Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Album Cover Art is a Lost Art Form

Before the emergence of digital music, album covers were an integral part of music buying. I can recall spending time thumbing through the record racks, looking for eye-catching album covers that would sometimes play a deciding factor on whether or not I would purchase it.  The art was usually very creative and super cool to look at.  Many of the album covers have become classics, such as the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy to name a few.  
In the digital age, people hunt for music on computer screens, and album art is often reduced to a thumbnail image, that is, if it even accompanies the music. Its kind of sad that album art is something of a dying art form now.  At least I still have all my old records to comfort me.  
Below are some of my favorite Album Art covers:  What are yours?  

The Beatles had some amazing artwork on their albums!!

Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy full spread....simply amazing!

Who doesn't love a little Devo?  I can remember my parents being horrified watching Devo on Saturday Night Live in the early more reason I loved these guys!  Hee!

Love these colorful retro style albums...but I guess when this was wasn't retro.

This is so vibrant and Mod!  Love this!

Psychadelic fun!  This record is great too!  

Wow...just wow!

A Classic!

By S. Neil Fujita...who did many amazing covers back in the day!  Below is one of the albums I own that he did the cover for...this guy was amazing!

Sorry for the crappy quality of this photo (taken with my old crappy cell phone)

The Rolling of my all-time favorite bands!  

Friday, September 16, 2011

30 years ago this Sunday!

Wow! I cannot believe its been 30 years since my very first concert!  The year was 1981, I was a high school student begging my parents to go to my first concert at JFK Stadium (Where Live AID was held a few years later).  My mother had reservations, but thanks to my father being a huge Rolling Stones fan, he basically talked my mother into letting me go.  The concert was an all day affair, with George Throrogood opening up, followed by Journey and then finally the Rolling Stones. We purchased the tickets for $15! (my how concert prices have changed over the years!).  My friend Michelle and I got a ride from some neighborhood boys who were also going to the concert.  On the ride down, we drank vodka and orange juice and some of us smoked a joint....those were the days!  After we parked the car, we started to make our way to the seats. Looking around, I thought to myself that  the stadium had seen better days....the steps were crumbling and the bathrooms had water all over the floors as if a pipe broke. I purchased a tshirt so that I could wear it to class on Monday and brag about how awesome the concert was.

This is what my shirt looked like!  

The concert itself was awesome...but I can remember being very hungry.  We didn't bring any food and we couldn't find any being sold at the show.  There was a guy, who was by himself at the show, and he had brought a cooler of food and Michelle and I thought we could charm him into sharing some of his food.  He was a bit of a loner and wasn't very friendly when me and Michelle tried to chat him getting food from him was not a possibility.  At one point I was tempted to steal it from his cooler when he went to the bathroom....but I waited...and waited...all friggin' afternoon, but this guy must have been wearing a diaper because he didn't budge from his seat all day!  The whole day was a magical experience though.  I remember leaving the concert feeling like I had just witnessed something special.  The concert was being marketed as the Rolling Stones farewell tour....but that turned out to be untrue.  When I returned to school that Monday in my concert t-shirt, everyone treated me like royalty, asking me questions about the show and how nice my shirt was.  The best part was when my ex-boyfriend looked at me sourly and said "I bet you didn't even go to the concert!" and I just laughed in his face!  It was great to see jealousy rear its ugly head!  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dana Plato

Diff'rent Strokes was a series starring Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges as Arnold and Willis Jackson, two African American boys from Harlem who are taken in by a rich white Park Avenue businessman named Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato), for whom their deceased mother previously worked.

The series made stars out of child actors Coleman, Bridges, and Plato, and became known for the "very special episodes" in which serious issues such as racism, drug use and child molestation were dramatically explored. The lives of stars Coleman, Bridges and Plato, however, were later plagued by legal troubles and drug addiction, as the stardom and success they achieved while on the show eluded them after the series was cancelled.

The most tragic of the actors was Dana Plato. Plato began having drug and alcohol problems early in life. She admitted to drinking and using recreational drugs during her years on Diff'rent Strokes. In 1984, she married rock guitarist Lanny Lambert and had a son with him. In 1988 her mother passed away and she and Lambert separated shortly thereafter. By 1990 they were officially divorced.  Not long after she posed nude for Playboy in an effort to reinvigorate her career.

