Friday, February 26, 2016

DY-NO-MITE! Vintage Cat Pics from 1977

A vintage snapshot of a white cat sitting on a refrigerator in 1977 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California

To honor World Pistachio Day, I thought I'd showcase some original vintage 1970's Cat Pics. What do cats have to do with pistachios, you ask? Not much. But I recently discovered this small collection of 39 year-old snapshots, and I just really, really wanted to post 'em.

FOXPRINT Fox Photo logo printed on the back of a picture from December 1977

I believe they were snapped at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California. According to the back, they were developed by Fox Photo in December 1977. Cats on the front, and a fox on the back. This is, like, the most anthropomorphic set of snapshots ever.

Vintage photo of an orange and white cat sitting on a kitchen counter in 1977 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California
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Vintage photo of a grey cat on a fence in 1977 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California
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Vintage photo of an orange cat sleeping on the ground in 1977 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California
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Vintage picture of a grey cat sitting on a stuffed bear in 1977 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California

This cat was clearly the bad ass of the house, and a trendsetter. He was photographed riding a bear years before Vladimir Putin thought of it.

Vintage snapshot of an orange cat sitting in a planter box in 1977 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California
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Vintage picture of a cat relaxing on some really cool retro linoleum and eating off a Villeroy and Boch plate in 1977 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California

And yes—that does appear to be a piece of the original Acapulco dinner set by Villeroy & Boch, tucked away in the bottom-left corner. I believe it's being used here as a catfood dish. Complete sets are fairly rare now, and can fetch upward of $1K on Ebay.

I miss the 70's. It was a simpler time; linoleum was cool, and cats ate off collectible dinnerware.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Swingin' 60's Cocktail Party: San Francisco in 1969

I came across this small set of vintage cocktail pics, apparently taken in Late 1960's San Francisco at a semi-formal party of some sort.

The first—dated June '69—epitomizes everything I would've loved about 60's San Francisco: omnipresent smoking, endless cocktails, and bay windows.

Vintage mystery photograph of a cocktail party in late 1960's San Francisco. Tanya Shchegolev.

The remaining three snapshots are clearly from the same party, although they're dated Nov '69. It looks like it could've been a New Years celebration—since these cocktails are, to be more precise, glasses of champagne

Vintage mystery photograph of a cocktail party in late 1960's San Francisco. Gerri Ganter.

Perhaps it was New Years 1968/69, and everyone was too stoned to develop their pictures until six months later? It was the tail-end of the Summer of Love, after all.

Vintage mystery photograph of a cocktail party in late 1960's San Francisco. Asya Zabelin, Gehrig Rennenkampf. George Tchikovani, Norair Norio Taschian

I love that whoever lived here hung a print of the Mona Lisa over the piano.

Vintage mystery photograph of a cocktail party in late 1960's San Francisco. Tanya Shchegolev aka Tatiana Shegoleff, Asya Zabelin, George Tchikovani, Mila Ershoff, Norair Norio Taschian

If you recognize anyone in these photos, feel free to tag your friends, you crazy kids, you!

*** UPDATE 06/15/16 ***

Reader AZ informs me these photos were taken to commemorate a graduation by the San Francisco State University Russian Department.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Feodosiy & Stepanida: A Match Made in Siberia

This is a portrait taken in 1918 of my Great-Grandfather Feodosiy. And yes—he does appear to have been a 100%, top-of-the-line, Grade-A Sex Machine.

Vintage photograph of Feodosiy Mitrofanenko, a Justice of the Peace, taken in Russia in 1918

Feodosiy Mitrofanenko (Митрофаненко Феодосий) was a Justice of the Peace who lived and worked in Ust-Karsk, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia (Усть-карск Забайкальск). He was Ukrainian. He's believed to have been born sometime around 1890, and to have died of Coronary thrombosis in 1918, at the age of 27 or 28.

Impossible to read scribbling on the back of a vintage photo of Feodosiy Mitrofanenko

Beyond that, not much is known about Feodosiy. However, there are some faint scribbles on the back of his portrait. I can make out a date at the bottom: the 14th of something in 1918. Many thanks in advance to anyone out there who's an extremely intrepid decipherer of heavily faded Russian, and who can help me out with this. Seriously. I'll give you fifty bucks.

Stepanida Yakolevna Kozyrev Mitrofanenko aka Stephany Mitrofanenko and Natalie F. Vasilev

Around 1913, Feodosiy Mitrofanenko married Stepanida Yakovlevna Kozyreva (Козырева Стефанида Яковлевна) in Ust-Karsk, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia. She was born on November 7, 1877 Staro-Konstantinov, Ukraine—to parents Yakov Kozyrev and Kharitiniya Afanasyevna Kozyreva (Козырева Харитиния Афанасьевна). You can read more about Kharitiniya here. Feodosiy and Stepanida had one surviving child, Natalia Feodosievna Mitrofanenko (pictured above). You can read more about Natalia here.

Stepanida Yakovlevna Kozyrev Mitrofanenko aka Stephany Mitrofanenko, Mid 1950's, San Francisco

I believe this last portrait of Stepanida was taken in San Francisco in the early- to mid-1950's. Someone printed her birthdate on the back as 24 Nov 1877. That may have been her birthdate according to the Western Calendar—with 07 Nov 1877 being her birthdate according to the Russian Calendar. Or possibly the other way around? I'm not sure. Does Stepanida seem like a Scorpio, or more like a Sagittarius?

Stephany Mitrofanenko, 24 November 1877

Stepanida died on May 25, 1958 in San Francisco, California. Her death certificate lists her as Stephany Y. Mitrofanenko. I also found her on this website; a list of White Russians who died abroad.

Митрофаненко Стефанида Яковлевна, р. 1877. В эмиграции в США. Ум. 1958 в Сан-Франциско."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Early 1980's Mystery in Mountain View Cemetery

Continuing down the road of pretentious art speak, I submit this mystery photo for your approval. I call it Manifesto of Trapped Reality. That sounds cool, right?

Anyway, it's a Mystery Photo because—although I remember posing for it—I have absolutely no idea who took it.

The story goes like this. As a wee child, I lived in Piedmont, California—and used to play, by myself, in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. That particular graveyard was established in 1863, and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who also designed New York's Central Park. So, yeah, of course I played in it!

Mystery Photo taken in Mountain View Cemetery in 1982 of a creepy little boy playing alone next to some unmarked graves.

So, picture it: Oakland, California, 1982. I was running amuck, by myself, through a cemetery (you know, as young children are wont to do) when I suddenly found myself in the decaying, unmaintained old section—marked by overgrowth, and broken graves. Characteristically I found it awesome—but now, looking back, it seems a little creepy that I would hang out there.

Oddly, I didn't fun afoul of any zombies or (more plausibly) a serial killer. I did, however, encounter a young couple, enthusiastically snapping pics of the cemetery. I don't remember much about them; they were in their late-20's/early-30's, and fairly hip. They snappped my photo, and then—two weeks later—dropped off a print to my house at 19 Ramona Avenue, before disappearing into the abyss. Forever.

I'd love to know who took this picture. And what else they've done. If you know anything, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you! :)

And if you're interested in learning more about Mountain View Cemetery—and the people buried there—check out this amazing blog called Lives of the Dead.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Helen Hehnke: Dysplastic Ode to Meditative Faust

Old Korean Men. Newspapers. Pipes. This photo collage is from Pre-War Korea. Both pics were snapped by the late photographer, Helen Hehnke. It's part of her Old Korean Man series.


There isn't much about Helen Hehnke online—so I can't say how noted a photographer she was in her day. However, I do know she was American—from Corvallis Oregon, perhaps. She may have been in the military, and she had her own stamp. Many, many thanks in advance to anyone who can offer more information on the life and times of Helen Hehnke.

Photographer Helen Hehnke's trademark stamp

I feel lucky to own two Helen Hehnke originals. They were both taken in Korea in the mid- to late-1940's, and both spotlight the youngest of the Seoul Sisters, Lena. I find it awkward to write about established (or even semi-established) artists because I'm so incredibly bad at art speak. I mean, um, "it's difficult to enter into this work because of how the metaphorical resonance of the facture brings within the realm of discourse the eloquence of these pieces."

Photograph of Elena K. Vasilev taken by Helen Hehnke in pre-war Korea, most likely 1946-1947

"When the girl and the apple are juxtaposed it creates a range of possibilities. The artist's juxtaposition of these organic relationships creates a real symmetry in the piece. It's Hehnke's deconstruction of the post-modern metaphor."

Photograph of Elena K. Vasilev taken by Helen Hehnke in pre-war Korea, most likely 1946-1947

"The young girl is conceptualizing duality, while still investigating complex systems to find visual order. Hehnke successfully accents and examines fields of emergence, en plein air."

Rhea Thomson aka Marie Thomson, Natalie Vasilev, Helen Hehnke, and Elena K. Vasilev in the late 1960's.

Phew! Anyway, here is the young girl grown up (far-right), sitting next to Helen Hehnke. These Kodak prints were most likely snapped in the very late-1960's at Seoul Sister Svetlana's house in Santa Clara, California—either to commemorate Thanksgiving, or to immortalize a loud outfit contest of some sort.

Rhea Thomson aka Marie Thomson, Natalie Vasilev, Helen Hehnke, David Scotty Thomson Jr, and Elena K. Vasilev in the late 1960's.

I do recognize the lone mustachioed fellow (far-right) as my foxy Uncle David "Scotty" Thomson Jr. I love how the napkin in his lap looks like a diaper.