30 December 2007

bad blonde

my addiction to movie star bios began early. I stard buying them in my pre-teen years & still have some of those first volumes in my library.

this afternoon I finishd reading one of the most disturbing stories of anyone who ever made a film. John O'Dowd's Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is the sad tale of Barbara Payton.

she was neither the most beautiful nor the most talentd starlet in Hollywood history but she was glamorous & she appeard in a few films still marketd on DVD. & her story is so tragic that it makes for riveting reading. in the '50s Payton's incandescence lit up the Sunset Strip. at one time or another she was the mistress of Bob Hope   the wife of Franchot Tone   the plaything of Guy Madison. a mere decade later she gave $5 blowjobs in an alley to support her booze habit.

28 December 2007

looking back

for many years my mother collectd autographs. when I retired from Kent State University she gave her collection to the library basically as a thank you for having given me a job all those years. a decade ago Special Collections put on a major exhibition of her collection. this is the case for "Politics/Diplomacy." among the signatures on display was that of Benazir Bhutto.

26 December 2007

unlike my father

I have little kinship with tools. so today's achievement -- minor as it was -- looms a bit larger for me.

the faucet in the guest bathroom has been squirting water where water shdn't be. this morning I finally got so upset with it that I uncoverd my pliers & got the nozzle off. it was suffering from corrosion. so I undid it & put the parts in vinegar. I brushd but that did little. then I rememberd that I'd saved an old faucet for parts. now that alone is odd for me to have done. so I unscrewd that nozzle & put it in vinegar. when I came home from the gym I took the clean screen from the old nozzle & cobbld it onto the other & replacd the parts. so it now works.

25 December 2007

salad gildzen

lobster & asian pear with a drizzle of oliveoil/lemonjuice/paprika blend.

in their Xmas card

Karen & John Ericson sent along a picture of their new puppy. the dog's name is Spencer -- in honor of John's co-star in "Bad Day at Black Rock." however this Spencer is a she.

24 December 2007

a kiss from bee-stung lips

one of the great things abt the internet is its ability to act as a party host. over the years I've been intro'd to many dear friends via chatrooms & message boards & blogs. this past year brought Montgomery Maxton into my life.

currently he mentions me on his blog in connection with my longtime affair with the flickers. strange that he'd bring back to mind Clara Bow. just a month ago in Culver City I walkd past the house where she died.

baby it's cold outside

walking to the gym this ayem was a bitch. only 21. even in gloves my digits were numb.

23 December 2007

video of Sal's nativity scene

the Kovach creche

for decades my cousin Sal has transformd his livingroom in Lorain into a nativity scene which draws hundreds of visitors. it began with his grandfather's original set of figures brought from Italy years ago. every year Sal purchases new Fontanini figurines to add -- often in memory of a friend or family member who died.

this picture of Mom & I with Sal was taken in 1988 & shows what I think was the original scene which is set up inside.

the other picture was taken outside looking thru the livingroom window into the larger scene in 1991. with Sal is artist Ira Joel Haber.

22 December 2007

attend the tale

it's no secret that when it comes to Sondheim I'm daft. nor that I consider "Sweeney Todd" to be his masterpiece. since Harold Prince's monumental original staging   I've seen some 5 or 6 productions including the chilling performance of Brian Stokes Mitchell at Kennedy Center & real life husband & wife George Ball & Amanda McBroom on the west coast. I always find something new in the work.

when I heard it was to become a film I had a Mylanta moment. Broadway rarely survives the transition to cinema. & this is a complex & difficult piece. directors & cast members were in flux. finally that amazing team of Tim Burton -- who I consider an important filmmaker -- & Johnny Depp -- easily the best film actor of his generation -- were in place. but still   they were going to muck abt with a classic.

my initial viewing of the motion picture gave me mixd feelings abt almost every aspect. let's start with the cast. picking nonsingers was a risk that doesn't work. Depp has some powerful moments. he acts the part well. but having heard so many wonderful singers in the role it's difficult to fully embrace his Sweeney. the part was written for a baritone. Depp sings it as a tenor. this is a major flaw. the original range supports the gravity of the character. when Depp's voice slides off in those glorious arias the performance stumbles.

what can I say abt Helena Bonham Carter. we all have people whose physicality repulses us. I don't like looking at her. that monobrow & pinch of a face. I'd have trouble casting her in anything. maybe one of Oz's flying monkeys. at one time Imedela Staunton was set to play Mrs. Lovett & I was so looking forward to that. but Burton chose his mistress instead & I was immediately disappointd. however I must say that when she actd HBC was better than I was expecting. that sd   her inability to vocalize destroys what cd've been a major performance.

I cd write much more but I'm still digesting. it wasn't a horrid experience at all. it was better than many directors cd've pulld off but it wasn't as good as it deserves to be.

21 December 2007

Rudy & Pola

I no longer remember when or where I acquird my Pola Negri tin. clearly from the '20s the can probably held candy. I do remember being astonishd to find an identical one in a case at London's Museum of the Moving Image in 1989. mine currently resides on the bottom shelf of the nicho in my guest bathroom. inside are clippings abt it & similar ones of other silent era stars including Valentino.

so when I opend Mary Ann's generous gift I knew that the ashtray had to come from the same manufacturer because the Valentino portrait was identical to the one on his tin.

Rudy & Pola never made a film together but the press suggestd they were "dating" shortly before his death. after he was safely gone Pola claimd an engagement. she gave perhaps the most memorable performance of her life collapasing at his funeral. so it seems appropriate for me to exhibit her can alongside his butt tray.

