Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bird Dance Beat

This past month has found me heatedly pursuing an item, unlike any other in recent memory. I'd originally been introduced to the Worry Bird years ago via Dan Clowes' and Charles Schneider's similarly named tale from Lloyd Llewellyn #5 ...and there was also the later presence of an Atlanta record label that had adopted its name (and label design) after the same "sub-standard yarn."

I didn't really think much of it until a short time after that, while working behind the counter of a record store, when I experienced a tensed incatenation as I leafed through a CD booklet for a (then) recent Trashmen reissue. It was there that the thought balloon popped and I realized that the mascot emblazoned across their drumhead, standing proudly atop a surfboard while strumming its guitar, was none other than the same goddamn bird!

My search for answers resumed a full decade later, after fording Joey Myers' most excellent photostream. Joey had snapped a quick pic of his Worry Bird and the hunt began anew!

An early capture, this forlorn example is a rare piece of 60s Hawaiiana—an ashtray that stores butts in its rear. You really can't help but feel for this guy... Although not quite Zelig-like in its pervasiveness, who was this feathered fellow and who was the sadistic madman responsible for its design???

And here we have the creature that started the craze and set me tilting. A late 50s / early 60s ceramic novelty nodder, possibly created by Napco Ceramics and definitely made in Japan. Both of these have different tags, but the first one's more poignant (and applicable) and reads: "Don't be sad / Don't be blue / 'Cause I'm the bird / Who'll worry for you." Amen.

My apologies to all those who endured and sincere thanks to all who've helped!


AMber Von Felts said...

The birds are neat but the book is well...disturbing! Any back story on that?

Gonked, Glooked and Slurped! said...

Thanks for noticing, Amber--kind of surprised nobody else had said anything about it!

The book jacket is part of a series of novelty jackets from the 50s. You slapped 'em on any ol' book, shelved 'em and hoped someone would eventually notice--other unsavory and aggressively un-PC titles included "Lynching as a Community Project," "How to Start a Riot," etc. Needless to say, these are pretty rare nowadays.

Charles Schneider, who at least inspired the original "Worry Bird" story, introduced me to these a few years back. The inclusion of the book was a nod of appreciation towards him.