Saturday, September 8, 2012

Parting the Curtains of Time

This week: Gala Gown Fail, the Guggenheim opens, a somewhat awesome Republican candidate.  And David Bowie makes another surprise appearance!

"Gala pink satin dress, left, lighted by Persian pear-shapes of bogus seed pearls, bugle beads and rhinestones.  By Gigliola Curiel of Milan."  Made for Bergdorf Goodman.  Lipstick is "Rose Pompom"  by Guerlain, which is interesting because I've never once seen an ad for Guerlain makeup in any vintage American magazine.  Have a weakness myself for this stuff - heavy, redolent, tenacious - but I also have a knack for the wrong shade.

Gigliola Curiel, "of Milan," was a house designer for Bergdorf Goodman from the mid-1950s until her death in 1969.  Seems to have been a popular designer of real clothes for real women.

There is a similar dress running around in a recent (2012) Vogue - it somehow looked fresher now, even though it had that self-conscious retro feel.  I finally figured out what's wrong with this dress:  the next thing that must happen in this photo is for the model to fling off the skirt, revealing perhaps a little tulle skirt - one of those magician's helper things - then off comes the top, down comes the hair, etc. etc.   On the other hand, the fabric reminds me of overly-plush upholstery.  I'm afraid this is a "no."

To recap:  Why this blog?  Because, thanks to Google, Youtube, Spotify, NYT online, and Netflix, the whole oddball project is possible.  As I sold Vogue after Vogue from earlier years, I hated letting go, not so much for the fashion, but for the cultural mishmash of "People Are Talking About . . ."  Were they really?  And then what happened?  Some people deemed worthy of full-page photos in the 1950s I had never heard of.  They no longer existed - not found in early Google searches, at any rate.   I then noticed that I had the same thoughts about PATA from five years ago.  You just never know what goes on in the mind of a Vogue editor.

So - it's December, 1959.  You are a woman of a certain age and class and you need to know what you need to know now.   We'll keep Vogue in Roman and me in Italic.

Except for the title:  new shine

People are talking about . . . The lights of the new season, the new names, the old names brighter than ever, the steady-on excitement, even the shoves and shouts of sidewalk standees at opening nights.  The jam-up of spectators in long lines to get into the new Guggenheim Museum, that luminous, exquisite enclosed bubble in which the collection, including the greatest Kandinskys in the world, is framed in air and light, some brilliantly cantilevered in space by James Johnson Sweeney, the Museum's director . . . I have not been to the Guggenheim, damn it.  Nor the Carnegie.  But let's go back to 1959 and wander through the Guggenheim with our behatted fellow New Yorkers: (be patient - you eventually get inside the building.  Completely amateur film is exactly like my own phone video efforts.)

Interesting.  Reminded me of the British Museum, the Rotunda Building in Oakland, oh - the hated (by me as well) San Francisco Public Library.  So - a mixed bag, but the huge atrium must be a cliche by now.  Vogue goes for "luminous, exquisite bubble,"  let's read the Times review.  Highlight:  ". . . a war between architecture and painting in which both come out badly maimed."  Ouch.  Reviewer describes a scheme not unlike the Ikea showroom, in which you are forced to wander further and further into a spiral with only the lucky glimpse of an elevator to save you.  Further investigation reveals that reviewer John Canaday was a relentless enemy of modern art and modern architecture.  (I myself see nothing in Abstract Expressionism.)  A provocateur, actually.  If you were to go to the Guggenheim this weekend, you could catch the end of a retrospective of works collected by James Sweeney during the 1950s.  

. . . Nancy Walker's leering crouch . . . Rhoda's mother?  That Nancy Walker?

Apparently so.  When I was messing around earlier, I found a clip of Nancy Walker from a 1959 television variety show, but it seems lost forever now.  HOWEVER  - simply had to throw this in:  David Bowie and Nancy Walker on the Dinah Shore Show.  Not too much of Nancy, but . . . 

