So much of Facebook is a wretched hellscape, clogged with hoax news stories, political arguments between people you haven’t really known in a decade, and—of course—heated vaccine arguments. To alleviate the slog, do yourself a favor and follow the WPIX Archives page.
They’ve got utterly ephemeral clips like this zippy bumper for Star Trek reruns, created as such a complete throwaway that to see it resurrected on Facebook feels like a tiny, stupid miracle.
There are also, of course, throwback commercials, which are clearer and better-quality than what you can find if you go looking on YouTube. Plus it’s more fun just to see some ancient Chorus Line-style ad for Jordache jeans appear out of nowhere in your timeline.
Question: Does this ad for Carvel make you more or less likely to patronize a Carvel ever again?
This spot for WHT—Wometco Home Theater, a late-70s pay TV service serving the New York City area—works very, very hard to emphasize all the naughty stuff they could show that WPIX presumably could not. Please watch this woman pet her pussy!
But the real treasures are the news reports, lovely time capsules from New York City’s past. They’ve got original coverage from the 1992 arrest of “Crazy Eddie,” famous for his frenetic ads for his chain of electronics stores.
Here’s a report from the 1978 West Indian Parade in Brooklyn.
And here is a dispatch from a Long Island Gadgets, a chain of restaurants from the owners of Looney Tunes full of “computerized entertainment,” including an animatronic lounge singer named Sammy Sands to welcome you.“Dining out is one of the fastest-growing leisure activities of the 1980s, and I think we’re getting a more and more sophisticated audience that expects good food, but they want to be entertained. And we want to entertain them and give them a place that’s fun to come to, where they can spend the entire evening,” a VP from Warner Leisure Company confidently informs the team from WPIX. (The idea did not, I’m sorry to say, set the world on fire.)
The New York Times
reported from another Gadgets outpost:
‘’You remember World War II,’’ says the molded fiberglass figure called Sammy Sands, an oversize, cartoonlike character who sits behind a piano. ‘’It was in all the newspapers.’’ A pack of cigarettes, a dirty ashtray, a half-finished manhattan and a jar for tips are arranged atop the piano, a nonfunctional prop.
Once each hour at night and several times during the day, Sammy performs one of six 12-minute-long prerecorded sets of jokes and music. Wearing a silver lame jacket and bow tie undone at the neck, he sings, plays country-and-western arrangements of hits and winks at the audience. The music and jokes are all on a reel-to- reel tape, activated by bar employees, and although Sammy’s hands and mouth move, the sound actually comes from a speaker behind the robot.
I really didn’t need to know about the brief life of Gadgets and the very hilarious existence of Sammy Sands, but my life and my newsfeed are richer for his presence. And God knows it beats yet another political argument.