Songs for the New Depression

 

Bette Midler’s album Songs for the New Depression was released in January 1975. Typical of its glum times was the sour humor of “Mr. Rockefeller”, about a delusional woman trying to reach the billionaire from her perch in a phone booth. Nobody’s idea of a great song, but it has a sting of truth; she’s been wiped out by the recession, says she’s broken down, not feeling so good, and is hanging on the line because she’s finally down to her last dime. For millions of people, the album’s provocative title was the bitter truth: The biggest, baddest recession since World War II left the country reeling. Few saw it coming. Inflation was out of control. Confidence in the future plunged lower than it had ever gone, even in the depths of the Great Depression. After postwar decades of so much mass prosperity that many of our “leading thinkers” had just about grown ashamed of it, the Great Invisible Guiding Hand of Capitalism gave America a merciless slap upside the head. And man, it hurt.

Only the year before, the leadership of the country united to dump the most hated Republican of his day, someone who had won great political victories only a few years before. The new president was widely derided as an ineffectual buffoon. His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude. Our luck overseas was no better. America’s seemingly endless war finally came to an end on his watch, the way we’d always dreaded it would: disastrously, humiliatingly. Images of US foreign policy failure filled every television screen in the electrified world.

I have a late 1974 paperback “coffee table” book, now a crumbling stack of pages, called “Better Times: The Indispensable Guide to Beating Hard Times.” It had some good, practical advice for people who’d never had to cut expenses. It had earnest introductions from Russell Baker, a humorist along the lines of Jean Shepard; Studs Terkel, an ancient lefty recycled as a colorful old labor union man; and Nicholas von Hoffman, one of the top liberal writers of his day, but also a nonconformist who did his own thinking. Averaged out, their advice amounted to: capitalism is entering its final stage of crisis. Stock some food and learn how to sew.

Inflation didn’t come out of nowhere. A distant regional conflict resulted in drastic increases in the price of oil. A combination of bad weather and poor planning raised the cost of food. It hadn’t happened quite this way before, but it would happen again.

Inflation had an especially devastating effect on the automobile industry. The new expression “sticker shock” conveyed a very unpleasant novelty. Conflicting new federal demands added greatly to the cost. Cars were required to be safer—which generally meant more weight; they were required to start shaping up, mileage-wise, which generally meant less weight; and by law, they had to burn fuel more cleanly, which required expensive materials like platinum. Taken individually, each of these measures was popular, but car prices were driven up inexorably.

That’s why cars began sprouting so many phony upper-class design cues, like “formal” squared-off rooflines, opera windows, fake plastic woodgrain on the instrument panel, and velour loose-pillow seats. These were cheap, tragicomic gestures towards the kind of luxury that might conceivably have justified these sharply higher new car prices.

Other than Jaws, a true phenomenon, the era’s movie hits were often cynical views of American life, like Robert Altman’s Nashville or the dystopian Rollerball. The year’s big foreign film, Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 (outside of the US, The Twentieth Century) ended in what amounted to a singing commercial for Communism.

Fact is, a few things did seem to be better back then, like our relationship with Moscow. The final flight of Apollo hardware was officially called the Apollo Soyuz Test Program. Orbital rendezvous with the Soviets, and weightless televised handshakes, coincided with the new policy of détente. Moscow distributed millions of packs of a special edition cigarette, Soyuz-Apollo, to commemorate the occasion. It was the final hurrah of the Space Race, and it would be America’s last manned space flight for nearly six years.

The New York Times was far from the only newspaper running articles on the theme “Capitalism in Crisis.” Big business, almost the definition of conservatism at the time, said we needed to cut wages, create a synthetic fuels industry, and automate basic manufacturing. But the majority intellectual view was to accept that capitalism was washed up. With the Bicentennial only a year away, the consensus was the political future would soon go to socialism in bold colors, a stronger, left-ier program of income equalization. It just had to.

