April 23, 2005
Yesterday, a friend of Gus's who supplies various restaurant chains with top-shelf Western decor came in my office and told me that Black Angus is building 25 new steak houses in South Korea and that the motif is basically 1950's, funky Westerns. Michael Collier told me they love those old Westerns all over Asia and for some reason the old 1950's Westerns are the ones they prefer.
Exactly one year ago, I went on a border trip with Bart Bull and he was saying this then, that the old, funky 1950's True West, trumps the newer, slick version. Bart has always been a visionary that way, seeing things coming down the pike before anyone else.
I was talking to Kathy this morning and trying to track nostalgia trends in an attempt to make sense of it all. It seem to me, they come around in twenty year cycles (the seventies spawned American Grafitti and Happy Days, the nineties spawned That Seventies Show, etc.), but this is a new wrinkle. We're talking about a half century ago being hip. Perhaps it’s a delayed boom, China and Korea are catching up sociology-wise (an emerging middle class?) and perhaps that is why. I don’t really know, but it’s all intriguing.
I worked on various Curly Bill imagery today and I must admit I leaned on the 1950's feel, more than I normally would. Of course, I still utilize old photos and try to catch the styles and little nuances of 1880’s horse gear, the horses themselves (they are so much smaller!) and of course the hat styles, which are all over the map. Still, I can spot 1960's illustrations of the Old West a mile away (mostly it's the Beatle bangs that give it away), and the same is generally true of the seventies, eighties and nineties. I guess it’s safe to say, any era you choose has a lock on the look (Faye Dunaway’s puffy 1960’s hairdo in Bonny and Clyde is a perfect example).
I read a great quote about all of this last night in the New Yorker:
"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells the less you know."
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