typical, i’ve a strong sense of occasion and nothing really to say. 

today is 22nd november. 

58 years ago, the woman i’ve spent the last 18 years writing about was sitting beside her husband when he was shot by a man using a mail order rifle (retail = $19.95).

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i am here to talk about kim kardashian again

[CW: assault, gun violence, rape]

for someone who’s all about cultivating A Sense of Occasion IRL, i always struggle to write when the occasion calls for it.

but i am aware that on this day, five years ago, a group of french criminals assaulted and robbed kim kardashian.

a circumstance which seems to demand some words.

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“franco-ing” and a very important update on my boyfriend adrien brody, artist

and no, no, ALAS. he is not taking my unsolicited career advice and starring in a salvadore dali biopic so my unsolicited career advice still stands.

via adrien brody, instagram

via adrien brody, instagram

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a moment of reflection on our cultural loss: the importance of hair dryers in mid-20th century american life

because biographical research takes one to all manner of rando places, i’ve been thinking about hair dryers today.

this isn’t really sooooooo random. the magazines i’m writing about were believed, at the time, to be the province of “The ladies under the hair dryers in the nations beauty salons” and because beauty parlors and hair dryers are two things that have rather radically changed within american culture in the last half century, it makes sense to do some research into what they were like and reflect on the changes that have come. 


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did you know…

finding jackie has a facebook page? yeah, we do. and, yes, i use “we” in the royal sense. jackie would approve. so you should maybe like that. please? come, journey with me into an exciting world of celebrity, biography, adventure, and incredibly sexist advertisements.

holiday listening

condoms! diaphragms! dildoes in the halls of congress! new (um… SCANDALOUS) New Books in Biography interview with Dr. Jean H. Baker discussing “Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion,” plus obscenity laws and the contraceptive powers of crocodile dung. omg, perfect holiday listening.

movie magazines: a brief history in several parts (part 1)

At the outset of the 1960s, the popular press generally divided into two camps. There were the respectable mainstream publications such as Life, Look, Time and The Saturday Evening Post, which covered contemporary news. And then there were the so-called “women’s magazines,” which included such varied publications as Vogue, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan and McCall’s. In contrast to the big boys, the lady mags covered soft news, frothy subjects such as celebrities, fashion and family.

Because women comprised the bulk of their audience, the movie magazines were lumped in with the women’s magazines, though they were a distinct subset unto themselves. A special breed of magazines  invented by the film studios, the movie magazines were originally intended as a publicity tool. Providing a template upon which Us Weekly and In Touch would capitalize later, the movie magazines covered the misadventures, tribulations and lifestyles of television and film stars.

At the height of their popularity, there were upwards of forty publications, including Photoplay, Motion Picture, Modern Screen, and TV Radio Screen. They had little in common with Ladies Home Journal and Vogue.

Most often, the movie magazines were characterized as “tabloids,” but even this classification was misleading as the movie magazines were not tabloids in the truest sense. The term “tabloid” originally denoted periodical size but it had, by the 1960s, become synonymous with down-market sensationalized, special interest magazines.

In a report for the April 1969 issue of Playboy, Reginald Potterton cataloged the preoccupations of the mainstream tabloids: Justice Weekly “boasts an editorial obsession with just about every form of deviation known, short of bestiality and necrophilia; while Confidential Flash, the National Informer and Midnight range over as many bases as possible but incline toward ‘straight’ sex and horror-violence.”

While, in time, the movie magazines would push the boundaries of acceptable celebrity reporting, they never went to these extremes. The world they depicted was populated by glamorous stars seeking comfort in love, family and faith. Even back in the 1960s, celebrities seemed to want nothing more than to be normal. They longed to be Just Like Us.