Friday, August 31, 2007

Finally, the Last Day of August 2007 - El Cholo, Santa Monica

El Cholo Friday Evening
I've had it with this rotten summer. I have never looked so forward to Labor Day weekend till this year. Okay, my mom died in June, but the heat this summer has been brutal even here in Santa Monica. Is it the humidity? That's what they say about New England. In Gardena, where my mother had lived until recently, and where I grew up, there was usually a strong breeze bouncing off the hills from Redondo Beach even on the bad days. I don't know if Gardena received that benefit this year or not. Some would say I'm complaining about beautiful weather. They're probably right. I'll shut up now about the weather. Happy Labor Day.

So, when my wife came home, to beat the heat, we darted over to Wilshire & 11th and bathed in the air conditioned cavern that is El Cholo. Somewhere pinto beans were being boiled. A waiter passed with a steaming plate of beef fajitas. Alongside his father, a little boy was celebrating his mother's birthday. She was sipping a majito. Friday night office workers hadn't hit the place in numbers yet and the hour was too early for dates, so there was room everywhere except the patio. We sat at the bar, eager for refreshment before sustenance.

Not my wife!
At home we make a classic margarita. We use fresh lime and/or lemon juice, Cointreau (not Triple Sec, the "corn syrup" of spirits), and 100% agave tequila. (When we were in Puerto Vallarta last year, a waiter recommended we try sipping DON EDUARDO tequila. We did and I couldn't find a bottle here in L.A. until four months ago. I'm happy now.)

At El Cholo they make an "L.A. Lemonade" that suits our requirements and is pleasantly served in a no nonsense glass with a piece of fruit. We would eventually have two rounds. We were walking home, remember?
L.A. Lemonade
I'm preparing a series on the glorious Caesar Salad in Westside Los Angeles, so I'll have to admit in advance that I ordered El Cholo's "Felix's" Caesar Salad, created circa 1991. (The menus show the dates some of the original dishes first appeared.) The barmaid advised us to add shrimp to the salad. My wife insisted the cook grill them a bit.
Felix's Caesar SaladMy wife ordered the green corn tamales (no date listed), available May through October only. The green corn tamales were excellent as usual. I enjoyed the Caesar with the added shrimp, but the lack of any anchovy presence added to my disappointment. I have no idea if the shrimp were grilled or not.Green Corn TamalesWe cleaned our plates and headed home to watch Bill Maher on HBO. When we got home, we opened our windows and turned on the fan.
Empty Plates

Sober Woman with Black Dress & White Bow - Tintype

Sober Woman with Black Dress and White Bow

Happy 100th Birthday William Shawn 1907-1992

William Shawn 1907-1992 RIP Yes, he (William Shawn, August 31, 1907 - December 8, 1992) is the father of amusing American character actor and genius playwright WALLACE SHAWN. You know him, the co-creator and star of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE? The man who was shoveling rice into his mouth while Andre went on and on about the gluttony of civilization? (I haven't seen the movie in years.) But Wally's father's life defines THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE in the 20th Century. Like Edgar Allan Poe, William was a magazinist and edited The New Yorker Magazine from 1952 until 1987. Just imagine the scope of his influence! Reportedly, J.D. Salinger adored him and he did dedicate his book "Franny and Zooey" to Shawn. If Willy was anything like Wally, he must've been a hellofaguy. Happy 100th Birthday to Willy!

William Shawn - wiki

Wallace Shawn - wiki

Happy 100th Birthday William Shawn 1907-1992

William Shawn 1907-1992 RIP Yes, he (William Shawn, August 31, 1907 - December 8, 1992) is the father of amusing American character actor and genius playwright WALLACE SHAWN. You know him, the co-creator and star of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE? The man who was shoveling rice into his mouth while Andre went on and on about the gluttony of civilization? (I haven't seen the movie in years.) But Wally's father's life defines THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE in the 20th Century. Like Edgar Allan Poe, William was a magazinist and edited The New Yorker Magazine from 1952 until 1987. Just imagine the scope of his influence! Reportedly, J.D. Salinger adored him and he did dedicate his book "Franny and Zooey" to Shawn. If Willy was anything like Wally, he must've been a hellofaguy. Happy 100th Birthday to Willy!

