Monthly Archives: May 2011
Diane Arbus March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971)
Diane Arbus’ work can be a bit disturbing. “Boy with a Toy Grenade in Central Park” has always completely freaked me out – is the kid insane, retarded, evil? Seeing the contact sheet is a bit of a let down in that it reveals the secret, no evil, no insanity – just a goofy skinny kid making faces and playing in the park- it still packs a hell of a punch though.
Diane usually photographed people on the outside of society, prostitutes, dwarves, circus freaks, giants, etc. She worried that she might be pigeon-holed “as a photographer of freaks”. The title seems apt but she was so much more then that. Her piece “Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey”, 1967 is one of the most recognisable photographs in the world and recently sold at auction for well over $500,000. Diane commited suicide in 1971 at the age of 48.
The ” Attack of the Giant…..” movies of the 1950’s were a direct response to Atomic testing and the fear of what might happen if science went wild and out of control. They couldn’t make a serious movies (though I’m sure there must be a few) so they made movies about giant ants, leeches, crabs and my favorite – shrews. These beautifully lurid posters vieled the atomic aspect but went straight for the fear angle. Great design (for the most part), bright colors, nice typography, these have become hugely collectable. My favorite being the Killer Shrews poster – subtler then most but creepier with just the single bloody shoe and tail. By the way the movie is a ridiculous piece of crap with medium sized dogs with fake snouts and wierd fur acting as the titular shrews – a must see.
A fine looking bunch of lads. Written off as a glam version of the Stones in 1971, the Dolls in their first incarnation never received their proper due – though years later they’d be looked on as one of the architects of Punk Rock and would reform 30 years on (at the urging of Morrissey) to record and tour again. After the 1st version of the Dolls broke up David went on to a solo career, scoring a hit as alter ego lounge singer act Buster Poindexter and acting (Scrouged), Syl played for a few years with The Criminals and The Teardrops and became a NYC cab driver. Johnny and Jerry formed The Heartbreakers and toured England with The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Arthur formed The Corpse Grinders and then fell off the map. Only 2 of the original Dolls survive – Syl and David. Jerry died of a drug related stroke, Johnny from an overdose, or murder, depending on who you talk to and Arthur of Luekemia, 1 month after their reunion tour, after years of working as a Mormon librarian (See Documentary – New York Doll). I saw them in 1974 with opening act – KISS in Flint, MI. at the IMA Auditorium – The Dolls were great, Kiss stunk up the joint.
The title sequence for David Finchers’ 1995 film SEVEN is a landmark for visual design and set the bar for creativity in the design of opening credit sequences. The great thing about Kyle Coopers’ design is that it mirrors the film perfectly – you know you’re in for a bumpy ride as soon as the Nine Inch Nails track kicks in and the titles start. Without this credit sequence there’d be no such creative openers for Dexter, True Blood (the best thing about that show), countless movies, TV, etc.
The following titles are some of the most famous and some are just interesting for their time – the Napolean Dynamite and Juno sequences are perfect in their lo-fi approach and fit their movies to a T (or is it tee).
Nudie Cohn (December 15, 1902 – May 9, 1984) Nuta Kotlyarenko
Nudie Cohn – a damn sharp dresser – opened his shop Nudies Rodeo Tailors in North Hollywood in 1947. His primary customers were the young Country and Western stars that had relocated to sunny California after the war. He made beautifully garish suits for such names as Hank Williams, Porter Waggoner, Roy Rodger and Dale Evans, George Jones, Gene Autry and John Wayne. His most famous and photographed are Graham Parsons’ suit specially designed with pot leaves, pills and nude women for the cover of The Flying Burritos LP The Gilded Palace of Sin and Elvis’s $10,000 gold lame number made for his LP 50,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong. Nudie died in 1984 but his daughters kept Nudies Rodeo Tailors open for another 10 years and finally closed in 1994. A Roy Rodgers suit recently sold at auction for $16,000.
Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994)
Novelist, Poet, Drunk – Charles Bukowski wrote about the seedy side of LA from his own experiance. He was one of those authors who is truly great but are ‘of a time’ for many. You read Bukowski between college and your first real job when you thought that maybe the bums life might be the right life for you. He followed through and continued drinking and writing up until his death of luekemia in 1996.
Find his books, they’re great and fun. But first look at his face – it tells the whole story.