Posts Tagged ‘Model Citizens’

Flashback Friday — Valentine Vixen: Cheryl Kubert, Miss February 1958

November 2, 2012

The bulk of this post originally appeared on February 5, 2010 at 9:04 am.


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

First up is the lovely and talented Cheryl Kubert. In going through my files to prep this entry, I realized I’d already saved several pictures from this shoot here and there for the last year, so I’m pretty pumped to share.

It’s not a cute or even particularly “themed” shoot at all, but Ms. Kubert has an almost accusing serenity that makes what would be standard shots if it were any other model seem more arresting and beyond ordinary than their composition would dictate.

It’s the eye contact, I reckon. She has deep eyes. The downward cast of her chin, the unparted lip, the steady gaze; she seems so solemn. It makes the shoot feel heavy, but in a beautiful, ruminating, kind of sad way. She has this kind of practical but somewhat unhappy sincerity to her expression and posture, an unvarnished and troubled vulnerability. It’s moody.

The written copy that accompanied this pictorial is absolute drivel. I mean, just pure shit. Its more pun-ridden and meaningless even than the b.s. that they printed up for Marlene Callahan, and that is saying something, believe me.

The strangest part about the article is that, besides being empty apple fritters and pretty nonsense, the endless stream of non sequitirs about Scandinavian idioms seemingly have almost nothing to do with the pictures.

The write-up, titled “Playmate on Skis,” describes skiing in great detail and alludes to its history in Scandinavia, which is well and good, but in the pictures Ms. Kubert is mainly not around snow whatsoever; furthermore, the article lays no claim to her being of Scandinavian descent. Just a poor job all around. Banana boats and baloney sauce, Playboy, I’m sorry. Thankfully the pictures are unique, sensitive, and artistic.

Okay, I just spent fifteen minutes hard-searching and I found the above missing link. ONE SHOT of her with skis in addition to the centerfold (which is generally shot separate from the rest of the pictorial spread). Pfft. And if that is not a fake scene outside the window, I’ll eat my hat. Total cheezits (I’m trying to swear less this year and I’ve found that food items make handy and amusing euphemisms).


(The nude Jayne Mansfield spread will come up again in several days, actually. Really interesting story, but we’re focused on Ms. Kubert right now. Keep your shirt on.)

I can only conjecture that Cheryl Kubert was a stage name, because there is pretty much nothing known about her prior to her centerfold appearance or what she did following, other than that she had appeared in a bit part in the film Pal Joey in 1957.

According to the Playmate Book, Ms. Kubert died April 25, 1989 of apparent suicide. Because Playboy did not keep data sheets prior to September of 1959, it is not known how old she was at the time of her appearance in the magazine or her death. It makes those deep eyes seem much sadder to know that. R.I.P.





edit: I was sitting here trying to think where I had just seen the name “Kubert” recently, and finally remembered that yesterday’s Daily Batman of Catwoman and Batman throwing plates at each other in the Super Dictionary (Warner, 1978) featured art work by the cartoonist Joe Kubert. Found his official website and have fired off a quick email using his “contact” form, inquiring if he is related to Cheryl Kubert or has heard anything about her before. It’s a longshot, but I’ll let you know what comes of it.

edit 11/2/12: In the original post, the following comment was left

John Hawksley Says:

Hello, I was Cheryl’s husband and we were married at the time of her death(may 28,1988) Cheryl Kubert was her real name. Born in Los Angeles, went to Fairfax High School. We had one child(Rachel). She was 50 at time of her death. She was a glamour lovlie in Ken Murry’s Blackouts and she did extensive modeling, traveled with U. S. O troupe and was a member of SAG and SEG. She had the heart and the looks of an angel. She could sing, play the piano and dance. If you need anymore information you can text me. John

Thank you for the further info, Mr. Hawksley.

edit 11/2/12, 2.0: The late Joe Kubert, comic legend, also corresponded with me briefly in regard to this post. He passed on in August, and I am not sharing because I believe death negates privacy, but merely because I never shared originally. As with Mr. Hawksley’s comment, I meant to go back and edit again, but the time gets away from you.

Dear E,

Thank you for your email and your interest. To my knowledge I am not related to a Cheri [sic] Kubert. She looks like someone I would not have minded knowing! Please continue to read, write, and care about comics. You may also share a link with your readers to The Kubert School.

Regards,
Joe

The Kubert School, based in Dover, NJ offers students a high quality and challenging education in Cartooning and Graphic Art.” They also have correspondence courses.

This has been your Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday — Teevee Time: The Monkees, feat. bespectacled Julie Newmar (a ghost post)

March 1, 2012

R.I.P., Davy Jones.


Davy Jones and Jul-Newms, The Monkees Get More Dirt Out.

This post originally appeared on April 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm.

Had a lot of dogs in the fire lately, Stanimal, but wanted to share these gorgeous caps of Jul-Newms in her guest appearance on The Monkees.

About a month ago, I thought I’d lost my specs and was going to have to get new ones and I was super-bummed, because I’ve gotten loads of compliments on my dorky, deliberately dowdy and thick black frames. I found them, but the brief transition back to my old, unobtrusive, lightweight and thin frames, and the corresponding dip in compliments and double-takes, hammered home to me how fun and harmlessly fetishistic a nice pair can be. Of glasses. Get your mind on track.

There’s a pervasive and misguided old saw that men aren’t attracted to a girl in glasses (I believe it runs, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses,” and I’ve seen it attributed to patroness Dorothy Parker, but I am not so sure it was she), which I feel is unfortunately still believed to this day.

I have not found this to be true, and I think these stills dispell that ugly myth once and for all. As the countersaying goes, “Men do make passes at girls who wear glasses — it all depends on their frame.”

So leave ’em on, ladies!

All stills from “The Monkees Get More Dirt Out,” Season 2, Episode 29, The Monkees. (Original air date April 3, 1967.) Ms. Newmar plays April Conquest, who works at the local laundromat, and with whom each of the Monkees falls in love.

In polls, questions at conventions, and weight of fan mail, the episode has been voted the most popular and favorite of the series. Get it, girl!

Edit 3/1/2012: In memoriam, extra stills of Davy and the gents.

R.I.P. retread — Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Happy Holidays from Cynthia Myers, Miss December 1968

November 5, 2011

Been buried in academic work, but I needed to throw out a quick, sad retread of Ms. Myers’ “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” post. Beautiful, adventurous Cynthia passed away yesterday of undisclosed causes, per Hef.

R.I.P., Ms. Myers (9/12/50-11/4/11).


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

“Wholly Toledo!” is the name of the article that accompanies the pictorial for the lovely and talented Cynthia Myers, Playboy’s Miss December 1968. Her wildly popular centerfold shot her to stardom among the troops in Vietnam, and a pinup of her is featured in the film Hamburger Hill. She has been a teen model, a television personality, played a lesbian songstress in one of the most famous camp films out there, and become an unwitting space cowgirl in her 60 years on this planet. Buckle up, because here we go!



Cynthia wrote to Playboy a few years ago, informing us that she’d like to be considered as a centerfold beauty. Assistant Picture Editor Marilyn Grabowski answered with a reminder that our Playmates must be of legal age but that Cynthia should keep in touch. She did just that.

Well, kind of.

The shoot was in June of ’68, and Ms. Meyers was born in September of ’50, but Playboy waited until Cynthia was comfortably 18 to publish her pictorial. It had become common practice for the magazine after the scandal with Elizabeth Ann Roberts.

In fact, the most recently featured “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” playmate, the fantastic Susan Bernard, was also 17 at her photoshoot and saw her spread published after she turned 18.

Posing underage for Playboy is not the only common ground between Ms. Bernard and Ms. Myers. While Ms. Bernard was featured in Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, today’s special gal starred in his 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

I promise to have a full-out Movie Moment for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of these days. For my friend’s recent 31st birthday, I sent him a picture of the cast of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with him tagged as Dolly Read and me as Cynthia Myers. I explained that I originally had me as Dolly and him as Cynthia, but I switched it because it was his birthday.

You know Roger Ebert wrote it? I don’t think he ever gets to criticize a movie again.

Cynthia is pictured reading a five-year-old palmistry pamphlet about what the following year once held for her because she placed a large credulity in psychic phenomenon.

“I’ve known since I was 15 that I’d be a Playmate. It’s almost as if this had been fated to happen.” Cynthia’s penchant for precognition can be traced to her early teens.

(Ibid.)



“A junior high school friend of mine in Toledo,” she says, “was a nut on palmistry, astrology and even reading tea leaves and crystal balls. Like most people, I thought is was just a bunch of baloney. But when I began reading about prophets like Edgar Cayce, I began to realize that there are strange spiritual forces in the world undreamed of even in The Playboy Philosophy.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Myers, I think you’d be surprised by what the Playboy philosophy can dream of.

In 1994, it was revealed that a picture from Ms. Myers’ centerfold pictorial was among several that crafty NASA jokesters have launched in to space over the years. Ms. Myers, together with Leslie Bianchini, Angela Dorian, and Reagan Wilson, was snuck in to the checklist for the Apollo 12 mission that was placed in astronauts’ suit cuff on their trip to the moon in November of 1969. Ms. Myers specifically took her space journey with astronaut Al Bean.

