Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hey there Cats and kittens!   This week I wanted to share with you my findings on an awesome French singer from the 60's, but first a little of the happenings in my world....    

My son turned 18 this week. Aside from finally being able to vote (he has been coming with me and 'helping' me make decisions on how to vote for a few years now), and being able to purchase lottery tickets by himself,  his looming 18th birthday meant the deadline for all his Eagle scout work.  Peter has been involved with the scouts since 4th grade.  Like me, he has a lot of anxiety issues. He is introverted, things like social settings and new situations are difficult for him. The wonderful thing about the scouting program is it is has something for everyone.  It is just as helpful to kids who love the outdoors and are outgoing as it is to shy kids who like to read and are science and history nuts.    He is lucky to have a great troop with leaders who really go the extra mile.    

Peter, not unlike many other boys, was sidetracked for awhile (girls,  hanging out with friends, and other stuff that put his scouting interests in the backseat.) So getting the last of his merit badges done and deciding on/working on an Eagle project didn't get started til this past year. For those of you who are not familiar the Eagle process, it is complex and includes a lot of paperwork (before, during and after working on the project) getting approvals, and all sorts of other fun time-intensive stuff.   Suffice it to say, he finished the project about 3 weeks prior to his 18th birthday and the final paperwork and Eagle application was turned in a day before.   Talk about holding your breath....

He chose to do a set of shelving units for our local food pantry. Previously, Peter had no carpentry experience, so there was a steep learning curve. He worked with a couple of Dads from the troop who are carpenters/contractors. Then he had to organize friends, family & scouts from his troop to come help him build the shelves. (Eagle projects are mostly about showing leadership, so the process of getting others involved in your project and leading them by teaching, showing, organizing, etc. is more important than how your project actually turns out.)

 He had several work days over the summer, transforming our back yard into a workspace that looked like a cross between a mill store and Sanford & Son.  The end result were three very lovely shelving units. We took lots of pictures along the way, and I thought he did a great job.   The food pantry was very happy with them.   He is now waiting for his board of review with council (we are doing lots of role-playing and going over questions to prepare, because he doesn't have an easy time with talking in front of people).    Fingers crossed, I will keep you all updated!

Peter working on one of the units

Finished units installed at the food pantry

Now onto French Music!
With deep, soulful brown eyes, a chocolate syrupy voice,  and looks to rival any of the heart-throbs from the sixties,   Richard Anthony is one of the most awesome French singers I have heard.

 In the early 60's  Richard Anthony was very taken by the up-and- coming rock'n'roll music.  Having originally been born in Egypt, his family moved around between the UK, Egypt, Argentina, and finally settled in France when he was a teen.  His family was pretty comfortable, his dad was in the textile industry and his mom was the daughter of the UK Ambassador in Iraq. After he graduated and had a tried out a few jobs (like Refrigerator Salesman) Richard decided to put many of the English pop songs he loved to French lyrics. (he is fluent in 5 languages and later would do recordings of other songs in different languages as well).    His first recordings were "My Destiny" by Paul Anka, and Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" in 1961. These didn't make a very big impact. However, a year later in '62  he released his third album and his work started to take off.  One of the next tunes he did was a really beautiful song called "J'entends siffler le train"  (I hear the whistle of the train)   the French version of  "500 Miles."

"J'entends siffler let train"
["500 Miles (away from home)" is a folk song who's beginnings are hard to trace.  It's first recording was by the Journeymen in 1961,  and had a popular version done by Peter, Paul and Mary. It has also been sung/recorded by numerous other artists  (The Kingston trio, Elvis, Sonny & Cher, The Highway men, Roseanne Cash, Joan Baez, and the list goes on)  ]

In 1964 after continued success, Richard Anthony bought a private jet and was able to fly to his some 300 shows that year along with his musicians, instruments etc.  He became the first musician to use  flying as a mode of transport, as it was safer & faster to travel through France that way than on the roads.

I spent the other night playing around on Youtube and listened to a number of his songs. Many of them had videos to go with them, which leads me to wonder whether they shot the videos solely to go with the songs, or whether they were clips from variety shows or the like. (as a child of the '80's and the fledgling MTV age, inquiring minds want to know!)   At any rate,  the videos were awesome! Here's a sampling  (click on the song titles to see the videos):
Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini
I love the  Un, deux trois..." chick with the cat's eye glasses and floppy hat; her slightly exasperated tone as if she's bored with the whole beach scene."  Then check out the gal in the background with the Asian style straw hat and braids à la Mary Ann of Gilligan's Island.  
One other thing I find fascinating is how popular culture changes its idea every few decades as to what is considered an ideal body type.  When little Ms. Bikini gets to the shore line and drops her towel, you can see that this chick has curves!  
 [For that time period, the "it" girl had a classic hourglass figure. In America, Betty Grable, famous pin-up, measured 36-24-35.  With British Women, the average was 37-27-39.   much shorter (5' 2" with 3.5 shoe size).   I am a little over 5' 7" with size 11 feet.  Man do I feel like an Amazon!]

