The worst of all possible Mondays: Strib piece due, NR column due, Strib column due tomorrow. I am pleased to note that I have knocked out two and have the third in my head, ready to go. But don’t they all start in your head? Even before you have the ideas, don’t you have the words and the templates of style, like the materials for a house can be found at Home Depot? True, but sometimes you don’t have the piece formed up. You might have a cloud of thin gas, which becomes a piece once you start writing. At that point it’s like taking dictation.

Cold today. Cold and gloomy. It’s the forecast through next Wednesday, which leads me to think this is, on balance, one of the more incompetent Aprils in memory. I dread the greening, if it happens during a brisk May. The quantity of clement days ahead suddenly seems to shrink, and the space between the door of spring and the door of winter looks like those portals in adjoining hotel rooms.

Well, let's see . . . anything random to show you today? Because I've bugger-all. I did some rote resizing for future websites - you know, updates for 2031 - and I found some people captured for eternity in some 1933 World's Fair postcards.

Say, this place looks fun!

It's just possible this fellow really enjoyed the French Atmosphere.

Or it's a jot of dust on the negative. I'd like to think he's having an absolutely wonderful day.











The first episode of Dragnet 1969 has someone in PD PR asking Joe Friday and Officer Gannon to do a late-night talk show. They don’t want t, because they’re just simple inarticulate cops who can’t hope to compete with the slick-talking experts, but of course Friday rips off his arguments with rat-a-tat precision and hermetically sealed logic. It’s a remarkable ep, and it makes the famous argument with the drug guru look like a sitcom.

First of all, we have the host of the show:


He’s groovy, daddy.  You can also tell he's a shallow TV personality who's just picking public scabs. We have the Leftish Professor of Leftism, Emeritus:

That’s an old Mark VII stalwart. Stacey Harris. I swear he's in 61% of all Dragnet radio eps.

They bring in a counter-culture guy who runs an underground magazine - you know, the sort of rag with sub-Crumb comix and album reviews, and it never came out on time, and had head-shop ads in the back, and eventually half the editorial staff was busted on a vice beef, and the ones that didn’t go to the clink stayed on and greyed up and were ranting about fascist Ronnie Raygun in the 80s, getting the occasional puff piece in the mainstream paper because their readers had grown up and gotten real jobs, instead of hanging around a messy office with a supposedly progressive boss who treated the workers like crap:

Proto-Fever! He goes by “Don Sturdy” here.

The questions are raised by a parade of stereotypes. Friday argues them all into sullen agreement. TThere’s hardly anything about this you'd have to change today, aside from the fashions. 

The actor is listed as Dick Williams. After him comes a Hispanic guy and the actor credited is Speedy Zapata.

This was the season opener. No crime. Okay. The next one I watched concerned Friday and Officer Gannon running the night watch out of Random Crimes, which meant a stream of crooks and crazies parading through the garishly lit office. There would be a moment for Comedy, when Officer Gannon described his lunch (“Sauteed crawfish scrotums. I’m tellin’ you, Joe, you don’t know what you’re missing. Make a world of difference.”) but it’s mostly Friday barking into the phone. There’s an entire bank robbery we never see, just hear on the radio. But they bring in a guy who slugged a merchant:

We have lost the archetype of the Vietnam Vet who wears his ratty Army jacket as a statement, man. Dragnet was one of the means by which the Hippie Demographic (and its corollary, the Dirtbag) was defined for Middle America. Friday loses it on this guy, and gives him a long speech about how much dead time he’s going to serve before he even sees a judge, and none of it will count towards his eventually term of imprisonment. Take that, caterpillar lip.

It’s fascinating stuff. The original Dragnet radio show was groundbreaking, and eventually ossified into ritual, but no one cared. The original Dragnet TV show was stark and dark. The TV revival looks like a dispatch from a parallel world at this point, composed entirely of cliches. As the saying goes: at first Jack Webb was the man. And then, in the end, he was The Man.

Still love the guy. He had a furrow, and he was smart enough to plow it.



It’s 1978. Food ads from the paper.

We want you to relax while we pack it and put it in your car:



But why? I’m not saying she doesn’t, but what’s the standard for deserving and undeserving?


They keep saying “tangy” as if we all don’t know this stuff was hideously over-sugared:

You get a good notion of food prices, options, and tastes when this stuff is marketed as supper.

It helps to market cigarettes in the food pages to remind people that dulled taste buds make a lot of this other stuff acceptable.

“Rich” meaning . . . not a puff of air, like some Lights. But if you started out on lights, they were all rich, unless you smoked Carltons.

Ah, for the days when people thought they were doing something good for themselves by switching to lights, and had small periods of self-recrimination when they fell back on the regular smokes.

“All lightly coated with batter” so it’s basically just one thing, really.

TASTE O SEA would be brine and weeds in some places.

Trademark info: “The current federal status of this trademark filing is CONTINUED USE NOT FILED WITHIN GRACE PERIOD, UN-REVIVABLE.”

It was registered to a guy in Omaha.

I do not recall ever having pizza whose sausage left an “ugly after-taste.” AND THAT IS A FACT

How can it possibly be homemade? What’s more, homemade pizza was the worst. That stuff that came from the box? Really? And why, oh why did they ever name it that? Well:

Tombstone was founded in Medford, Wisconsin, United States, by Pep Simek, his brother, Ron Simek, and two other individuals in 1962. The name came from The Tombstone Tavern, a tavern owned by the Simeks which was located across from a cemetery, hence its name.

I can’t find it.

  Anyway, they insisted on going with the Old West idea in icons and typography. So you think about the graves of prospectors, I guess.


The 19th century packaging was intended to make you think this was whole and healthy. People were really interested in dense bread in the late 70s; quite a novelty at first, and then a class signifier.

There was a real Catherine Clark. Five years before this ad she sold the brand for $5.5 million. In 1996 it was sold for $146 million. Bimbo's got it now.

Fussy about cleaning? You won’t find any woody bites in your asparagus.

Festal was, and I suppose is, the gold standard for something else.

The Minnesota-born pumpkin brand was a longtime holiday staple before it began disappearing from local grocery store shelves. For decades it was produced by the Owatonna Canning Company in southern Minnesota. In the '90s, the brand was sold to Chiquita, and then to Seneca Foods Corp. in 2003. Now the cans are a rare, coveted find.

This little clip shows us the hues of the ad, if you’re curious.

Well, I was curious.



That will do! The penultimate batch of Sam Spade's hair-oil adventures now.




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