“Spacy Spheres and Funky Shacks”: The Otherworlds of 1971’s ‘Domebook 2’

In the spring of 1971, it seemed everyone on the fringes of mainstream society in North America was trying to build geodesic domes: soaring gridwork domes made of plastic and steel, of wood, of concrete. Inspired by technocratic engineer-turned-counterculture guru and geodesic dome evangelist R. Buckminster Fuller, hundreds of back-to-the-land hippies sought to use his elementary architectural example…

“When Seconds Count”: Reader’s Digest’s ‘What to Do in an Emergency’, 1986

The world is a dangerous place, and nowhere is this more true—subjectively speaking—than in its safest, most fortunate corners. I’ve spoken before about how the postwar UK seemed sometimes to be living in a traumatized fugue state of danger and threat. Here, then, is the bible of that particular belief system: the Reader’s Digest’s 1986 What to Do in an Emergency

“Make Everything Skateable”: Natas Kaupas in ‘Wheels of Fire’, 1987

In 1985, right around the time one Marty McFly made a “board with wheels” out of a 1955 scooter to escape Biff and his goons, the skateboarding industry exploded. Up to then, the unruly and ruleless sport had been dominated by vert skating (pools, half-pipes) and, to a lesser extent, freestyle, where skaters did lots of technical, stationary tricks across a relatively small surface area…