Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mad Man

If People Were Talking About Robert Morse, then this is the photo they should have run:

Carl Van Vechten, 1958

But they didn't.

People Are Whispering About in Small Print  . . . "Starmarked Robert Morse, as the seventeen-year-old who sings "I Would Die" in Take Me Along. . ."

I could find no trace of Take Me Along on YouTube.  RapidResearch reveals it was a musical based on Ah, Wilderness,  a 1930s play written by Eugene O'Neill, and not Thornton Wilder, as I thought - both of whom have a local angle.  (Thornton Wilder - Berkeley High, Class of  1915; Eugene O'Neill once lived in Danville  (National Historical Place or something), of all places.)  Jackie Gleason starred in the musical, Valerie Harper had a small role.  I can't make hide nor hair of what it's about, except the cast album makes it look Olde Timey.

I suppose there's a way to make Spotify play here, but having learned to Tweet, then Tweet I shall.  If you would like to hear Robert Morse sing, do be sure to visit the aviary annex.

I do remember Robert Morse popping up everywhere on television.  He was the guy who looked like Jerry Lewis, but wasn't as obnoxious.  I had a strange sense of deja vu in seeing the next clip:  (You can see it directly on YouTube, but not embedding properly here.)

I just watched this for the first time, and for the first time appreciated the brilliance of casting Robert Morse in Mad Men.  Every one of those characters would have seen Robert Morse on Broadway in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which opened two years from "now," in 1961.  (The movie's from 1967, and by now (MM Season Six), everyone will have seen that, too.  It must be a little eerie for Mr. Morse.

For years, my favorite book was The Loved One.  I saw the movie whenever it was on television, but it never occurred to me to track it down on Netflix.  I hadn't realized that Robert Morse, with an English accent, played the lead.

Go over to YouTube proper and look up "Robert Morse" "Loved One" caskets.  He's really quite handsome.  Oh - Jonathan Winters! Who wasn't Mr. Joy Boy - that was Rod Steiger.  Odd.

Next:  slogging on with James Michener. But first - How To Succeed in Business will be disappearing from Netflix streaming May 1.  First 10 minutes very charming . . .

Friday, April 26, 2013

Are You WAM?

This time - more chat; no fashion.

Yep.  Still on this page.

Last post, People Were Talking About "odd faced" children.  The conversation has moved on to . . .
"The three letters that spell a certain New York milieu: WAM: for wit, art, and money--the possessor of  any one of the three is fairly acceptable, but the possessor of all three is, flatly, WAM. . ." Well, it looks better in small caps, but Blogger won't do it.

WAM did not catch on.  "Ginchy," however - see description of Jane Fonda's bejeweled blouse and hamster-skin skirt on the previous pages - actually was real slang and actually is in the Urban Dictionary - various definitions.  I was simply too lazy to check.  Appalling.  

I am going to Tweet that.  Or pathetically bleat that.  And then I'll delete that.  Tweet Tweet.

Change of subject:  People Are Talking About . . . "The big handsome paintings, eye-startlers by Rufino Tamayo at the Knoedler Galleries . . . " That should have been People Are Still Talking About, But Probably Not Anymore. . . This opened in October 1956.  (And among the announcements in NYT that week:  "Drawings by Ten Americans" at Theatre East Gallery and the more specific  "American Negro Art" at Marino Art Galleries.  Not reviewed by the New York Times, but Jet has mention of the  fourth annual exhibition of "Negro art." (From Google Books - not giving link things found there have a habit of never being found again.)

The opening at the Knoedler Galleries was important enough for the New York Times to run a feature on Mr. Tamayo's house and studio in Mexico.

Oh, my goodness - I knew the Knoedler Galleries sounded familiar.  Fakes.  Lawsuits.  Just closed in disgrace after 165 years of business. . . the mysterious and not at all WAM woman who had all of those  previous Jackson Pollacks sitting around the house - how could they not have been suspicious from the get-go?

Some hunting around yields no clue about which Tamayo paintings were exhibited.  Tamayo has always left me cold.  Here is a colorful painting:

What else are People Talking About?  "Shelly Berman, sitting on his high stool at the Blue Angel, doing small studies in clearly lucid paranoia, often in a happy snarl. . . "

Shelly Berman, whom I remember showing up on all the variety shows in days when there were variety shows on television, is still alive.  Here is his website (but he's not on Twitter).  I can't find any early live footage on YouTube, but Inside Shelly Berman was released in 1959, so let's use that:

And here is Shelly Berman in 2006 - you just wish the young folk would shut up and let him talk.

Next time - People Will Talk About Robert Morse and People Will Insult James Michener.   And we'll just have to see The Magician.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sensible, Amused, Right

This Time:  The Sound of Music, and nothing else.

Some blog keeping.  We're not finished with the Jane Fonda page, although we have moved on for now.   I have nearly chucked in the whole project - if no one in the forest hears your tweets, is there any point to Twitter?  Boo hoo, etc.  But ridiculously heartened to see visitor from The British Museum, so onward we plough.  

Here is a pretty lady looking very 1920s and even a little 1820s; an interesting slab of clay (a guess) and a tiny photo of "Seven, Sounding Music."  Yes, The Sound of Music just opened on Broadway!  In 1959.  Not being much of a fan of Broadway, I had assumed that this came in the very early 1950s - certainly before West Side Story.  

Vogue says:  People Are Talking About. . . In The Sound of Music, the seven children -- attractive, odd-faced, easy on stage -- singing the kind of children's music that Richard Rodgers writes better than anyone else, sensible, amused, right. . ."

Oh, Vogue - not one editor thought it unamusing and wrong to call children "odd faced?"  What does that mean - odd faced and attractive?  Children do tend to grow out of these things.  

Seven unnamed child actors - none of whom went very much further.  Also - Rodgers wrote the music, Hammerstein wrote the words.   Even I knew that!  

Courtesy of Spotify, I've listened to the cast album all the way through three times.  It sort of knocks you senseless.  Some of the music is beautiful; some hideous.  I hadn't remembered that "Climb Every Mountain" was belted out by a nun.  That must have been quite an experience for the audience.  For me, The Sound of Music remains a mountain of ickiness.  It was one of the first movies I saw in the theater.  Quite the occasion, we drove all the way from Fullerton to Hollywood.   It was almost like going to a real theater.  But from the first moment, I was utterly confused.  Why was this woman so happy?  Why was she so much younger than Mary Poppins?  Why was it the same actress, but now she had short blond hair?  Why was she a nun?  Why did she want to become a governess?  Why did she marry that old man?  What was wrong with her?  Why were there so many children in that family?  Even if I could stomach all that, there was a moment when the family was hiding from the Nazis and one little kid asked if he could sing.  What a set up!  I think this was the first time I felt myself jerked around by a movie.  

That was the movie.  The musical must have been even stranger.  Mary Martin was 46; Theodore Bikel was 35.  (A big year for Theodore Bikel - The Sound of Music and Vogues's number one pick for what album to give for  Christmas.)  Mr. Bikel was performing in Berkeley last month.  It was a Thursday and I had to work the next day.  I am very sure that Mr. Bikel wouldn't have let that deter him.

I can't find a video from the original show.  So this will have to suffice:

I really hate that song. I hate puppets, folklore and goatherds.  But I found myself liking:

Sorry.  Such a plain post.

Also, no movie.  Netflix replace The Magician, but I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it.

Next time:  that mysterious sculpture.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Civilization and Its Contents

What is on the cover of this issue?  "People Are Talking About . . . special 10-page feature"  Little could the staff possibly imagined this.  Once more, the Jane Fonda page:

Kind of like Groundhog Day, which I saw for the first time not too long ago.  Has nothing to do with anything here, but what an excellent movie for a day in bed with the flu!

People Are Talking About . . . How amazing it is that people still are talking Jane Fonda - well, she is talking about herself.  Ingmar Bergman, of course.  Had a few searches for opera singer Giulietta Simionato.     I think I am lucky to be able to feel the amazement of these connections through time and place.  Someone from Swaziland visited recently.   Had long conversation a while back with friend about hazards of Googling people you know.  She felt it immoral and dangerous, citing Freud who wouldn't have gone near the Internet.  I dug out Civilization and Its Discontents.  The telephone bothered Freud.  In the old days, if your friend went on a long journey, you would say good-bye and pretty much forget about him.  But now there is the telephone.  He could call.  But he doesn't.  What happened? 


People Are Talking About . . "The Four Seasons, a newish restaurant where the food is almost as good as the sculpture -- a complicated extravaganza of shimmering wires by Richard Lippold and a strong cubist 'Guitarist' by the great sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz. . .

Amazingly enough, The Four Seasons is still around.  It's not the hotel chain.   It was astoundingly modern in 1959.  Avant-garde.    It would have paired very well with the Guggenheim.

Their website is lovely.  I swiped this photo from 

Because, obviously, we didn't get there.  I fully intended to drag someone  to the bar with me, but it didn't happen.  Instead we spent our drinking money at the Met, tramped through Central Park all day and had an excellent snowy picnic lunch from a quite superior halal truck.   Spent a small fortune at a Momofuko Milk Bar, though, so we aren't entirely hopeless.