Don’t forget: Describe the protruberances.

Boobs : Geeks :: Horse : Carriage. I think it’s kind of funny and sweet.

And the gals didn’t just go up in the lunar landing module: they straight moon walked. The astronauts found their pictures while fulfilling their extravehicular (read: outside the module on the lunar surface) mission duties on the moon itself.


Pete Conrad got Miss September 1967, Angela Dorian, (“Seen any interesting hills and valleys?”) and Miss October 1967, Reagan Wilson (“Preferred tether partner”). Al Bean got Miss December 1968, Cynthia Myers (“Don’t forget — Describe the protuberances”), and Miss January 1969, Leslie Bianchini (“Survey — her activity”).

(“Playboy Playmates pranked into Apollo 12 mission checklists.” January 13, 2007. BoingBoing.net.)


Conrad told us in 1994: “I had no idea they were with us. It wasn’t until we actually got out on the lunar surface and were well into our first moon walk that I found them.” Bean recalled: “It was about two and a half hours into the extravehicular activity. I flipped the page over and there she was. I hopped over to where Pete was and showed him mine, and he showed me his.”

(Ibid.)

A large, color version of the shot of Cynthia that was smuggled up to the moon in the Apollo 12.

Lest we forget, the lovely and talented DeDe Lind, Miss August 1967 and, like Cynthia, one of the most popular Playmates in the magazine’s history, also rode shotgun on the Apollo 12 mission. She was in the control console, her picture labelled, “Map of a heavenly body.”

I always feel compelled when talking about the Playmate pictures and NASA to bring up the fact that my sorority’s badge is on the moon. Neil Armstrong put it there for his wife. It’s my sorority’s badge and it is on the moon. The moon that is in space. Sorry, but I get pretty cocky and excited by that. Tell a friend.

This much more recent picture of Ms. Myers just might get her kicked out of the Red Hat Society.

Can our prescient Playmate predict anything about her future? “I’m going to be an actress,” she says simply. “Notice I didn’t say ‘I’d like to be,’ but ‘I’m going to be.’ I don’t know how good I’ll be as an actress, but I’ll be one.”

(“Wholly Toledo!” Playboy. December 1968.)


Judging from her track record as a prophetess — and from her already abundant attributes — we’d like to venture a prediction of our own: Playmatehood should be just the beginning for the remarkable Miss Myers.
(Ibid.)

Flashback Friday — Just Another Auden October: Autumn Song

October 28, 2011

This entry originally appeared on October 20, 2010 at 9:19 am.


Photographed by mjagiellicz on the d.a.

Now the leaves are falling fast,
Nurse’s flowers will not last,
Nurses to their graves are gone,
But the prams go rolling on.


Photographed by bittersea on the d.a.

Whispering neighbors left and right
Daunt us from our true delight,
Able hands are forced to freeze
Derelict on lonely knees.


Photographed by leenaraven on the d.a.

Close behind us on our track,
Dead in hundreds cry Alack,
Arms raised stiffly to reprove
In false attitudes of love.


Photographed by cookiemonstah on the d.a.

Scrawny through a plundered wood,
Trolls run scolding for their food,
Owl and nightingale are dumb,
And the angel will not come.


Photographed by redribboninyourhair on the d.a.

Clear, unscalable, ahead
Rise the Mountains of Instead,
From whose cold, cascading streams
None may drink except in dreams.

(Auden, W.H. “VI.:Autumn Song.” Twelve Songs. March 1936.)

If ever there were a view on which to turn your back à la Gertrude Stein, a sweeping vista of the Mountains of Instead would be the one. No going back. Too late. Prams rolling on. Breathtaking strong tide of inevitability that takes all the water with it and leaves you and your petty fears and dreams dragging in the dust.

Time is stolen from us in such tiny ways — although I guess it is scarcely a theft when you never lock the door or look out the window to see if there is a shadow waiting for you to turn your back, as if all you possess are invincible by dint of being yours — and we use landmark occasions to mark the loss, but we only once in a while really look at what momentous and yet totally miniscule shit comprises what is destined to be our one and only, short history.

This Autumn was already weighing as heavily on me as last year. Now all I feel like I can handle doing is to take a hot bath and climb back beneath the covers (you see what I mean about aiding in our own robbery by time?). Thanks a lot, Auden. I guess what scares me most about it is does it always steal up on you? Does it just sneak up and you turn around and cry out, “Oh, not yet. It can’t be time yet. I’m not finished. I thought I would have more time.”


Photographed by disco_ball on the d.a.

Is there any way to escape that, that moment of realization, that punch in the gut when the waste, all the time you wasted suddenly comes rushing up around you so you can’t even breathe? Your life is over and you’re not ready because you thought you could always keep backsliding, that there would be special accounting for prodigal, last minute, golden you, who always slid in under the wire, who always got a second chance if you smiled big enough when you asked. There is no talking or charming or dodging your way out of final reckoning, and no method by which I can imagine escaping the horror of that realization, and you finally turn around and see the Mountains of Instead. You made them that tall. What do you do about the regret which will follow. Is there a way to soften that blow?

I don’t think there is. I can make vows about viewing this poem as a cautionary tale, and shine you on about how I plan on avoiding such a fate by making every moment count, and on and on until the sun goes supernova, but a plucky attitude does not lower the Mountains of Instead even an inch. No changing the past. No erasing regrets. That is just some fucked up shit right there.

Flashback Friday: Just Another Auden October, Harrow the house of the dead edition

October 21, 2011

This post originally appeared on at October 27, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.


Photographed by Mieke Willems.

Prohibit sharply the rehearsed response
And gradually correct the coward’s stance. …
Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at
New styles of architecture, a change of heart.

(W.H. Auden, “Petition.”)

Like that bird, for instance — do you think he woke up knowing he’d get to perch on a pert ass today? I expect not: I expect he thought it would be just another day, the same as all the others he has lived.

I guess what I’m suggesting is that, as Auden petitions, it is worthwhile to defy the lessons of experience, throw caution to the wind, and look with a hopeful heart for the unexpected and unpredictable new. How to completely go about doing that I am less certain of, but I know that it must be worth trying.

Take-two Tuesday: William Blake Month — “The Fly”

October 4, 2011

This entry originally appeared on June 22, 2010 at 1:44pm.

Late post, am I right? I’ve been invovled in some deep bookfoolery which I will explain below. The heading of each of the chapters in a book I read last night/today is followed by a quote, and one such quote was from this poem of Blake’s.


via

Little Fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?


For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;


via

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

(William Blake, “The Fly.”)

So — the lateness in the day. Yes. Sorry, but I am not even firing on four let alone six cyllinders today. See, I went against all my usual instincts and quickly finished my yearly series last night wayyy ahead of time and I refuse to let that happen with my other obligations, so when I dropped the last in the series to the floor, I dug in to my pile and instead of snatching up The Tommyknockers (absolutely not touching it until July 2nd or 3rd or I will not be where I need to be for the 4th and I cannot afford any more Bad Days), I started this book my cousin Mary loaned me called The Descent.

I was initially skeptical and, at points, flirting with grogginess from the overabundance of sleep-inducing substances I pour down my throat every night in an effort to quiet the seven-headed rock dragon of my insomnia which makes the Balrog look like a Pound Puppy, but it was amazing shit, full of caves and sci-fi creatures and anthropology and linguistics and religious themes and Hell and mountaineers and Jesuits and everything else that rings my bell, and before I knew it I was completely sucked in to the throat of it. I powered through the layers of tylenol pm, Miller, and a slug of Ny-Quil I’d taken earlier, ignoring my sandy eyelids because I Couldn’t Stop Reading, and, having finally shook off any need for sleep and finished the last sentence and closed the book thoughtfully at around nine this morning, I can confidently say I’m a believer.


via

I slid it under my bed and lay reflecting on what I’d read for a few minutes, because I felt like there had been some unresolved plot points, then I suddenly did this herky jerky twitch and thought, “How many standalone science fiction novels are that long? Plus … it was set in ’99, but the cover was new. No dog-eared pages. Mary would’ve loaned it to me years ago if she hadn’t just recently bought and read it. It’s a new book.” Reprint. Why?


via

Totally excited by this chain of thought, I flipped my ass in the air, dove under my bed and grabbed the book back out of my piles and checked the front. HELL YES: among the author’s other books listed by the publisher is one titled The Ascent, which I think it is fair to conjecture can only be a sequel, so now that I’ve finished all the housework and cooking I’d planned previously to do in the hours of the morning I’d spent reading, I’m going to cruise out to the used book store by my house and see about scaring that bitch up for tonight — and see if there are more. Keep you posted. Don’t worry about the insomnia thing: I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.

Flashback Friday — Advice: Marilyn edition, “The few remaining earthbound stars”

July 8, 2011

This post originally appeared on May 19, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.


I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle.

(Telegram from Marilyn Monroe declining a party invitation from Bobby and Ethel Kennedy. June 13, 1962.)

You got to fight for your right to twinkle. It is difficult and discouraging and at times seems insurmountable, but in the end, you are raised up to the sky to shine forever. Please try to help each other out and let’s none of us lose heart.

Take-two Tuesday — The Way They Were: Egon and Wally

July 5, 2011

This entry was originally posted March 1, 2010 at 11:50 am.

Yesterday I was reminded that I had a bunch of these “Way They Were” entries planned and had only followed through on one (Jayne and Mickey). That’s cowardly. I’m going to try to motor through more in the coming months.


“Sitzende Frau mit hochgezogenem Knie”/”Seated woman with bent knee”, 1917.

Although artist Egon Schiele had been separated from Valerie “Wally” Neuzil and married to Edith Harms for two years by the date of this painting, most everyone agrees this is from an earlier study of Wally. It looks too much like her not to be, and he uses the colors that are associated with the Wally work. It’s my favorite work by him. It was on the cover of the Schiele book that my husband, who is a painter, had at our house in Portland, and was the entire reason I found myself opening and reading the book one day. I was interested in Schiele’s work, which is provocative and weird and has many shockingly modern features, all things I like, but, because his life was tragically cut short by disease, his career arc is brief. Coming away from the slim book about his life and art, I felt that his work was dominated by the chief feature of his life, which is to say in a nutshell his time with the real love of his life, which he royally fucked up, and it was the story of that, of Egon’s eventually jacked-beyond-repair relationship with Wally Neuzil that really sucked me in.


“Das Modell Wally Neuzil”/”The model Wally Neuzil.” 1912.

Artist Egon Schiele and his model, Valerie “Wally” Neuzil, were together from 1911 to 1915. He met her in Vienna when she was seventeen and he was twenty-one. Supposedly they were introduced by Gustav Klimt. Supposedly she had been Klimt’s mistress before she got together with Schiele. These things are all conjecture because everyone involved is dead, and they happened before the Great War, which so influenced the German-speaking art world in the years just following it that anything which contributed to or influenced an artist’s work before the War kind of fell by the wayside until later generations resumed their scholarship of turn of the century artists. That’s fair. Such radical changes happened during and after the War that I imagine it seemed crazy, outdated, and irrelevant to really consider too deeply the little emotional outbursts and criminal trials that came before the dramatic political events of the 1910’s and 20’s that literally reshaped the landscape.


“Rothaarige hockende Frau mit grünen Strümpfen (Valerie Neuzil)”/”Crouching figure with green stockings” (Valerie Neuzil).” 1913.

Egon and Wally left Vienna because they considered it too oppressive. They sought an inspirational, romantic, and bucolic lifestyle of freedom in the countryside, moving to Krumia — which also had the more practical benefit of much cheaper rent than Vienna — where, though Schiele’s mother was born there, they were summarily run out of town not too long after for being a little too inspirational, romantic, and bucolic: they’d been using the town’s teenagers as “models”. There’s a Schiele museum there now, so I guess that, like cream cheese, their hearts eventually softened to a spreadable cracker topping. That analogy got out of control in a hurry. It’s almost time for me to grab lunch, sorry.


“Wally in roter Blouse mit erhobenen Knien”/”Wally in red blouse with raised knees.” 1913.

Essentially fleeing the angry mob in Krumia, Egon and Wally moved again, this time north to Nuelengbach, where it was apparently same shit, different day, as they were not there even six months and Schiele was arrested for seducing a minor. Once in custody, they dropped that charge (apparently the young lady changed her tune when the absinthe wore off?) and an abduction charge the parents had insisted be levied originally, and instead tried and found him guilty of displaying inappropriate art in a place where minors could see it. He was released from prison after serving twenty-four days in April 1912 — are you getting the idea of what an awesome prince he was? such the lucky girl, that Wally — and they moved back to the Vienna area.


“Auf einem blauen Polster Liegende mit goldblondem Haar (Wally Neuzil)”/”Reclining female figure with gold blonde hair on a blue pillow (Wally Neuzil).” 1913.

Settled with Wally in Heitzing, a Viennese suburb, Schiele wrote to a friend in early 1915 that he was going to marry one of the Harms sisters, two locksmith’s daughters named Edith and Adele who lived across the street from his studio, for money. I guess running around for three years painting erotic pictures and pissing people off while sleeping with teenagers and doing jail time had not turned out to be the lucrative life of luxury he’d anticipated; the cash flow was getting low, and, despite that he considered Wally his partner and soulmate, marrying for money was Schiele’s timeless solution to their financial woes. He followed through on this, marrying the older of the daughters, Edith, on June 17, 1915, exactly 91 years before my own wedding day.


“Frau in Unterwäsche und Strümpfen (Valerie Neuzil)”/”Woman in underwear and stockings (Valerie Neuzil).” 1913.

A few days after his wedding, Schiele was called to the war, but managed to always serve in Austria, so he was able to continue with his art and stay close to his ties in Vienna. Wally had broken up with him when he told her he was getting married. Schiele wrote to friends expressing shock and grief: he’d actually expected her to understand and stay with him. He wrote a letter to Wally asking her to meet him at a billiards parlor that he liked to go to. There he gave her another letter, proposing that every year they go on an extended holiday, without his wife. She did not write back or respond positively to this. Instead, she left him and never saw him again.


“Frau mit schwarzen Strümpfen – Valerie Neuzil”/”Woman with black stockings – Valerie Neuzel.” 1913.

I was furious when I read this. I still remember sitting in my little house in Portland and my jaw dropping, and my blood boiling, all this anger and resentment simmering in me, directed at people I never met who’d been dead nearly a century, but I couldn’t help it. I hate him for marrying someone else, I hate him and I hate the story of how they were because it reveals that through all that time they spent together, Schiele must have considered Wally lower than him, and though she stood by him , asshole though he could be, he thought her to be the unimportant one, expendable and suppressable, and he literally threw her away like garbage even though she was the best thing that had happened to him; his drawings of her are the best things he did. But that is how some stories are, and I deserve to feel angry because I need to accept that, I have to work through my sadness about the fact that nothing and no one has ever been perfect not even for a day or an hour or a moment, every joyful thing is secretly riddled through with the knowledge that this is so good now because there will be pain later and every lucky penny has a tail side of the coin, and if I have to search my soul and see if there is any gold in the dross of this love story that I in my infantile understanding of human nature found so devastating than I guess I must say that I do love that Schiele really loved Wally in an incredibly broken way, and had that time with her in which there must surely have been good moments.


Photograph of Wally and Egon from the Schiele Museum online.

Schiele died only three years after his breakup with Wally, on Halloween 1918, in an influenza epidemic which had several days earlier killed Edith and their unborn child. He passed away completely unaware that Wally Neuzil had herself succumbed to death from disease around Christmas of the previous year. She’d become a nurse for the Red Cross and, stationed at Split in Dalmatia, she caught scarlet fever from one of her patients and died in the same hospital at which she’d been working for over a year.

edit 7/6/11. Question for discussion: on a large enough timeline, aren’t we and all our petty passions and tragedies truly sound and fury, don’t we signify nothing after all? I want to think not — likely only because of vanity and childish fear of my own meaninglessness — but it seems so true.

Advice: Eff the ineffable and See you on the flip!

July 4, 2011

Still phoning it in. This post is originally from last year, but I took out the stuff about the Wonder Woman project (later aborted because when it comes to her I’ve got the attention span of a baby gnat). This year I’m needing to let go of my anxiety about a job with an amazing non-profit for which I interviewed last Friday and I Really, Really, Really want. So the advice still stands!


via.

“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable, let’s prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

(Douglas Adams.)

Let go and get in that “jump!” frame of mind. Eff the ineffable, indeed, and don’t let all the shit that doesn’t matter get in the way of the shit that does.

Happy Fourth of July — ‘scuse me while I slap on my Wonder Woman wunderoos and conquer the world! Scheduling a Daily Batman, maybe a Girl of Summer and then I will catch you on the flip.

Music Moment — Nicole Atkins, “Brooklyn’s on Fire!”

July 4, 2011

Portions of this post were originally published on September 26, 2009. And again on July 4, 2010. I’m phoning it in. What could be more American?

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans, and, to those international friendohs from countries overseas to which our states once belonged as colonies — well, thanks for the memories. Days commemorating war always make me pray for peace. Here’s hoping that all nations can, in the words of the Beatles, come together. Also, twist and shout.

“Brooklyn’s on Fire!”, Nicole Atkins, Neptune City. I like this video here because it is made by someone in Brooklyn who likes Nicole Atkins and the 4th of july and baseball and likely all manner of things on which we could sit around and agree all day. Thank you, stranger! Your video’s view count has been dramatically affected by me since I found this last month!

Nicole Atkins is someone I stumbled over last year or maybe the year before after hearing one of her songs in a commercial and googling adtunes for days to find it. She has a really great, unique sound. She calls her music pop-noir.

