AMC Sets Return Dates for ‘Breaking Bad’

Breaking Bad set to return for the first half of its 16 episode final season July 15!  Read the announcement here.

Celebrity Death, Revisited

Much has been written about the phenomenon of celebrity death, and periodically visualizations too emerge.  In this series by Canadian photographer Grant Waud we see graphic representations of the deaths of James Dean, Elvis Presley, John Dillinger, Marilyn Monroe, and John Lennon.  Thanks to Trendhunter for the link, which you can find here.  Grant Waud’s website can be found here.






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More on the James Dean “Look”

I am continually intrigued by James Dean’s specter of style, particularly as it is continually re-imagined (recycled?) and re-circulated through the blogosphere.  In the most recent iteration of this trend, Trendhunter provides a series of styles derived from/inspired by the long dead film star.


Says Kevin Young: 

“The rebel without a cause is still making a name for himself even decades after his death, as people continue to sport the James Dean style.

The handsome young actor died at a young age, but his legacy remains. The Greasers’ style from ‘The Outsiders’ takes inspiration from the dreamy actor. The hair, dangling cigarette, leather jacket and bad boy attitude can be widely seen in fashion photo shoots. The infamous quiff hairstyle he sports is still a popular hair-do today.

There’s something very attractive about the bad boy look and James Dean definitely sets the tone for that style. Although the rebel is gone, this collection of James Dean-inspired looks is an example of keeping up the badass way.”

A look at the “Recent Trends” section will tell you that this fetishization of “Dean” style is part of (but not entirely confined within) a far broader imagination of postwar couture that, frankly, would constitute its own book length project.  I’ll leave that for another intrepid scholar.  Check out Trendhunter’s Dean-inspired slideshow here.

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Before he set off for his ill-fated drive, James Dean left EXPLICIT instructions for feeding his cat.

From the official Facebook page of James Dean, which can be found here:

“1 teaspoon white Karo
1 big can evaporated milk
equal part boiled water or distilled water
I egg yoke (sp.)
mix and chill
Don’t feed him meat or formula cold
1 drop vitamin solution per day
Take Marcus to Dr. Cooper on Melrose for shots next week.”


Up for auction

The following comes courtesy of Julien’s Auctions.  Bids start at $10,000.  If you’ve got scratch like that, let me know.

From the auction listing: “An official entry form for the Salinas Sports Car Road Races, signed twice by James Dean in black ink. Dean died en route to the Salinas races on September 30, 1955, in the legendary “Little Bastard” Porsche 550 Spyder, which he was to race in the event. The Salinas races were held October 1 and 2, 1955. This two-page typed document was completed in hand on September 19, 1955, one day past the entry deadline. On the first page, Dean writes his address, the details of the car he is entering, and his pit partner, John von Neumann, the dealer from whom Dean had purchased his Porsche 550 Spyder. The second page, headed “Driver Information,” has Dean’s handwritten name, address, and telephone number, and he writes that he has competed in three previous races, in Palm Springs, Bakersfield, and Santa Barbara. The bottom of the page is signed twice by Dean, as the driver and the owner.”

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Early Brando: One of The Men?

Though I contend that “The Method” as we know it is entrenched over the course of several decades as historical factors merge with particular interpretive frameworks and power relations, Life’s published (and unpublished) account of Marlon Brando in the 1949 film The Men is instructive as an artifact awash in the “idea” of the Method.  The theoretical principles of performance are marginalized here; instead we have the important visualization of Brando’s exceptionality in both his incredible (and seemingly inexplicable) intuition as an actor and his idiosyncratic personality.  He is therefore both extremely talented and mysterious, even in the context of a major magazine profile.

From Life Magazine’s online archive:

“The year was 1949, and 25-year-old Marlon Brando — “the brilliant brat,” as LIFE magazine called him following his astonishing work on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire — had finally answered the call of Hollywood. He was preparing to film his movie debut in The Men, the wrenching story of a World War II vet coping with rage and insecurity after he’s paralyzed in combat. And while it’s true that L.A. was used to next-big-thing newcomers, it was (and still is) exceedingly rare to chronicle the earliest days in the career of a movie actor of Brando’s intensity, eccentricities, and electrifying talent.

LIFE photographer Ed Clark captured Brando’s explosive arrival in the California, not only trailing the actor as he delved deep into “The Method” — taking to a wheelchair and leg braces to live among paraplegics at a VA hospital in Van Nuys — but also glimpsing more personal sides of Brando, the very private man. Here, LIFE presents Clark’s photos — many of which are previously unpublished — of a sui generis film genius at work.”

Read more here

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The Falling (Mad) Man

Walking through the Hoyt/Schermerhorn station this morning I noticed the following advertisement on the wall:























As a fan of AMC’s critically acclaimed show Mad Men, and someone who had seen the announcement regarding season five’s premiere date, I knew the reference.  It did, however, seem a bit abstract, a bit too clever in self-selecting its audience.   Then again, this is a tease.  It also made me think about the resonance of such an image with a place like New York City, where images of people falling/jumping from skyscrapers is inextricably tied to the many horrors of September 11.  Is it insensitive to mobilize such iconography ten years removed from 9/11 and artifacts like The Falling Man?  It is difficult to say.  Mad Men has relied on imagery of this sort for the entirety of its existence, as the opening credits depict an anonymous tumbling suit beset by advertisements and is meant to conjure well worn narratives of the tenuousness of 1950s conformity.  As someone currently living in New York but with no historical connection to the city or its experience ten years ago, I will be curious to see if this minimalist advertisement provokes any attention.


Here is one curious (and again, unfortunate) analogy directly involving the advertising industry.

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