Some pain and discomfort but mainly just the blackness of the world oozing out of the sewers.
Everybody’s got a right to be happy. Don’t they?
It really bugs me that there is so much bad going on, companies closing their doors and stiffing their long time employees out of pay checks while we allow the guys with the padlocks to pay themselves then help them go back into business under another name.
I think it was always this way. I don’t think there’s a time in modern history where the working man controlled his own fate and destiny. Where you could work hard and be fairly rewarded.
I had friends who parents seemed rich. They had money because they lived in the same house for 30 years, kept the same job and lived on about the same money in 1988 that they lived on in 1958. They saved the rest to send their kids to school and to have enough to take some vacations when it was time to retire.
Then Reagan destroyed the unions and Bush destroyed the economy and the environment and here we stand, scared confused and bewildered.
I had a good day yesterday. My friend stayed in to work from home and to take me on a couple of errands. I like having her around.
It made the day pleasant even though the weather was atrocious. After 18 degree days 40 seems balmy. There was about 4 inches of snow during the night then there was a steady rain all day. The ground is mud and slush. It is all going to freeze today. Its going to be low 30’s and then hit 16 tonight.
There was some good/bad news at her work place. Her assistant had been MIA on Monday. Worried and concerned there. My friend’s assistant finally got in touch with her yesterday. She developed a severe kidney infection. She sent her assistant home from the office.
Talking about that we got into a small discussion about how she has fears about her boss leaving. She believes that things have never gone well for her when a new boss has come in.
I can think of two fairly recent instances where I can see the root of her fears. I don’t buy it as a legitimate fear but you can’t ever tell people what they feel or make them feel any differently. I don’t like her being afraid of anything.
I guess the good news is her assistant wasn’t more seriously hurt . . .
The giant dog and I watched a movie last night. The giant dog is a fan of “Law and Order” repeats. I watched a few episodes of the show originally because it had Michael Moriarity and Paul Sorvino in it, then they got in the great Jerry Orbach.
I don’t live a life conducive to watching shows regularly but with all the steady stream of repeats it seems near impossible not to watch “Law and Order” almost anytime.
The giant dog recognizes the theme music to the show and when he hears it he gets into the love seat and waits. He’ll stare at the TV for a while until his attention drifts but he gets riveted and excited as soon as he hears San Wannamaker’s (Jack McCoy’s) voice. He stays glued until he stops talking but waits a bit before drifting away.
Last night I watched the Sam Fuller movie “White Dog”.
Sam Fuller is very high up in my pantheontology. The man makes manic movies that rule. My favorite quote from him was, “Blood is not the color of ketchup.”
Fuller had a crime reporter’s eye for nuance and detail and an unflinching eye. He worked in melodramatic frame works to lull the viewer into simple acceptance then upended the world with garish flashes of reality.
Fuller’s world was full of tough people, people with goals and obsessions. His movies like “Forty Guns” and “The Naked Kiss” gave us women who were soft and feminine but every bit as tough as a man.
His characters all had a central ambiguity as they struggle to achieve their goals while trying to be the person they see in the mirror. Most of the time this is impossible.
When “White Dog” was first in production there was a strong buzz about the movie. It was based on an article written by Romain Gary, a Hollywood writer married to waif actress Jean Seberg (“Breathless” is her legend making role.) After the story was published he took a lot of flac and heat. Racists in particular claimed he made the whole thing up.
It was a supposedly true story about his wife’s finding a “white dog”. A dog that was trained from birth to kill blacks.
The first time I’d heard of this was in Louis Lamour’s “Hondo” where Hondo explains to a boy that his constant companion dog has been trained to smell and hate Indians. Hondo trained him by paying Indians with bottles of whisky to come in and beat the pup with a stick every day from the time it was a puppy. Lamour some how portrayed this as a cagey good thing to do . . .
In Gary’s story white racists would by black wino’s or junkies to do the same thing to raise a dog that fears and then sees its fear turn to hatred. A dog only sees in black and white so its mental unbalancing is an easy thing to do.
Fuller was always very pro-civil rights and a dog lover. This seemed like a fascinating potentially great film.
Then the studio’s refused to release it. After Ralph Bakshi’s disastrous “Coon Skin” they feared a major racist back lash.
I can’t see it in the movie, but I’m not black. I know a lot of people don’t understand why I sometimes flinch at the Frito Bandito or cringe at some of Speedy Gonzaleze’s relatives. When your ethnic group only has Alphonso Bedoya, Ricky Ricardo and Freddie Prinze as media role models I can see being touchy.
Thanks to the efforts of a few people in LA the famous and dead Z channel showed the film one time. A lot of people came over to the house and we watched it and we were all pretty disappointed for different reasons.
Last night was the first time I’d seen the movie since 1982. Its been given the Criterion treatment. They’re doing a good job of getting Fuller’s movies out there.
The DVD looks good. The movie isn’t as disappointing as I remembered. There were signs of what could have thrown me into a tail spin.
First the cast Kristy McNicol in the Jean Seberg role. Kristy McNicol was a little actress who got hot for a while because she was on some dufus TV show I watched once and hated. McNicol is no Jean Seberg, who was a fascinating character in her own right. McNicol’s performance is bland and stick figure like. There are jarring moments, like when she comes on all 80’s disco and Fiorucci and more than a few times she is sitting in scenes looking like a bland hunk of white bread trying to decide if its time to slowly turn moldy, but the performance is bland enough to not distract even though it adds nothing to the story.
