Friday, December 30, 2011

On the Sixth Day of Christmas . . . Bach and Memories of an Important Person

What to get a little girl for Christmas?

First, thank goodness for the pink ad on the left.  But we're sticking with the editorial Christmas suggestions until New Year's Day.  

Buy her a slip, a nightie and some bath things and call it a day.  Can't it be that simple?  No.  The little drawing of the slip pushes the fabric (Dacron), the brand (Style Undies), the owner of the brand (Burlington - we've seen their ad already) and two department stores (Julius Garfinckel and Altman's.  It's just a little slip and it has the weight of industrial America behind it.  You could step through this page and come out in Fortune magazine.  Somehow more brutally evident here.  Or my shoes are pinching and need a break from shopping.  

How about Tub o' Fun?  Just a dollar!  O.K. - Restored!  On to the record store.

What to get the classical music fiend on your list?  

Bach:  St. Matthew Passion; Ernst Haefliger, Keith Engen, Max Proebstl, Irmgaard Seefried, Munich Boys Choir, Bach Orchestra, conducted by Karl Richter.

One of the important recordings, I read on a Bach site, and still available.  I am just as ignorant of classical music as I am of jazz.  Appallingly, I never realized how huge and varied are the gaps in my glossy, expensive, 100-per-cent-liberal arts education!

Although, if I haven't heard the St. Matthew passion, I have heard something similar on an organ with a choir around Easter in Flensburg, in Germany.  I think it was this organ, at the St. Nikolaikirche.

I went with "Tante" Hannchen, the village woman who saved my mother-in-law, an orphan,  from typhus and the Russians at the end of the war. She lived in an ancient house with no indoor plumbing in a village near the Polish border and came West twice a year to stay with the family.  She stocked up on good tweeds and woolens from the most expensive place in town.  Liked to watch Columbo -- "Ach, kluge!"  (Clever).  When I knew her, she was in her nineties and kicked a soccer ball around the yard with my son, more than 90 years younger.   Had worked in a beauty salon in Berlin in the 1920s,  never saw a bit of decadence.  

Never know what you'll get here.  

Here is Karl Richter and the Passion of St. Matthew from 1971:

Beethoven:  Concertos No. 1 and 2, Emil Gilels and the Orchestre de la de Societe des Concerts du Conservetoire.  

This particular set of concertos appears not to have survived.  After the Bach, which I have been listening to off and on for the past few days, these seem thin and showy.  Piano Concerto No. 3 seems to have been the big hit; can't find a video of 1 or 2.  

So we will pass on to:

Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies, Bruno Walter, conducting, and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.  This didn't survive either in its original form.  How could it?  The unsigned Vogue writer, who seems to be a different person that picked the jazz records:  "A four-sheet drawing of Bruno Walter, suitable for mounting on a billboard, is the first of the tidbits that jump out of this handsome box.  The second is "A Beethoven Reader," a 48 page booklet full of steel engravings, epigrams and themes of the symphonies, by all sorts of people -- Debussy, Schumann, Berlioz, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Finally there come the recordings, solid, authoritative, a series of brilliant meditations.  They justify all the fuss."  Goes on to say not all of them are the best or most interesting examples, but a stunning effort.  "No false elegance."

What a present!  Seven records, a booklet, a poster, all of the record sleeves, the sturdy box, that smell of vinyl and the kind of electric aura it gave off, when fresh.  A new record was a beautiful thing.    

No video.  And no movie!  

Monday, December 26, 2011

On the Fifth Day of Christmas . . . a Nose

This week - more scent for men, but first, Knize 10, in the flesh.  

While in L.A. just before Christmas, I  discovered that the son of one of my oldest friends has an intense and well-informed interest in perfume.    I told him I had just written a post on men's fragrance in 1959.  1959? Then that must have been .  . . and in short order a bottle of genuine Knize Ten appeared on the table.  Along with several original formula members of the Dior family and the Mitsuoko.  Was there a Chanel?  It was all a blur.  

An original Tabu reminded me strongly of my mother getting dressed to go out, circa 1967, a pioneer in computer dating.  Either the black chiffon floral with a yellow coat - or the perfectly shocking white mini with the black see-through drop-waist top.  So hard to imagine my mother in a dress!   

But what serendipity!  I had been wondering where I would ever find Knize Ten.  It's not something I'm going to look for again, though.  A small drop on my forearm lasted through the day, the night, a sweaty cardio ballet class and a shower, only fading away finally the next night.  I didn't really get the leather -- there seemed to be a blanket of something sweet and strong; something that reminded me more of the boardroom than the stables.  I couldn't really imagine it on the one man I know who has played polo - Ten refers to a polo score.  It did remind me of one of those pink Oxford shirts that only very confident men can wear.  That would be my polo-playing friend. 

