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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Ediphone


 Whilst on a visit to my friend's house, he had something in his yard he (and no one else) could identify. Only that it looked like a "typewriter with no keyboard" But what was it?


It was an Ediphone (or what remained of it.)

The Ediphone was an early dictation machine like the Dictaphone that used wax cylinders (cylinder records were considered obsolete by 1912. But Edison made commercial music cylinder records up until 1929.) But beyond that into the '30s and even as far as the early '50s. The wax cylinder was used for office dictation before it was replaced by belt machines and a few years later, tape - even The Edison Company eventually got into tape.



 ..........until the 2000s when digital took over.

The Ediphone was electrically powered, but strangely recorded acoustically.










Friday, August 16, 2013

The Perfume Counter: Fragrance Commercials of The '70s

Enjoli
                                

Charlie


Hai Karate



Windsong


Brut
















Thursday, August 15, 2013

Then And Now: Band Names You Only THOUGHT Were Original

Nirvana

You know them as a famous grunge rock band that put Seattle on the map for a few years as the rock 'n roll capitol of America.



Hold on to your dirty flannel......Because Nirvana was originally the name of a British '60s psychedelic rock group


Skid Row

You know them as a classic American hair-metal band of the late '80s/early '90s



.....so I take it you don't remember the early '70s Irish rock band called Skid Row.


True Fact: In the embryonic days of Nirvana (the Seattle band) in 1985, when they were trying to come up with their band name, one of the suggestions was Skid Row!

Scorpions

You know them as a good efficient German heavy metal band of the '80s.


....but there was a UK pop band called The Scorpions in the early1960s......




The Eagles

Best known as an American rock band......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjIJGxULpgo

The Eagles were originally the name of a British surf-guitar band in the early 1960's



The Knack (Thanks to raybearokc for reminding me of this one...)

You know them as the biggest power pop band of 1979.....


.....but in the 1960s, there was a band called The Knack (ironically signed to Capitol Records, the same label as the 1979 Knack!)


Coincidence?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh


Religion can make people do funny things. Like join them.

And in the '80s, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was one dubious character.

For me, It wasn't so much the fact he was this strange little Indian guru who came out of nowhere. I was open to new things even back then.

It was the fact he was simply just every bit of a flaming nutjob as Pat Robertson. And the scary fact there are people attracted to people like these is one I've never been able to live comfortably with.   

The Bhagwan came to America in 1981 and shortly located to a remote area in Northeast Oregon. He bought a big 64 acre ranch and decided to convert it into a mini-village for his thousand-strong faithful called Rajneeshpuram.

Naturally, your neighbours up and down the road are going to have a problem with this if you set a thousand-strong strange people out loose wandering around in an area of less than 400 - often driving the Bhagwan around in Rolls-Royces. His teachings were a bizarre mixture of Eastern philosophy, sexuality and material obsession.

I'm automatically suspicious of any religious leader that needs to ride around in fancy new cars while everyone else has to walk.
The extra population boost from Rajneesh's followers (along with the import of several thousand homeless people) eventually was big enough to overwhelm the nearby city of Antelope, OR and by 1984, the City of Antelope became the City of Rajneesh.

City of Rajneesh, 1985
The original residents were angry at the newcomers whom they saw as invaders.

The Rajneeshees also made a series of New Age music albums under the name Basho's Pond.


This album perfectly defines New Age music if you've never heard it before. Note the "audiophile quality virgin Teldec vinyl" and DMM mastering. It was meant to be played on higher end stereo equipment. Which by the time you're finished buying the stereo amplifier, tuner, speakers, CD player, CDs, cassette deck, cassettes, turntable and records, New Age music was essentially an $8,000 wind chime.
You can hear some of it here:   http://ghostcapital.blogspot.com/2012/12/chaitanya-hari-deuter-govindas-deva.htm

 
Now things were really getting weird. And so was the Bhagwan. First he encouraged free love....Then he backtracked when AIDS became a terrifying epidemic. There was no cure for HIV/AIDS (there still isn't.) And virtually nothing was known about it amongst the general population, only that it was only a "gay" disease (it isn't.) Gay people (especially gay men) were targets of persecution across the nation due to the AIDS scare. And there was no shelter to be found in the Rajneesh community for them. Rajneesh preached the same hateful rhetoric as the fundamentalist Christians. He also favoured euthanasia for children born with birth defects.

Things came to a nasty head however when it was revealed Rajneesh's followers were involved in a bio-terrorism plot. Their plan involved contaminating salad bars with salmonella at restaurants in The Dalles, OR in an attempt to thwart the local election in their candidate's favour by reducing local voter turnout. The plan backfired - more local people voted than ever and the FBI and INS quickly began to investigate. It was revealed they had salmonella in vials and a petri dish and Rajneesh and his aides quickly attempted to flee the country. Rajneesh was arrested on immigration charges. But not on the bio-terrorism charges. On a plea bargain, he eventually returned to India, where he changed his name to Osho. He died in 1990.

His ashram in India is still active..

Plaque in Antelope, OR which memorializes the Rajneesh "invasion".......

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Candy Cigarettes


Candy cigarettes were a kids version of the things Mom and Dad had hanging out of their mouths from the '30s to the '80s......

And their boxes looked exactly like their grown up counterparts
 Cigarette companies back then (like modern corporations) liked synergy. Synergy is basically a simple modern word to describe using as many elements as possible to work towards one mutual goal - $$$ (i.e. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"). And in both cases, it worked. Cigarette brands had the extra promotion and the future smoker potential and the candy companies had a ready made pre-pubescent consumer who wanted to look like Mom and Dad.        


