28 February 2006

more black borders

in the past few days the obituarial news from LA has centerd on the acting profession. but in our morning paper I read of the death of Otis Chandler.

I only remember seeing him once. at one of the American Film Institute dinners. he was tall & oddly handsome. the former surfer made his mark as publisher of the LA Times. he was the son of Norman Chandler who may or may not have known Elizabeth Short & Dorothy Chandler who gave her name to the pavillion whose red carpet I walkd to the Oscars for the only time.


some time ago I wrote here abt the fate of a potato chip. the Thomasson family of Elyria made the best chip in the world but sold the company to a firm in Mansfield. that company changd the recipe supposdly in an attempt to cut down on transfats.

my love affair with Thomasson potato chips goes back to high school. I even include a reference to them in one of the poems from Ohio Triangle. so I was delightd to receive in Mother's last batch of clippings an article announcing that the takeover company is returning to the original recipe. when I visit the folks in abt 5 weeks I'll have to purchase the product yet again.

27 February 2006

reflectd glory

speaking of The Avalanche of Time I happend across a copy being sold on eBay for $3.21. ouch. so I checkd Alibris & there it was $3.16. double ouch. finally I went to Abe & was happy to see a copy being offerd for $40. but that only because it was from Paul Metcalf's library.

26 February 2006

& the winner is

in yesterday's mail a small package from Judy Henske. it was the CD rerelease of "Farewell Alebaran." there's a reason she sent it to me. the first cut on the album was "Snowblind"   a song Judy wrote with Jerry Yester & Zal Yanovsky. a line in that song -- "20 sonnets bound in gold" -- inspird me to write my sonnet sequence which I dedicatd to Judy. Canada's Killaly Press printd it as the first in their chapbook series in 1972. in an edition of only 100 copies it's one of my most collectible items.

the only time Robert Duncan ever acknowledgd reading me was his verbal appreciation of the sonnet sequence. I used them to open my selectd poems The Avalanche of Time (1986). my publisher Richard Grossinger wasn't happy with my decision. he thot the sequence "too difficult" to start the book. perhaps he was right. I became a neglectorino while still in print.

I've written here before abt my devotion to Judy Henske. she's one of those touchstone personalities who bob up & down thruout my life. if you haven't heard her   go to her website & order a batch of her CDs. you won't be sorry. she's the real thing.

one reason I tend to turn off the Grammy awards is my embarrassment at the wins by nontalents. I became an awards junkie as a boy & have trouble shaking it. however it didn't take long to learn that awards are more abt politics than art. Frank O'Hara never won a Pulitzer. Hitchock never heard his name calld as best director at the Oscars. & where the bleep is Henske's Grammy? well Judy -- if you read this -- know that it's in my heart.

25 February 2006

Darren McGavin (1922-2006)

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early spring

it's sunny & in the 60s today so I've opend up the windows. Melina had her brushing on the patio. & then there are those other seasonal indicators. the other day I bought my first package of Peeps. I opend them so they cd become "stale" before gobbling them up. & then this morning I purchasd Girl Scout cookies. thin mints of course.

my sweet girl

I feel closest to Melina when she decides to groom me. for me it's the greatest gift she can give. for that short time our spirits blend. Posted by Picasa

24 February 2006

a new resource

cinemaddicts either love Internet Movie Database or don't. yes there are errors. everything man touches has. but for me it's an invaluable tool which I consult daily.

for some time we've heard that Turner Classic Movies & American Film Institute were collaborating on a rival resource. it's finally here. as a test I lookd up Percy Helton. the new database gives his birthdate as 31 jan 1998. it's actually 31 jan 1894. strangely the death date is absent. his filmography lists 88 films. most others have the number nearer 100.

if competition is healthy then this addition is welcome.

23 February 2006

till death do us

the obit for 90 y/o dancer Peter Hamilton containd the news that he was survivd by his partner of 62 years Don Liberto.

22 February 2006

memory on my mind

yesterday I was reading an article which mentiond a largely forgotten newspaper columnist Hal Boyle. I immediately rememberd being part of a mass interview of him while I was still in high school. that moment of my life has been buried for decades.
from that my mind was skittering around & somehow I began to think of people -- like Clay -- who were in my life ever so briefly. he was a photographer I met in Manhattan. altho I have a photograph of his I have no photograph of him. & his face has disappeard from memory.

because I work on Alex in Movieland every day & have for several years now the whole idea of memory continues to be potent. what do we remember & why? what do we forget & why? what can bring a memory back? where was it while it was "away"?

20 February 2006


John Kenley turns 100 today & Robert Altman a mere 81.

to hell with Oscar

I suspect Hollywood will be too chickenshit to give "Brokeback" a sweep. (remember Reagan was once president of SAG.) so it was lovely to watch the BAFTA awards last nite from London. when Jake's name was calld for best supporting actor he was obviously surprisd & thrilld. onstage he gave a sweet little speech. also in his interview after the ceremony he was generous & dear.

