Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cat pillow + 70's couch + yellow linoleum floor + huge Stein Mart bag as storage = probably a pretty good sale.
Good morning! While going through some sales I'm interested in attending tomorrow (possibly with the famous Eartha Kitsch!), I thought I would alert those retrophiles not-in-the-know of a very useful source to tracking down the tchotckes and knickknacks for which your heart pines. Do you go to After years of waking up early Friday or Saturday morning, buying a paper, circling the good garage sales in the classifieds sections in yellow highlighter, and looking each up in a street map of Nashville while careening, half-awake, around the Metro Davidson area, I have to tell you, the internet's way is MUCH easier than my way. Bored at school a few years ago, I discovered and became aware of the fact that most professional sales are listed, with preview photos (!), in one easy-to-read scorecard. I still check the Tennessean online and craigslist to make sure there aren't any amateur/family run sales going on, but for well-organized, actually fully estate sale'd sales, this is one of your best bets.

In going through the preview photos this week, I recognized some tell-tale "it's gonna be a good one" signs. Do you know your estate sales? The photos above and below have some markers that indicate "actual to-settle-an-estate sale, not a bunch of children's clothes and ugly furniture that's-really-a-yard-sale". Regardez.

This scene has a lot of things going on. If you can see beyond the household cleaning goods and Lil Bratz valentines, we have a neat 60's stuffed bear, a yellow pitcher that may or may not be a 50's/60's gem but it certainly the right color to be one, a cake platter, and a bunch of pens. Why the bunch of pens? There could be swizzle sticks in there! Or old hat pins! Or any kind of thing. Possibly a good sale, possibly one of those horribly awkward hodge podges where the salespeople go "Oh, just pick out what you want and we'll give you a good price when you get to the checkout." Which is when I inevitably accidentally pick up the "Steiff bear that they couldn't possibly let go of for less than $50", when I was thinking more like $5. Le sigh. Refer back to horrible spider + pillbox hat episode of my last Weekend Finds post. It's hard out here for a magpie of a girl! I can't help the things that attract my eye!


This scene didn't have much going for it (ugh, 90's comforter; ugh, Godey's-esque prints in overkill frames, someone else's style but not mine....) until I spotted the little ceramic hound dog sitting next to the cordless phone! Hello, cute! It probably won't be there more than five minutes after the sale opens, but it still gives you hope that if they saved that little piece of 50's kitsch, maybe there's more gold in them thar hills!

If you follow My Pretty Baby Cried She Was a Bird on Facebook, you saw the above photo earlier this week. I am no less excited about it now that I was then! In reposting, I've noticed for the first time that the monkey I'd earlier identified, at stage left, as simply a "collegiate monkey" is actually a "roller-skaing collegiate monkey". Go, you! As for his friend, he's still playing guitar in a plaid, green, and sombrero outfit, but I now think he may be battery operated, judging from his base and the presence of many batteries in front of him. Do you see the sword tidbit picks? The fanciest you can get at Kroger's are freakin' multicolored wood ones in "original toothpick shape". Wouldn't these look Errol Flynn appropriate at my next cocktail get together? Last but not least...anti-nudist signage is something I didn't know I needed...but then....

No need to point out what's neat in this picture. Who are you? What kind of stamps do you give?

Want to live in haunted metal dollhouse Tara? Here's your chance. Don't tell anyone how crazy I am about this dollhouse; maybe it'll be heavily discounted on the last day because other buyers' were warded off by the spirits.

What is not to love about this picture?! There's a lot of cool stuff going on, but the African woman in the black and jade green panel painting, the whipstitch lampshade at left, and the planter with the donkey base are my favorites. I have enough sock monkeys or the gent at the back would be a candidate.

Any kind of framed needlework is exciting, but I really like the precious little children at the bottom of the picture on the right.

This whole couch! It looks a little dog-eaten/cat-scratched at the bottom of the frame, but it also looks like it might be a pull-out sleeper. Also, the mens' shirts still in the package? Also, the shocking salmon color of the couch. I'll take the whole thing, thanks!

If I can't have a secretary, I can at least have "Miss Friday the Typist" sitting at my desk. Even if she can't really take dictation, that doesn't mean I can't dictate letters to her and feel important in my own right! I also love the little girl in black tights plié-ing on the dance-shoes box.

The kids on the Lincoln Log box, the Indian scene and the magician on the sides of those party favor toys, the Halloween bowl, and a Dick Tracy esque toy car. CHILDREN'S TOYS FROM THE FIFTIES' ARE THE BEST. Why don't we do package design and marketing like this anymore, as opposed to the earlier mentioned Bratz?

Last but not least, Miss Swagger herself, a 60's bubble cut Barbie photographed amongst all her trappings. Is that leopard trimmed coat killing you or is it K-I-L-L-I-N-G you? One really neat thing about 50's/60's doll clothes or paper doll clothes is imagining your own grown up self, even now, in the same outfits, and I'm a little heartsick over the green dress on the left. Even the Lincoln Log kid approves!

I have to go do a tour of the whole library for incoming freshmen, pray for me! In the meantime, why don't you take a look at and see what kind of things you can't live without in your own hometown and state? Any good sales lined up for this weekend? Which one of the items above did YOU spy with your little eye and get really excited about? Let a girl know!

See you tomorrow for Photo Friday!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Aprés" (2012)- Iggy Pop

Good morning! The chain of discovery two nights ago went something like this: friend-of-Matthew's puts "Did you see his eyes? Did you see his crazy eyes?" as his Facebook status. I wrack my little brain, sans use of Google, to remember where the line comes from. Five minutes later, a tiny light bulb flickers and "Neighborhood Threat", from Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" album, makes itself known as the origin. "Bibi, have you ever heard this song?" I ask, while pulling it up on Spotify. There's a lot of twenty-first century technology involved in my listening-to-music-I-used-to-listen-to-on-a-turntable-in-high-school. Et voilà!


David Bowie being the first and biggest crush of my formative middle and high school years, of course I listened to a lot of Iggy Pop in the day. Bowie made the shrewd move in the early and mid-seventies' to work with two artists he technically considered "competition" to the same glitter-dusted, art rock Bowie fan base, producing Lou Reed's Transformer in 1972, as well as a whole slew of records for Iggy Pop, including "Lust For Life". I know you've heard the title track on the ubiquitous Royal Carribean commercial, but the rest of the album is also S-O-L-I-D. While taking Bab on a musical field trip through the tracks, I came across the full album listings for Iggy Pop as an artist, and what to my wondering eyes should appear....?

A new album!?

Of mostly French covers?!

Sung in French, by the man himself?!

I don't know what's going on with the Napoleon Bonaparte overcoat and Ike Turner turtleneck... just take my word for it, it's a good record!

Iggy Pop's Aprés is really excellent. And I was really surprised. I don't say that out of being a nattering nabob of negavity on the onset of any new venture; I say that as having somehow survived the crushing disappointment of 90% of my glam rock idols' 2000-2012 output. Perfect example conversation, presented for brevity's sake in time lapse over several months: "Oh, look, Lou Reed's doing a new album! Oh, look, Lou Reed's doing a new album based on Franz Wedekin's Lulu. NO WAY! As in Louise Brooks's Lulu character from Pandora's Box? This is going to be the best record ever!" ((pause)) "Who's his backing band?....Metallica......?......Oh." It still could have been good, but was, in fact, instead, AWFUL. Universally reviled. By me, especially. And I'm not even counting Bowie's Reality, because he gets a pass for having done the really-pretty-good Heathen a few years earlier. I digress. The point is, you don't see "new Iggy Pop record" in print and get the same kind of excited you should have in the late 70's. Nor should you.


One of Iggy Pop's post-Stooge-career strengths, after putting aside his steak knives and peanut butter for more in-studio work, has been a deep-ish alto voice that he occasionally uses to its full extent in songs like "Nightclubbing" or "Candy" (a guilty pleasure 1990 duet he did with the B-52's's Kate Pierson) . His voice can have a really nasal edge to it when he wants ("Raw Power", "Search and Destroy"), but it can also have a smooth texture you wouldn't expect to come out of the craggiest face this side of Mount Rushmore. He uses the crooner's, rather than the proto-punk rocker's, voice on this record, and I'm telling you, it does not disappoint.

Track listing with original artists:
1. "Et Si Tu N'Existais Pas" Joe Dassin
2. "La Javanaise" Serge Gainsbourg
3. "Everybody's Talkin'" Harry Nilsson
 4. "I'm Going Away Smiling" Yoko Ono
 5. "La Vie en rose" Edith Piaf
 6. "Les Passantes" Georges Brassens
7. "Syracuse" Henri Salvador
 8. "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Cole Porter
 9. "Michelle" The Beatles
10. "Only the Lonely" Frank Sinatra

Are you kidding? That's like side A of a mixtape I would have made ten years ago. I AM SO PLEASED.

It's obvious from listening to the man that he doesn't speak French, so why would Iggy Pop take on not one, but FOUR songs in the Gallic tongue? No need to guess-- he does a whole series of videos on youtube to explain his feelings on singing each of the songs! In spite of the fact that he would probably stick me with the bar tab, and possibly require me to bail him out of the county lock-up later, he's one of the few rock idols still living that I would like to sit down and talk to in the course of a regular evening. Isn't it fun to listen to him in casual conversation? In spite of the mountain of drugs he and Bowie consumed in the 70's and 80's, Iggy's still pretty together, for the most part. I love that he's wearing a shirt....OF HIMSELF. "Hey, bonjour," he says in the first moments of the video, "I'm...." and pats the impish figure of his seventies' incarnation, emblazoned across a t-shirt, as a means of introduction. Aaaaand, he had me at hello.