She is a lion face, one of my favorite face types (all people look like an animal to me, or a blend of animals). I adore leonine women and I really love that she has a schnoz. It gives a woman character to have a big nose or a gap in her teeth, you know? It puts them that extra step past adorable into asymmetrically one of a kind, infinitely loveable. This goes for all of you. Love what you think are your flaws cause that’s probably the one part of you I seize on and fetishize most. I’m off topic. Back to this song.


Friday nights on the seventh floor
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Paper backs on the corner store
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Looking over the ledge,
the sidewalk traffic starts to spread


Summer’s begun across the Bay
And no bit of silence remains


Oh, Brooklyn’s on fire,
and fills July hearts with desire
Sleep will not come, until the morn
Cause tonight your memories are born
La dee da, la dee da


And the band’s not begun just yet
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Fifty names you’re bound to forget
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Black and blue on the lakes
Wear badges from happier days
Late in the night, in ’84
Walked in through the old out door


Oh, Brooklyn’s on fire,
and fills July hearts with desire
Sleep will not come, until the morn
Cause tonight your memories are born
La dee da, dee da, dee da


This would be my favorite movie if Cameron Diaz and Leonardo di Caprio hadn’t done their best to fuck it up. Bill the Butcher FOREVER.
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)


I’m caught in the way,
of tears from much happier days
When we were young and unafraid,
of stupid mistakes that we made


Oh, Brooklyn’s on fire,
and fills July hearts with desire
Sleep will not come, until the morn
Cause tonight your memories are born
Ladeeda, la dee da, dee da, dee da, dee da

Flashback Friday: Bookfoolery: If I never sleep again until the end of my days, at least I will die well-read

June 3, 2011

This post originally appeared on June 24, 2010 at 6:26 p.m.

Maybe “well” is subjective …


If anyone but my Asia Argento plays Lisbeth Salander in an English-speaking adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I will put my hand through a blender. I pictured her the entire time I was reading.

Finished Girl With the Dragon Tattoo over a sleepless night that lead to one uneasy stretch of light snooze cut short by sudden bouts of vomiting. I found it very absorbing — the book, not the violent gut spasms from who-knows-what combination of stress and inattentively poor personal care — but it caromed briefly in to a few areas for which I was not wild. Still it all hung together in the end and I recommend it without reservation. Then I ended up reading a particularly pulpy and breezy Ross Macdonald mystery from the 70’s whose title I have already forgotten even though it kept me company for several hours.


See? Lots of people have insomnia and go on to have perfectly normal Summers! The Shining (Kubrick, 1980).

I only remember that I’d picked it up a few months back along with a couple 70’s editions of Zane Grey at my preferred comic store, which, besides selling comics and related games and accessories, also carries a small inventory of used, cheapo books and spotty collections of memorabilia depending on what luckless local nerds have either died or lost enough money to place their treasures in hock. I snatched up the Greys and this Macdonald book a few months ago because I dug the kind of blocky-schlocky look to the lines of the cover art.


The Underground Man — that’s right. Decent enough title, I guess.

The phrase “blew my mind” was used repeatedly in the book to refer to literally taking too much acid and suffering brain damage and prolonged schizophrenic episodes triggered by hallucinations, which usage I thought was a handy demonstration of the evolution of slang — in the book it was suggestive of overdose and possible fatality, but you can see how it developed over time the more benign definition it has now in the sense of changing one’s worldview in a feller-than-the-usual-pace-of-educational swoop, while still somewhat referencing the phrase’s original intent.


2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968). He swar to gar for all his life that whole sequences of this film were not planned to look like an acid trip, to which anyone who has ever done acid says, “Sure.”

The Macdonald book wasn’t the worst thing ever and some of the slangy shenanigans and quaintly dated rough talk in it wet my palate for some Hammett. I never re-read Red Harvest until October (red HARVEST, get it?) but I also brought down with me from Portland The Dain Curse and the Op’s short-story collection and could give one of those a spin. Think that’s what I’ll do tonight.

Actually maybe Hammett is only the appetizer. Know what? I think I will try to squeeze in L.A. Confidential before I have to pick up Tommyknockers. I usually, though not maniacally, like to read that closer to Christmastime because of the whole Bloody Christmas scandal that sparks so much of the action, but I’ve been self-auditing through all these long sick waking nights, and by setting this bookfoolery in to print I have come to see that I’ve got some really fucked-up and compulsive reading habits which are even perhaps the least of my worries and so I feel like rebelling against myself in this small thing to test the waters of making Change happen. I’m going to do this because I can.

Synchronicity — just dug out Red Harvest and the quote on the front cover is from Ross Macdonald, the author whose pulp I read this morning. Wild way that the universe is telling me I’m on the right track? or subconscious self-affirmation from whatever part of my brain has been looking at that (quite kickass) Red Harvest cover for the last four years?

I can’t say for sure. Either way, tell that girl from Canada that it ain’t ironic.

Baby, it’s cold outside: Showdown! — The three faces of Miss October 1957, Colleen Farrington

November 27, 2010


Photographed by Peter Basch.

La donna é mobile. Women are changeable. The write-up for this lovely and talented Playmate of the Month (and surprise celebrity mother) featured her in three different hair colors: blonde, brunette, and redheaded. Browse through the spread and pick your poison!


Time was you could make a date with a brunette on Wednesday and, when you picked her up Saturday night, be certain a brunette would be waiting for you.

(“La Donna È Mobile.” Playboy, October 1957.


These days, thanks to quickie hair-dyes, your brunette may have metamorphosed into a redhead or a boysenberry blonde.

(Ibid.)


Click to enlarge any ol’ pic, any ol’ time, but I strongly recommend the one on the right up there. It’s great. She was a lovely ham in this spread.

And just what in the name of easter baskets would a boysenberry blonde look like? Did the person who wrote that ever even see a boysenberry? They’re so deep purple that they’re virtually black. Strawberry blonde is a shade, yes. Boysenberry blonde? Not so much. Those two things do not work together.

I find the pairing weird and it makes me curious to see such a thing in real life. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible outside of food coloring on a junior high girl. Back to the likely made-up story of quickie hair dyes and their metaphorical relationship with the vagaries of the vapid gender.


This sign of the times was dramatized for us recently when photographer Peter Basch sent us a test shot of prospective Playmate Colleen Farrington, a New York TV model*.

(Ibid.)

*In fact, Colleen was at this time modeling on television and doing high fashion on runways. She worked frequently with designer Oleg Cassini, who would go on to permanent international fame in about three years as Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite designer and the architect of her “look” in the Camelot heyday.


My favorite shot of the spread.

We found her a pert, well-turned brunette, and we wired Pete to go ahead by all means. When the first Playmate photos arrived, however, Colleen (having dyed her crowning glory for a TV show) was a blonde.

(Ibid.)


We liked her better the other way, so she obliged by becoming a brunette again and Pete, in a puckish mood, persuaded her to try a temporary head of red, too, in the interest of utter confusion.

(Ibid.)


On these pages, therefore, Colleen is available in three smart decorator colors. Which do you prefer?

(Ibid.)

Red, over here. I’ll put the poll at the bottom for easy voting.

I’m curious to see how this one comes out. I think the red suits Ms. Farrington, who sometimes went by Ms. Prince, best, but then again, the pictures of her with red hair are the best done in my opinion, too, so that could be clouding my judgment. If she’d been blonde in the pink corset by the bar pictures, maybe my feelings would be different.

As far as that series of this shoot goes, I’d spotted and saved it a few years ago, just saving it as Colleen Farrington 1, 2, 3, etc. When I started putting together pictures and bios for these winter posts, I was pumped to see I’d be able to include her.

Then when I found her original spread, I was tickled by the prospect of a poll for which hair color was the most pleasing to readers. I’ve been meaning to return to the idea of regularly putting up Showdown!s and this was a perfect opportunity to get back in the swing. Not only that, but Ms. Farrington had one more surprise up her lovely sleeve —

— She is the mother of unbelievably beautiful and talented actress Diane Lane.

I’m sure you’re thinking what I’m thinking — this amazing fact means that Colleen Farrington was, at one time, the mother-in-law of The Highlander. I know, right? There can be only one! Amazing!

Just kidding. I realize not everyone’s life is built around tangentially relating the science fiction/fantasy films and television of their youth to everything they experience, and I’m trying to recover from that shock. I’m sure you were thinking how beautiful mother and daughter both are. And they are.

Ms. Farrington married acting coach, partner to John Cassavetes, and unlikely cabbie Burt Lane and the couple had Diane in 1964. They divorced when the baby was only 13 months old and Ms. Lane lived sometimes with her mother and sometimes with her father until she was 15, when she emancipated herself from her father having already sadly written her mother, living in Georgia at the time, off following some unfortunate family fallouts. They had kind of a bumpy period that I don’t think it’s fair to get in to, but they are reconciled and all is well.

So, back to the poll and how mobile we donnas are: Which of Colleen Farrington’s ‘do’s rocks your world?


Take-Two Tuesday — Model Citizens and Movie Moment: A case of the Mondays cured

November 9, 2010

This post originally appeared on November 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm.

Got a case of the Mondays? Not me, because I pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. But in case you have somehow been enslaved by the System and are sneaking peeks from beneath fluorescent lights in some dreadful cubicle, here’s some Office Space quotes to snap you out of it, and some naked models too. You’re welcome!

Doutzen Kroes and Raquel Zimmerman, “Working Girls,” by Mario Testino for V magazine, Spring 2007.



Peter Gibbons: So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.
Dr. Swanson: What about today? Is today the worst day of your life?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Dr. Swanson: Wow, that’s messed up.

Peter Gibbons: I don’t like my job, and I don’t think I’m going to go anymore.
Joanna: You’re just not going to go?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Joanna: Won’t you get fired?
Peter Gibbons: I don’t know, but I really don’t like it. And I’m not going to go.
Joanna: So you’re going to quit?
Peter Gibbons: Nooo. Not really. Uh… I’m just gonna stop going.
Joanna: Well, what are you going to do about money and bills and…
Peter Gibbons: You know, I’ve never really liked paying bills. I don’t think I’m going to do that, either.


Peter Gibbons: It’s not just about me and my dream of doing nothing. It’s about all of us. I don’t know what happened to me at that hypnotherapist and, I don’t know, maybe it was just shock and it’s wearing off now, but when I saw that fat man keel over and die – Michael, we don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.
Michael Bolton: I told those fudge-packers I liked Michael Bolton’s music.
Peter Gibbons: Oh. That is not right, Michael.



Peter Gibbons: Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday and you’re not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, “Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays”?
Lawrence: No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you’d get your ass kicked sayin’ something like that, man.

Fuckin’…A.


Photograph by Ellen von Unwerth

Look. I understand financial obligations and suchlike, but please be sure to draw lines in the dirt declaring how much you let the world and its ways infringe on your personal happiness, and ask yourself what you would pay to be happier; if the amount is the difference between the wage you make at the miserable job you have and a lower-paying job that you would better enjoy, then jump!

And don’t forget to refuse to be normal at all times. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, chickpeas. Quit your job and go on tour.

edit: What I like about Flashback Friday and Take-Two Tuesday is that it gives me a chance to take a recent-reflective turn in this business of self-audit. This was written nearly a year ago. Do I still “pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want?” Not really, but not in a depressing way and certainly when I do it is not in a rude or irresponsible way — but, examining that period carefully, I didn’t really much then either. Anyway I despised that job (professional plagiarism: I hated almost everything about it) and it tarred my soul. Substituting when I can and caring for my grandmother is infinitely more satisfying, fulfilling, and uplifting. And I am doing what I want, I think perhaps much better now than then. I like it.

Flashback Friday — Movie Moment: Switchblade Sisters (1975), Patch edition

July 2, 2010

This entry was originally posted on December 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm. Captions have been added to some of the photos.

There are many recommendable qualities about what is, to me, the title holder of all-time greatest cheeseball popcorn-flick, writer-director Jack Hill’s masterpiece of the exploitation genre, Switchblade Sisters (1975).

For one thing, the four taglines are as follows:

  • They’d Rather Kill Their Man Than Lose Him
  • So easy to kill. So hard to love.
  • Mothers… lock up your sons. The Switchblade Sisters are coming!
  • Lace… Maggie… Patch… Donut… Bunny… The wildest girl gang that ever blasted the streets!
  • Dig the poster art (click any of them to blow it up).

    The film, which do not think this is the last entry in which I will talk about it, centers on girl gang The Dagger Debs — a sort of ladies auxiliary of their boyfriends’ gang, the Silver Daggers — who later change their name to The Jezebels (some bootlegs of the film still have this as the title) under the advice of their new co-leader.


    That bowling alley is rougher than the cantina on Mos Eisley.

    Name changes and the new co-leader do not sit well with what is for my money the number one reason with a bullet (or switchblade, if you prefer) to watch this movie:

    This flyass bitch right here.


    Monica Gayle as “Patch.”

    Her name is Patch. Former first lieutenant of the Dagger Debs, Patch came to kick ass and look hot as hell — and she’s all outta blue eyeliner.

    You will want to marry her when you watch her snarl and flip and hiss across the screen. It’s wonderful.

    Look at that willowy neck and perfectly snide expression. I cannot believe that Monica Gayle did not go on to ridiculous heights of stardom and fame, but at least it ups my chances of running in to her at the grocery.

    Quentin Tarantino put up the money through his Rolling Thunder productions company to oversee the recent remaster and distribution of this film in dvd format. He claims it is among his favorite 70’s movies, and QT devotees insist that shades of the plotline, composition, and even characters from Switchblade Sisters can be seen in some of Tarantino’s films.


    Note the composition, with organic materials framing the hard face and the strong horizontals in their look-space.

    I cannot imagine where they are getting this. Even if he has seen Switchblade Sisters, I doubt it has in any way influenced his own work.*


    What am I talking about?, they clearly have patches on different eyes — psh. Not alike at all.

    *Obviously that’s in jest … but actually I love the fact that he based the “look” of Elle Driver on Patch. Love it. And then he put Daryl Hannah in the role on top of it?! Winner winner, chicken dinner! It’s like that loquacious elfin genius makes movies purely so I don’t have to. My hat is forever off to him.

    addendum 7-2-10: It’s still true. I know it is becoming vogue for some reason to consider QT “tired” or “irrelevant” or “pretentious” or any one of a million labels that float about like baseless ice cubes in the tall glass of haterade Hollywood critics pass around, but I will love him, deeply and without measure or reservation, until the end of time. Call me.

    Girls of Summer: Teddi Smith, Miss July 1960

    June 30, 2010


    Photographed by William Graham and Edmond Leja.

    Bill Graham and Ed Leja do an absolutely beautiful job with this spread. Check out especially the use of color and warm, ambient light in the exterior shots — just gorgeous and really striking. I wish the same could be said for the write-up, because Ms. Smith (not her real name but I will refer to her by it) is a fascinating, ambitious, creative and exciting woman, but it is not at all reflected in the text that accompanied her gatefold. It is one of those write-ups. The ones that make me resort to made-up epithets and food-item-substitutes for swearwords. Pop a dramamine and check it out:


    I adore her expression in this picture. A lot of her shots from this spread feature an almost amused, frank and confident openness on her face. Almost catlike, almost equally curious about the lens as it is about her.

    The delights of yachting are too well-known to require exhaustive comment here, but potential yachtsmen should be apprised that it’s possible to find a First Mate for a trim craft who is a trim craft herself.

    (“Ship Shape.” Playboy, July 1960.)


    Such a one is Miss July: Teddi Smith, a nubile native of Van Nuys, California. Weekdays she works as a receptionist, but every weekend, she undergoes a sea change and turns into the sweetest of sailors, manning a tiller with the best of them and showing the coast line’s shapeliest pair of sea legs in the process.

    (Ibid.)

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt, what a pile of yam fries and appleslaw! Worse than usual, even — bleah. Can you believe that sassy molassy? It’s possible they did it because Ms. Smith’s birthdate was September of ’42 and, as this gatefold appeared in July of ’60, and experience tells us the spread was photographed well ahead of its publication and distribution, then, barring some fuzzy math, Ms. Smith was rather obviously at least six months under 18 at the time of this shoot.

    If that makes you feel hinky, just scroll past this gal, but do remember that in plenty of states in the U.S.A. at that time, 17 (and, in some states, younger) was the age of consent, so call me old-fashioned or statutorily perverted but I’m kind of live-and-let-live ambivalent on this one.

    I know, I know: the argument is, what I just said was wrong about justifying the pics via the ol’ “but that was legal consenting age back then” line because what if it was, I don’t know, horrific nudie pics from the 1800’s of a 12 year old Apache girl getting dp’d by evil cowboys or some shit, right? Sure, there was no consenting age then but holy jesus I would be as outraged as anyone to know of such a thing, absolutely. Dreadful, expository, predatory garbage like that, reflective of only darkness and pain and violent degradation, should of course not be disseminated no matter what. That would be awful, yes. Straight abhorrent child porn. I am not arguing that at all!

    But I’d pray that those cases are hopefully rare (I couldn’t sleep if I thought they abounded, so please do not tell me if you know otherwise) and you do have to draw a line somewhere with pornography laws. Look at this spread: Miss July looks happy, openly participatory, and at her age was not exactly a novitiate to puberty.

    I knew exactly what I was doing at 17, as I suspect most folks of either gender do now and always have at just that age. My feeling is this: 16 is pretty dang sketchy, headed proportionally toward screwed-up based on the further the wooer is from that age, 15 is sailing in to some deep “this is really wrong — you should seek help” waters and 14 and < is straight-up NOT COOL, go directly to jail and do not collect $200. But, really, 17-18? Meh.

    Hot fricasse, am I going to get arrested for saying all that? This may get edited later when I got time to look up laws. Eek… So, back to Teddi Smith and this spread: what happened was two years earlier Hugh Hefner had landed in hella hot water for using an underage girl in the magazine, despite her mom’s permission — the mother ended up prosecuted, too, under contribution to minor delinquency laws.


