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Tuesday, July 14 | The Bleat.

At the coffee house. Haven’t been here in a while. Less a house than a store, really. The music playlist today is 80s. From the speaker poured that famous piece of mid-80s German fatuity, “99 Luftalloons.”

Said to nice young clerk:  ”Nothing like 99 Red Balloons in the original German!” 

Pity smile. Pause. “I’m sorry, what?”

“It’s the song – it was a hit in the 80s. This is the German version. It’s better because you don’t have to understand the lyrics.”

“Oh! Well, I wasn’t around.” Smile. Pause. “What can I get you?”

Kids today. No respect for kids of yesterday. Thing is, we were required to know every fargin’ thing about the 60s when we were coming up, being schooled in the ways of the Most Important Musical Genre Ever. You were required to nod at your elder and respect their sage ways, and thus I found myself in a few dorm rooms listening to peers explain why Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Reefer and Cocaine were incredible not just for their harmony and song-writing skills, but their abilty to make music that on longer than three minutes. To which you could only say: may all your girlfriends take “Love the One You’re With” to heart everytime you’re out of town. 

To be honest, I did listen to a lot of Zeppelin, but at least they were still alive, still producing, still touring. The first three albums seemed to come from another era. 

I’m in the EVIL SUBURBS again. Came out here to get anti-itching spray for the dog and a fishing rod for daughter. You know, the average trip. Both are needed right away, which is why – to repeat myself for the 9348503rd time – I’m glad I live now, because getting on a streetcar to go downtown for these things wouldn’t be an option. And I doubt they had anti-itch dog spray in those days. Your dog itched, you let him scratch. Didn’t get her a licensed or endorse rod – the options for kids were Hannah Montana, which holds no interest, Barbie, which is SO little-kid-and-long-ago (she had to use a Barbie one today, and complained bitterly about it. I reminded her of the hours she spent on the Barbie games, and we had a happy conversation on the way home about the merits of each. Game nostalgia: it’s one of those things we have. I suspect more dads have game nostalgia in common with their kids than Moms. BECAUSE MOMS ARE BUSY DOING THINGS. Okay, okay, Betty F., take a Miltown.) There was a Transformer rod, which I wouldn’t get lest it turn itself into an animate, self-aware Cuisinart, and a Spider-Man rod. No. I got something else, but it seemed too big – so just to make sure she was equipped, I went to the Sports Authority, a place whose name sounds like all your purchases are legally binding. Found a kid’s rod she may or may not like – it could be construed as Too Kid, but she could think it’s cool. I will not reveal the existence of the backup rod until the other, cheaper rod fails. 

Got the dog spray. Hope it works. He’s miserable. Hasn’t moved much all day, since the slightest motion seems to set off twitchy itching. Just touching a flank leads to twitchery. 

Off to home; I’ll report back to see how the brightly-colored rod went over. 


And it’s a go! Good. 

Now outside, enjoying a Reyka on the rocks – I drink this vodka because I feel bad for Iceland, and want to do my part for their evaporated economy. Unless they raise the price again. I’m having internet contrusions again, and the despair, she is great. The same damned problem; pages load a bit, then stall. Everything loads a bit, then stalls. File transfers start out “robustly,” to use the word people like to throw around when they’re talking about the internet, and the transfer rate trickles down to nothing. Three ISPs. Two different routers. Three different modems. New cabling on everything. COVAD techs to the house to check out the wiring. No one knows anything. No one has any idea. It’s making my job impossible and I do not know what to do. 

And now, for no good reason except that it’s something I’m vaguely interested in this month: the Faces of The Price is Right, part 4. You can learn more from game shows and magazines than history books and pre-fab dramas. This is what people actually looked like.

Trust me. I was there.

The modified Purple Conductor’s Hat. All above the Groovy Railroad:



It’s always nice when Miss Garland drops by, dead or alive:


On to the contestants:



They were reacting to A NEW  . . . sailboat. As you can tell, Lady Jumpsuit on the left is doing a quick grim calculation; the lass on the right, wearing one of those sternum-high bosom-accentuation devices so popular in 1974. is just stunned by the beauty and majesty of the moment. 

