Friday, December 27, 2013

Nope.

Jonathan Franzen has nothing to say, yet needs to produce, and therefore has to grasp about in the shallows for tools more familiar to middle school brats than literary fancymen in order to churn out a trite revision of an artist when he should, instead, turn his lazy two-bit microscope upon his own tired-ass cultural hangups.

Or at least that's what I think.

Unfortunately, for I was having such an exasperation-free day, I came across his base attempt to summarize Edith Wharton for us in a 2012 issue of the New Yorker.  This is truly simple stuff.

He says that her privilege as a member of an aristocratic and well-monied family makes her difficult to like, and puts her at a "moral disadvantage".  A MORAL disadvantage?  This woman was born during the Civil War into a puritanical society in which women were treated as chattel, but Franzen feels oppressed by all the stuff that she could buy to decorate her house with.

Next, he throws her a bone, and says that the moral repugnance of her income is lessened by the fact that she was plain of appearance.  That's right, she's not hot.  He doesn't want to fuck the dour-faced novelist, standing in her turn of the century cabinet cards, with her corset and lapdogs.  The unspeakable horror of this non-babe status humanizes her, it ratchets her down slightly from "rich bitch" to "ugly bitch," making her entirely more acceptable and less threatening to him.  Would you ever publish something that revealed your stunted, insecure little parts like that?  This article has nothing to do with Edith Wharton.  It's about Franzen and his lack of emotional sophistication as a writer and a thinker.

JF, you need to sit down.  Regardless of one's opinions on Wharton, who by modern perceptions can be anything from a stuffed shirt to a pioneering hero, this article is pathetic.  It's lazy, written by a resentful Beavis incapable of formulating hypotheses worth sharing.

Anyway, she's taken to task far more often than is sensible or fair when you compare the tidal waves of forgiveness lavished on many male writers of comparable fame who do come with biographies that strongly temper their credibility.  Perhaps people are made insecure that she still seems to be everyone's boss.

Because who in the bloody goddamned fucking hell would read this:

“The young man was sincerely but placidly in love. He delighted in the radiant good looks of his betrothed, in her health, her horsemanship, her grace and quickness at games, and the shy interest in books and ideas that she was beginning to develop under his guidance. She was straightforward, loyal, and brave; she had a sense of humour (chiefly proved by her laughing at his jokes); and he suspected, in the depths of her innocently-gazing soul, a glow of feeling that it would be a joy to waken. But when he had gone the brief round of her he returned discouraged by the thought that all this frankness and innocence were only an artificial product. Untrained human nature was not frank and innocent; it was full of the twists and defences of an instinctive guile. And he felt himself oppressed by this creation of factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestresses, because it was supposed to be what he wanted, what he had a right to, in order that he might exercise his lordly pleasure in smashing it like an image made of snow.”

and respond with "Yeah, but have you seen her pixxx?"

Edit: I decided to look into the fallout of Franzen's odious bullshit and found some far better responses to him than I am capable of at this time.

Victoria Patterson dispenses with him in a way that is diplomatic, authoritative, and interesting.  To be able to eviscerate someone in a kind way, a humane killing, must be an incredibly valuable skill to have.  I wouldn't know.  LA Review of Books "Not Pretty: On Edith Wharton and Jonathan Franzen"

Marina Budhos wonders why Franzen was unable to see the similarities between himself and Wharton.  Probably because one must be in heavy denial of one's own flaws in order to achieve such a level of schmuckery.

Not Sexy Enough
Every time I hear Marion Harris' version of Tea For Two (more often than you'd think; it's 1934 over on 8tracks), I think of Big Edie Beale singing along to an old recording in her squalid bedroom.  She's obviously transported at one point and really gets into it, reliving her prior glories.



This scene was one of the most memorable for me.  Big Edie shaking her arms at her daughter saying, "Dance to that waltz! How can you resist that?"

I love music of the 20s and 30s, but some songs are just way too adorable and saccharine or goofy for me to handle, and Tea For Two was one of them.  Rarely do I want to hear a song that you can tap dance to.  Still, Grey Gardens changed my mind and I quite like it now.  I think Doris Day is the reason why I couldn't deal with the song, originally.  Although I think she's an under-appreciated actress, she was often styled in a way that created an almost toxic combination of cuteness and squareness.

The real DD seems to be a bit of a badass.  Yes, be.  She still lives.


DD 1950


Marion Harris 1924

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Researches

I miss this.  I tend to pick topics that are hard and ultimately probably unrewarding, but are nevertheless things that I MUST KNOW.

Current topic: What (if anything) stood on the land that now hosts my office building?  We are in a residential area that has a really curious mix of housing, age-wise.  We are just a couple of miles outside of the original Phoenix city limits, so it's reasonably likely that there was something there in the 19th century or around the turn of the century.  It could have been orchards, farmland, perhaps a mix of the three with a dwelling, etc.  We are close the the state hospital (formerly: The Insane Asylum of Arizona), too, which was located on a sprawling acreage that included orchards, grain crops and vineyards, but I have no real concept of how large 160 acres is, so I can't tell if we are close enough to have been part of that, or if the hospital ever even got rid of any of that land.  I haven't found a map of the hospital from that time.  Sidebar, the hospital also has its own cemetery with graves dating back to 1888.  Want to see!  It seems pretty securified there, though, and like many places, probably won't let me in.

Obviously, the reason I want to know is because of THE GHOST.  I mean, the alleged ghost.  I haven't seen shit and that is fine.  But continued conversations with someone who claims to have seen it indicate that it wears a giant, oddly-shaped hat the likes of which your great-great grandmother was probably into.

There are precious few early Phoenix maps that are of any use for this.  The Assessor's office doesn't seem to have any historic property info.  Do parcel numbers change, ever?  How can we keep track if they change them?  I can't seem to find anything about the previous zoning or address situation of any given parcel.  The current residential developments around us cannot be original - they're inexpensive 40s and 50s builds, some of which appear to have been built to house airport personnel.  And one street over, we have much earlier homes.

Because we are so close to the original city center, and not far off the path people used to get to Tempe, and because we are right smack in between the downtown area and the hospital (which was pretty impressive at the time and therefore a bit of a landmark), it seems likely to me that there could have been a few scattered homes in the vicinity of our office building.  Perhaps more than a few.  I'll find out eventually.

1890s hospital administration enjoying their "lake" hole

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Westward

I just love that Robrt Pela at the New Times.  He is an outspoken and prolific preservationist who has gotten inside many of Phoenix's shuttered historic buildings downtown.  He expresses adequately the outrage that I feel about beautiful things being torn down and replaced by repugnant mundanity.

