Friday, October 16, 2020

Lennon & McCartney - utterly charming

"wow, this is an interesting-looking guy"
I admit I avoided listening to this interview of Paul McCartney by Sean Ono Lennon that I saw floating around YouTube land because I've been extremely disappointed by Ono Lennon's ongoing support for the race-baiting creeps of the Intellectual Dark Web.

This is a truncated version below. The full version is available at the BBC


 


But I finally couldn't resist. I have written about McCartney's unusually considerate behavior for a 1960s rock and roll star - which is most noticeable in his kindness to children and especially his relationship with Julian Lennon. How weird to be Julian Lennon, knowing that two of the greatest Beatles songs of all time - Lennon's Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and McCartney's Hey Jude were inspired by him.   
 
 

So I was too curious about McCartney's relationship with Lennon's other son to resist listening to this interview for long.

And it is utterly charming. The interview kicks off with a new piece of info about the Lennon/McCartney partnership - McCartney mentions that he saw Lennon around the neighborhood a couple of times prior to meeting him at the Woolton Fete and said to himself: "wow, this is an interesting-looking guy" 

And if that isn't enough, towards the end McCartney sings and plays guitar to demonstrate for Sean one of his early bad songs "Just Fun" and I imagine that's a world premier.

It's utterly charming. 

 

 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Autumn begins: today at 9:31 AM

Happy Autumn!


Welcome to the shortest season of the year. Not technically but it always feels like it. Part of why autumn is so great is of course because it comes directly after the worst season, especially in NYC, summer.

Psychology Today: Three Ways Autumn Promotes a Happier Frame of Mind





Sunday, September 20, 2020

Good riddance Bloomberg Karen

I've worked with several people who live to sabotage their coworkers, over the course of my career, but in the past year I've worked with a woman who was the worst of all and on top of that she was the living embodiment of the Karen meme.

And her name is actually Karen.

I was forced to work with this woman as part of a three-person team, but unfortunately she didn't understand what it meant to be a member of a team. She would demand that the other two of us obey her arbitrary commands and if we did not, she would run to our manager to complain.

Within the first weeks of being forced to work with her (remotely thanks to Covid 19) she was asking to speak to the manager. The first time it wasn't about me, it was about someone else who had declined to do her bidding on command, but I rightly anticipated she would eventually find an excuse to snitch on me.

She seemed completely incapable of understanding how human social behavior works. She would reprimand coworkers one minute and then suggest we have a virtual cocktail party the next. The other team member and I did not want to associate with her in our free time, but suspected if we didn't she would find an excuse to retaliate. 

She revealed her true character at one of these virtual cocktail parties, complaining about a homeless man, and telling us she wanted the police to turn a hose on him.

And on top of everything else she was the most narcissistic person I have ever met. She touted herself as a model and used to give the rest of us regular reports on her latest outfit for her latest photoshoot, which nobody wanted to see. Her personal web site is full of images of herself. 

Although unlike the quintessential Karen "can I speak to a manager" haircut, this Karen's hairstyle is a mullet. A florescent red mullet. She seems to think this is quite attractive.

I was watching old reruns of M*A*S*H recently and I was struck by how much her character is like that of Frank Burns, who was constantly barking orders at coworkers and snitching on them when he didn't get his way. Although at least Burns had a higher rank than those he wanted to boss around. Karen was a co-worker who only thought she outranked us.

And the worst part was that she really believed herself to be superior to the two of us. She once barked at me "I'm not your mother!" and it took me awhile to realize what that bizarre statement meant: she actually thought I was asking her for help rather than questioning her approach, on a death-march project.

She made my life absolutely miserable and so I found a new job. 

My life is much better now.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Shalhooooub!

I know two people who know Tony Shalhoub ("Monk.") When am I going to meet him?

OK to be fair, I don't exactly know Itamar Moses, we are just Facebook friends. Here is a photo he posted recently, that's Shalhoub second row from the top on the left.




I don't only love Shalhoub for his portrayal of Adrian Monk, although every time I watch another episode of Monk (I am rewatching the entire series one episode per day right now) I admire his acting work even more. 

But I also caught him on Tig Notaro's show and I thought he was completely charming.


Monday, September 14, 2020

You should give the thing back, Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall, pioneering
the use of conjoined twins in children's
book illustrations
If the election of Donald Trump isn't enough to convince you we do NOT live in a meritocracy, consider that one of the worst professional illustrators of all time, Sophie Blackall, apparently won the Caldecott Medal for a second time.

From seven thousand miles away I heard the crackling committee and the word medal, and the first thing out of my mouth was…
Oh no. No. No.
Followed by, Are you sure about this?
I hate to tell you, but I tried to give the thing back.

As the news of this second Caldecott sank in, I kept thinking, No one deserves this much good fortune. And then I remembered how I felt when my second child, Eggy, was born. I didn’t, for a minute, offer to give my son back. His arrival was every bit as miraculous and joyful and distinct as it had been with my first child, Olive.
I was surprised to learn she had children. I guess I had unconsciously formed the impression that she hated children. But the ultimate consumers of her work don't have much artistic discernment and are unlikely to complain about her bad work, and most adults don't read or care about children's picture books. This is why she's gotten away with her career of artistic abominations. That and a Caldecott Award committee full of cretins.