(People are talking about) . . . The voices on radio summing up their reactions:  'But, Wow!' Huh?  . . . The slightly grey-haired Maynard Ferguson, a happily non-cerebral trumpeter, whose wildly sweet register remains a delight until he reaches too high . . . First, that seems a bit gratuitous.  Second, I thought Maynard Ferguson was a character on The Dobie Gillis Show, so what do I know?  Third, I don't care for trumpets.  But let's take a look:

That was totally cerebral.   And I know what Vogue means about the high notes.  

(People are talking about) . . . Small Bert Wheeler, whose timing is as accurate as a railroad watch, in The Gang's All Here, playing the semi-disguised role of Jesse Smith (a friend of President Harding), known in life as "The Happy Grafter," a sporty fixer with the moral sense of a tsetse fly, and the clothes sense remaining from his earlier life as a shopkeeper in Washington Court House, Ohio; in Washington, D.C., he chose many of Mrs. Harding's clothes."  Bert Wheeler?  Silent film star?  President Harding? I cannot even picture him.  We're pulling back curtain after curtain of time in this blog and getting wound up in the fabric.  Here we are in 2012.  1959 is 53 years ago for us.  The film of the opening of the Guggenheim was last month for Vogue readers.  The Harding administration was 38 to 36 years ago for our Vogue readers - which would put it at 1974-1976 for us, not that long ago for me.  Nixon resigned in '74 - remember it well.  President Harding lasted two years, between Wilson and Coolidge.     He died in San Francisco, after suffering through a cross-country tour while in declining health.  A quick WikiPeek reminds me that this is the Teapot Dome Scandal guy - I thought it was Grant.  (Yes, I am an idiot.)  First newspaper publisher to be elected, a conservative Republican in some ways - but still light-years more liberal than today's gaggle.  Scandal after scandal, yet religiously tolerant, signed "first major social welfare program" in the country:  Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act.  (Only around for eight years, but inspired New Deal.)  Made speech in Birmingham, Alabama advocating civil rights for black Americans.  And it goes on and on - why isn't this guy a hero for today?  Also known for wild White House drinking fests during Prohibition.  And what's this about his pal picking out his wife's clothes?  Better and better. . . So, Vogue readers in 1959 would have remembered this guy.  Here's Bert Wheeler on the Pat Boone show in 1958:

And from 1929 -- there are a whole slew of Bert Wheeler clips on YouTube, one rather strange one with Spanky of Our Gang.  This one's short.

The play itself, The Gang's All Here, written by the people who wrote Inherit the Wind, starred Melvyn Douglas and seems to have been a straight-down-the-line political drama.  Bert Wheeler seems to have had a very small role.  Let's continue to part the curtains of time and, especially since it is Convention Season again, let's go to the Republican Convention of 1920.  I wonder what they would have made of the one just past.  

That was kind of long and had some random wood-chopping toward the end.  Here's a one-minute clip:  

Let's Not Go to the Movies This Week.  Sorry.  Next week:  a trip to the Four Seasons, Jane Fonda and I finally see a Bergman film.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Winged Victory: the Madame Gres Green Velvet Coat

This week:  Manhattan as art; clothes as sculpture; comedy as tragedy.   But first:

This looks better on the page.  For sure it looked better in the gallery.   I couldn't find a lot about Erich Locker, except in fall of 1960, he had a tepidly-reviewed show called "Manhattan" at the Architectural League of New York.  I really like this, though.     His exhibition was a year after this, then he disappears from the NYT forever.  Blurbage, in perfect Vogue-ese.

This minute -- in lights  Here, the early winter lights of New York -- a sight, marvellously man-made, unique in the world.  In December, New York looks like a myth, feels like a song writer's catalogue of contrasts and delights.  This sight has its own unrepeatable moment in time; it will never again form precisely the same constellation -- even a minute later, one light more or less from now.  Among its special semaphores at this moment; entertainment shined up for the holidays, beaming to fresh effect.  Who shines brightest, what newest, is told about in the 10 pages that follow here, a holiday gathering of theatre, people, music, talk, and party clothes.  

Irving Penn photos.

Blurbage:  This-moment brilliance:  a sense of luxury:  a Gres magnificence of Venetian green -- taffeta, velvet and pleating that moved like a winged victory through the Paris Collections this season.

The New York Times also highlighted the green ensemble as one of the outstanding offerings of the Paris collections.  What we can't see is the dress underneath - strapless and draped, a Madame Gres trademark.   And she designed her entire 1959 collection in nine days.

