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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Forgotten

I am not sure that Watchmen is that great of a movie, but I sure like the camera works and imagery. Oh! And the intro  to the Dylan song The Times They are a changin is awesome.

Made me wonder about alternate past and futures as Richard Bach liked to call them, but most of all about everything we forget so fast and how the little we remember is warped by the passage of time.

As Chuck Klosterman said: the strength of your memory dictates the size of your reality

Twiggy, 1967
Here's a quick list of people and things buried by the sands of time. Do you have any to add?

Supermodel
We already barely remember Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson, supermodels of the '90s; but who can remember Twiggy? Yet she was the first international supermodel and a fashion icon of the '60s and '70s.



Scientist
R. Buckminster Fuller as you certainly don't recall, was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. He published over 30 books, invented the geodesic dome (you can admire on in Montreal by the way - the Biosphere on île Ste-Hélène was designed by Fuller as the US building for Expo 67) and was awarded an incredible number of patents. His book Critical Path remains a must read by any serious thinker.


Car
Duesenberg, 1935
The lavish Duesenberg was among the most popular luxury cars of the '30s as well as a status symbol in the United States and Europe, driven by the nobility, rich and famous like Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Al Capone, Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, Mae West as well as members of the European royalty such as the Duke of Windsor.


Book
She, published in 1887 by British novelist H. Rider Haggard is a classic of the lost world genre. It sold 83 million copies in 44 languages, that's more than Da Vinci Code and twice as much as Harry Potter. Have you read it? Take a look at the most popular books of all time.


Music Band
The Backstreet Boys were all over the place in the '90s, and where are they now? Ok, ok, I know, they are on tour with fellow '90s boys band New Kids on the Block and they're even coming to Montreal on June 7th. But hey, it's an anecdote. Back in the days, these teens sold 130 million albums! 130 million f**ing albums!! That's more than Billy Joël, Britney Spears, Bryan Adams, Depeche Mode, Guns'N'Roses, Kiss, Pavarotti, Mettalica, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Scorpions, Eminem, The Doors, Iron Maiden, Prince, Van Halen, Bob Dylan, Coldplay, Duran Duran, Lady Gaga, Motleÿ Crüe, Oasis, Nirvana, Pearl Jam or REM...

Airport
50 years ago, Gander Airport in Newfoundland was the busiest airport in the world and was lavishly renovated in 1959 to be Canada's flagship airport and impress the rest of the planet. Today, it sees only cargo and local flights. See my previous post The Forgotten Airport

Sea
Remains of the Aral Sea
The mighty Aral Sea in Central Asia was once the 4th largest lake in the world. In the 1960's the soviets decided to divert its waters to grow cotton and cereals in the desert. Today, it lost 90% of its surface while its salinity increased exponentially. The surrounding landscape is littered with dying land and rusting ships clouded in dust storms.

Billionaire 
Andrew Carnegie was a steel magnate who dominated the US business world of the late 19th and early 20th century. Technically, he was not a billionaire, but his fortune evaluated at $485 millions would be the equivalent of roughly $300 billions in today's money. A Scottish immigrant who started from scratch, Carnegie rose to success through his intelligence and hard work. At a very young age, he decided that he would spend half his life amassing wealth, and the other half giving it all away. And he did! Those having read Napoleon Hill's Think & Grow Rich will remember him talking profusely about the old Scott. He is also mentioned by Jim Rohn in his book Living and Exceptional Life, but the vast majority of the world has no idea who he was.

Actress
Ursula Andress
Ursula Andress was the first Bond Girl. She played alongside Sean Connery in the iconic Dr. No (1962). Although Jean-Paul Belmondo is one of my favorite actors, I must admit I am quite jealous of the sabbatical he took to sail around the world with the beautiful Swiss actress and her famous white bikini.

Author & Journalist
Joseph Kessel was probably the most influential writer and journalist of the French speaking World during the 20th century. The guy was everywhere: The Irish Civil war, WWI, with the artists of L'entre deux guerres in Montmartre, the Bolshevik tide and the fall of the tzars, the rise of Hitler, the Spanish Civil War, WWII, the French Résistance, and any significant event of the 20th century. Hell, he even managed to get the 1st visa ever issued by the newly formed state of Israel. Yes, he was first there too. He was elected at the prestigious French Académie Française and published over 80 books. At one point in time, he had met everyone that mattered and rubbed elbows with the stars, royalty, spies, army officers, artists, chefs and of course, renegades, mobsters and outlaws. Personally, I consider his classic Tous n'étaient pas des anges one of the best adventure books of all time. Yet, try to find any of his work in bookstores today. Good luck.

Airline
Pan Am (Pan American World Airways) once was a cultural icon of the 20th century and the unofficial flag carrier of the United States. It went bust in 1991.



And there are thousand other kings, queens, cities, cultures, civilization, languages, empires and conquerors once believed to be eternal and whose names are now forgotten.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away". 


- Percy Bysshe Shelley (and it was quoted in Dead Poets Society, another forgotten movie).

It has been said that we are alive as long as other people remember and tell our stories.

What about you? Who will remember you? 

1 comment:

tiggersiberian said...

One again you have written a masterpiece my friend!
I totally agree with you about both the movie and camera work, and the intro with the Dylan song. I also have to agree with Klosterman.
About Twiggy, I can assure you that I haven't forgotten her.
Concerning Fuller, is one of my favourite figure of the last century – for too many reasons to summarize here – but one being the felling it had on me while going up the escalator in the American pavilion, admiring the beauty of this structure, as architecture always had on me a strong hold.
Funny enough, the Duesenberg is, with the Bugatti’s, my favourite car because of its design and elegance, as you probably remember that I am fond of industrial design, especially when they reach the level of art.
I haven’t read “She”, but I intend to buy the book soon, because you stung my curiosity on that one. On the other hand, I have read many of the books that are on the list of the most popular ones of all time.
I always had a huge aversion for the Backstreet Boys, so I will go no further on the subject…
Aviation is also one of my field of expertise. It was really a bad timing linked to idiocy, or lack of knowledge, since Boeing had already announced in 1958 the rollout of the 707, which dominated the skies for almost two decades, thus signing the death sentence of Gander – it reminds me the story of another airport call Mirabel, both stories link to electoral promises.
When I was younger, so much younger than today, - houps! these are the lyrics of Hepl!; but anyway, my father was telling me stories about the oceans and seas of the world, and I remember how much this one was truly fascinating me: if someone would have told me then, that I would see it vanishing within my lifetime, I would have told that person that he/she was in serious need of a shrink! Never say never… The same goes for the gorillas, the tigers and so many other things that it makes me throw up!
Carnegie! I always taught it was a concert hall!?
Ursula Andress! I still remember the first time I saw her on TV and got hooked on the hour glass type figure, which it is not necessarily a good thing for a young boy… but I did not forget about her until, well I forgot when or if!
Well my friend, it look as if you made your list for me, since Kessel is one my preferred one too, and in the aviation world, Pan Am is not only an icon but the apotheoses of a brand – and they did had hell of a lot of Boeing 707, and boy they were so gracious; I was fortunate enough to fly in one!