A p.s. to yesterday’s story of John and Sammy’s house: You can’t see it, but underneath that tree is their nearly new Prius, and I’m told it survived the crash with only a few cosmetic dents. The massive oak’s trunk fell directly on the reinforced passenger compartment, something to remember the next time your uncle says he wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those death traps.
You hardly have to be a grizzled veteran of internet culture wars to know this story would be red meat for the blogs:
Marche Taylor’s prom night experience wasn’t what you would call “the norm.” That’s because instead of a night of dancing and hanging out with friends, the Madison High School senior ended up in a confrontation with school officials and escorted out in handcuffs. Officials said her dress was inappropriate for the prom.
I urge you to check out the video. “Inappropriate” doesn’t really describe it. The photo of Marche being rousted, taken as she passed under the hotel’s lit-up entrance, looks like nothing so much as a Vegas hooker bust.
This story got less attention:
Jasmine Donald calls herself an “over-the-top person,” so it’s fitting she rode to her prom last week in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Phantom.
Donald, 18, wanted to make a bold statement. And for $6,000, she did, thanks to a gift from her grandmother.
The Belleville teen stepped from the $340,000 luxury car into a crowd of paparazzi snapping shots of her walking into the once-in-a-lifetime event.
At least for a night, Donald led the lifestyle of the rich and famous — complete with hired photographers.
Both are pretty depressing, for any number of reasons. The first girl obviously has no one in her life to tell her one doesn’t go to a high-school dance dressed like Li’l Kim, the second no one to say a $6,000 gift from one’s grandmother should be spent on college, not a goddamn posse of fake paparazzi taking your picture. Even a car would last longer. (Hint to others considering this insane idea: When buying an experience from a jar, ask yourself, “Will the actor/participants in this laugh at me behind their backs?” If the answer is yes, save your money. Also: When you spend a hefty four-figure sum to have something be “all about me,” you need to reexamine your priorities.)
I guess it’s to be expected that a couple of shallow teenagers — and many other shallow teenagers, whose stories don’t make the paper — see their high-school proms as some sort of low-rent Oscar night. (Aided and abetted, I might add, by newspaper reporters who helpfully describe them as “once-in-a-lifetime” events. At the moment I am having a once-in-a-lifetime Tuesday morning. You don’t see me booking photographers.) They’ve been seduced by the cult of celebrity, ever detail of which is a filthy lie. The New Yorker had a great piece last week on the fashion world’s undisputed master of Photoshop, Pascal Dangin. How great is he? This great:
For a charity auction a few years back, the photographer Patrick Demarchelier donated a private portrait session. The lot sold, for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, to the wife of a very rich man. It was her wish to pose on the couple’s yacht. “I call her, I say, ‘I come to your yacht at sunset, I take your picture,’ ” Demarchelier recalled not long ago. He took a dinghy to the larger boat, where he was greeted by the woman, who, to his surprise, was not wearing any clothes.
“I want a picture that will excite my husband,” she said.
Capturing such an image, by Demarchelier’s reckoning, proved to be difficult. “I cannot take good picture,” he said. “Short legs, so much done to her face it was flat.” Demarchelier finished the sitting and wondered what to do. Eventually, he picked up the phone: “I call Pascal. ‘Make her legs long!’ ”
Pascal Dangin can make your legs long. But you need to read The New Yorker to learn that. I doubt poor Marche Taylor does so.
And to think, just last week I was feeling sorry for Mischa Barton and her cottage-cheese ass. Screw her. At least she got a few gift bags out of being a celebrity.
So let’s make this a mostly I Hate Celebrities/No Photoshop bloggage roundup today:
Who had to sit behind Sarah Jessica Parker at the “Sex and the City” premiere in London yesterday? My sympathies. (Psst, SJP: That thing was meant for the horses outside.)
And, as usual, the Daily Mail is on the We Point It Out Because We CARE beat, re: SJP’s hands.
OK, a late start today, maybe some improvement later, but for now, I gotta get to work. Carry on.
beb said on May 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm
You made me look at pictures of Sarah Jessica parker. Now I’m blind. Damn you nancy Nall!
colleen said on May 13, 2008 at 12:10 pm
“once in a lifetime” my heinie. I mean, yeah, it is, but as you point out, so is every day.
I didnt go to the prom. I lived. I’m ok with it. At the time, classmates were renting limos and I thought THAT was over the top. Hiring your own paps? Yikes. Six grand? Double yikes. I could pay for a big chunk of my bathroom renovation with that! (the ceramic chunk….)
beb said on May 13, 2008 at 12:12 pm
I understand there’s a lot of concern about the SmartCar being safe, it being so small and all. But it was designed with a rigorous crash cage around the passenger seats and rates well in crash tests. Also I like the answer a German engineer once gave to this issue, “We perfer to design cars that can drive around accidents.” All this in re the prius surviving its car-tree interaction.
It sounds ike the Belleville girl has attended one too many self-esteem classes in school. It’s better to feel good about yourself in life than thann to work at it.
As for the slutty prom dress there have always been slutty prom dresses and sl – er girls willin to wear them. But can you blame them when their idea of high fashion comes from a rap video?
LAMary said on May 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm
I went to my prom with my best friend Bill, who is still my best friend. I made my dress and we drove the family Dodge.
Afterwards we dropped acid. It was 1971.
Sue said on May 13, 2008 at 12:29 pm
1. Well, two experts cited the hat’s fabulousness, so who am I to make cracks about mutton dressed as lamb?
2. I went to my niece’s confirmation last weekend. When you have 14 year old not-tiny girls dressed in form-fitting (nice way to put it) outfits for confirmation, you know the world is about to end.
3. My Super Sweet Sixteen (MTV). The Sweetest Thing (Cameron Diaz movie, on cable last night). And, oh, yes, Sex and the City. The question is, why aren’t all our sweet young girls shrieking sluts?
MichaelG said on May 13, 2008 at 12:37 pm
OK, Marche’s “dress” was in poor taste. So let her put a on sweatshirt or something. I had to watch the video without sound so I probably missed the important parts. But I still don’t get the handcuffs. And I have come to hate the word “inappropriate”. It means everything and nothing to idiots who don’t like something but can’t articulate why they don’t like whatever it is they don’t like.
Didn’t the Bugman hail from Sugarland?
SJP’s hat is nothing. What about all those country and western singers who sit at award shows wearing those huge cowboy hats? Didn’t anybody ever tell them that a gentleman doesn’t wear a hat indoors? Kind of a self answering question.
brian stouder said on May 13, 2008 at 12:48 pm
Didn’t anybody ever tell them that a gentleman doesn’t wear a hat indoors?
If I were a principal of a school that had an officially sanctioned prom, it would be a learning event with extra-credit-paying opportunities for sociology, economics, and health.
(and, if our girls are ever dressed that way while they still live with us, it is a sure thing that they left the house dressed like upstanding citizens and then changed clothes at some point!)
Sue said on May 13, 2008 at 12:49 pm
MichaelG, from Lyle Lovett’s album, The Road to Ensenada, some lyrics that might explain the phenomenon:
“My mama told me
Son to be polite
Take your hat off
When you walk inside
But the winds of change
They fill the air
And you can’t set your hat down
But if it’s her you want
I don’t care about that
You can have my girl
But don’t touch my hat”
I love Lyle, although I suspect he is more misogynist than he might realize.
Jen said on May 13, 2008 at 12:50 pm
The limo-paparazzi-prom story turns my stomach! I absolutely cannot stand people who are frivolous with money, and that seems like the height of frivolity — especially when the economy is as down as it is! I’m not opposed to a small fun purchase now and then, but that is just ridiculous. What kind of crappy parents would allow a teenage girl to blow $6,000 on something so STUPID!?
I went to prom twice, without dates both times. I went with groups of girls both times. My mom made both dresses, and I know my junior year I went in an ancient and unreliable woody station wagon. Prom is incredibly overblown, especially in my small town. The whole town actually turns out for the Grand March before the prom, where everyone walks down a red carpet in the middle of the gym with their dates. I walked down with one of my other single female friends my junior year, fueling rumors of lesbianism through my senior year. I still wonder how many people saw my engagement announcement in the local paper a couple of months ago and said, “Wait – I thought she liked chicks!”
And just for the record, I cannot remember who were prom king and queen. It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a stupid dance.
alex said on May 13, 2008 at 12:55 pm
SJP’s dress in the hat picture is reminiscent of a 1970s rent-to-own-grade sofa.
