Posts filed under ‘Patio Culture’

New Year’s Eve: Party Like It’s 1959!

Let’s face it…with high unemployment, tensions abroad, expanding Federal debt, and lingering recession, 2009 wasn’t the greatest of years. All the more reason to usher it out on New Year’s Eve with style, retro style that is. What better way to bring in the new than to celebrate the old. Dress up your party buffet table with these classic, and yes kitschy, holiday favorites.

Cheese Fondue

  • 3/4 lb. natural Swiss cheese (about 3 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. enriched flour
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 1/4 cups sauterne
  • dash of freshly ground pepper
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 3 Tbs. cooking sherry
  • French bread, cut into bite sized pieces

Toss cheese with the flour to coat. Rub the inside of the fondue cooker with the garlic. Pour in sauterne, warm just until bubbles start to rise (don’t cover or boil). Stirring constantly, melt the cheese a handful at a time. After cheese is melted, add seasonings and cooking sherry. Add a small amount of warmed sauterne if the fondue becomes too thick during. Makes 5-6 servings.

Hot Black Eyed Pea Dip

  • 1/2 bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, and 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 – 15 oz. cans black eyed peas (one must have jalapeno)
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup bacon drippings
  • 3 Tbsp. flour

Lightly saute the bell pepper, celery, and onion. Add black pepper, Tabasco, catsup, salt, bouillon cubes, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Over low heat cook and stir until it reaches a boil and the cubes have dissolved. Add peas, tomatoes, garlic, and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes. Combine bacon drippings with flour and stir into peas. Cook 10 minutes more until thickened. Stir well and serve in a warm crock pot along with tortilla chips.

Cheese Sputnik

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • American cheese, cubed
  • Swiss cheese, cubed
  • ham, cubed
  • smokey links
  • spam, cubed
  • pineapple, cubed
  • fresh grapes

Trim the bottom of the grapefruit flat and set it on a serving dish. Using toothpicks, spear the cheeses, meats, and fruit then stick the toothpicks into the grapefruit. Arrange evenly to create a “satellite” look. The combination of ingredients served is up to you…be creative. You can even wrap the grapefruit in aluminum foil for an authentic sputnik look!

Chili con Weenie

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. cooking oil
  • 1 – 1 lb. can (2 cups) chili with beans
  • 8 frankfurters, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Brown meat and onion in oil. Add chili, frankfurters, chili sauce, soup, and salt. Heat thoroughly then add green pepper. Garnish with some of the frankfurter slices and black olives. Serve over hamburger buns. Makes 8 servings.

December 27, 2009 at 9:13 am 1 comment

Wishing You A Modern Christmas!

It’s Christmas time at the Patio! What better way to celebrate Christmas present than to bring out Christmas past.

Need new ideas for your holiday party? Then visit the Patio Party Planners Page. The space-age technology of the Lounge-o-Lizer can find that retro cocktail recipe you’ve been looking for and classic holiday buffet recipes abound on Patio Culture’s own Buff-o-Matic.

TV schedules for all of you favorite holiday classics are here too, from Rudolf to Charlie Brown!

Need classic holiday music? Let Bing, Dino, Frank, and the gang spice up your home or office with the Holiday Music Player.

Track Santa this Christmas Eve with NORAD by following our links to the 2009 NORAD Tracks Santa official site. The Ruskies won’t dare interfere with the Big Man!

Don’t forget to view our virtual Christmas card before you leave. It’s our way of wishing Happy Holidays to you all!

December 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

They Were Heroes Once, and Young

It’s hard to believe its now been 40 years since the Apollo 11 mission delivered human beings to another world. As a kid growing up in the suburban Patio Culture, the exploits of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were considered to be the stuff of legend. Looking back, it continues to be so.

The historical impact of the lunar missions of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s seem to be sinking in at last reminding the nation that its past glories can once again be harnessed for the common good.

As a teacher, I’m perplexed by the seemingly casual attitude teenagers take towards this momentous event in history. Oh sure, when you’re 17 the minutiae of everyday life overtakes your very consciousness, but I keep getting the nagging feeling that over the years we’ve lost something as a nation. OK, let’s just say it…young people today just don’t have the heroes that we had growing up in the sixties.  There, it’s out and in true curmudgeon form. What happened? Did the collective funk the nation suffered after Vietnam kill true larger than life personalities, or was it the result of a mercilessly competitive electronic media scouring the landscape for public figures to splay open for all to ridicule.  Who knows, but you just don’t see public figures with the stature that the early astronauts enjoyed. Sure, there are many people out there today who do great things, and are deserving of our utmost respect, but the backdrop of true national urgency is sadly missing.

