Yuri Gagarin’s Message for the World, April 12, 1961:


“Dear Friends, known and unknown to me, my dear compatriots and all people of the world. In the next few minutes a mighty spaceship will carry me off into the distant spaces of the universe. What can I say to you during these last minutes before the start? All my life now appears as a single beautiful moment to me. All I have done and lived for has been done and lived for for this moment. It is difficult for me to analyse my feelings now that the hour of trial for which we have prepared so long and passionately, is so near. It’s hardly worth talking about the feelings I experienced when I was asked to make this first space flight in history. Joy? No, it was not only joy. Pride? No, it was not only pride. I was immensely happy to be the first in outer space, to meet nature face to face in this unusual single-handed encounter. Could I possibly have dreamed of more? Then I thought of the tremendous responsibility I had taken on: to be the first to accomplish what generations of people dreamed of: to be the first to pave the way for humanity to outer space. Can you name a more complex task than the one I am undertaking? This is a responsibility, not to one, not to many, and not to a collective group. This is a responsibility to all the Soviet people, to all of humanity, to its present and future. I know I have to summon all my will power to carry out my assignment to the best of my ability. I understand the importance of my mission and shall do all I can to fulfill the assignment for the Communist party and the Soviet people.

Only a few minutes are left before the start. I am saying goodbye to you, dear friends as people always say goodbye to each other when leaving on a long journey.”

First Orbit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKs6ikmrLgg

Has the Flapper Changed?

‘Has the Flapper Changed? F. Scott Fitzgerald Discusses the Cinema Descendant of the Type He Has Made So Well Known’

F. Scott Zelda

Have flappers changed since you first gave them the light of publicity? For Better? For worse?

Only in the superficial manner of clothes, hair-cut, and wise-cracks. Fundamentally they are the same. The girls I wrote about were not a type– they were a generation. Free spirits– evolved through the war chaos and a final inevitable escape from restraint and inhibitions. If there is a difference, it is that flappers today are perhaps less defiant, since their freedom is taken for granted and they are sure of it. In my day–stroking his hoary beard–they had just made their escape from dull and blind conventionality. Subconsciously there was a hint of belligerence in their attitude, because of the opposition they met–but overcame.

On the screen, of course, is represented every phase of flapper life. But just as the screen exaggerates action, so it exaggerates type. The girl who, in real life, uses a smart, wise-cracking line is portrayed on the screen as a hard-boiled baby.The type, one of the most dangerous whose forte is naïveté, approximates a dumb-dora when she reaches the screen. The exotic girl becomes bizarre. But the actresses who do flappers really well understand them thoroly enough to accentuate their characteristics without distorting them.

Motion Picture, Margaret Reid, July, 1927.

Julia Phillips v. François Truffaut

ImageJulia Phillips co-produced Taxi Driver, The Sting, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. She was the first woman to win an Academy Award for best picture. Her acceptance speech remains unmatched: “You can imagine what a trip this is for a Jewish girl from Great Neck. Tonight I get to win an Academy Award and meet Elizabeth Taylor, all in the same moment. Thank you so much.” It made a favourable impression on the French director François Truffaut, who agreed to act in Close Encounters. On the set, Truffaut and Phillips did not get along. “She is incompetent,” Truffaut told The New York Times. “Unprofessional. You can write that. She knows I feel this way. Sometimes it was so disorganized that they had me show up and then do nothing for five days.” In 1991, Phillips got her own back in her memoir, You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again.

‘I was so proud and happy when [Truffaut] committed to the part of Lacombe. It was a coup, no doubt about that, and a score at seventy-five grand and no points. That should have been a clue as to how he felt about the project, but Steven and I were so excited it didn’t occur to us that he might just be doing research.

He wrote a fab letter accepting. Ever the director, he seemed most preoccupied with my moment on the Academy Awards–“You whore a beautiful black dress…”– and decided if he were ever to make a movie in Hollywood, it would be with me.

