Friday, July 27, 2012

A Failed Post (And A Little Something Extra)

Today’s post didn’t work out the way I’d planned. Big fail. I feel the internet let me down.

I had planned a post comparing an actual, real bit of reality to a famous bit of fake reality that was presented as realistic.

So today’s post was going to be all philosophical and, almost predictably for me, I was going to say a lot about the young woman in this image. Without looking at the paragraph below the picture, does everyone recognize her?

That’s a young Cindy Crawford, of course, in a Victor Skrebneski photograph for an old Chicago Film Festival poster. That’s from somewhere in the early 1980s (the guy is Dolph Lundgren). I found the photo at this website.

In today’s post—the way I’d planned it—I was going to compare a famous fictitious photographer and his fake work, to the particular point in Victor Skrebneski’s career when he made Cindy Crawford famous (or when Cindy Crawford made Skrebneski even more famous, whichever way that worked).

But I ran into a problem.

Apparently because of the big falling-out between Cindy Crawford and Victor Skrebneski when she decided to let other photographers take her picture, a great deal of their relationship has been—to use the modern term—‘scrubbed’ from pop culture. It is hard to find classic Skrebneski photographs of Crawford on the web. His Wikipedia page only mentions her once. Her Wikipedia page only mentions him once. And as far as I can tell at their personal websites (his is Skrebneski Photographs and hers is Cindy) they don’t mention each other at all.


I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life. I’ve loved photography almost my whole life. This is how I remember the Victor Skrebneski/Cindy Crawford business. (Or affair. Or business and affair, whichever way that worked.)

In the early 1980s Victor Skrebneski and Cindy Crawford were the very biggest thing happening in the photography world. The images—so far as I know—never were considered ‘art’ the way, for instance, Ansel Adams images were considered art, but they were the most popular pop photography images of that era. They really created and defined that high-contrast, up-close, sexy and beautiful style of image making. Skrebneski had already been a successful commercial photographer but he became, for a while, a house-hold name like Peter Max or Leroy Neiman. (Almost exactly like them, in fact.) Cindy Crawford went from being an almost unknown young nobody to be being the era’s defining supermodel. She wasn’t an actress, she wasn’t a celebrity. She was just Victor Skrebneski’s model and those still images alone—his images of her, the way he saw her—turned her into a supermodel.

Then Cindy Crawford—apparently always the businesswoman, always Cindy, always thinking ahead—decided that it would be foolish to allow her images to be associated with only one photographer, one approach to her look. So she decided to leave Chicago and work with other photographers.

And Victor Skrebneski got upset and, so far as I know, the feud lasted a very long time. I have no idea if they are friends now thirty years later, but it is certainly hard to find documentation for their amazing work together.

So now it is just an episode from real-life pop culture that happened, but, in a way, the reality will be lost to young people since a chronicle of those events doesn’t exist in any easy-access place on the internet. (I suppose the most easily available account is in Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women but I haven’t read that in a long time so I don’t remember how detailed it was.)


And I couldn’t really use it as an example for today’s post since—for all practical purposes now—it never happened.

It makes me think of my post: A Squirrel And A Donut For Ever And Ever


So that’s why today’s post failed. I just assumed I could find lots of Skrebneski photos of Cindy Crawford to use and I just assumed I could find lots of accounts of their relationship I could link to, but when I looked around I found almost no references to them that I could use at all.

Maybe someday I’ll come back to this. There are a lot of people who appear to me to be something like con men—they make up prattle about this-or-that approach to entertainment and build their prattle around this-or-that kind of commitment to what they call realism but their prattle is just exactly that: Prattle. (I don’t mean Skrebneski and Crawford were con artists—just the opposite, I meant to use them as examples of what is real, actual realism.) It bugs me and someday when I find other illustrations from actual real-life reality that I enjoy talking about as much as Cindy Crawford and Victor Skrebneski I will return to this topic and re-build this failed post.


I do have something extra since my real post didn’t work out.

I’m not exactly sure what this is, but it has been knocking around my awareness for something like two years so it is about time I put it here on the blog so I can get it out of my mind.

One of the very first brand names I talked about here at the blog is the North Face.

I like many of their camping products and I own a (red) North Face jacket that I like a lot. And I posted about an unpleasant moment I had with someone who didn’t like North Face jackets.

I also mentioned the brand in: Ephemera And Antiphony


A couple of years ago North Face popped up in a place I never thought I would see it. It was, sort of, in a political context. Or, more exactly, an espionage context.

I don’t much like politics. About the only time I like politics is when it touches on something that seems impossible or, at best, unbelievable. When I think of politics I think of posts like these:


Turning Away From A Bookshelf

This Bright Old World Of Ours As A Rune

Distance From Paris To Berlin

The Monster Thought Of The Waldensians

The Application Of Beyond Understanding

A couple of years ago North Face popped up in a real-life news story about the bizarre murder of a wiz-kid British spy.

The guy was found naked, folded up, and stuffed into gym bag and the gym bag was found pad-locked from the outside and placed in the guy’s bathtub.

And who made the gym bag? I bet everyone can guess. Yep.

It was a North Face gym bag.

I didn’t mention the story at the time because, well, it was just so bizarre. But I’d always remembered the reference to the North Face.

It’s worth pointing out that the very phrase “north face” typically refers to the north face of a famous mountain in Europe, the Eiger, and a very famous spy novel was written about a spy trying to climb the north face of the Eiger, “The Eiger Sanction.”

So anyway a couple of years ago a dead British spy was found folded up inside a North Face bag.

The story was back in the news a couple of months ago when WIRED magazine, for some reason, did a pretty detailed follow-up of the original story.

I’m mentioning it now for two reasons.

One reason is because it is related to the other mentions I’ve made of the North Face. So it something like a loose end.

Secondly: When the police searched the dead spy’s apartment they found a bunch of weird stuff. In classic espionage, so-to-speak ‘fan’ mythos, his death scene had elements which are ‘traditionally’ associated with CIA activity—i.e., weird sexual paraphernalia.

One item listed just sounded absurd two months ago. Today, after the Colorado so-called Batman shooting, and the almost endless media pictures everybody has seen of the apparent shooter and his bizarre orange hair, that one item now seems something more than bizarre.

This is something on the other side of the application of beyond understanding.

Here is an excerpt from the WIRED story, and a link to the complete story (I’ve added emphasis to one phrase):

Williams flew up to four times a year to the U.S. to the NSA’s headquarters at Fort Meade HQ. His uncle, Michael Hughes, told the British paper the Mirror that Williams would mysteriously disappear for three or four weeks.

“The trips were very hush-hush,” Hughes said. “They were so secret that I only recently found out about them – and we’re a very close family. It had become part of his job in the past few years. His last trip out there was a few weeks ago, but he was regularly back and forth.”

He is believed to have returned from a trip abroad on August 11, 2010. He was last seen alive on August 15, eight days before his body was found.

Investigators, however, said they have ruled out that Williams’ death was related to his work, although they have not revealed how they arrived at this conclusion.

There were rumors leaked to the press that the coder’s death had to do with sexual play. The browser history on Williams’ computer and one of his phones showed that he had visited bondage sites, and former landlords testified that they once found the coder tied to his bed wearing only boxing shorts. He told them he had just been “messing around” and had tied the bindings too tightly. Investigators also found more than $30,000 worth of women’s designer clothes and accessories in his apartment, as well as a woman’s brightly colored orange wig.

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