Saturday, February 01, 2020

Love Among The Smart Set-William Powell and Myna Loy’s “The Libeled” (1936) –A Film Review

Love Among The Smart Set-William Powell and Myna Loy’s “The Libeled” (1936) –A Film Review  

DVD Review

By Writer Greg Green

The Libeled Lady, starring Myra Loy, William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, 1936

[Those readers who have been following the latest developments about the direction of this American Left History blog site over the past period and have become aware of the conclusions that returning to the old idea of covering all of the American experience and not just hone in on the 1960s experiences of most of the older writers and changing personal know that I have been assigned the job of site administrator which means I will be handing out the assignments and other projects in cooperation with the writers, young and old. I come here from the on-line American Film Gazette where I held basically the same position although there it was called moderator. (Apparently in the “new age” of media, particularly social media, the tradition terms “editor” or “gatekeeper” have fallen out of favor, have fallen in bad odor.)

To get a feel for the job  I have taken up this assignment which Sandy Salmon the film critic thought I might be interested in doing to “test the waters” since I have very little experience with the older films that have been the staple of this site. In the future nevertheless the tilt for films will be much more contemporary which everybody, or almost everybody, has agreed is necessary to lure a younger crowd not formed by the rush of the 1960s when black and white films were like catnip to student audiences. P.S. I will weigh in on whether my predecessor Pete Markin, whom I have known for years by reputation and early on from the time he worked at the American Film Gazette when this site needed a cash infusion, was purged or gently put out to pasture some other time. Greg Green]  

Sam Lowell who was I have heard the main culprit (not my term but Sandy Salmon’s) during his tenure as film critic before he retired to write on occasion, very occasionally who drove the overwhelming preponderance of old-time black and white films. In those days before Alden Riley and a few stringers came on board with Sandy he did all the reviews himself or were done under his guidance. So he was able to feast on the films that he would watch as a young man in high school (that is where it started) on Saturday afternoons at his local movie theater.

I would assume that the film under review, The Libeled Lady, would be one that he watched on those Saturday afternoons but for the life of me I can’t understand why. Certainly it is not the collective talents of the cast Jean Harlow, Myra Loy, William Powell and Spencer Tracy the last one the only one whose work I am familiar with. So it must be the plot, the story line, the screenplay writers because from what I have read this is supposed to be a screw-ball comedy in an age and time when such fare was grist to the mill. Maybe that bill of fare is what got my grandparents and maybe my parents although they were probably too young to appreciate this through the Great Depression that those same grandparents endlessly carped on whenever anybody complained about anything, about not getting this or that unnecessary to them object like that was a talisman to ward off all discussion.     

 Let’s see what you think of this, think of a film that was on the short list for the Oscars in 1936. Mayfair swell (not my term of choice but from Sam since I couldn’t think of a better one when we talked about the upper class which dominates this film), Connie played by Ms. Loy (I got used to following New York Times honorifics at American Film Gazette and will continue to do so here for now) sued some low-rent New York City newspaper for libel over a false allegation that she broke up some happy household. She decided to go big or don’t go at all and claimed five million dollars would make her “whole” to use a legal expression. The newspaper in the person of its managing editor, Warren, played by redoubtable Mr. Tracy panicked and tried to lure ladies’ man and ace reporter Bill,  played by the inestimable Mr. Powell better known according to Sam as the male duo in the Nick and Nora Charles The Thin Man series with Ms. Loy to run a scam on Connie. The idea, pretty lame its seems even for a low-rent up against it urban newspaper was to get Bill alone with Connie and have his “wife” find them together. To blackmail Connie out of the law suit and out of having to hand over those five very big ones.         

I said lame and I meant because there was one little problem with the weasely scheme. Bill was a happily unmarried man with no wife and if anybody was asking, asking at least for public consumption no mistress either. No nonsense the company comes first, freedom of the press even when it lies Warren volunteers his girlfriend something of a goofball flossy if you asked me Gladys, played by the ill-fated Ms. Harlow. Here is where everything gets balled-up not funny. Bill and Gladys marry, a marriage of convenience easily divorced once that onerous court case is over. Problem though those is that while cruising back to America on a luxury liner Bill and Connie fall in love and get married. No problem right since Bill and the hapless Gladys are divorced. Problem Gladys has lost her yen for Warren and wants Bill back. Then through some sleigh-of-hand divorce foul-ups courtesy of the apparently frazzled screenwriters Bill and Gladys are still married. Not to worry though once Bill and Connie put the squeeze play on Gladys runs, no, walks back to her Warren. I hope to high heaven that Sam didn’t spent his hard-earned dollar on this cuckoo of a film. Short-listed for Mr. Oscar or not.       

February is Black History Month-Honor Historian Carter G. Woodson

February is Black History Month-Honor Historian Carter G. Woodson

By Sam Eaton

Normally, unlike guys like Sam Lowell and Frank Jackman that write here about politics and history, I am not interested in the fate of historians dead or alive. They provide valuable material, mostly, but I just am not attuned to history enough to go crazy over any particular one, or any particular morsel they have to serve up. Not so the man we are honoring here Carter G. Woodson (and on Google’s home page doodle as well which is where I got my prompt from). The reason I am more than happy to make an exception is that the good Doctor did yeoman’s work, no more than that, to bring us young white kids who were involved in the black civil rights movement in the early 1960s plenty of information about the history of early black struggles and personalities. Started journals and programs to study the subject. Stuff that we were clueless about despite our avidity to help in the black liberation struggle. Stuff that was not taught in any high school course, hell, any college courses until well after Black/Afro-American study programs were established. So, yes, hats off the good Doctor.     

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend, Part II-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes” (1939)-A Film Review

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend, Part II-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes” (1939)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Danny Moriarty

(Once again as I did in my initial offering on the bogus Sherlock Holmes legend Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, hah!, in the interest of transparency which has become more of an issue these days when every medium is under scrutiny Danny Moriarty is not my real name. As then and will be discussed again below in my research about the “fake news” legend of Mr. Holmes I have run into a notorious cult-like band of desperadoes known as “The Baker Street Irregulars,” why that name I do not know. This clot of criminals, who I am told have very stylized rituals involving illegal drugs and human blood, and are the bane of the London Bobbies, have been connected with the disappearance of many people who questioned the Sherlock myth, and not a few unsolved murders of people who have washed up on the Thames over the years.

This need for an alias, for cover, is no joke since that first review I have been threatened, threatened with I won’t death, death threats, but some nasty actions which necessitate my keeping very close tabs on my security apparatus as I attempt to deflate this miserable excuse for a detective, a parlor detective at that. I will not be stopped by hoodlums and blood-splattered junkies.)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Basil Rathbone (if that is his real name which is doubtful although unlike myself he has never been transparent enough to say that he is using an alias), Nigel Bruce (a name which has been confirmed as a British National active in the 1930s and 1940s), 1939 

We live in an age of debunking. An age perhaps borne aloft by cynicism, hubris, sarcasm and above all “fake news,” not the fake news denying some reality that you hear so much about these days, but by the elaborate strategy of public relations cranks and flacks who will put out any swill as long as they are paid and not a minute longer. That hardly started today but has a long pedigree, a pedigree which has included the target of today’s debunking one James Sherlock Holmes out of London, out of the Baker Street section of that town. From the cutesy “elementary my dear Watson” to that condescending attitude toward everybody he encounters, friend or foe, including the hapless Doctor Watson this guy Holmes is nothing but a pure creation of the public relations industrial complex. As I have noted above I have paid the price for exposing this chameleon, this so-called master detective, this dead end junkie, with a barrage of hate mail and threats from his insidious devotees.

Maybe I better refresh for those who may not have read the first review, may be shocked to find their paragon of a private detective has feet of clay, and an addiction problem no twelve step program could curtail in a million years. Here are some excerpts of what I said in that review which I stand by this day no matter the consequences:      

“Today is the day. Today is the day I have been waiting for since I was a kid. Today we tear off the veneer, tear off the mask of the reputation of one Sherlock Holmes as a master detective. Funny how things happen. Greg Green assigned me this film out of the blue, at random he said when I asked him. However this assignment after viewing this film, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (of course he doesn’t face, hadn’t been anywhere near any danger that would put death in his way but that can wait until I finish out defanging the legend) set off many bells, many memories of my childhood when I first instinctively discovered this guy was a fraud, a con artist.

Back then my grandparents and parents hushed me up about the matter when I told them what I thought of the mighty Sherlock. They went nutty and told me never to speak of it again when I mentioned that a hard-boiled real private detective, a guy who did this kind of work for a living, a guy named Sam Spade who worked out in San Francisco and solved, really solved, the case of the missing black bird which people in the profession still talk about, which is still taught in those correspondence course private detection in ten easy lesson things you used to see advertised on matchbook covers when smoking cigarettes was okay, who could run circles around a parlor so-called detective like Mr. Holmes. 

[Even Sam Spade has come in for some debunking of late right here in this space as Phil Larkin and Kenny Jacobs have gone round and round about how little Spade deserved his “rep,” his classic rep for a guy who was picked by some bimbo out of the phone book and who couldn’t even keep his partner alive against that same femme he was skirt-addled over. Kept digging that low-shelf whiskey bottle in the bottom desk drawer out too much when the deal went down. The only guy who is safe is Phillip Marlowe since nobody can call him a “one solved murder wonder” after the string of cold as ice, maybe colder, cases he wrapped up with a bow over the years. They still talk about the Sherwood case out on the Coast even today, talk in hushed tones too. You notice nobody has tried to go after him, not even close. D.M.]            

That was then. Now after some serious research as a result of this film’s impact on my memory I have proof to back up my childhood smothered assertions. Sherlock Holmes (if that is his name which is doubtful since I went to the London telephone directories going back the first ones in the late 1800s and found no such name on Baker Street-ever) was nothing but a stone-cold junkie, cocaine, morphine, lanadum and other exotic concoctions which is the reason that he had a doctor at his side at all times in case he needed “scripts” written up. A doctor who a guy like Sam Spade would have sat on his ass a long time before as so dead weight.

That junkie business would not amount to much if it did not mean that high and mighty Sherlock didn’t have to run his own gang of pimps, hookers, con men, fellow junkies, drag queens, rough trade sailors and the flotsam and jetsam of London, high society and low, to keep him in dough for that nasty set of habits that kept him high as a kite. There are sworn statements (suppressed at the time) by the few felons whom the Bobbies were able to pick up that Sherlock was the guy behind half the burglaries, heists and kidnappings in London. And you wonder why the Baker Street Irregulars want to silence me, show me the silence of the grave….

Of course the Bobbies, looking to wrap up a few cold file cases which Sherlock handed them to keep them off the trail, looked the other way and/or took the graft so who really knows how extensive the whole operation was. In a great sleight of hand he gave them Doctor Moriarty who as it turned out dear Sherlock had framed when one wave of police heat was on and who only got out of prison after Holmes died and one of Holmes’ flunkies told the real story about how Holmes needed a “fall guy” and the wily Doctor took the fall.”             

This The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes cover-up is a classic example of police collision to cover their own dirty tracks. Everybody knows that Sherlock made his name after he beat down some poor mistreated dog who should have been reported as abused to whatever they call the humane animal treatment society in merry old England.

You don’t have to be one of those correspondence course private detection in ten easy lessons that you used to see on matchbook covers when cigarette smoking was okay like I said before to know that these high society cases are inside
jobs. Naturally the luckless and clueless Holmes has his fall guy all set up. A guy like I mentioned before named Professor Moriarty (no relative since if you remember this is my alias) who is a salt of the earth type but whom Holmes has a deep hatred for ever since the good doctor stopped feeding him his drugs, told him to go cold turkey. That good advice and good cheer despite the obvious fact that no twelve step program was going to do anything but drive Holmes to who knows what paranoid delusions. All the good professor did was to clue in a guy whose father had been bamboozled by this high society young woman’s father. Had been murdered by the dame’s old man.

The dispute had been over dough money which the guy should have gotten as inheritance but didn’t and wound up on skid road. While this young heiress and her ne’er do well a con artist and card shark from the word around town brother lived high off the hog. The stuff you heard about the good professor trying to take the Crown jewels is nothing but fake news. They were never in danger of being stolen but our man Sherlock raised a big hue and cry after smoking too much hashish and thought he saw them floating over the Thames. Called copper for them to nab favorite fall guy the hapless professor. You never hear about this of course since the coppers kept it hush-hush but that was the night in a drug frenzy Sherlock tried to murder the good professor. Kill him dead. RIP, Professor, RIP. Didn’t happen but the good professor got the slammer anyway and it was only Sherlock’s overdose death that sprung him after “Five Fingers” Benny Boren gave the real story.   

