Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Scrapbook novel depicts 1920s story

Speaking of great new books, here is a non-Louise Brooks related title I would like to recommend. It is called The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, by Caroline Preston.

Charming and a different, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt (Ecco / HarperCollins Publishers) is a hybrid work where the pictures do the talking. One might even describe it as something F. Scott Fitzgerald might have come up with for the Saturday Evening Post had he been a collage artist or even, in today's parlance, a graphic novelist. And, like the best stories of that Jazz Age writer, this engaging work is poignant, tender and leaves you wrapped up in the tangled plight of its protagonist.

In many ways, Frankie Pratt is a typical small town young woman of the Jazz Age - she's envious of the flappers she has read about in magazines, but is tentative about copying their modern ways. She is also looking for love and success, and dreams of being a writer.

For her graduation from high school, Frankie receives a scrapbook along with her father’s Corona typewriter. A bright young thing, she begins to fill her scrapbook with clipping as well as her own thoughts and observations. Frustrated in her ambition, and about to see her dreams fade away, Frankie forgoes a scholarship to Vassar in order to help her widowed mother. Still living at home, a mysterious WWI veteran named Captain James sweeps Frankie off her feet, and her mother must find a way to protect Frankie from the less-than-noble intentions of this unsuitable beau.

Frankie eventually makes it to Vassar, and there crosses paths with other co-eds turned flappers as well as a real writer - alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay, who encourages Frankie to move to Greenwich Village and pursue her dreams.

In New York, she finds a job writing for a pulp magazine and also experiences big city heartbreak. Frankie then sets off for Paris and enroute keeps company with a spinster adventuress. Once in the French capital, Frankie takes a room above Shakespeare & Company - the hub of expat life, and pursues her dreams until a the Captain from her past reappears.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a coming-of-age story composed of visual scraps - postcards, photographs, letters, advertisements, ticket stubs, maps, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, headlines, fashion spreads, menus, and other ephemera from the roaring Twenties. Silent film stars Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish, John Barrymore, Vilma Banky and others are all referenced visually. Though images dominate, text nevertheless plays a vital role in advancing the narrative - and ever-so gracefully, Preston's tone is right on the mark.

I was impressed, for example, when I read that the 1918 Corona Portable used by Preston in the typewriting of the captions in The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is the same model used by another writer who came of age in the 1920's, Ernest Hemingway. That is the kind of detail one finds in this unusual book which helps enrich the story. (Font enthusiasts will know what I mean.) One reviewer has described this book as "lighter than lightweight" - but in a sincere, complementary way. It is that, certainly, and also a lot of fun and a worthwhile read.

Preston's new book will appeal to memorabilia collectors and those who scrapbook, as well as Jazz Age enthusiasts and those seduced by the charm and history behind Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist or Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. They each tread similar ground. And what's more, there is full-color vintage ephemera from the author's collection pictured on every page.

Preston has collected antique scrapbooks since she was in high school, and has become an expert on the history of the scrapbook in America. She has worked as an archivist at the Peabody / Essex Museum and Harvard University Houghton Library. Preston is also the author of three previous novels, Jackie by Josie (a New York Times Notable Book), Lucy Crocker 2.0, and Gatsby’s Girl. That latter book is another charming Jazz Age period piece, the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald's first love - a pre-Zelda Chicago socialite named Ginerva.

A few selected pages from the book and more can be found on examiner.com Check it out! If you read The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt be sure and post your thoughts. I think fans of Louise Brooks will find a bit of the actress in Frankie.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Best 2011 releases for the Louise Brooks fan

It’s that time of the year when bloggers issue their "Best of" lists - the year’s recommended new releases in books, film, music and more. Last year saw the release of a handful of important new releases related to or in homage to Louise Brooks. This year is no different. Though the number of new works related to or inspired by the actress is smaller, it is nevertheless distinguished. Prominent among them in 2011 is Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, in which Brooks is pictured in a book and included in a brief clip from her 1929 film Pandora's Box. Otherwise, fans of the legendary silent film star will want to check out each of these recent releases.

Ebook: My Afternoon With Louise Brooks, by Tom Graves (Rhythm Oil Publications)

-- In 1982, writer and journalist Tom Graves hoped to write a biography of one of the most reclusive stars in the history of cinema. My Afternoon With Louise Brooks is the author's brief account of his now long ago meeting and subsequent dealings with the actress, much of which centered on his never realized biography. Or, as the ebook description puts it, "After 30 years Graves finally tells his tale as the last journalist to ever be admitted into the bedroom of this cult legend." Following its release earlier this year, Graves expanded his ebook to include additional material, making it a more satisfying read. My Afternoon With Louise Brooks is available as an ebook on Amazon.com

Music: Lulu, by Lou Reed and Metallica (Warner Bros.)

-- Like the 1929 Brooks' film Pandora's Box, this musical collaboration between rock greats Lou Reed and Metallica was inspired by Frank Wedekind's two Lulu plays, which together tells the story of a young dancer's life and loves. At times noisy, repetitive, harsh, aggressive, droning, abrasive, and droll - this is 21st century expressionist music which stems not from any rock tradition, but rather an art-music background. Lulu won't be everyone's cup of tea. In fact, it has been poorly received among fans of Reed and Metallica. Nevertheless, it's a strong brew.

Book: Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler by Paul Bauer and Mark Dawidziak (Kent State University Press)

-- Many saw the dark side of the American dream, but few wrote about it like Jim Tully (1886 - 1947). This first ever biography of the writer describes the hardscrabble life of the Irish American storyteller - from his immigrant roots, rural upbringing, and life as a hobo riding the rails to his success and eventual fame as a journalist and novelist in 1920s and 1930s Hollywood. Tully also authored Beggars of Life, a novelistic memoir made into a 1928 film starring Brooks. The two met then, and did not hit it off. Three years earlier, Brooks - in the company of Charlie Chaplin - attended the stage adaption of the book on Broadway.

Book: Making the Detective Story American: Biggers, Van Dine and Hammett and the Turning Point of the Genre, 1925-1930, by J.K. Van Dover (McFarland)

-- In 1929, Louise Brooks and William Powell co-starred in The Canary Murder Case; the film was based on bestselling book of the same name by the pseudonymous S.S. Van Dine, a once-popular and critically esteemed author of detective fiction. Though little read today, Van Dine is considered an important early figure in the development of the modern detective story. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, many of his books were bestsellers, and many were turned into popular films and radio programs. Van Dine is one of three writers featured in a this new book - a critical study.

Book: Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood, by Emily W. Leider (University of California Press)

-- One might not associate Louise Brooks with Myrna Loy. Both were from Western cities, and both were teens when discovered. One was a silent film actress whose career largely faded with the coming of sound, the other a star of the sound era best known for her role in the Thin Man series of the 1930's. (The co-star of that series was William Powell.) Their careers intersected early on when Loy played one of the many international female sirens in A Girl in Every Port (1928), which starred Brooks. Later in life, in 1982, both were chosen as recipients of the George Eastman House for lifetime contribution to the movies. Emily W. Leider has penned a first ever biography of a wry and sophisticated actress whose extraordinary career spanned six decades. [Speaking of A Girl in Every Port, it is one of the films covered in The Fox Film Corporation, 1915-1935: A History and Filmography, by Aubrey Solomon (McFarland). A couple of passages about the film can be found in this other new book.]

Book: The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty (Riverhead)

-- Looking ahead, the big Louise Brooks-related release in 2012 promises to be Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone (Riverhead). Set for publication in June of next year, this captivating new novel tells the story of the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 (on her way to becoming a Denishawn dancer), and the summer that would change them both. Moriarty, who hails from Kansas, is a processed fan of the silent film star. Her earlier novels include While I'm Falling (2010) and The Center of Everything (2004).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chaplin's Gold Rush to screen in San Francisco Bay Area

Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) is considered not only one of Chaplin's best films and one the great films of all time - but it also plays an important, even pivotal role in the life story of Louise Brooks.

Legendary in the annals of film history, The Gold Rush is the film in which Chaplin as the Little Tramp eats his boot and, at a would-be New Year's Eve dinner gathering, poignantly performs the "Dance of the Rolls." In 1998, the American Film Institute chose The Gold Rush as one of the 100 greatest films ever made.

A newly restored 35 mm print of The Gold Rush screens for seven days beginning December 23 at the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, California.

Seldom satisfied with his work, Chaplin added original music to the film in 1942, while also trimming several minutes and bridging the gaps with narration. Now, for the first time, the complete 1925 version - without narration - has been painstakingly restored. With the permission of the Chaplin estate, composer Timothy Brock has arranged Chaplin's 1942 orchestral score to accommodate the length of the original version. The film now runs 90 minutes, as it did at its New York City premiere at the Strand Theater.

That premiere, in the Summer of 1925, drew the famous comedic actor and director to New York. And it was there, at a cocktail party hosted by producer Walter Wanger, that Chaplin first met Louise Brooks - then a Ziegfeld Follies dancer performing at the New Amsterdam Theater. The two hit it off - and spent pretty much the entire season in one another's company. Chaplin (though married at the time) and Brooks even lived together for a time.

