Posts Tagged ‘mascots’
April 7, 2016 | by Sadie Stein
Earlier today, the New York City Council voted to restrict the antics of the various costumed characters in Times Square. As the New York Times delicately put it, “After an uproar last summer over nudity and aggressive tip-seeking in Times Square, city officials said they were aiming to restore order to the plazas. The rules could go into effect by the beginning of the summer.” Read More »
March 3, 2016 | by Sam Sweet
The long and tangled history of Alfred E. Neuman.
In a 1975 interview with the New York Times, MAD Magazine founder Harvey Kurtzman recalled an illustration of a grinning boy he’d spotted on a postcard in the early fifties: a “bumpkin portrait,” “part leering wiseacre, part happy-go-lucky kid.” It was captioned “What, Me Worry?”
That bumpkin became Alfred E. Neuman, MAD’s mascot, who turns sixty this year—kind of. The impish, immutable redhead made his official debut in December 1956, when he appeared on the cover of MAD no. 30 as a write-in candidate for president. He’s appeared on almost every MAD cover since: possessing, spoofing, and spooking cultural icons with nothing more than a drowsy rictus. Though MAD gave him a purpose, a permanent home, his origin story remains elusive. It involves, among other things, a plum-pudding advertisement, a dubious lawsuit, and a traveling nineteenth-century farce. Neuman is forever synonymous with the magazine and its infinite irreverence, but the riddle of his real age may be the trickster’s trump card. Read More »
October 16, 2015 | by Sadie Stein
You couldn’t really see out of that big head, so you’d feel someone on your leg but you couldn’t see it, and I’d have to turn my whole body and hold the head to look down—it was a little rough. Later on, I often wondered what happened to Mrs. Met, and maybe they just thought it was easier not to have to deal with all that stuff that I dealt with.
The secret lives of mascots are always interesting, inasmuch as the job involves subjugating all ego in the service of a city’s id. That’s why Mr. Met rated a documentary on ESPN. But the quote above comes from an interview with one Lynn Farrell, who played Mr. Met’s wife—or his mother, depending on whom you ask. This was Mrs. Met, née Lady Met, a mascot born early in the franchise’s life. Farrell played the mascot in her seventies-era glory years.
After some time away, Mrs. Met was reintroduced two years ago in a more modern form, which makes her story a kind of Christ narrative. It’s what every mascot yearns for: the added drama of death at the hands of Mets management in the 1980s and modern resurrection. Read More »
November 26, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
As fans of holiday ephemera know, there are several primary genres of weird, old-timey Thanksgiving cards. There is the Greedy Child. There is the Doomed Turkey. There is the Turkey in Vehicle, which is sometimes a corncob car. There is the Anthropomorphic Root Vegetable. It hardly needs saying that Thanksgiving pinups are a thing unto themselves. Sexy Pilgrims, under-dressed squaws, and women cooking in lingerie and filmy cocktail aprons are all fairly ubiquitous.
By far, my favorite subgenre is that of the Urbane Turkey. This foppish specimen is usually in evening dress, so as to indicate his couth. Needless to say, he sports a top hat. Sometimes a monocle or a cigarette. All in all, he has the trappings of a big-screen, rich nincompoop, which I suppose added a certain glee to his consumption.
The Urbane Turkey is not always complacent. Sometimes he’s a sharp. He’s in the know. This Urbane Turkey is the turkey who knows where to find the best feed and the keenest peahens. As befits his man-of-the-world air, he smokes a cigar; and his citified duds are less Union Club than pool hall. This tom doesn’t take any wooden nickels; he sees the way the wind’s blowing and he’ll be out on the next train, before the axe is even sharpened. He doesn’t need pardoning; he makes his own luck.
You don’t need me to point out how alienated we are from our food sources, to general detriment. Certainly, there couldn’t be anything less urbane than the case of shrink-wrapped butterballs (or even free-range heritage birds) that greets us come late November. I guess it would be easy to say that as a result, we have less respect for our food. But on the other hand, we also don’t dress it in outfits and mock it.
June 2, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Envisioning the brick-and-mortar bookstores of tomorrow: “Wide steps double as seating and lead down to a bar and a stage, where a writer performs—‘authors will become more like rock stars’—or a ‘book wizard’ explains the craft of making books. The book you make might be one by the writer on stage, something you’ve written yourself, or any other text the robots conjure up.”
- “I think poetry has really rather connived at its own irrelevance and that shouldn’t happen, because it’s the most delightful thing … We have lost the sense that poetry sits halfway between prose and music—that you can’t expect to read it like a novel. We are quite used to downloading an album and listening to certain tracks … poetry needs to be consumed in that way.”
- On Tolkien’s 1926 translation of Beowulf, which was finally published last month: “The literary landscape has changed since then in a way that Tolkien would have neither expected nor accepted: he now towers in fame over Beowulf. Last year, Penguin repackaged its Michael Alexander translation as one of five ‘classic [stories] that inspired J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit.’ but far more people will read the book for Tolkien’s sake than for Beowulf’s.”
- “Though their obsolescence has been prophesied at various points, neighborhoods remain a vital—perhaps the most vital—way of thinking about the modern city.”
- A 1959 promotional comic touts the glories of atomic energy through Reddy Kilowatt, everyone’s favorite grinningly electric asexual mascot: “I’m a real, live wire and I never tire. Yes, sir—I’m a red-hot shot. I can cook your meals, turn the factory wheels, ’cause I’m Reddy Kilowatt.”