Words || Richard Avedon

13/08/2012 § 2 Comments

Too good to not share.
Let’s promise to not wait for our Mondays anymore.

“I believe in maniacs. I believe in type As. I believe that you’ve got to love your work so much that it is all you want to do. I believe you must betray your mistress for your work, you betray your wife for your work; I believe that she must betray you for her work. I believe that work is the one thing in the world that never betrays you, that lasts. If I were going to be a politician, if I were going to be a scientist, I would do it every day. I wouldn’t wait for Monday. I don’t believe in weekends.

If you’re headed for a life that’s only involved with making money and that you hope for satisfaction somewhere else, you’re headed for a lot of trouble. And whatever replaces vodka when you’re 45 is what you’re going to be doing.”

Richard Avedon (1923 – 2004)
Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt in New York, 1963.
Image via the Life Archives.

Summer on Long Island

13/08/2012 § 2 Comments

For a perfect summer on Long Island, you’ll need a healthy serving of golf, a few polo ponies, a couple of playboys and a sailboat or two — be sure to add in a country club membership, if you’ve got one handy.  Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass.  Serve via private seaplane, natch.

See also: Summer on the Cape

Members of the country club lounging on the lawn, watching the sailboats.

Men lining their sailboats up at the start line at the Seawanhaka Yacht Club.

Top polo player Stewart Iglehart, standing with his pony.

A man wrapping Stephen Sanford‘s hurt ankle.

Polo player Pete Botswick and his wife, looking out onto the field.

Michael Phipps sitting in his car, smiling at his dog.

Members of the country club sun bathing on the beach.

Members of the country club sitting outside near the swimming pool.

Mr. Thomas Bradley and his wife playing golf at the country club.

Taken June 1946 by Nina Leen for Life Magazine, via the Life Archive.

Summer on the Cape

03/08/2012 § 1 Comment

For a perfect summer on the Cape, you’ll need some pretty sailboats, a few rainy bike rides, wavy fields of tall grass, a clambake on the beach, and an overloaded jalopy.  For best results, serve over ice in a highball glass and garnish with a gaggle of Kennedys.

Photos by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine, 1940.  Via the Life Archive.

Roughing It.

05/07/2012 § 4 Comments

Fact: I have never been camping.

Corollary: My mom will probably dispute this.

Who’s right?  I suppose it depends on how broadly you construe the term “camping” — because if to you, camping means you’re in a sleeping bag in a tent in the woods somewhere, then I most definitely have never been camping.  However, if you are like my mother, and think camping includes driving some sort of van or trailer to a “campground” and parking for a few days near some nature, then maybe you’ve got me there.

My parents did own a sweet Minnie Winnie in the late 90s.  It was sort of an odd purchase for a completely non-camping family that was spurred by the experience of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  We did use it a few times, mainly for soccer tournament weekends, but also for camping at Lake Cachuma and the Kern River.  We actually did Thanksgiving one year, turkey and all, entirely on wheels!

So while I don’t really count those experiences as camping, I do have plenty of great memories of those weekends, which were jogged when I came across this set of photos in the Life Archive, taken at various points around the country by Ralph Crane in 1970.  Capturing different kinds of motor homes and trailers, and the folks who used them, they are a slice of Americana that seems perfectly apropos for the day after Independence Day.

Some of these images originally appeared as part of a special group of articles in the August 14, 1970 issue of LIFE entitled “Home, Home on the Road,” which details “Caravans on the open road.  Houseboats on the busy waters.  Youth in its frustrated festivals.  Venturers abroad in trains.”  If you’d like to read the article — and I definitely recommend it, mainly for some great pictures of a convoy of pretty aluminum Airstream trailers — you can find it here.  Enjoy!

Bob Newcomb with his 12-member family in Hershey, PA.

Sidenote: Can I just say that I have NO idea how 12 people could coexist for any extended amount of time in a trailer.  My family only numbered 5 and speaking for the kids, I know we regularly contemplated pulverizing each other when we “camped.”  Newcombs, hat’s off to the lot of you, indeed.

Baby Newcomb in her bathtub bed!

The Wally Byam Caravan Club converging upon Hershey, PA.  The club, named for the founder of the Airstream Trailer Company, still exists — and caravans — to this day.

Airstream owners and Caravan Club members, saluting the flag.

All images via the Life Archive.

Drawing Dad

15/06/2012 § 7 Comments

In honor of Father’s Day, a little something I found in the Life Archives…

One morning in 1949, the Kindergarten class of Ms. Doris Morcom at Sedgwick Elementary School in West Hartford, Connecticut, all drew portraits of their dads from memory for an upcoming Fathers’ Night at the school…and here we can compare the portraits with the subjects themselves, in photos taken by Al Fenn.  Aside from some startling accuracies, I love how these photos also give us a look at men’s style as the 1940s were giving way to the 1950s.

