1920’s Musical Anomie

The 1920’s were an
interesting time in
American history.

The earliest part of
the century had a
strong vibe of puritanical
stuffiness that, by the
time of the roaring 20’s
had caused a significant
social backlash.

The reaction to Prohibition
is often singled as a leading
factor in this general sense
of anomie.

But the huge casualty
figures from World War I,
and the 1918 Spanish Flu
epidemic —

(which had also
killed off millions of the
younger generation),

caused many ’30 and unders’
to rethink their lives and
seize upon the pleasures
available.

Skirts got shorter,
dances got closer,
movies got naughtier.

Slang changed dramatically.

Single girls no longer
waited for introductions
to suitable men for the
purpose of marriage.

It was a time
of experiment,
testing limits,
trying new things.

“Carpe Diem” was
the defining
expression of the era.

Living life to the fullest,
riding like ya stole it,

burning the candle at
both ends,

— burning out was better
than rusting away.

Sure,
you hear that stuff today,
but those people were the
first generation really doing it.

There was a wealth
of changes
in the music world, too…

— fusions and
inclusions —

— off beats,
— down beats —

like the proverbial typewriting
monkeys, it seemed that the
harmonizers of the day were
really going to find the lost
chord if they could just
create enough melody.

And of course, the lyrics
were as racey as the times
themselves.

Sheet music from the
time bears this out
very clearly.

The covers can be
wonderfully done,
and are often
very telling indeed.

Many 1920’s people
bought racy sheet music
to place conspicuously
somewhere in their homes,
to show just
‘and how in the know’
they were.

Sorta like a coffee table
book with Marilyn Monroe
nudes would be today……

But back then.

You know,
23 skidoo
and all that.

Ahem.

If you’re interested in
1920’s slang,
why not check out
one of my posts
on that very subject here
(imagine that!)

And,
if you liked these
vintage racy song sheets…

well, there are plenty
more on a previous
post of mine on that
subject, too  –
– here .

I hope you enjoy them
and
thanks for dropping in !

.

!!! HOY !!!

.

.

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Stupid Automotive Inventions

Today on
Stupid Automotive Inventions:

” The Horsey Horseless”  ,
” Caddy Cocktails ” ,
” The Steering Wheel of Death”

Yes,
these and less,
much much less.

Damn, I already
gave away
the premise of the post
in the title, didn’t I ?

Ah well.

I guess that
I’ll just get on
with it, then –

Go on,
be that way.

The Horsey Horseless.

Invented in 1898 by a
guy in Battle Creek, Michigan

( the home of Corn Flakes –
which seems somewhat appropriate here, somehow … )

– the Horsey Horseless
was supposed to be
an automobile that
wouldn’t scare the horses,
which were the main
transportation modalities
at the time (that’ll be 20 cents
for that word, by the way).

The theory was that since
the thing had a horse head
on the front, (which doubled
as a fuel tank) the animals
would just figure it was a
very noisy, smelly stallion
that ran on gasoline and not
go all skittish and all.

No, he didn’t know
anything about equine nature
– that’s obvious- and it was
an abject failure.

Hell, folks forgot all about it,
till some high falootin’ loud
mouth musclehead put it on
his blog 120 years later.

Shame on that guy.

Ahem.

I would mention the
in-car record players,
at this point, but I’d truthfully
love to play around with one
of those, so…

Hey-
what about that
“Steering Wheel of Death “,
you ask ?

Well, did you ever stop and
wonder how Sammy Davis Jr
acquired that glass left eye?
( or was it the right ? )

Ahh — interesting story —
that points directly to the
Steering Wheel of Death.

‘Cause the 1954 Cadillac
El Dorado Brougham he
was driving was equipped
with that thing when he got
in a collision in Los Angeles
and his face came straight
down hard upon the bullet
nose style heavy chromed steering wheel.

Cadillac discontinued the
feature shortly after that,

(and you’ll rarely see one that
hasn’t been replaced with a
less dramatic shape today)

— however, they decided
to double down on safety
in the 1957 El Dorado, by
equipping it with a mini-bar
in the front passenger area,
complete with custom cocktail
glasses.

Man, they did it
with style,
you gotta admit.

Sure, auto makers could improve
the efficiency and safety of their
cars, and did in many ways –
but never at the expense
of style or profit –
at least until inventors and
regulators got involved.

Here’s a good example
of what I mean –
– notice the narrow
tail-lights on the car
in the next picture. 

Most cars of the period had
very small indicator lights
because it was considered
old-fashioned and unstylish
to incorporate larger ones –
thus, phosphorescent mittens
were invented to help drivers
signal a turn.

But- let’s not forget
the part in the car
that causes the
most traffic accidents —

— the nut behind the wheel.

And I got a feeling that,
other than dehumanizing it,
self-driving automated cars
ain’t gonna change any of that.

!! HOY !!!

.

Back Seat Front Seat

In an era where they
can’t seem to stop
talking about driver-less automated cars,
it seems somehow appropriate that we
post on a concept
that has kinda become
a figure of fun, intentionally
or not, by today’s drivers –
– drivers licenses.

I’m sorry
(no, I’m not)-
and I hate to gripe
(no, I don’t) –
but it seems to me that
the quality of education
programs for new drivers,
and the skill level of
even experienced drivers
these days, is pretty
damned rotten,
generally speaking.

Bring back those horrifying
driver’s education films of
the 1950’s and 1960’s like
” Signal 30 “,
” Blood On The Highway”
” Signs of Life ”
” Drive and Survive ”
” Mechanized Death ”
and “Hell’s Highway” , man.

(I’d link some of them, but
I still get nightmares from
” Blood On The Highway ” )

I don’t know if it’s all
the padding, air bags,
belts, alerts, alarms,
computer controlled
parking devices and
other such millarkey
that new cars are
built with,
but yow, man –
is it dangerous out there.

Drivers today just don’t have
that healthy look of terror
that baby boomers learned
to have before they started
a 4000 pound car to go
hurtling 70 miles per hour
down the average pot-holed
and badly maintained highway.

And I’m thinking it might
be part of some evil conspiracy
to convince the remaining
good drivers out there
( you know who you iz )
that we could actually
BENEFIT from the whole
automatic car thing –

– which of course,
is absolute horseshit.

It will drive insurance rates up,
road taxes up,
vehicle registrations up,
and make it almost impossible
for average Joe to afford
to operate his own car,
especially vintage ones.

It won’t just keep BAD
drivers off the road –
it’ll keep us ALL off em.

Unless you got a gold plated
comb-over that is.

I know it, you know it —
but they’re still gonna
try and do it.

Try, my ass –
they will do it.

And it don’t sound like
there’s a damned thing
we can do about it.

Nuts.

Anyhoo…
I came up with a couple of
pieces of trivia about driving ,
that I thought might make me
feel better about the future.

Cause, when you think about it,
the past was pretty stupid, too.

Did you know:

The first driver’s license
in the world, in 1888, was
issued to Karl Benz in the
Grand Duchy of Baden.
(now part of Germany).
And yes- that Karl Benz.
And no, it wasn’t a 450 SL.

In 1899, the cities of New York
and Chicago became the first
places in the United States
to require a license.

Anne Rainsford French Bush
became the first licensed
female driver in 1900 –
and she drove for over
50 years without an accident.

The first state to require
an examination before licensing
was Maryland – in 1910.

Most states didn’t follow
suit until the 1930’s.

South Dakota didn’t even
require a license until 1954,
or a test until 1959, and
still maintains the lowest
age requirement in the U.S.
– 14 1/4 years old.

That the first ‘modern’
three light traffic signal
was invented by a Chicago
Police Officer ?

Before that, cars on urban
streets were manually directed
by live officers, sometimes
in tall ‘traffic towers’.

In the United States,
it’s referred to as a “Driver’s License ” ….

– and in Britain a ” Driving Licence “,

and in Canada (like Britain)
the word ” licence ” is
spelled with two c’s.

The world’s first drive-in
restaurant was Kirby’s Pig
Stand in Dallas, Texas –
the year ? 1921.
Mmmm…. bbq and cars –
an unbeatable combination.

Add a pretty girl, and :
the world’s first drive-in
movie theatre was opened
in Camden, New JerseyImage result for spooning in the car vintage
(across the bridge from
Philadelphia) in the
summer of 1933.

If things went …
ummm…
well..,
if they progressed
in a certain way from
there, you know,
there was also the first drive
through wedding chapel,
which was opened in
Las Vegas in 1951’s .

Drive through divorce?

Naaah —
You shoulda taken those
movies about wrecks much
more seriously, man.

!!! HOY !!!

.

PS:
OK — here’s one.
Don’t watch it too close to bedtime.

The Ford Crestline

This week we answer
a Reader Question:

What was the
Ford Crestline?

In 1952 – 1954,
the 115 inch wheelbase “Crestline”
was the designation
for the top
of the Ford
automotive lineup-

— and yet —

it’s a nomenclature
that is rarely heard of
or thought of today,
except in car magazines,
shows, etc.

But at the time,
it was extremely popular
with a stylish trim set,
despite the car being
similar to previous
Ford models in
many ways.

Standard equipment
included a three speed
on-the-column manual
shift, power steering,
power assist brakes,
oil bath air cleaner,
and chrome panels,
trim rings and caps.

It was assembled for most
dealerships east of the
Mississippi at the Chester,
PA. plant with parts shipped
directly from Detroit.

To some extent, the modern
car buyer might feel a bit
confounded about how
automobile models were
categorized in the 50’s:

but simply put, there were
three Ford automobile
designations in 1952- 
all with 115 inch
wheelbase frames:

a base model called “Mainline”,
a mid-range model “Custom ”
and, of course,
the top – “Crestline”.

On top of that, then,
would be a body style:

In order
to get the ‘Victoria’
(luxury version),
the ‘Sunliner’
(a convertible),
or ‘Starliner’ – you
had to start by ordering
or buying a Crestline.

In it’s first year (1952),
the car was offered in 2
door hardtops and
convertibles- the only
four door Crestline available
was an 8 passenger Country
Squire station wagon.

It took two years,
but in 1954,
a four door sedan,
as well as a 2 door
‘Skyliner’
( a coupe with a
tinted transparent
acrylic strip built
into the roof )
became available.

Crestline always came
with a 239 C.I.,
110 HP, V-8 engine,
until it’s last year,
when a 223 straight six
was offered.

In 1955, the Crestline
was discontinued completely, and a new
model, the Fairlane,
took it’s spot at the top of
the Ford lineup.

Thanks for your question !

What The Butler Saw

You’ve probably noticed
the occasional “Mutoscope”
cards that have been posted
here from time to time
on the Muscleheaded Blog….

And you might have
wondered just what
the heck a “Mutoscope”
was, anyhow.

Mutoscope was actually
a trade name name of
a large company in Chicago-butler
the American Mutoscope
Company-

….who originally made an
early motion picture device,
similar to the Edison Company’s Kinetoscope, using flip cards on
a ‘Rolodex’ sorta wheel, to
simulate motion.

The wheel would hold
about 800 cards, but
would only display
for a few seconds,

…..so to see the whole
‘movie’, you’d have to
continue to put in coins.

I’m pretty sure that
you’ve seen the kind of
thing in museums
and some older arcades —

You put a coin in the device,
you turn the handle, a light
turns on inside, and you look
down into a viewfinder.

The most popular title back
in Great-Granddaddy’s day
was called:
What the Butler Saw ” —

—  a series of scenes
featuring a Victorian
Age lady undressing in1
her bedroom as if
seen through a
keyhole —

( at right, you can see
one of the more ‘explicit’ scenes from this vintage set )

which, when viewed by
contemporary standards
would be considered
very mild, even trite,
as far as pornography goes,

……………. but at the time
was extremely racy, indeed.

In fact, the short Mutoscope’s
suggestive title became a
catch-phrase to describe
the whole genre.

I love these things–
I’m absolutely fascinated
by them.

Not that I didn’t know
that those stuffy Victorians
got naked, exactly,
but that
they actually got turned on
by the thought of a pretty
lady doing it.

Anyhoo…..

These things got so
popular, they were soon
found almost everywhere —

….. and were being made by a number of different companies
in a number of different formats.

Not all of them showed m3
risqué material, either —
far from it .

Most were completely mundane —
like cartoons, news films,
travelogues, etc……

But there were a number
of devices that, while not
containing actual salacious
material,

( and sometimes not
even a ‘moving’
image, but a
picture card
or a diorama )

….. would have a ‘come-on’ sign
advertising something very
confidential and prurient–
(using the old PT Barnum rule)

IF one would only put
in a coin to see for themselves.

