Friday, October 20, 2017

Flashback Friday: My High School Bedroom, circa 2002

Good morning!!

How's tricks? I'm back super fast to show you some little mementos from the life of yours truly, thanks to a recent scouring of the attic for things to list on Craigslist (note: it looks like a freakin' bric-a-brac store up there, but I'm working on it!). Stuck in a retro-unto-itself Kodak development folder in a shoebox in the attic, I found these snaps from my high school bedroom circa 2002. Having enjoyed recently stumbling across this tumblr account called Me at 13-ish for the pure, unadulterated nostalgia of what the world was like twenty five ish years ago, I thought it might be fun to bask in the warm glow of what my one-room-sanctuary looked like shortly after the millenium.

Check it out:

1) Over/next to my bed:

We moved from the house I lived in as a child (and currently live in now) to a house about six miles away in 1998, and somehow, I ended up with this corner bedroom. Maybe my folks had figured I had the most stuff out of the four of us (probably still true). As you can see, I took to decorating it with a precocious vigor for wall-coverage that remains with me to this day.

Things of note in picture one:

Do you remember how INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT your high school stereo was? This was a Sony I received for Christmas one year. I remember being psyched about the digital display, remote control, cd player, and dual cassette deck, but bummed it only played a single cd at a time-- the bigger wheels in my high school social circles had three (or, imagine, FIVE) disc changers.

My dad built the payphone-display for this apricot colored rotary dial phone-- why was the particularly important in my high school bedroom? This was the ACTUAL PHONE I used for daily calls. My folks didn't switch from pulse to touch tone because it was something like a dollar more a phone bill, and we had pulse (the old clickclickclickclick, click, clickclickclick sounding tones) until they literally no longer offered pulse. So, following the same rationale, why would we need punch button phones? Occasionally we had phones with buttons (including the memorable birthday I received THIS bad boy), but mostly I had a series of rotary dial phones in my room growing up, including an office model like this one that had heavy buttons for me to switch to lines the unit wasn't connected to, haha. One of my favorite numbers to dial in high school was my friend Xingxia's, one, because she's hilarious and we were always making plans to do something fun when I called her, and two, because her number, if I recall, was 400-0009....the zero is the furthest number on the dial, and the nine the next furthest, so you would dial four, and it would wind, and then the five zeros and the nine would wiiiiiind and wiiiind and wiiiiind.

The records were four of my favorites at the time-- Next Years Model by Elvis Costello, Walls and Bridges by John Lennon, Heroes by Bowie, and Hard Rain by Bob Dylan. My folks got the record frames at Restoration Hardware out in Green Hills back when the store and the concept was new-- I think they cost something ridiculous like $20 apiece or I would have lobbied for an entire wall of them. They had little metal fasteners to keep the backing in place that would *ping!* violently out of place if you put them in the wrong corners-- I was continually accidentally placing them in the wrong corners.

The pictures along the top are X-acto knifed pages from a book I found at a library book sale called The Album Cover Art of Soundtracks -- I need to buy another copy of it.

The two posters were from Tennessee Antique Mall on Wedgewood-- I'd won a drawing for a $50 gift certificate and bought like a TRUNK full of things, including these reprints from two very good classic movies. "More CHEESE, Mr Christian?" and "I'm ALIVE! Maggie the cat is ALIVE!" I wonder if these are still somewhere in my attic today.

