Other than the fact that it’s packaged in a 750ml bottle, the standard size vessel for champagne, the stretch  to connect product with name is so thin and precarious here as to induce the medical condition known as Kitschago. As a writer, it’s painful to see so many plays on words in trying to make elements as disparate as popcorn and classical music seem connected. As a kitsch lover, however, it’s ecstasy. Let’s see, how many ways can we thwack the creative brain with a lead pipe and make this popcorn/ Beethoven connection work?  The label, Château de Musica, implores the popcorn ingestee to “HANDEL with care”.  I don’t understand what care it takes to eat “Le grand Pops” but if one does apparently HANDEL it wrong the bottler, RACH MANINOFF, guarantees “your money BACH”.


Unfortunately, the LISZT price isn’t stamped on the bottle. And I don’t know enough about classical music to know if Albert Elovitz has anything to do with the art form but somehow the military managed to get in on the wordplay as Distilled by credit goes to KERNEL Albert Elovitz.


Thankfully, the bottom of the bottle remains pun free.


I cringe when people send me really cheesy song lyrics to critique, so pun filled at times I find it necessary to tell them that connecting together a bunch of plays on words isn’t an original concept and rarely works unless something else so unique is tossed into the mix. In this case, it’s thankfully not a crappy song I have before me but a champagne bottle, vintage 1986,  filled with popcorn. It may not be musical but it’s definitely what I would stock in the bar to serve with the cheese wheel at my next party.


And while we’re on the subject of Beethoven’s Fifth


As I lie in bed with food poisoning after ingesting some of the worst food I’ve ever eaten in LA Saturday night (at an expensive downtown restaurant which shall remain nameless as I’m only 99.99% sure it was the scene of the crime and not 100), this rubber doctor puppet seems a very appropriate Kitsch O’ The Day offering. Made by Childcraft in 1968 and used in African-American classrooms to teach about good role models the set also includes two girls, two guys, one kid, a grandmother, a grandfather, a policeman and Nelson Mandela.


The grandfather and Nelson Mandela look suspiciously alike. I like how one can merely change their suit and go from leading a family to leading a nation:


Because I have so much memorabilia and because I throw so many parties and used to shoot a lot of music videos here I always get asked if anything is ever stolen. For 30 years I’ve been very proud to say only one thing and that was an ashtray that was so common among 50’s collectibles that the person who stole it deserved it because anyone who knew their stuff would take one look at it and think that person didn’t really have discriminating taste.  All I know is that it was someone in this photo during a Kid Creole and The Coconuts shoot over here in 1989. I have no idea who the  guilty party was but it was most certainly not the person in the sunglasses:


Now as I stare at the puppet group three photos above I see that one of the girls is missing too.


This had to have happened during the last six months during which time I threw two parties. I’m at least thankful that whoever copped it didn’t make off with the whole set though I must say that this discovery makes my stomach ache as much the ratty restaurant downtown does.

I’ve loved my Childcraft puppets since the day I found them, not only because they’re one of the few mass-produced vintage products made specifically as African-American teaching aids but because once your hand is stuffed inside of them they’re very malleable and lifelike looking.


Here are two of my favorites with Sammy Davis Jr. guarding my gold records:


Despite the fact that it gave me a great excuse to drag the doctor out, the unnamed downtown restaurant screwed up my entire weekend causing me to miss a panel I was speaking on regarding new technology and the theater, two parties, one photo shoot drive and a movie. I would’ve preferred to make the weekend activities decision on my own rather than let the horrific buttermilk fried chicken that tasted like wood and could chip a tooth, the creepy little cheesecball freebie (thanks for nothing), and tuna tartare, the sloshy mound that I suspect was the main culprit, doom me to a weekend of Gatorade, bananas and saltines between bathroom runs. And I certainly wish my rubber doctor could be of more help than just looking cute.


