Clay Guys

Philadelphia, PA – The early 70s

I had lots of toys as a kid. Cars, trucks, games, action figures, and comic books. I loved all of my toys. But one of my favorite toys was modeling clay.

Modeling Clay | Childhood memories, My childhood memories, Childhood

I owned several of these packs of clay as a kid. The problem with store-bought toys was they come in very specific shapes and sizes. The plastic army men or spacemen figures are rigid and are stuck in their cast positions. But clay can be shaped into anything you want. The things you can make out of clay are limited only to the skill of your hands and your imagination.

So your choices are unlimited as to what you can create with clay. It was my favorite toy as a kid. A simple shapeless lump of modeling clay.

It was great when you first opened the packet because you had a few colors to work with. But in time they all eventually blended and all of your clay was one color. Brown.

This didn’t matter because it wasn’t about the color of the things you made, it was the shape and what you did with them.

Unlike Play-Doh, clay never dried out. It stayed in its natural form no matter what you did with it. If you left Play-Doh out and didn’t seal it up in an airtight container, it dried out. It turned hard as a rock.

I remember Play-Doh had a salty taste to it and I do remember eating a bit of it as a kid. Children learn early by putting things in their mouths. It’s a primitive learning skill. Play-Doh, like Elmers Glue, was both non-toxic and didn’t taste that bad. Even if it was just an experimental exercise.

Photos: Vintage Play-Doh Cans and Playsets | Mental Floss

But Play-Doh just didn’t hold the same eternal magic and durability as modeling clay. If you made something out of Play-Doe and it was good, you wanted to give it to your mom or just leave it out. It then turned to stone and became a permanent artifact. You couldn’t play with it anymore. But with clay, if you needed more clay or were tired of your sculpture, you could simply squish it and make something new.

I remember watching the 1933 classic film, King Kong. I immediately grabbed my clay and sculpted the great ape fighting with a giant snake from a scene in the film. My father was impressed with my creation, and how I captured the moment in the film. But at some point, I either moved it or changed the positioning of the figures and my dad said I messed it up. This hurt my feelings so I squished it. I thought…it’s my clay and I’ll make what I want. You can’t create the things that I can.

Modeling clay is such a wonderful toy for children. The highest form of intelligence on the planet is creation. Remembering or memorizing facts and figures already created and thought of by others is just a memory exercise. That’s a decent skill and it is needed. But taking a lump of shapeless clay and turning it into something that never existed before is a real talent.

Isn’t creating something our greatest homage to our creator? To emulate our creator is the best compliment we can give to that entity. Real or not. Why settle for someone else’s vision of what a toy should look like. Clay gave me the ability to create my toys and characters to make my adventures.

I once sculpted a little brown bunny rabbit for my mother. It was maybe two inches long. My mother loved it so much she placed it on a shelf in our kitchen and it stayed there for years. My mother passed away a few years ago but always kept the little rabbit. A couple of years ago my older sister found that sculpture and gave it to my daughter to give to me. After half a century in existence, the bunny was still intact. After 50 years he was a bit dried out but that’s how durable modeling clay was back then. (Sadly, he crumbled a few years ago and I had to toss him.)

My friend RJ and I spent hours and hours making things out of clay. I remember he once sculpted the nativity scene out of clay and presented it to his mother for Christmas. It was a great work of art for a child. He was very talented as a boy.

One of our favorite things to make was a thing we called “Clay Guys”.  They were little men about an inch tall. We occasionally made little clay girls. The only difference between these simple figures was the female clay people had a little swatch of clay hair on their heads and two tiny balls of clay on their chests. These were covered with another thing swatch of clay around the figure to form a dress. There was nothing sexual about it because we were just children, but that’s how we defined the gender of our characters in simple child terms. But 99% of our characters were guys. Clay guys!

Sometimes we’d find little things they could use as tools. Like a pin or needle from a sewing kit. These became swords in the hands of our characters. Sometimes, instead of the little bump on the top of their shoulders that represented the head, we would replace that bump with a marble. Two little oval clay eyes were affixed to the marble, which made that figure into an alien.  Cat’s eye marbles looked the coolest because it was as if you could see inside the alien’s head and his thoughts were swirling around in there. Hence making him a brilliant alien.

Here you can see us with an army of alien clay guys!

As I write this, I wonder where this perception of what an alien life form could look like. I’m guessing it was probably inspired by images we’d seen in comic books or old science fiction films we liked to watch. Mad Theater and Horror Theater on channel 17 with host Doctor Shock come to mind.

