Saturday Odds & Sods: How Will I Ever Be Simple Again

Two Comedians by Edward Hopper

April 2020 was Richard Thompson/Edward Hopper month Odds & Sods-wise. I couldn’t resist reviving the combination for this week’s entry. They go together like peas and carrots.

Today is Dr. A’s birthday as well as municipal election day. I haven’t been that electorally engaged this cycle. Perhaps it’s the deluge of flyers we’re gotten in the mail. New Orleans pols save their low blows for direct mail. My policy is to disbelieve everything in them. I call them lying flyers.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1986 for the Daring Adventures album. It was the first RT album to be produced by Mitchell Froom. Does that make it a Froom With A View? Beats the hell outta me.

We have three versions of How Will I Ever Be Simple Again for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Emmylou Harris, and RT and Emmylou live.

The stars have aligned with a second RT/EH combination. I wonder if Emmylou likes the art of Edward Hopper. Another mystery to ponder.

Now that we’ve simplified our lives, let’s complicate them by jumping to the break or is that breaking to the jump? Beats the hell outta me.

Speaking of simple, a song that was used in The Breakfast Club:

While we’re on the subject of John Hughes movies, this is from the soundtrack of a film whose name I’ve forgotten:

We begin our second act with a piece about a Mississippi amnesiac. There’s method to my madness or is that madness to my method? I forget.

The Mississippi Amnesiac: I’ve always been fascinated by amnesia. It’s a real thing but false claims abound in history, most notoriously in the case of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess. If I were a Nazi, I’d want to forget everything too.

There’s a swell piece in the Atavist Magazine by Laura Todd Carns about a man who lost his memory and spent 8 years in a Mississippi mental institution. Here’s how it starts:

On a summer day in 1931, a man was found wandering South State Street in Jackson, Mississippi. He appeared to be lost. He was white, with gray hair and a thin, angular face. His clothes were worn and rumpled, but on his feet were a pair of tan Borden low-quarter dress shoes, the kind that sold for more than ten dollars at S. P. McRae’s department store on West Capitol Street. He had shell-rimmed eyeglasses and a belt buckle with the letter L on it. In his pocket was a cheap watch and a single penny.

When police questioned him, the man seemed dazed. He was unable to supply his name, his address, or an explanation for why he was in Jackson. He was arrested for vagrancy. After a few days, he was placed in the custody of Dr. C. D. Mitchell, superintendent of the Mississippi State Hospital. Upon his arrival at the facility, the man, who was estimated to be about sixty, was entered into the patient ledger as “Mr. X.”

If you’re hooked and want to learn more about Mr. X, click here.

The last word of the segment goes to the Fabulous Thunderbirds:

There’s been a lot of Eighties music in this post, let’s move back to the Fifties and the heyday of Dino Crocetti dba Dean Martin.

The Book Report:

I’ve heard for years how great Nick Tosches book Dino: Living High In The Dirty Business Of Dreams is. It was published in 1992 and I finally read it 29 years later. Better late than never.

Dean Martin was a first generation American who grew up in Steubenville, Ohio. His family weren’t the only Italo-Americans there. In fact, Tosches describes it as a den of iniquity, gambling, and vice. That’s right, it was a mobbed-up town. Dino thrived there but also couldn’t wait to get the hell out of the Buckeye state.

Dino kicked around on the margins of show business for many years. He was known as a crooner with a laid-back attitude and a pretty face.

Dean’s big break came when he teamed up with Jerry Lewis in 1946. Lewis too had limited success with his act, which involved pantomiming to records. I am not making this up. Lewis was even then a Stooge and a Patsy.

Martin and Lewis were a magical combination but there was a problem: Dean never liked Jerry. It got worse over the years until Martin quit the act. There was a flurry of recriminations, then Dean went silent. Public displays of emotion were alien to both Dino Crocetti and Dean Martin.

One of the most revealing stories told by Nick Tosches is of an NBC executive who told Dean that he wanted to have lunch with him to get to know him better. Dean’s reply, “Nobody knows me.”

Dean rarely gave interviews and declined to cooperate with Nick Tosches. Tosches was able to interview Jerry Lewis and Dean’s second wife Jeanne at length. Fortunately for Dean, Jeanne still loved him despite everything. but Jerry’s remarks are dipped in poison. Lewis sounds like a kid dumped by his hero. Hell hath no fury like a nebbish scorned.

The best chapter title in the book comes from the Martin and Lewis years: The Organ-Grinder and the Monkey. I suspect you can guess who was who.

Nick Tosches was a wonderful writer whose prose was witty and profane. He was the perfect biographer to try to unravel the riddle wrapped in an enigma that was Dean Martin. FYI, he also wrote a brilliant biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, Hellfire. Goodness, gracious great balls of fire.

It’s grading time. I give Dino: Living High In The Dirty Business Of Dreams 4 stars and an Adrastos grade of A.

The last word of our second act goes to Dean Martin with his biggest hit:

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth Twitter Edition: It comes from Adrastos crony and former Gambit editor Kevin Allman.

Where’s Big Bird in all of this? I hear he’s a commie dupe or some such shit according to Tailgunner Ted. Oy, just oy.

The Movie List: My definition of movie for purposes of this list has always been elastic. It gets downright distended this time as at least half of the acts listed are best known for their television work. It’s my list. I make the rules. Anyone who doesn’t like it can go into time-out.

My Top Ten Favorite Comedy Teams

  1.   The Marx Brothers
  2.   Monty Python
  3.   Laurel and Hardy
  4.   Fry and Laurie
  5.   The Three Stooges
  6.   French and Saunders
  7.   Burns and Allen
  8.   Abbot and Costello
  9.   Key and Peele
  10.   Stiller and Meara

A noticeable omission is Martin and Lewis. Here’s why: I hate Jerry even more than Dean did. He’s the most annoying comedian of all-time. Dean’s voice was to die for, Jerry’s was to die from. Oy, just oy.

Saturday GIF Horse: The Martin and Lewis show continues with two GIFs.

I’ll give Jerry credit for his willingness to act like a moron in public. Oy, just oy.

Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.

Saturday Classic: It’s time to circle back to the beginning of the post with Richard Thompson’s swell 1999 album. Mock Tudor:

That’s all for this week. The last word goes to the Organ-Grinder and the Monkey:

3 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: How Will I Ever Be Simple Again

  1. shapiroout says:

    I was absolutely fascinated by the Tosches book. Don’t even remember why I picked it up since I never was a big Dean Martin fan, but ten pages in I was hooked. And other than knowing he once was teamed with Jerry Lewis and the act was pretty big I knew nothing more about the act so finding out that at the time they were as big as Elvis or The Beatles would be years down the line. If you are still interested in The Steubenville Stud, you might want to check out the podcast You Must Remember This (http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com/episodes) as Karina Longworth is currently doing an extended series on Dean and Sammy Davis Jr. and the parallel paths two guys from different minority groups took to reach stardom.

  2. JCO says:

    I would add Nichols and May to the list of great comic duos but otherwise, love this post. I keep forgetting Emmylou and Richard collaborated.

  3. Peter Adrastos Athas says:

    A fine suggestion. I contemplated Firesign Theatre as well.

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