Saturday, December 20, 2014

Marilyn Monroe / These Few Precious Days

Then-unknown actress Marilyn Monroe, 21, with Clifton Webb and Laurette Luez on the set of the 1948 comedy, Sitting Pretty.

Marilyn Monroe

A new book by Christopher Andersen, These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack With Jackie, is grabbing headlines not because of it repeats all the hoary old claims of John F. Kennedy’s extramarital affairs, but because it asserts that Marilyn Monroe actually phoned Jackie Kennedy in 1962 and told her that JFK was going to make her, Marilyn, his second wife. (To Jackie’s credit, she reportedly replied: “Marilyn, you’ll marry Jack, that’s great … and you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibilities of first lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems.”)
This sort of story — whether it has to do with Marilyn’s alleged trysts with JFK and other powerful men, or her erratic behavior, insecurities, addictions, depressive episodes, you name it — this sort of story somehow both deepens our fascination with the ultimate movie icon, while also removing yet one more layer of luster from her legend. At this point, of course, nothing we learn of Marilyn’s myriad weaknesses will stop us from paying attention whenever a tidbit of new information about her arises. In fact, as countless commentators have observed through the years, it’s at least in part because of her weaknesses that Marilyn holds such sway over the popular imagination and looms so large in the pop-culture landscape.
In light of the claims Andersen makes in These Few Precious Days, took a long look back through the LIFE archives, searching for a sign of the Marilyn Monroe who existed well before superstardom — or even before plain old regular stardom — took hold and began dragging her down. What we found was a series of pictures that LIFE’s Loomis Dean made a full 65 years ago, in 1948, when Marilyn was just 21 years old. None of Dean’s photos from that day — at least, none of those he made of Marilyn — were ever published in LIFE.
So. Here she is, with another then-aspiring actress, Laurette Luez, and Hollywood veteran Clifton Webb on the set of a comedy called Sitting Pretty. Neither Marilyn nor Luez were in that movie. But Luez was under contract to Twentieth Century Fox — the studio that released Sitting Pretty — and Marilyn had once been under contract to Fox, and eventually would be again, so the presence of the two women on the set, whether as young actresses looking for pointers, or for publicity purposes — isn’t all that surprising. In fact, as Marilyn and Laurette Luez change seats at one point (see slide #4), it’s highly unlikely that these are purely impromptu shots of the trio.
(Incidentally, Webb was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the film — one of three Academy Award nods he earned in his long career.)
It’s always jarring to see Marilyn as, in effect, an ingenue. She long ago transcended the movies, Hollywood, the entire entertainment industry, and like a very small handful of other performers, she effectively entered a realm — of myth, legend, whatever one wants to call it — so rarefied and solitary that it must have felt something like death even while she was alive.
But in early 1948, all of the pain, loneliness and desperation to come was still far, far away — dark clouds massing, invisibly, beyond the horizon — and Marilyn Monroe was just another talented, engaging young actress who hoped to be famous someday. The pity is that, in Hollywood, as elsewhere, the lesson is always the same and goes largely unlearned: be careful what you wish for.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Nobuyoshi Araki / Sentimental Journey

by Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki (1940 - 1990 Tokyo).
Araki published a book of pictures of his wife taken during their honeymoon titled Sentimental Journey. 

Stanley Kubrick / The universe

by Stanley Kubrick

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Russell Lee / Kids

Children playing in the gutter on 139th Street just east of St. Anne's Avenue,
Bronx, New York, 1936
by Russell Lee

Marbles is a favorite game on South Side of Chicago, Illinois, 1941

Mass jumping of rope by schoolchildren, San Augustine, Texas, 1939

Mexican children, San Antonio, Texas, 1939

Migrant keymaker's children with homemade scooters, Jefferson, Texas, 1939

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Russell Lee / People

Negro boy drawing on the sidewalk, New Iberia, Louisiana, 1938
by Russell Lee

Farm mother with children in town during the National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana, 1938

Negro family with supplies in wagon ready to leave for the farm, Saturday afternoon, San Augustine, Texas, 1939

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Susanna Moore / Windows on the World

Matteo Pericoli
by Matteo Pericoli

Susanna Moore

This is the Clock Tower building. It was built in 1894 for an insurance company and it is a designated historical landmark. The facade was designed by Stanford White. It is now used by the city for criminal court. There are often fistfights and screaming matches in the alley, leading me to suspect that the court’s decisions, not surprisingly, are not always well received. I once threw a friend’s lit cigar out the window and it landed on a sleeping homeless man who subsequently caught fire, and many fire engines squeezed into the alley to extinguish the flames. He was not hurt, in part, a fireman told me, because his clothes were fire retardant. I was horrified that I had caused even the slightest burn, and we became friends (I give him a winter outfit each year, which I suspect is not inflammable).

Monday, December 15, 2014

David Byrne / Windows on the World

Matteo Pericoli
by Matteo Pericoli

by David Byrne

I think of my view as pretty typical for a New Yorker. We look out our windows at other windows. That, in a way, mirrors our lives here – we are constantly looking at each other, millions of us, on the streets and elsewhere. I know a couple of the people behind those windows across my street, but I keep my blinds up most of the time anyway. We pretend not to look. This allows us to keep the blinds up and let some light in. I’ve been to places that have ‘better’ views. I sometimes have view envy, especially now as I see hundreds of luxury condos going up everywhere – all of them with better views than mine. I suspect that most of them will remain empty in the near future, as who can afford them any more? Maybe those glass towers will be the new homesteads – cheap artists’ housing, but I doubt it.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Alejandro Zambra / Windows on the World


Windows on the World
by Alejandro Zambra
Translated from the Spanish by Harry Backlund

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.
The Paris Review, April 5, 2013

I’m not sure that my little studio is the best place in the house to write. It’s too hot in summer and too cold in winter. But I like this window. I like those trees crossed by power lines and that slice of available sky. The silence is never absolute, or maybe it is—maybe my idea of silence now includes the constant barking of dogs and the uneven roar of motors. I take enormous pleasure in watching passersby, the odd cyclist, the cars.
When the writing isn’t happening I just sit there, absorbing the scenery, adoring it. I’m sure those minutes, those apparently lost hours, are useful in some way, that they’re essential for writing: that my books would be very different if I had written them in another room, looking out another window. 

Matteo Pericoli is a famous drawer of cities. He is known for his witty, loving, obsessively detailed renditions of the Manhattan coastline (Manhattan Unfurled), the perimeter of Central Park (Manhattan Within), and the banks of the River Thames (London Unfurled).

Several years ago, Matteo began to draw New York from a new vantage point—from its windows. He asked artists, writers, politicians, editors, and others involved with the cultural life of the city to let him draw whatever they saw when they looked outside. These were collected in the book The City Out My Window (and the view from 62 White Street appeared on the cover of The Paris Review).

In 2010, the project grew. Matteo was commissioned by The New York Times op-ed page to draw the window views of writers around the world, and the writers were asked to describe them.