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."
Image Credit: NASA Read the rest
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.
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).
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.
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!"
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.
The Family Acid is my favorite Instagram feed. It's a stream of photographer/author/explorer Roger Steffens's vintage snapshots of his dynamic, inspiring, and psychedelic life in the counterculture since the early 1960s. Roger's children Kate and Devon are the editors and curators of their dad's hundreds of thousands of slides and negatives.
Kate has just issued these fantastic enamel pins for just $10/each. The "LSD did this to me" design is based on her dad's original pin from 1960s. As Boing Boing patron saint Timothy Leary once said, "You have to go out of your mind to use your head!"
One of my favorite toys as a kid was Creepy Crawlers. Introduced in 1964 by Mattel, it was a kit that let you make rubber insects, spiders, snakes, lizards etc. It came with a set of metal molds, squeeze bottles of liquid plastic called Plastigoop, and an electrically-powered, 390 degrees Fahrenheit open-face hot plate called the Thingmaker to cure the Plastigoop. It's the kind of toy that would be deemed to dangerous today because of the high heat and shocking hazard (the kit came with a mold cooling tray that you filled with water and placed next to the Thingmaker).
I may have gotten a couple of first-degree burns using Creepy Crawlers, but I never regretted it. It would occupy my friends and me for hours at a time. My kids would have loved the Thingmaker as much as I did.
The Fright Factory was an especially cool Thingmaker toy. It was a kit that let you make macabre prosthetics: scars, long fingernails, a third eye, a diseased tongue, fangs, etc.
Nightflight's Bryan Thomas has a good article about the history of the Thingmaker line of toys, with lots of images. And Bob Knetzger wrote a terrific article about Mattel's line of DIY Toys for MAKE.