Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dallas Neon Signs

Just a few "new" signs I got this week in super mega hot Dallas, Texas. I love the Sunshine Cleaners sign because it is from a location in Dallas that has been around since the 60's. They recently closed down their old location and built a brand new store basically across the street and took their sign with them. Awesome.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Upcyle vs. Recycle

What is the difference between upcycling and recycling? Both are great for the environment but there is a distinct difference.
  • Wikipedia defines upcycling as the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Store Spotlight, Random

Looking for something different, a unique gift or a little somethin somethin to make you laugh? Then head down to Random in the Lakewood area of Dallas and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to look around at all the goodies. Hi Fi Jewelry recently joined the Random family so come by and check often

"Random, a little shop with a BIG personality, is owned and operated by Mark and Shelley Hearne and their daughter India. Nestled in a cozy shopping center in the Lakewood neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, Random offers an array of unique and unexpected gift and home decor items. We promise never to offer anything in our store or on our website that we would not cherish and use in our own home. Our mission is to make Random your new favorite place to shop!" Mark & Shelley with daughter India

Random is located in Hillside Village, a Lakewood shopping destination featuring various stores and restaurants such as Stein Mart, Tuesday Morning, Fuzzy's Taco Shop and the ever popular Lakewood 1st & 10 bar and grill.

6465 East Mockingbird Lane #366
Dallas, TX 75214

P: 214-827-9499
F: 214-827-9504

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The History of the Record

Just a little history lesson on the good old record. The first records were on cylinders, the earliest of which were made by the inventor of the first 'Phonograph', Thomas Alva Edison in 1877. Attempts had been made of 'recording' sound much earlier than this, but none were capable of reproducing the human voice.

By 1887, another American, Emile Berliner (a German immigrant to the U.S.) filed a patent for a recording system based on a flat disc instead of a cylinder. This was a very significant development because the new discs were much easier to mass produce than the cylinders that they replaced. This was important in making the technology available to a wide market.

By the turn of the century the industry had begun to settle on a diameter of 10 inches for the new format. The rotational speed varied somewhat from one manufacturer to another, but most turned at between 75 and 80 revolutions per minute and most 'Gramophone' machines were capable of some adjustment. The name 'Gramophone' began as a Trademark for Berliner's new invention, but Europeans adopted it as generic while Americans continued to use the term 'Phonograph'. One popular theory for the choice of 78 rpm is arrived at from calculations based on the rotational speed of synchronous electric motors and achievable gear ratios. This is neither technically sound nor supported by historic evidence. It is far more likely that a speed of around 78 rpm simply proved the best compromise from empirical results with the materials and technology available at the time.

Various materials were used for manufacturing the earliest discs, but shellac (a resin made from the secretions of the lac insect) was found to be the best. Shellac is a natural thermoplastic, being soft and flowing when heated, but rigid and hard wearing at room temperature. Usually a fine clay or other filler was added to the 'mix'. However, by the 1930s the natural shellac began to be replaced by equivalent synthetic resins.

All of the earliest 78 rpm recordings were single sided, but double sided recordings were introduced firstly in Europe by the Columbia company. By 1923, double sided recordings had become the norm on both sides of the Atlantic.

The 78 rpm disc reigned supreme as the accepted recording medium for many years despite its tendency to break easily and the fact that longer works could not be listened to without breaks for disc changes (at 5 minute intervals for 12" discs).

In 1948 the Columbia company had perfected the 12" Long Playing Vinyl disc. Spinning at 33 rpm the new format could play up to 25 minutes per side. This new record medium also had a much lower level of surface noise than did its older shellac cousin. However, Columbia's big rival, RCA Victor then produced the seven inch 45 rpm vinyl disc. These could hold as much sound as the 12" 78 rpm discs they were to replace, but were much smaller and attractive.

Here is what RCA Victor's original 45 looked like. This image was kindly supplied by Jules Woodell who manages the Record Collector's Glossary Note the large centre hole which needs an adaptor to make it fit a regular UK style spindle was already a feature and that coloured vinyl was not such a novelty in the 1940s!

This early demonstration copy carried a recording of a salesman extolling the virtues of the new format.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Top 10 Album Covers of All Time

I so remember getting a new album and even before I could play that awesome tune I had to check out every inch of the cover. I still love the thrill of seeing the artistic and bazaar creations that go into a cover. Hi Fi has recently started using album covers in it's jewelry (pics to surface soon) so on that note here is an article I found about the top ten album covers of all time.
P.S. I find that whipped cream girl cover all the time.

To find out what the top album covers of all time the non profit Vinyl Record Day (VRD) sought out public opinion rather than a panel of judges. Tallying submissions received through the VRD web site and radio stations around the US, the results were as diverse as the art form itself. Hundreds of titles were named. The Top Ten below represent one definite conclusion of the poll; it proved once more art is in the eye of the beholder.

Considering there were hundreds of titles submitted it's a little surprising a top vote getter did surface, but the Beatles Sgt. Pepper led all others as the top album cover of all time. Proving record sales aren't a factor when it comes to appreciating cover art, the next highest vote went to Herb Alpert's, Whipped Cream and Other Delights. The Beatles sold over 11 million copies of their record; Herb's sold just 500,000 copies. Yet ask a solidly Baby Boomer male to name a couple of all time favorite album covers and you can bet you'll see that gleam in the eye as you hear a tale of the girl in whipped cream long before you hear about those Beatle jackets.

As a group, multiple titles in the catalog of Journey and the Stones ranked high in having some of the best cover art. Journey's Escape cover with the bolting sun ship was a favorite as was the group's Evolution cover. The Stones, the only music artists with two LP covers in the top ten had Sticky Fingers, Tattoo You, and Their Satanic Majesty's Request named as some of the group's best cover art work.

Other group's whose catalog was recognized for its cover art work are Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Queen. Other Beatle favorites named include Revolver, Rubber Soul and the anti cover, the Beatles White Album.

Though Rock ruled, voters did not limit their choices to this single genre or era. Jazz great Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew", with its strange flow of bright colors turning into faces was a favorite as were the dark and sultry covers for Henry Mancini's Mr. Lucky and Peter Gunn soundtracks. Also cited as among the best covers of all time were the Classical music album covers of the father of Album Cover Art, Alex Steinweiss.

With selections by orchestra leaders such as Acquavira, Al Sack and Bob Hurd, the poll showed an artist's or group's popularity was not a factor in selecting the greatest album covers of all time. Poetic titles weren't required either as Frank Zappa's Weasels' Ripped My Flesh, Hair of the Dog from Nazareth, and Best Dressed Chicken in Town from Dr. Alimantado were also named as best album covers.

Oddities were popular as the paper panties of Alice Cooper's School Out, the unusual shaped covers of the Stones, Traffic and others, and Jimi Hendrix' harem of topless beauties on the European release of Electric Ladyland, a cover banned in the US, were all submitted as aficionado favorites.

Honorable Mentions; great album covers not forgotten include Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours and daughter Nancy's Boots with the controversial linear notes. Santana's Abraxax, Art Crum's cartoon cover on Janis Joplin's Cheap Thrills, London Calling, the Clash's updated version of the first Elvis album cover were deemed among the classics of Album Cover Art. Jimi Hendrix, Iron Maiden and Journey received "Any of them" votes. Lounge covers as represented by the Jackie Gleason covers of hot blondes with cigarettes and martinis were a favorite genre as well as the YES covers of Roger Dean.

Many voters went beyond just listing their favorite LP covers as the personal connection to their nominations was significant to why the selections were made. Participants cited remembering carefully placing the new gleaming black record on the turntable then analyzing for hours with great fascination the covers that were shining examples of visual art. Other voters made their selections entirely on emotion; they were favorites because of the link to exact moments in one's life; what they were doing, where they were or who they were with when they first saw the covers, an experience completely separate from listening to the music.

Whether we relate a personal experience to it or not, the art form uniquely portrayed who we were, we saw ourselves reflected back to ourselves in ways that no other medium could attempt. With limitless creative boundaries Album Cover Art depicted fifty years of each era's fashion, life styles and social values. Rembrandt, not the group, would be proud.

How to Make a Vinyl Record


I come from a long line of collectors. My mother collected antiques and China cups, my Aunt collects antiques and kitchen items and my Sister collects a little bit of everything. My collections range from vintage orange kitchen items to table lighters (at last count I had over 350). But one of my favorite collections is also my hobby and that is taking pics of vintage neon signs.

It started along with the start of my relationship to my husband. Almost 14 years ago my husband and I had been dating for about a month when we decided to take a vacation together to Yellowstone. Now this could have really been a breaking point as we had not known each other that long and it is a wicked long drive to Montana (and I tend to talk a lot). But thankfully it turned out to be one of my favorite trips of all time. We camped in Yellowstone for almost a week, saw amazing wildlife and sites and fell in love. This October we will celebrate 12 years of marriage and we have 2 amazing kids to show for it.

So how does sign picture taking work into this you say? Well, on our trip we stopped in a small qaint town in Colorado a little over half way to Yellowstone. We stayed at a motel from the 50's and took a drive around the small town to take in the local culture. All around this town were the most amazing vintage neon signs including our hotel. My very patient, one day husband, would pull over so I could get of a pic of these amazing historical signs and I was hooked.

Years later I never get tired of collecting these pictures of creative artistic signs. I have taken pictures from Canada to Texas and anywhere I can in between. This is a picture I took this week of a lovely sign (especially since it has orange in it) in Dallas, Texas.