Sometimes we’d make the occasional giant clay guy or the monster that our little clay guys had to fight to the death. The cool thing about our clay guys was they could be destroyed, but also resurrected. If one of your guys lost an arm or was cut in half during a battle, he could be repaired, or even squished and reborn as a new clay guy!

We would make little search parties of clay guys and send them on journeys through our house. Climbing, jumping, hanging from ropes (strings), and going into battles were all part of the adventure. We knew some of our team wouldn’t come back from the journey, but that was the fun of it. Our toys had mortality. They could die on the adventure. But as I said, you could always bring them back from the dead to live and play with again.

Once we made a bunch of clay guys and stood them all up in a line going across our street. The cars would come, and run over part of our team squishing them horribly. We knew we’d lose a few, but there were always the survivors. If you could pick the cinders, dirt, and stones out of the survivors’ bodies, they’d live again to go on another adventure tomorrow.

The possibilities of making things out of modeling clay were endless. It was the best toy and inspired us to use our hands, our minds, and our imaginations. Sometimes the simplest things are the most fun. I know now there are so many high-tech toys out there and video games are king. But holding a lump of clay in your hand and making something from your imagination was the best.

 

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You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Rock – Ola

Philadelphia, PA – The early 70s

My dad had this couple he was friends with back in the late 60s and early 70s. He met them through the bank where he worked in Northeast Philly. They were a cool sort of hippie couple in their 30s. That period in our history was a great time of change in this country. But my dad liked them and they were nice people. They turned him on to the counter culture of music, film, and of course marijuana.

I remember going over to their house when I was a kid and they had a lot of cool, artsy stuff around the place. One of the things that struck me was this old-time jukebox. It was an actual working antique even back then. It was chock full of over fifty 45rpm records from the 50s and 60s. Cool!

My sisters and I were captivated by this massive cabinet full of flashing lights, swirling colors, and loads of great songs inside. It was an incredible piece of technology. It must have weighed over 500 lbs and made of solid oak. The front door swung open and you could see how it worked. You could also watch the operation through a little window in the front of the unit. The 45 rpm records were all stacked on metal plates and when you pushed the play button, would swing out and a little turntable would rise and pick up the platter and it would meet the stylus and play the record. Neat to watch. The heavy sound blasted out of a 15-inch woofer in the front.

Check this out:

My dad’s friends were going to be moving to a smaller place and told him that the jukebox was just too big to fit through the door of their new home. They asked if they could loan it to him and keep it at our house. Of course, my dad agreed, much to the joy of my sisters and me.

It sat in the corner of our enclosed porch at the house at 312 Magee Street for the rest of the 70s. We slowly began adding new 45 rpm singles that we had bought so we could listen to our music in this booming beast.

This will give you an idea of what it was like even though this one in the video is a little different from ours. (But we did have Jailhouse Rock in ours and played that song often. I think Treat Me Nice was on the B side of that single)

It was almost like we had this big entertainment robot living on our porch. Any of the kids could just push a button and music would come on. The girls could dance and the boys would simply rock out to the tunes.

I think the most memorable time of having this jukebox in our family was on Halloween. We’d have it lit and playing music, and when kids came to the door trick or treating they would all see it. No one had ever seen anything like it and they were all amazed at the sight of this technological musical marvel.

We had it on loan from them for over 40 years. It went to the shore house in North Wildwood in 1979 and remained there until a few years ago. The grown son of the couple wanted the jukebox back. In my opinion, after having the jukebox in our possession for over 40 years that it was rightfully ours. Possession being 9/10s of the law. But the right thing to do was to give it back to the family. We were no longer interested in the unit and it had been on loan to us that was an agreement my father had made with them back in the 70s so my sister wanted to honor that decision.

So it’s been gone for a while but I sometimes think back to all the fun we had listening to our music through that booming beast from a bygone era.

There I am in the early 80s next to the Rock-Ola!

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You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

10 Couples Tattoo Ideas Without Initials, Just In Case

Relationships don’t always last forever, but tattoos certainly do. If you and bae can’t wait to seal your love with some matching ink, there are so many creative ways to commemorate your ‘ship. But going all in and getting each other’s names or initials might be risky if the relationship doesn’t go the distance. Luckily, whether you want a bold design or something a bit more subtle, there are plenty of couples tattoos that don’t have initials you can base yours on. Naturally, there will always be naysayers who can’t get behind the idea of having matching tattoos with a partner. But if you and your SO are both on board, follow your bliss.