Unfortunately, there was no time for a field trip to the Scent Bar in West Hollywood.  Next time.  But Chris was kind enough to give me a copy of Perfumes, The Guide and, best,  volunteered to answer my questions as they arise.  As in:  How much Chanel No. 5 exists?  How much can there be? Enough for every woman in America?  Because no woman - or man - in America could escape this year's ad campaign. 

(In the there-is-no-justice-in-this-world dept.:  I had confided I didn't seem to be woman enough for Chanel No. 5.  Within a few minutes Chris had found me old Diorella, based solely on my inability to wear anything stronger than Fresh's Citrus de Vigne coupled with  my forlorn desire to become a femme fatale.  And this is the kid who couldn't get an interview this year for a part-time perfume sales job at a department store.  No experience.  He's 18.)

Skipping part two of the nice spread on men's cologne and jumping to back-of-the-book: 

Just do what I did just now -- give up!  Just go and get some Yardley and call it a day.  Good enough.  The blurbage describes the packaging and says you can get them at Bloomingdale's.  Not that would have worked this year.  

But over at Sephora, you've got 27 sets to choose from.  Seems rather quaint.
Holiday + family + job = no movie again.  In real life, too!  

Next -- classical music of 1959.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the Fourth Day of Christmas . . . Vinyl Dreams

This week: New Music of 1959, Pop Division - a long, long post.  And, thanks to Google, YouTube, iTunes and Spotify, much, much better than the original. Surprise appearance by Hugh Hefner and Lenny Bruce!

But first, a message from the Pervertosphere.  Ben Hur plus Pillow Talk  equals judean first time defloration movies.  Someone certainly had his hopes dashed when his Brazilian Google search led him to my 1959 movies page.  He must have been further disappointed with the second hit: a comic YouTube video called First Black Pilgrim.   And why Judean, anyway?

Let's go Christmas shopping!  

Clearly, no record companies advertised in Vogue. Hence, this:

And this:

Which make up he back half of What To Get the Music Lover on Your List - Sixteen Suggestions for Popular Music.  (First came 14 classical albums - didn't feel up to it.)

How did this list happen?  A pile of press releases and a bored editorial assistant with a kibitzing jazz-loving boyfriend? Only explanation possible.

1.  Theodore Bikel -- Bravo Bikel.

One, he's still alive!  (And this is still in print! )Two, not an obvious choice, surely?  But - in December 1959, he had just opened on Broadway in The Sound of Music, playing Captain von Trapp.  Eidelweiss.  Also, in 1959, he had just founded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger.  In 1958, he won an Oscar (Supporting Actor) for The Defiant Ones.  

Bravo Bikel is a  recording of  a live performance in New York of folk songs and stories.  A lot of people probably did get this for Christmas.   This is as close as I can come on YouTube (one of those picture pastiches) :

2.  Cuadro Flamenco - The Soul of Flamenco  

As far as I can tell, cuadro  flamenco is a form of flamenco, here consisting of a singer, a guitarist and two dancers.  (Yes, that would be four, which is almost cuatro.)   I really liked it up to the point I could't stand another minute.  Best seen live, I imagine.  A modern example:

3.  Mahalia Jackson:  Great Gettin' Up Morning

Hard to find a clip from her this early.  She did perform in the 1959 Imitation of Life.  You see her for a bit in the trailer.    Very worthy, but not my taste.  Again - live or nothing.

4.  Vienna Boys Choir -- Children's Songs

I'm quite taken with this album cover.  And it has Hoppa Hoppa Reiter!  I had forgotten this song - my mother-in-law sang it to my son.  It's an "all fall down" song.  Here are die Knaben are from 1959 -- pretty amazing what you can find.

5.  Dave Brubeck Quartet - Gone With the Wind

Jazz and I don's see eye to eye.  For one reason, here is an entire record devoted to the state of Georgia -- why?? All of the songs are recognizable except the title.  I just don't get it. Bored senseless.  Still in print.

6.  Benny Carter Quartet - Swinging the '20s

I have heard of Benny Carter - barely.  But this is the first album on the list I actually like. "Sweet Lorraine," below,  was supposedly recorded in 1958 and is on the album.

7.  Cy Coleman Trio:  Why Try to Change Me Now?

Can the same person have chosen the Vienna Choir Boys and all this jazz?  Right about here I suspected the educating boyfriend.  And I, for one, resent it.

And so ignorant am I that I didn't realize that this isn't actually jazz.  Jazz-ish.  Cy Coleman co-wrote "Witchcraft" and went on to Broadway after 1960.  Could not find any track listed on this album on iTunes on Amazon.  Pure cocktail bar music.  Or Playboy Mansion music.  Amazing clip from 1959 with Hugh Hefner, Lenny Bruce and Cy Coleman.  Holy crap.

8.  Miles Davis -- Kind of Blue

Yes, I know - jazz.  Apparently, this is the Miles Davis album even people like me should own.    What does Vogue say? ". . a joy to hear . . ."  Well, I don't know about that.  I tried.

After watching this clip, I actually feel  pretty stupid.  But the truth is, I had never heard of this album until now.  

9.  Duke Ellington - Ellington Jazz Party.

Also still in print at iTunes!  I liked it.  Not from this album, but from 1959:

10.  Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges - Back to Back.

Also still in print, and an Amazon essential.  It all sounds the same to me.

Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges in 1959, also not from the album.

11.  Ella Fitzgerald -- The George and Ira Gershwin Songbook.

Five albums, plus a 7-inch record, and covers by Bernard Buffet, this had to be a big deal in 1959.  And it was.  Yes, available on iTunes, but so much is missing if you can't take the album out of the cover - mind you, you whippersnappers, every disc had its own cover and liner notes.  You held it all in your hands.  The records had their own smell.  Like a book. Well, anyway.  Any idiot can figure this one out, even me.  This would have been a terrific present.  Unfortunately, for the video, we have to go with the montage.

12.  Billie Holiday - The Billy Holiday Story

Billie Holiday died in July of this (1959) year and the liner notes are by William Duffy, her collaborator on her autobiography, so I suspect this was rushed into print to capitalize on her death.  The album in this format hasn't survived, so let's just use "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" from 1937, because the 1958 version is too heartbreaking.

13.  Stan Kenton - The Stage Door Swings

Stan Kenton - another jazz figure I am vaguely aware of.  It's all the same!   It comes in hard and head-ache inducing and easy and sleep inducing.  Except jazz with vocals, which I'm usually able to follow and like.  Except for scat singing -- that I really don't get.

Now I'll go and have a listen because this is still in print.

O.K.  It just seems to encapsulate a certain stratum of the late 1950's - a progressive jazz take on show tunes.  I can see that if you liked this in 1959, you'd feel great about yourself.  You'd drive a Prius!  I would like to have heard and seen this live - coming into town, of course, in my brocade cocktail ensemble.  Worrying about my little hat.  This seems like very clean jazz.

The video is as close as I could get to the time - early 1960s -- and it's live.  The musicians look like they could work for IBM.

14.   Charles Mingus -- Mingus Au Um

Well, you can get the 50th anniversary edition of this album on iTunes, so this was another big one.  I know who this was - worse than Miles Davis: by this I seem to mean artier, more cerebral, people only pretend to like it, etc., etc.  Not that I have ever sat down and listened to it until now.

I really like it!  I am so surprised.    I like "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat."  I liked it all much better than Miles Davis, who really does seem off-putting and pretentious.  

Almost impossible to find good videos of early Charles Mingus.  Here's a very bad clip from 1960.

15.  Bud Powell -- The Scene Changes

Who?  I would guess jazz.

It must seem like I am insisting on flaunting my ignorance.  Still in print.  Very nice, very pretty piano pieces, but utterly nothing after the Mingus.

Clip is from December 1959!  I like him better after watching this.

16.  Jimmy Smith - The Sounds of Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith?  My favorite album cover of all of these.  But the music?  Organ jazz standards that just remind me of someone's (mine) old chord organ sitting in a back room.  Kind of depressing, kind of hilarious.  And a little funky for Vogue.  And a little sloppy:  this was released in 1957.  Home Cookin' - totally not top drawer title - was out in 1959.  Oh, well.  Great cover! Here, live at the BBC in 1964.

So, what was really popular in 1959?  I want this for Christmas:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

On the Third Day of Christmas . . . A Minor Work of Art (Updated)

Some slack shopping, a nice little movie and a nice little present under the tree for me. 

Well, we'll see about that.  Shopping is never easy.   In 1959, you could have had heavenly shopping in downtown Oakland.  I. Magnin, the shops in the Rotunda Building, another department store my boss remembers his mother going to that was just as nice. . .

Image from Department Store Museum.

And here's a Flickr set from Thomas Hawk of the Rotunda Building today.

But I digress.  That's because that's what I do when I shop.


"For the perplexed at heart:  a short course, here, in quick, easy present buying.  Most of these suggestions are main-floor dwellers in shops . . . any one would be a charming way for man-woman-child-or-dog to deal with all the feminine names on a present list."

