Thursday, July 19, 2007


So I'll be on honeymoon for the next month or so, but I wanted to share something with you all. In the back of a tiny, shabby thrift I saw an old tennis racket. Looked like it was from the 1950s or older, with one of those old fashion wooden clamps on it to keep it from warping. I seen tons of these, so nothing special.

But upon closer inspection I saw this odd logo. And I thought is that flying fasces? Symbol of Mussolini's Black Shirts?

Okay, so I know it's an old symbol, that goes back to Roman times, and just happened to be on the back of out dimes before they put on the torch or liberty and FDR

But as I rolled the racket over, I saw the racket's name: The Dictator.

Which is kind of bizarre, right? I mean, wouldn't that kind of like be calling a pair of running shoes today the Suicide Bombers or the Al Qaeda Terrorists?

I'm not sure of how old this racket is, but I'd guess it's pre-WWII. The racket looks pretty old (yo can see some of th string rotten away in the first pic). Would anyone in the late 40s or 50s, who lived through the recent horrors of the war buy a tennis racket that glorified fascism? Probably not.

So let's say the racket is from the mid-1930s. That makes sense, stylistically. Check out this very fascist eagle that's on exterior of Santa Barbara's downtown post office, circa 1936.

Even the bas-relief murals on the inside post office have that stylish totalitarian, glorification-of-the-worker-drone optimism about them.

Certainly this style was part of the art deco aesthetic, I get that. And by the way, that last mural with Indians attacking the pioneers highlights the racially insensitive and pretty un-PC nature of the day. But to name the racket after a militaristic crank despot? Hindsight is 20-20, but was the sales department at Wilson's so blind to the naked ambitions of Hitler and Mussolini and the host of other dictators in the 1930s that this moniker seemed innocent?

And dictators weren't even that great at sports. Assuming this racket was made after 1936, then Wilson couldn't escape the dismal showing of the "master race" when the Olympics were held in Berlin.

To me, it just goes to show depths a company will stoop to sell you a product. Witness this 1980s supermarket meat poster obvious lifted from a Nazi propaganda poster.

I couldn't really find any info on the web about Wilson's Dictator, but if someone knows more I'd sure like to here it.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Here's some more pictures of clutter, cluttering up my hard drive, from the most random bookshelves on the planet.

This is the greatest book I've never read. It has it all: cults, people in cat masks, pseudo-Egyptian imagery, initiation rights, a worried guy with a muzzle, and a trite, cryptic title. In my mind, reading this would probably just spoil it. So I won't.

"Chapter 12: What To Do When Your Rottweiler Bites Your Nose Off."

Seriously, was every other part of the devil taken? Even the hackiest-hack could come up with a better title. How about Satan's Pinky or Lucifer's Uvula? I mean elbow doesn't exactly strike fear in anyone's heart, no matter who it belongs to. What does he do, run around jabbing people in the gut? And the Olympic rings on the cover don't help. Then again, Devil's Elbow sounds like an vast improvement over his previous work, This is Adam, etc.

What's more hilarious than dead bodies and coffins and embalming fluid and graves and crematoriums? Just about everything. Know what's missing from this title? An exclamation mark.

I've seen some hilarious high school and college yearbooks. I love this one and Rob Reiner's LSD sunburn. This is from a medical college, so you can just imagine what the students were smoking and ingesting in 1971.

Yearbooks are great for names (my favorite: Rhomance Mayman) and hairdos. See the gag picture, yet?

Oh, Helga Vyhmeister (there's a mouthful) either you're a world class wit, you had killer acne that day, or you were related to Cousin Itt.

Well, I gotta go. Fonzie just dropped in. Again. Uninvited. Wanting to party. Snapping his fingers. It was cool in the 70s, you know the Happy Days. But now it's just so freakin' Potsie-like.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I like a thrift store in somewhat gentrified neighborhoods. They generally have more character, better stuff, reasonable prices, and often cool neighbors.

Case in point is the old Vogue Theater in Oxnard, California. Right down the street from a small but decent Goodwill, the Vogue no longer operates (it's an indoor swap-meet/ mini grocer's market), but looks brand new with this slick paint job and it's gorgeous art-deco lines. in fact, i thought I wen through a time warp when I saw how new it looked. But the illusion was quickly shattered by the eyesore of a mega-mall within sight down the block.

I'll have to stick around some night to see if they turn on the neon.

Okay, I kind of went nuts with camera, but can you blame me? There's some other interesting mid-century architecture in Oxnard that's in front of the wrecking ball (to make way for another G-D mall). I'll post on those later.