This dress didn't find its way into the retrospective at a museum of sculpture in France (she began her career as a sculptor), but there are several coats with similar sleeves.

I am surprised a the gold frosting.  We've seen gold stockings as well this year.  Funny how these things really do wash up in waves on the fashion shores.

Let's go to the movies!

*  Irresponsible widower with young son is set to rights by clueless, but well-meaning brother and sister-in-law.  Lovableness ensues.  In theory.

* Odd misfire from Frank Capra and everyone involved.  To think that this guy directed It Happened One Night.  Cringe-inducing "comedy" that can only end in tragedy after the credits roll.  Frank Sinatra has a seamy appeal as failing Miami hotel owner involved with "kooky" beatnik Carolyn Jones (quite good) whose one idea to save fortunes is to put together million dollar syndicate to build a Disneyland in Florida with a former pal, now tycoon.  Miscast Edward G. Robinson as brother swoops down to rescue ginger kid from poverty and shiftlessness - not a bad idea!  Thelma Ritter also quite good as his wife in thankless roll.   Eleanor Parker strange as ultra prim widow pegged as new mother for ginger kid - she's ginger herself!  Eleanor Parker, speaking in that phony refined lady movie-star voice shows up 58 minutes in.  Now there is drama -- what about lush Carolyn Jones?  She leaves!  That's it for that!  Now we have the gambling away all the money at the dog track scene . . . and down it goes from there.

Carolyn Jones seems to be wearing pale blue nail polish - which helped to make her seem both dated (beatnik) and contemporary (has own mind and sex life).  How utterly shocking it would have been if she had also had tattoos.

* "High Hopes!"  Who ever liked that song?   Why is it even in this movie?  Oops!  There goes another rubber tree plant. . . Who can watch this without wondering about the dynamics between these two professionals?  I just wouldn't want my kid near any of the Rat Pack.  Here's  the stomach-churning Oscar-winning song for 1959:

Next week:  diving into the first of six pages of PATA (People Are Talking About) - drilling down deep into the upper-middle brow culture of 1959.  First up:  the Guggenheim, Maynard Ferguson, and Bert Walker (who?) . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cheating at Shop Hound

This week:  peering down at the fly-over pages; we meet some Vogue personnel, Vogue's Eye View of December 1959; a cheerful Ohayo! from Japan.  

Here we come to the crossroads:  it's been 96 pages of advertising, with as little binding editorial protein possible.  Ninety-six pages of hand-to-hand combat outside the moat of the editorial castle.   (This issue has 190 pages, not including covers; there will be slum-dwelling ads on the other side of the articles.)  Ad placement, ad sales, each ad its own struggle - what to showcase?  How much to spend?  It's been loud.  Seems a good time to meet another member of the mast head: Advertising Director Harold B. Holtz.

Potted bio from various NYT bits:

Died in 1964, at age of 67.  Joined Conde Nast in 1933.  Wounded in France in World War I; received Cross de Verdun.  (We're in Mad Man territory, so will note that I don't remember the old guys in that show talking about the trenches. But that's where they would have been; and then they would have served in Washington in World War II on the Advertising Council.)  In 1940, Mr. Holtz bought a co-op at 757 Park Avenue:

In May 2012, a two-bedroom apartment was valued at more than $2,000,000.00.  No mention of what the apartment cost in 1940, or what the amount would have been in relation to prices elsewhere.  In 1955, Mr. Holtz became advertising director of Vogue.  The obit mentioned that he was active in the early days of the New York Giants as a sports announcer.   Only other mention of "Harold B. Holtz" in the NYT archives is from 1911: someone of that name gave $5.00 to the Triangle Fire relief fund.  Very fitting, if that is our same Mr. Holtz.  (Would have been about $115.00 in today's money, according to official inflation calculator.)  

This pointless research does me good after a week of the theory and practice of motivational management pseudoscience, life in extended stay, and driving lost down streets named Enterprise, Leisure, and Feature.  Why not Item Avenue?  Anyway - back.  Not entirely unscathed, but getting better.

