Monday, September 22, 2014

Hollywood House Hunting: Norma Desmond's Seaside Retreat

Between The OC, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and countless references from Angelenos about the horrors found behind the "Orange Curtain," Orange County, CA gets a bad rap for being vain, insipid, prejudice, and altogether too tan (I'm making it my ghostly-white mission to defeat that particular stereotype).  Unsure if this does anything to disprove the prevailing notion of Orange County, it must be said that the OC's beach communities were weekend getaways for Hollywood's greatest stars.  Bette Davis occupied multiple homes in Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, while the "Duke," John Wayne, took up full-time residence in Newport Beach.  One day, as we motored around San Clemente, Orange County's southernmost beach town, we decided to pop in at the seaside retreat of one of Hollywood's earliest and most-enduring celebrities, Ms. Gloria Swanson.

The weekend home of Gloria Swanson (1926) - San Clemente, CA
I guess the stars really are "just like us;" there are few things
I love more than a 1920s, Spanish-style, California bungalow.

As charming as this bungalow may be, it hardly seemed a fitting home, even as a weekend hideaway, for a star the magnitude of Gloria Swanson.  I mean, here was Queen Kelly in a house that was well, apart from everything else, rather small. 

Perhaps Gloria didn't want a big house.
After all, the purpose of beach living is living on the beach.
A seaside retreat means suiting/booting up for hours of basking
in the glow of San Clemente's perpetually sunny shore.

Maybe, I thought, the house was built to scale; it is well known that the diminutive star measured barely five-feet-tall.  Still, this house wasn't speaking to me - hearing that, Norma Desmond would have probably slapped me silly before uttering something about not needing to speak.  "We had faces!"  As a matter of fact, I was actually forced to do an about-face when we rounded the corner and I caught my first glimpse of the rest of the house.

Still modest by movie-star standards, this beautiful beach house
was definitely ready for its close-up (after closing up the garage door)!

In more than eight decades, San Clemente has changed dramatically, going from a sleepy, out-of-the-way beach town to a much, much larger, sleepy, out-of-the-way beach town.  Fortunately, precious little has changed about the appearance of old Gloria's getaway.  Set into the hillside and just a stone's throw from the crashing waves, the house looks nearly identical to the day it was built.

A vintage view of Casa Swanson

The indoor/outdoor living, the smooth white stucco, the terra cotta roof, the steps lined in Spanish tile -  they're pure California, as indivisible from the coastal character of southern Orange County as Gloria Swanson from her character, Norma Desmond (at least in our minds).  Don't you love how access to the bedrooms is achieved via a covered walkway/gallery?  Don't you long for similar views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina Island from practically every room in your house?  Don't you desperately wish you lived in Orange County?!?!!  Okay, maybe I went a bit too far with that last one... but for the ability to frolic in the foam of San Clemente's azure surf and return home to Casa Swanson in its heyday, I'd happily acquiesce to wearing shorty-shorts and obeying creepy commands like...

"Turn around, darling.  Let me dry you."
Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond with William Holden in Sunset Boulevard

Gloria Swanson's Seaside Retreat
418 Cazador Ln
San Clemente, CA


Mr. Tiny

Friday, September 19, 2014

wacky tacky Tunes: "Shooting Star" Are GO!

If there is such a thing as the complete opposite of a sci-fi geek, then that is what I am.  Far too vast for my meager brain to even begin to comprehend, I have always hated space and all of its trappings.  Beyond appreciating the beauty of one that is twinkling/little or one that is falling, I have zero interest in "treks," "wars," or anything else that might have to do with stars.  Did I ever want to become an astronaut?  Nope.  Do I believe in aliens?  I try not to think about it.  Would I venture into space should something catastrophic happen to Earth?  Honestly, I would run head first into the catastrophe and leave the light years and light sabers to those more daring.

