7 Quick Facts About G.E. Smith

When it came to preserving early-1990s TV history, I was rather overzealous. In addition to A Concert for Life and the 1992 NFL Pro Bowl, I recorded every episode of Saturday Night Live, starting with the Jason Priestly/Teenage Fanclub classic from February 1992. One of the show's staples that era was G.E. Smith, of "G.E. Smith & The Saturday Night Live Band" fame.

While I knew G.E. was no longer involved, I'm not sure I remember him leaving the show. (I watched decidedly less television from 1995-2003.) His name just came up here in the office, so I decided to see what I could (quickly) learn about George Edward.

1. From 1979-1985, he was the lead guitarist for Hall & Oates.

2. While moonlighting as the SNL bandleader, he toured with Bob Dylan. ("I would fly home from various places on the globe to do the SNL show. Both Bob and Lorne were very understanding about giving me the time that I needed. I would work with Bob during the week, then come home for Saturday's show.")

3. He was married to Gilda Radner from 1980-82. Previously, he was the guitarist for her 1979 Broadway show, Gilda Live.

4. He wrote the Wayne's World theme song with Mike Myers.

5. He hasn't been a regular on SNL since 1995. (From the San Jose Mercury News: "The faces on Saturday Night Live this fall won't include the grimaces and contortions of flaxen-haired bandleader G.E. Smith. Smith, the guitarist who headed the house band since 1986, was fired for the 1995-'96 season, NBC said. The network offered no reason Tuesday for his dismissal.")

6. He will answer your guitar-related questions on his MySpace page, which is "sanctioned by G.E. Smith but not maintained by him."

7. Earlier this decade, he was part of the house band at Cleveland Browns Stadium. (Any Browns fans remember this?)

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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