Author Archives: jonmwessel

A Most Beautiful Suicide

Shortly before 10:30 am, May 1st, 1947, 23 year-old Evelyn McHale bought a ticket to the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. Ten minutes later patrolman John Morrissey, who was directing traffic below, noticed a white scarf floating down from the upper floors of the building then heard a crash. Evelyn had stepped out on the parapet, jumped, cleared the setbacks and landed on the roof of a United Nations limousine parked on 34th Street, some 200 hundred feet west of Fifth Avenue. Robert Wiles, a sometime cabbie and “photography student” saw the commotion and rushed across the street where, standing on the sidewalk only a few feet from the car, he took his iconic photo of Evelyn just four minutes after her death.

Photo by Robert Wiles

Still clutching her pearl necklace with her gloved hand, Evelyn looks disarmingly placid and composed—as if she was simply asleep. Around her, however, the broken glass and crumpled sheet metal of a car roof shows how brutally destructive her 1040-foot jump was. Wiles, perhaps inadvertently, managed to capture in a single photograph both grace and beauty as well as and horror and death. The image remains as haunting and affecting as it did some 60 years ago. Wiles’ photo was first published as the “Picture of the Week” in the May 12th, 1947 issue of Life Magazine. It was reprinted in a number of photography annuals and several Best of Life anthologies.  Wiles would never publish another photo. (text by Codex99)

Police observe the body minutes after her jump

Police remove Evelyn’s body

33rd St. Observation Deck

Evelyn with her nephew Bobby 1945

Evelyn Francis McHale

The Amazing Ericofone

The Ericofon is a one-piece plastic telephone created by the Ericsson Company of Sweden and marketed through the second half of the 20th century. Because of its styling and its influence on future telephone design, the Ericofon is considered one of the most significant industrial designs of the 20th century. It is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In Sweden, the Ericofon is known as the cobra telephone for its resemblance to a coiled snake.

The Ericofon was designed in the late 1940s by a design team including Gösta Thames, Ralph Lysell, and Hugo Blomberg. The two major components of the telephone, the handset and the dial, are combined in a single unit. This one-piece design anticipated the evolution of the typical cordless phone and cell phone by several decades. Serial production began in 1954. Early models were sold only to institutions, but in 1956 production for the open market began in Europe and Australia.

When it was introduced on the U.S. market, the Ericofon was available in 18 colors, but after transfer of production to North Electric, the number of colors was reduced to eight. A small number of phones with clear and metallic finishes were produced for special promotions. The most popular and widely produced colors were bright red and bright white. Other colors included various pastel shades of blue, green, and pink. The phone was never produced in black.

God Bless Lili St. Cyr

Willis Marie Van Schaack (June 3, 1918 – January 29, 1999), known professionally as Lili St. Cyr.                  Tall, beautiful and statuesque Lili St. Cyr was the queen of burlesque throughout the 40’s and 50’s when burlesque/stripping was considered lewd and immoral, however Ms. St. Cyr’s reputation was that of a quality and high-class performer. Lili would make her name by offering elaborate stage shows w/ just a hint of actual nudity. Her most famous show, one that would be copied by tons of other performers, centered around Lili in a bathtub discreetly covered by bubbles.

While performing in 1947 at Ciro’s nightclub in Hollywood (billed as the “Anatomic Bomb”), St. Cyr was arrested and taken to court by a customer who considered her act lewd. St. Cyr insisted to the jury that her act was refined and elegant. As St. Cyr pointed out, what she did was slip off her dress, try on a hat, slip off her brassiere (there was another underneath), slip into a négligée. Then, undressing discreetly behind her maid, she stepped into a bubble bath, splashed around, and emerged, more or less dressed. After just 80 minutes of deliberation St. Cyr was acquitted – and became even more famous/infamous.

St. Cyr tried an acting career in the 50’s – financed by Howard Hughes. Small roles as harem girls or strippers (Norman Mailer’s Naked and the Dead) didn’t provide much artistic input for Lili, so she went back to what she knew best – burlesque.

Lili called it a day in the 70’s opening a lingerie business called “The Undie-World of Lili St. Cyr” and retired to her Hollywood apartment -“A quiet life with just some cats”. She eventually passed away at the age of 80 in 1999.



Censored Album Covers

Below are a few album covers that for one reason or another, were just too offensive for the public. Most seem ridiculous by todays standard – one seems really justified.

Roxy Music – Country Life. All Roxy LPs up to this point had sexy women on the cover but this one went one step further featuring semi-nude women in see through underwear, (there was even a rumor that the woman on the right was a man?!). Roxy’s label Island quickly caved into the controversy releasing the second printing with just the background, erasing the women all together and creating an exceptionally ugly cover for a very fashion conscious band.