The winner was:


Bob said "I need a chiropractor after this"


Panathea.  Here’s where it gets interesting. Of the PiR shows I’ve seen in this series, it’s white, white, white – one fellow of Japanese ancestry, and he was a gardener by trade. Panathea was Black, and a delightful contestant , just the sort of happy extrovert the producers look for when they’re vetting the people queued up to watch the taping.  

I do wonder if the producers, or anyone in the booth,  worried about this:


Ah, the smell of a new fridge!



A fridge full of watermelons. But that was the prize for the next round, and I’m sure the producer was happy Panathea won the sailboat. Still, I wonder  if anyone thought “uh oh” when Panathea came on down, given the fridge-full-of-watermelons to come, or – quite possibly – perhaps people gave no thought to the matter? You can make the argument that they should have been concerned, because it would look bad. C’mon, the African-American contestant wins a sailboat, and we give her watermelons. Yeah, that’ll play well. Or  you can say Who Cares? The only color on this show is Green. Well, also orange, lots of orange, but mostly green.


Lady Jumpsuit seems to have strolled out of a country-western song, no?

Right now I'm in Arkansas dealing with the problems what flows from relations


Miss Gwenny Paltry, come on down:


I never believed I would be able to bid on an ugly motorcycle I don't want but now it's all coming true


This woman ran down with confident obvious athleticism:



Bob noted she was very good at running. She’d gotten a lot of practice being chased by boys? She said, well, no. Oh, then you got a lot of practice running after the boys? She said, well, no, Bob. I felt bad for her; most people don’t expect to end up on national television interrogated about the frequency with which they pursue the opposite sex on foot. 

The prizes. We have to discuss the prizes. This was a luxury premium box in those days. 


Avocado AND burnt orange on one box: beauty


Burnt orange AND avocado green. Win win.

This was an acceptable car in those days. My. God. 

Only Anitra could make this ride worthwhile


When it came to the showcase, it was Lady Jumpsuit against Panathea. Keep in mind they get a Black contestant once every two months, or so it seemed. What’s her showcase? A trip to fabulous . . . 


Oh joy


Immediate cutaway:


Thanks, but, whatever


Gracious, she was. But she passed to Lady Jumpsuit. And now, here’s your fabulous showcase!


I say old chap,  I'm having the damndest stirrings in m'loins


Riding lessons! Immediate cutaway:


I'm with her


I’m not trying to make a big deal of race and culture here, but it does illustrate the assumptions the show made. You can’t get any WASPier than sailing, horseback lessons and a trip to Norway. 

One more thing: kids, do you know what Janet’s holding?

Please leave your message at the sound of the strangled carrier pigeon

State of the art high-tech c. 1973. An answering machine. 

LATER: Comics up around 11 or so; Miscreant Roundup at buzz.mn for your noontime reading pleasure. 






81 Responses to Tuesday, July 14

  1. Pazzesco says:

    That was fun, until we got to the car. Was that a Gremlin? I have the awful feeling we’ll be seeing it’s clone from GM in the not too distant future.

  2. Ed Driscoll says:

    Obligatory Star Trek Connection: Based on the surreal red color of the cyclorama and the rustic wooden fence in the background, clearly the Gremlin was photographed on the same Desilu soundstage where they filmed “Spectre of the Gun”…

  3. Ed Driscoll says:

    (Not to be confused of course, with Spectre of the Gub, starring Woody Allen and Louise Lasser.)

  4. John Everett says:

    What did AMC call that color on the Gremlin? You think it’s scary now, gas up after midnight.

    I bet driving that thing took some getting used to, all that hood and hardly anything behind you, like driving from the back seat??

  5. Ross says:

    My family is, as Billy Connelly described the Scots, “beyond white–we’re pale blue people” and you’d have seen the same schwa reaction from my mom to those prizes. ‘Course, we’re working-class Krauts, not WASPs. Can you imagine winning such a useless load of merchandise and then having to pay the taxes on it? Egad. Or, rather, Gott im Himmel!
    I remember those Eskimo Pie packages being more gold & red(but still very ’70s) than a.g./b.o.