Let's wade into the Moat of Minutia:

Hmmm - rather blurry.  We will have a "Gossipy Memo on Travel" later.  Here we learn a bit about "Spas in America."

At a good spa, two of the vacation charms are a green, untroubled quiet, and that gratifying apple-a-day sense of taking care of oneself.  Spa hotels often pipe spring waters directly into bathtubs, usually have masseurs on the staff.  Because exercise, for those who like it, is part of the plan, there are apt to be golf courses, tennis courts, places to ride, fish, and walk.   

I was surprised at the number of ads for ranches in Arizona.  Most of them still exist.  I would happily spend a week at the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson.  Charmingly downmarket from today's Vogue travel.  

On to Shop Hound . . . in pursuit of Christmas.  

Oddly enough, I think I've found the Shop Hound editor:  Helen Robinson, now Helen Robinson, OBE.  An English import to American Vogue.  Here's the public Debrett's blurb: 

fashion asstfashion ed and latterly exec ed Vogue Magazine London andNew York 1960-75Debenhams plcjoined 1975dir Dept Storemktgand design mgmnt dir (Main Bd1981-86mktg dir Condé NastPublications Ltd 1986-88gp md Thomas Goode & Co Ltd 1988-93(resigned upon sale of co), special projects and mktg full-time consultancyAsprey Gp 1996-98business consultancy MIA Pty Aust 1998-2000chiefexec New West End Co Ltd 2000-05non-exec dirBritish AirportsAuthy 1978-95 (memb Chm's Design Ctee 1988-95), London Transport1984-95London Electricity 1989-94Churchill China plc 1996-98;vice-chm Cncl and chm Staff Ctee RCA 1982-2000membDesignMgmnt Advsy Gp London Business Sch 1985-95Cncl The CottageHomes (retail trade charity1995-96govr and tstee Cwlth Inst1994-2007tstee Cwlth Educn Tst 2007-; WWFtstee 1988-95chmWWF UK Ltd 1988-95memb Cncl of Ambassadors 1999-2006fell2006-; Sr FRCAHon FCSDFRSA

I can't make out much of that.  It's clear, though, that we see her here at the very beginning of a big-deal career.  She's cited as a mentor for various British bigwigs today.  She was 19 as a very young Shop Hound Editor.  I would love to know what she wore to work at Vogue.  

Some choice blurbage:  For holiday at-homing . . . after-six sweatering . . .   The contrast between the Shop Hound presents and the hodge-podge ads rather amusing.   (Debretts has taken over my text.  Can't change it.)

For Shop Hound, we have brass letters from Austria, cuff links for him and for her, a knitted dress from Paris, a child's frock from France, baby dishes from Finland, and morocco-bound classics for children.  In the ads, we have shiny nose fixer, fake eyebrows, smoked meats, charms, and the "Heavenly New Bleumette Bra."  You somehow just prop them up without straps, wires or bones.  Glue?  Fascinating. Held in place with painful adhesives, apparently.  Unpatented, unfortutenately.  

Scariest ad:  Health Tan Sun Lamp CAN'T BURN!  Sleep under it.  DuPont polyester film blocks out harmful burning rays . . . Stay Brown the Year Round. . . This one was patented.  

Well, the Battle Creek Roller seems a bit out of place.

The Battle Creek Equipment Company is still around, but they don't make this anymore.  

And here is the ubiquitous Mr. Bernstein in Jamaica again.  I've seen several versions of this campaign.  

O.K.  The good stuff at last.  

Rather wack ad for utterly obscure Germane Monteil fragrance.  Points for silliness.

Vogue's Eye View of Santa Claus, 1959 - this is the best they could do?  Veddy tasteful.  Here's the blurbage:

Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, once part of Lorraine, is a small industrial town in the Vosges region of France, not particularly memorable except for this -- at its heart is the great church of Saint Nicholas, a marvel of the Flamboyant Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages and, at that time, the object of many pilgrimages.  This sculpture of Saint Nicholas and the three little boys stands high on the right wall of the church, and shows the saint as the people of Lorraine love him best:  in the role of special protector of small children.  (The boys, according to Lorraine legend, had been pickled, chopped, and stuffed into sausages:  Saint Nicholas restored them to life by slipping them out through the sausage skins.) The rest is general stuff about Saint Nicholas.  Avoid the quiche.