Like I said last time, a fake, fake all the way. Unless that Irregular crowd of thugs and blood-stained aficionados get to me this is not the last you will hear about this campaign of mine to dethrone this pompous junked-up imposter. I am just getting into second gear now.      

Will The Real James Bond Stand Up –Part VI-Timothy Dalton’s “License To Kill” (1989)-A Film Review

Will The Real James Bond Stand Up –Part VI-Timothy Dalton’s “License To Kill” (1989)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Alden Riley and Sandy Salmon

License to Kill, Timothy Dalton, Cary Lowell, 1989

The knowledgeable reader is probably wondering what the hell is going on when two film reviewers who are allegedly fighting a “mock heroic” battle over the merits their chosen “real” James Bonds, Sean Connery for Sandy Salmon and Pierce Brosnan for Alden Riley are jointly contributing to a review of yet a third Bond, James Bond player Timothy Dalton in License To Kill. But perhaps that knowledgeable reader missed something a while back when this “fight to the death” started after Sandy had given Sean Connery top billing as the “real” James Bond and Alden had asked the new site manager Greg Green to give him space to tout Pierce Brosnan. Both reviewers agreed that those two were the only real candidates for number one and so they agreed, half-heartedly agreed since they are in another dispute over what is happening to the site currently now that any talk about the internal struggle that roiled the blog last year and mention of the previous leadership is verboten, to collectively trash Timothy Dalton’s pathetic excuse of a Bond player.

Alden had put that Brosnan request in the form of “blackmail” of a new kind when he threatened a “vote of confidence” showdown among the writers when Greg first balked at the request. That vote of no confidence doing in the previous unmentionable leadership. Greg the beneficiary of Alden’s leadership of the purge of the previous site manager in order to gain his job took the hint immediately and granted Alden’s wish. Initially Greg’s idea in resurrecting the seemingly never-ending Bond series for review at this site was the great success that such reviews had among the younger readers over at his previous job as site manager at American Film Gazette when the films came out. He thought such efforts might help stem the declining youth readership here as well. (That was the basis for the ill-fated although not completely abandoned run of comic book-derived super-heroes as well.) Greg had only expected to have Sandy, formerly the Senior Film Critic under the old regime, do a quick run through of the Connery films to see what would happen. Alden, formerly the Associate Film Critic under that same old regime then threw his complaint in the mix and the “battle” was joined.

That “battle” a little heated at times, at around the “water cooler” times, not necessarily reflected in the reviews themselves got a boost when Alden started to complain out loud about his “demotion” along with everybody else to just writer status and about the new rule that the old site manager should essentially become a non-person after that internal struggle purge. Sandy, who had actually supported the old regime manager tried to cool Alden down. Greg stepped in with the Dalton suggestion as a means to lower the temperature. We shall see.             
No question that the long running seemingly never-ending series of Bond films are run by a very defined formula from the opening camera eye agent shooting at us scene through the inevitable song reflecting the film title through the obligatory “Bond, James Bond” tip of the hat and through the equally obligatory Cold War-tinged thrilling action a minute involving improbable feats and almost equally implausible high tech gadgetry. And of course the inevitable string of foxy women ready to get down under the silky sheets with a Bond merely at the sight of him. Although there has been a welcome trend, reflecting the reality of the women’s movement in the Western world at least, away from that passive foxy female role and a more active role, for good or evil, along with that downy billows stuff (“downy billows” courtesy of the writer Tom Wolfe). So the real comparison is between the attributes and demerits of the stable of Bond players. As demonstrated in this his last film as Bond young Timothy Dalton did not make the cut.    

Here’s why. The bad guys in this one are south of the border, meaning Hispanic, Latino drug dealers (the Cold War tip being their working at least in transit via Cuba). Meaning they are serious bad asses lead by psychotic sadist Sanchez in the world of high end drug trade. A thorn in the side of DEA and maybe the CIA if not exactly MI6 material which is to knock out high tech blow up the world stuff by some evil forces and save the West or at least Britain. Way out of mission statement sluggard seriously understated and poker-faced Timothy Dalton’s starts off his cinematic journey on the way to a wedding where he is to be best man or something. WTF neither Connery or Brosnan would be caught dead within a hundred miles of a wedding chapel except maybe to exercise some lordly feudal right of first night with the bride, blushing or not.

Not so Timmy boy. See he is buddy-buddy with the local CIA chief and his lovely bride. Shortly after the wedding those bad ass drug traffickers throw the agent through the grinder, the shark tank grinder to show how sadistic that crowd is and kill his bride for kicks. So Timmy is on a mission not for Queen and country but personal revenge. How the mighty have fallen. So despite being warned off by M, and later loaded up with gizmos by Q also Bond series standard stuff Timmy is off to kill bad guys- no prisoners here, after all he has a license to kill in case you have not been paying attention to all this secret agent stuff of late.

He starts working his way up the food chain and along the way while trying to see how the cartel operates he comes across the head bad guy Sanchez’s mistress who is on a boat used to transfer drugs for cash. Naturally a drop dead beauty, a hot-blooded Spanish beauty whom he does not go under the sheets with right there and then. Connery or Brosnan would have had her for lunch and had time for a nap afterward. Maybe Timmy, is as they used to say in Sandy’s old neighborhood before everybody got okay with having gay guys out of the closet, ‘light on his feet” or something. They crossed paths a couple of times and no go. Something is definitely wrong here.        

As Timmy gets to the top of the food chain, gets to the country (fake named but based on real drug route Panama in the old days maybe now too) where the bad hombres are headquartered he runs into a dish, a good looking young woman, Pam, played by Cary Lowell, who also has abilities like being able to fly a plane (and later drive a heavy duty truck). They hit the sheets quickly after a little repartee so that question about Timmy sexual preferences gets answered seemingly he is just a shy boy or something. Working together they start moving in on the bad guys, start taking names and numbers and not asking questions until the big finale when after blowing up the bad guys’ cocaine laboratory among other things the bad guys head on the road to deliver their goods via oil trucks (through the marvels of modern chemistry cocaine could be dissolved in oil for easy and safe delivery-nice ploy). The final confrontation shows a lot of trucks being blown up and the bulk of the bad guys including the head bad guy Sanchez burned-literally.

