From Shorpy


It snowed this morning. It is snowing as I write this. The long-rage forecast says it will snow next Wednesday.

I thought about that typo and then thought no, that fits.

Earlier tonight I was talking out the garbage. one of those things that says “hey! It’s Thursday, and that means collecting audio clips for Listen, thinking about tomorrow’s column, looking forward to pizza (Davanni’s, pepperoni and sausage, extra sauce) sorting through scans for Product ads and Bleat banners, watching a movie (13 Rue Madelaine) and watching the last “Ripper Street” with some ice cream! But my outside shoes are downstairs by the garage door, so I’ll wear the dress shoes I wore to work because I shot a video. Which meant, of course, that I slipped on a patch of compacted snow, thanks to the slick heels, and I put out a hand to keep my noggin-part from cracking against the stone wall, and of course I twisted as I fell and wrenched my arm. Felt all sorts of soft tissues sunder. Walked back up the stairs wincing, moving my arm back and forth: shake it off, shake it off. That’s been the last week: playing hurt.

The good part is that life still feels like play. There's May to come. If April can't give winter a happy ending, May will come through.

About that picture above. I had been saving that for something, and I didn’t know what. I chose it Sunday because we didn’t know the dog’s fate, and there was something apt about it. The Modern Charon, the ferryman - a Don-Draper type in a hat in a black car on a rainy night. As the week went on it matched the Minnesota mood, which is bleak and weary and resigned, but isn’t that April? The cruelty comes from dashed expectations. Burgess wrote of teaching the poem in Malaysia, and the students didn’t get it; April was just April. It wasn’t freighted with expectations of winter’s withdrawl, daffodils, birds, and all the other calendar art cliches.

When I let out the dog this morning the snow was coming down hard - and it thundered. Normal it may be in the statistical sense, but it all feels askew.

There will be a happy ending. Right? I mean, look at these people and tell me there’s not a happiness in life.

Literally, Life; I found that in an old issue. Curious about the family, I googled. He was the governor of California. The daughter on the left suffered from depression and committed suicide, which turns the entire picture on its head. You just think no, there aren’t any happy endings. But the governor remarried after his first wife died, and when his second wife, Virginia, died in 2010 at the age of 92, the LA Times noted:

Known for their dancing, the Knights sometimes could be seen through the windows of the governor's bedroom practicing their steps. She called the mansion "her Cinderella house" because it reminded her of a palace, Wolfenden said.

"She was born to be first lady," said her grandson, Jonathan Weedman. "She was the most brilliant, loving, charming, genuine and effusive person. People adored her."

And you think yes there are.

I’ve had that sitting around for a while. So it’s odds-and-ends day, then. This amused me: a quick Life mag review of “The Fountainhead.”


I did some more “shooting out the windows” videos last week. Mpls to Denver.



Music by Harold Budd. I have hours of his stuff on my iPod, and when I go to sleep on a plane I put on Harold Budd and drift in and out. I used to hate to fly and never looked out the window; now I can't look away. Every time I fly it seems more miraculous. A boon. A gift of the times. I can endure the indignities of the airport. A small price for being lifted aloft into the sky to look down at the clouds.

You'll note that the V-Disc label says "OUTSIDE START." Some records of the era required the needle be dropped on the inside, but those were for industry use, I believe. The V-Disc project provided work for musicians during the ruinous strike against the major record companies; artists recorded music for the troops, and the boys overseas actually got more new music than the folks back home.

It now seems unlikely I will do a site devoted to old phonograph needle ads of the 1940s, so I might as well dump 'em here.


Tougher than Satan is a slogan just waiting to be revived. These are from Billboard, so they're aimed at folks who stock and repair jukeboxes.

The tender flesh of vinyl doesn't have Satan's toughness; anthropomorphic platters beg for the soft touch of PERMO.



The appeal to regal authority:



If you're wondering about Jimmie Lunceford's ORK, that's his orchestra, of course. 'T'aint what you do, it's the way that you do it:




Some of the V-discs were recorded in famous venues: the Ed Sullivan theater, where David Letterman does his show; the studio which now houses "Saturday Night Live," and the old CBS radio studio that became the symbol of 70s disco society, Studio 54. Captain Kangaroo was shot there.

I think that's the most depressing thing I've learned all day. Captain Kangaroo's studio was turned into Studio 54. There are no happy endings.

No, that's nonsense. There has to be something else in the odds-and-ends file that ends this Friday on a Happy note.





What's that from? A post-war ad promising people that the skies will be theirs someday. The copy:



Tiny print at the bottom said: "In the astonishing world of the stratosphere, your eyes will behold splendors never seen by you before."

They were right.








I'm almost up to 60 music cues so far; the "Couple Next Door" show is an inexhaustible source. They rarely used the same clip twice. In case you're just joining us, this is Library Music - stuff the radio networks had on hand to illustrate a mood or provide a transition. Some questions:

1. Why do I do this? Like most other projects, it's something I would enjoy if I found it. If there's another site that extracts these things, I'm not aware of it. As minor as these things are, I don't see why this part of popular culture should be forgotten.

2. Is there a general repository of these things? Yes, at the "Couple Next Door" site at Listen.

3. Is there any chance these things would ever be used sincerely again, or will they always be considered kitschy remnants that must be viewed ironically? No, and yes.

Here's the latest batch.


It’s like a Stars on 45 version of a symphonic movement:




Ah, my favorite: busy city streets music.




Say, I’m enjoying writing this piece, and seeing where it’ll take me OH CRAP I’M OUT OF TIME




Generic happy-gallop.




More galumphing around.




Have I played this little dance yet? After a while it alll runs together.




What you hear at 4 seconds or so - those parallel lines that sound like they’re in different keys - was a favorite time-waster of the composer.




This’ll get you from one scene to the next, and that's all it's supposed to do.




Listen for the interruption at 6 seconds: It’s as if they threw in these things to keep the music from gliding in one ear and sailing out the other.



This would also work as space music, or anything that has blinking electronics.



All this week the music has been odd, and getting odder. The plot: they fired the biotch of a baby nurse, which means exhaustion, 2 AM feedings, and the like. (They are helped by Aunt Effie, played with spinstery perfection by none other than Margaret Hamilton.) The must gets progressively odder, and I wonder what this disk was labeled. The first seems fit for an Alfred Hitchcock show:



Another Time piece, but more aggressive:



An episode about the daughter’s piano lessons ended with this. Remember: they had this written and recorded and catalogued, just in case they might need this:



Finally, the weirdest piece of library music I’ve ever heard - and considering we’re up to #54, that’s saying something.





Finally, an ad, extracted from a 1960 show. Fritos!



That does it for this week, except for the Friday column and the work blog tomorrow and another column tomorrow and Tumblr. I think I've done my part for the internets. Have a grand weekend! See you around, and thanks for the patronage.












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