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Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Last Days of Summer

Miss KMK along the water in San Francisco. The title of the post is misleading because our local summer has yet to start (it, like most San Franciscans, is always running late), but I meant it for readers everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. As these images attest nicer days do occasionally happen and, were it selfishly up to me, the California drought never would have ended – girls wore fewer clothes and it was better motorcycle weather year-round.

You should visit her here.

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It hardly needs mentioning that not only did artists paint better 85 years ago, they also dressed better. English artist Albert Ludovici jr, pictured here, certainly had style, maybe even more than his paintings, depending on your taste. From the artiste’s bow under his wing collar to the shark fin fold of his pocket square, he knew how to take dashing photograph. Let’s not overlook the perfectly rakish tilt of his hat.

And it won’t surprise you to know that he was close with another artist of discriminating fashion taste — Whistler, of whom Ludovici had this to say:

[Whistler] was always neatly dressed, in black in the winter and white in the summer, and his hair, with the white lock which grew near the centre of his forehead, carefully arraigned. He always changed for dinner, and used to appear at the [Society of British Artists] meetings in evening dress

Apparently some of the other members of the Society found this pretentious, whereas I would venture to say he was showing the proceedings, and some of the pusillanimous attendees, more respect than they may have deserved. But Whistler was a gentleman about most things, despite what Ruskin, and an entire generation of critics, said about him. Whistler was most definitely controversial in both art and life… as if there’s a difference.

Below Whistler’s portrait by William Merritt Chase, now in the Met.

Whistler could be a fashion critic as well; for example, when asked by a notable society lady what he thought of her new and expensive frock, he adjusted his monocle and replied:

“There is only one thing…” and paused.

“…Tell me what is wrong!”

“Only that it covers you, madam,”

The picture of Ludovici and anecdotes are from his autobiography An Artist’s Life in London and Paris 1870-1925, published by T Fisher Unwin, London, 1926. Image of Chase’s Whistler nabbed from Wikipedia.

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Seen here in the window at Grant’s Tobacco on Market st. The tie, one of my craizleys, is a vintage Liberty of London. And since we brought out the offerings of raincoat and umbrella we seemed to have appeased Mother Nature who, with unexpected mercy, parted the clouds and brought out the sun for our adventure.

Above, a rare example of those parted clouds from this weekend’s Arkstorm. This view is from the homestead, looking over Golden Gate Park toward the Pacific, and into what appears to be more rain in the distance.

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Twin Palms

From the roof deck, with the sun dipping toward the horizon, we looked out to the Pacific to the Farallones behind the palms. That’s more rain coming into the frame from the left edge. We quickly headed back inside.

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His mother, Queen Victoria, had banned the smoking of cigars in her presence, and, by extension, anywhere in high society. Her son, the Prince of Wales, broke this ban. On the day he assumed the throne as Edward VII, he uttered these words in court “Gentlemen, you may smoke.” His royal preference was the double Corona, and his personal band (long sought by collectors) is decorated with three white plumes.

Photo and text borrowed from Zino Davidoff’s “The Connoisseur’s Book of the Cigar” McGraw-Hill 1968

It was his glen check inverness cape that first caught my eye. Then the four button window-pane jacket with watch chain looped over the top button. And lastly, Edward’s famous Homberg hat, and this one appears made from the shorn hair of his beard.

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Local Royalty

Melvin Belli

Melvin “Bellicose” Belli, aka the King of Torts. One of the law’s original ambulance chasers, he was on the side of the little guy, as long as that little guy was suing some deep pockets. He is credited with laying groundwork for future consumer rights cases. All that is nice to know but the most San Francisco part of his wiki reads:

“After winning a court case, Belli would raise a Jolly Roger flag over his Montgomery Street office building in the Barbary Coast district of San Francisco (which Belli claimed had been a Gold Rush-era brothel) and fire a cannon, mounted on his office roof, to announce the victory and the impending party.

San Francisco still has it’s share of flamboyant showmen, though few so dapper as Mr Belli here, and who of them, in our day, would show such boldness by topping their outfit with a with a pipe. And I am unaware of any current local dandies with a cannon. Note the coat tree in the background with vest and 2 hats, and the bottles of hooch on the shelf. Those liquid details never escape my attention.

Belli pictured in his San Francisco office, from the April 1961 issue of Holiday magazine.

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