Here is a list of the tasteless, asthetically-challenged oafs:

Members of the 2019 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Mary Fellows, Upper Hudson Library System, Albany, N.Y. ; Farouqua Abuzeit, Boston (Mass.) Public Library; Heather Acerro, Rochester (Minn.) Public Library; Tom Bober, School District of Clayton, Mo.; Megan Alleyn Egbert, Meridian (Idaho) Library District; Lucia Martinez Gonzalez, North Miami (Fla.) Public Library; Dr. Darwin L. Henderson, Cincinnati, Ohio; Shannon Horrocks, Sno-Isle Libraries, Snohomish, Wash.;  Dr. Jonda C. McNair, Clemson (S.C.) University; Dr. Ruth E. Quiroa, National Louis University, Lisle, Ill.; Chinasa Izeogu Seyse, Schenectady (N.Y.) County Public Library; Amanda Struckmeyer, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (Wisc.); Marilyn J. Taniguchi, Beverly Hills (Calif.) Public Library; Gwen Vanderhage, Brodart Co., Williamsport, Pa.; and Caroline Ward, Cos Cob, Conn.

As with the 2016 award, the  2019 runners-up to Blackall's work - the hideous Hello Lighthouse displaying again Blackall's complete unfamiliarity with the concept of perspective but she keeps trying it anyway - are so far superior to Blackall it is heartbreaking. How frustrating it must be for talented artists to be runners-up to such a sub-mediocrity.

Blackall writes: "no one deserves this much good fortune." Certainly nobody with as little drawing talent as Blackall deserves to win one of the highest honors in illustration. Twice.

I am so thankful I decided not to become an illustrator as I had planned back in art school. I would be losing my freaking mind at this miscarriage of justice.

I just hope she sticks with illustrating books for children so that I may avoid seeing her work. It's bad enough I have to be reminded of it every couple of years. 

If, god forbid, she is commissioned to do another piece of public art where blameless adults are forced to stare at her awfulness, as I was back in 2012 when I first became aware of Blackall, I will file a formal complaint on behalf of the citizens of New York City.

She is apparently so proud of her subway art monstrosity it's the first thing you see when you go to her web site.

According to the web site for the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, we can blame the New York Times for inflicting Sophie Blackall on New Yorkers.
In 2000, Blackall was inveigled by New York. She convinced her husband, and two small children (who couldn’t talk and had no say in the matter), to pack suitcases and sense of adventure and join the diaspora. After two months of pounding the streets, portfolio in hand, and despite the tireless efforts of her agent, the return plane ticket was cashed in to pay the rent. Just when the highlight in the day had become half a can of Budweiser at six o’clock, the fax machine coughed and spluttered and delivered a commission of nine illustrations for The New York Times.
But at least someone else has noticed how awful Blackall is at perspective.
Sophie Blackall grew up in Australia where she learned to draw on the beach with sticks, which has not altogether helped her sense of perspective. She completed a Bachelor of Design in Sydney, which furnished her with useful Letraset, bromide and enlarger machine skills. The following few years were spent painting robotic characters for theme parks, providing the hands for a DIY television show, and writing a household hints column. 
She's also bad at composition and anatomy.

I can see how painting robotic characters for theme parks also influenced her style because she can barely express human emotions and her people's faces look the same.

The standard Blackall face. Almost no differentiation between character or gender.




And one more thing.

The waves in this image - from her award winning (gah!) picture book - the waves are very stylized - so stylized you'd barely know they were waves except for the context. That's not a bad thing in itself. Except that the clouds are rendered in a realistic way.

It's choices like that which make Sophie Blackall's work look so amateurish.

But I guess trying to explain to the Caldecott committee why she is incompetent would have about as much impact as arguing with a Trump supporter over his incompetence.

They just don't care.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Memories of drug busts past

I always wondered if the big Palmyra drug bust of 1978 ended up in the newspaper, and thanks to my subscription to newspapers.com I discovered that yes, it did.

This is from the August 19, 1978 edition of the Camden County Courier Post. I had no idea my ex-husband (who they misnamed "Howard") and our friend Matt ("Edward") were charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" of the 17-year-old Pennsauken female (me.)





The "controlled dangerous substance" was various experiments Matt, a budding botanist, was performing with seeds from morning glory plants. If he had any intent to distribute he never told me about it. 

I was impressed to see that the arrests were the result of a "month-long investigation."

The best part of the story is the photo that came with it, of the results of the arrest.



A few beakers and some sickly-looking marijuana plants. Not exactly breaking bad.

One more error in the article - I wasn't released to my parents, I was released to my in-laws, since my parents were vacationing in the mountains - they almost never went anywhere - and I had no way to contact them. 

I also never heard about "action by the county juvenile court." My entire personal experience with the law was being taken to the Palmyra jail, almost directly across the street from our apartment, cavity searched (I do not recommend it) and then allowed to call my in-laws who picked me up.

Matt and "Howard" were in county jail for a few days and then their lawyers pled down the charges in court and they didn't have to serve any prison time. According to my mother, who happened to meet her one day, Matt's mother blamed my ex-husband for everything. Not that my ex-husband wasn't a dummy, but he wasn't the one responsible for all the "controlled and dangerous substance."

Matt's attempt to extract some kind of psychedelic substance from morning glory seeds (I think he got the idea from "The Anarchist's Cookbook") was a bust for the bust - his laboratory, such as it was, had been up in the hot un-air conditioned attic of the apartment and any success he may have had with his pharmacological experiments was destroyed in the heat, which  left the Palmyra police with little but a few marijuana plants to show for their trouble. 

