Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hyundai Sonata (2017): Make Love to Me

This Hyundai ad now playing on TV reminds me: About 12 years ago, I 'd just bought a Doris Day "Greatest Hits" CD collection and loved it so much that I was driving all around town with my windows rolled down so I could share the Greatness of Doris with my fellow drivers at stoplights.

I stopped that bad habit one day after pulling up to a red light with a car-load of frat boys next to me and Doris singing "Make love to me, make love to me, make love to me, make love to me..." at the fade-out of "Move Over Darling."

p.s. Back in the '80s, when I was in my 20s, a gay guy that I worked with at the library said that I was a "gay man in drag." Who, me??

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

1964: On the set of "'The Night of the Iguana"

Richard Burton (age 39) and Ava Gardner (age 42).

Richard Burton and Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"The Night of the Iguana" (1964)

I love this movie more every time I see it (maybe four times now, most recently a night ago on TCM). Writer Tennessee Williams has a reputation for being salacious, but he's actually very profound and humane in his work (not so kind to himself in life).

I'm attracted to the psyches of all three of the main characters in this movie (Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Richard Burton). Here's a scene near the end, with the oversexed (yet truly spiritual) reverend questioning the chaste (truly spiritual) destitute artist about her sexual experiences. It's such a psychologically delicate thing to have written, and to see onscreen. (It's also subtly funny: "It was a Garbo picture, and I was just overexcited.")

Sunday, July 23, 2017

One thing that's making me feel a bit content right now...

My apartment manager has cracked down on the assholes living in the building overlooking my small backyard (which I have yet to be able to sit out in).

I've been here for 3 months now. And until recently, I was already counting down the percentage of time until my lease was up (i.e., "I've been here almost 3 months...25% of my time served").

The "dudes" in the aforementioned apartment have been a chaotic mess since I arrived:

(1) There was a gang of 5 to 6 guys hanging out in front of that apartment at least 3 times a week. (Although, as I later found out, only 2 people were on the lease.)
(2) The "dudes" often brought a boom-box out with them when they were hanging out.
(3) The "dudes" would sit upstairs on the 2nd floor and let their dogs run loose and poop on the grounds down below.
(4) Three times since I've lived here, the "dudes" would invite a dozen friends over to swim all day and night at the apartment pool. The boom-box and dogs would join them out there for 12 hours.
(5) Friends o' the "dudes" would hang out in the parking lot, blasting their car stereos loud enough to literally vibrate my apartment walls (and my apartment doesn't even overlook the parking lot).
(6) A day or so before the 4th o' July, the "dudes" set off fireworks by the pool WITHIN the apartment complex, by the pool (not even the parking lot). When I BURST out of my apartment to find out what jerk was setting off fireworks, one of the scumbags was coming toward me on the sidewalk. When he saw me, he yelled back to his cohorts sitting by the pool: "You've got another complaint coming your way! You've got another complaint coming your way! You've got another complaint coming your way! You've got another complaint coming your way! Right? Right? Right? Right?" (I didn't say anything, just acted like I was going to get my mail.)

I reported ALL of the above, thinking to no avail. My apartment manager was always very polite when I talked to her, but she only indicated vaguely that she'd "talk to them." After the fireworks/yelling-at-me incident, though, she really cracked down: I got an e-mail saying that while there was not yet enough to kick these dicks [my phrasing] out of the apartment, they were, however, given a "non-renewal notice" ---  When their lease is up, they have to leave. And they were also sent a certified letter that if management gets any other complaints about them, they will be kicked out immediately. (It turns out that I wasn't the only one complaining about them.)


Since July 4, that apartment has been quiet.

I wasn't expecting any respite. (As I said above, I was simply counting down the days...) It feels good to know that someone is at least somewhat monitoring the chaos, and perhaps limiting it.

1931. Joan Crawford in "Laughing Sinners."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Best Of Everything (1959) Johnny Mathis

Why people kill themselves

Neither Soundgarden nor Linkin Park meant anything to me, so I was left cold by the recent suicides of both Chris Cornell and the improbably named Chester Bennington.

In the aftermath, vox populi on the Internet kept stressing over and over: "Why didn't he reach out?" "You've got to reach out!"

I'm no rich, semi-famous 90s has-been, but I can say from experience: Nobody loves you when you're down and out. When I've been at my lowest, I've communicated exactly how bad I was feeling, how I needed emotional help, how even little things (like a ride home from the grocery store back when I didn't have a car, or a weekend away from my mother when I was forced to live with her) would be much appreciated.

And people were revolted by it.

People are afraid "it" might be contagious. They want nothing to do with "it." My depression was annoying to them. I was negative and unhappy. No fun to be around. A real downer. I gave off a "bad vibe."

I'm a Nothing who survived the lack of attention in later years by hearkening back to my childhood, when I got no emotional attention at home, but got kudos for being smart in school. Reading made me feel better. Listening to music made me feel better. Watching movies, too. Yet I was always indoctrinated that I must have a human support network. (I would LIKE to have one, as I was told was beneficial, and that I feel might be beneficial, but since I don't? And when I've reached out and was ignored/rejected over and over again? Once you've hit a certain age, it's silly to keep on trying, to keep on going to a dry well, trying to get blood from a stone...however you want to put it.)

I'll be fine at a low level with my books/music/movies/Internet. But then I never had a "great love" or great fame or a great outlet for my creativity, as Cornell and Bennington had. Never having gotten what I wanted is, I suppose, a bit better than getting exactly what you wanted and then discovering that there's nothing there.

If you're a male rock star trying to be trendy to the point of looking like an ageing anorexic San Francisco lesbian, then... perhaps best to kill yourself. (In short: Be true to yourself. Don't be a fucking clone.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bobbie Gentry - Ode To Billie Joe (1967)

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And Mama hollered out the back door "Y'all remember to wipe your feet"
And then she said "I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge"
"Today Billie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"

And Papa said to Mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas
"Well, Billie Joe never had a lick of sense, pass the biscuits, please"
"There's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow"
And Mama said it was shame about Billie Joe, anyhow
Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
And now Billie Joe MacAllister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?
"I'll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don't seem right"
"I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge"
"And now you tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"

And Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?"
"I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite"
"That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today"
"Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way"
"He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge"
"And she and Billie Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge"

A year has come 'n' gone since we heard the news 'bout Billie Joe
And Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo
There was a virus going 'round, Papa caught it and he died last Spring
And now Mama doesn't seem to wanna do much of anything
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Ode to Billy Joe and Robby Benson

"Ode to Billy Joe," the 1976 film based on the 1967 song by Bobbie Gentry, was shown on Turner earlier this week; I caught it around 2am while channel-flipping trying to find something to go to sleep to. I was 11 in 1976, but the film was still being shown in Fort Worth when my family moved there in 1977. I was at the time madly in love with Robby Benson, the star of the film, via teen magazines like "Tiger Beat." I BEGGED my mother to let me see the film. She eventually succumbed and dropped me off at some theater (I can't remember which) by myself to see my beloved Robby Benson.

I enjoyed watching Benson, but I didn't at all get the whole point of the film -- that Billy Joe had jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge because he'd had sex with a man. (Gentry, the songwriter and singer of the original song suggested that Billy Joe was more upset by a breakup with his girlfriend.) I remember coming home still not having figured out why he jumped off the bridge. In 2017, my foggy memory remained that the film didn't spell it out... But upon watching on TCM this week, the film EXACTLY spelled it out! :)  Benson has a big scene with his love interest Glynnis O'Connor where he shouts out, "I was with a man!" (I guess at age 12 I didn't know what "I was with a man!" meant!)

Anyway, seeing "Ode" reignited my curiosity about Benson... What the hell happened to him? Surely, with his soft looks and breathy voice, he had come to a bad end in the acting world... (Post "Ode," I saw him in "Ice Castles" and "One on One" and TV's "The Death of Ritchie," but after that lost track of him, other than reading that in 1982, he'd married Karla DeVito, the rough-looking chick who sang "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" with MeatLoaf!)

In reality, he went on to a respectable workmanlike career in the entertainment industry, lately doing voice-overs (and still married to DeVito), and he's currently a professor of the arts at NYU.

Tiger Beat, January 1977

Robby Benson, 2012

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I'll be as high as that ivory tower that you're living in

Heard this 1990 song coming home from work today (on Bob 103.5 in Austin), for the first time since, oh, 1994 or so, when I was attending grad school in San Francisco and hating everything about the PC people at the university. I tried "getting into" rap at the time. Hated it. Went the opposite way with country --- ended up loving it. San Francisco is when I discovered George Jones for the first time, and a whole lot of other country artists: Hank Williams, Buck Owens, early Strait. This famous Garth Brooks song, I liked a lot at the time. It didn't make me a Garth Brooks fan, but it helped to make me a Country fan.

Anyway: This is the first time I've ever heard this song on the radio. Though it was 100 degrees outside, I turned the AC off and rolled down the windows and cranked the stereo up. I wanted everyone around me to hear how great this was!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Every generation needs a Rod McKuen

When I was a teen in the early '80s and seeking out books of poetry in mall bookstores after being introduced to Plath in sophomore English, what I found on the mall shelves were multiple copies of Rod McKuen:

At the time, I mocked him. I wanted INTELLECT. Hard, cold KNOWLEDGE.

Spent the next 30 years with "intellect" and "hard, cold knowledge."

Today, specifically, visited the Twitter feed of Kathryn Dennis, a 20-something young woman appearing in the Bravo reality show "Southern Charm" featuring residents of Charleston, South Carolina. She'd hooked up with a 50-something denizen of the town, Thomas Ravenel, and had not one but two children with him. (They're currently involved in a nasty custody battle, although, according to what I've seen on the show, they continue to sleep together every few months.)

I feel for both of them. The man has my exact birthday (I've always liked Leo men) and quotes lines from Jane Austen and "Gone With the Wind." I find him very attractive. The girl is outraged by the man's constant infidelities (even if just emotional), as she should be.

Anyway, the Bravo season of the show just ended, with the Reunion show on yesterday. Kathryn and Thomas were nasty to each other on air, so I went to Twitter to see if there was anything more current. Saw this on Dennis's feed:

Wow. Although I immediately recognized it as "modern-day school-o-McKuen," it also was moving to me. I'd never heard of "r.m. drake" but soon discovered that his philosophies are all over the Internet:

I've been so immersed in "adult" and "academia" for the past 30 years that I'd forgotten it was possible that someone would try to say, simply, what people were feeling deep inside. Sans phony intellectual surface word-tricks with historical references.

Radiohead - Anyone Can Play Guitar (1992)

And if the world does turn
And if London burns
I'll be standing on the beach with my guitar 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

When you were here before...

When you were here before,
Couldn't look you in the eye,
You're just like an angel,
Your skin makes me cry,
You float like a feather,
In a beautiful world,
I wish I was special,
You're so fucking special.

But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo,
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here.

I don't care if it hurts,
I want to have control,
I want a perfect body,
I want a perfect soul,
I want you to notice,
When I'm not around,
You're so fucking special,
I wish I was special.

But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo,
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here.

Oh, oh

She's running out again,
She's running out...
She run run run run...

Whatever makes you happy,
Whatever you want,
You're so fucking special,
I wish I was special...

Joan Crawford in "Johnny Guitar" (1954)

Joan Crawford in Madrid (1962)

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

"You had to be there."

I said a few weeks ago that I was planning on weeding out about 1/10th of my 640-or-so books (i.e., about 64). So far, I've sold exactly ONE on eBay (Roger Stone on Trump election --- though I ultimately want a collection covering the historic occasion, this one was very poorly written). And I've acquired about a dozen more.

Here's how this happens: The Warhol book at the upper left of the picture was left out by the trash at my apartment complex, so I had to rescue it. I hadn't thought about Warhol in years, but this book made me think about Warhol again. Was he a visionary? An opportunistic exploiter of weaknesses of others? (I guess the safe answer would be "Oh, a combination of both." But actually, not the latter at all, I think. I think he was a dispassionate sociologist, curious about people's innate behavior.) So I just HAD TO order a whole bunch of Warhol books (plus Basquiat for the era and racial interpretations of the era plus voyeuristic early-death tale of someone I didn't care about, kind of like with the Edie Sedgwick book that I've had for 20 years) to try to get/re-get a grasp of what he was all about. I ordered "Diaries" first (am now on my 2nd read), but am currently most enamored of the slyly earnest voice of "Popism" and "Philosophy." From the latter's "Love (Senility)" section:
It's the long life spans that are throwing all the old values and their applications out of whack. When people used to learn about sex at 15 and die at 35, they obviously were going to have fewer problems than people today who learn about sex at 8 or so, I guess, and live to be 80. That's a long time to play around with the same concept. ...

I love every "lib" movement there is, because after the "lib" the things that were always a mystique become understandable and boring, and then nobody has to feel left out if they're not part of what is happening [I think this might be the key to Warhol]...

Being married [according to movie images] looked so wonderful that life didn't seem livable if you weren't lucky enough to have a husband or wife. To the singles, marriage seemed beautiful, the trappings seemed wonderful, and the sex was always implied to be automatically great---no one could ever seem to find words to describe it because "you had to be there" to know how good it was. It was almost like a conspiracy on the part of the married people not to let it out how it wasn't necessarily completely wonderful to be married and having sex; they could have taken a load off the single people's minds if they'd just been candid. But it was always a fairly well-kept secret that if you were married to somebody you didn't have enough room in bed and might have to face bad breath in the morning....

There are so many songs about love. But I was thrilled the other day when somebody mailed me the lyrics to a song that was about how he didn't care about anything, and how he didn't care about me. It was very good. He managed to really convey the idea that he really didn't care....

I wonder if it's possible to have a love affair that lasts forever. If you're married for 30 years and you're "cooking breakfast for the one you love" and he walks in, does his heart really skip a beat? I mean if it's just a regular morning. I guess it skips a beat over that breakfast and that's nice, too. It's nice to have a little breakfast made for you....

My ideal wife would have a lot of bacon, bring it all home, and have a TV station besides....

Saturday, July 01, 2017


7 Up used to contain lithium; Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine. Were Americans happier at one point?