What's for dinner at in the Pool Room tonight?   The bison sounds good.  I can well remember when most of this would have been laughable, but now I am simply bemused at the change in what people accept for dinner.  Friday night, meeting a friend for drinks and dinner, we decided against paying more than $30 at a fancy bar and grill for the evening special of turnip soup and roast goat - what would have been a menu from the apocalypse not too long ago.  Down the street a new pasta place offered quail, squid and boar ragout for about $16 per entree.  The boar was heavenly.

What a chatty post.

The Four Seasons opened in October in 1959 - just when this piece was going to print.  Salient points from the Craig Claiborne review:

*  The "pride and enthusiasm" of the waiters.  No "Olympic detachment."
*  Extensive, bewildering menu.  See above!  Mr. Claiborne couldn't even remember what he ate.  Probably shell-shocked by the art, the trees, the pool, the friendly waiters.
*  He did remember the beef stroganoff, prepared flaming at table side.  I think that was a bit old-fashioned for an avant-garde restaurant, but sounds extremely appetizing.
*Fresh herbs in everything!  Fresh!  Herbs!
*Several kinds of fresh mushrooms!

But some very interesting criticisms:

* "In the opinion of this reviewer, it is vulgar to surcharge plates with food.  The service of gross portions of edibles is a barbaric custom that is all too in American dining places.  Judged on the basis of recent visits, The Four Seasons is no exception."
* Sauces were too sweet.
*Iceberg lettuce!  Why is this permitted?  "Oak leaf, cos salad, and Bibb lettuce are available in this area."

I am not entirely sure that this is the correct "Guitarist" by Lipchitz:

There is a Lippold sculpture not too far from me, inside the head-ache inducing Cathedral on Cathedral Hill in San Francisco.  

 Fifteen-stories high over the altar.   Looks like a space ship in the photos.  Field trip!

Let's go to the movies!

*  On the day he receives a professional honor, an elderly doctor has stressful encounters with family members, picks up hitchhikers and has strange dreams.

*  Beautiful, but kind of boring.

*  Wonderful road trip car.

But this is not just any 1959 movie - People Are Talking About . . . "Ingmar Bergman, that dazzlingly good Swedish director with the power to elicit eccentric performances, whose 'Wild Strawberries' and 'The Magician' are dark teasers since they are obviously morality plays with no discernible moral; in 'The Magician a two-hundred-year-old witch. . ."  Well, don't want to spoil it, because it's next up.

PATA is totally wrong about Wild Strawberries.

Next time:  There is still a huge post left in this page, but the pix are  in the other computer, so . . . we turn the page, and find The Sound of Music.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Time Twisting With Jane Fonda

First - the old Mac died right after the announcement in last post that we'd be posting much more often. Second - the new Mac goes faster than I can think.  Third - below is Jane in 1959; here is Jane tweeting in 2013.  Fourth - here is Reading Vintage Vogues following Jane Fonda on Twitter.  Fifth - Jane Fonda has not yet replied to a query about the remarkable hamster skirt.  Could she have forgotten?  Sixth - here is my maiden tweet.

This time:  People Are Talking About . . . some more family blogging about the Metropolitan Opera.

Nothing much is going to work right on this page.   DVD of Wild Strawberries on the way; The Four Seasons web page won't load because this computer has no Adobe Flash;  photos for The Light of Common Day trapped in the old Mac.

The Metropolitan Opera - beautiful in the snow, seats at the very back of the balcony perfectly fine, Rat Pack Rigoletto a lot of fun, especially since I had seen the same Rigoletto in San Francisco in September for my first opera.  The Met brought out astonishing facet of normally frugal son - if there is nothing but hideously expensive sandwiches and champagne for dinner, then one simply must follow up with even more expensive cognac.  Especially rocked the Walmart camo jacket among the toffs at the bar.  Helps that he looks a bit like Justin Timberlake these days.

But what are People Talking About in 1959?

". . .Two Metropolitan Opera singers, Giulietta Simionato whose voice has a rich colour which she shades superbly, and Antonietta Stella, doing again Madame Butterfly, her voice warm, flowing, tender, and Italian; her gestures freshly Japanese; her walk pigeon-toed, with knees together; her body curved properly into an elongated 'S'. . ."

Giulietta Simionato --

And Antonietta Stella --

Next time - Wild Strawberries and The Four Seasons.  Still on the same page. . .
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