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February 2012 • Vol. 1, No. 5

your life in retro

Two Girls For

Surf City!

Every Boy Grab Your Woody! It’s 2:1

2(x)ist’s First Swimwear Line Tommy James Right on the “Mony Mony” Your Awesome 80s Prom Richard Bey on Lynn Samuels Barney Fife: Sinister Prototype? Lesley Gore The Man Show • Sk8trboys • The Great Funk

Invites You To Her Party

c ntents T h e M o d e r n — Yo u r l i f e i n r e t r o In this issue:


Lesley Gore: It’s Her Party Out-and-Proud Lesley Gore’s hits are a pre-feminist blast.

Tommy James in the Clover His upcoming autobiographical feature film and Broadway show are right on the “Mony Mony.”

Read This Retro Book The Great Funk Smell the Seventies! Art and design critic Thomas Hine sniffs at the decade that gets no respect. And yet, try as we may, we still can’t shake its booty.

I Get Around See one of the original classic surfer woodys! Cruise with us to Lenny Shiller’s garage!

Retro Essay: Surf City 2(x)ist shows off their very first swimwear line! And there is enough of Diane Raulston’s gorgeous swimwear for the ladies, even though it’s two girls for every boy.

One of a Kind Love Affair Talk-show host Richard Bey bids adieu to one of his colleagues and one of the best voices in the talk-radio business: New York’s beloved Lynn Samuels.

On the cover: Tim Bryan from Q Models, New York; Inka (left) from Fusion Models, New York; and Sofia (right)

On Off-Broadway The Awesome 80s Prom Our Jacob Schirmer bags what all the totally bitchin’ excitement is about at this interactive musical. It’s like… Instead, Try This Love Stinks Stuck in a relationship rut over tiresome rom-coms and by the-numbers love stories? Try rebounding with some of these cinematic heartbreakers. The Kick-Ass List: The Top 10 Instrumental Movie Themes of the Seventies Our Ron Passaro stacks them up with a composer’s ear: one of the best decades ever for flicks; check out what he considers to be the most pumped-up kicks. The Great Forgotten Our Jay S. Jacobs explores the great forgotten singles of the Sixties. A decade with so much good music that some just had to be forgotten. Until now. Lionel Prototype Pariahs: the seemingly innocuous personas of Barney Fife and Ted Baxter were actually sinister premonitions. Our favorite social commentator, Lionel, explains it all for us. Internalize This

Dig This DVD

Retro Sports

Retro Tech

Don’t Touch That Dial

The New Oldies

Girls Were Girls & Men Were Men



Retro Merch

Parting Shot: The stars (both bright and dim) of ABC’s 1982 prime-time schedule urge to you come along. And we follow, in an ignorant stupor. Won’t you?

letter from the editor

Put the Needle on the Record The first time I heard the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” I was standing in the back of a Sam Goody’s record store, in their stereo equipment department. You may remember this black-lit back room: floor-to-ceiling black carpet, a domed ceiling (for acoustic purposes) and shelves of the most up-to-date merchandise, mostly from Japan. The salesman, a young groover, was playing the record for a customer who was interested in purchasing a turntable. Me, I was an impoverished tenth grader, and the dream of owning a magnificent piece of stereo equipment was as far away from reality for me as owning a penthouse. Nevertheless, the universe does not revolve around me, and the needle dropped on the spinning LP and the determined salesperson turned up the volume and the bass and the treble and whatever else that sucker had (and I didn’t). This was shortly before the music bullies dictated that we were not allowed to like or listen to “Stayin’ Alive,” but, long before that backlash became law, at that very first virgin listen, I was blown away by the song. Perhaps it was the bass line thumping the room, or the honest lyrics, or the urgency of the message, but at that moment I felt the power of stereo, and the joy of sophisticated sound devices. I was hooked, but without money, it was an addiction that could not be satisfied or fulfilled. At home, in my rec room, I settled (and I do mean settled) for my JC Penney “compact” stereo. That means that it was an all-in-one appliance: a turntable, an eight-track-tape player, and an AM/FM radio, all sloppily welded together and residing in a heap of cheap imitation brown wood and black plastic casing. (Hello, Seventies!). The good news: the eight-track actually recorded music (this was almost unheard of). However, to this day, even when I hear a digital version of “Monday, Monday” by The Mamas and the Papas, I can still remember the eight-track channel changing in the middle of the song. Monday — Ker-plunk-cha! — Monday. The bad news: the turntable played every record just a little too fast. No song ever sounded quite right, even after I put a folded handkerchief on the side of the spinning record to try to slow it down slightly. There were no belts to adjust it. It was essentially a spinning tin plate. Still, it was a step up from our Korvettes portable record player that we had owned since the Sixties, with the automatic record changer (that did not work – the needle always landed two inches away from the record) and its ripped left speaker that made every vocalist sound like a buzzing bee with bronchitis. In contrast to my family’s lack of interest in high-fidelity, my friend Eric’s father was a serious stereophile. Unlike my sad situation, his rec-room set up was sweet, and there was nothing “compact” about it: a top-end Sansui receiver in solid-state silver chrome, with a calming light-blue illuminated radio dial; a Panasonic turntable with a mountain of adjustable belts that you could fuss with (delicately) to your heart’s content; and wooden stereo speaker cabinets that would rise as high as your nipples and blow you into the garage. It was in this rec room, standing humbly before this magnificent operation, that I first learned the true meaning of the word “covet.” Of course, today, that sophisticated mission control would be considered practically worthless. And now that I’m gunning for some real rich, expensive, top-quality sound, I have been robbed and branded a two-time loser. Thanks a lot, iPhone. Way to go, mp3s. Today, it’s all about content and not so much about rich sound quality. Sure, they offer this here and that there to enhance the intensity of a digital copy, but something’s missing. Oh, something’s missing, all right. I mean, what am I supposed to do with ear buds. Really? We often hear of people who announce to the world that they have turned their back on digital and have returned to the rich reality of vinyl and turntables. And there are always the good old DJs in the clubs to stand next to so that you can feel the vibrations. Nice work if you can get it, but to satisfy my sound jones would be quite a calling; it would be difficult for me to schlep all of that equipment into a subway car on the way to work. Still, the unresolved sound satisfaction of my life dictates that I have to make it right. I am seriously considering a chance to rebuild a vintage component system, the ones that were considered top of the world back in the day. Passé, yes. Antiquated, you bet. But, for once in my life, I want the sound to blow me away. I may have to stay in one room and sit still for it, but I would be making up for lost time. Better late than never.

Ron Sklar Editor

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Yo u r l i f e i n r e t r o .

C o n t a c t

Editor • Ron Sklar | Art Director • Jennifer Barlow | Copy Editor • Patty Wall Contributing Writers: Richard Bey • Barrie Creedon • Desiree Dymond Mitch Gainsburg • Jay S. Jacobs • Lionel • Mark Mussari • Ron Passaro Jack Rotoli • Vikas Sapra • Jacob Schirmer • William Shultz • Art Wilson

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read this retro book

The Great Funk: Smell the Seventies! Art and design critic Thomas Hine sniffs at the decade that gets no respect. And yet, try as we may, we still can’t shake its booty. By Ronald Sklar The Seventies linger on like a macabre dream that haunts your ordinary day. Those who have lived through those years will admit that it all may not have been as bad as it seemed; those who were yet to be born now see it as a bitchin’ night of the living dead with the dead walking that way because their jeans were so tight. Whether experiencing it first hand or by cultural

memory, they happened. Oh boy, did they happen. And we’re still trying to figure out why. The “why” is where we must leave it to Thomas Hine. He’s the former Philadelphia Inquirer art and design critic, and he sees what we see, only deeper and more profoundly. He has taken a look at the Me Decade with X-Ray glasses, and sums it all up brilliantly in his book, The Great Funk [Sarah Crichton Books]. The Modern | February 2012

Loaded with authentic pictures that will make your mouth drop open (the living rooms! The Afros! The Ford Pinto!), The Great Funk shows us exactly where we skidded off track, and how far those skid marks could be measured (pretty darn far, it turns out). One of Hines’ earlier books, Populuxe, is now considered a classic look at the design and cultural mindset of a happy but regimented postwar America (the tailfins! The Jetsons! The ashtrays! And yes, once again, the living rooms!). During the Populuxe era, our minds were shaped and brainwashed by advertising agencies (think Mad Men). We had total faith in our government, in our military, and in science and technology. By the seventies, this blind trust had totally disintegrated. As a result, the culture splintered and the splinters didn’t tickle. Here, we talk to The Man himself, as he explains how we all tried to get over. What is the significance of the book’s title? The Great Funk is meant to be a description for the decade of the Seventies, which was actually a little bit longer than the decade itself, starting in late ‘68 and ending on Inauguration Day of 1981. Of course, it’s a play on the term The Great Depression. Somehow, what happened wasn’t exactly a depression, but it sure was a funk. It’s also a play on [the Seventies’ rock band] The Grand Funk Railroad. The reason that I like the word “funk” is that it includes both the negative and the positive. People were seeking out the funk during the Seventies; they were seeking out the music. Funk also has a kind of connotation of being old and smelly and dirty. It also relates to authenticity. People were looking for things that had texture and age,that seemed real. We were coming out of the period of almost blind belief in technological progress. [We had previously believed that] everything was going to get smoother, shinier, more metallic or more plastic. We were

ing into a Jetsons age, but instead we ended up in a time with lots of texture and houseplants and things rescued from the garbage pile and the attic. Instead of going headlong into the future, we were maybe salvaging some of our past, and allowing that to be a basis for thinking about all sorts of futures. How is The Great Funk a natural outgrowth of your classic book on Fifties-era design and mindset, Populuxe? Even when I was writing Populuxe, I had thought that the book that would grow from Populuxe would not be about the 1960s, which was already so chewed over at that point. 1970s fashions and tastes were bizarre in wholly different ways than the Fifties were. It was a period in which the whole culture of Populuxe became unraveled. The national memory of the Seventies is a unified “ick.” We all have a good time looking down on the Seventies. Is that fair? I think the Seventies are funny. And I think when we look back at any time period, certain things are funny. With a little bit of distance, you start to understand what was going through our heads at that moment. One reason that I wrote about the Seventies at this time is I believe a number of the issues that arose in the Seventies — shortages of oil, issues of global warming and so forth — are back with us. To a certain degree, we are getting more of a backlash against “clean and modern,” and getting more into a sheltering time. Even a lot of fashions from the seventies – not the most outrageous ones – but a lot of them are coming back. We’re not as focused on not repeating the seventies. We’re not as focused on rejecting the Seventies as we were, say, five years ago. What was most apparent to you about The Great Funk? Ideologies that people had held onto for long

ods of time were just crumbling to bits. There is not just one kind of progress. There is not just one kind of way of living your life. You can choose the way you want to live your life. You could choose your telephone, and you could choose many aspects of your lifestyle. Women could live alone. Women could choose to have children without being married. You could choose to live with somebody of the same sex. There were all kinds of choices that hadn’t been admitted. They certainly were happening, but they hadn’t been admitted. They were not part of the vision of progress that was [previously] being presented by advertising and the media. Could the Seventies have been different? Mistakes were made. What I am most interested in is what happened and to figure out some explanations. The Great Funk examines both failure and possibility, and how the two often relate to and negate each other. The basic premise of the book is that people understood that there had been failure in the system, failure in everything they expected to happen. So they began to say, okay, there are other possibilities. And with some of these other possibilities, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the positive from the negative. On the one hand, you have hippies going away to colonies in the mountains and trying to live a pastoral fantasy. On the other hand, you have people going out to the mountains with guns and being survivalists. It’s hard to make the distinction: the hippie or the Unibomber. They are both coming out of this same mentality. Likewise, the gay movement happened, and it also unleashed a new wave of religious fundamentalism. The postwar consensus was corporate, based on big government, big labor, very much molded by advertising agencies. What happened is when liberalism failed, people went into all kinds of directions. The way in which things fell apart in that period is still an issue that is with us. Febrauary 2012 | The Modern

read this retro book Let’s talk about some of the icons of the age, like the AMC Gremlin… It was desperate. I kind of like it. They had problems, apparently. It did not occur to me to buy one. [The novel that caused a cultural sensation] Jonathan Livingston Seagull One of the best-selling books of the period. It’s all about leaving the flock and forming your own flock. A proto-New Age type. There are those who aren’t totally stupid who swear by it. It’s still a fairly popular middleschool book. It’s slightly subversive: if the only reason you’re flying is for food, then there is no reason to fly. Yet that was clearly the message that I grew up with, that you trade off choice for prosperity. Hair and the love for hair (Farrah Fawcett, John Travolta, blow dryers, hairy chests, Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific!) That’s related to when I was talking about funk. It’s about authenticity. It comes out of your body. It’s really from you. In the Sixties, it had become a real way of rebelling. But what happened in the Seventies, people who weren’t rebelling against anything took it as a fashion opportunity. The need to be “authentic” versus the popularity of polyester: Polyester is remembered for the moment when people got sick of it, even though it had been around for a lot longer than that. I talk about an artificial slate that comes with the promise: it looks so real, it’s unreal. That seems to me to be a characteristic statement. People want authenticity, but even more than that, they want intensity. People are always doing contradictory things. The birth of the computer culture The computer culture did not come into its own until later, but the values of the computer culture were very much Seventies values: being able to do things on my own, to have my own tools, to not depend on IBM or anybody big to tell me how I have to live my life and use tools. The rise of cubicle culture in corporate America One of the issues that created economic problems in the Seventies was the difficulty that the economy had with accommodating both the largest generation of new workers in American history [the baby boomers], and also the changing expectations of women, that they would in fact work through what people viewed as their prime child-bearing years. The Modern | February 2012

