Archive for the ‘Off Topic’ Category

I find this to be . . . mesmerizing.   Leave a comment

A bottomless bottle of whiskey.


Posted July 16, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Off Topic

Looking For Some Retro — Polaroid 600se   Leave a comment

Yeah, I want one of these bad boys.  It’s a Polaroid 600se, also affectionately known as The Goose.  It’s a monster of a fully manual rangefinder camera (fall in the water with this thing around your neck and you’re going to the bottom), made for Polaroid back in the day by Mamiya.  It takes 3.25″ x 4.25″ images on instant film made by Fujifilm (Polaroid doesn’t make instant film any more).  Examples of what you can do with this camera can be found on Joshua Mahar’s website.

So if anyone has one of these cameras just sitting around and collecting dust — let me know if you would like to sell.  I’ll be watching Ebay in the meantime.

There is no sneaking up on anyone with this camera.

Posted March 7, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Off Topic

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Marilyn and Ella   1 comment

Not my typical post and certainly not my photo, but a fascinating story of friendship between a pair of one-time entertainment titans — Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald.  It’s a small story, just a glimpse really,  that altered what I thought I knew about both, but especially about Monroe.

On the surface both women could not have been more different.  Monroe, the beautiful blonde sex symbol of her generation, parlayed her beauty into stardom and power.  Fitzgerald, with the purest and most powerful jazz vocals of any generation, lived her life wishing for greater outward beauty.  What brought them together was a mutual love for music, especially jazz.

Monroe would attend Fitzgerald’s shows whenever the two were in Los Angeles or New York at the same time.  The problem was that Ella, despite being considered the Queen of Jazz, was still not able to sing in the major clubs in segregated 1950’s era America.  As Monroe and Fitzgerald developed a personal friendship, Marilyn decided to leverage her fame to help her friend, so she called the owner of one of the clubs that had been blacklisting Fitzgerald — the Mocambo in Los Angeles.  What did Monroe do and say?  In Ella’s own words:

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Ella later said. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

A push back against prejudice and discrimination by a Hollywood icon.  But more importantly, an act of kindness for a friend.  I’ve always had an appreciation of Ella Fitzgerald, the singer.  And now a new-found appreciation for Marilyn Monroe, the person.

Posted June 24, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Off Topic, People

Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr.   2 comments

Sammy Davis, Jr. was widely considered to be the best entertainer of his generation.  No one — not even Sinatra — would follow Sammy on stage.  He was admired not only as a singer, but also as a dancer and actor.  As we approach the 21st anniversary of his 1990 death from throat cancer it is a shame that he is remembered by most for “The Candy Man” — a song he initially resisted recording and later grew to hate.

What even fewer knew or remembered about Sammy is that he was a talented and tireless photographer.  The depth and breadth of his work was brought to light in recent years thanks to a book published by his long-time friend, Burt Boyar.  With permission from Davis’ widow, Altovise, (who died in 2009) a portion of Sammy’s extensive photographic collection was published in a 300+ page volume titled “Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr.”.  Initially priced at $49.95, I acquired a like-new copy on eBay earlier this year for less than $20.00.

What makes Davis’ photos so exceptional?  In a word, access.  Entertainers and politicians are always on guard when a camera is present, always anxious to present and preserve a certain image.  Those same people in Sammy’s sphere — a Who’s Who of the powerful and famous — were at ease with Davis snapping away.  Take, for example, the above photos.  Betty Davis, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe together backstage (wow!).  Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin getting ready to go on stage.  Sonny and Cher on the set of Sammy’s variety show.  Just a few examples of the hundreds of photos in the book.

Sammy was also an incurable ladies man (womanizer would probably be a better characterization).  At 5′ 4″, 130 pounds and homely, maybe he wasn’t a threat.  But he somehow was able to talk beautiful women into posing for him.  Some — like Lola Falana and Marilyn Monroe, above — clothed.  Others, less so to varying degrees.

Sammy Davis, Jr.’s story is a sad one and full of contradictions.  Loved and protected by his friends (Shirley MacLaine reportedly told a photographer who took a picture of Sammy’s body in the casket that Sinatra was going to have him killed unless he handed over the negative), Sammy was a poor business man and worse father and husband.  But as a photographer with access to the Hollywood and political elite of his generation, he was unmatched.  If you have a chance to page through “Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr.”, don’t miss it.

Posted May 15, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Off Topic, People