Key quotes from the interview (which you should watch): "This is the house where I keep my spirit!", "This is my vegetable garden, I got the idea for this from Michelle Obama", " "So in conclusion, I live a very quiet, conservative life, kind of an easy life...however, the devil still speaks to me...C'est la vie!"

How blue are his eyes, still, in that ravaged, hyper-expressive ol' face?

Sooooo, Iggy Pop has a vegetable garden, two waist-high serpent statues, and likes to compose on a toy baby grand piano. I can't say that I could be any more into this video than I am right now. His little Floridian, palm-treed, awning-covered 50's house? How neat is it to take a break from the throwing-yourself-onto-tables-from-the-stage lifestyle, do Qi Gong every morning, and see if your voice is suited to cover some of the softer hits from your personal music collection? There's a David Lynch quality to it in how quiet and unexpected a lot of the vocals are....I was REALLY concerned it was going to sound like a pre-made soundtrack to a Nancy Meyers movie (no offense, but Iggy Pop and the AARP circuit should never mix, in spite of his advanced age), but it's really kind of nice. I mean it!

You can listen to the whole record on Spotify, or download the album from Amazon and iTunes, but whatever you do, give it a shot you wouldn't necessarily give it otherwise. Because it really did defy my initial (and wrong) misgivings. And if you like what you hear, you're going to lo-o-o-ove some of those original artists as much as our friend Iggy Pop does. Why not check out some Serge Gainsbourg, Georges Brassen, and Edith Piaf while you're there?

Are you a French music enthusiast? Punk rock enthusiast? Or, like Iggy, both? What do you think about the new record if you've heard it? What are some of the biggest "new record" let downs or good surprises you've had recently? Let's talk!

If you need me, I'll be geeking out to tracks we were just talking about. Feel free to join me. See you tomorrow!

PS: Have you ever seen this "thank you" note he sent back to a fan in 1995? It would almost make you cry.  What celebrity takes time to do that kind of thing? A GOOD ONE.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Big Valley (1965-1969)

Good morning! Hope everybody had a great holiday weekend...we had a lot of fun, but I am w-i-p-e-d o-u-t. And today would be the day that I start an online class for the summer semester. I'm going to have to go e-introduce myself to a bunch of online teacher education classmates, but before I do, I wanted to share with you the sixties' western series "The Big Valley" (1965-1969):


Now, if you're like me, most of your experience with tv westerns involve your dad or grandad commandeering the remote on a sunny summer afternoon and sitting through Bonanza or Gunsmoke. I like my fair share of movies featuring some combination of cowboys, frontierslands, Indians, train robberies, and blonde women in bonnets, but I have to say for the most part, their televised counterparts leave me cold. Too a-to-b-to-c! Too many corners cut on set design! "The Big Valley" isn't much different, excepting the fabulous cast. Matriarch of the Barkley family? BARBARA FREAKIN' STANWYCK. I knew she'd done her fair share of movie westerns, but somehow overlooked the fact that she'd been in a television series that ran for four seasons on ABC. Lee Majors, later of Six Million Dollar Man and having-married-Farrah-Fawcett-fame, plays her son Heath. And Audra, the beautiful daughter of the Barkley clan, is played by Linda Evans. Which is where the "record-scratch" moment came in for me:

Being a devotee of mid-80's prime time soaps, I am very familiar with Linda Evans as Krystle Carrington, the second wife on Dynasty. While Joan Collins's Alexis Carrington (the first wife) in that series is still a secret (or not so secret!) style crush of mine, I was always totally-off-put by Krystle's winged bangs, looks-like-eczema rouge, and what I considered to be just a "weird face". She was a big deal in the 80's, but I couldn't understand how she could be one of the main stars of the tv show when, but for a pair of staggeringly blue eyes, she had none of the beauty and glamor, or even the likeability, of your average soap star. Um, correction? I was wrong. I think Linda Evans is a near perfect example of how popular makeup and hairstyles of the decade can completely obfuscate actual beauty. LOOK. AT WHAT. SHE LOOKED LIKE. IN THE SIXTIES:

I mean, good Lord! She looks like an actual 60's Barbie doll! I would make any number of satanic bargains to look exactly like her! I don't think she aged nearly so much as she had to wear a lot of unflattering makeup and a lot of unflattering haircuts to "do the eighties' thing". What a shame!!

