Searching Out Sanity
It's three o'clock in the morning, this morning, a Saturday morning in July, which is almost over as I fly on through yet another year--NOW half gone.
I'm watching a WWII movie. One of those Hollywood Canteen movies where all the stars come down to a midtown Hollywood joint, it was a real place, though not in this movie, and work as waiters, bus boys, and taxi dancers--like here's Alfred Lunt (Who? you are asking) serving hash to the troops, along with his wife, Lynne Fontaine (Who? you are again asking).
Now, a starlet is reading a letter from a soldier she met at the canteen. It's a very stupid letter; a tearjerker; a cornball hype job that reeks of Hollywood fantasy--"I'm a Marine and I know we have superior equipment and manpower to the Japs...and I'm a Marine and I know we are the shootingest, bayonettingest, killingest if we have to bunch, bigger and better than any Jap can imagine. We aren't afraid of their ju-jitsu because we know we can handle any ju-jitsu-ing Jap with a roundhouse right...." And then he throws in the Hollywood punch line: "I may not come back from this...." "Hey, you stupid jerk, you are a stupid soldier--the government conscripted your ass or else you volunteered, so hell yeah you may not come back." Here I sit growling at a stupid movie that is now 65 years old and most of the people in the film are surely dead. Certainly Lunt and Fontaine (Who?, you are still asking) are dead. Tallulah Bankhead is dead (aha, another "Who?" from you--Poor old Tallulah. At one time her Old South Alabammy accent and her affected "Dahling" carried old drunken Tallulah to an ultimate of stardom in the world of glitter, fornication, fame, alcohol, pills, and more fame).
And suddenly, out of nowhere, here's Ethel Waters with the Count Basie Ork--man, I'm wolf dancing now; I've seen everything--and Ethel Waters and the Count and most of the boys in his band are goners. Ethel is singing "It was the Devil who brought you to me...you're like quicksand--those quicksands that keep on draggin' me down." She looks young, back before she found Jesus and troopered around with Brother Billy "Bilk 'em on Down" Graham before "Gawd" took her off to that sweet little cabin in the Big Sky.
An actor named Sam Jaffe has just interjected the word "exterminate" into his pep talk introducing some Russkies to the Canteen crowd here--WOW, the Russkies are our allies--that's when Joe Stalin was one of our Big Three heroes. Old Joe's damn sure dead. So's the music on this film; it's currently the Freddy Martin Ork--oh god, what a droopy drawer package of overproduced musical pap--it's so plain it hurts; it jumps like a two-step Fox trot, but it doesn't trot like a fox, only 4/4 jazz started the fox to really trotting--like J.J. Johnson's "Fox Hunt," a wonderful weird piece of post-horning bebop on Prestige's early New Jazz label--my copy was a 78 rpm--I still have that tune etched in my head. My first introduction to the world of be-bop--Sonny Rollins was in that band. I later came across a Sonny Rollins vehicle that really caught my fancy called "The Stopper," which also was on the Prestige label. Prestige made a lot of these dudes famous; no money, but fame; including Miles Davis, especially two of his first great jam hits, the Richard Carpenter classic "Walkin'" and on the flip side, Dizzy's "Blue 'n Boogie," issued on a ten-inch Prestige album called "Walkin.'"
My first true girlfriend tried to claim she owned my record collection when I left it with her for safekeeping when I went off to the U.S. Army. After I got out of the army, I wanted 'em back and she told me, "You gave them to me." Did I? Maybe I did, but I got them back. She got herself knocked up by a disc jockey while I was masturbating in an army base latrine thinking of her being true to me and that pissed me off and I wanted my stuff back...BITCH. Yet, I really loved that young charmer.
Wow, and here's the "King of Swing," Benjamin Goodman from the Chicago southside; boy, how out-of-date his shit is now; though I truly like Mel Powell who was a son of a bitch great piano player with Benny but who in the early fifties said he'd done all he could do in jazz and wanted to reach another musical level so he went off to Yale to study with Hindemith. Mel's star rose in a different sky; he won the Pulitzer Prize for composition in 1990--I never knew that. I know the dude could wail on the piano--the things he wrote for the Goodman Ork are masterpieces in mastery, especially his tribute to Earl Hines called "The Earl." He was born Melvin Epstein in an apartment overlooking Yankee Stadium. Read all about Mel; he's an interesting dude.
