Friday, July 29, 2011

Gus Goes Vintage

Audrey Hepburn once said, "Who thinks you're as fantastic as your dog does?" I know there is no one on this earth that could spend every single second with me and never need any space. He wakes up next to me, goes to work with me everyday, takes walks or hikes with me after work,stares at me while I eat dinner, cuddles up next to me as I write or read in the evening, and then eventually falls asleep beside me. For Gus, there is no one better than I, and therefore, I have decided that he probably loves vintage just as much as I.

We often slip into a vintage store or two on our evening walks, and religiously browse the Fairfax Flea Market every Sunday where he gets social time with all the other vintage shopping pups. He eats out of vintage dishes, wears a vintage collar and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt when the temperature drops, and has a dog bed made out of a vintage suitcase which he is supposed to sleep in but refuses. My truly dapper canine falls in a long line of hip dachshunds owned by some of the 20th century's most famous stars, artists, and writers. Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, E.B.White, William Faulkner, Tony Curtis, Elizabeth Taylor, Carole Lombard, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Brigitte Bardot, Joan Crawford, William Powell, James Dean, Faye Wray, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers, Doris Day, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando, Jean Harlow, British model Grace Coddington and JFK all had dachshunds that thought they were just as fantastic as Gus thinks I am. It seems their life had at least some joy.

Vintage 1950's small stuffed Parisian doxie I bought at the Fairfax flea market in West Hollywood. It was a must have.

Vintage wiener dog salt and pepper shakers my friend Berkeley bought for me at the De Anza College flea market in Cupertino, CA.

Gus' collar is made from a 1960's vintage tie (bought at L.A.Dogworks in Hollywood.)

Gus' gray hoodie is made from an old pilled vintage Mickey Mouse sweatshirt.

Gus' bed is made from a 1960's olive green suitcase I bought at a San Francisco flea market for $1.

A pillow where packed clothing would go makes for a cozy dog bed.

The pocket inside the suitcase is the perfect place to store his toys but also keep them accessible for him to get on his own when he wants to play.


Picasso and "Lump"

Joan Crawford with "Bubchen" or "Baby"

Carole Lombard with "Commissioner" and "Fritz"

Marilyn Monroe

E.B.White and "Fred"

Brigitte Bardot

John Wayne and "Charlie"

Grace Coddington

William Powell

Jean Harlow and "Nosey"

Elizabeth Taylor

Marlon Brando and "Maria"

Andy Warhol and "Archie" or "Amos"

Ginger Rogers

John F.Kennedy and "Dunker"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Fate in Gus

I used to think I wasn't a dog person. In fact, I thought I was more of a cat person growing up. My Aunt Sylvia brought me a little gray bundle of fur on Halloween when I was 8. I think it was her way of trying to help me cope with my parent's divorce. I named the cat Pumpkin, and did my best to teach him juggling. I dressed him up in doll clothes, forced him to sit in my stroller, and put a leash around his collar in hopes he would go on walks. Instead, he clawed my Mom's curtains, brought dead birds and mice to our front door, and only stopped napping when cat nip was near.

When Pumpkin ran away at 14 years old never to be seen again (although my Mom swears she saw his ghost while doing a load of laundry), I didn't get another pet until my late twenties when I went through 3 hamsters in a matter of months. They were all named Holly the Hamster (all named after Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany's), and they each died because of my unrealistic expectations of them. Holly the 1st was being played with in the driveway when she suddenly scurried off down a gopher hole (probably right into a gopher's mouth); Holly II fell off my shoulder and onto the concrete as I was walking to the bus stop to pick up kids i was babysitting (suffering major brain damage); Holly III was baked in the sun after sitting too long in traffic in my car. It was clear that I was not meant to be a hamster owner or even a cat owner because I needed a pet that could be my side-kick, and Pumpkin and the Hollys were not equipped to handle this need. Only a dog would enjoy outings, dressing up, learning tricks, taking walks, and playing outside.

During my two years of dog sitting dachshunds named Moses and Maggie, I became enamored with the breed. They were cuddly, loyal, protective, and the perfect size for an apartment. Knowing that I would love to someday get one of my own, I would often think about what I would name mine. Mathilda if it were a girl--after the Roald Dahl character, and Gus if it were a boy--after the grandpa on the 1980's family TV show Our House. On a whim, I decided to get on craigslist and type in "dachshund." One brown 2 year old male dachshund from Pasadena popped up. Clicking on the photo, his name appeared and his name was Gus. My heart stopped. This was my dog. Although it was completely impractical to adopt a dog when I had just moved to L.A. and was a new student at UCLA, I went and picked him up and brought him to his new home. It was Halloween, just like when I got my cat, and yet this time I had the animal I was meant to have all along.

Gus wears a vintage black skinny tie for my 1960's themed birthday party; I'm wearing a 1964 peach gown I bought in Anacortes, WA in an antique store for $12 when I was 15 years old.

Gus dressed up as a banana for his 2nd Halloween with me.

Gus taking a peek at the squeaky toys under the tree.

Gus having a tea party with a little girl he is babysitting.

Gus watching The Ugly Dachshund for the third time in a row.

Disney's 1966 film about a Great Dane who believes he is a dachshund and mayhem ensues.

A summer walk with Gus: I'm wearing a pink and peach 1940's dress I bought at Stella Dallas in Greenwich Village on a NYC shopping trip with my Mom; my bag is a vintage wicker purse I received as a birthday gift from my friend Kirsty 10 years ago.

Attempting an afternoon nap in a teal raw silk 1950's off-the-shoulder vintage dress.