Here's another Richard Anthony song called "Fiche le Camp, Jack" (Hit the Road, Jack). Although the song is not one of my favorites,  I love the outfits the girls are wearing in this video. Classic sweaters with pearls and A-line skirts.    My Mom, who was a teen during the fifties & early sixties, said they used to take cardigans and wear them reverse, buttoning them up their backs. (when I found this out, I started wearing this fashion to school!)
"Fiche le Camp, Jack!"

Another one, "Let's twist Again"  is done in English.  I love how they are all polishing the soles of their shoes before they start twisting!
"Let's Twist Again"

Other songs I really liked - "Lundi, Lundi" (Monday, Monday) "Le Voix de Silence" (The Sound of Silence),  and "En Ecoutant la Pluie" (Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain)

Richard Anthony is still around and performing (although now he looks a little more like Pavarotti than Frankie Avalon).  He has over 600 songs to his credit, and sold 50 million records. ( He has had nine kids (through two marriages and a number of partners), one other thing he has been very successful at !)

Do you have a favorite singer from the past?  Please Share!
I would love to hear about it.

Til next time, xo

Bibliography/Information from:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Can you beat this amount of mid-century awesomeness?

Hi Friends,

First, a heartfelt Congratulations to Lisa of My Pretty Baby Cried She was a Bird blog, who got married about a week ago. I read Lisa's blog regularly. She adds wit and a knowledged eye to her many vintage finds, from tag sales to old advertisements to photos. I never know whether I will be treated to Borden's talking cow family ads, or a critique of a mid century dining room. A true gal after my own heart!

Now down to business....  I have come to possess my own little piece of mid-century awesomeness.  My very own starburst clock!

As my fellow afficianados of the fifties & sixties decades know that due to our newfound space travel, society was obsessed with all things not-of-this-earth. This translated into many design flourishes like Googie architecture found in motels, gas stations and bowling alleys, and fins on everything from cars to eyeglasses.

The Starburst or Sunburst clocks are perhaps one of the better known pieces of iconic fifties material culture. Their original designer was George Nelson, well known for his design advances in that period.  They were soon to be copied by many different companies like Lux, Elgin & Westclox. Westclox made sunbursts and starburst clocks, some capped with little balls at the end of their spikes.  Lux put little flowers on the ends of theirs and called them "atomic daisies." Some of their clocks were also made with pop-art colors like striking red or blue.   Elgin used teak and brass alternating spikes to differentiate themselves. I have included some photos of the many different types I found on the internet:

alternating teak & brass spikes

spikes capped with little balls

Atomic Daisy clock

 Personally,  as much as I love fifties design,  I was never a fan of the straight, hard lines that are found in a lot of the items then.  I like a much softer, organic feel to my furnishings. That's why previously, I never longed for a starburst clock to adorn my walls.
Then a few months ago, that all changed.  I was doing some looking around on the web, when I saw the type of starburst clock with swirly lines and LEAVES on the ends!  (I am a nut for floral and nature themed items...)
so obviously I fell in love with it, and had to try to get one of my own.      Sadly, I found that many of the clocks I saw on Etsy, Amazon & Ebay were all priced in the one-to-several hundred dollar range.
But not to be discouraged, I kept digging.  Low and behold, I found a 'fixer upper' model on ebay for $12!  yes,  my own little piece of fifties iconicness for under twenty bucks (including the shipping)      My clock still runs, although at some point the wiring was changed out, (and it looks like the person who rewired it may *not* have been a rocket scientist, as the wires look a little funky)  The official maker of my clock is United.
It also has two candlestick pieces that abut from either side a little below the dial that take a Christmas sized lightbulb. This is somewhat of an oddity, as I have not seen any other clocks that feature those.

The leaves have a fair share of rusty spots, but overall it's not in too bad of shape.  I have purchased a bottle of "Krud Kutter - The Must for Rust!"  (no kidding that's actually what the product is called!)  It's a biodegradable rust remover product.  I plan to clean the metal pieces with that, and then hit them with a couple of coats of metallic Krylon paint.    The dial needs some cleaning too.  I was also weighing the possibility of replacing the wired clock movement with one of the battery ones you can find in a craft store.  I have yet to open it up, so that may not be as easy as it sounds, but with the wiring as is, I am fearful of plugging it in and leaving the room as it may be a fire hazard.  Plus, having it eight feet up on the wall with a plug hanging down looks a little unsightly.   At the very least I am going to have my Sweetie take a look and rewire the plug with a modern one.
Nifty Candlestick appurtenances
So I am so thrilled to have found this piece!  I will definitely take pics of the 'restoration'  and post them later.
Have you found a wonderful item online or at a tag sale that you were able to fix up?  Do share!

Pleasant thoughts coming your way!