Bergman + Plath + Vivaldi = Exquisite:
I’ve read a lot of Orson Welles stories, but somehow I missed many of the gems in this fantastic NYRB essay by Gore Vidal. Here’s one of my favorites, where Vidal and Welles are analyzing “like a pair of Talmudic scholars” a draft of Rudy Vallée’s memoirs, which Vidal has managed to get his hands on:
As professional storytellers, we were duly awed by Rudy’s handling of The Grapefruit Incident, which begins, so casually, at Yale.
Ironically, the dean was the father of the boy who, nine years later, was to hurl a grapefruit at me in a Boston theater and almost kill me.
Then the story is dropped. Pages pass. Years pass. Then the grapefruit motif is reintroduced. Rudy and his band have played for the dean; afterward, when they are given ice cream, Rudy asks, “Is this all we’re having….”
Apparently one of [the dean’s] sons noticed my rather uncivil question…and resolved that some day he would avenge this slight. What he actually did later at a Boston theater might have put him in the electric chair and me in my grave but fortunately his aim was bad. But of that more later.
Orson thought this masterful. Appetites whetted, we read on until the now inevitable rendezvous of hero and grapefruit in a Boston theater where, as Rudy is singing, “Oh, Give Me Something to Remember You By,” “a large yellow grapefruit came hurtling from the balcony. With a tremendous crash it struck the drummer’s cymbal…” but “if it had struck the gooseneck of my sax squarely where it curves into the mouth it might have driven it back through the vertebra in the back of my neck.” Of this passage, the ecstatic Orson whispered, “Conrad”—what might have been if Lord Jim had remained on watch.
The ecstatic Orson, whispering the word Conrad….simply sublime.
You can ask the genie to transport you to whichever historical period you want. I’ll use one of my three wishes to go have lunch with these guys.
Onward and upward!
There’s a lot of subtext to this one and I’m not sure exactly what to think. Harry’s a complicated guy. He’s funny and brilliant, and yet he seems not to have too many friends. (How can that be!?) I blame showbiz: he’s spent his life battling the entertainment industry, and the fighting spirit has probably spilled over into his relationships with those closest to him. Like a Roman soldier on a decades-long campaign: how many friends did those guys have? Comrades, maybe, but friends? Maybe not so much.
In any case, you can find it here. And if you’re a little wiped out by the SNL 40 hoopla, this is a welcome cleanser.
Back to coins for this week’s randomizing method. Seven quick flips to allow the gods of genius and creativity to have their say, and…
Oh gods. Excellent choice. But are you feeling okay? Feeling droopy? Has the work of inspiring creativity gotten you down? Or are you just admiring one of John’s favorite songs? In any case, here we go with…
“I’m So Tired” (Lennon-McCartney, The White Album)
Where to begin? This is one of those songs that critics dislike but listeners don’t forget. That voice! Those words! Like so much else on The White Album, it goes straight to our brain.
I know, I know: why is this millionaire tired? He doesn’t haul bricks or drive a forklift, he doesn’t work two jobs, he’s not on the night shift. He plays music and does drugs and eats whatever he wants. Stop complaining! Continue reading
It started with the rain. Tammy Wynette refused to perform on the uncovered stage, the foot traffic slowed to a trickle, and my boss Jerry couldn’t stop grumbling about the replacement band.
“The Cheese Boys?” he muttered, as the sounds from Turtle Tap’s house band echoed through an empty grandstand. “This is the best those college idiots can do?”
All week Jerry had been irritated by Riverfest!’s new management, who reminded him of the college graduates who used to boss him around at the factory before his escape to the freedom of owning his own business. A popcorn wagon, an industrial laundry, and now and then the odd miscellaneous hustle. We operated in what you might call the gray economy: not exactly illicit, but not exactly well documented, either. Did we pay all our taxes? That wasn’t a question Jerry asked. He knew he paid enough.
For years we had taken in cash from the fairgoers, our white money bucket filling throughout the day with hard-earned dollars from hard-working people looking to have a good time at the fair.
This year Thurl Albrecht, the chief college idiot, had installed a new system to “address issues of uncaptured revenue.” In order to make sure that the carnies and concessionaires weren’t skimping on the percentage they paid to Riverfest! Inc., fairgoers were now required to buy tickets at an official Riverfest! booth, which they then exchanged for rides and games and food.
Jerry had taken this personally.
I don’t think it bothered him that he was viewed as a cheater, because he knew he sort of was—he even took a kind of grifter’s pride in it.
But the new system—these red tickets—had messed with his relationship to cash, and that was unacceptable.
Something would need to change. Continue reading
Hail Muse! O ye gods of genius and creativity! Give us a random Beatles song from our randomly chosen random generator… this time we drop an Artemisia stem onto our random Beatles-song selector…and…
Oh boy! Our first real Paul song. Oh, I know, we had “The End,” but this is the first full-blown, get out of the way, a train-of-talent-is-coming-through-and-his-name-is-Paul song.
“Lady Madonna” (Lennon-McCartney, Past Masters Volume Two)
“Lady Madonna” is one of those earwormy tunes that the Beatles cranked out around the time of the Magical Mystery Tour album, that forgotten little period in between the colossal albums Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. Albums are the thing, right? The pinnacle of artistic achievement from, oh, 1965 to whenever iTunes killed them off? A radio hit is great and all, but fans of the artist measure them in terms of albums.
So we critics bounce from Rubber Soul to Revolver to Sgt. Pepper to Magical Mystery Tour (sort of) to the White Album to Yellow Submarine (sort of sort of) and Let It Be and Abbey Road, analyzing and categorizing and comparing…and we forget that in those days, the Beatles released singles too, and that these were not included on the albums. (The idea the Beatles had was that you didn’t want to make your fans pay twice for the same song.)
So as a collector or even just a fan, you have a whole other album’s worth just of songs—songs like “Day Tripper” and “Penny Lane” and and “I Am the Walrus” and “Hey Jude” and “Paperback Writer” and a dozen others. Songs the whole world knows. Not on an album.
Including this one, which is as good as any of them. So much life and energy! Where does all that spirit come from?
MAYBE FROM THE PIANO…
Those pounding chords! You picture a man playing for a big concert hall with no microphones. Just a man and the strings and the strength of his hands on the keys. And the joy in his heart that hits those bluesy chords, turning the blues into something uplifting. Someone like this:
Hmmm…Paul played the piano, sure…but did he INVENT that opening riff?
Nope. Not exactly. Check this out: Continue reading
ONE…ONE ONE…ONE ONE… IT’S THE JACKE WILSON SHOW!!!!!
Our quest for a more professional sheen to the podcast continues with Life’s Unanswerable Questions (Part 2) – Another play for Bryan Cranston and Kate Winslet, the untold story of Joseph the beleaguered father of Jesus, a look at why we love when we know it hurts us, and more!
Hope you enjoy the show!
You can stream the show here:
Or directly download the mp3 file: The Jacke Wilson Show 2.2 – Life’s Unanswerable Questions (part two)
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Let me know what you think! Thank you for listening! Continue reading