Saturday, August 03, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *In Pete Seeger’s House- Judy Collins And Elizabeth Cotten

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Judy Collin's performing Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". For Elizabeth Cotten also mentioned below check my archives as I have previously reviewed her work extensively.

DVD Review

Rainbow Quest, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Elizabeth Cotten, Shanachie, 2005

In a year that has featured various 90th birthday celebrations it is very appropriate to review some of the 1960’s television work of Pete Seeger, one of the premier folk anthologists, singers, transmitters of the tradition and “keeper” of the folk flame. This DVD is a “must see” for anyone who is interested in the history of the folk revival of the 1960’s, the earnest, folksy style of Pete Seeger or the work of folksinger Judy Collins, especially doing her renditions of a couple of early Bob Dylan songs (and how they were reworked by him from older traditional tunes) and her classic cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”.

Also included on this DVD is the legendary Elizabeth Cotton, a musician that I have reviewed extensively elsewhere in this space, showing us her unusual guitar-picking style and regaling us with “Wilson’s Rag” and her own classic, make that super-classic, folk song, Freight Train”. Additionally, Pete, as an early exponent of what is now called “world music” brings in some lesser known Spanish guitarists and assists them in singing the well-known Spanish song written by the Cuban nationalist Jose Marti, “Guantanamera”

This DVD contains some very interesting and, perhaps, rare television film footage from two of Pete Seeger shows, packaged in one DVD, entitled “Rainbow Quest”. Each show is introduced (and ends, as well) by Pete singing his old classic “If I Had A Golden Threat” and then he proceeds to introduce, play guitar and banjo and sing along with the above-mentioned artists.

One final note: This is a piece of folk history. Pete Seeger is a folk legend. However, the production values here are a bit primitive and low budget. Moreover, for all his stature as a leading member of the folk pantheon Pete was far from the ideal host. His halting speaking style and almost bashful manner did not draw his guests out. Let’s just put it this way the production concept used then would embarrass a high school television production class today. But, Pete, thanks for the history lesson.

An Encore -Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night, Christ The Heart Of Any Night-Elegy For Tom Waits

An Encore -Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night, Christ The Heart Of Any Night-Elegy For Tom Waits

From the pen of the late Peter Paul Markin who fell by the wayside, fell to his notoriously monstrous “wanting habits” accumulated since childhood looking too hard, looking to hard in the wrong places down among the weeds in Mexico, looking for train smoke and dreams if you really thought about the matter, looking for his own heart of Saturday night-RIP, Brother,RIP.     


If you, as I do, every once in a while, every once in a while when the norms of today’s bourgeois-driven push, bourgeois a better term than capitalist or imperialist if you are in America since it gives a better view of the unhindered social norms, the ethos rather than the sheer grab for filthy lucre; you know grab goods, grab the dough, grab every cheap-jack convenience like it was God’s own gold, grab some shelter from the storm, the storm that these days comes down like a hard rain falling, to get ahead in this wicked old world have to step back and take stock, maybe listen to some words of wisdom, or words that help explain how you got into that mess then you have come to the right address, the address of Mister Tom Waits if you missed the headline or missed who is writing this thing. (Or better "wrote" since this piece is being edited posthumously by Zack James who found this and three companion pieces in the attic of Josh Breslin's Olde Saco family house in Olde Saco, Maine when they were looking to dispose of whatever could be disposed of in preparation for selling the place so Josh and Lana could move into smaller quarters and Josh told him the long and at the end the sad story about Josh's and Markin's meeting out in San Francisco in the summer of love 1960s times and about Markin's awful fate down in Mexico. That story drove Zack to the editing job in order that a genuine mad monk writer could some forty years after his death receive a small recognition of his ambitious talent.) 

Okay, okay on that bourgeois-driven today thing once I describe what was involved maybe it didn’t just start of late. Maybe the whole ill-starred rising went back to the time when this continent was, just like F. Scott Fitzgerald said way back in the 1920s when he made up the Jazz Age and reeled back in dismay once he saw how those coupon-clippers devoured all good sense and sober ethos, just a fresh green breast of land eyed by some hungry sailors, some hungry Dutch sailors who took what they wanted back the homeland and made a grave attempt to fatten their own chests. Just check out any Dutch master painting to see what I mean.

Going back to Calvinist Puritan avenging angels times with John Winthrop and the Mayflower boys and their city on the hill but you best ask Max Weber about that since he tried to hook these world-wise and world weary boys were no longer worrying about novenas and indulgences against some netherworld to the wheel of the capitalist profit. Profit (grab the dough, grab the goods, grab stuff cheap) for "you at the expense of me" system with the new dispensation coming out like hellfire from Geneva and points east and west. The eternal story of the short end of the stick if you aren’t ready for sociological treatises and rely on guys like Tom Waits to wordsmith the lyrics to set you right about what is wrong. But you get the point.

