January 12, 2014


Spy Vibe turned five yesterday! I'd like to say I was toasting champaign with Mrs. Peel and John Steed, but I was actually called away on a special mission for a much older hero. Spy Vibe began five years ago as a website. Saddened by the death of Patrick McGoohan (Danger Man/The Prisoner), I set out to celebrate the world of 1960s spy-style and the many artists who inspire me from the Cold War era. During these years, Spy Vibe relocated to its present blog location, where I've tried to share content as often as possible. My work as an art teacher and independent writer/artist demands most of my time, but I love the community we have all built together here around common interests. My favorite experiences so far on the blog have been those opportunities to interview artists and writers working in the field of mystery/adventures. We've talked with James Bond author Raymond Benson, Cinema Retro chief Lee Pfeiffer, Batman designer Shane Glines, designer Kevin Dart, 007 audiobook actor Simon Vance, comic creator Richard Sala, Ian Fleming bibliographer Jon Gilbert, spy author Jeremy Duns, and many others. We've shared rare Bond publications and uncovered the intriguing life of vintage book designs. Spy Vibers who collect vintage memorabilia, books, and props have contributed to our series, For Your Shelf Only. During these years, I have enjoyed exploring new topics and projects inspired by the blog, including my upcoming short novel about a Japanese fashion model and spy in 1965 named Miki Zero. Spy Vibe is nearing one million visits- thank you to all Spy Vibers for going on this adventure together. I look forward to hearing more about your collections and favorite designers and secret agents. Here's to our operations, old and new! I always like to give away gifts on our birthday- so stay tuned for details! Yesterday's mission debrief below. 

About 1,500 people and I celebrated the centennial of Charlie Chaplin's first day on set as "the tramp" with a huge event at the Castro Theater. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival screened The Kid, Chaplin's moving comedy/drama co-starring little Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester/Addams Family). As arranged by contract with the Chaplin family, the film was screened with his own score and performed by the SF Chamber Orchestra with Timothy Brock. We were also treated to the first tramp-short, Kid Auto Races, which was filmed on January 11th, 2014. Chaplin historian Jeffrey Vance introduced the evening with hilarious insights, and put to rest a common myth that Charlie once secretly entered a look-alike contest- and lost. We held a competition yesterday with Chaplins of all ages and I lost my heart to a tramp named Susan. Although I had seen both movies before, the large-screen experience was like seeing them for the first time. So much of the human quality and emotional impact of a film is translated through the cinematography- and in this case, size really does matter. The print was lush and gorgeous, and Brock led the orchestra in a seamless performance with the images. I'm hoping we'll see The Kid appear on Criterion's list of upcoming Blu-ray editions. Chaplin fled the US during the McCarthy era and moved to Switzerland. He sold off his shares of United Artists (a company he co-founded), and spent the last 20 years of his life making new pictures, organizing his legacy for future distribution, and raising his large family with Oona O'Neill (daughter of Eugene O'Neill).  He released a romantic comedy in the 1960s called A Countess From Hong Kong (1967/Sophia Loren, Marlon Brando, Tippi Hedren). It was his first technicolor widescreen movie and sadly a box-office disappointment. Chaplin visited the US in 1972 for an honorary Oscar, where he was moved to tears by a twelve-minute standing ovation. Below is a limited-edition Castro event poster designed by artist Wayne Shellabarger. If you want to see silent movies with a spy-vibe, check out Fantomas, Judex, and Les Vampires by Louis Feuillade and the excellent Spies by Fritz Lang. 

Recent Spy Vibe posts: Batman 66 StoriesDavid Bowie at 67Kevin Dart talks Ringo & Powerpuff GirlsSherlock ExhibitFu Manchu history panelAndy Warhol box set, Six-Million Dollar ManStriped Light NudeBuckminster FullerDylan at NewportJane and SergeThe Goldfinger VariationsMod Tales InterviewPete Seeger nominated for Grammy,Kraftwerk returns to US, Beatles BBC on Fresh Air, Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist Editions, David Tennant's Ian Fleming audio books, Atomic ArtModern Architecture LPJulius ShulmanShane Glines Batman, The Prisoner and Captain ScarletDiego Fortunato and Verner Panton, Saturday Morning CartoonsAssassination Bureau on DVD, new Young Bond series, new Hercule Poirot novel, Early Beatles image archive, Julie NewmarErno GoldfingerHitchcock tribute.

Recent Ian Fleming posts on Spy Vibe: Ian Fleming LettersErno Goldfinger, Ian Fleming Music Series links: Noel CowardWhispering Jack SmithHawaiian GuitarJoe Fingers Carr, new Ian Fleming CatalogJon Gilbert interview, Double 007 Designs, Bond audio book reissues, discovery of one of Ian Fleming's WWII Commandos, James Bond book covers, Ian Fleming's Playboy interview for Kindle, Spy Vibe's discovery of a rare Ian Fleming serialization, rare View to a Kill, Fleming's Royal gold typewriter, Ian Fleming's memorial address, Spy Vibe's Ian Fleming image archive

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