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What a carefree world it once was, when you could lay the flailing baby in a basinet placed unsecured in the back of the family station wagon and ensure its complete and total highway turnpike safety simple by making the right tire choice (click it for the bigger picture):

Saturday Review, July 29, 1961

So my cousin Margaret is coming out to visit my mom later this month and to prepare I helped my mom clear out some boxes of stuff she’s been storing in the unused spare bedroom of her apartment. One such box happened to contain, a veritable treasure trove… at least to me.

Consisting of issues of Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Look, Life and other magazines from the 1920s through the 1970s, the box holds an amazing array of periodicals (remarkably well-preserved) that my late stepfather William R. Cox collected — topped off with issues from the Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times from none other than November 22, and 23, 1963, respectively.

In the days since I’ve leafed through issues at random, totally blown away by the documents that I was holding in my hands. And while many of the events and stories chronicled are familiar from an historical perspective, what’s really been drawing my eye are the advertisements, awesome works of art and many of which I’d never seen before.

As a sample I’ve taken rough snapshots of six gorgeous full-pagers appearing in the August 21, 1994 1944 issue of Life, galleried below (click the thumbnails to supersize the images):

I’m seriously thinking of opening up a new blog devoted strictly to posting and sharing these incredible ads.

Back in November on Blogging.la, I posted about a fancy new fully cinematic and futuristic Air Force “It’s Not Science Fiction” commercial I saw on TV that utilized a decidedly disaster-struck  6th Street Viaduct (over a CGI’d full LA River below) upon which a dramatic rescue operation takes place. I paused the TV to get the following still of the wreckage-strewn bridge:

A search upon the internest for an embeddable version of the ad was fruitless — at least until I saw the ad again a couple days ago and so reminded I did another search that was fruitful. Here’s the full spot in its incredible scifitastic entirety (I particularly love the monster medevac jet coming straight over an enhanced downtown LA skyline and coming in for a landing directly upon the derelict span), but I’d highly recommend going to its YouTube page and experiencing it in all its full-screen HD glory.

Ironically, given the projected 70% failure rate of the decaying bridge in the next natural disaster, the footage showing the bridge collapsing is the one bit of reality in an otherwise fantastic fantasy.

During one of the many football games I watched this weekend, a Chik Fil-A commercial came on and I immediately recognized several downtown locations where it was filmed — including this process-shot two-fer at the end that I paused and snapped (click to enlarge):

See, this scene doesn’t actually exist in nature. The fire station central in the foreground (long defunct and privately owned, the last time I biked by it was empty and for sale) is west-facing and located on Santa Fe just south of 7th Street, which means that the sky behind it is entirely empty, not filled with civic center high rises from which rogue cows can drape illegal supergraphics… in large part because low buildings and the Los Angeles River pretty much occupy the space where those buildings have been placed (though the inclusion of the US Bank Tower’s reflection is a nice touch).

Don’t believe me? Google Maps Streetview doesn’t lie:

Earlier this week, our bike-friendly mayor helped unveil a new public awareness campaign a few months in the making long before Villaraigosa suddenly found it fit to champion bicycling as a viable commute form. The end-result of the campaign is a poster to be installed in a couple hundred locations throughout the city urging motorists to put a minimum of three feet between their vehicles and any cyclists they pass on the street. The screengrab above from LA Streetsblog shows a photo that documents one of the first of the signs found actually installed out there in the gridscape.

Sure looks pretty, doesn’t it?

But there’s one problem, and it’s a facepalm doozy in the form of good intentions badly executed. Of the three sides available on the triangular display, the poster’s been placed in the side that leaves it entirely invisible to motorists, the very people for whom its effective message of safety is meant.

“But Will,” you might think of asking, “couldn’t it be that the other two sides show the same poster?”

While that would be nice and ideal, as I understand it that’s not the case. The other two street-facing sides of the display offer different ads.

“But Will,” you then might think of asking, “surely this isn’t the case with e-v-e-r-y installation of the poster?”

I certainly hope not, but I’ve read in the comments to that post on LA Streetsblog that others have been found mounted in three-sided displays with the same street-blind placement.

Yesterday, a new newspaper hit the streets of Los Angeles for the first time in the form of blogdowntownWeekly. This is important to me not just because I will always be a fan of ink and paper — especially in this age of contraction in which I absolutely  love to see new incarnations of the format born — but more directly because it was started by my friends Eric and Kathy Richardson as a physical companion to their long-running and popular blogdowntown blog.

And frankly while I’ve known a bunch of publishers of the various magazines and newspapers that I’ve worked on throughout my career, I haven’t known anyone who started a newspaper from the ground up before, let alone been acquainted with them on anything beyond a business level. Certainly I’ve never gone bike riding with them like I have had occasion to do with Eric and Kathy.

So in thinking about that unique distinction and connection, I decided I had to do something more than just rah-rah the first issue’s arrival here in my blog. I had to go physical with my cheerleading and be an actual supportive part of that first edition. So I put my money where my mouthpiece is and did something that in itself was a first for me: I bought an ad — a small one that looks a little something like this*:

The picture is one I snapped of Kathy and Eric and other cyclists in the background during the inaugural “Ten Bridges” ride I put together waaaaay back in 2007. It’s not the best image owing to us all being in motion on our bikes at dusk, but what it lacks in clarity it makes up for symbolically to me in that they’re both captured side by side coming westward along the historic 6th Street Bridge toward downtown. Toward the place that would define their future. And now that future is here.

Maybe I’m working to hard to contrive a connection between the photo and their new endeavor, but the sentiment I express is sincere.

* I haven’t had a chance to get downtown yet and grab me an actual copy so I’m not sure how the ad looks in real life, but that’s what my questionable graphic design skills hath wrought.

This ad has been popping up on various websites I visit. If you’re not familiar with “Rich Dad” Robert Kiyosaki he’s a rags-to-riches self-empowerment guru who’s built an empire through books, seminars and such, preaching about how knowledge is the key to success — and there’s nothing wrong with that truth.

Trouble is I wish whoever was in charge of this particular ad had the knowledge to recognize that the unsuccessful juxtaposition of a blithely smiling Kiyosaki sitting next to his proud doomsaying boasts about devastating economic events past and to come (pitched, of course, to draw people to his “free”workshops, so he can profit off them as they learn his “secrets” for how to “profit” off such tragedies) conjures up a vision of him not as someone inspiring trust, but rather as something of shill grinning his way through the gates of hell who can see suckers much more clearly than he can see the future.

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