"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Birthdays Today

These two birthdays don't go together.   You were warned.

First, it's Marcel Duchamp's birthday.   Born in 1887, Duchamp was one of the key figures in modern painting, associated with the cubist, Dadaist and surrealist movements.   Not necessarily my cup of tea, but paintings like this have, if nothing else, a historical value:

Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912

The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, 1923

It's also Rudy Vallee's birthday.   The pop crooner from the 1920s was born in 1901.   I remember him best as the Chairman of the Board of Worldwide Widget in the musical, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying from the 1960s with the great Robert Morse (now on Mad Men).   But here he is when he was just becoming famous -- sort of an early prototype for Frank Sinatra (or a bad Bing Crosby) -- singing "I'm Just a Vagabond Lover" in 1929:

A different world.  On the other hand, thinking about Vallee singing in 1929, with the world about to go off a cliff economically, maybe it's not that different after all.

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