Like this one-
The sign advertises
” Very Naughty ”
” Strip Poker ” –
put your coin in,
and ‘ voila ‘ –

111

The joke would then
be revealed —
——— usually an innocent view,
some kind of pun or
a play on words.

Disappointment
for a penny….

Not a bad price to enjoy
a laugh on oneself, I guess.

I remember one from
my childhood that was
in the corner of this
old candy store —

escoIt said:
” CLOSE UP-
LIVE NUDIST COLONY ”
on the machine,

….. and when you
slipped in a nickel,

( hey, even I’m not old enough
for the penny version )

…………….. you got a magnified
view of a living ant farm.

By the 1920’s, the whole genre of
coin operated gizmos were being
called “Peep Show” machines —midgetmovie
and they were usually found
in penny arcades.

The flip card format
was especially
good for displaying
still images slowly –

So, more and more machines
were set up to show 12
images for a coin —
– timed at 3 second intervals.

This was used for all kinds
of materials, views of a city
for instance, or humorous cartoons….

…..  and came to be called
“Exhibit Cards”.

But the most profitable
ones displayed Pin-Ups.

Sure, there were cards for sports,
comics, fortune telling, movie stars, flowers, and patriotic themes, (just about anything!),
but the ‘girlie’ ones , especially
those featuring Pin Up Art,
were top draws.

The cards for these machines
were done by artists who are
now considered to be past
masters of the Pin Up genre —

…….. including Gil Elvgren, Zoe Mozert,
Rolf Armstrong, Earl Moran, etc.

a2The pin-up exhibit cards were soon also finding a marketplace outside arcades, at news-stands, in magazines …..

And especially, in vending machines, selling them individually, or in series.

Their popularity hugely increased once World War II broke out….

Every serviceman had at least one set of these, it seemed.

Two major companies were marketing the majority of the cards, Mutoscope, and Exhibit Supply Company,

….. although today, most people
just generically call them
“Mutoscope Exhibit Cards”.exhibit

The cards had a very distinctive look then, and now,

……and most are easily identified,

because of their ethereal colors and simple, airy design  —

— printed, as they were, to display just as well under the lights and magnification of a Mutascope machine,

………… as to hold in your hand and view them up close.

Usually, they had some kind of legend, pun, or title that was vaguely relevant to whatever position or activity the pin-up girl was engaged in —

………..  well known titles of individual Pin-Up Exhibit Cards included:

Disturbing Elements ” ( Gil Elvgren ) disturbingelements

Hit the Deck
( Zoe Mozert )

I’ll Say So
(Rolf Armstrong)

Visibility Perfect
( Earl Moran )

Jutht My Thize
( Howard Connolly )

Anchors Aweigh
( K.O. Munson )

Up to Par ” ( Edward D’Ancona )

Red, White and You
( Billy DeVorss )

Would You?
( Earl Christy )

Air Minded
(Mable Rollins Harris )

Total Eclipse
( Haskell Coffin )

Shoulder Arms
(G.C. Orde )

Sailor’s Sweetheart
(Hy Hintermeister)

Keep ‘Em Flying
(Vaughan Alden Bass )

All told, there were at least
10 sets of these Pin Up
Exhibit Cards printed in
the early 1940’s —

……… or, about 500
cards in all, although some
were repeated
over several sets.

Unfortunately, many of these
wonderful vintage cards
have no signature,

………….. and we can only guess
who created the artworks contained on them.

The cards fell out of favor
after the War, as many servicemen returned and
settled down to domestic life —

Sexy returned to
being something
out of the social mainstream…
taboo and undesirable
for the ‘new prosperity’.

And even the greatest
pin-up artists
of the time were pressured to
‘tone down’ their more risqué
work for peacetime printing
applications — calendars, advertising, etc.

During the Eisenhower years,
pin-up girls were often pictured
wearing knee length garments,
with prim and proper posing,
and the cards with girls in
wispy lingerie again became
hard to get novelties.

Boy,
it seems society’s
blue-noses always find
a way to piss on one’s
parade, it seems.

