Urbane Moderne

Culturesponge has a series of Vespa adverts from the 1950s and 1960s which are really compelling.  My favourite are a set of Modern illustrations [as opposed to the iconographic pretty lady posters] of urban and rural life – positioning the scooter very much as a facilitator of freedom and self expression within the ‘progressive’ discourses of modernity.  I’m surprised scooter manufacturers have not tried to offer a contemporary take on this…. in the way that advertising around urban redevelopment has sought to highlight the sense of "city living" as sophisticated, as the cultural body of existence and the scooter as a way to navigate this space, this ‘cultural life’.  No,  the images we get now are perhaps symbolic of the way we see urban life – of machines capable of dominating a space of speed and aggression and that from mostly the 50cc market aimed at late teens.  There is another market though – of people engaging in city living and who can’t be arsed to cycle. I’m surprised no-one except Vespa get this.

The image reminds me of Trumpton the kids series from the late 60s and 70s [part of the "Watch with Mother" series] which has recently been re-ssued by the beeb – and from something I overheard on the radio the other day, and corroborated here [in a brief biog of Alison Price – the writer] is that the fire crew of "Pugh, (Pugh), Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb!" never put out a fire because they couldn’t animate fire at the time!  Excellent – this belief in the ‘real’ in what was ostensibly a glorified childrens play set is quite charming.