Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Gold Bell Gift Stamps

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Were it not for Gold Bell Gift Stamps I never would’ve had a new blanket or clock radio to go off to college with. I’m not sure where these stamps  were given out in Detroit, where I grew up,  but it had to have been an A&P or Kroger’s as that’s where my mom always did her shopping. I loved licking and pasting in all the stamps she brought home and I collected those books like they were diamonds knowing that I could cash them in on the items of my choice.

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It was definitely looking through the Gold Bell Gift Stamps catalog that my love of catalogs blossomed. It was absolutely mind boggling to me that you could actually get something for free and all it required was licking little stamps and gluing them onto the pages as the book got lumpy and lumpier, looking almost as if a pitcher of water had been poured on it the fuller it got. For someone who’s a paper freak like me it was just as thrilling to fill the book as it was to get the items the books were cashed in to get. In fact, sometimes I got so attached to the books as they warped as more and more stamps were pasted in that the book itself became more precious than the gift it could procure.

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I’m not sure if this hand-painted wooden counter sign was for Gold Bell Gift Stamps or whether there was an entirely different brand called, simply, Gold Stamps:

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Whatever the case, my tattered book of Gold Bell Gift Stamps, ready to be redeemed for a hood hairdryer, mohair argyle sweater or automatic hand mixer, looks very nice sitting next to it.

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I used to pour over this page making sure I had done everything right. I could smell the new pogo stick or 45 player as I filled in my name and address.

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I shall always love Gold Bell Gift Stamps for being a big part of my childhood. Past a certain point I just couldn’t give the books away anymore. I must’ve known somewhere in the back of my head I was going to have the world’s most gigantic memorabilia collection. So I have this book and a few spare stamps and that’s just as good as the portable TV I always wanted which took hundreds and hundreds of books that I never managed to amass before falling for a turtle bowl, dictionary or any of the other smaller gifts that made me feel rich as a Queen.

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Categories: Book, Brands, Detroit, Financial, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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Allee Willis’ Soul O’ The Day – I Love You, Color Purple People… final cast photo

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Last night was the closing of The First National Tour of my musical, The Color Purple.  I had never written a musical before, hardly ever went to see them.  I’m an all-the-way Pop Culture gal and for me this was a medium from ancient times with way too histrionic sounding songs and singers frozen in time.  I was the least likely person in the world to write a musical but write one I did, with Brenda Russell, Stephen Bray and Marsha Norman. We were nominated for 11 Tony’s.  How we even won one, the brilliant LaChanze for Best Actress, was a miracle in the climate on Broadway. (Don’t get me started on that one…). Beyond being eternally proud of the work, especially the uplifting and joyous effect it had on audiences night after night, the most stunning part of the journey was the family of friends I made through the Broadway run and the ensuing national tour.  Right from the beginning when we started writing Purple in 2001 I always heard that  there’s constant bickering among everyone but we were all really friends.  And I mean everyone, from Alice Walker, the Pulitzer prize winning author of the novel, down through us authors, the cast, director, producers, hair, makeup, wigs, production managers, everyone.  I was always being told by other friends who had written for Broadway that by the end no one would ever talk to each other and that so many writers of so many shows, because the experience takes years and is so intense, never end up  speaking unless they write another show and then it’s just about work. Our case always was and remains different. This is a family that will be together forever, bound by an experience where the piece itself was bigger than any one part. Everyone felt chosen and blessed to be a part of The Color Purple. Fantasia WAS Celie.  Watching that journey of her finding herself through this character was a joy and a privilege. Every cast member, starting with the staggering Felicia P. Fields, Tony nominated for Sofia and the first actor we ever cast in 2003, was not only a triple threat – brilliant singers, actors AND dancers, a rare enough find in one person let alone an entire cast – they were a gift for any artist to have interpret their work.

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Categories: Afro, Art, Awards, Book, Celebrity, Creative process, Creativity, empowerment, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Self expression, Songwriting, The Color Purple

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THE COLOR PURPLE coming back to LA. Feb. 10-28

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Fantasia as Celie. Fantastic cast, many from the original Broadway production. Five years of my life into the making of this baby. I’m very proud of it. If you’re in LA come to the Pantages.

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Categories: Afro, Art, Awards, Book, Celebrity, Civil Rights, Creativity, Dance, empowerment, Hats, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Los Angeles, LPs, Music, Nature, Self expression, Songwriting

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1968 Hot Dog Cookbook

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Labor Day’s the last big day of the summer for the hot dog. This gem of a cookbook exalts the foodstuff maintaining that hot dogs “are good for you too”, a premise that’s music to my ears as I love the dogs so. “The fullproof way to family mealtime magic!” include classics like Eggplant And Hot Dog Mountains, Drunken Dogs, Hot Dog ‘n Liver Sausage Loaf, Wilted Lettuce Made With Hot Dogs, Shoestring Hot Dog Dish, Dog and Yam Casserole, Festive Hot Dog SoufflĂ©, Doggy Puffs, French-toasted Surprises, Gourmet Hot Dogs Veal Loaf, Polish Bread Soup with Hot Dogs, I could go on and on because I love hot dogs so but just know that there are hundreds more. There are even two pages on “Purchasing Hot Dogs” as well as a lengthy introduction about Mr. Nathan Handwerker, the man who, despite hot dogs first appearing in St. Louis in 1904, thrust them into the lexicon of pop culture some years later when he erected Nathan’s Famous Coney Island Hot Dog stand where the meat tubes sold for five cents. Handwerker paid handsome young men to dress in starched white doctors uniforms and stethoscopes to eat the wieners in front of the stand until rumor took hold that if doctors ate five cent wieners they have to be good for you.
At the time of publication, 1968 and reprinted in 1983, the author, Mettja C. Roate, claimed that the average American citizen ate 80 hot dogs a year, enough wieners to make three round trips to the moon if they were laid end to end.
Happy Hot Dog Lovin’ Labor Day

Labor Day’s the last big day of the summer for the hot dog. This gem of a cookbook exalts the foodstuff maintaining that hot dogs “are good for you too”, a premise that’s music to my ears as I love the dogs so. “The fullproof way to family mealtime magic!” include classics like Eggplant And Hot Dog Mountains, Drunken Dogs, Hot Dog ‘n Liver Sausage Loaf, Wilted Lettuce Made With Hot Dogs, Shoestring Hot Dog Dish, Dog and Yam Casserole, Festive Hot Dog SoufflĂ©, Doggy Puffs, French-toasted Surprises, Gourmet Hot Dogs Veal Loaf, Polish Bread Soup with Hot Dogs, I could go on and on because I love hot dogs so but just know that there are hundreds of more recipes. There are even two pages on “Purchasing Hot Dogs” as well as a lengthy introduction about Mr. Nathan Handwerker, the man who, despite hot dogs first appearing in St. Louis in 1904, thrust them into the lexicon of pop culture some years later when he erected Nathan’s Famous Coney Island Hot Dog stand where the meat tubes sold for five cents a pup. Handwerker paid handsome young men to dress in starched white doctors uniforms and stethoscopes to eat the wieners in front of the stand until rumor took hold that if doctors ate five cent wieners they have to be good for you.

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Categories: Book, Food, Holidays, Hot Dog Cookbook, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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