Friday, December 23, 2011

Chrtistmas Then and Now. And Then Again.

In Antebellum Hollywood -- that is, back in those gracious, genteel days before the War on Christmas -- the city fathers would really tart the place up.  Illuminated trees were impaled on every lamp post, garlands of tinsel were strung across the street, dripping with stars and snowflakes and mug shots of Santa, like huge and garish charm bracelets, and quaint wooden street signs would officially, if temporarily, change the name of Hollywood Boulevard to "Santa Claus Lane."  Here's a taste of what the place looked like during the Christmas season of 1948:
And the reverse angle from 1950:
Recently, the makers of a movie called Gangster Squad dressed up Hollywood Boulevard in its vintage holiday finery for the first time in half a century.  So pardon me while I throw a little stardust in your eyes...
As you can see, they've recreated the street light tannenbaums and the garlands.  The glass cases outside the Chinese Theater contain lobby cards for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Red River, so this sequence is probably set in 1949, when John Wayne went through a phase, not unlike Picasso's Blue Period, in which he would only star in films named after primary colors.
Across the street is a green screen a half block long.  In the 40s and 50s this was the site of such iconic Hollywood night spots as the Seven Seas nightclub, so it will be interesting to see what the CGI artists put in place of the Hooters and the Baja Fresh.
The recreated trees in front of Grauman's were highly detailed, down to those old fashioned, egg-shaped light bulbs.  But opposite the theater...
...they only built half-trees.  I hope I haven't spoiled the illusion for you, and that nobody is having a fit like Sidney Greenstreet at the end of The Maltese Falcon, clawing at their computer screen and wheezing, "Fake!  It's fake!"
Eventually, they brought out the picture cars, which were driven up and down the block by Teamsters in full period regalia, including fedoras.  Which raises a question that -- as a Golden Age film aficionado -- has always puzzled me:  why the hell did men wear their hats while driving?  I mean, it's not like they were going to get sun stroke in the car.  Was it a rule of the road, like the seatbelt law, or were they all like Indiana Jones, duct-taping the thing to their forehead every morning before leaving the house?
A Sunbeam Bread truck and an old Pacific Electric Red Car.
We'll leave you now with this image, courtesy of the Art Department, which reminds us that occasionally, while working the graveyard shift, the Dream Factory turns out a Nightmare.

Programming Note:  Our Annual Holiday Special features a particularly egregious movie this year, so check back in on Christmas Day and share the hate.


Bill S said...

Love the pictures!
About the hat thing: my guess is they were just so used to wearing them outdoors they simply forgot to take them off once they got in the car.

Chris Vosburg said...

Men wore hats for the same reason that women wore little white gloves. Because, that's why.

To go out in the street hatless, well, you might as well go out in your pajamas and bathrobe, for heaven's sake.

My Dad kept a closet shelf of hats, but quit wearing them when the other fellas made fun of him for what was regarded in the early sixties in Los Angeles as "more of an east coast thing."

Hats got smaller (check out Frank Sinatra or Telly Savales in their snazzy trilbys) and threatened to disappear altogether, but in a revolting development returned as baseball caps, the silliest looking headgear ever devised, especially when worn backward. Or sideways. Ridiculous.

Some guys never gave up their fedoras, though (I'm looking at you, Karl Malden!).

Thanks for the pics, Scott, both new and old. Wow, a PE Red Car!

heydave said...

Hats are stylin' that's why.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Ya can't expect good driving from a fellow who doesn't wear a hat!

Sharon said...

Men and women wore hats when they left the house. Men took off their hats indoors; a car is not indoors.

Women wore hats outdoors and in except in one's own house. Then you took the hat off.

Kathy said...

I'm guessing men wore their hats in the car because if they took it off and placed it on the seat, someone might sit on it. OR they might forget to put it back on. OR they were all going bald.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

I want that Sunbeam truck!!!!!!

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

And, though I've had to sell-off almost everything that I've ever collected, including movies, vinyl & CDs, I've still got my ink bottles/ink wells, Art Deco pitchers (shamefully undervalued by rat-bastids @ Antiques Roadshow!) & GORRRRGEOUS hats from the '30s, '40s & '50s from my Nannie, her sisters Kate (EEEEEVILLLL crazy-as-fuck bitch!) and Thelma (the original hillbilly hell-raising suffragette flapper-girl B.Y.O.B. troublemaker with a teamster's laugh! She may not have been gorgeous, but she sure as hell left an IMPRESSION!), as well as a surprising amount of donations from The Other Grandmother when Teh Dick put her into an "adult living complex." Unfortunately, most of their heads were too damned small for anything but for me to display, but there's a coupla FAAAAABULOUS black and/or brown numbers that fit me JUSSST FIIIIINE.