Things I found out while reading through the transcript of an interview with Oprah and the wikipedia entry on her:
  • Evans married handsome actor/sometimes director/Hollywood man-about-town John Derek in 1968, when she would have been looking like the carefree California blonde of The Big Valley period above.
  • John Derek was married to Ursula Andress (the iconic, bikini'd Bond girl in Dr. No) previously.
  • John Derek started coaching a 15 year old aspiring actress (also blonde) in 1974, to whom he eventually became a kind of Svengali.
  • Derek and Evans divorced, and Derek married the then-18 years old, 30 years his junior actress....
  • Aaaaah!
  • No way!
  • What the heck!
  • THE Bo Derek? As in "10"?
  • Yes. And what's more, they stayed married until his death in 1998. Bo is now involved in a LTR with Northern Exposure and Sex and the City (Aiden! Aiden, I love you!) actor John Corbett.
  • Linda Evans later went on to get plastic surgery in the late 80's because she was dating a much younger (12 years younger man).
  • Who it turns out is Yanni.
  • YANNI?!
  • Yes.
Sometimes I feel like the wikipedia entries are just complete fabrications, but I swear I looked on different websites and all of this is true. All of it! ((the mind boggles))

Have to get some work done, but go enjoy and episode or two of "The Big Valley" for free on Hulu (we love Hulu). Are you a sixties' westerns or an 80's soap opera fan? Did you know any of that complicated personal information behind the Evans/Derek/you'rekiddingmeYanni?! stuff? Isn't sixties' Linda Evans exquisitely beautiful? Talk, talk!

Have a great afternoon, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Etsy Shoppin: Happy Memorial Day Edition!

                                             Antique Carved Patriotic Soldiers Wood Wall Plaques (set of 2)

We! Love! Holidays! And we! Love! THE U.S.A.! Memorial Day always seems like a practice holiday for Fourth of July, but that does not make me love it any less. Finally, it's time to spring the white strappy sandals out of the closet, make plans to go to the now-open area water parks, and attend cookouts til you're sunbaked yourself! I have to go do my patriotic duty and enjoy this holiday by eating way too many hot dogs and indulging in some kind of outdoor lounging, but I wanted to show you some of the AWESOME stuff you can see on Etsy relating to the red, the white, and the blue....of kitschy-stuff-I-want-to-own.

                                                            1970s patriotic embroidered bald eagle tie

  Unique Circa 1940s Vintage old WWII ARMY soldier Vintage Brooch Starlux Vintage Toy Soldier FigurineVintage 1940 WWII Jointed Celluloid Plastic Sailor Brooch

Bicentennial Square Dance Dress Vintage 70s red white blue gingham dotted maxi dress  Red White Blue Patriotic Cotton Sun Dress

1960's ENAMEL BROOCH and EARRINGS Flower Set / Red, White and Blue Patriotic / Vintage

The MARINES HYMN / World War II / Red White Blue Patriotic Cover Art 1940s

WWII War Album of Victory Battles

                       Franklin D. Roosevelt -- Campaign Poster -- 1933-1945

Look what Matthew got me as a special Memorial Day present (because I am spoiled rotten):

Could this be any cooler? More pics here. I'm not sure how big the linen will be when it comes in, but I think I want to frame it and have it somewhere in the living room. I know I need another framed picture like I need...oh, something I really don't need because I have too much of....but this was just adorable. I really can't get over the cursive banner "To-night I leaned across 10,000 miles and kissed you!".

Have a wonderful holiday, don't eat too many undercooked hamburgers, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Oh, and one more thing:

Kelly B is the winner of the first official She Was a Bird giveaway! Got a $25 gift card for ya, will have to email you for your postal address. Yay!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Photo Friday: Meet Doris and Ray

 The giveaway closes on Sunday! Why don't you ENTER to win a $25 gift card?

Good morning! On this very special episode of Photo Friday, I'd like to share with you some photos from an estate sale I went to in West Meade about two years ago.

Risqué! Also, way to go on really DOING the costume party thing! Go hard or go home.
I was buying a photo of a little boy who honest-to-Garsh looked like a child actor straight out of central casting 1950's tee vee land in a pretty gold frame. The woman at the checkout desk said that I could easily take the photo out if I wanted to put something else in it and I, sheepishly, admitted I was buying the frame mainly for the photo rather than vice versa. "Oh," she said, no doubt weighing, as so many do, the likelihood of me being a collector versus the likelihood of me being "some kind of weirdo who buys other people's family photos to display in their home", and I was ready to slunk away with my $2 frame-and-picture when she added, "So you collect old pictures?"

I decided to go whole hog for once. I said, "Yes, I collect old pictures". I explained I had a whole wall of photos at the house of people not-related-to-me, and told her how much I liked to pore over the backgrounds and the clothes and think up stories about how and why and where the picture was taken. I figured I might as well state my case and THEN get called a whack job. Maybe I was just in a talkative mood. At any rate, the lady goes, "Well, if you're interested in pictures, there's three, four whole boxes of them in that back bedroom closet that a cousin of mine was going to come and take, and then turned out he didn't want 'em. Why don't you go and take a look and see if they're anything you could use?"

The high waisted pants, the fedora, the cigarette. SWAGGER..

