Ads from Slash Magazine

by Derrick Bostrom


History has come to view the early Los Angeles punk scene as a group of enthusiastic closeted drug addicts living in squalor, partying all night, dodging the Hillside Strangler and waiting for the influx of suburban kids to come in and take over. But back then, I was a true believer -- even though I never experienced the original scene firsthand. The Meat Puppets wouldn't play their first shows in LA until late 1980, so I had to make due with the records and the fanzines until then.

I was particularly hooked on Slash magazine. If Slash featured a band in its pages, I was an immediate fan. If they extolled a record in the review section, I bought it without hesitation. Slash introduced me to reggae. Editor Claude "Kickboy Face" Bessy even deemed one of my submissions cool enough for publication. I studied at Kickboy's feet.

I suppose in most respects, Slash was typical of its day. Its prose was uncompromising,  florid and self-important. It reported its half-dozen or so favorite local bands in excruciating detail. What made Slash stand out from the pack was its design sensibility. Borrowing from tabloids like Wet and Interview, Slash was commercial without sacrificing street credibility. Its high ad count only bolstered the aura of legitimacy. In fact, if you were to read the ads alone, you might think that the punk rock movement was a rising and significant musical force. Funny what effective marketing can make you believe.

Slash folded in 1980. Years later, I sold everything I owned to maintain the requisite unemployment of a struggling artist. This included my complete collection of Slash magazine. But now, thanks to Ryan Richardson at circulationzero.com, I can revisit this vital piece of my past. I encourage everyone to check Ryan's site, and if you like what he's doing, donate to one of the charities on his list. In the meantime, here's a small sampling of some the ads I loved so much in my youth.


Floppies

by Derrick Bostrom


Our first computer didn't have a floppy drive. We backed up our TRS-80 to a cheap portable Radio Shack cassette recorder. I would sit for hours, my face buried in the manual, learning how to program in basic. But my enthusiasm ended on the day I sat down to load my previous twelve hour session from the cassette into memory, only to encounter an unrecoverable error. Soon afterward, my brother traded it for a Colecovison. The next PC that fell into hands needed a floppy drive to boot. It was some sort of command line "word processor" that displayed orange text on a black screen and came with a small dot matrix printer. I presume it was a cast-off from my step-father's office. It had enough storage for three pages of text; I'd have to print that out and delete my work before I could continue.

I bought my first Mac in 1994 with money saved up from a summer's worth of tour per-diems. My neighbor was selling his IIci in order to upgrade to a Quadra. For a thousand bucks, I got the complete system, plus a printer, a bunch of software and some other miscellaneous peripherals. He even threw in a desk. The computer came with the usual "awesome" specs: a whopping 40 megabyte hard drive and four megs of RAM. I stayed up for a week trying to figure it all out.

I forwent most of the games, which were largely incomprehensible to me. I spent most of my time exploring the CompuServe and the FirstClass BBS dial-up communities. Soon I had drawers and drawers of floppies, all filled with downloaded crap: apps, chat transcriptions, scans, ASCI art, system sounds, and the rest of the mid-90s detritus. Managing all this media was hellish. Eventually, I burned it all to a CD-ROM and tossed the original floppies. Very little of this stuff is readable any more. 

Naturally, the pack rat in me also insisted I scan the art before I throw them out. And of course, they gotta end up here, all fifty-plus of 'em, all lovingly, painstakingly edited and processed. I guess I got my thousand bucks worth.


Classic Point-Of-Purchase Design

by Derrick Bostrom


"Point-of-purchase materials are those created specifically to engage the consumer at the point of sale. Point-of-purchase is an advertising method in itself. It has its own means of expression, its own restrictions, and an unlimited potential for growth and expression. "The expansion of self-service stores and the resulting change in consumer buying habits have contributed to the development of point-of-purchase materials. Their importance have increased with the growth of retailing and the needs of mass marketing. More often than not, unplanned buying decisions are made in the store, and the effective display of merchandise is the deciding factor in the consumer's choice.

"It is in the retail store, away from the mass media, that the consumer and advertiser confront each other -- the advertiser with product, the consumer with money. The results are immediately discernible."