William Shawn - wiki

Wallace Shawn - wiki

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

San Francisco's Market Street - Postcard

San Francisco, Market Street - Postcard

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part Four

John Huston's grave at Hollywood Forever CemeteryI left the white bird and heading southward, I stepped over to say hello to John Huston (August 5, 1906 - August 28, 1987). Today, August 28, the day of this posting, is the 20th anniversary of his death.

I admit it. I think his first film was his best film, but I'm partial to Dashiell Hammett and Bogart. While THE MALTESE FALCON may be my personal favorite, John Huston's films dominate my top 50 and for good reasons.

I always smile when I watch Bogart outwit Edward G. Robinson on the boat at the end of KEY LARGO. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE moves from scenes of homicidal mania to comic humility. THE AFRICAN QUEEN brilliantly showcases the talents of its two veteran stars, Bogart and Hepburn. Thanks to Ray Bradbury and Herman Melville (not to mention Gregory Peck and Richard Basehart), MOBY DICK is a masterpiece and a perfect example of the melding of cinema and literature.

Although from time to time, I'm apt to confuse Huston's THE ASPHALT JUNGLE with Kubrick's THE KILLING (both caper films star Sterling Hayden), I can never forget the scene when Sam Jaffe's lecherous crook indulges himself for too long with the sight of a beautiful young girl dancing, only to be arrested moments later.

Who can forget the anguish of each of the lost characters in THE MISFITS, the mental and spiritual battles of Richard Burton's character in Tennessee Williams' THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, or the pain felt in the soul of of Stacy Keach's character in FAT CITY? Remember the bravado of stars Sean Connery and Michael Caine in THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING? They dominated the film in tandem.

While Huston's films orchestrate drama and comedy magnificently, this hard-drinking, chain-smoking, bad boy, prankster, devil, ladies man had his broader comic side. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN is a delicious comedy for me, even if the musical bear sequence is an intended reproduction of a similar montage in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. Although I haven't seen WISE BLOOD in years, I remember Huston's adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel as an absurdist comedy in the vein of what David Lynch would later bring us. I remember being disgusted by the Brad Dourif character, but that's what Brad Dourif was good at around that time. (I liked his performance in RAGTIME better than CUCKOO'S NEST.)

My second quarter in grad school at UCLA in 1981, I got a job running the post-production office for a low budget horror film with Bo Svenson, Susan Tyrell, Jimmy McNichol, and an unknown Julia Duffy. (She showed her breasts in the movie.) After looking at the footage, they added a few extra shooting days and I wound up on the set, way up in the hills of Echo Park. When I went to the local market to get orange juice to go with the donuts I brought up from Gardena, I ran into my screenwriting teacher Richard Walters. Meanwhile, up at the location, members of the crew were digging a hole in someone's backyard and filling it with water to make it look like the side of a lake. (Think of that scene in ED WOOD when Bela wrestles with the octopus.) Inside the house, the kitchen was being dressed to match its previous incarnation during principal photography. As one of the first movie sets I was being paid to work on, I was a sponge, soaking it all in and asking for more.

Veteran director William "I Love Lucy" Asher, an incredible gentleman, was directing and his mere presence elevated the material. He was very paternal with me and I will never forget his kindness. He had been married and divorced to Elizabeth Montgomery (a sexy mother figure for me) and his son John would marry and divorce Jenny McCarthy. Regardless, William Asher seemed the kind of man you would want for a father. I'm sure John thinks so too. Lucky guy.

The sun had gone down in Echo Park before the crew got to the kitchen scenes and FAT CITY star and Oscar nominee SUSAN TYRELL had already arrived for her scenes. Two of the movie producers were from the mid-west and were concerned about Susan's tendency to drink a lot. The third producer was from New York and had perfect confidence in my ability to keep her talking and not drinking. So, I sat down on the picnic bench with Susan Tyrell and we got drunk together. I didn't sleep with her though. That's not how this story ends. (I was interested in her blonde agent who stopped by and told me her divorce saga while Susan went to work.) After a sufficent number of drinks, I asked her what it was like to work with John Huston on FAT CITY. She took the actor's obligatory pause, refilled her drink from the bottle we both shared and said, "He was a chauvinistic, son-of-a-bitch." She took another pause and sipped her drink. "But he was a genius."

We'll get back to my day trip to Hollywood, the cemetery, the lake, the birds, the bookstore, the bar, and the drive home in Part Five.

