1. Vintage Radio Shows
Every single classic American radio drama, comedy, news program, and variety show that can be found online is available for free. These programs provide the modern listener an intimate look into mid-twentieth century popular culture. The greatest of these programs belong to Orson Welles. The Mercury Theater on the Air and The Campbell Playhouse. Both of these shows featured hour-long adaptions of popular novels and plays (like The Man Who Was Thursday, Dinner at Eight, War of the Worlds, etc.,) and were produced by Welles (who was all of 22 at the time) in the mid-late 1930s. It’s not just the material and performances that are so compelling. The advertisements found within the shows are just as fascinating. The Campbell Playhouse, for example, was sponsored by Campbell Soups. At the beginning and middle of each show, the announcer, Ernest Chappell, would read a minute’s worth of copy touting Campbell Soup as a healthy, cost effective alternative to homemade soup. These ads were directed solely at the “woman of the house” and ushered in the beginning of America’s obsession with preserved foods.
Man, I’m boring. If you’re boring, too, and own an iPhone (the two aren’t mutually exclusive), check out the Vintage Radio app.
2. The Field Mice’s Last Show
Short introduction to The Field Mice. Archetypal twee-pop band lead by Bobby Wratten who later formed Trembling Blue Stars after his breakup from former Field Mice/Northern Picture Library bandmate Annemari Davies.
I recently found clips of the Field Mice’s last show in 1991 in London. This was big for me for two reasons. 1. I’ve only ever saw fuzzy, black and white photos of the band prior. And 2., those black and white photos didn’t prepare me for the utter beauty and majesty that is Annemari Davies. From what I understand, Bobby and Annemari were officially a couple when the Field Mice broke up a few weeks before this show. The two of them went on to form the band Northern Picture Library. At some point during or after NPL, the couple broke up leaving Bobby so completely heart broken that he created the band Trembling Blue Stars and wrote three of the most beautiful breakup records ever made. These are Her Handwriting, Lips That Taste of Tears and Broken By Whispers. After finally seeing Annemari on video I now wholly understand the extent of Bobby’s heartbreak. If I wasn’t 12 in 1991 and too busy slow dancing to Tevon Campbell songs at 7th grade dances, I would’ve been on the first plane to London.
3. The Berry Mix Smoothie at Berry Sweet on South Street in Philadelphia
There must be Advil in this smoothie because every time I drink it I feel great. Here’s an example. I was leaving for a wedding in Puerto Rico the following day and I needed a haircut. I wasn’t feeling well but my hair was bushy so I went to the Vietnamese salon next to Berry Sweet. The wait was long and I was about to forget the whole thing and attend the wedding with a messy head of hair when I figured I’d put the Berry Mix smoothie to the test. Needless to say, the smoothie straightened my tangle (got that line from the above referenced Dinner at Eight) and I went to the wedding with a fancy new, if slightly uneven hair cut.