Apparently it was a big week for the South Jersey police - ours was one of four raids according to the Jersey P.M. Report.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Remembering Earl Rich

January 1995
Today marks 23 years since the death of Earl Rich.

I'm working on a collection of essays about people I have known who died and I'm writing a piece about Earl. I've written about him many times on this blog but it's good to have one polished and comprehensive piece of work.

This is how it begins:

I am skeptical of claims of the supernatural, so there must be a rational explanation for the sound outside my window, someone calling my name and saying "good-bye," on the morning Earl Rich died.  

I've often wondered what the rational explanation could be. In the novel by Kurt Vonnegut, "Breakfast of Champions" one of his characters died this way: "Like all Earthlings at the point of death, Mary Young sent faint reminders of herself to those who had known her. She released a small cloud of telepathic butterflies..."  

I thought of that Vonnegut passage just after I looked out my window to see who was calling. Nobody was there.  In his book "The Demon Haunted World" astronomer Carl Sagan said that one claim of extra-sensory perception that deserved serious study was this: 'people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images "projected" at them.' 
Sagan doesn't speculate on how thoughts or images might be projected. One of my theories is that maybe neurons in the brain, which send and receive electrical signals, at a moment of extreme stress, could transmit electrical pulses at a wide distance. Another theory I have was inspired by reading about quantum mechanics. There is a phenomenon called "entanglement" where two particles become "entangled" and then the state of one particle is always matched by the state of the other particle, even when very far away from each other. It's so strange and counter-intuitive it freaked Albert Einstein right out. He called it "spooky action at a distance." That sounds about right to me: spooky action at a distance. 



nt faint 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Early rapey M*A*S*H

SAVE ME BJ
When the TV show M*A*S*H premiered I was still a kid living with my parents so I never got to see  it then because my mother wouldn't allow TV shows with sex talk on in the house. Then once I moved out I didn't watch a lot of TV so I basically I only saw the last season or two during the first run, although one of my long-time boyfriends liked to quote the wisecracks from all seasons of the show. 


I had heard that the show got less sexist once Alan Alda had enough clout to have things more his way and damn I am glad he did. I am currently working my way through the entire series now on Hulu and it is painful to watch because  M*A*S*H was pure rape culture for the first three seasons.

Margaret "Hot Lips" Hoolihan was the target of several sneak attack kissing but in one episode, Hawkeye and Trapper assault both Margaret and Frank Burns, and in another episode "For the Good of the Outfit" Trapper pushes Margaret down on a desk while he kisses her and Hawkeye chases Frank around trying to do the same to him - and this was because they were grateful to Margaret and Frank, because they bolstered the case that the CIA had bombed a South Korean village. 

And the nurse characters are almost never anything but things to be chased. Wow was this show sexist. I am gritting my teeth to get through the first three seasons so that the (mostly) faithful, uxorious B. J. Hunnicut replaces Trapper. And by the way, Wayne Rogers was not an especially good actor. Mike Farrell is much better.

Also great, when the faithful and too old to fool around much Potter replaces Henry Blake. But the show doesn't really kick in until poor Frank Burns the subject of endless cruelty (yes he is an asshole but still) is replaced by Winchester, who is a multi-dimensional character.

The show became much better starting with season four.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

David Sedaris, the Master

Like many people, I consider David Sedaris to be the master of the humorous essay. I've mentioned him several times over the year on this blog, with great admiration, and his Master Class has inspired me to look at my own essays - which I have been doing on this blog for almost fifteen years now - more seriously.

But he's also the master of Billie Holliday impressions as you can hear in his reading of one of his own pieces, broadcast on NPR's Fresh Air.




Sunday, July 26, 2020

Really great appreciation for Paul McCartney in this article

And he was one of the most beautiful men of all time


Yes exactly, I've thought the same for years:

Why Paul McCartney Was A Way Better Beatle Than John Lennon

The part about being the most accomplished musician in the Beatles was a little underwhelming because although it compares Paul's musicianship to Lennon and Ringo, it does not compare McCartney's guitar work to that of George Harrison. Although clearly McCartney was a more all-around musician, I think Harrison could play guitar and sitar, but I haven't heard him doing anything with any other kind of instrument. The reason people believe Lennon said that Ringo "wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles" was because McCartney is such a good drummer.
When Beatles drummer Ringo Starr briefly quit the band during the recording sessions for “The White Album,” McCartney supplemented his bass and vocals duties by filling in on a number of standout tracks (including “Back In The U.S.S.R.” and “Dear Prudence”) with stellar performances on drums. And as soon as The Beatles broke up and Starr was no longer around, McCartney played every single drum track on his first solo album, then on a number of Wings albums and other solo albums thereafter.
It was the part about pushing them to get their post-touring albums done that was the most significant:
But just five days after Epstein’s death, McCartney took the reins and pushed his bandmates to move forward with the new Magical Mystery Tour project he’d devised. But Lennon was still on his way out: The following year, Lennon began making music outside The Beatles (with Yoko Ono) and even stormed out of sessions for “The White Album.” 
That dynamic — Lennon one foot out the door, McCartney keeping everyone together — held steady for the next two years. Even when The Beatles actually did come together for an enormous success like “Hey Jude,” Lennon saw little but the group’s end. Lennon later said of that song’s lyrics, “The words ‘go out and get her’ – subconsciously – [Paul] was saying, ‘Go ahead, leave me.'”

