A Life in Photographs: Linda McCartney

Hubby Paul. Cover shot from Taschen's Linda McCartney: A Life in Photographs

Oh Taschen. Yummy, delectable, I-want-to-devour-you-whole Tahhhh-Shen. So beautiful. So sumptuous. SO expensive. And yet, somehow, worth every blessed cent. Your anthologies agonize me with want. I covet your sweetly binded spines and secretly despise those who have your volumes proudly displayed on their hand-crafted cabinetry. I’m a hater, what can I say?

I own one Taschen volume, their recent Los Angeles: Portrait of a City, and countless other titles clutter my wish list. (The Stanley Kubrick Archives, anyone?) But their newest release has been automatically scratched from any such “wish” list and sent straight to the top of “must have” indulgences.

My tongue hit the floor when I came across the latest Taschen catalog advertising Linda McCartney: A Life in Photographs … a decadently illustrated 300+ page volume chronicling ’60s Rock photographress supreme and the  Mother of all Rock moms? I am SO on this one.

Linda McCartney‘s life may very well be overshadowed by the incalculably large shadow of her legendary husband (she married a Beatle for goshsakes– and not just any Beatle, but one half of the greatest songwriting team of the 20th Century. And you can quote me).

But Linda was hardly a mere footnote in rock history.

She was a chronicler of it.

They met and fell in love like a good old fashioned romance novel. Down to earth, no-frills artsy girl happens upon society’s most eligible, rich, handsome bachelor, and the two fall madly in love, throwing convention to the wind. (The same, interestingly enough, is quite true of the couple’s acutely avant garde counterpart, John and Yoko; although to quite a different reaction … something that is another post altogether…)

Linda was never really just “Mrs. Paul McCartney.” Although she was an inextricable part of Paul’s life and work, straight up to her tragic death at age 56 from breast cancer, she was not only a wife and mother, but an artist.

A formidable one, in her own right, which this new Taschen anthology documents both exquisitely and authoritatively.

Sir Paul McCartney and his fashion-guru daughter Stella, along with siblings Mary, James and (half-sister) Heather,  have collaborated to present this highly personal tribute to a striking artistic talent, devoted mother, and truly gracious lady.

The publisher’s description sums it up perfectly:

From her early rock ’n’ roll portraits, through the final years of the Beatles, via touring with Wings to raising four children with Paul, Linda captured her whole world on film. Her shots range from spontaneous family pictures to studio sessions with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, as well as artists Willem de Kooning and Gilbert and George. Always unassuming and fresh, her work displays a warmth and feeling for the precise moment that captures the essence of any subject. Whether photographing her children, celebrities, animals, or a fleeting moment of everyday life, she did so without pretension or artifice.

These photos are only a few from the selection of shots that will thrill any fan of 60s rock culture… or indeed, any true fan of photography itself.

Working Mum

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Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holdling Company

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Jimi Hendrix,1967

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John. 1968. This shot speaks volumes.

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The Rolling Stones-- taken on Linda's fortuitous shoot which secured her future as a rockumentarian goddess.

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Evocative shot of Steppenwolf-- the first band signed under The Beatles' fledgling late '60s' label, Apple Records.

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It's a bird ... it's a plane ... no, it's ... erm ... Paul in hotpants.

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A cluttered desk at the McCartney farm in Scotland-- 1970s.

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The McCartneys, Paul, Stella, James (and Linda behind the lens, of course) at home in Scotland.

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Candid shot of The Beatles from the April, 1967 Sgt. Pepper's press-op. Paul got Linda's number not long after.

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All in all, Taschen’s tribute is endearing, heartfelt, and probably their most sentimental volume to date.

I leave you all with my personal favorite Paul and Linda moment. Paul’s campy but oh-so fun music video featuring Michael Jackson, Say, Say, Say (1983), with Linda very much a part of Paul’s company, pitching in the best she can … bless her darling heart.

We love and miss you, Linda!

Pendersleigh and Sons… and the Lost Art of Cartography

Vintage Cartography -- Map of California from the 1930s

The art of cartography is about as extinct as the art of the written letter.

What need is there for a hand-drawn community renderings in the age of instant information, when most people have GPS maps on their cellphones? No need at all.

But Los Angeles based writer Eric Brightwell doesn’t care.

Hence this blog post.

Taking his inspiration from the colorful, sometimes whimsical, often not exactly to scale maps that were popular in the early 20th century, Brightwell has created a cartographic journey though Southern California hearkening back to a much simpler, but no less keenly inquisitive, time in our history.