The only time I am challenged to question my own grumpy belief system is when space and science-fiction are infused with subjects much closer to my heart: 1960s pop music, celebrity cameos, and puppet portraiture!  After our entries into the world of puppetry, both peanut and paper bag, it is clear that wacky tacky is not only a participant, but a patron of the puppet arts; unfortunately, our puppetry efforts were preemptively put to shame by the creative geniuses at Thunderbirds.  In an extraordinary scene (see: rocket ship guitars, Jetson-esque bubble-top cars, exploding planets) from the feature film, Thunderbirds are GO, British pop star, Cliff Richard, and his band, The Shadows, make an unforgettable musical cameo appearance.

"Shooting Star" - Cliff Richard & The Shadows from Thunderbirds Are GO (1966)

Much like the final frontier that is space, the lyrics of "Shooting Star" are vaguely threatening and make very little sense to me.  But even in zero-gravity, this song, co-penned by the vocalist, has got a good beat and you can dance to it!

"Sometimes I feel you are cheating me.
Then you kiss me and my mind is free.
But then I think I should let you know
That I've got friends. So baby, listen to me.

A shooting star will shoot you
And Mars will got to war.
The Man in the Moon will jump on you
If you don't love me no more.

I saw you in someone else's car.
You told me that he won't go too far.
That may be so, but you let him know
That I've got friends.  So baby, listen to me.


You tell me that I'm the man for you.
But you do things you should never do.
So now, hear this warning once again;
Yes, I've got friends. So baby, listen to me.


If you don't stop making me lose face,
I will have you put up there in space.
So, just do what I'm a-tellin' you,
'Cause I've got friends; baby listen to me."

Introduced in the clip as "the biggest star in the universe," it seems like there has to have been some small-print disclaimer that flashed across the screen, clarifying that the use of the word "universe" was used in specific reference to the flying, British space ranger, puppet universe.  Nevertheless, Cliff Richard has enjoyed a decades-long career in the UK, including a 1987 appearance on The Dame Edna Experience and a 1995 knighthood.  Should you somehow exist in a world without knowledge of Sir Cliff Richard's star power, here is one of his biggest hits, "Move It."

"Move It" - Cliff Richard & The Shadows (1960)

Instead of a country obsessed with winning the "Space Race," I'm thinking that I really should've been raised in earthbound Britain; I'm pretty sure their entire space program was the Thunderbirds.  A country that immortalizes its celebrities in marionette form, sounds like good people to me.

In an undeniable example of puppets who look like people who look
like puppets, we see Cliff Richard examining his marionette likeness.

Hank Marvin of The Shadows playing "[Mini] Me & My Shadow."

Are you a sci-fi fan?  Do you thrill over the Thunderbirds?  Would you like to be immortalized as a space-walking marionette?  I think I understand the lyrics to "Shooting Star," but just to be sure, could you please explain them to me?


Mr. Tiny

**p.s. While this post is definitely intended as a celebration of a musical puppet show rather than a man, it should be disclosed that Cliff Richard has been in the news lately for alleged, extremely-unsavory behavior.  At this time, we avoid passing judgment because wacky tacky is not a court of law, America has a firm belief that a man is innocent until proven guilty, and we really hope that any potential allegations are untrue.** 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mr. Tiny's Neighborhood Watch: The "Luck" of Baldwin Hills

As soon as the words left our mouths, we knew we had made a rookie mistake; during a round table discussion with a group of European friends, we suffered from an unfortunate choice of words by referring to the charming, turn-of-the-century, downtown area of a Southern California neighborhood as "historic."  History is a matter entirely relative, as was evidenced when one of our friends laughed heartily before explaining that the still-functioning church at the end of his street was constructed in the Fifth Century - like first, second, third, fourth...FIFTH CENTURY!  Yes, the rest of the world scoffs when Americans start detailing the highlights of our "rich history."  Imagine how much sillier it sounds when we as Southern Californians, wax poetic about the fascinating history of our state.  And yet, in spite of our infancy by world standards, there are certain neighborhoods that leave us feeling genuinely proud of our still-blossoming heritage.

