Posts Tagged ‘san francisco’

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: ‘Tis the season

November 24, 2011

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.

12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies: The Nightmare Before Christmas

December 20, 2010

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.


Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept.

(the imdb)

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. …


… I don’t want to take away from Tim, but he was not in San Francisco when we made it. He came up five times over two years, and spent no more than eight or ten days in total.”

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.

Dickens December: “Naked Girls Reading” do Dickens tonight in NYC

December 16, 2010


These are actually shots of a Chicago reading, but you get the idea.

If you live in New York City or environs, slide on down to the Pinchbottom Burlesque’s Naked Girls Reading show tonight at Madame X to hear the timeless classic A Christmas Carol read by the lovely and talented Nasty Canasta and friends.


Miz Canasta.

On Thursday, December 16, at 8:00pm, host Nasty Canasta (declared by the New York Times to be “perhaps the loveliest and certainly the nudest Scrooge in history”) leads an all-star cast of exhibitionists in an in-the-buff reading of this special version of A Christmas Carol, just as Dickens himself originally performed it — although perhaps a bit more naked.

(BWW News Desk. “Naked Girls Reading returns with ‘A Christmas Carol’.” broadwayworld.com.)


Naked Girls Reading has clearly evolved into something more than just titillation. It is titillating, but, after the first thrill of the initial disrobing, the pleasure of seeing beautiful women undressed fades besides the sense of intimacy achieved from someone bearing both their body and their soul at the same time. It was a remarkable experience.

(Steven Padnick. “Naked Girls Reading.” Tor.com.)

To summarize: Pinchbottom Burlesque will be performing their Naked Girls Reading of A Christmas Carol tonight at 8 pm, upstairs at Madame X, 94 W. Houston St. (between Thompson and Laguardia). Tickets are $20-$40 and can be purchased in advance from Pinchbottom’s official site. Go check out the show that NBC New York said, “will leave your chestnuts very warm indeed” — and, if you do swing by, send pictures or it didn’t happen.

Bitch, why do you tell me this fucking news when I do not live in New York goddamned City and cannot attend? Relax, neither do I. And may I add you cuss a lot? Because I am filled with holiday spirit, here’s a quick and generous guide to the doings of Naked Girls Reading around the rest of North America, Potty McSwearmouth.

Naked Girls Reading Elsewhere:

  • In Chicago, home of the original show, the Naked Girls have already celebrated Dickens, on December 3rd. Sorry, dudes.


    Seattle gals.

  • The ‘Couv: The lovely and talented ladies of Naked Girls Reading in Vancouver (B.C., not WA) will be reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas December 23 at Beaumont Studios, 316 W. 5th Ave. Doors open at 8, show starts 8:30. Advance tickets $15 general, $20 front row. At door +$5.
  • Madison nakies had a slumber party on December 12, where they read classic tales of teenage awkwardness. Look for more events from the Wisconsin chapter in the near future.
  • Seattle: Seatown’s Naked Girls Reading appear to be cooling their jets after a very big and successful to-do last month. They’ll get back to you, but they’re washing their hair.


  • Photo of SF Naked Girls Reading by Shilo McCabe, of the extraordinary Sex Positive Photo Project on the blogger.

  • San Francisco’s chapter will not be doing a reading of A Christmas Carol, but check out “International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers” on December 17th at the Center for Sex and Culture. 1519 Mission Street @ 11th. Doors open at 8:30, show starts at 9. $15 gen. adm, $20 special reserve seats. Readings will come from pieces written by actual sex workers.

    For more on the doings of chapters in Toronto, Dallas, Los Angeles, et al, please do hit up the Naked Girls Reading official site, and, hey — don’t be afraid to practice at home.

  • Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: The Music Needs You

    December 8, 2010


    Traffic post at Oak and Laguna. San Francisco, CA, USA.

    I don’t believe that ClearChannel and Auto-Tune will win the day. They won’t if we don’t let them. So we must not let them. All the videos and branding and corporate whoredom in the world can’t replace the feeling I get when I listen to the soaring reprise of the main theme in the second part (technically parts vi-ix) of “Shine On, You Crazy Diamond” on Wish You Were Here. Side B, Track 2, 4 minutes, 43 seconds, if you’re interested. Or Guns ‘n Roses “Cold November Rain,” right at 7:09? How about when the bass line starts going all crazy and exploratory on the end of “Unknown Soldier” (2:34)? That is gold. All of it. And I am not going to let ClearChannel, or the MTV-cool-kid-of-the-week, nor any man, woman, or robot overlord take that away from me. So join me. It’s an easy movement: all you have to do is not let the tide of facile, soundalike “music” roll you under. Even if you’ve let go of everything else in the face of the screaming demands and peer pressure of this pop cultural-centered society, even if you’ve caved at every turn and have a 60″ television which you watch in your jeggings, hold on to this one thing — your music, and the way it makes you feel.

    Yesterday’s News and Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: How the 415 did Turkey Day

    November 27, 2010

    How the (415) did Turkey Day.


    via theduty on the tumblr.

