… Read the rest
From the transistor radio to Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book,” must-haves from the middle of the past century.
I never did visit the Museum of Childhood at the Victoria and Albert last time I was in London, even though I went so far as looking up the Tube stop. But I’ve always been fascinated with childhood as a lens for viewing different time periods. I’ve seen so many shows about the London Blitz that I almost feel sentimental for it, as if it were my own era. Likewise, I carry a romanticized notion of Laura Ingalls Wilder in my head.
Alas, though, the childhood I lived through was my own. I entered the 60’s in a suburb outside of Washington, D.C. as a 4-year-old and emerged to relative adulthood in 1977. There are baby boomers on either side of me: Hillary up ahead, Jon Stewart pulling up the rear.
Tag Archives | nostalgia
Via OMNI Reboot, Roy Christopher ponders whether total media saturation has programmed our memories:
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In his 1999 book Culture Jam, Kalle Lasn describes a scene in which two people are embarking on a road trip and speak to each other along the way using only quotations from movies.
We’ve all felt our lived experience slip into technological mediation and representation. Based on this idea—and the rampant branding and advertising covering every visible surface— Lasn argues that our culture has inducted us into a cult. “By consensus, cult members speak a kind of corporate Esperanto,” he writes, “words and ideas sucked up from TV and advertising.”
Indeed, we quote television shows, allude to fictional characters and situations, and repeat song lyrics and slogans in everyday conversation. Lasn argues, “We have been recruited into roles and behavior patterns we did not consciously choose.” Lasn presents this scenario as if it were a nightmare.
As an obsessive music weirdo, you start to notice some odd patterns as you get older and contemplate the way that most people contextualize music in their lives. I’m not sure how much research has been done on this, but as far as I can tell, in most cases, whatever stuff someone happened to get down to during their formative developmental ages of say, 14-24, apparently permanently burns itself into their psyche and leaves an indelible mark on their opinion as to what constitutes “good shit” for the rest of their lives. This is the sort of secret psychology you’ll never read about in text books but I’m sure sketchy uptight rich dudes talk about behind closed doors 24/7. The one thing I can say about pursuing psychology in college was that I quite quickly picked up on the fact that the real people who understand how to bend the human psyche work at PR firms and press agencies, not universities.… Read the rest
There are many strange environments in this world, and one way to travel through them is by foot. Bumping into people, animals, or special objects usually results in a stranger dream. The number of "days" are kept track of. As the player progresses, the pattern on walls and the form of the player may transmute. Occasionally the player may come across a man in a gray trench coat, commonly referred to as the "Gray Man" or the "Shadow Man". He walks in one direction only. Getting too close to him will make the screen flash, the man will disappear.
The mid-century print advertisements of Union Carbide, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, portrays the metaphorical giant disembodied hand of the chemical industry altering every aspect of the natural landscape, with the promise that their polymers will have “A Hand in Things to Come.” X-ray Delta One has the full collection:
Via A Continuous Lean, an entrancing glimpse of life inside a city, created as part of the Manhattan Project, with a secret purpose. Imagine if your sunny suburban daily existence served merely as a front for the real action occurring in your town:
In 1942, the government acquired 70,000 acres in Eastern Tennessee and established Oak Ridge…developed for the sole purpose of separating uranium for the Manhattan Project. The completely planned community was designed by the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and had a population of more than 70,000 people. Due to the sensitive nature of the work at Oak Ridge, the entire town was fenced in with armed guards. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge office recently started to digitize its archival photos and share them through Flickr.
The geography-as-person trope goes back a long time, and remains haunting — are cities sentient beings? As we traverse streets and subway systems, are we merely red blood cells coursing through a giant body? And when a place’s key locations and arterials seem to mimic the human form, is it just our imagination? This idea is illustrated beautifully in a 1912 map, via Big Think:
The map, designed by Polly Hill, was part of a promotional brochure extolling the beauties, joys and pleasures to be sampled in Santa Cruz and environs — centred on the Casa del Rey Hotel, and the adjacent Casino.
More than a cartographic gimmick, the hand shape is also a clever way of representing the local geography, with the two outer fingers representing the coastal corridor and the three middle ones some of the valleys radiating northward through mountainous terrain.
I’m fascinated by this slightly frightening, forgotten book unearthed by Toys and Techniques. Published by the “University of the Trees”, contained within are diagrams of devices including the psychotronic generator and Pi-ray Orgone Accumulator, which “purify your consciousness”, enabling you to “harness nature’s more subtle energies” and become your own magic genie.
Oak Ridge Associated Universities has a groovy collection of vintage “atomic toys” and games for children which referenced and/or promoted nuclear technology. Included are board games such as “Uranium Rush” and “Nuclear War” and, below, 1952’s Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came with four pieces of real uranium:
Today, it is so highly prized by collectors that a complete set can go for more than 100 times the original price. The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own alpha source, an electroscope, a geiger counter, and a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom).