Saturday, June 30, 2012


This Week:  advances in technology and a friend of a friend.

  And now I will try and write this for the third time.  Google is out to get me tonight.  

So I will be brief.  Damn!  I cut her head off!

I feel the consternation of the art department.  That is an awkward encroachment on a lovely illustration of Betty Draper.  Who else?  The same put-upon slump, the Breck-blond hair.

On the far left, a little message from the future.  The Carven perfume box reminds me of the Courreges dress.  Can't get it out of my head.  What was going on with Courreges in 1959?  If I try and look, I'll lose the page.   The typeface, everything, says mid-1960s.  I have heard of, but have not smelled, Ma Griffe.   But now "the most French fragrance ever . . .vert et blaue."  I am taking this as an ad for Vert et Blau, which I found at The Perfumed Court for $6.00 a smidgen.  According to present-day, reincarnated Carven (which does not sell fragrance), Carvel pioneered couture eue de toillette.

Next we have a symphony in nylon and some nice Vogue blurbage, some of the first this issue.  And we are on page 74!  This is the first time I've looked at a page number.  You get dizzy when you look down.  "Nightdressing -- to present. . .To outdistance a Christmas wrapping in prettiness. . ."  $40 peignoir set.  Might be fun to swan around the house in something like that.  And a cigarette.  And maribou mules.

Illustration by Luciana Roselli.  I can find nothing about her directly, but she seems to have illustrated a children's book called The Princess's Tresses.  Seems apt.  Also found some more fashion illustrations in someone else's blog.  Have decided that the etiquette is this:  since it is a current, tended blog, I'll ask before I publish.  They're really good.  (So, yeah, if I find something that hasn't been updated since 2008, I'll probably just take it.  That is, if it were just abandoned.)  But here is a link to the page devoted to a 1962 Harper's Bazaar.

Now - the piece de resistance:

Just ignore the left page.  Absent minded and lazy - forgot to get the main picture and I'm not going back.  Sanity and laziness so often indistinguishable.

That is one awkward looking console.  And the mural background!  But, that, my young friends, was an iPod.  It was the aurok of iPods.  I'm just going to quote:

Announcing the magnificent Magnavox Concert Grand

. . .unquestionably the finest, most revolutionalr stereophonic high fidelity instrument ever created!

Words alone cannot convey the breath-taking performance of this fabulous electonic achievement by Magnavox. . . You must hear it to believe it.  Nothing like the Concert Grand has ever been created before! . . Imagine yourself surrounded in your own home by living performances of the world's great orchestras and artists . . .The Concert Grand also offers you all the superlative features that electro-acoustical science is capable of creating:  It has tremendous power (100 watts undistorted, 200 watts peak), . . .A revolutionary wireless remote control permits complete operation form anywhere in the house.  It turns the instrument on and off, controls volume, rejects records and changes stations at the touch of a button, automatically selecting every usable FM or AM signal on the air.  Think of the convenience of being in your upstairs bedroom and with the world of musc at your command!

Now, it was decades before we had remote control anything in our house.  I wish I still had the family Kenmore stereo.  Very handsome.  Dark wood, nice details.  What they don't show in the picture is the thing in use:  the lid propped up, reminding you that you shouldn't use it as a credenza, although you always did.  Sounded great, smelled great . . . really.

And here are the parts, up close:

How much did this behemoth cost?  One thousand 1959 dollars.  (About $7,900.00, according to official inflation guide.  How good was it?  Obsolete on delivery.   No tape player!    In looking for a "tech review" in the NYT of past, I found  this from 1957.  Go read it; I'll wait.  "Uh, what about all those records?   Don't worry! We don't have to start over again completely."  Paraphrased - italics verbatim.   In 1958, Magnavox introduced equipment that could play the new stereo records - the earlier piece was about stereo tape, interestingly enough.   In September 1959, Magnavox issued a stock split, partly because of profits on stereo equipment.  Two changes since then:  tech reviews in the New York Times and everywhere else; Magnavox out of the music business.

Let's go to the cinema!

*    A hard-working student from the provinces moves in with his hipster cousin; tragedy ensues.

*    Not my night.  Excellent trailer on Critierion DVD. Not one shred of footage online.  Trailer has all you really need of the film, which is about ten times more boring than necessary.  Just didn't work.  Dull, unpleasant characters, repetitive scenes that go on too long, boring actors - except Jean-Claud Brialy, who would be right at home in hipster Oakland.

*  We know Claude Chabrol from before.  We met him in the October 15, 1959 issue when researching Derek Prouse, author of a fairly entertaining feature on modern Japan.  There wasn't much to find out about Mr. Prouse, except that he wrote the screenplay for The Champagne Murders, directed by Claude Chabrol in 1967.  I had not heard of Claude Chabrol, although I had seen his Madame Bovary.    
And now here he is in his own right.  And I happen to know that People Will Be Talking About him later this month.

*  You would not believe it, but the last scene in the movie is a close-up of a record playing in a stereo console.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lovely Disturbances

This Week:  The Wind Song Man and A Film From the Future!

Aftermath of a lovely disturbance . . .when Wind Song whispers your message -- he can't get you out of his mind

You are unique when you wear Wind Song .  . . because Prince Matchabelli created this perfume to diffuse differently on each woman who wears it.  You are the lovely disturber that (sic) wakens its fragrance to fulfillment. . . Wind Song is the subtlest form of communication between woman and man. Its aftermath is a lingering and memorable message -- its message is you.

Well, Prince Matchabelli himself didn't create Wind Song.  Wind Song debuted in 1952.  The Prince died in 1935.

Go here for obituary and a quite nice photo.  We will come back to the obituary later - but not because of perfume.  One gets the idea that the Prince was mixing his first batches of scent in his bathroom sink.    He appears to have done well with the business.  After his death, the company was passed from hand to hand, always churning out inexpensive, but not trollopy perfume.  As near as I can tell.

J. Walter Thompson got the account for women's fragrances in 1958.  It appears that the first Wind Song Man debuted in 1959.  This might be him.  But who was he?  Lost in the mists of time.

Old blog entry:

 In 1959, the company was owned by Chesebrough-Pond, recently acquired from Vicks Chemical Company.  The prince died in 1935. So who was Prince Matchabelli?  A guy who gave a concert of modern Italian songs at his apartment at 50 Central Park West in 1924, attended by every rank of various aristocracies; a guy who entered a common Sealyham terrier in the Popularity Contest of Famous Pets of Famous People in 1926.  Oh, you must read the write up of that madcap evening1959 is nothing to 1926. Or any other time.   (Enhanced a bit from the previous blog - (October 15, 1959 - Albion ad that we will see again later)

If I were more enterprising, I'd head over to CVS and buy something in the Wind Song line  People seem to like it.   But then I would have it.  Is this not the most subtle of First World Problems?

But back to the important part -- who is this guy?  He was around for a long time.  I know I saw this ad.  
He is the Mystery Date.  Or at any rate, to this day, I associate this guy with Mystery Date.  

I don't remember this commercial at all.  Come to think of it, aren't those girls a little young to date?  When we played it, we thought we were getting away with something we shouldn't be doing.  I didn't realize it was marketed to me.  And then, just within a year or two, the loser date became the dream date and the Wind Song Man looked so square I couldn't bear to look at him - or his younger brothers.  

He still looks like he's sitting across from you at a nice restaurant and he's hanging on your every word. What was really going through his head? 

The other page has more Dacron and Abe Schrader, another Seventh Avenue stalwart.  Fortunately, I forgot to photograph it.  

Let's (Not) Go to the Movies (Because It's the Wrong Year), But Since We Just Did . . . 

*  Wikipedia strikes again.  Final frame - copyright 1960.  Released in U.S.,1964.  I had never heard of it.  Also - don't believe the trailer.  Not a love story!  Not a romance that happens to take place in a forced labor camp.  No.  Netflix also has 1959, but more accurately describes it as a "disturbing character study."  

*  Susan Strasberg extremely moving as 14-year-old Jewish girl who survives exportation and a labor camp by assuming the identity of a French criminal, volunteering as a prostitute and becoming a Kapo. Emmanuelle Riva - in her second role after Hiroshima Mon Amour, and still going strong in this year's Amour  - good as a sympathetic French political prisoner.  But Susan Strasberg . . . I remember her from a photo in Life Goes to the Movies on the set of Picnic.  

The photo I remember, that I can't find, is of Kim Novak or somebody feeding her ice scream.  

She never did anything much after Kapo.  Go here for an interesting obit from The Independent (UK) that doesn't even mention Kapo.  Of course, thinking Kapo was a 1959 film, I thought about Diary of Anne Frank, and it turns out that Susan Strasberg originated that role on Broadway and was bitterly disappointed she didn't get the film role.  And in a weird twist that links her with another female icon - Susan Strasberg's best friend was Marilyn Monroe.  

* An early Holocaust film.  According to the trailer, audiences at the Venice film festival gave standing ovations throughout the film and stood and cheered for twelve minutes near the end. Which is always strange, given the subject matter.    But the suspense toward the end is remarkable.  Director Gillo Pontecorvo went on to make Battle of Algiers and Burn! with Marlon Brando.    Up for Best Foreign Film in 1960.  

Next week:  The Giant iPod.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fashionable Waste Management

This week:  meh.

A lady is stalked by a naked garbage disposal.  Lady:  But you can't talk!  You're only a garbage disposal!  Gary the Garbage Disposal:  I can talk your language, darling!

It has long been one of my minor dreams to buy a top-of-the-line garbage disposal.  Mine is a toothless  old thing.  But should you use one at all?  Yes, no, maybe so is the definitive answer from online poking around.  I did find this:

I have failed with every composting method I've tried:  the heap, the discounted four-drawer thing from the county, the garbage bin, the plastic bag (don't do this), and the worm bin.   $300 is a bit much when you can just use a drippy paper bag for free.  A bit too Priusy, if you know what I mean.

Lady Marlene appears to be still around, mostly as novelty underthings for brides and bridesmaids.   Is it too obvious to observe that the demise of the corset coincides with the expansion of the waist?  Even gawky pre-teens had to wear a starter panty girdle.  I did.  You could only get so big, if you had to stuff yourself into some kind of sausage casing in order to leave the house.  Of course there is the terrifying, but ubiquitous Spanx, but it can't seem to stem the tide.  

I am sitting in the dark and can't read the blurb, but it doesn't seem worth going inside for.

Let's go to the movies!

*  Small country picks war with U.S. to reap post-war foreign aid.  Small country accidentally wins war.

*  Very sweet movie.  I read all of the Mouse That books in junior high.  Peter Sellers in the Alec Guinness triple role thing the British were so keen on.    Duchess Gloriana and the archers in Manhattan seem obvious models for a zillion Monty Python skits.

*  Jean Seberg nearly unbearable, but all else pretty good.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Will Not Stain Youngster

This Week:  A reminder that some things should remain forgotten.

First, notes from Sitemeter.   Reading Vintage Vogues has outgrown the free version!  And it was the most international week so far, I believe, on Reading Vintage Vogues.  Most interesting hits - Reader at Cairo Starbucks searching for Maril*n M*nroe w*dding dr*ss . . . in fact readers in downtown Ankara, Turkey, Prague, Brighton,  Sydney, Warsaw, Izmir, London, Copenhagen, Madrid and Moscow all searched for that asterisk-laden phrase.  (We don't really have it.)

My favorite was a reader in rural South Africa who came looking for Chanel v. Shalimar and left with a virtual pet.

Only Humbert Humbert could do justice to this ad.  This is the stuff Mrs. Haze might give her maid.

And yet, from an eBay guide  I see that the Allen B. Wrisley company of Chicago began making perfumes in 1901.  I am guessing they were created for the dime store market.  Digging deeper:

From c 1900 

In 1950, it was announced in the New York Times that the company would market soap in plastic bags.  Sub head:  "Container Said to Have Many Uses Around the House."

Purex acquired the company in 1958.   A few references in the business pages, but no mention of perfume.

What did these hideous cartoon people  get for Christmas?

She gave him Wrisley Spruce For Men.  "Richly spruce-scented favorites in shave lotion and a he-man cologne." $2.  I can only think that it smelled like Lysol.

It only looks as if he's going to strangle her with her necklace.   He gave her Wrisley Grecian Vase Bubble Bath.  "Queen's Guard (pink), Blue Fern (turquoise) and Enchant (maize) fragrances in hand-blown, gold-decorated glass vase.  $3.

Fey little boy gave creepy little girl "Wrisley Magicolor Bubble Bath.  "Colors bath water pink, blue, green, yellow:  will not stain tub, towel or youngster; 20 envelopes: $1.

This cheapskate gave her Wrisley Bath Superbe Soap and Wrisley Superbe Bubble Bath at $1 each.
Spelling Superb with an "e" makes up for it, though.

Unidentified person holding Pod Mother and Daughter at bay with transmitter concealed in gift box.

She's eating out of his hand because he gave her Wrisley White Flower Cologne and Wrisley My Heart Cologne, "a brilliant new fragrance with a tender mood.  In gold-touched dresser bottle, a daily reminder of you."

