Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Impossible Cool
August 18, 2009 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Mastroianni. Bardot. Mingus. Balenciaga. Camus. McQueen. The impossible cool.
posted by pts (67 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hemingway was a wanker thoughbut.
posted by mippy at 8:40 AM on August 18, 2009


Bardot ain't so cool.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:40 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, are we supposed to print these and put them on the dorm room corkwall?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 AM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Most of these people were impossible jerks. Why not the impossible cool?
posted by item at 8:45 AM on August 18, 2009


Agreed, black and white photographs, especially when well-composed, look cool.
posted by DU at 8:45 AM on August 18, 2009


I grew out of pin ups of celebrities in high school when I realized I had their mugs on my wall but they didn't have any of me on theirs...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:47 AM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


McQueen was awesome.
posted by oddman at 8:48 AM on August 18, 2009


The men run the gamut from old to young, ugly to handsome, fat to skinny, etc., but every single woman is young, slim and gorgeous. I'll pass.
posted by iconomy at 8:48 AM on August 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


AK, so you can't admire someone unless they admire you? That's a bit odd, isn't it?
posted by oddman at 8:49 AM on August 18, 2009


I like the Les Paul shot. Otherwise, meh.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:49 AM on August 18, 2009


I have to admit those pictures do look cool. However looking at them does not make one feel very cool....and that ain't cool.
posted by therubettes at 8:55 AM on August 18, 2009


Aaaah yeah, the cool of being a celebrity. The top snippets from somebody's life paraded in front of us like that's who these people are 24/7.

Not cool.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:57 AM on August 18, 2009


This cool is even, like, impossibler.
posted by everichon at 8:58 AM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


*Alerts urban dictionary in case they need an illustration under the "player hater" definition*
posted by Bookhouse at 8:58 AM on August 18, 2009


AK, so you can't admire someone unless they admire you? That's a bit odd, isn't it?

Oddman: Not at all -- if I had a choice of putting a picture of a total stranger who not only didn't know I existed, but couldn't care less if I was safe or in trouble or a picture of someone who cared if I stayed out too late for too long, I pick the person who actually cares about me. They may not be famous, but to me, balance comes from a mutual relationship -- you see too many celebrities warp into miserable, ego-fueled divas who have a bloated sense of entitlement -- at least I know I am doing my part not to enable that toxic behavior...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:00 AM on August 18, 2009


Well, since we've been Godwinned already (Hitler lacks the necessary aura of detachment/internality necessary for "cool", btw), let's do gender politics, too! There's an interesting dynamic at work in this site - no quotes from women, no "jolie-laide" women, and two notable beauties in menswear. It seems the author strongly associates "cool" with masculinity (also, black-and-white photography, cigarettes, and trench coats). There are some striking images here, but overall, it's a very limited perspective and I've already wasted way too much time on it.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:01 AM on August 18, 2009


Impossible--for me--cool.
posted by everichon at 9:02 AM on August 18, 2009


I'm a little weary of the idea that the only things that have ever or will ever be cool were happening in Paris or Hollywood in the 50s and 60s. I think Steve McQueen is as cool as the next guy and all, but it's a bit much at this point. There's been plenty of cool stuff that's gone on in the last 50 years, although relatively less of it has been photographed in moody black and white.
posted by Copronymus at 9:03 AM on August 18, 2009


Love this portrait of Basquiat.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:03 AM on August 18, 2009


They're all wankers if you look long enough.
posted by belvidere at 9:05 AM on August 18, 2009


Love it.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:05 AM on August 18, 2009


Love it more.

I'm sorry so many of you dislike the blogger's aesthetic, but I enjoy it. It's a good arguement to quit smiling in photographs.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:13 AM on August 18, 2009


Hitler lacks the necessary aura of detachment/internality necessary for "cool", btw

Which is another point. Disengagement/disinterest as "cool" is a major social problem.
posted by DU at 9:14 AM on August 18, 2009


Bardot was freaky hot. Shame about all the crazy racism.

If Sofia Loren is a crazy racist, please don't tell me.
posted by chunking express at 9:15 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, if there's one thing I've learned growing up, it's that cigarettes do make you look cool, no matter what they tried to tell me in school.
posted by silby at 9:15 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


cigarettes do did make you look cool

I find that nowadays they make one look marginalized and a little furtive.
posted by everichon at 9:19 AM on August 18, 2009


Well, if we've already been godwinned, there's this.
posted by condour75 at 9:19 AM on August 18, 2009


Bob: And, we're back from the break! Let's recap the action for the folks.

Jim: Sure thing, Bob. Y'know, this really is just a perfect example of what makes the Metafilter team great. pts starts with a few links to a one of those single-serving blogs the kids are so into these days. I interviewed pts in the locker room—let's see what he had to say.

pts: Yeah, I thought some of those guys were pretty cool. Like Steve McQueen and James Dean, right? Also I learned about some new people, like I had no clue who Cristóbal Balenciaga was before I checked it out. So I figured hey, post some links.

