In 1963 Attorney General Robert Kennedy prosecuted Eros magazine publisher Ralph Ginzburg for violating federal obscenity laws when Eros ran 8-pages of photos of a naked black man and naked white woman embracing each other (see page 72 of the fourth and final issue of Eros). After a long trial, which went to the Supreme Court, Ginzburg was found guilty and in 1972 was sent to federal prison. He was released on parole eight months later. (Arthur Miller said of the conviction, a man is going to prison for publishing and advertising stuff a few years ago that today would hardly raise an eyebrow in your dentist's office.")
In 1964, during his legal battles, Ginzburg launched a quarterly social commentary journal called fact:, and it was a masterpiece of design and content. Bringing to mind the best of Esquire, Rolling Stone, Spy, and The Realist, fact: was "dedicated to the proposition that a great magazine, in its quest for truth, will dare to defy not only Convention, not only Big Business, not only the Church and the State, but also — if necessary — its readers." (From the introduction to 1967's The Best of Fact, by Warren Boroson). The first issue had a delicious takedown of Time magazine, the titan of news magazines in 1964, with quotes from dozens of intellectual luminaries attesting to Time's treacherousness, propensity to lie, and prejudices (P.G. Wodehouse: "Time is about the most inaccurate magazine in existence."). The first issue also ran an Madison avenue advertising executive's "sojourns in heaven and hell while experimenting with peyote, belladonna, and marijuana," a profile of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell (titled "The Man Who Thinks Goldwater is a Communist"), a piece examining "The Sexual Symbolism of Christmas," and an essay by Bertrand Russell on the inadequacy of the nuclear test ban treaty. Read the rest
The Royal Ocean Film Society examines and contextualizes the beach party movie genre formula perfected and then milked dry by the genius marketers at schlock house American International Pictures. Read the rest
After quitting The East Village Other, John takes Art Kunkin up on an offer to manage editorial at the LA Free Press. Featuring Frank Zappa, Eve Babitz, Marcel Duchamp, and a phone cameo with Charles Bukowski. From John Wilcock, New York Years
John Wilcock describes the circumstances behind his quitting The East Village Other over their review of Andy Warhol's 1966 film Chelsea Girls
In 1966, John Wilcock contributed to ASPEN MAGAZINE, an arts project dubbed "The Magazine in a Box" for its unconventional format. This same issue featured design throughout by Andy Warhol and the first single to ever be released for the Velvet Underground, entitled "Loop".
Charles Manson, the mass murderer and musician, is reportedly close to death at a California hospital. USA Today:
The 83-year-old inmate, serving multiple life sentences at a prison in Corcoran, Calif., has struggled with gastrointestinal problems and been shuttled back and forth to hospitals in recent years. TMZ reports that he was brought to a Bakersfield hospital three days ago and is facing life-threatening ailments.
Manson was denied parole in 2012, at his twelfth hearing, and is not scheduled for another until 2027. Here's his most recent mugshot, from August. Read the rest
From NASA: "On November 9, 1969, the uncrewed Apollo 4 test flight made a great ellipse around Earth as a test of the translunar motors and of the high speed entry required of a crewed flight returning from the Moon. A 70mm camera was programmed to look out a window toward Earth, and take a series of photographs from "high apogee." Coastal Brazil, Atlantic Ocean, West Africa, Antarctica, looking west. This photograph was made as the Apollo 4 spacecraft, still attached to the S-IVB (third) stage, orbited Earth at an altitude of 9,544 miles."
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Before Cathy Lee Crosby (1974), Lynda Carter (1975), and Gal Gadot (2017), Ellie Wood Walker was Wonder Woman! In 1967, Batman producer William Dozier created this short film as a pitch to Warner Brothers. From IMDB:
Unlike "Batman," which was campy adventure, "Wonder Woman" was going to be a straight comedy series, along the lines of "Captain Nice." The resulting short written by several writers on the Batman series failed to win Dozier that approval.
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In 1967, John Lennon tooled around London in a Rolls-Royce Phantom V personalized with a psychedelic paint job. After years traveling around to various US museums, the car recently returned to London for a new Rolls Royce exhibit at Bonhams. Rolling Stone's Jordan Runtagh tells the story of the trippy whip:
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Exactly how Lennon decided on the lurid Romany floral/zodiac hybrid is subject to some debate. Anthony recalls Ringo Starr planting the seed of the idea during a drive in early 1967. "We were passing the fairground one day and they were admiring the fairground decorations and gypsy caravans. Ringo said why not have the Rolls painted the same way. John thought it was a great idea." However, others say the idea was suggested by Marijke Koger of the Dutch design collective the Fool – who would also paint Lennon's piano that summer – after Lennon commissioned a refurbished 1874 gypsy caravan as a present for his young son, Julian. Either way, the chance to indulge his eccentric taste, while simultaneously delivering a massive "V-sign" to the staid British high society, proved too tempting to resist.
Doubtful that Rolls-Royce themselves would ever submit to such a drastic makeover of one of their prized vehicles, Lennon paid a visit to private coach makers J.P. Fallon Ltd. in Chertsey on April 8th, 1967, to discuss the design. After spraying the body of the car yellow, local artist Steve Weaver was tasked with painting the red, orange, green and blue art nouveau swirls, floral side panels and Lennon's astrological symbol, Libra, on the roof.