Last weekend, my dad, brother and I were thrown out of the Westward Ho after trying to sneak in to explore.  I thought we had made it after one of the residents negotiated the front buzzer for us, but a security guard quickly intervened.  He wouldn't even let us check out the lobby in which we were standing, and no amount of polite explanation (my dad) or angry-child outbursts (me) would change his mind.  He wouldn't even let me take photos.  Outrageous.

Robrt Pela made it in as described in this descriptive but photo-short article.  

This site has photos that seem recent.

This crappy site has some interesting pictures of the "tunnels" and a short video including some interior shots.

I'm just excited that so much of it has been preserved.  Unfortunately, there is no touring of the building due to "liability," which - fine.  But whose stupid idea was it to turn that building into a home for the old and disabled, thus closing it to the outside world forever?  Was there not a more appropriate, public use for such a building?

I'm not really aware of interesting WH trivia, and I've rarely heard it discussed among the old, native or history crowds.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

"A long, elaborately-choreographed but awkwardly-executed dance"

Here is an article in which Jonathan Franzen and Clay Shirky debate whether technology is good, toxic or both.

The most interesting thing to me about internet culture is how it creates or facilitates relationships and interactions that would never occur otherwise.  This is particularly significant in the case of people who are reserved or not prone to making lots of new friends in their "irl" lives.  Suddenly, no one is totally inaccessible.  Potential friends and creeps alike have multiple avenues by which to pursue your attention.  In the past, when meeting interesting strangers or friends of friends, you generally had to rely on happenstance or time in order to get to know them.  You couldn't just go home and learn about them in anonymous privacy.  You couldn't just send a message that would instantly appear before their face, forcing the situation, the immediate extraction of a response.

Overall, I think it's a good thing that interactions are so easily had.  It makes it easy and less frightening to connect with someone you would never have a chance to know.  It helps the socially inept, the lazy, the reclusive, the avoidant and the noncommittal to carry on some semblance of a social life.  It helps to overcome otherwise deterring circumstances.

Example: I'm friends with someone my ex briefly dated.  I didn't know they were dating and she didn't know he was my ex.  It was a situation that could have been weird, but wasn't.  We chatted in person and later made internet friends, and I put her in contact with my out-of-town best friend because both women were about to move to the same city.  Weeks later I received a Snapchat of my old BFF and my new buddy drinking together in a bar in New York.  Technology!  The future!  Improbable connections made from random situations occurring thousands of miles apart.  In a historical context, I don't think it would have been possible for us to connect the way we did, with social mores generally dictating that we should be awkward around each other due to the nature of our mutual connection.  Or maybe she and I are just grown ass men who don't care about trifling shit.  Either way, it's a weird example, but they're all weird examples.

Still, in making private stranger-interactions so easy, the internet in turn makes them less meaningful, because there is almost no risk involved.  Interactions can almost seem random, motivated by boredom or curiosity rather than a genuine interest or purpose.  It's easy to stay in some vague contact with someone you don't care about, someone who otherwise would have fallen from your life like a dead leaf if you had to maintain that connection in person.  In the end, many of these relationships strike me as a false pantomime of human interaction.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Office Ghost

I recently learned that several people have seen an apparition in the building where I work.  Where does this apparition like to hang out?  Outside my office door.

Although I am generally skeptical of what most people believe about the paranormal, I still acknowledge that I have heard convincing stories from trusted sources, and have experienced some mid-level weird shit myself.  As a child, I was obsessed with ghost stories and had stacks of books of them.  This slowed into adulthood, but I have spent many an hour trawling Fortean Times' "It Happened to Me!" board, another source of high quality weird shit.  As such, I pay more attention than most when I hear about real, live stories of house hauntings.

Immediately upon receiving this rumor, I texted our admin and treated him to a Macaulay Culkin/John Candy in Uncle Buck style rapid fire questioning session.

B: I hear you saw a ghost and didn't tell me about it.
K: I've seen her three times.
B: TELL ME.
K: She's not very scary, she just stands there and looks at me.
B: When.
K: Late at night.
B: What is she wearing.
K: A white dress and large white hat.
B: Old fashioned?
K: IDFK!
B: Where did you see her?
K: In the back hallway...In the corner.
B: Which corner.
K: West.
B: AT MY DOOR.
K: Bingo.


Any time I try to re-decide if I believe that things like ghosts exist, I remember our experiences in my childhood home.  While I have no expectation of understanding that arm of the paranormal, I think it's there.  I wrote a creepy overview of my experiences in the house a few years ago.

Earlier today, I came across an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem that I liked a couple of years ago and marked to remember.  A oddly-timed reminder.


The Little Ghost
I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high - higher than most
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Til after she was gone-
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown's white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do - and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favorite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled
There was no hint of sadness in her face.


She held her gown on either side
To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
And is of ivy bare
She paused - then opened and passed through
A gate that was once there.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1917



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is it always like this?



Music to have a tantrum to.
Just kidding.  This music is awesome.

There's a very young Nick Cave, then some more Australians, Cocteau Twins singing in their made up baby language, classic Cure, my favorite Dead Can Dance song, extremely depressing NIN, amazing mid-90s Siouxsie, an excerpt from the dreariest Cure album ever, and we prefer to forget the last news stories about Peter Murphy as we listen to songs from Love Hysteria. THE END.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Supernatural vigilantism



I hexed someone when I was 13.  This style of revenge may or may not have been influenced by the movie The Craft.

My mother's boyfriend was the sort of timeless asshole that no one wants for a step-father.  Self-importance, manipulation, toxic emotional issues and an unchecked temper were among his lesser qualities.  I had hated him instantly, and he knew it.  Our relationship was a power struggle; I was the mutinous pre-teen, he was the selfish adult who resented the presence of a prior child.  We fought constantly.

Problems had been escalating between he and my mother.  Although he had been sober when she met him, he had returned to bouts of problem drinking, which exacerbated his temperamental moods and combative behavior.  It was my best friend who suggested I find an alternative means to destroy him.

I've been interested in occult matters for as long as I've been able to read, but had never really considered witchcraft to be a viable hobby.  I had by this time rejected organized religion, but was otherwise fairly superstitious and possibly hoping that there might be some other natural force to take the place of religion.  At the same time, I was skeptical enough to be unafraid.  I planned the hex.

I bought a tiny glass bottle with a cork stopper and hid it in my room for a few weeks. The next time he made me angry, I went to his bathroom and removed loose hairs from his brush.  I needed to burn them, but wasn't sure how, so I grabbed some nail polish remover and a spoon.  I put the hairs in the spoon with a little pool of the remover and set it on fire while I watched after school TV in our den.  I blew the flame out before the noxious fluid could evaporate, poured it into my bottle, and corked it.