I am not inspired.  Let's go to Saint-Nicolas-de-Port.

Gorgeous.  Why the black and white photo of a bas relief?   No clue.  Seems very poor choice.  Meanwhile, what's going on in Saint-Nicolas-de-Porte?  A free dance party this week!

Here's Helmut Fritz in Fecamp, a place I've actually been to.  

O.K.  Let's go to the movies!

* Daily life in a drab Tokyo suburb.  Lots of farting jokes.

* Cute little kid.  

*  First of two films this year from director Yasujiro Ozu.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Swiss Connection

This week:  Religious fanaticism and an unintended result; how to clean a chinchilla, very high society; John Wayne muscles in.

A not-terribly effective ad from The Watchmakers of Switzerland that reminds us that  "A jeweler is a girl's best friend. . . Only he can show you a fine watch in which quality and style go hand in had.  A watch with classic elegance . . . timeless beauty . . . a fetish for accuracy . . . So make sure the man in your life knows what time it is.  Send him to his favorite jeweler . . . Start hinting today . . . it's worth every minute of it!"

I have two vintage Swiss watches - both Swatch, both damaged, but I can't bring myself to shed them.  Yet I would never buy another.  Those days are far behind me.  

The Swiss Federation of Watch Manufacturers is still going strong; in fact they were recently in the news.    Have you ever wondered - why Swiss watches?  Religion fanaticism.  Calvinism forbid the wearing of jewelry.  Jewelers and goldsmiths turned to watchmaking, et voila!   

Chinchilla - "The Precious Fur for the Precious Few."  Joseph Bernham, who had his own fur salon in the early 1950s, and Mr. Leon (?) get the credit here.   Oh, Empress chinchilla, not just any chinchilla.  What is this precious woman doing?  Is she stepping into a little boat in a Japanese tea garden? There seems to be a koi kite to the right of the Naval officer.  Why is she dressed like this?  Bit much for the time and place.

Here is a chinchilla demonstrating how to clean a chinchilla coat still on a chinchilla.  A helpful hint for Woman of the Precious Few when times get tough!

Sobering to think how many chinchillas went into that coat.  Still - chinchilla coats are very nice.  

Ah - I have missed this blog.   I was going to fly over the next many pages.  I mean, look at this.  It would be a sign of insanity to look all this up.  Just one category, and then we'll move on.

  Which school would be right for my imaginary daughter?  These are the two schools abroad.

First, from a now-defunct website  of Old Girl memories:

I was at La Chatelainie summer 1960 to 1962. Mostly in Saint Blaise, a few months in Gstaad. Was the first external student the last year,as my parents moved to Neuchatel for awhile.That was the year Mr. Jobin committed suicide. We were all in shock! Nice to find this site!

Bingo.   Why I Do This.  Brilliant mash-up of Sandra Dee, Bonjour Tristesse and Nabokov.  Poor Dr. Jobin!

I don't think La Chat is quite the right environment.   Imaginary daughter - Imogen? - Imogen Oliphant?  Perfect.  Imogen would be very fortunate to land at Le Fleuron in 1959.  She'd be starting school with Charlotte Ford, daughter of Henry Ford II.  (Somehow, the entire September 17, 1959 of the Grosse Pointe News got bundled in that link.  Miss Ford's announcement appears on page 13, under Society News, naturally.  Interesting to browse the ads.)  I hope the Countess G. de Germiny can provide a bit more parental support than the suicidal Dr. A. Jobin.  Who was she?  Hard to tell - here is a related Countess de Germiny:  

"The Countess Amadee de Germiny, who is so well known to many of those who have lived in the American colony in Paris, recently fell down the highly waxed staircase in the chateau  of her cousin,  the Marquis de Seyve, at Saint Germain, and fractured her leg.  The Countess of Germiny is somewhat aged, and her injuries are reported as very serious.  Her son, Count Charles de Germiny, was a great favorite in American and French society, and he led one of the cotillions given by Mrs. Whitelaw Reid at the Embassy in Paris, dancing with Mrs. Ogden Mills."   New York Times, 1901.

