December 15, 2007

"The most important model of masculinity for a generation of Americans."

"He had transformed his persona from that of a skinny, boyish, even androgynous heartthrob with Brylcreemed curls, too-big jackets, sailor suits (!), and floppy bow ties into that of a suave man of authority and sensitivity in crisp, slim-line suits."

Obligatory Althouse info: My father looked just like him. See?

Richard Althouse

35 comments:

Ron said...

If he could only leave the gangsta taint behind...but no such luck!

Ann Althouse said...

Ron, I had to think twice to see what you meant there. Where does the slang end and the standard English begin?

Trooper York said...

It was the Lennon sister's who were the gangsta taint. Allegedly.

Ron said...

Using "gangsta" maybe slang, but it has a roughness and crudeness in its implication that fits that part of Frank's persona more succently than saying "Mr. Sinatra's Mafia associations hurt his reputation." What's wrong with that?

Ron said...

That picture shows a very young Sinatra. My first impression was that was a picture of the character actor Dan Duryea...He looks less gawky than Frank usually does in his pictures from that era.

George said...

Besides Fred, do men today have role models?

Not baseball players.

Not men on prime-time TV. Maybe it's just the 3,000 fashion makeover911showdownrunway shows my daughters watch. All the men on those shows are gay. Even the boys, er, men in the ads are gay.

I get the new issue of "Men's" Journal yesterday, the one with the elderly Jack Nicholson on the cover.

Here is what is in "Men's" Journal...a big photo of a mustachioed Iranian man in a flaming yellow nylon ski suit...Aspen Gay Ski Week (an "epic week...of "dance parties")...a story about some frog named Anthony Bourdain (conveniently near an ad about him)...a photo of two guys with corn cobs stuffed in their mouths [I am not making this up]..how to make potpie...how America's coyotes are being cruelly killed...how to do yoga ("[NBA star Lamond] Murray...is a thing of grace, strength, and beauty.")..."Her Secret Stash"--how you can use your wife or girlfriend's eye cream, lip stuff, moisturizers, tweezers, and exfoliants ("All eye creams would be great for a guy to use..."Men have serious issues with dryness")...an interview with the very old Jack Nicholson who says "I tried to hide the fact I smoke reefer from my youngest children. But I've been down to the schools, and engaged with the sensitivity groups, and realized there was no point in keeping it quiet as long as we had healthy discourse on the topic...And they knew [all about my drug use] anyway."

Ah, what else...how to make your child's life list your own. [what the hell is a life list?] ...marching with penguins, kissing the angry river...five black NIgerian terrorists pointing grenade launchers and AK47s at the head of their captive, an old white man, a motorboat load of 27 other Nigerian terrorists all with machine guns (these photos are in an article about why white people should definitely not, repeat, not go to Nigeria..."I want to kill a white man," says one "incessantly" stoned juju-protected kidnapper who enjoys cocking his AK-47 and placing the tip of its barrel against his hostage's skull), about 37 photos of sensitive-looking men, all with no chest hair, and a back page interview with the equally elderly long-forgotten Burt Reynolds who talks about the time he almost dropped his son out of his personal helicopter.

My kid almost fell out of a grocery cart once, so I can identify with that.

Yes, the issue does tell you how to eat an animal while it is still alive.

But that's just one paragraph. And it's about ripping open a salmon, and it's hidden on the bottom of p. 82. No photo, not even an illustration by Rob Ullman.

PS...The eye cream is needed "to hide the evidence of a big night out." I guess, like, if you've been at a "dance party," you big thing of grace and beauty, you.

Ann Althouse said...

Ron, the word that confused me wasn't "gangsta," it was the word after it, which I initially presumed was more slang.

And the picture in the blog post is my father.

Fashion cop said...

Bow ties are the shorts of neckties. They are for wimps. Always have, always will be.

Christy said...

My earliest memories of Sinatra was as a puffy-faced, always smoking, too suavely dressed guy with an entitled attitude. Sordid. He always gave me the creeps.

Your father looks quite handsome.

"Taint" is a word I grew up with. Is it one of those regional words? Only used in religous areas of the country, never to be heard in the godless blue states?

former law student said...

george: the ever-reliable wikip says that Bourdain was born in New York City but grew up in Leonia, New Jersey. He's written a number of autobiographical books.

Frank Sinatra's influence was on the parents of the baby boomers. They knew him when he made auditoria full of teen girls cream in their jeans. They knew him as an aging hipster who helped make "Vegas" seem sophisticated. They knew him as one of the then-popular Italian crooners, like Dean Martin, Perry Como, Luigi Prima, Tony Bennett, and the honorary Italian Andy Williams. And they knew him as the the guy their age who unaccountably married the stick figure Mia Farrow their daughter's age - which I notice the article left out.

former law student said...

to avoid further confusion: taint = perineum

Ron said...

Yes, I figured out the pic was your father after my post. It is quite a resemblance!

I tend to see Bogart more than Sinatra as being the more important model for that generation. Sinatra may be what men would like to see themselves as, but how many of us look -- and sing! -- like that, your dad not withstanding? A hard ass with a heart of gold, a stand-up guy, the guy who does the dirty work without credit when strutting poppinjays like Sinatra have moved on the next crap table/leggy dame/scotch; more men identify with vain self-medication through booze like Rick Blaine than leading The High Life.

I'm not saying these men are correct in their adaptation, just more likely to sail their boats than to cozy up to the Sam Giancanas of the world.

Ron said...

"Nonetheless, Sinatra’s musical achievement—which constituted perhaps the last sustained occasion when elite and mass musical taste would coalesce"

Really? Isn't that The Beatles, not Sinatra?

Ron said...

Taint, from Webster (verb form):

transitive verb
1: to contaminate morally : corrupt scholarship tainted by envy

2: to affect with putrefaction : spoil

3: to touch or affect slightly with something bad persons tainted with prejudice

intransitive verb

1 obsolete : to become weak
2: to become affected with putrefaction : spoil

AllenS said...

I thought that taint was that area between point A and point B.

AllenS said...

For those who are in the area and interested, it's Frank Sinatra hour on 1260 AM, Stillwater, MN.

bill said...

George ignorantly spoke: a story about some frog named Anthony Bourdain.

Bourdain was born in New York City and grew up in Leonia, New Jersey. His Travel Channel show, No Reservations is a foul-mouthed exploration of the world's culinary experiences. Did I mention foul-mouthed? Yeah, he swears a lot. He drinks and smokes and is a recovering heroin addict. While he's probably eaten a frog or two -- frog legs are surprisingly tasty -- he is not French.

mcg said...

About the only thing gangsta on me is my taint, so I know of what Ann speaks.

mcg said...

I thought that taint was that area between point A and point B.

Yes. Cause it t'aint A, and it t'aint B!

Ralph said...

Your father was hot! Titus would do him, no shearing required. (Probably not what one wants to think about one's parents).

Ron said...

Today's word on Pee Wee's AltPlayhouse is "taint."

Perhaps tomorrow's word will be "spoor."

Scream Real Loud!

George said...

I may be ignorant, but I got enough sense not to eat no mud dogs. Sounds like the man's got a good gig.

So, who's the manliest Presidential candidate?

When asked what his favorite possession was, Fred said, "Trophy wife."

Which candidate is too wimpy to have a snort, besides Brother Huck? Mitty. The man don't even drink coffee.

Ain't votin' for no man who don't drink no Jack.

What else do we have in manly or unmanly news?

It is the "fervent" hope of the NYT that all states will abolish the death penalty.

Lots of ferving at the Times.

Meanwhile, some death-row scum who killed his wife and son 20 years ago! gets to waste a judge's time in one of "the most bizarre courtroom scenes in recent memory."

To make a man out of her son, an idiot Staten Island mother sends him to...where? Liberia! While there. he watches beggar children eat the sugar cane wads he spits out. And he gets to see child soldiers rape and disembowel a pregnant woman!

She should have sent him to Montville, Connecticut, where yet another principal has banned play. But th man gives out lots of hugs. Sounds suspicious.

Better yet she should have sent him to Afghanistan where the Taliban burn childrens' winter clothes. "The Taliban has made it abundantly clear that no outside doctors, no outside medical help, can work in this district." (Wonder who's winning there?)

Meanwhile, you can't even step out your backdoor and shoot a deer any more because of "landowner aesthetics"!

Guess maybe I'll have to move to rural Tennessee where....oh, sorry, it's being "remediated" into an artists' colony.

The last straw? The new zombie flick “I Am Legend.” Rated R. My son asked me if I would help him sneak in to see it. Jesus, can’t 12-year-olds do anything for themselves anymore?