After that, I took the bottle outside and dashed it hard against a concrete paver in our yard while reasoning diplomatically that he had brought this on himself.  The bottle shattered into thick wet shards, which I kicked into the lantana.

I solemnly confided the story to my best friend the next day at school.  She was impressed; normally her role was to be the rebel and I was the square, and she hadn't believed that I would do it.  We both felt a little apprehensive of what was to come.  When a week passed without incident, I began to suspect the curse to be a dud.  Not enough hair, maybe.  Or maybe I should have said a little incantation.  Or done it at midnight, or on a full moon.  Something.  With no apparent curse activity, I soon forgot about the entire affair.

A year or two later, I started to more actively read about the history of witchcraft (depressing) and the contemporary state of it (embarrassing).  I read about various rituals for various effects, and remembered my little curse.  I was thinking about how it hadn't worked when I remembered the timeline afterwards.

Shortly after that day, probably 1-2 months later, my mother's boyfriend fell and fractured his leg.  This was his "good" leg as he had lost the other one below the knee in a motorcycle accident years before.  The temporary disablement had badly increased his drinking and shitty temper, which erupted in a terrible fight with my mother in which she finally ended the relationship.  Breaking his last good leg and getting dumped and evicted did seem like a crop of unusually bad luck...

Naturally I refuse to allow one way or the other that my two-bit little kid hex was the catalyst to his misfortune and ultimate removal from my life, but the events certainly were timely, and I enjoy the story.  They say that people committing malicious magical deeds are subject to three times the damage that the hex inflicts, a sort of three-eyes-for-an-eye spiritual punishment for bad behavior.  I have no way of knowing if I received this rebuke from the universe for my hex, because I entered high school immediately thereafter, and untangling the regular troubles of that age from those inflicted by supernatural policy would be impossible.  I never tried any such thing again.

But just in case, don't make me mad.


TL;DR: Cursing might be real, I was a vengeful child.


Friday, October 18, 2013

I've been tearing through a collection of stories by Dorothy Parker.  What a tricky trickster, hiding her caustic and wounding messages behind a screen of neutrality and intentionally sparse writing.  It must be highly disorienting for people who take everything (or anything) at face value.  We wouldn't know.

Someone I used to know referred to me for years as Little Dorothy Parker.  I was mildly offended at the time - "You make a couple of sarcastic remarks and suddenly you're the queen of the miserable blades?" but I got over it.  I don't think he had ever read anything I wrote, so perhaps he was just trying to let me know that he knew about a writer, namedropping the dead.

I'm always surprised (sometimes offended) by the way people perceive me, either because I do find it to be wildly inaccurate, or so loaded up with their own projections as to be useless or irrelevant to comment on.  Luckily, I no longer care how I am treated in the minds of people who aren't part of my ever tightening sphere.  I always said I didn't care before, but now it's real.  The magic of aging!  These days, the only people who are still able to set me into fits and reactionary tantrums are, of course, my parents.  They have lived to thrice regret every sideways comment they have made about religion or politics in my presence.  As they should.  #adolescent

In Parker's stories, everyone is deluded, a bore, smugly bourgeois, self-obsessed or all of the above.  She lets her characters hang themselves with no encouragement or comment.  That's a skill I'd like to master: silently and invisibly allowing people to show their flaws or ill intent without having to offer my commentations.  But I have so many of them!

In one of Truman Capote's later stories, the title of which I've forgotten but it's from the unfinished "Answered Prayers," he recreates, falsifies or recounts a night in which a drunk Dorothy Parker and Tallulah Bankhead show up to a dinner party where they meet an also-wasted Montgomery Clift. At this time, he is young, beautiful, on the cusp of his career and gay as a parade, which doesn't stop the crones from delightedly and lasciviously batting him around.  It stuck with me, although any story about him makes me sad.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sometimes, those alarmist articles re: "What's wrong with Generation __!" strike a chord of fear inside me if I recognize more than two quirks of my own in those lazy numbered lists.  I begin to think that my behaviors are out of my control, are part of some sort of fated wave of bad luck and bad responses.

That, of course, sounds a hell of a lot more like astrology than psychology, and even though my pinterest has 47 instances of 17th century etchings of star paths, I hope it's clear on what side I fall.

The "quirk" that frightens me most about the pop culture generation I belong to is the Peter Pan thing.  I hate the idea of being emotionally frozen between adolescence and adulthood.  I accept that people like myself will APPEAR to be grown children to older generations, but that's just because I don't have kids and use most of my disposable income buying rocks* on the internet.

But I think that the appearance of one's life - however ridiculous - is fine as long as they continue to mentally evolve.  Rejecting the traditional life milestones does make it hard to mark movement along the path, though.  The easiest way for me to measure whether or not I am a sophisticated-ass grown up is imagining how I would respond today if met with the various interpersonal offenses I experienced in my twenties.  Infractions, negative encounters with friends and lovers, the usual stuff.  Without even having to think about specifics, I know that none of the various instances would either have happened or have been stood if they were to occur now.  Confusing way to describe what I am saying, but I think racking up emotional intelligence points is going to be the only criteria that I care about re: Am I successful?  What is my life about!  Do I exist?  That and having enough $$$ to continue shopping at Mainely Agates: Agates from Maine.

---
*not a drug reference.  just regular silicate mineral stuff.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When your niceguy facade finally melts away at work,


Sunday, September 29, 2013




Weirdest weekend.

My mom asked me to attend a funeral with her.  He was a high school friend of hers and someone I had never met.  Normally I wouldn't have gone, but knowing that she knew that and asked me anyway, I figured it was important to her.  Observing the funeral of someone you never knew is strange, awkward.  I felt like a spectator.  Still, it was somehow moving in a way I didn't expect, and I felt that I sort of knew some of the people there.  Not that I thought that I had met them, but in that their lives were parallel to mine in some way.  This guy grew up where my mother did, his children are my age, and his story was both familiar and fascinating.  I felt affected by it in a way that I couldn't explain, and was moody and contemplative for the rest of the day.

Or more than usual.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shearer



Norma Shearer's a pretty good writer.  She describes being rejected by silent era director D.W. Griffith at the beginning of her career:

"The Master looked down at me, studied my upturned face in the glare of the arc, and shook his eagle head. Eyes no good, he said. A cast in one and far too blue; blue eyes always looked blank in close-up. You'll never make it, he declared, and turned solemnly away."