If you’d like to read the original article, which appeared in the December 26, 1949 issue of Life Magazine, you can find it here.

For fun, the fathers drew Ms. Morcom for their children.

Happy Father’s Day!

All images via the Life Archives.

Woman of the Hour: Margaret Bourke-White

14/06/2012 § Leave a comment

Today is the birthday of photographer Margaret Bourke-White.  Born in 1904 in the Bronx, Bourke-White was one of four original LIFE Magazine staff photographers and an accomplished photojournalist.  She holds a number of notable “firsts” to her name — my favorites include the fact that she was the first woman war correspondent and was the first woman allowed to fly on combat missions (both during WWII) — and created an exceptional, varied body of work.

I frequently come across Bourke-White’s photos and portraits in the LIFE Archives, but the one you see above is one that I hadn’t seen before today.  She stands on the scaffolding of the still under-construction Chrysler Building in 1931.  She is 27.  She hasn’t yet been to war.  With her slickly bobbed hair, leather jacket and massive camera, she is outfitted for an adventure.  The look on her face tells you she won’t stop until she finds one.  I love this picture.  Full stop.  But I also love pictures like the one below, of Bourke-White in Algeria in 1943, in front of the Flying Fortress bomber in which the photographed the US attack on Tunis.

If you’d like to see some of Bourke-White’s most iconic work, the LIFE blog has put together a lovely portfolio in honor of her birthday.  It’s a must-see if you admire this amazing photographer as much as I do.  Find it here.

Images via Time/LIFE Inc.

Improper Bostonians

22/05/2012 § 5 Comments

I’m off to Boston for a few days on business, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share this set of photos I discovered in the Life Archive.  They were taken in 1949 at the original Filene’s Basement, then called the “Automatic Bargain Basement” for the automatic schedule of its discount percentages (pegged to the number of days the item had been on sale).  Created in 1909 in the basement of Boston’s flagship Filene’s department store, Filene’s Basement was eventually spun off as its own entity and outlived the department store until it too became defunct in 2011.  Fun fact: it’s actually where the term “bargain basement” originated.

Sadly the gorgeous original flagship store at Downtown Crossing in Boston, built in 1912 and where these photos were taken, was largely demolished in 2007 after Filene’s went out of business.  Because only the building’s facade was landmarked, developers were free to gut the interiors of the building, which also dated back to 1912.  When those developers lost funding, the building was just left gutted — a huge, gaping hole with the facade looming like the ghost of sales past.  (I haven’t been to Downtown Crossing lately to see if anything has changed at the site — has anyone?)

In these photos, Life photographer George Silk captured the annual $11 suit and topcoat sale at Filene’s Basement.  Just like today’s sample sales, customers started forming a line for the 8:30am sale at 6:30am, and made a mad dash as soon as the doors were flung open.  In less than three hours, 5,000 garments were sold.  In the article, entitled “Improper Bostonians” (which you can read here), Life delightedly informs us that a 200-pound woman fainted and had to be carried away, a blind man was nearly trampled and a man posed as a salesman and swiped someone’s $11! 

Nice to see sample sales haven’t really changed all that much in over
60 years, even if the customers do look a little more refined!

Taken by George Silk for Life Magazine, via the Life Archive.

New Addition || Put A Horse On It: Life Magazine, 1937

01/05/2012 § 5 Comments

This weekend while on a walk in my neighborhood, I stopped by one of my favorite shops in Tribeca, Philip Williams Posters, on a bit of a lark.  While the store is best known for its collection of vintage posters, my attention was drawn from the window by what looked like a massive stack of magazines.  Once inside, I simultaneously realized that they were Life Magazines and that my afternoon was pretty much sealed.

You already know how much I love Life Magazine: I collect them, I read virtual copies on Google Books and wander for (way too many) hours in the online archive.  Coming at this cache of vintage media from multiple directions sometimes provides the opportunity for the kind of pleasant surprise I had this weekend.

First off, you put a horse on anything and I will at least give it a second look.  You put one on the cover of a Life Magazine from the 1930s and mention it’s a polo pony?  Dead.  Before even cracking this baby open, I knew it was coming home with me.  But when I did, I realized I was already familiar with the photos inside as they were part of a set that I had discovered in the archives a few weeks ago — and trust me when I say there is nothing in there tagged “polo” that I haven’t already seen.

I especially love the advertisements.