  6. JimsShip says:

    Looks to me like the fridge is packed with hams and meats, with only 1 watermelon showing. (Hope they’re kosher!)

  7. Not only are those meats, they’re those fake meats they use to display in refrigerators and suchlike. For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by those. I’ve always wished I had some to sling around the house. “Just move that crown roast there and make yourself comfortable!”

    I used to know someone who had an orange Gremlin. Now I can’t think who it was. The dull blue color looks unnatural, somehow.

  8. John F. Opie says:

    Hi -

    99 Luftballons was the song I loved to take use to show Germans how stereotypical their thinking was.

    And of course, the real obligatory Star Trek reference is the original German of the song:

    99 Duesenjaeger
    Jeder war ein grosser Krieger
    Hielten sich fuer Captain Kirk
    Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk
    Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft
    Und fuehlten sich gleich angemacht
    Dabei schoss man am Horizont
    Auf 99 Luftballons

    The english version of the song does this no justice, as it goes like this:

    99 Knights of the air
    Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
    Everyone’s a superhero.
    Everyone’s a Captain Kirk.
    With orders to identify.
    To clarify and classify.
    Scramble in the summer sky.
    As 99 red balloons go by.

    But it rhymes, I guess. Sort of. Loses everything in translation, of course.

    99 Duesenjaeger/99 combat jets
    Jeder war ein grosser Krieger/each one a great warrior
    Hielten sich fuer Captain Kirk/thought of himself as Captain Kirk
    Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk/there was a great fireworks
    Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft/the neighbors didn’t understand
    Und fuehlten sich gleich angemacht/and felt threatened
    Dabei schoss man am Horizont/and all the while
    Auf 99 Luftballons/we were just shooting at 99 balloons

    The original German is much closer to the cliche of Captain Kirk, albeit not the “reality” of his character.

    And the best thing is: after the 99 balloons result in thermonuclear war, at the end of the song she finds a red balloon and lets it fly.

    Noooooooooo! Idiot. There it starts all over again…


  9. Mxymaster says:

    As the old poster used to say, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love watermelon.”

    Dad bought a used Gremmy around 1979 and that thing ran like a dream. The engine was overpowered for its size; it would have worked fine if there’d been an actual chassis instead of half a chassis behind it. (The back seat was largely a product of the imagination, or felt that way anyhow.) At a stop sign you thought you stalled because it was so quiet. Anyway, it looked unkillable until, as usually happened with our old cars, my father sold it to my cousin who ran it into something. My cousin did that to three of our old cars. I think he did it to our old fake Christmas tree. The guy is a menace.

  10. Mike Kozlowski says:

    …re: the Miss Garland pic: That is soooooooooo wrong. Dementedly, hysterically funny, but wrong.

    BTW on the Gremlin – when the car was originally introduced, the base model didn’t have a back seat, opening backlight, or a radio. The thing sold like nickel hotcakes, though, and if you got the base model with the 232, you could lay a heck of a surprise on the local drag racers.

  11. PersonFromPorlock says:

    Actually, the 1970 AMC Hornet, of which the Gremlin was a truncated (or maybe trunkated) version, was a very nice looking car in a neat, tucked-in, Mercedes-Benz sort of way. I remember driving one briefly in the late 70s and being struck by how solid the body felt despite advanced northern-tier rust.

  12. Kat_in_Ossining says:

    That’s a fridge of meat. Hmm, what does it say that you saw it as watermelon?

  13. joe says:

    when I was a boy I wanted a gremlin, my brother wanted one of the new
    hatchback chevy novas, unfortunately for him he got a ’74 chevy nova around
    1981. Lead Sled. Watch out for what you wish for, or at least specify a timing on your wishes.

  14. Rich says:

    My mom may not have nostalgia for video games, per se, but she definitely recognizes the music of the games we played as children. She may have been busy with other things, but the music was always in the background…

  15. Grebmar says:

    There is 1-2 watermelons in there. At least there wasn’t chicken, too.

    So, what was the price on the answering machine? The iPhone of its day.

  16. kc duffy says:

    One of my best friends got a red Gremlin for high school graduation in 1973. I was SO envious. Thought they were cute then, still think so today. But my first car – in 1974 – was a ’65 Mustang, and I’d get another one TODAY if I could.

  17. FreeState says:

    I had a college professor (a so called media expert) who claimed that you could learn everything you needed to know about America simply by watching the Price is Right.

    That was in 1982. He was probably right then, and he’s probably right, today.

  18. Russell says:

    I’m with the fake meat clan, which to me is more disturbing than the watermelon, considering Mr Barker’s stance on animal rights (yes, I know it’s FAKE meat, but still subliminally endorsing carnivorism!) In later years, I know Bob didn’t allow fur coats on the show, and probably not fake fur, either…

  19. Marc says:

    Jeez, James, you used to drive a Pacer. I’m not sure you should really be making fun of Gremlins ;)

  20. THX 1138 says:

    If the anti itch spray doesn’t work, you might try flaxseed oil, you’ll need to go to a health food store to get it. Make sure they’ve kept it refrigerated. One teaspoon a day is all that’s required. My last dog would practically scratch herself to the point of bleeding, and had terrible skin flaking. I probaly spent close to $1K on vet visits, different anti-histamines, allergy tests, etc. with no luck. The flaxseed oil cured it up the same day I gave it to her.

  21. THX 1138 says:

    PS: I forgot. As always, and I’m sure it goes without saying, but check with your vet first……

  22. Jimchig says:

    That’s Janice Pennington. Not Janet.

    These little things matter.

  23. hpoulter says:

    The AMC Pacer made TIME magazine’s list of 50 worst cars of all time, along with the Corvair, Gremlin and Chevette (that was mine):


  24. hpoulter says:

    We had a cat who scatched himself bald and crazy, and he was cured with steroids. He was still crazy, but a lot calmer and not itchy.

  25. rbj says:

    Wow, just wow. There was so much of the 1970s that I had repressed. And now it’s all flooding back. What’s next, pictures of leisure suits?

    My parents’ dog (a Westie) had recently been suffering from itching. The solution was to cut out all people food and so he only gets lamb & rice based dog food now. I can’t recall if there were medications involved too.

    Even with hairy armpits, there was something about Nena that captivated me.

  26. Patrick says:

    I nearly choked on my breakfast when reading some of the alt-text on the pictures, especially the last two. I wonder what teenage boy circa 1973 got the wrong idea about said “riding lessons” as offered by the one model. Giddy-up.

    Those earlier answering machines didn’t have the pleasant beeps of the more newer models, did they? I remember ours having a long, drawn-out mechanical squeal that sounded like someone was sitting on a cat, telling you when to leave a message. I also remember it taking regular cassette tapes, which when full, I had been given to use as a blank when I was 7 or 8. I remember sitting and listening to the messages, and at one point a conversation between me and my dad had been recorded. I could almost see myself in the same position I was when I originally had the conversation.

    As for the fridge, I’d have to agree with what someone else said a few posts up: Those look more like cured meats than they do watermelon. There may be one section of watermelon in there, but for the most part they look like meat.

    Arguably, I don’t think it would be racist. Perhaps the cured meats and/or watermelon were put in there to show just how roomy it really was on those shelves at their “default” settings (sounds like software, doesn’t it?), so that you wouldn’t have to worry too much about readjusting the shelves to hold large, bulky foods like whole hams, chickens, or watermelon. If they had a bucket of chit’lin’s in there, however, then I’d begin to wonder. I think in a lot of appliance showrooms they use similar techniques, with plastic “life-size” food stand-ins, to indicate just how roomy a fridge, oven, freezer, whathaveyou is and how capable they are at holding such large items with ease.

  27. Wooglin says:

    Can we banish the word WASP from the lexicon? It’s an ethnic slur, like JAP. Have you ever heard anyone say “I’m a WASP”? It’s also redundant because all Anglo-Saxons are white. Love your race!

