Monday, December 5, 2011

TVDigest, February 1956

ABC Spared no expense in it's promotion of the All Star Salute to L.B. Mayer.  Katherine Hepburn danced while reciting "The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck - His Feet Were Filled with Blisters". Hedy Lamar and Marlon Brando performed physical comedy.  Farley Granger and Helen Traubell performed dramatic readings from Tolstoy. 

And Judy did what Judy did best - she was Judy for five unforgettable numbers. Her version of "You Made Me Want to You" brought tears to L.B.'s eyes.

The only bump in the night was Vera Hruba Ralston who crashed the party and to be removed from the stage by Old Blue Eye's himself.

When Nielson totaled it up, the program delivered a whopping 40 share with viewers, and was only surpassed by the Candle Pin Bowling Championships in Natick, Massachusetts.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Today's Pilgrim, November 1621

Always popular, Today's Pilgrim was a mainstay in the homes of those searching for religious freedom for over one-hundred years.  Althpugh home subscriptions seldom proved popular - most issues arrived a year out of date, the magazine's most popular feature was it's Seek and Find, because that was what most pilgrim's do.  Another must read feature was the Column "Dearest Purdence" in which advice was dispensed:

Dearest Prudence, I take pen in hand to tell thou that thee and thy family abode is overrun with red savages.  Will thy testest what thy can do to rid ourselves of these men?  Just sign thou "Brad"

Dearest Brad, While it presents certain dangers, thy could expose the savage to the small pox, provided they have have it before hand. Tis extreme, but works. Glory to God all mighty, Prudy

Thursday, June 16, 2011

FOURTEEN "the Magazine that is for-teens" was a product of the puberty paranoia that erupta during the post world war era/  Aimed at the girls who weren't really kids, but then again weren't mature teens, Fourteen found its voice in speaking to angst felt by every girl who is going through that magical and yet scary time that we call puberty.

The publisher felt that they provided an open outlet to speak to the issues of these "tweens", be it the curse of perpetually being surrounded by people who didn't "get them" or the humiliation of treally, really loving a boy and him being to stupid to realize it, Fourteen felt it was there for them.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dowager Quarterly, April 1962

Dowager Quarterly was the creation of the house of Lethal  Muscato Publications, and has enjoyed a steady, yet elite circulation since 1809.  Published Quarterly - a monthly publication would simply raise the eye brows of those who have nothing better to do than gossip - the journal promoted good breeding, proper behaviors and heralded a call aginst those types of social progress that furthered the agenda of the uncouth.  Each issue contained consistent features and topics (its "Seating Charts" section was among its most popular recurring features from 1861 to 1969) that reaffirmed to its readership that better living, indeed, could be had through dudgeon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Knowing, October 1950

Knowing was the magazine for women who needed to know, but weren't sure where to turn to.  Each monthly issue contained stories of women, much like themselves, who had lived life, learned the hard way, and hopefully felt that their stories would somehow help others.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

TEACH, May, 1945

While seldom found at the newsstand, a stray copy of TEACH would occasionally make it to the Principals waiting room where it would be seen by the parent of the playground bully who was waiting for their weekly talk with school administration about their child's need to make others eat worms.

Most would leave the magazine on the table, still some would leaf through the pages looking for coupons.  What brought the periodical to its knees was when one of the errant parents would snag a copy and read it only to discover that their child had been nominated to the "Today's Bullies, Tomorrow's Professional Wrestler" feature.

The last issue of TEACH was published in 1956 after the word "teach" was inducted into the popular lexicon as slang for a "hot one" in the classroom..

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hypochondriac's Home Companion, May, 1948

A longtime favorite with those who will forever hold Catarrh dear to their heart, the Hypochondriacs Home Companion brought hope to the hopeless and a bevy of new diseases each month to those who were looking for a little something different to try in their lives.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

HOUSEWIFE, August 1965

When you stay home, day after day, cleaning, cooking and taking care of others, looking at the drab walls of your tract house that are painted the same dreary colors that you find in most hopsitals, it may dawn on you one day that you have needs, too.  And you ask yourself: who will take care of my needs?

Your husband's answer: "Well if I got to stay home all day, I'd think it was a vacation!"

Your daughter's answer: "Oh, you just don't understand!"

Your Mother in Law's answer: "Well I didn't have enough hours in the day to get everything done, and I didn't have all these labor saving devices, but at least my home was clean."