Not that a little ‘coyness’
once in a while can’t be
sexy, too, I guess.

Either way —
we still have these
vintage cards to
enjoy, right ?

!!! HOY !!!!

.

allamericangirls1941mutos

Propaganda Perspectives

It’s easy to forget,
sometimes that other
societies have a perspective
on things that is very
different from our own.

It’s probably a major reason
why we have so much conflict
in the world.

One way to understand
(of course, that doesn’t
mean you’re going to
agree with it ) things
from the other guy’s
viewpoint is to look at
his sources for information.

If he really doesn’t like you,
based on cultural reasons
alone, there’s a good chance
that he’s been taught that
you’re a big fink by the
educational and political
institutional media of his
society.

Some of the references
are rather random,
but most of it is part of
a larger and tightly controlled
frame of reference-
— a plan, if you will.

That ‘planned’ part is what
we call propaganda.

Most of us are familiar
with our own U.S. propaganda,
some of it made by Disney
Studios, during World War II.

And while we might look back
on it with considerable concern
about the stereotyping and
hate-conjuring that was being
reflected in similar publications
and media, we also should
remember our enemies were
doing likewise –
— and in many cases,
much more so.

The idea is to keep both the
warriors in the field and the
folks on the home front
completely sold on hostile
actions and/or a war effort.

Vilifying the enemy can
take many forms – and one
effective method is by
illustrating the peace-loving,
purely defensive and innocent
nature of ‘our side’ – and a
malevolent, aggressive and
monstrous face representing
the other.

An excellent example of this
can be seen in the Japanese
print art genre known as
‘ Shou Kokumin ‘ –

— very loosely translated
as ‘ Children Playing Soldier ‘ .

There were numerous pieces
produced, and both the term
and the genre was very often
utilized in pre-1945 Japan.

Take this card
for instance:

It was released
commemorating the
Russo-Japanese War and
the Battle of Mukden,
and was part of an effort
to justify the invasion of Manchuria.

The fact that the Japanese
during the Imperial Period
gave children extensive
military style training makes
the image even more startling
to us, and more effective as a
piece of domestic propaganda.

Another example features
a child soldier in samurai
costume standing guard
at the border of the newly
created Japanese puppet
state of Manchukuo –

— a result of the aforesaid
Japanese invasion of
Chinese Manchuria after
the Battle of Mukden.

It’s a distinctive and appealing style, that completely belies the
implications regarding children
and warfare.

Which, of course,
makes it very effective
propaganda, indeed.

The Pontiac Star Chief Custom Safari

Every one who grew up
in the United States has
some kind of happy
memory when it comes
to automobiles.

I have lots of them,
which is one reason
I love cars so much,
I guess.

It might also explain
why I’ve owned so many
of them over the years.

The 1955 Pontiac Star
Chief Custom Safari brings
back images of a dear Aunt,
who owned the car until she
died in the 1970’s.

I remember she’d come
to visit, and I’d climb right
into the front seat of that car,
and admire the absolutely
beautiful control panel —
otherwise known as a
dashboard.

Hell, what did I know –
– I wanted to be a spaceman –

– and this thing was
retro-futuristic in the
coolest sorta way.

I’d make believe I was gonna
drive/fly the thing —

Houston, we are
go for launch.

Sure, I know the formula—
Pontiac = Cool.
Star Chief = Cool.
Station Wagon = Not So Cool.

But you know,
despite the math….

I’m still pretty damn
sure it was the
grooviest looking
grocery carrier
that was ever conceived
by Detroit.

Keep your Chevy Nomads –

-the Pontiac had touches that
totally outclassed it’s kissing
G.M. cousin.

In 1955, Pontiac unveiled it’s
new 180 horsepower O.H.V
287 cubic inch V-8 —
as well as a new body and
interior for the Star Chief,
including that ultra cool control
panel we talked about earlier,
which was featured in the 1955,
1956, and 1957 models.

The ride was
soft and quiet.

The interior was
plush and luxurious.

It’s exterior lines
screamed Pontiac.

And the fact that not
even 9100 of these
were even sold during
the car’s three year run
makes me wonder what
the hell what was up
with car buyers
at the time-

— but my Aunt always
did have her own
sense of style, and
wonderful taste.

!!! HOY !!!