Let’s Read California, July 1982

California began life in 1976 as New West, a lifestyle and general interest magazine aimed at the glamorous young people who were moving to California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona in droves at the time. The magazine was sold to Rupert Murdoch in 1977 and moved through several more hands and corporations until 1980, when it was retooled to be more Los Angeles-flavored and renamed California. Circulation peaked around 1987, but after more management changes and constant format changes, the magazine declined sharply before shutting down for good in 1991.

In lieu of my usual cover summary, I’m going to use this quote from last week’s comments, courtesy of beinggreen:

“It’s neat that if you’re a woman maybe someday you can be a prize for a computer man. Maybe he’ll even let you organize his highlighters for him, if you happen to be exceptionally bright, like the one on the left.”

The model’s excellent calves are really highlighted by what looks like a taxidermy iguana. Unfortunately, the decorative dead loafer-iguana fad was long on its way out by 1982.

This month we have a big feature on Steve Wozniak, who was apparently not sexy enough to be on the cover so we have to settle for an EPICALLY 80s editorial photo of him in the best sunglasses ever. Aram Saroyan’s piece on how much he hated his father can be read in full via his book Last Rites, which is a whole book about how much he hated his father (Saroyan died in 1981).

I remember Emporium department stores. If you can picture in your mind the most neglected and depressingly drab and outdated department store in your local mall today, just picture it when it was shiny and new and full of fake plants, that was what an Emporium looked like. They were much like Nordstrom today, which is to say “Peddling the exact same stuff that you can get at Macy’s, but with the prestige of never going on sale”. That said, this outfit is cute and I would probably wear it.

These ads lose a lot from not being in color. It’s always interesting to see where companies skimp on not paying more for full color, and in retrospect how that hurts the effectiveness of the ad. This dress is bright red, and the ensemble above is suede brown, red, and gold. And yes, my little steampunk enthusiast heart cries out for this dress.

May’s issue had an interview with Gore Vidal by Armistead Maupin, which I bet was amazing.

A. Pauline Browne of Palm Springs is a horrible person and a wonderful example of rape culture. She really covers all bases of rapist apologizing, victim shaming, gender stereotyping, and effortlessly blaming everyone except the actual rapists. Is it any wonder that only very recently has the conversation started to turn around?

There’s also a nice letter from Dianne Feinstein, who, lest we forget, watched Harvey Milk die in front of her, on the challenges of gun control.

I am happy to say that all of these people have had pretty good careers beyond the 80s.


If you don’t think I immediately looked up .45 Grave after reading that they “give evil a bad name” with their “malignant devil worship”, you’re dead wrong and I am jamming out to them right. now.

I’m also a fan of the ice cream ad which assures you that people have been not only eating it since 1928, but also liking it, which is a huge relief.

I actually really like the smarmy but detail-heavy voice that these reviews were written in. Davin Seay has gone on to write a bunch of books, ironically a lot of them Evangelical Christian writing. The description of these luxurious restaurants, particularly Camille’s and Chez Cary, are artifacts from a time long gone by.

$6,500 in 1982 is the equivalent of about $16,400 in today’s money. Oh timeshares! When weren’t you a total scam!

Major anxiety of the 80s: Your friends have more money than you, and everyone knows it.

I thought at first that Nureyev was sporting a fashionable chia-head perm, but it appears that he is merely wearing an ushanka in some kind of effort to persuade us that he is a man who, even having defected thirty years prior, has now definitively turned his back on Mother Russia to endorse a Japanese brand of vodka.

Soft focus lens aside, this is a very timeless ad.

A11CA8CB-EF2F-433E-80C5-F2270F8C4805All they need now is a baby/Baltic immigrant/alien puppet/robot child and they’ve got the hottest sitcom on tv!

Actually, Ron Engleman ended up being the contact point for the Branch Davidians during the Waco Standoff, and John London was fired from his radio job just a few years ago for threatening to kill Penn Jillette on the air. How about that!