Very chatty about his love for Los Angeles. Loved Larry Edmund’s bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard: the best movie bookshop in the world, in his opinion. Loved to visit Jean Renoir à la maison. As it were.

As for our movie, basically he agreed to play Lacombe, on the condition that Steven could release him by August. We were to work it out with Louis C. Blau, the heaviest of the heavy-hitting entertainment lawyers. His client list included Stanley Kubrick. Who needed anyone else? Unless of course it was François Truffaut.

In closing: “I speak English WORST I write it.” Duly noted. Sincerely, François Truffaut.’

You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again, Julia Phillips, Random House, 1991.

The Sting wins Best Picture in 1976: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhRG1OzbDJs



Avant-Garde magazine was published between 1968-1971. This abbreviated one-page advertisement ran in the November 1967 issue of Harper’s Magazine. It’s as though one of Bravo’s Real Housewives travelled back in time to add the quotation marks.

A Proposition

A wild new thing is about to happen: the mad, mod scene is about to witness the birth of a fantastic magazine destined for greatness. Its name is Avant-Garde.

As its name implies, Avant-Garde will be a forward-directed, daring, and wildly hedonistic magazine. It will report on every aspect of the ebullient new life-style now emerging in America, and will do so with no put-ons and no inhibitions…

In short, Avant-Garde will be a hip, joyous, beautiful new magazine. It will be the voice of the Turned-On Generation.

Perhaps the best way to describe Avant-Garde for you is to list the kinds of articles it will print:

The Dead-Serious Movement to Run Allen Ginsberg for Congress

Homage to Mohammad Ali– High praise by 35 celebrities (including Marlon Brando, Jackie Robinson, and Woody Allen).

Coming: Synthetic (and Therefore Legal) Marijuana

Group Psychotherapy on TV

Radio Free America– A professor’s plan (already in motion) to establish a pirate radio station off the coast of California.

The “Bust” of Charlotte Moorman– The gifted young cellist describes her arrest for giving a concert hall recital “topless.”

The CIA’s Super-Salaried “Super Spook”– An expose of an operative who is paid $1 million a year to fink for Big Brother.

The Intellectual Companions of Jacqueline Kennedy

Bob Dylan’s Suppressed-and Pithiest- Song Lyrics

George Romney’s Bizarre Religious Beliefs

Toward the Elimination of War-A little-known exchange of correspondence between Einstein and Freud.

Understanding Zowie– A glossary of Switched-On Generation jargon.

The Fugs– New York’s most way-out electronic rags-rock nerve-thrill company.

A Gastronomical Guide to the Year 2000

The Writing on the Wall– The emergence of  graffiti as a medium of social protest.

The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh

A Geneticist’s Plea for State-Sponsored Breeding of Supermen

Pornographic Film Festivals at Lincoln Center by 1970– Predictions by an underground film-maker.

In sum, Avant-Garde will be a feast of gourmet food-for-thought prepared by the avant-garde for the avant-garde. It will be the quintessence of intellectual sophistication.

The Baths of Antoninus Caracalla


“The stupendous aqueducts, so justly celebrated by the praises of Augustus himself, replenished in the Thermae, or baths, which had been constructed in every part of the city with Imperial magnificence. The baths of Antoninus Caracalla, which were opened at stated hours for the indiscriminate service of the senators and the people, contained above sixteen hundred seats of marble; and more than three thousand were reckoned at the baths of Diocletian. The walls of the lofty apartments were covered with curious mosaics that imitated the art of the pencil in the elegance of design and the variety of colours. The Egyptian granite was beautifully encrusted with the precious green marble of Numidia; the perpetual stream of hot water was poured into the capacious basins through so many wide mouths of bright and massy silver; and the meanest Roman could purchase, with a small copper coin, the daily enjoyment of a scene of pomp and luxury which might excite the envy of the kings of Asia.”

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, 1776-89

A One-Volume Abridgement by Dero A. Saunders, Penguin Books, 1952