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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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 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.
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 , and countless other titles clutter my wish list. ( : Portrait of a CityThe 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 … a decadently illustrated 300+ page volume chronicling ’60s Rock photographress supreme and the Mother of all Rock moms? I am SO on this one. : A Life in Photographs
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.
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!
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: