December 29, 2008

Gulf Coast Deco II

hughes oil company, inc.
Hughes Tool Company, Inc., c. 1942, restored

drill bit relief
Reliefs on the building depict the self-sharpening oil well drill bit that was the source of Howard Hughes' fortune.

gribble stamp & stencil co.
Gribble Stamp & Stencil Co.. c. 1948

side view of gribble stamp & stencil bldg.

cloudy morning view of j.c. parks building
J.C. Parks Building, c. 1930

other side of j.c. parks building corner

granada sign lettering
front view of granada theater
The Granada Theater, c. 1949

front right of the capitan theatre w/flash
The Granada is the twin of the Capitan Theater in Pasadena, Texas. Both were built for the Isley chain, which operated theaters in Texas and Oklahoma.

view of brochsteins, inc. through chain link fence
This picture was taken through a chain link fence and was the best one I'd get of the 1940 circa Brochsteins, Inc. building. Seeing as it was a Sunday morning, the entrance fence was closed and locked. I walked for a short length down the fence line to see if I could get a better view. Along the way, I found a ditch that ran beneath the fence, allowing someone (should he or she be so inclined) to crawl underneath. This is what I chose to do.

brochsteins, inc.
brochsteins, inc. deco detail

  • Gulf Coast Deco
  • Gulf Coast Deco III
  • December 23, 2008

    Vintage travel photos

    I found these photographs in a tattered old photofinishing envelope at my grandfather's house. They are of visits he made to Glasgow, Scotland, in 1934, and Mexico City during the same general time period, as well his time stationed in London during W.W. II (he was a B-52 mechanic). The scans aren't anywhere as nice as the original prints. They were taken by him or a friend of his.

    glasgow, scotland
    This first one was taken in Glasgow, Scotland. Brennan from the band Monarch saw it at flickr, and asked me if they could use it for an album cover. Voila:
    Lowly (2007)

    This one was also taken in Glasgow, and may feature the People's Palace in the background:
    glasgow (people's palace in the background)

    Street lamp in Glasgow:
    glasgow streetlamp

    Bicyclist in Glasgow:
    glasgow bicyclists

    mexican farmer in 1934

    Street in Mexico City:
    street in mexico city, circa 1934

    mexico in 1934

    London during W.W. II:
    london during w.w. II
     a foggy day in london town
    big ben and house of parliament, circa early '40s
    ann hathaway's cottage during the early '40s

    December 22, 2008

    "It's a Marshmallow World"

    Wikipedia entry:

    "Marshmallow World" (sometimes entitled "A Marshmallow World" or "It's a Marshmallow World") is a popular Christmas song that was written in 1949 by Carl Sigman (lyrics) and Peter DeRose (music). Although it has been recorded by many artists, it was first a hit for Bing Crosby (backed by The Lee Gordon Singers and the Sonny Burke Orchestra). Crosby's version (recorded in 1950) peaked at number 24 on the pop singles chart in January of 1951. Ray Anthony also recorded a version of the song in 1950. Another popular version was recorded by Vic Damone in 1951.

    One of the most popular versions of "Marshmallow World" was recorded in 1963 by Darlene Love and released as a track on Phil Spector's classic holiday album A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector.

    Another popular version of the song was recorded by Dean Martin for his 1966 holiday album The Dean Martin Christmas Album.

    Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra around '66:

    Dean Martin solo on a '70s-era TV special:

    November 28, 2008

    "Love in the Open Air"

    While on a break between Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's in late 1966, and with touring now out of the question and John Lennon off making the film How I Won the War, Paul McCartney tried his hand at a film score -- with a lot of help from Beatles arranger/producer George Martin. The rather pleasing result is one of the most elusive souvenirs of the Beatles' high tide in the '60s, long out of print, and commanding sky-high prices on the collectors' circuit. Only 24 minutes in length, The Family Way is a collection of film cues based on a single McCartney tune, "Love in the Open Air," a plaintive melody reminiscent in some ways of "Here, There and Everywhere." (McCartney has since said that Johnny Mercer was planning to write lyrics for the song, but McCartney passed on it because at the time; he had never heard of Mercer.) (source)

    with "then-fashionable Tijuana Brass-style horns"