    Elizabeth [Ann Roberts]’s pictorial was a significant one in the history of Playboy because she was only 16 at the time her photos were taken. Her pictorial was titled “Schoolmate Playmate.”

    She literally had a note from her mother giving her permission to pose, but both Hugh Hefner and Roberts’ mother were arrested and charged by Chicago authorities with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges were eventually dropped on the grounds of lack of evidence that Hefner had known her true age.

    (the wiki)

    My conjecture is that following that debacle, the understandably gun-shy editorial staff may have figured it was best to roll with a meaningless “nothing to see here, folks” line of purple prose that had nothing to do with Teddi, so no one would be too curious about her when the gatefold went to print. I’ll assume that is why the write-up blows when she is so cool a chick who deserves such better explanation.

    Anyway: I’m trying to be in a good mood about humanity and “Ms. Smith” went on to do lots of really cool and interesting stuff, so let’s focus on that (and the eye-popping colors captured by Leja and Graham in this pictorial) and never speak of that awful, awful write-up again.

    After this shoot, Teddi Smith went on to work as a bunny at the original Chicago Playboy Club, like so many of the rad gals we’ve highlighted over the months, and also posed for a number of Playboy covers throughout the 1960’s. Click on any cover below to see it large. They are beautiful and frequently clever, good examples of cover work from the magazine’s heyday.

    After winding down her long and successful modeling career in the late 1960’s, Ms. Smith concurrently received her education and embarked on extensive and fascinating travels, including spending some very special time in Tanzania.

    Inspired by the crafts of the native Tanzanian women with whom she lived, Teddi Smith became interested in the integration of tribal weaving with modern textile and organic decorative arts. This was while she was working in a research camp with scientists who were following and studying the habits of elephants. Totally awesome — but get this.

    She also made and kept a candelabra that she fashioned out of a lion skull. Um, who’s a BAMF? Teddi Smith is a BAMF! Crazy-rad!

    I know, right? Totally eleventy gajillion miles away from the hot fudge pickles about yachting and secretarial work suggested in her fluffy write-up! Today, “Teddi” is in the creative decorative professional field and was formerly headquartered in New York City. It appears she is semi-retired now, I’m sure well-earned. A woman who can make a candelabra out of a lion’s skull in Tanzania can I’m sure make a silk purse of the slummiest sow’s ear in a loft in Hell’s Kitchen — I’m sorry, “Clinton.” (Gentrification makes me laugh with a mouth full of blood.)

    She now maintains offices in Texas and San Miguel Allende, Mexico. Teddi is on the right in the above picture, getting friendly at a B&B with Tootsie the parrot, a kitten named Harle, and a lovely German shep called Chespita. You can see she has not lost her sense of adventure or her frank, direct gaze at the camera. To the left of Ms. Smith in that picture is a Topanga, CA-based woman who is also active in textiles and decorating.

    Edit: Scratch that, reverse it. Teddi’s on the left (our left) and Miss Carpets is on the right (our right). I am an adult and freely admit I still do not know my left from my right. I mix them up all the time.

    If you like, and have ginger ale handy in case your stomach gets rocky, you can click above and below to read the carrotsticks and shenanigans of Teddi Smith’s original gatefold. The b&w shots are very good and the writing I guess is not that bad. It’s not “redundant-clumsily-worded-psychosexual-teenage-fantasies-by-a-crazy-virgin-cat-lady-from Utah” bad (subtle vampires-suck dig — booyakasha), just not up to very high par. Enjoy!

    Take-Two Tuesday — Music Moment: Grant Hart, “You’re the Reflection of the Moon on the Water” from new LP Hot Wax

    June 8, 2010

    Originally posted on November 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm. This song still WAILS. So good, seriously.

    Grant Hart – You’re the Reflection of the Moon on the Water

    Grant Hart is best known for his drumming and writing with Hüsker Dü and for co-founding Nova Mob. This track comes from his fourth solo album, Hot Wax, which came out October 6th. It’s awesome.


    “Blonde” by abless on flickr.

    Witchy and melodic and also super-strong, with this really wicked organ-and-rides vibe that makes it driving and Doors-y, the song is basically the same four verses repeated and I didn’t even notice until I typed out the lyrics. The music is so insistent that it just seemed natural. Hart has said that the lyrics are inspired by the Dalai Lama and the composition by Patti Smith; both influences are totally there. You’re going to love it! Listen!


    You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
    You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
    You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
    but you’re not the moon

    You are the scent of the sea on the night wind


    You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
    You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
    but you’re not the sea

    You are the shadows from the light of a fire
    You are the shadows from the light of a fire
    You are the shadows from the light of a fire
    but you’re not the light

    You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
    You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
    You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
    but you’re not the rain

    You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
    You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
    You’re the reflection of the moon on the water
    but you’re not the moon


    You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
    You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
    You are the scent of the sea on the night wind
    but you’re not the sea

    You are the shadows from the light of a fire
    You are the shadows from the light of a fire
    You are the shadows from the light of a fire
    but you’re not the light


    PSA: August is going to be Sharon Tate Month around here.* Did You Know? Pass it on.

    You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
    You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
    You are the sound of the rain on the dry earth
    but you’re not the rain

    Verses repeat a final time.


    Also by abless on flickr.




    *In a beautiful and upbeat, positive “respectful-celebration-of-her-life” way — not in a scummy, explotive, tragic “let’s-dwell-on-stupid-asshole-murderers-and-not-the-people-whose-lives-they-took” way, because I am fully fucking sick of that shenanigans overshadowing her beauty, talent, and sense of humor. (Sorry to drop massive f-bomb out of nowhere but there is just no call for how much horrifying b.s. people still bloodthirstily associate with her instead of letting her good deeds and fun performances stand on their own.) Call it Sharon Tate’s ACTUAL LIFE Awareness Month or something. Join me for that!

    Take-Two Tuesday — Art of the nude: Andre de Dienes

    March 16, 2010

    I knew I had one more. Originally posted January 14, 2010 @ 11:06 am.


    Photograph by Andre de Dienes.

    Valentine Vixen — Nancy Jo Hooper, Miss February 1964

    February 28, 2010

    The lovely and talented Nancy Jo Hooper was, in addition to being a born model and Playboy‘s Miss February 1964, several other “Misses” as well. We will get there.


    Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

    I say she was a born model because she knows what she is supposed to be selling here — but, like any good model, she is “selling” it by dint of excellent effort, and not necessarily because she “feels” it.

    Though she oozes that kind of satisfied, curvy, cat-like sexuality that made Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor famous, Pompeo Posar said in the Playmate Book that, when he asked Nancy to give him a pose that was “a little more sexy,” she responded immediately, “But I don’t know anything about sex!” a disarmingly nervous and virginal response from a practical woman with some chutzpah and a good gift for acting, but a more bookish actual personality.


    From the heart of the old Confederacy we recently received a pair of candid snapshots and a few hopeful words, enticing enough for us to send a staffer to Savannah to meet Nancy Jo Hooper, the walnut-haired 20-year-old who was to become this February’s Playmate. Hazel-eyed Nancy Jo has lived all her life with her parents and younger sister in the same Georgia town, so small that she asked us not to name it, because if six visitors arrived at once they’d cause a traffic jam. (“Georgia Peach.” Playboy, February 1964.)

    Actually, I’m pretty sure that is bullshit and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina. The small-town thing is true, but the Georgia part is a smokescreen, just like the name she is modeling under — it’s similar enough to her real facts to have the ring of truth, but is not quite the truth itself. Understandable subterfuge in a person trying to make a national name for herself under her real name. But I’ll get to there.


    Now a telephone-company employee, this Southern bell ringer previously clerked in a drugstore, there heard Playboy purchasers tell her she was Playmate material herself.

    Discarding daydreams of discovery, she took the initiative by sending us snapshots of herself, because, as she explained in a caramel drawl, “It occurred to me that no one from Playboy would ever find me here on his own.” (Ibid.)


    Nancy Jo’s flight to Chicago for test shots marked her first airplane trip, and her first visit to any city besides Savannah. Soft-mannered, soft-spoken and shy (“I really enjoy walking alone in the park”), well-read Nancy Jo offers the sort of attractions that could once more set armies marching through Georgia. (Ibid.)

    Also they would march to a second Civil War because of Nancy’s controversial positions on state’s rights and slave ownership. (Joke. I just thought the write-up got a little overreaching there.)


    AMBITIONS: To become a wife and mother.
    TURN-ONS: Shoes of all kinds.
    TURNOFFS: Insincerity, rudeness.
    I LOVE BEING A PLAYMATE: Because I’ll look back on it as an important experience of my youth.

    (Playmate data sheet)


    PLAY ME SOME: Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt.
    GREAT FLICKS: “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights.”
    THEY SAY I RESEMBLE: Sophia Loren. Do you think?