Work finished, revenge taken, Timmy and Pam go to a party where the head bad guy’s now ex-girlfriend although not dressed in mourning black courtesy of Timmy makes a play for him leaving Pam blue, very blue. Except Timmy, and this will tell the tale as well as any about why this James Bond is not up to snuff, rebuts the senorita and goes to that very blue Pam. Yeah, true blue Timmy that kind of says it all about this fake news Bond, James Bond. Fortunately Pierce will follow Timmy in the role and all will be back to jump street again.           

The Hills And Hollas Of Home- In Honor Of The Late Hazel Dickens-The “Queen” Of The Appalachia Hills And Saturday Night Red Barn Dance

The Hills And Hollas Of Home- In Honor Of The Late Hazel Dickens-The “Queen” Of The Appalachia Hills And Saturday Night Red Barn Dance

By Sam Lowell

This is the fourth and final installment (the first dated January 13, 2018, the second dated January 19, 2018, and the third January 24, 2018) set as an introduction to the history of the American Left History blog. Initially I believed that this would be a several part series and now it looks like with this final section about the massive internal in-fighting and resultant shake-up that brought the original leader of all of these publications down, brought in a new regime with my help and whatever direction the new leadership is heading we are finally done with a task a lot harder than I thought it would be. For a final time as I have been at pains to mention before this task came to me because I am one of the few people, more importantly one of the few writers, who has taken part in almost all of the key junctures in this forty something year history including the latest flare-up which has brought about a new regime, again partially with my help, so I am well-placed to tell the tale.

As part of the “truce” arranged with current site manager Greg Green I will tell the story and will elicit comments from a couple of other Editorial Board members. The first installment dealt with the genesis of this blog with hard copy predecessors going back to the late 1960s when a number of the older writers still standing came on board, many through long friendships with the previous site manager going back to high school days, those including myself. The second dealt with the dog days of the hard copy version of this blog and the greying of its staff. The third dealt with the transfer to the on-line version and some preliminary observations about how the just completed internal struggle came to such a fiery conclusion and explain how I became a member of the opposition. This final section as I said will deal with the food fight of 2017.

All four parts of the now completed project will appear as one unit on February 10th.

In a sense this last section is a bit anti-climactic since I have laid out the history leading up to the split, my part in it, and the result with the removal of the former site manager Alan Jackson in what I have described truly as a purge. (Some “fragile” types on both sides have backed off from that designation saying it is too rough but Allan knows, just as well as I do both of us veterans of many old-time political struggles in radical circles, that he had been purged.) That elevated Greg Green who had originally come over from the American Film Gazette to run the day to day operations to site manager. As part of the post-Allan regime Greg decided that he would create an Editorial Board to oversee everything and back up his decisions. For transparency reasons I should note that I sit on that board. I should also note that although it has only been in existence the past few months that there has been gripping about it being a rubber-stamp, a group of Greg toadies, and other derogatory remarks from young and older writers alike. Greg has also hired a couple of younger writers, really twenty something out of journalism schools and English majors. Brought on Josh Breslin’s former companion, Leslie Dumont, who many years ago worked here as a stringer but getting nowhere with Alan’s regime left and finally wound up with a big by-line at New York Monthly. Brought on my long-time companion Laura Perkins who also worked as a stringer and got nowhere with Alan and left for an academic and high tech career. Still no soap on getting any black writers, or more generically “writers of color.”

Those are the results thus far not without controversy and some hard feelings especially by the older writers who have been stripped of their titles, younger writers too who had worked for titles. Worse and which almost caused another explosion every writer now can be assigned any topic on any subject to as Greg says “broaden their horizons.” But enough of the current doings and back to the spring of 2017 and the genesis of the in-fighting that has brought these changes.

It almost seems like some twisted kiss of fate that Alex James, Zack’s oldest brother (who by the way is about ten years older than Zack showing a good example of the relative sense of “younger” writers Allan was bringing in. Certainly nobody as young as twenty something Kenny Jacobs), an old friend of ours from the old neighborhood, who went on to become a successful lawyer, went on a business trip to San Francisco last spring (2017). While there out of the blue Alex saw an advertisement on the side of a bus for something called The Summer of Love Experience, 1967 at the de Young Museum in famous Golden Gate Park. Sneaking (according to Alex) out one afternoon he saw the exhibition and was positively floored by the experience. See, he, we, under the “guidance” of the late Peter Paul Markin had been in the thick of the “drugs, sex, and rock and roll” mantra which all of that experience went under. When he got back to Boston Alex called or e-mailed everybody he knew from back in the days who was still standing and who had gone out there to see what was happening, to see as Markin had called it “the world turned upside down.” He gathered a number of us, including Zack who had gone to journalism school and was a veteran of various workshop programs, together in order to propose that in honor of our fallen brother Markin each write our “memoirs” of those times with Zack as editor and publisher. Those who agreed included old friend Allan Jackson who had also gone out there with us. The venture was a great success and various portions were posted last summer on the ALH blog as well as in booklet form.     

That seemingly small exercise in 1960s nostalgia apparently snapped something in Allan’s head. I have already mentioned the drift of the blog on the part of the older writers who were allowed by Allan to pick whatever subject they wanted (with the left-overs to the younger writers). Last summer right after the memorial booklet was published and articles posted Allan decided to do a massive blanket coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love by assigning a million topics related to that time. If you couldn’t link the Summer of Love, or the 1960s “hippie” experience, into your article he would red-pencil what you had written. (Allan liked to use a red pencil to “edit” something about his radical red youth he said when asked why he didn’t use the usual blue pencil.) This was no joke on Allan’s part. I was doing a little piece on figure skating after reviewing a Sonja Henny 1930s film. Allan asked me why I didn’t bring up the ice skating rink at Fillmore and Pacific where “hippies” would go to skate during 1967 when we were out there. WTF.

All of this came to a head when young Alden Riley, a new hire for the film department to help Sandy Salmon out with the increased load of films that were projected by Greg on the site. He was “assigned” by Allan, over Sandy’s head, to do a review on a bio/pic about Janis Joplin, a key musical figure in the heady days of the Monterey Pops Festival. Reason? After Sandy had done a review of D. A Pennebaker’s documentary about the first Monterey Festival he mentioned Ms. Joplin’s name and Alan said he did not know who she was. Allan heard about that blunder and ordered the assignment as “punishment’ is what he told Si Lannon, another of our old friends. Things only got worse from there as Allan double-downed on the Summer of Love connection for each article.