    A United Artists single issued under the name of the George Martin Orchestra in 1967 offers a completely different, rock-edged treatment of "Love in the Open Air" -- even including some then-fashionable Tijuana Brass-style horns. (source)


    November 25, 2008

    High def. Trek trailer

    I just don't know about this "new" Star Trek coming out in May. I really want to like it. God knows I want to like it. I want to get in to it. But the whole Star Wars prequels experience left me a bit jaded and cynical about this type of thing. Sure, it looks really slick, just like the Star Wars prequels did/do. I'd guess that Industrial Light & Magic did the effects. But it still feels weird with the younger cast and all. I think the Kirk and Spock fight looks stupid, and the "sexualizing" of Uhura is irksome. The whole thing makes me feel strangely unfaithful to the original show(!). In this new trailer, the Eric Bana/Romulan character at the end seems too much like Darth Maul in the Episode I teaser, where he says: "At last we will present ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge," or whatever it is that character said. In fact, the whole preview feels way too Star Wars prequel-ly. You heard me - prequel-ly.

    That logo, that insignia

    If the makers of this "re-imagining" of Star Trek only knew what happens to me every single time I've watched this preview, and that insignia and logo (the ones I spent hours and hours and hours drawing and redrawing in Big Chief pads, along with communicators, phasers, tricorders, and of course, the Enterprise, when I was roughly ages 3-12 in the early to mid-70s) appear on screen to the accompaniment of three familiar notes from the theme played on shimmering xylophone...if they only knew what happens to me (like Pavlov's dog, without the drool), they'd make damn sure the movie is worth a flip. I think Simon Pegg might actually work as an alternative to James Doohan. Notice I said "alternative." This is coming from a guy (me) who was a member of the Jimmy Doohan Fan Club when I was eleven years old. Doohan could never be replaced, nor could any of the original cast members, as far as I'm concerned. I bet that "Buckle up" line from Kirk comes at the very end of the film (notice how he's finally dressed in the original, faded-orange uniform), so as to guarantee interest in a sequel, I can't help but feel a little excited when he says it.

    EBiN c. 1977

    Anyway, that's my two cents. Ain't It Cool News has three high resolution versions of the preview with an added surprise (potential spoiler alert), but for this post, here is the version you've no doubt already seen, so nanoo, nanoo:

    November 23, 2008

    Gulf Coast Deco

    Inspired, as well as educated, by the fantastic Houston Deco website and armed with a Garmin, I have been able to locate the following examples of vintage, Art Deco architecture in Houston (and I hope to get more):

    humble oil filling station no. 157
    Humble Oil Filling Station No. 157, built in 1930

    This is one of two Art Deco, Humble filling stations left in the city of Houston to date from the 1930s. The architect, John F. Staub, designed the prototype for all new Humble Oil stations in 1929. I'm always amazed this kind of thing is still around.
    different view of humble oil filling station no. 157

    Originally a place called Albritton's Eats, this is from 1945, and the streamlined detailing is still intact:
    different view of albritton's eats

    Even with a GPS, this next place was tricky to find. I'd given up on it after the GPS sent me in a bizarre circular pattern, which I repeated, just for good measure. But I caught it peripherally as I drove past it and nearly slammed on my brakes.
    looking up at rettig's heap-o-cream
    Rettig's Heap-o-Cream, built in 1947

    front of rettig's heap-o-cream
    Rettig's was a local ice cream manufacturer. The company operated Heap-o-Cream confectioneries throughout Houston, including one in a Moderne building on Yale Street. Aside from having had its front windows and doors boarded, the Wayside Drive location remains largely unaltered.

    I came across this Texaco by accident, and took both of these from my car:
    texaco in houston
    front view of houston texaco

    Built in 1935, this endangered structure was the Sterling Laundry and Cleaning Co. Most people would easily recognize this as being "Art Deco." What a thrill it's still there!
    front view of sterling laundry & cleaning co.
    sterling laundry & cleaning co.
    side view of sterling laundry & cleaning co.