Perhaps non-Boomers might understand the misty gazes the Apollo tribute videos invoke in their older brethren if they accepted the fact that many of us are hard-wired to admire the space program. We grew up on it, and gauged our collective national worth by its successes and failures. To demonstrate the case in point, let us examine the life of a typical suburban kid of the 1960’s…

Chances are you played “space” if you were a boy. Not cowboys and Indians of the 1950’s, but rip roaring astronaut play complete with Star Trek tracer guns (disc launchers) and helmets if you were lucky. Often kids rooms and tree houses would be outfitted with various “controls” that would guide their imaginary craft to the stars. Of course in reality, I’m sure the stacks of old radios and retired portable TV sets used for this purpose perplexed the adults to no end. I once even customized an old barrel by suspending it on a swing set frame, mounting a clock and a compass, and using it as a “Mercury training capsule”. The object, of course, was to get inside, wind up the strap, and let the thing spin until you could walk like a drunk or puke (or both).


Toys were very attuned to the space program as well. One of the coolest toys I every owned was the GI Joe Mercury space capsule with a sliding clear plastic hatch. Emulating the dramatic “splash downs” we witnessed on television, we would repeatedly throw our intrepid Joe into the swimming pool until our arms tired from the effort. Model kits, like my Gemini capsule/Agena docking module and NASA rocket booster collection, were built (and sometimes destroyed) by countless kids.

2001Topping off this endless cosmic enculturation were TV shows like Star Trek, Lost in Space, Space 1999, cartoons such as Space Ghost and the Jetsons, plus numerous B-movies. The first movie that I was totally enthralled by was Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey which I still maintain was so far ahead of its time that it’s scary! Obviously, Clarke’s vision of lunar exploration has yet to materialize, but it was fodder for the young imaginations of the Patio Culture.

Today’s challenges are admittedly hard to put a heroic face on. Global warming is by its very nature nebulous, and politicians by their very nature rarely inspire beyond their partisan base. Even the groundbreaking nature of the current U.S. administration can’t compare with the civil rights luminaries of the 1960’s. Still,  I hope the future challenges of taking homo sapiens beyond his ancestrial planetary home will not go unmet. Despite my misgivings on the state of heroics today, I still hope the newest generation can find persons of  stature and good character that transcend the divisive issues of today and unite the world (albeit briefly) like the Apollo astronauts once did.

July 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm 1 comment

Be a Jackson Pollock


The abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), left an indelible mark on the mid-century art world, and many would assert his work was the antithesis of the Patio Culture. But before you go off with a condescending critical grin, just consider those poor suburban dads who toiled away for hours, painting their 2 bedroom ranch style homes. While the house would inevitable sport a fresh coat of lime green or beige, it was the drop cloth that often displayed the compiled remnants of home improvement painting projects of all kinds. For dads, their “drip period” was from sun up on Saturday morning until Miller Time.

Now you too can be a Jackson Pollock. This nifty little Flash app at will turn your mouse into paint can and hours of modernist fun are yours to have! Don’t forget to clean up when you’re done.

January 28, 2009 at 10:47 am 3 comments

In Remembrance of Bettie Page 1923-2008


Los Angeles, December 11, 2008  –  Bettie Page,  sweet-smiling legendary 1950s pin-up queen with the killer curves and coal-black bangs, died today of pneumonia at a Los Angeles area hospital. She was 85 years old. She suffered a heart attack one week ago and never regained consciousness. Her popularity as an underground, guilty pleasures phenomenon has continued to soar despite the fact that the reclusive Page disappeared almost a half century ago.

“With deep personal sadness I must announce that my dear friend and client Bettie Page passed away at 6:41pm PST this evening in a Los Angles hospital. She died peacefully but had never regained consciousness after suffering a heart attack nine days ago. She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality. She is the embodiment of beauty.”

Statement by Mark Roesler, business agent for Bettie Page

December 13, 2008 at 7:42 am 3 comments

Activate the Lounge-o-Lizer!


It’s time to get those summer patio parties underway, and Patio Culture can help. Need a classic retro cocktail recipe for your next gathering? Look no farther than our latest piece of space-age technology, the Lounge-o-Lizer! We’ve loaded authentic outer-directed cocktail recipe favorites that keep superfluous fruit to a minimum. More like Mad Men than Nouveau Tiki. Just visit The Patio page and push the launch button!

June 22, 2008 at 7:13 pm Leave a comment

Patio Culture’s 10th Anniversary!

Patio CultureIt was Labor Day Weekend 10 years ago that the ol’ Grillmeister coined the phrase Patio Culture and built a website (and now a blog) to explain the concept. Taking naming conventions from archeology, Patio Culture was created to describe the suburban American culture that emerged after World War II and roughly ended around the 1970’s. And as they say, the rest is history.