  28. Lou Shumaker says:

    That sound you heard is my paradigm shifting without a clutch.* I’m reading the “OMG ZOMG” note, checking the Urban Dictionary for the ZOMG, listening to a mash-up of Nelly Furtado vs. The Egg vs. Madonna, (google “Best of Bootie” to see what I mean), and feeling stupidly happy that I’m here — what with war overseas, our economy running aground at home and idiots in DC and Harrisburg — and not there.

    That Eskimo Pie box proves that the drugs of the ’60s wasn’t all that and a cup of tea.

    * Courtesy Scott Adams

  29. Lars Walker says:

    The girl in the purple hat looks just like the Norwegian singer Sissel when she was younger. But she was a lot younger than that in the ’70s, so it’s not her.

    I had a Gremlin, and loved it fiercely. Horrible car on snow and ice. I don’t know what they called the purple color, but the paint job on my yellow one was called “Mellow Yellow.”

  30. State of the art high-tech c. 1973. An answering machine.

    “This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message – I’ll get back to you.”

  31. teach5 says:

    Those fake meats in the freezer reminded me of the trips to Sears with my parents when it was time to buy a new appliance. They had the coolest displays–dishwashers with plastic domes so you could watch them spray water all over the dishes. The freezers and fridges all had that plastic food, packed to the brim to entice those housewives! The washing machines had clear tops, too, and it was a great way to entertain the kids while dad talked to the salesmen. Then, it goes without saying, that we bought a quarter’s worth of Swedish fish and popcorn on the way out!

  32. Minnesotan in Illinois says:

    I believe that was AMC’s “Maxi-Blue” color.

  33. Dick Hassing says:

    I remember a PR episode that had a black person winning a tanning themed
    showcase. There was a tanning bed plus a trip to Sunny Somewhere.

    Courtesy of the US Air Force, I spent almost the entire decade of the 70′s
    overseas. When people bring up the decade, I sort of draw a blank. Tres

    However, during a short period back here in the States, I remember driving
    behind a Gremlin or a Pacer (the one that had the gas tank cap in the rear)
    and watching as the gas sloshed out whenever the driver moved ahead at
    the green lights. He had forgotten to put the cap back on at a service
    station. He most have lost a half of a tank by the time I was able to get out of my car and run up and tell him about his problem.

  34. gmann63 says:

    Dad had an AMC Hornet when I was really young, pale green. After his fourth kid was born, he traded for the AMC Sportabout, which was just the station wagon version of the Hornet. We drove that thing to death, then he passed it to my younger sister (I had bought a 1972 Chevelle Malibu – how I loved that car!). I don’t think the AMC ever stopped running, I think we just got rid of it one day.

  35. Chrees says:

    Wait… who won the showcase? I hate cliffhangers.

  36. bgbear (roger h) says:

    it’s fake meat.

    One of the funniest prizes on a game show I remember is most likely not funny to anyone here. It was the Newlywed Game and the winning couple got a fabulous trip to Santa Maria, CA!

    I told you it would bust a gut. Santa Maria is my hometown, in a valley, 10 miles from the beach, population at the time 38K (sal- lute!). So, right off seemed perplexing as a prize. Actually the couple may of had fun as they were guest of the annual Elks Rodeo and Parade, rode in the parade and got box seats at the rodeo and got treated to all the big BBQ parties.

  37. bgbear (roger h) says:

    I like Mexican pop songs because I do not speak enough Spanish to understand what they are saying.

    Although my Spanish in minimal, I am 99% sure the subject matter usually does not include nuclear holocaust.

  38. jeischen says:

    You’re right, teens of the ’70s were required to be up on their knowledge of ’60s bands or perhaps more accurately, late-’60s bands. Our elders (FM DJ’s) taught us all about the history and trivia of the members and the albums of The Doors, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles, Clapton, Hendrix and, of course, my personal heros, Led Zeppelin. They had been to Kashmir, to the Misty Mountaintop, to California with an achin’ in her heart. Jimmy Page was a guitar god. After their first six masterful albums I can’t tell you the huge letdown I got from “Presence.” “In Through the Out Door” was a disappointment. By the time “Coda” came along, I had moved on. I can’t imagine me trying to get my kids to appreciate the intricacies of Page’s guitar solo on “Stairway to Heaven” but I did notice my oldest daughter had TIVO’ed a special on Green Day, so maybe the rawk gene still survives in my family.

