Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hold the Olives: Splinters from Mame Dennis’ Martini Glass

A bottle holds so much promise. A flask of perfume, a magnum of bubbly, each offers possibility—of expectations, aspirations, anticipations—with every pop of the top. A grand dame knows this intuitively, and Marion Tanner embraced life with such zing as to inspire her nephew Patrick Dennis to immortalize her as the incarnation Auntie Mame Dennis.

I received my Arcanifact on my 40th birthday. I’d been asked to name a heroine, and, above any other individual I could’ve or would’ve otherwise chosen, Rosalind Russell’s cinematic turn as Auntie Mame came to mind. I stopped myself from scrutinizing this pick, and ran with it. At the New York party at Indochine (versus my other two at home in L.A.; hey, a gal’s got to have fun), Mr. Ryersson presented me with a rectangular box packed in brown paper and rough twine. The wrapping was deliberate, I would learn, since the charming contents inside hailed from the Prohibition era, and required, at least in fantasy, such a prosaic disguise to get past the authorities.

The divine Miss M, in truth or fiction, had a joie de vivre and indefatigable pluck only rivaled (or is it enhanced?) by her utterly chic sense of interiors and fashion. Her young nephew’s recall of his aunt’s madcap life and times opens during the age of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the shards of her martini glass fill this heavy antique bootleg gin bottle like so many sparkling flecks of a Cartier wristband or a beaded sheath.

The drawn-out tassel of silver and black Czech crystal beads wrapped around the bottle’s neck suggest a jeweled sautoir, conjuring the magnificent Mame’s penchant for the exotic and ornate, even when she appears on screen most elegantly restrained in a tailored dark green velvet suit.

The bottle now appears in my dressing room, among my favorite objects I glance at daily, a reminder of Mame’s spirited bid to her secretary: “Live! Yes! Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

It’s all here, a wax-sealed talisman filled with dreams ready to be raised in celebration of life and knocked back with pleasure. There are so many layers of story telling, so many messages in these Arcanifacts that Scot D. Ryersson crafts with insight, wit and grace.

---Rose Apodaca, style journalist & co-founder of A+R Store, Los Angeles, CA

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eucritta Melanolimnetes Branchia / Case No: X 9746 (The Gill-Man)

Since I was a child, I have held a strange fascination with the legend of “The Gill-Man.” A half-man, half-fish creature that, according to the very most basic laws of nature should not exist, but does, or did anyway. Found only in the blackest and lagooniest corners of the Amazon, it is still unknown whether this fish that walked upright on hind legs was in fact a “one-of-a-kind” freak mutation, or the actual dawning of some fantastic new amphibious evolution.

Over the years I have collected every scrap of detail I could dredge up concerning “The Gill-Man,” from simple newspaper clippings sensationalizing its initial discovery by a research team in the mid-1950’s, to films and photographs of its capture and disastrous exhibition at an Oceanarium in Florida, etc... And despite the well documented, scientific cases surrounding all known encounters with “The Gill-Man” (least we forget the unfortunate experiments also performed upon it to remove its gills), various reports have shown that this deadly, vicious brute was also very much a sad, lonely, and incredibly misunderstood creature, quite possibly more human than fish.

“The Gill-Man” is a unique specimen, curiously lost in time, and regretfully now destroyed by man. But all is not lost! Thanks to Scot D. Ryersson and his unnatural ability to unearth rare, related objects and info about my fishy obsession, I am actually in possession of the only known, preserved remains left of the creature-- its gills! Scavenged from the wreckage of Ocean Harbor Oceanarium, the clear-view contents of the antique specimen jar are spine-chilling, while at the same remarkably enlightening. As a bonus, Scot has also found for me an original admission ticket (receipt), as well as a two-sided, full color brochure from “The Gill-Man’s” brief and horrific stint as a public attraction at Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in the mid-1950’s.

Thanks again Scot my friend, you have done it again!

---Stephen Banes (St. Louis, MO)

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