(Go ahead, envy. I enjoy it. And yes, they'll be cremated with me, so nope, no point in bumping me off for a couple dozen gorgeous Art Deco, pillbox & caplet wonders!)

And I still have no idea what became of MY fedora, from my freshman & sophomore years @ PartyU/Ellessyewwww, either. Yeah, I got it in the men's department @ JCPenney, but it looked DAMNED GOOD ON ME, especially with that kick-ass heavy-duty vintage pea coat that I had.

One of the more difficult things about living with my Nannie... any clothes that I loved and she didn't... would "disappear" en route to the dry cleaner's or the laundry room, despite my incessantly begging her to let ME do MY laundry... *sigh* There was an open-weave black cotton sweater that I'll never find again, the type that you wore over a tank top or other t-shirt, but she never ONCE believed me that THAT'S how I wore it when I left the house!!!

As I was 300 lbs. at the time, who on EARTH would've expected me to frolic around SANS UNDERSHIRT, nothin' but a black bra, more rolls than the Michelin Man, and that open-weave sweater!?!??! And no, chubby-chasers don't count. They never do. Still miss that 100%-cotton sweater AND my fedora AND over $200/worth of current & vintage movie posters that Nannie assumed, since they were ON THE FLOOR when I went to NOLA to see friends for the weekend, that THAT meant that my TEN YEARS' WORTH OF COLLECTING was BOUND FOR THE GARBAGE CAN.

(truncated again!)

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...


I shit y'all not. And she killed my "Tapeheads" and "White Palace" posters FIRST!

OTHER THAN THAT, THE WOMAN WAS A FUCKING *SAINT,* but she weren't infallible. Baptist, after all.

Too bad that nobody let me at Uncle Watson's porkpie & Homburg (Humburg?) hats... they were ADORABLE! Dunno if they'd have fit my big ol' punkin' head, but I would've LOVED the chance to play with them!

If "Antiques Roadshow" hadn't ruined yard sales, antiques auctions (no, not the expensive frou-frou bastards, the secretive ones out in the sticks, where you can either find priceless treasures or get gimp-raped over a barrel when selling your OWN stuff!), flea markets, multi-family block sales, the whole schmear, I'd STILL be buying broken costume jewelry, retro clothes and gorgeous hats FOR A PITTANCE!

I love PBS, but I'll never forgive that damned show. Evvvverybody thinks that THEIR shit is PRICELESS, and they think that they can price THEIR cheap crap by the off-the-cuff "estimations" on TOTALLY DIFFERENT MERCHANDISE on "A.R."!!! Can't even find a good replacement Godzilla doll, since MINE has been held hostage in LawnGuyland for FOURTEEN FUCKING YEARS!!!!!!

Sorry to prattle on so much, but retro/antique/period/vintage costumery/clothing/hats/jewelry/etc. conversations just get the old juices of a competitive yard-sale hawk up & running again, and, sadly, not running in ANY productive direction a'tall... But I'd still happily give one of my perimenopausally-deflated tits to break into the costume shop @ UNO where I used to work (LSU has more money, but UNO has better queens!) and ROB THEM BITCHES BLIND, ESPECIALLY FOR THE TASSELS AND HATS!!!

Chris Vosburg said...

Coupla last adds on hats:

Ah, the fedora. If you'll look closely at James Cagney movies, you'll notice that the diminutive Jimmy has a higher crown on his fedora than everybody else; sort of seeking the effect of elevator heels from the other end.

I don't know that it's ever been explicitly said, but I think it's clear the merciless artists of the Warner Brothers Animation Division had Cagney in mind when they gave midget gangster "Rocky" such a ridiculously tall hat for comedic effect.

Poor Cagney's problems with the animation division didn't end there: in the Animaniacs retrospective, we discovered that Yakko and Wakko Warner pantsed a by that time thoroughly terrified Jimmy Cagney on the lot one day, which was the final straw leading to the studio's decision to lock them up in the Warner Brothers Water Tower.

You could look it up.

Second, I should note that the Trilby is making a comeback, big time, at least among our urban yutes.

Chris Vosburg said...

By the way, Sharon nailed mid-twentieth century hat etiquette, and she's right: the rules were different for male and female (right, when weren't they?).