  • Gulf Coast Deco II
  • Gulf Coast Deco III
  • Gulf Coast Deco IV
  • Gulf Coast Deco V
  • Gulf Coast Deco VI
  • Gulf Coast Deco VII
  • Gulf Coast Deco VIII
  • Gulf Coast Deco IX
  • Gulf Coast Deco X

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  • November 22, 2008

    Texarkana slideshow

    I went to Texarkana recently, and I just got the slides back from the photo developer's. My projector's lens is a bit dirty, but here it is, anyway:

    November 12, 2008

    "Is That You, Mrs. Peel?"

    From the Wikipedia entry:

    Johnny Dankworth composed The Avengers' original theme tune, a syncopated jazz number, which was reworked for the third series. When Diana Rigg joined the series, the new title sequence was accompanied by a fresh theme by Laurie Johnson, a catchy, brassy tune designed to promote the "English eccentricity" of the show. Johnson also provided incidental music, and subsequently collaborated with Clemens on other projects, including the theme for the later New Avengers revival.

    November 8, 2008

    Bernard Herrmann

    In '56 with Hitchcock on the set of The Man Who Knew too Much....sort of

    Bernard Hermann was born in New York City on June 29, 1911. He won an Academy Award for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941). He is particularly known for collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock. He did the music on Orson Welles' infamous 1938 The War of the Worlds radio broadcast, composed the scores for several fantasy films by Ray Harryhausen, and many TV programs.
    This article has a great analysis of what makes Herrmann's music tick:

    On the Citizen Kane set with Orson Welles

    Essentially Herrmann regarded himself as a Romantic composer, stylistically speaking. His music was indeed emotional, moody, with great depth of feeling. Herrmann stated, "As a composer I might class myself as a Neo-Romantic, inasmuch as I have always regarded music as a highly personal and emotional form of expression. I like to write music which takes its inspiration from poetry, art and nature. I do not care for purely decorative music. Although I am in sympathy with modern idioms, I abhor music which attempts nothing more than the illustration of a stylistic fad. And in using modern techniques, I have tried at all times to subjugate them to a larger idea or a grander human feeling."

    The Romantic period of music came to full fruition in the 19th century, and it is interesting to note what Herrmann wrote to his wife on November 1947: "My feelings and yearnings are those of a composer of the 19th century. I am completely out of step with the present."

    Playing himself in The Man Who Knew Too Much

    While Herrmann’s music — his entire oeuvre — cannot be easily pigeon-holed, almost all of his works showed a natural Dramatist (a terrific aptitude for drama, whether musically or in his personal life!) that flowed along a romantic channel of expression. One suggestion is to say that he was a 20th Century American Modernist Romantic. He tended to excel in music written not so much in a co-called abstract construct (concert works, say, or symphony) but in response to an external stimulus or medium such as the Big Screen (feature film), the Small Screen (television), radio plays, and the opera (Wuthering Heights). His dramatic instincts really shined in these Show Business mediums.

    The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

    The Trouble with Harry (1955)

    I think the prelude to Vertigo (1958) is his most powerful and dramatic. At first, it's as if there is no melody (trying to hum it is about as difficult as humming The Beach Boy's "Let's Go Away for a While" from Pet Sounds). But after repeated listening, it gives me chills. The melody (rolling in around :54) is like waves crashing slowly onto a beach:
    Of course, it doesn't hurt to have it perfectly synced with one of the best opening credit sequences done by Saul Bass. And to say it's one of his best is saying quite a lot.

    North by Northwest (1959)

    Psycho (1960). Here is a version NBC/Universal hasn't removed.

    Herrmann's Cape Fear (1962) score filtered through Elmer Bernstein for the 1991 remake

    His last movie soundtrack was for Taxi Driver (1976). How could that film have not become a classic with a Bernard Hermann score??

  • Wikipedia's complete list of soundtracks