Friday, December 5, 2014

Essential viewing: The Staircase

For those of you who can't satiate your closeted trial laywer/detective/forensic pathologist yearnings with Serial, I highly recommend watching the 8-episode mini series The Staircase, by French documentarian Jean-Xavier Lestrade. The series documents the first degree murder trial of novelist Michael Peterson for the death of his wife, Kathleen in their Durham, NC home in 2001. After Michael made a frantic 911 call, his wife's body was found, blood-soaked and crumpled at the bottom of a flight of stairs. The prosecution's claim was that he beat her to death with a blow-poke, the defense claimed she had fallen down the stairs in a tragic accident.

I don't want to give away too much, but suffice to say this one still has me thinking after I burned through all 8 episodes in a day and a half. It's got more twists and turns than an episode of American Horror Story, and like Serial, the essential question appears to be: is an innocent man on trial for a murder, or was there a secret side to him that no one else knew about?

Watch episode 1 below, all episodes are available for streaming on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

babe alert: Dolores Costello

Here's what you should know about Dolores: She was born in 1903 into an acting family. Her first film role was in 1909 at age six, making her one of the earliest, if not the seminal "child film star." Many of her earliest films are 'lost films', pieces of cinema no longer known to exist in any private collection or public archive. She was nicknamed "the Goddess of the Silent Era," but was able to transition to talkies starting around 1929 after conquering a severe lisp.

She met actor John Barrymore on the set of the film The Sea Beast in 1926 and married him two years later. The couple had two children before divorcing in 1931, Dolores (Dee Dee) Barrymore and John Drew Barrymore who is, you guessed it, Drew Barrymore's father.

Sadly, Dolores' acting career was cut short because of severe complexion and skin issues--a result of 30 years of having to endure film makeup. Can you imagine the lead they used to put in that stuff?

She's got one of those faces that doesn't seem at all locked in a specific time or place. I can just as easily imagine her living among us right now, albeit with less spectacular eyebrows. What a beauty!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

You should be paying homage to...

The visual opus that is Mariah Carey's video for 'Heartbreaker' was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 fifteen years ago today. That's 1999 if you're bad at math.

 **If you did not cut off the waistband of your jeans as a direct response to the sartorial influence of this video, you were either not in high school in 1999, or you had extremely poor taste and probably listened to Korn.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

American Music

Awesome archival footage of Blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Lonnie Johnson, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Howlin' Wolf, Big Joe Turner, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe performing for a UK audience eager to experience true "American Folk" music. The performances were eventually broadcast on British TV between 1963 and 1966. Legend has it that at the first stop of the tour in Manchester in 1962, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page were all in the audience. Because they wanted to learn from the masters, obviously.

There's something so grainy and textured about listening to old recordings by the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf that it's almost impossible to imagine them being alive in the broadcast TV era. But here you go. They're not in living color but they might as well be. God what I would've done to be there, in that audience, right at that moment.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Live Through This


Currently rediscovering both the music and style of Courtney Love after reading Lynn Hirschberg's fascinating celebrity profile of the singer "Strangelove" from 1992. You must read it here. And love her or hate her (is there anyone who falls in between?) 90's era Courtney Love was unquestionably a pioneer of the "Kinder Whore" look. Wearing tattered 30s dresses or too-small pinafores, she prowled around onstage like some kind of deranged love child of Eloise At the Plaza and Nancy Spungen. And it looked fantastic.

I spent my formative teenage years trying to get away with wearing vintage slips and 16-hole Doc Martens, but alas my high school's "no underwear as outerwear" policy made this difficult.  Even now there's somewhat of an allure to the way she looked at that time. I guess when someone so totally embodies a lifestyle, their clothing can't really be 'in' or 'out'. It just IS.



Live Through This is a great album. Despite persistent rumors that Courtney didn't write any of her own music, you gotta admit she wails on those tracks. She's got that kind of gravely, soul-baring voice that's just made for punk rock.
  OUT034997 courtneylove The verdict? Yes to ladies who rock and yes to the she's come undone prom whore look. Two thumbs up!

Sunday, September 7, 2014



The very concept of a 'Teen' did not exist until the middle 20th century. Prior to that, human development was thought of as a dichotomy between child and adult. A confluence of historical factors, including the outlawing of child labor, 2 world wars, and an increasingly restless and disenchanted youth led to the cultural concept of the modern day teenager--a person caught in the purgatory between childhood and adulthood, not fully comfortable with either categorization.


'Teenage' is a fascinating documentary on the evolution of teen culture. Using stunning archival footage from the turn of the century through the 1970s, viewers are taken on a journey that reminds us why teenagers are such a distinctive human life form. Whether they were flappers, hoodlums, hoboes, greasers, swing dancers, or mall rats, all teenagers have been defined by their apparent unwillingness to allow themselves to be classified as either children or full blown adults, a condition that is shockingly perplexing to generation after generation of grownups who apparently forget that they were ever teens themselves.
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If you're interested in checking out the film, you can watch the trailer here and the movie is available for streaming on Netflix.
  047_galinsky Photos via Shorpy, Teenage Bedroom, Time

Friday, September 5, 2014

Google maps


It shouldn't ever cease to be amazing, and miraculous even, that an army of robotic Google vehicles have painstakingly mapped and stitched together digital images of the entire developed world. While most people look up directions or check out building facades, Jon Rafman is in search of something more poignant. Scouring the 3D images, he finds fleeting moments captured completely by accident. Sometimes it feels as though the individuals in the images are defiant, distrustful of the 9-camera robots stealing their likeness. Sometimes they seem to be knowing participants. Either way, the tableaus created often carry a visual weight that it seems neither the Google cameras nor their subjects anticipate. Whether they capture a lone upturned vehicle, a herd of horses grazing outside a cemetery, or a lone baby crawling outside of a Gucci store, these images say a lot about our current world and its many versions of daily, mundane life.
  tumblr_mn4hk7ETRh1qzun8oo1_1280tumblr_m2y637lHOP1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_lavrcyIgH91qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_lbcfiz3HhC1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_lpd0dfc1Dg1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_m9l7h1LuRd1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_lvrvluNI9i1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_mlvvwklBDl1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_l2hyi1pApL1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_l2hxo63KJC1qzun8oo1_1280 tumblr_lziwksBlv51qzun8oo1_1280 All images via Jon Rafman's 9 Eyes project

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Passing


The passage of time is a mighty river flowing so swiftly that we barely have time to glance at the shore, the trees, to feel the sun on our faces and tilt our heads up to the sky for a glance at the clouds, before we are pushed off the edge of a precipice, from which no one has ever returned.

Watchlist: I Am Divine

Stoked this movie finally came out on Netflix streaming, because I've always been a huge John Waters fan, and how could you NOT fall for the aesthetic charms of the exquisite creature above.


Through interviews with friends, family (including Divine's delightful and similarly maquillaged Mother), his makeup artist, hangers-on, wannabes, and most bizarrely, a high school girlfriend, the doc explores not just Divine but Glenn Milstead, the shy, overweight teen who barely left the house before the age of 15 and went on to become the biggest, baddest, cross-dressing gay icon we all know and love.


Divine's signature look was created on a whim when makeup artist Van Smith shaved back her hairline in order to accommodate more eye makeup and cartoonishly arched brows. In the 1960s, most drag shows (and yes, they did exist in small underground circles, even in Baltimore) were dominated by thin, stereotypically "pretty" girls. Divine threw the paradigm on its head when she went onstage at 300 pounds, swathed in sequins and crowned by big hair, spewing obscenities that made audiences wild with laughter. She was a true performance artist, and much more than a creation of John Waters. Divine was, above all a method actor, as capable of shocking audiences with outrageous performances as she was of playing 'straight' roles, both in and out of drag.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Things, organized

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All images via Things Organized Neatly
Listen, don't get me wrong, I love minimalism. I aspire to live in a white concrete room with lucite furniture and white accessories as much as the next guy, but my god, what an exhausting process that must be to continually re-edit your possessions. Far better to afford yourself the luxury of flotsam and jetsam and just keep it beautifully organized.

Besides, I'm more stimulated by the process of laying out, selecting, and organizing than I am the messy, amorphous act of creation. I'm way too anal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Betsy Youngquist

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I came across the work of artist Betsy Youngquist at Jazzfest this year, and as soon as I spotted her creepy, heavily beaded little creatures peering at me with taxidermy eyeballs, I fell in love. She has more work featured on her website, and an etsy shop where some pieces are available for sale. I so very badly want a set of her wall eyes.