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part One

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part Two

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part Three

"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" Has Been Dead For 20 Years - John Huston (1906-1987) RIP

John Huston's grave at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
I admit it. I think his first film was his best film, but I'm partial to Dashiell Hammett and Bogart. While THE MALTESE FALCON may be my personal favorite, John Huston's films dominate my top 50 and for good reasons.

I always smile when I watch Bogart outwit Edward G. Robinson on the boat at the end of KEY LARGO. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE moves from scenes of homicidal mania to comic humility. THE AFRICAN QUEEN brilliantly showcases the talents of its two veteran stars, Bogart and Hepburn.

Thanks to Ray Bradbury and Herman Melville (not to mention Gregory Peck and Richard Basehart), MOBY DICK is a masterpiece and a perfect example of the melding of cinema and literature.

Although from time to time, I'm apt to confuse Huston's THE ASPHALT JUNGLE with Kubrick's THE KILLING (both caper films star Sterling Hayden), I can never forget the scene when Sam Jaffe's lecherous crook indulges himself for too long with the sight of a beautiful young girl dancing, only to be arrested moments later.

Who can forget the anguish of each of the lost characters in THE MISFITS, the mental and spiritual battles of Richard Burton's character in Tennessee Williams' THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, or the pain felt in the soul of of Stacy Keach's character in FAT CITY? Remember the bravado of stars Sean Connery and Michael Caine in THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING? They dominated the film in tandem.

While Huston's films orchestrate drama and comedy magnificently, this hard-drinking, chain-smoking, bad boy, prankster, devil, ladies man had his broader comic side. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN is a delicious comedy for me, even if the musical bear sequence is an intended reproduction of a similar montage in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. Although I haven't seen WISE BLOOD in years, I remember Huston's adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel as an absurdist comedy in the vein of what David Lynch would later bring us. I remember being disgusted by the Brad Dourif character, but that's what Brad Dourif was good at around that time. (I liked his performance in RAGTIME better than CUCKOO'S NEST.)

My second quarter in grad school at UCLA in 1981, I got a job running the post-production office for a low budget horror film with Bo Svenson, Susan Tyrell, Jimmy McNichol, and an unknown Julia Duffy. (She showed her breasts in the movie.) After looking at the footage, they added a few extra shooting days and I wound up on the set, way up in the hills of Echo Park. When I went to the local market to get orange juice to go with the donuts I brought up from Gardena, I ran into my screenwriting teacher Richard Walters. Meanwhile, up at the location, members of the crew were digging a hole in someone's backyard and filling it with water to make it look like the side of a lake. (Think of that scene in ED WOOD when Bela wrestles with the octopus.) Inside the house, the kitchen was being dressed to match its previous incarnation during principal photography. As one of the first movie sets I was being paid to work on, I was a sponge, soaking it all in and asking for more.

Veteran director William "I Love Lucy" Asher, an incredible gentleman, was directing and his mere presence elevated the material. He was very paternal with me and I will never forget his kindness. He had been married and divorced to Elizabeth Montgomery (a sexy mother figure for me) and his son John would marry and divorce Jenny McCarthy. Regardless, William Asher seemed the kind of man you would want for a father. I'm sure John thinks so too. Lucky guy.

The sun had gone down in Echo Park before the crew got to the kitchen scenes and FAT CITY star and Oscar nominee SUSAN TYRELL had already arrived for her scenes. Two of the movie producers were from the mid-west and were concerned about Susan's tendency to drink a lot. The third producer was from New York and had perfect confidence in my ability to keep her talking and not drinking. So, I sat down on the picnic bench with Susan Tyrell and we got drunk together. I didn't sleep with her though. That's not how this story ends. (I was interested in her blonde agent who stopped by and told me her divorce saga while Susan went to work.) After a sufficent number of drinks, I asked her what it was like to work with John Huston on FAT CITY. She took the actor's obligatory pause, refilled her drink from the bottle we both shared and said, "He was a chauvinistic, son-of-a-bitch." She took another pause and sipped her drink. "But he was a genius."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Young Woman with Long Hair and Cross Necklace - CDV