Julie Robinson said on May 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm
In the small town where I grew up and in those ancient days, girls sewed their dresses for the big dances. Afterwards they wore them for band and choir concerts, awards days, maybe in the senior play. Renting a limo? No one had even seen one. Afterwards we went over to a friend’s house and hung out in the basement rec room. Mom and Dad snapped a picture on the Instamatic, so there was no need for an expensive photographer at the dance.
Oh yes, we also walked 10 miles to school in a blinding snowstorm, uphill both ways.
No one writes newspaper stories about the kids who basically do the same thing today. Our son and his friends carpooled in the family van, wore suits, and had dinner at one of the girls’ house first. I think the girls passed dresses around so they didn’t have to buy new.
They all seemed to have a great time too. The once-in-a-lifetime girls will turn into Bridezillas and will probably divorce early because no real man will be able to live up to their expectations of constant adulation.
Connie said on May 13, 2008 at 1:11 pm
I saw Miss almost naked at the prom interviewed on the news last night, and when I saw the dress my first thought, was, does this girl not have a mother?
I went to four proms with various guys at mine and other schools and it was all pretty basic. After parties usually involved an after hours visit to a local beach with some beer. My teen years coincided with Michigans 18 yr old drinking age years, so it was pretty easy to get.
And to connect this to the previous post: I bought my wedding dress off the Gantos after prom sale rack for $46. Remember Quiana? Perhaps you had a disco shirt made of it, like my dress. And it had long sleeves and a high neck.
My senior year my friend Andrea was sent home from school for wearing a strapless long dress with the gathered elastic bodice.
Sue said on May 13, 2008 at 1:17 pm
Hee hee, Connie: I was the one who had to break ground for my younger sister, and convince my mother that skirts above the knee (in 1972!) did not make me a slut. And to this day I hate to see girls wearing tops that show their bra straps, because you just don’t do that. How… inappropriate.
moe99 said on May 13, 2008 at 1:18 pm
In an odd bit of serendipity, the NYer article you posted about the touch up artist mentioned a movie he’d touched up due out this spring starring a woman, whose veins were showing on the top of her foot, which he through his magic tricks, removed from the picture. This is, of course, to be contrasted with the article you posted which dealt with SJP’s oddly visible veins in her hands as she’s in London for the premier of her movie this spring month. I will let you put 2 + 2 together.
whitebeard said on May 13, 2008 at 1:22 pm
It’s difficult to be absolutely unacquainted with the latest in fashion trends and the switch from upscale fashion-wise Montreal to downscale New England reinforced that feeling. When my oldest daughter visited from Montreal and got off the plane at the airport, I thought she had on a cotton nightgown because someone had confiscated her luggage and was going to suggest she go back home and get some proper clothes that were less “inappropriate.”
“Oh, Daddy.” she said, “this is what everyone is wearing in Montreal.”
I can remember, years earlier, when my youngest brother was visiting Montreal with his wife and was fascinated by the mannequins in store display windows who had very obvious nipples. I, in turn, pointed out Montreal girls who were wearing tight dresses with no bras and said “Look, Bill, real nipples.”
I got my comeuppance, however, when I pointed to his gaudy shirt hanging in the closest and was told it was his wife’s “dress.” His second wife dressed much more appropriately.
Julie Robinson said on May 13, 2008 at 1:48 pm
Connie, we are of an age; I remember lots of blouses made from Quiana. My high school sent girls home for coming to school without a bra. And of course the arbiter of fashion was the male, 60YO vice principal. Talk about inappropriate!
Dorothy said on May 13, 2008 at 2:12 pm
I made one of my two prom dresses (only went during my senior year, my school and his school). The other dress was one of the bridesmaids dresses I’d worn the previous November at my brother’s wedding. It was made of jersey fabric, had a halter neckline. It was a pretty purple shade, with a matching jacket that had this cool hood attached. When we got home from my prom, there was this HUGE sign on the front porch that my dad had made. “It’s a BOY!” My brother’s wife had given birth that night. He was 33 last Friday.
brian stouder said on May 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm
Great story, Dorothy!
