“Looks Like It’s Gonna Be A Free Country”: ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’, 1973 – 1976

It’s hard for me to square the aesthetic of these friendly, vivid, hippie-lite cartoons with the messages they convey. The patriotic, even nationalistic approach to American history was nothing if not commonplace in K-8 schools even in the liberal Northeast as late as the 1980s. Plymouth Rock, 1620, taxation without representation, Bunker Hill, Lewis and Clark, Manifest Destiny, Civil War, women’s suffrage: the parade of America’s history presented as a series of easy-to-remember facts and figures…

“I Was Alive and I Waited for This”: Coming of Age at the End of History

By Michael Grasso

I was born in 1975, at the demographic nadir of the 1970s birth trough in America and before the mini Baby Boom of the early ’80s. My birth cohort is small; my grade school classes were the smallest they’d be for the next 30-some odd years. So, as a late Gen-Xer, my oldest pop culture memories are of the late 1970s. I was a kid in the 1980s. But I came of age at the end of history…

Ready Player None: Toppling the Diseased Colossus of Geek Culture

I honestly hadn’t thought about Ready Player One until the movie was announced. Even then, I tried to avoid it. But I finally saw the trailer, against my will, and dear God, what a hideous mess. But hey, I wasn’t going to see it, because I lost my virginity and I’m married to a good-looking man and can watch grown-up films because I’m a Big Girl. Then I read his poetry. And since then, I’ve been training, Linda-Hamilton-in-T2 style, to take this motherfucker down…

“The World’s Great Animals Come to Life”: Safari Cards, 1976 – 1986

Safari Cards were an English translation of a set of collectible zoological information facts first devised and published in Switzerland. Original publisher Éditions Rencontre in Lausanne, Switzerland specialized in subscription encyclopedias and other educational toys in the 1950s and ’60s. Intended explicitly from the very beginning to democratize learning and bring the classics of French-language literature to the public…

Sorry No Gas: Photos from Documerica, 1972 – 1975

At the dawning of the 1970s, Americans were more aware than ever of the great damage more than a century of unrestricted industry had done to their country. With the passing of Richard Nixon’s Reorganization Plan Number 3 by Congress in 1970, the U.S. government welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency to the roster of federal agencies. The EPA was meant to consolidate federal efforts to protect America’s air, water, and soil, and to give environmental protection efforts a fiercer executive independence…

Fontana Modern Masters Cover Gallery, 1970 – 1984

The Fontana Modern Masters series was conceived in the late 1960s at Scottish publishers William Collins & Company’s Fontana imprint. Fontana Books had spent its first decade publishing inexpensive paperback pulp and detective fiction, priced between two and three shillings. But, in May 1968, revolutionary theory and Situationist praxis caught fire in the streets of Paris, as students plastered walls and barricades with catchy slogans meant to détourne the mainstream postwar advertising culture around which they’d grown up…