OK so the world would not be worse off without Magical Mystery Tour - but I think it's very true that McCartney held the Beatles together for the three and a half post-touring years.



Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I'm not really a bad blogger...

...I just spend much more time with my other blogs these days.

But I found this account on Twitter and it has one of the funniest pictures I ever saw.

The account is doing a series on some seriously bizarre Christian iconography like this guy.



It was the zoom-in of one image that almost killed me.

The swan, which is supposed to be a buddy of St. Hugh, not only has an evil look on its face but it has teeth!


I laughed at this picture for a solid five minutes until I thought I was going to asphyxiate and even though I was afraid I was in mortal peril, I still couldn't stop laughing. 

OK I'm going to end this blog post now because I'm on the verge of another potentially life-threatening attack of laughter.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

IMPEACH THE FILTHY TRAITOR AGAIN!

A small-time businessman became a key middleman for bounties on coalition troops in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence reports say. Friends saw him grow rich, but didn’t know how
American and Afghan officials have maintained for years that Russia was running clandestine operations to undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and aid the Taliban.
But U.S. officials only recently concluded that a Russian spy agency was paying bounties for killing coalition troops, including Americans, which the Kremlin and the Taliban have denied.
-----------

Trump demonstrated his guilt by SIDING WITH PUTIN!!!

IMPEACH HIM AGAIN!



Saturday, June 13, 2020

George Harrison memes


There are memes now about George Harrison's ravenous appetite.


I do recall an interview with Lennon in which he said Harrison could eat as much as he wanted and never gain weight, which John, who gained weight easily, resented.
















This next meme is based on fact - Harrison really did say "John's wife."

The kicker is that in fact George liked Ringo's wife and had an affair with her.





In other Beatles news: the Peter Jackson directed "Get Back" documentary about the Beatles has been pushed back a year, to a 2021 release. I just found out about the movie today.
The film creates a cheerful counter-narrative to the Beatles’ 1970 swan song “Let It Be” film, which essentially documented the group’s breakup and is a rather downbeat experience. The new film, segments of which Variety viewed earlier this year, feels completely different, with the four members laughing and clowning around in classic moptop fashion. Unlike virtually every other item in the group’s oeuvre, has been out of circulation for many years — as if the surviving bandmembers didn’t want to deal with it — although the group has promised a restored version will be released sometime in the future.


Speaking of Beatles-related stuff, I recently found this Cibo Matto performance from 1998 when Sean Lennon was in the band. He was looking mighty fine with the super-long hair. Long before he became a fan of the dread Intellectual Dark Web. Ugh.



 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The one thousand dollar teacup




OK technically $975.

I enjoy a nice tea cup as much as the next person, but I thought $25 was plenty for a single teacup.

Please note - **TEACUP ONLY*** - which means you have to buy the saucer separately. It's $750.

Who are the people buying this stuff?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

RIP Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid and Stu Sutcliff. He died at age 21. She outlived him by 60 years.
Just found out that Astrid Kircherr, the Hamburg photographer and fiancee of Stu Sutcliff died on Friday.



The Beatles met Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann around the same time. According to the NYT obit:
Ms. Kirchherr discovered the Beatles through her boyfriend at the time, Klaus Voormann, a fellow art student. After a quarrel, Mr. Voormann left her house; walking past the Kaiserkeller, he was drawn to the Beatles’ high-energy sound.
Voorman, as any true Beatles fan knows, was responsible for creating the cover of the Beatles album Revolver, one of the greatest album covers of all time.

The only two pieces of art I've ever purchased for myself are two signed prints from Kirchherr's Funfair series. I have the portraits of John and Paul with Sutcliff standing in the background of each:





Side note: in December of this year John Lennon will have been dead for 40 years.

Per the NYT again:
Collecting the musicians and their instruments in her Volkswagen, Ms. Kirchherr brought them to a fairground, where she shot both individual and group portraits in stark black and white...
...“It was early in the morning, because I only used daylight,” Ms. Kirchherr told The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, in 2005. “So the poor guys had to get up very early. They only stopped playing at four o’clock in the morning, and we met about nine or 10.”
Now you can buy her photos from Snap Galleries, but back in 2004 I bought the prints directly from Kirchherr's own company. As the Times notes:
In 1988, she and Ulf Krüger, a German musician, started K & K, a Hamburg shop that sold vintage photography and books.
I couldn't believe how reasonable the prints were back then... around $200 each. Now they've gone up in price to about $1000 each. Not very much for 16 years.

Thanks for the memories, Astrid Kirchherr.


Monday, May 18, 2020

WE ARE ALL MONK NOW

I've been having a Monk marathon and I have been thinking about how the Monk character would react to the pandemic.

And they made it happen.

Someone in the comments on YouTube suggested a Monk movie.

I AM SO READY FOR A MONK MOVIE!!!




At the end of the clip Shalhoub speaks for himself - I'm glad to hear he and his wife survived the corona virus!

He was spared. So he could make a Monk movie.

Do I sound like Marci Maven? I DON'T CARE!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Pinkerite continues


I juggle so many projects at any given time, I'm always looking for an excuse to drop one. I think most often of dropping my blog Pinkerite.

It's monotonous sometimes to keep writing about the same old race science promoting creeps and to have to occasionally look at the toxic sludge of professional racists like Steve Sailer. Monotonous and depressing to contemplate the stupidity and sheer evil in the world.

And during the coronovirus pandemic Steven Pinker has been quiet about race science. I was beginning to think maybe he was going to drop his support for it - or at least stop talking about it. I thought I might have to drop Pinkerite or at the very least change the name.

Then Pinker joined with other Koch-supported toadies to charge the New York Times with Orwellian free-speech suppression on behalf of a controversy from way back last December.

So I spent the afternoon writing a response, Four Koch toadies defend race science on Pinkerite instead of going to the park with the other mask-wearing social distancers.

Sigh.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

That's a hell of an outro Steely Dan

There's a genre of Youtube videos out there now that consists entirely of watching people listen to music for the first time.

It's more entertaining than you might think.



It helps of course if you already love the song and the person in the video loves the song.

This dude listening to Steely Dan's "My Old School" is my favorite so far. It's one of my all-time favorite songs - even before I realized the "Daddy G" mentioned in the lyrics was a reference to Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy.

I like it even in spite of the fact that the guy stops the song several times to say how great it is. It's kind of abrupt. But he is saying how much he likes it so it's forgivable. 

And there's also the anticipation - I knew this guy was going to love the outro - Steely Dan's outros often include the best of their very great guitar solos. I turn "My Old School" up at the end every time to get every last bit.

This guy gets it - he says "that's a hell of an outro, Steely Dan."

This Indian couple loves Springsteen, especially Rosalita.


YAH THINK?



Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Speaking of Obama



One of the best presidents of all time. The opposite of that evil freak Trump

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

YAY OBAMA!

I am not a Trump voter

I made the mistake of commenting on some Confederacy revisionist swill posted at the garbage web site Medium.  I looked up the author and discovered they were a Trump voter. So I commented, "A Trump voter, of course."

Then when I googled my name, I discovered that quote, in the search results, WITHOUT ANY CONTEXT because apparently that's how the Medium user interface works.

This is what it looks like in my search results.



So instead of it being clear that I was saying the author of the Confederacy revisionist swill was a Trump voter, it looks like I'm saying I am a Trump voter.

I am the farthest thing from a Trump voter. Trump is a monster from hell and the worst president of all time by far.

But Google search results are idiotic and Medium is idiotic. And when you go to their home page, there is no easily findable contact information. I had to got to Medium's Twitter account to tell them what I think about their user interface.

And of course I removed my comment. I will never make the mistake of commenting on Medium again.

And of course falsehoods against me from that other garbage aggregator, Tumblr, are still available from 9 years ago when I tangled with a mob of extremists.

UGH THE FREAKING INTERNET SOMETIMES.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Escape to the Shakespeare Garden

Well after three weeks of virtually no exercise, I had to get out. I went to the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park. While I was inside, spring had sprung.

















Saturday, March 21, 2020

Carnival of Light



How is it possible I have never heard of this until yesterday? If it wasn't for French in Action I may have gone to my grave never knowing about this.

According to Wikipedia:
"Carnival of Light" is an unreleased avant-garde recording by the English rock band the Beatles. It was commissioned for the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, an event held at the Roundhouse in London on 28 January and 4 February 1967. Recorded during a session for "Penny Lane", "Carnival of Light" is nearly 14 minutes long and contains distorted, echo-laden sounds of percussion, keyboards, guitar and vocals. Its creation was initiated by Paul McCartney's interest in the London avant-garde scene and through his connection with the designers Binder, Edwards & Vaughan. 
Since the event, "Carnival of Light" has rarely been heard, and does not circulate on bootlegs. For McCartney, the piece came to hold significance in his efforts to be recognised as the first Beatle to fully engage with the avant-garde, over a year before John Lennon recorded "Revolution 9". In 1996, McCartney tried to release the track on the Beatles' Anthology 2 compilation, but its inclusion was vetoed by his former bandmates. The tape was confirmed by McCartney to be in his possession in 2008. As of 2016, he was still considering the track's release.
I've been a fan of the Beatles since I was fourteen and I have never ever heard of this before.

And I found it while falling down the Internet rabbit hole. I find the Wikipedia article about Carnival of Light from another Wiki article about raves and which mentions it in passing:
Presaging the word's subsequent 1980s association with electronic music, the word "rave" was a common term used regarding the music of mid-1960s garage rock and psychedelia bands (most notably The Yardbirds, who released an album in the United States called Having a Rave Up). Along with being an alternative term for partying at such garage events in general, the "rave-up" referred to a specific crescendo moment near the end of a song where the music was played faster, more heavily and with intense soloing or elements of controlled feedback. It was later part of the title of an electronic musicperformance event held on 28 January 1967 at London's Roundhouse titled the "Million Volt Light and Sound Rave". The event featured the only known public airing of an experimental sound collage created for the occasion by Paul McCartney of The Beatles – the legendary Carnival of Light recording.[16]
I came upon the rave article from a Wiki on MMDA (aka ecstasy and Molly) and I come to that article from one about sassafras - apparently MMDA is made from an essential oil found in sassafras, which was once an important ingredient in rootbeer which also contains anise, which is an ingredient in pastis, which a character in French in Action drinks in one episode.

And that's how I finally heard of Carnival of Light. 

I thought I knew every interesting thing there was to know about the Beatles.

It's amazing it's never been bootlegged, and you can't hear it although McCartney still has a copy and tried to get it into the Beatles Anthology. I mean, you can hear A Toot and a Snore in 74, why can't you hear Carnival of Light?

There are four tracks and I would love to especially hear the third:

eatles historian Mark Lewisohn was granted access to the completed recording of "Carnival of Light" while compiling his 1988 book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.[22] He outlined the contents of the four-track tape:
  • Track one: "distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds"
  • Track two: "a distorted lead guitar"
  • Track three: "the sounds of a church organ, various effects (water gargling was one) and voices ... perhaps most intimidating of all, John and Paul screaming dementedly and bawling aloud random phrases like 'Are you alright?' and 'Barcelona!'"
  • Track four: "various indescribable sound effects with heaps of echo and manic tambourine"[23]
The piece concludes with McCartney asking the studio engineer in an echo-soaked voice, "Can we hear it back now?"[21] Lewisohn wrote that a rough mono mix was given to Vaughan,[4] while Miles stated that the mixdown had "full stereo separation".[17] After completing the session, according to engineer Geoff Emerick, Martin said: "This is ridiculous. We've got to get our teeth into something constructive."[2] Emerick wrote that Lennon's "Barcelona" yell and other "bits and pieces" from the "Carnival of Light" session were later recycled for "Revolution 9", the sound collage Lennon recorded with Yoko Ono in June 1968.[24]





Thursday, March 19, 2020

The New Yorker April 17, 1926

The New Yorker from April 1926
This cover of the New Yorker from April 1926 does not look like it was created in 1926. I might have believed 1966 but even more 1996 or 2016. It's not only the clean lines and the appearance of the woman drinking with a straw, it's that bright pink, which seems so contemporary, rather than from a decade before my mother was born.

When this cover was printed, few people knew who Hitler was, and nobody knew what atomic bombs or TV or penicillin were, let alone laptop computers and blogging and Wikipedia.

The artist is Clayton Knight, who had a busy life - he was a WWI aviator before he became an artist.
Then he created the Clayton Knight Committee to prepare to fight the Axis while the US was still neutral in the beginning of WWII. So it wasn't only his illustration work that was forward-looking.

In spite of its cover, the inside of the issue is believably from 1926. It features a profile of F. Scott Fitzgerald and family which, although "The Great Gatsby" had been published a year before, does not mention the book once, while it mentions "This Side of Paradise" several times. This must have been the last time Fitzgerald was profiled without Gatsby being mentioned.


The author of the New Yorker piece keeps raving about how attractive Fitzgerald is, but I don't see it. Certainly his center-parted 1920s hair style did him no favors.




The rest of the issue is very much from 94 years ago, with reviews of silent movies and inexplicable humor. I've written about the New Yorker magazine many times on this blog, and back in 2010 I wrote about incomprehensible examples of humor of the time. Unfortunately the cartoons are no longer visible in the blog post, I deleted the original image files without thinking.

I found another example of comedic bafflement in this April 1926 issue. The caption reads:
"Tripe? Oh, I'm mad about trip!" "Me too. I always say I'd do almost anything for a bit o'tripe."
 It's by an artist named Peter Arno who was an important contributor to the New Yorker's early tone. This cartoon is apparently the first appearance of what became "The Whoops Sisters" described in a Vanity Fair article about Arno:
The Whoops Sisters are two middle-aged foulmouths, later named Pansy Smiff and Abagail Flusser, who spout double entendres (“Whoops, I lost me muff!”) as they stumble about tipsy in New York, with their bloomers visible to appalled young men. In a 1927 appearance, the sisters gleefully toboggan through a cemetery, shouting, “Whoops! Mind the tombstone!”
Dorothy Parker was an enthusiastic fan of the Whoops Sisters, which her disapproving friend Edmund Wilson saw as an example of her “cruel and disgusting” sense of humor. But Parker had lots of company, including Benchley and Fitzgerald. Arno didn’t offer Prohibition tut-tutting about their drinking. He celebrated their rudeness. “These, even more than the introduction of the one-line joke, were the red, red revolutionists of the joke world,” Benchley wrote of them, finding the ladies “sinister” and “macabre,” and that, with their arrival, “fifty years of picturized joking in this country toppled over with a crash.”

So the remark about tripe is an example of their rudeness or it's a double entendre? I guess? Does "lost me muff" really count as a double entendre?

I noticed the cartoon because the rest of that issue, and every other issue of the New Yorker in the 1920s is crawling with flappers, and the Whoops sisters are wearing long frilly old-fashioned skirts. Which I guess makes sense, they're supposed to be middle-aged and flappers were young things.

French culture was a symbol of all things fancy in 1926, too, and another thing that jumped out at me in this issue was the conversation between a married couple in an ad for a shaving cream called Latherite.

The wife suggests the husband try her shaving cream and he says "Egad, has the day come when my spouse shall even prescribe my shaving cream for me?"

To which she responds in French, sans translation: "Ce n'est pas la pomme seulement, mon ange, qu'Eve peut offrir à son mari aujourd'hui!"

Which I am proud to say I was able to translate without cheating as "It is  not only the apple, my angel, that Eve can offer to her husband today."

Although why did she suddenly bust into French? Apparently that's what readers of The New Yorker would want. Below the conversation it says "Latherite will appeal especially to readers of The New Yorker because it's so refreshingly different. It contains lanolin, menthol...

Lanolin and menthol are standard ingredients in shaving cream now but maybe Latherite was a pioneer and at the time lanolin and menthol were refreshingly different. Just like throwing untranslated French into your advertisement I guess.

But I don't get the comparison of suggesting your husband try Latherite with Eve offering Adam the apple. Were lanolin and menthol subversive in 1926?





Wednesday, March 04, 2020

The magnificent Ambersons of Merchantville NJ - tiny theater world

More Ambersonian magnificence
So the patriarch of the magnificent Ambersons of Merchantville NJ is named Earl, and he is now a playwright.

Although his wife Roberta took an interest in my art career and my religious instruction, I don't have any memories of Earl and mainly know him as the dad who liked Monty Python and was in television.

I discovered a video on Youtube of a small-town culture event in which Earl reads an excerpt from one of his plays. He appears to be the Bard of Queen Anne's County Maryland now. And after the reading he is interviewed and reveals details about himself and other members of the Amberson clan.

He admits that before he was a Maryland resident he was from "New Joisey." The Garden State is a joke not only throughout the US but internationally, as I discovered when I saw a theater production in francophone Quebec City a couple of years ago.

When our orbits intersected, Mr. Amberson was not so much "in television" as making films related to the space program for General Electric - he even interviewed astronauts - and then he created his own film production company.

Earl provided an update on the Amberson children: "they're all over the place." One of his daughters was a dancer and married a French guy and lives in France. The other had a career in her twenties and thirties as an actor and is now a commercial real estate manager in New York. His youngest son has an interesting career: "rebuilds cabins - he takes apart old buildings and sells them to hippies and makes nice little houses out of them. All entrepreneurial."

I can't help but feel he slighted his eldest, Blake, perhaps unintentionally, in his description of his career: "my boys are not in the arts at all. My one boy is in computer design in Atlanta." Actually Blake's career is in video gaming, and gives his own Youtube interview about his work.

In his interview, Blake explains that he was working as a background musician for films and read something in a magazine about "non-linear entertainment" which inspired his current career. Blake looks very much like his father. They are alike in so many ways: both involved in arts/technology, involved in space programs, created theatrical productions and started their own businesses.

In spite of Blake's career in "computer design" I will always think of him as a musician. Right before I met him, when he was fifteen, he was the Mozart of Merchantville NJ, writing and performing his own original musical. I managed to track down an article about it from the Camden County Courier-Post. The article justifiably compares Blake's musical, "Enchantment," to the Christian-rock musicals of the time, "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Godspell":
The son of God, Alpha (played by Blake) visits Enchantment where people are allowed to do anything that makes them happy. Alpha tries to instill a sense of responsibility in the land and is falsely accused and crucified for his efforts.
Wow man, buzzkill. It was after all this that Lynn and I got a taste of evangelical eschatology courtesy of Blake's mom.

The article notes that Blake's parents had their own arts backgrounds, and Mrs. Amberson almost had her own children's TV show - I could really see that, she was so pretty and vivacious and personable. She could have been the Pixanne of Merchantville New Jersey.

After "Enchantment" Blake was briefly in a rock band with my then-boyfriend Dan, the band's guitarist. Blake was the keyboard player. Blake was the far more accomplished musician, but it's Dan who still has a musical career. On sait jamais comment les choses vont tourner.

Blake also had a brief professional relationship as a musician with Frank Zappa, which is very impressive both for the celebrity angle (unless you are my mother reading this, and you're not, you've heard of Frank Zappa), and for Zappa's musical sophistication.

Maybe that's why Blake's father describes his career as not involved in the arts at all. I suppose it is a long way from "Enchantment" and working with Zappa to video games. But I wouldn't say his career has nothing to do with the arts.

So Earl Amberson is a playwright now but in a weird coincidence, our playwriting careers overlapped. In his video interview he mentions he had an off-off Broadway production in 2011:
We were really lucky with the musical because the off-off Broadway was a real theater, walk into the lobby from the street kind of theater. And that theater was just in operation for about three years and we just hit it. We hit it right. And it was affordable... 
Right away I knew which theater he was talking about, but I looked it up to confirm. The musical is called Celluloid, produced by The Tank at  354 W. 45th Street.

Yes, it was the same theater in which I produced my adaptation of Jane Eyre in 2008.

I found Earl on Facebook and discovered we had a mutual friend - a theater person, of course. The theater world truly is a tiny world. And I guess in spite of my origins, I turned out not so different from the magnificent Ambersons of Merchantville New Jersey after all.

And I could still buy Amberthorne one day.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

The magnificent Ambersons of Merchantville NJ - A Thief in the Night

St. Cecilia statue, Pennsauken NJ
As I said, Mrs. Amberson didn't only take an interest in my career prospects.

About a year before she invited me over to discuss fashion design, my friend Lynn and I sat in on a Christian youth group meeting that was run by Mrs. Amberson.

The reason we were there was because Lynn and the oldest of the Amberson children, Blake, were a couple and I tagged along. There were a bunch of other teenagers there too, some from Pennsauken High but I didn't know them.

This was a Protestant youth group and Lynn and I were Catholic. In fact we met in Catholic school, Saint Cecilia's, when my family moved to Pennsauken.

I liked Saint Cecilia's much better than my former church, Our Lady of Fatima. In part because Saint Cecilia's was small and neat and right in the middle of a block in town. Fatima was set in its own large tract of land with big empty fields behind, which are now Parx Casino.