    Oh, San Francisco. You filthy Thanksgiving miracle. Lord love you.

    Fight Club Friday: Some of it is my blood, yeah

    September 24, 2010

    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.


    Kristen McMenamy by Francois Nars

    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.


    via b&wtf on the tumblr

    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.

    Daily Batman and Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Hipster Batmans with bonus friendly advice

    September 5, 2010

    Little known fact: Batman’s favorite band is The Postal Service because he feels like Neutral Milk Hotel is getting too mainstream.


    via the sfist.

    To say that there are no hipsters in Portland is like saying there were no hippies in San Francisco, no punks in New York. The problem with hipsters is their lack of purpose and ideas. They are not the angry young men and women of counter-culture past, they are leaches of culture. Being a hipster is the opposite of a movement; it’s a crawl toward death. Like an unconscious addict, of course no one admits to being one.

    Jake Rose


    (“Letters to the Editor.” Portland Mercury. January 8, 2009.)

    Mr. Rose refers to the Mercury’s assertion that

    First off, there is no such thing as a hipster. It’s a lazy stereotype. Blaming hipsters for ruining your favorite bar, your favorite band, and your favorite city is akin to blaming Santa Claus for ruining Christmas. Secondly, stop complaining, it makes you seem more out of touch than you really are.

    (“Not Invited Back.” Portland Mercury. December 25, 2008.)


    via sfeyes on the flickr.

    I used to read it all the time, but hipsters have totally ruined the Mercury. Nyuck, nyuck.

    For myself, I would rather be “out of touch” than wear a hanky turned like I have just robbed a train and jeans that cut off the circulation to my thighs and lovely ass. Also it has not quite been long enough since their initial time of ironic popularity to once more sport a trucker hat as a sneering referential fashion nod to an original sneering referential fashion nod. Only Judah Friedlander on 30 Rock gets a pass. And when a musician that I like begins to find wider success, I am happy for that individual, not full of embittered proclamations that he or she has “sold out.” Hipsters: it is okay to like something without it being ironic or edgy. Don’t front like you don’t like Jamba Juice and family reunions — you don’t have to make out like they are kitschy or retro to explain that you enjoy them, because it is okay to like Jamba Juice and family reunions and put the period right there.


    “Robin Hoodie” via laughing squid.

    Also, I know you love you some Pabst Blue Ribbon but I need to say that once, my husband and I bought an actual 12-pack in bottles of PBR, and when we unloaded them in to the fridge we noticed that despite being sealed each bottle was filled to a different level. Some sat at varying levels up the neck, one was only filled directly to the neck, and the weirdest one was literally all the way to the bottlecap. How is that even possible? Don’t machines in a factory do the bottling, and, if so, why would each be filled differently? Is the machine that poorly operated, or is it that old or sunk that deeply in to disrepair? What the what? There is probably lead shavings and rat shit and who else knows what all in Pabst if there is that bizzarely low level of quality control. Please do consider it and think about making Natty Ice or Keystone the new trendy and appropriately cheesey cheap beer? Probably safer bets.

    P.S.: Cute hipster boys? Please eat a sandwich cause from behind I thought you were a woman, and I’m not sleeping with someone who could slip down the shower drain.


    To be triple-dog clear: the hipster Batman graffiti photos are taken in San Francisco, California. The hipster debate comes from an independent weekly newspaper in Portland, Oregon.

    Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: “every night, every day” edition

    June 7, 2010


    San Francisco, CA, U.S.

    What intrigues me is that it does not seem like English is the artist’s first language but he or she expressed their sentiment in that language because it is the first language of most of the people who might see it. It is an argument for the intent of this lovestruck and lonely artist’s writing on a wall being a case of strongly motivated self-expression, powerful and inescapable emotion that needs to be explained so the one experiencing it can at least have an illusion of being understood; it is an outpouring of frustration and love and grief — it’s in stabbing distance of Wordsworth’s definition of poetry, really. I mean, say what you want about some graffiti, but this man or woman needed to share and they needed it badly enough to work outside their linguistic zone of mastery to do it. That is impressive, and achingly human. Everyone around us at the grocery, or on the bus, or in the library, has a sentence like this that they are secretly screaming in their heads all day long. What have we done in the world that’s cut us off so much from one another, that we howl in paint and print instead of to one another about our loneliness? Is that why the increase in liberated negative space? Or just better paints and busier cops.

    Art and The City, or, “Why I have a brain-boner for Jeremy Forson.”

    April 7, 2010

    Reppin’ SF.


    “Red Dress.”

    San Francisco-based artist Jeremy Forson’s work has appeared in Proteus Mag, True Eye, Juxtapoz and Spectrum.


    “Light Thief.” My topmost favorite in a field of favorites.

    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.


    “Green Shirt.”

    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:


    Mr. Forson is on the far left.

    See? Super-cute. You feelin’ that?


    “Lyon.”

    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.


    “Perfect Predator.”

    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.


    “Peonies.”

    “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.*)


    “Pain Investments.”

    “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.)


    “Gatekeeper.”

    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:


    Let me be absolutely clear: this is a “work” by Patrick Nagel. It is not done by Jeremy Forson. At all. Do not get confused. Stay with me.

    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.


    “SF Mag noir.” A very scarrry cover. San Francisco Magazine.

    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.

    (Ibid.)


    “Valentine’s teddy bear.”

    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).

    Valentine Vixen – Kim Farber, Miss February 1967

    February 25, 2010

    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.


    Photographed by Stan Molinowski.

    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!


    It is part of human nature, observed an 18th Century British writer, that great discoveries are made accidentally. (“Ticket to Success.” Playboy, February 1967.)

    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.


    This is my favorite shot of the spread.

    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.


    This is another really, really good shot in my book.

    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.


    I do believe that is Ms. Farber to Hef’s right, viewer’s left. Yes?

    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.

    O frabjous day of twenty-two-ness: batshit-bananas numerology, and baseball spring fever

    February 22, 2010

    “O, frabjous day! Calloo, callay!” (Carroll, Jabberwocky.)

    Computer is fixed!, day off with the littl’un!, Spring Training has begun! and it’s my favorite day of the year — 2/22! Historically, this is my lucky day. I’ve always liked this date best out of the rest of the calendar. Twenty-two is my lucky number from very, very far back, followed closely by two itself (twenty-two trumps just-two because what’s better than one two? two twos. three twos, as in two-hundred-twenty-two, are okay but still inferior because they are three and not two in number. do not attempt to unravel this logic) and this was also the birthday of my first friend, Alex; feeding ducks with her by the little pond at Noble Library in San Jose is one of my first memories of laughing just from being happy. I wish it stopped there with the whyness of twenty-two-ness, but I get kind of …. into numbers.

    See also: my lucky time (10:22 PM, or 22:22); the pages of Treasure Island and Wuthering Heights on which I hide money (222 and 22, respectively); the exact uniform number of Robinson Cano and less auspiciously Roger Clemens.


    Julie Newmar: “Batterrrr uuup!”

    Ask me someday about my theory that he is two people, one the familiar Texan do-gooder and all-around nice fellow Roger Clemens we came to love, and the other an evil, lying, cauldron of seething rage named Rogero Clemenzetti. A wicked and long-dormant personality who will stop at nothing to satisfy his creepy id-like aims, Clemenzetti emerged after a rat bit Clemens in an otherwise empty subway car between Long Island and New York, and he has never been successfully suppressed ever since — it is a very sad case of Jekyll-and-Hyde and I’m surprised no one else has caught it.


    Picture from Star Trek Movie Night at the Giants’ AT&T park via Trek Movie.com, taken 4/27/09. I did not attend, as I was at the zoo with my kidlet for her 5th birthday — but we went to the movie later that week and we both cried at the beginning; we are diehard fans of Treks TOSand TNG (not so much the soapier others), but we looooved the reboot and did not find it sacrilegious at all (hot boys don’t hurt neither, and it’s about time we got some girl fan service up in this piece!).

    In other thrilling baseball connections, 22 is half of the jersey number of Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson (4’s and 44 are goodish numbers because of their relationship with 2, being both the square of it and divisible by it, but 8, despite being not just a multiple but its cube is not as good, I feel less comfortable around 8 because it’s just getting too far from 2); 20 (an also-very-very good number because 2 + 0 = 2) less than the number of one of the sport’s greatest heroes, Jackie Robinson (being 42 which is a super-very good number because of DA); and, best of all, it is 20 + 2, 20 being Jorge Posada’s jersey number, though he wore 22 for a few weeks in 1997, before the re-acquisition of Mike Stanley (meh), when Posada switched to 20 so Stanley could once more wear 22 (again, MEH).


    Gwen Stefani: “Batterrrr uuup!”

    As you can see, 22 is the best number there is, 20 and 2 being close seconds, and therefore 2/22 is the best day of the year. Period. Also: baseball.


    Baseball players always have bubble butts. I do not know what repetitive motion it is they do that gives them woman hips, but they’ve all got ’em, except for lanky pitchers, who just have bad knees.

    Sorry for the long and pointless diversion but if nothing else, I hope this has proven to you the depths of my numerical mania, and the next time I scoff at the zodiac, feel free to remind me that I have insanely detailed schools of superstition of my own and would do well not to throw stones.


    via Michael Leget on the photobucket.

    If you think all that was bad, you should talk to my husband, who is medicated for obsessive compulsive disorder, some time about the Importance of Doing Things By Three. He will make a believer of you or die trying. It’s a passion that probably frightened away other, wiser girls, but actually endeared him to me.

    Post-Holiday Pick-Up Day: Gloria Root, Miss December 1969

    December 26, 2009

    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.

    Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: San Francisco real estate class wars edition

    December 6, 2009


    Photographed by Troy Holden. Stencil on condo complex outer wall in San Francisco, California, USA.

    Liberated Negative Space in San Francisco

    November 22, 2009

    I did not do any of those, but they remind me that I have not taken my liberation seriously enough lately. Must get back to it!