Happy Birthday Jean-Paul Belmondo

NAME: Jean-Paul Belmondo
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: April 09, 1933 (Age: 79)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

Best Known For:  Jean-Paul Belmondo is a French film star, unconventionally handsome, he became the antihero of the French New Wave cinema movement.

Jean-Paul Belmondo earned international fame in Godard’s 1960 film Breathless. By 1965, he had acted in 25 films. He continued with portrayals in Pierrot le Fou, Mississippi Mermaid and Les Miserables (1995). Suffering a stroke in 2001, he did not return to the screen until 2008.

What You Need To Know

  •     Making your look appear effortless actually takes a little bit of effort.
  •     He often wore a half-undone collared shirt and worn-in driving moccasins.
  •     Roll your shirt sleeves, undo a couple of its buttons, and skip the iron for the Belmondo look.

Why He’s A Style Icon

The 1960 film Breathless was acclaimed as much for its mastery of popular new-wave cinema as it was for Jean-Paul Belmondo’s breakthrough role and sense of style. Belmondo’s irreverence as a thug running from the law created a new type of leading man on screen. Everything he wore was critical to developing a brazen character who appropriately modeled himself after Humphrey Bogart, who himself was such a trendsetter that a variation on the fedora bears his name. However, Belmondo’s look is no copycat. It belongs in a class all its own.

Clad in trim trousers, a blazer and a fedora while dangling a never-ending cigarette from his mouth, he epitomized French street style in every possible way. It’s a look that, when worn today, is completely carefree while still being fashion conscious. At its heart is a feeling of adventure that comes from looking like you didn’t try too hard. Belmondo, in a way, has come to represent a style that is perfectly imperfect.

Still, Belmondo’s real status as a style icon comes from an unwavering confidence that’s just shy of cocky. He could have been draped in a burlap sack, but his swagger made anything he wore look cool. Most people believe that a suit is the only thing that truly makes a man look handsome, but Belmondo was equally as dashing in the simplest of clothes. He often wore a half-undone collared shirt and worn-in driving moccasins. It was the perfect combination for kick-starting a Vespa and driving off into a Provencal sunset.

Dress The Belmondo Way

Ironically, the trouble with making your look appear effortless is that it actually takes a little bit of effort. This is not about looking like you just rolled out of bed to grab the first thing in your closet or, for that matter, off your floor. Your goal should be to put a cohesive look together that doesn’t look overworked.

A few key additions to your wardrobe will help do the trick. The truly fashion-forward can go against the mainstream and dive directly into a double-breasted blazer. It’s a risky move, but a well-tailored one sans shoulder pads and paired with dark denim updates a classic without looking like you were plucked from 1985. If the blazer is too much for you to handle, try a double-breasted trench coat, like the Burberry Trench Style Raincoat. Just be aware that this is not the bulky, calf-length variety. It should be deconstructed, lightweight and cropped at the thigh or just above the knee. You can throw it over anything — even that T-shirt that was in fact laying on your floor — and look pulled together without exerting too much effort.

For a more relaxed slice of Belmondo styling, you could opt for a simple white button-down shirt. Just make sure to keep it comfortable. Roll the sleeves, undo a couple of buttons, and skip the iron. Anything too labor-intensive just isn’t Belmondo.

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Happy Birthday Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau

NAME: Marcel Marceau
OCCUPATION: Actor, Artist
BIRTH DATE: March 22, 1923
DEATH DATE: September 22, 2007
EDUCATION: Ecole des Beaux-Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Strasbourg, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Cahors, France
ORIGINALLY: Marcel Mangel

BEST KNOWN FOR: Marcel Marceau was best known for his work as a mime artist in France.

Mime artist. Marcel Mangel was born March 22, 1923, in Strasbourg, NE France. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and with Etienne Decroux. In 1948 he founded the Compagnie de Mime Marcel Marceau, developing the art of mime, becoming himself the leading exponent. His white-faced character, Bip, based on the 19th-c French Pierrot, a melancholy vagabond, is famous from his appearances on stage and television throughout the world.