2) Near the door/across from the bed:

Things of note in picture two:

My granddad on my dad's side made this barrister bookshelf I think for my dad, with a glass door insert, from a schematic drawn up by my great uncle, based on a sketch he made of a piece he saw in a book. Talented folks! I had these books arranged by subject matter-- the left is all literature, and the right is all movie/music biographies. Pretty much still the only two categories of books I have in the house, still-- I'd like to point out that the right category informed the left category, as a lot of these were purchased because I liked the movie version of the book or because I read that David Bowie or Jim Morrison was inspired by/had read these books. Rock n roll and movies, in my case, were gateway drugs to great literature. Almost all of these came from Book Attic in Rivergate and Great Escape in Madison (long before McKays became part of my life!). A list of the books I remember/can make out by the covers:
Literature: John Rechy City of Night, Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, Anthony Burgess Clockwork Orange, Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day, William S Burroughs Last Words and Interzone, Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon, Shirley Jackson Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Robert Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land, Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Henry Fielding Tom Jones, Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird, W Somerset Maugham The Moon and Sixpence, The Razor's Edge, William Goldman The Princess Bride, Beau Sia A Night in Shining Armor II: The Revenge, Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five, Richard Matheson Somewhere in Time, Bertolt Brecht Three Plays, Isak Dinesen Seven Gothic Tales, J.M. Barrie Peter Pan, Walter Tevis The Man Who Fell to Earth, Ray Bradbury I Sing The Body Electric, October Country, Martian Chronicles, Thomas Mann Death in Venice, The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton, Thomas Hardy The Return of the Native, Jude the Obscure, Far From the Madding Crowd, Daphne du Maurier Rebecca, Isaac Asimov I, Robot Cholderos de Laclos Les Liasions Dangereuses, Tom Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities, Diary of Anne Frank, Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina, Thomas Harris Silence of the Lambs
 Biography: Albert Goldman The Lives of John Lennon, Philip Norman Sympathy for the Devil, Jerry Hopkins No One Here Gets Out Alive, Joan Baez poems, Anne Edwards Vivien Leigh, Lauren Bacall By Myself, Lana Turner Lana, John Lennon Remembers, The Playboy Interviews: John and Yoko, Pamela Kennealy Morrison Strange Days, Peter Brown The Love You Make:An Insider's Story of the Beatles, Frank Zappa The Real Frank Zappa Book, Jerry Hopkins Stardust: The David Bowie Story, Angela Bowie Backstage Passes: My Life With David Bowie, Gloria Swanson Swanson on Swanson, Pamela Bosworth Montgomery Clift, Philip Norman Shout! The Beatles in Their Time, John Green Dakota Days, John Kobler Damned in Paradise: The Life of John Barrymore, John Barrymore Confessions of an Actor, John Lennon Skywriting by Word of Mouth, Lou Reed Between Thought and Expression: Selected Lyrics, Victor Bokris Warhol, Bette Davis The Lonely Life and This and That, Henry Fonda Fonda: My Life, Gene Tierney Self Portrait, Mary Pickford Sunshine and Shadow,  Gable, Valentino, Lillian Hellman An Unfinished Woman,
Note the Maxell 90 min mix tapes in front of the books-- I had SO MANY MIX CASSETTES in this late period of tapes.

Above that, a set of 1930s cannisters I bought at an antique store on the square in Lebanon in like probably 8th grade (I still don't know why I wanted them so much, but I remember they were $35 and it seemed like a FORTUNE to me at the time). The picture of Bette Davis in a standing frame has a mirror on the opposite side and came from the Goodletsville Antique Mall circa 2000. My sister made the ceramic face and the Aquarian Tarot were a gift from my parents from the Tennessee Antique Mall...I remember they were $20 and I was STUNNED that my folks had remembered i wanted them during a previous visit and gone back to get them-- they were great with presents but not so great with encouraging my interests in "old stuff". Note the square of records below (they skewed mostly Bowie/Beatles/Lou Reed at the time, but most were $4-$6 at the Madison Great Escape or Phonoluxe out on Nolensville Pk). Note the VHS of Backbeat (which I'd love to see again, but that cassette is long gone) and the large collage that took up an entire wall back behind the furniture. I spy with my little eye Tom Petty (RIP, I was ridiculously all the way into him after seeing him in concer in 2001 with Kelsey at Starwood [also RIP]), the Fleetwood Mac Rumours foldout from the album sleeve, Tom Waits, and Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