Obviously, I had a tiny freak-out-of-the-mind and went to check out the boxes. The woman's teenage daughter came with me and we pulled out four HUGE cardboard boxes of memorabilia. Besides YEARS of vacation photos, there were slides, yearbooks, Valentine's day cards...I could tell just by sifting for a moment that there were probably a thousand different pieces of ephemera, INTACT, in one collection, that nobody wanted. "This was my aunt Doris's house," the sales lady went on to explain, "She's my mother's sister. And she doesn't have any other relatives and we've got copies of just about all these old photos, so if you want them, they're yours to take." I had been shrewdly calculating how much money I had left to give the woman to pay for the photos and good Lord,  how-much-is-she-going-to-ask-for-all-this-stuff, and she just wanted it off her hands and not in the dumpster! Jubilation! I thanked her about thirteen hundred times and filled the trunk and backseat with someone-else's-memories.

I spent the whole rest of the day in my den sorting photos by decade and trying to piece together who was related to who. I have no idea why I didn't get the woman's number so I could ask her about some of the various questions that popped up. As far as I can figure it, Doris was Ruth's sister (and Ruth is the sales lady's mother). I think they both grew up in Nashville but Ruth got married and moved to Atlanta in the 1940's. Doris married a blond man around the same time period, and had a son named after him that everyone called "Sonny" (the boy in the frame who got the whole mess started). In the mid 1950's, Doris remarried (did Sonny's father die? Did they get divorced?) Ray, a lawyer who worked for Life and Casualty Insurance. What I love from seeing picture after picture of the two of them, unposed and posed, at home and on the road, is the sense of fun you get from them. Middle aged, comfortably well-off, and at all times ready to kick their heels off and have some fun!

Photos go better with fezzes.

All the photos here are from the early and mid 60's, when they would have been married for a while. How do you like the Al Ballanco Orchestra with their Peter Pan hats and table-cloth sarongs? See Doris's keyhole dress and the white angora wrap she's carrying? Oh, and Ray's wearing a plaid sportscoat AND a fez. YOU KNOW THIS WAS A FUN EVENT TO ATTEND. I wish they had social organizations nowadays like the Shriners and the Masons must have been like "back in the day". I want an excuse to wear fancy clothes, listen to a live big band, and eat as much barbecue as I want ("you can EAT!" the banner behind them reassures me)!

The ghostliness of early Polaroids! This photo below was taken in the house where the sale was held. It was a really weird sale because the house was in a very good part of town, but the house was one, 90% empty and two, had obviously not been lived in for a long, long time. Have you been to estate sales like that, where everything's a little sun-stained or mildewed from sitting, unused, for several years? The place where we got the chord organ looked like something out of Dickens...this wasn't SO bad, but it did make me think about how many houses there probably are where someone's gone to a nursing home and no one feels quite right about selling the house or clearing it out while they're still alive. Spooky.

She always has the nicest hair.
Anyway, you'll probably be seeing more of Doris and Ray over the next few weeks as I scan in some of the more glamorous/funny/neat photos from the collection. The oldest one I have is from around the turn of the century, and they go all the way up into the early 90's! There's a lot of interesting ground in between, I promise.

Have a good weekend! Get some good stuff! See you on Monday!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Weekend Finds


Good morning! And if it wasn't a banner weekend for "the most random picks in the most random places". Take a look at some of the things I took home with me this past weekend! In reverse order of acquisition, let's start with the puzzles. Yeeeeah, I said puzzles.

Oh. Mah. Gawd.

I spent probably a half hour dredging the Goodwill in Hendersonville for a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g I could buy. Do you ever have moments on shopping trips where you're like "I did NOT come ALL THE WAY OUT HERE to NOT EVEN BUY ANYTHING" and have a sudden mania come over you while glancing into your empty shopping cart? Feeling grouchy, I was looking through the board games as a last minute act of desperation and saw the S.W.A.T. box peeking out from behind a dog eaten box of Boggle. I'd never heard of the tv show, but the crazy hilarious cover had me, and I was curious to see if there were any more tv tie-in games. WERE THERE EVER! I saw CHiPs and almost let out a yelp, and then actually could not believe my eyes when I found the Welcome Back Kotter box. This kind of "stuff Quentin Tarantino would buy" is just NEVER AROUND in thrift stores, and if it is, it's in a special collectible case up front with a ridiculously high price tag. 99 cents apiece, people! These puzzles were 99 cents apiece!

Another "wow" moment came at the Rivergate Goodwill (sometimes I like to make a gauntlet of visiting all four Goodwills on Gallatin Road, from East to Gallatin, because I'm just that addicted to thrift store shopping). I was digging through the record bin, which again, I was only taking a second look at after being bested in housewares and clothing with absolute bupkis. Two middle aged guys were also going through the bins and commenting on this classical pianist doing a two album set of Scott Joplin songs, or that former member of that big band doing a rhumba record in the late fifties'... signifying to me that they were serious collectors; ergo, if there happened to be some Doris Day 78 from the forties', they probably have already picked it up, so there's not much sense in looking for myself. However! I have to tell myself sometimes that just because the person thumbing through the racks with you has taste, they might not have your specific taste. Case in point: HOW DID THEY MISS THIS DON AMECHE CO-STAR RECORD? In mint condition? With the script? For 99 cents? "Co-Star", for the curious, was a party record game where the recording features a major star reading half the album, with appropriate pauses for you to read along with the included script, so it feels like you're "acting" with them. We found a copy of Vincent Price's "Co-Star" record online and used it, with FANTASTIC RESULTS, at the Vincentennial party we threw for his 100th birthday last year. I was interested to find others in the series (which also included titles with Pearl Bailey, Tallulah Bankhead, and Cesar Romero as your costar), but they're really expensive on ebay, even without the scripts sometimes! You can see where my excitement was palpable. I can't wait to try this guy out!