Same Old Shit
Well, Israel's doing Bush's bidding. Wonder what this will lead to? Bush is going to attack Iran while Israel is decimating poor old Lebanon? That's one prospect. Condo-leasing Rice is going over to bring peace to these Semite brothers and sisters--yeah, sure, Condi--"Hey, baby, you got any new Ferragamos for the big trip?" Maybe Condi is a Lesbian; what do you think? That could be. Maybe Cheney's daughter and her. That would be cool. I love Lesbians, but I don't know if I could love a woman as evil and screwed up as Condi. She's weirdly appealing and I'm sure she's involved with some form of sexuality (maybe Bernie Kerik had her; remember, Bernie had celebrity publisher-whore Judith Regan in the 9/11 dust that caked his hideaway apartment We the People of New York City secured for him for his licentious rendezvous--and We also fixing up his little home in Jersey or somewhere like that, too, so his little family could be secure while he was busy boffing bimbos in the big city. What a fool; what a sham; but, according to Judith Regan, WHAT A MAN!).
Looks like Israel intends on pretty much exterminating some hostile Lebanese; you think they can top old Comatose Sharon's record massacre of Arab dogs? Burton Greene said Sharon made him ashamed of being a Jew.
The days pass so fast and the times they are constantly a'changin'.
The Daily Growler housepianist has proposed we work on a film treatment together. I at one time wrote synopses of television shows for MGM out in L.A. but I've never tried a film treatment and certainly never tried to write a filmscript. One reason might be: I'm not into films. Most of them put me to sleep. There is an unreality about films I just can't get into, though I do have a heck of a lot of respect for cameramen.
My brother at one time had some Hollywood privilege. The movie rights to one of his books were optioned by Columbia Pictures, which made him a lot of money. I was with him when he started writing the script. As a result of hanging with him and that Hollywood crowd--I got to go on the set of a big film they were shooting in NYC one summer and I was most impressed by the cameraman, a Swede who had been Bergman's favorite cameraman; in fact, he's the cameraman on all of Bergman's most famous films. How this guy managed these big cameras and how he got the shots he got amazed me.
I like the art of the visual; it's the actors I can't bear. But I'm excited. I'm going to dive into this thing; we have a good subject and it involves music and a script with a song to it and I've got poetry in my blood (my solar plexus) and since I know nothing at all about scriptwriting, it's gonna be fun--experimenting with what visual narrative I have in me. I'm going to practice getting into character like an actor has to do; to me, as I sit here right now, you have to be hollow to be a good actor. You have to have no personal character; as an actor you are made up; surely at the mercy of the screenwriter. I hope.
Does this make sense or is it rambling? I rather like rambling. It's fun to me. I can lean back and read a Gertrude Stein book by just enjoying the art of her rambling, like a rose is a rambling rose is a rambling rose, and "Rambling Rose" is a great tune, I'll admit that right here and NOW. Not "Ramblin' Rose," now, don't get confused; not Nat "King" Cole's hit--that's "Ramblin'...." I'm talkin' about "Rambling...." Speaking of MC5, I found this site. I dig this dude. I like the way he thinks. It's a way I didn't let myself start thinking when I decided I liked jazz better than rock and roll and went in that high-road direction, though I listened to MC5--I've even learned a couple of their tunes, "Borderline," for one, and find them interesting, though I admit I never appreciated John Sinclair and openly don't like him to this day. I know, I know, he really wasn't important to the band. I know. But here, check this site out; read it all, it's a way of music thinking that intrigues me. I like this dude Prindle.
I think I'm capable of writing scenarios. I do that day-in and day-out. Writing visual approaches to a certain life and the character that gives that life the color needed to make a film a real impression of the mood, the movement, the measures of timed sequence...damn, I'm thrilling myself. I'm eager to try and connect the photographic real with written images. Am I nuts? Film is like a piece of paper or a canvas--it moves, yes, but it's not alive; it's not real; but, it can be something of beauty in terms of catching moments and giving life, artificial life, but as close a proximity as can be captured--using rooms and shadows in rooms and the wind whipping the seedy drapes of a window looking out and upon a scene--you know, try and get even the smell of that room and the character within that room, a symphony of smells made visual on the screen. Through dialog, through music, through actual places and actual voices and actual footage of the acted life actually living. Jesus, I'm wolfishly excited about this. I like trying to make things I know nothing about work.
I have a video camera; it's a toy, I know, but it can be useful as a practice aid, you know, check my acting out, force myself to portray certain roles, like I could easily be Bukowski; I even resemble him. Plus, I have all these iMovie-type applications on my G4 and I have Finale the music writing software and I can midi my keyboard into my computer and even my recorder and record a soundtrack--Jesus, I'm jumping overboard and I haven't even left the dock. I can even do a lot of that kind of thing on this laptop on which I'm writing this--running Windows XP, which, and I hate to say this, I find a wonderful system to operate in, though I am still a dedicated Mac user. So, here I go off into a new fantasy; leaving the woes of the world behind me; locked up in my latest dreamworld, while the fierce Demon of Reality blows at my house of straw's door--Huffing and puffing trying to blow that house down.... "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind; the answer is blowin' in the wind." I'm winded.
for The Daily Growler