The cubicle culture made possible this accommodation by tearing apart hierarchy, by taking away the idea of “the name on the door.” You put people in cubicles, and you change the nature of business, and you downgrade employees without doing so directly. What this does, in an indirect way, is allow women to be in more responsible positions, even though what it did was make the whole process of working in an office less pleasant. Except maybe for Archie Bunker, most people didn’t want to go back to the way things were, even as bad as things had gotten! We did have this engrained thing that whatever happens has to be called progress. There probably were people who wanted to go back. I know I wouldn’t have. In a way, that’s the bottom line of the book, that for good and for ill, this is when the Populuxe era unraveled and when it deserved to unravel, because it wasn’t sustainable. It wasn’t sustainable because of the state of the world. When exactly did the Seventies end (or did they?) Precisely saying when the Seventies started was tough, but it’s really easy to say when they ended: when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated and, simultaneously, the American hostages in Iran were released. The period [of the Seventies] had just been too traumatic. On one hand, it offered some space for freedom and experimentation, and on the other hand, it shook people’s sense of the way things should be. Reagan had literally been a spokesman for progress [for TV commercials for General Electric: “Progress is our most important product.”]. He came along promising that we could make progress again and that we can go back to “normal” life in America; it was a very attractive thing. I suspect that even without the hostage crisis, Reagan would have won in 1980. Why did it take you so long to write this book, twentyone years after the publication of Populuxe? It turned out that it was worth waiting to do this book, because it provided a perspective. There is a cycle of nostalgia: ten years later, people start looking at the music again. Twenty years later, there comes a show like Happy Days or That 70s Show, where some of the styles are brought out, partly to laugh at and partly to feel nostalgic about. Ten years later, you start to get the feeling of “what was this all about?” Certain things were really good and really worth looking at.

reconnecting: lesley gore

Party! It’s Her

Out-and-Proud Lesley Gore’s hits are a pre-feminist blast. By Ronald Sklar “It was a heavenly experience,” Lesley Gore recalls what it was like to sing her hit, “You Don’t Own Me,” a pop classic about — get this — a young girl taking charge and standing up for herself. She says, “There is nothing like being sixteen and standing up on a stage and pointing your finger at everybody and singing, ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ You can sing that today and still feel like you own the world.” In 1963, the world was exactly what Lesley Gore owned. The suburban New Jersey native recorded a number of demo records for producer Quincy Jones, and the disks – meant for the dark vaults – were so awesome that they made their way onto radio and into pop music history. “I had virtually no expectations,” Gore says of those recording sessions. “And that’s a good way to go through life.” Those demos became more than just huge hits — “It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To)” was no less than a theme of a decade and an anthem for a spoiled generation. Its follow-up, “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” gave The Beatles a run for their money on the charts. And “You Don’t Own Me” is considered by many to be one of the first baby steps toward the dawning of the women’s liberation movement. She says, “When I heard ‘You Don’t Own Me,’ to my credit, I understood the importance of it. And I understood that I wanted to be the one to stand up.” The Modern | February 2012

Standing up was only the beginning, as Gore prepared herself for her long sprint in the Sixties music business. For her, the success was double-edged. “Much of it was wonderful,” she says. “All of a sudden, there were perks there. I was never a visitor after ‘It’s My Party.’ Instead, I became a guest everywhere I went. And that has sort of been my passport through life. There are people who can tell you exactly where they were when they first heard ‘It’s My Party’ — what age they were, where they were sitting, who they were with. Those songs are mnemonic calculators. So to have that relationship, it’s different. It’s a different way of living. But it’s nice.” Soon after her initial run of success, Gore herself was living differently, as an out, gay woman. But as free and as liberating as the Sixties were, there were no real allowances for gays, at least not yet. “We were really encouraged not to talk about it.,” she says of her being advised to remain in the closet. “Even if you were inclined to get it out there and put it out there, and be an open, honest human being, you were encouraged not to do that. It was much more common than people would lead you to believe.” Not that she was always defined by her sexuality. In fact, Gore had not given it much thought at the start. “It hadn’t even occurred to me,” she says about defining herself early on. “When I was a kid — boys, girls, it was all great to me. And I had no judgment and I was a whole lot better off. I always had a boyfriend in my life, but I was always having crushes on my counselor or my teacher. But I loved the process. There was

always love in my life. I loved to dance and enjoyed going out with guys, and I loved guys. It wasn’t until well after college that I even began dealing with my sexuality.” Today, she is out and proud and has lived in Manhattan since the Seventies. She continues to perform nationwide, to adoring audiences who love her, as well as younger generations who are discovering her for the first time. These include young gay men and women who may not have experienced the same closet issues. “Young gay people have it easier

nections with her millions of fans, now so easy to do via social media. Although she was dragged into the digital age “kicking and screaming,” she manages to communicate with her fans through Facebook and her website. “It’s a wonderful connection,” she says. “You walk though this world, and yet you have people come up to you that you’ve never met before and you have this bond with them. It’s clear in their eyes and in their expression that you have a connection. And it’s kind of wonderful because for me, I’m

You walk though this world, and yet you have people come up to you that you’ve never met before and you have this bond

with them.

Leslie Gore

today,” she says. “It does make me feel a whole lot better. It’s a very, very difficult issue when you’re a kid. And since I came out, and I came out publically in 2005, a lot of young people wrote to me. Maybe they perceived that I could help. Maybe they perceived that I was just on their side. I’ve spoken with a lot of young people and I know what it’s like to be out there without any help. And I live in New York, as do so many of my young friends. They don’t have those kinds of problems, but in Iowa, they’re still trying to figure it out.” Gore gladly retains her con-

learning about the connection for the first time. It’s thrilling to meet people that you’ve affected maybe last week or maybe a thousand weeks ago. It’s always a wonderful experience. The nice thing I’ve discovered now is that people are kind of wonderful and they want to share those nice things. I was buffeted from a lot of that as a youngster. I didn’t have as much interplay with my audience as I do now. And it’s very rewarding.” Watch Lesley Gore perform “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me.”

February 2012 | The Modern

reconnecting: tommy james

Tommy James in the Clover

His upcoming autobiographical feature film and Broadway show are right on the “Mony Mony.” B






Tommy James’ song titles are always as irresistible as the songs themselves: “Crimson and Clover,” “Draggin’ the Line,” “Hanky Panky,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and — of course — “Mony, Mony.” When he wrote his bestselling memoir about his career ties to Mafia connections, he chose an equally irresistible title: Me, the Mob and the Music [Simon & Shuster]. And now, he conquers two final frontiers: Hollywood and Broadway, with a bio-pic and a musical (a la Jersey Boys), currently in development. “That’s the cherry on top of the ice-cream sundae,” he says, referring to those latest projects. The Modern | February 2012








If that’s the case, then that’s one hell of an ice-cream sundae. His career includes 23 gold singles and nine platinum-selling albums. His songs have been covered over 300 times, from Billy Idol and REM to The Boston Pops and Tiffany. And name one frat party, wedding reception, or after-midnight dance club where you didn’t sweat it up to “Mony Mony.” You can’t. James may be weary for the wear, but he’s rarin’ to go for the next chapter in a long line of musical adventures. His film is being produced by no less a powerhouse than Barbara De Fina, who brought us Goodfellas, Casino, The Grifters, The Color of Money, and The Last Temptation of Christ. James’ temptations were many, as the Michigan native not only grew up with rock and roll, but also managed to weave himself into its complex story.

“I’ve been pretty lucky to see the music business from a historical perspective,” he says. “It’s such a different business now than it was when I first got into it. You wouldn’t even recognize it, actually.” He was making hits when AM radio was king, and record promoters were princes of power. The business was not exactly pristine and audit-free, but radio’s ability to deliver a hit to millions of people at one time rivaled anything today on the Internet. He says, “The players that were in place in the Sixties and Seventies had these humongous radio stations: WLS in Chicago, you could pick up in Hawaii, on clear nights. That was the reach of these 50,000-watt stations; KRLA in LA, WABC in New York. You could cover the whole country with just a dozen stations. The average Top Ten record was heard by a couple of hundred million

people.” He admits that despite the increase in communication sophistication today, getting a hit and winning the hearts and minds of fans is a gargantuan task. “By the Nineties, radio was really getting tiny,” he says. “Today, people, by-and-large, are not listening anymore. They get [their music] online. Getting new music in front of the fans today is the greatest challenge in what’s left of the music business. The industry has shrunk down to the point where it is almost gone.” For this, he also expresses concerns for the state of the music itself, specifically rock and roll. “I think there is a distinct possibility that rock and roll may go the way of the big bands and vaudeville,” he says. “We’re looking at the last years of rock and roll. The concert business has never been bigger in many ways.

It’s like the movie business during the Depression. Live shows are really doing well, but there is no more infrastructure. There is no ladder of upward mobility anymore for an artist. It’s very difficult getting noticed today. Those of us who made it during the golden years of rock and roll should really thank our lucky stars.” James’ lucky stars beamed by way of Roulette Records, which recorded such other legends as Count Basie, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Bill Haley & His Comets. Roulette had become notorious for its dealings in the underworld and ripping off their artists. When the dust finally settled decades later, James was finally receiving whopping royalty checks that were rightfully owed him. He says, “So much of my professional life was wrapped around Roulette and the people we met there. But Roulette was – how should I say this delicately – pretty mobbed up. They were really a front for the Genovese family. That’s where they were going to put illegal monies and all kinds of things. But [instead], they started having hits! I got to know Morris Levy, who was the owner of Roulette Records and a Genovese associate. We met a lot of famous underworld characters who were regulars at Roulette.” These characters (in every sense of the word) were depicted in his memoir, and will be further fleshed out for the upcoming film and stage musical. In addition, James has written eight new songs for the projects, and will again be so bold as to tell this hard-to-tell story. February 2012 | The Modern

reconnecting: tommy james The creative challenge, especially, lies in the stage musical. “It’s so much work, Broadway

The white elephant in the room, of course, is that little show down the street devoted to

I think there is a distinct possibility that rock and roll may go the way

of the big bands and vaudeville.

Tommy James theater, doing it well,” he says. “It is just an incredible undertaking, because the bar of excellence is so high. You don’t fully grasp that until you start fully working on a project. Every second of the two hours or so that is devoted to a Broadway show has got to be just spectacular. There can be no letdowns.”

The Four Seasons’ story. He says, “In Jersey Boys, for in-

stance, every second of that show is superb. It’s not just the music. It’s the acting, the story, the scenery and the special effects. There is just not a dull moment. That’s the way it has to be.” In the meantime, James has his legions of fans to keep him inspired, including millions of new devotees whose parents may not have even been around when James was first making hits. “I see three generations of people out there when I perform,” he says. “It’s really amazing.”

Hear “Crimson and Clover,” “Mony Mony,” “Draggin’ the Line!”

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The Modern | February 2012

I get around

We Got a ’30 Ford Wagon and We Call It a Woody Actually, it’s a ’49 Chrysler, but it’s still a surfer’s wet dream. By Ronald Sklar

After not offering a station wagon since 1942, Chrysler launched this wooden beauty in 1949.

Only 850 were built, and one of them sits cozily in our Lenny Shiller’s vintage car garage in Brooklyn. The (Wooden demise of surfboard the woody included, wagon was although only a year Lenny says later, in1950 — “They’re as too expensive rare as hen’s to produce. teeth.”)

The car’s original price was $3,151 (cheap!). Len bought it from a florist in Kew Gardens, who used it for deliveries.

Cars like these were beloved by the California The little surfers of window the early in the Sixties, and back was popularized designed specifically forever in the 1963 Jan and for a surfboard. Dean smash, “Surf City.” The ’30 Ford wagon mentioned in the song is actually a Ford Model A.

Lenny never restored this vehicle, because he likes the way it looks as-is. For surfers too, it was never really about restoring them.

For more information on Lenny’s fabulous collection, The Modern | February 2012

retro essay 2(x)ist’s

Surf City:

first swimwear lin e!

Two Girls For Every Boy

It’s America’s favorite census statistic!