The original name for The Beverly Hillbillies was The Hillbillies of Beverly Hillbillies. The core cast in this unaired pilot from 1962 didn't change with the new name, and it also features the amazing customized 1921 Oldsmobile Model 43-A touring car built by car customizer George Barris (who created Black Beauty from Green Hornet, the Batmobile from the 1966 Batman TV series, and the Munster's Koach).
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The Loop-a-Lot is described by this YouTuber as a "crummy toy." Is it really crummy? Well, it probably didn't keep kids amused for more that 45 seconds. So, it probably is crummy.
The purpose of the toy is to balance pennies on points inside cutouts of a paddle while you spin it around your finger. You could make one out of a piece of cardboard in a couple of minutes.
The manufacturers knew this toy would be a hard sell, so they resorted to the desperate ploy of incorporating a suit-wearing, roller skating monkey into the commercial. Read the rest
Liza Minnelli, John Byner, Aretha Franklin, William F. Buckley are the guests in this TV special, "Woody Allen Looks at 1967." The opening title sequence is 10 times too long for today's audience. Allen's opening monologue as a weird long joke about a hate crime. Aretha Franklin performs a couple of songs, including "Respect," Liza Minnelli lips syncs "The 59th Street Bridge Song" and "Up Up and Away" on a set that looks like she's in the clouds, and William F. Buckley provides comedic entertainment.
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"What's your handle, creep?" "Don't tell us to move to another channel!" "You sound like you're dying... why don't you go ahead and drop dead!" Trolling was alive and well on CB radios in the 1960s, as these vintage South Philly conversations from 1969 prove. Read the rest
Miles McDermott is a modern-day millennial hepcat from Phoenix who has set up the most impressive 1960-vintage pad I've seen outside of a soundstage. Read the rest
There are lots of books about baby boomer toys, but this fun collection is presented from the viewpoint of the kids who played with the toys and includes lots of personal memories and photographs. Sure, there are many interesting facts and histories about well-known toys and their creators. Classic toys and games that are still made today like Tonka trucks, Easy-Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Twister and Mousetrap are featured in loving color photographs and vintage ads. Their stories are well-known, too. For example, writer and artist Johnny Gruelle patented his rag doll design in 1915, the same year his daughter Marcella died after a controversial smallpox vaccination. The Rageddy Ann and Andy dolls and books helped Gruelle keep his memories of his daughter alive.
Famous fads include the '50s Davy Crocket Coonskin Hats, the '60s Troll dolls, and the '70s Pet Rock. Toys always reflect the times they’re from and this book provides plenty of cultural and historical background. Only after the heady 1960s and '70s with women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, and Black Power movement would there be an anatomically correct African American baby boy doll, Mattel’s Baby Tender Love, molded in life-like vinyl skin called Dublon.
Other less well-known toys are long gone from the toy store shelves but live on in the very personal memories (and actual childhood photographs!) featured throughout the book. Home health training specialist Lisa Crawford (b 1963) appropriately recalls the insanely dangerous metal-tipped lawn Jarts. I was delighted to find Make editor and fellow WINK contributor Gareth Branwyn’s (b 1958) recollection of using his own Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit to get an A+ on a school project (and to keep tabs on any hometown polluters!). Read the rest
An exploitation documentary that looks at Los Angeles youth culture in the 1960s. Without mobile phones they had to amuse themselves with sex, drugs, music, surfing, and motorcycles.
From the YouTube description:
Greasers, Mods, Beehived Go-Go girls, and pre-Hippie "Mod Generation" run wild in MONDO MOD, a lunatic look at the Hollywood Youth Scene of 1966 that's so hilariously dated it's almost breathtaking! From discotheques to dirt bikes, political protests to pot parties, MONDO MOD takes you to the Neon Neverland of the Sunset Strip, peers into an underground drug den, and even rides with an outlaw motorcycle gang!. Before there was Woodstock there was MONDO MOD, complete with mini-skirts, surfer dudes, narration by L.A. deejay Humble Harve, photography by Laszlo Kovacs (Easy Rider) and Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters Of The Third Kind) and non-hit title tune "It's a Mod Mod World!"
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Avant Garde magazine ran for 16 issues from January 1968 to July 1971. It had a small print run, but is treasured today for its gorgeous design by art director Herb Lubalin. It was edited by photo-journalist Ralph Ginzburg, who was indicted by U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the 1960s for distributing obscene literature through the mails. This website has scans of most of the issues. I would love to have the dead tree version of the complete run.
Avant Garde is a seminal, but somewhat overlooked by a wider public, magazine, which broke taboos, rattled some nerves and made a few enemies. The magazine was the brainchild of Ralph Ginzburg, an eager and zealous publisher, even if the path that led to Avant Garde wasn’t so straightforward. It represents the third major collaboration between Ralph Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin, the magazine’s talented art director. The two previous magazines came to unexpected demise due to their candor and provocativeness, that landed them into legal trouble.
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