Archive for the Vintage Category

The Kids Still Need Tea and Sympathy

Posted in ART, Critical Theory, Films, In the News, Stylez, Vintage with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2011 by effingjro

In the past several years, LGBT teens have made headlines for being bullied, beaten, and ultimately taking their lives after enduring daily harassment from their classmates. For gay men and women, this isn’t exactly news. That’s why Dan Savage started “It’s Gets Better,” a series of videologs filmed by celebrities, athletes,and people like us – promising the kids that they’ll be alright. To date, there have been 22,000 entries.

But bullying, unfortunately, is by no means a recent phenomenon. Last night, as part of their Vincente Minnelli retrospective, the Brooklyn Academy of Music Cinematek screened Tea and Sympathy, a 1956 melodrama that follows the trail of an “off horse” in a New England prep school populated by “regular fellows.” Protagonist Tom Lee is a sensitive guy. He spends his time listening to records and strumming his guitar – the other boys play football and go mountain climbing. Tom’s only allies are his roommate, Al, and the housemaster’s wife, Lauren, played by Deborah Kerr.

It’s easy to read Tea and Sympathy as a cult classic of the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ variety. When Tom’s father complains, “I can’t tell my friends he wants to grow up to be a…folk singer,” he delivers it as though a folk singer were no different than a crack fiend. Later, the housemaster reassures Tom’s father: “Don’t worry, they’ll give him a real going over at the pajama party tonight,” which, to a gay audience, plays very differently than intended. Between the soaring orchestrations, bereft close-ups and the camera’s omnipresent focus on the tea set, one can imagine that Todd Haynes partly styled 2002’s Far From Heaven on this film.

Check the trailer (which really glosses over the gay parts)

While some scenes come off as shlocky, others can give gay audiences goose pricks ofrecognition. Tom’s father forces masculinity on him – encouraging him to flirt with the haggard woman at the coffee shop, nearly forcing him to get a crew cut so he’ll fit in the other boys. Tom’s interests, including gardening, sewing and cooking, immediately earn him the nickname “sister boy,” a moniker that sticks like superglue in an all-boysschool. The most poignant scene comes when Tom’s alpha-male roommate tries to coach Tom in the art of manliness. He has Tom walk around the room, and when he attempts to describe his stride, he can only produce a gesture, an unspoken, “You’re light in yourloafers.” Then when Al demonstrates his walk, a hulking stomp, it seems ludicrous –Tom won’t event attempt it.

“It wouldn’t do me any good anyway,” he says. Once you’ve become the class pariah,there’s really no way to shake it. Tom does try to bed the coffee shop girl but the plan goes horribly awry, and in a heartbreaking capitulation Tom casts aside the girl and riflesthrough her kitchen for a sharp knife. Only the intervention of strangers stops him from killing himself.

Many hold that the main character in Tea and Sympathy is not gay at all. The playwright Robert Anderson flatly stated, “It has nothing to do with homosexuality… It’s about a false charge of homosexuality.” While many gay audiences ignore this, the film is no-less poignant if Tom is simply a sensitive, straight teenager. Whether bullying springs from differences in race, class, orientation or anything else, the common denominator is difference. If the trappings have become outdated, the central theme of Tea and Sympathy is as important today as ever: students can be helpless at the hands of their classmates, but it only takes one understanding person to turn their life around.

In celebration of Spirit Day 2011, go be that understanding person. Check out’s post on how to show your solidarity with LGBT youth, and remember that your help can make all the difference in the world.

The Vincente Minnelli Retrospective at the BAM Cinematek runs through November 2. For information on screenings, tickets and times, visit

Johnny Depp Takes On Hunter S. Thompson

Posted in Authors, Films, Hotties, Uncategorized, Vintage with tags , , , , on August 26, 2011 by effingjro


You might remember this post about Thompson’s The Rum Diaries  from last year. Well, after a very long wait, they’ve  released the trailer for the film version starring Johnny Depp. It looks really fun and surreal, and Amber Heard, the actor playing Connecticut expat Chenault, matches Depp blow for blow when it comes to good looks.

Of course the way my mind moves through this photo is (top to bottom): what a fantastic screen wall, how many bobby pins went into Chenault’s updo, does everyone wear white in Puerto Rico, where do I buy that turquoise and puce Op Art pillow? So. many. questions.

The trailer is really high-spirited – I don’t see any evidence of the darker parts of the novel (spousal abuse, some rape, some violent locals) but maybe they’re trying to trick us into thinking 1960s Puerto Rico was a blast all day, every day? It also doesn’t show Depp’s character writing all that much, except for the line “I’ve got a story for you… I’m going after him.”

One excellent omen: it’s released on my birthday, putting it in the pantheon of other films greats like Zombie Strippers and Saw 3D.