Surf’s up! And so is interest in 2(x)ist’s very first men’s swimwear collection. The super-cute Diane Raulston line is also on hand for the gals. Dressed like this, we’re ready for some hot fun in the summertime. Find out more at and Photographer: Josh Sailor | Makeup and hair: Rachel Hevesi

Model Credits: Tim from Q Models, New York (cover) Tommy from Bella, New York (first page) Inka (red candy stripe) and Zack (Ibiza swim short in poppy red), Fusion New York Also: Jacob, Don, Anastasia, Sofia, Liz, Branda, Liz Le, Brittany, and Erin.

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one of a kind love affair

Adieu to the “Voice” of Noo Yawk Talk-show host Richard Bey gives props to one of the best in broadcast: the late Lynn Samuels. By Richard Bey Isn’t it ironic that there are so many different adjectives to describe a thing that is ‘one of a kind?’ There is unique. And singular. Incomparable, inimitable, singular and unparalleled. And of course the Latin term ‘sui generis.’ I’ve heard all of these words and terms used to describe my friend, Lynn Samuels, who passed away on Christmas Eve 2011, but I’ve yet to hear someone truly identify what made Lynn unique, singular, inimitable or “sui generis.” Some think it was her voice, specifically her accent, vocalizations that were immediately identifiable and indelibly unforgettable. If you were scanning the radio dial, you knew it was Lynn the moment you heard her. I’ve heard listeners complain that they couldn’t stand to hear that New Yawk wail. As someone who was taught to lose the Queens accent in drama school, I found it comforting, like returning home. Her voice was musical to me and with the force of Lynn’s passion, at times operatic. You may find that a stretch. I don’t. Chaque a son gout. I loved her accent but it wasn’t her accent that made her one-of-a-kind. I read the newspaper accounts focusing on the fact that Lynn was a pioneer in the “boy’s club” of political talk radio. Before her there was Sally Jesse Raphael and Dr. Judy Kuriansky, but their domain was not principally politics and they didn’t assert themselves with the strength and confidence of the masculine counterparts. Lynn could go head-to-head with the rudest of the bully-boys and never show a scratch. She cracked open the door for (still far too few) women but that is not what made her singular. There are great actors, great singers, great performers who talk about the moments when they become one with their art. Great athletes talk about it as well. It is an apotheosis when every part of one’s skill and craft and focus is working together in a way that the performer becomes the performance. Most great artists talk about it as happening in a moment or at a single performance. The Modern | February 2012

On air Lynn found that sweet spot almost all of the time. For me, that’s what made her incomparable. Lynn committed everything she had to every subject she discussed. I heard someone say after her passing that “she made every caller feel important.” She did, and it was because she committed her complete attention and talent to every moment on air — even the callers. While many radio hosts use callers as “filler,” — a time to take a break, sip the coffee or even read a newspaper — Lynn

didn’t need “filler.” She was bursting with opinion and passion (and even at times gas!). And her inclusive passions extended from the mundane to the sublime. I remember once, driving in Rutherford N.J, listening to Lynn on WABC when she began a riff about the Game Show Network. I thought: “Oh, no, Lynn…come on! I have no interest in this at all. Get back to politics. Or tell a personal story. Anything but the Game Show Network!” I almost switched the station, but by the time I’d reached the helix at the Lincoln Tunnel I was engrossed. I’d listened to half an hour of Lynn entertaining me with her observations about something I was sure I would loathe! I first bonded with Lynn when I was doing the Sunday overnights at WABC. Lynn was doing a show earlier

in the evening and later call-screening for Matt Drudge. We were both smokers and ABC had a no-smoking-inthe-workplace policy. “Come on, Richard…don’t be a wuss,” she would entice me like a high-schooler sneaking into the bathroom. “We’ll turn the fan on in the toilet to suck up the smoke. Nobody’s gonna be here for twelve hours anyway,” Lynn grinned with the mischievous satisfaction of a sneaky student getting over on the teacher. Later, we bonded even more intimately as the station waved the bloody flag, hawked WMD baloney and enthusiastically roused its listeners to love war. This was the station where Curtis Sliwa, John Gambling, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Steve Malzberg, Monica Crowley, Michael Savage and John Batchelor uniformly beat the drum daily for the War in Iraq. Lynn often talked to me about how we could be fired for marching to a different drummer. Soon she was the first to get the ax. I called her to commiserate. “They won’t get rid of you. You’re too popular. You had a TV show,” she offered supportively but none too convincingly. She was almost right. The next to go was Rev. Byron Schaefer, the anti-war Protestant minister who co-hosted Religion on Line with a militant Rabbi and a war-mongering Catholic priest. Rev. Schaefer was flabbergasted at his firing. I called Lynn many times over the next months to see how she was doing. She sounded depressed, hopeless. Once, she said some of the saddest words I’ve ever heard, especially since they came from the mouth of someone so indomitably vivacious: “Richard, I don’t know what to do,” she sighed. “I feel like life has just passed me by.” I lasted until the week the war began when I was told come in, clean out my desk and not return. Ron Kuby, the only remaining anti-war voice on air was conveniently off on vacation, but many times afterwards he would be sent home in the middle of a broadcast for arguing against the war. Fortunately, Lynn found radio life again on Sirius and I was privileged when she asked to have me fill in for her when she was on vacation. Further, I was more than privileged to have her as a friend. I was happily shocked. Lynn’s friendships and enmities were as unpredictable as her politics. She could have just as easily seen me as “that idiotic asshole from that stupid TV show” because being on Lynn’s bright side was like being on the bright side of the moon. You always faced the sun. Now if you were on the dark side of her moon there was no way of getting off it. I won’t go into those people who landed on her dark side, but of course, everyone knows she hated President Obama. On the other hand, surprisingly, Lynn was devoted to Matt Drudge, had compassion for Rush Limbaugh (whom she knew at WABC and described as a sort of pathetic,

sloppy, hen-pecked husband) and just before she died, we shared a bunch of emails where she extolled her support and admiration for Ron Paul. Having Lynn as a friend didn’t mean that you would meet up for dinner or drinks on a regular basis, however. Each year I would throw a big birthday party on the roof of my apartment. Every year I would invite Lynn and every year she would decline, claiming she was not sociable and was not comfortable around people. One year, she accepted. Lynn retreated to the corners of the party, attempting to stay out of sight, but so many people were excited to see her, asked to be introduced, have their picture taken with her; she couldn’t avoid it. Lynn seemed genuinely surprised by the attention and adulation. I really don’t think she understood how much she was appreciated, admired and — yes — loved. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t understand how much I loved her until now that she’s gone. I’ve thought about her everyday. I’ve missed her everyday. I even had

a dream about her one night. She was cleaning my apartment and I said, “Oh, Lynn, you’re alive. Oh, how wonderful. I have to tell everyone. They were wrong. You are still alive!” The woman who once sighed, “I feel like life has passed me by…” never understood how much her life affected us as it passed by us, touching us, affecting us, making us laugh and think and nod in agreement and shout back to the speakers in disagreement. How could she know? She was in the radio. Richard Bey is an American talk show host and commentator. The Richard Bey Show, popular during the Nineties, is considered a cultural landmark. For more on Richard, click here: February 2012 | The Modern

on off-broadway

The Awesome 80’s Prom! If your high school was Comb ‘Em High, then you’ll love this totally bitchin’ off-Broadway interactive musical. We are so sure. By Jacob Schirmer Do you remember all the cliques in high school? The jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerds, the alternative kids and the foreign-exchange students? I could definitely identify with a few of those groups and often look back and reminisce about my senior year at Holton High. Especially Prom Night! I think about all the planning that went into the dance, decorations, theme song and, of course, the nominations for Prom King and Queen. If you ever feel nostalgic and want to revisit the past, then dust off your letterman jacket or put your hair up in a side pony and head out to The Awesome 80’s Prom in lower Manhattan. My friend Megan and I did just that. We busted a move down to Webster Hall to unleash our inner Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski. We slipped into the dark

entrance to the club at 6:45 p.m.; the show started at 7:00 and we were a little skeptical of our surrounding digs. Megan and I checked in and were motioned to the main ballroom where The Awesome 80’s Prom performance was about to take place. As soon as we swung open the doors, we were immediately transported to Wanaget High’s Senior Prom, year 1989. Multicolored balloons were scattered about the dance floor The Modern | February 2012

while Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” pumped over the loud speakers. The crowd was completely decked out in Eighties apparel and many were in character as jocks, nerds, cheerleaders and, naturally, prom queens. We were definitely underdressed, but it didn’t matter because we were washed out by the rest of the colorful costumes. We grabbed a quick drink from the overcrowded bar and laughed about how we wouldn’t have to sneak vodka into the punch at this prom party. The show was starting as we pushed our way toward the front of the masses to get a better view. Lauren Shafler, head of the prom committee, had an announcement to make about voting for Prom King and Queen. She instructed the audience on how the voting would take place, and then began introducing the candidates. First up was Chris Cafero, captain of the football team, who was definitely into the head cheerleader, Whitley Whitiker. Chris and Whitley took the microphone from Lauren and informed all of us that we should vote for the pair as soon as possible. The audience erupted with laughter as the rest of the candidates introduced themselves, which included the Japanese foreign exchange student, outcast, drama queen and nerd. We made our decision and headed to the ballot box to cast our vote. Meanwhile, all of the students from Wanaget High’s senior class left the stage and encouraged all of us to dance with them, making us feel like part of the show. I was beginning to build up a good sweat from all of the dancing and Megan was in dire need of another drink to cool off. But before we could dirty dance our way back to the bar, a dance battle broke out between the cheerleaders and the rest of the senior class. Def Leppard’s infectious tune, “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” quickly turned the room of Eighties buffs into a puddle of hysteria. Whitley Whitaker, the head cheerleader, led her posse into the middle of the battle where they seductively shook their hips and tossed their awesomely teased hair around and around. If they were fishing for a vote, then they were definitely making all the right moves. The nerds, in rebuttal, began dancing to the beat of their own drum as they tripped and tumbled awkwardly into the divas’ dance formation. Not to be out-schooled, Dickie, the self-proclaimed drama queen of Wanaget High, cat-walked right up to Whitley and mimicked her every move. Whitley informed

Dickie that he didn’t have the female parts needed to be a Prom Queen, wherein he replied “I’m more of a woman than you will ever be!” The audience cheered for Dickie and booed the cheerleading squad right off of the dance floor. With the dance floor battle done and the senior class egos at an all-time high, it was time to crown Prom King and Queen. A silence fell over the audience mem-

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bers as Lauren cracked open the envelope. “This year’s Prom King is…Feung Schwey!” The crowd went wild as Feung Schwey, the foreign exchange student, waved and smiled vigorously while running from side to side on stage. “And this year’s Prom Queen is…Dickie Harrington!” The audience roared with applause as Dickie pushed Whitley aside to proclaim his crown as Wanaget High’s 1989 Prom Queen. To top things off, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warne’s “The Time of My Life” began to play. Everyone in the room was in a state of awe. We couldn’t believe that this night had been so epic. We were all right there, together reliving every moment of our own senior proms and relishing in the nostalgia of the electric Eighties. What a sweet and satisfying moment it was. Exhausted and smiling from ear to ear, I turned to Megan and thanked her for being my prom date. She told me I was the best prom date ever, but that “it wasn’t over yet; we still had post-prom to attend.” With that, we grabbed our things and hit the streets of NY to find a watering hole where we could continue to reminisce and hope and pray that we could one day return to the glorious days of our youth. Cheers to the awesomeness of the Eighties!

Promoting: • Literacy and education • Paying it forward • College scholarships • Great memories!

Jacob Schirmer is a native of Kansas and currently lives, models and writes in NYC. For more information on this totally bitchin’ show, click on

February 2012 | The Modern

instead, try this

Love Stinks Stuck in a relationship rut over tiresome rom-coms and bythe-numbers love stories? Try rebounding with some of these heartbreakers. By Barrie Creedon Hollywood has produced hundreds and hundreds of love stories. Most end happily, or at least with the leads headed toward the altar. But some don’t. The following are all acknowledged classics and make for good watching if you’re not doing Valentine’s Day this year because you’re dateless, recently broken up, or you just can’t bear the thought of doing the annual (crowded and over-priced) dinner and rom-com death march: The Heiress – 1949 “I can be very cruel. I have been taught by masters.” Ten years after playing Gone with the Wind’s sweet, lovely Melanie Wilkes, Olivia de Haviland plays the plain, awkward, and desperately shy Catherine Sloper in this film based on Henry James’ novel, Washington Square. Catherine is the victim of her father’s blatant disdain, explained by the fact that she ‘killed’ her mother in childbirth. Worse yet, mom was everything that Catherine isn’t, i.e. comely, charming, and vivacious. Catherine’s sole assets are that a) she’s of marriageable age, and b) she’s loaded, to the tune of $30,000 a year, almost $800,000 in today’s money. v=eF0xBAML4AA&NR=1 One day Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift at his prettiest) appears, and Catherine falls instantly in love. Although it’s obvious to everyone else that Townsend is a fortune-hunter, Catherine is so emotionally bereft and unsophisticated that she clings to him as to a life preserver. When he walks out on her, you almost want to reach into the screen to hug her and tell her everything will be OK. When he returns ten years later... The Modern | February 2012

I won’t spoil it for you. But I will say that if you’ve ever been suddenly dumped and had your heart broken, you’ll find what happens at the end of the film to be a very satisfying experience. In a Lonely Place – 1950 “I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.”
 With the exception of Casablanca, In a Lonely Place is probably the closest Humphrey Bogart ever got to doing a romantic film. (Sorry, I don’t count the ones with Lauren Bacall.) He plays Dixon Steele, a brilliant screenwriter reduced to writing B-movie shlock. One evening, the studio sends over a girl who is to tell him the story that he’s expected to turn into a screenplay. She does, she leaves, she’s found murdered. And because Steele has a famously violent temper, he gets a visit from one of the boys in blue. Lucky for him, his new neighbor, Laurel Grey (Gloria Grahame) vouches for him because, she says later, “I like his face.” Simply because the love interest is Gloria Grahame, you already know this isn’t going to end well. In her heyday, she was cast as forbidden fruit, lonely hotties, and gals whose men think nothing of throwing hot coffee in her face. Dix and Laura fall in love love love, and then... well at the end, one of them is still in love. You’ll enjoy this if you’ve been involved with someone perfect for you, except for the fact that s/he has a deal-breaking personality quirk. Brief Encounter – 1945 This is one of those small movies about ordinary people that the British do so well. Laura Jesson meets Dr. Alec Harvey in a train station coffee shop. She

es in, just having had a cinder fly into her eye. She requests some water to flush it out, but that doesn’t work too well. Dr. Harvey offers some help. Love ensues. Both Laura and Alec are married to others, both are on the cusp of middle age, and neither is much to look at, at least by Hollywood standards. Their affair is very shortlived — only a matter of weeks — and very chaste. Nothing more than ardent declarations of undying love and a few kisses. Yet the ending is so exquisitely done that you can’t help but be moved. A fun parlor game would be to get a bunch of your friends together to watch this, and then when it’s over, try to name all the myriad ways that a contemporary Hollywood version would suck. Whoever comes up with the most wins. Gone with the Wind – 1939 “Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?” Gone with the Wind is the grandaddy of ‘em all: the most popular movie in history, the Civil War, birthin’ babies, Scarlett and Rhett, yada yada yada. Everybody knows the story, but almost no one is willing to accept that Rhett really isn’t coming back. The problem is that the screenplay was a little too well-written, and Clark Gable gave too good a performance. It’s made clear from the very beginning that Rhett Butler has a very low bullsh*t threshold. Toward the end of the film two key things occur: Rhett finally realizes that Scarlett is far more trouble than she’s worth, and that she’s never really loved him. And it just so happens that her lifetime love, Ashley Wilkes, is now a widower and ripe for the picking. Of course, Scarlett is not the type to take rejection lying down. She tells Rhett oh so passionately that she does love him she’s never loved Ashley. Rebuffed, she begins apologizing. Alas, sorry won’t feed the bulldog, and away Rhett goes, never to return.

February 2012 | The Modern

I must emphasize that there is not a woman viewer alive – or dead – who doesn’t fervently hope that Rhett undergoes a complete personality change that will have him rushing back to Scarlett. Sisters, watch the movie again, and this time pay close attention. It ain’t gonna happen. Barrie Creedon lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA.

My Funny Valentine Don’t play this song for us, not if you care for us. “My Funny Valentine” is the cruelest song in The Great American Songbook.
 This horrendously passive-aggressive “love” song by Rodgers & Hart has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, The Supremes, and approximately1,248 other well-respected groups and artists. According to Wikipedia, a 2006 survey found that among Japanese people aged 10 through 48, it’s the fifth most popular Valentine’s Day song in Japan. My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine
 You make me smile with my heart
 Your looks are laughable, unphotographable
 Yet, you’re my favorite work of art
 Translation: you’re completely pathetic, which I find hilarious. Not only are you pathetic, you’re also gargoyle-level hideous, physically speaking. Is your figure less than Greek?
 Is your mouth a little weak?
 When you open it to speak
 Are you smart?
 Translation: let me name a few of your more appalling features. First and foremost, your body, which the casual observer might assume belongs to a dugong. And your mouth? There are not enough words in the English language to adequately describe that thoroughly revolting chasm situated just below your nose. Bonus: You’re dumb as a brick. But don’t change your hair for me Not if you care for me
 Stay little Valentine, stay!
 Each day is Valentines Day
 Translation: whatever you do, do not attempt to make improvements. If you were to lose a few pounds, or get your teeth fixed, or even – Heaven forfend – read a book, then I might not be able to look down on you. At least not in the way I’m used to doing. And I would miss that. Barrie Creedon lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA.

The Top 10 Kick-Ass Instrumental Movie A

s with my previous “Kick-Ass” articles, I think it’s best that I explain my definition of a “kick-ass instrumental movie theme song.” First off, it can not be a song with lyrics. Unfortunately, this eliminates great pieces like Shaft and Rocky (Gonna Fly Now), but it’s necessary to limit the scope as there are so many great theme songs. That allows me to showcase some wonderful instrumentals that wouldn’t have made the list otherwise. The list only includes originals, so the theme to A Clockwork Orange is not on it because it’s a cover of a Henry Purcell piece. Secondly, the music needs to be the main theme for the movie, for example, The MOVIE NAME HERE Theme, not the theme of a battle scene one hour into the movie, or Darth Vader’s “Imperial March.” Finally, it needs to be “kick-ass.” Wait, what is my definition of “kick-ass?” Well, how about I narrow the field even more by saying that the themes need to be kick-ass in a bad-ass kinda way? “Bad-ass” is defined in the “Urban Dictionary” as: Bad-ass: adjective. pertaining to a person or thing that is rugged, strong, and/or ready to show these qualities. Hopefully, you’ll agree that my choices fit the description. Some are definitely more immediately obvious than others. Finally, I would like to include a few honorable mentions to the list. There were tons of great themes in the Seventies and these six definitely deserve to be listed, even if they didn’t make the top 10:

By Ron Passaro

Dirty Harry – 1971 – Lalo Schifrin Young Frankenstein – 1974 – John Morris Murder on the Orient Express – 1974 – Richard Rodney Bennett

Close Encounters of the Third Kind – 1977 – John Williams Halloween – 1978 – John Carpenter Black Hole – 1979 – John Barry

Ok, let’s begin! The Taking of Pelham One Two Three – 1974 – David Shire Wow. This theme could have served as the theme to some awesome Seventies cop TV show. It is probably one of the most obviously bad-ass themes on the list. Great brass stabs and melody lines combined with an unrelenting low brass/bass motif let us know immediately that something’s about to go down here in New York City. The Omen – 1976 – Jerry Goldsmith What is this movie about again? IMDB sums it up as “an American ambassador learns, to his horror, that his son is actually the literal Antichrist.” Oh, ok! So, how about this? Let’s create a theme for the movie and call it “Ave Satani,” which means “Hail, Satan” in Latin. Is that bad-ass enough for you? No? Ok, let’s sing it in Gregorian chant style and have lyrics that contain more anti-God phrases like “Enemy of Christ” and “Hail, Anti-Christ.” Need more validation? Black Sabbath used this piece as an intro for many of their live shows. “Wait, Ron, I just caught you! This song has lyrics!” Well, you’re right. But since it’s in Latin and not really a “song,” I’m gonna allow it, so there. Interesting fact: the choir master that provided Jerry Goldsmith with the lyrics actually screwed a lot of them up. Luckily, most of us will never know as we don’t talk Latin so good. Patton – 1970 – Jerry Goldsmith Other than the cool symphonic march feel within this theme, there are a few additional things that composer Jerry Goldsmith did to add to its bad-assery. First off, he used an echo effect in The Modern | February 2012

the trumpet’s triplet figure to symbolize Patton’s belief in reincarnation. He also utilized a pipe organ to represent the general’s religious nature. Very cool. The theme builds nicely and then really takes off a little after the one-minute mark. Taxi Driver – 1976 – Bernard Herrmann The great Bernard Herrmann, known for his groundbreaking scores — especially his work for Hitchcock — died before Taxi Driver was released. Yes, this was his last film, and it is a masterpiece. The film was dedicated to his memory. I, for one, cannot imagine a better theme for this film. The horrible dissonant opening chords of the theme are heard again in the killing scene at the end of the film. This reminds me of how Mozart starts Don Giovanni’s overture with two powerful chords signaling the return of the fallen commander - music that we don’t hear again until the very end of the opera. That’s when the commander smashes through Don Giovanni’s door (he was understandably pissed off since no one opened it after politely knocking several times) and drags the poor SOB to hell. The saxophone and jazz drums evoke New York City, and we also hear the main character’s emotional journey amid the disgusting shite he witnesses and has to put up with while combing the streets as a cab driver. Remember, this is pre-Giuliani NYC. Hell’s Kitchen was in fact hell’s kitchen as opposed to today’s Disneyfied tourist attraction, and crime was rampant. Enter the Dragon – 1973 – Lalo Schifrin Even Bruce Lee doesn’t kick as much ass as this theme. Maybe you’ve heard of Mission: Impossible,

e Themes of the Seventies and maybe you know that the theme to that TV series made my Kick-Ass list of top instrumental TV theme songs. Either way, the composer of said theme song wrote the music for Enter the Dragon as well as the wonderful theme and score to Dirty Harry, one of my honorable mentions. Some of you may notice that there are chord progression similarities to the Rush Hour theme. That’s because the one-and-only Schifrin was called in to kick ass on that score as well. The Godfather – 1972 – Nino Rota I guess some of you may say that this theme is only bad-ass because of its association with a bad-ass movie. However, I disagree. The music, while a waltz, is not something that you would feel like dancing to. It’s sinister and mysterious… and very Italian, especially due to some of the arrangement. Apparently Mr. Rota had used this melody for a previous film, but since it was reworked and is known mainly for being the theme to The Godfather, I have allowed it to still qualify for this list. Interestingly enough, Rota’s score was disallowed for nomination by the Academy Awards due to the melody being reused, but his score for Godfather II, which incorporated this same theme, was allowed and won the Oscar that year. Superman – 1978 – John Williams If the first eight notes of this theme don’t inspire you to do great things, well, then we’re different. Also, why aren’t themes written like this anymore?! Sure, the new Christopher Nolan Batman movies have great scores, but are the days of aweinspiring superhero/action themes already gone? Look,

directors, Richard Donner got Williams, so don’t think he’s limited to doing only Spielberg films. If you’re doing a superhero movie, HIRE THIS MAN. Who cares what the cost is? It’s Williams, for God’s sake! What is wrong with you? Jaws – 1975 – John Williams I don’t really need to write anything here explaining why this is a badass theme, do I? But I will write something else. Apparently John Williams sat down at the piano and played the twonote theme for Spielberg, who at first thought it was a joke and was therefore unconvinced. Williams said to trust him on this one and, luckily, Spielberg did. Also, here’s a kick-ass fact: Williams claims that this is the movie that jump-started his career. Star Trek – 1979 – Jerry Goldsmith Goldsmith, you have made the list thrice over! Congrats! This is my favorite Goldsmith theme. It is heroic, triumphant, soaring, romantic and — most importantly — kick-ass. Star Wars – 1977 – John Williams Williams, baby, you made the list three times as well! Four if you count the honorable mention! One of the most iconic and memorable themes ever written, John Williams’ theme to Star Wars understandably tops the list as the most kick-ass instrumental movie theme of the Seventies. Ron Passaro is an in-demand composer of film and TV scores, as well as a number of other musical projects.

internalize this

Take Me Along — United Airlines Wifey Wants To Come. by Ronald Sklar What’s there not to obsess on here? Bright Sixties color-TV colors! Pre-feminism! Short skirts! Broadway belting and kicking! And the guy you’ve seen all your life (yeah, that guy), playing a cigar-chomping businessman for the millionth time! He’s taking care of business but also taking care of the little woman. Fun fact: this campaign was quickly scrapped, as it was learned that businessmen were taking advantage of this offer by “taking along” women other than their wives. Obsess on this joint — as we do — today!

February 2012 | The Modern

the great forgotten

Forgotten Singles

Sixties of the

A decade with so much good music that some just had to be forgotten. Until now. By Jay S. Jacobs

“By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong, and everywhere there was song and celebration.” Of course, Joni Mitchell, who wrote those words, was not actually at Woodstock. She wrote the song after seeing a story on the TV news. Many an aging hippie will tell you that the Sixties were the high point of music in history. They may even have a partially valid point; a lot of truly wonderful music came from the decade. However, no matter what you hear from Woodstock nation, it was not just the bands that played in The Modern | February 2012

Bethel, New York that mattered. Here are some groovy tunes from the decade of love – all from artists who missed the festival.

“I’ll Never Find Another You” – The Seekers

This Australian folk pop band topped the charts in 1965 with this gorgeous devotional written by Dusty Springfield’s brother, Tom. At once very Sixties sounding and oddly timeless, the song was championed by

Radio Caroline – one of the infamous pirate radio channels – before crossing over to the US. embed/4Ga9Bs4fzSY

“Laugh Laugh” – The Beau Brummels

No matter what you may think of the Beau Brummels’ music, the guys were geniuses at marketing. Looking back, you may wonder how they came up with their fancy-boy band name, but it was a totally pragmatic decision on their part. Quite simply, they wanted to be the band right behind The Beatles on record store shelves, which were kept in alphabetical order. In 1965, that was a very desirable place to be. Happily, they were fine musically as well, as demonstrated by this wonderfully petty post-breakup song. GeYgT58d0

“Sugar Town” – Nancy Sinatra

Julian Lennon and Jakob Dylan did not invent the dilemma of popular musicians who could never quite escape the shadows of their father’s musical legacy. Despite having many big hits in the Sixties and working regularly with one of the overlooked musical geniuses of the era (Lee Hazelwood), Nancy Sinatra is basically now remembered for two songs – “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and “Somethin’ Stupid.” And on one of those songs, she was essentially singing backing vocals for her dad, Frank. However, this is not giving her due to Nancy (Ms. Sinatra if you’re nasty). Check out this great, mostly forgotten track, which did receive a slight uptick of recognition a couple of years ago when actress Zooey Deschanel performed a cute karaoke version of it in the romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer.

“Where Were You When I Needed You?” – The Grass Roots

Actually not the same band members who later topped the charts with “Let’s Live for Today” and “Midnight Confessions” – just the same group name. For this first single, The Grass Roots were a bunch of studio musicians hired for just one recording. After the popularity of this song, the songwriters had to go back and form a band. With all new members, The Grass Roots went on to have bigger hits, but this bitter breakup tune remains just about the best.

“Stephanie Says” – The Velvet Underground

I know, I know. There is nothing in the world more pretentious than picking a Velvet Underground song when discussing the best songs of the Sixties. (Except perhaps picking Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or Tthe Doors.) This choice is more pompous than most, because this is an obscure song that was barely heard at the time and was never even officially released on a VU album until the Eighties. I am guilty as charged of rock critic bombast. That doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the most simply gorgeous songs about disaffection to come out of the decade.

“The Happening” – The Supremes

It’s hard to think of any song by The Supremes being forgotten, as most oldies stations play their classic Motown tracks on an endless loop. However, this 1967 chart-topper is one of the few that almost never gets airplay, which is puzzling since it may just be the group’s finest moment. It’s certainly their most upbeatsounding song, though the lyrics are really rather dark. Plus, it gets bonus points for stealing the totally Sixties term “fickle finger of fate” from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In.

“Everyday With You Girl” – The Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost

Perfect pop from one of the most underrated bands of the decade. This song ended up a quadrangle of near-exquisite soft rock hits that Dennis Yost and his band released between 1966 and 1968. These also inFebruary 2012 | The Modern

the great forgotten cluded “Spooky,” “Traces” and “Stormy.” Members of The Classics IV went on to form the popular Seventies band The Atlanta Rhythm Section.

“Take a Letter, Maria” – R.B. Greaves

A song from a human resources director’s nightmares, “Take a Letter, Maria” was further proof that the Sixties had a very different mindset. In the song, a workaholic businessman dictates a letter to his wife asking for a divorce, and then hits on the woman taking the dictation when he is done. Because that’s just how they rolled in the Sixties. Besides, what hard-hearted woman could resist sweet-talking like “You’ve been many things, but most of all, a good secretary to me.”

“Morning Girl” – The Neon Philharmonic

A mix of psychedelic pop and classical music sounds like a scary collision of styles, but it led to this quite beautiful love ballad. Then the Neon Philharmonic followed it up with a sequel to the song called “Morning Girl, Later,” which was basically the same song with slightly different lyrics – though the songs

work well together as one long two-part single. Lead singer Don Gant went on to produce some of Jimmy Buffett’s breakthrough albums in the Seventies, including Living and Dying in ¾ Time and A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean. “Morning Girl” was later covered on teen idol Shaun Cassidy’s first album, but has since fallen between the cracks of pop culture.

“For the Love of Him” – Bobbi Martin

The Sixties saw the dawn of the women’s liberation movement. Still, they were close enough to the Fifties that there were a decent amount of songs in which women were subserviently worshipping their men. Some of these included “I Will Follow Him,” “Wishin’ & Hopin’,” “Wives and Lovers,” and “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.” This hit, which closed out the decade and scored despite the youth revolution, was perhaps the most blatant example of this old-fashioned dynamic. Yet, I have to admit, it’s a pretty terrific song. So were the other four I mentioned. Perhaps I’m not as evolved as I thought. If you can overlook the slightly pre-suffrage mindset of the lyrics, you’ll find it kind of groovy – you male chauvinist pig!

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retro sports

What Price Superstar? Are today’s “superstar” labels earned or bought? By Mitch Gainsburg Back in 1971, at nine years old, I sat with my dad watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V. I remember him saying to me, “You’re watching two teams of superstars play for the NFL championship today.” He was right: these two teams consisted of players like John Unitas, Bubba Smith, Ted Hendricks, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Bob Lilly, and John Mackey. And that’s just to name a few. I mention these men because they all were known as great players. The “great” was based on their accomplishments, ability to perform and winning at a high level for most of their careers. I can go on to name a hundred more from then until now. And I bring this to your attention because of how an athlete, in contrast, is perceived today. To be labeled “great” and a “superstar” these days, it takes only a few good plays and a dose of ESPN hype, stirred with some good public relations. Of course, we have to figure in the money. Let’s face it, if you are a great player with no market ability, you become Drew Brees or Aaron Rogers. It’s a sad state of the NFL when you have a player who has won nothing and gets all the press for just being able to put a helmet on. Just take the Tim Tebow craze. This was an insult to fans and players of all sports, especially to his team, the Denver Broncos. But it sold, earned, and was hyped for all the wrong reasons. I call it talent-less stardom. It’s not just pro-football either. All professional sports teams seem to take this tactic today. I guess we have to blame the money and, of course, the fans. We are sheep to the hype. I call it the “flavor of the month.” Professional sports look for faces that will earn, talented or not. The mainstream media jams them down our throats because he or she becomes the hype that earns for those who get a taste. Athletes and their agents and sponsors are so worried about the fast dollar that they forget why they are in the spotlight in the first place. I’m well aware that there are a hundred times the channels and radio stations are devoted to sports these days. They all need to earn to stay alive. Of course, this adds to the situation. The Modern | February 2012

But let’s try to label “superstar,” “great,” and “the best” for those who have earned it. That might boost the efforts of those who want to strive for it and warrant these labels. Mitch Gainsburg (a.k.a. Cashy the King),hosts The Sports Goombahs radio show and webcast, 10 p.m. Thursdays on WBCB, 1490 AM, Levittown, PA. Streamed live @

retro quiz

Are you ready for some retro football? Your goal is to answer all five of these correctly. By William Shultz

1. In the Seventies, the Pittsburgh Steelers won 4 Super Bowls. What was the nickname of their defense? 2. Who has won the most Super Bowls? 3. Who is the oldest team in the NFL that has never won a Super Bowl? 4. What team has won more than one Super Bowl but never lost one? 5. Who’s the youngest team to win the most Super Bowls?

1. The Steel Curtain 2. Pittsburgh Steelers with 6 3. Arizona Cardinals (previously in Chicago and St. Louis) 4. San Francisco 49ers, 5-0 5. Dallas Cowboys (1960) with 5


Good Knight and Bad News

Prototype Pariahs The seemingly innocuous personas of Barney Fife and Ted Baxter were actually sinister premonitions. B y

L i o n e l

TV, as in classic TV and not the rubbish that passes for such now, gave us two indelible characters who spoke with eloquent prescience as to two new character trends that would become readily apparent in our society. And as is so often the case, it’s easy to dismiss them as either coincidence or irrelevant. I mean, after all, how could classic American television, sitcoms in particular, pretend to portend and augur the future of our society? Television vatic? A sitcom pythonic? What?! Absolutely. Let me tell you something, when this civilization that you and I happen to inhabit disintegrates into cosmic dust as it most certainly will and is picked through and over by future anthropologists and historians, they’ll look to our popular culture to understand better just who we are . . . or were. And they’ve nowhere further to go than The Andy Griffith Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show to identify two key markers in our societal mosaic. The two figures I will limn herein identified a classic member of our society before others even noticed who they were. Their names are synonymous with what their characters portrayed. Their names are shorthand and shortcuts for the state of their portrayed professions. The more you think about this, the more you realize just how blindingly and perhaps innocently prescient TV writers were. Let me explicate. The Modern | February 2012

Barney Fife No more frightening a character ever presented in any medium is there than Bernard “Barney” Fife. Barney was the psychopath. The crazed, maniacal, law and order thug. A pathetic nullity with a uni-bulleted revolver; he was kept on a leash by the wiser, paternalistic Andy Taylor, the mature and reserved sheriff. Andy, a Rockwellian character of the first order channeling Cooper in High Noon, interestingly, was Barney’s enabler. Sober, reserved, measured — Andy was the peace officer, the solid public servant. Father, pater to the troubled teen. Barney was a pesky gnat. But Barney, I’m afraid to report, is more of the norm today than anyone could have possibly imagined. And certainly more commonplace than Andy, who — I’m sorry to report — is an anachronism. Barney Fife. He was the blueprint, the archetype for today’s TSA gate-raper thug, the glorified skycap with an oversized attitude and undeveloped jurisdiction. Barney sought equalization through his lawman image. His badge shielded and camouflaged him from the reality of his insignificance. It gave him purpose and identity. Especially when compared to Andy, who eschewed a sidearm, who saw the role as being there only if needed — only when required. “Just in case.” — the reluctant centurion. Barney was the template for the Milgram Experiment. He was the beta-test for the Stanford Prison Experiment. Barney was

Barney Fife. He was the blueprint, the archetype for today’s TSA gate-raper thug, the glorified skycap with an oversized attitude and undeveloped jurisdiction. the embodiment of carried-away power and consummate evil. Barney wasn’t merely following orders as the subjects of and in the aforementioned experiments. He was the order, the rule. The power emanated from him. He was the man, the law. He was the idealized male. (Insert your favorite Freudian reference here.) The psychosexual overtones — the sadistic countenance, all bubbled and frothed beneath the surface, waiting to blow Vesuvius-like. Barney was the little man, antipodal to the Nietzschean Übermensch. Barney was

kept under wraps and control by the paternalistic Andy. You’d cringe whenever Barney was put in charge, say, if Andy had to go out of town. You just knew deep down inside, in what could best be described as a sideways Oedipal complex of sorts, Barney secretly wished to kill Andy and take Aunt Bea as his bride slave. You laugh, but you never saw Barney and Bea alone without adult supervision. The tension you could cut with a knife. A knife Barney probably kept in his sock. ANNOUNCER: Paging Ed Gein. Barney’s speeches to both new February 2012 | The Modern

lionel and frequent jailees about how it was on “the rock” and what was expected from inmates said it all. Jail. Confinement. Incarceration. Homoerotic undertones and shower assault ideations. MSDNC would order a season of the episodes if they could have it in doc form to replace their abandoned and pathetic weekend scheduling. Lean forward. But what Barney tapped into was the sadistic soldier, the closet fascist who crept past the censors

The Modern | February 2012

and breached the firewall and slipped into a position of authority. That’s what Barney was and did. And we see his heirs today. His progeny. The Barney Fife avatars who channel this dangerous and secret power-hungry despot. Today, YouTube is awash in pepper spray cops, cops who overreact and lose their minds. “Don’t tase me, bro!” was directed at a latter day Barney. A cop, security guard, a wannabe. Barney traded on his friendship with Andy who

was his godfather and protector. Barney used his friendship and most probably begged Andy for the gig. He’s most assuredly a cadge for the badge. And who knew? Who knew that after all these years Barney would spawn legions of Barneys in department stores, malls, parking garages and law enforcement agencies teeming with would-be Barneys? And more importantly, Barney portended the future. He was the abusive cop’s Adam.