The feature is about George H. “Pete” Bostwick (August 14, 1909 – January 13, 1982), steeplechase jockey, horse trainer, 8-goal polo player and grandson to Jabez A. Bostwick, a founder and treasurer of Standard Oil Company of New York and partner of John D. Rockefeller. Pete’s favored game, high-goal polo, was a pastime of the wealthy in the 1930s, but Pete made an unprecedented, egalitarian move: he invited the public to watch him and his friends play at Bostwick Field on Long Island, charging only fifty cents for admission.  It was an immediate hit.

These photos were taken 1937 in Long Island by Alfred Eisenstaedt.  Because relatively few actually made it into the issue, having access to the archive allowed me to really enjoy even more photos than were published.  This is about to be a long post, so I must apologize in advance if you don’t enjoy looking at black and white photos of horses, polo or people in their Sunday best.  I will apologize, but I’ll think you’re kinda crazy.

A 28 year-old Pete Bostwick, center.
“There is no use sitting in school when one
can sit on a horse and go somewhere.

Pete Bostwick: lover of polo, beer and cable knit sweaters.

If you’d like to read the feature yourself, you can find it here, via Google Books.

Philip Williams Posters || 122 Chambers St., Tribeca || 212.513.0313

Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson Tours America

04/04/2012 § 2 Comments

Interestingly, Ricky Nelson was one of my earliest crushes, due to a Nick At Nite childhood spent watching Donna Reed, My Three Sons and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which Ricky starred on with real-life parents Ozzie and Harriet and brother David from 1952 to 1966.  With its 14 seasons, the show remains the longest-running live action sitcom in history to this day.

Sidenote 1: I’d say my crush was “interesting” mainly because Ricky was dead by the time I fell in love with him.  He died in a plane crash in Texas in 1985.

Sidenote 2: When did Nick At Nite cease actually being Nickelodeon at night and start being its own channel?  And why do they now play shows like Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond and not the classic television they used to play? What the Hell! Who approved this?!

Contrary to his wholesome on-screen persona, Ricky was a bit of a hellcat growing up.  He also didn’t have much musical instruction or knowledge until he was 16, when he simply decided he’d like to make a record.  His father indulged him and Ricky’s music became a part of the family show, starting with his performance of the Fats Domino song I’m Walking in 1957, when he was 17.

The best part might be his dance moves.

An early archetype for what would become the modern teen idol, Ricky’s exposure through his music and the Ozzie and Harriet show caused his popularity to surge — between the years of 1958 and 1959 he charted twelve songs, compared to Elvis Presley’s eleven.  He also holds he distinction for achieving the first ever #1 on the newly-created Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1958 for his performance of Poor Little Fool  — a song he actually hated and refused to perform on the show.

  Poor Little Fool: #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958

  Travelin’ Man: #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961

Hello Mary Lou: #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961.  Ricky actually preferred to play rockabilly songs like Hello Mary Lou, despite the success he had with ballads.

After an abbreviated tour in 1957, Ricky launched a full tour across America in 1958.  Life Magazine sent photographers Ralph Crane and Hank Walker along for the ride to capture the madness, which they did fantastically.  I did include quite a few, I hope you don’t mind.  Obviously I still have a crush.

Fun bit of trivia: the Nelsons are the only family in history to have three generations of #1 hitmakers.  The Ozzie Nelson Orchestra hit number 1 in 1935 with And Then Some, Ricky had his string of hits, and Ricky’s twin sons Matthew and Gunnar, better known as Nelson, hit it in 1990 with (I Can’t Live Without) Your Love and Affection

Sidenote: Would you be very surprised to learn I also nursed a serious crush on Ricky’s sons, they of streaming, flaxen hair, man bangs, exceptionally tight pants and an amazing/ridiculous video for their #6 hit After The Rain?  I suppose my only defense is that it was the 90s, and I was very very very young, after all…

All images via the Life Archive.

A Bit of Sinatra

05/03/2012 § 4 Comments

Thus far, March has been a month of Frank Sinatra and his contemporaries.  Ella, Dean, and the rest of them have been in heavy rotation, but it is Frank I always return to.  I especially love the live recordings and this collection of concert recordings in Vegas is my favorite: all smoky smartass swinging standards.  Perfection.  Much like these photos by John Dominis from the same era…

With daughter Nancy and Yul Brenner.
I quite enjoy the gentleman on the right and how high his trousers are.

With son Frank Jr.

Frank at top left, with Quincy Jones.

Shawl-collar tuxedo fest, with Ed Sullivan!

With Dean Martin.

With Sammy Davis Jr.

Taken by John Dominis from 1964 to 1965 for Life Magazine.

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