After suffering a series of strokes earlier this week, feminist science fiction author and essayist Joanna Russ has died. Russ's best known work is probably her novel The Female Man; this and her other works were often misunderstood and dismissed by the male-dominated science fiction field of the 70s. Despite this, her short story "When It Changed" (which was included in Harlan Ellison's Again Dangerous Visions) won a Hugo award in 1973, and her novella, "Souls," won a Nebula award in 1983. In retrospect, of course, hers is one of the names that will be remembered from that era of imaginative writing.
Ubiquitous yet mysterious, timeless yet tied to a golden age, mainstream yet frequently experimental: the BBC steps Into The Music Library. While music libraries like DeWolfe and KPM are best known as the source of many classic TV themes and film soundtracks, they're also responsible for incidental compilations are now both influential and appreciated in their own right, such as Basil Kirchin's Abstractions of the Industrial North and Barbara Moore's Vocal Shades and Tones.
A 1970s recording of Mike Oldfield and friends playing Tubular Bells live part 1
Disaster movies are as old as cinema itself. But their golden age began in 1970 with Airport - which, despite being an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, is now remembered chiefly for the parody it inspired. Earthquake - exhibited in Sensurround - set a record for the number of stunt performers used. But the Master of Disaster was Lost in Space producer Irwin Allen. His The Poseidon Adventure grossed the equivalent of $450 million in today's money. And The Towering Inferno - the filming of which destroyed all but 8 of its 57 sets - is still unsurpassed.
Behind the scenes of a McDonaldland commercial in the 1970s McDonaldland outtakes The fake McDonald's restaurant in City of Industry, CA used to film commercials
Kerry Callen imagines What if DC published Marvel characters in the 1960's?, then follows up with What if DC published 1970's Marvel characters in the 1960's?. Bonus silliness: Galactus' Helmet Just Gets Happier and Happier!
There were few more important bands in the 1970’s than Free, and even fewer whose significance has been so underestimated or misunderstood by posterity. Lyrically utterly conventional, sonically they were revolutionary. [more inside]
Peter Grudzien lives in New York and makes psychedelic country music or at least used to, since only two albums of his material ever came out, The Unicorn in 1974, and The Garden of Love, which is mostly a collection of demos. His songs are varied, ranging from noise music to straight up country, and their subject matters are equally wide-ranging, from strange fare, such as lyrics about his clone being at Stonewall, to straight-up love songs. His best known original is probably The Unicorn, a beautiful song whose lyrics recast the early 70s New York gay demimonde in terms of a barren zombie-filled wasteland which will be reborn when the titular unicorn is found by the queen. Other songs on YouTube are White Trash Hillbilly Trick, New York Town and an instrumental cover of the Georgia Gibbs hit Kiss Me Another. Finally, here's a lovely cover of The Unicorn by Calgary folkie Kris Ellestad.
A former magazine writer in his late fifties moves to San Diego and lives on very little money indeed. In the October 1977 issue of The Atlantic, he describes the stratagems behind his thriftiness. [more inside]
Women's Pro Tennis Turns 40. Women's professional tennis was launched by World Tennis magazine publisher Gladys Heldman 40 years ago on September 23, 1970, with a tournament that had nine entrants and $7,500 in prizes. The original nine were Billy Jean King and Rosemary Casals along with the lesser known Peaches Bartkowicz, Judy Dalton, Julie Heldman, Kerry Melville, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey and Valerie Ziegenfuss. A year later, King became the first female athlete to earn six figures in her sport. In the '80s, Martina Navratilova became the first to earn $1 million. Today the WTA Tour is an $85 million-a-year sport. "We wanted to make sure that any young girl, if she was good enough and if she wanted to, would have the opportunity to make a living playing tennis," King said.
"The Office of the Future" 40 Years Later - 40 years of Xerox Parc, the Palo Alto research group responsible for the desktop computer interface as we know it today.
Musicians don't often end up on FBI watch lists, but the Last Poets did, thanks to their links with the Black Panthers.
They were the rappers of the civil rights era.
Made in Amerikkka.
Niggers Are Scared Of Revolution!.
Before the White Man Came.
True Blue. [more inside]
They were the rappers of the civil rights era.
Made in Amerikkka.
Niggers Are Scared Of Revolution!.
Before the White Man Came.
True Blue. [more inside]
Retrospace will bring back all those memories. '70s home decor. '80s teen comedies. Lifestyle magazines from 1977. And so much more. So very very much more. [more inside]
Bruce and Katharine Cornwell are primarily known for a series of remarkable animated films on the subject of geometry. Created on the Tektronics 4051 Graphics Terminal, they are brilliant short films, tracing geometric shapes to intriguing music, including the memorable 'Bach meets Third Steam Jazz' musical score in ‘Congruent Triangles.’
