How the (415) does Turkey Day.
via theduty on the tumblr.
Oh, San Francisco. You filthy Thanksgiving miracle. Lord love you.
Portions of this post originally appeared on November 27, 2010.
Don’t tell anyone I did this but … unannounced hiatus has been due to Lent: wanted to see if I could give up something that was actually hard not to do this year. It is way tougher than diet coke or dessert, from which I’ve also been abstaining. But I didn’t give up smoking or bloody beer — I’m not completely crazy.
In the meantime, a preview of coming attractions:
In the meantime, remember that all the past spotlighted Playmates in the journal’s various projects have now been placed in their own Playboy category for your streamlined browsing pleasure, as well as to make it even more convenient for Hef to one day sue the everloving crap out of me.
…. And at which you have now guessed, correctly, unless you did a lot of tranqs in the last fifteen to twenty years. Don’t do drugs, kids. Don’t be like Carol Brady. Not ever.
All in all, I’ve been storming along, barbituate-free, like a Lent-observing bat outta hell and I got a lot of dogs in the fire — I’m looking forward to a strong return as soon as Easter has passed. As you can see, I will be back with a bang in a few weeks. This has just been a “can I even do it?” excercise to flex my muscles of restraint.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to see a man about a Giants’ game.
Don’t you dare.
Catch you all on the upcoming flip side!
The Freedom For Animals association on Second Avenue is the secret headquarters of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They’re the ones who are going to do it. I can’t do anymore, I have to go now. Have a Merry Christmas!
12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995). All-time favorite film, all-time favorite director.
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.
So as I said, this is my favorite movie of all time, in any genre — all other comers are just vying for second — and I screencapped the everloving Gilliamic crap out of it last week.
Filled with glee that this qualified as a holiday picture, I innocently thought, “Surely everyone who ever planned to see this film has seen it by now, so it’s okay for me to put up all my pictures.”
But if the internet has taught me anything in the past year on this here thought experiment, it is above all else that it is possible for people to get mad at you for anything, so, at a certain point, this post will have a jump/cut. You will be able to click and be taken to a standalone page with only this entry, so that those sensitive surfers who I think must actually go searching pop culture blogs specifically for spoilers will not be able to yell at me for said spoilers. I’ll also be able to prove why this is a holiday movie.
That point is now. Click below to go to the full-page entry, with trivia, analysis, lines, and tons more pictures.
“I am mentally divergent, in that I am escaping certain unnamed realities that plague my life here. When I stop going [to Ogo], I will be well. Are you also divergent, friend?” Click here if you qualify for bunny slippers at the monkeyhouse. (Be honest.)
edit: I took the jump out. Screw the small minority of spoiler-haters. Sorry, guys. Rail away if you must.
Still with me? Great!
Telephone call? Telephone call? That’s — that’s communication with the outside world. Doctor’s discretion. Uh-uh. Look, if all of these nuts could just … make phone calls, they could spread insanity! Oozing through telephone cables, oozing into the ears of all those poor, sane people — infecting them! Wackos everywhere: plague of madness.
Hence the agony of foreknowledge combined with the impotence to do anything about it. …
Surely there is very real and very convincing data that the planet cannot survive the excesses of the human race: proliferation of atomic devices, uncontrolled breeding habits, the rape of the environment. In this context, wouldn’t you agree that “Chicken Little” represents the sane vision and that homo sapiens‘ motto, “Let’s go shopping!” is the cry of the true lunatic?
(That last was Dr. “Actual Bad Guy” Peters. He says it to Kathryn after her lecture when he’s getting his book signed.)
The lion James sees at the beginning is echoed by the camel perched on the top of the hotel in 1996. The image also shows up in a frame of a statue of a lion atop a stone as they search for Goines, and by the giraffes running across the overpass in Philadelphia many frames down.
No detail is too small to be necessary to the mise en scene of this film. Kathryn watches this Woody Woodpecker cartoon as she waits for James to get back in 1996 to the Oasis hotel. In the asylum in 1990, the movie on the television in the background as Goines rants is the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business.
I get it! This is your old plan, right?
Plan? What are you talking about?
Remember? We were in the dayroom, watching television, and you were all upset about the–the — desecration of the planet, and you said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a germ, or a virus, that could wipe out mankind and leave the plants and animals just as they are?” You do remember that, don’t you?
Bulishit! You’re fucking with my head!
And that’s when I told you my father was this famous virologist and you said, “Hey, he could make a germ and we could steal it!”
Listen, you dumb fuck! The thing mutates — We live underground! The world belongs to the — the fucking dogs and cats. We’re like moles or worms. All we want to do is study the original!
Chris Meloni of Law & Order: SVU in a lovely little dickish part, a totally Terry Gilliam character: an individual given all the facts who refuses to acknowledge the possibility that the truth suggested by those facts could possibly be. Gilliam thrives on the absurd, and I think throws these Doubting Thomases in to the works to demonstrate how ugly a reception his credulous character constructions would receive in the world we all agree to be “real.”
For me this is the creepiest Scientist line in the film. Even in the future, when the plague has driven everyone underground, a guy who considers himself “hep” will try to use the allure of poontang to bring a poor guy down. So unfair and underselling for the Cole character, like that is a carrot that can be held out before him in the face of what he’s endured.
Until I was screencapping, I never really noticed how much screen time the so-called “Apocalypse Nut” and true villain, David Morse playing Dr. Peters, Jeffrey’s father Dr. Goines’ lab tech, is given.
When I was institutionalized, my brain was studied exhaustively in the guise of “mental health.” I was interrogated, I was x-rayed, I was examined thoroughly.
Then they took everything about me and put it into a computer where they created this model of my mind. Yes! Using that model they managed to generate every thought I could possibly have in the next, say, ten years, which they then filtered through a probability matrix of some kind to — to determine everything I was going to do in that period.
So you see, she knew I was going to lead the Army of the Twelve Monkeys into the pages of history, before it ever even occurred to me. She knows everything I’m ever going to do before I know it myself. How’s that?
I say this when a Thing matters and we are trying to diminish it.
I love how deranged Kathryn is in this scene, screaming at James to get Wallace’s wallet before they skedaddle. “We need cash!” But moments before, so tender when she touches his scalp with her curiously ugly hands. Madeline Stowe is the bomb.
Oh, hey, what’s a holiday movie? This is! Besides taking place during the Christmas season, we got some straight-up Santa action goin’ right here. Hope you can handle how very “holiday” this movie is.
James! James! It’s okay. We’re insane! We’re crazy! It’s a carpet cleaning company —
A carpet cleaning company?
No scientists — no people from the future! It’s just a carpet cleaning company. They have voice mail; you leave a message telling them when you want your carpet cleaned.
You … you left them a message?
Yeah, I couldn’t resist. I said, “The Freedom For Animals Association on 2nd Avenue is the —”
“— ‘is the secret headquarters of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They’re the ones who are going to do it. I can’t do anymore, I have to go now. Have a Merry Christmas.'”
The Vertigo moment. This movie’s plot was inspired by Chris Marker’s La jetée, which also, in its turn, refers to the film Vertigo. While in the past, the protagonist of La jetée visits a Museum of Natural History with the blonde object of his affections, who points to the trunk of a cross-sectioned tree, the same way Kim Novak does in Muir Woods in Hitchock’s Vertigo, as shown in this scene from Twelve Monkeys. “Here I was born, and here I died. But it was only a moment for you — you took no notice.” Kathryn wears a blonde wig in this scene.
The lion I referred to further back, part of the recurring theme of wilderness which has been kept in captivity, let loose. Like the camel, like the giraffes, like the lethal virus, like James Cole released from his future underground incarceration to try and make time turn back and stand still.
The exterior shots for the crucial airport scenes were done at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, while the interiors are from the Reading Terminal at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
This cabbie’s name is Annie Golden. You can also catch her in the soon-to-be-justly-famous I Love You, Phillip Morris.
Only assholes write on walls.
The curious, diffuse wash that bathes these final scenes was acheived with Fresnel lensed lights. Fresnels, a favorite tool of Gilliam’s, are a beveled lighthouse-and-old-car-headlamp-style lens.
The entire instrument consists of a metal housing, a reflector, a lamp assembly, and a Fresnel lens. Fresnel instruments usually have a convenient way of changing the focal distance between the lamp and the lens. The Fresnel lens produces a very soft-edged beam, so it is often used as a wash light. A holder in front of the lens can hold a colored plastic film (gel) to tint the light or wire screens or frosted plastic to diffuse it. … The Fresnel lens is useful in the making of motion pictures not only because of its ability to focus the beam brighter than a typical lens, but also because the light is a relatively consistent intensity across the entire width of the beam of light.
I remember reading a review when this film came out which criticized the inconsistency between Cole’s memory of this moment from dream to dream and what happened in actuality. The reviewer said it took away from the original inspirational idea in La jetée, where Marker’s narrator saw himself die as a child but, they felt, moved more definitely toward that moment as events unfolded in the short film. The supplanting of an unseen “Watch it” man in a yellow jacket with first Goines and then Dr. Peters was, the reviewer claimed, too foggy.
Well, excuse me, Mr. Super-brilliant reviewer, but the fogginess is kind of the entire point. The weirdly symmetrical plot of Twelve Monkeys is a cyclical rumination on the subjectivity of memory and identity. Put that in your cool-guy pipe and smoke it. Asshat.
I went to this film probably a few months after its release, when it hit the $2 second-run theater we had in town at that time, and I ended up going back almost every night that week, taking different friends. I remember very clearly that one of my friends said when it was over, “That’s so weird that in the future the insurance lady that sits by the bad guy on the plane is a scientist.”
“Um — I’m pretty sure she’s from the future in that scene.” Like, maybe it’s too late for Philly, but she’s going to stop Peters from going to San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, et al. She says she is in insurance. Right? I mean, we’ve seen her in 2035, looking exactly the same, a highly placed physicist. I sincerely doubt that in 1996 she was an insurance agent who planned to survive the plague and not age.
Is this even up for debate? I’m serious, does someone have an alternate interpretation of that scene?
The third and final “Tim Burton” film in the 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movie countdown is The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993). The guy has two favorite times of year and we all know what they are.
Regarding just how much of a Tim Burton film it really ended up being, Mr. Selick told Sight and Sound in 1994,
It’s as though he laid the egg, and I sat on it and hatched it. He wasn’t involved in a hands-on way, but his hand is in it. It was my job to make it look like “a Tim Burton film”, which is not so different from my own films. …
Be that as it may, Burton had conceived the project while still working for Disney back in 1980. It was originally a narrative poem. He began toying with the idea of making something of it. Disney agreed, and they discussed a short film like Vincent, or maybe a televised holiday special.
He shared his vision with friend Rick Heinrichs in the mid-1980’s, and the two worked up some concept art, storyboards, and even early character sculptures. By the time Burton actually had a budget for the movie from Disney, he was overextended across the board with Ed Wood and Batman Returns. He brought in his friend Mike McDowell, with whom he’d worked on Beetlejuice, but they couldn’t agree on a direction for the screenplay.
Burton reimagined the story as a musical and put together the bare bones of it with Danny Elfman’s help, also collaborating on most of the music and lyrisc. Then Caroline Thompson, who Burton worked with on Batman Returns, came in as a writer. She has also written The Addams Family, Edward Scissorhands, and Corpse Bride. Caroline first came to Tim Burton’s attention because of a short story she wrote in the early ’80’s called First Born, in which an abortion comes back to life.
Director Henry Selick said in that same Sight and Sound article where he dissed Burton, “there are very few lines of dialogue that are Caroline’s. She became busy on other films and we were constantly rewriting, reconfiguring and developing the film visually.” Okay, Henry. We get it. You did it all, buddy.
In all honesty, the guy is an artistic auteur, with the attendant talent that entails, and it probably sucks for him to have to rely on other people so much in a project. And he probably did do more than anyone else. Hence: director.
In vino lepidopteras.
The stop-motion animation was produced by a crew of over 200 animators in San Francisco, headed up by Joe Ranft and Paul Berry. The production yielded some cool new inventions, including a silent alarm that went off if a light failed to go on during a shot.
For just one second of film, up to 12 stop-motion moves had to be made. Can you imagine this being done today? When even the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is done with CGI? I feel like there is an aesthetic suffering accompanying the automated innovations in the direction that film has been heading. I can’t see a production like The Nightmare Before Christmas, with the meticulous labor and attention to craft it requires, being approved and given a budget by Disney today.
Although that’s not totally fair, since they’ve been doing that 3-D re-release thing. I guess I should not be quite so cynical about The Mouse Who Sold the World. I just really, really dislike that company.
On the other hand, sourpuss Mr. Selick is something of a dear and mercurial curmudgeon to me. He has continued working in stop-motion since The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I have a deep respect for the artistry in his body of work.
He has directed Coraline and James and the Giant Peach, and worked with Wes Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Although I find it curious that he seems to have had nothing to do with Fantastic Mr. Fox if Life Aquatic was Anderson’s first foray in to stop-motion (which, once you see Fantastic Mr. Fox, you feel like it should have been his exclusive genre all along: the static stiltedness of Anderson’s compositions, against which his wildly inventive dialogue is such a perfect foil, are absolutely born for stop-motion).
I’m guessing from the stories about the rest of Mr. Selick’s projects that they probably stopped seeing eye to eye on something and Anderson went his separate way.
Collaborator Joe Ranft, the one who headed up production in the City, the 415, the sparkly town where we leave our hearts, for The Nightmare Before Christmas, said that Selick “has a rock’n’roll meets Da Vinci temperament,” with bursts of brilliance and, occasionally, the passionate need for solitude.
Mr. Selick is presently working on an adaptation of the YA mystery-comedy Bunnicula, which makes me want to cry with joy. I only hope it is successful enough that they can do one of the sequels: The Celery Stalks At Midnight, which I have believed since I was seven years old to be the greatest pun ever written in my native tongue.
If you want more of the backstory on all this Nightmare Before Christmas production shenanigans, pick up a copy of the Frank Thompson book Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film – The Art – The Vision, to read all about it.
All photos via the Pumpkin Patch.
Friday night’s all right for fighting.
I’ve been unable to write lately because I’ve been in the hospital. Several hospitals. My liver and kidneys got sick of my crap and spontaneously agreed to stage a coup and attempt to abdicate; I had no idea they felt so strongly about disliking mashups, but I’ve promised to consider their opinions in the future. Looking back, it seems like such a silly thing to argue over. I think they feel the same. Anyway, I was jammed out to San Francisco for a bit, where the nicest cabal you can possibly imagine of highly intellectual medical overlords who are so smart and powerful that they get to swap people’s body parts around actually met up and voted to toss me a new liver so I could continue to be the body that rocks the party.
Preparations began for the transplant to ensue, but it all went on unbeknownst to me since I was mainly out like a trout for quite a couple days there and was pretty much wholly at the mercy of a luckily kind system — things went well for me, what with me spending my life being a good citizen E and paying in to this health care system and all. I do not know how it would have gone otherwise, but I thank God, truly, that from the moment I finally checked myself in to the hospital two weeks ago, until today at 1:30 when they released me, I’ve been taken care of with world-class speed, compassion, and totality.
See, I’d just thought I had flu or food poisoning or something for a few days at the beginning so I had been woefully barfing it out and collapsing in exhaustion at home and figuring on waiting until the weekend’s end to go see my regular doc; when I couldn’t stop throwing up and finally threw in the towel and agreed to go to a quasi-emergency room several Sundays ago, they all freaked out when I got there and said my liver was failing, which I knew must be true when I couldn’t really wake up for about three or four days and came around in SF and realized I’d basically almost died. I mean, I know that with Lost having ended, I would have at least died with my curiosity satisfied on that front, but I was kind of hoping to see how the mysteries of the rest of life shook out, watch my kid grow up; you know, sentimental shit like that.
