19 articles by Baron von Swankenstein

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Roman Gheesling aka Baron von Swankenstein, is that swingin' mad scientist who celebrates Halloween year round. He also holds a BFA in Graphic Design.

People still dig vinyl records. Of course, you, as a swinging Lounge Revivalist, knew that already. A big deal was made this year when Jack White cut a live version of the title track to his album Lazaretto, rushed it to press, and had the vinyl in-store for sale the same day. And fans, and a lot of the media, acted like they’d never heard the phrase “publicity stunt” before. White’s vinyl had some interesting special features: A hand-etched hologram;...

Lounge Revivalists use a lot of different words for “old” — “vintage,” “retro,” “classic,” and “nostalgic.” And because of our Cold War era preferences, you also see “atomic age” and “mid-century” used as well. One word you don’t see used a lot, at least by men, is “antique.” It’s just not macho. The very word “antique” brings to mind the unmanly concept of fragile porcelain items that sit on top of lace doilies collecting dust. Squaresville. “Antique” also suggests the...

When I first got into the Lounge Revival scene, I continually wondered why original era Lounge music was so saccharine. It wasn’t all that way, of course. If it were all that way, Lounge Revival would never have become a 1990s fad never mind a modern living subculture. But you have to admit: For every “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra, there’s some awful Les Baxter cover by Ferrante & Teicher. I am sure the diabetes-inducing sweetness of...

Every mid-century maven knows Pan Am. All swank jet-setting dreams began with the famed airline. The first to employ luxury jetliners (Boeing 707s in 1958 and Boeing 747s in 1970), Pan Am was one of the founders of the commercial Jet Age. With 86 destination countries on all six major continents at its peak in 1968, the Pan Am name was synonymous with style, luxury, and glamour. Pan Am pilots held the same esteem as doctors and Pan Am stewardesses...

In the middle of the twentieth century, fear and paranoia were ingrained into the subconscious of every American. The 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite had Americans wary of Soviet attack from the skies. And the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 assured the world that Soviet Premier Khrushchev was serious in his threat when he said “We will bury you.” The spectre of mutually assured destruction was ingrained throughout much of American culture. In movie theaters, Soviet invasion of America...

After Playboy magazine made its mark in the early 1950s, imitators of all kinds sprang up with titles like Sir, Knight, and Gent. In 1957, one publisher took a devilish bent and called its new magazine Satan. Satan was little more than a Playboy clone. Both magazines had pin-ups, articles on the urban bachelor lifestyle, a jokes page, and an iconic anthropomorphic mascot. But maybe they were on to something at Satan. As evidenced by films such as Rosemary’s Baby...

The Golden Age of Las Vegas has been over for quite some time. If you don’t count auxiliary members like Shirley MacLaine, Buddy Greco, or Angie Dickinson, the last member of The Rat Pack, Joey Bishop, passed away in 2007. He outlived Frank by 9, Dino by 12, Sammy by 17, and Peter by 23 years. Even the buildings, which are supposed to outlive those who built and inhabited them, are gone. The Sands Hotel and Casino — Rat Pack...

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