing you can guarantee in life is change and history teaches us that no country or empire or system stays at the top forever.
Every society has a trajectory, a path of rise and fall. In a hundred years, or maybe less, some other country or political grouping will be the worlds superpower and not America. Thats as certain as anything can be. Everything passes. Nothing stays the same.
We have not come to the ‘end of history’ as some idiot academic suggested a while ago (and I really can’t be bothered to argue about Fukayama or his ‘ideas’ with anyone by the way). Understanding the historical perspective and the inevitability of change must, I think, be helpful in tempering arrogance and making wise choices in the present.
Still, getting back to the subject, the 1950s *was* a time of optimism when anything seemed possible and this was nowhere better refected than in the baroque automotive confections of chrome and pastel color with their spaceship-like chrome adornments and swooping tailfins.
Forget good taste, they had *personality*.
The 1950s - Motorvatin’ 
I’m no expert on the history of cars (or anything else for that matter) but I do have a genuine fondness for the American cars of the 50s. With their exuberant colors, swooping lines and futuristic chrome fenders they expressed the extravangent vulgarity and optimism of the era.
Car-makers then weren’t afraid to take stylistic chances and cars had individuality, not like the little boxes designed by committee that have since replaced them. Its not surprising that some people have seen them as a visible manifestation of the American Dream.
Those dream-cars from the 50s now lying rusting in junkyards and you could almost see that as a metaphor for the American Dream itself. The one thing you can guarantee in life is change and history teaches us that no country or empire or system stays at the top forever.
Every society has a trajectory, a path of rise and fall. In a hundred years, or maybe less, some other country or political grouping will be the worlds superpower and not America. Thats as certain as anything can be. Everything passes. Nothing stays the same.
We have not come to the ‘end of history’ as some idiot academic suggested a while ago (and I really can’t be bothered to argue about Fukayama or his ‘ideas’ with anyone by the way). Understanding the historical perspective and the inevitability of change must, I think, be helpful in tempering arrogance and making wise choices in the present.
Still, getting back to the subject, the 1950s *was* a time of optimism when anything seemed possible and this was nowhere better refected than in the baroque automotive confections of chrome and pastel color with their spaceship-like chrome adornments and swooping tailfins.
Forget good taste, they had *personality*.
Tags: blog retro 1950s

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FEMME FATALE

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RAY CHARLES: LOOKING BACK

As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.


"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.


Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.


Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.


He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.


Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."



Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.




For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.


Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

WHACKO JACKO - AN ODYSSEY

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I HATE CRACKHEAD VAMPIRE MOMMIES THAT FORGET TO LEAVE JUNIOR SOME BLOOD IN THE FRIDGE FOR BREAKFAST.
NOW I GOTSTA GO AND SUCK SOME BLOOD OUT OF MISS TANDY THE MATH TEACHER 
SHE'S GONNA END UP GIVING ME AN "F" IN CARDASSIAN GEOMETRY
 I HATE MY LIFE