Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hot Dudes Doing Cute Things: The Beatles Love Tea (and British Stereotypes)

The second installment of “Hot Dudes Doing Cute Things” highlights the Fab Four and their participation in the great English tradition of drinking tea. Is there anything more quintessentially British than drinking tea? It's what everyone asked me about when I came home after a few months in London -- forget the countless historical institutions, museums, and other opportunities in the city, because apparently people just imagined that I sat around drinking a cuppa and snacking on scones while wearing a skirt suit and a fascinator. 
Apparently, the Beatles were never too concerned about perpetuating cultural stereotypes because they were photographed drinking tea, like, all of the time. Whenever they picked up a porcelain cup and saucer, forgotten were their Scouse accents, Mop Top hairdos, and anything else that might have ever been considered unsavory by the older folks. Whenever you see them drinking tea, it’s like OH WOW LOOK AT THEM DRINKING TEA, THEY’RE SO BRITISH AND REFINED, as though every sip of English Breakfast was in honor of the Queen Mum. I don't see any of them pointing out their pinkies as they drink so they might lose points for form, but excel in overall effort. 
It must be said that I am just assuming that they’re drinking tea in all of these photos because I like to make cultural assumptions. Because, you know, they’re so British and refined that way.

The love that the Beatles held for tea is well documented in such tunes as "All Together Now" ("A B C D / Can I bring my friend to tea?"), "All Too Much" ("Sail me on a silver sun / Where I know that I'm free / Show me that I'm everywhere / And get me home for tea"), "Lovely Rita" ("Lovely Rita, meter maid / May I inquire discreetly / When are you free to take some tea with me?"), "Good Morning Good Morning" ("It's time for tea and meet the wife"), "Cry Baby Cry" ("The Duchess of Kirkcaldy always smiling / And arriving late for tea"), and arguably "A Day in the Life" ("Found my way downstairs and drank a cup"). So obviously, tea has had an enormous impact on the artistic output made by the Beatles. (I'm about 79% serious about this entire subject.) Let's look at each lad's relation to tea, shall we?

Apparently John was so particular about how he took his tea that it warranted an essay in the New York Times. Written by Yoko about her late husband's tea-drinking habits, it's appropriately titled "The Tea Maker." John's explanation how to steep the perfect cup of tea (plus a special shout-out to Aunt Mimi!) results in a surprisingly touching piece, very sweet, a delicate memory that a woman has of her husband's final hours with her. 

In addition to all the Beatle songs littered with references, Paul wrote a song called "English Tea" for his 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (which is really just a fantastic album in part because: the cover is a photo of teenager Paul; the sound is quite minimal and intimate like on McCartney (which I dig); the lyrics are more introspective and wrought with sadness, and I prefer a darker Paul wondering where all the lonely people come from rather than him asking about silly love songs; also in high school I would listen to "Jenny Wren" and think it was about me (also I still do that)). In "English Tea," he dubs the act of drinking tea to be "very twee, very me," so who am I to argue?  

No known statements have been made by Ringo about tea and the number of photos of him drinking a cuppa was unfortunately quite low. BUT on his 70th birthday he was honored with a specially blended Peace and Love Tea, so that obviously means there was a profound connection there. 

The highest volume of photographs featuring any Beatle-tea relation came from images of George. For some reason, he was the one most often documented eating and drinking -- far more than any other member of the band. Seriously, pics of George while mid-sip or chewing something occurred with such frequency that there are numerous Tumblrs dedicated to his habits of consumption. It's almost comical to look at a photo blog or watch one of their movies because HE'S ALWAYS EATING, despite being incredibly thin (a marvel that causes him to become the source of every woman's jealousy). I wonder if early on in their careers George just happened to be snapped a few times while eating and then that became his thing so he would never travel without a mini bagel or something. I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge George's amazing expressions (especially top row, middle photo and bottom row, second from left), which I think deserve a post of their very own. 

THEY'RE EVEN TEA PUSHERS! Look at them trying to lead the younger generations into a world of hot beverages made from aromatic, dried leaves. I honestly wonder what led up to this particular moment -- how do you offer a sip from your cup of tea to a toddler that is not your own? Just wondering. I'll accept never knowing the answer because THIS IS SUPREMELY ADORABLE. See, hot dude doing a cute thing. Yay!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Inspired By ... Maureen Starkey's Coat

Of all the Beatle gals, I admire the style of Maureen Starkey-Tigrett the most. While the English Rose sophistication of Jane Asher and Cynthia Lennon is always lovely, and I appreciate how Yoko mastered her artistic minimalist chic, and I do adore how Pattie Boyd was always so on-trend and could rock a style better than anyone, I just LOVE the badassery of Mo's fashion sense. She always dressed incredibly edgy, yet somehow she never looked out of place in the company of flower children. I find myself going back time and again to draw inspiration -- her kohl-rimmed eyes, heavy fringe and long hair, her penchant for dark colors, draped layered clothes, and large statement jewelry. In my opinion, she's one of the most underrated fashion icons of the sixties and seventies. I love how she and Ringo would sometimes coordinate their outfits -- not so that they looked like a matching set, but were definitely a pair. At times whimsical, at other times weird, but always stylish and amazing -- there's a reason they are one of the best-dressed couples of all time.
I've mentioned this UNIF Bridget coat on the site before, but I had to mention it again because 1) it looks stunningly like the coat Mo was spotted on several occasions wearing, 2) it's the most wonderful coat in the world. It's deliciously soft, it's vegan, it's the most perfect retro design and I will take any and every chance to recommend it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