And all was well....Until the first warning studies against tobacco use began appearing in the '50s and '60s.

But at this time, the health dangers of cigarette smoking were still largely ignored. After all, up to this time, DOCTORS recommended it for decades. How could they go wrong?

1910s

1950s
But the writing was on the wall. And on the sides of cigarette packs beginning in 1966.  And cigarette ads were banned from TV and radio in 1970. Courtesy ash trays, once ubiquitous everywhere from grocery stores to beauty salons began disappearing. 


By the '80s the scale between smokers and non-smokers began to tip. And candy manufacturers began discontinuing or rebranding candy cigarettes.

However, some candy cigarettes are still being manufactured as novelty/gag items. And others are rebranded as simply "candy sticks".

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Old Food

 It's amazing what lurks forgotten in the backs of some people's cupboards.......

Town House was a Safeway brand.




Saturday, August 10, 2013

900/976 Hotlines


It's 1990. You're watching a late night movie on a crummy local UHF TV station and eating Top Ramen. Your life really sucks. You're broke, working at a worthless job that even the most desperate undocumented worker wouldn't put up with and putting around in a smelly beat up used sub-compact car and no self respecting chick would give a creep like you the time of day.

And then.....You see these commercials:


 
Yep. For just $2.99 to $10 (per minute), you could have a sex crazed love goddess with big hair straight out of 1985 talking to YOU anytime you want on your landline phone. Imagine that!

These commercials aired late nights only (due to FCC restrictions on such hours when kids could be watching - so always after 10pm local time.) But the operators of these numbers knew their target audience: The lonely and insecure.

The 900/976 premium number had been around since the late '70s. But it was used primarily as a specialty number and originally incurred normal long distance charges. That changed in the early '80s. But few people knew of them until the late '80s when the first "entertainment" lines appeared. Then the phone sex lines

 (The ending of the belated 1987 video of Aerosmith's 1976 classic "Sweet Emotion" illustrated what these "hot" women with such sexy voices REALLY looked like. With frightening accuracy....) 

And even shadier types began to exploit them. One number was directed at children and marketed itself through a TV advertisement during kids shows.

If the kid watching was too young to dial a phone, no biggie - the TV commercial contained DTMF tones (the tones you hear while dialing up numbers on a push button phone.) So all he/she had to hold the phone receiver up to the TV speaker when instructed and the DTMF tones contained in the commercial would conveniently dial the number for them through the mouthpiece of the receiver. One family was hit in 1987 with a $17,000 phone bill. So new laws were enacted to prohibit usage of 900/976 numbers towards children.

Soon, numbers for horoscopes, trivia games, health advice and contests began appearing everywhere. TV infomercials and books on how to get into this racket also began appearing.


But none of these offerings were more profitable than the phone sex line.       

In the early 1990s, the internet was just barely getting attention and was still a geek toy with not much content. Most people didn't even have computers then and what little content there was was subject to per minute usage fees. And 14k dial-up only. It would be another few years before Windows 95 and it's internet connectivity would revolutionize everything. Namely in the sex/porn industry.

So if you wanted interactivity in your, um, personal enjoyment. You had two choices. A porn mag and these numbers.

Needless to say, these operators made a lot of money, some becoming multi-millionaires in a few years. And all was well - until you got the phone bill.

How would you be able to pay that bill? WILL you be able to pay that bill?

There were numbers for that too:

(Dionne Warwick was a pop superstar who became a spokesperson for The Psychic Friends Network in the 1990s, encouraging viewers to call a 976 number to get a prediction of their futures from a "real psychic" via late night infomercials. In a sad twist of irony, the infomercials severely damaged her career, she lost her fortune due to mismanagement and in March 2013, had to declare bankruptcy. Her psychic friends had no comment.....) 

Psychic hotlines were also huge moneymakers for 900/976 operators. They were also one of the strangest - the "psychics" seemed to ask more questions than the callers.

900/976 numbers were further stigmatized when internet porn sites began using viruses to alter unsuspecting dial-up users normal dial up connections with that of a 900/976 number which would take control of a computer and instead of connecting it to the regular internet instead directed it to a porn server, which would inundate the user's browser with endless pornographic pop up ads. I remember having to clean out computers with these viruses. It was NOT fun. Or easy. They really took root in Windows 95/98/ME computers with no or outdated anti-virus software. Some viruses also used extortion tactics to get the user to pay even more money to the operator to regain some control over their computer (one virus actually went as far as to tell the user that the extortionware was a beneficial monthly service and demanded a $50 monthly fee!)

New legislation also made it difficult for operators to automatically begin charging when someone called the number.

When broadband internet finally became ubiquitous nearly everywhere by the early 2000s, the 900/976 numbers were no longer profitable and are largely abandoned today.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Nudie Pens



The gift for men that always says "I know you're a sex crazed pervert and I was too cheap to hire you a freaky escort. So here you are. Your secret's safe with me ;) "

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Vintage Japanese Subway Poster



Vintage Japanese subway poster warning of the three monsters you are most likely to encounter whilst on Japanese subways: Nesshii (the sleeping monster), Asshii (the leg-crossing monster), and Shinbunshii (the newspaper-reading monster).

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Disco Duck

In the end.....nobody was spared.

"Disco Duck" Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots (1976)




"Disco Duck" Paul Vincent (1976, French Version)



"Silly Love Songs" Irwin The Disco Duck & The Wibble-Wabble Singers And Orchestra (1977)



"Macho Duck" Donald Duck (1979)