In 1991, Plato ended up in Las Vegas with no work. She took a job at a dry-cleaning store to support herself. On February 28, she entered a video store, produced a gun, and demanded the money from the register. The clerk called 911 saying, "I've just been robbed by the girl who played Kimberly on Diff'rent Strokes". Fifteen minutes after the robbery, Plato returned to the scene and was immediately arrested. The gun was only a pellet gun and she had only taken $164. Wayne Newton posted her $13,000 bail. Plato was given five years' probation. She made headlines and became part of the national debate over troubled child stars, particularly given the difficulties of her Diff'rent Strokes co-stars, Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges. In January 1992, she was again arrested, this time for forging a prescription for Diazepam. She served 30 days in jail for violation of the terms of her probation and entered a drug program immediately thereafter.

Following her appearance in the erotic film Different Strokes: The Story of Jack and Jill ... and Jill, Plato appeared on the cover of the lesbian lifestyle magazine Girlfriends in 1998. She was interviewed by Diane Anderson-Minshall and came out as a lesbian, although she later recanted. It was reported that Plato showed up drunk for the magazine's cover shoot. In her interview with Howard Stern, Plato mentioned that the traumatic events of her mother’s death and her husband’s leaving her took place during the course of only a week. In desperation, she signed over power of attorney to an accountant who disappeared with the majority of her money, leaving her with no more than $150,000. She claimed that the accountant was never found, despite an exhaustive search, and had also stolen more than $11 million of other peoples' money. Just before her death, she and her fiancĂ©, were living in a recreation vehicle in Navarre, Florida.

On May 7, 1999, Plato appeared on Howard Stern's radio show, where she told Stern that she was engaged to Robert Menchaca and that he was managing her career. She was frank about her life, discussing her financial problems and past run-ins with the law. She admitted to being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, but claimed that she had been sober for more than ten years by that point, and was not using any drugs, with the exception of prescribed painkillers due to discomfort and pain from the recent extraction of her wisdom teeth. Many of her callers called her everything from a "has been" to an addict. She was referred to by one caller as an "ex-con lesbian drug addict with mental problems". This provoked a defiant Plato, as she offered to take a drug test on the air (and even placed a large wager on the results of the test to one particularly doubtful caller). Some callers, however, as well as Stern himself, came to Plato's defense by consoling and complimenting her.

After the first three negative calls, a caller named Julie told Plato that she looked and sounded great, and could not fathom why people were attacking her the way they were, and although they were cruel to her, she was supportive. Plato wept while offering her gratitude, as well to a later caller who claimed to be a recovering addict, and told her that he believed everything she said. Other callers asked her relatively "neutral" (mostly Diff'rent Strokes related) questions, such as, "What happened to your kid?" "Did Todd (Bridges) break your arm (in a playful brawl gone wrong) on the set of Diff'rent Strokes?", "Have you ever had the opportunity of seeing Janet Jackson change during the taping of Diff'rent Strokes?" and, "I need a date with Dana!" at which Plato laughed. Stern later mentioned that she was scheduled to appear at a concert event, The Expo of the Extreme, in Chicago two weeks after the interview.  The next day, Plato and Menchaca were returning to California. The couple stopped at Menchaca's mother's home in Moore, Oklahoma, for a Mother's Day visit. Plato went to lie down inside her recreational vehicle parked outside the house and subsequently died of an overdose of Vanadom (Soma) and Lortab. Her death at the age of 34 was eventually ruled a suicide under Oklahoma law although police stated they believed it was an accident.

Such a sad ending for a troubled young woman.  On an even sadder note, her only child committed suicide when he was only 25 years old!  Very tragic!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buck Rogers!!!

The Cast of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Over the past weekend, Ed and I trekked out to Cherry Hill, NJ for the Monster-Mania Con. It was mainly stars from Horror films, but there was some sci-fi stars there too...such as Gil Gerard who played Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which was a campy sci-fi show from the late 70s. This is one of those shows I thought went on forever, and I was shocked to learn it only ran two seasons...guess time moves much slower when you are young. I have to admit, the character of the little robot Twiki was incredibly annoying but the rest of the show was just campy 70s fun. Biddi-biddi-biddi-Buck!