i still don’t know what i was waiting for, and my time was running wild

Today is David Bowie's 66th birthday and to celebrate his fans are getting a marvelous gift in the form of a new single off of his yet-to-be-released album The Next Day. The song is called "Where Are We Now?" and it's fab, I really loved it -- it's not the classic glammy rock that some Bowie fans might expect, but is a more somber contemplative song that is equally as enjoyable. I might be a bit biased though, because I just worship Bowie. He's been in my life for quite a long time. I was raised on his music, watched Labyrinth with such frequency that it really worried my parents, and ever since I was a little girl, he has been my beauty icon. His look is (and always has been) exquisite. I really connected with his whole glam rock extraterrestrial persona, for some odd reason it made me feel less alone to know that there was someone else as out-of-this-stratosphere as I felt I was. I recently received a copy of David Bowie Style by Danny Lewis and I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants easy access to some inspiration from the man who fell to earth. 
Title: from "Changes" (David Bowie)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Then and Now: Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell and Amy Poehler & Tina Fey

Two of the grooviest gals in the entertainment business in my (and let's be honest everyone else's) opinion are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. From their days on Saturday Night Live as the first ever female duo on Weekend Update, starring in movies like Mean Girls and Baby Mama, headlining two of the funniest sitcoms on television, to now hosting the Golden Globes on January 13th, these two broads are really (REALLY) amazing women.
Of their famous friendship, Tina once said "we're like Oprah and Gayle, except we're not denying anything." While that could very well be true, in their promotional pics for the awards show I think these pals appear more like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-stars Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. Under the bright spotlight, Amy and Tina look like perfect bombshells in their beaded gowns, reminding me of Jane and Marilyn in the opening scene of the Howard Hawks film when they perform "Two Little Girls from Little Rock." Of course the two comedians had to add a special quirky kick, choosing bright Converse high-tops instead of the high heels that Jane and Marilyn wore in the musical.  I love this photo shoot as here Amy and Tina prove once and for all (and I can't believe this is even still a question in the first place) that women can be BOTH funny and gorgeous. At the same time. (I know, the mind reels.) Anyone else stoked to see them take on Golden Globes hosting duties this weekend?

Friday, January 4, 2013

she takes just like a woman, yes she does

Hello my dearies! I hope everyone had a wonderful New Years and that 2013 is off to an ab fab start. In addition to reading, writing, and indulging all the amazing things tht goes with being on vacation, I'm feeling a surge of bloggy creativity and am working on a few posts at the moment, including a massive list of tunes that will inspire overdue resolutions (if you're a procrastinator like I am) that should be up in a day or two. In the interim, I am sharing Nina Simone's cover of "Just Like a Woman." Why you ask? JUST LISTEN TO IT. 

Isn't this just the ultimate cover? Okay, maybe not the ultimate-ultimate, because I know that I've made equal cases in the past for Patti Smith's re-arranging of "Gloria" and "Killing Me Softly" by the Fugees, and Johnny Cash's "Hurt" and Jose Feliciano's "Light My Fire" album, but this cover is one of the tops, at least. 
So you've listened to it and still you ask for more explanation? Let me break it down: Nina is the bee's knees. She's one of my all time favorite artists. Her voice is deep and sultry and powerful, but also somehow really vulnerable and romantic. She is the embodiment of woman. W-O-M-A-N. (For some reason I feel like that needed to be spelled out for emphasis.) Some of her most well-known songs are probably "Sinnerman" (Felix Da Housecat does a great remix of the song, and the original is sampled in Talib Kweli's "Get By"), "Feeling Good" (covered by Jennifer Hudson in that Weight Watchers commercial), and "I'll Put a Spell on You" (which is lush and haunting and creepy and amazing). I recommend checking out the "Forbidden Fruit" LP and her live album "At Newport," which has one of my ALL-TIME favorite songs ever on it: her version of "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To." Oh wow, it's so incredible that I cannot even put into words all of the feelings I experience whenever I put on that tune. 
Being a Nina fan, I am shocked and frankly appalled with myself that I hadn't heard her cover of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman" until very recently. My Dylan fanship is definitely far more than a casual appreciation -- it's more like a ridiculous adoration (I won't say worship simply because he hates being any voice of any generation, so I'll respect that even though he obviously is), so I honestly don't know how I missed this connection. Especially considering that "Just Like a Woman" is not just one of my favorite tracks from "Blonde on Blonde" but one of my other favorite songs across all genres ... well, my mind reels over my ignorance. I expect that probably everyone else has heard this song, but on the off chance that you haven't checked it out either, do yourself a favor because it's brilliant. Though should we expect any less from a pairing between Bob Dylan and Nina Simone?