Yuengling, a Road Trip, and Jaclyn Smith: A New American Odyssey
Fear not, gentle readers, I'm back, and ready to blog. I've been on a road trip with Thomas, driving through Birmingham, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Mobile, and time away from streaming Netflix, email, and a constantly ringing cell phone is just what I needed to get my blogging juices flowing again.
It was a low-key vacay, mainly hanging with old friends, but the weather was spring perfect, the food was delicious (especially Dish and The Penquin in Charlotte...both were so good we made return trips. Both were featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I have to say this...i've eaten at 4 places featured on the show, and all four times I've been very pleased with the food. Guy Fieri makes my slappin' hand itch, but I have to admit the show picks winners.) But perhaps the best part...I tasted the nectar of the gods, Yuengling beer. It's not readily available here in New Orleans (though I've heard a rumor it's sold in Slidell); which is just as well. I soaked up so many pints of that "local flavor" that I'm relying on Thomas's photos to show me the fun we had.
Perhaps, the best part for me, though was the chance to browse through used books stores. I have, throughout various stages of my life, been a LEGO junkie, a china queen, and a clotheshorse. These urges to collect have come and gone, along with the possessions. What has never fluctuated; however, is my love of books--preferably old, and possibly smelly. My favorite category of collectible book is somewhat unusual however; at least for a guy. I love vintage beauty books---those how to glamour guides of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. If you have any fondness for these, check out Bonnie Downing's Peculiar Beauty Blog. This is where I've learned about some real gems, including these I found during the trip:
"That's my name for the genre of literature created when eccentrics, often famous eccentrics, set out to write a helpful how-to on skin care, diet, and makeup tips, and building a wardrobe that works, and end up writing their life story by revealing insecurities and deeply weird habits, confessing various secrets and betrayals, and perhaps letting a giddy need for attention push them to far." Article by Downing Here.
Another great beauty book, a dishy tell-all by make up man to the stars (including Marilyn and Ann-Margaret), George Masters:
And finally, and my favorite, Jaclyn Smith's Beauty book from 1985:
Though my favorite Angel was Farrah, I always did think Jaclyn Smith was the prettiest one, and enjoyed watching her in various Sydney Sheldon TV movies in the 80s--Rage of Angels has to be one of the best titles ever. Her book is not dishy, her habits are distressingly normal, and quite frankly, she comes across as very level headed, sweet, and normal. That's not why I like the book though: I like it for two main reasons.
1. It's a great time capsule of "tasteful" 80s style, especially home decor, as it's mainly shot in Smith's home. lot's of rose patterned wallpaper, hunter green walls, and floral chintz. Jackie was ahead of her time, though; her bathroom features a beautiful antique buffet in lieu of a built in vanity, and it's topped with.....white carrerra marble.
2. The absolute best part of the book, though is it's bewildered tone. Let me explain, during the 80s, influenced by the success of Jane Fonda's workout books, lots and lots of actresses came out with How-to Beauty books and videos (you owe it to yourself to go to youtube and search for Donna Mills's The Eyes Have It and Brenda Dickson's Welcome to My Home). Obviously, as a famous beauty (spokesman for Max Factor) who had great hair (spokesman for a couple of shampoo lines), Ms. Smith was a natural to write a how to guide. The problem? It's obvious the woman was born beautiful and maintained it with no effort. They have to interview various experts to deal with beauty problems because she didn't have any.
Example, in the diet section, she's pictured with a breakfast of pancakes and bacon, explains why a burger with extra tomato and lettuce is a sensible lunch, and has only one unhappy diet story to share---she was so thin as a teenager she had to drink special weight-gain milkshakes.
I'm picturing editing sessions like this:
Editor: okay, let's talk hair. What do you do for bad hair days?
Jaclyn, ripping off motorcycle helmet and tossing long luxurious chestnut locks that fall into softly gleaming perfection: What's a bad hair day?
Editor: Fair enough...we'll just call in an expert to interview about that. Let's move on to weight control.
Jaclyn, daintily nibbling the large slice of mushroom and pepper pizza (actually promoted as a great diet lunch in the book) held in her perfect hands with delicate shell-like nails: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you...I was wondering if this pizza needed extra cheese....when I tried on my Nolan Miller dress earlier, the waist was a little loose.....
All joking aside, (though I'm sure she's had more than a little medical intervention) the woman knows what she's talking about. Remember, the woman in the following picture was born in 1945 (or 47 depending if you believe IMDB or Wikipedia):