Jim: There you have it, Bob.

Bob: But things didn't really work out that way for ol' pts, did they, Jim?

Jim: They sure didn't, Bob. Right out of the gate, mippy encapsulates the kind of comment that's later going to be taken to the next level when he called Hemingway a "wanker." Then in what can only be described as a masterstroke of sly sarcasm, Burhanistan comes around with a backhanded jab—here, check the replay... BAM! Did you see that? He as much as calls pts out for being literally sophomoric. Devastating insinuation play by Burhanistan.

Bob: But that isn't even the worst of it. Next comment, Item with a classic Godwin play. You can see it in slo-mo... there it is, comparing a scattering of celebrities to history's most notorious mass murderer. It's brutal, Jim.

Jim: Brutal is the word. What follows is a stream of sarcasm, apathy, and disdain no black-and-white photograph can hope to endure. Honestly, it's hard to watch, Bob. The MetaFilter team just takes this one apart.

Bob: They sure did, Jim. EvaDestruction really seals the deal by identifying some gender weaknesses in the opposing defense, and it's all downhill from there.

Jim: pts is just lucky they didn't notice most of the photographs were of white guys, eh Bob?

Bob: He sure is.

Jim: Well, we're all out of time, folks—join us again next week on ABC's Wide World of Beanplating!
posted by pts at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2009 [54 favorites]


that's the whole nature of the impossibly cool. these people were cooler-than-life. the whole thing about the cool aesthetic is that it's ephemeral. Most of these people are/were raging assholes, but these photos are capturing moments that are impossible. that's the point.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:31 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Feature request: Every thread should have Jim & Bob doing play-by-play in a sidebar.
posted by DU at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


My Godwin play was classic. Thank you. It was the first one I've ever made and I'm proud to accept this award. I'd like to thank my manager, Jesus, and last but certainly not least, Miss Eva Braun.
posted by item at 9:36 AM on August 18, 2009


I saw this a week or so ago and spent some time looking at the photos. I do like the aesthetic. And it's hard to frak up the presentation of black-and-white photos taken in the 50s and 60s of cool (viewed through the lens of history) people.

But who took those photos? Where are the credits? What is the context? Is giving credit and providing context uncool?
posted by rtha at 9:38 AM on August 18, 2009


Are those Wallabees on John John?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:38 AM on August 18, 2009


I was going to post some uncool pics of each person as a counter-point, but searching for Mastroianni pics made me realize that every damn picture of him is cool and I just gave up. Now I think I'm going to have add him to my man-crush list with Steve McQueen and Chris Isaak.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:47 AM on August 18, 2009


are we supposed to print these and put them on the dorm room corkwall?

I dunno about you, but I'm putting mine on the dork room cormwall.
posted by exogenous at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You'd think he'd include a picture of Gertrude and Alice B. somewhere.

It is interesting how tastes change in this department. Hemingway's hypermasculinity is really weird viewed at a distance, for instance.
posted by Kattullus at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2009


but overall, it's a very limited perspective

Yeah. And "The Great Gatsby" needs more sassy farting aliens.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:50 AM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the blog: “You should feel that, under the right conditions, all women would be available” - Helmut Newton

Ick! Ick! Ick!
posted by Kattullus at 9:54 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats
posted by muckster at 10:02 AM on August 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think Steve McQueen is as cool as the next guy and all, but it's a bit much at this point.

I agree, nowadays we have Ben Affleck -- can't complain!
posted by matteo at 10:03 AM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Impossible Lame.
posted by mistersquid at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2009


I, too, noticed the gender imbalance. Typical, of course. But here's my tiny effort to balance things out a little:

Cool Nobel laureate.
Cool times three.
Cool intellectual.
Inky black cool.
Cool avant-garde.
So cool you gotta laugh.
Cool on a mic.
Cool in your club.
Cool on the keys.
Cool anarchist.

There's a million more . . .
posted by barrett caulk at 10:16 AM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Isn't this effectively a single-link post? Also, I have objections to the premise.
posted by vrogy at 10:18 AM on August 18, 2009


Lucky for us there isn't anything wrong with Single Link Posts.
posted by chunking express at 10:30 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I loves me some Sleater-Kinney.
posted by oddman at 10:33 AM on August 18, 2009


barrett caulk: Clearly you need to start a blog. That was a great list. Love the Satrapi.

vrogy: Thanks! I really appreciate your constructive criticism. <3
posted by pts at 10:34 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I grew out of pin ups of celebrities in high school when I realized I had their mugs on my wall but they didn't have any of me on theirs...

That's hardly fair. Did try sending any celebrities a headshot? At least now you can send them one of your terrifying animated avatars!
posted by signalnine at 10:44 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well played, pts. Well played, indeed.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2009


Some of this photography is good
posted by kathrineg at 11:01 AM on August 18, 2009


The whole concept of "cool" is one of the most evil, twisted parts of western civilization, if not humanity. The link to Hitler is really not off-topic, because "cool" appeals to pretty much the same human pleasures that fascism appeals to.
posted by straight at 11:19 AM on August 18, 2009


The whole concept of "cool" is one of the most evil, twisted parts of western civilization, if not humanity.

