My Darling Vivian, the insightful documentary about San Antonio native Vivian Liberto Cash, the first wife of singing legend Johnny Cash, sheds a new light on a famous relationship, according to our own Lance Avery Morgan.
Photography courtesy of My Darling Vivian and Amazon Prime
In the days before the self-imposed spotlight of the media glare, fame looked different in the 1950s and 1960s. In the new documentary, My Darling Vivian, about the love affair, marriage and children of singer Johnny Cash and his San Antonio native wife, Vivian Liberto, a thoughtful look is given at how a deep love formed under the media scrutiny on the couple. The film’s title, an homage to the plethora of love letters sent between the duo, is a valentine to the life and fortitude of its primary subject, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin, a vibrant Texas woman.
The project underscores Vivian’s childhood as the middle daughter of strict Italian Catholic parents, to her teenage romance (and subsequent three-year-long correspondence with the thousand letters) with Johnny Cash–in which she reveals to him an inferiority complex rooted in her exotic appearance. Her new life in Memphis as a woman in love; a first-time mother who finds out she’s pregnant with her second child just six weeks after the birth of her first; and as the wife of a door-to-door salesman turned-overnight-music- sensation all played out like an epic soap opera. Eventually, the family moves to Los Angeles and Johnny almost immediately becomes absent due to his devotion to performing, fame…and drugs. Told through rare home movie footage, as well as hundreds of vintage photos, the beautifully produced project, with a lush orchestral score, is devoted to their relationship as seen through the eyes of the Cash’s four daughters, Roseanne, Kathy, Cindy, and Tara.
“My mother’s own story has often been lost or misinterpreted to serve a myth,” shared Roseanne Cash. “This elegant film about her–the real Vivian Liberto, not the Hollywood version–is painful but compassionate, wrenching but true. Even though she was an intensely private woman, I think she longed to have her story told, and her place in the history of my family acknowledged with respect and love. Matt Riddlehoover and Dustin Tittle have succeeded in giving her that place. My sisters and I are deeply moved by and grateful for My Darling Vivian.” The family affair element was firmly in place since Tittle, a producer on the project, is also a grandson of Vivian and Johnny Cash.
Many recall the 2005 OscarÒ-winning film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon and Johnny and June Carter Cash. The role of Vivian Cash, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, portrayed her as a psycho victim who was jealous of her husband’s musical career. As the documentary unfolds, nothing could be further from the truth and it’s easy to see how Vivian loathed being the “other woman” to Johnny’s career, which came first, before his family, and then, to June Carter, Cash’s second wife, with their very public relationship that helped sell millions of records.
As in all lives, there are good times and often, just as many tragedies. The seven-year nightmare of the family living in Casitas Springs in Ventura County, with four young daughters, included sleepless nights waiting up for the husband who rarely arrived. In the midst of losing Johnny to June Carter, the all-hours visits from fans deprived her of any semblance of safety, compounded by a frightening race-related scandal in 1966, which led to threatening letters from the Ku Klux Klan, eventually pushing her to a mental breaking point.
The personal toll that Vivian’s divorce from Johnny took on her was immense, which included being excommunicated from the Catholic church, and the “unspoken bargain” that was her second marriage. Happily, her trying to regain her identity led to a social and creative blossoming, despite having to witness the aggressively perpetuated myth of Johnny and June’s love story.
The heartfelt film, full of the loving retrospective of Vivian Liberto Cash Distin’s life, is a rollercoaster ride of emotions and is served up perfectly in a beautifully told story with a musical and Texas perspective. “Her life was romantic and bewildering, difficult and significant, and wholly filmatic–more than a mere footnote in the biography of Johnny Cash,” said Matt Riddlehoover, the film’s director. Visit Amazon Prime to access the film.
The nose always knows. Here, the Yellow Nose of Texas, our own Gordon Kendall recalls what is really missing from virtual partying these days, as he sniffs out the biggest glitch in today’s ever-evolving online world.
THE ORIGINAL CLUB KIDS
Age appropriate, not high style, now informs our evening’s virtual fashion sensibilities. Back in the days of our youth, if we didn’t hear each other, it wasn’t some D.J.s fault…we just had somehow muted ourselves similar to today’s Zoom session. As is happening more and more, we like to reminisce. Like about the times we excitedly, but not ecstatically, made it into certain notorious dance clubs across the state. We had the beat, to paraphrase the Go-Gos. Strange how the olfactory to mind to memory connection works. All of a sudden, I blurted out Calvin…in the blue bottle. That’s what I wore. Calvin Klein, that is. From there, we went on and on about that one elusive thing virtual partying still can’t provide: the smell of it all.
Our party times started quite young in the late 70s, well into the 2000s. Then, the “big browns” in men’s colognes like Revlon’s Braggi from 1966 and Lauder’s 1968 Aramis, remained favorites for many of our fathers. Where do you think Tom Ford is getting all the ideas for such current colognes as his very own? They harken back in time. Colognes may have lightened in color over time, but not in power, like Dior’s Jules of 1980 and Yves Saint Laurent’s 1981 Korous, both punchy, with citrusy bergamot somewhere in their formulation. Spicy Lagerfeld of 1978 that came in a lab-like bottle was everywhere. Chanel’s Antaeus, 1981, was for that guy who wanted it powerful but with a subtle twist of, get this, sage. It was as smoky as the venues 606 in Austin, Metropole in Houston, Eight-O’s in Dallas, and Bwana Dick in San Antonio. With apologies to oh-so-many others, two men’s colognes sum up the era: Lauren’s tobacco-y, citrus-y Polo, in the green flask from 1978 and Calvin Klein’s Obsession that made the world smell like spicy vanilla in 1986. Still around and going strong, but our generation had them first.
SCENT OF A WOMAN
It was the ladies, though, who really could make their presence felt through fragrances of these times. Sure, big shoulders could carry off White Shoulders, for the lady who loved the classics, and there was and will always be Joy at any party (bought for many daughters by their fathers since it was then billed as the most expensive perfume in the world). The late 70s and 80s brought a whole new way of thinking about women’s fragrances. Sporty, sexy, and powerful. There was a fragrance for every personality. Lauder’s Aliage (1972) and Revlon’s Charlie (1973) were there along with Lauren (1978) to fit those moods. Then, there were the stand outs, the didn’t-smell-that-coming scents like Dior’s wickedly fruity Poison (1985). Later, Mugler’s Angel from 1992 is another. I swear it smells like State Fair cotton candy, even from across a SXSW venue. As with men’s, so many scents were offered then, but Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium (1977) and Giorgio Beverly Hills (1981)…did I even have to name it? They were the scents of that era.
We keep buying newer communication technologies but memory transports us back to our fragrant past. Your memories are likely as sweet as mine. So, let’s keep making more of them with new olfactory sensations the scent masters have in mind for us yet to enjoy. Because, you never know, when that next set of memories will inform your future.
The greater the hope, the greater the outcome, a wise philosopher once said. Our intuitive self-help expert, Austin-based Resonance Repatterning Practitioner, Mary Schneider, shares ideas that can help us thrive and move forward.
What do you think it will be like post-COVID-19? Of course, everyone will initially give a huge sigh of relief, assuming the virus will disappear and go back where it came from. It may not. There are tons of possibilities and the only common thread among them is we just do not know. The scientists do not know yet, and the clergy, academicians, and politicians do not know yet. A large segment of the population still questions the very existence of the virus. It is a classic case of we do not know what we do not know.
For many of us, the presence of the virus has caused terror, grief and pain. Our hearts go out to all of those who have suffered in this situation. It is necessary, now more, than ever to have compassion for everyone. The world at large has been touched by it in some way. And, yet, as in all difficult times, we human beings still have hope. Hope in a cure, hope in a vaccine, and hope for better days ahead. What is this strangely human state of mind that appears in the worst of times? It is a feeling of expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen. Barbara Fredrickson, professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says, “Hope is not your typical form of positivity. Most positive emotions arise when we feel safe and satiated. Hope is the exception. It comes into play when our circumstances are dire.”
