They’re Back?

Crossing Delancy is the perfect example of a great not-so-great movie. I think I owe FB for that one, but it’s an important and indispensable category. And CD hails from 1988, no less, so there I go being kind to an 80s film. But, does that mean we want to dress that way again? You would think so if you paid any attention to the DKNY window at 60th & Mad lately. It’s the 80s again. Let’s hope they’re wrong!

So would the story of the star-crossed pickle salesman and Annie Hall throwback be as sentimentally effective if it were set in, say, anywhere else? No. But as I munch on a slice from my Patsy’s pie (well-deserved after a 12-hour Friday), you’ll forgive my shameless Nyphilia. I think next I’ll pop in some Woody. From the 70s.

Saturday Cat Blogging?

Zachary can’t live on Southern exposure alone.

Hangin’ on the Frigidaire:

Bonus round! Ontario melted dog blogging! (It’s been hot in the Great White North, too.)

To re-constitute, just add water.

Rock ‘n Roll politics

A while back I celebrated my long-delayed Karaoke debut. This took place appropriately enough in “Music City, USA”. Nashville certainly earns that title, covering as it does that wide stylistic expanse from Country to Western.*** Up on stage, S.Fo and I performed My Generation (my choice) and LA Woman (his choice). Both songs are probably revealing of something or other. Leafing through the giant binder full of songs, I flipped past one page with about a third of the page blacked out. At first, I just continued browsing, but the blackened section piqued my curiosity, compelling me back to figure it out. Wild Turkey in hand, doing my best darkened Honky-Tonk 1:00 a.m. Wednesday squint, I gradually began making out letters behind the magic marker. When the mystery was revealed, I was hit with a wave of queasiness. In a move confounding authoritarian jackassery with patriotism, someone had blackened out all the songs by The Dixie Chicks.

What reminded me of this funny and sad incident is the new story about Sweet Neo Con, the new Rolling Stones tune that tells president Bush what the Glimmer Twins really think of him. Now, instead of three young Southern women criticizing Bush, you have the full force of the British Rock ‘n Roll empire launching an attack. And funnily enough, the calls for burning their album in the street haven’t been heard. The calls to ban Start Me Up from football games. And while it’s generally true that bullies don’t like to pick on people their own size, I suppose I can imagine another defense, Scott McLellan informing us that “The United States does not interfere with the Rock and Roll of sovereign nations.”

So more often than not, Rock and Rollers are part of the VLWC, and of course most C&Wers are Ditto-Heads, but there are plenty of notable exceptions. We have the Dixie Chicks on the one hand, and Johnny Ramone on the other. We saw the documentary “The End of the Century” last night. If you’re the kind of person who has read “Please Kill Me”, you need to see this movie. Just like the book, the story of the Ramones is interesting and surprisingly sad. Much of the movie focuses on Johnny, for two practical reasons 1) he was still alive (unlike Joey) and 2) he wasn’t strung out (unlike Dee Dee). Joey had succumbed to Cancer at age 49. In 2001, Dee Dee ODed at age 49 in 2002, two months after the film wrapped, and Johnny made it all the way to 55, losing out to prostate cancer in 2004. Johnny comes off as a humorless, fairly bitter, generally not fun to be around kind of guy. Which is a shocker, but you realize that without his level-headed discipline, the never would have survived for as long as it did. Johnny was the enforcer. He made them practice, he made them dress alike, he made them tour like maniacs, he kept tight reins over their finances. And because they were all such complete misfits, they stuck together, realizing they would collapse without each other.

Even though they hated each other.

Johnny had a revealing and unfortunate Spinal Tapian moment when, reflecting on Dee Dee quitting the group, he utters words to the effect that the band would have been exactly the same with another bass player, another drummer and… another singer. For Johnny, it was all about Johnny. For the rest of us, of course, the Ramones are all about Joey. We already know what the Ramones would sound like with out Joey: Green Day, Blink 182 or take your pick of a few dozen other imitators. And I’m not buying any of them. Johnny and Joey’s bitterness had many sources, not the least of which was Johnny stealing Joey’s girl and marrying her. (The KKK took my baby away.) Politically, they were polar opposites with Joey playing the New York Jewish Left-wing Woody Allen type, and Johnny on the Right. Johnny took time to praise president Bush during the band’s induction in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But I like to think that at that moment, in Rock and Roll heaven, Joey and Rock ‘n Roll Jesus glanced at each other, rolled their eyes and smiled.

***Evidently, I never tire of that joke.

Fizzle, fo-shizzle

Some things need to be blogged in quasi-realtime, and this is surely one of them. Just got back from a silly, trendy club on W58th st. Ha ha. SF, who, being a recent NY transplant from San Fran, and whom therefore I like to think of as S.Fo, decided to damn the torpeedos and go full speed ahead with sparking a cig inside the club–this despite dire warnings from N. and me. It was classic. Less than 30″ later, a waiter, maybe busboy, trotted over, grabbed it, and dropped it, without saying a word, into a glass of water. Then walked off. Too funny.