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19 February 2006

a passing

2 weeks ago today I watchd the DVD Ira Joel Haber sent me of "Odds Against Tomorrow." in the impressive cast I was struck by Richard Bright playing a character with gay dimensions. it was his first film. Bright went on to appear in "The Godfather" films & work by Peckinpah & Leone. poetry fans may remember his 1965 arrest on obscenity charges for appearing in Michael McClure's "The Beard" in San Francisco.

minutes ago I rec'd an e from James Robert Parish informing me that Bright is dead. he was run over by a bus in Manhattan.

the country of survivors

it's good to share the pages of St. Vitus with Hugh Fox. it's been 37 years since he put me in his famous anthology The Living Underground. a few years ago I gave Matthew Wascovich a copy of it. then Wasco brought us back together in the pages of his premiere issue of Thee Flat Bike.

Hugh's abt a decade older than I am & has been battling cancer. his poem in St. Vitus is esp poignant. one line: "I'm in the last lap of the Kentucky Derby."

18 February 2006

mailbox full of mags

so yesterday I got a trio of quite different periodicals in the mail.

since we run in different circles I have yet to encounter Tom Ford in town. so I can't call him up to chat abt "his" issue of Vanity Fair. after all the hype it's rather disappointing. the Annie Leibovitz portrait of Jake Gyllenhaal is terrific. the eyes & pout of Jonathan Rhys Meyers turn me on. & what a blast to see Mamie Van Doren right there with all of today's stars.

includes a piece on David Hockney with solid illustrations. his portrait of Divine I first saw on a visit to his studio on Santa Monica Blvd & it sort of follows me around.

the new issue of St. Vitus Press & Poetry Review deserves future comment. it's the little mag editd by Todd Moore & his son Theron. this number includes my Black Dahlia poem from the collection-in-progress abt Hollywood.

17 February 2006

Barbara Guest (1920-2006)

I go separately
We have reached the arithmetics, are partially quenched
while it growls and hints in the lost trapper's voice
She is coming toward us like a session of pines
in the wild, wooden air where rabbits are frozen
O mother of lakes and glaciers save us gamblers
whose wagon is perilously apt.

    "Santa Fe Trail" (1958)

when pretty boys disappoint

o Johnny. were you worn out from shopping? or bushd from producing so much sass in all those interviews? that performance was tea left too long in the cup.

yr sad tale remind'd me of another talentd & brash young skater. Christopher Bowman. his personal excesses burnd him up before gold cd come his way.

16 February 2006

Ned Sublette

the success of "Brokeback Mountain" has emboldend Willie Nelson to record "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)"   a song Ned Sublette wrote 25 years ago. I read abt it online yesterday afternoon & then saw Ned interviewd on the evening news.

in 1999 I producd the first pop music concert in the history of Santa Fe Opera. it was a benefit for our local AIDS fundraising organization. Ned was the opening act. the show was emcee'd by Bea Arthur & featurd Albita   Rufus Wainwright & Amanda McBroom. quite an evening. Ned in his tight jeans & western hat was a striking figure. & the songs were from his ripsnorting CD "Cowboy Rumba."

last time I saw Ned he was in town for an exhibition of photographs he'd taken in Cuba. quite a talentd man. I'm happy for this new success.

15 February 2006

those skating judges

the worst judging in the Olympics has always been in figure skating. the new rules were supposd to protect skaters from politics & bias. so it's interesting to read today's commentary abt yesterday's skate. the backlash against Plushenko's inflatd marks is spreading across Turin. it doesn't help that the skater has the arrogance of Dick Cheney.

with Plushenko already given the gold the real contest tomorrow will be for the other medals. & the skaters who probably will take those are all more artistic than the Russian. how much do you want to bet that Weir's off-ice flamboyance cost him the top spot?

Olympic ice

Plushenko's short program was masterful. Weir   the Rufus Wainwright of skaters   was stunning. Lambiel displayd great style. & despite his stumbles wasn't Jeffrey Buttle adorable?

Dick Button is the dean of figure skating commentators. I respect & appreciate the eveness of his reportage & his ability to footnote a performance with his knowledge of the sport's history. why the network add'd the irritating Scott Hamilton is a mystery.

in speedskating Joey Cheek became a model for good sportsmanship. he wasn't afraid to show emotion on the podium & he donatd his bonus to charity. a class act at a time when so many athletes are grandstanding.

14 February 2006

from the trip

here I am with Frank Piper & Garold Gardner decades after seeing them in "Camelot" :

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Luca sent me this picture of me putting the Century Dimes on London Bridge. he insists I was flipping him the bird. actually I didn't even know he was taking a picture. it was windy & I was trying to keep my hat on.

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13 February 2006

a weekend to savor

good friends. good weather. good adventures.

yesterday ayem Luca pickd me up & we were off to Henderson to visit Darryl in his new digs. he's out internet buddy from New Orleans who was displacd by Katrina. together we did the gospel brunch at House of Blues. then the Rubens exhibition at the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum & the Chinese New Year's floral display at the Bellagio. finally it was Harvey Fierstein who was a different kind of divine in "Hairspray." a slightly shorter but lively production with a superb cast.

