It’s early April 2016. You’re a junior associate at a PR firm. You get an e-mail from your boss, Haston Lewis, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay, saying, “Cracker Jack is dropping its prize and replacing it with a scannable code that will unlock four baseball-themed experiences on their mobile device. Let’s sidestep the fact that […]
ApexUSA is a stab into the darkness, an attempt via ad images to locate the exact point in the 20th century when America reached its cultural peak.
Is a LIFE ad for Pullman coaches really indicative of what was going on in America in 1937? Isn’t that a distorted view? Yes. But a serious, tight-lipped historical account would be equally distorted. Pick your distortion.
This is not a yearning for the past. As time goes by, you gain some things, lose others. There are no answers here. Only evidence.
Once there was a mountain in the middle of Los Angeles. And no, we’re not talking about Disneyland’s Matterhorn, which isn’t in L.A. anyway. Most movie studios, in their backlots or in movie ranches in the San Fernando Valley or in environs close to L.A., had a Western town. It was simply part of the time. […]
Built in Disneyland in 1957 as a joint project between Disneyland, Monsanto, and MIT, the House of the Future was constructed of 16 identical plastic shells that were fabricated off-site and then shipped to the building site for assembly. The home was meant to display technological marvels, such as the microwave oven and speaker phone, […]
Anybody who is under a certain age will not remember how mall department stores once ruled the retail roost. Before their peak and then eventual decline in the 1980s, these massive shopping cubes, which often went by a single name moniker (Alexander’s, Dalton’s, Gottschalk’s, etc.), were the place to buy everything from clothing to books […]
Honeysuckle Lane. It sounds too good to be true, too mid-century-modern-suburban, like Desperate Housewives’ Wisteria Lane or a David Lynch dream. But it did exist in the imagination of two Southern California brother developers, two famous MCM architects, and it still does exist today. And it promised a new kind of building that would never […]
What to call these men who, in decades past, did fearsome things for a purpose and did so with utter aplomb? While dangerously close to yes men, the term yestermen works for me. He’s the man who saves the woman from falling off of Mt. Rushmore–all without taking off his tie. The polar opposite would […]
Recently, I read an Associated Press assessment of how the American suburbs are no longer “your father’s suburbs of the 1950s and 1960s” and have become educated communities with vibrant arts scenes, and where Brazilian grocers and Vietnamese nail salons reside joyfully next to one another. Civic leaders in the city of Shawnee and county […]
So what happened here. How, in the span of 19 years, did we go from this to that? The first image is from a beer ad dated October 31, 1949. The second image is from a tick spray ad dated August 9, 1968. Most people might actually be more familiar with the 1949 image. It’s […]
This 2008/9 commercial for Van de Kamp’s fish is another indicator of a cultural shift. Yes, the kid is a mouthy, disrespectful brat–kids are kids, and they have always been kids*. So that’s not the point. Point is that in this commercial we’re saying, “The kid is right!” No longer is there an authoritarian voice, […]
At some point in the mid-1960s, we start to see non-centeredness. This ad for Chevrolet “OK” Used Cars from 1968 is a prime example. The green box has been added by me. What’s at the center? Usually, the most important information is at the center of the image. But here we’ve got a bored kid […]