"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

Cyclists Special

This film is from 1955. It depicts, or appears to (I have no idea if it’s all a fantasy), a cycling idyll, during a postwar period in England when the bicycle was a working man’s (and woman’s?) transportation, without intended symbolism or activism.

Sport clothing certainly has changed a great deal.

Avid cyclists will also notice the well-executed double paceline, at the start of the second clip. The announcer mentions that a “hard riding” sport cyclist of the time might be expected to cover 100 miles in a day. That figure hasn’t changed much, and I’m not too surprised. Aside from a major reduction in weight, the addition of more gears, and the removal of fenders the bicycles closely resemble modern ones (in fact, I suspect these bicycles might be a bit more comfortable, if heavier, than their modern equivalents). Then as now, a hard-riding cyclist might well cover 100 miles on a weekend club ride. These bicycles would have been all-steel, made relatively locally, in Birmingham rather than China. Many here are three-speeds; all have fenders.

My one hesitation in posting this film is that probably most of its irony is probably going right over my head. I’m sure David can provide some insight into the accents, the places, and other British detail that is, typically, lost on me.

7 comments accents, history, nostalgia

3rd Avenue El

A short film made in the early 1950s about the elevated rail line that traveled from the base of Manhattan, up the Bowery and 3rd Avenue, to Gun Hill Road in the Bronx.

New Yorkers, how many places do you recognize as they zoom by? What brewery was that on 3rd Avenue?

The characters are an arty type, a drunk, a little girl, a young couple, and the drama or plot, such as it is, revolves around a nickel stuck in the wooden floorboards of the train (also notice the padded seats). The main characters here are really the subway and the city.

(via The Prelinger Archives)

5 comments business, history, New York City, nostalgia, society, talks

Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, presented by Orson Welles

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This is an absolute gem and an almost forgotten one – a documentary version of Alvin Toffler’s classic 70s book, Future Shock presented by Orson Welles.

The premise of Future Shock was that the pace of human progress had achieved a level which would create a pathological reaction, a metaphorical motion sickness caused by the fact that nothing seemed permanent.

Unlike most past views of tomorrow, which look hopelessly obsolete (‘nothing dates like the future’), the premise of Future Shock can only get stronger since not only progress itself, but the derivative of it, its increasing rate of change, exacerbates the core phenomenon.

Stylistically, however, Future Shock is a definitively dated period piece, an early 70s, Jumbo Fonted, psychedelic trip full of deliciously obsolete technology that conjures up wistful nostalgia where it is intended to do exactly the opposite. Even the poor quality of this video with its wavering audio track and bleached imagery actually adds to the effect.

Future Shock is both a perfect piece of vintage cultural nostalgia and still relevant scientific prophesy. It’s Everything retro-futurism should be.

1 comment nostalgia, smashing telly top 10 documentaries, society, the smashing list

When the Boat Comes In

Of all of Britain’s accents, Newcastle’s is the most unusual in almost every way, it is said that it is influenced by the cross fertilization of fishermen from the North East coast of England and from Norway, who shared the same waters and occasionally ended up in each others’ ports after storms. This classic fishing song illustrates the point perfectly and is also an obscure but sublime piece of nostalgia for the UK in the mid 70s having been used as the intro for a BBC program of the same name.

6 comments nostalgia

Cherry Red Records 30th Anniversary

If the words “pay no more than 99p” mean anything to you, then this documentary will make you dewey eyed.

Comments Off music, nostalgia

Tony Wilson Interviews The Smiths

Tony Wilson’s Factory Records defined the Manchester music scene. All the more amazing because he famously passed up signing Manchester’s biggest band, The Smith’s. Wilson claimed not to have regretted it: “Mr Morrissey had a great talent and was a truly horrible human being who treated others very badly and I’m over the moon that I never had to work with him”.

With the benefit of hindsight, the highlight of this interview is the brief chat with, the man who wrote the tunes rather than the words, Johnny Marr, rather than Morrissey (I wonder if Wilson is deliberately trying to wind him up by calling him Steven). Morrissey comes off as pretentious, but perhaps this was before he decided that Smith’s lyrics were deliberately funny.

This is where Morrissey and Wilson are fascinatingly similar. Both had grand ideas that were quite often pretentious but like natural showmen, both were clever enough to adapt to how what they did was perceived. Wilson was cocky enough to name a small record label in an industrial town, after the world’s most famous art studio. Today, Wilson’s Factory is as famous as Warhol’s.

As an example of Morrissey’s showman-like adaptability, I can’t help but think that his lyrics were originally intended to be serious, but when the DJ who launched them to fame (John Peel), assumed that they were witty and ironic, Morrissey played along rather than lose face. Whether this is true or not, almost doesn’t matter, since perhaps creativity is just knowing how to edit accidents. In the end, the wit and irony became real, even if the style had originated as accidental camp.

Popular songs will never be all bland after a line like: I was only joking when I said by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed.

Thanks Tom

1 comment music, nostalgia

Eames Lounge Chair Debut in 1956 on NBC


Charles and Ray appear on a very dated TV show presented by a creature with a very dated accent to launch a chair which looks as modern today as it did then.

In two parts, second part here.

3 comments architecture, nostalgia

New Romantics


Given the current predilection for hanging fringes in Indie bands, perhaps this tribal profile should be called ‘Old New Romantics’.

4 comments nostalgia

Savile Row

Part 1 of a 3 part documentary about Savile Row, the street in London, where the worlds leading bespoke tailors have made suits for the rich and famous for several centuries. Where Churchill bought his pinstripe and Fred Astaire, his tails. The filming coincides with the arrival of an undesirable element on the street, Abercrombie and Fitch.

Like the $5,000 – $30,000 suits themselves, the subject of this film may not seem worth it at first, but it a quiet, unrushed, dignified and won’t go out of fashion.

1 comment nostalgia, world

Dean Martin Celebrity Roast With Frank Sinatra


From a Vegas that no longer exists, this is the real Ocean’s Eleven. Or more accurately, this is the authentic but worn Ocean’s Eleven, made in 1977, the celebrity roast was the last gasp of the Dean Martin show, as the Rat Pack lifestyle excess begins to take its toll. Nevertheless, its an iconic piece of American television. An unbelievable array of celebs attend and a smoking Dean Martin hosts – as in actually smoking.

98 mins.

4 comments nostalgia