Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic & Kitschy American Life & Style
By: Charles Phoenix
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
Publication Date: October 2017
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Charles Phoenix, the "Ambassador of Americana," is at it again with a fantastic collection of all things "Americana" in his latest book, Addicted to Americana.
First, a little background. What exactly is "Americana"? Loosely defined, it's anything (buildings, advertisements, license plates, etc.,) that are vestiges of an earlier time in America, a time people associate with small towns and happier days. With seven books to his credit, all focusing on various aspects of Americana, Charles Phoenix is addicted to finding cool nostalgic things that trigger wonderful memories of those times from the 50's and 60's. In this, his newest book, Phoenix has amassed a great collection of "things" from that long ago era.
Addicted to Americana is divided into several sections - "Themeparkland!," "Let's Eat," and "5-4-3-2-1...Blast-Off!" (travel related things). Themeparkland! includes the early days of Disneyland right through to the Las Vegas strip. With numerous pages dedicated to Disneyland, it's easy to see that this is one of the author's favorite places to visit. Check out the all-plastic house of the future built in 1957 at Disneyland, and learn its history - how, when Disney tried to demolish it, the wrecking ball bounced right off the house! The author managed to track the house to a landfill and suggests we all get together and dig it up. Sounds like fun!
Let's Eat is full of all those vintage restaurants you might expect to see along an old highway. There's so many little eateries to check out here, some even designed to look like the food they serve, such as the "Tail of the Pup" that looks like a hot dog in a bun.
In the Blast Off! section, as expected, there's an homage to various monorails, with, of course, the Disneyland monorail leading the way. There are also some lesser-known monorails such as the Pink Pig featured here. In addition, this section includes trains, planes and automobiles. The author, a big classic car collector, has included a nice assortment of cool cars, from the 1958 Edsel to the 1956 Astra-Gnome.
Addicted to American is, simply put, a fun book. Primarily a photo book, with short factoids about each item, the book is a visual funfest for those who love nostalgia. For those who remember the 50s and/or 60s, the book will be particularly enjoyable. It's also the sort of book that you may want to read by flipping around to those items that catch your eye, rather than read from front to back. With retro colors and fonts that help set the mood, the book is definitely a tribute to all things Americana.
Quill says: Yes, Addicted to Americana is classic, it is kitschy, and it is definitely a lot of fun.