Despite prevailing pessimism, there are signs we could be cautiously optimistic. Having had time to evaluate what is important in life, people are making different choices. They are spending more quality time with their families and pets (it is reported that dogs are having the best time ever). Over the years in my practice, I have seen many families who lack real intimacy. Lives are filled with activities that appear to portray happy family systems. Busy-ness isn’t intimacy. Studies show when people experience more intimacy they become happier. Happy people are kinder people. This might just lead to a kinder world for us all.
Businesses are making different choices, too. It has become relatively easy to work at home over the past decade or so. Many people already do. But the necessity of having most employees work from home has made companies take a good look at how much money they are spending on expensive office space. A widely held myth claimed employees are not as productive working from the home as in the office. Recent research shows just the opposite. Now, management has proof they can downsize. So, the work environment, as we know it, will be different in the future.
In addition, the concept of intimacy comes up again. Connections that are made working in teams and with colleagues in the office may become more appreciated and valued. There is no way to predict what this unique and untried work arrangement will do for a company’s culture. It will likely be extremely beneficial to families, especially children. In my experience, what most children want more than anything is to spend quality time with their parents. Again, what this can do for the world at large could be transformative.
What is even more hopeful is seeing young Americans involved and engaged in what is currently happening in this country. This movement is spread so much wider than any other. It goes far beyond just those who have been affected by any type of discrimination. These transformations are the benefit of having hope. Barbara Fredrickson says that, “Hope comes into its own when crisis looms, opening us to new creative possibilities.” I hope this is what is happening now. How will you progress in your life moving forward?
As the season cools down, how about stacking your coffee tables and bookshelves a mile high with these latest style stunners? Our bibliophile Lance Avery Morgan recommends the best books to inform and inspire right now.
A HOME FOR ALL SEASONS
By Danielle Rollins
Tastemaker and designer Danielle Rollins invites readers to join her at home in this primer on living and entertaining in style. She shows you how to use home spaces for memorable gatherings, giving as much interior design inspiration, as she does share her secrets for all occasions. $50. At RizzoliUSA.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: FIRST IN FASHION
By Marianne Le Galliard and Éric Pujalet-Plaà
Fashion mavens and design aficionados are drawn to the bright, colorful, and playful patterns that are instantly recognizable as Lilly Pulitzer. But perhaps the name Suzie Zuzek is not as recognizable as it should be. The majority of Pulitzer’s fabric designs from 1962 through 1985 were based on artwork by the Key West-based artist synonymous with Slim Aarons, Jackie O, and the Palm Beach crowd. $50. At RizzoliUSA.com
YVES SAINT LAURENT
By Roxanne Lowit
Whether Saint Laurent was surrounded by beautiful models or peeking at the catwalk from the wings, Lowit distinctively captured the famed designer, along with his striking creations with her camera. Here, she creates a vibrant portrait of this towering fashion figure. $34.95. At ThamesAnd HudsonUSA.com
INSIDE MARRAKESH: ENCHANTING HOMES AND GARDENS
By Meryanne Loum-Martin
Contemporary design meets Marrakesh’s splendid artistic heritage in this beautiful volume that transports you to this fabled city and guides us through the extraordinary residences of the city’s leading tastemakers. $60. At RizzoliUSA.com.
THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN
By James Sherwood
This lavish publication celebrates the modern gentleman. It features six historical chapters, from the Regency period to the present. The new generation of designer artisans who are redefining notions of quality and handwork in the era of globalization and digital technologies are also included.$39.95. At ThamesAndHudsonUSA.com.
By Michael S. Smith
Not since Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic work on the White House has a designer of Michael Smith’s stature been commissioned to bring a new design spirit to the mansion. His updating of the Obama-era White House is unparalleled in style and grace. $60. At RizzoliUSA.com.
By Miren Arzalluz
Chanel’s ideas on elegance and what it meant to be a modern woman created an immutable sense of style that still resonates today. Aralluz chronicles the designer’s life from birth through the evolution of her timeless style. $60. At At ThamesAndHudsonUSA.com.
AN ENTERTAINING STORY
By India Hicks
Style icon India Hicks has a charming take on entertaining, featuring her dreamy tablescapes, recipes, and enjoyable family anecdotes. It’s brimming with inspiration, tips, and gorgeous photos of Hicks’ home and family. $50. At RizzoliUSA.com.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
By Cath Kidston
This English country dream beckons us to visit in these pages. It’s both a personal glimpse into this dream home and the surrounding grounds and how they were created, curated, and nurtured, as well as being a design book and memoir. $45. At RizzoliUSA.com.
THE SARTORIALIST: MAN
By Scott Schuman
Here’s the definitive menswear guide showcasing the diversity of today’s well-dressed man. The book, a true men’s fashion primer, is not a list of rules, but more of an update on style principles, design strategies, and practical lessons on all sartorial matters. From fit to fabric, from head to toe. $45. At RizzoliUSA.com.
By Aerin Lauder
Accept this invitation into the endlessly inspiring and unique celebrations of the iconic tastemaker and hostess. This elegant entertaining book reveals how to bring beauty, style, and joy into milestone events, holidays, or everyday moments and meals. $55. At RizzoliUSA.com.
By Matthieu Salvaing
Transporting readers to more than two dozen evocative spaces, and on whirlwind excursions to lush, overgrown corners of the world, Salvaing’s lens also offers endless interior design inspiration. $60. At RizzoliUSA.com.
THE MR. PORTER GUIDE TO A BETTER DAY
By Mr. Porter Editors
A dawn-to-dusk instruction manual for men to live effortlessly and elegantly in the modern world.Interviews with the world’s most interesting and thoroughly well-put-together men, lincluding a few of your favorite male celebrities, are also included. $40. At ThamesAndHudsonUSA.com.
NAAEM KHAN: EMBELLISHED
By Naaem Khan
A favorite of so many socialites, celebrated fashion designer Naeem Khan unveils a world of chic opulence that includes bridal gowns, and beautifully beaded and embroidered statement pieces in this must-have tome. $85. At RizzoliUSA.com.
A TALE OF INTERIORS
By Louisa Pierce and Emily Ward
These expertly crafted, layered, and lush interiors for rock stars and Hollywood types are over the top in all the right ways. With a flair for artful, organized abundance that is always glamourous, this first monograph is not to be missed. $60. At RizzoliUSA.com.
By Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe
Top designers Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe are fascinated by how a room can come together to express its own persona, as though the design just happened. The result is their interior design appears as if it were a personal collection of the randomly put together, when in fact it is the product of their very mindful curating. $55. At RizzoliUSA.com.
WHO CARES WINS
By Lily Cole
A rousing call to action, this book will leave you feeling hopeful that we can make a difference in the midst of an age of turmoil, destruction, and uncertainty. It is up to each of us to actively choose optimism, collaborate, make changes, and define what is possible. Start here. $35. At RizzoliUSA.com.
JAMES HUNIFORD: AT HOME
By James Huniford and Stephen Treffinger
Stylish and oh-so-elegant, here’s an in-depth look at the design process of Huniford, who is renowned for his skill in juxtaposing opposites like contemporary and traditional, rustic with refined…to create a timeless whole. $50. At MonacelliPress.com.
THROUGH A DESIGNER’S EYE: A FOCUS ON INTERIORS
By Matthew Patrick Smyth
Smyth is renowned for his elegant, sophisticated rooms that combine sumptuous fabrics, well-selected antiques, and contemporary comfort. In this new book, his engaging, first-person narrative focuses on the five elements of interior design that contribute to successful spaces. $60. At MonacelliPress.com.
