Archive for the ‘Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys’ Category

Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys: Surprisingly non-NSFW Sherilyn Fenn edition

February 6, 2011


Darkness swallowed him up. He might have taken the time to saddle the horse or hitched up three spans of mules to a Concord stagecoach and smoked a pipe as it seems no one in the city was after him. He had mistaken the drummers for men.

“The wicked flee when none pursueth.”

(True Grit. Charles Portis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968.)

I meant to see the new film version of True Grit last night, but the time got away from me. Watched Big Lebowski instead, so I kept my promise to Jeff Bridges at least. No regrets. I’ll get to True Grit eventually.

Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys: Echo Sackett edition feat. Yvonne Buckingham

January 22, 2011


Yvonne Buckingham.

When morning came, and when I had my breakfast, I sat waiting in the sitting room. I was wearing a poke bonnet and a long full skirt trimmed with bows of ribbon and a shawl around my shoulders. My knitting bag was on my lap and my pick was inside my skirt in its scabbard and ready to hand. A girl can’t be too careful.

(Louis L’Amour. Ride the River: Book Five in the Sackett Series. New York: Bantam, 1983.)

Winter of my discontent and Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Textual healing, “Snow, the hardest thing to imagine”

January 19, 2011

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.


via Austin Kleon.

I suppose it’s about time I re-read the Lonesome Dove books, but I really do try not to add any more books to my list of compulsive yearly reads and I fear they would so easily slip in to that pile. … Still…

12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies: A Christmas Story

December 25, 2010

You knew it was coming.

A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983).

Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940’s.

(the imdb)

I think this movie, with rare competitors like Stand By Me, might be one of the best depictions on film of the weird mix of the jaded, the melodramatic, and the credulously bittersweet that encapsulate experiences that comprise childhood.


A Christmas Story is a 1983 American Christmas comedy film based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author and raconteur Jean Shepherd, including material from his books In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories. The film has become a holiday classic and is known to be shown numerous times on television during the Christmas season.

(the wiki)

Man, whose leg do you have to hump to get “and raconteur” appended to your primary job description? That is sick as hell. I think I’m going to start referring to my friendohs like that. “This is my old friend Ben, chef and raconteur.” “I’d like you to meet noted drafter and raconteur, George.” “Will executive assistant and raconteur Dre be joining us?”


Three of the semi-autobiographical short stories on which the film is based were originally published in Playboy magazine between 1964 and 1966. Shepherd later read “Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid” and told the otherwise unpublished story “Flick’s Tongue” on his WOR Radio talk show. [Director] Bob Clark states that he became interested in Shepherd’s work when he heard “Flick’s Tongue” on the radio in 1968.

(the wiki)


(crying) Daddy’s going to kill Ralphie!

Daddy is not going to kill Ralphie.

When we’d first moved to a large city and I was very small, we had a neighbor who told her children, in front of me, that if they didn’t stop screaming when they played, she was going to cut off their hands and bury them in the backyard. What made the threat chillingly genuine was how batshit insane this poor woman was. Like, unhinged, so’s as a child can see it in thirty seconds of conversation. I could not get out of that house fast enough. It was not even up for debate — I ran out the door, and the only issue on which I was torn was whether to run to my own house or to the police station.

I remember sitting in the bathtub after telling my mother, who assured me soothingly that Rich would never let Debbie cut off the children’s hands, sure that the next time I saw my friends, they’d have stumps at the end of their wrists. Kids know when grown-ups aren’t fooling around. She used to wear ankle weights to her doctor’s appointments so he’d think she was eating, and crowed about only needing a training bra. She told me I had “real potential” as a ballerina, but I couldn’t start talking to boys. That’s when everything would go south, she warned.

Once, when my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up (before the backyard hands-chopping thing) I told her, “I want to be just like Debbie.”

Whenever I think of her, Debbie is thin and fabulous in our community swimming pool, resplendently 80’s-riffic and prepubescently cocaine-and-gin anorexic in her hot pink and black bikini, sporting mirorred Ray-Ban knockoff sunglasses and a super-long Virginia Slim. Debbie would pitch nickels across the kidney-shaped pool and let them settle at the bottom, and then I would kick-launch off of her sunscreen-slicked thighs from the shallow end to claw frantically for the coins ahead of her daughter: I wanted so desperately to impress her. I hated to see my reflection in her super-cool shades, so imperfect with my lanky, boy-pixie-cut uselessness. She would ruffle my hair and call me Miz Liz. I thought she was sensational but terrifying — so pretty, so “different,” and so. danged. crazy.

She’s dead now. Brain tumor. When we were caught up by a neighbor we ran into at a grocery (we’d left that neighborhood many years before), the neighbor said, “Sad. It was enormous when she died; I guess she’d had it for years and it had just been pressing on her brain.” My father said, “I wonder if that’s what made her —” then turned and looked at me and said, “Um, you probably don’t remember her, but she was a little … erratic.”

No fucking shit, I thought.

Miss Shields is depicted as the Wicked Witch of the West, standing beside Ralphie’s mother, Mrs. Parker, in a jester outfit. Later, the kid with the goggles in line to see Santa tells Ralphie, “I like The Wizard of Oz. I like the Tin Man.” The Wizard of Oz was released in August of 1939, which has become part of the chronology fans try to pin on A Christmas Story to make a definite timeline for when the events are supposed to take place. (Waste of time: the writer and the director deliberately kept it vague.) Kind of funny though since both movies received middling critical acclaim at their release and went on to quietly become classic frequently-aired favorites.

