Jeff R. Lonto: Chronicles from the Analog Age

Intriguing grab bag of pop culture ephemera

Jeff R. Lonto is a pop-culture historian whose books on radio and breweriana [1 2 3] led to the formation of his own Studio Z-7 imprint. Lonto has an eye for obscure topics – such as the history of regional big-box retailing – that reveal interesting lessons in cultural history. He has a flair for story telling and a good sense of irony – not least of which is publishing a large format book of short articles in the age of the blog. But given the era about which he writes – the 1920s through the 1970s – a paper edition is fitting to the material. The twenty pieces have no pattern or story arc, but instead form a grab bag of pop culture ephemera that can be picked up and set down without losing your place. Highlights include articles on 1950s civil defense (including a description of emergency radio’s evolution from CONELRAD to EBS to the current EAS), the infamous one-episode Turn On television program, 50 songs that were banned or changed for radio play, and a look at the origins of French’s mustard and its forgotten advertising mascot, Hot Dan the Mustard Man. The book features a selection of ironic period advertisements and is capped with an all-too-believable essay about a fictional lard-based dessert shake. Lonto is adept at rekindling the excitement that greeted cultural innovations – such as the building and expansion of a local movie theater – that are now taken nearly for granted. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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