Friday, 27 May 2011

hollywood days and sherman...

ace and i

i was talking with a friend a few days ago about the old hollywood days. not the era of glamorous starlets and scandals and lunching at the brown derby, although i could talk about that for days, but MY old hollywood days. i am really missing home. especially when the sun is shining here, it reminds me of california.

i used to live at 1432 s crescent heights in west LA with 2 of my best friends jill and dominic.  then when dominic moved, ace lafayette still III moved in. ace used to equate the household to the sitcom "three's company". and i guess it kind of was. i had been living with my mom in marina del rey when jill and dominic first moved to 1432. it was a really cool 1930's apt over a double garage at the back of a four-plex. i was so jealous when i saw the place with it's vintage tiling, arched doorways and wood floors. as it turned out, i had to move out of my moms shortly after they moved in, so i was very happy to make it my home too.


the day they had originally gone to view the place, they were shown around by the landlady mrs lieberman. a woman of about 70 with a strawberry blond, slight beehive and a penchant for 2 piece polyester pant suits. she explained to jill and dominic that her son, sherman, didn't live there, but used the 2 garages downstairs from our potential apt as an office. he was a writer and he was working on the new "star wars" script. in fact, george lucas had just been there the day before. although i was intrigued, i don't know why, but something in me was slightly skeptical.

i'm not sure how long we were living there before we realized that sherman also lived there... in the garages...with his 2 dogs. in fact, the first day i moved in, i had a beautiful welcome from his dog cottonball, (who was possibly white under all the dirt), in the form of him hacking up a thick loogie, complete with grass, onto my bare leg as i unpacked the car. niiiccceeee.

slowly we began to see that life at 1432 was going to be very entertaining. sherman, who was about mid-50s, was an eccentric, amphetamine junkie that was basically friends with every homeless person and junkie within a 10 mile radius. he was up at all hours, painting and re-painting the garage below us and then paint removing and then painting all over again pretty much 24/7. once he decided to paint the path outside our place, which he then decided he didn't like. unbeknownst to me, he had then spread paint stripper very thickly all over the path. as i stepped onto the path, groceries in hand, i slipped and fell over. at first i hadn't realized what was happening until i felt the burning and stinging of the paint stripper all over my body. it was all stuck to my bare skin and without even thinking about it, screaming, i ripped off my top and was running and screaming like a lunatic in circles around the garden. maybe he was more cunning than i gave him credit for.

sherman would take his mom's brand new caddy,  load his filthy, really stinky dogs in, and head up to hollywood and beverly hills and go digging through peoples trash. we would sort of laugh about it, but sometimes he would come back with some amazing stuff. cool clothes, pictures, paintings and bric a brac plus a lot of total crap as well. he seemed to have an eye for some stuff though. i had my fair share of pickings.

all his homeless friends somehow had a built-in radar and would arrive to help him unload his findings into the garages. we would come home to a convoy of shopping carts lined up in the alley. then about half an hour into unloading, the rights of ownership and bickering would begin. the amount of fights that broke out that needed police involvement was spectacular. it was pretty much the same scenario every time. we could hear raised voices and then things getting progressively more aggressive and before long sherman would be screaming "mother! MOTHER! call the police! CALL THE POLICE...THIEF!!!"

shortly afterward, jill, ace and i, would hear hushed authoritative tones in the backyard. we'd peer down through the blinds and see the cops, flashlights in hand scoping out the scenario. i can remember once when they shouted up to us " hey, can you guys come out here a minute?" we went out, told them our standard "we know nothing" and then i noticed the the look on the face of one of the cops... pure  shock/horror. slightly pale and shaken he asked me, "have you been in his place?" i said, "yeah". he asked again, "No, i mean, have you actually been IN his place?!" the only thing i could think of that was freaking him out a bit was something that i guess had just become totally normal for me to see.

amongst all the other late night, meth-fueled hobbies sherman had, was his love for artistic collage. the walls of his place were wall to wall pages from porn magazines interspersed here and there with pictures from fashion magazines, a sprinkling of the odd bruce springsteen or other musicians, maybe a little plant life thrown in, but mostly, they were serious porn. i think the cops thought they were venturing into some "silence of the lambs" den of depravity.

his mom was used to it. she would go in and out of there and not bat an eye. i think we just didn't see it anymore. i remember once when his mom was away and i needed to pay the rent. i went to her apt. which was in front of us in the four- plex, and he was inside. i can't remember why i needed to walk by the bathroom, but when i did, i noticed that on the back of the toilet tank, was a picture straight out of hustler. a woman naked, legs akimbo, in a frame no less.

it didn't take long for us to realize sherman WAS actually trying to write a book. it was some sort of sci-fi thing. and most of the time, if we engaged in any sort of conversation with him, we would get sucked into the void to play audience to the latest 30 or so pages he had written. needless to say, we tried to time our comings and goings with precision. but, the few times ace or dominic had been cornered and listened to a chapter, they would say it was actually pretty good.

i on the other hand, would just glaze over while he read about "woofers" and whatever the other aliens were called and the insane names everything had and the song he sang which went something like,"i'm all the way up and i'm not coming down, how about you do you want to play around? it's a wonderful day staying inside listening to this strawberry jiiiivvveeeee.... i'm a hedonstic wicky wicky wicky machineeeeee"! it was all so clearly the amped-up ravings of a speed freak.

even though the paint fumes were killing us, the junkies were keeping us awake and our electric fuses were constantly blown because one of his crazy friends we nicknamed "maverick", parked his gigantic camper van in the alley and plugged it into our electrics for weeks on end, i had this soft spot for sherman. he would aggravate the crap out of me, but sometimes, i would look in his eyes and wonder how long he's been messed up. i could see there was a nice person in there, who i think really meant well. he had a warm, goofy smile. sometimes he would say something so poignant with this little sparkle in his eye and it would really touch me.

sherman and maverick
i'm sure his mom had something to do with his addictions and madness. she seemed sort of passive aggressive... controlling. she would chastise him like a child for bringing home all of the crap in her car, shirk her shoulders, embarrassed that we were witnessing his "vagrant" behaviour. but, at the same time, be picking things out to take in the house for herself. once, while i stood there staring at his haul, there were these ancient packets of spices and baking sprinkles. i could see the contents moving, full of bull weevils, and they'd just been dug out of the trash, but she came in and said in her slightly nasally tone, "jill likes baking, why don't you give these to her?!" mmmm... thanks mrs. lieberman, because our baking stuff just doesn't have enough bull weevils in it.

one day sherman and one of his friends had one of their disagreements. jill and i came home to hear that sherman had been taken to the hospital after he was struck in the head with a brick. it was easter and i don't know why, but i felt really bad for him, so i don't know what possessed me, but i thought we should go see him in the hospital. we piled into my datsun with a basket of easter eggs and went up to cedars sinai.  that day, things got a little more interesting...
part 2 comin' up....

Thursday, 26 May 2011

ruby dixie in bliss magazine

the ruby dixie "over the rainbow" charm necklace is featured in this month's bliss magazine. it's one of the things that has been "knocking their socks off"! to get yours click here.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

liza lou

i feel like it has been forever since i last posted anything. i have been busy making a few new things and will post some pictures of them soon. in the mean time, i thought i would do a post about one of my favorite artists, liza lou.

i first saw liza's work on roseanne barr's talk show sometime in the 90s. my first reaction to her "backyard" and "kitchen" installations, after that initial pang for not thinking of such a fantastic idea myself, was total and complete awe. you have to have a whole lot of dedication and maybe a bit of crazy to create such beautiful pieces of work. i can't even fathom the amount of time it took to bead and create beaded components for them. each blade of grass is made of beads. every plate, cup, item, surface is beaded. i harbored fantasies for a while of trying my hand at a similar project, but after spending about a month trying to bead and sequin a bowl of plastic fruit, sore-thumbed and disillusioned by how long that alone took, i gave up.

the exhibition was in london some years ago and i'm so bummed i missed it because i think it would have been breath-taking to see it in person. if i ever win the lottery, i am going to commission her to bead'll think of something!


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

paper cuts

this is not my studio

my studio is a total wreck right now. i keep sitting in here, staring at it with visions of what i WANT it to look like and then wake up to the reality of what it ACTUALLY looks like. then i think, realistically, about the time and effort it would entail to make it look like the pink and cream checkerboard lino-ed, beautifully painted room i would love to spend time in and then i become completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the project, and then find something else to distract me so i don't get depressed about it!

it used to be scott's studio space, but he has now taken over the room next door for his pottery ( which is so cool, i need to do a post about that) so he is slowly moving all of his belongings out and i am slowly spreading out more and more. where his books are still on the pine shelves, i can see my glassware collection on ice cream coloured shelves with vintage shelf liners, where his collection of 70's brown ceramic owls and shell animals still live, i envision a wall of distressed cubby holes full of jars of charms, beads and sparkles mixed up with nik-nackery. i'm even staring at my boring stone-coloured filing cabinet thinking i should paint that with a bright lipstick red. if i only had the time! i think i am going to start this project slowly, a bit at a time and see if i can make any progress.

so to distract me for now, i thought i would do a post about scott's wonderful paper cuts. i have been very happy to receive some for presents for my birthday, mothers day and valentines day. he started doing these probably a year or 2 ago ( but with my child-addled brain it could be 10 years ago) and i think they are brilliant. the first 2 are based on some real people from a book called "the tennesseans", a photographic book from the early 80s, (i think) that i picked up at a garage sale the last time i was in the LA. 

the first couple scott based his paper cut on were flying the confederate flag in the background and hated yankees. she might have said she'd "be damned if she'd ever recognize missoura" and the 3 old men on the park bench were just a settin' and a wittlin' and a talkin'. they made good subjects. they might seem to be small pictures in the photos, but they are pretty large.

for mothers day i was given the girl with the black hair which is based on a girl in a mark ryden picture i have in my kitchen.  and for valentines day, i was given a the redhead lady based on the gorgeous christina hendricks from mad men. i also have a fantastic portrait he did of the boys and most recently, he made one for my friend elise for her birthday which was really cool, but i stupidly didn't take a picture of it before we gave it to her.

it's a little difficult to appreciate them in their full glory as the reflection in the glass seems to dull them a little. i was trying not to get my reflection in the photo, but you can see me crouching down trying to lean in to take the picture in the last one!

i think i may have inspired scott with the paper cut idea when i made a few "commemorative" plate cards for some of my friends little ones.

i did attempt to make him his own paper cut portrait for his birthday, but we can see where the real talent lies!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

ruby dixie in brighton

starting sunday, may 22, ruby dixie will have a stall at the new YARD market in brighton. the YARD is going to be a unique shopping experience, held every other sunday from 11-5 (it might change to every sunday) in the heart of the brighton laines on north rd. it's located in the "brighton farm market", known for it's fantastic farmers market on saturdays.

It aims to bring together the best of independent vintage sellers - from fashions to home wares and everything in between along with talented independent designers. it is a lovely outdoor space with sweet canopies (some coverage in case it rains!) with a gorgeous cafe serving delicious food that will take the edge off from saturday night! 


 so if you are in the brighton area, stop by and have a tasty cuppa joe, a yummy breakfast, do some browsing through all the vintage treasures on offer and come and say hi! x


Friday, 6 May 2011

ruby dixie charm holder in cosmo

 i was very excited to see a ruby dixie vintage charm holder in the june issue of cosmopolitan! my oldest friend ( and brilliant lecturer in feminist studies...and amazing writer!) jen maher, who i have known since we were about 8 or 9 maybe, said that she wanted me to "bring back the charm holder" so, i'm on a mission. we're on our way!

when jen and i were in elementary school, pretty much EVERY girl had one. there were the girls at school who came from the slightly wealthier end of the spectrum that had genuine 14ct gold charm holders, loaded with more real gold charms than a custodians keychain, hanging from an "s"(serpentine) chain which was the "only" chain to have darling...  and then... there was us.

we were the girls who longed for gloria vanderbilt designer jeans in the entire array of pastel colours, deeply desired velour cap-sleeve shirts and lusted after the cherokee platforms that all the popular girls had. but the most coveted item was the charm holder. unfortunately, we never had real gold ones. each of us possessed some cheap knock-off version, purchased at one of the cheapest department stores in LA ever like "gemco" or the "treasury".  they inevitably turned our necks green.

jen and i were in the 2nd most popular group at school. we didn't have quite what it took i guess to launch us into the popular group, so we were just loosely affiliated with them...we sort of dipped in and out. so when we were on the playground at lunch time and the popular girls, with their perfectly feathered hair, were all admiring the newest myriad of charms they had added to their charm holders, jen and i would be accosted by one of them so they could check out our charm holders. we'd sheepishly let them look at them with their piddly offerings of a few non-gold, probably even sport-related charms and wince a bit as they examined them, casting their eyes over every millimeter, determined to find a "14k" mark. then quickly release the necklace as though their hands had just been stuck in a vat of acid when they didn't find one.

so maybe it was subconsciously a secret fantasy of mine to one day own loads of charm holders. i don't know. i do know as soon as i found them a few years ago, i bought up as many as i could possibly buy. thankfully at this stage, the fact they aren't "14k" is totally by the by.

jen and i look back at those days now and laugh. they kind of stung then. but i'm so glad we were the girls with the fakes. our motto is "ALWAYS the monet...never the 14k"....

a keepsake of the heart forever

Thursday, 5 May 2011

irina werning

as a lot of my friends know, i am a slightly obsessed with the past. not just through my love for most collectables/memorabilia etc... pre (and including some) 1980's, but also anything that triggers that hazy, sun-drenched, coppertone-scented, blue-skied, super 8 movie of my childhood. the one that plays in my mind probably a lot more than it should.

i own one 70's orange, black and yellow floral "magnetic" photo album from my childhood that houses a handful of pix from the time i was born until i was maybe 10. there are so few photos in it for as much life that was lived. i remember seeing the movie "imagine", a documentary of john lennon's life, when i was about 13 and there seemed to be hundreds of home movies taken of his kids and his life and i was so envious of all that life that was captured on film. the day to day moments that looking back on would be like reading a diary... only better. i dreamt of seeing home movies of my brothers and i when we were growing up and forever secretly wished some might exist somewhere. i really treasure the photos i do have.

when i was studying at london college of fashion years ago, for a project, i had the idea of taking a polaroid a day of myself and then write a diary entry on it and a friend told me she thought that was a bit excessive. i have seen quite a few people since who have done just that and i get annoyed with myself i didn't just go ahead with my plan.

i came across these photos from buenos aires photographer irina wernings project "back to the future"  and thought they were so cool. i loved the idea of recreating the old photo.

 you can find more here on her website.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

i once was a crazy cat lady...

the lovely girl who handles my pr, louise,  has had her cat go missing. in trying to give her some hope he will turn up, i told her this story about when my cat went missing quite a few years ago. i thought i'd post it....

in my early 20's, when i was living in LA i had a couple of cats. first i had edie who was a gorgeous little gray tabby kitten i got from a litter owned by b-movie actress and former bride of russ meyer, edy williams. when edie (the cat) was about 1 1/2, i  wanted to get her some company, as myself and my 2 friends/roommates all worked a lot. i got a boy kitten, eli, from a pet shop. but from the minute i brought eli home, edie hated him. her entire nature changed.

one day after we had eli about a year, my roommate said in a slightly bemused tone, “i think eli is pregnant”! sure enough, “he” was. and "he" ended up having a couple litters of kittens before we had "him" fixed, which my roommates and i kept quite a lot of. at one point, we had 10 cats. i was basically, a couple of empty gin bottles rolling out from under the bed and a few strays away from being "crazy cat lady" ( there was one time when i drunkenly brought home 3 stray dogs i found crossing a busy street at 2 am in a single file line biggest to smallest, but that is a totally different story).

of both of eli's litters, although i loved all the kittens, my favorite kitten was marilyn. and when i moved to the uk, i decided to bring HIM with me.( i really had a knack for "sexing" the cats). i wanted to bring a bit of home with me. so, in spite of extortionate amounts of money and crazy quarantine laws, (6 mos he spent in there!) i brought marilyn to the uk. he was so much like a person and such a great cat i couldn't leave without him.

in conversations, when i told people i had brought marilyn with me from the states and how much it cost, they all assumed he was some sort of pure bred show cat, not just your run of the mill, garden variety alley cat. my ex, julian had never had pets growing up and after being around the kittens had become an instant cat person. he was, in fact, the one who suggested i bring marilyn to the uk and he very kindly paid for it.

after marilyn got out of quarantine, he had a good life. he got loads of attention as we both worked from home and were around a lot. he always a lap to sit on and purr. i guess as most pets are, he was a surrogate baby.  he wasn’t a “mouser” or hunter. he never went far. he was so reliable. his routines were like clockwork.

a few years after living in england, one evening i came home from a night out. it was about 1 am. the first thing i noticed was marilyn wasn't there. instantly i felt something was wrong. i waited up for him for a while then tried to go to sleep, but i just felt sick about it. julian was away in london recording an album and i called him in a panic and told him marilyn was missing. he freaked out too. he told the band in the middle of everything he had to go home because the cat was missing and just left the studio.

i called my good friend claire at about 4 am crying and sensing my distress, she came over at about 6.30 am. by 9.00am, after sitting outside the copy place for an hour waiting for it to open, the entire neighborhood was plastered with missing posters. julian knew a dj at the local radio station and called him up and he was nice enough to mention it on the radio for us. julian also called the bristol evening post and said, " i am offering a £500 reward for my missing cat, is that news worthy?" yeah.... they thought it was. so they interviewed me about it and there was a write up in the next days paper (this was my first experience with the media twisting your words because i DID sound like a crazy cat lady and they totally put words in my mouth).

also, at this time, one of my very best and oldest friends from LA, chris had been in spain and made a special trip to the uk to come see me.  i felt so bad because i couldn't think of ANYTHING other than the cat. i tried to hang out with him a bit, but i was a total emotional wreck. i think he was stupefied if not slightly worried at how depressed we were.

so, a few days went by, still no sign of him. the 2 of us were like a couple in mourning. we would walk the neighborhoods looking for him, calling out his name at all times of the day and night. the man who lived over the wall from us turned out to be a vicar after possibly after seeing the neighborhood smothered in "missing" posters, he came over to see me. i sat with him at the kitchen table, broken and emotional as he talked with me as though i was in bereavement over a family member. the whole world felt and looked gray.

we got a lot of phone calls from people from the posters. we would come home and the answering machine tape would be full of calls with people saying, "i think i saw your cat over in the such and such area". so we would run over there. Or they would say they saw him in places that were so, so far from where we lived, it was ridiculous. or  we’d get a lot of " hi, i don't know where your cat is, but a similar thing happened to me and my heart is with you etc...". a few more days went by. i think at this point it was nearly a couple of weeks he'd been gone. it was the not knowing that was killing us. so... i had what i thought was a BRILLIANT idea. we should go see a psychic.

i looked through the phone book for psychics. there were more than i thought there would be. i saw this BIG ad for a guy who had been featured in the "daily mail" newspaper and had been on "richard and judy" or something similar. i thought, "well, he’s got a huge ad…he's obviously successful...he's the one! he's bound to be good." i think it was like £40 or £50... so...not cheap. we made an appointment and went to see him. julian had the idea of bringing marilyn's favorite pillow with us.

so we get to his house. the psychic was like an older russell grant type. he led us into this  study and sat at a large antique wooden desk. he wore a monocle. there was a slightly musty smell in the air. he had one of those "phrenology" heads on the window sill with a paisley cravat around it's neck. On one wall, i noticed a couple of very yellowed, disintegrating newspaper clippings in frames. proof that he HAD actually been in the daily mail...back at some point in the 1960's or 70s. so...obviously not a lot of coverage since!

in our initial chat, we gave him a bit of background, where we lived etc... as we sat there talking to him, choking back the tears, he pulled out the oldest A-Z street guide i had ever seen. it was in black and white (rather than colour) or more like black and a similar shade of yellow to his newspaper clippings. i wasn't even sure our road was on it. then he gets out a pendulum and very intently holds it over the A-Z and watches it start to circle. 

in an almost ghostly, going into a trance-like voice he says, "i am getting the vibe he is in the landsdown road areaaaaaa." i thought," well, we just TOLD him we live there. No miracle there." He uttered a few more kind of non-informative, non-descript, vague ramblings. which we just didn't know what to make of. then my most memorable part of the whole experience happened. I turned to julian who by then was absolutely wailing. he started pulling frantically at these few bits of marilyn's fur left on the pillow, and in desperation begging/pleading, to the psychic he said, "can you get anything off THIS ?!?!?" something about his hysterical emotion snapped me slightly back into reality. i think i then totally saw the ridiculousness of the whole scene. through our desperation and depression we had hit a SERIOUS low! we left, feeling £50 lighter, our hearts, probably heavier.

a day or two later, we had pretty much given up hope of ever seeing marilyn again. We were trying our hardest to get on with our lives and went out to a gig. we got home about midnight. as we walked up to the door, we heard this faint "meow". we looked up on the fence and there he was! i was absolutely elated. i hugged him for hours. we think he must have got shut into someones garage or trapped somewhere where he couldn't get out. it's a total mystery.

a few years ago, he disappeared again and after a few days, it ended up that he was trapped under someone’s decking. he is still around today and nearly 20 years old.