Tag Archives: Popart

The Smell of the Sixties

I can still smell the sixties sometimes. It had a very particular aerosol type of smell which seemed clean yet overbearing. It was very gay. It was as if one were sniffing Aquanet, new Crayolas, and new Michelin tires while under the influence of a severe sugar rush on the Los Angeles Freeway. The hypnotic scent of Tide detergent, which was to remain as one of my fixations from that era, had the smell of the sixties. I think Tide was so meaningful to me because it had, like Felix and Spic ‘n’ Span, those graduated concentric rings of gleams around the bold “Forward Look”-type logo (which somehow meant some sort of salvation from goodness knows what).  Virgil Exner, who invented the “Forward Look” in the fifties probably hadn’t realized at the time that it would be partially due to his foresight and imagination that products such as Tide, Whisk, and zillions of other daily design experiences would have so much meaning in a six-year old’s life. I sometimes have to face the surreal fact that I was a victim of smell manipulation.  I was twisted around the little finger of cosmetic smell impressions that I was being force-fed, or force-smelled in this case.  Secretly, for years, I had my own type of highs.  When the drug thing was just beginning as a teen, my understanding of it differed greatly from what it actually was. Kologne Kiddles by Mattel, would send me into outer space with the synthetic smell of lilac, strawberry, and rose. The heady experience of a Kola Kiddle, with its sweet odour of purple or pink rubber as only Mattel can manufacture blended with addictive aromatic perfection disguised as cola and diet root beer smells.  Later, with Kosmic Kiddles, I experienced complete harmony with my being, nirvana, as the purple and lime green space saucers had intergalactic homo sex orgies with Upsy-Downsyland creatures. Can anyone deny that the smell of Liddle Kiddles was not totally captivating, hypnotic, enthralling, and addictive?  My harmonic balance would capitulate into the dimension of throbbing pheromonic ecstasy when triggered only by a sniff of a Liddle Kiddle.  However, this was my own experience with ingesting anything artificial. Don’t forget that this was the era when aerosol pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and some type of sweet smell that had the vague title of “floral” were having their big moment in cans. It was so…homo. And, as a side note, I must say, teen boys in the sixties, when they wore any cologne, not only was it homo, but it drove me quite up the wall with some kind of longing. I didn’t know what that longing was, but I wanted to be there! Young man smell with the fake-est smell in the world, surely God did that as some perverse homo trick.