11 February 2006

I was in 3 states today

Luca pickd me up early this ayem. we drove to Boulder City for breakfast. then we went to Lake Havasu so I cd put the Century Dimes on London Bridge. finally dinner in Laughlin.

10 February 2006

flew to Las Vegas yesterday

the first musical I ever saw on Broadway was "Camelot" with Julie Andrews. in the chorus were Garold Gardner & Frank Piper. I met Garold 2 years later & we've been friends for more than 40 years. today he & I joind 2 other friends & drove to Pahrump where I finally met Frank Piper. before appearing on Broadway Frank had dancd with Alicia Alonzo's company in Cuba & then in the corps de ballet at the Met.
after much dance gossip we all went to a local casino for a buffet lunch & told stories abt our mutual friend T.R. Queen.

09 February 2006

08 February 2006

perspectives change

I remember a century ago being excitd when I was first askd to be in "Who's Who in America." the other day Marquis sent me an update request to add my bio to "Who's Who in the World." I threw it out.

as one gets older things that were important are less so while some quite ordinary things are staggering.

07 February 2006

lick this

to celebrate Valentine's Day a department store in Seoul has made a life-size statute of Brad Pitt out of chocolate.

Danish blue

I'm an old fart living on a pension. so to spend $6.12 on a small wedge of cheese is an event. but this wedge is clearly markd "importd cheese from Denmark."

06 February 2006

when will Shrub invade Iran?

from the front page of my local paper:

former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was in town yesterday. he predictd the current regime in Washington has plans for the invasion. he claims John Bolton's speech to the UN is already written: "It says America cannot allow Iran to threaten the United States and we must unilaterally defend ourselves."

05 February 2006


when I'm in town I try to post something here everyday. if you look you'll see nothing for the 4th. however if you checkd yesterday you will have read an entry calld "buy Danish cheese by the ton." this morning it's gone. I didn't erase it. where did it go? why?

a tale of 2 docs

yesterday I walkd to the cinemateque at the college where "Ballets Russes" was being held over. the film begins with archival footage of a ballerina. it's b&w. it's grainy. we know it's only an approximation of an evanescent art. but it's still full of life. by telling the stories of competing ballet companies   the film becomes a major document preserving the history of dance in the 20th century. the interviews with survivors are as lively as the interviewees. several nearing 90 continue to teach & some even to dance. it's inspiring. I left the theater wanting to reach out to the sky & jump.

several hours later I began watching "Grizzly Man." it begins with its subject crouching with a bear behind him. almost as soon as he begins to speak we know we're facing a disturbd man. one of the blackest films in Herzog's dark canon   the documentary becomes increasingly difficult to watch. it's such a painful film that by the time it was over I felt draind.

2 very different docs producing strong emotions.

03 February 2006


when you walk into the guest bathroom this is the wall you see:

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all film stars. & mostly pictures I collectd as a kid. here is one close-up:

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Boris Karloff has long been a favorite. altho I see him on this wall everyday   he's esp with me today. Film Forum in NYC opens its Karloff retrospective tonite. wish I cd be there for the whole event.

what celluloid preserves

the shelf life of a made-for-tv movie is similar to that of a strawberry. but now that there are all-movie channels even telefilms are being dug up.

last nite I saw a clunker calld "Scandal Sheet" (originally broadcast in 1985). I was attractd by the cast -- from Burt Lancaster who had driftd away from stardom to Frances McDormand who was on her way there. & wasn't that Lukas Haas in a small role?

what I enjoyd most was the location shooting. the final scenes are at the cemetery now calld Hollywood Forever. but more importantly there is some wonderful footage of Janes House.

when I first startd going to Hollywood regularly some 30 years ago the dilapidatd Victorian which had been built in 1903 was the last house on Hollywood Blvd in which people still lived. it was a mess but one heard its whispers. I probably saw the place's final inhabitant Carrie Belle Janes on the porch. for 15 years in the teens & 20s she & her sisters ran a private school there. the children in attendance had last names like Chaplin & Chandler.

Carrie Belle died in 1982 & some 2 years later this telefilm used the property. in the film there is wire fencing around it. eventually it was restored & became the Hollywood Visitors Center in the middle of a mini-mall calld Janes Square. it was then that I walkd thru it.

just this year historic Janes House opend as a cajun restaurant calld Memphis. my sense of history propels me to its tables.

02 February 2006

time for a visual

Mother & I were browsing antique shops in Manhattan 35 years ago. I took a shine to this head & she bought it for me. I suspect it belongd to a doll in the 20s & possibly French. Posted by Picasa

let's hear it for the biblethumpers

an evangelical film company is releasing "End of the Spear." it tells the true story of American missionaries slain in Ecuador a half century ago. & it's creating a controversy. seems some preachers found out its lead Chad Allen is an openly gay actor. perhaps these same preachers subscribe to The Advocate? I guess the pulpit bullies have exhaustd their rants against Brokeback already & need fresh material.