Named after famed California pioneer, Lucky Baldwin, Baldwin Hills is one Los Angeles neighborhood that has us running to fill out our membership forms for the local historical society.  Offering unparalleled panoramic vistas of Los Angeles, Baldwin Hills is a city (within a city) upon a hill, a utopia of modernism.

The view from Baldwin Hills is, dare we say it, HEAVENLY!

Even better if you live in this flat-topped, window-walled dream house

I had heard that Baldwin Hills was filled with mid-century modern homes; after winding my way through the circuitous streets, I was happy to find out that I was not misled.

From the beautifully-manicured gardens, to the stone wall, to some of the difficult-to-capture
details, this home is a perfect example of Chinese Modernism in residential architecture.

Not to be outdone, this otherwise nondescript ranch house is done up
with contrast stripes, shaped shrubbery, and festive faux foliage!  Let it
be said that there is no guilt in gilt double-doors with dynamic decorations.

Remove that distracting satellite dish (or even better, decorate it as a UFO or giant paper lantern) and
 this steel, glass, and concrete masterpiece would be an amazing venue for the coolest cocktail parties.

Filled with an equal measure of luxury and modest abodes, Baldwin Hills is a microcosm of the entire city's history as multicultural melting pot.  The street names (Don Diego, Don Luis, Don Felipe, et al.) are a nod to California's pre-statehood days.  Once predominantly caucasian, the neighborhood has become well known as an African American enclave.  Always considered an affluent community, the makeup of the population is becoming increasingly diverse.  Fortunately, the architectural character of the neighborhood has endured the progress of Baldwin Hills' evolution.

The roofline, the corner wall of windows, the stone facade, the well-integrated landscaping, and
the atrium entryway work together to create an urban oasis in which we'd be happy to seek relief.

There are still a few holdouts in our own neighborhood with pebbly roofs; this
petite pink palace puts them to shame with it's seriously-rocky rooftop landscape. 

Whoever said, "Simplicity is beauty," must've had this sweet, little house in mind.
The stacked flagstone retaining wall/foundation and two-tone color scheme
in sage and sea foam offer all the pizzazz that this house could possibly need.

Proving that a wacky tacky pedigree is made of more than mid-century modernism, Baldwin Hills offers homes of all varieties.

Sure, there are plenty of MCM details - breeze block, decorative screens, dimensional
trim - but we really go gaga for oversized reliefs of playful elephants, regal gates with
suits of armor, and custom garage doors with the street address as a clock face!

And while we're not huge fans of apartment living, Baldwin Gardens has the look we like!

In fact, some of our very favorite homes were those that were more mainstream America than mid-century modern.

I don't know how I'd feel about trudging up those stairs with arms full of grocery bags but I do know that
I love the scalloped trim, diamond-pane windows, and subtle storybook charm of this white clapboard house.

After a second glance, I'm not so sure that isn't a multi-unit dwelling rather than a single-family home.
Either way, this stately manse cuts an impressive, nouveau-neo-Classical figure on the corner of Don Mariano.

Oddly enough, it seems that Mr. Baldwin never kept house in his namesake hills.  If I was Lucky, I would have built my castle at the very top of said hills, proudly surveying the surrounding land like a king on a throne.  If I'm lucky, maybe I'll be able to make the candy-colored, post-war dreamscape of Baldwin Hills (or a neighborhood like it) home someday.

"If I'm Lucky" - Perry Como

Well, what do you think of Baldwin Hills?  Are you a fan of city living with a quaint suburban feel?  Are there neighborhoods in your town that always have you itching to be in the market for real estate opportunities?  Is there an incredible neighborhood for which you think Mr. Tiny should currently be on the watch?  Let us know!


Mr. Tiny

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sew What?! Putting Summer Sewing to Bed in Beach Pajamas

First things first, this isn't my first time at the beach pajama-recreation rodeo; you might remember last summer's "The Copycat's Pajamas."  Well, over a year later and not completely satisfied with the results of my last attempt, I realized that it was time to revisit the idea of the 1930s sur la plage by completing a long-unfinished project.

I had long earmarked a floral-print, rayon-linen blend in the stash for some flowery beach pajamas; Using that fabric, I actually made the top in the midst of my Summer 2013 mania for Deco-era halter tops.  Out of the same cheery, dogwood-printed material, I constructed the "'Fun in the Sun' Hat" for my most recent "Sew What?!" project.  To complete the ensemble, all I had left to sew were the pants.  With the previous pajamas, I simply made wide-legged pants.  I wanted to tweak it a little by making a more period-appropriate flared trouser.  I even toyed with the idea of including contrasting godets but couldn't find a coordinating material in a suitable weight/color.

The concept

Settling on as wide a flare as the fabric would allow, I came to a startling realization once the pants were completed - it was time to take photographs!!  If I have a forte, sadly, photography is not it (but I'm working on it).  Luckily, our pal Fabian and his trusty camera were available and ready for a seaside shoot.  So, in the glow of the afternoon sun, we headed down to the shore.

As is the case when presented with so many great photographs, it is no small feat when tasked with choosing a I didn't (I guess editing isn't my forte either).  Get ready for a picture-heavy post!

Limited fabric means the pants aren't as wide and wonderful as I had hoped for.
Nevertheless, the circumference of each hem measures forty-eight inches!

"Greeting from sunny California!"
Picture postcard perfect

Girl-on-gull action

Modeling clothes can be such a bother...

Wanting a little something extra, I isolated the floral design with a satin stitch and made a 2D/3D (2 1/2D?) corsage. 

Casual summer clothing is always a favorite to create and the heat
wave around here is only encouraging me.  Darn you, global warming!

But even if the weather says otherwise, I suppose it is time to put summer sewing to bed.

Every time I thought Fabian had captured all the angles that he wanted, I directed Mary to "frolic."
Getting fairly restless each time the frolic was called off so we could try something
else, Mary was joyful when at last she was allowed to splash in the surf!

With the temperatures across Southern California reaching into the triple digits, we are still deep in the dog days of summer.  When faced with the alternatives, we don't really mind it.  We're having a heat wave!  Do you like like summer or are you ready for it to be over (at least the Northern Hemisphereans among you)?  Are you ready for sweaters and scarves?  Pumpkins and pine cones?  Coats and candy corn?

We'll feel fine when Fall finally rolls around; until then, however, we'll still be here, soaking up the sun!

"Heat Wave" - Ethel Waters (recorded 1933)


Mr. Tiny

Friday, September 12, 2014

Crazy Crafty: This Little Piggy Went to Market

If we meet, I recommend against shaking my hand because there is no telling where my finger has been - up my nose is a far more probable placement than anywhere near the "pulse of the public."  I am the Anti-trend, a perpetual apostate to what's popular.  Rarely do I understand the latest fad; that is why, after finding an inexpensive, turtle-shaped, wicker purse in an out-of-the-way New Mexican antique mall several years ago, I was shocked to learn that the collecting craze for figural wicker purses was white hot!  Some of the more desirable vintage examples beg prices upwards of $450!  Inspired by the best in historical style, Kate Spade even created a line of wicker handbags shaped like everything from armadillos to elephants, apples, lemons, and Volkswagens!  Falling far below the designer-purse tax bracket, Mary would just have to be contented with a turtle.

wacky tacky figural wicker purse
The turtle purse in action
It seems the turtle only works with outfits of the most exotic variety.

When I saw a wicker planter in the shape of a pig at the thrift store, I knew that destiny had intervened.  I had found my next "Crazy Crafty" project and this little piggy was going to cry, "'Wee, wee, wee,' all the way home!"  It was purse-making time!