Among the many original performances he has devised are the mime-drama Don Juan (1964), and the ballet Candide (1971). He has also created about 100 pantomimes, such as The Creation of the World. In 1978 he became head of the Ecole de Mimodrame Marcel Marceau.

Marcel Marceau died on September 22, 2007 in Cahors, France.

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Happy Birthday Diana Vreeland

Today is the 90th birthday of Diana Vreeland.  She was and continues to be the arbiter of style, even after her death 20+ years ago. Do yourself a favor and read “D.V.”:  her autobiography/manual of style/name-drop-a-thon book masquerading as a roller coaster ride through the early parts of the 20th century. It will seriously change your life. Watch “The Eye Has To Travel,” her documentary.  You will start to look at style as something you own, not something you follow and conform to.  She will teach you that the sexiest most attractive thing one can have and wear is confidence.   I absolutely adore her for the permission she gives people to be fashionable, be original, beautiful, without being ordinary or expected.  Wear some pearls today, wear your shirt back to front, do something original today.  Do it for yourself with a wink to Ms. Vreeland.

 

NAME: Diane Dalziel Vreeland
OCCUPATION: Journalist
BIRTH DATE: March 01, 1924
DEATH DATE: August 22, 1989
PLACE OF BIRTH: Paris, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: As a fashion journaist, Diana Vreeland was an influential figure in American fashion during the 20th century.

Diana Vreeland began her career at Harper’s Bazaar in 1936. Her column “Why Don’t You…?” was famous for offering outlandish fashion and lifestyle tips for the times. Vreeland later became the magazine’s fashion editor and established herself as one of the country’s leading arbiters of style. In 1962, Vreeland joined the staff of Vogue and continued to be a powerful force in the fashion world.

Fashion journalist. Born Diana Dalziel on March 1, 1924, in Paris, France. Diana Vreeland was an influential figure in American fashion during the twentieth century. The daughter of wealthy parents, she spent her early years in France before moving to New York as a teenager.

Diana Vreeland began her career as a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar in 1936. Her column “Why Don’t You . . . ?” was famous for offering outlandish fashion and lifestyle tips for the times. Few could afford in the Depression follow her advice. Moving up the editorial ladder, Vreeland became the magazine’s fashion editor, a post she held until the early 1960s. At Harper’s Bazaar, she established herself as one of the country’s leading arbiters of style.

In 1962, Diana Vreeland joined the staff of Vogue, another influential fashion magazine, as editor in chief. At Vogue, she continued to be a powerful force in the fashion world, often able to identify the coming trends, such as the popularity of the bikini. Vreeland also worked with many well-known photographers, such as Richard Avedon, in making the magazine.

While she left Vogue in 1971, Diana Vreeland did not leave the fashion world. She worked as a consultant for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, putting together fashion exhibitions. Vreeland died on August 22, 1989. Married to T. Reed Vreeland since 1924, she had two sons, Thomas R., Jr., and Frederick.

Personal Quotes:

“People who eat white bread have no dreams.”

“Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola.”

“Elegance is innate. It has nothing to do with being well dressed. Elegance is refusal.”

“I always wear my sweater back-to-front; it is so much more flattering.”

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.”

“Pink is the navy blue of India.”

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Happ Birthday Eugène Atget

Yesterday was the 156th birthday of the French photographer Eugène Atget who took photographs of people and things at a time when most photography being taken was portraiture.  His photos of paris a the turn of the century are hauntingly beautiful.

 

NAME: Eugène Atget
OCCUPATION: Actor, Photographer
BIRTH DATE: February 12, 1857
DEATH DATE: August 04, 1927
PLACE OF BIRTH: Libourne, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France

Best Known For:  French photographer Eugène Atget recorded everything he considered picturesque or artistic in and around Paris, with an eye for strange and unsettling images.

At around age 30, Eugène Atget settled in Paris and became a photographer. The rest of his life was spent recording everything he could that he considered picturesque or artistic in and around Paris, with an eye for strange and unsettling images. His main clients were museums and historical societies. After World War I he received a commission to document the brothels of Paris.

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Rear View Mirror – My Week in Review

It started snowing last night and by the time my coworkers and I left the restaurant, there was enough stuck to the city streets to watch people do ridiculously reckless things with their cars on Madison street.  On the way to the train station, I witnessed a car slide into another car, both drivers get out, inquired as to each other’s physical condition, apologized, and told each other good luck and be careful.  So Seattle.  I took a few photos of the snow, but it was dark and it was still snowing, so they just came out blurry.  Plus, everyone has seen snow (that is a gentle reminder to a few facebook friends).  I will see if I can get a few today, if they seem interesting and different.  We have to go retrieve a car from a hotel parking garage and do the Sunday shopping.  My look for the day will be called “He Finally Has A Legit Reason To Wear Those Rubber Boots.” 

Today is my grandfather’s birthday, he would have been 94.  A lot of people live to be 94 now, but he died at a far-too-young 68.  Seems unfair.

 

Name:  Ivan Selmer Parker
Birth: Feb. 9, 1920
Death: May 18, 1988 (68)
 Burial: Miller-Woodlawn Memorial Park Bremerton Washington, USA

Social Security Number:  537-03-8042

I remember that he had this strange way of floating on his back in the lake, his feet sticking out of the water, his hands slowly moving back and forth. It was sort of like treading water, sort of like floating on his back, but very casual. I try to recreate that floating when I am in the lake each summer, but I don’t have it exactly right because his head was sort of sticking up out of the water and he could hold conversations. I remember once, when my sister and I were very young, he was tucking us into our sleeping bags out at the lake house and my sister wanted to sleep in her socks. He told her that if she wore her socks to bed that her toes would rot off, jokingly. We laughed and laughed. I wish I could write down every single thing I remember about him, I probably will over time. I want to write it all down so I remember it all, forever.

I will keep looking for more information and adding it when I find it, but he has very little internet presence, no obituary or anything like that.  I guess if I joined that family tree website, I could find things…

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of James Dean, Jack Lemmon, Ramon Novarro and Elaine Stritch. I also added Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times to the “Required Viewing” film list and openly confessed my obsession with the 1970s detective TV show Columbo.

The Stats:

Views This Week: 318
Total Views: 101,540
Total Subscribers: 247
Most Popular Post: Happy Birthday Jack Lemmon

This week on Wasp & Pear on tumblr, I covered the topics that are de riguer: classic Hollywood photographs, vintage Seattle photographs, photographs of abandoned places and the art of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Klee.  I also celebrated the birthdays of James Michener and Norman Rockwell as well as celebrated the reopening of Bauhaus Books & Coffee.

The Stats:

Posts This Week: 49
Total Posts: 1,675
Total Subscribers: 153
New Subscribers: 1
Most Popular Post: West Side Story: Original Broadway Cast Album (still, I know)

This week over on RRCD, the Tumblr blog I manage for all of Rick’s paintings, I posted three new paintings and added a link to his ETSY page for sales. I will be posting all new photographs taken with a considerably better quality camera. You should check out The Art of Ricardo Romero Cortez Duque and follow him if you are a tumblr type.

This week on @TheRealSPA on twitter, I apparently appreciated my @UBER ride more than I remember and declared my love for it on Friday. #HomeSafe I tweeted an Instagram photo of the crowds at Westlake Station after the @Seahawks parade (it was crazy). #12thMan #700000thMan I (tried) to remind everyone that @Oprah told us YERS AGO to stop using our phones while driving. #HandsFree I tweeted a lot of photos of Rick’s paintings.

The Stats:

Following: 285
Followers: 71
Tweets: 720

 here is where i’m @:

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA
I ADN at alpha.app.net/spa

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Happy Birthday Edith Piaf

Today is the 98th birthday of Edith Piaf.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of her death, sadly, which is three years longer than her total years alive.  There is a quite attributed to her where she says she wants to make people cry without understanding the words she is singing.  She achieved that.  Maybe it’s a French thing, they seem to have perfected ennui (they are the only language with a word for it), but I absolutely adore it, that sadness, that missing, that loss.  It is a much more tricky emotion to convey when compared to the loud explosive happiness and the crash of anger and hatred.  It is subtle, quiet, a bit lost.


edith piaf 2

NAME: Edith Piaf
OCCUPATION: Singer
BIRTH DATE: December 19, 1915
DEATH DATE: October 10, 1963
PLACE OF BIRTH: Paris, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Alpes-Maritimes, France
ORIGINALLY: Edith Giovanna Gassion
NICKNAME: The Little Sparrow
NICKNAME: La Mome Piaf

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Édith Piaf, also known as “The Little Sparrow,” was a French singer who became an icon of France during World War II.

“All I’ve done all my life is disobey.” – Edith Piaf

Édith Piaf was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Belleville, Paris. She was named after the World War I British nurse Edith Cavell, executed for helping French soldiers escape from German captivity. Her mother, Annetta Giovanna Maillard, was an Italian cafe singer, who performed under the name “Line Marsa.” Édith’s father, Louis-Alphonse Gassion, was a street acrobat.

Édith ‘s parents soon abandoned her, and she may have lived for a short time with her maternal grandmother, who ran a brothel. In 1929, at the age of 14, she joined her father in his street performances all over France.

Édith soon separated from her father, setting out on her own as a street singer in and around Paris. At 17, she had a daughter named Marcelle, who died of meningitis two years later.

In 1935, Piaf was discovered by Louis Leplée, who owned the successful club Le Gerny off the Champs-Élysées. Her nervous energy and small stature inspired the nickname that would stay with her for the rest of her life: La Môme Piaf (“The Little Sparrow”). Leplée ran a major publicity campaign promoting Piaf’s opening night. She was popular enough to record two albums that same year.

Louis Leplée was murdered the following spring. After authorities investigated her as an accomplice to the crime, Piaf took charge of her image. She adopted her stage name—Édith Piaf—permanently, and commissioned songs that romanticized her life on the streets, emphasizing her passion and inner strength.

Piaf was one of the most popular performers in France during World War II. Her concerts for German servicemen were controversial, although she later stated that she had been working for the French Resistance. While the veracity of this claim is unclear, she was instrumental in helping a number of individuals escape Nazi persecution.

edith piaf 1

After the war, her fame spread quickly. She toured Europe, South America and the United States. Although American audiences were initially put off by her dour demeanor and dark clothes, Piaf garnered glowing reviews and ultimately achieved enough of an audience to warrant two televised performances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The personal life of Édith Piaf was characteristically dramatic. She was involved in three serious car crashes after 1951, leading to morphine and alcohol addictions.

Piaf had high-profile romances with many of her male associates and some of the biggest celebrities in France.

“I want to make people cry even when they don’t understand my words.” – Edith Piaf

She married twice. Her first marriage, to singer Jacques Pills, lasted for four years. Her 1962 marriage to Théo Sarapo, a Greek hairdresser and performer 20 years her junior, lasted until her death in 1963.

Piaf remained professionally active until the final years of her life, performing frequently in Paris between 1955 and 1962. In April 1963, she recorded her last song.

Édith Piaf died of cancer at her French Riviera villa on October 10, 1963. She was 47. The Archbishop of Paris denied requests for a funeral Mass, citing Piaf’s irreligious lifestyle. She is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris next to her daughter Marcelle.

