It is clear that fame is changing—influence for the sake of influence is becoming a business model as a result of social media, where fortunes are made by commodifying personalities and popularity is birthed by algorithms.
If you want to know someone, ask them about their politics. But if your goal is to understand someone—how they think, what they value, how they view the task of moving through this life—ask them what’s in their liquor cabinet.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: She lived a long, well publicized life. She knew and loved, was married to or had affairs with, some of the most famous men of her time. Now, decades after her death, she is still, if not famous, then legendary.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Suzanne Valadon has been associated with the streets of Montmartre— from the days of the Paris Commune in 1871, far beyond her death in 1938, to the present day.
I thought it might be interesting to find one anecdote to best encapsulate the strange life of William Seabrook. But, then, his life was so full of incident and he knew so many of the kind of people who are ornaments to any reminiscence that it seemed too daunting a task.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Richard Myrle Buckley, a former logger, was not only decades outside his time, he was untamable and unclassifiable. Some other way lies fame and fortune, his way lies legend.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: The most notorious of all female spies, the personification of the femme fatale, the mysterious exotic and erotic dancer from the East, Mata Hari was really Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, who broke away from her Friesland home in the Netherlands by answering a personal ad in the newspaper.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: According to the reporter on the Virginia City Enterprise, a fellow named Mark Twain, Menken had the effect of “a vast spray of gas jets.” She was “a magnificent spectacle.” Not a star but “a whole constellation.”
FROM THE ARCHIVE: By the time Eliza Lynch was 25 years old she owned more real estate than any other woman in the world: in addition to dozens of town and city properties, 10 million hectares of countryside.