First up:  a six-pack of silk chiffon scarves with hand-rolled hems.  $9 then, $70 now.  That's a very nice present.  Thank you!  Next?

Three purse-sized perfume sprays:  Five O'Clock by Helena Rubinstein (defunct); Intoxication, by D'Orsay (I'm surprised we haven't seen them sooner.   Ancient French house, but not widely distributed here.  Intoxication, in any event, is defunct.)    Or, Tweed, which you can still find at the twilight-zonish Vermont Country Store, along with all of the other products that have been dead everywhere else for decades.  ($5.50 for the small spray then; $30.00 for twice as much in a bottle, now.)

Or, for a change of pace, what about four more purse-sized flacons?

Ecusson, by D'Albret, apparently first marketed in U.S. in 1947, but supposedly first appeared in France in the 1500s.  And now it has been revived by Long Lost Perfumes.  The perfume that wouldn't die - but I've never heard of it.  $8.50 for 1/4 ounce.

Primitif, "a sultry, jungle-lady kind of fragrance" by Max Factor.  $3.50 for 1/4 ounce.  And how would you like to get this in your Christmas stocking?  I don't think it had the desired affect.  Max Factor is now owned by Proctor & Gamble, and when I read this (principals of Hanes hosiery and Proctor & Gamble instrumental in program of forced sterilization of the "unfit") this morning, I knew that somewhere in Vogue tonight, I'd come across the company.  But I didn't think it would be so drenched in irony.

Update:  December 11, 2011.  Within four hours of this post, Proctor & Gamble visited my blog.  I've never had that happen.  Always thought the Proctor-&-Gamble-is-the-devil belief one of the best markers of the complete moron, but could they be on to something?  

Oh La La, by Ciro. Introduced 1959.  Defunct.

And finally, the "warm, remote" Antilope by Weil.   You mean it got away? Supposedly still around, couldn't confirm.

And, yet more perfume:  Fame, Fireworks, Bal de Carnet - we've seen that ad.  And Bond Street, late of Yardley's now resurrected at Long Lost Perfumes.  This is the only one I'm curious about.  Nice women wore it with their tweeds.  Very Brief Encounter.

Well, we've thoroughly toured the perfume counter.  What next?

Jackpot.  Eureka.  Thank you, Santa Baby.  Finally.  You won't believe it.  Just have to wait for it.

But first - not out of the perfume aisle, yet.  Or ever!  Just a list (even Miss Editorial Assistant can't be bothered with prices.)

By now we have thoroughly exasperated the perfume saleslady.  But we spritz on.

Directoire by Charles of the Ritz.  Defunct.

Eve-Reve, by Rigaud.  Defunct.

L'Aimant, by Coty. Kind of around on Amazon, but disavowed on the Coty website.

Stradivari, by Prince Matchabelli.  Defunct.

Private Label, by Bonwit Teller.  Doubly defunct.

Seven Winds, by DuBarry.  Defunct.

Not picking them so well.  Can we move on?  Nope - now we have purse-sized bottles that can be refilled from bigger bottles:

Joya, "from Spain." Defunct.

Tabu, by Dana.  Still sort of around, but not as a perfume you'd find at Nordstrom.

Finally - not perfume, but perfumable:  that peignoir I'm sure you've forgotten about.  Black-over-pink DuPont nylon.  By Vanity Fair.  So, how much?  Mind you:  nylon, Vanity Fair (sold at Penney's).  $90.00.  How is that even possible?  In today's money that would be:  $700.00.  What a change in fortune for Vanity Fair.

Now we circle back to the cosmetics counter for an Elizabeth Arden lipstick with fancy case at $5.00 ($38.90).  Today you can get a very nice Elizabeth Arden lipstick for $22.50, without the fancy case.   Nice little present, if you get the right color, which you won't, so it's kind of a strange present.

Now, for my present.

At last -- my own Warhol!  And I had it all the time.

Let's go to the movies!

*  Very British version of The 39 Steps:  Ordinary man rescues baby, gets mixed up in international spy ring, meets girl.

*  Kenneth More the epitome of the ordinary man; Taina Elg rather dull.  Still - a good movie for a bad day.

*  The Ford Zephyr is very cute.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On the Second Day of Christmas . . . Eau de Petroleum

the problem:  MEN

the solution: COLOGNE  

So simple?

Let's shop!

Trying to go easy on Mad Men references, but this art direction just screams Sal.

Sorry for the blur.  Annoying.  The typeface was fun, though.  And this is our first look at Vogue blurbage for this issue.

