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Description: Jet Age Aesthetic: The Glamour of Media in Motion
~The longer a book takes to write, the longer the list of people and institutions one accumulates to gratefully acknowledge, which I do here. Yet every one of my scholarly projects has also been rooted in a moment from my always colorful childhood spent with a mother whose patron saint was Auntie Mame, and who thus never modified her sharp-tongued wit...
PublisherYale University Press
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The longer a book takes to write, the longer the list of people and institutions one accumulates to gratefully acknowledge, which I do here. Yet every one of my scholarly projects has also been rooted in a moment from my always colorful childhood spent with a mother whose patron saint was Auntie Mame, and who thus never modified her sharp-tongued wit because she was speaking to a child. When I was eleven and seeking to assert my own aesthetic, I asked my mother if I could redecorate my room, having outgrown the fun-house orange and red shag rug, yellow dressers, and Barnum & Bailey posters that hung on my walls. (Never once did it dawn on me this was a crazy decorative scheme!) I proposed to paint the room sky blue, replace the shag with a deep blue wall-to-wall carpet, purchase a silver desk with metal swivel chair, and place a mirrored and silver coffee table in the center of the room, on which I would put a television. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Why don’t you go live in an airplane?” Finally, I took her advice. I’m sorry she is not here to see the result.
Driven by the will to understand my mother’s dismissal of my seemingly bad taste, I reached out to legitimate authorities and am grateful they answered my call. This book has been generously supported and underwritten by research fellowships and associated institutions that have provided funds and time for me to work on it, as well as access to research collections. I want to thank the John Randolph Haynes Foundation, the Getty Scholars Program and Getty Research Institute, the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. I am grateful for the Provost’s Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences Fellowship at the University of Southern California, and I thank Beth Meyerowitz, the USC Dornsife College of Arts and Sciences, and Dean Peter Mancall.
With those funds and that time, I traveled to many archives and collections. I want to thank the staffs of the San Francisco Airport Museum; the Flight Path Learning Center at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), especially the indomitable Trojan Ethel Pattison; Special Collections, Yale University; the Library of Congress; the archives of the Aéroports de Paris; the Air France Archives; Special Collections, University of Miami; the Transportation Library, Northwestern University; Special Collections, the University of Chicago; Special Collections, New York Public Library; Getty Images, London, especially Justyna Zarnowska; the International Center for Photography; the Center for Creative Photography; the Fondation Yves Saint Laurent; the Walt Disney Company Archives, especially Kevin Kern and Becky Cline, and Jenny Cohen of the Disney Corporation; the Heritage Center at the Anaheim Public Library; and the New-York Historical Society. Studying the work of Ernst Haas also brought me into contact with people who knew him. Inge Bondi met with me twice and shared her research, teaching me a great deal about the history of photography as scholar and witness. Philip Gittelman also shared his archive of materials regarding Magnum Films. Alex Haas and Victoria Haas, the children of Cynthia Seneque and Ernst Haas, have enlivened what is usually dusty research for me. I have also benefited from the research assistance of Laura Kalba, Luci Marzola, Kelsey Chung, and Marc Castellini. Sammy Goldenberg was a model undergraduate research assistant and wrote a prizewinning senior thesis at USC about LAX under my direction. Ellen MacFarlane, Myles Little, Aaron Rich, Isabel Wade, and Ben Gaylord were the remarkable Oompa-Loompas who helped get this manuscript out the door. They have my thanks and their freedom. My thanks also to Yale University Press, especially Katherine Boller and Sarah Henry. Heidi Downey made my prose better. Jason Weems provided a generous and helpful manuscript review.
Like any project that has taken shape over this many years, I also shared my unpublished work in many scholarly settings at the invitation of generous colleagues. They have left their indelible marks on its pages. I extend my appreciation to Will Straw, Joanne Sloane, Peter Geimer, Romy Golan, Chris Wood, Jan Von Brevern, Willa Silverman, David Bell, Phil Nord, Seth Koven, Dominique Kalifa, Kim Timby, Christian Delage, Thierry Gervais, Britt Salvesen, Paul Roth, Gaëlle Morel, Laura Wexler, Anne Higonnet, André Gunthert, Marie Thébaud Sorger, and most especially Nathalie Roseau. I want to especially acknowledge several colleagues with whom I developed long-term and ongoing intellectual ties. In Paris, I would like to express my warm appreciation to Antoine de Baecque and Emmanuelle Loyer: hosts, interlocutors, and compagnons de route. I have been privileged to work with the team at the Terra Foundation, especially Veerle Thielemans and Francesca Rose. In Geneva, Jean-François Staszak and Estelle Sohier made my visits especially productive, memorable, and fun. In Israel, Ruth Iskin, Moshe Sluhovsky, and Gal Ventura welcomed me in the Negev and in Jerusalem. I have never been happier as an historian than to watch the sun rise in a crater in the Negev while pondering the antiquity of the trails there, engrossed in writing a book about modern mobility, while feeling as if I had also gone home.
For the duration of this project, USC has been my academic home and Santa Monica my residence. At USC, I have had the good fortune to have Richard Fox, Elinor Accampo, and Nathan Perl-Rosenthal as friends and interlocutors. The Department of Art History has become my home despite my being a wandering and undisciplined thinker; I thank my Chairs, Kate Flint and Amy Ogata. My intellectual energies on campus have been most fulfilled by the Visual Studies Research Institute, a volunteer fire department from across the campus. When Jennifer Miller got her PhD in art history, I told her if the VSRI ever became a more legitimate operation, I would ask her to come back. She is more than our associate director. She is a colleague and friend who loves hard work as much as she loves going to the happiest place on earth. VSRI faculty Kate Flint, Amy Ogata, Laura Serna, Ann Marie Yasin, Sherry Velasco, Akira Lippit, Pani Norindr, Henry Jenkins, Michael Renov, Vittoria Di Palma, Julian Gutierrez-Albilla, and especially Nancy Lutkehaus and Daniela Bleichmar, made me happy to come to campus. These colleagues and the Art History VSRI squad—Susanna Berger, Jennifer Greenhill, Suzanne Hudson, and the irrepressibly intellectual Megan Luke—sustain me beyond my personal work. The VSRI’s “special guest star,” WJT (Tom) Mitchell has modeled intellectual generosity and openness. Participants in the Mellon Sawyer Seminar, especially those not already mentioned: David Henkin, Martin Jay, Michael Leja, Billie Melman, Sumathi Ramaswamy, the late François Brunet, and my sister from another mother, Jennifer Tucker, have improved my thinking on so many subjects. Debby Silverman and I had to return to New York as Cullman Center Fellows during the same year to figure out we could talk more in L.A. A silver lining to that otherwise cold, gray year.
I have been fortunate to work with a number of talented postdoctoral fellows as I wrote this book. Ellen MacFarlane, Justin Underhill, Allan Doyle, Estelle Blaschke, Aaron Wile, Jason Nguyen, and John Blakinger helped the VSRI and my schemes, never questioning why I was taking them to Disneyland while saying it was work.
The friends and family who lived through this book while refraining from asking “When are you finally going to finish it?” are owed a special debt for that and much more. Elinor Accampo, Peter Mancall, Diane Winston and Chris Bugbee, Jennifer Tucker, Heidi Tinsman, Jon Weiner and Judy Fiskin, Steve Byrnes and Jamie Mandelbaum, Karen Kornbluh and Jim, Daniel and Sam Halpert, Aurie Hall, Marcy, Ellis and Graham Wilder, all embraced the spirit of travel—oh, the places we’ve been! Stephanie Friedman and Leo Charney have journeyed with me through both time and space; I hope they will remember my past if there comes a time I can’t because they were almost always there. Marie-Karine Schaub and Jean-François, Melchior and Eliane Staszak have proved that you are never too old to make new friends who feel like family. The Posels, en gros, have been my dream family to have married into. David Houts helped make my family, and then together with Leo and Isaac Houts and Becky Berman, we all became a twenty-first-century bicoastal Brady Bunch, proving you need jets to raise our village. My father, Ron Schwartz, has been the greatest influence in my life. I hope we will meet up in the Good Place and that it really is good.
This book is my professional mid-century modern. Certain friends and mentors continue to show me the ropes in so many ways. Lynn Hunt remains a model of clear thought, practical advice, and essential intelligence. At vital junctures she has always said the key thing. Nancy Troy and Wim deWit know that work friends are real friends. Nancy loves her phone almost as much as I do and generously problem-solves, whether the dilemma is archival, historiographic, or familial. Three people I first met in Berkeley continue to be fellow-travelers. Ed Dimendberg made my career when I was a grad student and saved this book from being thrown into the Seine. My respect and admiration for his intellectual eclecticism and commitment to ideas are boundless. I speak to Sarah Farmer almost every day. She is country mouse to my city mouse. Our friendship proves that opposites attract, and I still thank her for driving to Disneyland with me after my exams in 1990. Deborah Cohen arrived a few years after I did in Berkeley like a whirlwind—all brilliance, humor, and generosity. Her advice on this book made it both smarter and more user-friendly; her interventions at key moments in my life and in this book changed both immeasurably. When I picked Daniela Bleichmar as a post-doc fifteen years ago, I had no idea that I was going to get both a valued friend and respected colleague out of that pile. Our collaboration in graduate teaching and in writing has been an important part of this project.
This book is about the future arriving in the present and is dedicated to those people who gave my present a future. It is dedicated to my doctoral advisees (and a few honorary ones), also known as “the minions,” in reference to the irrepressible yellow creatures who speak their own nonsense language and create mayhem in the lab of Gru, the crazed but lovable villain of the Despicable Me movies. Enough said. Our antics together may have slowed its production, but their many gifts are apparent on every page, and their presence made my devotion to scholarship and research feel worthwhile. Laura Kalba, Jason Hill, Brian Jacobson, Ryan Linkof, Anca Lasc, Matthew Fox-Amato, Catherine Clark, Mark Braude, and Nadya Bair have completed their theses and published books. Kelly McCormick, Jonathan Dentler, Aaron Rich, and Natalia Lauricella will soon. Your work is cited in the endnotes, but beyond that, our conversations gave this book lift. It has been a joy to be taught by you in these years.
The other person to whom this book is dedicated is my daughter, Rachel Sophie Isaacs Schwartz. This book was written between the time of her Bat Mitzvah and her college graduation. As in the dream ballet in the musical Billy Elliot, it has felt like watching the little dancer take flight next to the grown one. Rachel’s intellectual, creative, and artistic talents impelled this project forward in ways she probably cannot name, while she was also the only person who could get me to not work on my book, and happily so. We took vacations in many places. I watched her rehearsals and performances. We talked about school, politics, and love. She attended my conferences and cocktail parties (with the graduate students!). And we took so many trips to Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland. It has also been my joy to be taught by you in these years, even if saying so makes you think I am comparing you to my students. More important, and definitely incomparably, you have been the love of my life since the day you were born.
I earned million-miler status on United Airlines while writing this book, giving me Gold Status for life. There is only one person with whom I share that status: my wife, Rebecca Isaacs, with whom I have been the same number of years that I have been a United flyer: twenty-nine. Her patience, generosity, kindness, and sense of adventure have guided us through sometimes stormy skies, allowed us to often fly in comfort in the front of the plane, and always to cross the globe, together. Whether ensconced in European splendor or sitting on a recommissioned prop plane in the jungles of Latin America, she has enriched every book and made living a form of learning. Although I anticipate a future life on the move together, especially chasing our runaway bunny, the sun always sets in the west. Standing beside her on our balcony watching the orange-pink skies of Santa Monica at the close of day may not exactly match the colors of my childhood bedroom in Manhattan, but I know I am home. And it is better than living in an airplane.
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