Friday, January 31, 2014

Photo Friday Rerun: The Frozen Cumberland River Edition (1940)

Hi guys! 

I've got my dance card filled up for this Friday morning, but I didn't forget about you! I thought I would share this Photo Friday from May of last year to mark the occasion of She Was a Bird getting some press coverage-- Nashville News Channel 2's meteorologist Davis Nolan did a report on the frozen Cumberland River and used my family photos to help illustrate it! I thought they were neat, and I'm glad an even large audience than I'd originally thought of got to enjoy them! You can see the newscast here and a slideshow of the photos here. Have a great weekend and stay warm! I will see you all on Monday. Take care.   -Lisa

Good morning!

It's Friday, and you know what that means...vintage photographs! Here's a fun one from my own family photos in Nashville, year of our Lord 1940. My dad's dad and his brothers are the protagonists in this nail-biting tale of adventure on the frozen tundra! (Kind of.)

My fourteen year old granddad, his twelve year old brother George, and his eight year old brother James did not heed the Nashville Banner headline "Don't Risk Your Life on the River!" from the January 27th, 1940 edition of that local paper. What kind of 1940's kids would they be! I'm glad they didn't so I could bring this pair of pictures from seventy-three years ago, chronicling the last time the river upon which the city of Nashville was founded in the 1700's was frozen solid. Is it not kind of amazing that they're just standing there, looking cool, a couple hundred feet out from the shore? I would have been scared to death of plummeting to my icy demise underneath, but they look nonplussed about their winter walk on the water. I love the clothes and hats on both boys (my grandad and James) here, and my dad's dad's incredible height. I think I was my full height by this age, but was girls grow quicker than boys, my granddad still had a couple more inches to go before reaching his adult stature of 6'2''.

Here's George in short pants and a coat that would still be fashionable today. What I love about photos of my great-uncle George is how he always has the snazziest vêtements out of everyone in whatever photo he appears. His brothers and dad were no slouches when it came to dress, but if there was a bowtie to be worn or a foulard to be knotted at one's neck, you'd better believe George was taking advantage of the occasion to don said neckwear. He had the good looks and height, not to mention panache, to pull this off as an adult, as well, but doesn't he look confident and awesome in his river walk photo. I also love how some stranger's kid (who looks uncannily like some crowd scene extra in a Frank Capra movie) has photo bombed George's big moment on ice. "Say, what's goin' on here?" his face says, and then click! Captured forever on film.

These two photos are from the Banner and The Tennessean, respectively, from that year. You can see my family wasn't alone in throwing caution to the January wind and running out on the ice! I keep thinking of the first person that morning of the four-day-freeze who went "Ma! Grab the kids! The Cumberland's froze-over! No foolin', it's rock solid! Let's go!" as well as the last person who went "Ah, we'll go on Thursday when I get out of work" and missed his once in a lifetime chance to walk on water.

Did you ever read George Zepp's write-in answers column about Nashville history in the Tennessean? I don't know if he still does it or not, but this was definitely a mainstay of weekly weekend newspaper reading for my dad and me when I still lived with my parents in high school. An excerpt from the collected columns in Zepp's book The Hidden History of Nashville (click the link to see more preview pages), details the freeze and the Cumberland's history of freezing over:

How do you like that! It's possible the city itself was founded due to a freeze exactly like this one, enabling settlers to clamber across the water towards the banks of what would be Music City, U.S. of A. Here's another clipping from The Nashville Banner, circa I think the 1990's. Click for a closeup view.

So! What do you think? Do you have any neat photos of relatives in amazing weather conditions that bore out taking a picture for historical purposes? Have you ever been secretly delighted to see how grown-up clothes and children's clothes were so similar back in the day? What's the neatest winter photo taken of you or your family? Let's talk!

That's all for today, kids! Have a great weekend! Wish me luck at the sales, and I'll see you on Monday! Til then.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Drexel Precedent Furniture (Midcentury MARVELOUS, 1947)

Good morning!