Upper Left:

One of the pleasanter aspects of the jet age, and as popular
now as the propless plane:  a black-tie kind of
lotion called Jet for Jentlemen --
crisp, suave-mannered
(unforjettable?).  The packaging,
crisp too:  black and white, wrapping
a flask-shaped bottle.  By Corday, eight ounces for $6.50.

They weren't kidding about that "J" in "Jentlemen."  This has sunk without a trace.

Upper Right:

Scent that, like
a pipe, could be a man's constant.
Pour Un Homme
(lavender concen-
trate), by Caron.
8 1/2 oz. $10.

I am glad for the hint about the lavender, but I don't think I know anyone who smokes a pipe.  

Goodness, this stuff is still around.   From a British website:

That is one sexy Neanderthal!  

Pour Un Homme is the crown jewel of the High Perfume of the House of Caron; thus it refuses to "succumb to the dictates of fashion and the show of pretense."  Thus, only a Neanderthal model will do.

Ten dollars then for 8 oz.; about $48 for 200 ml on Amazon.  Don't think you can get this at Saks any more.  We had Caron last issue:  Muguet, which I always thought was terribly classy, although I think you could buy it at Rexall.   Pour Un Homme reminds me of Bain de Soleil.  

Lower Left:

Chivlary, not dead at all -- it's present here in a cologne of that 
name, with the fragrance of forest greens (Sherwood Forest, 
perhaps, with Robin Hood reffed up for a rescue).  The bottle,
crested with the Black Knight's shield.  By Chessman: 8 oz., $5. 

Too easy -- Chivalry may not be dead, but this cologne sure is.  So is the company.  Next.

someone dashing

has just passed by, with
a devilish-good scent -
it's Moustache, cologne
for a man with a high
By Marcel Rochas;
7 1/2 oz., $8.50.

Interesting history of this at Perfume Shrine.  Quoting a review of a presumably modern-day batch:

After the citrusy opening, the characteristic faintly floral and hay-ish powdery heart slowly gives way to the funk of the base notes with their sweaty, urinous and pungent leather impression which lingers quietly, intimately for a long time. Despite it being ,marketed as a masculine scent, women who find citrusy or "hazy" suede compositions to their taste should definitely give it a try. 

I realize they have ruined Chanel No. 5 by taking the filth out of it, but I am still startled by the frankness of the true perfume fanatic.  Moustache was apparently available in 2009; I think it is now defunct.  

 Upper Left:  

The pinch bottle
A Eau de Vetiver,
amed after a 
flowering grass.
The fragrance is
outdoorsy, tweedy,meant for a man
on the same terms.
This after-shaves,
too.  By Carven;
four ounces, $7.50.

A memorable line of verbiage in the last issue:  He drives, she umbrellas.  It after-shaves.  
It appears that versions of Vetiver is still around.  Carven is or was a French firm acquired by a conglomerate in 2003.  Meh.

Upper Right:

I can't stand any more verbatim Vogue blurbage.  One gets the picture.  Just the highlights for a while.

Dana Canoe.  First, it's supposed to be "can - u - ay."  Did you know that?  Second, the price has plummeted.   In 1959, 8 something ounces for $8.50.  Adjusted for inflation, this should be about $66.00.  Found online for about $15.   

Lower Left:

Knize Ten - the ten is "the handicap of a crack polo player."  Pretty pitiful if you have to explain that to a reader of Vogue.

I know someone who can play polo.  Finally some VoguePoints.  I belong. 

Knize -- wow.  (Go here for the company site that for some reason alludes to Knize Ten, but doesn't sell it.)   Still here and holding up.  I know nothing of men's scents.  I've never even considered buying scent for a man.  I have vaguely heard of this, but was expecting it to have slid down the scale to Target or oblivion along with the others.  No.  It inspires passion in the manly bosoms of online reviewers:  one says it smells like a car repair shop -- for Ferraris.  Another says it smells like a high quality tire.  Someone else:  old petroleum.  And men love it.  

A small bottle sells now for $70.00, which is about what it sold for then (adjusted).  

Knize Ten was inspired or helped along in some fashion I am not sure of by Ernst Deutsch-Dryden- artist, exile, costume designer (?) -- of Paris, Vienna, Los Angeles.  

This Bugatti poster - or postage stamp - is from a year after the birth of Knize Ten.  I suppose this is why it doesn't smell like horses.  

Bottom Right:  Aphrodisia by Faberge.   Launched in 1938.  Gone.  Doesn't seem like a cologne for men.  

Well, that ends Part One.  Let's take a break.

Let's go to the movies!