-- Harvey Offenhartz, "Point-Of-Purchase Design" (1968)

Click on each photo for more information:

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson

Tang

Tuffy

Kent

Pepsi

Portacolor

Sandtex

Snowcem

Micrin

Quaker Oats

Schaefer

Schaefer

Brand's

Esso

Polaroid

Polaroid

Polaroid


American Airlines Astrosphere

by Derrick Bostrom


One hundred million Americans have never flown, have never been inside an airplane, are not aware of the advantages and pleasures of flying. American Airlines has developed an exhibit, called the Astrosphere, to reach this audience where it is most accessible, at the shopping center.

Inside the Astrosphere a theater was designed to resemble the interior of an American Airlines 707 Astrojet. The seats, although set eight across as in airliners of the future, are duplicates of 707 seating. The visitors strap themselves into the seats, put on headsets, and watch a twelve-minute film about travel across America, including a pilot's eye view of both the landing and take-off. Stewardesses assist visitors. and travel literature is provided in seat pockets located in front of the passengers. This on-ground pre-conditioning of prospective passengers cannot help but stimulate their desire for air travel. Conservative American estimates fore-cast two million actual visitors to the Astrosphere and ten million people who will have seen it.

The Astrosphere is the largest dual-walled, air-inflated unit ever built. It has aproximately 6000 square feet of usable space, over half of which is used for visitor traffic flow and exhibit areas. Carried in four forty-foot vans, it can be set up in three hours. 

The interior view shows the 128-seat theater in the center of the Astrosphere.

The cutaway model shows the plan of the Astrosphere. In the area outside the theater are exhibits by American Express Company, Hertz Rent-a-Car, Holiday Inns of America, and Texaco. all showing the relationship of these companies to travel. Domestic travel is promoted in keeping with the Discover America program established by President Johnson. Flags surrounding the sphere are of the 50 states.

The American Airlines example of marketing at shopping centers to reach the consumer directly will inevitably be further developed by other companies. Shopping centers may soon become small world's fairs as marketers continue to cut the distance, be it physical or conceptual, between their product and the consumer.

-- "Point Of Purchase Design," by Harvey Offenhartz (1968)

 

American Airlines Astrosphere
American Airlines Astrosphere
American Airlines Astrosphere

Warszawa: Fot. J. Mizerski

by Derrick Bostrom


At first glance, I thought these postcards might be German in origin, proud souvenirs sent home by an occupying army. But the scenes are too stark, too bleak. There are no triumphant soldiers posing among the ruins or harassing the remaining population. Besides, they're not in German. A search for "Fot. J. Mizerski," however, revealed that these cards are from just after the end of hostilities, before the rebuilding; before any commemorative anti-war monuments could be erected. Similar examples of Mizerski's work pop up in collectors catalogs, but I was unable to find out much about him. (Perhaps a better informed visitor can help fill in the gaps.) But just because extensive research is out of scope for this post doesn't mean we can't appreciate these images for what they are: beautiful work that any photographer would be rightly proud of. I'm afraid we can't say the same for his subject.

More about Warsaw:

City Of Ruins

Postcards of pre-war Warsaw

We razed a city to ruins. I’m sorry. Would you like more tea?

Warszawa 19-24.10.1940

Warszawa

Warszawa

Warszawa

Warszawa

Warszawa

Warszawa

Warszawa

Warszawa

Warszawa


Phoenix Punk Rock Days: Browbeat

by Derrick Bostrom


"Browbeat was, to my knowledge, the first xerox-punk fanzine in the United States. It was David and me and Greg. And Sharon Ehle too. Debbie Dub/Durham was gonna be a part of it, but I think she was out of town that spring and summer. We were totally ripping off Sniffin' Glue from England. We had copies of those in hand, probably from even their first issue, maybe. Browbeat grew out of boredom. I don't remember how many copies we printed but it was something like 200, 250, 300 — it wouldn't have been anywhere near as many as 500, and I was paying the xerox bill, 'cause I had a job. I can't imagine I had more than like $50 bucks in all of life to piss away."

"Although Phoenix was a bit behind the curve when it came to exposing a fluid punk/underground culture, it is interesting to note Bart Bull's claim that he and David Wiley from the Consumers created the world's first xerox-copied punk fanzine called Browbeat in June 1977. It's first and only issues predates L.A.'s Flipside #1 by a month or so. I am not quite sure who was featured or what was written. The Browbeat name lived on years later as the name of Wiley's local music column that appeared in the Phoenix New Times."