3) Across from my bed and the door, one corner of the room:

My dresser, completely crammed with tshirts, seventies' polyester dress shirts in the best garish patterns you could imagine, and Mudd flare jeans. On the dresser (my mom's, I think it's probably from the fifties' but she bought it when she and my dad set up housekeeping back in the 80s): a box with coasters in it that is currently on my coffeetable today, year of our Lord 2017...a figure of a Chinese boy holding a water jug that I think was a planter...a toy German Luger that was my dad's as a kid...a volume of the Time Life Old West book set, a bust of Beethoven, an early plastic baby doll from the 30's that was my grandma's and then my dad's, a wooden bird in a wooden bird cage, a container of blowing bubbles I think my first HS bf James Smith have me, a party decoration of a penguin with an Indian headdress added for flair, a terracotta frog from Old Time Pottery, an enamel milk jug with a pretty French seeming design on it, and a lamp shaped like a movie camera from back when there was a FANTASTIC thrift store across the street from Phonoluxe in the 00's (il n'existe plus). Note: I once dropped one of those dresser drawers on a copy of Scary Monsters on vinyl that I had opened, somehow not destroying the portable classroom record player my dad had scored for me from the school surplus warehouse, but creating a dent in it that rendered it unplayable on one side. :( I am the reason we can't have nice things. See the Man Who Fell to Earth promotional poster that came with a copy of the album I have-- I used to find so many amazing inserts and flyers and postcards and stickers in my albums. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly poster was NINETY NINE CENTS on clearance at Media Play, and I passed up a similar reprint of a Planet of the Apes poster to my eternal chagrin... I had seen every movie Clint Eastwood made up until this point due to an Eastwood kick and the oddly complete collection of his movies at Nashville Public Library on VHS. The "Someone Talked!" poster is a WWII poster I got on vacation to the Smithsonian in 1998. I still love the accusatory tone and the stark image. The John Lennon Imagine poster came with the record-- I wish I knew what I'd done with it. If you didn't notice the preponderance of Beatles/Lennon books on the bookshelf list, know that I had AN ABIDING PASSION for John Lennon circa 1996-1998-- to this day, I still could probably write a serviceable paper on his life and work from the dozens of books I read about my favorite Beatle at that time.

4) Closet, to the left of the dresser

Things of note in picture four:
Paul McCartney and Wings promotional poster from a record, David Bowie Space Oddity  poster from a record (I had like six copies of this album because they came with posters and back in the early 00's no one was collecting records and I think they were maybe four dollars apiece in great condition), Picasso Don Quixote sketch, and a Lemonheads poster. Confession: I never had the Lemonheads record, I just was obsessed with this photo of two gun toting kids walking down the road and eating a sandwich. This looks like an enormous closet but it was actually only normal sized-- the entire left hand side was taken up by part of the air conditioning unit. My dad built shelves around it and while there were another one billion paperbacks in this hidden storage, the only books I specifically remember being here were my collection of Stephen King paperbacks-- I'd read everything he'd written except The Dark Tower and Eyes of the Dragon by 8th grade (I still don't do fantasy). I ended up giving an entire paper grocery bag of these books to a girl named Emily Douglas in high school because she mentioned she was getting into Stephen King and I was trying to make room in my room for more books-- weirdly, I kind of miss having that complete a collection of books even though I hardly ever re-read things. I remember I kept all the short story collections (really my favorites of his, especially Skeleton Crew), Salem's Lot, and The Shining. Just in case. The clock above the closet is a replica of a Russian submarine clock my dad gave me for my birthday from Restoration Hardware. I feel like the 90s and 00s were better for realistic reproductions of vintage things people like us would like to collect. There's definitely a dearth of that out there now.