The 5 Smallest Countries in the World – Not So Secret Obsession

There’s this thing I do from time to time to relax at home or at work (on lunch breaks, obviously) that I call My Virtual Vacation.  Time, distance and money are not obstacles in these daydreams.  I create a vacation.  I have been lucky enough to take actual vacations to places like the Galapagos Islands and Tahiti in the past, those trips were amazing and have fueled the foundation of these daydreams.  I pick a place, look up hotels, look up apartments for short term rent, look up sightseeing, and just travel there for a bit.  I have long been obsessed with traveling to the smallest countries in the world and they are frequently on my virtual vacation itinerary.  Here is a list:

1. Vatican City

Size: 0.17 sq. mi. (0.44 km²)
Population: 783 (2005 census)
Location: Rome, Italy

vatican

The size of a golf course, the Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. It’s basically a walled enclave inside of Rome, Italy. It’s so small that the entire country does not have a single street address.

The Vatican City may be small, but it is very powerful. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See, or the seat of the Catholic Church (basically its central government), which has over 1 billion people (about 1 in 6 people on the planet) as constituents.

The Vatican City was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty (which was signed by one of history’s most repressive dictators, Benito Mussolini) and is ruled by the Pope, basically a non-hereditary, elected monarch who rules with absolute authority (he’s the legislative, executive and judiciary all rolled into one) – indeed, the Pope is the only absolute monarch in Europe.

Another unique thing about the smallest country in the world is that it has no permanent citizens. Citizenship of the Vatican City is conferred upon those who work at the Vatican (as well as their spouses and children) and is revoked when they stop working there.

The Vatican City is guarded by the smallest and oldest regular army in the world, the Swiss Guard [wiki]. It was originally made up of Swiss mercenaries in 1506, now the army (also personal bodyguards of the Pope) number 100, all of which are Catholic unmarried male Swiss citizens. The Swiss Guard’s Renaissance-style uniform was commonly attributed as to have been designed by Michelangelo – this was actually incorrect: the large “skirt” pants were a common style during the Renaissance. Only their uniforms seem antiquated: most of the Swiss Guards carry pistols and submachine-guns.

The official languages of the Vatican City are Latin and Italian. In fact, its ATMs are the only ones in the world that offer services in Latin! And here you thought that Latin is a dead language…

For a country that has no street address, the Vatican City has a very efficient post office: an international mail dropped in the Vatican will get there faster than one dropped in Italy just a few hundred yard away – in fact, there is more mail sent annually per inhabitant from this country (7,200 mails per person) than anywhere else in the world.

The Vatican City has a country code top level domain of .va – currently there are only 9 publicly known .va domains [wiki]. It also has a radio broadcasting service, called Vatican Radio [wiki], which was set up by Guglielmo Marconi (the Father of Radio) himself!

The country’s economy is unique: it is the only non-commercial economy in the world. Instead, the Vatican City is supported financially by contributions of Catholics worldwide (called Peter’s Pence – hey, even the Pope accepts credit cards!), the sale of postage stamps and publications, and tourism.

Lastly, as an ecclesiastical paradise, the Vatican City has no taxes.

2. Monaco

Size: 0.8 sq. mi. (1.96 km²)
Population: 35,657 (2006 estimate)
Location: French Riviera on the Mediterranean

monaco

Monaco is the second smallest country on Earth (it’s roughly the size of New York’s Central Park), yet it’s the most densely populated (23,660 people per km²). Actually, Monaco used to be much smaller than it is now – about 100 acres were reclaimed from the sea and added to its land size. At the narrowest, Monaco is only 382 yards wide!

The Principality of Monaco, its formal name, means that the territory is ruled by a prince. For the last seven centuries, Monaco was ruled by princes of the Grimaldi family from Genoa. (The whole thing started one night in 1297 when François Grimaldi disguised himself as a monk and led a small army to conquer the fortress guarding the Rock of Monaco. The coat of arms of the Grimaldi bears the image of monks with swords!) Now, the Prince shares legislative authority with a National Council.

In 1861, Monaco relinquished half of its territory to France in exchange for cash and independence. When the reigning prince realized that most of Monaco’s natural resources were on the land that got bartered away, he decided to bet the whole economy on … what else, gambling (see, casinos aren’t only for American Indians, it’s a time-tested, universal solution!)

And so began Monte Carlo [wiki], a region of Monaco well known for its glamorous casinos (a setting for Ian Fleming’s first James Bond Novel Casino Royale) and its Formula One Grand Prix.