Looking back now, we see other glimpses of what the future looked like from there. NBC was putting together a weekly live comedy show, which one of its creators, Dick Ebersol, would call “A post-Watergate victory party for the Woodstock generation.” That spring, Lorne Michaels and Chevy Chase met for the first time in a ticket line for the Los Angeles Film Festival. Both young men were veterans of the kind of routine, inoffensive network variety shows that they’d later mock satirically. George Carlin delivered Saturday Night Live’s first monologue, telling SNL’s first joke, about hashish.

Back to that Bette Midler album. Today, Songs for the New Depression is remembered, if at all, for a song called “Buckets of Rain,” a high-spirited duet with Bob Dylan. As memories of the Seventies started to fade, people wanted to forget the hard times. Soon they would. Few lessons were learned. Here’s my lesson:

We’ve been here before.

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  1. Internet's Hank Contributor
    Internet's Hank
    @HankRhody

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    • #1
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    I could see WIN buttons coming back in roughly the same way that Jar Jar Binks is used as an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good, so-“out”-it’s-“In” icon by postmodern teenagers and young men. Even as late as sometime in the Nineties, I remember a Chinese restaurant whose menu boasted “Inflation Fighter” combos with a picture of the old Whip Inflation Now logo.

    • #2
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Re: Wall Street’s 1975 wish list, with 25 years left to go in the twentieth century: The country did cut lower middle income wages via inflation and layoffs. The synthetic fuels push wasn’t a crazy idea, but the solutions available then and now didn’t make economic sense, so it basically ended with the ethanol boondoggle. 

    Automating basic industry only went so far. Instead, the jobs were outsourced. We didn’t automate TV assembly, we just stopped making TVs in the US anymore. 

    • #3
  4. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    • #4
  5. I am Jack's Mexican identity Coolidge
    I am Jack's Mexican identity
    @dnewlander

    Internet's Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    My grandmother had a non-ironic “WIN” button. I found it in her sewing box. Looking back, I find it interesting, because she was the only one of my grandparents who purported to have voted Democrat.

    My mother would probably tell me that “Granny only voted Republican because Baba [my grandfather] told her that he didn’t want her cancelling out his vote”.

    But by 1975 he’d been in the ground for over a year.

    She also had a matchbook, the only one of its kind that I’ve ever seen, imprinted with “Welcome aboard Air Force Two”. I have no idea how she came by them. I can’t imagine she was ever on the same plane as the Vice President. Possibly someone important came to my grandfather’s funeral and gave it to her?

    • #5
  6. I am Jack's Mexican identity Coolidge
    I am Jack's Mexican identity
    @dnewlander

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Re: Wall Street’s 1975 wish list, with 25 years left to go in the twentieth century: The country did cut lower middle income wages via inflation and layoffs. The synthetic fuels push wasn’t a crazy idea, but the solutions available then and now didn’t make economic sense, so it basically ended with the ethanol boondoggle.

    Automating basic industry only went so far. Instead, the jobs were outsourced. We didn’t automate TV assembly, we just stopped making TVs in the US anymore.

    I remember plenty of ads at that time for one of the major oil companies (Shell, possibly?) talking about Alberta oil sands and oil shale.

    At the time 60 Minutes and the like poo-pooed the ideas.

    Now Alberta makes a fortune off of both.

    • #6
  7. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Absolutely fantastic post.  Thanks. 

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Good post, Gary.

    This has been my internal rejoinder to the “America is Over” moans ever since the media declared Brandon the winner.

    • #8
  9. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Percival (View Comment):
    This has been my internal rejoinder to the “America is Over” moans ever since the media declared Brandon the winner.

    True.  However.

    Before Jimmy Carter, the Democrats had pushed leftism with LBJ & JFK, both of whom would be viewed by current Democrats as right wing ideologues.

    The Democrat party, the media, the educational industry, the administrative state, and America in general, are much, much, much further left than they were in the 1970’s.  We’re further down the road now.  It’s going to harder to go back.

    Although your point (and Gary’s point) is that we can go back.  We’ve done it before.  It can be done.  Fair enough.

    I just think it will be much more difficult this time.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    I just think it will be much more difficult this time.

    Partly because I expect that they will go back only as far as they absolutely have to for them to start seeing money coming into the government’s coffers again. This is what Russia and China have done. The only thing that motivated them to change was that the tax dollars were drying up and they themselves–the bureaucrats–were in danger of losing their own income. And they only changed a little bit, just as little as they could get away with. And kept all their political power.

    It’s also the approach the welfare states have taken in western Europe. When tax revenue streams to the government slow down, they cut services. Death ensues in their populations. But they somehow always manage to protect their own income.

    Republicans would do the world a favor if they reminded the public on a daily basis that government does not and cannot generate its own money. Only the free market produces money.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    This has been my internal rejoinder to the “America is Over” moans ever since the media declared Brandon the winner.

    True. However.

    Before Jimmy Carter, the Democrats had pushed leftism with LBJ & JFK, both of whom would be viewed by current Democrats as right wing ideologues.

    The Democrat party, the media, the educational industry, the administrative state, and America in general, are much, much, much further left than they were in the 1970’s. We’re further down the road now. It’s going to harder to go back.

    Although your point (and Gary’s point) is that we can go back. We’ve done it before. It can be done. Fair enough.

    I just think it will be much more difficult this time.

    True enough, but some of the things that they could do immediately are to give the oil companies the oil leases they are looking for and allow pipeline construction to recommence.

    That won’t affect the immediate oil supply, the climatemongers wail. True, but it will affect the futures prices and exert downward pressure on oil prices now.

    If the Administration isn’t thinking about how to lower energy costs, then they are not thinking. If Jennifer Granholm wants to giggle about energy costs, let her do it on the unemployment line.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Gary McVey: That’s why cars began sprouting so many phony upper-class design cues, like “formal” squared-off rooflines, opera windows, fake plastic woodgrain on the instrument panel, and velour loose-pillow seats. These were cheap, tragicomic gestures towards the kind of luxury that might conceivably have justified these sharply higher new car prices.

    I hadn’t thought of it that way.  Interesting. 

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    This has been my internal rejoinder to the “America is Over” moans ever since the media declared Brandon the winner.

    True. However.

    Before Jimmy Carter, the Democrats had pushed leftism with LBJ & JFK, both of whom would be viewed by current Democrats as right wing ideologues.

    The Democrat party, the media, the educational industry, the administrative state, and America in general, are much, much, much further left than they were in the 1970’s. We’re further down the road now. It’s going to harder to go back.

    Although your point (and Gary’s point) is that we can go back. We’ve done it before. It can be done. Fair enough.

    I just think it will be much more difficult this time.

    We didn’t go back.

    • #13
  14. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    I could see WIN buttons coming back in roughly the same way that Jar Jar Binks is used as an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good, so-“out”-it’s-“In” icon by postmodern teenagers and young men. Even as late as sometime in the Nineties, I remember a Chinese restaurant whose menu boasted “Inflation Fighter” combos with a picture of the old Whip Inflation Now logo.

    We wore them upside down so they said “NIM.” Not In Michigan, referring to a huge planned underground antenna for talking to submarines.

    • #14
  15. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Gary McVey: That’s why cars began sprouting so many phony upper-class design cues, like “formal” squared-off rooflines, opera windows, fake plastic woodgrain on the instrument panel, and velour loose-pillow seats.

    I wonder if many of the product planners actually spent a lot of time in those velour loose-pillow seats.  It’s been so long that I can’t recall why I hated them, I just remember that I did. I don’t remember the model of the car or who owned it, but I think it was a Buick.  Let us not forget the fake convertible roof, which remained popular with old people well into the 1990’s.

    • #15
  16. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    I could see WIN buttons coming back in roughly the same way that Jar Jar Binks is used as an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good, so-“out”-it’s-“In” icon by postmodern teenagers and young men. Even as late as sometime in the Nineties, I remember a Chinese restaurant whose menu boasted “Inflation Fighter” combos with a picture of the old Whip Inflation Now logo.

    We wore them upside down so they said “NIM.” Not In Michigan, referring to a huge planned underground antenna for talking to submarines.

    Ah yes, the Extremely Low Frequency array! It would take the scientific skills of Hank Rhody to explain to me why a means of communicating under the ocean has to be placed in the center of North America, but I’m certain there’s a good reason. “This is K-S-U-B, Kay-sub! At 2.5 on the ELF dial!”

     

    • #16
  17. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    This has been my internal rejoinder to the “America is Over” moans ever since the media declared Brandon the winner.

    True. However.

    Before Jimmy Carter, the Democrats had pushed leftism with LBJ & JFK, both of whom would be viewed by current Democrats as right wing ideologues.

    The Democrat party, the media, the educational industry, the administrative state, and America in general, are much, much, much further left than they were in the 1970’s. We’re further down the road now. It’s going to harder to go back.

    Although your point (and Gary’s point) is that we can go back. We’ve done it before. It can be done. Fair enough.

    I just think it will be much more difficult this time.

    We didn’t go back.

    It depends where you’re measuring the change from. The expectation was that future films and TV shows would be like the early Seventies, only even more so. And they tried; but the dazzling success around the chronological corner went to films like Star Wars, Rocky, Smokey and the Bandit and An Officer and a Gentlemen, all of which horrified Seventies progressives. 

    • #17
  18. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    I could see WIN buttons coming back in roughly the same way that Jar Jar Binks is used as an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good, so-“out”-it’s-“In” icon by postmodern teenagers and young men. Even as late as sometime in the Nineties, I remember a Chinese restaurant whose menu boasted “Inflation Fighter” combos with a picture of the old Whip Inflation Now logo.

    We wore them upside down so they said “NIM.” Not In Michigan, referring to a huge planned underground antenna for talking to submarines.

    Ah yes, the Extremely Low Frequency array! It would take the scientific skills of Hank Rhody to explain to me why a means of communicating under the ocean has to be placed in the center of North America, but I’m certain there’s a good reason. “This is K-S-U-B, Kay-sub! At 2.5 on the ELF dial!”

     

    Lemme guess… they’re gonna get down?

    • #18
  19. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    I could see WIN buttons coming back in roughly the same way that Jar Jar Binks is used as an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good, so-“out”-it’s-“In” icon by postmodern teenagers and young men. Even as late as sometime in the Nineties, I remember a Chinese restaurant whose menu boasted “Inflation Fighter” combos with a picture of the old Whip Inflation Now logo.

    We wore them upside down so they said “NIM.” Not In Michigan, referring to a huge planned underground antenna for talking to submarines.

    Ah yes, the Extremely Low Frequency array! It would take the scientific skills of Hank Rhody to explain to me why a means of communicating under the ocean has to be placed in the center of North America, but I’m certain there’s a good reason. “This is K-S-U-B, Kay-sub! At 2.5 on the ELF dial!”

     

    Lemme guess… they’re gonna get down?

    In the spirit of the times, “Do a little dance…make a little love…Get down tonight! Wooo! Get down tonight!”

    • #19
  20. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    I could see WIN buttons coming back in roughly the same way that Jar Jar Binks is used as an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good, so-“out”-it’s-“In” icon by postmodern teenagers and young men. Even as late as sometime in the Nineties, I remember a Chinese restaurant whose menu boasted “Inflation Fighter” combos with a picture of the old Whip Inflation Now logo.

    We wore them upside down so they said “NIM.” Not In Michigan, referring to a huge planned underground antenna for talking to submarines.

    Ah yes, the Extremely Low Frequency array! It would take the scientific skills of Hank Rhody to explain to me why a means of communicating under the ocean has to be placed in the center of North America, but I’m certain there’s a good reason. “This is K-S-U-B, Kay-sub! At 2.5 on the ELF dial!”

     

    Ah yes, as many said, “The only good ELF is a dead ELF.”

    I believe that the reason for putting it in the UP had something to do with the conductivity of the soil.

    • #20
  21. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: His attempts to beat inflation by handing out Whip Inflation Now buttons became an instant joke, and helped make him a lasting punchline of ineptitude.

    eBay is willing to sell me a lot of eight of ’em for ten bucks. I’ll be honest, I’m tempted. White lettering on a red background, it seems like relevant political speech in this era where we need to win more.