Very committed to the “fitness and fun in the California sun” image of the west coast in the 80s. These people are probably around your parents’ age. Stop and think about how hot and fit your parents probably were at this time. Now they’re all old and out of shape and broken down. Weird right? How time slowly destroys us?

I love every single thing about this picture.

The author of this article put up a much nicer scan of this on his own blog, if you would like to read it at a better resolution than just my shaky phone pictures.

It’s important to understand the sense of outrage and entitlement that bubbled up in response the silicon valley tech boom. Millionaires and businessmen traditionally came from wealthy families, went to the best colleges, their grades were mostly irrelevant, they broke their necks to hobnob and network and get in with the best people, they kept up appearances, and their egos were sustained entirely on looking down on people exactly like Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, who were dorky hippies writing 1s and 0s in a garage in nowhereville, California. And they were making money – a LOT of money – doing it. HOW DARE THEY. THEY WERE EVEN GETTING ALL THE HOT WOMEN.

Color me legitimately surprised that ice cream was this experimental and varied so long ago. Those popsicles are the kind of thing that hipsters line up around the block for today.

Ray Bradbury, his prose as lovely and Mars-referencing as ever, reviews a now-gone bookstore in Long Beach. Acres of Books closed in 2008.

That screaming woman in the center perfectly expresses my feelings about Benihana.

I fucking hate Benihana.

Just some interesting logo graphics that were very of the time.

The only thing I hate more than Benihana is E.T., so…screw you, Kenneth Turan, longtime well-established and highly esteemed film critic!

This was evidently a crazeballs season for movies, since there are also reviews for Blade RunnerPoltergeistThe Thing, and Star Trek II.

9E9EA261-AC5B-4B32-B40F-F794C5D378B297C79E13-C4F3-4A1D-A008-ABE822F6D8B3Blade Runner: good. The Thing: gross. Poltergeist: boring. Star Trek II: “tolerable”.

CC98A22F-9274-40C1-AC2B-E09E29ED67E6I really hope that whoever took this striking photo got some recognition for it.

54744316-C14A-41D9-9E78-ADC1EB7163BCFrom an article on the Jewish population boom in Southern California.

California: the t-shirt! Pairs great with tiny running shorts, a big old sweatband, and fifteen pounds of eyeshadow!

In San Francisco, everyone’s a princess.

For reals though, The Sir Francis Drake is still a really cool hotel. It still looks exactly like this, and the doorman is dressed as an English Beefeater.

Because the woman of the 80s has worked so hard for her right to die from lung cancer – on her own terms.

Believe it or not, these land whales were a total status symbol. You had a cool mom and your family probably went on big vacations over the summer if you had one of these. Note the interiors that came in your choice of brown or royal blue, which we established last week was THE color palette of this era.

I love that kid’s face. And that everyone seems to be looking at something completely different off-camera. This kid is probably around your age now. Feel old yet?

Two things: 1) who the hell ever PAID for one of those little sugar packet boxes? You want one so bad just snatch one off the table at Denny’s! Done! And 2) the threatening implication that your mail is going to find you and kick your ass for not leaving a forwarding address with the post office.

This glamorous babe wants to assure you that Pernod and OJ will only be utterly revolting for the first round, and after that you’ll be far too wasted to care.

Is it just me, or is this marketed much like a high-end sex toy?


Thanks for reading another week, and I hope it made up a bit for how dreary and slimy last week’s trip into the 80s was. I am so excited for next week’s review, which will be something super cool and super old:

SKU1015543(not my picture)

It’s Cosmopolitan from 1900! I just picked this little beauty up from my happy place, the vintage books booth at Dickens Faire. It’s very dense and I want to share as much of it as I can, so I will be running it in two parts starting next week. Automobiles! Queen Victoria! Hot European princesses! The Circus! Telescopes! Fetch my smelling-salts, for I am like to swoon!