In 1918, Monaco entered a treaty with France for military protection – the treaty, however, also stipulated that Monaco would lose its independence (and become French) should the reigning Grimaldi prince died without leaving a male heir! When Prince Rainier III took over, he was a bachelor and most Monegasques (that means people of Monaco) were gloomy about the country’s future. However, he ended up marrying Hollywood actress Grace Kelly [wiki] – the marriage not only produced a male heir, it also helped burnish Monaco’s image as a glamorous place to be for the wealthy. (Monaco can rest easy now, a new treaty with France stated that the Principality will remain independent even without a male heir).

For a long time, Monaco had no income taxes and was a tax haven for wealthy foreigners and international corporations. This caused a unique thing about Monaco’s population: most of its residents are not native – in fact, only about 1 in 5 people are native Monegasques. After a long dispute with France, Monaco started to impose income taxes on all of its residents who are not born there. Its natural citizens are forbidden from entering casinos, but to make up for it, they do not have to pay any income taxes.

3. Nauru

Size: 8 sq. mi (21 km²)
Population: 13,005 (2005 estimate)
Location: Western Pacific Ocean

nauru

Nauru is the world’s smallest island nation, the smallest independent republic, and the only republic in the world without an official capital.

Nauru only has one significant source of income: phosphates from thousands of years’ worth of guano or bird droppings. This proved to be both a boon and a bane for Nauruans – for a long time, its residents enjoyed a relatively high level of income as the country exported its phosphate like there’s no tomorrow.

The government employed 95% of Nauruans, and lavished free medical care and schooling for its citizens. Most didn’t take advantage of this offer: only one-third of children went on to secondary school. The adults didn’t really work, either – office hours were flexible and the most popular pastime was drinking beer and driving the 20-minute circuit around the island. For a while, Nauru was a paradise – for a brief moment in 1970s, Nauruans were even amongst the richest people on the planet.

Nothing lasts forever and sure enough, Nauru’s phosphate reserves soon dried up and left 90% of the island as a barren, jagged mining wasteland. Wasteful investments (like buying hotels only to leave them to rot) and gross incompetence by the government (former presidents used to commandeer Air Nauru’s planes for holidays, leaving paying customers stranded on the tarmac!) didn’t help either.

As if that’s not bad enough, Nauru is also beset by obesity problem. Decades of leisurely lifestyle and high consumption of alcohol and fatty foods have left as many as 9 out of 10 people overweight! Nauru also has the world’s highest level of type 2 diabetes – over 40% of its population is affected.

So now, Nauruans are poverty-stricken and fat – but they are trying to turn things around. With no natural resource left, in the 1990s, Nauru decided to become a tax haven and offered passports to foreign nationals for a fee. This attracted the wrong kind of money (but a lot of it): the Russian mafia funneled over $70 billion to the tiny island nation. Things got so bad that most big banks refused to handle transactions involving Nauru because of money laundering problems.

This led Nauru to another extraordinary money-making scheme: it became a detention camp for people applying for asylum to Australia!

4. Tuvalu

Size: 9 sq. mi. (26 km²)
Population: 10,441 (2005 estimate)
Location: South Pacific

tuvalu

Tuvalu is basically a chain of low-lying coral islands, with its highest elevation being 16 feet or 5 meters above seal level. With total land area of just 9 square miles, Tuvalu is not only a teeny tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, it may not even exist in the next 50 years if sea level continue to rise (a controversial claim, nonetheless there were evacuation plans to New Zealand and other Pacific Islands). Even if the sea level does not rise, other problems such as population growth and coastal erosion still make Tuvalu a very vulnerable country.

During World War II, thousands of American troops were stationed on the islands of Tuvalu and the island became an Allied base. Airfields were quickly constructed and after the war, abandoned. In fact, today rusting wrecks can be found on the islands, a constant reminder of its role in the War.