Your son's answer: "Oh, c'mon, nobody likes it when they mother hugs them in public!"

Your minister's answer: "It is better to give than receive."

Your best friend's answer: "You are so lucky to have Chuck and the kids!  Believe me when I say that if you were to get run over by the bread truck in front of the grocery next Tueday at 1:30PM, I'd leave Leroy and happily take your place..." 

You see, your needs, those feelings that you have been pushing down, down, deep down are at the root of your family's unhappiness.  They sense your selfishness - your unhappiness - and that effects them.  It even means that their underwear isn't as white as it could be.  And it is all your fault.

Its your fault your husband enjoys collecting knives and guns.  That your daughter isn't prepared to be good wife to her future husband, and it's also your fault that your son will grow up to be more famous under the stage name of "Formica Dinette" than he could have been as a doctor or lawyer. 

And we don't mean to add to your burden, but you are just too hard on others.  Take your next door neighbors.  They smile when they see you out side hanging your luandry, but they often wonder if you drink alone.  Not that they have smelled liquor on your breath - why everyone knows that you are a tea totaller - but when they look at you you seem to give off the aura of someone other than yourself.  That accounts for their concern for your family, and it also explains why they never loan you things when you ask.

If you just had an anchor - something to help you get through the day.  A little helper that would make it all better.

Now curl up with a copy of Housewife Magazine and read up on everything else that happens when you put your petty, insiginificant "needs" before anyone elses.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SSUWAT, June 1970

You know, we all have to start someplace.

For Stirred Straight Up With A Twist (SSUWAT), that start began in the polished underground of the bon vivant life style that was so 1960. Oh, it was nothing like Mad Men - SSUWAT was real.  It was cool by being hot. It was clean, with a bit of a well placed tattered edge.  It was Brooks Brothers and Bon Wit Teller, and not at all Sears Roebuck or - God forbid - Montgomery Wards.

But like all good things, it ended when Kennedy was shot, when Barry Goldwater was nominated and when we lost Stuckey's.  The magazine's founder, a Mr. TJB left the periodical when it financiers wanted an article on the versitility of caftans.  Mr. TJB refused, stating that caftans we less about fashion and more about loungewear. Unable to sway opinion with the financier, the editor left for London, Julie London, that is.

By June 1970, this was all that was left.  Gone were the Martini, the Manhattan and the Gimlet, and hello Long Island Ice Tea, White Russian and something called the Sloe Gin Fizz.  And oh, yes.  Your Homosexual just wasn't for doing your hair - he was also for parading around.  At least you knew why his ass was all chaffed and chapped.

On the cover this month was the most frightening thing to invade the US since locusts swarmed into Oklahoma during the dust bowl: Tina Brown.  That's her on the cover.  A west-end purse made from a sows ear.  Of course she's not the worst thing to hit American periodicals - Mad Magazine forced to accept advertising is that, but she really knows how to shit on everything.  Thank God for the plastic surgery on her face, which hasn't looked this good in ages. 

Truth is, Tina's face is so tight that she can only smile when she sits down.

In the 1990s SSUWAT was retaken by Mr. TJB in a daring move.  He's modernized, fashioned and returned the venerable publication back to his roots.  Its credited with making Mad Men really mad for the 1960s.

Gone forever are the articles that made no sense: Chita Rivera Frosts Her Hair and How Polyester Fuels the Jet Set.  They have replaced by tasty morsels on all things you need to know, both for fashion and for witty repartee should you decide to sit down with your friends and have an old fashioned chin wag.

Thank God for Mr. TJB, wherever he may be!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Real Life Men's Stories, September 1961

My father wasn't a happy man.  Oh, he had everything that should have made him happy.  A wife, three children, two new Impala's in the garage that he paid cash for right off the show room floor.

But what he didn't have was excitement, and he wasn't an object of desire.

The people behind this magazine knew that.  And they knew that if he didn't have it in real life, he could live it vicariously through their monthly rag.

Real Life Men's Stories was a magazine that broke all the rules - from their shocking and true exposes to their utter contempt for good grammar, this was a magazine that didn't have time for the niceties of fact checking or proof reading.

It had a mission and that mission was connect men with their visceral need to fight for what was good and right, even when confronted with the necessity of gun violence and women so ripe that they fell out of the tree and onto the hard cold ground of survival of the fittest.