Right about the time I woke up in the City and started trying to piece shit together, my own organs rethought throwing the doors open to a stranger and began to make a slow, halting comeback over the last 14-15 days. The cabal agreed that this was great news and I would rock the party much better and perhaps longer with my O.G. body parts in tact, as long as they promised to stay put and eat their vegetables this time. They took me off their too-cool-to-quit-school list, but it did remind me to harangue everyone I know about becoming an organ donor. I’ve been one since 2001. (Blows on fingernails.) No big deal. Be a hero, dudes. Anyway, Promoetheus, your liver is safe again — for now. See you after breakfast. Yeah, I just called myself a harpy. The analogy got away from me in a hurry.
I was bounced back to a hospital in my home town as things improved, which is when the deep boredom set in, but my friends and family were incredible and visited with me for hours every day. Their support in both San Francisco, which for a lot of my stay I was mainly unaware, and back here at home played a huge part in my being able to cheerfully and ably plow through the bizarre obstacle course I’ve been running this past half-month. Also, I’ve never thought hospital food was that bad. I kind of dug it and knew all the servers’ names.
Every morning, I woke up early, put on mascara and lipstick, and pinned flowers from my bouquets in my hair. I joked with the phlebotomists and the transporters and the nurses, and walked all over the hospital, getting off at floors and halls in which I did not belong and striding around confidently in my gown like I had every reason to be doing what I was. Once, in an elevator, an old man and his wife told me if I was trying to break out, I needed to change clothes. I agreed I was pretty conspicuous. I would wear one gown the proper way and use a second gown as a sort of robe. They gave me non-skid hospital socks but Panda Eraser collects those so I stashed those in my bag to take home and sported my busted-ass flip-flops all over the place. The trick in the hospital, like anywhere, was to act as though you were completely authorized to be doing everything you did at all times.
Don’t take this to mean I was a rebel. I actually went out of my way to be the best little patient ever. I did everything they told me and more, smiled and thanked everyone by name, and assured nurse after nurse repeatedly that I was a “tough stick” and they were doing a great job trying to lay that IV line. From a glance at my arms, I am afraid I look just like the lifelong chasers I was puzzling over in discussing Mr. Burroughs two weeks ago. Tough stick means I apparently have dodgy veins. To say a lot of people took a stab at me is to put it lightly. My track marks are freaky. I ended up with some IVs in some really weird places because every time they placed one in a usual spot, something would happen and my body would duck and dive out of it and chaos would ensue. My bruises pose a puzzle to anyone who looks at me. See? I’m so not cut out to be a heroin addict.
All in all, I got pretty in to the swing of things, hospital-routine-wise, and I actually don’t know what I’ll do when I wake up tomorrow at 5 a.m. and there is no one there to weigh me and suck my blood and count my heartbeats. It’s like, it’s cool to send me home and all, but it’s my blood, dudes, remember? That stuff you have positively not been able to get enough of for two weeks now? You’re turning your back on it now, after all that obsession? You loved that shit. Is this how it ends? No takers? I bet people around here aren’t even going to get excited when I pee. No applause, no saving my urine in cups, no measuring it, no nothing — seriously? I’m just not sure how I’ll feel special.
I guess what I’m saying is, if there are any vampires out there who like watersports and don’t mind a love object who needs a lot of rest, holla.
I was finally sprung this afternoon. I have a lot of catching up to do, but the experience — as genuinely grueling, unexpected, and unwelcome as it was — certainly gave me a lot to contemplate. I’d been considering shutting things down around here because my original plan had been a yearlong self-audit and that’s been up for a few weeks now, but my incredibly long amounts of time to do nothing but think in a hospital bed made me realize my audit will never end and I have so much more left to think about that I couldn’t possibly quit now.
I look forward to a continuing future of malarkey, shenanigans, tomfoolery, jacknapery and maybe even a little monkey shines. Inexpressibly glad to be back and please join me!
addendum: Right before I signed the paperwork to go, one of my many, many doctors was chatting with me and handed me a stack of reports from my many, many blood draws and urine cultures, and casually commented, “Oh, and you have e. coli.” Now, I overlooked this at the time in favor of being outside for more than 30 seconds in a row as soon as possible and not even strapped to a gurney to boot, but it’s beginning to, you might say, “nag” at me. Isn’t e. coli kind of … pretty bad? I don’t pretend to be a medical expert but I seem to remember everything I’ve ever heard about e. coli being pretty bad. I’ll be looking that up now.
As an Army “brat” (her father is Maj. Paul James Tate), she spent a great deal of her childhood packing and moving from one military base to another.
Before Sharon was 15, she had lived in Tacoma, Houston, El Paso and San Francisco — just to name a few cities. When Maj. Tate was shipped overseas in 1959, he took his wife and Sharon with him. As a result, Sharon boasts a fluency in Italian and a diploma from a Vicenza, Italy, high school.
(“Sharon Tate is on a crash program to get to the top.” New York Daily News, December 18, 1966.)