    I could see WIN buttons coming back in roughly the same way that Jar Jar Binks is used as an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good, so-“out”-it’s-“In” icon by postmodern teenagers and young men. Even as late as sometime in the Nineties, I remember a Chinese restaurant whose menu boasted “Inflation Fighter” combos with a picture of the old Whip Inflation Now logo.

    We wore them upside down so they said “NIM.” Not In Michigan, referring to a huge planned underground antenna for talking to submarines.

    Ah yes, the Extremely Low Frequency array! It would take the scientific skills of Hank Rhody to explain to me why a means of communicating under the ocean has to be placed in the center of North America, but I’m certain there’s a good reason. “This is K-S-U-B, Kay-sub! At 2.5 on the ELF dial!”

     

    Ah yes, as many said, “The only good ELF is a dead ELF.”

    I believe that the reason for putting it in the UP had something to do with the conductivity of the soil.

    I think it had to do with using the bedrock to transmit the waves.

    • #21
  22. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Changes in FCC law made it possible, for the first time, to own your own telephone. The phone companies didn’t like it, of course, and were equally annoyed that you no longer needed permission to hook up your own phone answering machine, which weren’t in homes until then, the Seventies. It’s forgotten now, but they wiped out a minor business niche: in-person telephone answering services, which you see in occasional old films and TV shows (like Richard Diamond). Private detectives, actors, and Perry Mason all checked their messages by calling a number and having a photogenic girl read them over the phone. 

    Automatic Teller Machines also date from this period. They were supposed to save wages by minimizing the number of human bank tellers. 

    Supermarket scanners sped up checkout without increasing the number of checkout clerks. 

    These were all in the works for years, but the savage recession of the 70s accelerated their implementation. 

    • #22
  23. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    After all, if you were Richard Diamond, who would you rather receive your messages from? A PhoneMate 300? Or Mary Tyler Moore?

    • #23
  24. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: That’s why cars began sprouting so many phony upper-class design cues, like “formal” squared-off rooflines, opera windows, fake plastic woodgrain on the instrument panel, and velour loose-pillow seats.

    I wonder if many of the product planners actually spent a lot of time in those velour loose-pillow seats. It’s been so long that I can’t recall why I hated them, I just remember that I did. I don’t remember the model of the car or who owned it, but I think it was a Buick. Let us not forget the fake convertible roof, which remained popular with old people well into the 1990’s.

    A good catch; the vinyl roof that faked a fancy convertible (Iron rule of car collecting: “when the top goes down, the price goes up”.)

    Of course, one of the most distinctive specialty car styles of the mid-Seventies was loaded with design cues that honored/mocked prestige and “class”; cars with external headlights, landau irons, Duesenberg style exhausts, an externally carried spare tire, a Rolls-type center grille–cars like this one:

    • #24
  25. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: That’s why cars began sprouting so many phony upper-class design cues, like “formal” squared-off rooflines, opera windows, fake plastic woodgrain on the instrument panel, and velour loose-pillow seats.

    I wonder if many of the product planners actually spent a lot of time in those velour loose-pillow seats. It’s been so long that I can’t recall why I hated them, I just remember that I did. I don’t remember the model of the car or who owned it, but I think it was a Buick. Let us not forget the fake convertible roof, which remained popular with old people well into the 1990’s.

    A good catch; the vinyl roof that faked a fancy convertible (Iron rule of car collecting: “when the top goes down, the price goes up”.)

    Of course, one of the most distinctive specialty car styles of the mid-Seventies was loaded with design cues that honored/mocked prestige and “class”; cars with external headlights, landau irons, Duesenberg style exhausts, an externally carried spare tire, a Rolls-type center grille–cars like this one:

    There’s an idea for a whole future post: Worst car customization trends.  To be followed up by: Worst pickup customization trends.

    • #25
  26. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Other signs of the times: Plain wrap, or generics. Stores had always had house brands, but plain wrap went farther than that. All of a sudden, it seemed like every supermarket in America carried a line of no-name, no-promotion products with a blue stripe, labeled like something out of the USSR:

    “Bread”. “Franks”. “Cereal”. 