Today, Tuvalu also derives income from renting out its Internet country code top-level domain .tv, as it is the abbreviation of the word ‘television’. This scheme got off to a rocky start (the original company who tried to do it failed to raise the necessary funds), but finally proved to be the largest source of income for the country.

5. San Marino

Size: 24 sq. mi. (61 km²)
Population: 28,117 (2005 estimate)
Location: North-central Italy near the Adriatic coast.

San-Marino

With the formal name of The Most Serene Republic of San Marino, it’s not surprising that San Marino has got lots of charms. Founded in AD 301 by a Christian stonecutter named (what else) Marino (or Marinus, depending on who you ask), who along with a small group of Christians, was seeking escape from religious persecution, San Marino is the world’s oldest republic.

Its history belies its simple motto: “Liberty.” Indeed, San Marino was such a good neighbor that it was hardly ever conquered by larger enemies (it was briefly conquered in the 1500s and the 1700s, for like a month each). Even when Napoleon gobbled most of Europe, he left San Marino alone, saying it was a model republic!

San Marino takes its government seriously: for such a tiny country, San Marino has a very complex government structure, based on a constitution written in 1600. The country is ruled by an elected Council of 60, who appoints 2 captain regents (from opposing political parties, no less) to administer governmental affairs for six-month term. Talk about preserving liberties through division of authority!

Before World War II, San Marino was amongst the poorest countries in Europe. Today, with more than 3 million tourists visiting every year (half of San Marino’s income is derived from tourism), the people of San Marino are amongst the world’s richest people.

Pablo Picasso – Words To Live By

picasso

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

Happy Birthday Frances Farmer – Style Icon

There is something about her, the biopic with Jessica Lange helped push her into cult icon status for a lot of people, including me..  Seattle girl, free thinker, rule breaker and getting a raw deal from Hollywood all inspire other artists.  They understand the misunderstood.  She is the glamorous Hollywood misfit queen of all misfits.  I think of her several times a week when I walk by the employee side entrance to to the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, a door I know that she went through hundreds of times in the early 1950’s when she took a job sorting laundry after her release from a mental hospital.  How she must have felt going in that side door when only 14 years earlier, that very same hotel had held the world premier of her film “Come and Get It.”  I think of that aching feeling of betrayal and abandonment and the complexities of mental instability, it must have been crippling.  (It is a similar feeling that I have when I am driving home and pass Kurt Cobain’s house and see the bench in “Kurt’s Park” covered with flowers and burning candles, even as recent as yesterday.)  Ladies and gentlemen, Frances Farmer.  Style Icon.

Frances_Farmer_UndatedNAME: Frances Farmer
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: September 19, 1913
DEATH DATE: August 01, 1970
EDUCATION: University of Washington
PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle, Washington
PLACE OF DEATH: Indianapolis, Indiana

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Frances Farmer starred in films in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, but was best known for her rebellious reputation and the time she spent in a mental institution.

Born September 19, 1913, in Seattle, Washington. The daughter of a lawyer, Farmer enjoyed a comfortable childhood, during which she developed a penchant for stage acting. In 1931, she enrolled at the University of Washington, where she majored in journalism and drama. After a failed attempt to join the Group Theatre in New York, Farmer concentrated on a film career, signing with Paramount Studios in 1936. Later that year, she was cast in a bit part in the drama Too Many Parents, followed by Border Flight and the musical Rhythm on the Range, starring Bing Crosby. Playing the dual role of a saloon singer and her daughter, Farmer’s work in the 1936 film Come and Get It, was heralded as the best screen performance of her career.

Despite Farmer’s initial success, she quickly earned a reputation as a demanding and rebellious actress on the set. Displeased with her attitude, Paramount cast her in bland parts in a handful of films, including Exclusive and Ebb Tide (both 1937). By the early 1940s, Farmer was forced to appear in a succession of inferior productions, including South of Pago Pago (1940), World Premiere, and Among the Living (both 1941).

