Friday, October 29, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Poodle Parlour

I have a pretty hefty collection of photos I took in and around Oklahoma City from the 1970s and 1980s that I've been trying to pull together. This one, oddly, has always fascinated me. It's such an amazing sign. And I greatly appreciate that it's a parlour not a parlor. I remember this place from my childhood and know that it was there well into the 1980s but am fairly certain it is long gone. I don't get to Oklahoma very often, but I know there were a number of curious attractions like this one that made an impression on me during my impressionable years. For some reason, poodles have been coming up a lot lately in my life.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oklahoma Space Boy

Labels: , ,

Name That Column

Over on Mission Mission, they are discussing one of the most important issues of our day -- what type of columns are those on the newly renovated Mission National Bank. Ionic or Doric? We're not sure. We hear that its walls are covered in Corinthian vinyl.

Labels: , ,


Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our Latest Assemblage

We've not finalized the title yet. Gertrude and Alice in Poodle Paradise, perhaps? Paris, Poodles and the Pair?
That's Paul Bowles with Basket (Gertrude and Alice's poodle) on the right. Gertrude and Alice are tooling around in their 1920 Ford, Godiva. You will also see a few images of Suzette and Bobo from the classic Playtime Poodles.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SEPIA SATURDAY: Shattering Bubbles of Time

Every moment is a bursting bubble of time, gone even as it happens.

This concept has fascinated me -- and Landron -- for a very long time. The Shattering of Time.

Nothing embodies this concept more than "A Trip Down Market Street", perhaps the most important film ever made in and about San Francisco.
I was pleased that 60 Minutes chose to feature it and the recent conclusion that it was not made in 1905 -- as was long assumed -- but in April 1906, likely days before the great earthquake and fire if not the day before. In 12 minutes of real time, we see people, buildings, vehicles and animals, many of which likely perished shortly after the film was made. The only familiar sites are the street itself and the ferry building in the distance that at first looks like a painted stage set and then becomes increasingly real as the camera nears.
It's at the ferry building, in the final minute of the film, that things become truly fascinating and the images are closer, more fleeting and transcendent. The man in the Eureka - California wagon appears for less than a doezen frames, but I find myself wanting to know his story.
The car driving erratically with a group of men in bowler hats equally fascinates me.
As we arrive at the end of Market and seem nearly to crash into the Ferry Building, men gawk and women seem to either sneer or demure. Who is the woman in the cape? The woman on the left seems equally dubious about being captured on camera.

Suddenly, this cheeky fellow on the right races in, seemingly aware that this is a chance to be caught for posterity but not aware of the fate facing him mere days or hours ahead.
Finally the cable car and the camera rest for a moment, but not the action. We see this trio of men standing near the ferry building's corner stone.

The camera is motionless, but the old man's long gray beard dances in the Pacific breezes. Just a few years earlier audiences were fascinated when they witnessed trees and grass blowing in the wind in films by the Lumiere brothers. The very concept of capturing the action of wind was completely revolutionary. Seeing this old man, the emotion of his eyes only faintly shadowed by the brim of his hat, I wonder if he could have been part of the gold rush less than 50 years earlier.

Finally the camera pauses, then rapidly pivots to give a reverse, westward view, the final miles of the continental U.S. before the Pacific. A sea of news boys jump and wave -- a joyful, sunny moment in the early 20th century spring sunlight. It's as if they are shouting "We were here!" across more than a century, and for a few seconds we are there with them, and then it's all gone. A bubble of time forever captured. People caught and unaware of tragedy looming. Joy pressed in a book forever, like dried flowers whose petals and colors we may distinguish, yet we'll never experience the exact aroma and freshness.

Each moment, already over just as it has begun. I don't know how many frames are in "A Trip Down Market Street" but I want to explore each one, champagne bubbles forever holding the moment in amber.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


That Agnes liked to play around in the lab and wore rather short skirts, but no one can deny the depth of her research and her meticulous notes taken down in long hand.

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Great Poodle Moments in Literature

When France entered World War II, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas could not track down their passports that they needed should they have to flee suddenly, but they did find the pedigree papers for their poodle Basket. This seemed of greater importance to them since it assured them of being able to get ration stamps for his premium food.

Were Basket and his "heir" Basket II the world's most famous poodles? Basket is chronicled in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and was photographed by Man Ray. Love of poodles is one thing Gertrude Stein had in common with Jacqueline Susann who serenaded hers in Every Night Josephine! before she went on to sex and scandal books.
Basket II was also the subject of a portrait painted by Marie Laurencin. Poodles were a central part of my childhood, though I never had my own, though my aunt had three -- Geronimo, Josephine and Yvette. She also gave me the classic book below.
I especially love this "cast credit" page. As you can see, this was given to me before the age of six when I transformed into Gregg after alternating between being known alternately as Greg, Gregory, Gregoire or The Pest.
Playtime Poodles was perhaps my favorite book in early life. I related closely to the story of Bobo and Suzette and found the photos captivating, even if they weren't by Man Ray.
Poodles fell out of favor by the late 1960s and were often ridiculed as "a sorry excuse for a dog" by some who saw them as being too fou-fou. I have troubles with the more recently popular poodle fusions like cockapoos, labradoodles and pekepoos. It sort of feels like cheating, or sneaking in tofu into dishes for people who normally would not consume it. I'm sure that each individual dog has its charms, but I wonder what Gertrude and Alice would say, let alone Suzette and Bobo.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Widow, P. Fedotoff

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

MAGPIE TALE: Dancing Dreams

(Another Magpie Tale)

Dennis was surprised to see the wet, dead leaves again the window of the restaurant's window. Two days here in Panajachel, and he had seen few places that were not carefully swept, albeit usually by hand held whisk brooms.

He whispered the name of restaurant -- El Fantasma del Hermano Ernesto. He wanted to be haunted by the ghost of Brother Ernesto, whoever he was, instead of the usual ghosts that seemed to fill his dreams the past three to four years. His mother had been dead for ten years, but rarely was there not a night when she was not there in his dream.

Last night he had the most recurring dream of traveling with his mother.

Midway through a long international flight she turned to him and asked, "How much longer until we reach Cincinatti, Dennis?"

"We're not going to Cincinnati, Mother."

"What's the name of that lovely place by the river? I hope we can go there for tea before we go to the hotel. What's the name of it again?"

"We're going to Nagaland, Mother."

"Nagaland...that's just before the river isn't it?"

"No, Mother. Nagaland. You remember."

"Oh, dear, should I have packed my passport?"

Just then Dennis' tea arrived and he looked out across the crystal blue waters of Lake Atitlan. Oolong always calmed him, while chamomile upset his stomach and kept him up all night. His mother, on the other hand, drank cups of chamomile as a sleep aid.

Dennis saw another batch of leaves, wet in the wind dance to the window and cling for a moment and then slither downwards.

He thought of the other dream where his mother was visiting his office on the 63rd floor.

"Mother, we've got to dash. The building is on fire."

"Oh, just a moment, Dennis. Let me grab a few things and I'll meet you by the elevator in a few minutes."

"Mother, the building is on FIRE! We can't take the elevator."

"Okay, then, just don't make me run too fast down the stairs."

"We have to go now. The building is on FIRE."

"Okay, but let me find the lady's room first. I took my diuretic about 30 minutes ago."

Dennis pressed the warm tea cup against his cheek, trying to picture Hermano Ernesto, trying to imagine what it would be like to travel iwth him or get caught in a fire. He closed his eyes to take him away from his usual nightmares. He opened his eyes and saw a flurry of even more leaves, so brilliantly colored and dancing with such vigor as they danced freely on the invisible dancefloor of the wind.


10-10-10 The Shattering of Time

Happy 10-10-10 everyone. How have you celebrated this important day? I went to see four films at the Exploratorium that seemed to embody the concept of Landron's "The Shattering of Time". The bedrock of the series was Charles and Ray Eame's 1977 classic "The Power of Ten". The Eames were primarily designers and we've come to know their airport chairs to the point where they have become as ingrained as Monet's calendars.

"The Shattering of Time" is often falsely labeled as an attack on Proust's "Time Regained". Landron always loved Proust, although he always felt time cannot be regained. Like rain drops it shatters as it happens, breaking into particles that are an energy force that is doomed to self destruct.

Charles Eames once claimed that no one has improved on plate design after the adaptation of the banana leaf as a place on which to serve food. I always loved that their simple, modernist case study house in which they lived was not a museum piece like Phillip Johnson's glass house but stuffed with books, memorabilia and junk.

The last film in today's series was by Charles and Ray's grandson, Eames Demetrios, called "The Power of Time" that was sort of a deconstructionist approach to the 1977 film. I love that even his name is sort of a deconstruction of his family line. My grandson is named Thief Jonktariaus. His film truly took on the concept of desconstructing time as he explored picoseconds, femtoseconds, attoseconds and even smaller slices of time in which movement ceases to be real and becomes increasingly abstract. Time is a construct of abstracts that we delude ourselves into believing is reality and can be regained or held.

I've been increasingly drawn to the work of Gertrude Stein as well as writings of others about her. I think Stein is one writer that people have read more about than of. She was often called a cubist writer, but I think that is just a boxy way of saying deconstructionist. I love photos of her and Alice B. Toklas with their dog Basket. When Basket died he was replaced with Basket II. I wonder if this influence Michael Jackson naming his youngest child Blanket. If Bow ever lets me adopt another dog, I think I'll call it Towel.

Labels: , , ,

Good Morning, Mr. Echo.

Now, don't you feel better?

Labels: ,

Friday, October 08, 2010

Sunday Brunch with Jobriath

Thanks to Friendatella for making aware of the great BBC Arena documentary about the Chelsea Hotel. It is filled with an amazing parade of luminaries such as William S. Burroughs, Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, Virgil Thomson and many more. A huge surprise, however, was the above clip with Jobriath. About three and a half decades ago he was going to be bigger than Elvis. It didn't turn out quite that way, but he had his charms

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Desayuno de Diabolitos

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 04, 2010

This House Is Clean!


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Why Look, It's Rusty!

Labels: ,

Running Scared: Mugshot Memories

This afternoon, we're heading over to the Make Out Room on 22nd Street for the latest installment of the San Francisco Mixtape Society.
The theme is Running Scared, and this is our submission: Mugshot Memories.
Here is the interior of our box.
Here is the "back story" for our tracks:
It all began when they sent Papa to Sing-Sing. We never knew for sure all of his crimes, but we were running scared from the start.
Mama ran off with the piano tuner and we resorted to selling shrapnel and stolen elephant tusks we snuck out of the natural history museum. It was a tough time, but we survived – all seven of us – in that little one-room cottage in the Berkeley Flats just before the floods came and they renamed it the Marina Extension.
Too bad what happened to Little Marcie who had been such a sweet kid with her cleft pallet and fondness for crab apples soaked in vodka. Who would have guessed such a pleasant little girl would end up on the bulletin boards of every post office along the Pacific Coast? Last we heard was that she was with the Lurk Larson gang in Spokane and disappeared into the wilds of Idaho. Some say she gave it all up and was running a little truck farm. Then we heard reports that she was running Boise Boyz, that notorious underground male brothel where errant Mormon lads padded their wallets with clandestine tomfoolery.
Brother Terrance did alright for himself posing as a priest and selling relics he smuggled out of the Vatican and sold to South Korean televangelical arms dealers. We heard that he ended up running a bingo joint and miniature golf course in Tel-Aviv and doing quite nicely.

And here is the back cover with the track listings.
Wish us luck!

UPDATE: Woot, woot! We took the prize for best art design.

Labels: ,

¡Ay, las Baby Swing!

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 02, 2010

They Be Hookahs 'n' Hose up in Thar!

Labels: ,

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sepia Saturday: 'Oh You Kid' - 20th Century Tweets

As I mentioned in my last post, I have the duty of being the custodian of my maternal grandfather's trove of 78 discs. On the other side of the family, I have an equal if not more daunting task -- caring for my paternal grandmother's stash of hundreds of stereographic cards and even hundreds more post cards.
Born in territorial Oklahoma in 1890 -- just months after the big land run the previous year -- she had only a couple dozen photos of her and the family before her marriage in 1910. But there are hundreds of postcards sent to and from her brothers and recounting her budding romance with my grandfather.

The bulk of the cards are from 1907 to 1909 to and from her brothers (such as Oscar who wrote her in the card below from teacher's college) and between her and my grandfather. They provide an often fascinating glimpse into her teenage years as her older brothers left the nest and she prepared to marriage.
There is often very amusing disconnects between the messages and the accompanying photos. It's not unusual to read about an encounter with a Cherokee chief or an attack by a rattle snake in the chicken house with a picture of Buckingham Palace or the Tivoli Gardens on the front.
These semi-private messages -- going through the public mails and likely shared with the whole family offer an intriguing glimpse into daily life and colloquialisms of the day. "Oh you kid" was the "Yo, homie" of its day.
This was likely the only communication between my grandmother and her brothers at the time since long distance phone calls were probably considered an extravagance even though they were only 30 miles away.
When I was a child, I love to flip through these cards, amazed by the art and message from so long ago.
My grandmother was amazed that anyone of my generation would have an interest in something that she thought so trivial and ancient. But she would fill in gaps and context for the cards.
Looking back at them today, they bring additional nostalgia and fascination. I also see that this was the Twitter and Facebook of its day, immediate, snappy communication that was running a parallel track with the contemporary popular cultural -- the personal and the popular running side-by-side.
I love the cards just for the artwork and glimpse into cultural norms, but the family history and human connection carry much deeper meaning. One side of me says that I can put off until retirement transcribing all of the messages and connecting the dots with my own memories, oral histories from my grandmother and her writings. Good sense tells me that needs to start now. One card at a time.