This is a woman who clearly expects a lot:  Wrisley Spray Colognes in Blue Fern, Enchant and Queen's Guard AND Wrisley Hobnail Cologne in a milk glass dresser bottle that "becomes a bud vase, lamp base, candle holder."   You can hardly make a lamp out of a bottle of Chanel No. 5!

You know who does this sort of thing so much better than me?  "Rex Parker" at Pop Sensation.  I think here we are seeing one of the paperback cover illustrators that come in for praise or evisceration three times a week over there.

Let's go to the movies!

* The Man in the Net.  Better keep those New York bohemians out of Connecticut - for their own good.  Cue dramatic hamster.

*  A sad and comatose Alan Ladd, overly vivacious Carolyn Jones (at least she keeps you awake while she's on screen).  Directed by Michael Curtiz, I was very sad to see.  (Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, Yankee Doodle Dandy - some favorites.)   No one's heart was in this.  Doesn't show up in 1959 Wikipedia lists.  Just found it on Netflix.

*  Stick with the trailer.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Far Afield

This week: Belgian linen, Polish book design, and Japanese cinema.

Two $165 dresses from the "Vera Stewart chateau collection," found certainly in the Better Dresses departments of the many department stores named herein.  $465 today - that sounds about right.   Rather primitive photoshopping.  Spellcheck - that's another one! - doesn't even think "photoshop" worthy of a query.  I can't for the life of me think of what faking photos was called before Adobe.  Cut and paste?  So little thought went into this entire thing, let's not waste another minute.

Yet more Belgian linen.  Whatever happened to Belgian linen?  We've (the Blog We) linked to them before, but I can't remember a thing about it.  Now I see that Belgian linen is used mostly for interior decor and by artists.  I suppose it's too expensive to use in ready to wear clothing.  See the little crest in the ad?  Here it is from the website:

Their Trademark

And here is a film about the production of linen.  Very European.  I kept thinking that everyone in the video has had either a university education or rigorous apprenticeship (even the salespeople); they all have full health insurance, and they all have at least six weeks off each year.

Now, in 1959, where could you buy linen dresses in California?  San Francisco, of course (Livingston Brothers, a store with which I am not familiar) and one other place -- wait for it --- Stockton!  Oddly enough, the Smith & Lang Department Store of Stockton burnt to the ground in 1958 and re-opened in 1959 in a building by architect Weldon Becket, designer or mastermind of Century City, the Capitol Records Building, the Cinerama Dome and the Glendale City Library, my least favorite library ever.  Oh, and the Federal Building in Los Angeles, and the Kaiser Center in Oakland.   And the Music Center in Los Angeles.  Can't seem to find a photo of the Stockton store, though.

What else on these pages?

The end of the fake story about the different types of childbirth a woman's daughters supposedly underwent in Span and in America.  Probably just written under a pen name - like this!  Still, something fishy about it.

The house ad asks, "What's changing now?  Read the fashion answers in January 1 Vogue."  Well, we might be making a quick trip to England to find out.

This looks just as bad in real life as it does here.  What an awful ad!  Both of them.

Let's go to the movies!

*  Night Train, from Poland.  I don't even read the Netflix envelope when I get a movie I haven't heard of.  It's always a surprise.  This time a good one.  A man in a hurry and a woman running from a bad romance share a compartment on a holiday train.  Is he a murderer?   Hmmmm. . . . A lot is done with very little in this film.  Definitely worth a shot.

* Very evocative movie if you've ever spent the night trying to sleep sitting up all night with seven other strangers in an overcrowded train.  Second film of 1959 set almost entirely on a train (also Northwest Passage.)

* I couldn't get a screen shot, but the heroine reads a paperback by Rudolf Leonhard (I had to look him up - German journalist, writer, Communist).  Couldn't get the title, but the design of the book leaped out.  Whoever writes A Journey Round My Skull has posted a lot about Polish book design.

Speaking of obscure (to me, anyway) cinema:  The second oldest movie director in the world just died. Kaneto Shindo was best known, apparently,  for Children of Hiroshima (1952).  He had a movie out in 1959, Lucky Dragon No. 5, but it doesn't appear in the Wikipedia list I've been working off, none of his movies are on Netflix and his IMDB entry is pathetic, considering how many movies he wrote or directed.     So many worlds don't show up on the internet.

What we're missing on Netflix:

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