Welcome! If this is your first visit, you might be a bit
confused. There’s a certain homogeneous look to personal /
promotional websites, based on popular Wordpress
templates. The big hero image, the sidebar, the boxes with
icons and big text, all that crap. Or there’s something
quite spare, with a picture of the host in a circle.
What is this thing?
Simple: The anteroom of the internet’s most diverse,
idiosyncratic, and individually curated pop-culture
museum. Note: that’s the last time I’ll use “curated.”
But it’s true! I am pretentious. Also, this site is a
one-man effort, assembled over two decades, its
innumerable sub-sites gathered together under general,
It’s not some idle project, occasionally updated. The
Bleat, a blog that’s celebrating its 24th year, contains a
M-F essay, some piece of old commercial ephemera, a
rotating feature on everything from cliffhanger serials to
old radio to main street America to the ads of the 1930s
or 1970s, and a link to the daily site update.
And that's just the blog. Scroll down for the total
enormity. I hope you enjoy the site. Twenty-three years, and
What is the
Institute? A good question. It began
as a repository for odd things I scanned - and
by “scanned,” I mean I took pictures with a
video camera, and used a frame grabber to get
the images. Cheap scanners didn’t exist.
As time went on, anything that
was “vintage” or “retro” and could be gently
mocked went into the Institute.
the main page. Some of the popular sites:
Gallery of Regrettable Food. The classic
from 1997, it spawned two books. Still updated -
huge addition in 2019, and more coming in 2021.
Desecrations: bad interior design of the
60s and 70s.
Gobbler: the Grooviest Motel in Wisconsin.
Redone in 2019.
Art of Art Frahm: the effect of celery on
Permanent Collection of Impermanent Art:
what if we treated advertising illustration with
the same pretentious analysis we use for museum
And much, much more.
Yes, I'm taking on the entire century. Except for the 90s. This has been ten years in the making, and the 50s site - the pinnacle of the project, perhaps - debuts this year.
Oughts & Tens. New in 2019, and
Twenties. Updated in early 2021. There's magazines covers, and a rather
significant selection of movie
ads from Film Daily magazine, and some spicy - but SFW
Thirties. More new items coming in 2021 as well.
1934: 100 pages from the catalog,
scanned, color-corrected, and annotated.
ads. I don’t know how many, exactly.
hooch. A site devoted to brands that
have passed from memory.
kitchen brochure. What things looked
Playlists of the hits of each year.
1933 World's Fair. Yeah, we need
another site about this - but it has some
stuff you might not have seen. Also - the 1939 World's Fair!
a big collection of WW2
ads, brochures for the
home front, and more.
cultural ephemera, like wallpaper
Gudie to LA, Homemaker's
Guide, and more.
The Fifites. It has begun.
Sixties. The Twilight of the Grown-Ups.
You'll find sites with these topics, and more:
Huge! Two year of fashion.
Homes. A collection of rambler art.
Store Age. An industry periodical.
Fair 1964. There are bigger sites, I'm
Meant to be tossed, but someone kept them.
spots. A few brisk examples of period
1961 vs 1969. Dining tips. New in 2021.
of brown horrors. We have:
Ice Follies. Three years of programs.
Faces of Match Game. Says it all.
Faces of the Price is Right. The
Punk 77: how to be a punk
My favorite show when I was a kid.
1973: a small selection of fashion.
1976: Bicentennial styles.
Bad Cartoons: Saturday morning horrors.
Swoon, girls: Odd Bobby Sherman comic.
PSAs and beautiful music from early 70s
lingerie from the early 70s
Eighties. New in 2019, and one of my favorites.
TV ads. You'll also find trailers and promos
And more! Give it a look.
A study of old newspaper
cartoons, as well as an extensive archive of comic book covers and ads. Contains several
on the Job, a 1920s gag strip that
used the flip-take a bit too much
the Cub Reporter. From the WW1 era.
Influential and popular 19teens cartoonist.
Beloved, amiable observer of life.
Glyuas Williams. Utterly unique.
Coffeenerves, a real bastard. Updated in 2020.
Everett True, another real bastard
Lawson, a short-lived Minneapolis
Pete, another obscure 20s strip
Comics Ever. In my opinion. Includes a
bad Spirit someone was kind enough to show
to Will Eisner.
Wallgren: his WW1 soldier comics.
Features: the entire 1949 line up of
artists and strips. More than fifty!
The Enormous & Needless Comic Book Site
Gee it's Swell: comic book ads from the 40s to the 70s
American Motel. The great signs of the
days before the chains changed everything.
Ongoing throughout the yast half of the year. Hundrds of cards!
and Chrome: old restaurant postcards. Updated in the second quarter of 2021.
Quite possibly the largest collection of matchbooks on the internet, if that means anything. Certainly the most extensively annotated. A history of American 20th century advertising in its most portable form.
The main index is here.
Also known as Miscellany,
depending on the year. This site began as a
dumping ground for ideas that didn’t fit
anywhere else. It’s grown to rival the Institute
in size. As time goes on, various sites are
moved to places where they fit in a bit better.
The main index page is HERE.
The sites are:
COVERS Illustrations from the days of
rockets and cheap paperbacks. Updated in 2016.
READE JR. A look at the 19th century Tom
Grand Hotels: huge old hostels.
Tiny Little: his life in album art.
Cruise Ships of yore: the
SS Lurline: the SS California; the SS Caronia.
The Distant City: a strange trope of comics.
a 70s Paris hotel brochure.
Girl in NYC: She sent a friend a letter
in the 1920s.
Portfolios: The art of the souvenir
ads from people looking for long-lost friends
in the 1940s
to Telegrams: the forgotten art of
History of Swimsuits. Old news-service
photos of bathing beauties.
Letters from the Antique Store. A tale
told in ephemera.
Stationery. Engravings and current
views, if possible.
Buick: a gorgeous brochure for the
Labels and Caps.
Radio promotional books. So
in 1960s women's mags.
And that's just the half of it! Go HERE for the entire list.
Cities Old and New. Some
of these sites are new; others are in need of
a refresh. We have:
It has old views, present views .
York. Old postcard views of office buildings and hotels; a look at Times Square; some of my
Streets. Bygone town centers before
the malls emptied them out.
of Yore: 1960s mall postcards.
street on Google Street Views. Links
to the ongoing Bleat feature celebrating the
greatest documentary project of the 21st
Churches: modernism applied to
Ads. Faded pictures painted on brick
Streets at Night: neon!
I keep forgetting about
this site. It’s a salute to wavy lines in tiny
pictures! It’s odd to forget something like
this, because it has approximately 13
Lucre: the money of other lands. NOTE: Undergoing a rehab; mostly offline until 2022.
Gallery of Corporate Allegory. The art
of Stock Certificates.
Covers: lots of vignettes of people,
places, and events celebrated by the Postal
Service. It’s not as dull as it sounds.
Diner My old KSTP AM-1500 radio show is
back in podcast form. Over eighty half-hour
episodes available - with some original shows
from the 90s as well.
Remixes and compositions.
Host Bio, family stories
Travel Where I was.
Video What I shot.
Photos What I saw.
Contact Where I am.