Archive for the ‘photography’ category

A History Lesson By Way of Franklin Pierce, Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln’s Really Great, Awesomely Bad Hair

So, there’s this obsession with the 16th president of the United States that I’ve had pretty much all my life. It hit me, all of a sudden, early in the 7th grade when for no reason at all I found myself crying because I was assigned to cover Franklin Pierce for our presidential reports instead of Lincoln. Our teacher assigned the presidents in alphabetical order and my surname came just two letters shy of “L”. And so the fate of Mr. Lincoln’s five page double-spaced, Times New Roman report was destined for a classmate who, bless his heart, was under the impression that every sentence ought to begin with a pronoun. (And, judging by his Facebook profile, this still appears to be the case. Not that I stalk old classmates on Facebook. Ever.)
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Hot Town, Summer in the (New York) City

I’m a Los Angeleno by birth, a Londoner by heart, and an aspiring New Yorker.

Having just returned from another whirlwind trip in the City That Never Sleeps, that honeymoon glow is still warm enough to post some of my favorite street view snaps from the City that I’m falling more, all the more, head over heels in love with.
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Hollywood at Home: 1950 to 1965

“Hollywood at Home provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at the crossroads between the last real glamour years and the TV decade. It is a remarkable portrait of mid-century America.”

So reads the back cover of Hollywood at Home: A Family Album (1950 – 1965), a slight yet strong volume from Sid Avery’s lens and Richard Schickel’s pen.

And it’s quite true.

As film historian and cinema omnivore Richard Schickel writes in the introduction:

“In Sid Avery’s portraits of Hollywood in the 1950s, its citizens mime normalcy. They diaper a baby, fry an egg, play charades, wash their cars. Beloved screen veterans… the serenity and seemliness with which all of them face the camera in this, the entertainment industry’s most chaotic moment since the advent of sound, strikes the social historian– not to mention the movie critic– with a strange and occasionally poignant force.

Some variant on this question keeps recurring as one turns these pages: Why are these people smiling?”

And then: “Like these favored show folk, the rest of us ordinary citizens of the American 1950s were busy miming normalcy too. It was expected of us. A depression had been survived, a war had been fought, and now everything was supposed to be all right. … Get married. Have 2.3 children. Buy a house in the suburbs. Go to church. Send the kids to college. Die quietly. … But there was something abnormal about fifties normalcy. …

“As with all fictions, one was free not to by it. But the mass media did buy it and sell it. And we, the great audience, bought it from the movies and the magazines and the broadcasters. We also did our best to resell it, to our sometimes dubious selves, and then to each other.

The pictures in this book were made as part of that process. They represented Hollywood as it wanted to see itself and to be seen by outsiders: securely functioning and apparently contducting business as usual.”

Far be it from me to expound upon Schickel’s words, so I leave you with them… and Avery’s sumptuously subliminal shots.

Bogart and Bacall

Ernie Borgnine as Chef

 

Paul and Jo, laughing at home.

 

Paul Newman cooks as Joanne Woodward snooks w/ their puppy

 

Shelley Winters with hubba hubby Vittorio Gassman

 

Rock Hudson (in apron) serving up a mean BBQ to his guests…

 

And….. ROCK.

 

Debbie Reynolds– the ultimate working mum with kiddies Todd and Carrie. (1960)

 

Ohhhh Brando. You’d be SO nice to come home too…!

 

Audrey Hepburn and hubby Mel Ferrer

 

Dean Martin at home with the wifey and kiddies. Too cute.

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Brando. ‘Nuff said.

A Life in Photographs: Linda McCartney

Hubby Paul. Cover shot from Taschen's Linda McCartney: A Life in Photographs

Oh Taschen. Yummy, delectable, I-want-to-devour-you-whole Tahhhh-Shen. So beautiful. So sumptuous. SO expensive. And yet, somehow, worth every blessed cent. Your anthologies agonize me with want. I covet your sweetly binded spines and secretly despise those who have your volumes proudly displayed on their hand-crafted cabinetry. I’m a hater, what can I say?

I own one Taschen volume, their recent Los Angeles: Portrait of a City, and countless other titles clutter my wish list. (The Stanley Kubrick Archives, anyone?) But their newest release has been automatically scratched from any such “wish” list and sent straight to the top of “must have” indulgences.

My tongue hit the floor when I came across the latest Taschen catalog advertising Linda McCartney: A Life in Photographs … a decadently illustrated 300+ page volume chronicling ’60s Rock photographress supreme and the  Mother of all Rock moms? I am SO on this one.