But then I realize that this is the gift of writing a daily blog, that one can vent about restaurants that think they’re fancy but are merely annoying and in this case dangerous.  Thank God there was a doctor in the house to cheer me up somewhat. I have a feeling if I ate the puppet it would have made me feel better than that dreadful meal did.


Featuring 425 “new” recipes plus a special “When-Company-Comes” section, this cookbook, published in 1958 by General Mills, was designed expressly for “brides, business girls, career wives and mothers of married children”. Divided into sections like Regional Meals USA, Pennywise Dinners and What Every Good Cook Knows, as is often the case with vintage cookbooks the quintessentially Atomic 50’s graphics and fonts are even better than the recipes themselves.


There are also many tips for what to do in the presence of meat and its other food friends. Like when you’re at the market “select canned goods economically.”


I never realized there was such a distinction between peas. Then again, I’m not much of a cook unless cooking means going online and ordering in. I’m the type to fast forward to “Foreign Lands–Hawaii” where I find this excellent dessert relying solely on colored toothpicks, maraschino cherries, canned pineapple and ice. This degree of culinary skill is right up my allee.


There’s even a lesson on setting the table correctly as “an atmosphere of charm at mealtime forms the background for fine living.” Look how the career wife, while learning how to give a dinner party for four, sweeps into pose to peer at her table through a microscope making sure no detail is overlooked in planning a buffet to insure that “an atmosphere of informal hospitality prevails.”


This illustration of a tourist couple taking photos next to whoever the famous Dane is depicted in statue on the rock  makes the Danish Apple Pudding recipe taste even more Danish.


As an artist, I’m especially drawn to page 169. Not only does all it take to make Croissants is yeast, Bisquick and water but it suggests that you serve Chocolate Eclairs along with them. Better yet, the recipe merely points you in the direction of a box of Betty Crocker Cream Puff Mix and you’re on your own from there.


Look how interested the potatoes are at how they’re going to be sliced:


When not looking at the pictures there are wonderful ideas to cook for your +1 like Baked Prune Whip and Unbaked Prune Whip.


I’m actually having three people over for lunch today and two more over for dinner tonight. One group will be eating Italian and the other Chinese and, despite the fact that Betty Crocker says this cookbook is perfect for “the working girl, active in her career and social life”, I will be spending no time in the kitchen at all.



In 1973 when the Ronco Miracle Broom sprung on the market half of the households in America started vacuuming their shag with this revolutionary cordless electric vacuum cleaner.  That’s reason enough to collect it now but with products like this, especially those made in the 70’s and especially in the genre of products sold on TV – the Miracle Broom was among the first of hard-sell filmed TV commercials hawking new and unique products birthing what would later be known as the infomercial – oftentimes the box was as good as the product that came in it. Not to say that this Streamlined Moderne-meets-70’s-modern looking gadget isn’t great in and of itself but the graphics showing suggested uses of the product are even better. Blown out color, cheesy furniture and excellence in hand modeling being some of the pillars of that greatness. Here’s one of my favorite shots:


The crumbs are SO over-exaggerated. I’d like to know who eats toast leaving crumbs this big and in this formation? Only a chipmunk or someone without teeth was capable of creating this mess.

For this shot Ronco spared no expense on the tablecloth. Then again, they wanted you to concentrate on the crumbs. Seems to me they should’ve called the toothless person back to create better crumbs though as these don’t seem that serious.


I love how the ashtray is overturned in this next one. Even more, I love the pattern on the tie of the man wielding the Miracle Broom. Even more, I love that Ronco was evolved enough to have men doing some of the cleaning.


I can’t figure out what spilled on the following car seat. It’s somewhere between Red Hots, vomit or that crumbled fauna stuff you buy at craft stores to make little trees out of.


The Ronco Miracle Broom was the stuff of legend in the 1970’s, a massive lunge forward in the revolution of products designed with style, convenience and innovation in mind that began in the post-World War II Atomic Age. I may have shed the shag carpeting over the years but the double D’s are always on hand to pop into my Miracle Broom whenever I’m too lazy to completely chew my toast.