Tedde Combs returned as Miss Shields in the sort of sequel, My Summer Story, making her the only original cast member to reprise his or her A Christmas Story role.

It’s a major award!

Both [author Jean] Shepherd and [director Bob] Clark have cameo appearances in the film; Shepherd plays the man who directed Ralphie and Randy to the back of the Santa line and Clark plays Swede, the neighbor the Old Man was talking to outside during the Leg Lamp scene.

(the wiki)



You used up all the glue on purpose.

The infamous leg lamp, the Old Man’s “major award,” was based on an actual lamp, in the shape of a logo for Nehi soda.



The character of Red Ryder, whose name bears the BB Gun Ralphie is desperately trying to acquire, is a real comic book (and radio) character that existed in the 1930’s-40’s, akin to popular western heroes like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the Lone Ranger.

(the imdb)

But of course here he is fighting Black Bart.





The Red Ryder BB gun was available beginning in 1938 and for many years afterward (and indeed, still is), but never in the exact configuration mentioned in the film. The Daisy “Buck Jones” model did have a compass and a sundial in the stock, but these features were not included in the Red Ryder model. The compass and sundial were placed on Ralphie’s BB gun but on the opposite side of the stock due to Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) being left-handed.

(the wiki)


The film was written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark. Shepherd provides the movie’s narration from the perspective of an adult Ralphie, a narrative style later used in the dramedy The Wonder Years.

(the wiki)

Which is exactly why I always ascribed to Fred Savage and Peter Billingsley an adult intelligence and wisdom that is developmentally unlikely for their ages as child stars. But I couldn’t help myself. The kid from Sandlot too. They just sounded so smart.

You simply cannot swing your arms without hitting someone who has run in to this guy at the grocery or the library or a blindfolded furry party. By all accounts he is a rad dude, but I need to say, Enough with the accounts. We get it: he is a man, who is affable and does not have yellow eyes, and he prefers haricorts verts to cut green beans. No, please, continue to regale me with your riveting story of how you briefly encountered a person who exists. He likes puppies? No way. How about oxygen, does he breathe it? He does?

Aw, I’m fronting. I’d totally tell you if I met him. Unless it was at a blindfolded furry party. What happens at Paws Off* events stays there. Except the staph infection. That, unfortunately, comes home with you. Sorry.




In 2008, two fans from Canada released a fan film documentary that visits every location used in the movie. Their film, Road Trip for Ralphie, was shot over two years and includes footage of the film makers saving Miss Shields’s black board from the garbage bin on the day the old Victoria School was gutted for renovation [to be converted in to a women’s shelter], discovering the antique fire truck that saved Flick, locating all the original costumes from the movie and tracking down the real-life location of the movie’s Chop Suey Palace in Toronto.

(the wiki)


He looks like a pink nightmare.

I don’t really feel the need to catch you up on what all the cast members are up to these days, because it seems like the news outlets run a “Where are they are now” story on the A Christmas Story cast, like, every single December. But you can easily look it up, some of the stuff is pretty fun.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and may all your holiday wishes be granted! Try not to shoot your eye out.






*Rejected blindfolded furry club names:
•Chasing Tail
•Pussy Ga-whore
•Bible study
•Bad to the Boner
•Call of the Wild (I know, not even funny, right? now you see why it was rejected)
•Fur Balls
•Charlie Sheen’s house on Wednesday nights

Got any more?

Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys: Vintage edition

October 2, 2010


   “To take revenge on a horse! Lassiter, the men of my creed are unnaturally cruel. To my everlasting sorrow I confess it. They have been driven, hated, scourged till their hearts have hardened. But we women hope and pray for the time when our men will soften.”
   “Beggin’ your pardon, ma’am—that time will never come.”
   “Oh, it will!”

(Zane Grey. Riders of the Purple Sage. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1912: 13-14.)

Music Moment and Movie Millisecond: Don’t say I never gave you anything and please do have a laugh

August 12, 2010

Sin City (Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, 2005). Jessica Alba portrays Nancy Callahan. Rescued from kidnap and rape in her youth by Detective John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), Nancy is now an exotic dancer at a divey downtown night spot guarded by my crowd-pleasing favorite character, Marv (Mickey Rourke).


Nancy as drawn by Miller in the original comics.

Things have been kind of heavy for me lately. Et tu? Seems like everyone I know is kind of down this week; guess Mars is in retrograde or some kind of similar jello salad. So I encourage you to hit “play” on the song below and watch in amazement as Nancy Callahan “dances it out” in the exact same beat at that there ol’ Kadie’s Club Pecos in fabulous Basin City, a sunny place for shady characters.

FIRST PLAY THIS:
Les Paul and Mary Ford — Goofus (1950).
THEN WATCH THIS:

Actually, it works with all kinds of songs, but “Goofus” is the one that struck an absurd and juvenile chord of laughter in me. If you’ve been feeling a little out of sorts today, please do have a laugh and promise to try and make some of your own fun.

E.E. Cummings Month: “Buffalo Bill’s”

August 2, 2010



Buffalo Bill’s
defunct
             who used to
              ride a watersmooth-silver
                                                          stallion
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
                                                                                     Jesus
he was a handsome man
                                          and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death

(E.E. Cummings, “Buffalo Bill’s,” 1920.)


via

Well, how do you, Mr. Death.

This is one of several Cummings poems first published in The Dial in 1920. A very early example of his fascination with unusual forms, “Buffalo Bill’s” use of whitespace in the poem is in part influenced by Pablo Picasso, who Cummings met in Paris after serving time in France on a trumped up charge of being a spy during the Great War (total folklore — he was a volunteer ambulance driver and was guilty of nothing more than being an outspoken critic of war, violence, and suffering in general). Cummings was also a painter and was inspired by Picasso’s formalistic experiments in cubism: he carried the philosophy forward in to his writing as well.

The Girls of Summer: Kelly Burke, Miss July 1966

June 25, 2010


Photographed by William Figge.

Kelly prefers making most of her natatorial plunges in the neighbors’ back-yard pool. “Besides the pool, they own two darling dogs,” she explains. “One’s a $700 pedigreed toy poodle named Suzie; the other’s a mongrel puppy that they rescued from the local dog pound for only five dollars. He’s named Toy Tiger and, needless to say, I’m in love with the mutt.”

(“Freckle-Face.” Playboy, June 1966.)

Good choice!

I’m an across-the-board mutt guy from Way Back: dogs, cats — men. Actually, I think I’m genuinely allergic to so-called “well-bred” dudes without debt. I’ve tried to date them and their leather car coats and confident wine-awareness makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, if you got a busted grill and drive a ’92 Honda Prelude with one broken headlight that won’t raise, know the difference between a single- and a double-wide, and front a ZZ Top cover band? I’m all yours.

Actual example: my friend J-Mys once tried to set me up on a double date with her and her boyfriend and a mortgage broker Senor R knew from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Polly Wolly Doodle All Day. J-Mys and Senor R cut out early and I was stuck with the mortgage broker, who was clearly not in to me either but was still talking some kind of folklore about variable rates and baloney sauce that I was not at all listening to because I was watching Clue in my head due to my crushing boredom, when I got up to get another pint of beer.

At the bar, this guy in a very dated No Fear t-shirt and battered, unironic John Deere ballcap saw I had actual folding money and asked me for change for the jukebox. We picked out a couple songs — I believe we went with Tom Waits, the Beatles, and “Thriller,” for novelty shits and giggles — and I told the boring mortgage broker that I was planning on going to the bathroom and going home.

I insisted we split the bill because I felt a few compunctions of guilt for wasting the early part of his Friday evening, even if I had in no way lead him to think the night had any kind of sexytimes in its future. Then I made sure the broker actually left, slipped out of the bathroom, and bullshitted with the ballcap guy on the porch about Quantum Leap and camping ’til my beer was done. Went home much happier than I’d been an hour earlier. Sneaky I guess but so much better.

As for the rest of the purple prose in that excerpt, I got hung up on “natatorial.” Really? Natatorial? Come on. That is some rich fertilizer right there. Talk about a needless fifty dollar word.

natatorial: (adj.) of, characterized by, or adapted for swimming.

Aww. Seems that some low-paid Playboy scribbler had a crush on his thesaurus.

That shot is freaking awesome. Hats off to Mr. Figge. “Natatorial” photography at its best? The reflection, the symmetry, the attention to every tile of the composition (rule of thirds) having something interesting in it — awesome sauce. Bill Figge is the shit.


As a medical buyer for one of California’s largest pharmaceutical cooperatives, Miss June has spent the past three years helping to supervise the selection of drugs destined to become shelf stock in hospitals and pharmacies throughout the Greater Glendale area.

(Ibid.)


Another stunning composition. The light-play is brilliant.

“My job can be fairly cut and dried one minute,” says the 21-year-old brunette, “and then, in typical Ben Casey fashion, a nearby hospital phones in an emergency order and I’m suddenly off and running all over the place to find the required medicines.”

(Ibid.)

The Ben Casey to which Ms. Burke refers was a popular television series which ran from the early- to mid-1960’s. The Bing Crosby-produced medical drama was filmed at Desilu Studios and starred Vince Edwards (Space Raiders, Return to Horror High*) as the titular surgeon Dr. Benjamin Casey. The opening sequence is famous for its serious, ominous overtones: this deep voice says, “Man — woman — birth — death — infinity.” Heavy shit, right?

*Yes, I deliberately picked the cheesiest, schlockiest, campiest of Edwards’ many legitimate credits to use as his two paranthetical citations, like those obscure B flicks would somehow make you say, “Oh, him!” I wanted to be funny. Vince Edwards is actually a talented and well-recognized actor who was very popular in his time: I am just a goofy rake.


Kelly now sports her own 1965 Oldsmobile convertible, in which she commutes daily from her new bachelorette bungalow in suburban Sylmar.

(Ibid.)

Just five months after Ms. Burke’s gatefold appearance, the Loop Fire wiped out huge swaths of the boundary between her new hometown of Sylmar and the Angeles Forest. The fatally unpredictable Loop Fire is still covered in firefighting course textbooks today as an example of the necessity for developing strong communication strategy to contain a dry canyon fire affected by high winds.

The Loop Fire began on November 1, 1966, at 5:19 am, on the edge of the Angeles National Forest. The El Cariso Interregional Fire Crew, which consisted of city and county firefighters, along with the El Cariso “Hot Shots,” a USDA-Forest crew of firefighters, sprang in to action to contain the blaze.

Tragically, a flare-up jumped from the forest to a canyon at the outer edges of Sylmar and created a wall of flame around it. A group from the Hot Shots crew was trapped inside, cut off from the rest of the firemen in a narrow and dry canyon of steep rock walls which, despite having no natural accelerants to move the fire along, still increases the energy of the fire because it functions as a “natural chimney,” creating tremendous heat and pressure.

Ten firefighters burned to death on site within minutes, while twelve others were injured, one critically.

Helicopter Pilot Troy Cook began rescue operations within 10 minutes after the men were burned. The diamond shaped area was still surrounded by fire when Pilot Cook hovered and picked up the first survivor.

(THE LOOP FIRE DISASTER – ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST – CALIFORNIA REGION: “A BRIEF OF THE REPORT OF THE GROUP ASSIGNED TO ANALYZE THE LOOP FIRE ACCIDENT.” US. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1967: Washington, D.C.)


Pilot Roland Barton and his helicopter soon joined him and rescue operations continued with great courage and skill until all of the injured men were evacuated to the Los Angeles County Command Post on the Pacoima. From there the injured men were taken by auto to the hospital.

(Ibid.)

One of these injured men died at the LA County General Hospital November 6, but the rest survived thanks to the rescue efforts of the rest of the interregional team. A committee was formed by the Forest Service in conjunction with firefighting officials to use the tragic Loop Fire to improve fire prediction and containment methods, along with task force recommendations for the strengthening of safety and communication regulations.


The highly localized decisions and actions which resulted in the tragedy points to the need of:
  • (1) more specific direction on safe practices in similar topography; (2) specific control of helicopter attack; (3) scheduling of more complete inter- and intra-crew communication; and (4) adequate scouting to keep sector bosses currently informed when working in critical and possibly critical situations.

    (Ibid.)


  • [We need to] make crystal clear in firefighting training that a “chimney,” “narrow box canyon,” or similar topographic feature is a Hazard Area even if devoid of fuel.

    (Ibid.)

  • The El Cariso Regional Park on Hubbard in Sylmar is a memorial to the aforementioned El Cariso “Hot Shots,” the local United States Department of Agriculture – Forestry boys who were killed during their battle to keep the flames from entering the town.

    That was kind of bummer stuff, so sorry, but an interesting slice of history. Wildfires in California are far more devastating than the earthquakes with which the rest of the country generally associates the state, and as a result, fire science in California is often at the cutting edge of research and methods for saving lives in the future.

    But back to sunny Ms. Burke.


    “I’ve become a real flower bug,” she reports, “since Mom and Dad bought a retail nursery in Yucaipa last year. Each time I visit them, I load up the back seat of the Olds with so much greenery before heading home that it winds up looking just like some sort of window box on wheels.”

    (Ibid.)


    That’s cute.

    Weekends, June’s bantam (5′) beauty heads for the sun-drenched beaches of Santa Monica, equipped with an over-sized straw hat and nylon sailing parka. “My freckles still show no matter what I try!”

    a) Yay for little lookers! Rock on with your pocket rocket self.
    b) Why do freckled people always desire to hide them? Freckles are so unbelievably cute. I don’t get it.
    c) It looks like she is Thumbelina laying in an orange peel. What the what is that stuff?


    PEOPLE I ADMIRE: Albert Einstein, Dr. John Rock and Dr. Francis Kelsey, beause of their outstanding medical contributions.

    MY IDEAL EVENING: Have cocktails and dinner, take in a movie, and then have a pizza.

    (Playmate data sheet.)

    Right on to Einstein, pizza, mutts, and having a serious job while attending Cal Poly Pomona during her appearance as a Playmate. Ms. Burke is the exception and not the rule of pretentious brandy-snifter marlarkey we went over earlier this week. Fun final fact: her sister-in-law, Allison Parks, was the 1966 Playmate of the Year.

    Oh, and I guess a really fun final fact is that Ms. Burke was pregnant during this shoot. BOMBSHELL! Maybe that is why she is so adorably radiant. As you probably noticed, it’s another Cowboy Kate-influenced cover, I assume to reflect the “Girls of Texas” story. R.I.P., Sam Haskins.

    Spring Fever!: Felicia Atkins, Miss April 1958

    April 19, 2010

    I was feeling down, but I’m pulling myself out of it. I need to have more faith that things will work out for the best, for one thing, and for another, holy cannoli, is it ever a gorgeous day out there! I’ve been sitting on some of these shots for just about forever. I love this shoot. Lots of red clothes, cute hats, and opera-style makeup? Yes, please — I am a big These Pictures Guy from Way Back! Miss April 1958 is the lovely and talented Felicia Atkins.


    Photographed by Bruno Bernard and Bill Bridges.

    An awesome vintage brunette wonder from Down Under, Ms. Atkins still holds the record today for being the longest consecutively-employed showgirl in the history of the storied Folies-Bergère Revue at the Las Vegas Tropicana. Get it, girl!


    Felicia Atkins: Pussy Magnet. Ow!

    I find the history of Old School Las Vegas really interesting (mainly a result of the intersection between my undying love of The Godfather movies and the fact that I’m perpetually interested in the persistent concept of the fast-and-loose, fancy-free frontier “west” in the American mind especially as it played out in increasingly swift travel methods available to the middle class seeking recreation in the twentieth century — first, trains to national parks, then big steely cars on the new highways roaring along state routes dotted with crummy roadside teepees and Bob’s Big Boys by the mid-century; that interests the shit out of me, seriously), so I’m going to reproduce Ms. Atkins’ original write-up in its entirety and then go in to some historical Las Vegas points of emotional interest as far as the Folies-Bergère goes (went).


    Gone are the drear, dread days beyond recall when we were led to believe that showgirls had a pretty bad time of it in the sunshine-and-health department — late hours, smoke-filled rooms, nightclub pallor, and other offenses to God and man. Today, tongue-clucking do-gooders would find it a tough task convincing us that the life of a showgirl (in Las Vegas, anyway) is anything but Reilly. Look at Felicia Atkins, if you haven’t already.

    (“Showgirl in the Sun: A Vegas Venus Mixes Vitamins with Va-a-voom.” Playboy, April 1958.)


    She spends her nights in the chorus line of the sumptuous Hotel Tropicana, gladdening the eyes of all beholders with her finely fashioned five-feet-seven-and-a-half-inches.

    (Ibid.)

    By day, she sleeps late in a swank suite of the same hostelry, eats a mountainous breakfast, then squeezes into a bikini and slips out to soak up a skinful of Vitamin C and splash about in a cool pool until it’s time to dry off the corpore sano andfoi get ready for the evening’s extravaganza. For this, mind you, she gets paid. Another nice thing that’s happened to felicitous Felicia is her appearance as our Playmate for the month of April. It’s nice for us, too. (Ibid.)

    /End drivel. Phew! Before I go in to more about the show for which she famously worked, a few notes on Ms. Atkins — from what I can gather, after leaving the Folies, she went to work for the MGM Grand, which buffs know was bought by Bally’s. Sometime between the Bally’s acquisition, some bartending gigs at what is now the Crazy Horse, and the revamping of Vegas in to a family destination in the 1990’s (darkly pleased to see it returning to its roots after that failed experiment — boo to themed roller coasters, yay to sequined pasties), Ms. Atkins retired back to her native Australia.


    The “Folies-Bergère” opened at the Tropicana Hotel in 1959. Famous for its Cancan girls and statuesque showgirls the “Folies-Bergère” has outlived many hotels as well as shows. The longest continuous running production show in Las Vegas has been updated many times over the years to keep its status as a sophisticated Parisian spectacular.

    (“Folies-Bergère: We Can-Can,” Hooper, R. Scott. vegasretro.com.)

    When you hear “showgirl,” and automatically picture a leggy glamazon in ostrich-tail and resplendently over-the-top headdress, you are picturing a girl from the Folies-Bergère, the hip grandma of all Vegas revues. As VegasRetro reported, it was the longest-running show in the history of the City, and Ms. Atkins, here, was its longest-running performer. That is really something!


    Folies-Bergère, known the world over for gorgeous dancers is not just a show … it’s a legend. The theme of “women through time” beginning in the 1800’s to present day has gone unchanged, but the new interpretations enhance the Folies-Bergère experience.

    (“Les Folies-Bergère.” PCAP, Las Vegas Lesiure Guide, 2003.)


    The Dressing Room number gives the audience a behind-the-scenes feel of how the gorgeous showgirls prepare for their nightly appearance on stage. Each scenario flows seamlessly into the next such as in La Vedette where male dancers present a stunning showgirl who materializes through smoke with giant butterfly wings on her back.

    (Ibid.)


    Another popular scene is fashioned in the 1920’s where “women of darkness” were known as vamps. A private boudoir moment, black silk and velvet dressing gowns accompanied by tassels used as erotic props emphasize the sexual natures of these women.

    (Ibid.)


    The Las Vegas Folies-Bergère, which opened in 1959, closed at the end of March 2009, after nearly 50 years in operation.

    (the wiki.)



    The Folies-Bergère showgirls have been entertaining audiences at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for 49 years. In the show’s heyday in Vegas, “The Trop,” where they performed, was considered the “Tiffany of the Strip,” attracting stars like Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Patrons came to rub elbows with stars and with the Folies’ showgirls, who would “dress up” the hotel bar after performances.

    But times are tight in Las Vegas, and the Tropicana can’t afford to produce the Folies-Bergère anymore. The showgirls’ last performance will be March 28, 2009 — just a few months shy of the show’s 50th anniversary.

    (“Folies-Bergère to close in Las Vegas.” Meraji, Shereen. 23 February 2009. NPR.)


    Coupl’a’fine-ass kittens chillaxin’.

    These days, Felicia is, like I said, back in Oz. She now lives in a senior care facility where you can write to her at 4 Muller St., Salamander Bay, New South Wales, 4317. Be respectfully advised she has recently started being treated for advancing dementia and may not now recognize photos and autograph requests.

    Speaking of these kinds of subjects, I need to go because I am being summoned to have a conversation with my grandmother, who is hot to tell me for probably the sixth time today about how her brother Alvin got the first Model T in Priest River when she was a kid with graduation money from their grandmother and he took all the kids in town for rides in it, and they were speeding and hit a bump and he had to jerk her back down on to his lap at one point because she flew up in the air and almost out the window of the car. She loves that story. He was her favorite brother. I don’t mind when she gets stuck in a groove for a day on the really sweet and good memories. It’s a wonderful break from the Bad Days, plus the repetition ensures that now I will hold on to the memory for awhile. And that’s what we’ve all got ears and got voice boxes for, most likely. Right? It happens. Catch you later!

    Back in the Saddle Again

    February 18, 2010

    Back in the saddle, y’all.

    It’s been a long week, and I’m a bit poorer, but overall I’m none the worse for the wear. So much to catch up on! Starting … now.

    Post-Holiday Pick-Up: Miss December 1972, Mercy Rooney (yee haw)

    December 26, 2009

    Miss November 1972 was “Lenna,” whose cropped centerfold, as you may recall, is just about one of the most famous pictures in the graphics design world. So you’d think Miss December would have a tough act to follow, and she might pale in comparison, right?