Being a California native, I’m terribly fond of this style of cartography– the mistmatched typography and rather askew geography which was often the result of the rushed booming years of California tourism.

The 1650 Gallery in Echo Park recently hosted a show of Brightwell’s high-spirited homage to the lost art of cartography (under the moniker Pendersleigh and Sons) and the experience was  so delightful that I simply had  to post just one or two of the many highlights here:

Gotta Hand it to ya, Ann

Sexy “Oomph Girl” Ann Sheridan (sorry Ann–we know you hated that nickname, but darn it all if it doesn’t fit!) packed a walloping punch of ooh-la-la. Beautiful, ballsy and brainy, she was an electrical presence on screen that could rescue any picture from a case ho-hum doldrumery. (<–not a word. but ought to be.) TCM aired The Man Who Came to Dinner recently and, of course, her gold-digging diva is to die for.

But what really walks away with the picture is, sorry, this Orry-Kelly gown.

Ann and her Oomph

This is suggestive early 40s fashion at its haute, passing itself off as whimsical couture. Those are HANDS, after all, allllll up and down Sheridan’s front.

Adrian suggested the same sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge  playfulness with Rosalind Russell in The Women:

photo from the blog Your New Best Friend ...

We see what you’re up to, Adrian…

Gotta Hand it to ya, Ann

Sexy “Oomph Girl” Ann Sheridan (sorry Ann–we know you hated that nickname, but darn it all if it doesn’t fit!) packed a walloping punch of ooh-la-la. Beautiful, ballsy and brainy, she was an electrical presence on screen that could rescue any picture from a case ho-hum doldrumery. (<–not a word. but ought to be.) TCM aired The Man Who Came to Dinner recently and, of course, her gold-digging diva is to die for.

But what really walks away with the picture is, sorry, this Orry-Kelly gown.

Ann and her Oomph

This is suggestive early 40s fashion at its haute, passing itself off as whimsical couture. Those are HANDS, after all, allllll up and down Sheridan’s front.

Adrian suggested the same sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge  playfulness with Rosalind Russell in The Women:

photo from the blog Your New Best Friend ...

We see what you’re up to, Adrian…

The Art Deco Society's Avalon Ball 2010

The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles held their annual Avalon Ball over the weekend. Saturday evening, Catalina island was transformed into a time machine where flappers and swells, guys and dolls, vamps, and sheiks put on the ritz and converged upon Avalon’s famous casino ballroom for an evening of old-fashioned fun.  The ballroom once played host to such big band legends as Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, and on Saturday evening  it was LA’s Cicada Club that took up temporary residence within those hallowed. The club’s proprietor Maxwell DeMille emceed and the excellent Dean Moira and his band provided the swirling soundtrack to a very special evening of foxtrots, waltzes,  tangos, lindy hops and Charleston kicks.

It was a night of class, elegance and the sort of gracious gentility that simply no longer exists.  This was my first year attending the event, it will not be the last, and I would like to thank the Art Deco Society for providing us with the chance to live out our fairytale dreams—even if only for one night.

The Art Deco Society’s Avalon Ball 2010

The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles held their annual Avalon Ball over the weekend. Saturday evening, Catalina island was transformed into a time machine where flappers and swells, guys and dolls, vamps, and sheiks put on the ritz and converged upon Avalon’s famous casino ballroom for an evening of old-fashioned fun.  The ballroom once played host to such big band legends as Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, and on Saturday evening  it was LA’s Cicada Club that took up temporary residence within those hallowed. The club’s proprietor Maxwell DeMille emceed and the excellent Dean Moira and his band provided the swirling soundtrack to a very special evening of foxtrots, waltzes,  tangos, lindy hops and Charleston kicks.

It was a night of class, elegance and the sort of gracious gentility that simply no longer exists.  This was my first year attending the event, it will not be the last, and I would like to thank the Art Deco Society for providing us with the chance to live out our fairytale dreams—even if only for one night.

Donald Urquhart’s Melancholy Babies…

The Guardian’s artist of the week is a Scot named Donald Urquhart whose particular area of expertise are pen and ink drawings of Hollywood legends that are not the usual glamorous soft focus fantasies. His movie stars are human and startling: they have mascara that runs, moth-eaten minks, some are ten years past their prime and are quite ready to take their frustration out on anyone in their way. (His Joan Crawford Alphabet is particularly telling: “A is for Axe, E is for Eyebrows, S is for Straight Jacket, W is for Wire Hangers…”) His work captures the bitter reality of being an aging movie star and, if you happen to living in the greater London area, it will be on display at the Maureen Paley and Herald Street galleries until late May.