Ted Baxter This was the most eerie of predictions and predictors. Now, keep in mind the zeitgeist of yore. (Was that redundant or tautological? Sue me.) The quintessential TV anchor was Cronkite. That and he were its template and reference standard. Staid, mature, cerebral, confidant. “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Even Lyndon got it. Imagine saying that today by replacing Cronkite with, say, Scott Pelley. You’d laugh. Cronkite’s dead; Ted’s very much with us. Anchors were Gawd. Beloved, heralded, respected and we were beholden to them. This was in the epoch before 24/7 snooze news. Before breaking news and developing stories. Before trends and Twitter hash tags. Enter Ted. Talk about sacrilege! How absolutely prescient Brooks and Burns were to present to us the advent of this iconic figure, Ted Baxter. The chutzpah and (as my West Tampa friends would say) C.O. Jones it took to suggest that a news anchor could be buffoonish and windbagged. We think nothing of it today because

Ted is construed by many (ahem) to be the norm. Ted Baxter antedated Howard Beale and Broadcast News and Ron Burgundy. Ted was there first. He blazed the trail. Anyone can recognize the human blooper reel TV anchors today. But in 1970?! No greater reference authority exists today than Wikipedia. It notes the following: “Ted Baxter has become a symbolic figure, and is often used when criticizing media figures, particularly news anchors hired for style and appearance rather than journalistic ability.” Touché. Set, point, match. Natch. In my nightly polemics on New York’s PIX 11 News, I often refer to the “Ted Baxter sockpuppet media.” Viewers know exactly what I mean. An anchor who didn’t earn his or her (let’s not forget the Theodora Baxter, for they are now legion) bona fides. The pretty boy, the empty suit. The coiffed and Botoxed Ken doll who reads a prompter and throws the word journalist around. Ted Baxter was there first. And let me reassert, repeat and reiterate: Brooks and Burns foresaw Ted. Ted was a new creature. There was the famous

Ted Baxter has become a symbolic figure, and is often used when criticizing media figures, particularly news anchors hired for style and appearance rather than

journalistic ability.

episode where Ted meets his hero Walter Cronkite. That moment, that singular moment was burned in my mind. The beloved and most trusted man in America meeting his ersatz, counterfeit doppelgänger wannabe. The moment was television history. It knows no equivalent anywhere. Mr. Yin, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Yang. You can’t possibly understand the significance of this if you’re too young. The Barny Fife reference, sure. That’s eternal. But Ted Baxter?! Try explaining to a kid that there was a time when news anchors existed who had to make their bones as journalists. Usually from years in the trenches as a newspaperman. Explain the

arcane and subtle nuances of journalism versus commentary versus entertainment. Good luck, Sparky. In fact, one of the saddest things to watch is Howard Kurtz on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Most notably trying to explain the phrase “reliable sources” and what that even means. These hairsplitting references to journalism versus commentary versus news in a day where a duck playing the ocarina gets two million hits on YouTube?! And yet the old newsers still hang on to the hoary and bedraggled journalism ideal. To use the most oft-repeated term today by our younger generations – it’s hysterical!

The Big Finish There are no examples in our society of professions or people who’ve been so perfectly and anticipatorily typified by TV and social media quite like Barney and Ted. Think about it: you may have characters who’ve been crazy or wacky or off-kilter who were cops or lawyers or doctors. But that wasn’t an indictment of either the profession or the labeling of a particular type of representative. Sure, Car 54, Where Are You? showed Toody and Muldoon as goofy but the show was not an indictment against the powerhungry, incompetent flatfoot. The Keystone Cops were also in essence exceptions. But Barney and Ted were examples of actual, real and all-too-frequent specimens of a particular type of representative of a profession or societal sect. Not exceptions to the rule, but types — members of the group. To this day when referring to an over-aggressive security guard or mall cop or some “peace officer” whose style is grandiloquent and pompous and whose respect is imagined — he’s a Barney Fife. And the news anchor whose full of himself, demented, boorish and churlish — the anchor who is vain and pompous and a gasbag and (as the kids say) an asshat that . . . may in fact be the norm. And that’s the way it is. Lionel is a talk radio panjandrum, an ex-prosecutor and commentator on New York’s heritage PIX 11 News ( – seven nights a week and weekdays and a Monday morning thrown in for good measure. That’s 13 times a week for those keeping score at home. He’s also a podcast titan on He may be tracked, stalked and hunted on Twitter @LionelMedia and Lionel’s Fan Page on Facebook. He’s also available via email at This article contains gluten. February 2012 | The Modern

don’t touch that dial: TV 1973

Once Upon a Time, Saturday Night CBS’s powerhouse comedy line-up from 1973 By Mark Mussari Watching television in the 1970s was more than a national pastime — for many, it was a way of life. In the days before you could set your DVR or stream shows or log on to to see your favorite episodes at your own convenience, the television schedule held the cards. Viewers had to plan accordingly.

and topical. Carroll O’Connor played Archie Bunker as if it was the role of a lifetime (and it was) — but he also managed to flesh out a loudmouthed bigot who spoke in malapropisms (“I thought of it on the sperm of the moment...”) and ran his household like a tyrant. Add Jean Stapleton as his lovable, hapless wife Edith (whom he not-so-lovingly referred to as “Dingbat”), and Archie became more human. Some-

In 1973, something glorious happened on Saturday night (which is often the least–watched night of viewing). CBS decided to stack its best comedies in a prime-time run from 8 pm to 11pm. As hard as it may be to believe, the lineup went from All in the Family to M*A*S*H to The Mary Tyler Moore Show to The Bob Newhart Show to Carol Burnett. That’s a stellar run of comedy by anyone’s standards — three straight hours of genuine laughs. Nothing similar would occur until the 1980s when Thursday nights saw Cosby, Family Ties, Cheers and Seinfeld in a two-hour run. What made that 1970s CBS line up so powerful, though, was the variety of shows. All in the Family was political and cultural satire at its best, irreverent

one loved him — genuinely — there had to be a reason. Sally Struthers played his befuddled daughter Gloria, and Rob Reiner stirred up the political pot as his ultra-liberal son-in-law Michael (whom Archie called “Meathead”). All in the Family was the blue-collar link between The Honeymooners and Roseanne. When the first episode aired in 1971, CBS actually ran a disclaimer about the content! In retrospect, the show exists at a strange intersection between being viewed as “tame” by today’s standards yet being too politically incorrect in its language to exist on a network. Maybe those were the days…. M*A*S*H was another sitcom with a political and cultural thrust: though set in the Korean War, it was a

The Modern | February 2012

blatant commentary on the Vietnam War (still, sadly, in progress at the time). The show offered a structural departure from the filmed-live-in-front-of-astudio-audience-format the audience expected from most sitcoms. Instead it was shot on film, adding a little gravitas to counterpoint the comedy. As womanizing surgeon Hawkeye Pierce, Alan Alda brought a Groucho-esque delivery to his lines, adding heart while capturing the strong sense of the absurdity of war that the show never abandoned. Even cast changes could not kill M*A*S*H: it lost a number of major characters along the way — including its original main co-star, Wayne Rogers as Trapper John — yet never missed a beat. It also knew how to alter its comic landscape to suit the cast, Henry Morgan fitting in seamlessly as Colonel Potter after Mclean Stevenson departed as Colonel

Blake. And the show was innovative, featuring episodes done documentary style or without a laugh track (its one flaw — an unnecessary and distracting laugh track). The 1983 final episode of M*A*S*H was, at that time, the most watched episode of television ever aired — 100 million viewers — a record held until Super Bowl XLIV, some 27 years later in 2010. The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered in 1970 and brought behavioral comedy — comedy based on character interaction instead of zany situations — to a wide audience and adoring critics. Moore played Mary Richards, a single woman who had moved to Minneapolis after a disastrous romance. She was supposed to be divorced but the network

did not think the American audience was ready for it. How ironic is that considering today’s divorce statistics? Moore was surrounded by a brilliant cast of actors, including Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern, the urban, cynical East-Coast yin to Mary Richards’ sunny, Midwestern yang. In fact, the character was so sardonic that test audiences at first did not like her. Accomplished character actors like Ed Asner as hard-drinking bellicose newsman Lou Grant, Mary’s boss; and Cloris Leachman as her neurotic, self-help obsessed neighbor Phyllis; added deeper notes of comedy. As a single career woman in the 1970s, Mary faced a number of contemporary challenges: she encountered sexism at work, she became addicted to sleeping pills, she dealt with disappointing romances. Yet, she stayed single, breaking the sitcom pattern of the ultimate engagement or marriage. Culturally — or seven Emmywinning years — Mary said it’s okay to be a woman who’s single. Bob Newhart seemed to spring from Mary Tyler Moore (and it was an MTM production). Deadpanning Newhart, who had graced television with his laid-back delivery since the late 1950s, played psychologist Bob Hartley as if he had fallen down a rabbit hole. Suzanne Pleshette added a little spice as his smoky-voiced wife Emily. They never had kids and there were no episodes about neighborhood barbecues. Instead, they lived as a single couple in a high rise. Like Mary Richards, Bob faced challenges at home and at work, where he had an office in a medical center. Carol Burnett began her career as a third banana to Garry Moore, where she first honed her skills on his 1950s variety hour. By the time she received her own comedy-variety hour in 1967, there was no stopping her. The only women to have their own prime-time variety shows before Burnett were Dinah Shore and Imogene Coca in the 1950s. Burnett also chose a stellar supporting cast, including Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway. Today, many of Burnett’s sketches have become the stuff of television legend—from the Southern wreck that is Eunice to the inept secretary Mrs. Wiggins to a dead-on parody of Gone with the Wind. It’s difficult enough to sustain comedy for two shows — let alone five. Yet, for one year, 1973, CBS saved the best for Saturday night and served up genuine laughs on a silver platter. Mark Mussari is the author of American Life and Television: From I Love Lucy to Mad Men (Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2012). February 2012 | The Modern

girls were girls & men were men

The Films of Farrah Fawcett She left TV’s Charlie’s Angels for a mostly disappointing film career. But, oh, that poster. By Jay S. Jacobs Anyone can become a sex symbol; however, you know that you have hit the pop culture zeitgeist when a haircut is named after you – particularly an era-defining one. Other than Farrah Fawcett, only Jennifer Aniston came close. And even her hairdo was named after her character (The Rachel) rather than the actress. However, you couldn’t go anywhere in the late Seventies without seeing a woman wearing The Farrah: a flowing, feathered-back ’do that framed the face. Of course, it didn’t hurt to have a face like Farrah’s – which most women did not have. Farrah Fawcett (who at the time went by her then-married name, Farrah Fawcett-Majors) was the epitome of girl-next-door beauty. And for a while in the Seventies, she was the most beloved (or belusted?) celebrity in the world. Her famous Pro Arts poster alone sold somewhere between five and twelve million copies, depending on whose sales estimate you believe. Not bad for a former Texas beauty queen whose movie career began with the infamous train-wreck Myra Breckinridge (which starred our December “Girls Were Girls” subject, Raquel Welch.) Still, even after being part of that disaster, she was able to assemble a series of popular commercials, TV guest shots and the occasional small film role. Soon after, Fawcett-Majors won the role of the break-out character in the biggest hit series of 1976 – Charlie’s Angels – which put the jiggle in crime fighting. However, only a year into the series, Fawcett-Majors saw an opportunity to become a huge movie star and bowed out of her Angels contract. Afterwards, she made only periodic guest appearances. The result: leaving a beloved new buzz series for a film career is not that great an idea. Just ask David Caruso. Fawcett was awarded with a few high-profile starring roles in films in the late Seventies. Each and every one of them turned out to be huge box-office disappointments. Before long, her career became a morass of made-for-TV movies, short-lived TV series, supporting roles and eventually reality TV. In the meantime, Fawcett became tabloid fodder. First there was her divorce from Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors and a volatile on-and-off relationship with The Modern | February 2012

former movie star Ryan O’Neal. She took a new interest in body painting (literally rolling around naked in paint to create her art), which led to an infamous payper-view event and a Playboy photo shoot. Then came the legal troubles of her drug-addicted son and a notoriously odd guest appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, in which Fawcett herself appeared to be massively stoned. Yet, just when the world appeared to be considering Fawcett as a sad joke, tragedy struck. In 2006, Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer. It was treated and thought to be removed; however, it reappeared less than a year later. Fawcett became an advocate for cancer awareness when not in the hospital herself, even allowing her illness to be filmed for the TV documentary Farrah’s Story. She finally succumbed to cancer on June 25, 2009. Unfortunately, the bad luck and bad timing that dogged Fawcett’s career for decades followed her even into death. Just a matter of hours after the world started to mourn the passing of this beloved icon, yet another, even more beloved icon – Michael Jackson – unexpectedly died of a drug overdose. Therefore, Fawcett’s passing became an afterthought in the news cycle. Even in death, she came in second place. Fawcett’s career as an actress is now sometimes overlooked due to some of the circus aspects of her life. While her acting career never quite captured the rapt public adoration that Charlie’s Angels and the Pro Arts poster foretold, she did have a varied and interesting run. Here are some of her most intriguing roles. Charlie’s Angels – Jill Munroe We normally focus on film roles in this section; however, she could never be discussed without mentioning this TV series. A cheesy detective drama with Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson as modelpretty private eyes, Charlie’s Angels was the show that officially introduced prime time to T&A. It also officially premiered Farrah Fawcett-Majors. In hindsight, she

ited the show way too soon, but more than anything else, this role is what made her an icon.” Logan’s Run – Holly Even before Angels, Fawcett turned heads in a flashy supporting role in this sci-fi cult classic – which is currently being remade for a new generation. Logan’s Run was about a future world in which all decadent pleasures were readily available, but everyone has to die when they turn 30. Fawcett played the receptionist at the “New You” center, a medical office where you could completely change your look. She only had a few scenes, but her beauty and charisma stood out amongst the (then) cutting-edge SFX. Somebody Killed Her Husband – Jenny Moore This was meant to be Fawcett’s post-Angels bigscreen coming-out party, but the film could have more accurately been entitled Somebody Killed Her Career. Reginald Rose, who also wrote the classic play Twelve Angry Men, was behind this lightweight comedy thriller. In the movie, Fawcett finds love with Jeff Bridges while hiding her husband’s corpse in a freezer because they are being framed for his murder. Wacky hijinx ensue, and Farrah does her best Goldie Hawn impersonation, but no one came to watch the fireworks. The Burning Bed – Francine Hughes When big-screen fame proved illusive, Fawcett returned to her TV roots, becoming the queen of the TV movie for much of the Eighties. She made waves with Murder in Texas, Poor Little Rich Girl and Small Sacrifices, but this 1984 telepic was her shining moment. Fawcett got her first Best Actress Emmy nomination for playing Francine Hughes, a long-battered wife who eventually took deadly revenge on her violent husband (played by American Graffiti star Paul LeMat, nextmonth’s “Men were Men” subject.)