    Here to prove you wrong is the lovely and talented Mercy Rooney (aka Merci Montello, aka Mercy Mee), a B-movie actress and rodeo queen who at 22 had already roped and released Mickey Rooney, Jr., the oldest son of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney.


    Photographed by Alexas Urba.

    “Most people think of rodeo as man conquering beast — men riding bulls, roping calves, that kind of thing. That’s not it at all. Rodeo is actually man conquering his own body, being able to control it and make it work the way he wants it to. The real pros are very disciplined people; with discipline comes skill, and that’s what makes the whole thing a treat for fans. Riding rodeo is a beautiful, graceful art when a person’s really good at it.” (“Mercy, Mercy!” Playboy, December 1972)


    “I liked being right down there with the dirt kicked in the air, flying in your face, and the animals lunging so close that you have to jump for a fence to get out of their way.”


    Asked about the reaction when she appeared on the scene, Mahan says, “I recollect hearing quite a few ‘Good God A’mightys!’ And one of my friends said to me, ‘We gotta get her out of here. I can’t concentrate on my horse.'”

    When she isn’t distracting rodeo performers, Mercy lives a busy life in Los Angeles, following a schedule that divides time between Bunnying at the L.A. Club and returning to an acting career that she had pursued after high school, then capriciously dropped for a couple of years. “I’m back in acting school and working hard at it. I guess I quit before because I just had too many things going.”

    One of those “things” she “had going” was a marriage to Mickey Rooney, Jr. I cannot for the life of me find out the dates on that (I do not feel like doing a public records search for the sake of one simple blog entry), but I know that by 1986 he had married his second wife, Laura, with whom he now travels the country as a born-again Christian preacher. He gives lectures on the dangers of “Life in the Fast Lane.”

    That is one ride I am glad she was not down to take, or we would never have this nature-themed, awesome Playboy spread. God made us naked and Jesus preached tolerance, Mr. Rooney. Duh. These days, Ms. Montello/Mee/Rooney has faded in to almost total obscurity which my cursory search of the internet cannot seem to uncloud. If you have info, shoot it my way, cause I love me some crazy eyes!

    Sam Haskins Month, Day 17: Kate and Rosie, the plot thickens

    December 17, 2009













    I feel like I should mention I’ve been putting these up out of sequence so I don’t totally spoil the plot for you. Don’t forget to add Sam’s Cowboy Kate and Other Stories, the Director’s Cut to your Christmas wish list. You can get it from Powell’s Books, Amazon, or get on a mailing list with Dashwood to see when they get another copy.

    Advice: Audrey gets it edition

    December 16, 2009


    In a cowboy hat on the set of Green Mansions, 1958. It was directed by her husband, Mel Ferrer. They divorced.

    “Your heart just breaks, that’s all. But you can’t judge, or point fingers. You just have to be lucky enough to find someone who appreciates you.”

    So the same week that the HRH is here, my daughter’s other father has burst back on to the scene, and who can blame him? She is wonderful and there is no right or wrong time to accept a father’s love. The only person who would be hurt in the situation is me, and that’s a selfish reason to hold her apart from him, his wife, and their son. So when they are ready, I imagine we’ll meet up. In fact, I’m actually eager to. That’s my daughter’s flesh and blood, and it’s been a long time since I tucked a fuzzy little baby head under my chin. I am far from made of stone.


    I am sad to say I’ve lost the credit for this photo.

    “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”

    On top of that, my husband and I have been hashing over what went wrong in our marriage, with an eye mainly toward how to heal as friends and continue to do our best as my daughter’s parents, and, with cards all out on the table, we’ve drawn some not-so-upbeat conclusions. Knowing the whole truth about things I always half-suspected does not make those things hurt less; however, while it’s not the kind of thing you ever want to be right about, you know that it can’t get worse, and you’ve already survived it without even knowing, so why not keep moving forward? But despite it all, despite the icy gutpunches and sad truths being dealt and faced between us, for some reason I am finally in this really good place, feeling deeply and essentially all right about things — feeling far and away better than I was when I was anxious and wondering all the time what would happen next and putting off thinking about it all, with either of them.


    Audrey, second from left, and her mother Ella,far right. During the occupation of Holland during World War II, in the midst of blackouts and starvation, Audrey, Ella, and a small group of others entertained the people of their town by putting on plays. This was taken in 1940, not too long after her Uncle Otto was executed for being part of the Underground.

    “I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I’d invented it, because it is very true.”

    Now it’s all here and by some strange miracle all that churning through my emotions has paid off and I feel this tremendous sense of peace and rightness: I know that whatever happens, will happen. I am not granted happiness or misery by any given situation, and faith and grace and love are a choice. It’s the sort of thing I have heard all my life and never understood how to make work, so selfishly, turned inward with my thoughts and fears, I assumed that those kinds of phrases and ideas were smarmy cliches, or somehow hollow, inapplicable to real life problems. But they aren’t. That’s a revolutionary idea for me. I mean, I strove, or thought I did, to keep upbeat, to respond to my friends and strangers with as much love as I thought I could muster, but I don’t think I was digging deeply enough.


    Lotus eaters! Audrey and James Garner goofing around on the set of The Children’s Hour.

    “When the chips are down, you are alone, and loneliness can be terrifying. Fortunately, I’ve always had a chum I could call. And I love to be alone. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m my own company.”

    I’ve had to live it to understand it. I get it now. All I can do is accept what comes as gracefully as I can, show that I’m coming from a place of love, and hope for more happiness to follow. It’s really my choice. I have my friends, my family, and most of all myself. This place I’m in can be permanent, I just have to work at choosing grace.