Gus wearing his Breakfast at Tiffany's slumber mask.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sweatin' With the Oldie

There were two reoccurring nightmares I had as a child. One where I would be leaning over a tall cement bridge when suddenly I slip and plummet into the murky green water below infested with alligators. After a long struggle of trying to get away, one of the alligators would finally capture and wolf me down for dinner. Oddly enough, I would continue to dream about those around me dealing with the aftermath of my demise. The other night scare was a sweaty wild-eyed Richard Simmons chasing me from a crowded area (sometimes a carnival and sometimes a mall) all the way to my home in Palo Alto in an attempt to kidnap me. Unlike the alligator, however, I would always succeed in escaping Mr. Simmons by finding an abandoned bicycle and pedaling as far from him as I possibly could.

These frights never left my memory, so when my friend Sarah decided that for her birthday she wanted her friends to join her for a workout at Richard Simmon’s studio Slimmons in Beverly Hills, anxiety took hold. Being trapped in a small room with this crazed fitness tormentor that often caused me to wake up in a sweat did not exactly sound like a birthday party to me, but my inability to say “no” triumphed over my juvenile fears.

Dressed like a Jane Fonda workout video, I stood in the Richard Simmons photo decorated waiting room with an intense need to pee. The ladies room was in the back of the studio, making it so I had to walk in on an inspirational speech he was making to the class before. I tried to be as discreet as possible but my electric blue spandex made that impossible. “YOU!!!” he cried. I froze in absolute horror. Could he still kidnap me at 32? My Nikes seemed to be glued to the waxed hardwood floor. I scanned the room for a bike I could pedal to safety on. There was no bike!

“YOU ARE SO CUTE! YOU LOOK LIKE A FLOWER! NO, no, no, no, no. You don’t belong here. This place is for ugly people.”

It took a second for me to register what he had just said. I smiled, took a deep breath, and picked up my formerly glued sneakers and briskly walked to the bathroom. My mind was at ease. He wasn’t a scary man that was going to get me. He was a short slight man with a thinning afro who thought I looked like a flower. He was a man wearing a cop uniform that he eventually would strip off to reveal a tank top with two stars on his nipples. He was a man that spent the class screeching insults to those that weren’t lifting their legs high enough only to end his faux abuse with a mischievous giggle. He was a man that separately dragged each newbie (including me) into the middle so he could dance with them, and if they were a guy take their shirts off and lick them. He was a man that screamed out wildly inappropriate orders such as, “IF YOU DON’T WORK HARDER THAN I’M GOING TO LOCK YOU UP LIKE ANNE FRANK!!!!!!” He was a high spirited fun-loving man that remembered everyone’s name.

The shocking, campy, and unexpectedly witty in a way that I shouldn’t be laughing but I am sort of way he has of insulting his class, gave me a clearer understanding of why I had been so scared of this outrageous TV personality. By attending his aerobics class as an adult, however, I got to see his flamboyant shrieks and silly humor as his way of making exercise fun. He’s a bomb of energetic glee who makes one forget they’re actually breaking a sweat. By the end of class, we all got a great workout, Sarah was sung “Happy Birthday” and given a figurine necklace of Richard jumping out of a cake, and I received a kiss from the man that once haunted my dreams but that I now actually like.

*1980's Richard Simmons in the red and white striped short shorts and red tank he made famous.

*About to workout with the man himself at his studio Slimmons in Beverly Hills, CA.

*I'm wearing a 1980's dark gray leotard (it was my Mom's); electric blue spandex leggings from American Apparel; Nike sneakers; blue wrist band from American Apparel.

*The birthday girl Sarah on the left, Richard, myself, and Sarah's cousin below.

*Sarah's birthday gift from Richard: a figurine necklace of himself jumping out of a cake.

*Richard decided to be a cop today.

*Getting a big wet one from Richard. When he wants something from you...he'll get it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vintage Tip Tuesday III

Sometimes I get too excited. I find a piece that I so badly want to wear, and washing it would entail going to the bank to get quarters and then spending time down in my apartment building's basement laundry room guarding my load to deter the Hollywood thieves lurking about. There are days that I'm either lacking the time or the patience to put into washing a great piece I found at a local vintage or thrift shop, so I just throw it on and call it good. The problem? It's not wise to wear a used unwashed item. Why? You could end up with a terrible rash like myself. This last week I donned a pretty scarf, and ended up with red welts decorating my neck. They're itchy and must I say, quite unattractive. If only I had taken the time to put that scarf into the wash on the gentle cycle or even soaked it in the sink using hot water and my own detergent, I wouldn't be coating my head base with Cortizone cream to stop the itching. Tip of the day? Wash all vintage items you buy before wearing them!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Inspirational Icon Monday: Michelle Phillips

My discovery of The Mamas and the Papas came after I added Wilson Phillips to my small pink cassette case (decorated with phrase stickers that said “Awesome” and “Hot Stuff.”) My Mom informed me that the brunettes were the children of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, and the blonde, whom I gravitated toward was Chynna Phillips, the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas. I knew The Beach Boys well, but thought I had never heard of The Mamas and the Papas until I realized their song California Dreamin’ had often come into contact with my ears. Unlike the personal lives of the group’s members, their songs had a catchy ease to them. Part folk, part pop. Their musical style also infiltrated into the fashion of lead female vocalist, Michelle Phillips. She leaned toward the mod trend of the sixties and yet held onto a touch of hippie/folk effortlessness. Form fitting turtle necks with beaded necklaces; white skinny cigarette pants with beaten-up cowboy boots; floor length skirts with blazers; purple pedal pushers with a knit shawl; glittery formal tops with flowers in her hair. She really was the epitome of the relaxed west coast California dream.