Histoire De MELODY’S ECHO CHAMBER

This piece was originally published September 23rd, 2013.

Melody's Echo Chamber IconApproximately one year ago, The Mystery Box Mobile Touring Cavalcade was in Boston at the Paradise Rock Club to once again see our favorite Danish duo, The Raveonettes.

Opening act for the guaranteed great time that is The Raveonettes, which features the incredible talents of Sune Rose Wagner and his partner Sharin Foo, was a band listed with the equally cool and intriguing moniker, Melody’s Echo Chamber.

We had no idea who they were or what they would sound like.

 

A poster from The Raveonettes / Melody’s Echo Chamber Tour

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ALL IN A LATHER: The Ritual Of Straight Razor Shaving Revealed!

This piece was originally published September 13th, 2013. Shaving IconIt’s something I choose to do everyday, and yet, it is also something that everyday fills me with reluctance, dread and contempt — shaving my face.

There once was a time of youth where I could not wait for the day I could imitate my father who, his entire life spent beardless, would repeat his daily and seemingly magical ritual using strange instruments and groovy concoctions.

Tools and mixtures that belonged to a craft that had also been fueled by years of seeing the practice worked in popular culture, from Bugs Bunny to The Three StoogesThe Flintstones to I Love Lucy, my pop culture references on shaving were long and deeply ingrained.

For me, the fine art of shaving would at one time seem as desirous as that scene in Mario Bava’s Danger Diabolik, where the anti-hero Diabolik swims around atop his bed with his girlfriend in a pool of cash.

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A memorable scene from Danger Diabolik, somehow worked into this piece on shaving.

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Sadly, the reality of years of shaving have never been so sweet, happy, nor fun. In fact, it has been one of the daily chores of my life that has led me to seek out ways to get a better, less painful and more efficient shave.

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The author as a young shaver. Continue reading, please click here…

Celebrating ESP-DISK’ : 50 Years of Unimaginable Sounds – Imagined

This piece was originally published August 26th, 2013.

Sun Ra 1 IconIn 1963 a record label began on the 12th floor of 156 Fifth Avenue in New York City by releasing its first LP.

Bernard Stollman, a 34 year old jazz fan with a law background, had been working with some rhythm and blues and jazz musicians, helping them with copyright and contract issues.

 

Bernard Stollman and one of his early ESP logos.

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Stollman had also learned the “International Auxiliary Language,” Esperanto and recorded an album of songs and poetry all spoken in Esperanto, which he had hoped would further promote the language.

Titled, Ni Kantu en Esperanto, Stollman decided to self-release his album on a record label that was named after the language itself, ESP-DISK’.

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KNOCK IT OFF! a.k.a. The Wonderful World of Unlicensed Toys

This piece was originally published August 12th, 2013.

tumblr_mzta9fviFZ1qm348ao1_400For years I have been obsessed with knock off, unlicensed merchandise—famous brands, or characters, that are designed and sold with a seemingly complete disregard for anything, other than to cash in on something that has been proved to be a commercial success.

Or, as they are technically termed, Counterfeit Consumer Goods.

While the spectrum of pirated or unlicensed items can reach far into the areas of cigarettes, wine, fashion (fake Coach handbags), electronics (fake iPads) and all types of entertainment media (like that pile of DVD’s on the table at a flea market which has films just released to the theater!) it is for toys that I have a particular fondness. When you research counterfeit food and cigarettes, believe me, it gets scary.

Given any chance, I will happily scoop one up should I see a bogus toy for sale somewhere. Seeking out phony Godzillas has always been a dream knock-off toy for me, and I have collected some good ones of the great monster over the years.

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Knock-off Godzilla, sans fins, is still pretty cool.

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With many of these toys, attention to details are usually thrown out the window, as is any semblance of keeping the individual universes separate. Long before crossovers in comic book storylines, fake toys were mixing it up in gigantic, head-scratching way.

Here then, are some of the goofier finds that you, dear reader, can seek out and add to your collection.
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Happy Birthday to the LAVA LAMP: Fifty Years of Cool Wax!

This piece was originally published July 15th, 2013.

Lava Lamp IconIn the mid-Fifties, a former WWII pilot and post-war British accountant named Edward Craven Walker was at a local English country pub called Queen’s Head along with a friend, and found himself staring at a homemade egg timer made by one of the pub’s regulars.