We've become a nation of wussies. In fact, the hot 2009 spring pre-order book on Amazon is "PussyNation: The Homoing of America."

And I say this as a man who just bought his little girl the loveliest powder-blue skating dress with a metallic hem and tights! The wife's at an auto parts convention.....

Gotta go now and "roast" my "chestnuts." After that, I have to "upholster" my "couch."

vnjagvet said...

Trooper Y:

Not the Lennon Sisters, but the McGuire sisters who had the mob connection. Specifically, Phyllis had a relationship with Sam Giancanna during the early sixties.

Trooper York said...

Vnjagvet, you are absolutely right. I always get those girls mixed up. The McGuire sisters were messing around with Momo and the boys from Chi town, and the Lennon sisters were doing Lawrence Welk. Allegedly.

wayne fontes said...

While reading the article I was trying to think of what man currently sets the bar as the model of masculinity for a generation and couldn't come up with one. Men I thought of were Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney and Will Smith but I don't think any of them have the impact of Sinatra or Cary Grant.

What do other's think?

Anthony said...

I was trying to think of what man currently sets the bar as the model of masculinity for a generation and couldn't come up with one.

Good question. I was wondering the same thing a coupe of months ago when I watched a documentary of Cary Grant.

At this point I fear that the job of male role model has passed to sports stars and rappers, sadly.

Blake said...

Aaand, Former Law Student ruins a perfect chance for an Abbot & Costello moment on Althouse...

Blake said...

Hey, Ann, did Sinatra look like your father or did your father look like Sinatra?

In other words, did they arrive at the point independently or was one influenced by the other? (Heh.)

Zeb Quinn said...

What's totally ignored is what nearly undid his career, and why he worked so hard to transform himself: his draft avoidance in WWII. Something done at the insistence of and with the connections of his mother. Back in his "skinny, boyish, even androgynous" phase it was his mother who called all the shots in his life. Indeed, she was the source of the "mob connections." And she was the one who decided that his career would not be interrupted by military service, and she had the means, connections, and overall wherewithal to make that happen.

Avoiding the draft in that era had severe social consequences. Bobbysoxers may have swooned, but virtually everybody else including most males derisively scoffed and sneered at him. Most importantly, even the Italian-American community began to snub him.

So it was reinvention time. It was no mere accident that he made a series of movies as a service member or as a veteran. Anchors Aweigh (think sailor suit), From Here to Eternity, Some Came Running, Never So Few, Ocean's Eleven, Sergeants 3, Manchurian Candidate, Von Ryan's Express. Think making all those are just mere coincidence? Think maybe he was trying to compensate for something?

Ralph said...

Zeb, interesting story. Could super-macho gangstas just be compensating for having been bossed around by single mothers, and street cred is just a by-product?

mcg said...

Look, if my pal Rush can avoid service due to a boil on his butt, Frankie can sure as hell duck it due to a gangsta taint.

Zeb Quinn said...

Look, if my pal Rush can avoid service due to a boil on his butt, Frankie can sure as hell duck it due to a gangsta taint.

Not an apt comparison. By 1969 everybody was looking for a way out of the draft, and there was no stigma attached to doing it (in fact, the only stigma I know of is the one leftards try to impose now on conservatives now, 40 years after the fact, kinda like what you just did). But there was enormous stigma in WWII.

theo said...

I never much liked Sinatra and always thought that his popularity exceeded his talent although his musical arrangers were top notch.

I never liked the tough guy image that he cultivated considering he was pretty much a little fellow and had others be his muscle.

Where I live either of those two statements alone could condemn me to being knee-capped.

I saw 'From Here To Eternity' for the first time thew other night and took pleasure in the notion that Sinatra was beaten to death in the last act.

I know that sounds harsh but...

former law student said...

By 1969 everybody was looking for a way out of the draft, and there was no stigma attached to doing it (in fact, the only stigma I know of is the one leftards try to impose now on conservatives now, 40 years after the fact, kinda like what you just did).

Back in 1969 only liberal hippie scum draft dodgers were looking for a way out of the draft. The only stigma was being called liberal limp-dicks who thought that serving our country was less important than saving their candy asses. The least obnoxious draft dodgers were the pampered, spoiled darlings whose daddies had enough clout to put them in the National Guard.

Go gargle some of your bongwater. These colors never run.

mcg said...

Not an apt comparison. .... blah blah blah

Holy crap, what is it about this thread that people can't let a lousy joke lie?