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Put Another Token In The Nickelodeon...
As a teenager, I loved to visit my grandparents in Urbandale, Iowa. They had MTV! This was right when it came out... I think I saw the first few days it ever broadcast. I remember Hunters & Collectors "Talking To A Stranger", which I *think* was the second video MTV played right after The Buggle's "Video Killed The Radio Star", but I can't confirm that. My grandfather couldn't understand how I could sit in front of the TV and watch music videos for hours. But it was amazing... like history in the making. The pop culture and music that I loved was in visual form for the first time. It was like seeing a hidden side of my favorite artists, so I HAD to keep watching just in case I missed something.

But I also loved going down to the local video arcade. It was called the "Fun Factory". Sadly, it closed in the nineties. But here are some photos of Tokens, a different amusement arcade that I visted while I was in Des Moines, Iowa last weekend. It had a sad run-down vibe to it, like a low-rent Chuck E. Cheese. It made me long for "Showtime Pizza" - if you remember that place, then you were truly old school. Or rather you were old truant-from-school-because-you-were-too-busy-playing-Frogger-at-the-7-11 school.

























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I miss the years when a quarter bought you *everything*. That is... everything of value.

A candy bar was a quarter. A pinball game was too... and if you were lucky, you got two games. None of this 50 cent crap they have nowadays. A quarter equaled a can of soda. And a quarter gained you entry into the magical worlds of Zaxxon or Pengo, Ladybug or Mr. Do, Centipede or Jump Bug.

Edited at 2010-03-30 09:08 pm (UTC)

For many years my weekly allowance was four quarters. Me and my sister were also each given four glass baby-food jars to put them in. One quarter was for the church collection basket, one was for savings and would later be transferred into our passbook savings account, one was to buy presents for friends and family for their birthdays and at Christmas, and one could be spent on anything we wanted (mostly candy).

It took many years and a lot of pestering, arguments, reasoning, and whining to get our allowance raised to $2.

Tempest. That was my game back in those days...

I remember when candy bars and comic books were a dime.
I loved penny candy! A bottle of soda from the machine was 10 cents, and most of the really cool toys were a dollar!

(Deleted comment)

Re: I remember when candy bars and comic books were a dime

I hear that, Chuck!

I remember how, in 1962, all the kids on my block
were complaining because comic books jumped
suddenly from having been 10 cents for over two decades to being 12 cents.

I'd been looking at comics since I was 4; although I didn't learn how to read until I was 6, it was fun to look at the pictures.

You could get ten comic books for a dollar until that point.

According to the MTV Wikipedia article, "The second video shown was Pat Benatar's "You Better Run"." and the channel's launch is on YouTube. (I googled, since I remembered it coming up in the crossword recently.)

I could swear the second video ever shown was “Little Suzi’s on the Up” by Ph.D.:

But no, apparently that was #5.

First video I ever saw on MTV was “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band, followed by “Come Back” by Trees. I think I’m the only person in the world who remembers the latter (I own the Sleep Convention LP, a great lost synth-pop classic!).

The first music video I ever saw was 10cc’s “One Two Five” on HBO’s Video Jukebox. Not that memorable a song (from arguably 10cc’s worst album) but a very cool video (directed, I believe, by Godley & Creme, who were no longer members of the band).

One of my fondest arcade memories was coming across a machine in my senior year of high school in the arcade of a big miniature golf complex (four courses, two on the roof of the arcade!). You had to repeat a sequence of lights and notes (much like the famous sequence in Close Encounters, although the game probably inspired the movie scene, which came out several years later). This was right on the cusp of the first video games (Pong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Centipede, and then Pac-Man) coming into the arcades to replace pinball and skee-ball. Against such competition, although I found the game incredibly fun and addictive, I never saw it again in an arcade, and long forgot its name.