"There's no question that David and Greg and me created Browbeat in direct imitation/competition with Sniffin' Glue... but first, way before us and, really, more important, if only because it was first and even less anchored to any apparent existing reality, was KDIL Blues Licks."

Bonus:

BROWBEAT: A COLUMN

Gothic thrashmongers TSOL crashed into town last Saturday for a packed and rowdy summer's eve show. It's the best time of year, spring air in the bloodstream, young men anxious to lock horns, let off some steam. Aggressive music breeds aggressive behavior, yes, but why not fight the things that matter.Take on apathy, the power structure or the media for starters. Throughout the recent local past nobody — but nobody — has manipulated more attention than THE FEEDERZ. Just when their music, a cleverly crafted hodgepodge of infected styles, was reaching an international level of acceptance, commander-in-chief FRANK DISCUSSION has announced that neither the band nor the concept nor that upcoming EP exist. A final performance is being considered. Frank then plans on selling his history-laden equipment and exiling himself from music for the time being. Other members will continue with their own projects.

Last week's debut of PARIS 1942 was every bit as interesting as it promised to be, with each member turning in virtuoso performances of their extraordinary brand of rock'n'roll. Yes, rock'n'roll of the droning, hypnotic variety, oozing with life. As tired a cliche as 'rock'n'roll' is, there are those determinedly dedicated to redefining the term, two examples here in this group and openers MEAT PUPPETS. Commenting afterwards, MO TUCKER was pleased with her first live performance in over a decade although she said no one could hear anything onstage. "It was like a swirl of music," she laughed over the phone as young voices demanded her attention in the background. The group plans one or two more local shows before heading to the West Coast for a pair of dates.

Big news this week is that THE CLASH and THE ENGLISH BEAT suddenly decided to include Mesa Amphitheatre on their upcoming cross-country tour, Sunday, June 13. Stay tuned . . . Two days later another English outfit, THE ANGELIC UPSTARTS, will be paying a visit for a special Tuesday show at the Dog. These guys were one of the original skinhead hands. . . In the meantime there's still much to choose from. This Friday JFA, SOYLENT GREENE and FATAL ALLEGIANCE do the Dog and Saturday CONFLICT and MEAT PUPPETS at the same place. Sunday a holiday Merlin's appearance by VITAL SIGNS.

ALSO COMING UP: From Texas, THE BIG BOYS and THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS . . . BATTALION OF SAINTS, San Diegans of the thrash variety, June 5 at the Dog. . . DREAM SYNDICATE and pholksinger PHRANC . . . instrumental rock lunacy from AFRICA CORPS with performance artist DEVIATION SOCIAL. . . THE MINUTEMEN and THE DESCENDANTS, two of the most unusual uptempo bands . . . a definite July date for controversial SF rockers DEAD KENNEDYS.

BRIEFLY: The KILLER PUSSY record party was a stunning success complete with a tiered pink poodle cake, freshly cut bouquets and copies of the EP that is available around the Valley and selling well. Over in L.A. it's slipped into influential station KROQ-FM's regular daytime playlist. The band is currently planning some followup live dates there . . . Circus Circus in Las Vegas (where else?) set the scene for guitarist PAUL B. CUTLER and effervescent vocalist DINAH CANCER performing the proverbial marriage vows (the bride wore black?) . . .45 GRAVE begin working on a debut album this week. . . Another month for the MEAT PUPPETS LP; the work is complete, now rabid fans will just have to wait. Meanwhile, one selection will be appearing on an SST Italian compilation . . . Songbird BONNIE SOLDER has flown to California, opting sand, surf and Big City Life for up-and-coming primate rockers THE VERY IDEA OF FUCKING HITLER, who plan to continue as a trio. . . New faces: CAUSTIC WEAPONS, CONSTANT COMMENT, THE SECRET IDOLS with PIK RORTER and someone named VANYA from Finland. . . The Tucson cassette compilation "Valley Fever" is out and about, along with new tapes by JACKET WEATHER and a former member of SERFERS, whose name escapes me at the moment, all on Iconoclast Intl . . Local electronic strategist DAVID OLIPHANT has released a cassette, with some unique packaging, of various works including a sampling of DESTRUCTION. Seek it out. . . Lastly, linear avantjazzrock comrades KNEBNEGAUGE have moved to the Bay Area. Greener pastures some would say, but when was the last time they looked in their backyards?

-David Wiley (New Times Weekly, 1982)

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat

Browbeat