The Cannonball Run – Pamela Glover When Hollywood couldn’t seem to get her going as a lead actress in films, they decided to add Fawcett to the rogue’s gallery ensemble cast of this notoriously goofy racing comedy. Fawcett holds her own very well in an eccentric all-star cast (early Eighties style). The actors include just about everyone with a SAG card at the time – Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Dom DeLuise, Sammy Davis, Jr., Mel Tillis, Adrienne Barbeau, Terry Bradshaw and even Jackie Chan. Fawcett’s speech about why she loves trees is classic. Saturn 3 – Alex Only a few years into her movie career, desperation took hold for Fawcett’s prospects, leading to this film. Saturn 3 was a cheesy sci-fi horror potboiler about a rogue robot terrorizing a peaceful space station. Fawcett played a gorgeous scientist whose idyllic love affair with her co-worker (played by a much-older Kirk Douglas) was interrupted by the arrival of a psychopathic stowaway (Harvey Keitel) and a killer cyborg. The only reason the movie was noticed at all was because it was the film in which Fawcett finally succumbed to the nude scene, doing a few topless shots. (Of course, the opportunity to see Fawcett’s breasts was mitigated by having to see Douglas’ ancient, fleshy ass.) Whether it was the silly storyline or the Douglas butt or just the fact that there were now newer and shinier sex symbols, even the fan boys pretty much avoided Saturn 3. Extremities – Marjorie Fawcett drew raves for a brave Broadway stage performance as a woman who was attacked in her own home. Eventually, she turns the tables and takes vengeance on her attacker. However, the movie version of this play never quite caught on, with Fawcett’s fans finding the subject matter depressing and a bit too similar to The Burning Bed. Just a decade after being cast in Charlie’s Angels, it was her last lead role in a major motion picture – though she did have rather large roles in such respected later films as The Apostle, Dr. T & the Women and See You in the Morning. February 2012 | The Modern


Rail and Tail: Hanging with the Sk8trboys By Desiree Dymond 1990: I was thirteen and living with my parents in a Fifties-style subdivision of a small, oppressive town in Michigan. I stood at the top of my older brother’s huge half pipe with one of his newly acquired skateboards, held in place with my foot. No one was watching. I could take the plunge without making a total fool out of myself if I wiped out. That would most likely be the outcome of this daredevil stunt. I didn’t even make it down to the middle of the ramp before I fell, face first, onto the wooden floor. No one saw. I tucked my badly permed hair behind my ears and ran back inside the house. I continued reading my Sweet Valley High novels in the safety of my own bed, completely relieved that no one had witnessed what I’d just done. I suppose the banana board my mom purchased for my brother at a garage sale a few weeks before was unused by my brother for a reason. How they performed these glorious stunts on the half pipe was too much for me to comprehend in my moment of defeat. Maybe starting myself on something smaller would have been a better decision. We had another ramp in the front yard of our parent’s house. At one point, I was able to take the quarter-pipe ramp; I could even Ollie. The use of a real, upgraded skateboard, with friction, helped in the control area. I wanted to impress my brother and his friends with my skills. My brother and his skater friends had toiled for months perfecting this thing. It was a quarter-pipe ramp with a bit of “vert,” skater terminology for vertical. It was cut half off at the top to make a platform with a PVC pipe for coping on the edge. When they finished, it was a work of art, perfection! My brother was its master. He was already about six-foot-two at age 15, with a couple of more inches to go before reaching his full height. Tall and skinny, he was the only guy in town with a long mohawk. My brother had a certain charisma, combined with just the right amount of cool. It had the hypnotic effect of pulling people into his world. He became the unassuming leader of the pack. Skaters from all The Modern | February 2012

over town and the next town over would come to skate his ramp. I was introduced to so many different guys, I could barely remember all their names (a rare thing to happen in the humble yard of such a small town). Our house quickly became “Skate Central.” One more thing to add to the arsenal of fun was the launch ramp that my brother and his friends had built. All day long I’d see random skaters with my brother, launching off the end and doing tricks just to land into the prized lawn of my mother. I also had no idea that it wasn’t cigarettes they were smoking at the edge of the

sidewalk before the charge up to the ramp. A lot of friction ensued. My mom would chase them off, sometimes with a metal rake. The cops would show up. Rumbles between skaters would erupt randomly. I would sit on the edge of our modest porch with my little brother and watch the madness unfold several times a day. If you were a skater in the early Nineties, you were punk rock by default. You listened to what was on Thrasher magazine’s CD: “Black Flag,” “D.R.I.,” “Suicidal Tendencies.” This was back before the hipsters, when you could wear Chuck Taylors and it was still

cool. It wasn’t trendy; it was just what you did (although the shoes would usually fall apart after about one day of skating). The shoes that lasted the beating were Vans and Vision Street Wear. In the Nineties, skater fashion was the antifashion; you wanted to wear what others weren’t wearing. Conformity was out of the question. This lifestyle stood out in the small town, where you were expected to fit in. You

were encouraged to go with the status quo of mostly redneck fashions, mixed with your favorite football team jersey. In fact, you couldn’t even find the desired skate clothing for sale anywhere in my hometown. It had to be ordered through a California skate catalog, or Thrasher magazine. My brother waited around for weeks for a prized t-shirt that said, “I love cops” to arrive through the mail. This fashion distinction caused a lot of friction

tween the local skate groups and the local kids dressed in sports team jerseys, otherwise known as “jocks.” The times were dangerous and volatile for the skaters, since the police would always take the side of the jocks. The cops deemed the skaters as degenerates. After one skater was jumped and beaten by six jocks, with no justice, the skaters knew they had to arm and protect themselves: brass knuckles, knives, spikes and knuckle knives. If you had no other weapons, your skateboard would do. One hit with the metal truck of a board could crush a skull. On a regular basis, a pickup truck full of jocks would drive by and yell a provoking “Skate or Die” out the window, to entice the skaters to fight. Of course, the skaters would yell, “Fuck you” back to them and flip them off. This was exactly what the meathead jocks wanted, so that they could stop the truck. Three or four stocky bodybuilder types would step out to confront the tall, lean, long-haired skaters. A fight would ensue, and despite the muscular conditioning of the jocks, my brother and the skaters would usually win — out of street-wise superiority — without the use of weapons. However, the weapons did make a difference when a truckload of meatheads would pull up to a lone skater. They were looking for an easy target to vent their cowardice. The only oppression the skaters couldn’t defeat was their own parents’ disapproval. I’ve always wondered what happened to those ramps of my early teenage years. I found out from my brother recently that they were both burned, which he informed me is the fate of most ramps. The half pipe ended up in a friends yard after its short time in ours. One night the mother of the friend got sick of the latenight ramp partying, doused it in gasoline, and set it a blaze right in front of the skaters. They watched it burn to the ground in front of them. The quarter-pipe ramp in our yard suffered a less dramatic fate: my brother and dad tore it apart after it wore out and just burned it in a trash can. It was an anti-climatic death compared to the halfpipe’s triumphant exit of this forbidding world. Desiree Dymond is a model, singer/songwriter and blogger residing in New York City. February 2012 | The Modern

dig this dvd

The Man Show,

Season One (1999) -- Volume One (Red Distrubution -- 2003)

Male chauvinism is all right now. In fact, it’s a gas. By Ronald Sklar When Comedy Central actually lives up to its name, you’ve really got something there. With the hilarious The Man Show debuting in 1999 (and this first season available on DVD), the comedy channel proves that there ain’t no shame in getting your chauvinism on — in fact, it’s urgently therapeutic and much appreciated. As stated with great enlighten-

ment on its premiere, this sure as hell ain’t The View. What it is is, The Howard Stern Show with a live audience and just a wee bit more structure. From its catchy theme song, which sings like a dirty sea ditty (Grab a beer and drop your pants, send your wife and kids to France, it’s The Man Show), to its closing credits featuring buxom babes jumping on a trampoline, what we have here is a bachelor party not so much at 3 a.m. but more like at 10:30 p.m.: wild but not yet out of control. The comedy lies in its determination to serve it up without apology. “Blatant” done subtly is what drives this show across the finish line. It’s a confirmation of all things we are not supposed to talk about anymore, The Modern | February 2012

of every macho joy and boys-will-be-boys excuse that thirty years of sensitivity training have tried to breed out of us. It’s a frat party, but a tidy one, just well-behaved enough to sneak past the house mother. The whole checklist is here: excessive beer drinking, farting, vomiting, eating bad food, pornography, an unhealthy fascination with dwarves and an untamed obsession with All Things Breasts. The show’s eye candy are a bevy of overheated girls in various cheesecake costumes called (and obvious to some) The Juggies. These broads are wholesome good sports, seemingly in on the joke and glad to lend a helping hand. The men in this audience would never have a chance with a Juggie once the director yells “cut,” but here, the stale air is filled with potential. The subject matter is limited, but, oh, the possibilities, man. Not all of them are explored, but just enough light is shed on the darkness that it leads us home. The frat-boy studio audience is adoring and alive – in most programs this is a distraction; here, it is music. The APPLAUSE sign does not say “APPLAUSE” but rather “CLAP YOU BASTARDS.” The sketches are anything but subtle (“Household Hints From Porn Stars,” “Drunks Do The Darnedest Things”); the content is minimal (when they finish a few minutes early, they fill the void with more footage of girls jumping on the trampoline. No one is complaining or feeling shortchanged.) You come away strangely satisfied and invigoratingly refreshed – you’re not offended in the least. Your wife/girlfriend/sister/mother/daughter won’t be all that put off either, not that you would care. It’s Iron John sitting on a whoopee cushion. In their “How It Really Happened” segment, for instance, a newly “unearthed” film clip shows the real reason for Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in her plane: she was too busy checking her makeup in the mirror in her cockpit. And a Man Show poll reveals an eye-opening fact: 78% of men admit to watching scrambled porn on cable. “We’re here to teach,” says co-host Jimmy Kimmel, a brilliant mind for whom television has, up to this point in 1999, been trying to find a place since Win Ben Stein’s Money. He and the amazing Adam Corolla

run about two beats behind the ecstatic studio audience, with thinly disguised comic monologues as excuses for episode themes (“Drinking,” “Gambling,” “Weddings,” “Breasts”). They pose as Everymen, but that’s a ruse: their sharp minds are wired for wicked commentary on the battle of the sexes (yes, the battle still rages on) and the truth as it appears universally to men. This isn’t easy. For instance, they shine their warped light on the hypocrisy of weddings, a shared nightmare for anyone with a Y chromosome. Of wedding planning, Kimmel says, “The more painful it is for you, the more perfect it is for her;” of the wedding night, “it’s the only night of your lives that you are absolutely guaranteed sex;” and of the wedding ring, “If I’m spending five grand on a ring, it better be a Super Bowl ring.” Kimmel alerts a willing-to-learn all-male audience, “We’ve noticed a disturbing trend. You’re turning into women.” His laid-back rant disregards young guys with pierced ears and the observation that “if you make more than $35,000 a year, you are not allowed to get a tattoo. Who do you think you’re kidding?” Or, when interviewing a male guest who received breast implants on a dare for $100,000, he asks, “What do you need chicks for [now]? You’ve got a rack and a right hand.” He also warns against nursing as a career path for men: “The only thing a male should nurse is a bottle of scotch.” He cracks wise that the most dangerous thing a man can do is to pass out drunk in front of his friends. We also get an education in how many pickled eggs a drunken man can eat before vomiting them back (answer: not many, as is witnessed on videotape.) Though Kimmel submits that his claim to fame is eating 75 Chicken McNuggets in one sitting, Corolla is the truly demented one of the two. In a downright uncomfortable (and hilarious) vignette, he imagines himself scoring a romantic date with his mother, which includes a romp on the beach, some dirty talk and a nightcap back at his place, (after all, what would a spoof of men be without an obligatory Oedipal reference?) He also steals the show in a videotaped visit