Thankfully, couples tattoos aren’t limited to just hearts or the date of your anniversary in Roman numerals. Any shared memory, hobby, or passion can be transformed into a cool design that’ll always make you think of your partner. As with any tattoo, the most important step is finding a tattoo artist whose work you’re both excited about, and doing plenty of research. Your tattoo artist should be working at a credible shop that follows the proper health and safety regulations. Also, it’s important that you and your partner can decide on a design, you both love. It’ll be on your body forever! Depending on how complex your tattoo idea is, it might take some ongoing discussion between you and the artist to fine-tune the final design, and that’s OK. Here are some fun design ideas inspired by couples tattoos done right.

1. Something To Commemorate Your First Date.

These little Ferris wheels are a great example of a minimalist design done well. Maybe it’s a nod to the location of their first date or kiss.

2. Something That Pays Homage To A Character, You Both Love.

If you and bae your partner share a love for the same character, movie, song, or superhero, this can also be incorporated into a sweet tattoo.

3. A Symbol That Reflects Your Connection.

These baby lightning bolts are too cute. Even though they’re in a prominent spot, they can be easily covered by the strap of a watch for work environments that might not be tattoo-friendly.

4. A Classic Motif With A Twist.

If you want to incorporate traditional elements into your tattoo design, adding a second meaning makes it unique.

5. Something In A Meaningful Spot.

These ring finger dots are as subtle as it gets, but their placement gives them added significance.

6. Reminders Of The Promises You’ve Made.

Meaningful words or phrases you and your partner have exchanged are also a good route to take. For all the Harry Potter fans out there, these elegantly penned “always” tattoos are the perfect nod to the series.

7. Two Elements That Interact In A Clever Way.

This hoop and basketball design shows how effective the interaction between two totally different tattoos can be.

8. Something With Complementary Symbols.

These tattoos are another great example of how you can use different designs to complement each other. The sentimentality of sharing ink still rings true, and these tattoos can easily stand on their own post-breakup.

9. Designs That Are Similar Enough, But Still Different.

If you want the focus of your tattoos to be the same, but are open to small details that differ, consider something like this (or the more traditional yin-yang symbol).

10. Something That Nods To A Shared Interest.

If you have a shared interest, like astronomy, it’s easy to extract inspiration for beautiful tattoos.

Couples’ tattoos can be a creative way to express your utter devotion to an SO. That said, to avoid regrets, spend time thinking through any pros and cons. With the right prep, you’ll have a beautiful reminder of a meaningful relationship that will last a lifetime.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Phicklephilly reaches 300,000 Page Views!!!

Wow.

Just wow.

Another milestone in our short 5-year history as a blog.

I’m so happy to report this. We hit a quarter of a million back around the beginning of the year, and here we are now at 300,000!

Thanks to all of my WordPress readers, Facebook, and Instagram followers. I appreciate all of the views, likes, and comments from you all.

Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t go out and make any new stories so I was forced to look inward around the end of last year. I decided to tell stories from my past in Philly and Wildwood. The response was overwhelming over the last year. It turns out people like to read about all things nostalgic and from our collective past. I did my best to convey the feelings of those moments from my youth.

I think that brought us more subscribers and fans and for that… I’m grateful. I’ll continue to bring you the best dating and relationship advice through the end of the year. But there will be a few historic tales tossed in there every other week until Christmas.

One of the best things to come out of the pandemic and what I was writing was that it helped me reconnect with some great people from my past.

The next book I’m going to write will be about growing up in Northeast Philly in the 70s, followed in 2023 by a book about all of my memories from Wildwood in the summer of the same decade. Both should be worth reading.

I’m still kicking around some different works of fiction and will experiment with some of that next year in the blog. Maybe in the form of short stories.

The blog continues to march forward just like me!

Thanks again to everyone who reads and follows Phicklephilly and I appreciate every single one of you around the world!

See you all at 500,000!

… and now, a cool french song from the 60s with all the things I like in it.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock: Man photographed as baby on ‘Nevermind’ cover sues Nirvana, alleging child pornography

The man who was photographed naked underwater as a baby and later ended up on Nirvana’s iconic “Nevermind” album cover filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that he was a victim of child pornography.

The album cover shows Spencer Elden, now 30, in a swimming pool as a then-infant with his penis exposed.

