I was going through my files at the end of last week, looking for a LeRoi Jones article from the hipster little magazine Kulchur, when I found this advertisement for The Evergreen Review, another hipster little mag.
The accoutrements of the square — Glen Miller, Edna Ferber, Walter Keane, a complete run of National Geographic — are particularly choice. What would the modern-day equivalents be? Also interesting is the detail of the price of coffeehouse coffee. According to the inflation calculator, 75 cents in 1965 is worth $4.88 in 2007 dollars. The modern-day gripe about how a cup of coffee is too damn expensive turns out not to be so modern after all.
I love how reading Everygreen Review becomes like one of those "build muscle for fifteen minutes everyday — the Charles Atlas way!" self-improvement regimes, only with culture. What this demonstrates is what Thomas Frank shows us in The Conquest of Cool — the modern style of advertising (funny, self-deprecatory, low-key, wise to the minutiae of pop culture) was not a "co-optation" of hip culture, but one of its principal creations. Compare the style of this ad with another 1965 ad for the Chrysler Imperial. (Nice car!) Note the bombastic appeal to the highest of high technology and the finest of fine materials:
The claro Walnut used within an Imperial is found only in Northwestern United States, and Eastern Kashmir.
Flitches [huh?] of the walnut (thin slices to be used as inlays) [oh] are examined for color, consistency, and directional grain.
Out of every 52 1/2 pounds of harvested fine-grain claro walnut, only eight ounces are fit for the Imperial.
The 52 1/2 pounds was a nice touch. It's science! And I also like the idea that extravagant waste is a necessary part of making such a fine automobile. ("We then shoot the remaining 52 pounds of claro walnut into high earth orbit, where it will remain for 4426 years, finally being immolated as plunges back to earth, its fiery trajectory through the starry firmament a fitting memorial to the Imperial's custom styling.") The advertising pitch based on the rare and exotic qualities of the materials ("Northwestern United States, and Eastern Kashmir") is reminiscent of Smoove B's game:
For dessert, we will eat sorbet from France. To procure this sorbet, I will take a plane to France and inspect all of the finest ice-cream merchants that I can locate, and I will purchase only the sorbet that passes my very strict standard of quality. It must be firm and flavorful, yet melt in your mouth. I will fly back to you with the sorbet, and I will feed it to you on a spoon of the finest silver construction, polished for days on end. I will slave with rags and polishing cleansers in agony just for one moment of your pleasure.
Speaking of the 1960s (how's that for a transition?) I should mention that I'm doing a talk this Friday at the music library on the auditory imagination of the 1960s radical left. This announcement is of course for the benefit of Bloomingtonians, though if you wish to procure the very finest of ideas, presented in lecture form with no expense spared, in a classroom equipped with the latest in smart-screen technology as well as a CD player, then you will surely board the most luxurious of private jets and make you way here from the farthest reaches of the world, from the burning deserts to the frozen wastes, including such places as the Atacama Desert and the Ross Ice Shelf. Let Smoove give you a lecture that will transport you to the wildest heights of learning. Damn.