I forgot to take "before" pictures of the planter but, minus the weird
googly eyes, my pig and this pig were obviously from the same litter.
(Source - available on Etsy)

As with the pig above, my piggy planter looked a little worse for wear, desperately needing some emergency ear repair.  Even after ensuring the structural integrity, however, the pig still needed some work.  Unsatisfied with the dark stain applied at the wicker pig factory, I decided to freshen things up with a new paint job.  Would this be a literal exercise in putting lipstick on a pig?  I wondered.

I gave it a coat of off-white, thinking that simple was best.

Off-white?  Maybe I was finally onto something; maybe albinos would be the next big thing in the celebrity domesticated-pig-collecting market.  But staring into those soulless eye sockets, I realized that this was the sort of face that only a wicker sow could love; I needed to up the cuteness quotient.  Undeterred by the aggressive ear-posturing, I committed myself to painting a perky pink piglet, even if it did seem a little "on the snout."

My brother often chastises me for my typically-haphazard spray painting
technique.  After the first coat, I was afraid that I had taken this pig to slaughter!
  With all of the nooks and crannies inherent in wicker, I was extremely
conscious of coverage and careful to avoid drips; a few more coats of pink
lacquer and I was more tired of painting than I was convinced of my choice of hue.

With the paint job completed, I floundered when it came time to finish the purse.  I couldn't decide whether to simply add handles or to give the pig my usual basket purse treatment with a fabric upper and bamboo handles.  Once I decided on the fabric finish, I then anguished over the fabric selection.  What would it be - gingham, stripes, novelty print?!?!!  In the end, I might have done the porcine equivalent of "chickening out" by going completely monochromatic.

figural wicker purse
Pickles the Pink Piggy Purse!

Using a sturdy cotton and bamboo handles painted to match,
I made the modesty panels/handles for Pickles.

I trimmed the opening in miniature, pink, pom-pom fringe.

Après-makeover, I kind of like Pickles, right down to her curly pink tail.

wacky tacky figural wicker purse
And while she may not have the movie-star appeal of Babe,
Pickles sure looks a darn sight better than when I found her.

Between Pixie the Pink Pet Poodle and Pickles the Pink Piggy Purse, we are subconsciously building the wacky tacky pink pet menagerie!  Having successfully granted Pickles, a once-pitiful planter, a new lease on life, I am seriously considering expanding my wicker-pig-rescue efforts to full-time long as they're all "Boogie Woogie" piggies!

"Boogie Woogie Piggy" - Doris Day with Les Brown

As disinterested as I am in the term "upcycling," I guess that's what this is.  Do you turn trash into treasure?  Do you like novelty handbags or do your prefer utilitarian purses?  Do you have any figural wicker in your purse collection?  Would you carry Pickles the Pink Piggy Purse?  As you ponder these things we just have one more thing to say...

"That's all, folks!"


Mr. Tiny

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hollywood House Hunting: Taking the "Day Off"

"I heard that you were feeling ill -
Headache, fever, and a chill.
I came to help restore your pluck;
Cause I'm the nurse who likes to...(SLAM)!!!"

Like a lot of guys, I'm kind of a weakling when it comes to being sick.  I'll never make my illness anyone else's problem but I will be the first to shut the door, curl up in a ball, and refuse to emerge from my room until the last trace of phlegm has left the building.  Sick days are meant to be used and, as the old saying goes, "If you don't use 'em, you lose 'em."  Indeed, I have no compunction about taking the day off so as to avoid publicly suffering through the day, spreading my infectious germs hither and yon all over the workplace (Attention potential employers: please ignore this).  Honestly, if you think I look bad at full capacity, trust me when I say that you certainly don't want the vision of me in ill health haunting your dreams.  Yes, the best thing to do when one is under the weather is to stay home.  On the rare occasion when a "mental health day" is in order, I fully endorse the exploitation of that opportunity as well.  When there is adventure to be had, make like Ferris Bueller and take the day off!  And what better way to enjoy a day off than to see the house where Ferris lived?