20 December 2007

lovely surprise

in today's mail was a package from Mary Ann Begland. she sent me a Rudolph Valentino ashtray which had been in her family since the '20s.

I'm thrilld. . .

19 December 2007

early in her career

Mamie had a bit in "His Kind of Woman." leading lady in that film was Jane Russell.

the day before the party I went to "Palm Springs Follies." this long-running show features a chorus of both men & women who are at least 50. currently the oldest is 84. the producer is an egotist who insists on "performing" as emcee. oy. & the show has a not-so-hidden right-wing agenda. but one of the current chorus members is Leonard Crofoot who I remember as a young Broadway star. so I went for the 1st 2 acts (exiting before the flag-waving finale).

just as the show was abt to begin an attractive older lady came down the aisle to her seat. it was Jane Russell. when the lights came up at intermission no one seemd to recognize her. so I went up to her to tell her she'd always been one of my favorites. we shook hands & I returnd to my seat.

& the star of the party


18 December 2007

more party

Kimberly intro'd me to her artist friend Mandad at a book launch at Viceroy on my first nite in town. we had a great chat.

then at the Kabler party I saw him again & met his wife. this time he playd with the Century Dimes for me.

BTW the vintage chair we share is fun but one is so scrunchd that I resemble Quasimodo.

party time

I've heard abt Leisureland for some time. so when Kimberly Nichols invitd me to a party there I got plane tix.

Jamie Kabler is a Palm Springs legend who throws parties which have become part of the lore of that town. I'll reveal the reason for this one in a bit but for now soak up the atmosphere of the place.

I took this of Kimberly in the Valley of the Dolls bedroom:

13 December 2007

Liza collapses

Joe Cocker sees the queen

& I'll be in exile for a few days

12 December 2007

how difficult can it be

abt a week & a half ago I put in a request for a higher internet speed. I was supposd to get the bump-up yesterday morning.

I'm still waiting...

11 December 2007

if you like Angie Dickinson

grab the current Vanity Fair. it includes a swell article abt her by Sam Kashner. the only disappointment is that the editors didn't put the leggy lady on the cover.

"Godfather of Disco"

just learnd of the death of Mel Cheren.

in the fall of 2003 I gave my first NYC reading at Bowery Poetry Club. when it was over the emotion was so strong I slowly walkd back to Chelsea where I was staying at Colonial House. too excitd to sleep I went to the lobby & there was the inn's famous owner. our conversation began with the renovations being done to the place & went on to the art world. unfortunately we never got to stories of Paradise Garage but apparently those have been documentd in both a book & film.

10 December 2007

from the archives

some years ago I capturd the reunion of Marie Windsor & Dennis Hopper who once playd Josephine & Napoleon on screen

09 December 2007

to some

the intersection
of Veda Ann Borg
James M. Cain
is the center
of the universe

06 December 2007


in my dream I was at a Lena Horne concert. suddenly a gunman chargd in & began slaughtering people with an asssault rifle. I woke immediately. in that peculiar half-awake half-asleep state I kept telling myself that I must write abt this in my blog.

05 December 2007

double rainbow

my Texas penpal was one of the first to purchase the Rufus Wainwright cover of the Judy Garland concert. here's what he wrote me this ayem:

So I went home and downloaded the double album into my iTunes...BUT...get this....I already had the original Judy double cd in the playlist - so I meticulously organized each Judy song to be followed by each Rufus version....so you hear Judy doing "Swanee" followed immediately by Rufus doing "Swanee". Well...let me tell you...60 songs later in a row and I got teary eyed. To hear both versions of each like that together was AMAZING.

04 December 2007

I've seen

"The Wizard of Oz" more than any other film. I don't have enuf years left to see "Tin Man" with the same frequency. & I doubt I wd even if I did. but I'm glad I experiencd it. Cumming is superb. Zooey Deschanel has a lovely quality. she does something with her mouth that's beguiling. & I like her voice. Kathleen Robertson has a look which cd attract a cult following. Andrew Francis is a young actor to watch.

03 December 2007


Brinsley Tyrrell just calld to say that Spaces in Cleveland will celebrate Lil on the 15th. I'll be in California then but will pause on that saturday to remember her. & I urge my Ohio friends to attend.

02 December 2007

"Tin Man"

less than 2 weeks after seeing the Munchkins in Hollywood & only 24 hours after seeing Alan Cumming & Raoul Trujillo on stage in town I caught the opening installment of this imaginative re-envisioning of "The Wizard of Oz." altho it held my interest I'm not certain I'll be able to remain attentive for 4 more hours of it.

01 December 2007

a day with Alan Cumming

actor. director. writer. wit. activist. this Scot is all of these.

the day began with a SAG colloquium on the College of Santa Fe campus. despite some inane questions Cumming was a total delight. he sd he began to act as a child alone in the woods. later a traveling troup came to his school & it was then he knew what he wantd to do.

he disdains much of the preparation other actors go thru   claiming acting is easy. altho he seems to have a great time   he did admit to being exhaustd playing Hamlet on stage & didn't at all enjoy the filming of "Titus" even tho he thinks the finishd work is good.

next came a Santa Fe Film Festival screening of his most recent film "Suffering Man's Charity" in which he directs himself. it's as dark as comedy gets. & once again he was completely open in the question period which followd.

finally legendary casting director Lynn Stalmaster presentd Cumming with the festival's Maverick Award at a ceremony at the Lensic which brought out the town's big show biz guns: Shirley MacLaine   Alan Arkin   Ali MacGraw   Wes Studi   Aviva.

quel nuit

so loud & persistant
was impossible