If all that to-ing and fro-ing (nice touch, right) leaves you wondering where you fell off the edge, that edge city (edge city where you danced around with all the conventions of the days, danced around the get ahead world, grab the dough, grab the goods, grab stuff cheap,  with blinkers on before you got stuck in the human sink that you have still not been able to get out of) where big cloud outrageous youthful dreams were dreamt and you took risks, damn did you take risks, thought nothing of that fact either, landed on your ass more than a few times but just picked yourself up and dusted your knees off and done stick around and listen up. Yeah, so if you are wondering,  have been pushed off your saintly wheels, yeah, pushed off your sainted wheels, and gotten yourself  into some angst-ridden despair about where you went off that angel-driven dream of your youth, now faded, tattered, and half- forgotten(but only half, only half-forgotten, the wisp of the dream, the eternal peace dream, the figuring out how to contain that fire, that wanting habits fire in your belly dream sisters and brothers), and need some solace (need some way to stop the fret counting the coffee cups complete with spoons to measure that coffee out as the very modernist poet once said making his modern statement about the world created since the turn of the 19th century that while away your life). Need to reach back to roots, reach back to roots that the 1950s golden age of America, the vanilla red scare Cold War night that kicked the ass out of all the old to make us crave sameness, head down, run for cover, in order to forget about those old immigrant customs, made us forget those simple country blues, old country flames, Appalachia mountain breeze coming through the hills and hollows songs, lonely midnight by the fire cowboy ballads, Tex-Mex big ass brass sympatico squeezes Spanish is the loving tongue, Irish desperate struggles against John Bull  sorrows and cautionary tale Child ballads, plucked out early by a professor over on Brattle Street back when the Brahmins very publicly ruled the roost, or Cajun Saturday night stewed drunks that made the people feel good times, reach back to the primeval forest maybe, put the headphones on some Tom Waits platter [oops, CD, YouTube selection, etc.- “platter” refers to a, ah, record, vinyl, put on a record player, hell, look it up in Wikipedia, okay-Zack James] and remember what it was like when men and women sang just to sing the truth of what they saw and heard.

If the norms of don’t rock the boat (not in these uncertain times like any times in human existence were certain, damn, there was always something scary coming up from the first man-eating beast to the human race-eating nuclear bombs, brother even I Iearned early that it was a dangerous world, yeah, learned very early in the Adamsville projects where you got a very real taste of danger before you got too much older than five or six), the norms of keep your head down (that’s right brother, that’s right sister keep looking down, no left or rights for your placid world), keeping your head down being an art form now with appropriate ritual (that ritual looking more and more like the firing squad that took old Juan Romero’s life when he did bad those days out in Utah country), and excuses, because, well, because you don’t want to wind up like them (and fill in the blank of the “them,” usually dark, very dark-skinned like some deathless, starless night disturbing your sleep, begging, I swear, begging you to put that gun in full view on the table, speaking some unknown language, maybe A-rab or I-talian, maybe gibberish for all you know, moving furtively and stealthily against your good night) drive you crazy and you need, desperately need, to listen to those ancient drum beats, those primeval forest leave droppings maybe, that old time embedded DNA coda long lost to, oh yes, civilization, to some civilizing mission (think of that Mayflower gang and that fresh green breast of land  and that city on a hill that drove them cross-eyed and inflamed or ask Max Weber, he footnoted the whole thing, put paid to any idea of otherworldly virtue), that spoke of the better angels of your nature when those angel dreams, half-forgotten but only half-forgotten remember, ruled your days. Turn up the volume up another notch or two on that Tom Waits selection, maybe Jersey Girl or Brother, Can You Spare A Dime (can you?), Hold On, or Gunn Street Girl.

If you need to hear things, just to sort things out, just to recapture that angel-edge, recapture the time when you did no fear, you and everybody else’s sisters and brothers, that thing you build and from which you now should run, recapture that child-like wonder that made you come alive, made you think about from whence you came and how a turn, a slight turn this way or that, could have landed you on the wrong side of the fence. And I have the list of brothers and sisters who took that wrong road, like that time Jack from Carver wound up face down in some dusty back road arroyo down Sonora way when the deal went bust or when she, maybe a little kinky for all I know, decided that she would try a needle and a spoon, I swear, or she swore just for kicks and she wound up in Madame LaRue’s whorehouse working that sagging bed to perdition and worse losing that thing she had for sex once she started selling it by the hour. Hey, sweet dreams baby I tried to tell you when you play with fire watch out.

So if you need to sort things out about boozers (and about titanic booze-crazed struggles in barrooms, on beaches, in the back seats of cars, lost in the mist of time down some crazed midnight, hell, four in the morning, penniless, cab fare-less night), losers (those who have lost their way, those who had gotten it taken away from them like some maiden virginity, those who just didn’t get it frankly in this fast old world taken in by some grifter’s bluster), those who never had anything but lost next to their names, those who never had a way to be lost, dopesters inhaling sweet dream snow in solitary hotel rooms among junkie brethren, gathering a needle and spoon in some subterranean dank cellar, down in dark alleys jack-rolling some poor drunk stiff out of his room rent for kicks (how uncool to drink low-shelf whiskeys or rotgut wines hell the guy deserved to be rolled, should feel lucky he got away with just a flipped wallet), out in nighttime canyons flame blaring off the walls, the seven seas of chemical dust, mainly blotter, maybe peyote (the sweet dreams of ten million years of ghost warriors working the layered canyon walls flickering against the campfire flames and the sight of two modern warriors shirtless, sweaty, in a trance, high as kites, dancing by themselves like whirling dervishes   ready to do justice for the white man's greed until the flames flickered out and they fell in a heap exhausted) if that earth angel connection comes through (Aunt Sally, always, some Aunt Sally coming up the stairs to ease the pain, to make one feel, no, not feel better than any AMA doctor without a prescription pad), creating visions of long lost tribes trying, trying like hell, to get “connected,” connected in the campfire shadow night, hipsters all dressed in black, mary mack dressed in black, speeding, speaking be-bop this and be-bop that to stay in fashion, hustling, always hustle, maybe pimping some street urchin, maybe cracking some guy’s head to create a “new world order” of the malignant, always moving, fallen sisters (sisters of mercy, sisters who need mercy, sisters who were mercifully made fallen in some mad dash night, merciful sister feed me, feed me good), midnight sifters (lifting in no particular order hubcaps, tires, wrenches, jacks, an occasional gem, some cheap jewelry in wrong neighborhoods, some paintings or whatever is not saleable left in some sneak back alley, it is the sifting that counts), grifters (hey, buddy watch this, now you see it, now you don’t, now you don’t see your long gone John dough, and Mister three card Monte long gone too ), drifters (here today gone tomorrow with or without dough, to Winnemucca, Ogden, Fresno, Frisco town, name your town, name your poison and the great big blue seas washing you clean out into the Japan seas), the drift-less (cramped into one room hovels, shelters, seedy rooming houses, hell, call them flop houses, afraid to stay in-doors or to go outside, afraid of the “them” too, afraid to be washed clean, angel clean), and small-time grafters (the ten-percent guys, failed insurance men, repo artists, bounty hunters, press agents, personal trainers, need I go on). You know where to look, right.

If you need to be refreshed on the subject of hoboes, bums, tramps (and remind me sometime to draw the distinction, the very real and acknowledged distinction between those three afore–mentioned classes of brethren once told to me by a forlorn grand master hobo, a guy down on his luck moving downward to bum), out in the railroad jungles in some Los Angeles ravine, some Gallup, New Mexico Southern Pacific  trestle (the old SP the only way to travel out west if you want to get west), some Hoboken broken down pier (ha, shades of the last page of Jack Kerouac’s classic), the fallen (fallen outside the gates of Eden, or, hell, inside too), those who want to fall (and let god figure out who made who fall, okay), Spanish Johnnies (slicked back black hair, tee shirt, shiv, cigarette butt hanging from a parted lip, belt buckle ready for action, leering, leering at that girl over there, some gringa for a change of pace, maybe your girl but watch out for that shiv, the bastard), stale cigarette butts (from Spanish Johnnie and all the johnnies, Camels, Luckies, no filters, no way), whiskey-soaked barroom floors (and whiskey-soaked drunks to mop the damn place up, for drinks and donuts, maybe just for the drinks), loners (jesus, books, big academic books with great pedigrees could be written on that subject so let’s just let that one pass by), the lonely (ditto loners), sad sacks (kindred, one hundred times kindred to the loners and the lonely but not worthy of study, big book academic study anyway), the sad (encompassing all of the above) and others at the margins of society, the whole fellahin world (the big mass of world sweated field braceros, sharecroppers, landless peasants and now cold-water flat urban dwellers fresh from the played out land, or taken land) then Tom Waits is your stop.

Tom Waits is, frankly, an acquired taste, one listen will not do, one song will not do, but listen to a whole record [CD or download okay-Zack] and you won’t want to turn the thing off, high praise in anyone’s book, so a taste well worth acquiring as he storms heaven in words, in thought-out words, in cribbed, cramped, crumbled words, to express the pain, angst and anguish of modern living, yes, modern living.

See he ain’t looking for all haloed saints out there, some Saint Jerome spreading the word out to the desert tribes, out on the American mean streets he has pawed around the edges, maybe doesn’t believe in saints for all I know, but is out looking for busted black-hearted angels all dressed in some slinky silk thing to make a man, a high-shelf whiskey man having hustled some dough better left unexplained that night going off his moorings feeding her drinks and she a liquor sponge (who left him short one night in some unnamed, maybe nameless, gin mill when she split, after she split her take with the bartender who watered her drinks, hell, the thing was sweet all she needed to do when he leaned into her was grab his sorry ass and get the damn wallet). Looking too, a child of the pin-up playboy 1950s, for girls with Monroe hips (hips swaying wickedly in the dead air night, and enflaming desire, hell lust, getting kicked out of proper small town hells by descendants of those aforementioned Mayflower boys for promising the world for one forbidden night), got real, and got left for dead with cigar wrapping rings. Yeah, looking for the desperate out there who went off the righteous path and wound up too young face down in some forsaken woods who said she needed to hold on to something, and for all the misbegotten. 

Tom Waits once you get the habit gives voice in song, a big task, to the kind of characters that peopled Nelson Algren’s novels (The Last Carousel, Neon Wilderness, Walk on the Wild Side, and The Man with the Golden Arm). The, frankly, white trash Okie/Arkie Dove Linkhorns and Frankie Machines of the world who had to keep moving just for the sake of moving something in the DNA driving that whirlwind, genetically broken before they begin, broken before they hit these shores (their forbears thrown out of Europe for venal crimes and lusts, pig-stealing, deer-pouching, working the commons without a license, highwaymen, ancient jack-rollers, the flotsam and jetsam of the old world, damn them, the master-less men and women, ask old Max about them too), having been chased out, cast out of Europe, or some such place. In short, the people who do not make revolutions, those revolutions we keep hearing and reading about, far from it, the wretched of the earth and their kin, the ones who the old blessed Paris communards were thinking of when they hanged a sign saying “Death to Thieves” from the Hotel de Ville balcony, but those who surely, and desperately could use one. If you want to hear about those desperate brethren then here is your stop as well.

If, additionally, you need a primordial grizzled gravelly voice to attune your ear to the scratchy earth and some occasional dissonant instrumentation to round out the picture go no further. Hey, let’s leave it at this- if you need someone who “feels your pain” for his characters you are home. Keep looking for the heart of Saturday night, Brother, keep looking.

In The Days When Parlor Pink Private Detectives Ruled The Roost- The Film Adaptation Of Crime Novelist Agatha Christie’s “The Pale Horse” (1997)- A Review

In The Days When Parlor Pink Private Detectives Ruled The Roost- The Film Adaptation Of Crime Novelist Agatha Christie’s “The Pale Horse” (1997)- A Review     

DVD Review

By Sam Lowell

The Pale Horse, starring Colin Buchanan, based on the crime novel of the same name by Agatha Christie, 1997  

[In the interest of continuity although this review was written well after a previous one by Sarah Lemoyne reviewing Dick Powell’s Varsity Show I have placed it here today with hers since the pair are still in the throes of their “dispute.” Greg Green, site manager]   

This is no pun I am on my high horse, pale or otherwise, today. No, not about this so-called dispute between my old friend from high school day Seth Garth’s young protégé or whatever else they have decided to call her relationship with him Sarah Lemoyne. Mentor is the word I think they have been using to try to cover up whatever is going on there. When Seth Garth is involved, as in the interest of transparency I will admit was true of me as well when I was younger, when it comes to women younger or older don’t believe a word of “just friends” noise, a word of denial. That is when you double down on a guy like Seth as I have learned from bitter experience in the days when he would think nothing of sweeping up some woman I was interested in with no moral qualms whatsoever. Would laugh at an expression like “moral qualms” a term unknown to hard corner boys from the old Acre neighborhood of North Adamsville and by extension in the cutthroat world of film reviewers where if you don’t cut somebody’s idea, some witty insight, some weird take on a film then you are not long for the profession. Why else would anybody put up with such doings when you are only giving your subjective opinion for the world to feast on (and now on the downside of the Internet experience have to put up with all kinds of dingbat thoughts from average citizens who know think that based on having seen a film that gives them the right, the god-given right to read some of the stuff to bore the rest of us with their ill-considered “takes” on the spot).    

In any case that is not what I am after today although I continue to steam, mighty puffs of steam, over the now almost libelous comments Ms. Lemoyne has made about who has, or hasn’t, written my reviews for me other than myself once I moved up the film review food chain many years ago. Totally libelous and subject to legal action if I was that kind of guy but I am not a snitch is the false accusation that long ago I used the studio press releases as my reviews with just the top snipped off and mailed in to whatever publication I was writing for at the time. I have just mentioned the cutthroat nature of our profession, so I am inured to such misinformation about my career. I will admit Ms. Lemoyne writes good reviews and had enough sense to go to Seth as a mentor or whatever he is to her at the office or elsewhere, but I can handle these young and hungry types since that is exactly where I started out trashing the legendary film critic Walt Wilson when he was riding high and now nobody remembers his name. What has me burning up today is one Greg Green’s lame attempt to bring back parlor pink private detectives with this review of the film adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s crime novels The Pale Rider. (Pale rider a reference from the Bible meaning death a not unimportant part of the plot line in both the novel and the film which diverts from the novel in several ways but is on point about the death part, plenty of it and who the hell the pale rider is when the deal, the final deal, goes down)

Everybody knows, everybody seriously interested film noir which hinges in many cases on the plots of crime novels, knows that I have written what many, except apparently the totally ignorant Ms. Lemoyne who was not even born when I made my big splash and whom Seth should have wised up, call the definitive book on film noir. I like to think that the reason for that status was my ground-breaking work on the private detective novel on film with its moody, dark scenarios and hang-by the fingernails twists and turns before the crummy felons get some quick and rough justice from our mere mortal no superhero bombast gumshoes.  Moreover that noir explosion and the work of crime novel writers like Jim Jenson, Jack Cullen, and above all Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett had put paid to the old-fashioned amateur detective sitting around waiting for the villain to out of shame or something throw up his or her hands and come clean, come to justice without so much as by your leave. Take a warming cell or the big step-off for their errors in judgment while the crafty amateur goes off to lunch or on holiday after such strenuous work.

As Zack James, my and Seth’s old friend Alex’s youngest brother, has made clear in a number of astounding crime short stories about real private detectives this is no business for amateurs. I heartily agree since that profession is mainly about “repo” work the professional repo men can’t handle, bogus insurance claims, missing husbands or wives, looking for lost animals, dogs and cats mainly, and in the old days, peeping Toms on divorce cases involving sultry adultery (and which saved many a struggle P.I. before no fault divorce and just living together destroyed that part of the market leaving some guys, mostly guys, with nothing but hanging around a beaten down desk taking generous slugs from the low-shelf whiskey bottle in that bottom desk drawer). But on the screen, and in crime novels, those gumshoes, those peepers get the royal treatment, get the royal treatment if they are hard-nosed, tough, wind-mill chasers, skirt-chasers, heavy smokers and drinkers, and not afraid to take a slug or two, a roughing up for the good of the cause. Lenny Larkin was the epitome of the type who was also not afraid to whiplash a guy for looking at him the wrong way. Naturally when you mention Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe chasing a million wind-mills for some old general, or looking for some lady in the lake, or looking for big Moose’s lady friend comes to mind. Sam Spade of course from the Dashiell Hammett stable not only chased skirts, took a few punches for her, but when it was him or her he sent her over, sent her to the big step-off and the fuck with the stuff of dreams trying to own some freaking fake bird.

Which brings us to this little film. What we have here, a guy named Eric somebody does the last name matter since he is not going into the annals of private detection, no way. A damn sculptor, not even an amateur detective but a guy who makes art, modern art and not bad from the quick looks we get when he is around his art gallery, a guy who is trying to keep the noose from around his pretty head when he is accidently involved in a murder when he looked too much like the real felon and the coppers, the public coppers, as they will grabbed him and were ready to call it a day on the case. Sent him off with a smile claiming he wasn’t much of a sculptor anyway. Case closed.

They set this film in 1960s London so you get a modish crowd as background including two young women, one very rich and proper taking a ride down in class to give our Eric a run for his money but whom he spurns and another, Rhonda something does it matter her last name since she will not go down in the annals of private detection, no way. The latter he met at a funeral after her friend had died from what appeared to be some natural cause disease. The connection. The priest who was supposed to bring a message to a third party as the deathbed wish of another women who also appears to have died of natural causes is the guy whom Eric is supposed of have murdered and Rhonda friend’s name was on that message. Rhonda is not buying natural causes and so she is on board as an assistant sleuth. No femme fatale not at all but another freaking amateur detective to gum up the works. 

Later naturally as well there will be a love interest between these two and I can’t blame Eric on that score since she is one of those fetching types, yes, the ones who are not ice cold beautiful with personalities to match but the ones who an hour later you wonder what they are doing and are willing to do it with you. But just as naturally in these parlor pink private detection novels there is a red flag, although I hesitate to use that expression now that it is a catch word among the world’s growing population of conspiracy theorists. A prime suspect for this gumshoe pair centered on an eccentric wealthy art collector who had been chair-ridden since youth with polio. That was a ruse though, a cover for a very successful bank robbery in which the plotline involved taking the robbery proceeds and investing in art. Investing in a time when the art market was exploding, and he actually when “outed” as prime suspect for a while got to keep his ill-gotten gains. No, the real villain, the guy who in his psychopathic mind went over the edge was the attending physician of a number of patients who had been involved in what turned out to be an insurance fraud scheme with a few modern-day witches a la Macbeth and a bookie covering the insurance angle and the good doctor subtlety poisoning them using ordinary consumer goods like toothpaste as the murder weapons. 

Nice play, nice racket which any old Acre corner boy would appreciate but when Rhonda became the subject of the scheme and nobody knew how to cure her you know that mad monk doctor was doomed. It was the toothpaste, stupid. Get the freaking antidote asap. In the end Eric and Rhonda go off in the sunset their amateur private detection minute over. Not a minute too soon either.               

From The Archives -“Stop the War$ on Mother Earth” 2016 Maine Peace Walk-Build The International Peace Front

From The Archives -“Stop the War$ on Mother Earth”  2016 Maine Peace Walk-Build The International Peace Front

By Fritz Taylor

Recently in a short archive caption about the Bath Iron Works in Maine where many of the top-of-the line and billion-dollar expensive destroyers are built I mentioned, as a little background for knowing about the place that I am a Vietnam Veteran. I also mentioned in an earlier archive caption while I hate the NRA I favor my Second Amendment right to bear arm. But whatever vestiges I have of my growing up in Fulton County, Georgia I “got religion” on the questions of war and peace through the hellhole of Vietnam experience. Not right away, certainly not right away since I come from a long, a very long line of military people and not completely at first since I initially mistook being anti-war with pacificism which I was, am uncomfortable with. Now though I am comfortable with the twenty plus years I have spent screaming (if necessary) against the endless wars, the bloated military budgets and the glorification of the fog war creates in the public, and among soldiers and politicians.

Now I was strictly Army, Fourth Division so you know I saw some hellish action in Vietnam, particularly when we were sent to re-enforce up in the Central Highland and I can tell you plenty about that branch of the service, the waste and the like. You can always learn sometime new though in this struggle against war and endless budgets. I certainly did the year I went up to Maine to walk the walk Peace Walk then held annually about quiet Bath and its well-oiled shipbuilding capacity.  Each year they organizers, more about them in a minute, try to gather in a theme that speaks to the militarization of our country, of the world, the particular role Maine plays in that process and of course from our perspective some alternatives.

In 2016 that was around creating the environment for a sustainable future, very much more in doubt in the few years since that walk, which meant a serious frontal attack on the role the military plays in not making the future world sustainable. Sustainable may today mean livable, as in livable planet, from the dire news just in the headlines about the huge Artic and Greenland melts, record high temperatures in placed not know for some levels, more and more endangered species falling off the chart since they could not adapt to the dramatically changed environment fast enough and many more strange doing if you read a new book called Inhabitable Earth along with the attention to the bad news days. Meanwhile in the White House and places like Houston and the Dakotas they are drinking their champagnes out of fossil fuel container and secretly making sure they have their places many miles from the coasts and high above the projected water table lines.

I knew in Vietnam about the various defoliate programs to search out the so-called enemy most famously Agent Orange and about the incredible number of unexploded bombs that plague that country forty years later but I was unaware how much material the Navy (and maybe other branches as well) in their everyday functions spew into the world’s oceans including the coast of Maine. I knew of the climate change effect maybe ten years ago when I would go to Maine beaches and note that the new high tide marks were eating severely into the wetlands in places like Ogunquit. I should have mentioned before that leaflets are passed out with messages along that line of thought, along the military  waste  along the line of march, the sites selected like Bath Iron Works where things need to be changed and evening programs at the various nightly stopping points dealing with the overall theme message.

I noted in the last archival caption that I have been doing these walks for a few years even though I had my fill of marches in the Army. Moreover, I had my doubts whether such a walking program over a couple of weeks would do anything for the cause, still have some questions. Enter the great equalizers.  I started, kicking and screaming at first about doing this trek once my friends and fellow members Sam Eaton and Ralph Morris went up to Maine to help out in the annual Maine Peace Walk sponsored by the Maine chapter of Veterans for Peace and other local activist peace groups. Ralph and Sam pointed out that even a few VFP dove-encrusted flags on the march would ensure that some message was getting through. Having seen that flag business work a million times before I bought in -for part of the trek.  

Of course if you had read the previous caption you know that “helping out” entailed walking half the freaking state of Maine at least on the oceanside, the side where U.S. Route One slithers down the coast. Over a period of several days. I had started up in Brunswick, up at Bowdoin College where I met walkers who had started up I believe in Rangeley which I do not have a clue where that is except it is pretty far north in Maine with plenty left before you reach the Canadian border. (As it turned out Sam and Ralph who started their own treks there were clueless when I asked where the place was except the military has a tracking station there which links that nowhere Maine town with the American’s military’s globalization of their forces in many fields. I said good work brothers for starting there, yes, good work indeed.    

Ralph Morris and I are Vietnam veterans, Sam didn’t serve because he was the sole surviving son of a mother who had four young daughters to raise after Sam’s drunken father passed away of a heart attack in 1965. It took me a while, took me a while as it did to “get religion” on the issues of war and peace, and to get over the false division between anti-war activity and working with avowed pacifists to accept Sam as a brother. Hell as a winter soldier although I already knew from Ralph that as early as 1971 in Washington on May Day where they “met” after being arrested in Robert F. Kennedy football stadium where they had with their respective groups attempted to stop the war by stopping the government that Sam was some old righteous Puritan angel avenger out of the John Brown mold. Took a while but knew deep in my bones that this guy was for real, that when he said something you could depend on him. Yeah, now in 2019 we are in desperate need of winter soldiers. And if you don’t know, are not familiar with that term then think about that small band of stalwarts was held firm at Valley Forge come fight against the British and their hirelings. The defenders of the republican idea when that was very dicey indeed. Like now.        

Stop the War$ on Mother Earth
2016 Maine Peace Walk
The 5th Maine Peace Walk will take place on October 11 – 26.  The organizing team is made up of individuals who are dedicated to creating a more peaceful, sustainable and just world.  We come together out of our deep concern about the many different wars being waged on Mother Earth, ranging from over-fishing, deforestation, and human-caused extinctions, to climate disruption and endless war. 
Close to home we support the Penobscot Nation’s struggle for Justice for the River, opposition to the East/West Corridor, and conversion of war production to alternative energy at Maine shipyards.  We know from past experience of walking through rural and urban Maine that many people will be reached with our messages. We hope this spiritual act of walking and sharing conversation and food will help people in our state feel less isolated and despairing about the future.  
We welcome everyone to join our walk for an hour, a day, or more and to help in any way they can to contribute.   We invite environmental, peace, church, and social justice organizations to sign on as a co-sponsor of the walk.  We ask co-sponsors to make a donation of their choosing and to help spread the word about the walk to their members/community.    Tax-deductible donations can be made by check to Global Network, designated “For Peace Walk” and sent to:
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME  04011
For more information:  Please contact Bruce Gagnon at:  (207) 443-9502
Current Co-Sponsors:  Smedley D. Butler Brigade Veterans for Peace (Boston area); Global
Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; Maine Veterans for Peace; Citizens
Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST); Veterans for Peace (National); Peninsula Peace and
Justice; CODEPINK Maine; PeaceWorks; Maine War Tax Resistance Resource Center;
Veterans For Peace, Jim Harney Chapter 003; Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine;
Greater Brunswick Peace Works; Alliance for the Common Good;

Everybody Loves A Con Man-Except-Ryan and Tatum O’Neal’s “Paper Moon” (1973)-A Film Review

Everybody Loves A Con Man-Except-Ryan and Tatum O’Neal’s “Paper Moon” (1973)-A Film Review     

DVD Review

By Film Critic Sandy Salmon

Paper Moon, starring Ryan O’Neil, Tatum O’Neal,directed by Peter Bogdanovich, 1973

Every theater-goer, at least I am going to assume so, likes a “feel good” storyline. Maybe not as first choice but in the basket. I confess to that feeling. But as an old corner boy from the working class neighborhoods where I grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire I also appreciate a good “con” storyline. Not con as in convict but as in con artist and although we had plenty of both in the old Acre neighborhood I gravitated toward the latter, except when the con was on me which it was a few times. The film under review Paper Moon with the father-daughter team of Ryan and Tatum O’Neal going through their paces gives us that combination I have mentioned.            

Here’s the spiel. Here’s basis of the con in this one.  Moses Pray (great name given the grift he is working) is a Bible salesmen in Great Depression-era Kansas and Missouri (that Great Depression the one in the 1930s not the more recent one this century). His grift, check out the obituary columns of the local newspapers to see what men had passed to the great beyond recently (in the days when such publications were plentiful) and head out to the bereaved widow and hustle her into paying for a Bible, a deluxe edition Bible, which the late breadwinner had ordered prior to passing away. Since the Bible was inscribed to the vulnerable widow they usually paid for the thing. Nice steady work. Later when times were tough Moses would step up in class and do the classic sell (bootleg whiskey in the specific case) the owner his own goods con (with untoward results). But the basic style of Moses had been etched in that Bible hustle.       

The “feel good” parts in when Moses attends the funeral in Kansas of a woman friend with whom he had been intimate. That is when he met his nemesis (and maybe his on-screen daughter) Addie, played by Ryan’s real life daughter Tatum. She is an orphan with no place to go except her mother’s sister’s house in Missouri. Moses gets corralled into taking her to the sister’s house and the bulk of the film is centered on the adventures and misadventures of the pair on the way there. The most important part to note of this pairing is that Addie has almost as larcenous a heart as Moses. Maybe it was genetic if the suspicions about Addie’s unknown father had any basis. Through a series of events, cons, including that ill-fated hustle of that irate bootlegger Moses and Addie bond, bond as thick as thieves. Yeah, a con and “feel good” that is the ticket.             

From The Archives Of Second Change Cat Rescue- Frida Kahlo And Jasper Johns

By Laura Perkins

Sometimes it is nice to be vindicated especially when some professional calls your bluff. Of late I have become an art critic, an amateur art critic proud to say,  in this space based on my love of art, my having studied it in my youth and because I still haunt art museums (and a less worthy reason that nobody else in this philistine operation would dare go within ten blocks of a museum having been “wised up” in about sixth grade on that fateful field trip to some art museum and they
have never gotten over it.) Along the way I have gathered what amounts to things called trolls according to my fellow writers here who have ranged from spiteful evangelicals to people with axes to grind without purpose and a few professional art critics like Clarence Dewar. That last troll is what today’s archival caption is about.

Dewar, a professional art critic for Art Today, has apparently made it his life’s mission to rid the field of what he considers, get this, citizen critics, people who would mess up his well-oiled art theories by exposing them as no less subjective than their poor offerings. He has made me the “poster child” for his wrath having replied and commented on every single article that I have pushed out the door the past several months. He went crazy when I exposed Edward Hopper, holy of holies, as organically incapable of drawing anything but mud faces. Took a nutty when I mentioned that Jackson Pollock’s drippings had plenty of material embedded in the work which indicated that he had been a sexual dervish, with who I don’t know on at least a few of the early productions. (Of course, such “madness” his term required him to defend his mentor Clement Greenberg who was the max daddy of critics hailing abstract expressionist art in general and Pollock’s semen drippings in particular. Leaving later generations to have to try to break free of that stigmata). There have been a million other controversies as well but that gives the tenor of the so-called “duel” between us.       

I thought we were going to have to send an hospital emergency room squad specializing in bilious behavior after my most recent “discover” about modern artist, abstract and maybe pop artist thrown in, Jasper Johns and the route he took to define his own working life. Let me lay out the story as I heard it first. Early in his career he had been like all young artists awash in representational painting (even mad Surrealists and Dadaists started out “by the numbers”). The Johns’ household was something like a sanctuary for second chance cats, kittens really, you know rescue cats from animal shelters.

One cat named Jasper was always around when Johns was doing his artwork. One day dear Jasper spilled a bucket of paint from the worktable, color charcoal grey, onto a painting of some scene Johns was working on. At first furious at the frisky cat after picking up the “damaged” goods he noticed that the results looked extraordinary like a AAA map of Augusta, Georgia (where he had been born in 1930). This would be the lesser known Piping Number 4 dedicated to Jasper, most art critics, most professional art critics including the villain Dewar when I researched the matter, assumed that he was referring to himself. From there Johns made a career, a lucrative career out of such common symbols as maps, flags, numbers, using various materials, not all paints as such.

Enter Dewar our esteemed professional art critic to counter my so-called story with the usual blather about Johns being influenced by Pollock, Rudy Zane, Billy Bligh, Christ even Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali. Dismissed, as usual, any idea that an accident by a beloved animal might have influenced him. Of course if the average art lover knew anything about Johns it is the multitude of American flags he created out of many materials and with many variations. These flags have sold for many millions, many, many millions. That is the standard a guy like Dewar measures works by. What Dewar did not know is on this one I was able to get the “skinny” on the cat story by the grandson of Johns’ late art dealer and the person who put him on the New York art world map. He confirmed the story (and moreover has the painting given to him by his grandfather when he was young). Touché.

Touché for a minute because as the reader will note the headline includes the name of famed (maybe more famed than Johns now) Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Now Frida and Johns have little in common other than being well-deserved famous artists whose works sell for mucho dinero but a reader enthralled by the Johns cat story wrote that cats played a significant role in Kahlo’s early career.

No question that Frida was influences by her husband Diego Rivera and his circle of muralists and by what today is called Arte Mexico, an appreciation of the indigenous cultures of her country. But according to my reader, and I have begun to see that she is right, Frida also was influenced by a cat, or cats. Had been sometime after the horrible injuries received on a runaway tram been frightened almost to death by a cat who ran across her chest several different times while she was recovery and had not way to stop the beast. That is the genesis of the many cats (and other animals as well) in her works. Go figure. Go figure as well Clarence Dewar will have to say on this one.                      

When You Are Lost On The Great White Way, Broadway … And Don’t Know What To Do-Dick Powell’s “Varsity Show” (1937)-A Film Review

When You Are Lost On The Great White Way, Broadway … And Don’t Know What To Do-Dick Powell’s “Varsity Show” (1937)-A Film Review  

DVD Review

By Sarah Lemoyne

Varsity Show, starring Dick Powell and a bunch of Lane sisters, the inevitable last dance segment directed by max daddy (Seth Garth’s expression) Bugby Berkeley, 1937  

Sometimes you just can’t win when you try to be nice, try to stop a growing dispute with fellow colleagues in what everybody knows is a cutthroat go for the jugular “you are only as good as your last piece” somebody is lurking to take your place profession like film reviews in its tracks. Damn, can’t get any traction out of calling a truce so that you do not have to start off every film review, maybe every piece at this publication with what in normal times would be ho-hum stuff best reserved for titter around the office water cooler. Maybe what the older writers have told me, especially my mentor Seth Garth the film reviewing business does not allow for anything but cutthroat dog eat dog animus. Although that shouldn’t be so apparently to go up, and stay up, on the review food chain you must at least mortally wound whoever your competitor of the day is. For now this brewing confrontation must see the light of day if I am to protect my growing reputation and if I am to keep my hard fought place in the food chain since one Sam Lowell, whom I off-handedly characterized as wizened and in his dotage in my last review of a Dick Powell film from the 1930s Hollywood Hotel  had decided that I need “my comeuppance” over those remarks and what followed.     

Sam bogusly claims that my review of the Powell vehicle was not written, could not be written by me since my only source of information about the period of the 1930s and 1940s musical was my grandmother who was a child held on her mother’s knee back then watching these “feel good” films to get through some tough times. He has suggested that the only way this review could have been does as well as it was is if somebody more familiar with the times wrote the damn thing (his expression). Sam insinuated that the only person he knew who could handle such a review having done a series of Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers films was his old friend, still friend I assume, Seth Garth my kindly mentor had written the piece and that I put my by-line name on the thing and sent it in to Greg Green as my original work.

Of course Sam is looking for tit for tat since he knows that almost everybody in the office over the age of ten knows that he has a very large reputation going all the way back to the 1960s of having somebody write his reviews for him, usually stringers, usually female stringers to boot or in desperation after some three day drunk or cavorting just used the studio publicity department press releases and signed his name to the document. I hear one time and if I am libeling him so be it he was cavorting with some stringer on a three- day toot or something like that and sent the press release in without clipping the studio name off the top. His old buddy, another one of the half dozen or so guys from high school days who have written for this publication over the years, editor Allan Jackson published it as is Sam’s star was so high back then.  Seth Garth has been kindness itself in helping me up the ladder in the business and had provided suggestions but that is it. I write my own material.  Period.

More grating, more insidious is that Sam has taken up the salacious office water cooler gossip about some relationship beyond the mentoring one between Seth and myself implying that I would get ahead on his coattails if I was nice to Seth. In that Hollywood Hotel review I made it quite clear that Seth and I had merely a professional relationship and that it would be absurd for me to have a personal relationship with a person old enough to be my grandfather. I, moreover, mentioned that my companion has been having fits over these rumors and we have had some shouting matches when she heard the last product out of the rumor mill. Sam, the treacherous little wizened bastard, that wizen thing always gets to him from what Seth has told me has been spreading the word that something is up between us ever since he out of that kindness I mentioned before took me to dinner one night.

Sam’s hook, Sam’s fucking “hook” that is he is forever yakking about as necessary to draw a reader in as if that wasn’t lesson one taught in journalism graduate school is that Seth is just living out the life of Johnny Silver. Johnny, who I don’t know from Adam, is one of their infamous and constantly talked about 1960s high school corner boys who Seth wrote about in a long series of short pieces when he got tangled up with a graduate student from Penn State after they had “met” on Facebook a few years ago. That romance, that intergenerational sex, between the pair who are still together is the hook Sam used to imply that his old corner boy Seth was making the same kind of moves on me. Don’t these guys, maybe gals too but I don’t know about that, ever think anything can be anything other than some sex scheme when guys and gals are out together. Like I said my companion went wild when she heard I had gone to dinner with Seth since he received an e-mail about it from “anonymous.” I know there will be more in this war of words but I will say Seth was right when he told me Sam was not above anything and to be careful. He said he had known the wizened (a joke between Seth and I now when we are referring to Sam in our mentoring sessions) Sam too long to expect any quarter to be given. I have come a long way in a short time, with Seth’s help, so I will not play the wilting violet. To the review.                     

Boy meets girl. Well if you want my opinion that is essentially what this well-worn Hollywood trope is working overtime on when you get to the close of Varsity Club. This a college-based piece of fluff in the days when college entrance was very circumscribed and mainly for the children of the elite, of those who have already made it. Number one in making it was Chuck, Dick Powell’s role, an alumnus of some private small maybe denomination Middle America school like Kenyon or Oberlin Winfield College, who has made it big on Broadway although at the start of the film he is on cheap street after producing a few flops, the kiss of death to backers of such efforts. Meanwhile back at his old alma mater where they are revolting, not revolting against the injustices and inequalities of the Great Depression that my dear grandmother had to survive with lots of trauma, but against an edict by the head of the music/drama department that the annual varsity show should not disturb the dead. Not keep anybody awake. Be pure vanilla meaning no cavorting (which would  by reputations leave both withered Sam and sweetie Seth out), no close boy-girl scenes and above all even in fully-clothed post-Code days no references to sex, or maybe even biology.       

The kids (although most look much too old to have been in college then although today they would not stand out with the demographic mix these days with people going to college for lots of reasons, mostly serious, at older ages to get ahead in the world a bit) don’t know what to do until some bravo latches onto the idea that they contact good old Chuck to see if he can’t bring the thing into the 20th century. After plenty of built-up, a few songs, a budding romance with a sorority sister, one of the famous Lane sisters but I am not sure if it was the one he snagged in Hollywood Hotel he falls short, cannot move the production forward. Then led by Professor Fred Waring (and his Pennsylvanians in tow) the whole cast winds up in New York City, on the big white way where they will put on a bootleg production since the staid college stage is out. Aside from the boy-girl thing between Powell and Lane the virtue, the reason for existence of this mercifully short film is the Bugby Berkeley show-stopper finale choregraphed to perfection in the way that he and very few others could do. Finis. Well, no, anybody who was not old and wizened maybe a shade bit senile in his dotage could tell in two seconds that this review was written by me, by Sarah Lemoyne. Got it.