John c said on May 13, 2008 at 2:21 pm
The first prom I went to my date wore a granny dress. And I wore a white tux. Care to guess my age?
And I’m not quite the grumpy old uncle who wouldn’t be caught dead in that death trap. I’d drive a Prius, but for the whole Toyota thing. I just wouldn’t drive my family around in one. A few years on the highway beat, during which time all manner of of highway safety journals landed on my desk, taught me one thing. When it comes to cars, bigger is safer, almost without exception. That assumes similiar technology in both of course. I think the Prius is safer than, oh, a Delta 88 without working seatbelts. Beb: I’m sure the Smart car is sturdily built and does well in crash safety tests – compared to other small cars. As for “driving around accidents,” that’s a pithy observation from a smirking German. But it doesn’t do much good when a texting teenager rolls a red light and slams into the passenger side where your 6-year-old is sitting. Me? I’ll take the side-curtain airbags and the reasonable heft of my Enclave.
Jeff said on May 13, 2008 at 3:16 pm
Re: celebrity culture, and “every detail of which is a filthy lie”
Back away, Nancy is starting to preach — testify, sister!
The wedding-industrial complex has branched into prom season, making it an early spring revenue enhancer, and more problematically, a dry run for the truly wallet-emptying, bank loan justifying, insanely extravagant and morbidly self-obsessed modern wedding. The worst of wedding-itis, which is WORSE than most people even suspect on their most cynical days, is starting to show up in high school prom life because a bunch of businesses are working hard to get their ethos draped over that end of the fenceline.
Does that girl have a mother? Shoot, i’ll bet you a mother and a grandmother, not to mention a few aunts, were directly involved in every detail of adhesive and cantilevering.
And no, i’ve not looked at the picture (nor those of SJP); y’all have described enough for me. But i’d stand by my bet.
(I was on my junior prom committee, named the silly thing; we were of the last couple years to decorate the school gym, which i think we did quite fetchingly, backboards invisible and stagecraft deployed in a four corner offense. That was thirty years ago, and they haven’t kept it at school since, i’m told.)
Jeff said on May 13, 2008 at 3:40 pm
And if she got handcuffed, five gets you ten she threatened someone in a fit of anger — she didn’t get cuffed for having a too tiny dress. Cops can be dumb, but not that stupid. All she’d need to do is say to an authority (teacher, principal, chaperone) “i’m gonna put a hurting on you/open a can of whoop-arse/someone’s gonna pay through their teeth” or some analogue thereof, and in today’s school environment, they wouldn’t hesitate a moment to take decisive action to get that person off the property and towards charges.
They’ve gotta do it. But her lawyer (oh, she’ll have a lawyer, her pick of lawyers, maybe in shifts) will work overtime — well, all the billable hours there are in a 25 hour day — to tell the public she was “just handcuffed over the dress incdient.” Then watch Dan Abrams turn into her best advocate and the meal ol’ school’s worst enemy.
MichaelG said on May 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm
Say but the word. Here’s your Smart Car wreck of the day.
moe99 said on May 13, 2008 at 4:20 pm
This article in Slate addresses the question of whether you can tell if a photo has been touched up:
nancy said on May 13, 2008 at 4:52 pm
That Slate story was good, but I think the operating rule now is: They’ve all been touched up. All. The “Gladiator” production designer came to UM the year before I was there, and reported there was one, exactly one, shot in that movie that didn’t have CGI work done on it. (If you’re wondering, it’s a brief shot of a bird, maybe the first or second one in the movie.) Fashion work is much the same.
The New Yorker story on the P’shop master was really interesting, and included a truly illuminating before-and-after that isn’t online, unfortunately. He took a nude photo of a bonepile model and gave her a fetching bottom, a lovely upturned breast and a sloping waistline — all things she was short on before.
But what I found interesting about it was his artistic vision. He’s not just a pimple-demolisher and ass-plumper; he really thinks about what should stay and what should go, what wrinkles are “interesting” and what aren’t, what simple color tweaking can do. He really sees a raw photo file as a blank canvas, a starting point for the finished product.
(Oh, and he did the Madonna Vanity Fair cover — the most recent one. He diplomatically said it was a success because the editor liked it, and Madonna loved it, but for his personal portfolio, he would have done it differently.)
In newspaper journalism, photo editors are constantly worrying about the ethics of Photoshop, and can argue for days about which effect is OK and which isn’t, but in magazines the debate’s over. Here’s a typical newspaper-editor unpacking of Photoshop, for a picture that wouldn’t make a magazine editor lose a minute’s sleep over.
alex said on May 13, 2008 at 5:07 pm
Remember the outcry when Time admitted to retouching O.J. Simpson and making him a little darker?
Laura said on May 13, 2008 at 5:14 pm
Nancy, are you following what’s going on at Upper Arlington HS today? It looks like police thwarted a potential Colombine situation.
Kirk said on May 13, 2008 at 5:37 pm
They’ve grabbed one kid and closed the school until Thursday. FBI spotted some stuff online about a threat to attack the school with grenades. Probably looking to round up some more kids tomorrow. Pretty weird. I live a half-block from the high school.
This school is Nancy’s alma mater, by the way.
LAMary said on May 13, 2008 at 7:03 pm
In the same issue of Vanity Fair with the retouched Madonna photos there’s an ad featuring a barely recognizable Sharon Stone. Her face is so retouched it looks two dimensional.
Connie said on May 13, 2008 at 7:20 pm
My first job out of grad school was at the UA public library. How long ago was that? Let’s just say Wendy was a junior, and those of you who know who I mean can figure it out for yourself.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 13, 2008 at 7:41 pm
God bless Dave Thomas, and the rich meaty goodness of a single with everything, served out the drive-up at 11 pm when you really need one.
nancy said on May 13, 2008 at 8:29 pm
I didn’t see that, Laura. Thanks for the heads-up. I wonder if there was a real threat, or just a kid gassing. UAHS and Columbine are very similar schools.
Laura said on May 13, 2008 at 8:31 pm
Wendy is my age. The Thomas family used to live in Westerville, OH, when Dave was a KFC man. They had a pool shaped liked a chicken.
nancy said on May 13, 2008 at 8:51 pm
As I believe we’ve discussed here before, Molly Thomas was my classmate. Her dad was already rich as Croesus, and she was one of the few kids whose parents bought her a brand-new car just for her, but it was a modest subcompact, IIRC. Back then, even in an affluent community, kids either drove beaters or mom’s station wagon. The idea of handing a 16-year-old the keys to a new car was something only the foolish rich would do.
Of course, that was before the ’80s.
velvet goldmine said on May 13, 2008 at 11:47 pm
I wish I could remember which photoshop artist — maybe it’s the one mentioned in the New Yorker — had a web site with examples of his work.
It’s genius. You see these stunning photos, and if you run the cursor over one, it transforms to the original, unretouched image. It’s amazing how virtually every inch of a photo is tweaked — from tiny little arm creases to butts that go down to the knees. No wonder stars are willing to pose in little more than their flip flops.
Dave said on May 14, 2008 at 1:53 am
When Dave Thomas died, I read an interview with one of his daughters who said her father couldn’t drive to the high school when she graduated because he had no idea how to get there. He did make a pile of money, though.
Laura said on May 14, 2008 at 8:45 am
Pam Thomas graduated with my sister (Westerville HS, 1972), when Wendy’s was small. My sister had no idea Pam Thomas was part of the Wendy’s Thomases until one of her class reunions, maybe 10-20 years out. Funny.
Re: Upper Arlington HS. I don’t know if the threat was a prank or what, but the UA police are combing through the school today to make sure all is safe.
brian stouder said on May 14, 2008 at 8:55 am
And now Wendy’s is a link in the same corporate archipelago as Arby’s….which cannot be good
John c said on May 14, 2008 at 9:15 am
I grew up a middle class kid in an upper class world (Fairfield County, CT) Many of my classmates got cars when they turned 16. Slightly less than many wrecked them, and got new ones. One friend whose dad was the CEO of a very large global corporation drove a Cadillac with a phone. This was 1979.
Jolene said on May 14, 2008 at 9:23 am
Not that I really have anything to say about it, but I just have to remark on that earthquake in China. The numbers keep going up. The Post is now saying that there are 15,000 confirmed dead and at least 40,000 trapped under rubble. Astonishing, and tragic.
Do y’all know James Fallows? He’s a wonderful writer. Is currently in China, where he keeps a not too frequently updated blog. He has some pictures of the area where the earthquake occurred taken on an earlier trip. Worth checking out and scroll down for entries from a couple of days ago.
brian stouder said on May 14, 2008 at 10:01 am
Thanks for the link, Jolene. Did you notice the extra-red cheeks on the children in the last photo? I noticed the same thing on the faces of the children in the post-quake pictures in the news, and thought it was injury-related…..but apparently that was incorrect.
Anyway – the cyclone and now the quake are powerful reminders of our own smallness (let alone the smallness of our daily concerns)
Besides the massive scale of the human cataclysm, the geographic scale of the quake is also astounding; I saw an overlay of the Chinese quake onto a map of the US, and if the same quake struck Missouri, it would be felt from California to New York
moe99 said on May 14, 2008 at 10:31 am
I went to college with a kid who’s dad was no. 2 in the Chicago mob (or reputed to be). He drove a Lincoln Continental Mark IV on campus which, since it was 1973 was absoutely outrageous and unheard of. He’d drive the car from his dorm to the dining commons, about 3 blocks straight north. Lots of wonderful stories about him, the shortest that once a bunch of us were in a park in Mpls with open bottles and the cops came by. He went into action, charming them so intensively, that they didn’t inspect our stuff. It was an amazing thing to watch. And pre-Godfather movie days.
Sue said on May 14, 2008 at 10:42 am
Several years after I graduated high school, the parents of a kid who didn’t have anyone to go home to (poor latchkey child) did something creative: they bought the house right next to the school. Not bought the house to live in, bought the house so their son could have a place to go to after school. Needless to say, Party Central was soon established. The experiment didn’t last long; they sold the house when wonder son was old enough to drive.
John said on May 14, 2008 at 11:04 am
Brian, don’t even joke about The Big One hitting New Madrid.
LAMary said on May 14, 2008 at 11:24 am
I know I’ve said it before. Shhhh. Don’t mention earthquakes. I’ve been through two good sized ones. No fun.
Connie said on May 14, 2008 at 12:07 pm
I got a car as soon as I turned 16, along with the assignment of being responsible for transporting two younger brothers. First car: 1969 VW hatchback automatic. I proved you could get a tuba in the back seat. After picking up a bunch of eighth grade boys from a skating party, I left them on the side of the road after one of them let off a firecracker in my back seat. I only went around the block and came back and got them. Two summers ago I saw the identical car – colors and everything – in the grocery store parking lot in Glen Arbor, and was amazed how ugly it was.
It got replaced by a brand spanking new 1972 Chevy Nova in gleaming white, envy of many of the boys in school. My uncle was a GM big wig and he ordered it at the GM bigwig price. My dad drove it home from the factory. It lasted until we moved to a house on a gravel road, and white just didn’t do it anymore.
My college graduation present was an almost new AMC Matador, the ugliest car in the world, which I drove for several years, including my Upper Arlington year. Perhaps you were one of the Columbus area drivers who screamed at me about my UM bumper sticker.
MaryC said on May 14, 2008 at 6:42 pm
What I find so weird about all the magazine-cover Photoshopping is how bad it is. It’s almost ostentatiously fake.
Look at Gywneth on the cover of May Vogue. This wouldn’t fool a kitten. No-one has arms that thin — the right one looks deformed. You can’t look at it and not know that half of her was brushed away and the other half was brushed smooth. And it’s not as if Gwyneth isn’t bone-skinny in the first place so what was the point?
I keep wondering if there isn’t some in-joke here that I’m not getting.
nancy said on May 14, 2008 at 7:05 pm
I have no problem believing Gwynnie’s arms are that thin. What the retoucher does is make them look good, too. And that’s what was so weird about the before/after nude in the magazine. The model was extremely thin, and had the sort of ass very thin women have — which is to say, not much of one. And without doing anything you’d call major retouching, but just by adding light and changing the curve the tiniest bit, presto, a pretty heart-shaped bum.
My guess is, Gwyneth’s arms were similarly enhanced. The problem is, people look to those photos to set a certain standard. And now more than ever, it’s utterly unattainable. Because even the people in the pictures don’t look like that.
P.S. The P’shop master, the French guy? Is a roly-poly hairy dude.