Thursday, October 31, 2013

Will you take a check?

Big lives, challenging work, complicated friendships with interesting personalities, 
and always bills to pay.

 Marcel Duchamp

 Jack Kerouac

 Marilyn Monroe

 Judy Garland

 Tennessee Williams

 Edgar Rice Burroughs

Greta Garbo

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

At last

Plan de Paris á Vol de Oiseau, drawn by Georges Peltier between 1920-1940, a very detailed 20th-century bird's-eye view plan complete with street names and monuments.

I've wanted this map for a long, long time.  I've come across reproductions, a few that were miserably glued to board, a version without the colored border or colored Seine, a smaller version of central Paris, and once on Ebay, one half of the map (it sold!).

Oh, there are tears and bits of old tape, but nothing the maestro John at Poster Mountain can't repair. The lovely map, now in two pieces, will be mounted on cotton as a single spectacular image of Paris. I've waited so long to find my precious, but I can hardly wait to see it after a visit to the conservator!

  Bird's-eye view of Paris

 Circa 1966, a very good year.

  B-I-G! Compare to soup can pictured at bottom.

 Île de la Cité, elite charm.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

All is Lost

It's only been a few weeks since the film Gravity hit theaters. Its setting in outer space seemed an obvious choice to have disaster strike and convey the terror of being utterly alone, helpless, and without any device to deliver an S.O.S. message. Unless of course, you consider the remoteness of the Indian Ocean, first in a sinking yacht, then in a failing raft as Robert Redford does in the new film All is Lost, written and directed by J.C. Chandor.

There are many films that explore the natural calamities of shipwrecks: lack of water, food, shelter, direction, exposure to sun, sharks, storms and the apparent blindness of any passing cargo ship. All is Lost neatly illustrates each of these in its compact 106 minutes. What is truly remarkable is that aside from a very brief introduction, there is virtually no dialogue. None of the careful narration that carried the story of a boy and his tiger in The Life of Pi, nor any plot device like Wilson, the anthropomorphic volleyball of the film Cast Away. The comparison is not meant as derision, I loved both of those films. But imagine in the case of Cast Away, if writer William Broyles Jr. just let the audience watch Tom Hanks figure things out organically, without Wilson, without any expository dialogue.  Despite the lean writing, Redford is able to make a boat patch job or collecting fresh water compelling stuff.

All is Lost is nearly a silent movie. Like the silent films at the dawn of film creation, Chandor confidently tells his story with great faith that the audience will gasp and recoil and breathe a sigh of relief at all the right moments.

Friday, October 25, 2013


In 1947, Stanley Kubrick shot a pictorial, The Shoe Shine Boy for 
LOOK magazine.  Kubrick followed 12-year old Mickey as he made his rounds shining shoes for 10 cents a pair. With nine brothers and sisters, the money he makes will help his family, but he treats himself to an occasional hot dog.

Just 19-years old, Stanley Kubrick wasn't much older than Mickey. 

all photos by Stanley Kubrick for Look magazine

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Running scared

Although the film is 40 years old and its special effects are dated, The Exorcist remains on nearly every list of the top scariest movies ever made. Still, in interviews director William Friedkin asserts it isn't so much a horror film as it is a thriller, perhaps a love story, and a powerful tale about the mystery of faith.

The fine performances of the entire cast, the careful pacing and the crisp writing assures the film will remain a modern classic. I've seen The Exorcist many times and have only recently pushed past the visceral terror to appreciate the subtle way the film communicates:

Regan inadvertently summons the demon by playing with a Ouija board.

The demon has no interest in Regan, just the priests.

Regan is 'saved' but both priests lose their lives--thus, the demon wins. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dancing party

Do you prefer reading or watching videos to learn something new?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10 and up

I've just ordered Chip Kidd's new book, Go.
Labeled for readers '10 and Up', it's already a bestseller. I have no doubt it will be as
pleasing to the eye as the other Kidd books I have on my shelf.

He is a serious designer, but in interviews and presentations he's always 
so funny and witty.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Give chase

Before filming began on The French Connection, director William Friedkin received some advice from fellow director Howard Hawks, "Make a good chase. Make one better than anyone's done."

Friedkin with actors Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider

Friedkin discusses his guerilla tactics in filming the infamous chase sequence.
Stunt driver William Hickman had also driven the impressive car chase in Bullitt.

Here, the unforgettable chase of The French Connection, widely considered the
most thrilling ever captured on film.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Born ready

In early 1956, Elvis Presley had already signed a record-breaking contract with RCA Records and wowed screaming fans on The Ed Sullivan Show. Very soon after, he was in talks with Paramount Pictures about his movie debut. Here, in his Paramount screen test, he lip-synchs Blue Suede Shoes with charismatic confidence. The impressed studio offered him a 3-picture deal on the spot. He was just 21 years old.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Dr. Paul Pfurtscheller produced a series of zoological wall charts, now considered among the finest ever made. I own his chart of the mussel, circa 1910, and it pains me to look at the damage.  The patina of age and use for 100 years includes soil, water stains, paper loss, cracks, fold lines and one rod is missing. *Sigh* the duct tape is the worst though.

The conservator shook his head like a doctor when things look bad. Could I possibly mount this on an armoire or cabinet in an interesting way?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

...a film of terror (and the supernatural)

It's well documented that Stanley Kubrick was a perfectionist: for each of his films, there was exhaustive research, many script revisions, multiple takes for his actors, and in the case of Barry Lyndon, directions for projectionists on the changeover cues and aspect ratio.

Kubrick was equally meticulous while overseeing the design of the poster for The Shining. The designer Saul Bass, a master of the medium, was also sent back to the drawing board.

(click on image to enlarge)

Kubrick's note to Saul Bass regarding the rough art

#1 "Don't like art work, hotel looks peculiar, also art work too spread
out, too sprawling, not compact enough. I don't like the dots for the
logo, it will not look good small, even the size above is difficult to read.
Hard to read."

#2 "Looks like science fiction film, hard to read even at this size."

#3 "Hand and bike are too irrelevant. Title looks bad small. Looks like ink didn't take 
on the part that goes light."

#4 "Maze too abstract and too much emphasis on the maze. Title, see comment #3"

#5 "Maze and figures places too much emphasis on maze, I don't think we should use 
the maze in ads. Title, see #3"

Reply from Saul Bass

Final art

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fictional food

 A few of Dinah Fried's "Fictitious Dishes"

Fried painstakingly creates meals from text, with a flair for styling
using interesting cutlery, tableware and props.

...the old man held a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork over the fire, turning it round and round till it was toasted a nice golden yellow in color on each side.

Heidi, Johanna Spyri

It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit
and salted pork cut up into little flakes: the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.

Moby Dick, Herman Melville

After I had left the skating rink I went to a drugstore and had a Swiss cheese sandwich and a malted milk.

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Scattered bones

Phoebe Richardson's 10-plate installation


available here


Monday, October 14, 2013

Red cross

Nice room...

I spy a Thomas Eriksson cross cabinet.
That's an item on my forever-love list!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

We would like to thank all our customers

I'm fascinated by urban ghosts; abandoned, derelict structures once popular and buzzing with the colors, sounds and aroma of the living.

Durham Baths (Durham, England)



Waiting for demolition after 76 years of use.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The lighting remains diffused, the young girls are dressed in traditional school uniforms, the decor is distinctly Asian not European, yet Japanese photographer Hisaji Hara has carefully recreated the paintings of Balthus with exacting detail.

A Study of Happy Days, 2009

Happy Days, 1945

A Study of Katia Reading, 2009

Katia Reading, 1974

A Study of the Salon, 2009

The Salon, 1941