After beginning renovations on a house in the neighborhood I grew up in, I began to recall all of the interesting events that transpired in that very place. By 1997, many Baby Boomers were reaching an age where they began to look back fondly on the times that surrounded their youth. At least “trailing edgers” like me did. Thus began my mission to not only bring back a slice of our childhood, but to explore larger pop culture themes such as Mid-Century Retro, Tiki/Exotica, Lounge, and Rockabilly.

That Labor Day weekend seems like a thousand years ago as I juggled writing code and graphics with tending the brisket (of course) and keeping up with the unfolding Princess Diana tragedy. After the site launched, it was amazing to hear from other Boomers and retro buffs who recalled the quirks of the era in which they came of age. It was even more exciting when Patio Culture garnered a segment on CNN’s website reviews, and was listed under “Thumbs Up” on Yahoo Internet Life’s Yippie Yahooey. CNNCNNCNNMuch has changed since we all eagerly watched our “hit counters” and gleefully posted every web kudo we received. Yahoo Much has changed. Even though the website is about the past, I’ve tried to keep up with certain technical advances taking place in the social media world. Hopefully, the addition of YouTube, Myspace, WordPress, forums, and other Web 2.0 gizmos have added value and enjoyment to your visit. This blog is an example of the new avenues that are available to reach out to fellow Boomers who have an interest in the past. Thanks for a great ten years and please drop by the website!

September 3, 2007 at 9:45 am 2 comments

Retro Eats…Gotta Love ‘em!

I still say kids these days have missed out on a lot when it comes to experiencing classic American cuisine. Oh OK…I’m talking about fast food. But, there is a distinct difference in what you get in the drive-thru today, and the offerings of the vintage mom and pop burger joints and small regional chains of the past. Although we didn’t think about it in these terms back then, I would speculate that the development of retro fast food was determined more in the kitchen than in the boardroom. Think about it.

Griff’s Burger BarOne of the most memorable places was Griff’s Burger Bar. These hamburgers are probably the only reason why many people today are alive! At a dime a pop, they could feed an entire family with change left over to buy fries and a shake. Griff’s Burger Bar, and other regional chains like it, thrived before the age of the behemoth fast food restaurant corporations that we see today. Griff’s back then was housed in an A-frame type structure with a boxed in dining room at the front. As a small child I tried and tried to scale the sides of the A-frame but 2-3 feet was all I could manage before sliding down. The good news is that Griff’s is still around! While not any serious threat to the McDonald’s of the world, Griff’s still puts out burgers and fries that tastes like the real deal instead of the product of zealous corporate consistentency.

KN root beerAnother old standby was K and N Root Beer! This modest little chain produced what seemed like the perfect cure for a sweltering hot Texas summer…ice cold K and N root beer served in a real frosted glass mug! Root beer mugs came in several sizes but the tiny kid’s mug stands in my memory. Once a kid’s raging thirst was quenched, the smell of burgers and fries wafting throught the air started to garner some attention. All you had to do was order what you want off the big menu board in the middle of the building and someone would bring it to you on a bright orange tray! Now, most all people where I live prefer a heavy dose of mustard and fresh onion on their burger. I probably picked up this preference at the local mom and pop burger stands and at the K and N. As the teenage years came upon us, we found ourselves pulling into the K and N in our own cars having long since graduated from the tiny mug to the adult size. Pretty soon we were complicit in the demise of these places as we were swept up by corporate eats like Jack-in-the-Box and Sonic. Much like Griff’s, this regional chain is practically gone. A Google search produced only and handful of K and N drive-ins in Texas, Kentucky, and Tennessee

If an occasion warranted a really special fast food treat, we would go to Ozark Fried Chicken. Long gone, this small chain sported green and white striped rooftops on their restaurants which predated the famaliar red and white pattern used by Kentucky Fried Chicken. The branding for this place was probably not too successful since it incorporated a logo of a woman wearing and old-style bonnet…not too groovy for the swinging 60’s!

August 17, 2007 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

The Suburbanization of America–The Rise of the Patio Culture


In the decades following World War II, the population of the United States underwent a massive migration to the suburbs. The society which became the “Patio Culture” of the 1950’s and 1960’s has been the subject of much criticism from intellectuals and social scientists both then and now. Much of the criticism can be attributed to the mind set of the critics themselves, which could be considered apathetic to the conditions of the middle class. While many of the social problems that the critics so poignantly singled out did, in fact, exist, they often did not manifest themselves to the extent that was claimed, and they were also simultaneously taking place outside of suburbia as well.

Read the entire paper…

August 9, 2007 at 9:36 pm 2 comments

Greg Knight's Patio Culture