Well, folks, I've fallen in love-- not to worry, Bab's place in the firmament is still secure, but I think I truly have lost my heart to this line of Drexel furniture produced in year of our Lord 1947. The Precedent line was featured, if you remember, in that House Beautiful spread I shared with you last week. I was digging through an August 1947 issue of Home and Garden when I came across this TWENTY PAGE SUPPLEMENT on Drexel Precedent and the furniture dealers from whom you could buy Drexel Precedent. Seeing as I had googled this furniture group when I did the last post and only found scant listings and modern photos of Precedent pieces, I thought, for your viewing pleasure (and for safe-keeping, MCM reference wise), I would share with you the whole nine yards worth of bee-YOOT-iful home furnishings on today's blog.

What are we waitin' for?! Let's dig in!

Neutra-looking house on the cover...You KNOW this issue's going to be good...
For starters, House and Garden was a great magazine that had a print run from 1901-2007. Initially beginning its century-long history as an architectural publication, the magazine's emphasis shifted shortly thereafter, with Condé Nast's acquisition of its holdings in 1915, to interior design. And people, we are talking SERIOUS. INTERIOR DESIGN. I plucked the massive, dusty bound volume marked July-Dec 1947 from its shelf here at the Nashville Public Library and glutted myself practically all day yesterday on its colorful pages. What caught my eye most, as I said, was the spotlight on Drexel Precedent. I feel like Aunt Pity in GWTW looking over some of these rooms. Fetch the smelling salts, and take a look with me:

Edward J. Wormley designed the Drexel Precedent line, and according to the accompanying text, the complete line could be had at any of the twenty-four dealers named on the first page of the advertising supplement. I was telling my coworker Amy that even though many of these furniture stores probably don't exist anymore, and if they did, they're not selling 1947 furniture on their respective floor rooms, I was miffed that the closest Drexel dealer to Nashville was either St. Louis (Craig Furniture Company) or Cincinnati (the alluringly named Shillito's). I'm going to have to drive four or five hours to get my hands on these modern living room, dining room, and bedroom suites? Gimme a break! Still, I'd walk to the Show Me state if someone would let me get my grubby little paws on just ONE PIECE of these amazing collections of tables, chairs, bedframes, china cabinets-- I was seeing stars!

One of my favorite things thus far about 1947 interiors are the c-o-l-o-r-s you get, and one of the best examples is the panel that opens the collection in the photo above. While I know it might be a long time or maybe never before I have so graciously appointed a living room as the one in this two-page overlay, I CAN take heart in the gorgeous combinations of primary and muted hues, symmetrically placed furniture, and just elegantly comfortable vibe reflected in the designer's choices here. Inventory-- a pair of slim china cabinets flanking a pair of benches...geometric, nubby, rectangular rug...cherry red étagère...figural lamp with possibly some pan-Asian influence going on...and those apple green walls. THIS, PEOPLE. IT'S WHAT I WANT. IT'S WHAT I NEED! The vivid pink color against those turquoise, yellows, and blonde wood. I feel like later in the midcentury things either got very hard-edged in their atomic bent, or they got pale greys and pinks and blues, but these warm, primary-ish colors really, really appeal to me right now. As does the stated purpose in the Precedent line, which is, I quote, "To make your home lovelier...more livable." It's like they can see inside my thoughts! 0_o 

The photo above, and the next two, are my top three favorites, thought they're all my favorites:

I just made a noise that sounds like someone socked me right in the breadbasket. "Uuugh!". While a lot of these rooms are aspirationally set in penthouses, the text assures me that I'll "discover how perfectly simple it is to create gracious and charming rooms...whether you live in a penthouse like this or a cottage in the country." What about a ranch-style three bedroom of modest size in Inglewood? Well, you fill in the blanks for yourself, but I promise, after a home visit, you'll be reassured of how happy a home I could make by adopting these gorgeous room sets. See the orange tile floor, the black iron stair-rail, the grey carpet, and blonde wood, all complimented by the sky blue wall and ceiling? I hope someday I have a ceiling high enough to allow for it to be that same color as the wall. I am actually dying over the African art on the mile-long buffet, the red-background painting to the left, and the Calder-esque mobile. Isn't it funny when you see a bunch of disparate things that are so harmoniously arranged, it all of a sudden seems strange you didn't think of it naturally, in the first place? I forgot to mention it on the outset, but each panel is accompanied by a large text box, as you can see here, that reads, "It's news because it's so __________! " I truly think they ran out of adjectives at one point, but bear with 'em.