Chaplin and Brooks, who were often see together in public, were the subject of gossip as well as reports in some of New York City's numerous newspapers. The two also attended various plays and shows including Outside Looking In, the stage adaption of Jim Tully's book Beggars of Life. Brooks would later star in the film adaption of Tully's bestseller, as well as in later life recount the time spent with Chaplin in the Summer of 1925.

Today, The Gold Rush is regarded as one of Chaplin's best films. Though his opinion of his own work changed over the years, to the end of his life Chaplin often declared that of all his films this was the one by which he would most wish to be remembered. For those in the Bay Area, it is a great opportunity to see a great film.

More info: The Gold Rush plays at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center (1118 Fourth Street) December 23 through December 29, 2011. A list of dates and show times for The Gold Rush at the Rafael Film Center can be found at http://www.cafilm.org/rfc/films/1644.html

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A special offer from the SF Silent Film Festival

Holiday Specials from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Here is the perfect stocking stuffer for the holiday season! Give heavily discounted SFSFF 2012 all-program Festival Passes to the film lovers you love. Until January 6, all Festival Passes are being offered at a very special holiday rate - lower than our early bird rates! We're planning at least 17 programs at our July 2012 Festival-wonderful films with extraordinary musical accompaniment by musicians from around the world, so don't miss out!

Buster Keaton Holiday

For each pass you purchase, you'll receive a gift voucher card suitable for giving during the holiday season. At the SF Silent Film Festival in July, you or your recipient can present the voucher card at the Will Call table at the Castro Theatre in exchange for the Festival Pass.

Members take their discount at checkout.
For questions, please email concierge@silentfilm.org 
or call 415-777-4908 x 1

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks to screen in Dubai

Pandora's Box, the film in which Louise Brooks famously played Lulu, is considered one of the great works of world cinema. As such, it has been shown in many countries on at least five continents. Now, the silent era masterpiece is coming to Dubai, a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) located on the Arabian peninsula.

The Dubai International Film Festival has announced that six films representing contemporary and classic German filmmaking will make up “In Focus: Germany,” a segment of the eighth annual festival to be held December 7 to 14, 2011. Among them, representing the classic period, is Pandora's Box (1929). “In Focus Germany” is organized in cooperation with German Films and Goethe-Institut Gulf-Region.

The late silent melodrama, directed by G.W. Pabst, is based on Frank Wedekind’s Lulu plays. According to an article in a UAE newspaper Gulf Today, the film "stars Louise Brooks as a thoughtless young woman who brings ruin to herself and those who love her. Brooks’ intense and timeless performance as Lulu made her one of the icons of cinema."

It's not known if the Dubai International Film Festival showing of Pandora's Box marks its debut in Dubai (which is possible), or even more generally in the Arab Middle East. According to the Louise Brooks Society bibliography of articles about the film, Pandora's Box was shown in Jerusalem in 2002.

Records also show that Brooks' American and European silent films were screened in some of the larger cities in the region in the 1920's and 1930's. For example, it is known that Brooks' 1929 American film The Canary Murder Case was screened in Cairo in the early 1930's, and that her 1930 French film, Prix de Beaute, was shown in what is now Algeria, a former French colony.

Pandora's Box was not a success when it premiered in Berlin on February of 1929. It only became famous with the re-emergence of its star in the 1960's through the efforts of ardent admirers such as Henri Langlois of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris and James Card of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. In the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's it was revived at art houses and festivals in Europe and North America.

The print to be screened at the Dubai International Film Festival has been restored by Martin Koerber of the Deutsche Kinemathek, a project which took over 12 years. The print was shown late last year at the National Film Theater in London as part of the BFI London Film Festival. The new restoration is listed at 143 minutes, ten minutes longer than a “restored version” released by Criterion on DVD in 2008.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, Pandora's Box will be screened for free at The Walk at JBR, the Festival’s outdoor venue, and will be accompanied by the UAE Philharmonic Orchestra (UAEPO) conducted by Philipp Maier.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Save 25% off the Louise Brooks Edition of DIARY OF A LOST GIRL

Thru December 15th - save 25% off the Louise Brooks Edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl, by Margarete Böhme. This is the book which served as the basis for the 1929 Louise Brooks film of the same name. This sensational bestseller has long been unavailable in English, and only came back into print through the efforts of the Louise Brooks Society. Get a copy today!
Visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/LBS1 to purchase the book, and to save, use coupon code BUYMYBOOK305 at check-out.

The 1929 Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, is based on a bestselling book first published in Germany in 1905. Though little known today, the book was a sensation at the beginning of the 20th century. Controversy, spirited debate, and even lawsuits followed its publication. By the end of the Twenties, it had sold more than 1,200,000 copies – ranking it among the bestselling books of its time.

Was it – as many believed – the real-life diary of a young woman forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution? Or a sensational and clever fake, one of the first fake novels of its kind? This contested work – a work of unusual historical significance as well as literary sophistication – inspired a sequel, a play, a parody, a score of imitators, and two silent films. The best remembered of these is the often revived G.W. Pabst film starring Louise Brooks.

This new edition of the original English language translation brings this notable work back into print after more than 100 years. And what's more, this special "Louise Brooks Edition" includes three dozen illustrations and a 20 page introduction by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society, detailing the book's remarkable history and relationship to the acclaimed silent film. Find out more at http://www.pandorasbox.com/diary.html 

Praise for the Louise Brooks Edition of THE DIARY OF A LOST GIRL

"Gladysz provides an authoritative series of essays that tell us about the author, the notoriety of her work (which was first published in 1905), and its translation to the screen. Production stills, advertisements, and other ephemera illustrate these introductory chapters. In today’s parlance this would be called a 'movie tie-in edition,' but that seems a rather glib way to describe yet another privately published work that reveals an enormous amount of research — and passion." -- Leonard Maltin

"Read today, it's a fascinating time-trip back to another age, and yet remains compelling. As a bonus, Gladysz richly illustrates the text with stills of Brooks from the famous film." -- Jack Garner, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

"Thomas Gladysz is the leading authority on all matters pertaining to the legendary Louise Brooks. We owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing the groundbreaking novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl - the basis of Miss Brooks's classic 1929 film - back from obscurity. It remains a fascinating work." -- Lon Davis, author of Silent Lives
"Long relegated to the shadows, Margarete Böhme's 1905 novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl has at last made a triumphant return. In reissuing the rare 1907 English translation of Böhme's German text, Thomas Gladysz makes an important contribution to film history, literature, and, in as much as Böhme told her tale with much detail and background contemporary to the day, sociology and history. He gives us the original novel, his informative introduction, and many beautiful and rare illustrations. This reissue is long overdue, and in all ways it is a volume of uncommon merit." -- Richard Buller, author of A Beautiful Fairy Tale: The Life of Actress Lois Moran

"Most certainly a book for all you Louise Brooks fans out there!! And silent cinema fans in general as well." -- Bristol Silents (UK) newsletter

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kevin Brownlow visits the States

Kevin Brownlow first befriended Louise Brooks back in the late 1960's. He visited her in Rochester, they exchanged hundreds of letters, and Brownlow filmed an interview with the actress on at least one occasion. Louise was always very interested in Brownlow's work as a film historian, and, his seminal 1968 book, The Parade's Gone By, acknowledges her help and is in effect "dedicated" to her.

This week, Brownlow is in the United States to give three presentations. If you have never seen him speak, do so. I have seen him speak at least a half-dozen times - and have always found him to be a fascinating speaker. [Pictured right is a snapshot of Kevin and I taken last year in San Francisco.]

On Friday, November 25th, Brownlow will speak at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. about his decades long effort to restore Abel Gance's epic Napoleon (1927). On Saturday, November 26th, Brownlow will give a talk at the Library of Congress about his life as a film historian. This latter presentation, which will include clips from early movies, is set to take place at the LOC Packard Campus Theater in Culpeper, Virginia. And, on December 1st, Brownlow will be speaking at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow the above links for more information about each event.

More on Brownlow and his work as a film historian and these upcoming events can be found on my column on examiner.com
And more about Brownlow and his work can be found on Brownlow's own website, Photoplay Productions.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Louise Brooks

Happy Birthday to Louise Brooks, who was born on this day in 1906 in Cherryvale, Kansas. Celebrate, and give RadioLulu a listen!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Louise Brooks in the current issue of New Yorker

Louise Brooks appears on page 16 of the current, October 31st, issue of the New Yorker. The image (pictured here) is captioned and references an exhibit at the Danziger Projects gallery in New York City.

The gallery had been hosting an exhibit, "Edward Steichen - The Last Printing" (September 15 through October 29, 2011).

Danziger Gallery opened their fall 2011 schedule with a show of 80 Edward Steichen photographs printed by the renowned photographer George Tice. Tice was the last person to print for Steichen in his lifetime. These prints remind us not only of Steichen's genius - and his remarkable talent for portraiture - but also highlight the formidable quality of printing that George Tice has been known for throughout his career.  What follows are a few snippets from the gallery press release.

"By the mid-1920s Steichen was the highest-paid photographer in America. In 1923 he was hired as chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications, and at one point in the 1920s he earned $100,000 a year from his advertising work alone. "

"Steichen's portraits have survived the test of time. He had an uncanny intuition for how to distill the public personae of the famous and make them at once familiar and iconic. It was this that makes him the founding father of our present-day cult of celebrity. His portraits have a extraordinary place in our visual memory – his startling depiction of J.P. Morgan as the archetypical robber baron, clutching the chair arm that resembles a gleaming dagger; his close-up of a feline Gloria Swanson, glowering behind black-lace foliage; his restrained observation of an impossibly handsome and debonair Gary Cooper."

"Steichen's ingenuity in portraiture was coaxing his sitters into heightened expressions of their innermost character. He once considered going into the movies, and there was indeed a cinematic quality in much of his work. As Greta Garbo told him after one shoot: "You should be a motion-picture director. You understand." Sometimes performing artists even made his ideas their own. Steichen's portrait of Fred Astaire silhouetted against his own larger-than-life shadow was the inspiration for similar setups in the dancer's later films."

More information at http://www.danzigerprojects.com/exhibitions/2011_9_edward-steichen-the-last-pri/

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LOUISE BROOKS & ZIYO: Puszka Pandory / Die Büchse der Pandora / Pandora's Box

LOUISE BROOKS & ZIYO: Puszka Pandory / Die Büchse der Pandora / Pandora's Box

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

louise brooks ~ girlfriend in a coma

louise brooks ~ girlfriend in a coma

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lulu Pandora's Box ❤ Lovefool ❤

Lulu Pandora's Box ❤Lovefool❤

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Harvest Rain ~ "Drowsy Stare"

Harvest Rain ~ "Drowsy Stare"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Louise Brooks vs Pictureplane's "Goth Star"

Louise Brooks vs Pictureplane's "Goth Star"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

OMD "Pandora's Box" (2010 Video Remix)

OMD "Pandora's Box" (2010 Video Remix)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Silent film star Baby Peggy

By the time Baby Peggy's film career was coming to an end, Louise Brooks' film career was just getting started. Today, Diana Serra Cary (who in the 1920's was known as Baby Peggy), is considered the last surviving major silent film star.

On Sunday, August 7th at 2 pm, Cary will be speaking at the San Francisco Public Library. "An Afternoon with Silent Film Star 'Baby Peggy" will feature a Baby Peggy short film (courtesy of the actress), an on-stage conversation, and a book signing. A little more info about the event can be found on the SFPL website and on its Facebook page.

The library is expecting a good crowd. If you plan on attending, be sure and check out the various silent film exhibits on display around the library. More info on these exhibits can also be found at on the SFPL website. The exhibits run through August 28.
Earlier that same day, at 1 pm, there will be a 30 minute informal guided tour of one of the exhibits, "Reading the Stars," with exhibit organizers Thomas Gladysz, Christy Pascoe and Donna Hill. A little more info at the tour can be had at http://events.sfgate.com/san-francisco-ca/events/show/196140225-guided-tour-of-reading-the-stars-exhibit

"Reading the Stars" features rare vintage books relating to silent films stars such as Louise Brooks, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks,  Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Eric von Stroheim, William S. Hart, Sessue Hayakawa and of course Baby Peggy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mocny Czlowiek (1929)

Lately, I have been smitten by a 1929 silent Polish film called Mocny Czlowiek (A Strong Man). Like Poland itself, which was situated between two dominating powers, Germany and Russia, this extraordinary Polish production shows both German and Russian influence - but remains an especially fine cinematic production. Embedded below is a 3 minute "run through" of the film to a contemporary Polish musical soundtrack.

If you like what you see, and I think you will, follow this YouTube link to watch the entire 78 minute film on YouTube. It is available there in nine parts.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, in memorium

UPDATE: In its July 27th article, "A Bad Girl With a Touch of Genius," the New York Times wrote "Like much else about her, the visual persona Ms. Winehouse concocted over her brief career fused instinct with cunning. She was a 5-foot-3 almanac of visual reference. . . . a lineage of bad girls extending from Cleopatra to Louise Brooks’s Lulu to Salt-n-Pepa, irresistible man traps who always seem to come to the same unfortunate end."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Most treasured book

"Louise Brooks," by Barry Paris has
been published around the world
For a short while now, the San Francisco Chronicle has been running a short feature in its book review called "Special edition: Most treasured book." Earlier contributors have included novelist Isabel Allende, actor Peter Coyote, science writer Mary Roach, linguist and NPR radio commentator Geoffrey Nunberg and other luminaries mostly local to the Bay Area.

Each contributor is given approximately 100 words to talk about their most treasured book. Because of these constraints, it is a difficult assignment; what can one say in only 100 words? However, because of the very specific nature of this topic, it is also an easy assignment. This is the book we value the most, and we want to tell the world about it.

I recently had the honor of being asked to contribute. My most treasured book is Louise Brooks, by Barry Paris. First published by Knopf in hardcover 1989, it has proved to be an enduring work. Because she is something of an icon, and there have been other books both by and about this singular silent film star. This is the place to start.

Because of the 100 word limit, it was difficult for me to fully express how much this book means to me, and how it "changed my life." My contribution appeared in the print version of the newspaper on Sunday, July 10, 2011 and showed up on-line a few days later.

I hope others read this outstanding biography. It is the best book I have ever read. It is the best book I ever will read. My San Francisco Chronicle piece can be found at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/08/RV731K43B3.DTL#ixzz1RuZPn6nK

Friday, July 15, 2011

Diary of a Lost Girl to show in Ireland on Sunday

3epkano will accompany a showing of the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl, at the Kinsale Arts Festival in Ireland on Sunday, July 17. For further details on this special event, please visit http://www.kinsaleartsweek.com/event/Music/3epkano/21

3epkano will accompany a showing of the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl, at the Kinsale Arts Festival in Ireland on Sunday, July 17. For further details on this special event, please visit http://www.kinsaleartsweek.com/event/Music/3epkano/21

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My most treasured book

I wrote a small piece on "My most treasured" book for the San Francisco Chronicle. It appeared in the print version of the newspaper on Sunday, and showed up on-line today. 

My most treasured book is Louise Brooks, by Barry Paris. It was difficult to express how much this book means to me, and how it changed my life, as I was given a 100 word limit. (Its a short format feature.) Nevertheless, I was flattered to be asked. Earlier contributors include novelist Isabel Allende, actor Peter Coyote, writer Mary Roach, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg and others. I hope reads check out this outstanding biography. It is the best book I have ever read. It is the best book I ever will read. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Remembering Theodore Roszak

Theodore Roszak, the writer who coined the term "counter culture," has died. He was 77. Roszak (1933-2011) was a social critic, cultural historian, teacher and author who first came to  prominence in the 1960s with the publication of The Making of a Counter Culture. That bestselling 1968 book chronicled the youth-movements of the time.

Roszak was also a novelist, and a fan of Louise Brooks. His singular 1991 novel, Flicker, was described by Publisher Weekly as a "magical mystery tour of the history of cinema" and "an acid satire on Hollywood." Kirkus Reviews called it a "Huge, deep-delving movie-lover's delight - and as rich a novel about the metaphysics of moviemaking as has ever been." While Booklist said Flicker was "An irresistible book . . . the perfect film buff's novel."

The publisher's description of Flicker goes like this:
"Jonathan Gates could not have anticipated that his student studies would lead him to uncover the secret history of the movies—a tale of intrigue, deception, and death that stretches back to the 14th century. But he succumbs to what will be a lifelong obsession with the mysterious Max Castle, a nearly forgotten genius of the silent screen who later became the greatest director of horror films, only to vanish in the 1940s, at the height of his talent. Now, 20 years later, as Jonathan seeks the truth behind Castle's disappearance, the innocent entertainments of his youth—the sexy sirens, the screwball comedies, the high romance—take on a sinister appearance. His tortured quest takes him from Hollywood's Poverty Row into the shadowy lore of ancient religious heresies. He encounters a cast of exotic characters, including Orson Welles and John Huston, who teach him that there's more to film than meets the eye, and journeys through the dark side of nostalgia, where the Three Stooges and Shirley Temple join company with an alien god whose purposes are anything but entertainment."

Later reviews were glowing. USA Today called Flicker "A novel of great force and originality, nearly every page of which crackles with lust for film," while Los Angeles City Beat, in reference to film critic David Thomson's book,said it was "The boldest novel about film since Suspects." 

Roszak loved movies and movie stars, especially the films and actors of his youth. He also mentioned to me that he was a fan of Louise Brooks, and had seen her surviving films including Pandora's Box. The silent film star, or at least a character modeled after the actress, plays a part in Flicker.

If Flicker sounds like it would make a good movie, you're right. At one point, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) was backing a production of a movie version of the book with screen adaptation written by Jim Uhls (Fight Club). However, like so many worthwhile projects, this one seems to have come to a halt. Read more here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Theodore Roszak dies at age 77

Theodore Roszak, a writer who coined the term "counter-culture," has died at age 77. Roszak was a multi-genre author best known for his seminal 1968 book, The Making of a Counter-Culture. He taught at Stanford University, the University of British Columbia, and San Francisco State University before joining CalState Hayward

Roszak first came to public prominence in 1968, with the publication of The Making of a Counter Culture which chronicled and gave explanation to the European and North American counterculture of the 1960s. His other books include include The Cult of Information, The Gendered Atom: Reflections on the Sexual Psychology of Science, The Voice of the Earth, and Ecopsychology: Healing the Mind, Restoring the Earth. Roszak was twice nominated for the National Book Award.

His fiction includes Flicker and the Tiptree award-winning Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein. His most recent novel, published in 2003, is The Devil and Daniel Silverman.

Roszak described Flicker to me as "a secret history of the movies." Louise Brooks plays a part in the story. Roszak also told me he was a big fan of the actress, and had seen many of her movies. At one point, Darren Aronofsky was backing a production of a movie version of the book.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rolled Stockings writer turns 111

The woman whose story was the basis for the 1927 Louise Brooks’ film, Rolled Stockings, has turned 111 years old.

Today, Frederica Sagor Maas had a birthday. The La Mesa, California resident is one of the last surviving personalities from the silent film era, and perhaps the last living individual associated with one of Louise Brooks’ silent films. Maas is also thought to be the second oldest person in California. Read more about this remarkable woman on SFGate.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Louise Brooks news at paper.li

Paper.li is a "custom newspaper" aggregation utility which builds webpages from articles, blog posts, videos and photos shared on Twitter or Facebook. What results are are not curated, but rather the function of automatic functions like rss feeds and content streams.

It's kinda neat. And kinda not. Actually, its kinda random. Nevertheless, the Louise Brooks Society set up its own paper.li at http://paper.li/LB_Society/1309372490. Check it out. Or not.

In the meantime, here is a charming Louise Brooks tribute video via YouTube.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dryden Theater in Rochester turns 60

The Dryden Theater, where Louise Brooks spent many an hour watching films, turns 60 years old. The theater is part of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

Jack Garner, the noted film critic for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and a friend of the actress, penned an article about the anniversary. Garner wrote:
The Dryden opened in March 1951, thanks to the vision of James Card, the museum's first curator of motion pictures. After Eastman House opened in 1948 as a museum for photography and motion pictures, Card saw the need for an exhibition space to show off the substantial film collection. Card got George Eastman's niece, Ellen, and her husband, George Dryden, behind the project as donors and supporters of a fundraising campaign.
I had a chance to take a peek inside the Dryden Theater when I visited the George Eastman House in 2006 (as pictured right). It was thrilling to think Brooks (and many other early film stars honored at Eastman House) entered the Dryden right where I was standing. More info about the Dryden Theater and the George Eastman House can be found at http://www.eastmanhouse.org/ and on my column at examiner.com.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Girl in Every Port to show in Chicago

The seldom screened 1928 Louise Brooks film, A Girl in Every Port, will be shown in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, July 22. This special screening, with live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren, is being put on by the Silent Film Society of Chicago. More info on the event can be found at my Louise Brooks column on examiner.com

When the film first showed in the Windy City in February, 1928 the local newspapers praised both the film and Brooks' role in it. Arthur Sheekman, writing in the Chicago Daily Journal, declared, "Your correspondent, partial to all the McLaglen performances, had a grand time watching A Girl in Every Port, in which so much loveliness is contributed by that dark young venus, Miss Brooks." While the curiously named Mae Tinee, writing in the Chicago Tribune said, "Various damsels rage through the action, but to Louise Brooks falls, as should, the plum feminine characterization. She pulls it off in her customary deft fashion - and the enchanting bob in which she first appeared before the movie camera."

I wish I lived in Chicago. I would be there in a heartbeat!

The Silent Film Society of Chicago's "Silent Summer" Film Festival runs Fridays from July 22 through August 26 at the Portage Theater (4050 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in Chicago. More on the festival and the Silent Film Society of Chicago can be found at www.silentfilmchicago.com/

Tickets can be purchased in advance from the Portage Theater box office during event box office hours, or by calling 773.736.4050. Tickets are also on sale at City Newsstand, (4018 N. Cicero Ave.). Tickets are $12 on the day of show (excepting $17 for the special August 12 screening of Sunrise). Advance prices and student / senior discounts are also available.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

YouTube tribute to Louise Brooks

Here is a rather swell YouTube tribute to the one and only Louise Brooks. The music is by Phil Harris. The song is called "Vamp."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two new ebooks about Louise Brooks

Two new e-books about Louise Brooks have been published for Kindle, the amazon e-reader. I've written short reviews of each on the amazon.com website. Here are my reviews, with links to each book. 

My Afternoon With Louise Brooks
by Tom Graves
Publisher: Rhythm Oil Publications (June 10, 2011)

I can't get enough of Louise Brooks, the legendary silent film star. That's why I was excited when I came across this new e-pub by a professional writer with articles in major newspapers and magazines as well as a couple of earlier books to his credit. (Author Tom Graves is legit, and his 1982 meeting with the actress is mentioned in Barry Paris' definitive 1989 biography, Louise Brooks.) However, I found myself disappointed by this rather slight account of a now long ago encounter with the reclusive actress. More an anecdotal essay than a book (which can be read in under 10 minutes), "My Afternoon With Louise Brooks" largely fails to deliver. It is short on detail and perspective, and except for the striking cover image, there are no illustrations. The author mentions research and interviews he conducted with Brooks' family and friends - as well as the first chapters he wrote for a planned biography - but they are nowhere to be seen. I would like to read more.  [More info here.]


Louise Brooks: Her men, affairs, scandals and persona
by Maximillien de Lafayette
Publisher: Times Square Press (May 23, 2011)

This "book" is terrible. It is poorly written, poorly laid out, padded with extraneous material (and lots and lots of white space) and otherwise riddled with innuendo, half-truths and errors. For example, I spotted one image of a Brooks look-alike who isn't Louise Brooks! There is no bibliography or list of sources to support the author's many outrageous claims regarding the actress, but there are numerous images seemingly gleamed from the internet. Where does the author get this stuff from? Or does he make it up? To call this rather slight cut-and-paste e-pub a "hack job" would be to give it too much credit. It's not worth the paper its not printed on.  [More info here.]


Crazy Rhythm
by Daniel Vian
Publisher: Spectrum Beacon (May 31, 2010)

There is third book out, a work of fiction, which I have purchased but haven't had time to read. It is called Crazy Rhythm: A Novel of Hollywood, by Daniel Vian. Has anyone read it?  [More info here.]

One other recently released ebook - a work of erotic fiction,  Nymph: The Singularity by J.E. Lansing, features a character based on Louise Brooks. 'Nuf said. [More info here.]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Louise Brooks to be featured in exhibit

At least one vintage book featuring Louise Brooks will be featured in "Reading the Stars," an exhibit of books, magazines and other vintage reading material published during silent film era which will be on display at the San Francisco Public Library. All of the material - published during the Teens, Twenties, and early Thirties - pertain to the movies.

"Reading the Stars" is part of a small constellation of exhibits and programs titled "Shhhhhhh! Silents in the Library." The exhibits run June 25 through August 28 in the Main branch of the SFPL, on the Fourth Floor and Sixth Floor History Center Exhibit Space. 

If you plan on coming to town to attend to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, don't miss this chance to take a look at these library exhibits. I curated "Reading the Stars," and it is the fourth exhibit in about 12 years which I have helped put on. Additional details to follow. More info at http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1006779101

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Requesting Louise Brooks

A few bits of encouraging news.... yesterday, I received a request from a commentator for Michigan Public Radio who asked for a review copy of my Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl. I realize a review copy request is not the same as a review, but here's hoping. And today, I exchanged emails with a Spanish-born writer living in Mexico who is working on a novel about Louise Brooks. This novelist was asking about certain historical details pertaining to the actress. The body of literature around the actress continues to grow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The GREAT comics historian Bill Blackbeard has died

The GREAT comics historian Bill Blackbeard has died. The New York Times has an article on his passing at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/arts/design/bill-blackbeard-comic-strip-champion-dies-at-84.html

"An author, editor, anthologist and ardent accumulator who died in March at 84, Mr. Blackbeard is widely credited with helping save the American newspaper comic strip from the scrap heap, amassing a collection considered the most comprehensive ever assembled." His collection included Dixie Dugan, Windy Riley and other strips associated with actress Louise Brooks. 

Art Spiegelman,the RadioLulu listener who created the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic narrative Maus, said in a telephone interview with the New York Times, “A filmmaker like Martin Scorsese couldn’t make what he makes if he had never heard of D. W. Griffith and Orson Welles." "Similarly, as my art form develops, it’s clear that the future of comics is in the past. And Blackbeard was the granddaddy that gave us all access to it.”

"It Girls" article discusses Louise Brooks

"It Girls," an article on Lapham's Quarterly by Academy Award winning documentary film maker Peter Foges, discusses Louise Brooks and Greta Garbo and the years they both lived in New York City. It is an interesting piece, and worth reading. I might even speculate myself and guess that someone, someday, might turn this bit into a short story.

[A small correction. Foges writes " Louise had worked at Saks for years selling gloves—and when she needed to, turning tricks." I beg to differ. Brooks only worked briefly at Sacks, and didn't turn tricks (as anyone can tell) in the sense she was a prostitute. She may have received cash or gifts for favors, though.] The article can be found at http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundtable/roundtable/it-girls.php

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