This may not excite the average person as much as it excites me but when I bought this piece of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate for a penny on eBay I felt like I hit the Kitsch motherlode. With as much candy as I’ve seen in my lifetime I’ve never come across one made by a major manufacturer, let alone Hershey’s, that had a wrong wrapper.   Not only is the graphic not centered on the candy bar but it’s not even the right color.  Here is a non-mutant piece pictured with the orphan:


I’ve been popping these things into my mouth for years. I can spot one miles away in the candy terrarium that greets visitors as they walk into my house and which I fill and art direct daily.


Upon acquiring the runt, I now guard it like it’s a gold bar. I have it sitting in a special place on a special shelf so no one mistakes it for an available piece to munch on. Last week when I saw someone pick it up I yelled ‘NOOOOOOO’ so loud you would have thought I was stopping someone from pressing the button to activate a nuclear bomb. This is one freak of candy nature I intend to be able to enjoy the rest of my life.



Were it not for Gold Bell Gift Stamps I never would’ve had a new blanket or clock radio to go off to college with. I’m not sure where these stamps  were given out in Detroit, where I grew up,  but it had to have been an A&P or Kroger’s as that’s where my mom always did her shopping. I loved licking and pasting in all the stamps she brought home and I collected those books like they were diamonds knowing that I could cash them in on the items of my choice.


It was definitely looking through the Gold Bell Gift Stamps catalog that my love of catalogs blossomed. It was absolutely mind boggling to me that you could actually get something for free and all it required was licking little stamps and gluing them onto the pages as the book got lumpy and lumpier, looking almost as if a pitcher of water had been poured on it the fuller it got. For someone who’s a paper freak like me it was just as thrilling to fill the book as it was to get the items the books were cashed in to get. In fact, sometimes I got so attached to the books as they warped as more and more stamps were pasted in that the book itself became more precious than the gift it could procure.


I’m not sure if this hand-painted wooden counter sign was for Gold Bell Gift Stamps or whether there was an entirely different brand called, simply, Gold Stamps:


Whatever the case, my tattered book of Gold Bell Gift Stamps, ready to be redeemed for a hood hairdryer, mohair argyle sweater or automatic hand mixer, looks very nice sitting next to it.


I used to pour over this page making sure I had done everything right. I could smell the new pogo stick or 45 player as I filled in my name and address.


I shall always love Gold Bell Gift Stamps for being a big part of my childhood. Past a certain point I just couldn’t give the books away anymore. I must’ve known somewhere in the back of my head I was going to have the world’s most gigantic memorabilia collection. So I have this book and a few spare stamps and that’s just as good as the portable TV I always wanted which took hundreds and hundreds of books that I never managed to amass before falling for a turtle bowl, dictionary or any of the other smaller gifts that made me feel rich as a Queen.



I love lighted signs. Most of the ones I collect are African-American from the 1950’s and 60’s but I also fall for big fat trouts popping out of picnic baskets, gushing motorized waterfalls and the blinking lights of a big metropolis. But my absolute favorite genre which I constantly stop myself from buying because I have no room to keep any more are lighted food signs, not the least of which is this one commemorating one of my all-time favorite snack foods, the chili dog.

I love Chili dogs.


This  was consumed two months ago at Cupids Hot Dogs in Tarzana, CA, where the decor is just as good as the hot dogs.


There are also two outstanding specials offered at Cupid’s that I haven’t seen offered at very many other hot dog stands:


I don’t think Cupid’s uses Castleberry chili though, which is good as in 2007 many cans of Castleberry were recalled for possibly containing Botulism.


As I’m too lazy to cook my own anything this has not deterred me from enjoying a good hot dog stand-bought chili dog every now and then…


… especially if it comes in the form of a vintage lighted sign.



