Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Woodpecker Toothpick Dispenser

Growing up, this woodpecker was in my life and kitchen constantly. I can’t imagine anyone in the 1950′s or 60′s not making the same statement so ubiquitous was this little plastic bird with the incredibly sharp I-poked-holes-in-my-fingers-so-many-times-don’t-ask tongue.

He was also a big staple at the voluminous amounts of delicatessens that paved the streets of my hometown, Detroit. I guess it was a way of making sure that kids, eager to shove his head into his tree branch of toothpicks, kept their teeth clean after they chomped down on the sugar-spiked goodies our mom’s thought was so good for us back in the day.

But this woodpecker doesn’t feast on just any toothpick. It’s gotta be the old-style flat, contoured toothpicks as the round ones, far better for picking your teeth, are just too fat to fit in his snakelike tongue.

The packaging is as good as the woodpecker himself.

Who wouldn’t want to stick something in their mouth that was clean and handy?

The woodpecker only does one thing. He bobs his head up and down. But in case that’s too complex to figure out there are also handy directions.

I have a big day today. A lunch date and two recording sessions. It’s not the most attractive thing to be walking around with junk in your choppers so say hello to my little friend who will be waiting in the car to make sure I remain “clean and handy” throughout the day.

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Categories: Accessories, Animals, Bar accessory, Birds, Furniture and Housewares, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Owl String Painting

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In the 1960′s and 70′s when string paintings were at the peak of their popularity more string owls lived on wallpapered and wood paneled walls inside houses than real ones lived outside. I never took the craft up. The strings  in the crowded areas reminded me of tiny spider legs. The nails were tiny and unless you hit them dead on the black velvet would twist around the shaft and pucker everywhere. Then the string, or in this case yarn, had to be pulled completely taunt or you’d have a sagging bird. All those crisscrossing strings gave me Vertigo, especially when it got to places like around the eyes where there were so many of them it was like a spider convention at The Sheraton. This was way too precise of a task for a free-form, spontaneous artist such as myself. I felt the same way about Spirographs.

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Categories: Animals, Art, Birds, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Nature, Painting

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Hartz Mountain Song Food Can

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This can of Song Food has stared at and inspired many a singer at my place including Bob Dylan, James Brown, Cyndi Lauper and hundreds more. I’ve never owned a canary (though my trained parakeet, Pepi, was one of my favorite pets ever), but the can has sat atop every pair of speakers in my recording studio since my very first hit. It first adorned a set of Auratones, excessively cheap but vital sound boxes that no matter how great of speakers you had you always had to play your mixes through to know what they’d sound like on the radio.  It’s still sitting on one of my Mackies today.

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Categories: Animals, Birds, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Outdoor Transistor Radio-Mania

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I love actual owls and ladybugs but none so much as these transistorized versions. I have entire zoos and forests of these things but these are two of my favorites – a ladybug who, when you twist her left eyeball, opens her wing to expose a still working speaker and an owl who, when you twist her right pink rhinestone eyeball, chirps the sound of AM radio as clear as the day she was hatched. I bought the owl in the early ’80s and she still works perfectly despite the fact that I’ve never changed her batteries.
The ladybug, all plastic and made in Hong Kong by Sonnet, British Design, is 5 inches long and an inch and a half tall and counting. She comes with a convenient wrist strap and two rubber antennae.
The owl, made in Japan, is 8 inches tall and fat with a plastic body and gold medal wings, eyes, legs and speaker holes in the crotch.

I love actual owls and ladybugs but none so much as these transistorized versions. I have entire zoos and forests of these things but these are two of my favorites – a ladybug who, when you twist her left eyeball, opens her wing to expose a still working speaker and an owl who, when you twist her right pink rhinestone eyeball, chirps the sound of AM radio as clear as the day she was hatched. I bought the owl in the early ’80s and she still works perfectly despite the fact that I’ve never changed her batteries.  

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Categories: Accessories, Animals, Birds, Gadgets, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Memorabilia, Music, Nature

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Vintage Concrete Pink Flamingos

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These three beauties are the real deal, the kind that used to bake in the sun in Florida in the 1950′s glory days of pink flamingos, not the hideous shocking pink plastic repros that proliferate in catalogs today. These gals are made of solid concrete and weigh a ton; even the baby is a 10 pounder.

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Categories: Birds, Los Angeles, Nature

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – String Art Owl

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In the 1970′s, more owls lived on wood paneled walls than in trees. The owl is clearly the National Bird in the state of Kitsch as flocks of them thrive in burnt metal, ceramic and the all important Hi Art of Kitsch, String Paintings. This one is especially fancy, incorporating mohair yarn as feathers and a driftwood perch.

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Categories: Animals, Art, bad art, Birds, Crafts, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Nature, Painting

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