If I had the time, I'd link these ladies to our earlier society ladies.  I bet I could.  Onward.  Googling the aged Countess's son, Charles, we find a present-day Charles de Germiny, who will be happy to answer your questions about Swiss banking.  He has Masters from the Bay Area's Golden Gate University - rather a democratic choice of education.   

Here's the "Handsome Ancient Mansion," the Villa Torre di Gattaia, still a school, but not that one.

An amazing haul for two small ads.  

Now, let's go to the movies!

*  Cavalry officer from humble background, a surgeon, a captured plantation owner and her slave sneak deep into Mississippi and raid some Confederate ammunition.  Supposedly based on a true story.  Not as bad as the trailer would suggest, but not great, either.  

*  John Ford directed.  The cavalry troop itself is by far the best part of the movie.  Hundreds of horses melt into the forest and thread their way through a bayou.   

*  John Wayne almost good when not being John Wayne.  William Holden o.k.  The two women characters utterly inexplicable.  Constance Towers awful as the feisty Rebel who dutifully falls in love with her captor;  Althea Gibson - first black female tennis star in her only movie - not a bad actress, but motivation of her character in fighting the Yankees hard to fathom.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

1959 or 2012?

This week - life gets in the way, and Hounds of the Baskervilles - old and new.

Not a bad spread; it should work, but it doesn't.  I find myself uneasily mesmerized by that bottle of Joy.  I have slacked right off these past weeks.  In my other life, I have taken a promotion.  Two, actually.  And in the mysterious ways of government work, it means I'll be taking home less money for a while.  (Fancy that happening at Private Sector Firm de Jour!) Which has a direct bearing on Joy.  Alas.

In 1959, it would have been difficult for anyone of my gender to have had my former job and it probably would have been impossible for a woman to head a department of investigators, even our weak-sauce regulatory variety.  Most of my colleagues wouldn't have had the jobs they have.  

On the other hand, in 1959,  a man in my position could easily have supported a family and could have sent his children through the California university system for free.  Free.   It was called being middle class, one of the quaint customs of the day.

Enough. Let's shop for bras!

Vassarette is still around - Target, Wa\\lMart, etc.  Hollywood Vassarette was created in 1958 specifically to shape your body so you could wear the latest fashions.  "Bras to give you a bewitching swell of bosom for wide-eyed necklines . . . by gently boosting you above the cup curve itself!"  The "Temptress Bra" and "Temptress Torso" both came in black over pink, but no larger than a 36 B, so we're not talking big boosts here.   Supposedly the Temptress Torso would cost $115 in today's dollars.     Seems a lot for Vassarette, unless, like a lot of other brands, it has dropped down in class.  Revlon, for instance, was sold in fine department stores.

Utter fail - haven't the time, energy or spare cash to acquire vintage samples of Joy, Chanel No. 5 and Shalimar for one big perfume smack down.  This year.  There will be other December issues.  Meanwhile, Joy is said to be unchanged from 1929, when Jean Patou stirred up a batch to cheer American wives whose husbands had taken dives in the stock market.  (How were they supposed to afford it?)

I've actually got the Chanel and Guerlain, but the vintage Chanel has changed a lot since I uncorked the tiny little vial it came in.  It was like the hundred dollar bottle of wine I serendipitously enjoyed one evening several months ago - a revelation.  These things exist.  But now is is like a good Gallo.  So I have to start again.  Meanwhile, I finished a little bottle of Jicky that came with the Shalimar.  It's like half of Shalimar and I found myself easily wearing it every day, until I spilled the last few drops on the bathroom floor.  And even then it wasn't bad.  

But, no Joy.


Couldn't get them in a row.  Forget it - let's go to the movies!

*  Second Hammer Film with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  Better than The Mummy.  That's about all I can say.

*  Not feeling Hammer Films.  And there are so many of them.

* Co-incidently, "Hounds of Baskerville," an episode of the new BBC series Sherlock,  arrived in the mail this week, illustrating another reason why I like living in 2012:  smart and fun television series with what seem like real people - at least psychologically real people.  Add this to your Netflixt list today!  (Another reason to like 2012 - even if there was Netflix in 1959, think of all the movies you couldn't see!)