    Always a fan of a Brontë-loving girl. And Satchmo, too? Right on! And yes. She looks like Sophia Loren. Keep that in mind as I go on, here. Because it comes up again.

    Okay, so in a search for Nancy Jo Hooper, I ran across a post at “If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger (There’d be a lot of dead copycats),” to which I already link in my blogroll but I’m happy to provide a specific post link here. It was a critique of the lovely lighting and photography done in her spread.

    A gentleman commented to that post that he was looking for Nancy for a class reunion. He said her real name was Nancy Ann Harrison, and she was from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    Now, if you’ve been following the comments today, you’ll see I was way off base about thinking I’d turned up the modern incarnation of a former Playmate, although I am happy to report about it because I stand by being pleased to have discovered the work of the nonetheless wonderful Ms. L. F. (at whose request posts pertaining to her have been removed.) Sure, it ended up good because I got to read some new stuff and learn some new ideas, but I was understandably gun-shy about turning up a false lead again.

    Being wrong is cool and it’s important because we are forced outside our comfort zones, given the opportunity to uncover something new and to show humility and the ability to learn from our mistakes, but, cheeseballs! I don’t want to always be the chump ringing in my buzzer only to stammer out the “incorrect” answer — being right sometimes is nice too.

    So, I dug as hard as I could this time, much more strictly with myself than last time. And I turned up the following clipping from the Spartanburg, South Carolina Herald-Journal, an article dated July 8, 1962.

    Yeah, she is the same girl, and yep, she still looks like Sophia — although the weight they give in the article is heavier than the one she listed two years later in Playboy. Either she went on a diet or the same fact-wrangler that invented her alternate name for her Playboy appearance also took liberties with her already-admirable figure.

    Ms. Harrison placed as second runner-up in the Miss Dixie pageant; first place was Rita Wilson of Humbold, Tennessee (center in the above picture), and first runner-up was Susan Woodall of Weldon, North Carolina. There were twenty girls who competed altogether in the 1962 Miss Dixie pageant.

    If you are like me and have been forced in your life, often against your will, to take your pageants seriously, or even if you are lucky enough to be unlike me and have never accidentally called the city of Patterson “a shithole” into an open mic during the Miss Apricot Fiesta competition, you may still be interested to read a little run-down of the Miss Dixie pageant rules.

    Via the amazing Pageantopolis:

    Miss Dixie (“Queen of the South”)

    This southern states regional pageant was held annually during the Fourth of July holiday in Daytona Beach (FL) since 1946. It was held by the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce. It seemed to have been discontinued in 1968.

    To be eligible for the Miss Dixie contest, the girls had to have placed first or second in another major contest and be from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas or the District of Columbia.

    They must be unmarried & between the ages of 17 and 26. Eligible Southern beauties had until June 18 (2 weeks prior) to file their applications. From 1957 onwards, the first 20 successful applications were accepted for the pageant. There were a Top 7, from which the Top 3 were announced.

    Each contestant was judged on five qualities: intellect (5%), personality (10%), appearance in evening gown (15%), talent (30%), and appearance in swim suit (30%). The judges each picked the girls they rated from first to seventh in each classification of competition. The girl with the highest cumulative point score became Miss Dixie. (source)

    Nancy qualified to enter the Miss Dixie contest by earning the title of Miss Sun Fun South Carolina, a pageant held at Myrtle Beach. She came in second in the national competition about a month before the Miss Dixie pageant, on June 9, 1962 — the winner was Ginger Poitevint of Huntsville, Alabama. Nancy made an impressive showing at the Miss Sun Fun USA contest; besides being first runner-up in the pageant as a whole, she also took top honors in the Swimsuit and Photogenic categories.

    As they are rather obviously the same gal, I can only conjecture that all that pretty airy nonsense about Georgia was malarkey the same way Nancy’s name was, although it’s easy to see how they came up with it. I assume the strategy went, keep the first name, Nancy, because it is common and easy enough to keep track of, then use Jo (like Jo-Ann) instead of Ann, though as far as Harrison instead of Hooper — actually, that one I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m out of gas on thinking I knew how this went!

    Dig the little trumpet hand puppet — super-cute. I would like to as a final grateful thought link once more to Pageantopolis , without which most of this post would’ve been boring and impossible, and the site is really great and tons of fun — I think I am going to have to start featuring more links to the work and online scrapbook of the very fun Donald West. Thanks!

    Valentine Vixen — Eleanor Bradley, Miss February 1959

    February 19, 2010

    Playboy’s centerfold spread in their February, 1959 issue was an interesting shoot for the still somewhat fledgling magazine. In it, you can see that Playboy had by now moved away from prepaid-for-nudie-calendar shots and into its own photography, but was still finding its footing in terms of genuine artistic merit in the still-developing genre of the erotic nude, juxtaposed with the larger and more commercial task of bringing in strong circulation numbers.


    Photographed by a valiant, early, and not-much-thereafter-rewarded, artistically-westward-stabbing Ron Vogel.

    Playboy and Hef had begun to establish themselves as hallmarks of legit gentleman’s refinement, but the magazine’s output was continually looking to find its sea legs insomuchas sex could meet sophistication at the corner. This shoot, featuring the lovely and talented Eleanor Bradley, is a really interesting one in terms of composition. This for me is especially true of some of the more unsual framing — sometimes it’s cropped very close-in and tight, like the above shot, making Ms. Bradley seem larger or more looming in the viewer’s eye than she is (the upward-facing angle of the camera contributes to the forced perspective in the centerfold shot as well).

    But in other instances, the framing is positioned with so much room around her, such a vast empty lookspace or headroom between her and the composition’s outer edges that you get the sense you yourself have just left the picture, stepped back to take the shot, or maybe that you are trying to memorize the total scene for maximum later recall. Do you see what I mean, contrasting the centerfold shot with the ones just above and below, and does that make sense?

    Varied framing is the cut of my jib here, people. Is it translating? Are you on the trolley? Because I feel like all that may have got away from me. I’ve been sick. I really like subbing but I think the teacher I was in for on several contiguous days last week must have left her desk-things littered with germs because I’ve been in dire, Ny-Quil soaked straits for several nights now.

    Anyway. As I scrolled through some of the truly well-done shots in the pictorial, I found myself paying close attention to eye-popping bursts of primary color and interesting compositions and it seemed to me like what Mr. Vogel accomplished here was an early, though somewhat curtailed (perhaps by budget??) attempt at a spread with an actual factual unified artistic theme. Yay!


    Please note hi-fi rack is holding an album cover of Frank Sinatra.

    The interior shots are even okay. But I must say. Though I am a huge fan of the black velvet capris and who can argue with toplessness?, I’ve always found the iconic shots of Frank Sinatra in the composition here kind of … inexplicable. No real good reason for their inclusion in the spread is to be found in the copy accompanying her pictorial nor in the very shady and shallow delving in to Ellie’s own history that the article skitters about performing before grinding to an abrupt halt.

    Moreover, unlike Sinatra, she was from a small town outside Chicago, at the time Hef’s home and the magazine’s HQ — quite the enemy “second city” still at this time to NYC, Frank’s preferred stomping-grounds, and a far cry from his native Jersey, so we may also strike those connections from the list of raisons d’etres vis-a-vis this shoot and its stylings. Further, though never out-of-style in this Italian girl’s opinion, even I must admit that Ol’ Blue Eyes did not make a movie that year nor re-release any particular hits. Strange choice of prop.

    In fact, during this time, Sinatra was mostly known for increasing embitterment over his flagging record sales and for criticizing rock music as widely and often as possible. He is quoted in the late 50’s as saying, “[Rock ‘n roll is] sung, played, and written for the most part by cretinous goons. It manages to be the martial music of every side-burned delinquent on the face of the earth.”

    That’s right, you side-burned, delinquent whippersnappers. Why, when Frank was starting out as a musician, he walked uphill both ways in the snow barefoot to his heroin dealer’s house after his recording sessions, and he liked it. Fight-fixing was a dime, whores were a nickel, and gin was free if you kept your mouth shut about which gangsters were illegally hiding money in offshore accounts in Cuba. Those were the times! These corrupt, lazy beatniks and mods wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes on the mean streets of Capitol Records or the MGM Grand in Vegas. Un-American crop of Commies, is what they are. Damned hippies are all soft — soft , I tell you!

    (In case your sarcasm-early-warning systems are offline for routine maintenance today, what I am driving at here is that the Rat Pack were a madly loveable but fairly goddamned degenerate bunch of pots, to be popping off and calling kettles black. Look to the plank in thine own eye, hepcats.)


    Is this picture not fabulous? Very Vertigo, yes? Hitchock’s masterpiece had just come out the year before.

    Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Playboy sez:

    A chance encounter made this small-town girl our February Playmate.

    A lovely-visaged Valentine to brighten the short, drear days of the year’s shortest month, Eleanor Bradley became our February Playmate almost by accident — or was it fate? A small-town girl from the Midwest, she’d looked forward with excitement to her first West Coast vacation, to the wonderful time she’d have in sun and surf.