In addition to jammed packed stories of wayward men and the women that made them leave the straight and narrow road of respectability, there were also loads of ads.  We're talking thousands of tiny ads for every get rich quick scheme ever imagined.  From X-Ray Spec's to Fish Farming For Fun (or Profit), this is the way the real world gets by, damn it.

Wives pooh-pooh'd these magazines, forcing men like my father to hide them under their beds.  But it was worth it, damn it.  The truth had to be told.  Come the revolution, you'll need to know how to survive in the face of sex starved zombies and single digit IQ'd mercenaries.  And after they drop the bomb, it could be you and your buddy alone on earth with hot tempered Virago's.  They will need your seed to create new life, and you'll need to be ready to pick them off.  This is the periodical that will show you how to get job number 1 done.

Thats what a real man's world is all about.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Norma DESMOND Magazine, March 1952

Lolly Parson's called it the publicity stunt of the ages - a bit of Kabuki theater designed to put famed silent screen star Norma Desmond back on the public radar screen, and boy did it ever.  She shoots this guy for running out on her, and then her butler Max calls up silent screen comedian Harold Lloyd and asks what to do. 

"Well," says Lloyd, "its a good thing she grabbed that prop gun that you keep in the house or you would have to buy stock in Bon Ami to clean up all the guts and blood.  First, I'd get the slob out of the pool before he ruins the water, nurse him back to health in the maid's quarters.  Next, call up Stretch Longstreet, no one remembers him or his films.  Invite him over for coffee near the cabana - when Stretch's enlarged heart gives out from the caffeine, shove him into the pool and call the cops.

And thats what happened.  And then there was all that emoting on the TV screens with Hedda reporting in the background and Lolly Parson's grinding her teeth at home.  You know they got Miss Desmond off on a technicality, but by then she was wildly popular with everyone in the country, except Rose Kennedy.

And then, before you know it, Norma Desmond is back up on the screen; she's making movies and selling out theaters, and then launches her own monthly rag.  It was so lush - measuring two feet by eighteen inches.  Large splashy images, interviews with all the people that one would need to know to get ahead in the film business, and then there were the coupons!  Who can forget those!

Even though she's been dead for forty years - she fell out of her famous bed and drowned in a dishpan of water and Epsom salts that she had been soaking her feet in before retiring for the evening - the magazine continues in a sort of sorts. 

Sold to Faversham Magazines, and renamed DESMOND, it continued along being the fashionable publication that Norma had hoped it would be.  Things changed in 2006 when Faversham was taken over by some lout from London who declared that print was dead.  He  spent down its capital on foolish things like sub-prime mortgages designed to give value added income to his share holders, and cheap Albanian hookers (as if there is any other kind) for his staff writers.  Eventually milked drier than one of Miss Desmond's breasts, its remaining assets were sold to Drinnan Woolens who relaunched the magazine, sans the DESMOND name, as a site for people who loved to knit and Mitten Drinnen  it is today.

Of course, Norma would have been philosophical about it.  Yeah, shooting that Joe guy was one smart move, but nothing beats a good dying scene in a movie.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Infomaniac Monthly, November 1950

The origins of Infomaniac Monthly (The Magazine for Bitches who need to know on a need to know basis) are murky, but the "coded" text, for those who didn’t need to know it, was perplexing, to say the least. It’s publisher was a real kitten with a whip who went by the name “Mistress MJ”. Still it was one of the must reads in Ottawa by the territorial government, and said Queen Mary found its contents very subversive - yet she claimed she only read it for the coupons.

Every November the magazine held a contest and gave away either a McLaughlin Buick or a Meteor Niagara (later a LeMoyne). You know, those folks in Manitoba really love their LeMoynes. The only time the contest backfired was November of 1959 when the faithful readership almost rioted when the car give-a-way was a basic Frontenac sedan. Really!

Like all trends, the magazine got popular in the lower forty-eight when husband’s began using the excuse that they “had to cross the Ambassador to get a copy of Infomaniac.” When what they were really up to was visiting the titty bars in Windsor for a show and a quickie lap dance before heading home, the copy of Infomaniac covering their stained trousers.

