August 4, 2015

LOUIS ARMSTRONG 007

Louis Armstrong was born on this day in 1901. A great innovator, he pioneered new structures in Jazz and the instrumental solo, and was a major catalyst in the evolution of 20th Century music. Dubbed Ambassador Satch, his quest to share music and call attention to social injustices (illustrated by signature tune Black and Blue and his publicized outcry over the Little Rock segregation), Armstrong took Jazz to every corner of the earth. He recorded and toured heavily throughout his sixty-year career and even pushed The Beatles out of the no.1 spot in 1964 with Hello Dolly (the tune stayed in the hot 100 for 22 weeks!). Shortly before his death, he contributed a poignant vocal performance to James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). Written by John Barry and Hal David, the tune served as an emotional anchor for Bond's budding love affair in the movie. According to a 2005 BBC News Online report, We Have All the Time in the World came in third as the most popular song to play at weddings. Thankfully in this case, most couples probably don't consider the tragic turn of events for poor 007 after his wedding. Louis Armstrong died on July 6, 1971, one month before his 70th birthday. Learn more at: Louis Armstrong House Museum, PBS, Armstrong Educational Foundation, Armstrong documentary by Gary Giddins Part One. Below: Image of Armstrong with John Barry and Hal David from the Armstrong House Museum, plus a video tribute to their recording from On Her Majesty's Secret ServiceEnjoy!



Selected Spy Vibe posts: Doctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

August 3, 2015

SPECTRE OHMSS CONNECTION

A new trailer for the upcoming James Bond film, SPECTRE, features an old favorite! I must say that I was very optimistic about the new movie when I saw the first trailer, which seemed to focus on character and atmosphere. The return of the Skyfall team seemed to promise another deeper, more literary Bond. I'm slightly less optimistic now that I've finally caught up and seen the new trailer (below), which seems to have pushed our attention into the action-corner of the 007 universe. Hopefully Mendes will remember his priority from the last project to not let action take over for its own sake and move the audience away from the emotional journey of the characters. “If you’re not engaged with the characters, the action is meaningless, however good it is,” Mendes said in his commentary. “To me, you have to put the characters in a credible and believable situation – you have to make it almost impossible for them to survive – and then show how they survive. That’s the challenge.” Tone-wise, I thought Skyfall was a great return to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the 1969 classic that was voted best Bond film of all time. I easily put OHMSS and Skyfall at the top of my list. Why? Because both stories do a great job eliciting empathy. We care about Bond. And in terms of literary archetype, both films do a better job tracking both internal and external journeys. So, what interested me about this new SPECTRE trailer? Listen at 1:44 and you'll hear John Barry's great theme from OHMSS -my favorite Bond music. Barry's work seemed to capture that film's themes of courage, vulnerability, longing, and loss. And since Skyfall included a musical nod to the Goldfinger score, perhaps we are seeing a new trend to create more continuity within the franchise. I've been wondering if the new film will echo any narrative elements from OHMSS, or perhaps set them up for the following movie, but I've purposely stayed away from spoilers and speculation. We'll just have to see in November. And I can't wait! Bonus: listen to the trailer at :18 and you'll also catch the opening strains of Thunderball. See my review of Skyfall here. Ian Fleming's original Spectre trilogy will be re-released on October 1st. Enjoy!


Selected Spy Vibe posts: Doctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

BEATLES 1965 SPECIAL

One of the great time capsules from 1965 is The Music of Lennon and McCartney TV special. With its use of elements like modern geometric staging, Mod stripes and suits, mini dresses, and white space boots, the production was firmly tapped into the aesthetics of that particular year. And so many compositions by John and Paul had been covered around the world at that point, the scope of their success became the raison d'être for the program. Many performers, including The Beatles, mimed to various versions of Fab tunes and wandered the industrial corporate set. Joining the musicians on-stage were go-go dancers and fashionable models posing like mannequins. Keep your eye out for the Scuba outfit! Granada television broadcast the special on December 16 1965, and the program went out around the rest of the UK the following day. Guests included Cilla Black (who just passed away), Peter and Gordon, Lulu, Henry Mancini, Marianne Faithfull, Dick Rivers, Peter Sellers, George Martin Orchestra, and many others. A highlight for me was the Japanese cover of Can't Buy Me Love (available on the From Liverpool to Tokyo compilation). Parts one and two of the program below are great reminders of Swinging London during the Spy Boom. By the way, the Go-Go meter really kicks into gear at the start of part two! You can also find Cilla's performance in part three on Youtube, though it's often muted for rights reasons. Throw a 1965 party with these cool releases: Thunderball, The Ipcress File, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Doctor Who and the Daleks, Help!, The Knack... and How to Get It, She, Ten Little Indians, I Spy, Get Smart, The Wild Wild West, Thunderbirds, The 10th Victim, Honey West, Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, and Emma Peel's debut on The Avengers. Not a bad year! Happy Monday, Spy Vibers!