  39. hpoulter says:

    I think 99.99% of all Spanish songe contain the word “Curacon”. Portuguese songs: “Curacão”.

  40. hpoulter says:

    songe = songs

  41. HT says:

    Because it came on after a dip in the lake, it should be considered that Jasper’s itching is due to a parasitic skin infestation. Our neighbors’ kids went swimming in a lake a while back and came back with “swimmer’s itch”. There are several parasites that can cause this condition.

    It normally clears up on its own, since it represents an interruption in the parasites’ life cycle (the little devils move from snails to birds and back again in temperate bodies of water). If the itching persists for more than a few days, the treatments mentioned above may help (steroid cream more so than the flaxseed oil, however).

    If the condition is really severe, oral steroids (prescription only) can provide relief while it resolves itself. I mention this because if it is the cause, you will want to keep Jasper (and yourself and Natalie, of course) out of that lake in the future. Actually, out of most lakes, since this problem has become much more prevalent in the last decade or so.

  42. Nancy says:

    That is definitely meat in the freezer. And I can’t believe Janice Pennington’s fingernails. She must not have had to do anything resembling work. And those are too funky-looking to be fake.

  43. HunkybobTX says:

    As a sailor, I’d love to see the sailboat they had on the show. Probably a catamaran.

  44. wiredog says:

    That woman isn’t “african-american” she’s Black. Probably damn proud of it, too. IIRC, “african-american” was a product of the Reagan Era. The 80′s, anyway. None of the guys I knew in the Army in 85-88 were African American. They were Black Americans, and damn proud to be both!

    Completely off-topic, but considering our host’s interest in old architecture, pictures I took in Utah over the July 4th week:

  45. Interesting commentary re: AMC and their deceptively speedy products. I drove a Matador police car in the 70′s. It was a (mere) 360 cu. in. which was not their super top of the line hemi engine, and Lord that thing was fast! The acceleration was akin to the Millenium Falcon going into jump space when the stars elongated. It was, however, risky to do anything but go straight down the road. The rear end seemed so light that any bump could cause you to go airborn like Steve McQueen. Not a desirable experience unless you are actually that guy.

  46. Wow! There are large print issues of the King James Bible smaller than that 1973 answering machine. Guess you had to have plenty of table room availiable when you bought one of those.

  47. John says:

    Sorry to be pedantic, hpoulter, but this is a perfect time for me to be that and a boor too and jump in and say it’s Spanish corazón and Portuguese coração. Also in Portuguese, I have heard ataque nuclear in a popular song, though I agree coração crops up more often. I have long felt that these arguably sonorous languages nevertheless suffer where English does not, because in English alone do “money” and “honey”, and “love” and “of”, rhyme. Haven’t heard a south-of-the-border version of 99 Red Balloons, though I have heard the Portuguese version of Blue Moon – does that count for anything? I didn’t think so. Well, Mr. Lileks, enjoy that Icelandic vodka. I didn’t know Iceland made anything except enormous blocks of cooled lava and a phonebook in which the whole country is listed in first-name order. Iceland was actually my first “European” trip, in 1983 and on a bicycle too, but like all European trips, it just shrinks with time and/or number of Latin American trips. If all a person knew about Germany was that 99 Red Balloons came from there, I’d say that person knew quite a lot.

  48. Bridey says:

    “Deceptively speedy” indeed — I briefly owned an AMC AMX, bright yellow with black trim. It was sort of a six-cylinder Hornet, and it didn’t look like much, but that thing could move. I bought it from a cop.

    My next car was an ’86 Mustang, which still had that ’70s vibe about it. Perhaps the most muscular hatchback in history.

  49. GardenStater says:

    @gmann63: “Dad had an AMC Hornet when I was really young, pale green.”

    Did you try flaxseed oil on that pale green problem? I sure hope it eventually cleared up. It must have been hell trying to get a date. ;)

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