"Bueller, Bueller, Bueller..."
The Bueller Home from Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller's Day Off was kind of a cinematic anomaly in our house.  It was the first/only PG-13 movie we were allowed to see at a time when my parents took the "13" very seriously (I was well under thirteen when the film was released).  On a rare "date night," my parents actually saw the movie in the movie theater; so smitten were they by the last time Matthew Broderick exhibited any kind of onscreen charm, they made sure that, rather than continuously borrowing it from the library, we owned a copy of our very own.  With other movies (all other movies) my mom would launch her person in front of the screen like some kind of human shield/missile interceptor to protect us from questionable cinematic moments like passionate kissing, profane language, and even intimated intimacy.  I'll never forget a little library rental starring John Lithgow called Traveling Man.  Confused by the NR-rating, I think my mom earnestly believed that the dad from Harry and the Hendersons would never make a movie to challenge her parental guidelines.  That delusion was the exact reason she was just a few seconds too late to block the highly-motivating talents of a rather-buxom exotic dancer, working hard to motivate Lithgow and a conference room full of traveling salesmen.  I think my mom "lost her library card" after that incident.  With FBDO, she always remained in her seat; she must've figured that the references and words we understood weren't too bad and the rest went right over our little toe-heads.  After countless viewings, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a venerated title around our house, oft watched and oft quoted.

Most guys liked Sloane (Mia Sara) but Jennifer Grey was feisty, and foul-mouthed!!!
The nose may change but she'll always be Jeanie/Shawna to me.

If I could never have Jeanie, there was always Grace (Edie McClurg) - GENIUS!!!

So impactful has this movie been on my life that I have spent many years chasing the dream.  Everywhere I go, I try to capture the Bueller mystique, starting at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Sent to the city on business several years ago, I made my work pals (a woman, another fellow, and me) pose like the famous statue, Portrait of Balzac (à la Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron).  In a very un-Ferris fashion, I was unsuccessful in my attempt when the one person willing to take our photo didn't understand what we were trying to do and then got distracted/hassled by an aggressive female docent.  Infuriated, all I could manage to say was, "What if you need a favor someday from Ferris Bueller? Then where will you be, huh?  You heartless wench!"

This could have been us!

Knowing the important place this movie occupies in my heart and mind, I felt it was finally time to go find the Bueller homestead.  While John Hughes' films are well-known for their Chicago setting, I luckily didn't have to travel quite so far.  Instead of suburban Chicago, the Bueller home is actually in Bixby Knolls, an historically-ritzy enclave of Long Beach, CA (who knew Ferris and Snoop Dogg were neighbors???).

The shutters are now blue, the trees have grown, but that portico
and hedge-framed circular driveway are unmistakably Bueller.

Confession time.  As much as I like to pretend I am a "righteous dude" like Ferris, in the imaginary recasting of the film, there is no question that I am Cameron.  I have my moments; I've been known to join a parade, dance and sing in public, enjoy the occasional ditch day, lie to my parents, and make my sister's life miserable, but I am really just a tightly-wound bundle of nerves, neuroses, and insecurities - think lump of coal/diamond.  I think that is why, nearly thirty years later, the film continues to resonate so deeply with me.  Quelling my anxieties, the film's message is to take chances, to enjoy life, to adventure, and to live in the moment (even if the moment is simply a short drive on your day off to see the outside of a stranger's house).  As Ferris says, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it."  And so I say to you, just "take a stand" and take the car...but don't kill the car.

The Ferris Bueller House
4160 Country Club Dr
Long Beach, CA


Mr. Tiny

Saturday, September 6, 2014

wacky tacky Tunes: How Low Can You Go?

