Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Lana Cantrell is one of those mysteries of the 60's. An over-the-top belter who could compete with the best of them. After Barbra Streisand hit in 1963, each record company had to have their belter;
A young quirky singer who would bust the tubes out of your new amplifier. Somewhere squeezed between Laine Kazan and Diahann Carroll was Lana Cantrell. Lana -- with her six RCA albums, but no hits. Lana -- one of the many reachers of fame in a entertainment world changing so fast that even the best and biggest of the stars were faltering. Lana! Was she just a little behind the times, or perhaps too far ahead?

She hailed from Australia, but as it says on the back of her "And Then There Was Lana" album "You can only go so far in Australia." Coming to America gave her 15 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, on the Kraft Music Hall, and the Red Skelton Show, tearing up the scenery with her explosive high notes and ear shattering emotional endings.

I had never heard of her until I started buying used records at Village Thrift and Salvation Army stores. Her albums had enticing titles like, "Another Shade of Lana", "The Now of Then", "Lana!", or my favorite "Act III" which has her standing on what looks like the set where Samantha would go with Endora to get away from Darren.

I'd never found one of her albums that wasn't scratched so much that they were almost unplayable; As if their former owners played them until they were finally ripped from the record player and thrown into the street. Filled with remorse, they were picked up later to be to played again and again, repeating the cycle. Such is the power of Lana.

Unfortunately, there isn't much on the web about Lana Cantrell. A sketchy bio on a website: Link here. But it just repeats things from the back of record covers; Touting again her going on tour in the 70's with the "Wizard of Oz", and avoiding the rumor that she is a lesbian (which only makes her more interesting). I did find out that Lana, now 63, is working in New York as an entertainment lawyer, and that she has done occasional cabaret gigs. Link here for the review. Come back to us our Lana. All of our divas are gone or are far to expensive to see.

If you haven't heard La Lana sing I offer these examples of her incredible booming voice. As Mike Gross of Billboard said on the back of one of her albums:

"The girl's a natural...She can take a big song and belt it to fare-thee-well... And no matter whether the song is dramatic or emotional or light and frivolous, it automatically becomes a Cantrell-convincer when she takes over."

Regardless, she's a breed of singer that was really only seen in the 60's. Compare her to the milk toast American Idol girl singers. Lana truly could take them to the carpet with one vocal cord tied behind her back.


Link for "Go". A prime Lana song. All over the emotional chart. This is the song that if I could I'd make a beautiful dress out of mother's pretty towels and lip-sync my heart out into any available broom handle.

Link for "Pleased With Myself". Turn this one up on your Ipod and walk down the street proudly as you slowly lose hearing in one of your ears.

Link for "She's Leaving Home". . No self respecting singer in the 60's had an album without at least one Beatles cover on it. Lana was no exception, but she picked one out of the ordinary.

Link for "House of the Rising Sun". She sings the shit out of this song.

Link for "What Now My Love" This song is pure Lana. All the emotions are turned all the way up. Just when you think they can't go up any higher, she turns them up a little more. "All these street are killing me" "I really have nothing!"

Per Mike Gross: "These are the sentiments of a girl who has set her sights high. And yet she is not just another young singer who is reaching for the moon. She's such a bright new star, that the moon is reaching for her."


Monday, November 27, 2006


There's not much to say about this, but that the Clark street address isn't to far from me. I should stop by to see if Mr. Benson Barrett is still making money writing paragraphs or if he's still living off of the profits from selling his writing paragraphs idea to unsuspecting women reading Woman's Household. I wish I had seen this ad before I spent all those "weary years" in college "learning to write".

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


In 1976, I read Dracula which is a book that is completely told through diary entries. It impressed me so much that at age 13 I decided it was time I marked the drama of my young life down in print. I've carried this torn up red book, that I bought at Stewart's 5 and 10 on 63rd street that summer, around with me everywhere I've lived. In fact, about ten years ago I did an auto-biographical piece using the entries and singing themes from the TV shows of the day.

A while back a friend said that he was thinking of posting his mother's diaries from the 1940s. I thought it was a great idea, so of course I stole it and decided to post my inner most thoughts from when I was in the 7th grade. Thanks Dave!

If you read these regularly you'll see that mostly this is a fascinating look at what a non-typical 13 year old with much time and few friends watched. And it's interesting to me to see what I was thinking back in the good old 1970s. I'll post comments when appropriate. So... if you are so inclined I give you my second blog. Here's the link: One Year Diary - Circa 1977

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I had no idea when I started my last blog post that it would get such varied comments and reactions. (Thanks Graeme for suggesting it to boingboing.net) But I'm not really surprised. Despite it's stark depictions of the world of crafting, there truly is something comforting in the thought that at least there was an outlet for these women to connect to each other. As I've gone through several more issues, the thing that stands out is how heartfelt are the women who wrote articles, letters, or sent in photos; also how painfully, painfully human everyone is.