    As what seemed like a parody of plain wrap, when Renault returned to the American market in the mid-Seventies, their new subcompact had a stripe across it labeled “Le Car”. 

     

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: That’s why cars began sprouting so many phony upper-class design cues, like “formal” squared-off rooflines, opera windows, fake plastic woodgrain on the instrument panel, and velour loose-pillow seats.

    I wonder if many of the product planners actually spent a lot of time in those velour loose-pillow seats. It’s been so long that I can’t recall why I hated them, I just remember that I did. I don’t remember the model of the car or who owned it, but I think it was a Buick. Let us not forget the fake convertible roof, which remained popular with old people well into the 1990’s.

    A good catch; the vinyl roof that faked a fancy convertible (Iron rule of car collecting: “when the top goes down, the price goes up”.)

    Of course, one of the most distinctive specialty car styles of the mid-Seventies was loaded with design cues that honored/mocked prestige and “class”; cars with external headlights, landau irons, Duesenberg style exhausts, an externally carried spare tire, a Rolls-type center grille–cars like this one:

    There’s an idea for a whole future post: Worst car customization trends. To be followed up by: Worst pickup customization trends.

    You don’t like the Doozy exhaust?

    (This is going to hijack Gary’s thread, isn’t it?)

    • #27
  28. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Percival (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: That’s why cars began sprouting so many phony upper-class design cues, like “formal” squared-off rooflines, opera windows, fake plastic woodgrain on the instrument panel, and velour loose-pillow seats.

    I wonder if many of the product planners actually spent a lot of time in those velour loose-pillow seats. It’s been so long that I can’t recall why I hated them, I just remember that I did. I don’t remember the model of the car or who owned it, but I think it was a Buick. Let us not forget the fake convertible roof, which remained popular with old people well into the 1990’s.

    A good catch; the vinyl roof that faked a fancy convertible (Iron rule of car collecting: “when the top goes down, the price goes up”.)

    Of course, one of the most distinctive specialty car styles of the mid-Seventies was loaded with design cues that honored/mocked prestige and “class”; cars with external headlights, landau irons, Duesenberg style exhausts, an externally carried spare tire, a Rolls-type center grille–cars like this one:

    There’s an idea for a whole future post: Worst car customization trends. To be followed up by: Worst pickup customization trends.

    You don’t like the Doozy exhaust?

    (This is going to hijack Gary’s thread, isn’t it?)

    It looked better on the Doozy. Or on a Mercedes SSK.

    I remember a black comedian joke, “You don’t have to tell me times are hard! Why, the other day I saw a pimp in a Volkswagen.” (The internet claims it was Richard Pryor; I doubt it. It doesn’t sound a like a Pryor joke.) But the joke took form in real life. For a year or so, there was a humorous fad of customizing VW bugs with a fake, fiberglass Rolls-Royce grille.

    • #28
  29. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    This has been my internal rejoinder to the “America is Over” moans ever since the media declared Brandon the winner.

    True. However.

    Before Jimmy Carter, the Democrats had pushed leftism with LBJ & JFK, both of whom would be viewed by current Democrats as right wing ideologues.

    The Democrat party, the media, the educational industry, the administrative state, and America in general, are much, much, much further left than they were in the 1970’s. We’re further down the road now. It’s going to harder to go back.

    Although your point (and Gary’s point) is that we can go back. We’ve done it before. It can be done. Fair enough.

    I just think it will be much more difficult this time.

    We didn’t go back.

    It depends where you’re measuring the change from. The expectation was that future films and TV shows would be like the early Seventies, only even more so. And they tried; but the dazzling success around the chronological corner went to films like Star Wars, Rocky, Smokey and the Bandit and An Officer and a Gentlemen, all of which horrified Seventies progressives.

    Gary, you write fantastic modern history.  I suppose that one good thing about living here in Appalachia is that we’ve been in a depression for so long that we don’t worry about another one happening.

    However, there have been songs relating to where we live and what we believe for a long time now; think Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Toby Keith, etc.  The latest song to come out that will “horrify progressives” has come from John Rich:

    https://youtu.be/6_SwF168mps

     

    • #29
  30. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Jive Ostrich

    • #30
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