Etiquette, well [shaking head], it is what it is, and has no excuse or reason, it just is. Thanks for that, Sharon.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Ohhhh, the Animaniacs!!!!! "...we're zaaanyy to the max!" The last, heroic dying gasp of Warner Brothers, after they'd already screwed Prince and were not long before TOTALLY fucking a GREAT metal band out of existence, Ice-T's "BODY COUNT"!

Oh, the fun we had in the dorm with the Animaniacs, it was almost like vespers hour, the dorm got suspiciously quiet, except for occasional squeals from the especially-stoned...

And don't you miss those "star-studded" WB cartoons from the '40s, when they'd caricature the biggest heart-throbs and ingenues of the day, especially Clark Gable's ears, all somehow contained in the Brown Derby at ONE TIME... even better were their "Hollywood Canteen" numbers --- not many, but memorable all on their own.

Of course, my all-time favorites were, I'm pretty sure, Tex Avery's delightfully-twisted visions of "the future," as in, "Farm Of The Future," "Cars Of The Future," "Homes Of The Future," etc. Much like the "Max Headroom" series, they inadvertently INVENTED many things that would later come to pass, like TURN SIGNALS ON CARS!!! Of course, it was a not-even-vaguely-hidden sexist swat at "female drivers," but damn if it didn't eventually come true!

I did feel sorry for those poor chickens, though... but then, compared to ConAgra-type factory farms NOWADAYS, those cartoon chickens had it GOOD...

Y'know what I never DID figure out, though? WHAT in the FUCK **WERE** Yakko, Wakko & Dot?!?!?! I've been told "puppies," or anthropomorphized "generic critters," a genetic experiment that combined Wyle E. Coyote ("Professional Geeen-ee-use") and Marvin The Martian... was there ever a definitive answer to that question, and if so, how did I miss it?

(keeping in mind that NOBODY in the dorm EVER liked ME enough to EVER share THEIR shrooms with MY ass... *sigh* Great babysitters for my first acid trip, but after that, I was on my own...)

"What are we gonna do today, Brain?"

"Same thing that we do EVERY day, Pinkie. TRY TO TAKE OVER THE *WORLD*!!"

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

motherfucking HTML tags, I did it ALL properly, gawdlessdammit!!!!!!

Soooo many things that this atheist needs for xmas, like the four front teef that I lost to this cheap-plastic partial motherfucker, or a tune-up for the truck, new tires, a bra that will STILL fit my sadly-depleted tits, weekly massage appointments with a gloriously-sculpted former-gymnast and maybe even heterosexual masseur... the last part isn't a deal-breaker, but dammit, they're just so fucking RARE, approaching ENDANGERED SPECIES status, and even those CLAIMING to be 100% hetero eventually let the dime drop that their "college experimentation" was actually their PREFERENCE, and no, sadly, none of the 3 were even REAL masseurs, though they *could* make quite the living with the specific and effective techniques & skills that *I* fucking TAUGHT THEM!!!

but just once, JUST fucking ONCE, I would be SHICKLED TITLESS to get my blathering prose to be PUNCTUATED AND EMPHASIZED AS I HAD ACTUALLY ***WRITTEN*** IT!!!!!!

D. Sidhe said...

Hey, gang. Haven't been around much, new meds, but wanted to wish you all happy holidays and Merry Christmas, belated Yule, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Hanukkah, and midwinter joy with your friends and family.

Love ya all.

Chris Vosburg said...

Annti wonders: Y'know what I never DID figure out, though? WHAT in the FUCK **WERE** Yakko, Wakko & Dot?!?!?!

The answer was provided, [laughing] well sort of, by the Warner siblings in a musical number from the early first season, titled, appropriately enough, "What Are We?"

After several verses describing what they might be-- but ultimately aren't-- the sibs sum up, singing to Dr Scratchnsniff, their pee-sychiatrist:

We're not bees and we're not cats
Or bugs or horses or things like that.
What we are is clear and absolute!
What we are, dear doctor...

Is cute!


I'm sorry I asked.

An even more puzzling question for me is this: Why isn't the Animaniacs show being run in syndication on any of cable's cartoon networks? In fact, I just realized it's been over ten years since it last appeared (on Nick, I think). Why, why, why?

Keith said...

Hello, World O' Crappers. Wishing everyone all the best this holiday.

Have no clue as to why men's hats went south. But it was certainly in the 1950s or so. Maybe the Brylcreem and other greasy kid stuff made hats difficult to clean and maintain. Hair styles changed, that's for sure.

Chris Vosburg said...

In the meantime, Annti, we'll have to be content with the bits and pieces available online, and here's a classic: The blooper sketch in which Dot repeatedly fluffs a line to the increasing amusement-- and snark-- of the merciless Warner brothers. Oh man, Tress MacNeille's voice work (especially the flood of pseudo-obscenities near the end) is just amazing in this one.

Scott said...

Woo hoo! D.Sidhe in the house! Welcome back, we've missed you.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

I cannot thank you enough, Vosburg, for that priceless nibblet of joy. Truly adorable, if not outright daring, joy. And yes, Tress is the shit and then some, and hopefully will remain so, even after teh Simpsons have been relegated to the dustbin of history, if that EVER happens.

Most of all, regarding happy-making electrons being organized into information, YAY, D.'S BACK!!! We have MISSED YOU!!!

Anything to do with some pre-prescient knowledge of Scott's tormenting treatment of "Jack Frost" in re: zombies, by any chance? Hey, it's not a perfect world, but I work with the material I am given. And anything that brings you back into our World O'Crap has to, ultimately, be viewed as "A Good Thing" ((C)-fucking Martha!) !!!!!!

XOXOXO to you both, now that this disgusting orgy of commercialism (and all of the WAY-THE-FUCK-BELOW-RETAIL sales that I'll be missing, as per the usual, thanks to teh usual poverty) is almost, finally, OVER!!!

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Somebody PLEASE explain to me WHY, even when I stopped with the six exclamation points in a fucking row thing, WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHYYYYYYYYY the HTML seems to have a terrier's obsession with FUCKING-UP MY EVERY SINGLE COMMENT, EXPRESSION AND EMPHASIS?!?!?!?!

(D., all of the stuff about being happy to see you again was supposed to be bold, and some in ITALICS, dammit!!!)

Chris Vosburg said...

Glad you liked it, Annti, and here's another for you: the awesome Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering? compilation that some tireless Pinky and The Brain fan put together. Where are we gonna find a duck and a hose at this hour, Brain?

Incidentally, re your html problem: note presence of "Preview" button next to "Publish Your Comment" button, handy for identifying and tidying up unclosed or improperly opened html tags.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Yes, Vosburg, I saw the "Pondering" compilation immediately after viewing your recommendation, thankyewvellymuch.

BUT: that whole "Preview" remark is enough to have you encased in ice & snow for the rest of winter, with only your big ol' punkin' head sticking out of the frosty Iron Maiden, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, i.e. the snot-covered snowballs of any given neighborhood's most-inbred, water-headed-fucktard, mouth-breathing demonic spawn.

And no, residing in California will not protect you from my vengeance, son --- you'll never see it coming, you will never known when or where, but you will DEFINITELY know why, as your frozen carcass is off-loaded from an unidentified cargo plane with a very small parachute. Somewhere near Darth Cheney's nouveau-riche-white-trash neighborhood in Wyoming, where he can track your descent from his basement bunker.

Scott said...

as your frozen carcass is off-loaded from an unidentified cargo plane with a very small parachute

Knowing Chris, he'll probably be secretly delighted that he's receiving the same travel arrangements as The Blob.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Did you have to bring Karl Rove into this?!?!?

Chris Vosburg said...

Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold.

--Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen), in response to a relieved Lieutenant Dave's comment that "at least we got it stopped."

As the polar ice cap slowly melts in the present day, I'm compelled to point out that we have An Inconvenient Blob in our future.

And if Annti gets her wish, an Inconvenient ChrisV as well.


Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Oh dear. Keep sending postcards from yer home planet, honey, until I'm cogent enough to grok 'em...

M. Bouffant said...

The 1960 Parade.

Chris Vosburg said...

...that whole "Preview" remark is enough to have you encased in ice & snow for the rest of winter, with only your big ol' punkin' head sticking out of the frosty Iron Maiden, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, i.e. the snot-covered snowballs of any given neighborhood's most-inbred, water-headed-fucktard, mouth-breathing demonic spawn.

[laughing] You're welcome!

Sorry, I couldn't resist playing Yakko to your Dot, darlin'.

If my The Blob movie ref is a little obscure, again: sorry. the line I quoted is the final line of dialog in the movie, delivered by McQueen after it is discovered that The Blob is rendered inert and harmless by extreme cold, and the Army has scooped the poop, er, I mean The Blob up and hauled it off to the north pole. Why they bothered to use a parachute, I'll never know, but anyway, The End.

Steve's final line has come to be deeply ironic in light of our current global warming concerns, but on the plus side, Florida oughta be the first to disappear under a rising ocean, being at most, what, thirty foot or so above sea level.

So fare thee well, America's Wang, where America apparently decided long ago to keep all of its obnoxious telemarketing entrepreneurs and peddlars of goofy-ass (not sold in stores!) mail-order crap marketed through late-night TV commercials; fare thee well, and good riddance. I feel better already.

And lastly, "KEEP WATCHING THE POLES!" is a riff on the warning delivered by a breathless news reporter in the last scene of "The Thing From Another World" ("KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES!").

So, are we clear?

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Would you believe me if I told you that "The Blob" is already in my NetFlix queue, before this conversation got started?

But I had no idea that McQueen was in it --- Teh F.U. is STILL in heat over that blonde boy. What kills me, modern-day wise, is how his own DAUGHTER, Janice, can't mention HER OWN FATHER'S NAME, or refer to him at ALL in this third-generation version of her class-action suite commercial; after the first one ran, YOINK! Gone! No picture of pop, no name. Seond version, her mom's name, "my parents" + lung cancer as the reference, and then, two days later, YOINK! again, THE CHILD IS VERBALLY ORPHANED (well, I *say* "child," she's at least 8 years older than me), she can't mention Mama, Daddy, or ANYBODY IN HER FAMILY HAVING HAD LUNG CANCER (I guess that the suit doesn't cover the mining dust that was already IN her daddy's lungs before he became a sex symbol!)!!!!!!

Well, after that whole "disinheritance" bullshit, I guess that I hope that Janice gets SOME kind of compensation for being jerked around and then told that she can't CLAIM HER OWN PARENTS in a commercial about a LUNG CANCER CLASS-ACTION SUIT. 'Cause, y'know, losing her daddy so young, that was just... um... er... "natural causes," right?

Sorry to go downer on your loverly expansion, V-man, I'm just stuck in a bummer loop since the weekend before the commercial orgy known as xmas, or as I like to say, annti-xmas. Didn't sell one thin DIME'S worth of prezzies for girls and boys alike, from girly-girly to gothy-gothy to retro-cool-as-hell to '80s-comeback specials that have alwayas been around, if not in the light of day. The weekend BEFORE XMAS, and ain't nobody spending a DIME, not even to properly tip the loverly bartenders! Cheap-ass tourists are bad enough, but when the LOCALS ain't tippin', that's BULLSHIT.

Above the entrance & exit of every bar, as well as over the bar/servind area itself should a sign read:

*If you can't afford to *TIP*, then YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO **DRINK**!!!!!!

Yes, most grown folks know this, but the nearly-yuppie-scum frat boys NEVER SEEM TO WANT TO FUCKING LEARN!!!

I guess that THIS is why they enjoy those PADDLINGS from their "brothers" so much, eh?

(Cont'd AGAIN!)

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

(Cont'd AGAIN)

And yes, we are clear, but keep in mind, whilst wishing ill to THE best-preserved Art Deco architecture on this CONTINENT, you are also cursing NOLA at the same breath... we're still six-plus feet below sea level and SINKING, m'love. That's what we get for greedy mofos & the U.S.Army Corps Of Engineers hauling in dirt & clay from all over the state and expecting the swamp that they rolled it into to NEVER MOVE, to never sink, and to ALWAYS drain properly. Um. DOY.

So when throwin' out that weather mojo, baby, remember how easy it was for Rumkfeld, Rove and both Bush-shits to cackle as they watched my people drowning in their own homes and in the wide-open streets with four feet of water in them: "Wellll, *THERE'S* your *SOLUTION* to the 'Public Housing Problem'!!!"

End quote, Karl motherfucking closet-case, male-hooker-wrangler extraordinaire Rove, September 1st, 2005.

And before I attempt to try YET AGAIN to sleep this morning before P/T (pool was out on Tuesday, so I am JACKED THE FUCK UP without my physical therapy!), one other query, as I'm too damned tired & lazy to look it up again: Didn't our magnetic poles just SWAP not too long ago? And with the ice caps melting (aided, I feel sure, by the TONS of oil-rig debris, litter & outright TOXIC WASTE left behind to sink THROUGH the S. Pole tundra and who gives a fuck, right?), doesn't that mean that our GEOGRAPHIC poles, bofus uv 'em, are going to start shifting, too? As the earth is still slowing down and will be for millenia, will our little "muffin top" bulge around the equator shuffle back on up to Buffalo, or roll under the top of our collective fishnet pantyhose farther south?