Armagideon Time

Verdant and accounted for

August 27th, 2015

The most significant item in the April 22, 1965 issue of LIFE was not the feature article on the politcal unrest in South Vietnam or the editorial on normalizing relations with Red China or Loudon Wainright’s musings on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on obscenity.

It was this two-page spread by General Electric…

…heralding a chromatic novelty which would, in a decade’s time, become a ubiquitous aspect of American domestic life and the lynchpin of the Me Decade’s gloriously gaudy color palette.

The retreat to a muted monochrome model was odd in light of the previous season’s push toward baroquely op-art appliances that resembled Chinese pagodas or the fixtures of a Batman baddie’s lair, but it made perfect sense. Avocado was neutral without possessing the blandness traditionally associated with such hues. It went well with the prevailing trend toward earthier tones even as it ably masked workaday grit and grime.

(Too ably, perhaps, which became evident when you dragged one of these babies out to the curb on trash day and noticed the film of greasy filth with has settled into every crack and crevasse.)

Even the name evoked an exoticism associated with SoCal’s ascendancy as the nation’s cultural locus which the more accurate “pea green” or “gooseshit green” lacked. It was a potent fantasy, but could not overcome the tacky reality of the post-industrial malaise to come, lingering well past their fashionable welcome in an age of diminished wages and expectations.

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2 Responses to “Verdant and accounted for”

  1. sallyp

    What is amazing is that there are still masses of avocado green appliances still out there! Not to mention Harvest Gold or Coppertone.

    I actually liked Coppertone.

  2. E.T.Smith

    Gah … seeing that ad pop up on the screen just now was like a shockwave of nostalgia. And not the good kind. I remember plenty of kitchens with the Avacoda palette, though my own parent’s home sported an equally dated and garish brick-red hue. More eerie to me were all the fixtures (the handles, shutters, dials and other overly decorative greebley bits) that were mass-produced industrial impressions of archaic hand-made rustic styles. There was something alienating about being surrounded by a facade intended to invoke the fantasy of a bucolic nineteenth century country cottage in the midst of actual twentieth century consumerist suburban sprawl. To this day I still feel an revulsion when I see plastic with a faux wood-grain on it.

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