It reached its frenzied peak in 1970, when the American talk show (of the same name) was hosted by David Suskind, and he invented Maria Muldare to “feltch her violin,” and put on a show for the audience.  After that elephant sat down in the living rooms of middle America, you could hear a pin drop.  Now that the lid was off the box, and Pandora (and society, too) ran amok in its efforts to find a dictionary and look it up, and break the code.  "Feltch.  That's a funny word, isn't Andy," Aunt Bea was heard to say in an episode of the Andy Griffith Show.

Oddly, there was no definition for the word until a minister's housewife in the Quad Cities caught "feltching that chocolate pudding out of the container"  at a church function.  How unhygienic is that?  Dessert?  I'll pass.

Today, Infomaniac is a blog - electronic media media, they call it.  New fangled like dental floss and stuff like that.  And at it's essence, its back to being what it was meant to be - the place where Bitches who need to know on a need to know basis find out what it is that they to know. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thombeau's Weekly, 1936

Reading Thombeau's Weekly while on the beach in Cape Cod was one of mother's favorite pastimes because it made Rose Kennedy nuts.  Of course, Mother loved the articles, but it was the way that its editor framed his opinion pieces that drove Eunice and Jack's mother crazy.  Everything was logically free-form and Mrs. Kennedy couldn't wrap her mind around that.

"You know that when the children were young, I would set up a bulletin board with little articles of the day on the wall of the nursery," Rose would begin to blather on hoping Mother would take the chit-chat bait. 

"That's nice," Mother would reply, riveted to an article on how Gloria Swanson taught Joe Kennedy to be a cunning linguist.  "Really nice." Of course you would only get that type of information in Thombeau's, sandwiched in between pictures of the latest in honor guards wearing avant guard uniforms and recipes for rattlesnake stuffed filets.   

And who can forget those crossword puzzles!  Each puzzle was really hard - "MOMA and Dada" required that you knew the names of the mothers of the founders the Dadaist movement. Now that was one for the records - and if you were clueless enough to think that the puzzle was about baby talk, well, you missed that boat. 

But if you completed the puzzles and found the code, and solved that insiders puzzle, then fabulous things could happen in your life. 

The puzzle father completed (Bead's, Bangle's and Bible's) gave him the password to get into San Simeon for the weekend.  And even then he had to show it to Hearst's butler to prove he had actually completed the puzzle in ink just to get in the door.  But it was worth it; it's how I ended up with Cary Grant and Randolf Scott as my God parents.

An eclectic mix of articles, images and probing questions, it's daring expose "Your Manicurist, Friend or Fiend?" shocked California.    It was a guaranteed seller at the newsstands - even housewives in Azusa and El Cerito kept it in the house because it made them feel as if they had arrived.  Isn't that charming?

Of course Jackie made sure every room at the White House had the latest issue of Thombeau's on hand.  Rose bore a stiff upper lip.  She didn't get it, or the allure of Oleg Cassini (which Thombeau's reported on, in depth) and she "missed the only magazine that (she) could evah love," the long defunct Woman's Home Companion, Damn it!

It was daring, and it wasn't for everybody - and if it were, well then, it wasn't Thombeau's.  And simply put, if you didn't get Thombeau's Weekly magazine, then you would never get Thombeau's Weekly.  Savvy?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

VOGUE, January 1900

VOGUE Magazine has always been a thorn in the sides of women.

While "style" may be indestructible, it certainly goes out of favor in rapid fashion.  One month everything is all bosoms and cleavage and the next month they expect you to be flat chested.  Smoking is a sign of women's freedom, and then the next minute it makes one smell terribly bad.  Bother.

Until the hatching of that Anna Wintour creature, Vogue was a magazine of real style and substance.  Ms. Wintour has reduced it to an advertising monthly.

But back in its heyday, Vogue tackled some really difficult topics like "fem" odor, why it was better to keep the teeth you have instead of the type you put in a cup and the importance of looking good after childbirth ("No husband wants to comfort a hot sweaty dying woman who has exhausted her value to him.")

Of course Vogue has missed a few calls in its day.  Its most notable mistake was promoting a full bosomy woman in April of 1922, then turning around and declaring the flat chested flapper the style icon of the decade.  "It isn't like a men's collar that one can attach to a shirt, or toss away when it get dirty.  Do the editors of Vogue not understand that a woman's bosom is attached?" wrote H.L. Mencken.

Needles to today, it still lurks on the nation's magazine stands, and in the homes of people who claim to love it, although the truth is, they only buy it because it makes them look fashionable when they carry it home.