    And fun she had; but what Eleanor didn’t anticipate — and what proved to be the high point of her vacation — was that our photographer would discover her strolling the glistening strand, and that this would lead to her becoming our valentine Playmate. We believe our readers will share our feeling — after gazing on her tawny beauty — that fate was kind indeed to bring us this sweet siren by the sea.(“Vacation Valentine,” Playboy, February 1959.

    That is the entirety of their write-up on her. So while pictorial spreads were getting loads better, the Playmate interviews were still pretty much in their infancy.


    Bradley was discovered by Playboy while she was in Los Angeles to visit her sister. After the pictorial, she remained active with Playboy for several years, usually with promotional trips and the like; she also was a regular on the syndicated TV show Playboy’s Penthouse and “Playboy After Dark.” She also posed for other men’s magazines in the early 1960s, along with her career as a mainstream model, mostly in the Midwest. She again posed topless for Playboy for the magazine’s 1979 feature “Playmates Forever!” (source)

    Do not click the link to that source if you don’t have a pop-up blocker and/or you are at work. Then again, I guess if you’re here and haven’t already closed this browser window, you probably are not at work. Sometimes I forget my own journal is pretty NSFW, too.

    Here are some more details on the Waukegan, Illinois native direct from the source herself, in an article she wrote for the Lake County News-Sun, published in 2009.

    I worked my way through high school at the Jewel Food Store, the first one in Waukegan, on Washington Street across the street from Waukegan Township High School. We lived in a rented room ($10 a week) in the back of Carmella Corso’s beauty shop on Butrick Street. Wow, that name just popped right back into my mind.


    “Eleanor Bradley visited many Marine training bases around the United States as Miss Marine Air Reserve.” (Courtesy the Chicago Sun-Times and Lake County News-Sun).

    The Globe Store reminds me of when, I think in 1956, several classmates and I modeled bathing suits in their window and shocked passers-by; we pretended to be mannequins, then just slightly moved — what fun. Also did their fashion shows and some print ads.

    My most influential teacher was Miss Schwinger; she encouraged me to stay in school and graduate.

    I graduated in ’57 and went to work as secretary to Fred Lawson, head of public relations for Abbott Labs.


    I became Playboy‘s February 1959 centerfold, went to work for Hugh Hefner at headquarters in Chicago, and traveled 100,000 miles around the country doing appearances at colleges. I did all the original “Playboy After Dark” television shows. As Miss Marine Air Reserve, I visited many Marine training bases around the United States.

    After Playboy, I got married, had four children, started high fashion modeling with A+ modeling agency, became a top 10 model for 13 years.

    I was on the 25th class reunion committee. The meetings were always at Bertram’s Bowl on Washington Street.

    (“Modeling bathing suits: Modeling career began in storefront window.” Giannetti, Eleanor Bradley. April 27, 2009. Lake County News-Sun.)

    As Ms. Bradley has very nicely summarized her achievements in her own lovely words, which is normally exposition I would cover, I will instead concern myself between the remainder of the pictures from this spread with relating a few facts about Waukegan’s surprisingly numerous sci-fi connections. (E’s journal: come for the porn, stay for the geek-talk!)

    My all-time favorite science fiction author and king among personal patron saints, Ray Bradbury, was born in to a long-established Waukegan family in 1920. (His great-grandfather was elected mayor in 1882, to give you an idea of his roots there.) Bradbury grew up in the town and has used it as the inspiration for his fictional Green Town, where he’s set stories and novellas such as Farewell Summer, Something Wicked This Way Comes (my very-favoritest among very-favoritests, which I re-read at least once a year), and Dandelion Wine.

    Another sci-fi writer concerned with Mars hails from Ms. Bradley’s hometown as well. Though he lives in Davis, California now, Kim Stanley Robinson, Chomskyite author of the Mars trilogy and self-described green socialist, was born in Waukegan. Mr. Robinson wrote his doctoral thesis on Philip K. Dick and he’s married to an environmental chemist, just to ratchet up his sci-fi magnificence even higher. Like Ray Bradbury and some of Vonnegut’s work, Mr. Robinson’s writing is regarded as an intersection of science fiction with genre-transcending social themes and polish: literary science fiction.

    The character of Jason Blaze in Ghost Rider hails from Waukegan, as does non-fictional comedic genius Neil Flynn. You know Flynn as Janitor on Scrubs, but, if his most recent sitcom role in a pretty nerdy and delightful series is not geeky or esoteric enough to fit this theme for you, he also played a cop on an episode of Sliders in 1991. Before I wind down the sci-fi angle altogether, I need to ask:

    Am I the only person who’s been stumbling over the clunky and rather laughable, upwardly mobile phrase “speculative fiction” lately in its apparent attempts to supplant “science fiction” and “sci-fi” as the new hep nomenclature for all things dorky? Because I am NOT drinking the kool-aid on that one. I don’t care if it dates me in a decade at a convention or something. I will be That Guy. I don’t care. I’ll call it sci-fi ’til you pry the toy phaser out of my cold, dead, Wolverine-barbecue-mitt-covered hand.

    As a final and more sobering but still sci-fi-related thought, Waukegan is home to a whopping three Superfund hazardous waste sites. To give you an idea of the slightly unnerving disproportion of that figure, the National Priorities List identifies only about 1200 in the entire country. Sadly, the hazardous waste has not imbued anyone with superpowers — quite the opposite, in fact, and it’s a major health concern. For more info on all that crazy eons-of-environmental-shenanigans and horrors of irresponsible corporate greed, pick up the book Lake Effect by Nancy Nichols, a 2008 true account of the effects of PCBs on Waukegan residents, including the death of Ms. Nichols’ sister. Troublesome and very next level.

    Valentine Vixen: Cheryl Kubert, Miss February 1958

    February 5, 2010

    Double dose today. Have to do two because I skipped writing Wednesday in order to have a blast substitute teaching at the parochial school connected to my church. Those kids were rad. Had me totally rethinking my positions on private schooling (reverse discrimination once again rears its prickly and tragically hip head and is once more promptly revealed to be as hollow as the prejudices it purports to despise).


    Photographed by Mario Casilli.

    First up is the lovely and talented Cheryl Kubert. In going through my files to prep this entry, I realized I’d already saved several pictures from this shoot here and there for the last year, so I’m pretty pumped to share.

    It’s not a cute or even particularly “themed” shoot at all, but Ms. Kubert has an almost accusing serenity that makes what would be standard shots if it were any other model seem more arresting and beyond ordinary than their composition would dictate.

    It’s the eye contact, I reckon. She has deep eyes. The downward cast of her chin, the unparted lip, the steady gaze; she seems so solemn. It makes the shoot feel heavy, but in a beautiful, ruminating, kind of sad way. She has this kind of practical but somewhat unhappy sincerity to her expression and posture, an unvarnished and troubled vulnerability. It’s moody.

    The written copy that accompanied this pictorial is absolute drivel. I mean, just pure shit. Its more pun-ridden and meaningless even than the b.s. that they printed up for Marlene Callahan, and that is saying something, believe me.

    The strangest part about the article is that, besides being empty apple fritters and pretty nonsense, the endless stream of non sequitirs about Scandinavian idioms seemingly have almost nothing to do with the pictures.

    The write-up, titled “Playmate on Skis,” describes skiing in great detail and alludes to its history in Scandinavia, which is well and good, but in the pictures Ms. Kubert is mainly not around snow whatsoever; furthermore, the article lays no claim to her being of Scandinavian descent. Just a poor job all around. Banana boats and baloney sauce, Playboy, I’m sorry. Thankfully the pictures are unique, sensitive, and artistic.

    Okay, I just spent fifteen minutes hard-searching and I found the above missing link. ONE SHOT of her with skis in addition to the centerfold (which is generally shot separate from the rest of the pictorial spread). Pfft. And if that is not a fake scene outside the window, I’ll eat my hat. Total cheezits (I’m trying to swear less this year and I’ve found that food items make handy and amusing euphemisms).


    (The nude Jayne Mansfield spread will come up again in several days, actually. Really interesting story, but we’re focused on Ms. Kubert right now. Keep your shirt on.)

    I can only conjecture that Cheryl Kubert was a stage name, because there is pretty much nothing known about her prior to her centerfold appearance or what she did following, other than that she had appeared in a bit part in the film Pal Joey in 1957.

    According to the Playmate Book, Ms. Kubert died April 25, 1989 of apparent suicide. Because Playboy did not keep data sheets prior to September of 1959, it is not known how old she was at the time of her appearance in the magazine or her death. It makes those deep eyes seem much sadder to know that. R.I.P.





    edit: I was sitting here trying to think where I had just seen the name “Kubert” recently, and finally remembered that yesterday’s Daily Batman of Catwoman and Batman throwing plates at each other in the Super Dictionary (Warner, 1978) featured art work by the cartoonist Joe Kubert. Found his official website and have fired off a quick email using his “contact” form, inquiring if he is related to Cheryl Kubert or has heard anything about her before. It’s a longshot, but I’ll let you know what comes of it.