In 1942, Farmer’s career enjoyed a brief resurgence when she was cast opposite Tyrone Power and Roddy McDowall in the swashbuckler Son of Fury. However, Farmer’s efforts to improve her image backfired when she was arrested and convicted of drunk driving at the time of the film’s release. Inundated with negative publicity, Farmer traveled to Mexico. However, by leaving the United States, she was found in violation of her probation. She was put on trial and deemed mentally ill. Farmer was committed to a mental institution where she underwent shock treatments, hydrotherapy baths, and reportedly received a trans-orbital lobotomy. Over the next few years, her physical and mental health deteriorated; she developed a debilitating dependency on alcohol and suffered from a series of nervous breakdowns.

Upon her release from the institution, in 1949, Farmer worked as a hotel receptionist before making a comeback appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1957. The following year, she starred in her last feature film, The Party Crashers, and began a six-year run on the Indianapolis-based TV show Frances Farmer Presents.

On August 1, 1970, Farmer died after a long battle with cancer; she was 56 years old. Her intimate autobiography, Will There Really Be a Morning?, was published posthumously in 1972. In the early 1980s, her story was captured on film in the biopic Frances (1982), starring Jessica Lange, and in the black and white documentary Committed (1983).

More than two decades after Farmer’s death, the alternative rock group Nirvana recorded the single “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle.” Written by lead singer Kurt Cobain, the tribute appeared on the band’s In Utero (1993) album. Cobain also named his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, after Farmer.

Farmer was married three times: to actor Leif Erickson (from 1936-42); to Alfred Lobley (from 1953-58); and to Leland Mikesell (from 1958 until her death).

In Popular Culture:

  • Jessica Lange played Farmer in the 1982 film Frances, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Kim Stanley was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Farmer’s mother. The film contained a fictional scene which depicted Farmer undergoing a transorbital lobotomy. In Hollywood style, the film also omitted numerous facts and added a fictional life-long, love-interest character named “Harry”.
  • Susan Blakely portrayed Farmer in a 1983 television production Will There Really Be a Morning?, which was named after Farmer’s autobiography. Academy Award winner Lee Grant portrayed her mother in the same production.
  • In 1984, Culture Club had a #32 hit in the UK Single Charts “The Medal Song”, which was about the actress.
  • Tracey Thorn’s song “Ugly Little Dreams” on Everything But The Girl’s 1985 LP “Love Not Money” was also inspired by Frances Farmer.
  • The Nirvana song “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”, which was written by fellow Washington native Kurt Cobain, was named after Farmer. It appears on their 1993 “In Utero” LP.
  • Patterson Hood, singer, guitarist and songwriter with the rock band Drive-By Truckers, included a song about Farmer (titled “Frances Farmer”) on his 2004 solo album, Killers and Stars. The album’s cover features a drawing of Farmer by Toby Cole.
  • Carol Decker of the band T’Pau wrote a song “Monkey House” about Frances Farmer’s mental illness which was featured on the 1987 album “Bridge Of Spies”.
  • French singer Mylène Jeanne Gautier, changed her name into Mylène Farmer as a tribute to Frances.

farmer

Madame Sin.

Release date: 1972 (initial release)
Director: David Greene
Running time: 90 minutes
Cast: Bette Davis, Robert Wagner
Producers: Robert Wagner, Lew Grade
Genres: Action film, Drama, Thriller, Spy film, Action Thrillers

If you have a chance, you should really rent the movie “Madame Sin.” If for only because Bette Davis is serving up crazy paint-by-number face. IMDB describes it as:

“Bette Davis is Madame Sin, a sinister-looking, totally evil, half-Chinese woman who indulges in endless machinations. Ensocnced in a Scottish castle that is packed with an array of spy gadgetry, she runs afoul with counter spy, American CIA agent Anthony Lawrence (Robert Wagner), who is out to counter her plots for control of a Polaris submarine.”

I totally didn’t pick up on her being half-Chinese, just real bossy.  But I forgot that a heavy lid is as good as Chinese for Hollywood of that era.  Basically, this movie is what the Austin Powers movies are spoofing.