Some of you are going, "too cluttered, too crazy!" about the room above, but I am crazy about the fussiness of combining new and old and LOTS OF BOTH in a small room. My next big design project in the house (yes, I allow myself the luxury of talking like I'm on HGTV sometimes...see me making a hoity-toity face while purring the word "dessssiiign project") is tackling the green room's complete nonsense of decoration and furniture arrangement. My problems in that room are threefold-- a) I love everything in there, b) none of it really goes together, c)there's way too much of it and not enough storage/room. I'm going to have to make some hard choices, but I hope to use the photo above as a kind of inspiration-- see how much STUFF is going on while the place still looks functional and cozy? Can I get a witness? I hope this is how my efforts turn out.

Look, another penthouse:

The "flexible" in this scenario refers to the fact that you can split up the sectional into interchangeable groupings-- two chairs apart, two chairs together to make a loveseat, one chair on its own-- heck, you could arrange these classroom style if you wanted, row by row, or face them all away from each other if the notion struck your fancy. I definitely like the idea of being able to move these from room to room and the furniture accomodates the change, rather that having to buy one set for one room and well, if you don't like the way it's set up, you'd have to buy an entirely new room of furniture to be rid of it. PS: THOSE. LAMPS.

One of the neatest things about the Precedent line are the arm chairs, and specifically, the cable lacing on them. They remind me of a seismographic read out or one of those plastic-lacing kits you would do in kindergarten to improve manual dexterity...and I love them. I wonder how hard it would be to DIY something like this (with the supervision, tools, and know-how of my pappy? Not so hard. With my own bare hands? Probably pretty hard). Wouldn't it be cool to have a knockoff? I found one real deal, cushionless piece on Ebay, but it was a leeetle out of my price range. Don't you love that pallid bust of Pallas o'er the china cabinet (I know, I know, it's not Pallas Athena, I just wanted to say that for once in context...). The drapes, with their floral on black on oh-please-let-that-be-some-kind-of-velvet, are gorgeous, too.

Holy smokes, where did you rip off that ancient funerary statue, MCM homeowner? Remind me to be on a look out for some enormous piece like that when I hit the flea market next month. It looks like it might come to life in the night, but heck, we needed something to shake things up around here. Notice again the fearless use of beiges and browns here. I feel like we have lost that altogether as a culture-- people see taupe or wood finish and go "OH I WONDER IF THAT WOULD LOOK BETTER IN A SHERBET ORANGE?! FOR CONTRAST, YOU KNOW?! We could even mask out a chevron pattern to 'preserve the original integrity of the vintage wood!' " I got my blood boiling reading Apartment Therapy's Before and After earlier, which sometimes, can be very good (comme ci) and sometimes, can be very bad (comme ça; sorry, buddy, that is awful). Have these people ever heard of curtains, rugs, wall hangings? THESE things can bring a shock of gorgeous color to the homefront. But boyo should have left the damn sidetable like it was, or bought something closer to what he wanted! I digress. Did you notice how many chairs are at the table below? Twelve. I counted 'em!

I lied earlier, I have four favorites, and this is the fourth. I am almost convinced to try indoor plants again after seeing how much life and style they bring to these rooms, and I am actually chewing on a knuckle over how much I love that wood paneling in squares and all the built ins (see the lamp above the radio? I die). All the little echoes of yellow and blue and red in this room....again, perfect.

Look at the built in lights in this one! I think you would have to have, as always, a way higher ceiling, but I do think this is mondo pretty and functional, too. I wonder if you've noticed in some of  these 1947 spreads-- often, when faced with filling up a large space with a small piece of furniture, they just bunk up two or three pieces of furniture next to each other. In this illustration, you can see a central chest of drawers and mirror flanked by two smaller cabinets and mirrors to create this enormous, banquette like dressing station. Also, to the right, two wide-seated chairs are grouped together to form an almost bench. I thought about how these might shift when you sit in them, but if you discreetly quik-tied them together in an inconspicuous place, problem solved!