So ends this brief glimpse into my room! Here are two pictures of the girl who lived in it from around the same time period:

Two things I thought about looking at these photos-- one, isn't it weird that places you've lived in your life don't exist anymore? I mean, my parents still live in that house and the room itself exists, but that particular environment, which was SO important to me twenty years ago, just doesn't exist in its past form. I feel like I could easily draw an exact schematic of where I kept what and how everything was even WITHOUT the photos, so it seems strange that somewhere in the world that place has ceased to be a real place, and is only a memory. I think that must be how older people feel about the 1950's farm they grew up on or how downtown looked when you went shopping in 1970 or what their office job looked like in 1985. Not that it's a new feeling, it's just weird to get to an age where you're aware of that BEING A THING at all. Two, I wonder how different memories like that will be for Remy, as they'll probably have three dimensional graphic renderings of photographs or something similarly futuristic by the time he's old enough to be a teenager who wants to document the sacred sanctuary of his bedroom. He probably won't need a memory of his past because he'll be able to mindfeed back to the memory in artificial reality or something. It's interesting to think about!

Well, I have to get going, but let's talk! Do you have photos or vivid memories of your teenage bedroom? Have photos taken you back to a specific period in your life anytime lately? I'd love to hear from you.

Have a great weekend, be back soon! Til then.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Four Vincent Price Halloween Records (1967-1978)

Good morning!

Betcha thought you wouldn't see me again what with an extremely active eight month old asserting his dominance over my previously placid personal life, but no! I carved out a moment or two here to say that I'm still living and loving being the little guy's ma, and that I am still conspicuously consuming and thinking critically about my little weirdo stuff I like. I was poking around on YouTube the other day for vintage Halloween records and just had to drop you all a line about some Vincent Price records previously-unknown-to-me.

That ascot, though (have you seen this incredibly adorable episode of the Muppet Show with VP as guest star?)
You might remember from way, WAY back in 2011, when my household celebrated the Vincentennial, that Vincent Price pretty-much-anything goes over in a big way in my book...memorabilia of whatever stripe is always welcome to make a home in my home. An old board game of Hangman with his face on the cover? Lemme ha' that. A memoir written by his daughter Victoria about growing up Princess Price? I'll take two. A few years ago, my mother in law had a box of records sitting in her front room under the piano and I noticed ol' VP's long face peeking out of one milk crate. "Is that a record by Vincent Price?" said I. "Oh, sure. I think that was something we got for free from one of the record companies. You may have it if you want it,"  said she. Oh, I did. And that was the first of four albums I've found of Vincent Price reading weird, weirder, and weirdest scary stories for eager creepy-loving listeners such as yours truly. Since I never can keep a good thing to myself, and considering 'tis the season for scariness, I thought I would share the self same with you all!

If you please:

1) Witchcraft - Magic - An Adventure In Demonology (1969) LISTEN HERE

This was the record I mentioned that my MIL gave me. And it's a trip! This double album (an hour and forty five minute run time!) journey into the occult starts with the three weird sisters speech from Macbeth before VP himself welcomes us "to the world of witchcraft"! Me: Oh good, yes please. The ghoul girls return to punctuate each anecdote, narrated by Price, of magic and mayhem. The content here is more nonfiction, In Search of... style factoids than what I was expecting ( e.g. I was expecting readings of scary short stories, which solely comprises the content of the other three albums). But that's not at all a bad thing! Hitler and Churchill's respective involvements with astrology and parapsychological pursuits within the context of WWII? Why not, man. Instructions on how to cast spells with hexagrams? You have my attention. I had to skip through some of "Witch Tortures" because I am very delicate and sensitive postpartum (who would have thought a girl who used to set Matthew's lockscreen to Victorian postmortem snaps as a gag would finally grow uncallous to overly detailed gore?), and some of this is a little snoozy, but I had a nice thought thinking about some kids  listening to this album at some 1969 sleepover by candlelight and getting spooked out of their socks. Plus now I have to try all these witchcraft instructions and see if I can't get a horror movie named after me for my trouble (here's hoping!).

