Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide-Day Six: Retro Cool

Day Six of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide offers up five suggestions for “Retro Cool” gift ideas, which range from stocking-stuffer cheap to major-appliance pricey.  These gifts are for those folks on your holiday shopping list who, perhaps, wish to glance back to the middle of the previous century to appreciate the style, culture and counter-culture of a an earlier era.

Victrola 50’s Retro Bluetooth Record Player & Multimedia Center
Available from Amazon, starting at $75.50.

Vinyl is back and in order to listen to LPs you, you need a turntable. This perfectly serviceable turntable looks freaking awesome, like a giant radio ripped out of a Tri-Five Chevy or something. On top of that, it’s loaded with features.

First off, it’s more than just a record player. Don’t let the 50s retro looks fool you. This giant chunk of coolness is loaded with modern features: The turntable plays & records your Vinyl to MP3 (Mac/PC software & USB cable included); It has a CD player; AM/FM radio; Bluetooth; Aux & headphone jack; plus stereo speakers.

It’s all-in-one unit, with no need for external receivers or speakers. Get it up and running in minutes. Retro looks combined with the convenience of modern technology make this record player a great value – ideal for beginners & vintage enthusiasts alike

It features a volume and FM tuner knob, input select (function) button and a complete set of buttons for the CD player. The screen comes on in blue LED light, buttons have a nice feel to them, and the whole look is trendy 50s

Right now it’s available in four colors, but the prices seem to change daily, except for the black one. It’s cool, it looks like it just landed here from the 1950s and it’ll let you play all that vinyl you’ve been buying lately.

The Pulp Tarot by Todd Alcott
Available from the artist, via Etsy, for $24.95

A deck of Tarot Cards, depicted in Todd Alcott’s irresistable pop culture mashup style is a bit of a no-brainer. This deck of mystical fortune-telling cards looks amazing, and even if you are a Tarot skeptic, you have to admit this stylish deck of cards is drool-worthy.

Alcott, himself, tells us about it, “This project has been a very long time aborning. I’ve been interested in the Tarot as both an oracle and as a piece of design for decades. Back in the 1980s, I started to design a new deck, painting huge new images based on the artistic trends of the day. Soon, the enormity of the task overwhelmed me and I abandoned it. More recently, my visual art has been centered around creating new work based on midcentury designs, incorporating and manipulating existing images from 20th-century pop culture with an emphasis on the startling, dynamic paintings of classic pulp fiction covers. The Pulp Tarot expands upon that work, taking 70 years of pop-culture ephemera and putting it into a Photoshop Cuisinart to create a new Tarot deck that approaches the classic images of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck from the point of view of this modern cultural blender.”

Inspiration for the cards is drawn from everything from late 19th-century dime novels to 1970s exploitation movie posters, creating a rich, complex conversation between the arcane symbols of the Tarot and the sensationalist world of the pulps. This is a COMPLETE DECK, all 78 cards, plus a booklet describing my choices and process.

Mad For Kicks
A Tokey Wedge Swinger
by Jack Lynn
published by Grizzly Pulp

This is Grizzly Pulp #2, the long-awaited follow-up to Nympho Lodge, which I reviewed in PopCult last year. It’s another classic pulp adventure starring Tokey Wedge.

Tokey Wedge was the star of about 20 cheap pulp novels that were originally published back in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Cranked out by proflic “Men’s Adventure” writer Max van derVeer under his “Jack Lynn” psuedonym, these were originally put out by Novel Books of Chicago and they are now being resurrected by the folks at Grizzly Pulp, featuring terrific new covers by Jim Silke, just in time to warp the minds of a new generation of readers. As with their first release, the book comes with a tasteful dust cover to protect the book from prying eyes.

While filled with gritty, politically-incorrect, controversial subject matter, the books are well-crafted “crime noir.” Aside from the prologue, the book is written in the first person, as Tokey. The dialogue is crisp and clever, and the characterization of Tokey is very solid. Since we meet everyone else through his perceptions, it makes for a very consistent narrative.

Just as last time, Grizzly Pulp has done an amazing job here, recreating the look and feel of a cheap pulp novel, with thin cover stock and grayish pulp paper. The book is in the traditional cheap “pocket book” size around 4″ by 7″. Jim Silke provides another exquisite cover, which is hidden behind a plain black dust cover, so you aren’t seen reading such scandalous material in public. You can order Mad For Kicks at their website. You can also pick up the first volume in this series, Nympho Lodge.

Mad For Kicks is $9.95 plus shipping, and when the books will likely come loaded with extras like stickers, coasters and stuff that plug other pulp novel reprints. It’s a guilty pleasure, to be sure, but it’s good sleazy fun, the kind men like.

Retro Frigidaire Refrigerators
Available from a variety of retailers in a variety of sizes, for a variety of prices ranging from $120 to $800

Regular reader of PopCult probably know that your humble blogger has been on the hunt for a new refrigerator of late. While I’m not considering one of these for myself (my kitchen’s design is not really compatible) I was struck by how cool this line of retro-styled refrigerators look.

You can find these everywhere from Amazon to Lowe’s, and they come in many sizes and colors, but they all have the look of a mid-century plasticized Art Deco style to them.

Some are big enough to serve as your main fridge for a retro-kitchen. Others are small enough for an office or dorm room. Colors range from glossy back to powder blue to flaming red, with a few other options along the way. Smaller units have a handy bottle-opener on the side.

I am recommending the Frigidaire brand. Other companies make retro fridges, but I’m not hearing great things about their durability.

It might seem strange to give a refrigerator as a gift, but it shows a gargantuan level of commitment, especially if you wrap it.

From American Science and Suplus

Our final pick today, and the cheapest on our list, is a really cool-looking, retro-styled transistor radio that runs on 2 AA batteries and lets you listen to broadcast radio off the grid.

And since it’s from American Science & Surplus (“Please don’t abbreviate our name), that means that the description in their catalog and on their website is pretty entertaining by itself:

In 1958, Buddy Holly came out of radios like these. This retro version of the first transistor radios measures 4-1/4″ x 2-1/2″ x 1″ in dark blue with a wire handle that doubles as an antenna. AM works better than the FM, but who listened to FM in 1958? Plenty loud (guaranteed to not fade away) with classic thumb-wheel tuning and volume. You add a pair of “AAA” batteries. To make things even more like 1958, carry the radio in your shirt pocket.

It’s a perfect stocking stuffer for the music-lover in your life who isn’t online all the time.

Tomorrow The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide will stick with our retro theme as we bring you five retro board game gift ideas!

1 Comment

  1. Thomas H. Wheeler

    Okay, I’m seriously loving that turntable, and the radio. The fridge is cool, too. We had a Frigidaire when I was a kid.

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