What’s it like to drive a luxury McLaren? The car was meant for both road and track, according to our automotive expert Michael Satterfield of TheGentlemanRacer.com, who takes it for a spin in the Pure McLaren experience.
Photography courtesy of TheGentlemanRacer.com
British supercar maker McLaren hosts driving events for McLaren owners at some of the most exclusive racetracks in the world, from the Belgium countryside of Spa-Francorchamps to the legendary Mount Panorama of Bathurst to the Circuit of the Americas. Home of the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Circuit of the Americas is one of the most exciting and challenging tracks in the world. Pure McLaren, the official track driving program of McLaren Automotive, allows owners to not only drive their car around a race track, but also gives them focused, in-car instruction with professional racing drivers so they can better understand how to maximize the performance of their McLaren.
Recently, I was invited by Pirelli to take part in a one day Pure McLaren experience, where I would be handed the controls of the track-focused 600LT. Not only would I learn more about the car but also receive some much-needed seat time on one of my favorite tracks I have ever driven. Pirelli is the official tire supplier for McLaren, producing unique tires that are co-developed between Pirelli and McLaren to make sure they are the perfect fit for each car.
Upon arrival, I can tell this isn’t the typical track day, as a McLaren Senna is parked out front across from a 570S GT4 along with several other supercars. The VW Jetta press car I was driving was nice, but it did look slightly out of place next to the new Aston Martin Vantage and Ferrari 458 Pista. Walking into what is usually a garage at the track (I just recently toured these garages for the Formula 1 Grand Prix), was now a very well-appointed lounge and check-in desk. I registered and received a quick briefing on the schedule of events, and noted my next activity was lunch. Lunch was served in a suite overlooking the track. At the same time, the morning session was still out running, and the over one-million-dollar Senna, which belongs to local Austinite Josh Snowhorn, was being prepped to go out on the track that afternoon. Seeing a Senna in the wild is rare, but seeing one being tracked hard by its owner is truly amazing.
After our meal, we were directed to the driver’s meeting, where we were told that due to an accident earlier that week, there would be two chicanes added on the long back straight. That meant I wouldn’t be getting near the 201 mph top speed of the 600LT Coupe I would be driving. Back downstairs, the cars were lined up on pit row, 570S, 600LT, and 720S, as well as a few customer-owned cars like the Senna. I met my driving instructor, found a helmet, and off I went. The 600LT Coupe, 592 hp, paddle-shifted, rear-wheel-drive, is a beast. The first 600LT I drove was at the Arizona Motorsports Park (the Spider), but I had recently driven the 600LT Coupe in Dallas and loved the raw race car feel that it had, even on the street.
The first few laps I drove were to get used to the car and track, I could put it in manual mode, but had to keep on the traction control and driver aids. After warming up, I got up to speed, hitting 145-150 mph in the straights, although the chicanes cut down on the top speed we could achieve. Unlike some track days at Pure McLaren, you can pass (with permission), and soon I was getting the signal to pass some of the other cars in the group. Even though it was just an owner’s track day, there is something exciting about overtaking another vehicle, especially on a Formula 1 track. I would have several stints behind the wheel, alternating with another driver.
With each lap, I was getting faster, learning the track, and being coached on the perfect line. While we weren’t allowed to keep lap times since we weren’t technically racing, I don’t have any official times, but we definitely shaved several seconds off my first few laps. After my last round of driving, I swapped seats with the pro to see how I should have been driving the car, harder and in anger. The 600LT had so much more to give, but it’s a challenge to get comfortable when you are racing around a track in someone else’s $240,000 car. After wrapping up my session, a P1 GTR in James Hunt livery was pulled around for some special rides, and the GT4 cars were also coming out of the garages. McLaren, a maker of some of the most exclusive and expensive cars in the world, manages to have events that don’t feel pretentious and stuffy. It has staffed their company with genuine car enthusiasts who are passionate about their brand, and it shows.
If you are a McLaren owner and would like to see when the next Pure McLaren experience is happening near you, visit Cars.McLaren.com.