I am not quite sure who called the first meeting of essentially the whole rank of younger writers (average age somebody figured out about forty-five years old) to see what they would do about Allan’s manic behavior and their dubious assignments which to a man they could give f - -k about to quote Zack. Maybe it was Zack since he Lance Lawrence and Bradley Fox were the three ringleaders of the uprising who in water cooler legend were dubbed the “Young Turks.” They decided to go to Allan and put their cards on the table. He rebuffed them out of hand. That is when I came in, came to one of their meetings being invited by Alden, to see if I could reason with Allan. I proposed to Allan that we get Greg Green from American Film Gazette to come in to do the day to day operations leaving Allan time to write some stuff on his own or think about future assignments. He bought my argument once I explained that we might lose the whole cohort if things didn’t change. They didn’t as Allan pressed Greg to hand out these never-ending freaking 1960s world assignments.

To make a long story short the “Young Turks” (and me) had another meeting, an ultimatum meeting with me as the emissary to Allan again. The proposal of the group was either Allan “retire” or they collectively would quit. The decision to be determined by a majority vote-for or against. For some reason even I don’t understand to this day Allan agreed. You know the rest including my “traitorous” vote with the “Young Turks.” My decisive vote since we won by one vote. What you may not know is that while the split was almost directly along generational lines there were several abstentions among the older writers from the tallies. Any one of them casting a vote for Allan would have shifted the totals the other way and I would have been the one “purged” and working in Kansas someplace. So some of the older guys had also doubts about the wisdom of going back to the past. Now that you have the whole story this episode should be at rest. (With the exception of any articles still in the pipeline before the truce with Greg was negotiated.)          


Kenny Jackman heard the late Hazel Dickens (d. 2011) for the very first time on her CD album It’s Hard To Tell The Singer From The Song some years back, maybe 2005, when he was in thrall to mountain music after being hit hard by Reese Witherspoon’s role as June Carter in the film Walk The Line. At that time he got into all things Carter Family unto the nth generation. A friend, a Vermont mountain boy, hipped him to Hazel during his frenzy and he picked up the CD second-hand in Harvard Square. (Really at Sandy’s located between Harvard and Central Squares, a folk institution around town where until recently Sandy had held forth since the early 1960s folk minute when everybody was desperately looking for roots music and that was the place to look first. Hazel’s You’ll Get No More Of Me, A Few Old Memories and the classic Hills of Home knocked him out. The latter, moreover, seemed kind of familiar and later, a couple of months later, he finally figured out why. He had really first heard Hazel back in 1970 when he was down in the those very hills and hollows that are a constant theme in her work, and that of the mountain mist winds music coming down the crevices. What was going on though? Was it 2005 when he first heard Hazel or that 1970 time? Let me go back and tell that 1970 story.

Kenny Jackman like many of his generation of ’68 was feeling foot loose and fancy free, especially after he had been mercifully declared 4-F by his friendly neighbors at the local draft board in old hometown North Adamsville (declared 4-F in those high draft days because he had a seriously abnormal foot problem which precluded walking very far, a skill that the army likes its soldiers to be able to do). So Kenny, every now and again, took to the hitchhike road, not like his mad man friend Peter Paul Markin with some heavy message purpose a la Jack Kerouac and his beat brothers (and a few sisters) but just to see the country while he, and it, were still in one piece no pun intended Kenny told me since the country was in about fifteen pieces then).

On one of these trips he found himself stranded just outside Norfolk, Virginia at a road-side campsite. Feeling kind of hungry one afternoon, and tired, tired unto death of camp-side gruel and stews he stopped at a diner, Billy Bob McGee’s, an old-time truck stop diner a few hundred yards up the road from his camp for some real food, maybe meatloaf or some pot roast like grandma used to make or that was how it was advertised. When he entered the mid-afternoon half-empty diner he sat down at one of the single stool counter seats that always accompany the vinyl-covered side booths in such places. But all of this was so much descriptive noise that could describe a million, maybe more, such eateries. What really caught his attention though was a waitress serving them “off the arm” that he knew immediately he had to “hit” on (although that is not the word used in those days but “hit on” conveys what he was up to in the universal boy meets girl world). As it turned out she, sweetly named Fiona Fay, and, well let’s just call her fetching, Kenny weary-eyed fetching, was young, footloose and fancy free herself and had drawn a bead on him as he entered the place, and, …well this story is about Hazel, so let us just leave it as one thing led to another and let it go at that.

Well, not quite let’s let it go at that because when Kenny left Norfolk a few days later one ex-waitress Fiona Fay was standing by his side on the road south. And the road south was leading nowhere, nowhere at all except to Podunk, really Prestonsburg, Kentucky, and really, really a dink town named Pottsville, just down the road from big town Prestonsburg, down in the hills and hollows of Appalachia, wind-swept green, green, mountain mist, time forgotten . And the reason two footloose and fancy free young people were heading to Podunk is that a close cousin of Fiona’s lived there with her husband and child and wanted Fiona to come visit (visit “for a spell” is how she put it but I will spare the reader the localisms). So they were on that hell-bend road but Kenny, Kenny was dreading this trip and only doing it because, well because Fiona was the kind of young woman, footloose and fancy free or not, that you followed, at least you followed if you were Kenny Jackson and hoped things would work out okay.

What Kenny dreaded that day was that he was afraid to confront his past. And that past just then entailed having to go to his father’s home territory just up the road in Hazard. See Kenny saw himself as strictly a Yankee, a hard “we fought to free the slaves and incidentally save the union” Yankee for one and all to see back in old North Adamsville. And denied, denied to the high heavens, that he had any connection with the south, especially the hillbilly south that everybody was making a fuse about trying to bring into the 20th century around that time. And here he was with a father with Hazard, Kentucky, the poorest of the poor hillbillies, right on his birth certificate although Kenny had never been there before. Yeah, Fiona had better be worth it.

Kenny had to admit, as they picked up one lonely truck driver ride after another (it did not hurt in those days to have a comely lass standing on the road with you in the back road South, or anywhere else, especially if you had longish hair and a wisp of a beard), that the country was beautiful. As they entered coal country though and the shacks got crummier and crummier he got caught up in that 1960s Michael Harrington Other America no running water, outhouse, open door, one window and a million kids and dogs running around half-naked, the kids that is vision. But they got to Pottsville okay and Fiona’s cousin and husband (Laura and Stu) turned out to be good hosts. So good that they made sure that Kenny and Fiona stayed in town long enough to attend the weekly dance at the old town barn (red of course, run down and in need of paint to keep red of course) that had seen such dances going back to the 1920s when the Carter Family had actually come through Pottsville on their way back to Clinch Mountain.

