A Unique Opportunity for Coto Residents

“Casting for new reality show that’s more entertaining than ‘The O.C.’, ‘Laguna Beach’ and ‘Desperate Housewives.’ Searching for great characters with fascinating lives who want to become the hottest new reality stars. Producers are seeking both families and individuals. Email or fax personal details/ stories/ photos with contact info by January 14 to….”

Flyers distributed in the guard-gated master-planned private community of Coto de Caza in early 2005. The show Real Housewives of Orange County would premier in March 2006. 


Vance Packard Dissects Liberace’s Fans

Vance Packard’s 1957 monster bestseller The Hidden Persuaders introduced Americans to the Freudian implications behind lipstick and cigarette advertisements. He described how promoters used Oedipus symbolism to sell the pianist Liberace, preying upon the supposed desire of older women to mother someone adorable– a role enjoyed today by the cherubic-faced SoundCloud rapper Lil Pump, who melts aging hearts as he shouts, ‘And your baby momma laying next to me!” with childlike glee. 

Selling love objects. This might seem a weird kind of merchandising but the promoters of Liberace, the TV pianist, have manipulated–with apparent premeditation–the trappings of Oedipus symbolism in selling him to women past the child-bearing age (where much of his following is concentrated). The TV columnist John Crosby alluded to this when he described the reception Liberace was receiving in England, where, according to Mr. Crosby, he was ‘visible in all his redundant dimples’ on British commercial TV. Mr. Crosby quoted the New Statesman and Nation as follows: ‘Every American mom is longing to stroke the greasy, roguish curls. The wide, trustful childlike smile persists, even when the voice is in full song.’ TV viewers who have had an opportunity to sit in Mr. Liberace’s TV presence may recall that in his TV presentations a picture of his real-life mom is frequently flashed on screen, beaming in her rocking chair or divan while her son performs.”

The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, McKay, 1957.

René la Canne Attends Grace Kelly’s Wedding

“René Girier, known as ‘René the cane,’ was a French hoodlum,” his Wikipedia France entry begins. In 1956, the infamous jewel thief accompanied Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois (known as “Mamou”) to the wedding of her son Prince Rainier III and the American movie star Grace Kelly.

René la Canne.jpg

La Canne, sans cane, and his then-wife in 1948

On the eve of the wedding, an American guest and one of the bridesmaids announced that $58,000 worth of jewelry had been stolen from their rooms at the Hôtel de Paris. Attention turned to the mother-of-the-groom’s infamous companion, who had already published the first of his autobiographies, Dog of Life. Robert Lacey described the Edward Albee-esque festivities in his excellent 1994 biography of the princess, Grace.

“The jewel thefts in the Hôtel de Paris had enraged Rainier for a very personal reason, since his headstrong mother had moved on from her Italian doctor– Mamou had tried to shoot her lover during one of their romantic disputes– to strike up a series of bizarre relationships with criminals who had been paroled from prison. The princess had come to see it as her mission in life to give of herself to redeem these fallen men, and the companion whom she had brought to Grace’s wedding, dressed in a tight-fitting white uniform and accompanying her, officially as her chauffeur, was René Girier, a jewel thief who flaunted his walking stick and went by the name of ‘René la Canne.’ 

René la Canne and Mamou attend the civil ceremony of Their Serene Highnesses

As news of the missing jewels circulated, ‘the Cane’ was the obvious suspect. He was on parole from a sentence for robbery, and Ranier insisted that he should leave the principality immediately. But Mamou refused to be parted from her chauffeur, and the row broke into the open when Prince Pierre joined battle on behalf of his son. At one of the prewedding receptions, the Kellys were amazed by the sight of the groom’s two elderly and long-separated parents quarreling bitterly in front of the entire party, exchanging none-too-subtle insults which, in the case of Prince Pierre, traded on the fact that his ex-wife had been born illegitimate.”

Grace, Robert Lacey, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994.

The Grand-Union Food-o-Mat

“EAST PATERSON, NJ — The Grand Union chain, pioneer in outdoor supermarket vending, is resuming its automatic merchandising operation at the flagship shop here after a one-month interruption in the experiment.

Pilot models of the Grand Union Food-o-Mat are being tested, with and [sic] 11-battery machine scheduled to go into operation by the end of the month.

The Food-o-Mat, an invention of Lansing Shield, GU President, has been used as a non-coin device to speed the selection of goods within the store. Its principle is that of an inclined chute. When the consumer removes the bottom item, the next one slides into delivery position.
Coin Mechanism: These units are being adapted for coin operation. According to Carl Shaver, director of sales, the coin mechanisms will take any combination of coins– including pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half-dollars– for any purchase of up to 99 cents. It will take as many a four pennies.

Some of the units are refrigerated and some are not. The chain is currently running tests on canned goods, bakery items, and dairy products.”

The Billboard, “Grand Union Resumes Outdoor Vending Test,” p.85, June 10, 1957.

Donald Trump as John Miller

Before Twitter, businessman and television personality-cum President Donald J. Trump reached out to the public through intermediaries in the media. In June of 1991 he pretended to be a publicity agent named John Miller to phone to a reporter from People magazine. He confirmed a New York Post story that he had broken up with his girlfriend Marla Maples for the model Carla Bruni.

“Her name is Carla Bruni Fredesh. I don’t know how to spell the last name. She dropped Mick Jagger for Donald. And that’s where it stands.”

“Important, beautiful women call him all the time,” Miller/Trump continued, “When he makes the decision, then that will be a very lucky woman.

It doesn’t matter to him if Marla talks; he truly doesn’t care. It was never an engagement ring. This was [about] giving Tiffany some business and getting Ivana, uh, getting Marla. something that would be nice. The biggest misconception was that Donald left [his first wife Ivana] for Marla. He didn’t. He leaves for himself.”

“John Miller” concluded with an account of Trump’s recent meeting with the actress Kim Basinger.

“She wanted to come up and discuss a real-estate transaction. And you know, she wanted to go out with him. That was the reason she came up. Competitively, it’s tough. It was for Marla, and it will be for Carla.”

The People reporter Sue Carswell played the tape to Marla Maples, who confirmed the voice was Trump’s. “My friends and family have been praying for me for a long time,” she said, “And this may be the answer to their prayers.” Carla Bruni denied everything. “He’s obviously a lunatic. It’s so untrue and I’m deeply embarrassed by it all.”

The whole incident (a personal favourite) dangles the intriguing present-day prospect that a few egg-faced avatars are doing 45’s dirty work on Twitter. John Miller aeternum!