This particular object, which Walker described as a “contraption made out of a cocktail shaker, old tins and things” dated from WWII, and was filled with two immiscible liquids (liquids that do not mix together).

As the contents, “odd oily globules” were heated upon the pub’s stove, the wax rose and signaled that your egg was ready.

Inspired, he purchased the egg timer/lamp and worked for a decade and a half tinkering with various liquids and containers in an attempt to create a better version. He achieved his goal in 1963.

Walker filed a patent for a “Display Device” in 1965 and but had already started merchandising his creation in September of 1963 as a company called Crestworth Ltd. using the name Astro Lamp.

 

Edward Craven Walker

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THE FINE ART OF FIRECRACKERS

This piece was originally published July 1st, 2013.

Uncle Sam IconGrowing up in the Mystery Box-land that is Providence, RI, it has always been a special treat to await the festivities that are annually celebrated on one larger than life day here in the United States, Independence Day.

The Fourth of July.

I grew up near a beach, so in actuality it was the eve of the Fourth, on the night of the Third of July that was the real party, with everyone making bonfires along the beach, and lighting more illegal fireworks than could be imagined.

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Nothing goes better with fireworks than liquor and bonfires on a beach

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The actual day of the Fourth was always reserved more for cookouts, seafood boils, parades and hangovers, with fireworks generally relegated to the larger displays by the local municipalities or baseball stadiums, and whatever scant few firecrackers were still unlit from the night before by the plebeians were casually used—making for an occasional pop and crack here and there throughout the day and night.

Fireworks in RI and MA were illegal. You needed to have someone run a trip up to New Hampshire and fill the trunk of their car, a flatbed, or the back of their truck with enough to satisfy families, friends and seemingly, entire neighborhoods. I can’t recall anyone ever being arrested for using fireworks, as it seemed that unless you really put folks in harm’s way, the local law enforcement looked the other way and enjoyed the spectacle like everyone else. Oh, and did I forget to mention that we had a family friend who was a policeman, and he usually supplied us with loads of firework every year.

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Get your illegal fireworks here! Continue reading, please click here…

BOB PEAK: American Illustrator Superstar

This piece was originally published June 1&th, 2013

Bob Peak Icon TemplateThere are times here at Mystery Box H.Q. when I set out to write about a subject that I feel is so undeniably a legend, so incredibly talented beyond mere words, and such a large influential part of the fabric of popular culture, that I start to feel…to say it in two words— humbly intimidated.

Bob Peak is one of those subjects.

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SURF ROCK GOES “TOO FAR” WITH THE RETURN OF SUSAN SURFTONE

This piece was originally published June 3rd, 2013.

Susan Surftone Too Far Icon TemplateAh, it’s almost Summertime again my friends.

Nothing goes better in these warm, delightful days of the Sun, than a few road trip adventures motoring off to a little seaside vista accompanied by some wild and woolly instrumental surf rock.

Simply put, well played surf rock never goes out of style.

Like many fans of the surf rock genre, I have never actually surfed, but since I was a child, the early Beach Boys records made an indelible impression. Like many other “Kooks,” I too have been catching that mythical wave and mentally “getting barreled” for years.

More recently, I have been digging a superb practitioner of this music, Susan Surftone. She is easily one of the best boss gals to ever sling a guitar and create her own wonderful surf rock sounds.

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THE MUSEUM OF BAD ART

This piece was originally published May 20th, 2013.

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“An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.”

— Andy Warhol

 

“Most people in America think Art is a man’s name.”

— Andy Warhol

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You’ve heard of Night Gallery? The Rod Serling television series that was his brilliant follow up to The Twilight Zone and featured a gallery of horrific and nightmarish paintings tied into each episodes’ plot that still resound with an eerie intensity with viewers decades after the show’s original airing.

Well this is more a case of welcome to a world of art that one might say is best viewed with the lights out at night…

 

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John Currin’s 1991 painting Bea Arthur Naked recently sold for 1.9 million dollars at Christie’s auction house.

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Remembering SEAN HARTTER: Awesome Across The Universe(s)

This piece was originally published May 6th, 2013.

SH Post TemplateI still find this difficult to believe and am writing this piece while still in a state of grief and sadness.

On Friday April 27th, 2013 without warning, the world lost illustrator/comic book artist Sean Hartter at the early age of 39.

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