Linda McCartney‘s life may very well be overshadowed by the incalculably large shadow of her legendary husband (she married a Beatle for goshsakes– and not just any Beatle, but one half of the greatest songwriting team of the 20th Century. And you can quote me).

But Linda was hardly a mere footnote in rock history.

She was a chronicler of it.

They met and fell in love like a good old fashioned romance novel. Down to earth, no-frills artsy girl happens upon society’s most eligible, rich, handsome bachelor, and the two fall madly in love, throwing convention to the wind. (The same, interestingly enough, is quite true of the couple’s acutely avant garde counterpart, John and Yoko; although to quite a different reaction … something that is another post altogether…)

Linda was never really just “Mrs. Paul McCartney.” Although she was an inextricable part of Paul’s life and work, straight up to her tragic death at age 56 from breast cancer, she was not only a wife and mother, but an artist.

A formidable one, in her own right, which this new Taschen anthology documents both exquisitely and authoritatively.

Sir Paul McCartney and his fashion-guru daughter Stella, along with siblings Mary, James and (half-sister) Heather,  have collaborated to present this highly personal tribute to a striking artistic talent, devoted mother, and truly gracious lady.

The publisher’s description sums it up perfectly:

From her early rock ’n’ roll portraits, through the final years of the Beatles, via touring with Wings to raising four children with Paul, Linda captured her whole world on film. Her shots range from spontaneous family pictures to studio sessions with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, as well as artists Willem de Kooning and Gilbert and George. Always unassuming and fresh, her work displays a warmth and feeling for the precise moment that captures the essence of any subject. Whether photographing her children, celebrities, animals, or a fleeting moment of everyday life, she did so without pretension or artifice.

These photos are only a few from the selection of shots that will thrill any fan of 60s rock culture… or indeed, any true fan of photography itself.

Working Mum

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Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holdling Company

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Jimi Hendrix,1967

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John. 1968. This shot speaks volumes.

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The Rolling Stones-- taken on Linda's fortuitous shoot which secured her future as a rockumentarian goddess.

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Evocative shot of Steppenwolf-- the first band signed under The Beatles' fledgling late '60s' label, Apple Records.

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It's a bird ... it's a plane ... no, it's ... erm ... Paul in hotpants.

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A cluttered desk at the McCartney farm in Scotland-- 1970s.

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The McCartneys, Paul, Stella, James (and Linda behind the lens, of course) at home in Scotland.

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Candid shot of The Beatles from the April, 1967 Sgt. Pepper's press-op. Paul got Linda's number not long after.

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All in all, Taschen’s tribute is endearing, heartfelt, and probably their most sentimental volume to date.

I leave you all with my personal favorite Paul and Linda moment. Paul’s campy but oh-so fun music video featuring Michael Jackson, Say, Say, Say (1983), with Linda very much a part of Paul’s company, pitching in the best she can … bless her darling heart.

We love and miss you, Linda!

Walking in LA: Photo Blogging by Foot

The iconic Hollywood & Vine neon sign

Growing up with an amateur photographer for a father, my love for photography has its roots in his makeshift, homemade dark room. Deep red lights and sour solution are as much a part of my childhood memories as oreos and milk.

My father was (and still is) quite gifted and he certainly instilled love of the artform in me– although I certainly do not possess even a fraction of his skill. (OK, let’s be honest, any real skill at all.)

But today, in the era of iPhone Apps– that’s OK. Suddenly everyone is a “photographer.”  Fancy photo filter apps abound (Instagram, Hipstamatic, and ProCamera to name the few)
transforming hastily taken snapshots into a polished product that once, not so long ago, took hours of painstaking skill in the dark room to achieve.

And I’m a total sucker for them. I get to delude myself into thinking I might still have a chance at taking a picture that someone like my father might approve of.

It also makes being a pedestrian in Hollywood a heck of a lot more fun. The best way to get to know any city is a pied, even in a town like Hollywood that has undulated to motorers since the beginning.

So I’ve rounded up a few So-Cal snapshots taken while out and about that you may (or may not) find to be kind fun– but they certainly here are some Hollywood snaps that you may (or may not) find to be kinda fun:

The First National Bank building at Hollywood and Highland

West Hollywood jacaranda trees in bloom

Joe Gillis' writing pad on Ivar at Franklin.

Santa Monica's 1933 Art Deco Jewel, The Georgian Hotel

Hollywood's super cute "Cafe Audrey" -- a clasic movie coffee klatch

A sunny day

Sunny afternoon at the Santa Monica Pier

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Closed record shop sign on Highland Ave-- if anyone knows the name of the former establishment, please let me know!

The Equitable Building at night, Hollywood and Vine