The image used for the cover of Nirvana’s sophomore 1991 album includes a digital imposition of a dollar bill on a fishhook that the baby looks like he is trying to grab. The cover was widely considered a rebuke of capitalism.

Non-sexualized nude photos of infants are generally not considered child pornography under law. But Elden’s lawyer, Robert Y. Lewis, alleges that the inclusion of currency in the shot makes the baby appear “like a sex worker.”

Kurt Cobain “chose the image depicting Spencer—like a sex worker— grabbing for a dollar bill that is positioned dangling from a fishhook in front of his nude body with his penis explicitly displayed,” the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court’s Central District of California, stated.

Elden is asking for at least $150,000 from each of the defendants, who include surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, the executor of Kurt Cobain’s estate; Guy Oseary and Heather Parry, managers of Cobain’s estate; photographer Kirk Weddle; art director Robert Fisher; and a number of existing or defunct record companies that released or distributed the album in the last three decades.

Original Nirvana drummer Chad Channing is also named as a defendant, even though he had been replaced by Grohl in 1990, before the album was recorded or the cover photography shot.

Nirvana's "Nevermind"
The cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album “Nevermind.”

Entertainment Weekly reported in 1992 that Elden, at 4 months old, was cast for the shoot along with three other babies. Cobain commissioned the shoot after he had seen a documentary on babies being born underwater and “thought the image would make a cool cover,” Fisher told the magazine at the time. “That vision was a bit too graphic, so we went with the swimming baby instead.”

Weddle took the pictures in an Olympic size pool at the Pasadena Aquatic Center in California.

“Weddle took a series of sexually graphic nude photographs of Spencer,” the suit said. “To ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, Weddle activated Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals.”

“Weddle produced these sexually graphic images with the goal of enhancing and increasing the commercial success of Nirvana, L.L.C.’s Nevermind album.”

The album was selling about 300,000 copies a week when it reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 in early 1992. The album, with the classics “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come as You Are,” has spent at least 335 total weeks on the Billboard 200.

The cover image did receive pushback, at which point Cobain agreed to release the album with a sticker over Elden’s genitals that said: “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.”

“The sticker, however, was never incorporated into the album cover,” the lawsuit said.

As a result, Elden “has been and will continue to suffer personal injury” and “permanent harm,” including “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological treatment, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses,” the suit stated.

Neither Elden nor his guardians signed a release authorizing the use of the image, according to the suit said. The family was paid $250, Entertainment Weekly reported in 1992.

In 2008, Spencer’s father, Rick, recounted the 1991 shoot to NPR. His friend Weddle, the photographer, “calls us up and was like, ‘Hey Rick, wanna make 200 bucks and throw your kid in the drink?'” the father recalled. “I was like, ‘What’s up?’ And he’s like, ‘Well, I’m shooting kids all this week, why don’t you meet me at the Rose Bowl (Aquatic Center), throw your kid in the drink?’ And we just had a big party at the pool, and no one had any idea what was going on!”

The NPR story went on to say that the family didn’t think more about it until, three months later, they saw a 9′-by-9′ blowup of the cover on the Tower Records wall on Sunset Boulevard.

“Two months later,” the article said, “Geffen Records sent 1-year-old Spencer Elden a platinum album and a teddy bear.”

Elden has repeatedly recreated the pose as a teenager and adult, diving into pools to pose — with swim trunks on — on the occasion of the album’s 10th, 17th, 20th, and 25th anniversaries.

However, in most of the interviews accompanying these photoshoots, he expressed mixed feelings about being famous for the “Nevermind” cover and whether he was exploited by it. Until now, despite his ongoing ambivalence about the photo’s legacy, he hadn’t described it as pornographic.

In previous interviews, he’s also said he tried to get in touch with Grohl and Novoselic, on a friendly basis, but never got a reply.

In 2016, the last time Spencer recreated the pose as an adult, he told the New York Post he wanted to take the shot naked.

“I said to the photographer, ‘Let’s do it naked.’ But he thought that would be weird, so I wore my swim shorts,” he said.

“The anniversary means something to me. It’s strange that I did this for five minutes when I was 4 months old and it became this really iconic image,” he said at the time. “It’s cool but weird to be part of something so important that I don’t even remember.”

He added that he prefers The Clash over Nirvana.

Phicklphilly: This is not child pornography. This is an artistic photo of a naked baby in a pool. There is nothing sexual or lascivious about it in any way.

This sounds like a cash grab 30 years after the fact by a desperate person.

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Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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