Kenny buckled at the thought, the mere thought, of going to some Podunk Saturday night “hoe-down” and tried to convince Fiona that they should leave before Saturday. Fiona would have none of it and so Kenny was stuck. Actually the dance started out pretty well, helped tremendously by some local “white lightning” that Stu provided and which he failed to mention should be sipped, sipped sparingly. Not only that but the several fiddles, mandolins, guitars, washboards and whatnot made pretty good music. Music like Anchored in Love and Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies, stuff that he had heard in the folk clubs in Harvard Square when he used to hang out there in the early 1960s. And music that even Kenny, old two left-feet, one way out of whack, draft-free out of whack, Kenny, could dance to with Fiona.

So Kenny was sipping, well more than sipping, and dancing and all until maybe about midnight when this woman, this local woman came out of nowhere and began to sing, sing like some quick, rushing wind sound coming down from the hills and hollas (hollows for Yankees, okay, please). Kenny began to toss and turn a little, not from the liquor but from some strange feeling, some strange womb-like feeling that this woman’s voice was a call from up on top of these deep green hills, now mist-filled awaiting day. And then she started into a long, mournful version of Hills of Home, and he sensed, sensed strongly if not anything he could articulate that he was home. Yes, Kenny Jackson, Yankee, city boy, corner boy-bred was “home,” hillbilly home. So Kenny did really hear Hazel Dickens for first time in 1970, see.

[As for Fiona Fay she stayed on the road with Kenny until they headed toward the Midwest where she veered off home to Valparaiso in Indiana, her hometown as Kenny headed west to California, to Big Sur and a different mountain ethos. They were supposed to meet out there a couple of months later after she finished up some family business. They never did, a not unusual occurrence of the time when people met and faded along the way, but Kenny thought about her and that wind-swept mountain dance night for a long time after that.]    

California’s The Garden Of Eden-Except For The Odd American Sociopath- “The Gift” (2015)-A Short Film Review

California’s The Garden Of Eden-Except For The Odd American Sociopath- “The Gift” (2015)-A Short Film Review

DVD Review

By Brad Fox, Jr.

The Gift, starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, directed by Edgerton, 2015

I am apparently becoming the resident “expert” on psychological thrillers since this is my third consecutive effort. Not that I mind, everybody in the film critic, film review business including amateurs, those who think anybody can give an opinion about a film and have it stick finds some niche. Finds some safe haven really in this tough racket where you are only as good as your last review. I remember my father the famous New York film reviewer who worked with Pauline Kael and helped turn the work from a pastime to a profession saying not even your last review but the one right in front of the reader. (Now the profession has spawned climatic studies courses where you can get a “major” in film review which has surprised my now retired father no end.) The draw this time, this The Gift is a quirky little number with its fair share of obvious thriller clich├ęs but with enough twists and turns to make it an above average venture.  

Your average thriller usually sets up the demented psycho early, lets him (or less often her) go through his paces getting everybody he comes in contact with a little shaky, shaking their heads anyway. That is the case early on with one Gordo Mosley, Gordo the Wierdo as he was known in high school, played by Joel Edgerton who directed as well, who looks for all the world like a stone-cold killer and A-I psycho. He runs into an old classmate Simon Callem and his wife Robin who have just moved to LaLa land after suffering the colds of Chicago (and some undisclosed problems Robin had, a prescription pill junkie habit best left in the past). Of course, nobody explains as will be revealed why deadbeat, down at the heels Gordo winds up in a high-end interior design shop in LA and just happens to run into the lovely couple picking out pillows or something for their new digs but we will let that pass. Seems Gordo and Simon knew each other in high school and that is the wedge Gordo needs to become a nuisance and somebody that Simon really wants to avoid-at all costs. But like most weirdos, maybe this is a requirement for membership, Gordo has some kind of idea fixed in his head that he will become part of the Simon-Robin circle. And won’t take no for an answer. Simon for his own reasons which will unfold as the film moves along is adamantly against that and makes it plain to Gordo. Robin is a little more forgiving, sees Gordo as a sad sack just like herself.        

Once rebuffed odd things start happening at the Callem homestead and the prime suspect is one Gordo the Weirdo. Once that idea is set in stone, once we are led to believe that Gordo is the bad guy and capable of any kind of madness-even murder the twists start happening. The play then starts to revolve around what big man on campus Simple Simon and a friend did to Gordo back in high school. A classic case of macho man picking up the scent, picking up weaknesses, bullying mercilessly a weaker man. It gets worse-Simon set Gordo up with a lying sack of crap story that wound up getting him a reputation as a gay man. All bullshit, all made up out of thin air. But not without consequences for Gordo Mosely. That brush in turn led him to almost be killed by his father for being gay. He wound up being sent to military school and life went downhill from there for him. All because big man “could do it” according to his accomplice.

As the revelations keep coming out in dribs and drabs Robin gets a totally different look at her husband who turns out to be a bum of the month lying sack of crap. Moreover his savagery is not all in the past. Along the ways this ‘survival of the fittest guy” Simon has set up a co-worker with a false past so that he can move up the food chain to a cushy job. That guy, and not who you would suspect Gordo, went berserk and tried to destroy Simon’s house. While that little diversion was going on the pregnant Robin was ready to give birth which she does. A boy.

Here is where the chickens come home to roost and not in now exposed sociopath Simon’s favor. We know he lied his ass off about that co-worker just to get ahead but when under Robin’s pleadings he goes to apologize to Gordo for his high school craziness which ruined Gordo’s life Gordo refuses to accept the malarkey. Simon then does his patented bully act when things don’t go his way and trashes Gordo. Then things go to hell in handbasket for dear sociopath Simon. Robin after giving birth and realizing that Simon has a very dark side which she had not seen before wants no part of him. His destruction of a fellow worker’s chances gets him the boot from that promotion, gets him fired.  Here is the sweet part in a way Gordo who really was disturbed-how much bully Simon’s fault is pretty clear- Gordo via his stalking Robin and knowing her penchant for prescription drugs is in the home when Robin faints-gets all this on camera-and may or may not have taken advantage of her in that condition. He sends Simon a “gift” of the film of him hovering over Robin leaving the bastard to wonder whether the child Robin bore was his or the madman Gordo’s. Sweet revenge.           

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Out In Jukebox Night-With Ben E. King's Spanish Harlem In Mind Spanish Harlem

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Out In Jukebox Night-With Ben E. King's Spanish Harlem In Mind
Spanish Harlem

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is the special one, it's never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It's growing in the street
Right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreaming
There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
With eyes as black as coal
That looks down in my soul
And starts a fire there and then I lose control
I have to beg your pardon
I'm going to pick that rose
And watch her as she grows in my garden
I'm going to pick that rose
And watch her as she grows in my garden
La la la, la la la, la la la la
(There is a rose in Spanish Harlem)
La la la, la la la, la la la la
(There is a rose in Spanish Harlem)

Sometimes it is hard to figure out why a certain memory draws certain other memories out although today, musically, which is what I want to talk about, just flipping to YouTube and its cross-references makes that statement more explicable since one is almost automatically bombarded with about seven million songs with some memory meaning. Meaning maybe a memory of that first record hop at school, elementary school in the 1950s, just by the reference. Or that first time you noticed that girls were, well, kind of interesting or at least approachable at some basement family room “petting” party. (The first “private” time when adults may be hovering around unseen but when they are persona non grata with the confines of the party room and a time when lights low or out the first “feels” occurred however innocent or bewildering for either sex. That basement family room also serving as fall-out shelter, fully-stocked, if the Russkies decided to blow one by us.) Better just a little time later, although time seemed then to drag infinitely by and you tried to hurry it up then, when you started dreaming about that brunette on television (you can fill in your own color preference) swaying back and forth provocatively, provocatively in your mind anyway, just for you after rushing home after school to watch American Bandstand. Or later when the hormones really kicked in that first night time junior high school dance with her, the her with the faraway eyes whose bubble soap (or maybe some “stolen” scent from the top of mother’s dresser) drove you crazy. Yeah, I like the latter better since that scenario would mean that she was provocatively trying to drive you crazy with her amateur womanly wiles. Moving on to that first double-date night down by the seashore watching the “submarine races” and you copped a “feel” (for those who did not have a seashore to go down to in order to look for those locally famous submarines at midnight, sorry, but okay so maybe at a drive-in movie, or that spot out by the dam or up in the foreboding hills known strictly as a lovers’ lane). Then before you know it you had graduated high school and the memories got fonder but faded with time until you got to the 2000s night and you woke up in a sweat thinking about that girl with the faraway eyes and that damn bubble soap smell that filled your nostrils (and wondering, wondering did she really have the cunning to steal that mother’s scent right off the top of her dresser). 

Recently I have, seemingly endlessly, gone back to my early musical roots, my memory roots, in reviewing various commercial compilations of classic rock series that goes under the general title Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Never Die. That classic rock designation signifying the “golden age of rock,” the time of some Les Paul guitar zip rocket 88 Ike Turner, zap finger-snapping the big man flapping shake, rattle and roll Big Joe Turner, from long side-burned, sexy-eyed (yeah guys can say that now about guys without blushing), sneering one night of sin hunger Elvis, from sweet little sixteen Mister’s girl hunger telling Beethoven his time had passed Chuck Berry, from the back of a flatbed truck  double girl hunger high school confidential Jerry Lee, the time of the original jail break-out and not the smoother later patched-up stuff-ouch!. While time and ear have eroded the sparkle of some of the lesser tunes (and lesser singers like blueberry hill Fats and he/she good golly Little Richard) it still seems obvious that those years, say 1955-62, really did form the musical jail break-out for my generation, the generation of ’68, who had just started to tune into music.

We had our own little world, or as some hip sociologist trying to explain that Zeitgeist today might say, our own sub-group cultural expression. I have already talked about such notable phenomena as the pre-chain convenience store mom and pop corner variety store corner boy hangout with the tee-shirted, engineered-booted, cigarette (naturally unfiltered, not some “faggy” (yeah, that’s what we said then and what did we know about such things, such same-sex things that were whispered then and are now laughingly out in the open, anyway) Kents, Winstons or Marboros but real coffin nails Luckies, Camels, or Pall Malls) hanging from the sullen lips, Coke, big sized glass Coke bottle at the side, pinball wizard guys thing. Complete with foxy tight cashmere-sweaterd girls hanging off every bump and grind of that twisted machine. And, of course, about the pizza parlor, you name it House of Pizza, Marios’s, Mama Mia’s,  juke-box coin-devouring, playing some “hot” song for the nth time that night, hold the onions on that order please as I might get lucky tonight, dreamy girl coming in the door thing. Another of course, the soda fountain, and…ditto, dreamy girl coming through the door thing, merely to share a sundae, please. Ditto for the teen dance club, keep the kids off the streets even if we parents hate their damn rock music, the now eternal hope dreamy girl coming in the door, save the last dance for me thing (and where Mister Ben E. King at some point was “walking with the king” to get us close on his la la la’s in Spanish Harlem.

Whee! That’s maybe enough memory lane stuff for a lifetime, especially for those with weak hearts. But, no, your intrepid messenger feels the need to go back again and take a little different look at that be-bop jukebox Saturday night scene as it unfolded in the early 1960s. Hey, you could have found the old jukebox in lots of places in those days. Bowling alleys, drugstores, pizza parlors, drive-in restaurants, and as had been shown in the cover art on one of that rock and roll series CDs I reviewed also at the daytime beach. While boy or girl watching. Basically any place where kids were hot for some special song and wanted to play it until the cows came home. And had the coins to satisfy their hunger.

A lot of it was to kill time waiting for this or that, although the basic reason was these were all places where you could show off your stuff, and maybe, strike up a conversation with someone who attracted your attention as they came in the door. The cover artwork on that daytime beach scene, for example, showed a dreamy girl waiting for her platters (vinyl records, okay, check on it) to work their way up the mechanism that took them from the stack and laid them out on the player. And tee-shirted sullen guy (could have been you, right?) just hanging around the machine waiting for just such a well-shaped brunette (or blond, but I favored brunettes in those days, and still do if anybody is asking), maybe chatting idly was worth at least a date or, more often, a telephone number to call. Not after nine at night though or before eight because that was when she was talking to her boyfriend. Jesus. But lucky guy, maybe.