*   Mothers, daughters.  Black, white.  Rich, poor.  Tragedy, triumph, tragedy.  

*   One big, blowsy movie!  Sandra Dee was quite decent; thus the disappointment in Gidget.
Juanita Moore -- ah.  Every scene excruciating.  How did she make herself do it?  She was an actual human being in Suddenly Last Summer - nympho bitch cat-fighting with drunken bitch in madhouse -- small role.  Lana Turner was Lana Turner.

*  Half this movie was a reasonably enjoyable Sirk extravaganza.  The other half was The Help of its day -- although unfair to The Help.  But similar jerking around of audience emotion.    Similar self-congratulatory tone.  Why couldn't they make Juanita Moore a real human being?   But -- watchable in an avert-your-eyes way.  If that makes sense.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

On the First Day of Christmas . . . One Vogue Subscription

Just a lick and a promise this week - how strange that phrase looks in print!

It's Christmas!  The orbits of 1959 and 2011 intersect this month, so let's just break the rules and skip around the issue, hitting as many Christmas pages as possible.  Will be posting randomly and often until Christmas.  First up - Vogue itself.

It doesn't look any better in real life.  An eye lurking behind a dried-up bit of Christmas tree.  Why not a half-eaten cookie as well?

Verbiage:  Vigilant.  Exacting.  With the sure touch of authority, Vogue reports the important fashion news in its 20 issues a year . . . 
Within each Vogue -- complete reports of fashion in all its phases . . . clothes, accessories and personal beauty . . . decor, entertainment and travel . . .news in names, scenes and events . . . provocative contributions of acclaimed authors. . .

I wonder if anyone has ever described herself as "vigilant and exacting."  Does sound like the typical Vogue editor, though.  

"Excitement" is missing.

Twenty issues a year?  Six-fifty sounds like a deal, but in today's dollars that would be:   $50.58.  You can get 36 issues for $40.00 now - either way you look at it (years or issues), it's a steal.  Either that, or Vogue was a very expensive magazine in 1959.  On purpose.

The post card is still attached!  The address:  Vogue, Greenwich, Connecticut.  All spelled out - no ZIP.  No possibility to pay by credit card.  How did it ever work?

Let's go to the movies!

* Aliens attack.  Led by Japan, the Earth fights back.

*  Like the other space movies this year (so far), no attempt whatsoever of nuanced, or even recognizably human types.  But I soon began to notice that scene after scene was a living Analog cover. I couldn't wait for what came next -- an Oscar-Meyer weiner space vehicle!  Attack of the Teletubbies! And the music was great.   (By the ridiculously prolific Akira Ifukube, best known for  Godzilla.  Can't resist:  Go here and read the list of movies and their English translations.

*  A lot of fun.  Here's the American trailer, also very choice itself.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lesser of Two Evils - But Which?

This week:  fur, chemicals and my own personal Jesus.

This woman does not look like 1959.  Maybe it's her makeup, but she looks unmodern.  Rather late 1940's.  Her expression is tense.  She reminds me of the few European women I knew in Orange County in the 1960s - out of place, old fashioned.

The fur is another EMBA Autumn Haze, once more photographed by Virginia Thoren.  See my earlier post for the EMBA/UMPA thing.  Coming soon:  a fur cheat sheet and a field trip to the Saks fur salon - if there is one in San Francisco.

Maybe it is because I am doing this, but I have never before noticed so much fur in present-day Vogue editorials.  So much unapologetic fur.  (And once more -- how bad is it, really?  It is repugnant.  But so are a lot of things that don't trigger the moral outrage that fur does.)

Fur and me:

I had a mouton jacket that my mother wore in the 1950s.  I wore it in college and could not possibly have looked fat, but always felt roly-poly.  Don't know what happened to it. It had that nice, satin lining you see in fur coats - but not the embroidered initials.  

Tried on a fur coat at the fancy Salvation Army Store in Pasadena once.  Either mink or raccoon.  It did not suit me.

In the mid-1960s we lived in an apartment complex in Fullerton, California.  It was said of a woman from "back east" whom nobody liked:  She's the kind of woman who wears a fur coat to empty the garbage.   That was because she did wear her fur to empty the garbage.  She did not look elegant emptying the garbage.

Jack Winter pants, the premium denim of their day ($15.00 converted to $113.00)   They don't look too comfortable.  Ur- mom-pants.

Quick facts on Jack Winter:  manufacturer of ladies' pants from 1953 through the seventies.  Not slacks - pants.  Based in Wisconsin.  Engineered for a tight fit. Although I don't think that worked out so well on the model in plaid.