Young Woman with Long Hair and Cross Necklace

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part Three

I walked towards the northwest corner of the lake and the wind wouldn't send the fountain spray in my direction. I watched this white bird skirt out of the water and caught her image before she hit the shadows.She just hopped out of the lakeAfter I took the picture I followed her around the small tree and, as my wife puts it, "she spread her wings in flirtation with me." I feel complimented. My wife does the same thing. She stretches a lot.What a flirt Well, my new love proved fickle. Our relationship never got off the ground and now that I think of it, she never did either.She's as coy as Elizabeth Taylor After I took her picture, she left me for a place in the sun. We're both better off.Get it? 'Place in the Sun' and Elizabeth Taylor?You've got to give me credit. When I was thinking about what to write, I remembered I had an old Polaroid photo of myself here in this spot in 1990. I dug through my storage unit and found the picture. Here I am with three co-workers (the fourth is operating the camera) who I convinced to tour the stars' graves during our lunch hour.See the lake in the backgroundJust after the picture of the four of us was taken, an elderly woman dressed in black came over to us and introduced herself as Valentino's "Lady in Black." We listened to her stories of how she claimed to be the daughter of the original "Lady in Black" and followed her over to the mausoleum where Rudy is buried. Here is a picture of yours truly in 1990 standing in front of Valentino's crypt with the "Lady in Black." I appear to be wearing mostly black myself, but that's not unusual for me.The Lady in Black and meOkay, enough with 1990. I turned my back on the white bird, that tease, and headed south. But that's Part Four.Heading South

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Malibu Country Mart's "Court" Jester

Malibu Country Mart's COURT JESTERCourt Jester

Camille Paglia Proclaims Art Film Dead

Camille Paglia
I adore Camille Paglia and find her writings stimulating and sexy. But I've always found a smart mind a sexy mind. I've read her books and every article I run into. I've given her books as presents to friends I find intelligent or interested enough to understand her whatever their philosophical bent. Her takes on popular culture are always supported by deep historical analysis. So, now with the recent deaths of 60's icons Bergman and Antonioni, she finds the "mystical art-house film experience" a lost 20th century phenomenon.

"Art film as a genre has waned with the high modernism that produced it. The premier modernists -- from James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf to Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Martha Graham -- were rebelling against a hierarchical, authoritarian tradition that suffocated their youth but whose very power energized their work. They became larger from what they opposed and overcame. Today, anything goes, and nothing lasts."

- Camille Paglia,
"Art Movies, R.I.P." - Salon.com
The part of this current article that gives me pause appears when she, a self described 'atheist and libertarian democrat' with new age tendencies, advocates for the teaching of all the world religions at the center of the university curriculum. She references her previous article "Religion and the Arts in America," which details the historic development of American art as a reaction against religious domination. After reading both articles, I can only suppose that her argument for wide scale religious education is in hope that the ignorance once revealed will eventually burn out the current fever for fundamentalism and the human race will find a better way to define their common values and hopes. Her hope is that art will once again flourish through the process.

"For the fine arts to revive, they must recover their spiritual center. Profaning the iconography of other people's faiths is boring and adolescent. The New Age movement, to which I belong, was a distillation of the 1960s' multicultural attraction to world religions, but it has failed thus far to produce important work in the visual arts. The search for spiritual meaning has been registering in popular culture instead through science fiction, as in George Lucas' six-film Star Wars saga, with its evocative master myth of the “Force.” But technology for its own sake is never enough. It will always require supplementation through cultivation in the arts.

To fully appreciate world art, one must learn how to respond to religious expression in all its forms. Art began as religion in prehistory. It does not require belief to be moved by a sacred shrine, icon, or scripture. Hence art lovers, even when as citizens they stoutly defend democratic institutions against religious intrusion, should always speak with respect of religion. Conservatives, on the other hand, need to expand their parched and narrow view of culture. Every vibrant civilization welcomes and nurtures the arts."

- Camille Paglia,
"Religion and the Arts in America" - Arion

Camille Paglia Proclaims Art Film Dead

Camille Paglia
I adore Camille Paglia and find her writings stimulating and sexy. But I've always found a smart mind a sexy mind. I've read her books and every article I run into. I've given her books as presents to friends I find intelligent or interested enough to understand her whatever their philosophical bent. Her takes on popular culture are always supported by deep historical analysis. So, now with the recent deaths of 60's icons Bergman and Antonioni, she finds the "mystical art-house film experience" a lost 20th century phenomenon.

"Art film as a genre has waned with the high modernism that produced it. The premier modernists -- from James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf to Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Martha Graham -- were rebelling against a hierarchical, authoritarian tradition that suffocated their youth but whose very power energized their work. They became larger from what they opposed and overcame. Today, anything goes, and nothing lasts."

- Camille Paglia,
"Art Movies, R.I.P." - Salon.com
The part of this current article that gives me pause appears when she, a self described 'atheist and libertarian democrat' with new age tendencies, advocates for the teaching of all the world religions at the center of the university curriculum. She references her previous article "Religion and the Arts in America," which details the historic development of American art as a reaction against religious domination. After reading both articles, I can only suppose that her argument for wide scale religious education is in hope that the ignorance once revealed will eventually burn out the current fever for fundamentalism and the human race will find a better way to define their common values and hopes. Her hope is that art will once again flourish through the process.

"For the fine arts to revive, they must recover their spiritual center. Profaning the iconography of other people's faiths is boring and adolescent. The New Age movement, to which I belong, was a distillation of the 1960s' multicultural attraction to world religions, but it has failed thus far to produce important work in the visual arts. The search for spiritual meaning has been registering in popular culture instead through science fiction, as in George Lucas' six-film Star Wars saga, with its evocative master myth of the “Force.” But technology for its own sake is never enough. It will always require supplementation through cultivation in the arts.

To fully appreciate world art, one must learn how to respond to religious expression in all its forms. Art began as religion in prehistory. It does not require belief to be moved by a sacred shrine, icon, or scripture. Hence art lovers, even when as citizens they stoutly defend democratic institutions against religious intrusion, should always speak with respect of religion. Conservatives, on the other hand, need to expand their parched and narrow view of culture. Every vibrant civilization welcomes and nurtures the arts."

- Camille Paglia,
"Religion and the Arts in America" - Arion

Standing Woman with Flower and Fan - Tintype

Standing Woman with Flower and Fan - Tintype

Lon Chaney 77 Years Dead

Lon Chaney (1883-1930) RIP

Silent film actor Lon Chaney's (April 1, 1883 - August 26, 1930) most memorable performances incarnate the grotesque. Robert Bloch (April 5, 1917 - September 23, 1994) always reminded us that watching Chaney's "Quasimodo' in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923) turned out to be the most significant moment in his childhood. Sometime after meeting Robert Bloch in 1989, but before mid-1993, I attended a screening of Chaney's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) at a downtown L.A. historic theatre (probably the ORPHEUM). A famous organist (I forget his name, but he wore a turban.) played the accompaniment magnificently. Before the show, he introduced an elderly lady sitting in one of the still elegant boxes on the side of the theatre close to the stage. She was Chaney's co-star. She had played 'Christine Daae.' Film legend Mary Philbin (July 16, 1903 - May 27, 1993) took a bow while the audience applauded. (Actually, I don't remember if she stood up to bow or just nodded and bent, unable to stand.) It was a nice moment. I wondered if seeing the young and gorgeous Mary Philbin being romanced by Chaney the Phantom did anything for Robert Bloch's adolescence?

"He was someone who acted out our psyches. He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen. The history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that's grotesque, that the world will turn away from."
- Ray Bradbury

While I appreciate Chaney's two biggest hits, my personal favorite is "the most intense and demented" of director Tod Browning's films THE UNKNOWN (1927). Once again, Chaney shows off his athletic skills as well as his genius at portraying seriously messed up human beings playing carnival knife thrower 'Alonzo the Armless.' Fate throws his character the cruelest blow imaginable. After sacrificing the unthinkable for the woman he loves, she falls in love with another man. (No spoilers in this piece. Go watch the movie.)

Like his character in THE UNKNOWN, life provided a series of difficult ironies for Lon Chaney. Certainly we are surprised at the obvious irony that the silent film star came from deaf parents. But the sound irony didn't end there. When his troubled wife attempted suicide, she ruined her voice as well as her singing career. As a final irony, Chaney became ill with bronchial lung cancer and died of a throat hemorrhage.

But my strongest impressions of the life and career of Lon Chaney come from the James Cagney performance in the bio pic MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES (1957). As when he played 'George M. Cohan,' Cagney's own theatrical background paralleled the real-life performers he would portray. The result is seamless, for both films. The Cagney performance presented Chaney as the journeyman actor who worked long at his career and hard at his craft before success arrived. As Chaney was able to illustrate Quasimodo's pain in living a misunderstood life, Cagney showed the emotional toil single father Chaney endured while struggling to maintain a relationship with his son. In the end, Cohan was a pro, Chaney was a pro, and Cagney was a pro.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part Two

Hollywood Forever Cemetery used to be a dump. What few paved roads it had were spotted with holes, lined with veins of crabgrass, and covered with lots of dirt. The lawns were unkempt and gravestones were buried beneath the neglect. I don't know how fish were able to survive in the polluted and muddy lake. Then, a young fellow with vision and a bankroll bought the place and it's become a model for the postmodern cemetery in the 21st century.

Alba PathwayThe grounds were cleaned up. Roads were paved. The lake and the fountains were refurbished. You can build a monolith to yourself or an ancestor. You can press a button on a monument and watch a video of the dead person's lifestory. On hot summer nights, you can watch a movie being screened outdoors.
Johnny Ramone Monument So, after my luncheon at El Coyote, I drove through the gates of Hollywood Forever Cemetery and headed over to the lake area. I passed by Johnny Ramone's cenotaph and bid hello to the angel with the harp. Back against that ivy covered wall is an area I call "kid alley." The plots along that wall are all childrens' graves garishly decorated with religious and holiday knick-knacks as well as lots of toys. Come Halloween, the alley's creepiness approaches the sublime.
Angle with HarpAfter parking my Mercury, I walked over to see if a tombstone had finally been placed on the grave of Darren McGavin. Well, there wasn't a stone marker yet and the temporary plastic sign still stuck out of the ground, but a slab of concrete had been placed atop the grave. I wondered if either the cemetery or the relatives of the deceased were concerned about X-Files fans bodysnatching his corpse or maybe it was a place for the movie night audience members to sit instead of wearing out the grass when visiting one of their favorite actors. This was a mystery worthy of Kolchak.
Darren McGavin's Grave is SLABBED As I turned around to go over to the lake, I noticed this new structure being built. The cemetery is becoming peppered with huge, new monuments to the wealthy, immigrant dead. The stones used are beautiful and engraved with photographs of the dearly departed. Some even have life-size statues of the deceased sitting on their favorite throne.
Four Pillars to Whatever The heat and my undigested lunch were starting to get to me, so I headed for the lake hoping the spray from the fountains or the shade from the trees would offer me relief, but that's Part Three.

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part One

Club Harmony July 19, 1947

My Parents with Uncle Earl & Friends 7/19/1947

PSYCHO Screenwriter Dead One Year Ago Today

Joseph Stefano (1922-2006)
Veteran, journeyman, pro, whatever else you can say about a good writer, Joseph Stefano (May 5, 1922 - August 25, 2006) defined the American screenwriter in the second half of the 20th century. He wrote features and television. He wrote horror. He wrote crime. He wrote science fiction. Earlier he even wrote pop songs. But like many of his peers, his greatest work defined his career.

In adapting Robert Bloch's novel "Psycho" for Alfred Hitchcock, we are told that Stefano recommended shifting the focus from the 'Norman Bates/Tony Perkins' character to the 'Marian Crane/Janet Leigh' character. Hitchock adored the macbre idea of knocking off the female star 20 minutes into the movie and cinema history got a new page.

Joseph Stefano Died One Year Ago Today

Joseph Stefano (1922-2006)
Veteran, journeyman, pro, whatever else you can say about a good writer, Joseph Stefano (May 5, 1922 - August 25, 2006) defined the American screenwriter in the second half of the 20th century. He wrote features and television. He wrote horror. He wrote crime. He wrote science fiction. Earlier he even wrote pop songs. But like many of his peers, his greatest work defined his career.

In adapting Robert Bloch's novel "Psycho" for Alfred Hitchcock, we are told that Stefano recommended shifting the focus from the 'Norman Bates/Tony Perkins' character to the 'Marian Crane/Janet Leigh' character. Hitchock adored the macbre idea of knocking off the female star 20 minutes into the movie and cinema history got a new page.

Friday, August 24, 2007

St. Bart's Day Holocaust - August 24, 1572

In yet another historical example of christian love, today is the 435th anniversary of the French Catholic holocaust against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants). After three religious wars, a mixed marriage, and the threat of civil war, the god loving catholics of Paris massacred "several thousands or tens of thousands" of their non-papist brethren in christ.

A HUGUENOT, ON ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY, REFUSING TO SHIELD HIMSELF FROM DANGER BY WEARING THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BADGE (1852), a painting by John Everett Millais.

A Huguenot on St. Bart's Day (1852)

"It depicts a pair of young lovers in an embrace. The familiar subject is given a dramatic twist because the "embrace" is in fact an attempt by the girl to get her beloved to wear a white armband, declaring his allegiance to Roman Catholicism. The young man gently pulls the armband off with the same hand with which he embraces the girl. The incident refers to the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 when French Protestants (Huguenots) were massacred in Paris, leading to other massacres elsewhere in France. A small number of Protestants escaped from the city by wearing white armbands."
- wiki

"Affordable" Airstream Just $49,066

I'm really more of a room service kind of person, but I've always appreciated those shiny metal Airstream trailers you see on the highways looking for a place to hook up to a cesspool. I'm a city kid and I didn't do much camping until I went to school in the suburbs. In fact, I'm such a city kid that, when during college, I went to teach theatre at a Santa Cruz mountain summer camp, I was the only one on staff who hadn't passed the Red Cross lifesaving class and I had no idea how to swim the butterfly stroke. In contrast, none of those suburban, middle-class, christian, republican staff members had a father who was a gangster or a mother who spoke French-Canadian.
Mini-AirstreamThose bright folks at Design Within Reach (DWR Studio) in partnership with architect Chris Deam have come up with a designer travel trailer for those who have some disposable income or just like having an American icon sitting in their driveways. The "affordable" Airstream sells for just $49,066 and comes with brand name chairs, linens, and other accessories you can show off to your friends. This Saturday, they're having an open house in Manhattan Beach where you can take a look at this cute and cozy little item. Despite my lack of disposable income, a driveway, and a need to purchase trendy things I don't need, I'll give them $3,000 for one of them - CASH. Or maybe on my next vacation, I'll just invest the $3K on room service. Don't miss the popcorn, the hot dogs, and the book raffle.

"DWR has partnered with Airstream and architect/designer Chris Deam to introduce the Design Within Reach Airstream travel trailer. Instead of telling you how cool it is, just come by and experience it for yourself. A representative from the local Airstream dealership will be on hand to answer any questions. See this update of an American icon in person and take part in our raffle for your chance to win a copy of a book documenting the history of Airstream. Popcorn, hot dogs and other refreshments will be served."

The DWR Airstream
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Unit B100
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Phone: 310.796.1976
Fax: 310.796.1978
Saturday, August 25, noon-5pm

Two Women, Thin and Fat - Tintype

Two Women, Thin and Fat - Tintype

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day Trip to Hollywood - Part One

Tuesday, August 21st, Noon, I found myself driving east on Pico. It wasn't too hot and as long as I didn't use the air conditioning, I wouldn't have to worry about my Mercury causing a fit. I considered stopping at Lazer Blazer, but decided I didn't feel like shopping. I was hungry.

Near Century City, police car sirens told me to pull over to the side of the road. Two squad cars passed me by and I swear I heard a helicopter overhead. Then, there was an ambulance. I considered turning around and heading back to "Burger Madness" in Ocean Park, but the call of El Coyote gave me courage. Turned out there was nothing to fear on Pico except the traffic. When I passed La Cienega, I looked at the piece of property where KOWLOON once stood. Many rum drinks served with umbrellas were sipped by me and mine there amongst the aquariums stocked with fish. Then, they tore it down. What a waste. It would probably have been a big hit these days.

I turned north on Hauser and drove through the spine of Park La Brea. I used to ride my bike here before they put up all the gates and drove out us peasants. My windshield was dirty. It wasn't that grey of a day.

6th and HauserEl Coyote CafeChips, Salsa, Scratch MargaritaBefore I reached my seat at the bar, the bartender had already taken my order. Fox News was on the television and I wanted the remote more than the scratch margarita I'd just asked for. Luckily, one of the regulars I always see in there at lunchtime got control of the remote and started changing channels. He gave me the choice of baseball or soccer. I chose CNN, but he switched it to baseball. Anything's better than Fox News.

Caesar Salad with Fajita Chicken In all the years I've been going to El Coyote, I never had the Caesar Salad before. This day, I had it with Fajita chicken. It was awesome. The second scratch margarita made it even better.

Blick Art Store I left El Coyote by the alleyway and drove onto Beverly heading east. The New Beverly Cinema is still open while the Rialto in Pasadena ceased operation last week. Let's just hope a Starbucks doesn't wind up there someday.

New Beverly CinemaGower and Melrose I slipped over to Larchmont and turned up to Melrose. As I approached Gower, I decided it was a good day to take another left and stop over at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But that's Part Two.