Twiki with Gary Coleman

OK, back to Monster-Mania...Gil was very cordial and even shook Ed's hand to say hello. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have recognized him if it weren't for the name plate at his table. Afterwards, we read his bio and found out that at one point he weighed 350 pounds and had gastric bypass surgery! I'm glad we didn't see him before the surgery, that would have been a bit sad. One thing that surprised us was the fact that he was married to Connie Selleca for several years...I always thought that John Tesh was her only husband.

Gil Gerard and Connie Selleca during their marriage

Also at the show was Erin Gray who also starred on Buck Rogers. She looked older, but was easily recognizable and to be honest, she looked fantastic for someone who is in her 60s, hell, she looked great period.  Below is a picture of her from Buck Rogers...she is still in great shape and could easily fit into that catsuit today.

Erin Gray on the set of Buck Rogers

After Monster-Mania, Ed and I grabbed a bite to eat at the Cherry Hill Diner and all he could talk about was the fact that he shook Buck Rogers hand! He was a bit saddened by the fact that hardly anyone went up to his table to talk to him...guess folks who weren't around in the late 70s and early 80s even know about Buck Rogers or Gil Gerard which is a shame because this was 70s sci-fi camp at its best!  If you ever happen upon this show, I suggest you tune in for a good time!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Funnies

Enjoy this blast from the past and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mott The Hoople

I've always been a huge David Bowie fan, and when I first heard the song "All The Young Dudes", many years ago, I initially thought that it might have been Bowie singing because the sound was definitely reminiscent of Bowie.....but I found out later that it was performed by a band called Mott The Hoople.  After doing a little research, I found out that the band was on the verge of breaking up in the early 70s, and Bowie found out and persuaded them to stay together, and even offered them "Suffragette City" from his then yet-to-be-released album "Ziggy Stardust".  Turns out that Bowie was a huge fan for several years, and hated to see them break-up.  The band ended up not using the song, but instead used another Bowie tune called "All The Young Dudes", which turned out to be their biggest hit.  You can definitely hear Bowie's influence on this song.

Using the glam rock craze as their launch pad, the band straddled the widening gap between the teen-pop market and the college circuit.  It yielded two UK hits, "Honaloochie Boogie" and "All the Way from Memphis".  "All the Way From Memphis" is also featured in the movie, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.  Sadly, Mott the Hoople's new found popularity ultimately helped lead to the band's break-up.  It such a shame, because these guys really rocked and I loved their sound.

In the 90s, Ian Hunter, lead singer from MTH, had gained popularity with his song "Cleveland Rocks", which was used in the opening for the "Drew Carey Show".  In 2009, the band reunited for several reunion concerts and they were well received, with sold out shows.  If they ever decide to perform in the U.S., I would definitely be going to that show!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prom Night

Me and my prom date circa 1982.

Prom season is upon us!  Remember when prom wasn't the outrageous expense that it is today?  At my prom we didn't need to rent a limo, my boyfriend at the time had borrowed his dad's Lincoln which everyone had dubbed "the boat".  My dress didn't cost thousands of dollars, and it certainly didn't have a designer label.  Also, it would never occur to me to go to a tanning salon prior to the prom.  Me and my friend would usually park ourselves in some lawn chairs out back and try to get some sun prior to the prom to get some color...but I recall it being a little chilly since it was still April.  We danced the night away to Hall & Oats, J. Geils Band, Soft Cell, Quarterflash and many other 80s bands of the day...hell we probably even danced to SUPERFREAK!  Anyway, prom was just a fun "grownup" night out and was our first taste of "adulthood".  Everyone would always go drinking before and after the prom (typical teenagers), and of course there was always someone who overdid it and ended up puking in the bathroom...Aaahh those were the days!  Prom night also was a night where girls/boys would lose their virginity...if they haven't already.  Most kids I knew hadn't back then, but I'm sure thats not the case today.  I remember I had cut my hair short a few months prior, because I wanted to look like Olivia Newton-John...her video "Physical" was incredibly popular at the time and I loved her hair in that!  I know I sound like an old lady complaining about kids today, but seriously, the prom is not the same as it was back in my day....Damn! Did I just say "back in my day"?? Starting to sound like my parents!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

R.I.P. Yvette Vickers

A mummified body believed to be that of an early Playboy Playmate has been found in a dilapidated Beverly Hills home after evidently being undiscovered for up to a year, authorities said on Monday. 