These pants were half wool and half acrylic.  I am still not able to explain what acrylic is.  Oddly enough, when I first started this blog, I was very curious about the physics of various fabrics, why they were stretchy or shiny.  Despite staring at numerous scientific websites, I still haven't a clue.  But I do understand this:  Creslan was made by American Cyanamid, a company that upon its demise in 1994, left a foul chemical corpse.

Which reminds me that I have come across fur one other time: there was a small mink farm in the woods next to the small town in Germany where my husband grew up.  You could smell it for quite a ways.  One year we went back and the mink were gone.  I don't know how badly the woods were contaminated, but it wasn't as bad as a Superfund site.

I'm coming down once more  cautiously on the side of cruelty:  there is something in-your-face loathsome about killing a mink to make a coat.  The impersonal poisoning of a chemical dump is also loathsome.  I'm beginning to accept mink farms.  Can't countenance seal fur.  Which turned up this month in Vogue.

But is fur necessary at all?  No.  Thus indefensible.  Like fois gras, I suppose.  Still, it is beautiful and I'm open to persuasion.  How about some gorgeous animal that died a natural death?  Why not?

Does anyone actually wear fur?  Certainly not in Berkeley and Oakland.  Although, I have long had the notion  of sweeping into the Tuesday night Berkeley City Council meeting, dripping with mink and Shalimar, demanding first cleaner sidewalks, then foreign policy.   I won't do it without the mink.

Let's Go to the Movies!

  *  The ups and downs of a Prince of Judea, with mystical interludes and a cast of thousands.

  *  Charlton Heston is often acting by himself, especially with Stephen Boyd - a big year for him - who seemed a lot happier in Best of Everything;   chariot race and dramatic pacing better in 1925 version; story doesn't even make sense;  no dramatic tension; turgid direction gives ample time to ponder holes in plot both big and small:   Why do Esther and Ben Hur's mother send him into the leper cave alone only to blunder around the leper tents scaring the poor occupants and causing much distress to his beloved, dying sister?   Why does it seem as if only a few hours elapses between the Sermon on the Mount and the crucifixion?  If Ben Hur is the Prince of Judea and filthy rich, why does he have no friends to help him find his mother in prison?  Aside from the sea battle and chariot race - why doesn't anything really happen?

  *  Jesus (Claude Heater) and I were once agents at the same Prudential Real Estate office in San Francisco.  He was notable for little selling and much opining.

Hey - it's December 1959!  Let's shop  A Vogue Christmas from now until the end of the year - our year.  Best music, food, gifts of 1959.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Watery Pursuits

 In 1959, it was the best of times (booming California sportswear industry) and the worst of times (the food); and at the movies, Charlton Heston remembers to act.

Let's get the slab o' print over first.

"Mediterranean flavour" -- flavour.  American Vogue continues suffering its sad inferiority complex.  Did no one see Room at the Top this year?  Or Expresso Bongo?  Did British Vogue spell it "flavor" out of some weird friendship pact?  All right - I won't mention it again.

But British Vogue was far superior in at least one way, and that is flavour.

Here we have Peter Powel, whoever he is, with his gruesome directions to "slowly and painstakingly" crush salt cod in milk, "crushing away like mad" for half an hour to achieve some kind of paste to spread on toast to eat with potatoes and truffles.

They have Elizabeth David and French Regional Cooking.  (Or anyway, she's in the one British Vogue I have - August, 1957.  A very good issue.)

Why didn't Jessica Daves hire Julia Child?

This is the second issue in which there is an article on food that no one in her right mind would ever cook.  The directions are jokey; the ingredients often unattainable, especially in 1950's America.   It is all very arm's length - in October, whoever it was gathered recipes from her Portuguese friends, who collected them from their cooks.  This time:  "Here, four fresh ways to cook fish, the recipes gathered by Peter Powel, whose lot it has been to spend a number of years along the Mediterranean shore."  That qualifies him?

Apart from cod butter:  deep-fried cod with capers, garnished with walnuts and olives and  blanketed by a wine sauce - (actually, it sounds very much like something you'd find in a tapas bar, except for the wine sauce); a fish soup; a description of poached moustelle,  one of the "finest and rarest" Mediterranean fish.  Find it at your local Piggly Wiggly!

Food in 1959 Vogue is pretentious, unsavory, mysterious, and not at all sensual.  This is as far as it gets from the intrepid Jeffrey Steingarten, The Man Who Ate Everything, and one of the reasons I've kept my Vogue subscription no matter what.  Not to mention a recent piece in which intrepid - only word for it - Hamish Bowles climbed through the backyards of West Oakland looking for free food -- an article I cannot link to.  Hella lame.

