Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fab Girls of the 60s: Brit Singers

The British Invasion of the 60s introduced millions of young Americans to mega hit Brit wonders like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many others. I remember landing at JFK, an impressionable 13 year old, thinking the Beatles were here! But there were also a number of successful female vocalists we were introduced to as well. And here are a few that are unforgettable…

Marianne Faithfull

Just out of convent school Marianne Faithfull performed folk music in nearby coffeehouses. She soon found herself with a number one hit record As Tears Go By written by
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Unfortunately her life did not follow a rose strewn path. Faithfull’s success as a singer and actress were overshadowed by her personal history littered with drug addiction, a hard partying lifestyle and illness. In the 60s her voice, soft and feathery, became over time more like hard whiskey. But in this clip you can see her as I saw her then, sweet and fresh faced, a little awkward in front of the camera, vulnerable and I'm sure, full of dreams.

Sandie Shaw

Sandie Shaw’s first single did not do well on the charts but her second Always Something There to Remind Me, a
Burt Bacharach tune, spent three weeks in the number one spot of the British Charts. Sandie’s other chart breaking song was Puppet on a String. She was noted for performing in her bare feet and her 1991 autobiography was titled The World at My Feet. Sandie left performing and went on to become a psychotherapist. In 2007 on her 60th birthday she released a new version of Puppet on a String for her fans.

Cilla Black was discovered by Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager and her success as an artist lasted longer than any other Epstein client other than the Beatles! She became a formidable ballad singer but before that Cilla worked part-time as a cloackroom attendant at Liverpool’s infamous Cavern Club. She was introduced to Epstein by John Lennon who persuaded him to audition her. Her first single peaked at #35 not a very auspicious beginning but her second single Anyone who Had a Heart reached #1 in Britain. She followed up with a second #1 You’re My World. During the 70s Cilla began acting in British sitcom and eventually worked as a TV presenter on many popular British TV shows.

Dusty Springfield

I was a big fan of Dusty Springfield’s look, especially her eyes. In 1963 Dusty started racking up number 1 hits with I Only Want to Be With You, I just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, Wishin’ and Hopin’ and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. Dusty toured South Africa in 1964 and was deported due to the fact she was performing in front of mixed audiences. In 1967 her rendition of The Look of Love, a Bacharach and David tune, was featured in the film Casino Royale and was nominated for an Academy Award. The sublime LP, Dusty in Memphis was released in 1969 and included the hit Son of a Preacher Man. In the 80s Dusty was persuaded to record a duet with the Pet Shop Boys, What Have I Done to Deserve This, which became a huge hit. In 1994 Dusty was diagnosed with breast cancer and although she went into remission she succumbed to the disease in 1999 on the day she was to receive an OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.


Who didn’t fall in love with Lulu in
To Sir With Love? I was a huge fan of the movie (I have the VHS tape) and Lulu herself. She was just so energetic and full of life and a singer-songwriter, actress, model and TV personality. She is most well known for the songs To Sir With Love in the US and Shout in the UK. Lulu was only 15 when she recorded Shout. Lulu married singer Maurice Gibb but the couple divorced on amicable terms in 1973. In 1974 she recorded the title song for the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. In 1977 she married her hairdresser John Frieda and had a son Jordan. The couple divorced in 1995. Lulu has appeared as herself in two episodes of Absolutely Fabulous and has teamed with French and Saunders many times. She appeared on American Idol Season 6 in March 2007 as a mentor for the female contestants, and the following night performed To Sir With Love.

I can remember driving my mother crazy playing my 45 rpm single of My Boy Lollipop over and over and over again. It was such a happy, upbeat song and Millie Small had the most unusual voice! Millie Small was originally from Jamaica where she had a minor hit record. She moved to London in 1964 and released My Boy Lollipop which initially sold over 600,000 copies and reached number two in the UK and US charts. The song has since sold more than seven million copies. She had a brief relationship with Peter Asher, one-half of the successful duo Peter and Gordon, and the brother of actress Jane Asher (Paul McCartney’s girlfriend in the 60s).

Stay tuned for Fab Girls of the 60s: Fashion Models.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Space, the Final Frontier

I was thumbing through the August issue of Vanity Fair when I came across an ad for Louis Vuitton that intrigued me. So much so that I had to visit their website. First of all, here's the picture that fascinated me so...

The photographer is Annie Leibovitz for Louis Vuitton's Journeys campaign.

You have to view this picture on line or in the magazine to fully appreciate it. When I was a child my favorite color crayon was Periwinkle Blue. Blue is still my favorite color and the different variations you see in the sky are magnificent from deep indigo to a powder blue with twinkling stars in the background and a moon so full and luscious, like a fruit ripe for picking.

What I also find striking is that the three astronauts, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11, first steps on the moon; Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 commander, are posed on a beat up relic of a truck gazing at the moon lost in thought. Sally Ride looks like she's even in "lift off" mode. They look like everyday, ordinary folks dressed in an American uniform of denim, corduroy and boots. They are probably somewhere in Wyoming, Montana or maybe somewhere in the desert with a gentle desert wind blowing through their hair. Do you see Jim Lovell holding on to a cowboy hat? I love it, back in the 60s he was holding on to an astronaut's helmet.

There are so many things to discover in this photograph that it literally makes me want to cry. I can't remember Annie Liebovitz ever affecting me this way. In this photo are three people who share one thing in common that most of us will never experience. For me that's mind blowing.

I love science fiction and science fact and find the thought of space exploration exciting. I do remember President Kennedy's 1962 speech on the space challenge. Later, in 1969 I remember the moon landing and these words from Neil Armstrong: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed. and then astoundingly as his left foot touched the moon's surface, Armstrong declared: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Do you know that Armstrong did not have a speech prepared, it all came out spontaneously. His fellow astronauts questioned him repeatedly but he let the moment move him.

I'm not embarrassed to say that back in '69 my younger self wondered if the astronauts were going to come face-to-face with aliens! Well, I am a child of Star Trek after all. Come on, didn't you wonder yourself?

Buzz Aldrin's first steps on the moon

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Say it Isn't So!

Awhile ago, I was having a phone conversation with my friend Sandi who was bemoaning the fact that besides getting older, life has now dealt her saggy knees. She misses wearing shorts and we both said a silent prayer of thanks that the BoHo look is in these days. I continued listening and was doing my best at lending a sympathetic ear until I took a look south to my own knees and…HOLY CRAP…MARY, MOTHER OF GOD… my knees were sagging too! When in the world did that happen?

To quote Cher "I hate getting old. What can I tell you? I'm sorry." I agree. I wish I could be more gracious about it but I’m not digging it either! Oprah can own “it” all she wants but look, it’s not that I want to be 20 again but the saggy knee thing is not working for me. It’s all so... I Feel Bad About my Neck, Nora Ephron’s book on dealing with menopause, maintenance and other delightful female conditions. As a lot, we have been known to spare no expense when it comes to lotions, potions and hair dye. (I'm doing a silent prayer to L'Oreal as we speak!) But, and I kid you not, there is now a surgical procedure called a knee lift!

Lucky for those us not caught up in cosmetic surgery, I have discovered crop pants! Listen, they've been around for a long time BUT they're the perfect solution to the whole shorts dilemma. And you don’t have to break the bank to own a pair. You can dress them up with heels for work or you can get casual with them at a BBQ. Call them what you will, crop pants, capris, the old school clam diggers or pedal pushers, this item was the HOT trend for Spring 2009. I know the capri has gone in and out of fashion since the 50’s but since I am a casual dresser anyway, I love them and they suit my lifestyle and the SoCal weather perfectly. And, despite what I’ve read, I think crop pants work on a variety of shapes and sizes; it just depends on the silhouette.

Case in point, Laura Petrie's Capri Pants...

In the spring of 1965, Time magazine reported that "Mary Tyler Moore has helped make Capri pants the biggest trend in US casual attire." The Capri pants were inspired by the island of Capri off the coast of Italy.

Many Americans toured the area on vacations in the 1950s and the islanders traditional mid-calf pant style soon made its debut on the American fashion landscape. The longer, ankle-length version was dubbed the ‘cigarette pant.’

On the sitcom THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW/CBS/1961-66 Mary Tyler Moore played Laura Petrie, the young suburban housewife of comedy writer Robert Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) who wore Capri pants on a number of episodes.

Capris certainly worked for the lovely Audrey Hepburn!

And while you are searching out the best capri length for yourself, here is ode to a part of the anatomy we don't give much thought to until one day...well, you know the story!

Ode to Saggy Knees

I used to jump rope, climb trees and ice skate
Though I often fell down and got a good scrape
Things have slowed down now and knees are still useful
a great place for Sadie to rest her head, ah so peaceful

Ok, I never claimed to be a poet but perhaps you are. Send me your ode to saggy knees and maybe Sadie will share some tea and doggie biscuits with you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What is art?

What a broad question with many possible answers. You could say...

I may not know much about art but I know what I like.

Beauty (or art) is in the eye of the beholder.

Art is many things to many people.

Lucy in the Field With Flowers - Artist Unknown
What's not to like about sitting in a field of daisies?

If my husband would ever meet a woman on the street who looked like the women in his paintings, he would fall over in a dead faint ~ Mrs. Pablo Picasso

How many times have you heard these phrases? Prepare yourself then for a different type of art museum, one that is dedicated to the collection, preservation and celebration of bad art!

Peter the Kitty by Mrs. Jackson
Seriously, who doesn't like kitties even if this one looks cranky!

Good art is in the wallet of the beholder ~ Kathy Lette

Since 1994 the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) has been dedicated to bringing the worst of art to the widest of audiences. Their collection has been accumulated in many different ways from dumpster diving to donations. But lest you think they accept just any old thing, the museum’s guideline is: it must have been created by someone who was seriously attempting to make an artistic statement – one that has gone horribly awry in either its concept or execution. Each work of art is truly too bad to be ignored.

Sunday on the Pot With George - Artist Unknown

This one reminds me of an uncle or is that too much information?

Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

MOBA is located in Dedham, Massachusetts and is housed in the basement of an old movie theater within earshot of the men’s lavatory. A second location opened in Somerville in May also located in the basement of a theatre but no word as to whether or not it is near the men’s restroom.

More by Sandy Winslow
Not sure what the third eye is about - the better to see you with?

Take me! I am the hallucinogenic ~ Salvador Dali

A little tour of MOBA

You can find MOBA on line or via their newsletter MOBA News, and you can also shop MOBA.

I leave you with this thought from Oscar Wilde:
Bad artists always admire each other's work!

Pictures from the MOBA website.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

She's All That - Anita Rivera

Name: Anita Rivera

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

A brief history of your fabulous self: I am a 51 year old former dancer and actress turned French teacher and harpist. Cinderella is my favorite fairytale and it has inspired me from childhood to "transform" not only myself, but to look at the possibilities of others, artwork, you name it! Everything I have achieved in life, I started late in life. Being a late bloomer has given me more energy, purpose and focus and capacity to reach what most people at my age or younger would consider unattainable. I have achieved most of what I have aimed for, and there is no stopping me yet. I plan to write children's stories, polish my drawing skills, learn and play the beautiful but very difficult Clair de Lune on the harp, and to take dance classes again. Too old you say? 51 is just a number as they say!

Thoughts on the Fab 50s: I love being more "mature." There have been moments when I realize that I have finally grown up. I used to worry about whether or not I could do something; lack of self-esteem, I guess. I realize now there is no time to waste worrying; just do it. Worrying gets you nowhere. But you don't know that when you are in your 20s, 30s or even 40s. Maybe for some women, but even in this category, I have been a late bloomer, but maybe that is what keeps me young!

What’s on your To Do List: Finish my Master's degree, write children's books, go to France again.

We never would have guessed: That I would be a fluent French speaker, become a teacher and have a Master's degree

Special projects or causes: Every year in my fourth grade class, we put on a play in French. Is that all, you might ask? It is a big event for my students. It is literally a life-changing and memorable even for all of us.

How has your fashion/beauty sense evolved: I weigh less now than I did when I was in my fabulous 20s….I have been lifting weights consistently for over 25 years and I am lean, defined but most of all, healthy and happy at 51. I finally made peace with my not so perfect body and desire to be energetic and healthy instead of always wanting what other women have. Start taking care of yourselves NOW. Don't wait to start taking care of your skin, eating healthy, exercising, stop smoking...when you are in your 30s, 40s or 50s; do it now in your 20s. You will see the difference when you are in your 50s. Be consistent and take care of yourself."

What would you tell your 20 year old self: GO TO SCHOOL AND STICK IT OUT. Don't waste your time on trying to find a husband. In good timing, it will happen. (AND IT DID!)

Anita and Ruben Rivera

If you'd like to learn a little more about Anita you can visit her very creative blog at Castles, Crowns and Cottages. Anita is hosting her second virtual play in which you get to write the fourth and final act. Hurry, the deadline to enter is this Saturday the 5th.