We had another boil water advisory in New Orleans this week. I’ve gotten used to them by now and don’t freak out. I’m married to a microbiologist so we ignore the “don’t shower” bit. It’s okay to bathe as long as one doesn’t have wounds or open sores. Besides, I’m not about to be stinky because the Sewerage and Water Board can’t get its shit together. Fuck that shit.
Oscar Update. It looks as if doubling his head meds and changing his diet has done the trick. Knock on wood. He hasn’t marked in several days and doesn’t look and act like a scaredy cat. His tail is in the air when he walks instead of drooping. Let’s hope it lasts. Knock on wood. I had forgotten about that live Bowie version. Make sure you click on that last link.
In other New Orleans news, I wrote a second column for the Bayou Brief about the Mayors race. The campaign is so dull and listless that I refer to the candidates as The B-List.
This week’s theme song is inspired by last week’s Gershwin brothers reverie. How so? The opening lyrics:
I like New York in June, how about you?
I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?
That works for me.
How About You? was written by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed for the 1941 MGM musical Babes on Broadway starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. We have two versions for your enjoyment. First, the Chairman of the Board with a Nelson Riddle arranged version from an album you’ll hear more about later. Second, Harry Nilsson did an album of standards with *another* Sinatra arranger, Gordon Jenkins. Harry’s version was featured in Python alum Terry Gilliam’s best film, The Fisher King.
Heh, heh, heh. We just saw Robin William’s furry butt, he said in his best Beavis and Butthead voice. On that supremely lowbrow note, lets jump to the break.
This week’s featured image is a spectacular Ansel Adams photograph taken in Zion National Park in Utah. I selected it because our next segment is about someone associated with the natural beauty of the Beehive State.
Redford Speaks: Robert Redford is usually guarded in interviews. Somehow Michael Hainey got him to open up in an expansive interview for Esquire. They talked Trump as well as Redford’s life, career, and friendship with the late Paul Newman.
I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had wonderful relationships with people I’ve worked with. But nothing has sustained like Paul Newman. Nothing has sustained like our connection. It went into movie friendship, into personal friendship. It cut very deep. He changed my life: He agreed to have me in the movie [Butch Cassidy] that I shouldn’t have been in. He was that generous. The studio wanted Steve McQueen, they wanted Marlon Brando, they wanted big-name people. And I was not that. I had only done Barefoot in the Park. I was eleven years younger than Paul, and [the director] George Roy Hill and I met, and he and I clicked. He wanted me. And then [the screenwriter] William Goldman wanted me, but the studio didn’t. “We can’t put Paul in with a no-name like that.” George said, “Let’s go meet Paul.” And Paul and I spent an evening together, drinking and talking. After, he said to the studio, “I want to go with Redford.” He stood up for me. They didn’t pay me anything. [Laughs.] I almost had to pay my way into the movie.
But that generosity really struck me hard, that he could be that generous and have that kind of integrity. And then as the film went on, we both pushed aside our movie personas and just became friends. We developed this relationship that was full of a lot of kidding and tricks played on each other, just great fun. It turned into a longtime friendship that still exists, even though he’s not with us anymore. I think about him. And I will always be grateful for his generosity.
What’s a movie segment without a list? And in chronological order to boot.
Top Ten Favorite Redford Films:
- Inside Daisy Clover
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Jeremiah Johnson
- The Candidate
- The Sting
- All The President’s Men
- Three Days of the Condor
- The Natural
- Out Of Africa
Robert Redford is also an outstanding director. His 1994 classic Quiz Show is one of my all-time favorite movies.
Top Five Favorite Redford Directed Movies:
- Ordinary People
- The Milagro Beanfield War
- A River Runs Through It
- Quiz Show
- The Conspirator
The second list is also in chronological order. Chronos appears to be speaking through me even if that’s not logical.
I’ve written a great deal about the New Orleans monuments issue. Let’s take a trip upriver and see what’s happening in another great Southern music city.
Lost Cause Fest: Memphis Style As a border state, Tennessee has a mixed history when it comes to the Civil War. Andrew Johnson refused to secede with the state although I wonder if it’s because he was too drunk to know which side he was on.
Tennessee is also known as the Volunteer state because it provided a helluva lot of volunteers for both sides in the Civil War. They were, however, big on white supremacy hence the struggle to remove a Memphis monument to the founder of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest. Liliana Segura has the details at the Intercept.
This segment has given me a benign earworm. Let’s conclude it by going to Memphis In The Meantime:
Haw, haw, haw, haw.
They All Axed For You: It may make me a sick bastard but I’ve been fascinated with the Trotsky assassination ever since I saw the Joseph Losey/Richard Burton film, The Assassination of Trotsky. I saw it in an outdoor cinema in Athens the year of its release, 1972. I recall murmurings in the audience when the ice axe hit Burton in the head. Splat. The junta was in power and audience members muttered about the Colonels as the dictators were known. The crowd erupted in applause as the credits rolled and I don’t think it was because of the movie.
I’m pleased to report that nobody was arrested. Like most things Greek, the junta were not competent. They did, however, hang a lot of signs celebrating the 4/21/1967 coup:
Holy manic digression, Batman. I’m almost as hammy as Richard Burton. Almost.
That brings me to an article in the Guardian about what happened to the murder weapon. Hint: it stayed in Mexico where the deed was done but it’s moving to a museum in Washington D.C. Julian Borger and Jo Tuckman have the grizzly details.
Another segment, another benign earworm. You might have known this was coming from the segment title:
Let’s move from the Meters and bloody ice axes to a segment about a great teevee show set in Victorian London.
Ripper Street: Dr. A and I just finished binge watching this remarkable show on Netflix. Since it’s right up our alley, I’m surprised we didn’t watch Ripper Street when it aired on BBC America but it somehow slipped through the cracks. So it goes.
Ripper Street is crime fiction at its best. It’s set in Whitechapel right after the Ripper murders. Those savage slayings are the backdrop to the first season but the show is much richer than that, weaving together personal stories as well as social history.
Above all else, it’s a character study of three of the most interesting fictional chaps to wear a hat in London from 1888-1900: Homer Jackson, Edmund Reid, and particularly Bennett Drake. Drake is played by Jerome Flynn who’s the potty-mouthed Bronn on Game of Thrones. Drake is a rather rough bloke who develops over the course of the series into its best loved character. Flynn is absolutely brilliant. It’s the role of a lifetime for a character actor with what is best described as an ugly handsome face.
It’s season one trailer time:
We finished the fifth and final season of Ripper Street not long ago and I already miss spending time with the characters. I plan to watch the entire series again some time soon. It’s that bloody good.
Ripper Street is currently streaming on Netflix. I give it a rare 4 stars, an Adrastos grade of A, and two exuberant thumbs up in honor of Siskel and Ebert.
Speaking of show folk with ugly, handsome faces, the next segment features Jimmy Durante.
Saturday GIF Horse: How About You? also has a lyric about Jimmy Durante: “And James Durante’s looks give me a thrill.”
I always thought Durante was scary myself. That nose, that voice. Here he is facing off with Mickey Mouse:
The Mouse meets the Schnozzola. My money is on Mickey. He was a much bigger star.
Saturday Classic: I mentioned earlier that we’d circle back to Sinatra. Songs For Swingin’ Lovers was the first non-compilation Sinatra album I ever owned. I picked it up because I recalled hearing it at home when I was a tadpole. It’s the album that started me buying Sinatra’s great Fifties recordings. I guess one could call it my gateway Sinatra record. It’s still one of my favorites even if the cover is strictly from hunger.
That’s it for this week. It’s only fitting to give Newman and Redford the last word.