Tad – 8-Way Santa. Seattle rockers Tad created one of the funniest LP covers to come out of the Seattle scene (or any scene for that matter). A found photo of a happy man grouping his happy girlfriend. No rights to the photo, no worries. When the LP was released it wasn’t long before the couple (now born again christians) came forward causing a stink forcing Tad and SubPop to dump the cover and replace it with the band and a bunch of cows. Side Note: 8-Way Santa is apparently slang for either a sex act or a drug experience (or both).

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet. Very simple – in 1968 it was bad taste to show a toilet. And this toilet in a Porsche dealership in LA was just too much for the tender eyes of the public.The new cover w/ a pretty cool interior gatefold is less than inspired.

The Black Crowes – amorica. Just say NO to pubic hair. The new cover? An Exacto knife and a black piece of construction paper fixes any problem.

Janes Addiction – Ritual de Habitual. Offending genitalia on lead singer Perry Ferrel’s very cool diorama. Simply and effectively replaced w/ the 1st Amendment.

Alice Cooper – Love it to Death. Alice, what a jokester. Putting you thumb through a hole in your cape suggesting your penis. So shocking. Well, no problem – just airbrush out his whole arm. Easy peasy.

David Bowie – Diamond Dogs. A beautiful gatefold cover by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert. Originally painted and released in 1974 w/ Bowie having dog genitalia. Later released w/ the offending member airbrushed out and replaced by a weird black blob.

GN’R – Lies. This is sort of a subtle one. In the lower left corner the headline “Wife beating has been around for 10,000 years” is replaced by LIES LIES LIES and in the middle right “Ladies welcome to the dark ages” is replaced by “Elephant gives birth to a midget”.

Scorpions – Lovedrive. Voted the Best LP cover by Playboy in 1979 and the worst cover by everyone else, Lovedrive’s confusing cover was just too much for most. The even uglier blue metal scorpion was the obvious choice for a replacement.

Pantera – Far Beyond Driven. The logical choice to replace a drill in the ass is a drill in the head – ’nuff said.

Tin Machine 2. David Bowie’s second LP as a band depicted drawings of Egyptian statues (I think), w/ penises. Solution – Break ’em off (and change the type placement).

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction. The original Robert Williams painting of a robotic rapist was dropped for the more awe inspiring “Band as Skeletons” approach, inspiring a thousand college boy tattoos forever.

The Beatles – Yesterday and Today. This is the one everybody knows. Getting tired of their American label chopping up their British albums to podge together songs for their US releases The Beatles released the infamous Butcher Block cover. 750,000 copies were shipped but quickly recalled because of complaints. Some survived w/ DJs and shop owners but most were returned and a boring photo was quickly slapped over the offending original. You can see a faint outline of Ringos hair and turtleneck on the right if you own a paste over copy. The originals in good shape sell for a few $1000.

Wayne Cochran and his Fabulous White Pompadour

Talvin Wayne Cochran (May 10, 1939 – November 21, 2017) aka, The White Knight of Soul.

Influenced by the country and RNB, Cochran fronted his first band – a group called the Rockin’ Capris – as a teenager, and eventually left high school to pursue music as a full-time career. He relocated to Macon, GA where he befriended Otis Redding (playing bass guitar on Redding’s early recording of “Shout Bamalama” and its B-side, “Fat Girl”) and recorded his first single, “The Coo”, which attracted the attention of King Records. Cochran became close friends with King labelmate James Brown, whose stage show and road band influenced his own performing style and inspired him to assemble his own soul revue, the C. C. Riders, which occasionally featured as many as 14 musicians plus two female backing vocalists, the Sheer Delights.

Wayne is best known for writing the song “Last Kiss” that would years later become a hit for Pearl Jam (?!) and of course his mile high hair. Wayne spent his final days as an evangelical minister in Miami FL. passing away in 2017 at the age of 78

With a bearded Elvis Presley

The very frightened Mrs. Cochran

Wayne and Jackie Gleason

Wayne and James Brown. What is up w/ yer junk, man?

Praising the lord – Reverand Wayne Cochran

Bruce Gilden – Photography

Bruce Gilden (1946) is a New York based street photographer best known for his extreme spontaneous portraiture. Crooked faces, bad skin, bad teeth, scars and dirt all are all represented right up front in Mr Gilden’s amazing photography. His first major project was of people at Coney Island, (seen in a couple of theses shots). He has photographed people on the streets of New York, Japanese Yakuza, mobsters, homeless people, prostitutes, and members of bike gangs.