*** (denoting an interval of research)

Ah - my ignorance is on full display.  And I am unfair.  The cod butter is brandade de morue, a real dish, made also by Julia Child.  A food processor eliminates the need to "crush away like mad" for half an hour.  Here is a picture (and recipe) from a Jacques Pepin version:

I lack intrepidness.  I am not going to make this.  

This woman's neck is a bit too elongated.   But never mind.  A rare bit of gush-- I love mille fleur.  I like the bodice and the waist of this, the way the bottom of this is cut, your thighs would never look good.  Still -- a nice suit and an arresting ad. (The background looks better in real life.)

I will also gush over the "Limited Editions" font.  This suit is one of the "Crown Jewels of the Sea."  I have seen other Rose Marie Reid ads - many of her swimsuits are mere "Jewels of the Sea."  And, anyway, this is a swimsheath named Cambria.  First great phrase of the issue:  ". . . mere ounces of softness shape you. . ." 

I've always liked the Rose Marie Reid ads.  But who was Rose Marie Reid?  

She was one of the big swimsuit designers and manufacturers, along with Cole of California and Catalina -- all West Coast brands.  She was a devout and active Mormon, originally from Canada.   Most interesting, for me, in 1960 she opened a $2,000,000.00 "modernistic" model factory in the San Fernando Valley.  I have a sneaking feeling that it is located at the bottom of the Sherman Oaks Galleria, or whatever it's called now.  She was also remembered (somewhere in the comments of a Mormon blog - lost it now) as an early equal-opportunity employer.  More later - I've ordered the biography written by her daughter.   

In keeping with aquatic theme - let's see the other Charlton Heston film of 1959 --

*  A salvage boat owner finds more than he bargains for on what seems to be an abandoned freighter.

*  This turned out to be a pretty good, engrossing thriller about maritime insurance.  Really.  Gary Cooper is old and sad; I swear there's a moment when Charlton Heston seems to make the decision to help out a fellow actor.  

* Richard Harris very good in a supporting bit.  Exciting storm at sea.  Definitely worth a remake.

Next week: fur vs. chemicals, and Ben Hur.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tale of Two Factories

This week: a cotton mill and a perfume factory meet different fates;  and, at the movies, an alien octopus threatens mankind.

First, these ladies are standing in front of a gigantico Mexican sugar cookie!  

A lot of different companies came together for this, including a slew of defunct department stores listed in the small print at the bottom of the ad (Bullocks!).  Avondale Cotton - a company that appears to have been known for both its progressive "corporate welfare" and its exploitation of workers -- no, we're not getting away from this.  Briefly - founded in Alabama in 1897, boomed after World War I and into the 1920s, partly because of extensive use of women and children night workers.  In early 1930s, labor unions got the work week down to 55 hours for day shifts and 50 hours at night.  Still better than being a sharecropper.

The problem in the 1950's for the American cotton industry was cheap imports from Japan.  (What happened to the Japanese cotton industry?)  Also - makers of unnatural fibers seemed to do to cotton what the oil industry did to the Red Cars and other city trains.  We'll see a lot more mention of Dacron, etc. than cotton.  

The Avondale company went thoroughly defunct in 2008.  In June 2011, its factory in Pell, Alabama burnt:

 But, hey - let's party!

"Terrifico!  Magnifico Fiesta De Mexico by Sportmasters of California"

"Fiesta fashions -- bellas, inspiradas!  En pic 'n' rib cotton de AVONDALE (little-or-no-iron).  Con embroidery por Joseph Aarons.  Isobella wears:  Pant-alons y Mexican wedding shirt.  Carmen wears:  peasant skirt y Caballero camisole. . ."  

Worst gringo Spanish ever.  One of the worst ads, so far.  But not as strange as this:  


When I look at that picture, my first thought is not she is a "woman who wants to be loved;" but that she is a woman casting  a spell on David Bowie's older brother - note the one blue eye!  

I have a vague awareness of DuBarry, but know nothing about it.  Oh, hey!  It's British - or was.  Good call, that.  Many people have fond memories or reveries of the DuBarry factory in Hove, which has been turned into flats.   

The factory is lovely:  

From "Hove Daily Photo" at blogspot

The DuBarry motto:  For Loveliness That Lasts.  And it has.

Let's Go to the Movies!

* Something is wreaking havoc under the North Pole!
* Atomic submarine warfare, a UFO, an octopus from outer space - none of it adds up to anything. Good poster, though.
* I had a little plastic submarine that you put baking soda in and it cruised around the bottom of the bathroom sink.  And it starred in this film!
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