As a bonus, here’s a shot I found that was captioned: “Dr. Hunter S Thompson modeled as a youth in Puerto Rico.” I don’t really believe it, but it’s fun to imagine. Plus, his cheekbones are the spitting image of Depp’s.

The Lost Artwork Of Hollywood

Posted in Advertisements, ART, Films, Stylez, Vintage with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2011 by effingjro

A good friend handed me this excellent book yesterday, and now you get to benefit with some artwork.

This one’s from DuBarry Was a Lady (1943), based off a Cole Porter musical. It’s by Symeon Shimin. Check out the trailer below.

Next up in 1936’s Follow the Fleet, starring Fred and Ginger.

And a clip from that movie with one of my favorite songs – “Let Yourself Go.”

And my favorite of the three, Anton Grot’s poster for The Thief of Bagdad, has all the fantastic appeal of a Maxfield Parrish (or the cover of a Burroughs book).

And even better, a clip from the Douglas Fairbanks silent movie. Eat your heart out, Aladdin.


Today’s Haul

Posted in Found Item, Soul-Crushing Materialism, Stylez, Vintage with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2011 by effingjro

Some days, I could swear I was born to go thrift shopping.

Or, to be precise, thift/vintage/antique shopping. Today, after hitting three shops, I picked up a 1867 edition of Harper’s Monthly (yeah, I’ll scan it later), six marlin-shaped swizzle sticks from 1965 (no more mixing G&Ts with a spoon) and a silk coral-and-cream clover print scarf. Grand total: $15.

Though it looks like I’ll be heading back tomorrow to pick up a double-breasted peak lapel tuxedo jacket. Circa 1950? When something that old fits perfectly, it’s just wrong to pass it up.

Your Retro Fix

Posted in Advertisements, Hotties, Photos, Rag Mags, Stylez, Vintage with tags , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2011 by effingjro

While I’m blathering on about magazine ads, here’s a fantastic one from Guess. Usually their ads are extreme and oversexed, and while this girl is certainly dressed to the nines, it’s sweet, not salacious.

Did people look like this in the ’40s? I mean, I know they weren’t constantly styled for photo shoots, and their waists weren’t the same circumference as telephone poles, but boy are those clothes great. It reminds me of the kind of photo The Sartorialist would shoot today (as opposed to the usual Guess fare – shirtless man in low-slung jeans humping on a woman in a studded bra with a beehive). Here are some genuine street style photos I found on The Fashion Spot.

That’s what the Guess ad is missing. HATS.


Tell me you’re not getting a Sex and the City vibe here. I think I spot a Samantha on the right…


Banana Republic: Too Mad For Mad Men

Posted in Advertisements, Found Item, In the News, Photos, Rag Mags, Rage Blackout, Soul-Crushing Materialism, Stylez, TEEVee, Vintage with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2011 by effingjro

I was enjoying my normal Saturday routine: G&Ts on the lounge chair in the back yard with the latest men’s mags, when I came across this Banana Republic ad in GQ.

OK, fine, Mad Men. I dig that just as much as any of human being out there. I love the show, I LOVE the costumes – I even went so far as to download the characters’ individual playlists on iTunes – that’s how taken I am with a mid-century modern lifestyle (no, I didn’t not craft a personal Mad Men avatar, but I was tempted).

The thing is, Banana Republic has been going Mad  for three years now. They started out with a ‘casting call’ promo in 2009. Then they rolled out their capsule collection in 2010 (I remember this in particular because I urged a straight friend to glean his whole wardrobe here). And now, in 2011, they’re putting out a third collection, even though the next season of Mad Men likely won’t materialize until 2012.

This show caused a bit of a style revolution, and I’m totally in favor of gents getting more dapper. The looks – a few of which I’m posting below – are still great, if extremely grey.

No arguments here, even if they are eschewing some of the preppier, Pete Campbell flourishes for The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit-style tailoring and homogeneity.

I just think it’s a bit lame that BR hasn’t come up with anything more exciting for the past three years than Mad Men. If I think your novelty capsule collection is starting to look familiar, maybe it’s time to change it up.

And for those of you trying to cultivate a little MM panache – try a vintage shop. It’ll be a whole lot more fun.

Congress Hall Veranda – Cape May, NJ, 1870s

Posted in ART, Found Item, I do stuff!, Photos, Vintage with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2011 by effingjro

I recently discovered a great blog, Vintage Everyday, which had a post on animated gifs of old colorized stereoscope cards of Japan.

I really wanted to try one of my own, as I’ve heard making a gif is easy as pie. Here’s the original card I used, featuring the Congress Hall veranda circa 1870 (courtesy of Don Pocher).

And here’s the gif I was able to make. Not quite as polished as the Japanese ones, but a good start. Especially if you don’t have the stereoscopic glasses necessary to view these cards in 3D, as they were intended…

And just for reference, here’s Congress Hall today (one of the poshest spots in town).


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