This was not just another craft magazine, but perhaps one of the few places that a elderly woman who spends hours painstakingly making ventriloquist dummies can proudly show off her work;
and in the same issue giving a platform allowing other women to tell about feeling mad at a friend who feeds her cats dog food, or embarrassed when they are told in front a group that they are usually unattractive. Regardless, of your feelings for the people in this magazine, one thing is clear, this was one freakin' strange publication.

So as promised here are some other finds from the musty yellowed pages of Woman's Household.

The Dishtowel Cake.
This is a bit of craft work that completely baffles me.
It's a cake made out of dish towels.
I guess to be used as an inedible addition to your Christmas dinner table.

Two of the regular features: Embarrassing Moments and Pet Peeves.
(click on articles to make them bigger)

The most disturbing photos I've ever seen. If you had a giant squash why would you take a photo of it between your neighbor's child's legs? It's wrong for so many reasons.

And so that we can all experience a taste of crafting for ourselves and add a little smile to our hum-drum day, I've included Precious Pretty your own paper playmate.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

After many years of using the Internet, I think we forget that there was a time when people didn't have many ways reaching out to people. What would we do without our bulletin boards and personal blogs to spread our random thoughts like so many seeds to the masses? One of the relics of ephemera in my collection shows how it was done forty years ago.

Some time ago at a yard sale I came across a pile of magazines called "Women's Household". At first glance they just looked like your run of the mill women's recipe and crafts magazine, but with each one I picked up I was stunned; I had never seen such despair wrapped up in so much yarn. The woman running the sale, gave them all to me for a dollar, saying "Take them all, they are just going in the garbage." I knew I'd do something with them someday, I guess this blog is it.

"Women's Household" was a monthly crafts publication which sold for 25 cents an issue. Their slogan was "Meet Other Friendly Woman Just Like You". The key phrase being 'just like you'; middle aged women isolated in small towns across America. Every month readers were encouraged to participate in the writing of the articles, such as My Pet Peeve, or Words I Live By, My Diet or just to write a poem about Christ or their cat. Subscribers were able to read fascinating articles about fellow crafters such as in the column "Her Creative Busy Hands"

In the section, 'Calling Young Homemakers', you'll meet young woman who express the frustration with their new marriage, like my husband works too much, I can't get along with his mother, or my husband lost his leg in a boiler accident.

Or you can visit with the furry companions of the readers in the column 'All About Pets',

Granted some of the features are very informative such as Glamourizing Discards, Dishcloth Pillow, or learn to make a Rattle that won't rattle.

My favorite section is Missing Persons Corner. Here people ask for help in finding a long, long lost friend or relative. Usually the description of the person is vague at best, i.e., liked to drive cars; five foot five, last seen in Pensacola Florida. The most amazing thing is that they even have a section for people found.

Equally as sad, is the column, "Write to a Shut-in". Here people write details of their or some friend's illnesses pleading with people to write them. For example: This very sweet lady is a shut-in. She has a limb off below the knee and needs encouragement; Or this man is quite poor and ill with no cure in sight, he would dearly love a card. My heart bleeds and I just have to turn the page to be cheered up by a photo of a woman who collects antique ceramic toothpick holders. I had no idea that there was such a thing, let alone that there were people that collected them. I hope that when Mrs. Stinnett passed on someone worthy got this grand collection.

Nestled among the articles and patterns for knitted cozies are deceptive ads for diets and instant face lifts in a jar.

So like the internet not much has changed.

Someday, when I'm in my dotage (in 2-3 years from now) I'll sit and scan in all these Women's Household magazines and create a website. In the meantime, quilting circle anyone?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

RIP Paul Mauriat 1925 - 2006

One of my favorite Easy Listening artists died last week, Paul Mauriat. Love is Blue could be called the Easy Listening Anthem. It was recorded by everyone, but the original Mauriat is the definitive version, with the opening phrase played on the harpsichord, reminds me of smoke filled Saturday nights with relatives over playing cards with his music being played on WLAK (The Sixth Great Lake) easy listening station. His sexy painted women album covers are classic.

Here are two versions of Love is Blue: The Ray Charles Singers (click here)and The Ray Conniff Singers (click here)


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy All-Souls Day.