For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in the Southwest, hiding out among the saguaros and pretending that the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) blimp suspended over the Huachuca Mountains isn’t the Homeland Security’s Eye of Sauron trained on those with nothing but hope trying to find their way to a better life, but a giant fish giving me a coy, silvery wink from his sky aquarium. This has apparently fine-tuned my tastes such that Stella Jean’s Spring 2016 show left me with more than just a passing impression, as opposed to most other Fashion Month collections.
It turns out that Jean’s show is doing double-duty as both a fiesta for my eyeballs and a political statement (I’d like to think that the safety glasses are a political, rather than fashion statement). Jean herself being of Italian-Haitian descent, the collection - as worn by a multiracial cast - comments on Italy’s migrant identity with a multicultural mix of prints and variations on South American traditional dress. As national identity and immigration are very hot topics both here and abroad, the collection is timely. And the fifties pin-up hair is a nice touch. Some favorite looks:
Another not much of a heads-up: for lovers of Exotica, there’s now a Korla Pandit documentary, Korla, directed by John Turner! If you’re anywhere close to Newport Beach, CA, it’s screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 29th. Thrill at the range of possibilities for using the term “sonic dildo”, as heard below!
For information about future screenings, go here or sign up here.
Korla was in on it, so this is a legitimate segue. Not too long ago I woke up, turned on my conga player lamp (who’s missing his earring, which is so annoying. But on the bright side, how many times do you get to say that your lamp is missing an earring?) and found a sizable congregation of records stacked neatly under the end table because in my house, they have the right to assemble. They demanded that I recognize them as a legitimate section: the pop organ music section. Well, I admitted sheepishly, I didn’t realize how many of you there were lying around. So I granted their request. Here are some favorites. Many are uptempo, many are of the Latin persuasion and most are played on the Hammond:
One of the funnest and an easy one to get your hands on is Caravan (1959) by Eddie Layton, who not only put out a slew of albums, but played for three New York sports teams.
Inferno! (1959) by The John Buzon Trio. Still trying to get my hands on Cha Cha on the Rocks…
Dee-Latin (1958) by Lenny Dee, who had his Hammond custom-built. Don’t miss Happy Holi-Dee! Even more poodles!
Lovely Companion by Jack Cooper. Cover shot at Cypress Gardens in Florida. Includes a lovely rendition of “Swamp Fire”, one of my favorite Exotica tunes.
Shango! Night in a Quiet Village (1965) by Panamanian organist Kip Anderson and the Tides. I’m too lazy to take a picture of my copy, which would have been a better image. Sorry.
Hot and Cole (1959) by the swingin’ Buddy Cole. Powerhouse! is another great one.
Latin from Manhattan by Ethel Smith.
Here’s Ethel playing her big hit “Tico Tico” in Bathing Beauty:
…and I can’t resist posting this clip of the impossibly beautiful Lina Romay accompanied by Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra, also from Bathing Beauty (Seriously. How many more reasons do you need to seek out this film?):
The list wouldn’t be complete without some Crime Jazz:
The Man from O.R.G.A.N. (1965) by Dick Hyman.
Walter Wanderley, our best known of the group, never fails to remind us that he’s Brazil’s number one organist:
Rain Forest (1966).
Tiger on the Hammond (1960) by Jackie Davis. While not one of my favorites musically, Jackie deserves an honorable mention for Bravest Cover.
And finally to book-end this with Korla Pandit at the pipe organ, a one-man band charming snakes and wilting women:
Tropical Magic (1959). Pandit’s interpretation of “Tabu” shines here. Submit to his sorcery and go on a flight of fancy!
I had justread about the newly restored Hollyhock House when I did my afternoon gambol to style.com and read Tim Blanks mention it in his write-up on Rick Owens’ Fall 2015 collection. Am I reading the Internet’s mind, or is it reading mine? Or are we ONE???
The show is entitled “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Tower of Babel in the ‘Art’ World”, after the forthcoming book on Fantagraphic’s FU Press imprint, which collects some of Kinigstein’s cartoons that lampoon the modern art world. I’ve been told by Fantagraphics that it’ll be a very limited run and likely be available in a month or so.
A good and short reading companion to the exhibit - if you can get there in time to see it thanks to this very short notice - would be Tom Wolfe’s The Painted Word, an essay which elaborates on one of Kinigstein’s themes: the uselessness of modern art without the accompanying narrative or theory from critics and curators so that you, the plebe, can “get it”.
John Hench’s concept art for Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Marc Davis’ concept art for Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
2. Charles McPhee will paint Dr. Jacoby on black velvet for my Jungle Room:
Dr. Jacoby from Twin Peaks
3. Amy Winehouse will cover Barbara Dane’s “I’m On My Way” dressed in leopard print for the grand unveiling of my Jungle Room to myself and possibly a few others:
It will look as if Amy has materialized from my Witco barstool because it’s covered in the same leopard print:
A Witco bar set
Before she sings she’ll ask for a strong kava drink. She likes what it does to her voice. I will have a vat prepared for just such an occasion, this being my fantasy, and serve it up in a sedate Mr. Bali Hai tiki mug. I will tell her to drink it down all at once. Fast. She’ll say yeah, she knows, she loves the stuff, and it’s only then that I’ll notice that a giant tiare flower has sprouted from her beehive.
Mr. Bali Hai
4. Henry Mancini will persistently but respectfully appear to Abe Laboriel in his dreams and convince him to perform the bass solo from Mancini’s arrangement of “Barretta’s Theme” in my Jungle Room, under the glow of neon swampfire.
5. Stanley Kubrick will direct the as yet unwritten screen adaptation of Jack Vance’s Abercrombie Station. Not in my Jungle Room. There’s no place for a Jungle Room in the film.
My earnest admiration for pinball machines goes back about a decade, when I inherited a 1990 Data East The Simpsons. The backglass and playfield art are mesmerizing. Open it up and I am daunted by the viscera, and even now am only capable of jiggling the power supply to get things working again. The pinball renaissance has been underway here in Seattle for some time. Arcades have been popping up everywhere, hosting tournaments and serving ice cream (as in the case of the Full Tilts, who recently named a flavor “Mudhoney” after the local band) or beer (Add-A-Ball, John-John’s Game Room, Flip Flip, Ding Ding, etc.). We have a museum and a wonderful zine. I was bummed to miss out on the NW Pinball and Arcade Show earlier this month because I wanted to play an Orbitor 1 again.
I’ve always been drawn to Bally’s Xenon (1979). That art. That voice. Well, as Skill Shot points out in their May 2014 issue, that voice belongs to composer Suzanne Ciani, the first female voice ever featured in a game.
The backglass from Bally’s Xenon. Music and sound by Suzanne Ciani, art by Paul Faris. Photo by Stefan Ulrich.
Ciani is responsible for all of Xenon’s sounds, some of which she intended as the game reacting to the player. A short, delightful doco about Ciani’s involvement with the game:
Last week during São Paulo Fashion Week, “something magical happened” in designer Paula Raia’s new house. Paola de Orleans e Bragança of style.com says that Raia’s S/S 2015 collection
nailed something that Brazil, and anyone interested in Brazil, has been craving for years: a precise, elegant, non-clichéd representation of the Brazilian essence translated into fashion. Using sisal, string, traditional embroideries, and tones that evoke wood, dirt, and the origin of Brazil’s name: the red tones of the earth that led to the association with embers (“brass” in Portuguese).
In his summing up of SPFW, Jorge Grimberg, also of style.com, similarly praises Raia’s presentation as, “…unquestionably one of the strongest of the season, with a vision on nude and natural hues mixed in different textures. The show provided a new, authentic, long-awaited Brazilian aesthetic, a mix of nature, architecture, and culture that just felt right.”
Paula Raia S/S 2015
Paula Raia S/S 2015
Paula Raia S/S 2015
Paula Raia S/S 2015
Paula Raia S/S 2015, detail
Paula Raia S/S 2015, detail
Again, I generally don’t give menswear collections a second glance, but then there’s Mai-Gidah by Alec Ali Abdulrahim. The creative and emotional stamp on his latest collection, “In loving memories”, refuses to be ignored. According to his conversation with Branko Popović, the collection was, ‘…a means of processing the past’.