Jagged Sophistication

mary-nolan-eddie-quilan-big-shotScene: Manhattan, 1931

A married banker named David, who lived in Scarsdale on the weekends but whooped it up in the city Monday through Friday, usually enjoyed simply having me over to his apartment, one of those Mission furniture and leather jobs that are so masculine one rightly suspects the decor to be making up for some internal fear on the dweller’s part. But an old friend had invited him to a party uptown one night, which he thought would be a treat for me. “I can’t imagine you get to go to many of these parties, do you?” he smiled patronizingly. I tried to look appropriately grateful.

When we arrived, it was obviously one of those shindigs where no one knew the host or hostess. David was cornered almost immediately by a client begging to know which stocks were safe. I zigzagged through the crowds until David was safely obscured. With one hand around a champagne coupe and the other insouciantly jammed into my pocket, I surveyed the crowd.

The attendees were the usual slightly demimonde who piled into the apartments and penthouses of their betters, all of whom preferred to advertise their superiority through slumming. A woman in pearls laughed gaily at a tall man, obviously already drunk, whose tie had come undone and who still wore a top hat perched precariously on the back of his head. I took a long swallow in an attempt to erase the sound of her careful trills.

A beautiful blonde, slightly blurred around the edges, swayed over to me.

“He was right,” she said to me. “You do have a blistering smile.”  Continue reading

Scream It, Merry Clayton!

This will never leave your head (or your heart!) after you hear it.

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Planting a Dragon Seed and Watching It Grow

Dragon Seed (3)

Which is more terrifying: Katharine Hepburn as a Chinese woman or Joan Crawford in blackface?

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Bette Davis and Tallulah Bankhead Get Into a Car Together

Of all the random things old men have told me in bars, this does seem, in retrospect, the likeliest to be animated.

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Young and Beautiful: Warren Beatty

Shirtless Warren BeattyThis week, keep in mind the beautiful pelt resting atop Warren Beatty’s young head. (And the rock hard body beneath.)

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Today’s Song: Dragonette’s ‘Take It Like a Man’

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/21089500″>Dragonette ‘Take it like a man’</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/sdavisartdiection”>Simon Davis</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Pepsodent Really Thinks Irma Is Dumb

50pepsodent_myfriendirmaPoor Irma in this Pepsodent contest. Doesn’t she understand that she’s being mocked, having that “sooooo simple” contest named after her?

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Welcome to Camp B.V.D.

bvdcampDo you know the way to Camp B.V.D.?

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Gleem! The Toothpaste for the Lazy!

I just this very second discovered Gleem toothpaste. Or, more to the point, Gleem toothpaste ads. “For people who can’t brush after every meal,” they trumpet. “Just one brushing” with Gleem kills all bacteria. This actually worked; the brand was introduced in 1951 and by 1958 was the second best-selling toothpaste in the country (Colgate was No. 1; Crest No. 3). But then it started to decline; Crest next-leveled its ad campaign to talk about fluoride (Gleem was strictly a toothpaste), and, in a last-ditch attempt to improve sales, Gleem introduced its “green sparkles” line.

Anyway, that didn’t work. When Gleem finally added fluoride to its recipe, it added sodium fluoride, which is actually gentler than Crest’s stannous flurorise but requires more usage. Which brings us back to these ads, which I love for two reasons: 1) Why can’t some of these people brush after they finish their meals? 2) Look at these meals! 

Oh yeah, and you can still buy Gleem at Dollar Trees.


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The Changing Profile of Men’s Briefs

Men’s underwear has come a long way, am I right? For example, look at these two commercials. First up is a 1978 ad for Fruit of the Loom, starring a grandma. Then it’s the 2013 Calvin Klein Superbowl spot. (We could also dig into the changing ideals of masculinity, but that’s a whole other post and would probably involve me having to look too closely at the amount of money I spent on the gym.)  Continue reading

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