Of all the story songs of the 1970s, none was as unexpectedly creepy as Helen Reddy's 1974 hit "Angie Baby." [more inside]
Marvel Comics' Planet of the Apes magazine (1974-1977) , now forgotten by all but a few comics readers and genre film buffs, was canceled abruptly, leaving in mid-stream a story intended to go on for years. Now writer Doug Moench has allowed the original manuscripts of his unused scripts to be published for the first time, providing (some) closure to longtime readers and a fascinating look at how comics scripting happened way back when. [more inside]
What if our beloved modern devices had been invented in the past? Say around 1977? Introducing the Pocket Hi-Fi, The Laptron 64, MobileVoxx, and the Microcode 3000!
Too Much Horror Fiction: "Covering horror literature and its resplendent paperback cover art, mostly from the 1960s through the early 1990s. Mostly."
¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! In honor of the hottest, wildest and trippiest section of América del Norte, how about some classic los ACIDA ROCKA? Starting with clips from the 1971 movie "Bikinis y Rock!" El Ritual! Peace And Love!! Bandido!!! ... Now how about some live footage from the Mexican Woodstock: Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro-- Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 [more inside]
After the gum is gone, you still have the bubble gum cards. Browse a collection of scanned cards from the 1960s (Ugly Stickers and Ugly Names), 70s (Monster Initials, Marvel Super Heroes) and the 80s (Pee Wee Herman). The initials series have word generators (IE only!): Love Initials, Mod Initials, Monster Initials (similar, previously). [via] [more inside]
What a pretty little outfit, good girl! Look at you, wow, you're not just a pretty face! Now come over here, stand close to me.
"Maybe that's the purpose of television. You just turn it on and watch it whether you want to or not." - David Letterman
After getting his start as a DJ on Ball State's WAGO-FM, David Letterman spent most of the 1970s appearing in a lot of cheesy television, exhaustively chronicled here. Whether kayaking on the Battle of the Network Stars, appearing on an ill-fated variety show with Mary Tyler Moore, working as a panelist on The Love Experts, or hosting a game-show pilot for The Riddlers (part 1, 2, and 3), Letterman more than paid his dues. [more inside]
In August 1990, when Spin magazine was still an edgier cousin to Rolling Stone, it published a list of the 35 Greatest Moments in Rock 'n' Roll Television. [more inside]
Jo Guldi writes a fascinating entry about social engineering and geography in the 1970's. "The geographers located answers in American zones of isolation and hopelessness. Bill Bunge organized his fellow professors into the Detroit Geographical Expedition, leading frequent trips to document the slums of Detroit and later Toronto. Their findings were equally provocative. In 1968, the Society published a map entitled “Where Commuters Run Over Black Children on the Pointes-Downtown Track.” Life and death, they argued, were not merely the commodities available to any hard-working American, but hung upon the thread of a special kind of privilege, the privilege of safe territory." Guldi is a historian at the Harvard Society of Fellows. [more inside]
Kitten Kong pt. 1, pt. 2, pt. 3 - The Goodies, Montreux 1972 Edition. Previously on Mefi: Goodie goodie yum yum! (via coisas do arco da velha - some images nsfw)
Funkytown: The Montreal Disco Era. Studio 54? Qu’est-ce que c’est? By the late 1970s, “Montreal had platinum-status admission to the VIP lounge of coolest-of-the-cool disco cities.” An oral history of the city where no one bats an eye at going out to dance at 1:30 AM in –20°C weather. (Contains links to MP3 of CBC Radio documentary.) [more inside]
Times were tough. Hair was long, complex and strange, and so were the songs. Where were you 35 years ago, and why weren’t you surrounded by stack of keyboards wearing a sequined gown? [more inside]
Rom: Spaceknight was an improbable comics success: Based on a toy series that consisted of one figure (Rom), the comics series debuted in 1979 and lasted an unlikely 75 issues, featuring art from such luminaries as P. Craig Russell and Steve Ditko (previously, previously and previously). The series was written by Marvel Comics mainstay Bill Mantlo, who retired from comics and became a public defender (the legal kind), only to suffer a tragic accident in the mid-1990s that left him in need of constant medical attention. A 2007 benefit for the writer -- Spacenight: A Tribute to Bill Mantlo -- will be followed by Spacenight 2, an auction of original Rom-related artwork that can be viewed here.
Here’s a cool concept. Top breakthrough bands of the day playing LIVE on TV late every Friday night. Such was The Midnight Special - from 1972 - 1981 (though the glory days were the early to mid 70s, that lost decade somewhere between the meltdown of the hippie dream and the coincident eruptions of PUNK + DISCO upon planet rock). [more inside]
The Woodstock Festival ended forty years ago today, on August 18, 1969* -- and roughly, um, two years later, Marvel Comics was there! Writer Gary Friedrich and (wildly overqualified) artist Gray Morrow bring you an improbably cleanly tale of romance that first appeared in issue #14 of Marvel's My Love (November 1971): "It Happened at Woodstock!" (Guest-starring Janis Joplin, among others.) [more inside]
Thirty years ago today was the infamous "Disco Demolition Night" at Chicago's Comiskey Park. It didn't go exactly as planned: "In the warm air that night, baseball’s routine and soothing sounds mixed with the tribal cadence of off-color chanting, the drifting scent of marijuana and the sight of vinyl records descending through the summer dusk like Frisbees." It wasn't the first time a 70s baseball promotion went astray. Considered by some "the worst idea ever," "Ten Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland Municipal Stadium five years earlier ended when "a large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and portions of stadium seats that they had torn apart – surged onto the field, and others hurled bottles from the stands." (Previously on MeFi)
Michael Jackson penned and recorded lots of songs, many of which remain unreleased. Perhaps the most infamous, and rarest recording, is his version of Behind the Mask. Legend has it that upon hearing Yellow Magic Orchestra's original track, somewhen around 1979, Quincy Jones fell in love with the track, and he and Michael worked together on their own version. Jackson wrote new lyrics for it - adding to those of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Chris Mosdell - and eventually recorded it during his Off The Wall sessions. For unknown reasons the track never made the final cut of, arguably, Jones' and Jackson's greatest work. Not long afterwards Greg Phillinganes, Jackson's keyboard player, released his own version of the song, which was later taken up and re-recorded by Eric Clapton for his 1986, Phil Collins produced album, August. The track has since been recorded/remixed by Human League, Senor Coconut, Orbital and others. Does an original Jones/Jackson recording of the song even exist? Perhaps, as the world continues to mourn the star's sad death, someone will finally allow us a listen.
Isaac Asimov on how to be a dirty old man.
Over a thousand photos from Fallsburg High School, 1974-1978. Bonus: non-annoying interface. (via)
"Oh, lord love you, Stephen. How I admire your arrogance and rage and misery. How pure and righteous they are and how passionately storm-drenched was your adolescence."
Long before becoming a national treasure and celebrity Twitter addict the 16 year old Stephen Fry sent a letter to his future self, to which he has now responded, in a letter first published in the 25th birthday edition of Gay Times.
Brad Elterman's gallery of (mostly) celebrity photos from the 1970s, including Robert Plant, Matt Dillon, and the tale of Jackie O and the tape. Some shots may be NSFW. [via]
In honor of the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, let's take a few moments to honor those Sesame Street humans overshadowed by their Muppet counterparts. Check out Bob (Bob McGrath) singing Danny Boy in Japanese on a 1966 broadcast of To Tell The Truth or singing a Japanese ballad. Watch Gordon (Roscoe Orman) as the big pimpin' title character in this original trailer for the film Willie Dynamite. See Maria (Sonia Manzano) as a lady trucker on B.J. & the Bear or getting menaced by Jeff Goldblum in the movie Death Wish. And Mr. Hooper (Will Lee) plays Pac-Man in an Atari commercial. Meanwhile, the Muppet stars of Sesame Street have gone some interesting evolutions as well in their career. [more inside]
Not all groups with synthesizers in the 1970s and 1980s were lame Top 40 acts with keytars. Some groups of the era used synths for spastic keyboard bleeps, herky-jerky tempos, and angst-ridden aggression in a style now classified by record collector geeks as synthpunk, minimal synth, or minimal wave. Several famous New Wave acts dabbled in the style before providing soundtracks for Molly Ringwald movies (OMD, Electricty) or singing about waitresses in cocktail bars (the Human League, Being Boiled), but vintage videos from synth punk acts all over the world can be found all over YouTube. [more inside]
The Letter People started as a collection of vaguely trippy drawings by illustrator Elizabeth Callen in the early 70s, but viewers of Midwestern PBS in the 70s and 80s might have learned to read from the Letter People puppet show produced by PBS station KETC in St. Louis. Set in the black void of "Letter People Land", the show allowed each character to introduce him or herself with a song, from the laid back, Carole King vibe in Miss A's song, to the bizarre sound collage of Mr. X (audio with fan-made video). And of course cashing in on the nostalgia craze, the new and improved letter people without references to junk food or the pesky marital status of the vowels. [more inside]
Web of Horror #1 (December 1969): Re-presenting the short-lived and impossibly obscure horror comics magazine that featured early work from such luminaries as Ralph Reese, Jeff Jones and Bernie Wrightson. Link via Journalista (may be NSFW). [more inside]
It’s been a long, weird and expensive week all over. Why not stay in tonight and watch guys (mostly) with long hair playing strange and difficult music from a long lost decade? [more inside]
This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. - The BBC releases its script for use in the event of nuclear war.
In a time before the Prius, the custom conversion van ruled the roadways. Pushing the boundaries of the airbrush form, testing the limits of mobile interior design, featuring the latest in automatic pink leather bed, compact toaster, 8-track, and love machine technology, the 70s van was celebrated in song and cinema. You started with a factory model, new or used, and ended at a place limited onlyby your creativity, your budget, and your old lady's patience (NSFW). Ford could make you a man.If push came to shove, you could even live in your van. It was fantasy on wheels: van-tastic, man. [more inside]