If you're not being sarcastic, could you elaborate? Because that's a pretty hyperbolic statement unless you can make clearer the link between systematic oppression and thinking some people look good in a suit.
posted by pts at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2009


The link to Hitler is really not off-topic, because "cool" appeals to pretty much the same human pleasures that fascism appeals to.

Yep. That's why Vivian on The Young Ones was always going on and on about Margaret Thatcher.
posted by The World Famous at 11:28 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's pretty much every issue of Life magazine with all words removed.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:43 AM on August 18, 2009


Focusing muckster's link: The Cool Hall of Fame
posted by CCBC at 11:59 AM on August 18, 2009


I'm going to have to disagree, straight. Cool in media culture is so often (and perhaps the argument could be made that the posted blog contributes to this) reduced to image and icon. And cool becomes strictly an aesthetic, at which point it ripe for exploitation by all kinds of forces: political, economic, etc. But cool to me is a state of being. It is very much related to the French term insouciance. It strikes me as being very much an existential stance of non-perturbation at the absurdity of the universe and our place in it. Now, I suppose one could argue that this fosters apathy, which fascists, say, can exploit to terrible effect. But it also makes one less susceptible to jingoism, propaganda, and plain-old hate mongering. Which doesn't aid fascism at all. Which is cool with me.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:09 PM on August 18, 2009


This thread reminds me of when I was in school, and I failed to see what others thought was cool.

BTW...all you people above cannot go around calling yourself "geeks" and "nerds". You are cool.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:28 PM on August 18, 2009


Cool is when you come home and Don Draper (or Serge Gainsborg, etc.) is fucking your girlfriend and you quickly shut the door and you're kind of angry but then he emerges looking kind of razzled but through some strange application of bifurcation seems impeccably put together with a cigarette hanging off the end of his lip, lights it, offers you one, gives no need to apologize and as he exits your front door grabs his fucking fedora and kicks off the curb on a vintage fixie. And you sigh and realize that you've accomplished nothing, but are kind of happy that the level cap in Fallout 3 was raised.
posted by geoff. at 12:29 PM on August 18, 2009


geoff, that's about the most uncool scenario I can imagine - as to everyone in the story.
posted by The World Famous at 2:21 PM on August 18, 2009


A really well done tumblr log of similarly themed pics can be awesome...

I like this one, not because I need to know these people are "cool". I have my own list. But I like seeing someone else's list, especially if it's done well enough that I can actually get a feel for their point of view.

Som others I like. Thank You Kurt Rambis and Keggers of Yore and 1001 rules for my unborn son Which is morquotes and words of "wisdom", but his image choices are awesome, even if his homilies are a bit too forced for my tastes sometimes.

I love your start of a list barett caulk. Especially for including Gilda Radner. She's in my top 5 of under-represented 1970's Icons.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:17 PM on August 18, 2009


My favorite of Bardot.
posted by jim in austin at 4:31 PM on August 18, 2009


Of all the jazz artists to pick, why Mingus? Because he seldom smiled and had no patience with his musicians? (I love the guy's music, and have seen him perform, BTW.) Coltrane was too nice to be "cool," I guess.

Come to think of it, many "cool" people have some kind of personality disorder that has an adverse effect on their ability to relate in a socially acceptable way with others. A pretty literal definition of "cool," actually. The opposite of warm.

Cool with me if you go for that kind of aesthetic, of course.
posted by kozad at 5:26 PM on August 18, 2009


Isn't this effectively a single-link post?

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SINGLE-LINK POSTS!!!!!!!one A post is either good (enough for MetaFilter) or not, the number of links don't enter into it.

I love these pictures.
posted by biscotti at 6:17 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


kozad: Both John Coltrane and Miles Davis appear elsewhere on the blog.
posted by pts at 6:41 PM on August 18, 2009


Thanks so much, pts, for this post.

Eh to the haters who came here to post how much they weren't impressed.

And I'm a daily fan of "If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger..." (above link), and agree it should abutt this great FPP.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:19 PM on August 18, 2009


The Coolest.
posted by clorox at 10:41 PM on August 18, 2009


mippy encapsulates the kind of comment that's later going to be taken to the next level when he called Hemingway a "wanker."

Mippy is not only female, but correct in her pithiness.

This needs more Jarvis. Jarvis Cocker is one of the coolest people to hit pop culture over the past fifteen years.
posted by mippy at 3:05 AM on August 19, 2009


barrett caulk: While I applaud your intentions and most of your examples are great, some don't really work; this, for instance, is pretty much the opposite of "cool" (just talking about the affect of the photo, not the person).
posted by languagehat at 1:33 PM on August 19, 2009


« Older Running is actually good for your knees,...  |  Robert Novak, "The Prince of D... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments