Cocktail Nation 363 This Is Vintage Now

On the show this weekend we talk to David Gasten who is the man behind a very cool compilation called “This Is Vintage Now”. We will find out about his latest project and what Vintage music and lifestyle means to him. We talk watches, Chet Baker and Sinatra!

Seks Bomba -do You Know The Way To San Jose
Mancini- Something For Sellers
Sad Salamanders -The Exotic Sandy Warner
Elliot Fisher-Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
101 Strings-Cha Cha Italiano
Chet Baker – Let’s Get Lost
Perry Beekman-But Not For Me
Cal Tjader-Cool
Cy Coleman-La Blues
Ellen La Fern-Watch What Happens
Diana Krall-Besame Mucho
Frank Sinatra- They Can’t Take That Away From Me


A Tale Of A Pink Flamingo

I remember the first time I saw the mighty Pink Flamingo formation. It was in front garden of my Aunt’s 1949 Art Deco Home. A spectacular home with a perfect lawn and a distinct late fifties sixties furnishing inside the house and a 1956 Ford Customline in the driveway.
The cool thing about all of this was that the year was 1988.
Not much had changed in the years that they had moved into the home in the mid fifties.
Seeing the Flamingos for the first time I didn’t quite know what their purpose was, and what was even more amazing was the fact that they were never stolen.
The next time I saw Pink Flamingos was in the backyard of a friends place who was a dedicated vintage fan. My friend Janice had what could only be described as a mighty flock of flamingo in the garden. Perhaps she had too many, but then again she was a kind of obsessive collector.

Several years later I moved to a small town called Armidale for a radio job and whilst doing my laundry in the basement of the apartment I lived in there I spotted a lone Pink Flamingo sitting on the washing machine. I took that Flamingo back upstairs and placed her in the window. I hoped to find a mate for her but that never happened.


The history of the Flamingo is interesting in that it was first designed in 1957, the fake birds are natives not of Florida but of Leominster, Massachusetts, which bills itself as the Plastics Capital of the World. At a nearby art school, sculptor Don Featherstone was hired by the plastics company Union Products, where his second assignment was to sculpt a pink flamingo. No live models presented themselves, so he unearthed a National Geographic photo spread. It took about two weeks to model both halves of the bird, brought into the third dimension by then-revolutionary injection-mold technology.

A flamingo-friendly trend was the sameness of post-World War II construction. Units in new subdivisions sometimes looked virtually identical. “You had to mark your house somehow,” Featherstone says. “A woman could pick up a flamingo at the store and come home with a piece of tropical elegance under her arm to change her humdrum house.” Also, “people just thought it was pretty,” adds Featherstone’s wife, Nancy.

Don Featherstone, creator of the pink flamingo lawn ornament, chats about his creation in his home in Fitchburg in October. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

Don Featherstone, creator of the pink flamingo lawn ornament, chats about his creation in his home in Fitchburg in October.

This week Don Featherstone, the creator of the pink flamingo lawn ornament, died. He was 79.

His wife, Nancy, said he died on Monday morning, surrounded by family. He had succumbed to Lewy body disease, which is a type of dementia, she said.

“It’s a terrible disease,” she said. “You can’t do anything about it. But he fought it. He fought it to the best of his ability. He died with dignity.”

Featherstone, a Berlin native, worked for Union Products for 43 years, designing more than 600 items for the plastic company, she said. He had studied art at the Worcester Art Museum.

Disney’s 2011 film “Gnomeo & Juliet” featured a pink lawn flamingo named “Featherstone” in his honor.

Cocktail Nation 362 James Last

We take a look at the life of James Last who recently passed away, news on a tv show that is predicted to rival that of Mad Men, plus there’s our look at the world of swank and I have some cool motorola commercials to hep you to.

Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited- The Whistler Returns
The Secret Agents-James Bond Theme
James Last -The Lonely Shepard
Sharon Marie Cline-Quiet Nights
Beegie Adair-Chicago
O Som Do Jazz-White Sails
Tikiyaki Orchestra-Mai Tais On The Moon
Orchestra Superstring- Caucasion Sketches
Jackie Gleason -Deep Purple Blue Velvet
Chet Baker -Daybreak
Diana Krall-The Night We Called It A Day
Joe Ferrara -The Big Hurt
Monty Norman -Dr No’s Fantasy
Bobby Darin -LookAt Me


The Ultimate Watch Hamilton Ventura

One thing I haven’t mentioned on the Cocktail Nation radio show is my love of watches.
To me watches, especially vintage watches are like shoes are to women.
You simply can’t have enough. My personal collection is a mixture of both vintage and contemporary watches but there is one watch which stands out from the crowd…the Hamilton Ventura.


Asymmetrical watch cases have never been really a success. Most brands have flirted with the idea at some point in history, with varied success. Only one brand was able to create a design icon out of it; Hamilton with its Ventura.
The reasons for this are multiple. When the watch was introduced in January 1957 it was the very first battery powered watch ever available for the public. The Hamilton caliber 500 was the result of more than a decade of research. The movement features a balance wheel with an integrated coil and two magnets that are placed in the movement plate.


As soon as the coil in the balance wheel is between the magnets, the contact springs are closed and a current will run through the coil. Because the current will run in the magnetic field of the magnets it will get a pulse and this way power the movement. Despite the decade of research was the caliber 500 basically not ready for mass production. Lots of them where returned back to Hamilton for service. This certainly dented the reputation of the Ventura that was embraced by the, mainly American, public as a watch of the future.
Of course, it was not only the movement that made people buy this watch. It was most certainly also the design. Responsible for its futuristic looks was Richard Arbib. This American designer had worked for General Motors, Century Boats and Harry Winston, and had a way of creating designs that seemed to embody the rapid technological breakthroughs that the world had seen after WWII. He most certainly achieved this with the Ventura.
Upon introduction, the Ventura was only available in 14K yellow gold with either a black or a silver dial. Hamilton charged US$200,- for this model, and an additional US$100,- if you wanted six diamonds as hour markers. Later on, Hamilton also introduced a 14K white gold version, but this one was not so popular since the American public ruled white gold as old fashioned….. Hamilton also exported the Ventura, but only on a very modest scale. In Europe an 18K yellow gold version was available, and South America could purchase an 18K pink gold version.
That the Ventura had star power was also underscored by many celebrities that choose the watch. Amongst them was Rod Serling, writer of The Twilight Zone, that introduced some episodes of this TV-show while wearing his Ventura. But it is of course Elvis that gave the Ventura everlasting fame when he wore it in the 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii”. The star power of the Ventura has not faded over the years. In 1997, Will Smith strapped on a Ventura re-issue in the blockbuster “Men in Black” and in 2010 featured a Ventura in an episode of the TV-show “Mad Men.

In 1963 Hamilton stopped the production of the original Ventura. The electric movement had already been labeled obsolete, mainly during the introduction in 1960 of the, technically superior, Bulova Accutron. However, the attraction of the design stayed and in 1988 a re-issue of the Ventura once again graced the catalogues of Hamilton. Apart from some little retouches was it very much the same design as Richard Arbib created in the 1950’s. The main difference was that the 1980’s model had a quartz movement and the gold case had become gold plated steel.


Today the Ventura is almost a complete collection of its own. Hamilton offers the model with a wide variety of movements (even an automatic) dials and straps, and in 2010 even released two special editions to commemorate what would have been Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday. One was the re-issue of the model as he wore in Blue Hawaii, the other was, what could best be described as, a Ventura on steroids. The Ventura design was adapted to the 21s century and bolder then ever. The watch was even more streamlined and sculpted in an oversize pvd case with inside an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. But whither you choose this model or the ones closer to the original, the common factor that all Ventura’s share is that futuristic design that even today is surprisingly refreshing.

Faux Irony and Vintage Advertising

Spend anytime on the internet and you will find lots of vintage advertising with ironic witticism tagged on the picture as the blogger marvels at the sexism of vintage advertising.

Perhaps it’s Mad Men that has led us to devour anything that seems vaguely retro but for some reason ads from the midcentury continue to be a source of amusement for those who think that they are oh so enlightened.

Those reading the vintage commercials no doubt have a right ol guffaw at the commercials and exclaim that the Sexual Revolution changed all that for the better and that they are so glad they live in the twenty first century.

The irony is that the so called “targeted marketing” could actually come from 1961, it’s simply draped in a modern veneer with a modern looking mother who clearly works in television and may have once been a model. There’s the sexy twenty something who serves beer to a bunch of football players. There’s the underage underwear models dancing about the stage, and of course the typical mother at home with children and father at work scenario that looks so vaguely familiar, but hang on, it’s different because Dad drives a Toyota to work, not a 59 Chev.


Sounds a little retrospective maybe? You bet!
The women are pitched as “empowered” when in reality they are used in exactly the same way corporations sold beer, cigarettes and cars in the mid twentieth century.

I’m sure it will only be a matter of minutes before some post y2k hipster posts the next vintage advertisement. My advice is to give them a current example of advertising so they can see how ridiculous their faux irony really is.