Nice wall map! The plaids and stripes and navy aren't my favorite, but I still wouldn't kick those chairs out of bed for eatin' crackers.

This room is called the "Brazil room" in the byline, thought I'm not a hundred percent sure first, I thought the pattern on the wallpaper had some kind of Eiffel Tower motif, but upon closer inspection, maybe it's just tropical flora? No idea. I love, love, LOVE the curtains, though, and the idea of having a little bench to pull my boots off of an evening.

One thing people were big on (besides combining furniture, besides color palettes to knock your socks off) were metal window blinds in "fashion colors". I love the look of these because every time I see a non-plastic, wider than your thumb shade like this, I immediately think of film noir detective offices and the-life-I-could-have as a film noir femme fatale. This bedroom has the blinds, but they're pink-- I don't know if that takes away from their charm or adds to it. The splashy wallpaper and powder-horn-base lamps are calling out to me.

Same room from a different angle...I love all the MIRRORS, doesn't this room have a ton of light thanks to those?

This "likable" room is so modern you wouldn't bat an eye to see it in 2017 rather than 1947. So classic and pretty, and those modern lines complement the antique setting just fine!

Dining room scene-- I love how that side table can convert into seating for an additional twelve people, providing that you bring your own chairs. And the decorative screen matches the wallpaper to the right matches the curtains to the left...well played, Drexel! Well played.

Who says purple and yellow and grey can't go together? (Me, but I was wrong, look how pretty!). I love the oversized fighting Audubon birds in the print and the smaller bird prints underneath.

I would find this problematic if I lived there, like a lot of glassfront midcentury designs. When I was a kid and we were driving around residential neighborhoods at night for whatever reason, in transit from one place to home, maybe, my mom would look at the houses illuminated from the inside and naked to the street, lobbing a disparaging, "Guess they can't afford curtains," at the otherwise well-manicured, high-tone home. Did your parents ever stress and stress and stress over the use of closed curtains at night over forward facing windows? It seems like, in retrospect, it was almost a mania with mine!

This room is lovely...we have a funny little electric keyboard set in a baby-grand body in the den of our house, and I wonder if I could make ti look as swank as this with the appropriate furniture... I need floor space more than furniture to make this wish come true, but a gal can dream!

Don't these crates remind you of Yaffa crates like you used to have in high school, except see-through? I don't like these ad hoc display pieces nearly as much as I like the primitive painting (tapestry?) on the wall, but it's the only flaw I've seen in this whole design cavalcade so far!

I think I might have missed a room or two in the process of uploading to my email and downloading the computer and uploading back to Blogger (ugh, technology! Plus the Blogger app can be such a pain), but I'm sure you're tired of these rooms by now anyway!

So! Which is your favorite room? Do you spy with your little eye a piece of the Precedent line that just makes your heart go pitter patter? What colors appeal to you in these scenes? Have you seen any vintage decorating lately that just makes you want to start moving the furniture around? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday! Take care. Til then!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Musician's Hall of Fame Ceremony (2014)

Good morning!

I'll tell you what-- I am WIPED. OUT. from the Musician's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last night. My father-in-law was playing in the house band and Barbara Mandrell, my dad's beloved seventies' country crush, was being inducted, so Dad and I tagged along with David and April to the ceremony (poor little Bub had to work). We even got to go to the after party afterwards! Swank, n'est-ce pas?

I took a blue million pictures, but between where we were and the amplifiers shaking my already shaky hand, only a few came out all right-- here there are:

I look like a wax figure, but Dad looks pretty cool! I spent a lot of time from this vantage point watching women take their seats in UNBELIEVABLE full length mink coats. Let's just say I was jealous, a bit, a little, a LOT.
Peter Frampton brought out his voicebox for "Do You Feel Like I Do", and joined Will Lee, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Billy Gibbons for a jam out to "La Grange". Matthew's dad is the guy with the trombone! :)
Chris Isaak sang two Roy Orbison songs and wore a Nudie-esque (maybe Manuel??) suit with flashy, gorgeous piping details and a mauve-ish pink tie. Cute as a button.
After the paaaarty, it's the AFTER party. I saw Roy Orbison's sons roaming around, and one of them had a for-real Edwardian walking stick on with a red waistcoast and flowing locks. He looked....well, freakin' awesome, to put it bluntly.
The show was pretty killer, and we even got to mingle around during the after party, but I was out wa-a-a-ay past my bedtime. The Cliff Notes: 
  1. Layed actual human eyes on musical hero Neil Young accepting a posthumous award for his longtime steel guitar player, Ben Keith (though he didn't play-- why, Neil! Why no song!). Keith played on, oh, like ALL Young's seventies' records (Harvest, After the Gold Rush, etc). His first gig as a session musician was, I am not kidding, on Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces". No words.
  2. Randy Bachman, from BTO and the Guess Who, just MELTED faces with killer guitar riffs and was hands down the best performance of the night. While Robbie Roberston was the frontman (and only American) in Guess Who, Bachman played guitar in the Canadian rock outfit and wrote all their hits ("American Woman", "Undun", "These Eyes", "No Sugar Tonight", "Laughin'" etc). Bachman was singer/songwriter/guitarist in Bachman Turner Overdrive, and he was LAYING IT. DOWN. on "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" (probably in my top 30 favorite songs of all time) and "Takin' Care of Business".
  3. Duane Eddy, um, a) was there in person, holy cats; two, played "Rebel Rouser" (!!) with girl rhythm guitar inductee Corki Casey O'Dell, who cut the original record with him in 1958. 
  4. PETER M'F'N FRAMPTON WAS ALL UP IN THAT PIECE, OMG. I had honest to goodness forgotten he was on the bill until he came up, even though he was one of the people I was most looking forward to seeing! That's how tired I was at 10:30 after a seventeen hour day. He was so charming and little teeny tiny slim in real life! As was Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top for that matter. His beard (and monster talent) were the biggest things about him! Stars always looks 50 feet high on billboards, it's so weird to see them in real life!
  5.  My dad was most impressed with 1) meeting Barbara Mandrell, 2) getting to see Barbara Mandrell, 3) Barbara Mandrell, 4) The cheese selection at the after party. Just kidding, he was really into Randy Bachman's awesome set as well. 
We had a great time, but BOY am I beat! I will share these videos of some of the inductees tearin' it up back-in-the-day, go drink my Emergen-C, and try to make it to 6 pm without collapsing.





Tomorrow, I've got a whale of a midcentury ephemera find to share with you! MIDCENTURY TO THE GILLS, folks. Tune in and I'll be right as rain and back with vintage words of wisdom tomorrow. Take care! Keep a good thought for me at work today! I'll see you then. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weekend Finds: Flea Market and Beyond

Good morning!

Ooooh, confession time: I was very bad this weekend. While I did manage to release almost a trunkful of goods from the green room back out into the wild, I cannot tell a lie-- I bought some really fun stuff this weekend. Between the flea market and a spur of the moment trip to Gallatin, I was feeling the white hot heat of a junk buyin' streak. While I did manage to stop myself from picking up a few extraneous items, these were too good to live without!

Item one: VINTAGE BABY KEEPSAKE 3D COLLAGE. I about died when I saw this in the Creative Arts building on Saturday morning, where my dad and I were taking temporary refuge from the frigid temperatures dehors. "Dad! Go look over there, I gotta talk brass tacks with who ever's running this booth!" I said, making a beeline past a man-high display of lace doilies to the shelf where the photo was perched.

As you may remember from the last time I showed you nightmare fuel, I have another little baby photo like this with REAL HUMAN HAIR AAAAH. This little pretty only has a blanket, pillow, and onesie, but the dreamy three dimensionality of it sucked me in and I managed to dicker the booth's owner down to a outside-dealer rather than inside-dealer price. So spooky! The dealer said, "It's unusual, isn't it? It's funny, but I've been in the business twenty-five years and I notice you young folks, you like WEIRD stuff nowadays. I can't hardly sell any of these tablecloths and perfume bottles like I did ten years ago, y'all want kind of strange, off the beaten path stuff, you know?" Yes...I do know, sir. Though I've bought a pretty thing or two in my life, act like my heart's blood isn't the wacky, almost macabre stuff you see lying on that road not taken as two paths diverged in a yellow wood. It is what it is!