I believe that childhood upheaval, while it does give you an interesting background, is part of why she reports having been so painfully shy. I moved around a lot as a kid and felt the same. In interviews, though, she cites her background as having made her a “people watcher,” and a person who is open to new experiences and travel. I appreciate that, true to form, she gleaned the positive from what could have been a negative experience, and I think the above picture beautifully exemplifies that attitude of attenuation to detail and desire to marvel at the world around you.
San Francisco-based artist Jeremy Forson’s work has appeared in Proteus Mag, True Eye, Juxtapoz and Spectrum.
The troop number on the scout’s vest is 415, which is a reference to the telephone exchange for San Francisco. The area code for numbers in The City is 415 (probably at this point another has been added, but that’s what I always think of). I dig it.
The 2005 CCA grad (although then it was still called California College of Arts and Crafts) also does LP covers and skate decks, because he is too cool for school, and I mean that with the most far-sars and sincere admiration. Also he rocks Stand By Me specs like me and all the other inadvertently hep cats! Witness:
See? Super-cute. You feelin’ that?
You can enjoy more artcrush cyber-stalkytimes by becoming imaginary friendohs with Mr. Forson on the myspace, fanning him on the facebook, reading his profile at Illustration Mundo, subscribing to his blog, or following him on the twitter.
He is also on the flickr, and don’t forget to swing by his etsy shop and pick up some prints. The man has got web presence in spades, which is both smart of him and nice for people who want to see more of his awesome shit. A win-win all day.
“The general theme of the series captured all things mundane and beautiful and guilty in San Francisco– documenting night life, body art, apathy within crowds, Victorian homes, fashion, trees, and light pollution; all told through Forson’s mastery of color and haunting imagery.”
(“Artist Spotlight: Jeremy Forson.” 15 Sept 2009. Hilario, Raymond. Weekly Comic Book Review.*)
“I’m here early, but the kind folks at Edo Salon are nice enough to let me in. Thank you for that. This time around, Jeremy Forson, essays on life in San Francisco– elegant, genteel and Victorian for the most part, but sometimes it can be a long hard night. His tattooed tarts appear to basically update the Patrick Nagel idiom. Nice quality work overall.”
(“Edo Salon: Jeremy Forson – The Lost Fight.” 4 Sept 09. Alan Bamberger. ArtBusiness.com.)
If I had to reluctantly accept it at all, I’d have to say that the Nagel comment is at best a dramatic oversimplification. So, no. … No, I just plain respectfully disagree. There was much more to that show than “tattooed tarts,” to boot. So it seems like an upbeat review that is nonetheless somewhat misleading. Nagel reference image in case you’re lost:
But the gentleman in the review was approaching his visit to Edo from an art-business-consulting p.o.v., so perhaps that plays a part? Like, maybe it benefits art-business-consultants to generalize and “pitch” the “look” of an artist because of how galleries and private collection operate? That weird liminal bit of space between salesmanship mixed with snobbery where the business guy admits he has an artistic side, but knows his primary goal is not to criticize art but to move it into people’s hands? It seems so arbitrary and subjective and also frighteningly commercial to me. Whatever. If it made some old school Nagel-loving collector pick up some of Mr. Forson’s work, then I guess no harm. Back to the good stuff.
Of course, Mr. Forson does not focus his talents exclusively on the clever incorporation of physical and cultural references to San Francisco into already kickass portraiture. He also has some relatively un-415 related work as well.
Cover for “Poe,” Boom! Studios.
“This is one of the most unique ideas I’ve seen cross my table” said BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid. “There’s always so much about our classic writers we don’t know, and examining their works and their history can reveal new information, but that’s hardly any fun! POE is alternate history with a horror twist, and is perfect for fans of mysteries.”
(“Enter the World of Poe With Boom! Studios.” 18 May 09. News team. Comic Book Resources.)
“Stargazer.” Unrelated to the Poe information preceding and following it, I just wanted to include it to show Mr. Forson’s range. “Tattoed tarts,” indeed. Pfft.
BOOM!’s new four issue mini-series reveals Poe’s relationship with famous characters and stories from his body of work — like The Raven, the Mask of the Red Death, and many more! Similar to the way SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE showed how William Shakespeare was inspired by his own life events to create some of his creative masterworks, POE takes Edgar Allen Poe on a supernatural adventure that proves to be the fodder for his life’s greatest accomplishments in literature.
Dude, that Poe comic sounds all kinds of hella cool. Now I want to get that. Final thought: I. Love. This. The “miwk” part is the part that cracks me up.
Taking Special K up to Humboldt for the next several days, so I’m going to pack, schedule some ghost posts, and be mainly outie. Don’t take any wooden nickels and I’ll catch you on the flip!
*I kind of ♥ the WCBR forever. Swar to gar. Smart, genuinely heartfelt reviews. I rely on them a lot when I have spare cash burning a hole in my pocket and it’s a Wednesday (comics day).
Besides being possessed of arrestingly modern looks (it is truly startling how easily this photoshoot could have been done in the cheap-and-chic, Ikea-styled apartment of some sweet young hipster last weekend), Kim Farber is also unique in the pantheon of vintage playmates because she worked nights as a “Theater Bunny” at the Chicago Playboy Theater before being selected as Playboy‘s Miss February 1967. To my mind, that gives her a very special position in the empire’s history.