    Sam Haskins Month, Day 12: A slick ballet

    December 12, 2009

    Technically, the telling has more in common with a slick ballet sequence from a well directed film than with the conventional picture story. It flows and it tingles. It has continuity and superb presentation. It is made up of an agreeable mixture of fun and hyperbole, extravagance and restraint. Nothing is just plain statement, so that the reader has the pleasure of exercising his own powers of interpretation.(Norman Hall, review of Cowboy Kate)

    Spiritually, it is a song of praise for the loveliness of woman and it has a lyrical fragrance which harks back to Spenser or Ben Jonson. In all there is a pervading sense of fun.

    Sam Haskins Month, Day 11: Cowboy Kate, “One Dark Blue Night” edition

    December 11, 2009

    Sam Haskins Month, Day 7: A lovely cowboy

    December 7, 2009



    Oh, she was a lovely cowboy.

    What a great and playful statement, and a beautiful and widely imitated shot.

    Sam Haskins Month Day 1: When art imitates art

    December 1, 2009


    “Kate in Jail”: one of the photographs that launched a thousand rip-offs.

    Sam Haskins’ legendary collection Cowboy Kate is beautiful, wild, incredible art. I believe you can see its influence in nearly every major photographer working in erotica and artistic nudes today, and the influence spills over in to other art forms (Sin City, anyone? — I will prove that point another day) as well.

    It is all well and good when art imitates life. But what happens when art imitates art? And uncredited to boot? All hell breaks loose is what!

    I have already pointed out the low-class ripping off of Haskins done by Pompeo Posar on the cover of this 1965 November issue of Playboy, but, not having a hard copy of the magazine in front of me, I admit that I do not 100% know for certain that there is not some tiny line of text buried in the masthead citing Haskins as the source of the idea, so I am only partially incensed on that one: jury’s out, you know?


    Photographed by Pompeo Posar: model’s name is Beth Hyatt

    Much more recently, some shit the fan when, on his very entertaining blog, Sam Haskins took photographer Tom Munro and the UK edition of Elle magazine to task for what is inarguably very blatant and unmistakable composition thievery, with an unforgivable lack of credit.

    Of course there are those who say that imitation is the highest form of flattery but that’s garbage, when it looks like theft, tastes like theft and smells like theft – then guess what?

    The May 2008 cover shoot for British Elle featured Madonna as Cowboy Kate. This wasn’t a case of ‘influence’ – dipping into my books for a spark of inspiration or developing an idea or a variation on a theme – this was plain stealing.


    One of the highly disputed and disrespectable Munro Madonna images in question.

    One monitor in the studio was plastered with images from my books including the iconic shot of Kate with her black hat over one eye and next to it another monitor with the copies – literally an identical copy of Kate, live digital images of Madonna from Tom Munro’s camera. This is as brazen an example of photographic plagiarism – straight forward stealing – as you will ever see.


    left: Kate from Haskins’ book; right: Madonna in Munro’s shoot

    … Arianne Phillips holds forth on “the concept” of the shoot without mentioning Sam Haskins or Cowboy Kate at all. The commissioning magazine Elle also stays silent in print and online. The photographer Tom Munro who, (at the time of writing ) has a Cowboy Kate rip-off image on his website cannot find the honesty to give credit. Many of his photographs are very ‘reminiscent’ of my work as well as that of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Sarah Moon and on occasion, David Hamilton.

    Munro, you are straight called out! What is that like??

    I wish I could say those are the only cases, but Sam Haskins is such a superfly amazing guy that he “inspires” slews of eager young b&w photographers. For example, Haskins aficionados on the tumblr have observed this well-liked picture floating about which is a clearly Kate-derived piece:


    Via bebe le strange.

    In every case now when that photo gets reblogged on tumblr, the text “This is such a rip-off of Cowboy Kate by Sam Haskins,” accompanies it. Yes. Good on them for spotting an imitator and making sure the original source got proper credit. It’s well and good to appreciate a new, well-shot photo, but when the roots are so clear-cut, it’s important to cite that source. Sam himself said so; come on!

    Now here is how you do such a thing right: the company Valdés Wright represents fashion photographers. On their website they have a lovely portfolio shot by Tom Sorensen and produced by AVK, which is specifically titled, “Cowboy Kate 2008,” and described as, “Inspired by Sam Haskins’ famous 1964 book, Cowboy Kate & Other Stories, a beautiful outlaw eludes the sheriff while awaiting her lover.” Below is an example from the shoot, which is not very NSFW, so feel free to click through safely for once.


    By Tom Sorensen

    That’s how you borrow an idea while still gracefully paying homage. None of this sneaky stuff. Amateur hour with that Munro chicanery, I swar to gar. Can you believe that shit? I love that Haskins ripped him a new one.

    This has been Day 1 of Sam Haskins Month!

    NSFW November: Pat Russo, Miss November 1965

    November 27, 2009

    Another playmate who began as a bunny, 1965’s Miss November was the lovely and talented Pat Russo, a Connecticut girl who modeled briefly in Manhattan for the famous Barbizon Agency(kind of scammy in my opinion but some real careers have started there, so I’m not going to hate too hard). She hated the cold, relocated to Florida not too much later, and said in her interview that, after one winter in Florida, “‘Autumn in New York’ was just another pretty song as far as I was concerned!” She was scouted for the centerfold while working at the Miami club (“Pat Pending,” Playboy, November 1965).


    Photographed by Pompeo Posar

    This is kind of a weird one. I believe that Playboy did two different photoshoots (very common), but the stylists communicated poorly … if they communicated at all. Here’s what I think happened with this shoot.

    Maybe the people in charge of hair and makeup on the different days this shoot was done were in a fight and not speaking, or maybe they had a conversation about ideas for Ms. Russo’s “look” but came away without a unity of vision, or even maybe some other type of accident or act of God intervened vis-a-vis the two different colored hairpieces, styling, etc. I mean, the girl is blonde one time and solidly ash brunette the next; she doesn’t even look like the pictures were taken in the same year, let alone afternoon.

    Whatever happened here, too much time has passed to tell. But the end result is that it appears from some of the pictures, when you take the spread as a whole, as though Ms. Russo could be two almost totally different women.

    All pictures are of her, though — I verified it with her Yahoo! groups fan club leader (last post on their bulletin board was in December of 2006, but the moderator still checks his email, bless his vintage-pin-up-lovin’ heart; thanks again for the lightning-fast response time, buddy!).

    Speaking of styling, the cover is a blatant and (I checked the table of contents) totally unattributed rip off of the magnificent, incredible, erotic work of photographer and personal patron saint Sam Haskins, specifically his picture book/mystery/western short story Cowboy Kate (1964). I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery, but I am so genuinely bummed and perturbed by the fact that you might mistake the originality and brilliance of this composition —


    Totally uncredited rip-off photographed by Pompeo Posar. (Model’s name is Beth Hyatt.) Pompeo, I am hella disappointed in you.

    — the parted lips which echo the round opening of the gun barrel, the swinging curtain of blonde hair beneath the rounded black cowboy hat, the always-a-great-idea toplessness — as belonging to some cover designer at Playboy (all respect to their often-clever work) and not to the living god that is Sam Haskins that I do believe, holy shit, you guys, December is going to have to be Official Sam Haskins Month! I will do my best daily throughout December to scrounge up some of my saved photos from his enormous and thought-provoking body of work that are either permissible or I can reasonably say are ads and therefore in the public domain.

    Boy, oh boy! Let’s see if I can continue my streak of not getting sued before the year is up!

    It’s nice to have goals.

    Music Moment: The Song Remains the Same, “Twilight Time,” by Los Cincos Latinos

    November 16, 2009

    Asking me to pick a favorite movie, band, or book is a task that will tie me in knots for hours. But asking me to pick a favorite song? Easy peasy, rice and cheesey! My favorite song of all time is “Twilight Time,” by the Platters. I have just under ten thousand covers (rough estimate), but this is one of my faves, by south of the border ’60’s act Los Cincos Latinos.

    Los Cincos Latinos feat. Estela Raval – La Hora del Crepúsculo

    In español, it is “La Hora del Crepúsculo.” Expect to hear many more covers of this number in the coming weeks.

    Spanish lyrics which are totally different from the original Platters version by, to the best of my knowledge, the Cincos Latinos; shitty rough English translation all mine and I alone am to blame for dropped nuances, etc.


    Cuando el sol enamorado la luna ve
    Es un crepúsculo dorado la cita fiel
    Y anuncia así que llega al fin al corazón
    Callada la hora del amor

    (When the sun, in love, sees the moon
    It is the golden twilight of a fateful encounter
    And it announces the intent
    to still the heart in this, the hour of love
    )


    Cuando dos almas que se esperan
    Se encuentran ya
    En un anhelo de esperanza se unirán
    Buscando siempre en el amor
    La gran verdad
    que debe traer felicidad

    (When two souls in anticipation
    Meet, already hoping to be united,
    Having looked always for love:
    The greatest truth
    that should bring happiness
    )

    Y ya nunca el corazón
    Jamás podrá latir sin ti, sin ti
    Que si termina la ilusión,
    Hoy dulce realidad por ti, por ti

    (And already my heart will always
    Howl out without you, without you*
    If this illusion were to end,
    The sweet reality of now, of you, of you
    )

    Cuando el sol enamorado la luna ve
    Es un crepúsculo dorado la cita fiel
    Y anuncia así que llega al fin al corazón
    Callada la hora del amor

    (When the sun, in love, sees the moon
    It is the golden twilight of a fateful encounter
    And it announces the intent
    to still the heart in this, the hour of love
    )

    Cuando el sol enamorado la luna ve
    Es un crepúsculo dorado la cita fiel
    Y anuncia así que llega al fin al corazón
    Callada la hora del amor

    (When the sun, in love, sees the moon
    It is the golden twilight of a fateful encounter
    And it announces the intent
    to still the heart in this, the hour of love
    )

    (repeats again after instrumental interlude and key change)

    *¡Ten cuidad! Do not be fooled by the romantic language characteristic of the double negative: the direct translation was, like, “my heart will always never bark without you,” or something, but the meaning was what I wrote … I think.

    Advice: Beautiful and awesome Zooey Deschanel edition, totally SFW

    November 13, 2009


    “I love old music, old movies, screwball comedies, vintage clothes and basically I’m an old-fashioned gal!”



    “Humor is a part of spirituality.”



    “You can’t force fun, but you can set up situations where fun will happen to you.”


    “I think the people who become the most famous aren’t necessarily these genetic products of the weird American beauty ideal. I mean, all those Playboy bunny types. They’re not filling seats in the theatre.”

    Quotable and AWESOME but 100% safe for work? Say what! Hmm. Someone needs to talk to Drew Barrymore about the proper attire for a photoshoot.