Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

The Bill Tracy Project

Published April 2, 2010 by Molly

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Apropos of our post on the Theme Park Maps archive, WLYS reader Hugh kindly pointed us in the direction of the Bill Tracy Project. Reader, if you are interested in spelunking down into your most fearful childhood memories, we’d recommend you start paying attention right now.

According to its manifesto, the Bill Tracy Project is a website founded in order to “consolidate all known Bill Tracy information into one dedicated resource, thus, creating the largest official source of information pertaining to this subject in existence.” Um…who is the Bill Tracy to whom we owe such a fervent resource? Good question!

As for an answer, hmm. Where to begin. Tracy was a master of dark rides—theme park rides, that is, designed to convey guests through an indoor space. Early dark ride technology centered around things like ultraviolet lights and fluorescent paint and moved onto mechanically complex systems designed to give the illusion of, say, a female victim being severed in two by a circular saw.

Tracy’s hallmarks included complex facades and detail-oriented creepiness, and some of his most famous rides included the Whacky Shack at Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas and The Haunted House at Trimper’s Amusements in Ocean City, Maryland. Check out the site’s insanely comprehensive biography as well as the section full of rad concept drawings and ride layouts. Spectacular!


Published February 18, 2010 by Molly




The word “nostalgia” is a compound from ancient Greek consisting of νόστος, or nóstos (”returning home”) and ἄλγος or álgos (”ache”). Etymologies don’t get much more beautiful than that. In 1688 a Swiss doctor identified nostalgia as a medical disease— a kind of hypochondria of the heart. For the next couple of centuries people went on suffering and being diagnosed with this beautiful disease.

A professor of Slavic languages at Harvard named Svetlana Boym spent years studying various manifestations of nostalgia, and determined that there were two distinct types of the sensation. One she called “reflective nostalgia”, which consisted of longing for the past without denying the present. The second type she called “restorative nostalgia”, which involves inventing a tradition to make the past more coherent.

We thought of these things when confronted with Hollis Brown Thornton’s work. With its circuit boards, snow monsters, and stacked VHS tapes, Thornton’s images are nothing if not material evocations of that peculiar sweet-sour nostalgia feeling. The reflective kind, to be precise.

Trevor Burks

Published December 2, 2009 by Graham


Perusing the website of designer Rob Matthews (whose zine, If Drawings Were Photographs, we posted about recently), I came across a boss illustrator named Trevor Burks, Matthews’ dear friend and the inspiration for an amusingly creepy art piece/t-shirt entitled I Miss Trevor Burks. Burks’ cleanly geometrical drawings seem to suggest the story of a generation growing up on a trajectory parallel to the increasingly complex polygons of their video game platforms. He also made an awesome mural depicting a dog licking a cat licking a gnome.

Perhaps the most intriguingly nostalgic series in Burks portfolio is Skate Myths, a set of drawings examining “personal mythologies surrounding growing up skateboarding in a small town.” Burks was kind enough to break down some of the influences behind these pieces for We Love You So:

The illustrations were based off of different environments we would skate as kids, and the characters were constructed with forms and colors from their surroundings with the idea that those were an integral part of our personalities. All of the gestures and interactions between the characters were formed from real situations too.


Every now and then when we skated in public, a small audience would gather; generally one or two younger kids who were horribly fascinated by what we were doing (despite how well we were doing it). In one illustration that character is shown as a kid with a grass and dirt colored head holding a football as he watches an older kid with a cement colored head skate in a parking lot.


Another thing we would do was alter our surroundings to make them more skate-friendly. It was so natural back then to put together some janky set-up to skate on. It might have been the juvenile carelessness of looking at the world of objects exclusively for their form and how we could use it to our advantage, but it was creation at its purest and we loved it. As children, our attempt to rationalize only went so far, we had to fill the rest of our time with our emotional response to the environment.


Kenneth Cappello’s Acid Drop

Published November 4, 2009 by Graham


David LaChapelle cohort and rad fashion photographer Kenneth Cappello wasn’t always entrenched in the glamorous world of Hollywood starlets– once upon a time Cappello was just another punk kid in Houston, Texas, taking pictures of his friends on their boards. In his collection Acid Drop, the sharply observant photographer teleports us to a moment of idealized suburban angst, eye-popping duds and gravity-defying hairstyles. Released through Tiny Vices and the Aperture Foundation, Acid Drop is a photographic marvel and, yes, a nostlgaic love song to a specific era– but it’s also a reflection of a universal adolescent spirit.


What Would Albert Einstein Wear (WWAEW?)

Published September 23, 2009 by Molly

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You could call it déjà vu, but that wouldn’t exactly hit the nail on the head. What we need is a word to describe “nostalgia for things we haven’t even experienced”. Things like transistor radios, soda counters, and rabbit-earred televisions. Wes Anderson is a connoisseur of this sensation. No doubt the French have ten different words for it.

For those who enjoy that particular mixture of recognition and longing, there are better places in which to wallow than on eBay. Namely J. Peterman, an outfit rigorously devoted to That Feeling and offering all manner of things to invoke it: the pipe that Mark Twain toted, a leather bomber that replicates those worn by the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1927, and the kind of wool sweater that Captain Ahab likely wore before being smoked by Moby-Dick (spoiler alert?)

Best of all are the monkey socks. J. Peterman really killed it with this one. Rockford “red heel” socks are those iconic wearables found on the feet of Ansel Adams, John Kennedy and Albert Einstein, among others. Constructed from chocolate-brown heather with a cream border and that fire-engine heel, the Rockford socks could easily be the only pair of socks you ever wear.

The Daughters of Job

Published July 16, 2009 by Graham


Alison Malone’s photo series The Daughters of Job explores both the eerily spectacular and sadly quotidian aspects of being a teenage girl in a Masonic cult/youth group. As a former member of the Daughters, Malone was granted unprecedented access to document the secretive group. Her unique perspective also lends the photographs an air of nostalgia as she searches for meaning in the sacred geometry of these Pennslyvanian Masonic lodges.