The front of this card looks conservative enough that you wouldn’t know it was sold in the decade when greeting cards went bonkers and beatniks and sputniks and all other kinds of alternative living spaces and lifestyles expressed themselves via them. But when he opened it up Dad would have seen that this card was very much of its era given that the choice that the saccharine sweet angel tot offers her dad inside is one between TV dinners.


Dad’s choices most likely would have been Swanson’s chicken and turkey or beef, all with vegetables swimming in a butter sea.


Here I am with my father Father’s Day, 1957, whipping back to shore to get ready for dinner.


My mom cooked that night but I’m pretty sure my dad would have chosen the Salisbury Steak with gravy, whipped  potatoes, peas in seasoned sauce and peach cake cobbler.  After dinner, I’m pretty sure I used the aluminum tray to organize my marbles into teams for some sport I made up to play with my dad on his big day.


On days such as today when it’s sweltering in LA the decision as to what to do over the weekend is always a big deal – sweat to death doing something fairly healthy outside or park yourself in front of a big tub of popcorn and watch a bloated, big budget movie that ultimately leaves you disappointed but you got to chill like an ice cube in front of a big screen. This bottle of  Avon Tai Winds, appropriately subtitled the Weekend Decision Maker, confronts the problem head-on.


The heavy-as-a-bowling-ball green glass bottle has twelve alternate weekend activities printed on it. And when you spin the clunky plastic lounging man who looks more like a cross between a frog and a leprechaun top it makes the decision for you. Ideally, the alternatives would be cheesier then the largely sedentary ones named here but it does take a lot of the guesswork out of it for you.




Five years earlier in 1973, Avon apparently made the decision that you should go fishing.


But it’s sooooo hot today and I have so much work to catch up on and I feel so lazy now I can’t quite make a decision…


…. Which means I’ll probably take the path of least resistance and ride the wave of coffee induced enthusiasm and knock out a little work until I get hungry and have to make a decision about where to order in from and 45 minutes later open the door to let a burst of hot air rush into my house along with the pizza, burger or Egg Foo Young that’s handed to me and decide it’s too hot to do anything…


… At which point I’ll pray the little Avon leprechaun frog man gives me his blessing to do this:



Yesterday, iconic TV host Art Linkletter passed away. Even as a little kid Art seemed a little square to me but there’s no doubt that he pioneered many of the formulas of today’s TV shows with segments like celebrity guests, cooking, talking to kids and audience quizzes. His big two hits which between them ran from 1952 to 1970, House Party and People Are Funny, were massively popular. This ‘party game with cards’ spun out of the latter and continued in people’s living rooms what was so popular on Art’s shows –  getting everyday people to do dorky stunts like trying to cash a check written on a watermelon and make fools of themselves, oftentimes ending up with a pie in the face for failing. It’s obvious that Linkletter’s tactics are still very much alive on TV today.


As simple as the concept of the TV show was, the instructions for this 1954 game made by Whitman Publishing Company, known mostly for the books they made of popular TV shows, are exhaustive. I would’ve been tired from reading them and gone to sleep without starting the game.


But I think the gist is that one card describes an aspect of your character, the second your occupation, the third a hobby and the fourth assigns an attribute to all of it.


Then something like Charades happens. I swear I’d be in the kitchen baking brownies as I have no patience for long instructions OR Charades.


A little known fact about the TV show People Are Funny is that it pioneered computerized dating in 1956, matching up couples who answered questions from a Univac computer.


In the late 60’s, Art made this commercial for ‘Circus-Vac-In-A-Box’ Circus Nuts with his daughter Diane.


They also recorded this message about the necessity of clear communication between parent and child:


In 1972, Diane jumped out of the window and met her demise six stories down. Art then became a crusader for the perils of LSD.


I guess most people would show you a classic Art clip from his most famous tv segment on House Party, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, but as an avid aKITSCHionado I must fast forward to 1990 and show you Art and his chairs.


So, Art, your time has finally come…


Your People Are Funny game caused people to think about themselves in different ways and try new things and I’m always in favor of that.


R.I.P. Art Linkletter.