But here is where the real skill came in, and where that white-tee-shirted guy on the cover seemed to be clueless. Just hanging casually around the old box, especially on a no, or low, dough day waiting on a twist (one of about a dozen slang words for girl in our old working-class neighborhood usually made up by or learned from corner boy leader Frankie Riley who had a thing for old time detective novels and films where he would pick them up) to come by and put her quarter in (giving three or five selections depending what kind of place the jukebox was located in) talking, usually to girlfriends, as she made those selections. Usually the first couple were easy, some old boyfriend memory, or some wistful tryst remembrance, but then she got contemplative, or fidgety, over what to pick next.

Then you made your move-“Have you heard Spanish Harlem. NO! Well, you just have to hear that thing and it will cheer you right up. Or some such line. Of course, you wanted to hear the damn thing. But see, a song like that (as opposed to Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Rock and Roller, let’s say) showed you were a sensitive guy, and maybe worth talking to... for just a minute, I got to get back to my girlfriends, etc., etc. Oh, jukebox you baby. And guess what. On that self-same jukebox you were very, very likely to hear some of the following songs. Here’s the list and there are some stick-outs (and a few that worked some of that “magic” just mentioned above on tough nights):

1)   My Boyfriend's Back-The Angels: it seemed that every good-looking girl had some hidden boyfriend stashed away for just that occasion when you got too close and she sprung the hurting news on you without grace, worse scorned you for thinking that you had a chance beyond “being friends” when everybody, everybody who counted, knew she had been going with Joe College from State U who had graduated from high school a couple of years before forever. Although if you thought about it for a minute the real problem had been the break-down in your “intelligence” network, you know, your Monday morning before school boys’ lav info session where you gathered the scoop on the weekend doing and discreetly asked around about that Laura something, the one who you had been eyeing in study for about a week before you made your big move and got your hopes up.  Or at least had gotten “the word” from one of your corner boys, maybe Josh, maybe Frankie, who were sworn to not leave you in the lurch on such matters and make you the laughing stock of subsequent Monday morning boys’ lav talkfests about the weekend doings. No, you had to jump in with both feet, hell, both feet and both hands, on the basis of a furtive glance that she threw you way in the corridor one day. Hadn’t you learned by then that those subtle furtive glances were thrown at every guy with anything going for him by the Lauras of this wicken old teen world. Join the club brother, join the club.     

  2)Nadine (Is It You?)-Chuck Berryanything by Chuck by definition in the theme and tenor of his lyric, or by the various hot licks he laid down on his guitar spoke of sex, back seat of the car sex which was just fine then when you were young and agile. Young and agile and if the moment was right and you had some Chuck playing on the car radio permanently tuned to WMEX down by the seashore (or wherever that local lovers’ lane was far from prying adult eyes and far from children glares) and you needed every inch and ounce of young and agile in that damn crowded backseat that somebody, some S.O.B car manufacturer though was saving profits by making as small as possible you still managed to do what you, and she (or he for she or whatever combinations pass these days in the love circle) started out to do because otherwise why were you down by that seaside far from prying eyes.    

 3)Spanish Harlem-Ben E. King: I have already pointed out the central importance of this song come late night school dance night when you want that she you were eyeing all evening to slow dance with you on that last chance to dance, and you were looking for that one moment when you could put your hands down her back toward her ass and she didn’t brush you off, didn’t seem to mind at all in that dark hall moment. Thanks, Brother King. 

 4) Come & Get These Memories-Martha and the Vandellas: well, it is not dancing in the streets but Martha and the girls had that Motown sound down. That sound that got everybody up and dancing just to be dancing, dancing close or dancing apart but just dancing. A big relief for bad dancers and semi-wallflower guys like me. The real full-time wallflowers that hugged the gym walls like they were a life-saver thrown in the sea just kept to their walls as they always did but the rest of us decided to live a little dangerously, and we survived.  

 5) Little Latin Lupe Lu- The Righteous Brothers: every guy, at least every guy I knew, wondered about that Latin girl thing from these guys like maybe we missed something, like maybe there was something to that Tia Taco thing, that high-blown Spanish blood lust thing. Problem, big problem around our way was that there was no way to verify or not verify that hot blood thing since there were zero, nada nunca nada, Latinos in our high school, hell, in the whole town. Needless to say no blacks either, none. The closest we came to dark-skinned ethnics was a girl from Lebanon who seemed very exotic. It would be a long time and a couple of thousand miles south in old Mexico before I got the message that those hermanos were laying down.         

6)It's Gonna Work Out Fine-Ike and Tina Turner: Yeah, we all know now, have had it knocked into our heads that Ike was not nature’s noble man but they rocked on this one with that drop dead guitar work of Ike’s and Tina’s on fire singing.

 7) When We Get Married- The Dreamlovers:  after a bunch of busted marriages, a few off-hand affairs that didn’t work out and a few things that did that kid’s rush to the blissfully wedded aisle with his ever-loving honey seems kind of wishful thinking now. And you know what in those days I had a lot of the same feelings although not directed to a specific person since the routine was finish high school, get a job or go on in school, get married, have two point three children, one white picket fence with whitewashed house attached, have a dog named Spot or Rover and bliss. Yeah, life turned out a little different, no, a lot different.

8)Dear Lady Twist –Gary U.S. Bonds: Brother Bonds saved more two-left feet guys in this universe than you could shake a stick with his twist mania where you could look pretty good all tangled up as long as everybody else was too. Except don’t watch this lad, me, too closely because his tangled up is off the beat even though his kindly partner was courteous enough to mention that, said he was a great dancer. Said it in such a way that they wound up sitting down by the seaside shifting sand before the night was over where she admitted that her tangling up was off too. Get this, and suggested we form a club, a two left- feet club, with two members. Well, okay.   

9) If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody –James Ray: the national anthem for guys who did not get to dance that last chance dance, damn, after eyeing her all evening until your eyeballs got sore. And you suddenly learned if you did not know already, and maybe you should have, maybe some boys’ locker room guy, come brethren corner boy, heck, your older brother, consulted wiser heads to find out that the good-looking women of the world, the Lauras mentioned above throw out those furtive glances just for kicks, just to see what sore eye-balled guys would do. And guess what 16 or 68 it does not get any better. Jesus.  

 10) I Count the Tears-The Drifters: a great backup song just in case Spanish Harlem had already been played and Loopy Lenny the DJ was not into taking requests or maybe the borrowed record was worn out from play or the guy running the record-player if not Loopy Lenny had absolutely no sense of what a high energy, high hormonal count teenage crowd wanted to hear late at night. Wanted to have a chance for that last dance.