I found it just now through this cool blog,

It was made by Atari, and called "Touch Me":
(scroll down to last three images)
In my memory I remember it being a lot sleeker with a colorful, futuristic Moloko Bar-like design, and I wonder if there was a competing company that came out with its own version that I couldn't find documented.

Anyhow, Milton Bradley took the concept and came out with Simon. Atari, seeing the success Simon had, was late to the market with a handheld version of Touch Me, but it was a failure due to its inferior design. Simon is still made and sold today!

It's amazing how massive the arcade chassis (and probably circuitry) was back then -- now you can get keyring versions of Simon for $5!

I played pinball a lot in arcades while in college in San Jose, and in arcades and bars in San Francisco. Pinball was all but pushed out in the remaining arcades in NYC's Times Square (plus which you couldn't win a game by state law, it was considered gambling), by then I was addicted to Tempest and was plotting on how I could save up enough money to buy one for myself.

Today I guess my opiate is playing play money poker online.

Toucha toucha toucha touch me!

that explains why the only places I go now that take tokens are car washes and XXX bookstores.......

In the south (Arkansas) the franchise was "Showbiz Pizza Place" and I worked there for four long years in college. We wore these tacky 300% polyester vests and the one-size-does-not-fit-all molded plastic top hat. That damn thing either gave me a headache, made me sweat or would pop off the top of my big head.

I had to do a little bit of everything including dressing up in the Billy Bob the Bear costume and roam around the showroom. The costume wasn't designed very well because the huge mouth and snout blocked your vision so you could never tell if one the little kids was right in front of you or not. I did like the sweat smell inside the mask though :P

When we did the gameroom/arcade we got to test the machines out before we opened so we'd get a big bucket of tokens and play the shit out of those games. We had something like 30 or 40 different games in there *drool*

The thing I hated most though was the Ball Pit. Thousands of plastic balls for the little kids to jump around in but if a baby with a diaper got in the balls we had to shut the pit down, pull out ALL the balls and run them through the sanitizer which took hours. It was some health department regulation and it seemed to happen way too often despite signs up everywhere telling people NOT to put their diaper clad kids in the Ball Pit.

Al in all though it was a fun time (mid 1980's) and we got some great new games in every so often.

Oh.. THAT was it! Showbiz, not Showtime. There's this great guy who bought a set of the animatronic robots that were called the "Rock-A-Fire Explosion" and he programmed them to sing modern songs.

I'm not a fan of most rap, but I love his version of this Usher song:


You HAD to mention MTV

My parents had cable and I remember when it first went on the air too and all those cool videos, some of them dating back to 1980 and earlier, which unless you never watched Closet Classics Capsule on MTV, it was where they played the really old stuff, such as Bang a Gong (Get it On) by T-Rex, a classic 70's special effects wipe video, all done in studio and a studio switcher I'm sure but classic film based clips to popular songs going back to the 60's, much of that being psychodelic and some were clips from old TV shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show. Anyway, that and WTBS' Night Tracks filled many a Friday and Saturday evening back in the day.

And thanks to MTV, it's how I got into a lot of the New wave stuff.

Edited at 2010-03-31 01:35 am (UTC)

I highly recommend this event if you’ve never been before. albadger introduced me to it over a decade ago, and I’ve attended with notmypresident and e_ticket in the past. I guess you could say it’s an event that brings in the bears!

OMG Frogger...that is nostalgia there!

Since my parents refused to pay for TV, I only had access to MTV if I visited a friends' house. In Boston during the mid 80's, we had a local competitor to MTV called V66. It was a UHF station. Sadly they didn't last long, about 18 months. It was a big deal because they took requests all the time. Also, it was fairly easy for local bands to make a low tech vid, and V66 would totally play it (ie: Extreme's "Mutha (Don't Wanna Go To School Today)"). I seem to remember they had a lot of videos that weren't in heavy rotation on MTV, like John Parr's "Naughty Naughty" or Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" and a LOT of J. Geils *lol*

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