As for estate sale finds:

Cue strings soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann
My initial thoughts from an email I sent Eartha earlier in the week, post-baby-in-basement-finding:

I found a framed picture this weekend composed of a 1940's magazine cut-out of a baby's head and hands, dressed up with ACTUAL HUMAN BABY HAIR CURLS and a blanket and bonnet! Kind of like the ribbon art thing, kind of like hair art, but somewhere in between. Wild, right? I dug it out of a hoarder-basement in a house near the airport and the sales guy was like "I thought that was just a magazine print! Does it have hair?" Me: ((simply nods vigorously, not wanting to be taken for Norman Bates)).

I knew nothing about baby hair portraits until I read this post over at Honey Hi Vintage. It is not often that I discover a new vintage thing to be into! At the time I thought, well, that's neat, bet I'll never see one of those out in the wild. Maybe at an antique mall for like $100, but no way I'll find one sitting on its lonesome in a box of empty picture frames in a dig-your-own-sale style basement.

I think the early morning light makes it creepier...I apologize for my photography.

I found this washboard a couple boxes over at the same sale:

Who wants to join my jug band?

This and the baby picture were two of the only really "old" things in the Avon-collectible-and-tools-heaven that was the sale. I've never felt the need to own a washboard, but it seemed like an opportunity I didn't want to pass up. After mentioning the hair part of the baby picture, the sales guy says, "Oh, cool graphics on this washboard! This is in really good shape!" in a very Mike Wolfe, American Pickers kind of way.

It's funny how I instantaneously become stoic/not particularly friendly at this point of the sales process, especially when the salesperson gets all "did you know this is a..." on me. I have been burned a million too many times by estate sale people seeing that I'm young and "into" this kind of stuff and assuming that I don't know how much the blamed thing is worth or, worse, that I'll pay an inflated price out of inexperience and naivete. My favorite conversation, while trying to pick up a red straw pillbox hat I'd dug out of a disused, terrifying attic in West Meade: "Oh, that's collectible." ((Me, in my head: Yes! I know! I'm trying to collect it here!)) "I'd have to have twenty on that." What split do the spiders I had to face in, again, a completely untagged, unorganized attic get on that twenty dollars? Also, are you high? I think I dickered her down to $15, but she did act like I must not have enough money and obviously didn't understand the value of vintage hats, which was $5 worth of pride I might have liked to have kept. IN ANY EVENT, I was sure the guy was going to say forty dollars after he'd seen how cool my items were, but he ended up asking eight for both the washboard and hair picture. RESUME FRIENDLINESS! I was happy as a lark.

So THAT'S what you are...

Last but not least, I've had this forever, but I thought I'd show it to you anyway as I recently re-appreciated when Matthew's mom, Deb, came over to the house and noticed it hanging in the den. "Oh, how cute! I love sand pipers!" she said, eyeing the needlework that went into their creation. "I used to love watching them run in the surf, you know,  when I lived in California." I've had this picture since 2003... it was one of the first things I bought in Knoxville when I went up to college, on a half off sticker at the Kingston Pike Goodwill, for $10. It hung in three successive dorm rooms before coming with me to the house we rented off campus for my senior year, then back to my folks house, and finally to the house where Matthew and I currently live, always displayed in a place of pride. IN ALL THAT TIME, I did not know these were sand pipers! Living my entire life in a landlocked state, I've always called them "partridges" or "quails", knowing full well they look like neither, but not knowing what else to call them. I hang my head a little while learn something every day!

Hope you guys had the luck of the Irish I did this past weekend, and if not, that you do this coming weekend! Find anything good? Any good/bad/hilarious experiences with snooty/friendly/off the wall sales people? Could you identify a sand piper with grace and aplomb? Do tell!

See you tomorrow for Photo Friday!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Marchesa Casati (1900's-1920's)

Good morning! Have I told you, lately, that I'm doing a giveaway?

I think if there was a dead-serious, Edwardian, bohemian female counterpart to Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World", it would probably be the Marchesa Luisa Casati, an Italian heiress who gives the word "eccentric" a run for its money. I was looking over some estate sale listing last weekend when the picture on the right (above) caught my eye, in the form of a vintage repro hanging on the wall of  a condo in Bellevue. The picture at the sale probably came from that wonderful series of Smithsonian re-issues in the 1960's that look just-like-you-have-a-real-painting-of-a-real-work-of-art, and I knew I was familiar with the artist (Bloomsbury group intimate Augustus John) but not the subject. Who was this gorgeous woman of mystery? A fame-less beauty...a figment of John's imagination....or....?