2) Tales Of Witches, Ghosts And Goblins (1972) LISTEN HERE

The problem with this album is that it starts out so strong and then kind of lists along and then hits it one more time before the end of the B side. I'd give it an A+ just based on two tracks, though: "The Smoker" and "A Pair of Gloves". The first is adapted from a Iroquois legend, but I'm almost spoiling it for you by telling you that-- I really liked that I saw Vincent Price's name and this fantastic psychedelic cover, clicked "play", and was plunged headlong into a strange, strange little story about a guy who essentially befriends a skeleton, with NO MENTION of the Native American background of the tale. If you think of it as just an unaffiliated-to-a-certain-culture story, it has a healthy dose of main-line magical realism, and if that isn't just right up my alley. I won't spoil it for you, but again, it's the best story on the record excepting "A Pair of Gloves". THAT story involves a woman who as a child saw a vision of a man in a pair of antique gloves appear in her bedroom at night-- the last line of it made me a) almost gasp with delight and b) start the track over again because I needed to think about the whole story again. Simply fabulous. Alan Garner and Carl Carmer, respectively, are listed as the authors of these stories, and I'm going to have to poke around a little to find out if there are other bizarre stories like this in their curriculum vitae-- there are some young adult books written by the latter from the 1960s on Open Library, but I need to do more digging to see if it's 100 proof.

3) A Hornbook for Witches (1976) LISTEN HERE

Yet another record that would be perfect for your 1970's middle school sleepover, this album combines readings of gothic literature with folklore approaches to summoning demons, etc. Much the same material as the previous album, but I very much like Vincent Price's handling of the verse in classic poems like Carroll's "The Jabberwocky" and the Leah Bodine Drake poem featured in the title track. I love the entire set up of the cover, from reminding you that these stories and poems would be best suited towards your seasonal use at Halloween, and describing the reader as "Warlock: Vincent Price". Side note: It's always been cute to me how many DIFFERENT commercial enterprises and endorsements Price took in his mid to late career, these records only being one arm of a far reaching second source of livelihood as a spokesperson. From the aforementioned board game to the Vincent Price International Cooking Course to "shrunken head apple sculpture kit" (I'm quite serious) to ads for monster vitamins, raisins, and the American Dairy Associations, he was a ubiquitous public spokesperson back in the seventies' and eighties', but never I think to his full detriment. Lots of other celebrities in ads come off as desperate, but I like how much ye olde Price just seems "game" and slightly impish in his irreverently popping up wherever they'd have him, somehow elegant and goofy at the same time. But I digress. One more record!

4) A Graveyard of Ghost Tales (1974) LISTEN HERE

Another INCREDIBLE album cover (skeletons rowing a Katharine Ross figure in a boat as she plays a harp, an image that reappears in the third track of the A-side)-- this record is mostly "true" folk tales, including the first track, "Lavender", which retells the story of a gal ghoul called "Resurrection Mary" in many of its versions. I remember the name because of the memorable Unsolved Mysteries segment of the same name-- a female hitchhiker is picked up in an evening dress on the side of the road by a bunch of carousing collegiates, attends a dance with the boys, and is dropped off at home while still in possession of one of of the sheik's overcoats. Chivalry only going so far, the boys go to retrieve the coat at the girl's house the next day and... well, if you haven't heard it, I won't spoil it, but something about the simple eerieness of the story really appeals to me.

And if you like these, be sure to check out Vincent Price's 1970'S BBC radio drama, Price of Fear, which could have its own entire blog post if time permitted... you can listen to a playlist of them here.

The many faces of VP.

So! What are your ghoulish plans for this month (other than watching my suggested VP videos, natch)? Do you have your costume planned out yet? Spill that tea!

Hope you've been having a wonderful fall so far, and I'll be back before you know it with more vintage eyecandy. Be good! See ya soon! :)


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