Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Report

This was one of those weekends where I unexpectedly came across a lot of different things I hadn't seen before. It started with a visit to Barnes & Noble where they were highlighting three surprisingly interesting mass audience picture books. The first, Influence by Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, is an illustrated collection of interviews with fifty or so people from the worlds of art, fashion, and media who have influenced the twins. The book sounds like an easy target, but it's intelligently and seriously done, and full of surprises - great pictures and oddments like a full page reproduction of a wonderfully quirky letter from Diana Vreeland to Bob Colacello complimenting him on an issue of Interview.

Propped next to Influence was Sports Ilustrated - The Complete Swimsuit Portfolio. I snuck a peek at the book (well actually looked at every page). So I can now report that this is far from the complete portfolio - it's actually a selection of photographs of the most recent
S.I. swimsuit models where each model is represented by a one photographer portfolio. But the quality of the pictures is surprisingly high - as you can see from the cover image - and there's a clever and well-executed idea where every "portfolio" opens with a mirror self-portrait by the featured model.

Lastly, Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric (a simply terrible title) by Barry Feinstein, best known for his early pictures of Dylan, has a text by Dylan himself (written in the 60s) and some good inside Hollywood pictures from the same period, most notably a series of close-ups of the hands of Oscar winners clutching their awards.

William Wyler holding his Oscar.

All three books are worth consideration.

This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine was one of their best - an issue devoted to what we watch on screens. Among lots of good articles was a round up of memorable things seen recently by an eclectic group of writers, directors, and bloggers. I have to confess to not being among the 13 million or more people who have to date watched the "Christian the Lion" clip on YouTube. So the information in the following article and clip were new to me, and a revelation. But here for the record is what I thought was a beautifully written piece by radio producer and author, Starlee Kine:


Christian the Lion was a little lion cub that two young guys saw on sale at Harrods in London in 1969, back when department stores sold these kinds of things. They took him back to their flat, where he got into their sock drawers and played with balls of string. They befriended a vicar who let them use a local churchyard as a playground for the cub, and at the beginning of the video (which someone pulled out of an old British documentary and posted on YouTube last summer) there’s Super 8 footage of them frolicking about. Then text appears on the screen explaining that once Christian got too big, the boys had to take him to Africa to be with his own kind. A year later they decided to go visit him, even though they were warned that Christian had become a full-grown lion with a pride of his own and wouldn’t remember them and would perhaps attack them if they went. They went anyway, these two tall, floppy-haired guys whom I admit I am seriously crushed out on, and the next thing you see is this grainy footage of them standing in the African sand, calling Christian’s name silently, because there’s no sound. Oh, and I’m sorry, did I forget to mention that Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is playing in the background, and that as you see Christian appear and are still unsure what’s going to happen (my friend Heather was convinced she was going to witness the two boys’ deaths; she couldn’t understand why else I was freaking out so much when I made her watch it) you hear Whitney sing, “I wish you joy and happiness, but above all this, I wish you lo-uh-ove,” and then Christian is running toward the boys, leaping onto his hind legs (“Watch out!” Heather screamed at this part) and the music is all, “And I will alll-ways love you,” and you see that Christian not only remembers them but that he loves them, dearly, desperately, he is hugging them with his enormous lion paws? And one of the guys, who looks a lot like a young Roger Daltrey, actually, has this huge smile on his face and you can see him choke back a sob. It’s just the most solid reason I’ve seen yet for why the Internet should exist. By the way, the video isn’t nearly as effective without the Whitney Houston song. I’ve tried watching it both ways and, really, you need the song in order to experience the full-blown effect.

And here, for those who haven't seen it is the clip:

Lastly, while watching the Jets crush the Titans, I happened to catch the new ad for Guitar Hero featuring Heidi Klum (and directed by Brett Ratner). You have to give her credit for the way she gets into this.
Apparently she suffered a concussion after launching herself onto the couch one too many times!


Christopher Paquette said...

I haven't seen that ad yet, and I'm glad for it. I have never understood the continued use (so overplayed) of the "Risky Business" parody... it was funny back in the 80's. Is it now considered retro enough that it is being re-introduced as fresh material? Ugh

Carla said...

I love the look of the first book and the third. Any photographic subject on musisicans or dance I love. I will check it out thanks for the tip Carla