to a home improvement store, in which he pretends to be a dumb-ass employee getting in the way of the real-life dumb-ass shoppers (loudspeaker included), topped with a priceless shot of him taking a dump in a display toilet on Aisle 12. Adam, you rule. The show, in part, is a celebration of bodily functions and the utopia of the bathroom, or, as they call it, Xanapoo. When a female audience member asks, “Why are men so afraid to go to the doctor?” the answer from Corolla is, “two words: rectal exam.” To which Kimmel adds, “You [women] are used to having things in you. We’re not.” TV needs an enema every once in a while. This is as good as it gets. It’s Letterman when Letterman was cool, back in his NBC days, before he sold out and became an adult. In defense of his co-host and himself, Corolla argues, “We’ve both been men for nearly half of our adult lives!” That late-night talk show hijinx gets its due when the guys take to the road with their video camera. In an absolutely classic bit, the two set up a petition table in Venice Beach in order to end women’s suffrage. Although a good amount of females are hip to the joke denying them the right to vote, many, many more are all too willing to sign their names for what sounds like a good cause. It’s like Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking,” but without the cringing. Bill Foster, also known as “The Fox,” brings a great deal to the party. He serves as an innovative addition as a keyboard-playing lounge singer who specializes in dirty drinking ditties and wacky toasts. His special talent, aside from playing with his organ and endearing himself to a studio full of testosterone cases, is to drink two mugs of beer in just two quick gulps. But wait – there’s more: he can also accomplish this feat while standing on his head. You don’t know where he’s coming from, or where he is going with this odd talent, but it’s the kind of spectacle for which television programming was made. The Man Show is a BYOB to an anti-feminist celebration. As the theme song instructs, “quit your job and light a fart, scratch your favorite private part, it’s The Man Show!” Advice taken. February 2012 | The Modern

retro tech

Better Living Through Modern Sound By Art Wilson In the first part of this series I recounted the evolution of electronic audio as I saw it from growing up in the Fifties onward. It was a technological, artistic, and revenue-producing industry. But the ability to create one’s own audio started to become possible with the development of home recording devices. I envied those who owned the esoteric luxury of an open-reel tape recorder and fantasized about all

There was a cultural image of teens holding small radios up to their ear, or listening with an earphone, or putting it under their pillow to listen late at night, so not to disturb the family. of the neat things I could do with my own. My sixthgrade buddy obtained one, and he and I would go to his basement, where the creativity began. We placed the microphone by the radio and recorded hours of programming of our giant local Top 40 station. We learned how to record The Chipmunks and play them back at half speed, and hear David Seville’s real, and overdubbed voice. We studied the innuendos and techniques of that genre of broadcasting, and began to record our own parodies of it. What fun! Portability became an important factor in radios even during the vacuum tube era. Portable radios, considerably thinner in depth, but about as wide as table radios (with handles) were sold. They required AC power plug-in, but could operate a while on a heavy-duty battery. This allowed hearing audio proThe Modern | February 2012

gramming at the park or on the beach. Solid-state transistors were invented to replace vacuum tubes. They were a fraction of the size of the tubes, required little electrical power, and generated much less heat. So the transistor radio revolutionized portability with its possibility of pocket size and relatively long battery life. There was a cultural image of teens holding small radios up to their ear, or listening with an earphone, or putting it under their pillow to listen late at night, so not to disturb the family. This solid-state technology extended to all electronics. Miniature printed circuits replaced many wires and tubes, allowing for size and power efficiency. This introduces another phase of the evolution of audio - amplified live instrumentation. The guitar, of course, was an acoustic instrument derived from the medieval lute. Spanish and Flamenco music

The New Oldies DJ Vikas Sapra DJ Vikas Sapra calls the 411 on the hottest oldies in the clubs. Rock: Jet - “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” (2003) This is a rock track that will get any crowd singing along no matter what their musical preference. While playing it at The Darby a few Fridays ago, it even caught the ear of Jay-Z, who came into the DJ booth to ask when the track came out. The song starts off with a bass line almost identical to Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” transitions to a guitar riff inspired by Keith Richards, and then explodes into an all-out arena rock anthem.

was played with a flare, but volume was limited to the acoustic design. In folk music, the acoustic guitar blended in with other instruments and vocals. Microphones would eventually help project the volume of groups and vocalists. The guitar was introduced in jazz bands, where it was played with more brassy instruments and percussion. The innovation of electronically amplifying the guitar’s sound, by its own electronic pickups, shaped the future of a new branch of the instrument. My first guitar amplifier was simple by today’s standards – small, with one speaker, reverb (echo), and a “tremolo’ special effect. But I soon began to perform in bands and my gear was totally adequate for the volume I needed. Combo bands at first would often plug vocal microphones into auxiliary inputs in their instrument amps, but they needed the better control and isolation of vocals through separate P.A. systems, using a mixer, amp, and speakers. Other combo instruments were played through their own amplifiers, such as electric bass and keyboards. The progressive rock era of music innovated new playing styles and the need for more effects, such as, distortion, fuzz, decay, sustain, phasing, and a variety of vibratos, tremolos, and echoes. By necessity, a musician in a band would become proficient in the setup and breakdown of electronic gear, and the mastery of sound control. (Ladies and gentleman, the band will now take a break. Be here for the next installment.) Art Wilson is a Philadelphia-based musician, teacher, software specialist and retired chemist.

February 2012 | The Modern

Runner up: Nirvana - “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Indie: Scissor Sisters | “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” (2006) This is a staple track at any downtown/hipster party. Tight lyrics, magnificent vocals, and delightful disco synths make this an instant winner. The song was blessed by Sir Elton John, who co-wrote and played piano for this mid-tempo jam. Ironically, this is the most cheerful track I’ve ever heard about feeling miserable. Runner up: MGMT - “Kids” Pop: Britney Spears | “Toxic” (2004) Britney’s Toxic is another song that transcends genre boundaries - and no girl can resist the urge to dance when this track comes on. The production of “Toxic” set the standard for all dance-pop songs to come. You can transition to this song from literally any track - thanks to the simple but recognizable string loops in the beginning. Runner Up: Justin Timberlake - “Sexyback” New Wave: The Smiths | “This Charming Man” (1983) No rock & roll party is complete without “This Charming Man” in the playlist. Despite Morrisey’s morose lyrics, this is an undeniably upbeat dance rock track. If you’re a fan of Depeche Mode, The Cure and New Order, you’ll love this track. Runner Up: Joy Division - “Love Will Tear Us Apart” Hip Hop: Q-Tip | “Vivrant Thing” (1999) I kick off any classic hip-hop set with Vivrant Thing, ensuring every person gets up out of their seat. This song is the epitome of feel-good hip-hop and what I hope returns to the scene. Funky beats and Q-Tip’s playful lyrics make this track a knockout on any dance floor. Runner up: Jay-Z - “Empire State of Mind” Vikas plays a range of residencies, from celeb hotspots such as The Darby, 1OAK, PhD, and SL to the downtown fashion scene at Soho Grand and Mister H. He’s currently on a three-week tour in Southeast Asia and recently joined the roster of Agency DJ’s who will represent him on the west coast.


Vintage Valentines By Jack Rotoli Winter in grade school was a dismal ordeal, trudging through snow and ice and damp and wet into lifeless, colorless classrooms. Christmas was over, decorations were taken down and it would be months before we’d see the green of spring or be able to take recess outside. It seemed like winter would never end when there was hope — well almost.

To w e r i n g above us, like the black monolith in 2001, A Space Odyssey, Sister Mary Darth Vader assigned us a new art project — we were to make a desktop mailbox to receive our Valentines. Armed with scissors and paint, construction paper and glue, I fashioned a mailbox to be proud of, that would hold hundreds of Valentines, that my nun would hold up to the class as an example, that would get me beat up at recess. Being an artist, I put my heart into my mailbox; often believing it would have little company. I was a loner, a little nerdy and a late bloomer — really late. By lunchtime, the fear of rejection had me in a panic. Like an often-spurned, torch-carrying lothario alone at the end of the bar — trying to choke down graham crackers and a pint of milk through The Modern | February 2012

quivering lips — I faced the forthcoming afternoon with surprising nerve. When we returned to our classroom after lunch we were instructed (probably in size or alphabetical order) to distribute our Valentines to our recipients’ respective — and in my opinion — poorly crafted mailboxes. I could swear that by the end of the distribution, despite its inviting design, if I held my mailbox up to my ear, I’d hear the swamp sounds of crickets and frogs, the sad and soulful train whistle moaning from across a valley, or the howling of a lone wolf searching for a mate in desolate, winter woods. My mailbox was hardly bursting at the seams, but I was surprised more often than not when I returned to my desk by the number of Valentines I had received. Boys and girls exchanged Valentines of course, but it was not unusual that boys sent to boys, and girls sent to girls, as the backs of this particular collection can attest. Classroom Valentines were more about forming and solidifying friendships then they were about romance. What did a bunch of six-to-nine-year-olds know about such things? The nuns probably preferred it that way; we’d all learn soon enough — just in time to be separated into all-boy and all-girl high schools. There’s something more charming about these simple yet priceless illustrations than the pop-culture counterparts we’re familiar with today. These Valentines didn’t feature familiar cartoon characters. There’s almost an air of sincerity to the corny messages without the ulterior motive or plug for a particular product line, TV show or theme park. If only I could tell my eight-year-old counterpart that I’d find my soul mate and we’d be married on Valentine’s Day, by a judge named Goodheart, and all would be happily-ever-after. A tip of the hat to Monica Engle of My Favorite Things in Zieglerville, PA, purveyor of all things holiday vintage, for providing the Valentines pictured. Jack Rotoli is an artist and writer living in Pennsylvania.

retro merch

Jay S. Jacobs

The Magnavox Odyssey 300 Ode to Joystick! An “electronic playground” for your color TV! By Jay S. Jacobs Kids these days bitch if the pixilated blood isn’t crisp and bright enough in their Playstation Call of Duty, Madden 2012 or World of Warcraft.

When I was growing up, we hit a monochromatic square ball back and forth with two rectangular paddles. And we liked it! Welcome to the state of the art of the Seventies. The Magnavox Odyssey was the first take-home gaming system. It was originally released in 1972 with a very archaic variation of the game cartridges — actually, it was a circuit board card — so that the players could choose the games they wanted to play. Personally, I had the third variation of the game – Odyssey 300. It was streamlined (all the games built-in with a single computer chip), simplified (only one control for each player) and all the rage. As the manual breathlessly explained to us: “Odyssey 300 literally turns your TV screen into a challenging electronic playground, and it attaches to any size or brand.” In black & white or color! And it gave you a massive selection: Pong, Hockey or Smash (a variation on handball).

Okay, if you get technical, they were all variations of the same game. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to use a flat paddle to stop a ball from getting past you. It may go straight. It may go at an angle. As the game play commences, the angles are gonna get steeper, so watch your ass. There were also three different levels of difficulty (ooh, the paddle got smaller!). We didn’t need giant apes kidnapping princesses and coins hidden in mushrooms to keep us preoccupied. We had paddles and balls. It also promoted friendship; because Smash was the only game you could really play alone.

(Well, you could technically play the others alone if you were ambidextrous, but you’d just look silly like that.) Suddenly, kids had yet another reason not to go outside and play. Over the years, the games have gotten more complex, but that basic couch potato instinct has gotten even stronger. So thank you, Magnavox, for starting the race to decades of childhood laziness. Jay S. Jacobs is the author of the books Wild Years: The Music and Myth of Tom Waits and Pretty Good Years: A Biography of Tori Amos. He is also senior editor and founder of the pop culture web magazine February 2012 | The Modern

modern marketplace

Crazy 4 Cravats!

Jack of Arts

We’re fit to be tied by this swinging cyber-tie shop. Check out the merch and see which tie best suits you.

See Jack of Arts for all of your vital, urgent and/or most important purchases: mousepads, refrigerator magnets, pet clothes, coasters and MORE!


sh t Fonzie and Chachi, dressed in their 1982 finest, hop out of a helicopter in Manhattan. Yes, nobody can believe it’s actually THEM, and yet they instantly put us at ease. They entreat us, using the international sign language for “come along,” to come along. Where we are going, we are not quite sure, but we are too overcome with emotion to question. The folks they are enticing are regular folks, just like you and me, but also character actors to whom we relate strongly because we are simpleminded, working class and easily entertained. Laverne, Shirley, Tattoo, Mr. Rourke, and even Jack Tripper are joining in the fun, which you won’t want to miss this Fall 1982, on ABC. The fun they are having on this commercial is far more entertaining than the actual shows themselves. Ronald Sklar

The Modern February 2012 Vol1 No5  

The Modern catches up with Sixties pop singers Lesley Gore and Tommy James. We also salute Surf City with 2(x)ist's very first swimwear line...

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