She was rejected on appearance alone so many times that it is amazing to me that she continued on her dogged path.  Her primary "flaws" were being stouter than the rest as well as having one eye that wouldn't quite stare in the same direction as the other.  She does look somewhat cross-eyed in some scenes, but it comes across as either endearing or exotic.  Her strange eyes make her seem almost cat-like in early films, and when she tilts her head down and scowls determinedly, she's almost frightening in a witchy way.  Earlier in life, she had learned daily eye exercises that allowed her to exert more control over the errant one, although only for periods of time, not permanently.

She was rejected for her eyes and figure instantly and vehemently for five years, only gaining a foothold by killing a couple of minor roles and striking up a cautious camaraderie with ferocious genius Irving Thalberg, a very in-charge producer in Hollywood at the time.  She later married him, etc.

Although she played "bad girl" roles in a very authentic, disarming and terribly modern way (The Divorcee and A Free Soul, already discussed on this blog), my favorite role of hers is Mary Hanes in The Women, the greatest movie of all time.  Mary simpers around a little bit, but mostly she's a very enlightened, noble creature who, while not quite a badass, fails to take shit from anyone.  All the best lines belong to comic foil Rosalind Russell in that movie, but the heroine never gets to be funny.  Isn't that stupid?

The Divorcee

The Divorcee - See?  I said witchy.  Some Theda Bara shit here.






Sunday, September 8, 2013

Nixa


No offense, Ky-Ky, but I prefer the Nick-Blixa combination here.  Nixa.


Oh god the violin.

I have multiple itunes libraries living on a couple of computers, and when transferring music from one to the other, discovered a cache containing a library circa 2007.  It was full of all sorts of music that hadn't made it over on a transfer made at that time.

Now I am continually hearing songs that I loved in past lives and somehow forgot about when they went away.  I still love them.  Hearing certain songs for the first time in years is sometimes shocking, thrilling and gutting.

I had PJ Harvey's "Dry" on tape (am old) and have scarcely heard it in the last decade.  I listened to it the other night and felt like screaming.  THIS IS SO GOOD.







Is Suede not super famous?  I thought they were.  I find living entirely in my own world to be an accomplishment, but sometimes it leads to confusion.


I forgot about this song, and Disintegration in general, until I watched Marie Antoinette last summer.  I was amazed at how good it is.  What the hell have I been doing?  I think I should do a Cure song trawl post where I ramble excessively about my various feelings about various songs.  FUNSIES

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Parallels


Super awesome.  Another stereoscope of an old family member of mine.  I should remember how lucky I am to have these.  A lot of people don't.  I think this is a great-aunt.  Just one great, isn't that cray?  This is at least turn of the century, maybe older.  Women had their children late on that side of the family.  Because there were 13 kids in that family, I don't know which one she was.

There are other pictures of this girl that I haven't scanned.  She is so dark-haired and dark-eyed, but her lineage is all Irish, Scottish and French-Canadian.  In the pictures, she and some of her sisters actually look a little Hispanic.  I wish this was Julia, my great-gram's ill-fated sister and BFF.  So fascinated by her.

I love these period indoor pics because I like to enlarge them and check out all the details.  Her rolled hair, and the bow in it.  The picture of a suffering Jesus, and the framed cross that angles away from the wall.  The wallpaper.  The random articles nailed to the wall.  She is working at a needlepoint, and there is a crazyquilt on the bed.  I wonder who she is.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

You're doing it wrong.

Someone asked Stephen Fry about the difference between Americans and the English, and he talked at length about the American bootstraps self-help can-do culture.  In thinking, I find the "Anyone can do anything!!" culture to be destructive, particularly in the way later generations have interpreted it.  Because it's not true.  You probably can't do anything you want to do, and you shouldn't want to kill yourself when you realize that.  And once you get over all that drama, you might realize that you can create new aspirations...ones that might even be relevant to the world instead of your plebian ideas of luxury and coolness.

Unrealistic, childish ambition is so characteristic of Americans.  Why does everyone have to be the brashest idiot in the room, with the most money and the stupidest car?  That shit will never make me happy.  It doesn't even make me happy in the short term, because I have analyzed my life and gained perspective on the things that I do enjoy.  I think much of this type of ultra-American teenagerish ambition is mindless and motivated by emotional issues or other disturbances.  That's why it makes me angry that this brainless, unplanned type of ambition (along with the psychopathic planned-out kind, for that matter) gets such wholesale respect in this culture, as though it is a positive trait to have.  The over-ambition I talk about is often ugly and degrading, with much fallout.  

Conversely, he described the British as having a far more "defeatist" (wrong word, too lazy) perspective, but in a way that I find to be kind of...healthy.  No matter what's going on, life is still kind of bullshit, right?  Don't assume that your good time somehow mitigates all of the pain and horror in the world.  This isn't negativity, it's realism, and if you think that recalling the struggles of others to mind is a buzzkill, it's because you're a privileged asshole who can't see past his own front lawn.  Even moving past human suffering, it's still all pretty much futile, right?  Don't forget that one.  My perspective on life is pretty unapologetically Allenist, and I'm ok with that, because there's no other way that I find to be at all legitimate.  That doesn't mean that it's wrong to be happy.  Just do so responsibly, ok?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Well, You're Assholes.

Today, I sat in on an interview in which the applicant was asked why she would apply for a job in a domestic violence shelter.  She replied, "Well, I wouldn't consider myself a feminist, but...I believe domestic violence is an issue to be addressed."

1. You just maligned feminism to a group full of women you don't know inside a domestic violence shelter.
2. Your random anti-feminist comment was essentially an apology for giving a fuck about domestic violence.
3. You think shitting on feminism is so socially acceptable that you did it in a job interview.
4. Domestic violence isn't ~a feminist issue~.  It affects ALL OF THE PEOPLE.
5. Fuck you.

This is what I wanted to say.  Actually, what I wanted to do was shove my chair away from the desk, pantomime washing my hands in she and my boss's faces, and then walk out backwards while flipping them off.  Because I literally can't go anywhere without this brand of ignorant bastard thinking that the wholesale dismissal of things like feminism, and the minimization of domestic violence are things you can do IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTER WHILE YOU'RE ASKING FOR A MOTHER FUCKING JOB, not to mention everywhere else.

Afterwards, only one other person was even able to recognize or remember the comment.  These are the people in leadership at a social services nonprofit dedicated exclusively to the safety and empowerment of abused women who have no resources.  These slackfaced apathetic babies, despite the profession that they disingenuously trot out to impress their friends with, don't even have enough piss in them to get riled by some bitch in their midst whose response equates to "yeah? i mean it sucks rite idk."  Particularly when she wants to be the agency's face to high dollar donors.  Could I make up a more absurd scenario that will probably happen?  I'd be hard pressed.