But even more because Our Lady of Fatima came with a creepy origin story which, unlike most Catholic myths, was relatively recent: the Our Lady of Fátima Marian apparitions in Portugal in 1917. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in the fields (child labor laws not being all they should in 1917 Portugal) and she told them to pray for world peace, the "consecration of Russia to Immaculate Heart of Mary" and did tricks with the sun, a phenomenon called Miracle of the Sun:
According to accounts, after a period of rain, the dark clouds broke and the Sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky. It was said to be significantly duller than normal, and to cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. The Sun was then reported to have careened towards the earth before zig-zagging back to its normal position
Two of the shepherd children died in the 1918 flu pandemic (which got several of my ancestors too) but one of them lived until 2005. The founder of Our Lady of Fatima in Bensalem, PA, Father John Griffin, was fanatically devoted to this mythology and we had to do an annual May Procession to honor it, which involved wearing white first holy communion dresses (for the girls anyway) and marching around in front of the church and standing for uncomfortably long stretches of time while Mass was said.

Saint Cecilia's parish didn't do processions, and they didn't dwell on the origin story of Saint Cecilia herself who, as the patron saint of music was pleasantly similar to an ancient Greek Muse. She was martyred in Ancient Rome, so was comfortably far in the ancient past, not from the same century like Fatima. And unlike most Catholic iconography the image of Saint Cecilia chosen by the Pennsauken parish did not involve torment or ghostly apparitions, but rather just a statue of the saint, standing thoughtfully, holding what I guess is a lyre. Nobody ever claimed to witness that statue crying, which you get a lot with Mary statues.

As a child I believed in all of it, from crying statues to zig-zagging suns. But gradually it dawned on me that the adults around me who claimed to believe the dogma of the Church, which holds that all of life is just a test to determine your ultimate eternal fate (heaven, hell or purgatory-then-heaven), didn't live as though they believed it. Then I began to have problems with the logic of the omniscient god concept and by twelve years old I was an atheist.

I don't know if Lynn told her parents we were going to a Protestant youth group meeting, or, if she did, if they cared. Once upon a time I guess it would have been a big deal, with the long history of Protestants and Catholics trying to kill each other, but by the time we were teenagers there was basically a pan-Christian truce, at least in the US.

I didn't tell my parents because they weren't all that interested in what I was up to most of the time, but maybe would have been glad I was doing anything church-related. My mother and I had already had a couple of literal fist-fights over my questioning of Catholic dogma and I was avoiding Sunday Mass (obligatory on pain of mortal sin, FYI) whenever I could.

Lynn and I showed up with a box of store-bought chocolate-chip cookies, the Archway brand (which is still around) and Lynn claimed they were baked by her "Aunt Archway" which those gullible Protestants believed until she finally confessed. I'm not sure why Lynn brought any food, I'd think they would be serving us snacks at the church hall as a bribe to get teenagers to spend time doing religious stuff.  But I only remember two things about this youth group meeting - the Aunt Archway gag and the creepy movie they made us watch.

Now I was used to religious creepiness thanks to my own Catholic upbringing, but I had never seen a movie that portrayed evangelical beliefs, and I had never heard of "the Rapture" before. My understanding of Catholic eschatology was that one day an angel would blow a trumpet and then it would be Judgement Day and we'd all go to heaven, hell or purgatory. None of this some people would remain on the earth while other people just disappeared stuff.

The movie must have been A Thief in the Night - the Wiki description sounds right.  It was creepy because it played like a horror movie:
Patty awakens and the entire film's plot is revealed to have been a dream. She is tremendously relieved; however, her relief is short-lived when the radio announces that millions of people have in fact disappeared. Horrified, Patty frantically searches for her husband only to find he is missing too. Traumatized and distraught, Patty realizes that The Rapture has indeed occurred, and she has been left behind. In the ensuing plot the questions are whether or not she will be caught, as she was in her dream, and whether or not she will choose to take The Mark to escape execution.
It was like somebody made a movie out of a Chick tract.

Of course it's available on Youtube.

I was freaked out and I was an ex-Catholic atheist. I can only imagine how freaked out a devout evangelical teenager would have been.

Mrs. Amberson seemed a little perturbed by the movie herself and sort of apologized to us for it. But she must have known what it was about, and I assume she wanted to give us Catholics an introduction to the concept of the Rapture. Maybe it was more intense than she anticipated, maybe she was afraid she would hear complaints about it from our parents. It seems odd to me that the Ambersons were religious at all. As I said, Mr. Amberson was a fan of Monty Python.

But if she was trying to convert us into evangelical Protestantism, she didn't have any luck with me, I'm still an atheist. Lynn however, whom I haven't seen in-person in about 30 years, but am her Facebook friend, seems fairly religious now, frequently thanking the Lord for healing her heart (although who was responsible for her heart needing healing in the first place?) But hers is a religion that permits being a Reiki practitioner and instructor.

I had a yoga instructor do Reiki on me once while I was in Shavasana pose and it struck me as complete voodoo. And amusingly, the Catholic Church has a problem with Reiki, calling it "superstition." Unlike, I guess, crying statues and solar gymnastics.

I let the yoga instructor do her Reiki schtick on me without complaint though, figuring it made her feel better to think she was helping me, and I was glad to make her feel good about herself. My attitude is that whatever makes people feel better is OK as long as they don't force their beliefs on anybody. 

In addition to Monty Python, it turns out Mr. Amberson and I have other things in common, as I learned when I decided to research what happened to the rest of the magnificent Ambersons of Merchantville NJ, which is in the next post.