I got these two watches in one of the animal sheds, and the little celluloid pin in the Creative Arts building. The watch on the left works, but runs WAY too fast. I wound it, heard the brisk marching heartbeat of the timepiece, and had a Twilight Zone like thought for a moment, thinking of how it would be if you wound the watch and suddenly the speed at which time passed was dictated by the little cogs and wheels inside the watch back! Luckily, I am still little old 28 year old me, and not a thousand year old crone by now, but it was a cute thought. How do you like the Art Deco face on the other one? I'm going to try and take them to a watch man across the street in the old Harvey's building and see if it works! (Also, it's an excuse to go up in the old Harvey's was a famous department store in Nashville in the forties' and fifties' and still has office space in the old storerooms!) The pin was there last month and I was eating my heart out that I didn't snatch it up-- it refers to the Sadie Hawkins-like practice of women being able to propose to men in the leap year. Yeah, I know, you're a liberated 21st century women, you can "speak dear" whenever you want these days, but isn't this a sweet little piece?

I was walking through the Antiques shed when I picked up this black fur piece to see what it was (I am always trying to emulate Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express; I am never stopping). The lady running the stall flew by me with a handful of other things she was laying out on a table and hollered over her shoulder, "That's cheap, honey; I'd let that go for five dollars." It was only then that I realized....THE FUR PIECE HAD A FACE. I know you're going, Lisa, you no good rotten double crossin' face-ownin' fur wearer, but five bucks...and if I tuck it a certain way, you can't see the face! (#stillguilty) As we made the transaction and I dug a five dollar bill out of my purse, the woman's mother, an older woman, came up and said, "Oh, that just looks like you. I bet that piece was waiting for you to come by and snatch it up." I love how flea vendors always peg me as "that kind of person who would buy that". What does that mean?! I'll try and take it as a compliment, I guess!

These 1940's or 50's "Pic-Tiles" by Mary Allen show you what life would be like if you were made out of household vegetables. I looked and looked for more of these but there were only two; at fifty cents apiece, I would call them a steeeeeal! How cute it the little burrow? I am now thinking of tiling the under-counter space for the sole purpose of being able to incorporate these guys into the tile.

That did it for the flea market-- my dad bought a huge Japanese flag from the forties' or fifties' for $30, and we both went home with high feelings of shopping satisfaction. 

But that wasn't all, folks! Friday, I visited the Gallatin Goodwill and scored this sweet piece of swag:

Which is chiefly, this (ignore flyaway beehive, need more pins)...hellllllooooo 1950's sweater. This ding dang wonder of a beaded sweater was winking at me from the sweater section of the Gallatin Goodwill on Friday afternoon. I hardly ever look at the sweater section except for black, wool cardigans, but as I was cutting across to the dresses I caught a glimpse of the crazy beadwork out of the corner of my eye and walked back to see if it was what I thought it was. I try not to get excited in situations like this, because Lord knows I've been known to mistake some ugly 90's juniors' top for a bohemian, seventies' peasant blouse, or a bright, gorgeous green might sadly be attached to a 3X paisley blouse instead of the vintage pullover I thought it was...but this was the real McCoy! Lined on the inside, and look at that beadwork! I forgot to photograph the label, but it features the maker and the boast that this piece is 100% pure cashmere, and I believe this to be the truth!

There was also this sixties' box purse, which opens like a makeup case. Ain't it a "peacherino", as someone put it in a forties' movie I was watching the other day? I love the handle! I swore off purses last week, but here I am again on my own.... 

And last but not least, I dropped in at the Gallatin town square to visit Tina at Country Mouse City Mouse Estate Sales. When she's not running her fabulous in-house tag sales across Davidson and surrounding counties, Tina runs a storefront on the square that specializes in gorgeous, extremely reasonably priced vintage furniture and antiques (look at this chair, and then look me in the eye and tell me you don't want it). While I would have loved the joint anyway solely based on my affinity and deep love for her waist-high standard poodle, a "store dog" who greeted me at the door by walking up, leaning against my hip, and patiently waiting to be petted with the elegance of small, graceful pony, I can't lie, I also LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the inventory. Check out what I got!

I bought two blouses and sweater that all had THE CUTEST matching skirts and shorts...sorry for me I am a size four or six on top and a 12 on bottom, as the matching skirts to these separates were about a size 0-2. But I did manage to get into the tops! The one above features a sailor/nautical print and is JUST AS ADORABLE IN REAL LIFE. Look at the closeup! (And also note that these whites will be much whiter when I hand wash them in my trusty Biz):

Look at this batik/tiki print/patchwork thing going on with this! You love it!

And this batwing mint green sixties' sweater was just like "well, I'm here, lemme get this one, too."

This was super cool-- Tina gets these rings from a woman in town takes clip on vintage earrings missing their mates, or too huge and doorknocker-y for us modern gals to wear (I know, you find it hard to believe, but there are some earring that are too out there for ME) and turns them into cocktail rings. I resisted at first, but this gorgeous, over-the-top hand ornament finally won my heart. $9! And KILLER DILLER. If you're up for a tiny little road trip, you should head up to Gallatin (it's like 10 minutes past Rivergate, East Nashville girls) and visit Country Mouse City Mouse, it's a heck of fun place! :)

All right, I've gabbed on way too long-- what did you find out in the world this weekend? Which of these finds is your favorite? Expert tips for working the flea market to your maximum advantage? What kinds of things make YOU break your self imposed strictures on what you should or shouldn't buy? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll catch you back here first thing tomorrow. Have a great Tuesday! Til then.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lonesome (Paul Fejos, 1928)

Good afternoon!

How was your weekend? I spent most of it in a flurry of activity (guests over to the house on Thursday and Saturday nights! Flea market Saturday morning! Deep-cleanse of the green room's free-floating detritus on Sunday!), but that doesn't mean I didn't take any time to stop and smell the roses. In my case, that flora took the form of a stack of movies from the library on Friday afternoon and evening, which, as you can imagine, I was excited about getting a chance to seriously watch on my days off. I dug into my own little couch-based trench and started watching movies I'd checked out on my card the week before. I got through Before Midnight, The Gorgeous Hussy, and a two dvd set called Lonesome that I'd requested the library buy in 2012, but had yet to watch. Guys, I was only cheating myself. What a wham-bang of a motion picture experience in the latter case! I'll tell you about the rest of the weekend and the other two movies later; right now, fasten your 1920's straw boaters and cloches tight to your heads and let's talk turkey about year of our Lord 1928 experimental film making. Viva Lonesome!

Lonesome is an eccentric little movie gem from a transitional period in film, unlike anything else you'll see from 1920's Hollywood. Incorporating hand-tinted color scenes of the Coney Island boardwalk and startling "talkie" sequences in a predominantly black and white, silent film, director Paul Fejos seemingly wastes not one precious moment of downtime with a camera as peripatetic as its narrative. The movie was sixty-nine minutes of pure cinematic dynamite. Left slack-jawed at some of the set-ups, I watched as the camera went whirling around, unmoored from its stationery trappings into pans and zooms that no-o-o-obody else in the studio system was a) attempting or at least b) given enough leeway to attempt. The thing I like the least about Fejos is that he only made four narrative movies in Hollywood in the late twenties' before making some films in Europe and eventually becoming a world known anthropologist-- why did you leave us, Fejos! Everything else about his filmmaking technique is jake with me, I just wish there was more of it to see!

The plot of Lonesome concerns two working stiffs, Mary and Jim, who wake up in New York City on July 3rd, 1928 the same way they went to sleep-- alone. The narrative follows their parallel paths as they dress, breakfast, ride a trolley into the commercial district, and report to humdrum positions in the entry-level work force, all the while riding on the crest of the hundreds of people doing the same. Mary is a telephone operator, and as she settles into her place in front of the circuit board and plugs in her headset, visions of her short-tempered telephone clients dance across the screen in various states of agitation. Jim works at a machine press, punching holes in little bits of metal, the repetitive nature of the task emphasized by a meter ticking off the number of pieces he's finished. Each sighs a heavy sigh as their coworkers pair off with girlfriends and boyfriends for the holiday, but eventually make the decision to brave the Coney Island carnival on their own-- heck, it beats sitting around their rooms reading Saturday Evening Post! Their paths converge on the beach, they exchange pleasantries and eventually vows of fidelity, but an accident on one of the attractions separates them among the thronging holiday masses with only a photo-booth button to identify each other by. Will their "lonesome" condition be cured by this magic night on the boardwalk, or will they go on along their solitary paths, never to meet again? Watch and see, kids! Watch and see.

Universal Studios, under the general supervision of Carl Laemmle, was a second tier film production studio, outside the bounds of the "big five" (which ranked in the late twenties as follows: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Brothers, and RKO; in that order). Maybe this explains the latitude Fejos was afforded in terms of special effects and inventive camerawork. The lens peers down at peoples' heads, follows Jim as he does a handstand, takes a turn on the tiltawhirl alongside our protagonists, and fades in and out of a double exposure in a kaleidoscopic overlay sequence in the dance hall that made my little heart sing. "Novelty" is definitely the keyword to describe a lot of these sleights o' camera, but they WORK. I almost jumped out of my chair when, thirty minutes into the movie, a medium closeup of Mary and Jim on the beach turned crystal clear (shot on different film in a studio rather than on location) and offered their speaking voices! While the dialogue is mannered and stilted á la twenties' vaudeville  (come on, this is the BIRTH of sound pictures, you'll have to cut them a break), it is SO UNUSUAL to hear silent actors' speaking voices in an otherwise silent movie...many transitional films like this didn't survive into the latter half of the century (and/or were so bad people would like to forget about them), so it was a real (SURreal) treat to compare the patter of voices you'd heard in your imagination as Mary and Jim's to the actor's honest-to-goodness speaking voices. The whole movie reminded me of some of Kenneth Anger's short films in terms of the lush, unexpected, strange and beautiful tempo of the picture.

Not to mention, rubber-faced Glenn Tyron and beautiful Barbara Kent were being rooted for by me in a big way for the whole of the story. Two people looking for love! The loneliness of the crowd! Feeling disenfranchised from the masses! Sign me up, these are the kinds of things I like to see movies about. Tyron is featured again on the second disc of the Lonesome release as one of the stars of Fejos's Broadway, a talkie from 1929 with an unbearably slow pace but interestingly "documentarian" style musical numbers, but I haven't seen him in anything else to speak of (the internet says he's been in some Laurel and Hardy movies). On the other hand, Barbara Kent was a former beauty pageant winner who clocked screen time two years before Lonesome with John Gilbert and Greta Garbo in Flesh and the Devil (I can't remember anybody but Gilbert and Garbo in that movie; can you blame me?), and has one of the winningest little smiles of twenties' film actresses. She retired from movies in the early forties'. (PS: I almost forgot to mention The Last Performance, also on the second disc, with Conraid Veidt and Mary Philbin, altogether-- it's FANTASTIC. Will have to tell you about it another time. -L)

I tried to find more information on the movie in Photoplay, but all I trawled up was this little blurb among the "Brief Reviews of Current Pictures" column (right click and open in a new window to supersize, see the clipping underneath):

"Lots of trick camera work" is putting it mildly, don't you think! Barbara Kent also appeared in this 1928 article about actresses and their odd-ball cars-- hers includes a compact in the steering wheel! Or so they say. Also, note how adorable Norma Shearer looks in her roadster, curling her hair with an in-car curling iron (sounds so, so dangerous; appeals so, so much):

If you're looking for an off-the-beaten path film selection from the twenties', you really couldn't do any better than Lonesome. Go check it out; like I said, we have it in Nashville at the library! A feel good (and feel strange, and feel happy, and then feel worried about them but it's probably ok) seventy minutes if ever there was one.


How about you? What did you do with your weekend? See any good old movies lately? What's the last time something historical knocked YOUR socks off? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow with (hopefully!) some flea market finds! Talk then. Take care!


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