Fuck that.  I've seen more passion in committees formed to address the matter of feral cat pee spots than I see for the mission of this organization.  It is appalling.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Research Research

Notes for myself, because Ancestry is very annoying for temporarily & informally documenting info.

Found Jack's obituary, he died in North Hollywood in 1954.  Almost no useful info contained in the obit, which I had to purchase to view:


I see an Anna Davis who died in Glendale, AZ in 1984 who has an almost but not quite exact birthdate.  I think it's probably her, but I have not been able to find any obituaries for her in Arizona to qualify it.  Annoying!

Since I'm at an impasse with those two, I'm branching out to her immediate family.  Not super relevant to searches, but her father's work industry in 1920 is recorded as "motion pictures".  1920 is so early!  Much earlier than that and movies were still things you paid a penny to see through a viewfinder while turning a wheel.  So that's kind of neat.

The diary was given as a Christmas gift to Anna and inscribed "from Errol".  Errol is her brother, whom the census indicates is her exact age, to the day.  A twin!

Researching him was a good idea.  I should have more of those.  Like Anna, Errol was living in Hollywood in the 50s and appears to have had some kind of stage career with his wife.  There are a couple of publicity shots of the two of them.  Haven't found anything on google yet.

Errol and wife Arlene Smith Whitney
Next on my list is to try to find Anna's 2nd husband, Charles "Chick" Davis.  Thanks for having a unique name, guy.  I'm sure it'll be easy to find you with no birthdate.

Also, I will have to branch into her other siblings, particularly a younger one, Kathleen, who potentially could still be alive.  Very old, but alive.

Repeated searches for daughter Colleen turn up absolutely nothing, and Kay, the woman I have been emailing with, apparently has no idea as to her whereabouts.  Frustrating, as she is a family member and therefore has access to other family members, theoretically (try, Kay).

I would do this all day long if I could.  I love untangling little balls of information and reordering it into something cohesive and meaningful.
This song always amuses me.  It seems like songs about dating or being married to a moron were a particular trend in the 20s and 30s, but then, that was a more immediate problem then.  When you have women marrying anything in order to avoid the most feared status of all - old maidness - you're going to have some problems.

My grandparents' marriage was not particularly successful, and when I asked my grandmother why she married him in the first place, she said, "I didn't want to be an old maid!"  I said, YOU WERE 20.  YOU COULD HAVE GIVEN IT A MINUTE.  She shrugged.




Dorothy Lamour, genuine creole princess & Miss New Orleans 1931.



 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Anna in 1967.  This is just what I thought she looked like.  How amazing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

DEVELOPMENT!

Oooh, who got an email from another amateur genealogist today?  This guy.

It's so exciting to get data or evidence in a concentration to which so much is lost with a simple death.  People don't record things about their lives, especially excessively pragmatic people.  How the hell am I supposed to be a spy detective archivist when there's no material?  That's why this is exciting.

-----------------------------
Subject: RE: Anna Helen Connelly Davis

Hi Brittany, 
Sorry I have not back to you sooner. I just reaad the message today. Anna Ireland is my husband aunt who married John Connelly and then married again after the death of John. I know she lived in Arizona and we did visit her back in the late 60's. She had a daughter Colleen who married a doctor. We have no idea where she is living now. I will have to check my files and see what I have enter in the records about her. I will try to update them for you. 
you can contact me through my e-mail. 
What are the dates in the diary? I wonder why her diary was in an antique store? 
Wow, you may some information in the diary that I could use. 
I hope this will help for now. 
Kay Connelly
-----------------------------

So!  She lived in Arizona in the late 60s.  A record without a source on Ancestry says she died in 1966, and I can't find anything reliable in the Social Security Death Index.  None of those entries seem to fit her, so I can't reasonably say when she died at all.

That explains how the diary got here.  She schlepped it with her over 30 years, through various marriages and moves, so it must have retained some meaning for her.  I assume that she died in Arizona, and her personal effects were boxed up and donated, diary included.

I asked for a picture and for her to try to find a way to contact the daughter.  All right!  I wish someone would find some artifact belonging to one of my ancestors and send it along with some research.  Damn!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

STANWYCK

The gay classic Hollywood columnist blogosphere told me it's Stanwyck's birthday today.

She is my favorite female actor of all time.  She is always interesting, always impressive, always good.  In her early movies, she stands out like a beacon amid a bunch of cardboardy jokers.  I had to buy the second TCM collection of pre-code movies because Baby Face was on it.  Baby Face was one of her earlier films about a young girl who learns to use her charm and sexuality to get what she wants in 1930s corporate America.  The decision to do so arose from coachings by a grouchy old man who reads lines to her from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.  Amusing.



With John Wayne in Baby Face.  In 1930, he was just another nobody dude in eyeshadow.



She's unique for this era with her strange little lisp and the believable street savvy that bleeds into every role.  Usually for this time, girls from the other side of the tracks get some attention, but they never win.  And even when Stanwyck doesn't win, she's still somehow the authority.  When she makes some sarcastic crack, you know she has somehow lived that moment before.  And she probably did.  Orphaned at a young age, Barbara, or Ruby as she was called then, was a Brooklyn street urchin who worked her way from shitty menial jobs into a graveyard shift as a chorus girl.  At this point, she believed she had arrived.  All she wanted, she said, was to be able to eat and wear a nice coat.



Shortly thereafter, she caught the eye of some casting agents in the late 1920s, and acted in a bunch of slightly crappy/slightly awesome pre-code movies like Baby Face before killing it in Stella Dallas.  She acted for decades afterward, well into her middle age, which few of her contemporaries managed or were willing to do.  Tabloid notes: she hooked up with Robert Wagner when he was 22 and she was 45.  bang!  She was also a particular fan of Ayn Rand, which I assume is partly resultant of her hardscrabble early life and successful end.  People who have that experience so often come to think that life is a one way rodent maze, and they figured it out.  Formulaic, as though it's foolproof to simply "work hard," and those who have not made it have simply not tried.  Foolish, but we let it slide.  For her.  No one else.

I like that her self-confidence is palpable and natural.  It's there in every character.  She always seems to be in her own environment.  This is somewhat uncommon, but the common characteristic of this quality is that it draws attention like a magnet.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oh tile.

I love vintage tile.  I feel like I'm in the wrong trade these days.  Social service nonprofits are nice and all, but wouldn't I be happier doing historic home renovations?  Probably like 70%.

Anyway.  This site warms my frigid heart, and I am so amused and pleased that it exists:  http://savethepinkbathrooms.com

Summarized, this is a site that says (in a nice-person way), hey fuckers, totally stop demoing your historic bathrooms, and consider growing some taste!  Then it surmises that Mamie Eisenhower started the trend that resulted in a zillion post-war bathrooms being tiled in pink.  All tile colors are delightful (almost), but pink seems to be more likely to be torn out than others.