Selected Spy Vibe posts: Doctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 30, 2015

DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE

As Spy Vibe tends to spotlight imagination, technology, and design from the Cold War, it is not unusual to see characters from the Sci-Fi realm lurking here in the shadows. And from his dealings with diabolical megalomaniacs (Enemy of the World) and his work with UNIT and use of Bond-like gadgets in the early 1970s, Doctor Who is a reader favorite! I recently had a chance to photograph the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, which featured 50 years of costumes, props, and sets. Putting aside my inner-child for the moment (who was absolutely thrilled, by the way!), I can report that the series is indeed bigger on the inside. My visit to the Experience began with a fun interactive adventure led by an actress, who took the group through various sets, where The Doctor communicated via video link and his gallery of rogues circled in for the kill. Fans of the contemporary series got to see familiar foes, such as Daleks and Weeping Angels. I wasn't expecting an invitation to play-act, but it was quite fun running through the scenario and the sets were fantastic. Once the tour portion of the visit was over, I was then free to wander through five decades of screen artifacts and treasures. Most of the displays focused on costumes, props, and set interiors, but they were smart to also include a large area devoted to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop wizards who conjured up all those great atmospheric sounds and musical scores. Encapsulating Cold War elements from the show's design history, the exhibit included a number of early-style Tardis interiors, with their focus on minimal futurism and geometric shapes. The Cybermen, one of my favorite Who villains, were well represented in a timeline of design evolution. Although the Cybermen have become more beefy and metallic in recent years, their basic form still harkens back to those wonderful, silver Gemini space suits of the early 1960s. The Doctor Who Experience presented a massive archive of costumes, and a great highlight was photographing the collection of outfits worn by each of the doctors. Seeing them displayed in a line, one couldn't help but pick up on the Edwardian tradition of the dandy gentleman as a counterbalance to the show's themes of adventure and cutting-edge technology. Doctor Who was not alone in this 1960s trend, as we saw a rash of dandy heroes in The Avengers, Adam Adamant Lives, and in films like The Assassination Bureau. As a character designed initially to entertain and educate children about history, his costumes have served to root us in a gentler image from our own past, where eccentric Willy Wonka-like uncles feed us jelly babies and foil fiendish plots devised by dastardly evil-doers. As a professional photographer, I always try to convey mood and narrative in my images (in this case, taken with iPhone 6 with only minor editing). Below: details of most of the Doctor costumes, as well as Tardis interiors, an original set model, plus Cybermen and assorted creatures. One of my faves are the Ice Warriors (brought back recently in "Cold War" 2013). The yellow Edwardian car was the gadget-filled motor featured mainly in the third Doctor's era portrayed by John Pertwee. Bessie, as it was called, included an anti-theft force field, remote control, and hyperdrive with inertia absorption. The Doctor Who Experience was a great thrill and I encourage readers to make the pilgrimage. I liked it so much, in fact, that I can imagine relocating and devoting my talents to furthering the cause. Wales is lovely. I invite serious job offers! My photo series concludes with an image of the great Tom Baker (my childhood Doctor) captured serendipitously in the train back to London, and a self-portrait of your humble Spy Vibe host with Cybermen (auditioning for The Master?). Your guide to the original Doctors costumes: William Hartnell (1963-1966), Patrick Troughton (1966-1969), John Pertwee (1970-1974), Tom Baker (1974-1981), Peter Davison (1981-1984), Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989), Paul McGann (1996), Christopher Eccelston (2005), David Tennant (2005-2010), Matt Smith (2010-2013). The new season of Doctor Who begins on September 19th (look out for a 3D preview screening offered by Fathom Events). Inquiries about these Photograph prints can be made to spyvibe[at]gmail.com. More info about Photographer/Writer Jason Whiton here. Enjoy!


Selected Spy Vibe posts: Farewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 29, 2015

FAREWELL STEED

Farewell Steed: a personal reflection on Patrick Macnee. I was fortunate to spend time this summer touring many film locations from The Avengers with fellow fans and writers. I can't begin to describe how nurturing and transformative the experience was, except to say I finally felt as though I had found my tribe. Many of the attendees have written extensively about classic spy shows, Gerry Anderson, and Doctor Who, and it seemed every moment was filled with joyful discussions about our various new discoveries and projects. On the day after my extended tour ended, and a day after I shot this photograph below (curtesy of Alan and Alys Hayes), I received the sad news Patrick Macnee had passed away. I was already on to a new chapter of the trip to see friends in Cambridge. I woke early and walked along the water alone and tried to process the emotions. It had only been a week since I re-sent a long interview to Patrick Macnee and communicated with him about doing a foreword to my upcoming book about the thriller genre and 1960s Spy Boom. Now that he was gone, I was filled with a sense of loss for my earliest childhood hero. It was Macnee's John Steed who first introduced me to the world of spies and who led many of us, by his special gift of charm and sly humor, through years of well-dressed adventure. James Bond expert Ajay Chowdhury asked me recently over fish and chips (next door to Eon!) why I had such an affinity for British characters over ones from the US. I tried to describe elements that were more common in the UK, such as charm, flair and eccentric wit, but I failed to mention one of the main ingredients that Macnee and his countrymen (and women!) often brought to their work. Macnee had a special twinkle in his eye that expressed flair and humor, to be sure. But study any scene with John Steed and you will notice a look that revealed a man enjoying the moment and his fellow actors with deep affection, as well. You'll see that look of affection all through The Avengers, Adam Adamant Lives, The Persuaders, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Doctor Who, etc. Watching my friends' faces light up in conversation during the trip, I found their own spirit of affection, like Macnee's, inspiring and contagious. Keeping this quality in mind, it's a nice reminder that we are here to share things that bring us joy and community. Patrick Macnee helped to set me on a course in life that eventually led me here to Spy Vibe and to meet an extended family in England and Wales, so I'm left with a feeling of gratitude for his great gift. Walking along the river, I stopped to express my grief and support to Patrick's son. I also felt regretful that I hadn't reached out sooner. His son wrote back right away to let me know that his mom and dad used to visit on Sundays while he was at Bedford in the early-mid 1960s. As a family, they would go on drives in the country and enjoy having tea together in Cambridge. It was such a generous story to share with me at that moment, about a day after his dad had passed away. It made me realize we were all processing this loss together as a community. And even though I found myself in a new city, I still hadn't strayed from Patrick's path. And by sharing Macnee's stories, we were keeping the home fires burning for a special man. Below: original Avengers Bentley and John Steed figure by Corgi (photo: Jason Whiton). 


Selected Spy Vibe posts: Pussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.
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