Unfortunately, I didn't make it out to the sale, but I did manage to pinpoint the girl by googling the artist. I also picked up a copy of the book Infinite Variety: the Life and Legend of the Marchesa Luisa Casati, by Scot D. Ryerson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino (remind me next time I need a stage name to recall that man's surname) from our very own NPL. The book was well-written but a little on the dull side when I opened it at random, recounting this and that Baronet's social position in the late nineteen teens', until the going got good around three or four pages deep, in a description of one of Luisa Casati's "get-up"'s:

Luisa looked even stranger in appearance...She had now added eyelashes two inches long to her enormous eyes, and her hair was more flame like than ever. She came down to supper in tight white satin trousers and announced her intention of visiting Oxford with us the next day. We were all rather nervous... but she mercifully arrayed herself in a huge black coal scuttle bonnet and so many furs that not a single undergraduate glanced at her.

I love thinking about this proto Marlene Dietrich vamp, looking like something out of an Edward Gorey illustration, flouncing around stuffy Oxfordtown near the turn of the century. Show 'em what for, Luisa!

"Dressed in Bakst's "Queen of the Night" costume, 1922.
In a world which has since known everyone from Isabella Blow to one extreme and Anna Sui to another, the gothic temptress figure of Luisa Casati probably wouldn't so much as raise an eyebrow. BUT IN 1910's EUROPE? Even for Europe a lot of her ensembles sound like something so far to the edge as to be hovering in outer space.

An Adolf de Meyer photograph, circa 1920's
A conversation with her hairdresser in the 1910's:

'I know now what I am,' she said. 'Since I've been in India I am sure. In another incarnation, I was a tiger. Now I am tigress. Look at me. Do you see?' ...Dressed in long, black, clinging gowns with no corsets and always accompanied by a tiger cub, she indeed gave the impression of a tigress.

The hairdresser goes on to describe how he henna'd Casati's hair in alternating stripes of tawny orange and black to further encourage the comparison, before also trying, as the mood struck her, shades of bright green and finally black during their acquaintance. While this is something Siouxsie Sioux could do with impunity seventy years later...think about how this is only barely a decade into the twentieth century.


Lots of eccentric behavior accompanied the outfits. At a dinner party, someone asked Casati if a gold snake necklace she wore was of Egyptian origin. Casati she smiled and touched the necklace, whereupon the sleeping snake woke and slithered from her neck to her shoulder. What! What do you mean!  Casati also moved into a rented villa in Capri against the owner's wishes by some technicality of the law. What's so bad about that? She summarily redecorated the place with "gold curtains and heavy draperies of black carpets and animal skins...ebony furniture. [One room was] now reserved for Casati's sorcery paraphenalia...a black sheepskin rug had been nailed to one wall and others were adorned with quotations and proverbs handwritten in French with black paint." At the time, she was also attended by an African footservant whom she would paint in all gold, and who ate two live chickens a day. Again, totally normal behavior.

An interesting note on the Augustus John painting that had me interested in Casati in the first place: it's notable for its subject's LACK of extreme costume and make-up. An art critic in the book said something about John recognizing that even stripped of all the outre trappings, Casati's real power came from those striking eyes. And they do follow you from the paintings.

Giovanni Boldini portrait circa 1900. The ermine! The ostrich feathers! The hints of purple!

Casati's idiosyncratic behavior continued throughout the teens' and twenties'...however, the fun stopped in 1930 when her belongings were auctioned off to pay the twenty five million dollars in debt she'd amassed during a forty year spree of self-indulgence. That's $323,289,354.30 in modern money. FOR THE LOVE OF THE LORD. Make it my new life goal to run up that high of a debt through sheer force of personality.

Anyway, if you're interested in reading about the vamp to end all vamps, pick up Infinite Variety. And don't be surprised if you see me in ostrich feathers and false eyelashes, walking a leopard on a leash down Eastland! I've got a style crush!

Are you interested in art nouveau/art deco/art art from the 1910's and 20's? Who's been inspiring you, fashion wise, lately? Let a girl know!

I've got some weekend finds to show you guys tomorrow...and some of 'em are doozies. See you then!

Further reading:
Super in-depth website HERE
Great style blog post here
Wikipedia article on the John painting HERE

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mini Mart a la Carte (2005)

Good morning! Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!

Having been a hardcore supporter of the convenience store lifestyle in college, the title of the book Mini Mart a la Carte appealed to me right off the bat! The word "mini mart" instantly sends me reminiscing upon days spent driving around Knox County with a cute blues-organ-and-harmonica player, his recently broken foot and crutch sticking out the window, trying to locate a Pilot gas station where he could stock up on American Spirits and I could refill my ever empty 99 cent Icee Big Gulp (the Icee Corporation lost so much money on me and that cup that summer). While the title sounds a lot like a gift book an aunt would give you for graduation, it's actually a pretty funny, tongue-firmly-in-cheek (I hope?) guide to haute cuisine a la the industrial Cuisinart sandwich toaster next to the rotating weenie display at your local 7-Eleven.