Burl Ives does a yeoman’s job as the animal training center owner. The surprise was Paul Winfield. He gives a bravura performance as the black genius who is committed in a Dr Frankenstein way to “curing” the “white dog”.
Its turns out to be a decent but not great movie.
Five dogs played the central character who is a loving but mentally unbalanced animal. Fuller insisted that the Humane Society be present on the film. The dog actors were the best I’ve seen in an American film. There was no tail wagging as they killed, they moved with lithe power and it was a grim reminder that the sweet creatures who love us have jaws capable of breaking bones, that they can attack with a cruel punishing power.
I was glad to know about the Humane supervision. I know Fuller to be a dog lover but I always remember that Luis Bunel filmed the beautiful curtsey of a mule by having someone off camera shoot the mule in the head with a rifle! I have problems with art achieved for whatever purpose by using inhuman means.
Giant dog disagrees with me. He thought it was the greatest movie he’s ever seen. He sat with me on the love seat and was riveted from beginning to end. He watched intently through out. His expression changed he stood up, he whined and snarled at scenes.
He clearly was not “seeing” the same movie I was. I think his version was better.
He got positively joyous when the “White Dog” escaped from his kennel and ran around the animal compound. Giant dog was ecstatic as the dog ran past elephants and chimpanzees and figured out how to leap over an electric fence.
He whimpered when the dog crashed against the bars of his kennel in an attempt to kill Paul Winfield. And smiled at me when the dog finally calmed down enough to take the cheeseburger from Winfield’s outstretched hand.
And he was especially rapt when the “White Dog” chased down Richard Roundtree, chased him through the doors of a church and savaged the man. That made me a little nervous when after the scene Giant Dog looked at me and smiled, panting slightly. (Maybe I should be nicer to him.)
There was one excellent scene: the “White Dog” has escaped and is prowling the garbage cans for something to eat when a black child comes outside to play. The dog starts to pad towards it and there’s real suspense that he’ll see the child. The suspense is doubled when the child’s mother comes out into the street and scolds the child to come back indoors.
Giant dog raised up during this scene. He was reacting. I think he was watching a different movie than me for sure. I was watching a movie about a good animal transformed and warped by the illogical hatred of men into something that seemed cruel and hurt. He was watching a movie about a dog running around and scaring other animals and getting cheeseburgers for beating up people!
I really have to make a point of being nicer to him. Last night he refused to get off the bed so I could lie down!
I think this is a sign that I have to decide just how good of a friends are we?
(That was a joke. We’re very good friends and he’d never hurt anyone . . . unless a cheeseburger was in the offing . . . wait, no that’s my puppy who’d sell me out for a cheeseburger!!)
I have no idea what, if anything, I’ll get accomplished today. That’s what bothers me the most about these white nights. What they mean to the day.
I promised some Christmas music. One thing to understand is that when you’re in a working band the prime gigs are always New Year’s Eve and Christmas week.
A bar or a club Christmas week is a different place. If you’re lucky it will be filled with people who just got into town to see their families and are looking to hook up with friends they haven’t seen since summer. They’re filled with good humor and good will. Then there are the quiet and desperate for whom the holidays only serve to remind them of lonliness and loss. Then there’s the hustlers, they are always out and we all know what they’re after.
In the band you have to entertain them all and you better have a couple of Christmas songs on the play list or it will become a lost gig.
You need a song that will enchance the good will of the happy, cleanse the mood of the depressed and it better have a rocking beat so the hustlers can dance with their prey.
These are three semi-klazziks.
The Trashmen have always defined teen genius to me. Teen genius is that ability to catch a mood without having a clue as to where it come from. To me its no surprise that they came up with the perfect bar Christmas tune, “Dancin’ With Santa” is everything you want in a Christmas song. Its easy t imagine five guys stomping this one out on a poorly lit stage.
Three Aces and A Joker have one of the coolest names in rock and roll history. They’re remembered only becasue of one song, a cover, but maybe the greatest cover ever. No one knows much about these guys. Who needs to know. Its all right there in this tough rockabilly punk number “Sleigh Bell Rock”. If you don’t dig this then I really feel sorry for you. You’ve probably joined the ranks of the walking dead. This little tune will feed your craving for brains.
Buck Owens wasn’t always a bit of a fool on bad TV shows. He was the original Bakersfield Cowboy. He earned the right to wear too many rhinestones by playing clubs that really needed chicken wire strung across the stage. Where a bad set would lead to a bunch of oil workers and construction workers laying for the band in the parking lot. A Friday night is a vauable thing to a working man, to valuable for a cruddy band to mess up. I don’t think anybody ever punched out Buck Owens. His Country Western Christmas tune is driving, amusing and oh so cool, from Barstow to Austin “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy” is the tune to lift you up and make you smile while you wrap your kids presents.
Now this Chris Bailey cover of a Buddy Holly song isn’t about Christmas, its still the perfect arrangement for a Christmas gig. Its a slow dnce number so people can get close and its so touching and bittersweet it almost makes you want to get dumped so you have a right to feel this oh so touching pain. When Buddy Holly wrote the song it was a bouncy catchy tune. When Chris Bailey sings “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” it becomes a weapon of pain. Near perfect for the revelers to remember the past year, for the lonely to justify their grief ad for the hustlers to exploit.
And isn’t that at least part of what Christmas is all about?