A Better, Wider Memory

An especially attentive Frans Wildenhain Blog reader with a memory more robust than my own, reminded me about another (ancient and pre-digital) form of music sampling after reading last week’s Blog.

Brooks Records, you’ll recall, had an in-house DJ spinning new 45s over a PA system as a way to entice purchase by teenage loiterers in Plainfield, NJ. I characterized this as an early form of music sampling.

After a six-hour drive to meet me for other purposes, the reader helpfully reported his memory of private music listening booths at his favorite record store.

Closet-like in size and with a two-pane glass door, these individual listening booths – sometimes equipped with headsets and volume control to better speed the deafness many apparently sought – afforded potential buyers and retail deadbeats alike the opportunity to “try out” the sounds.

And that got me thinking about other, similar arcade amusements and novelties involving media.

Most will recall the photo booth. With a taupe-colored curtain for a door, the booth accommodated two sitters comfortably, six if necessary. For a quarter, one would get a strip of four images; sitters could quickly change poses between exposures so that each delightful view would be memorialized on the photo strip to enchant friends and relatives alike.

Recently, a series of 445 photo booth portraits of the same man and made between 1930 and 1960 was reported in the antiques trade pubs and is summarized by the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/17/franklyn-swantek-identified-445-photo-booth-portraits_n_5503203.html

How about audio recording booths? Remember those? The same quarter allowed the speaker-singer-raconteur to lay down 60 seconds or so of memorable, melodious, ear stimulating vocals. Moments after completing one’s performance, a small vinyl disc would pop out of the machine, ready for your record player.

Of course, you don’t have to drive six hours to offer feedback, addenda and errata, about the FW Blog. (And, as noted, this was not the reader’s purpose.) Instead, present your comments on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frans-Wildenhain-Creative-Commercial-American-Ceramics-at-Mid-century/125443280894663

Doing so avoids the hassle and frustration of writing directly to the Frans Wildenhain Blog and trying to defeat the Blog’s spam filters that are set up to deter the 1,500 messages received daily (and I am not making this number up).

Write on!