The house was owned by Yvette Vickers, a B-movie actress who was named Playboy's Miss July in 1959, almost six years after the men's magazine was first published.
Neighbor Susan Savage found the body last Wednesday when her suspicions were aroused by old letters and cobwebs in the mailbox. The house was packed with boxes, and at least one window was broken. A space heater was running in the upstairs room where the body was lying on the floor.

Although Vickers generally kept to herself in the neighborhood, Savage decided to check on her. 

"The letters seemed untouched and were starting to yellow," Savage said. "I just had a bad feeling." 

"We don't know if it's a Jane Doe or a John Doe," said Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.

Police said there were no signs of foul play.

"We've all been crying about this," Savage said. "Nobody should be left alone like that." 

Vickers, born Yvette Vedder in Kansas City, Missouri, was variously described as being either 82 or 74. She was briefly married twice during the 1950s.

Her film credits include 1958's "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" and 1959's "Attack of the Giant Leeches." Her last feature role was in a 1990 horror called "Evil Spirits." 

It's such a sad ending for a beautiful lady!  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New 8 Track Players!

About a month ago, I acquired two very groovy 8track players on Craigslist. Sadly, my dog passed away shortly after that and I've been a bit depressed since then, so I haven't been posting much, but I'm feeling a bit better each day and can now talk about him without bursting into tears. Anyway, here are my recent fabulous finds!

Realistic blue boombox.  I just love the mod design of this portable player!
I've acquired another Panasonic TNT Dynamite player.  I already have one in blue now all I need to do is find one in yellow, white and the ever elusive smoked clear version.  

I'm dedicating this post to my bestest buddy who recently passed away.  He was almost 16 years old!  Sadly, he had a tumor on his spinal cord which caused paralysis (which I could have dealt with), but the fact that there was blood in his urine had the Vet concerned that he did not have long to live.  I had to make the difficult decision to put him down.  It broke my heart to do this, but I think it was for the best.  He was miserable, and had given up even trying to walk.  Late at night when I'm drifting off to sleep, I still think I can hear him breathing and moving around at the foot of my bed.  I miss you little guy!
 Aspen was about 11 years old in this photo.  He's begging to come inside.  He only enjoyed being outside, if you were out there with him.  He always had to be near me and hated if I was behind closed doors.

This was our last trip to Cape May, NJ.  He was just a little shy of 15 when this photo was taken.  He was having some issues with arthritis in his back legs and had started peeing in the house.  He had such spunk and spirit though.  Look at that happy face!

This is another photo of Aspen on one of our many vacations in Cape May.  This was taken when he was around 13.  He loved coming down here as much as me!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Friday!

This skit used to crack me up when I was a kid!   Enjoy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

R.I.P. Uncle Leo

I'm saddened to hear the Len Lesser, who played Uncle Leo on Seinfeld passed away yesterday, he was 88 years old.  He was such a funny guy!  He will be missed!

Below are some of my favorite Uncle Leo moments on Seinfeld:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

MTV Glory Days

While searching YouTube for some retro goodness, I came across these videos which have the first hour of the live broadcast of MTV when it debuted on August 1st, 1981.  This was back in the day when MTV was all about the music! I was about 16 when this aired for the first time. I remember being so thrilled when my friend was telling me all about the channel before it aired and I though it was the coolest thing...EVER!   I'm so grateful that I was around to witness the former greatness that was the first music channel on TV.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Name is Norman Bates...I'm Just a Normal Guy

Back in the early days of MTV when all they showed was music videos, not crappy pseudo reality shows like Joisey Shore and The "Real" World, I came across this gem by Landscape called My Name Is Norman Bates.  Its been about 30 years since I've seen this, and through the magic of YouTube, I'm able to see it again!  Its one of those weird little songs that sticks in your head and never forget. Hard to believe I was a teenager when I first saw this!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Has it really been 25 years??

Holy crap I feel old! Cannot believe that its been 25 years since the Challenger disaster! Those images have been forever burned into my brain from the constant barrage of media coverage at the time. I was in college when I first heard the news and one of my friends came up to me and asked me if I had heard about the Challenger exploding. I thought they were joking and sarcastically said "yeah right"! Sadly, my friend, who was normally a trickster, was not joking this time. It was one of those lifetime events where you always remember where you were at the time when you heard the news, sort of like when my parents and grandparents remembered exactly where they were when they heard President Kennedy was shot or the 9/11 tragedy.

Its a little strange and eerie to see this footage again after all these years.

And of course I'm sure everyone watched President Ronald Reagan that night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

RIP Don Kirshner

Don Kirshner was a song publisher and rock producer who is best known for managing songwriting talent as well as successful pop groups, such as The Monkees and The Archies. He died of heart failure on January 17, 2011, at age 76 in Boca Raton, Florida.

As a producer-promoter, Kirshner was influential in starting off the career of singers and songwriters, including Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Sarah Dash of Labelle, as well as discovering the occasional rock act such as Kansas.

In the fall of 1972, Kirshner was asked by ABC Television to serve as executive producer and "creative consultant" for their new "In Concert" series, which aired every other week in the 11:30 p.m. slot normally showing The Dick Cavett Show. The following September, Kirshner left "In Concert" to produce and host his own syndicated weekly rock-concert program called Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. With its long-form live performances, as compared to rehearsed, often lip-synced performances that were the staple of earlier television shows like Shindig!, it was a new direction for pop music presentation. Many consider it the predecessor to MTV, even though the latter features many lip-synced performances.

The program presented many of the most successful rock bands of the era, but what was consistent week-to-week was Kirshner's deliberately flat delivery as the program host. In its final season Rock Concert was mostly hosted by Kirshner's son and daughter, whose delivery was the same as their father's. I remember Kirshner's wooden presentation style when it was lampooned on Saturday Night Live by Paul Shaffer. It was quite hilarious.

Below is a video from SNL with Paul Shaffer as Don Kirshner. It also features Gilda Radner as Candy Slice...classic SNL!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

He came from Outer Space, to save the Human Race

Looks like an alien, yet sings like a diva - Klaus Nomi was one of the 1980s' most profoundly bizarre characters. He was a cult figure in the New Wave underground scene, a genuine counter tenor who sang pop music like opera and brought opera to club audiences and made them like it. Nomi was known for his bizarrely theatrical live performances, heavy make-up, unusual costumes, and a highly stylized signature hairdo. His songs were equally unusual, ranging from synthesizer-laden interpretations of classical music opera to covers of 1960s pop standards like Chubby Checker's "The Twist" and Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes". He was one of David Bowie's backing singers during a 1979 performance on Saturday Night Live too, with Bowie sporting a Nomi influenced outfit so as not to be outdone by the performer *Oops I stand corrected! Bowie came up with that outfit first and Nomi adopted it for his stage show, making his own version of it!*. I will admit, Nomi wore it better! On the verge of international fame as a singer, he became instead one of the first gay artists to die of AIDS.  It such a shame that he died right before the explosion of MTV because his look and theatrics were made for video!

Even though he is gone, his influence is still apparent even today. Nomi's visual aesthetic has influenced women's fashion designers as Givenchy and Paco Rabanne, as well as men's fashions with designers such as Gareth Pugh and Bruno Pieters for Hugo Boss. In 2009, Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 2009 couture was influenced by Nomi and a recording of the Nomi Song was used in the runway show.

Below are some of Nomi's incredible performances - His voice will blow you away - Nomi was a one-of-a-kind performer:

8-Track Go 8-Track!

This time last year, Pepsi had introduced Pepsi Throwback and had a bunch of funny retro styled ads. My favorite one has to be the one with the Weltron 8-Track player. Too funny!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RIP Gerry Rafferty

In the late 70s, Gerry Rafferty ruled the airwaves.  I can remember groovin' to "Baker Street" and "Right Down the Line".  What I didn't realize was that he also co-wrote the song "Stuck in the Middle" when he was part of the band Stealers Wheel.  Sadly, he had issues with alcoholism and had suffered from liver failure during the last year of his life.  This is for you Gerry!