The grail, of course, is finding a bathroom with matching tub, sink, toilet and tile.  These are usually American Standard fixtures, and they are so beautiful.  How could anyone dislike that?  How could you possibly remove that to replace it with a plastic Home Depot vanity in "sand," and some other ugly shit?

My bathroom counter features some well-worn 1950 pink & black tile, but the shower tiles have been replaced with modern white tiles.  blerg.


Isn't it perfect?  Isn't it hilarious that I'm going to paint the vanity base pink?  Trust me, it's gonna work.


Green with pink.  Perfect.  PERFECT.  I don't think that pink is an original color (or size) but whatever, THE SINK!


Fancy.



Green on green, nice.


Hex tiles on the counter.




And hex on the floor, my favorite.

So anyway.  All good houses still have their own tile.  Failing that, you can buy new old tile and put it back in if it didn't survive the decades.  People who tear this tile out are my enemies.  I don't care if it's cracked, pitted, and faded, you deal with it.  Or you replace individual tiles.  Last year, my grandmother let a tenant tear out the original 1954 tiles in the kitchen of her rental, and I almost slapped an old woman.  He replaced it with some 12" ceramic floor tiles.  I don't even have the words.


Corner sink!






Edited to add: Seriously, I never see these sinks with the spindly metal legs, like ever.  They must have been disasters in practice.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

OH LORD.

Photos by Flickr user Howzey!

This can't be real.  It's too perfect. STAGED I SAY.  I just love that exposed wood lath when plaster falls away.



I can't live anymore.




PERFECT



Curtains!

It's all so Grey Gardens, 10 Years Later.

This reminded me of a hideous old house I visited when I was still apparently confused enough to consider purchasing a house in Phoenix.  (I'm moving in 10 mos or a year or something. Bye-)  I visited it twice just because I loved seeing it, even though it was much too destroyed to consider.  It wasn't worth it like all the structures above.  It was just a little early 50s ranch that had been time capsuled and then abandoned.  I decided to look in my other old blog to see what I had written about it.  Also, I guess sometimes capitalizing takes too much time?

"though the absurdly high price paired with the extreme state of dereliction instantly ruled it out as a prospect, i forwarded the link to my realtor anyway.  it is in a very picturesque state of decay and i wanted to see the inside. 

it is entirely salmon, everything is the same color.  the brick, the porch, the doors, the windows, the carport.  when we entered, i saw that the drapes were curiously still intact.  heavy, fancy silk sitting room drapes, full of forty years of sun, looking like they'd crumble if touched.  the drapes, walls, floors and ceiling were all coated in thick cobwebs.  i've never seen them so...hangy, so thick.  i walked around to the kitchen and was almost afraid to walk in.  the cobwebs were much worse in there.  what used to be a vent above the stove in the ceiling was now just a roughened, black hole.  the wallpaper was 1950s, floral, teals and greens, distended and puffy.  the requisite precious blue and yellow tiled counters.  intimidated by the narrow hallway from the kitchen, i went back through the living room to the bedrooms.  i felt like anything could jump out at or fall on me.

the first one indicated some severe settling of the house, or genuine movement of the earth underneath.  you could see daylight through the cracks torn in the bricks.  the old paint was peeling and falling down in long, wide  sheaths. the next bedroom featured a 6" hole in the pink ceiling, the edges corroded and softened by rushing water.  i'm sure plenty of friday's rain freshened that room.  the bathroom was cramped, with gaudy 1950s sconces placed on each side of the large, dusty mirror.  more of the tile countertops i miss.  pretty, narrow old doors with dented, dusky bronze knobs. 

the realtor, of course, was having fits, bitching and complaining the whole time about having to go inside.  ah, i hate him."

I'm sure it's still empty.  A wreck in bad neighborhood like that can't possibly seem worth renovation to anyone here.  Can't quite remember where it was.  I wish I had taken photos!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A KNITTING NEEDLE

Absolutely Fabulous was a staple of my tween years and I do partially blame it for the person I have become.  In a good way, of course.  It's something I can watch over and over, and I am always annoyed when people don't get references to it.  What's the best response to a friend having a pregnancy scare?   "Bring me...A KNITTING NEEDLE!"  Or not, maybe not the best response, but certainly the funniest.  Look, I'm not a life coach.  But I definitely should be.





Comedy Central was so much better, then.  I need to watch some Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gentle people music



I guess I uploaded all these songs at the same time into 8tracks and forgot about them.  So now they're a mix, because a theme was observed.  Get out your notebooks and Sylvia Plath bookmarks!  It's time to write some moody journal entries!

But then I intentionally made another mix, or tried to until I was foiled by the ridiculous legal jive of record companies that won't allow me to upload more than 2 Glenn Miller songs into one playlist.  Really, dicks?  Laying the hammer down on all those people who want to pirate obscure swing jams that only dead people remember.  Got it.

So that mix is minus 5 other songs that I wanted because Glenn Miller had such an array of accompanying artists that no song is remotely the same, and they are all required.  FINE.  I'LL SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY I GUESS.



It's still all right.  Muffled trombones and moody jazz music are comforting to me.  Highlights: Peggy Lee, young Sinatra.  I never was a Sinatra fan until I heard his very early recordings. Those are why he's great, not the loungey stuff he recorded in the 50s and 60s.  The later stuff isn't bad, but the early early stuff, when he's still that narrow-faced kid, is kind of amazing when you haven't heard it before.

I'm getting these out of the way so I can make the mix I really want: 12 different covers of the lullaby from Rosemary's Baby.  Oh, trust.  That is real.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Eminent Ladies of 1936

I noticed that today is the publication anniversary of Gone with the Wind.

Margaret Mitchell is an interesting person.  She's far more interesting than any of the characters in her book, who are often pretty two-dimensional.  Everyone picks a trait and spends the entire book defending it.  Also, most of the characters are either completely self-serving reptiles, or inhumanly altruistic, good people with no capacity to do harm (except when they marry your fucking BOYFRIEND, MELANIE WILKES!)  jk.  She had him first, since after all they were cousins.  Don't forget, this is a book about the south.  Sorry, the South.

Anyway.  One of the most obnoxious things MM did in her lifetime was make her husband pinky swear to burn all of her letters, papers and probably manuscripts upon her death, which he did.  Unfortunate, since she was mowed down before her years by a car in Atlanta in 1949.  She might've loosened up in her older years.