Anything! Is! Possible!

Gallatin Goodwill, 99 cents. I bought this and a ceramic, roaring bear's head. Good haul.

I remember in the Townes van Zandt documentary Be Here to Love Me, TvZ's son (of TvZ himself?) mentioned his family shopping exclusively at convenience stores throughout his childhood. While I was taken aback at first, the practicality of it slowly dawned on me.Think about, if you were really set your mind to it, how many things you can buy at a convenience store that would save you a trip to the anxiety-inducing mega-grocery-store closest your home. Eggs. Milk. Bread. American Singles.Frozen dinners. Besides the standard fare of slushees and Mars bars, there's a world of culinary opportunities awaiting you in those bite-sized aisles. Authors Christopher Rouser and Victoria Traug offer up wryly titled recipes ("New England Spam Chowder", "Tuna Sasserole", and my personal favorite, "Banana Nicole Smith") that use equipment and ingredients found solely within the confines of your local stop-and-go. Wanna see some pics? You know you're deadly curious by now.

"Congealed" is the word that comes to mind...
"Ramen Romanoff" (above) is a kind of beef stroganoff slash macaroni and cheese fashioned from ramen noodles, cottage cheese, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Through most of these recipes I go "AAAAAaaaah! Sick! Sick!" and then think back on what a real recipe for, say, stroganoff, would entail, and realize the authors, however ironic they're being, are not far off the mark in terms of taste similarities. Sour cream seems sick anyway you use it; and yet, if you're going to create a cream sauce, you're gonna have to! Note the condensed-milk milkshake in the background.

I'm mellllllltiiiiiing.....
This little devil is called "The Trojan Horse", for which you need a can of SPAM, 2 ounces of Velveeta, and a toothpick. And a willing audience. "Basically," the text instructs, "You're going to carve up the hunk of SPAM into a horse-shape." I'm gonna what....!! The carving of food items to look like not-food items has appealed to me ever since I first laid eyes on Betty Crocker's fruit peacock (not  a euphemism! My friend Alyx made a gorgeous example of one of these for a past Fourth of July). Note the Olde English six pack pairing-- I love the beverage suggestions in these photos. It reminds me of the "pair blah blah blah kind of wine with blah blah blah meat dish" advice you see in fine dining manuals...hey! Spam and Olde English 88! A match made in heaven/hell itself!

 The "Tooth Grinder" is a submarine sandwich made of one packet mayo, 1 packet mustard, 1 hot dog bun, assorted beef jerky sticks, American cheese, FUNYUNS (really? REALLY?), and optional Italian dressing. Again, I am reminded of wing ding foods made for me by other people's parents on playdates in the mid 90' know that mistrustful feeling you had as a child when a strange looking plate of (usually cheese laden) food was placed in front of you and you didn't want to be rude, but you also didn't want to ingest items not-prepared-by-your-own-mom? This would be, like, the KING of those kind of foods. "Try it! You'll like it!" ....Or will you! I think that also may be a Diet Rite in the background....the "cold drink" of choice of either of my diabetic maternal grandparents. "Go get me a cold drink in yonder!" translates to "Can you bring me a Diet Rite from the refrigerator?"

Turn a brighter....shade of pink....
 In the beverage section, besides wantonly suggesting one 1 part grain alcohol (Everclear) to 10 parts slushee to create "The Brain Drain" (and blithely ignoring the South's absolute lack of convenience stores or grocery stores for that matter that sell liquor, due to bible belt alcohol laws), we have, above, the "Pink of Health", a combination of Smirnoff Ice and Pepto Bismol. "Here is a breakthrough beverage that delivers both the cause of and the cure for a hangover." Is it good or bad that no one has thought of this before?

Circle K is actually more popular in these parts, but you get the picture. (source)

Besides recipes, the book also boasts fun facts about convenience stores. Did you know:
  • In 2002, 7-Eleven sold thirty-three million gallons of fountain drinks-- enough to fill over seventy five Olympic sized pools?
  • The first 24-hour mini mart was a 7-Eleven in Austin, TX which, in 1962, was so busy after a University of Texas football game they decided to stay open all night?
  • Up until 1946, 7-Eleven stores were called "Tote'm" stores because customers would "tote" away their purchases?

This book is ridiculously cheap on Amazon...if you can brave some of the more nausea-inducing recipes, it's a cute little read for an afternoon of Slurpee fueled nostalgia. I loved it!

Are you a convenience store junkie? What are some of the weirdest things you've purchased/eaten from a 7-Eleven? Any way out, middle of the night, crazy stories from behind the beef jerky display? Share!

And if you haven't had a chance yet, please enter my DressBarn dresstravaganza giveaway! Details on Mondays blog. May the best commenter win!


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