From Cinemarred to Keano Kino

Cinemarred:

Paul Newman is a great actor–or perhaps it’s just enough to say that he is an actor. He’s got range, and it covers roles from the despicably compelling Hud to the sharply comedic like, ok, I’ll say it, Reggie Dunlap in Slap Shot. Beyond that, he’s just likable. He doesn’t have any “Bosom Buddies” skeletons in his closets. He races cars! (Whom among us does not enjoy Nascar?) So I would have been surprised to say that he had any real stinker roles. But, oh boy!

Everyone knows that I’m a great apologist for the 70s. Especially in music and film (with quick caveats, of course, for Spielberg and Lucas), if not so much in tweed jackets and platform shoes. But even in the glory days of 70s cinema***, for every Alice doesn’t live here anymore, there were ten Xanadus. (Just kidding, that was 1980.)

OK, you don’t see where I’m going, so I will spill the beans. It’s disaster movies, folks. And we’ve been doing a mini festival here at the 59th St Cinema. It started with the giant all-star cast in Airport. The unintentionally funny scenes are all the more hilarious when you realize how many of them were lifted verbatim in Airport! Just think, Dean Martin as a jumbo jet pilot! That’s funny enough in itself to carry a movie. This opening salvo in the airplane disaster onslaught is quite entertaining. By Airport ’75 (released in ’74), the humorous impact has been “somewhat dissipated.” So, we took a break and turned to the not-unintentionally not-hilarious …TOWERING INFERNO…. Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Wagner, the Juice. What’s not to like? Well, not only is the movie beyond stupid (again, in a very not-funny way), Newman actually stinks! It’s shocking to watch, and maybe throwing the performance was his form of protest. But, wow!

Keano Kino:

1947’s Crossfire surprised me for its subject matter, anti-Semitism. The movie seemed ahead of its time; although to be honest anti-Semitism is used more as a plot device than explored in its own right. A recently discharged soldier murders a man simply because he is a Jew. A manhunt ensues. Another soldier, Robert Mitchum, and detective “Father Knows Best” Robert Young unwrap the details of the ugly hate crime. It’s an interesting treatment. The McCarthy hearings were still a few years away, but the movie seems brave. That is, until you find out that Richard Brooks’ novel, “The Brick Foxhole” was about homophobia instead.

***Here’s the 1974 Oscar list for best director:


Ingmar Bergman, Cries and Whispers
Bernardo Bertolucci, Last Tango in Paris
William Friedkin, The Exorcist
George Roy Hill, The Sting
George Lucas, American Graffiti

Maybe I was on to something.

A.N.N.O.Y.I.N.G.

So. There’s. This. New. Trend. In. Annoying. Punctuation. That’s. Especially. Popular. With. Bloggers. Because. I. Guess. They. Think. It’s. Cool. And. Emphatic. But. I. Think. It’s. Lame. And. Psychotic. Michelle. Malkin. Does. It. Need. I. Say. More. You. Won’t. See. Me. Do. It. Again.

Positing an alternate reality

August 6th was the anniversary of two days of infamy. About August 6th, 1945, the title of a book I read as a teenager sums it up: “The Day Man Lost”. More recently, August 6th 2001 was the day that President Bush, on vacation at Crawford TX, received the infamous Presidential Daily Briefing that warned of bin Laden’s intentions. Having ignored bin Laden up to that date in his presidency, on that day he continued to do the same and finished off his vacation.

Here is the portion of the PDB that has been declassified (emphasis mine):

Bin Laden determined to strike in US

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”

After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a — — service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told – – service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S.

Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that in —, Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own U.S. attack.

Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation. Although Bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al Qaeda members — including some who are U.S. citizens — have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.

Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were U.S. citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a —- service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.

Re-reading the last two paragraphs, does it not seem that Condolezza Rice committed perjury during her testimony to the 9/11 commission? Up until that moment, we all had heard rumors of the Aug 6 PDB, but until she uttered it, we didn’t know the now famous title. Rice’s filibuster-style testimony was full of protests to the effect that the Aug 6 PDB was “historical” and didn’t warn of coming attacks. To wit:

Rice: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

Peace out…

yo brutha! / Hey-Micky!

Mr. Mick writes:

“Mista Chesta!

thanks for lookin’ at my blog!

I guess you got there from that sissy horn player, right?

How nice to hear from you! When last we spoke, t’was over drinks at that Oscar party, right?

gimme a holla and tell Nora ‘howdy!'”

And it’s quite a fine blog too. Yes, it was a fine Oscar party indeed, and we were all there stylin’ with ex violatrix hostess PG. I remember being interviewed with a beer bottle at some point: