Send your love electronically HERE We will read it. Platonically.
The Public Blogging of Pomosexuality, Homotextuality, Homophobiaphilia, and Drear Theory (aka Career Theory) [aka Gay4Pay]. We also read the Corner and OpJournal so the right buttock will be punished as well.
All comments subject to publication. Or dismissal. Or Both.
It can be grueling being a contrarian, not the least for the contrarian's audience. Hitchens writes a lazy piece about what an unfunny, wind-up gag machine Bob Hope was. No shit, Hitchcock.
It was the movies, Christopher. You know, those flickering things they project on the central white wall of darkened auditoriums. Those things that you don't make mention of in your piece. So you saw Hope twice at state functions late in his career doing his toastmaster's material and you weren't impressed? Weird, I thought those embassy dinners and Prince Phillip kiss-ass affairs were usually so edgy and blue. Don't blame Bob cause you were dumb enough to go, and even dumber in your expectations of what you'd find once you got there.
Hope was a very funny actor. I doubt I ever laughed at one of his stand up lines either, but I've laughed a thousand times at bits and business in his films.
So anyway, Hitch, don't judge Bob solely on his national treasure gigs and I won't base my opinion of you only on your occasional contra-auto-pilot glides.
A tiny ad in the back of a waiting room New Yorker:
COCKTAIL PIANO NOTHING LOWERS STRESS LIKE COCKTAIL PIANO....NOTHING!
Beneath this is the information you wanted on how to order Cocktail Piano vols I-IV. I thought at first that this come-on claim was amusingly besotted. That its author wasn't hanging around cocktail bars just for the music. But then I realized that it's stated in a form that makes it necessarily true.
BEDROOM SLIPPERS NOTHING POUNDS IN A NAIL LIKE BEDROOM SLIPPERS....NOTHING!
HALF-SOUR KOSHER PICKLES NOTHING TASTES AS SWEET AS HALF-SOUR KOSHER PICKLES....NOTHING!
COCKTAIL PIANO NOTHING MAKES YOU CRAVE SOBRIETY LIKE COCKTAIL PIANO....NOTHING!
I then turned to the cartoons. At first I was knocked out by the quality. One really funny one after another. But then I hit a bad patch (I was going through a small pile of New Yorker back issues). I realized two things. I couldn't even read the cartoons that were multi-paneled or that had too much text in one panel. I accept jokes from the New Yorker only in the form of a drawing with a single tag line beneath.
Secondly, I discovered that most of the bad cartoons were of a particular type. They were the ones that flattered the readers of the magazine (and their toddler children) as wearily (or preternaturally) au courant with every frigging sophisticated product, idea, or personality. Like there will be two little kids walking home from school and the one says to the other "Blogs? Oh sure. My mom just turned me onto Agenda Bender."
I remember loving the Flight of the Phoenix when I saw it on TV as a kid, but I didn't remember that they delayed the opening titles of the movie until the plane begins to crash in a sandstorm several minutes in. Nor did I recall the pretty stunning freeze frame trick used to identify the actors in the movie. Or that the music was by DeVol and the english lyrics to the song Connie Francis sings somewhere along the way are by Alec Wilder. But I was so intrigued by the technique of the titles that I really paid attention when I glanced up just now.
One thing I never forget is how good Jimmie Stewart is, just a consistently interesting and ingratiating actor. Which reminds me of a gripe I wanted to air at the time of Gregory Peck's death. Peck was regularly slagged as a clockwork actor (and a wooden clock at that)--all blocking and no spark, a hole in the screen. Which is only half fair, Peck did sometimes come off as a sonorous phantom, but he was a full blooded banshee compared to Henry Fonda, the dullest, grayest presence on screen I can think of. There's no mystery why The Wrong Man is Hitchcock's worst movie (the only Hitchcock movie I have never been able to watch all the way through, though I'll try every few years), Henry Fonda is at the empty center of it.
If you want a laugh (except you won't be laughing, Fonda's lack of presence can't even sustain camp) check out the Joan Crawford flickDaisy Kenyon. Daisy Crawford is a commercial artist torn between Dana Andrews, a married lawyer with an actual pulse, and Henry Fonda, a boat-designing cipher haunted by the death of his first wife, a death any viewer of this movie will certainly peg as a justifiable suicide. You will not believe who drives away and who stays at the end of this movie. I kept wanting Joan to leave and give up her New England love-shack to Dana Andrews and her ship-building Alger Hiss. It would have made so much more romantic sense.
I just discovered this excellent archive of Crawford's greatness while looking for a Daisy Kenyon link. It has a page for every Crawford picture that includes a synopsis, excerpted reviews, background facts, and the original movie poster. But best of all is the selection of memorable lines from each film submitted by readers of the site. So beautifully done.
One background fact (Fonda was apparently more fun off-screen than on):
Joan was attracted to co-star Henry Fonda and gifted him with a sequin-studded jockstrap. She invited him to model it for her, privately. "I was carrying her up the stairs for a scene we were filming," said Fonda. "When she whispered the invitation, I nearly dropped her."
And one memorable moment:
Peter: "The world's dead and everybody's dead in it but you..."
Daisy: "How did they come to die?"
The side-show contortionist I just watched stick his considerable head up his formidable ass in search of the minutes from this encounter not caught on the video. You know, the minutes that would have given us the context.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Actors and Extras
Mauirzio Cattelan is an Italian artist who specializes in parochial pranksterism, anti-art about art, biennial shenanigans and the like. He's responsible for the construction of a replica of the Hollywood sign in the brown hills near Palermo, Sicily. Which brown hills appear to have a strong Hollywood-drought-year-vibe to begin with.
Maurizio seems to be more agreeable and modest than his catalogue explicators. Compare his description of the project with the one some Gargantua wrote in a Venice Biennial press release:
"It's like spraying stardust over the Sicilian landscape: it’s a cut and paste dream" says Maurizio Cattelan. "I tried to overlap two opposite realities, Sicily and Hollywood: after all, images are just projections of desire, and I wanted to shade their boundaries. It might be a parody, but it’s also a tribute. It’s like freezing the moment in which truth turns into hallucination. There is something hypnotic in Hollywood: it’s a sign that immediately speaks about obsessions, failures and ambitions. It is a magnet for contradictions."
Cattelan engages a whole city into a social sculpture, which turns the citizens of Palermo into actors and extras of a surrealist film. A new geography of the imaginary.
God (and Louis B. Mayer) only know what the effect would have been on the surrealist conscripts of Palermo if Maurizio had built the sign even closer to town instead of "on a trashpit" at the farthest edge. Probably a new ontology of the transreal would have broken out.
Anyway, I'm feeling Maurizio and would like to up the ante on his Palermo project. The first artlet to jump to his or her death from the Sicilian Hollywood sign out off frustration with their inability to crack the higher circles of the artocracy, from despair over their rejection by this or that biennial, will be awarded 100 lira. I mean their estate will get the check.
Of course I will be selling a photo of the check and other documentation of my Hollywood/Palermo Suicide Project to recoup the cost of my reward (plus).