Playboy opened the sadly short-lived Playboy Theaters — notable for screening not exclusively the racier content you might expect, but also rare classics, indie flicks, and films that had been met with censorship in their attempts at playing nice with other distribution channels — in only a scant, lucky few cities.
So far I have only chased down for sure the origins and present doings of the sites in Chicago (more on that in a sec) and New York, where the theater was in Manhattan on W. 57th street.
I had a false lead in Corpus Christi, TX, but I went ahead and called and, believe it or not, one of the town’s own officially sanctioned websites has mislabeled the Harbor Playhouse Theater as the Harbor Playboy Theater: the venue is not now and has never been a Playboy Enterprises property. Simple typo which the city of Corpus Christi has yet to notice or rectify, but it gave the guy I asked about it earlier this afternoon a good laugh.
I ironed out the discrepancy (a google search turned up the town’s link to the theater under the name “Playboy” but yellow pages and all other sources called it “Playhouse;” I couldn’t let mysterious sleeping dogs lie!) by straight-up calling the theater and asking them myself. As I said, the guy I spoke to laughed heartily and said no way. I didn’t bother explaining that there were, at one time, Playboy Theaters, as the difference between cinema and stage work sometimes makes people whose life passion is working for actual factual live theaters a little uppity and superior about plays vs. movies, plus, why interrupt the flow of happy karma? I laughed too and thanked him for his time.
That’s not the only telephone digging I’ve done this week, actually. Several days ago, I also called San Diego Rattan to ask if there was any chance they were ever known as “House of Rattan,” the shop run by the mother of Miss February 1969, Lorrie Menconi (answer: again, no). The very confused woman on the other end of the telephone assured me the store had only been called “San Diego Rattan” throughout its history.
I then asked in as friendly and “sane” a way as possible if she had any idea what had ever happened to the House of Rattan (she did not, as she moved to San Diego from Redondo Beach in 1999 and had never heard of House of Rattan).
I said my Girl Scout leader grew up in Redondo Beach, and her daughter (my dear Sarah-fina) was born in Torrance; plus, a sorority sister from college was from nearby Rancho P.V., so we talked briefly about Redondo, the merits of Rancho Palos Verdes vs. Palos Verdes Heights — or “PVH,” as the cognoscenti call it — and how Girl Scouts used to have so many more badges for water sports. (Not the sex-and-urine, super-kinky kind, but rather the kayak-and-diving, woman-against-the-sea kind). She was mainly very confused and almost concerned, it seemed at the start of the conversation, about my rattan line of questioning, so I felt like I needed to regain emotional lost ground with friendly, “aren’t-I-so-normal,” bantery small talk.
She was not annoyed — she was very friendly and even apologetic for having no answers to my left-field queries — but I am pretty sure she thought I had some extra-special Things Going On upstairs. I did not drop the magazine’s name at any point in the discussion, keeping the conversation on a strictly wicker-outdoor-furniture, geographical-social-casting, and oh-these-Girl-Scout-times-they-are-a-changin’ basis, so maybe rabid rattan fans are a Thing and she was initially afraid she had one of them on the phone. I’ll never know!
Though many people have made remarks along similar lines, my guess is that the uncredited author of Ms. Farber’s write-up is probably referring to the Reverend Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832).
Rev. Colton more specifically said, “It is a mortifying truth, and ought to teach the wisest of us humility, that many of the most valuable discoveries have been the result of chance, rather than of contemplation, and of accident, rather than of design.” (Many Things in Few Words: Addressed to Those Who Think. Colton, Rev. C.C. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. (p. 39). via that there ol’ google books. take it for a public domain spin!)
Proof of this maxim is our valentine Playmate, Kim Farber, who was steadfastly taking tickets at Chicago’s Playboy Theater when she was pointed toward a gatefold appearance by a Playboy staffer who had gone to the theater and discovered that its prime attraction was not on the screen. Kim gratefully consented to pose for Playmate test shot. “Of course, I’d always wanted to be a Playmate, but once I got settled in my Theater Bunny routine, I never thought I’d get closer.” (Ibid.)
When she finally returns Stateside, Miss February hopes to pick up the thread of an apprenticeship in fashion coordination and design (“If I had my way, I’d drape the whole world in bright orange”), which she interrupted to become a Playboy Theater Bunny. “Before I commit myself to a career,” the dark-haired beauty explains, “I want to get some traveling out of my system.” (Ibid.)
I’ve got sadly no idea where the sweet and doe-eyed young gamine’s travels took her, in the end — Ms. Farber has either changed her name or vanished off the face of the earth, because if you have learned nothing else from my ramblings I hope you at least agree that I’m pretty all right with that there ol’ research — but I can happily tell you both the backstory of its inception and the denouement of what eventually happened to the Chicago Playboy Theatre. It’s an involved but very interesting story. Go potty now and smoke if you got ’em, cause here we go!
The Playboy Theater in Chicago was located at 1204 N. Dearborn Street. It began its life as the Dearborn Theatre in 1913. It was remodeled two decades later in 1934 by William and Percival Pereira. William, who ascribed the sterile and stark look of his architecture to his interest in science fiction, would go on to design the distinctive pyramid-shaped Transamerica Building in San Francisco, one of the most recognizable — and, next to the Lucy Coit tower, my personal favorite — features of The City’s skyscape.
The theater was sold, expanded, and given a much-needed facelift, when it re-opened as the Surf Theater in the 1940s. The new cinema boasted a seating capacity of 650. It remained the Surf Theater until September of 1964.
The Chicago Playboy Theater opened its doors at the end of September, 1964. Chicago was the home of Hef’s fledgling empire, and, in its heyday, was bustling with bunnies. There were Playboy clubs, hotels, restaurants, and the Theater, all along the famous Loop.
Besides being known for the unusual films it screened, the Playboy Theater was one of the hosting venues in the early years of the Chicago International Film Festival.
The theater changed hands in 1976, a year after Hugh himself blew irretrievably once and for all out of the Windy City in the wake of the dissolution of his long relationship with Barbi Benton. It was renamed the Chelex, and famed Chicago Sun critic Gene Siskel once wrote a scathing review of a film he saw screened there, concluding that the venue itself was so distracting that it made the film even worse; he said he sat near the back and had to keep his coat, hat, and even his gloves on during the movie because it was so goddamned cold.
The theater then changed hands again in 1979, and was renamed the Sandburg Theater, after Chicago native son and poet Carl Sandburg (“came in like the tide on little cat feet,” you know, that guy?). A well-regarded arthouse cinema-spot, as you might guess from the lofty name, the Sandburg mainly screened repertory and indie films.
My partner Albert Berger and I re-opened the Sandburg Theatre as a repertory house showing double features of classic films on May 22, 1979. Our opening week was a festival of Alfred Hitchcock movies. Although home video was starting to appear back then, most of these films could not be seen at that time except on television. We leased the theatre from famous Chicago real estate mogul Arthur Rubloff, who had developed much of the Magnificent Mile among other properties. (Bill Horberg. March 8, 2008. Internet post retrieved February 25, 2010.)
The theatre was shuttered when we took it over and in very poor shape. It still had the bunny logo design carpeting from the days when it operated as The Playboy, and a marquee with disco style lighting. (Ibid.)
When the tenure of the ambitious and admirable Misters Horberg and Berger came to a close in 1982, the theater was sold, condemned, and demolished. A Walgreens (another longtime and homegrown Chicago tradition) now stands on the spot.
It was the 1,000th Walgreens to be opened and there was quite the to-do of it at a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony held at 9:00 a.m. on September 6, 1984, presided over by James Thompson, the governor of Illinois at the time. Interestingly, the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony was Cary Grant, whose own movies had often been screened in the Old Dearborn and Surf Theatre days of the 1930’s-40’s.
Grant graciously agreed to be present and speak because he was a family friend of the Walgreens (the article where I read this factoid lists his connection as being to “Betty,” but I think they meant Mary Ann, as no Betty as ever been an heiress or married to an heir of the Walgreens chain). Like Mr. Grant, Mary Ann Walgreen (née Leslie) has since passed away. She was very active in Chicago-area charities well before the time of highly visible CEOs and public relations folderol, which means she had no obligation to be so involved, and did it out of the goodness of her own heart. R.I.P. to them both.
Final fun fact: Before it closed its doors in 1976, the Chicago Playboy theater’s final booking was a double feature of Mel Brooks’ The Producers and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (“Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?”) Sounds to me like an excellent way to close the place down — if they were licensed for beer, to boot, then I need to get on time traveling, stat. That’s all for tonight, and I sure hope you’ve enjoyed this lengthy foray into the Playboy past.
A group has formed called the Charity Print Auctions Pool on the flickr, and they have a really great and creative idea for raising money to donate to the Red Cross to be used in Haiti relief efforts.
Created by Andy(Shotage) aka Andy Newson on the flickr.
Andrew Newson, the group’s creator, explains:
I created this today, a group dedicated to photographer print sales to raise money for the Haiti Earthquake appeal.
Each photographer donates a print at whatever size they wish and people bid on the image in the comments.
Photograph by Heather Powazek Champ, a flickr employee and gifted photographer. Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco.
The auction will finish at midnight on Sunday 17 January 2010, unless the photographer specifies otherwise on the image. So who ever has the highest bid in the comments, gets the print.
“Wait a sec …” by photgrapher Ingo Meckmann of Connecticut.
When the bidder wins the print, they will head over to the Red Cross and donate the bid amount. They will also take a screen grab of the payment/donation confirmation screen to send to the photographer. On receipt of that, the photographer will arrange for the print to be made and have it posted to you.
So, go and check out the group and get bidding on the image you want on your wall.
There are some really, really extraordinary photographs in this group, some from professional photographers who have agreed to participate.
Low-res version of “The Full Monty” photographed by Anna Nguyen aka ZeeAnna! on the flickr. Winning bidder will receive a high-res print.
“The Funambulist,” by Arup/অরূপ on the flickr. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I feel like I may have got a little down here and there on that last gal, what with my none-too-pleased remarks alluding to what I consider to be her lamentable decades-long trail of desperation, so here’s one of those Playmates who makes me proud to be a Playboy defender.
Gloria Root, the lovely and talented Miss December 1969, is proof that beauty often does come with brains.
Photographed by Pompeo Posar
It is Gloria’s conviction that a major upheaval is both necessary and inevitable in the United States. “We’ve managed to narrow down all the freedoms we take pride in. We’ve created a political aristocracy that we didn’t want, and too many of us are hopelessly trapped in that tired old business of getting an ‘education’ and a job that doesn’t mean anything.” Gloria believes that American society today contains a “hard-core revolutionary middle” that bridges economic, racial and generational gaps — “not just a radical rabble, as the politicians would have us believe.”
“Individuals who have used hallucinogens or pot can experience life in more subtle ways and accept each other more readily than people who haven’t.” And unorthodox costumes, according to Gloria, serve to remind orthodox citizens “that there are other ways to live than what happens to be considered ‘normal’ here and now. If more people cared enough to expand their viewpoints by studying history or anthropology, they’d realize how many different life styles are natural and they’d be more tolerant. Young people aren’t pushing any particular life style — just the freedom to choose. And the youth revolution bridges all boundaries.” (“Revolutionary Discovery,” Playboy, December 1969.)
[Gloria] graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with degrees in fine arts and architecture. She then took a Master’s Degree in City Planning and a Master’s of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1980, she opened her own planning firm, Planning Analysis and Development, in San Francisco. She headed the firm until 1998, when she relocated to New York. While in New York, Root headed the strategic planning services division of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. She returned to San Francisco in 2002 to a job as a project manager for Auberge Resorts. She later took a senior position with RBF Consulting.
From 1990 to 1998, Root was a board member of San Francisco Urban Planning + Research Association, a public-policy think-tank promoting good government and sustainable urban planning. (the wiki)
Gloria died of cancer in January, 2006.
When not grappling with environmental and growth issues, Gloria was both an avid fan of professional football and an aficionado of the performing and cinematic arts. She was a world traveler, which contributed to her distinctive savoir faire. Long before it became fashionable, Gloria deserved to be called a “foodie” wowing her chums with her culinary delights. Dancer, skier, runner, Gloria was gifted with an exceptional physical grace. Of all her accomplishments, however, the power of Gloria’s mind was the most remarkable. Few possessed her ability to probe and debate current events with such intellectual horsepower and insight. When Gloria’s flame burned, it burned bright. (Obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle.)
I think Gloria Root is a woman who was definitely quite a total package. Beauty, brains, compassion, “different-ness,” and drive. RIP.
The lovely and talented Avis Miller, Miss November 1970, was living with her parents in Union City and working as a bunny in the San Francisco Playboy club when she was selected by Hef to be an elite Jet Bunny, a stewardess on his famous private plane. I found the interview really interesting, and then I stumbled over a shitload of pictures from her pictorial, so I’m going to let the original Playboy article and spread handle this one.
“Now that they have 747s, traveling on the commercial airlines is more luxurious than ever,” says November Playmate Avis Miller. “But as far as I’m concerned, the Big Bunny is the only way to fly.” The Big Bunny, if you don’t already know, is Hugh M. Hefner’s $5,500,000 custom built DC9-32, the most opulent private aircraft in the world. (“Jet Bunny,” Playboy, November 1970.)
“I don’t like living in the heart of a city,” says Avis, “because I get uptight about things like crowds, noise and smog. When I was a kid, my father, a salesman, kept getting transferred — Pittsburgh, Boston, Richmond, Houston. I grew up disliking city life, I’m afraid.”
After accompanying the plane on observation flights, including the Big Bunny’s maiden trip from Chicago to Los Angeles, Avis was scheduled to attend stewardess school in April. A week before her training began, she paid a surprise visit to her brother John, an oil analyst then assaying for possible petroleum deposits near Denver. After acquainting herself with the fundamentals of oil exploration, Avis spent her time loafing, her closest companions the historical best sellers she’d taken with her — Jenny and Mary, Queen of Scots. A graduate of Arizona State University, Avis majored in history and still finds the subject fascinating.
“Stewardesses usually have to train for six weeks,” says Avis, ” but that’s because they have to learn about five different aircraft — we only had to learn about one — and their teaching is slower because the classes usually have at least 50 girls in them. The big airlines also spend a week on grooming, which the Bunnies already know.”
After learning about the DC9-32, Avis took courses in first aid, ocean survival, handling general emergencies and food preparation, then was sent to the Lake Geneva Playboy Club-Hotel for special instruction in wine selection and gourmet dining service. Miss Miller reports that work aboard the Playboy plane is a lot less hectic than on a commercial airliner. “We always have at least three Jet Bunnies on board,” she says, “and since there’s a maximum of 38 passengers, we’re able to go about our duties without rushing.”
When Avis was finally flight-qualified, she got a chance to go on what she describes as “an unbelievable trip”: She was one of five jet Bunnies who accompanied Hefner and a private party of close friends on a 31-day jaunt through Africa and Europe.
That’s so awesome. That is like seriously the trip of a lifetime. Rad. That is so cool that she got to do that.
“The Hollywood scene turns me off completely. To get famous, you have to do a lot of dumb, embarrassing things. Who needs it? Besides, I want to have kids, and the lousiest mothers are usually working actresses; they never have time for their children.”
“I’ll be happy if I can wind up with a guy who’s carefree and isn’t a slave to business. I’ll admit that that type isn’t easy to find, but I haven’t even started looking yet.”
Hef sold the Big Bunny in ’76 when he bought his mansion in Holmby Hills. It was purchased and used in the late 1970s as part of the commercial fleet of Air Mexico, according to the internet. I have no idea what’s been going on with it since then.