Next week:  last pair of ads before heading into guts of the issue.  (Only took a year!)   

Saturday, July 7, 2012


This week: I am overcome by traditional Spanish decor in personal adornment, ripples from the past, and a timely accidental education in elemental physics.

Well done, art department!  (Or whoever decided these things.)  Very nice.

Maja - I almost bought some of this the last time I was in The City.  Went around to the peculiar perfume shop, but couldn't bring myself to go in this time.  I admired the huge bottles of perfume in the window, but the owner was behind the counter.  I felt like an eight year old spying on the neighborhood eccentric.  What was he doing?  There are never any customers.  He particularly hates people who think they know anything about perfume - that fake-o Chandler Burr.  People who ask questions . . . He stocks an ample supply of Maja, but I just wasn't up for it.  Oddly enough, around the corner the Betsey Johnson shop was going out of business -- bankrupt! -- and I bought this:

I didn't know it was a dress!  Everyone in the store was wearing it - or its sister - as a blouse.  With decorative bra straps, which takes the rose out of your teeth, so to speak.  Wildly inappropriate, but had an inexplicable Fleetwood Mac moment.  It's gorgeous.  Wore it for a rare night out for drinks - tamarind margaritas.  I had to have this - had just been contemplating Maja soap, and there it was.

Maja soap in color from defunct,  but interesting, blog.

So, Maja soap.  (Pain killers much?  Makes for a bloggier blog - free floating, all the time in the world . . . )

Well, Maja appears to be among the walking dead.  Quick research:  Myurgia was the Spanish house that launched Maja in 1916 (or 1918) and again in 1945.  A respectable drugstore choice until sold in 2000 to Puig, a Spanish brand conglomeration with a mission statement and a lot of fluff on its website, but no Maja.  Some sources say the soap is still made in Mexico.

Who was Maja?  Actually, the question should be, what is a Maja?  More quick research:  a lower-class woman of Madrid who dressed in an exaggerated style and possibly beat up people she judged to be too "Frenchified."   A girl of the hood.  The extreme dress is fascinating - ancestress of the Zoot suiter and the chola?

Here Goya's Naked Maja:

And another Naked Maja:

From ---- 1959.   (Reviewed in NYT in June 1959.)

If only this had been on Netflix, and not the regrettable Journey to the Center of the Earth.

But I digress.  Let's have a look at the Maja ad:

First, that's not a Goya.  Confusing, no?  Look up Maja and art and you get Goya.  You can read a signature in the bottom right corner:  Julio Moises.  Best I can tell, he is Julio Moises Fernandez de Villasante (1888-1968).   Haven't confirmed to my satisfaction, but here, from a blogger, is another painting by him and it looks very similar.

I love the typeface in the entire ad.  Here is the blurbage:

"The Maja, immortalized by Goya, and a favorite subject with Spanish painters, is a delightful name for the favorite complexion soap of beauties all over the world.  Its sylvan bouquet -- floral-mossy-chypre- - imparts a lasting perfume to your skin.  And compounded with Spanish olive oil, a beneficience to your complexion.  Elaborately presented, Maja is traditionally Spanish in its decor.  You'll love using it and giving it.  'Maja' means beautiful woman."

Well, no, it doesn't, but that might be harder to confirm in a casual check in 1959.  Interesting to see the perfume notes deconstructed.

Done that to death!   This is so great - pointless research is so relaxing.  I have forgotten my ravaged gum and swollen cheek.  Next page:

I don't know if the Warner people were very clever, or too clever for their own good.  I see this ad and think, "I dreamed I floated . . . in my -- wait that's not Maidenform!"  I would probably go to the store and buy a Maidenform corselette, even if I intended to buy this one.

One of the reasons life is nicer in 2012:  No more shoulder strap strain, of this type, at least.  You can still maim yourself pretty bad in a too-small body shaper, but at least you're not bound together from shoulder to toe.  Imagine: the stockings connected to the garters, making one huge series of pinches.

But not with the free lift!  To the blurbage:

"Now you can forget all the tug-o-war stories you've heard about corselettes!  . . . The secret of this shapely slimmer is Warner's exclusive separation feature.  The embroidered nylon bra is free beneath the cups. Result: the bra moves with you . .  reaches with you!"

The bra will now move with you, but will leave your breasts behind because I bet that they have removed the wire.  No patent is mentioned in this one, so that avenue of research is closed to us.  I remain unconvinced.

 And now to the physics:  a couple of things happened this week involving people we met in this issue. In one case, intimately; the other, not so much.   I was thinking:  echos from the past?  Reverberations?
Looked it up:  neither.  I was thinking of a ripple.  But for the first time, I actually understood what a sound wave is and why there is a difference between an echo and a reverberation.    The Higgs boson coverage helped.  Still haven't grasped the mechanics of nylon and Dacron, but the reality of sound waves finally sunk in.  Hope for everyone!

First up:  Remember Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and her trip to New York?

Here is part of that post:

Princess Beatrix "surprised reporters" because she did not want to shop.  Instead she spent three and a half hours at the Met, with her uncle, the "Far East curator."  Later she ditched "The Music Man" on Broadway and saw "Destry Rides Again," starring Andy Griffith, instead.   Interesting choice.

Andy Griffith died this week.  I doubt their paths ever crossed again, however tangential.  When I wrote that post, I was completely mystified at Andy Griffith on Broadway.  The Andy Griffith Show was a few months away.  Just curious:  What did Princess Beatrix see?

Well, first, it had been turned into a musical, apparently not in the league of The Music Man and Sound of Music, which just opened in late 1959. I have not tracked down the music to Destry, if any still exists, because I prefer not to make up my own mind about Broadway musicals.  I can barely stand them,so I'll take the world's word for the better ones.  From the Brooks Atkinson review of Destry Rides Again:  "Is it necessary to hire (various decent artists to waste their talents on this) . . . Andy Griffith, still the ingenious Southern hillbilly of No Time for Sergeants to impersonate Destry?"  And:  Mr. Griffith "brings disarming enthusiasm" to several romantic numbers.  That is all there is about Andy Griffith. Mr. Atkinson noted, "Last night's audience seemed to be besides itself with admiration."  Mr. Atkinson seems to have had a better handle on it.

Second, let's revisit my favorite society photo: (Fall 1959 Opening of the Philharmonic.)

Lord and Lady Londonderry (Derry! Damn it! RVV's ancestors are straight out of Sligo,by way of several generations in Davenport, Iowa, but still.  Derry.) and Gloria Vanderbilt.  I've always admired Gloria Vanderbilt for just taking the bit in her teeth and living. I usually don't admire socialites, but there's something about her that makes you think she would have been remarkable no matter where in society she landed.  I love the way she is looking at the tragic, but seemingly dim, Lady Londonderry.  Don't think she cares much for Lord L, either.  Does not look happy.  In 1959, she was still married to Sidney Lumet, her third husband, who died just last year.  Sidney Lumet had two films out in 1959:  The Fugitive Kind, with Marlon Brando, one of my least favorite films of the year (or 1960, as it turned out.)  The other film:  That Kind of Woman, with Sofia Loren and Tab Hunter, not on Netflix.

I am not producing the ripple that I want.  Gloria Vanderbilt divorced Sidney Lumet in 1963, married Wyatt Cooper a few months later.  Anderson Cooper was born in 1967.  And of course he announced this week that he is gay.  Certainly no cause and effect - not a ripple, more like beads on a string.  Here is Gloria, unhappy in a photo; here is Anderson, making news himself.  Why not earlier?  Human mystery surrounds both beads.  

Let's Go to the Movies!

*  I would have fallen asleep, but I was waiting for the dimetrodons.  They were good.

*  It should be impossible to have James Mason and Pat Boone in the same film - matter and anti-matter.  James Mason so utterly wrong for this. Pat Boone much worse here than Ricky Nelson was in Rio Bravo.  

*  If a duck is the most charming character in the film, then, when it seems that the duck is in terrible trouble, it should turn out that the duck is o.k. after all, and not a pile of discretely bloody feathers, done in by the second villain that appears after the first villain's character has been however sketchily established, and then disposed of early in the film by the never-really-explained second villain.  Poor Gertrude!

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