THE 100 COOLEST POP CULTURE
#100 BLACK BEAUTY from THE GREEN HORNET
When the Batman TV show debuted in
1966, the world was introduced to the incredible Batmobile.
Producer William Dozier was able to use the show's success to launch
another campy superhero show, The Green Hornet, and of course he
needed a cool car, too! The converted 1966 Chrysler Crown
Imperial designed by Dean Jeffries was more than up for the task.
Corgi made a kickass die-cast version
of the car. I'll never forget how happy I was when my mom
brought a used one of these home that she found on a city bus when
she was coming home from work. It had a little Green Hornet
and Kato inside, and you could twist a knob so Kato could shoot his
gun outside the window.
Karl Kirschner is the lucky bastard
that owns this car today, and you can
HERE to see what he's done with it, including some cool new
photos of the badass ride.
#99 U91035 PROTEUS FROM FANTASTIC VOYAGE
1966 was a golden age for cool pop
culture vehicles. Aside from the earthbound cars, there's the
amazing U91035 Proteus from the film Fantastic Voyage. The
Proteus is a nuclear submarine, that with it's crew, was shrunk down
to a microscopic size and injected into the blood stream of a dying
scientist to zap at an inoperable blood clot. For many Sci-Fi
fans, the thought of Raquel Welch floating around in your body was
simply delightful. I sometimes wish Raquel could shrink down,
get inside of me, and then grow to full size so we can be as one.
At least that's what the voices say is best.
HERE to see a cool model of the craft in action skimming the
surface of fantastic swimming pool. You can view larger
versions of these pictures by clicking the thumbnails below.
#98 THE LAND SPEEDER FROM STAR WARS
What a thrill, to be a young moisture farmer,
cruising 12-14 inches over the sands of Tatooine at a blistering 30
miles per hour! I always loved the design of Luke Skywalker's
Land Speeder, despite it's impractical design (how on earth would it
handle bumps or inclines without crashing is a secret Jedi mystery).
There's a gentleman who's selling a custom made drivable kit-car
(pictured below) that you can bid on if you
FUN FACT: Sir Alec Guinness' nickname for his penis
was "The Gland Speeder"
#97 THE SILVER SURFER'S SURFBOARD
I don't understand why Norrin Radd was so
tormented. Galactus was going to eat his planet, so to save his home
world (the not so savable sounding Zenn-La) he volunteered to become his
herald and find other planets for Galactus to eat instead (what a noble
guy). So he gets transformed into a chrome coated dude who flies
through space on a special surfboard that he can control with his mind!
What's the problem? There's a million skaters on Earth that would
volunteer for that job, and let Galactus eat Earth as thanks! Jack
Kirby created The Silver Surfer, who first appeared in a Fantastic Four
comic back in 1966.
Years later, a drunken Jack Kirby stumbled
into the offices of DC Comics and tried to recreate his success by
creating a hero just like The Silver Surfer, but to reflect the early 70s
culture changes, he made him a black guy on skis creatively named "The
Black Racer". The Black Racer holds the distinction of being the
only black skier in fiction, or reality.
#96 THE AMC PACER
The marvelously bizarre Pacer made its
debut in 1976. So stylish and "futuristic" this car is easily one of the
most recognizably weird automobiles of its time. The intent was to give
you, "broad expanses of glass for virtually 360 degrees of visibility",
but what it really did was give you broad auto-glass repair bills because
nobody but the AMC dealers had that strange rounded shape if you ever
needed to fix it.
It was a tough car to have private make-out
sessions in, that's for sure. Unless you could find girls that were in to
indulging their fish tank fetish, it was not built for romancing.
I miss the cool cars of AMC. There was a
wonderful ugliness about them that is still charming to this day. To
think that a 70s family or a young adult ready for their first car would
haggle for hours to finally drive a new Pacer or Gremlin home says oodles
for the culture of the time. We've loved goofy cars in all eras. Lord
only knows what website will be making fun of our SUV obsession 40 years
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#96 LITTLE NEMO'S BED
Little Nemo was a great
surreal comic strip drawn by Windsor McCay (who coincidentally is a great
godfather of animation, with his experimental "Gertie The Dinosaur" having
the significance of being the first cartoon ever shown in a theater).
Nemo would go to bed, doze off, and end up in all kinds of crazy
adventures, often with his bed flying around, or in the case of the comic
strip below (click for the full size version) it grew legs like an AT-AT
walker and traipsed about town.
#95 S.H.I.E.L.D. HELICARRIER
The Helicarrier was a clunky seemingly
impossible to stay airborne monstrosity that was used by Nick Fury and the
other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 60s Marvel comic. Its original
design was a titanic sized behemoth that could stay aloft with 6 well
placed copter blades and a mysterious "gyro-complex heli-carrier
stabilizer" (which coincidentally is now standard in all Toyota Camrys).
My first exposure to the ship was in the late 70s Godzilla comic, in which
the red headed and temper-prone Dum Dum Dugan used it to chase Godzilla
across America. In fact, the ship had a temporary demise when a
chunk of bridge thrown by Hercules at Zilla missed and smashed into it
instead. For a ridiculously thorough history of this amazing ship,
#94 MARIO KART
The Italians have long been known for their
world-class auto manufacturing abilities, and the versatile and
high-performance Mario Kart is no exception to their wonderful legacy.
In 1992, Super Mario Kart debuted for the Super Nintendo system, and
there's a been a variant upgrade of the game for every subsequent Nintendo
system ever since, including an unlicensed Hentai game in Japan called
"Mario Kart: Double Gash: Bukkakequest" that was pulled from the shelves
about as quickly as it debuted. I often find myself whistling the
Mario Kart theme while I drive about town and throw banana peels at the
cars behind me to unwind after work. If anyone knows of a place I can find
cheap turtle shells to chuck out my window, I'm all ears.
Thor Heyerdal was one bad ass dude.
In 1947, he proved that one could have sailed a boat made out of reeds and
sailed it 4,000 miles from South America to the Polynesian Islands.
The boat, named Kon-Tiki,
was made entirely out of balsawood, and aside from a radio to keep contact
with rescue vehicles if need be, had only the the primitive materials that
the ancient Incan people would have used. The book, Kon-Tiki, was a
thrilling elementary school staple for years, and I am saddened to learn
that it's not a part of many children's curriculum any longer. Thor
went on to make a papyrus boat called Ra-II which sailed across the
Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Central America that was also a success.
Unfortunately, in 1985, his ill-fated trip to travel to the middle of the
earth through an active volcano using only a case of Big League Chew and a
gallon of goat sperm were met with tragic results.