Oscar Levant, who "knew Doris Day before she was a virigin," defined a politician as a man who will "double-cross that bridge when he gets to it." Has anyone read hs book Memoirs of an Amnesiac?. It's the sort of book I must have read, but I can't remember doing so. I have a feeling that I would have liked it. I am sure of it in fact. Putnam published it in 1965. Three years later came The Unimportance of Being Oscar, another bravura performance -- not too wild, not too earnest, but full of self-deprecatory wit and wisdom. "I was once thrown out of a mental hospital for depressing the other patients," he confided.
He was very fast, very smart and knowing, a good guest on a talk show, a mordant foil to Gene Kelly's native optimism in "An American in Paris." He wrote these lines that he says in the movie: "It's not a pretty face, I grant you. But underneath its flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character."
He also wrote "Blame it on My Youth" and other songs and was a buddy of Geoge Gershwin. The jokes were spontaneous and delivered deadpan. When he said that he knew Doris Day "before she was a virgin," it was a valuable reminder of the band singer's brilliance -- with the Les Brown Orchestra in the 1950s, as Ruth Etting in "Love Me or Leave Me," in duets with Sinatra in "Young at Heart" -- which preceded the vriginal image projected in the sugary pillow-talk movies of the 1960s. After Marilyn Monroe converted to Judaism, Oscar said, "now that Marilyn Monroe's kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her." -- DL
I phoned Herb whose last name means Angel Heart today on his eighty-ninth birthday and wished him "many happy returns" at which he balked though in general he likes my use of slightly out-of-date cliches.
"You said happy," Herb said. "You show me an eighty-nine year old man who says he's happy and I'll show you a horse with two assholes."
So, Herb, I propose now to perpetuate that comment as Mallarme perpetuated the nymphs of an afternoon, the light floating in air heavy with the tufts of slumber.
And I know you'll like seeing this postcard inviting happy tourists to taste what Okinawa, that "tropical island paradise," has on offer. See you Friday at Do-Hwa on Carmine Street.
"Is that what you want on your gravestone when you die -- that you raised the dividend to three dollars or four or even five or six or seven?"
William Holden in Executive Suite (1954)
Barbara Stanwyck & Louis Calhern (pictured, left,enjoying a smoke off camera) & with Fredric March, June Allyson, Walter Pidgeon, Nina Foch, Paul Douglas, Dean Jagger, and if Shelley Winters comes, can spring be far behind?
<<< A 1956 letter written by Ms. Freilicher to Frank O’Hara, who celebrated
her in his acclaimed “Jane” poems, initiated various plans to get
together, beginning: “Dear Frankie, I was utterly delighted to get your
cuddlesome letter. Perhaps you don’t know how much I’m missing you but
it is quite a tel’ble lot. It is a terrible thing being the Adlai
Stevenson of the art world without a Young Democrat like you by my
relationship [with John Ashbery], and the others that grew from it, are the subject of
“Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets,” an exhibition at the Tibor de
Nagy Gallery in Midtown, a show that places Ms. Freilicher’s work in the
context of her exalted status among the poets of the New York School —
Mr. Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler — to whom she
was muse, confidante, beloved brain. “One doesn’t stay friends with
somebody for 40 years unless they have a lot of nice qualities, such as
brilliance,” Mr. Ashbery wrote two decades ago. “Jane Freilicher is also
the wittiest person I have ever known.”
By implication, the show is an exercise in anthropology as well, an
exploration of an ever-receding way of social life among successful
creative people in the city, one in which the friendships built and
circles configured seemed more firmly rooted in genuine affection, in
affinity, in shared notions of whimsy, than in the prospect of mutual
professional advantage. >>>
Readers will have to forgive Mr. Cambell his obsessions. He brings race into the book with a dull frequency, sometimes to unintentionally comic effect. We're told that black St. Louisans including Chuck Berry, Miles Davis and Tina Turner "struggled for recognition behind such noted white St. Louisans as Williwam S. Burroughs, Kate Chopin, and T.S.Eliot." This is a double-bankshot of academic claptrap. Burroughs and Eliot barely count as sons of St. Louis, and Kate Chopin--who was she again? Oh, yes: a late-19th-century fiction writer retroactively declared interesting by feminist reputation fabricators. Only a captive of the faculty lounge could be under the impression that Kate Chopin was ever so celebrated that her fame overshadowed the genius behind "Johnny B. Goode."
-- Mark Lasswell, Wall Street Journal review of "The Gateway Arch" by Tracy Campbell (May 25-26, 2013)