She should have written more, but I think she was too crippled by depression or bi-polarity or something to manage it.  It is interesting, because she had the natural compulsion to write, which resulted in thousands of typed pages littering her home for years in disorganized stacks and piles - the fetal Gone with the Wind.  She just had to get it out, but was afterward content to let it sit in obscurity save for the private audience of her husband.  She only considered publishing it due to the frantic encouragement of select friends who had been permitted to read it.  She seemed to have zero personal desire to do this and only did so out of weary acquiescence and a "what's the worst that can happen?" attitude.  For those who don't know what happened, it became a best seller and the biggest book in the world for a long time, translated in to a jillion languages.  She won a Pulitzer for it.  It was a really big deal.  And then the movie came out and was even bigger.

Maybe she only had one thing to say, or one story, and didn't want to tell it twice.  Her lifetime very interestingly bridged two American eras.  She was from a fancy Atlanta family whose tree was filled with Confederates and other casualties of the Civil War.  She grew up listening to war stories on the knees of old vets, and she and her cousins would dig cannonballs and other gun fodder out of the grassy fields for fun.  It was everywhere.  It was not ancient history, and it wasn't from the victor's perspective.  Maybe it was a story that needed to be told.  Northern perspectives seem to have the war at the periphery, won and done; for southerners, it was an all together more personal ordeal, probably because they had to live inside the wreckage.

I disagree when subsequent generations take credit for historic events or treat them as parts of their own condition or experience after the reverberations have ended.  Don't say "we".  It was they, not you, who did this thing.  Won that battle.  Overcame some odd.  When Americans look back at WWII and say, WE DID THAT, you really didn't.  People who are dead did that, and I'm willing to bet that whatever qualities got them through those experiences have long since leached out of your high-fructose blood.  It was a different time.  It's not transferable.

Everyone wants to do that and in some part I understand.  Nationalism or whatever.  And we do often exist in the climates created by our predecessors, so maybe sometimes it is more relevant than I imply.  But if you want to take credit for the highlights, then you have to agree to be culpable for the fuck ups too, no?  Americans wanting to feel responsible as a “race” for ending WWII, for example, are also going to have to be the ones who signed off on all the murder & brutality that didn’t happen for a good cause.  I would not recommend that trade.  

So not only because of the overt racism that is tied up in it, this Confederate pride thing that still occurs in the south is totally outrageous to me.  It's such an incredible joke to make a community tie out of.  Especially since it literally amounts to taking personal credit for going to war for a variety of idiot reasons and having an entire generation of people slaughtered and ruined because of it, then not even winning, and then having your home turned into a cesspool babylon that it still kind of is.  So let's fly the flag and remember the lynchpin of that downfall forever.

I mention that only because in Margaret Mitchell's day, it still kind of was "their" war.  Things that had happened fifty years ago still had measurable impacts on the daily lives of those still remaining and on later generations.  Wounds were fresh and personal.  Firsthand war experiences still walked the earth.  I don't think anyone but she could have written that book or anything like it, being at the forefront of that experience, and a sick and sensitive child to begin with, absorbing all those feelings and reflections.


Oh, and she was a super babe, too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I've always liked the kind of creepy Ya Ya song from Lolita, but was amused to find another recording made by Sue Lyon at the time.


It's cute, but I'm more amused at her crappy, awkward teen voice.



Naturally, we disapprove of books and movies fetishizing kids, but I do like the 1962 movie.  Mainly for Peter Sellers, but also for neurotic, obnoxious Shelley Winters.  She's so annoying!  Although maybe that's just her thing.  Montgomery Clift couldn't kill her fast enough in A Place in the Sun, no?  Woops, spoilers.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Anna Ireland II: Child Installment

I found a bit more information about my diarist, but have otherwise hit a wall in my researching.  I have to put this stuff down before I forget it all and ancestry.com kicks me out.

Additional information has been Jack's middle name (Kyle), which assists in discerning him from the jillion other John Connellys who evidently flowed from Scotland in the day.  It appears that he died in 1954 of causes unknown.  Found the ex-wife, too.  A gal from Kentucky named Robbie who also worked in a drug store and was living in Detroit with Jack in 1930.  By 1935, she was divorced and living in Tennessee.

Anna seems to have remarried.  This is why I had such a hard time finding her originally - upon her death, she was known as Anna Helen Davis.  Death date on ancestry is "after 1966".  wth.

But here is the real information: they did have another child.  And by all appearances, she lives today.  Her name is, or was originally, Colleen Ireland Connelly.  Could you have a more Irish name, Colleen?  She was born in Orange, California in 1947, ten years after the deaths of Anna's first two children.  I have been unable to find any more information about her, even with that weird middle name.  I will find her eventually, though.  No one hides from the internet.  It is often difficult to find older people, though, as they strangely don't feel the need to make multiple social media profiles.  They are the only ones able to live under the radar, hidden away from modernity with their landline telephones, cassette tape answering machines and print tv guides.  Strange to think that their lifestyles will soon seem as quaint and unbelievable as the daily lives of people living before the Industrial Revolution.  You had to get your water out of the ground, drive a horse and communicate long distance by handwriting?  Sounds like some sci fi shit to me.  So anyway, Colleen is 65 years old and I will find her as long as I remember to look.  I'm kind of surprised that I haven't already, actually, but I suppose she's probably married and using some other name.  Cursed patriarchal name-trading!

Also, is it weird to contact people to ask for gossip about/pictures of their family members because I bought someone's diary at the Brass Armadillo 15 (jesus christ) years ago?  I know - it is.  But what am I supposed to do?  Also, the kid might want her mom's diary.  This could turn into a Hallmark Network movie about a woman's reconnection with her dead mother through a curiously and fortuitously found diary.  Or maybe they already did that on Lifetime.

In the meantime,


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Anna Ireland


This is a five year diary started by a girl named Anna Ireland in 1936.  I found it tucked deep into a shelf full of forgotten, bad fiction in an antique store in the mid 90s.  As with many of my thrift & antique store purchases of that time, I bought it to protect it.



Anna wrote in impossibly tiny script in order to save enough room for her future entries.  The lines are challenging, but mostly legible, and the pages are in decent condition.  The book must've been tucked somewhere safe and dark for a lot of years.



She wrote every day from January to mid March of 1936.  After that, only major events were recorded.  The back of the book contains the addresses and birth dates of her friends and family.



For as few entries as there are, it's a dramatic book.  The first few weeks of entries consist of bland updates about her home life interspersed with many pained lines about someone named Jack, who doesn't pay her as much attention as she'd like.  She wishes she didn't like him as much as she does.

Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1936.  First entry.
Well here I am. Last night was our first New Year's Eve and it wasn't so good. We were up until 10 in the morning. I was terrible disappointed because Jack didn't come after me or call.  I do like him so much, we didn't get up until late & mama slept with me. Tonight the place was dead, hardly anyone there.  See you tomorrow.

Inferred from the entries, Anna works with some kind of theater group and gives music or dance lessons to children.  Jack works in a drugstore where Anna hangs out.

Sunday, Jan. 26, 1936
Well I didn't sleep all night as my back & sides pained so but I got up at 11 and waited for Jack. He came at 12:10, his car was frozen so he had to go on the streetcar. Still we went & oh I was so glad. My back hurt so all through mass I could hardly sit there but as Jack was there, nothing could keep me from staying. We came home & had coffee, he went as soon as the folks got up. Well he was at the cafe tonight and made me wrap something around me. He was drinking quite a bit. John the barber was there also so he drove us home and I made them stop in & have some coffee, then they talked to papa a long time. They just left, I hope I see Jack soon again, I will miss him.

Business as usual for the next month.  Anna begins each entry with "Well," and complains of sickness and pains a lot. Endometriosis?  Whatever it is, she tries to conceal from Jack how often she is ill, and lies to him when he asks her if she's feeling badly one day, then feels "rotten" for lying.  A mention of how much she misses & would like to see Jack goes at the end of each entry.  Eventually I may transcribe them all, but that tiny script, man.  It's tiny.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 1936
Well I got up at 6 & wasn't tired & oh the trip was terrible. The fog, I have never seen anything like it. It was terrible, there was so many accidents. I wanted to turn back but we went on.  We got home O.K. I sure am tired. I went right out to the place as the 15 cent charge went on and we packed them in. The show lasted one hour and everybody said it was great. Jack came up & I am worried about him as he was sick. I hope & pray he will be all right. I am going over to his home tomorrow. Oh dear god have his folks like me, it means so much. I am afraid to go in a way, I guess I am a coward but I am afraid they won't & I couldn't stand that as I love him so.

There are no entries after mid March, until this:

Aug. 16, 1936
I was married today. Jack and I are so happy. I pray to god to keep us always that way.  "I love him so."

Then she only updates on their anniversary date.



Aug. 16, 1937
Today is our first year of marriage and I am happier than ever. We are at Bald Eagle Lake. We still haven't had our first fight.

Aug. 16, 1938
Today is our second year and I love him more only he is very sick, his heart is very bad. I pray to god he will get well. We are in the trailer at New Baltimore.

Aug. 16, 1939
Today is our third year, somewhat better than last. Jack is working at Kinsels & a little better. We lost our darlings last year. I hope god will give them back to us before many years.

The only other entry after 1936 that isn't a wedding update refers to the loss of the children.

June 12, 1937
I lost my darlings. I had twin girls. Why, oh why. What did I ever do to have a thing like that happen. I lay awake and try and think but can't. Oh please god take them and keep them for me & please, please god have Jack love me.



Such private pain and feelings that I hesitate to even record that here.  Still, real life.

When I first read through this, I was desperate to know what had become of Anna.  It was considerably more difficult to research people (from home) back then, and since she had lived in Detroit, it seemed impossible.  Since then, I have become skilled at getting all up in dead peoples' business, and have finally gotten around to finding out some more about her.

My findings are still pretty sparse.  Fortunately, you can find just about anyone in the census data, so I see her in 1920, 1930 and 1940.  There are several Anna Irelands out there of the same age, but our Anna had immediate family members with unusual names which make it easy to pick her out.

What I found:

She was born in 1913.  Happy centennial.  This makes her a little older than I had originally assumed.  She is 23 or 24 at the start of the diary.  Her middle initial is H.  Probably Helen.  Not a lot of H names out there.

She was born in New York.  If I knew what county, I could possibly find her birth certificate.  Both of her parents were born in Ireland so I wonder if they got their last name at Ellis Island, in which case, wth?  I know people were sometimes re-named after their point of origin, but considering the amount of people coming from Ireland at the turn of the century, it seems a little strange.

In 1930, her father identifies his occupation as a stage producer, which also helps to confirm that I have the right Anna.  The real confirmation was thanks to her address book, which lists the names of her family and boarders who appear in the census record with her.  Exciting!  Unfortunately, this is where the Anna info ends.


Again thanks to the address book, we have Jack's full name: John Connelly.  I found him in the 1930 and 1940 censuses, too.  He was 13 years older than Anna, and had emigrated from Scotland in 1929.  He had also been married before, but we don't know what happened with that, only that the prior marriage was in 1924.  In 1940, he is shown living in Detroit with Anna.  His occupation is druggist, and the census indicates that he has a college education.  No children.  Anna is listed as a housewife.

There are ship passage records for several John Connellys, so we don't know which is him, but it's not that important.  It seems like his family followed him here as the 1930 census shows a single woman named Helen Connelly living in John's rooming house, but she can't be his wife as he is listed as married.  Anna refers to his folks in the diary, so they must have come after that.  Yes, I do enjoy the speculative moments in historical research, thanks for asking.  More of that: did Jack go through the trouble of getting divorced, or did he just leave the ex in Scotland?  Did Anna know about her?  Other children?



I see a number of death records for women named Anna Connelly, and it is impossible to know which, if any, is her.  There is one Anna H. Connelly buried in Ohio that may very well be her.  Same birth year.  How to know, though?  Same for Jack.  On ancestry.com, you can look through digital family trees created by others, and I noticed that Anna is featured in only one tree, with a very bare entry.  It's for this reason that I don't think they had any more children as one would assume they would be appearing in more trees if they had.  For someone who lived semi-recently and came from a large family, it is strange that she is not in more.  One option is to research her siblings and see where that takes me.  It might give me access to living relatives of hers, which could solve all of my questions.

And anyway, how the hell did her diary end up in an antique store in Arizona?



To be continued, possibly.

Fun facts: You can find census data for free instead of paying for it on ancestry.com here: familysearch.org.  Only difference is you can't see images of the handwritten pages, which are helpful to view given the frequent (frequent) errors made in their transcription.

County and state archives have tons of information that ancestry.com does not have.  Only some of them have put portions of their records online, unfortch.  Also, they want you to pay them to even look and see if they have your record.  & don't rule out the county recorder.  There's all kinds of historic data in there, providing they put it online.  Oddly, Maricopa county was really good about this.  Wayne county not so much.

Findagrave.com.  Actually useful.

Fun observations:  Maybe I'm missing something here, but I think 70 years is a little long to wait to release census data.  What exactly are we protecting that people alive in 1950 wouldn't want anyone to know?  Who lives in the same place they did in 1950!  What other info does the census reveal that is so personal?  Annoying.  Not to get all ~NSA~ up in here, but cmon.

hashtag amateur genealogist.