By its very definition a fad is ephemeral, lasting only a brief moment, quickly to be replaced by the next big thing.  To be sure, the Limbo lollapalooza reached its zenith in the early 1960s.  It is incredible, however, that this particular fad has enjoyed a staying power heretofore unexperienced by many other dance crazes.

It's as simple as that!!!

As well as being the source for countless concussions and several segments on America's Funniest Home Videos, the Limbo continued to entertain my contemporaries at nearly every grade-school birthday party more than twenty years after its heyday.  With no knowledge of its origins or the identity of Chubby Checker, my theory that we enjoyed the Limbo at the hands of lazy parents who got out a broom and some old LPs and told us to "have fun," has the distinct ring of truth to it.  Maybe that's the secret to an enduring fad, setting the bar (both parenting AND Limbo) very low... 

Just a small sampling of '60s-era covers to Limbo albums

The physical manifestation of the 1950s calypso craze, Limbo dancing was born in Trinidad and made famous by "Limbo Queen," Julia Edwards.  Soon called to Hollywood, Edwards and her dance troupe brought the gravity-defying dance into the consciousness of the world via the Rita Hayworth/Robert Mitchum/Jack Lemmon vehicle, Fire Down Below (1957).

The undisputed Queen of Limbo, Julia Edwards

In spite of the immodesty inherent in dancing the Limbo (even the most demure photos of vintage Limbo, when shot straight-on, were enough to make me blush), it wasn't long before everyone - and their mother - was trying to contort his or her body into the most unnatural positions with the expectation of somehow successfully writhing/scooching under a stick suspended mere inches off the ground.  Edwards quickly upped the Limbo ante by setting the Limbo Pole under which she danced alight - the Flaming Limbo!  Novelty tunes written to accompany such dramatic Limbo performances also caught on like wildfire.

"Limbo Song" - Frankie Anderson (1961)

"Ali Baba Limbo" - Lord Jayson & His Limbo Gang

"Limbo All de Way Home" - "Ivy" Pete & His Limbomaniacs (1963)

The most successful Limbo-themed composition was of course, "Limbo Rock," interpreted by many, perhaps most-famously by the King of American dance crazes, namely Chubby Checker.  My earliest memory of this song was in the Tilted Acres scene of John Waters' ode to '60s teenage dance culture, Hairspray.

"Limbo Rock" - Chubby Checker (1962)

"Limbo Rock" - The Champs (1962)
Is admitting that I like this version a little better a Limbo taboo?

With myriad other Limbo songs like "Limbo Wobble," "Papa Loves to Limbo," "Limbo and the Blues," "Limbo Man," "Out on a Limb-o," "Limbo for Lovers (what an incredible feat of strength and dexterity that would be)," and "Let There Be Limbo," it was obvious that Limbo was a full-fledged, bona fide fad.

"Limbo" - Nina & Frederick (1960)
Denmark's dynamic duo

"Let the Little Girl Limbo" - Doris Day (1963)
I love that at the end of the song, she throws down the Limbo gauntlet to Mr. Checker.
But when she says, "Look out, Chubby, here I come," I prefer to think that she's talking to me.

By the time a craze reaches both Denmark and Doris (as well as becoming The Hokey-Pokey's dance partner on almost every children's album ever made), you know it has reached cultural critical mass.  It's kind of like having Pat Boone cover a real rock 'n roll song - when the squares (this coming from a Doris Day devotee and hardcore danish -pastry- fan) were in, the coolness of the Limbo was on its way out.  Although as I've said, it never really went away; for decades now, children and drunken people the world over continue to bend themselves in half backward as they clumsily attempt to shimmy under a glorified mop handle.

All the kids may be back in school, but summer isn't officially over for at least two more weeks.  With plenty of Limbo time left, I must ask, do you Limbo?  How low can you go?  In the world of Limbo, the depth to which Mr. Tiny can lower himself knows no bounds; I have resigned myself to forever being just one of the people holding the Limbo Stick.


Mr. Tiny