Quite often somebody will say, 'What year do your books take place?' and the only answer I can give is, in childhood.
Playwright Tennessee Williams was born on this day in 1911 (he died in 1983.) Williams was about 63 when he sat down for an interview with talk show host Dick Cavett in a leafy courtyard of an antebellum era New Orleans hotel. As his plays were an unusual blend of tragedy, comedy, poetry, social commentary, sex, violence, and local color, you might expect the man himself to be somewhat unusual, and Williams certainly doesn't disappoint, but he's unusual in the most charming, wonderfully Southern twangy way possible. Though any careful, or even sloppy, reading of his work would indicate a rather dark nature, he seems to be in good humor here. Watch and listen:
It took me a bit of googling to find out who the hell this pirate was that Cavett was talking about. As Williams suggested, Jean Lafitte was an obvious choice, as he was the most famous pirate in New Orleans, having helped Andrew Jackson defend the city against the British during the War of 1812 in exchange for a pardon (what none of the local combatants on either side knew is that a peace treaty had been signed in Belgium a few weeks earlier. Life before the telegraph.) But he wasn't involved with any plot to bring Napoleon to America.
Obviously that line is packed with allegorical meaning, but that's not the only thing. It's also packed with...
If the above doesn't convince you that this movie might not be a bad way to kill 125 minutes, here's a couple of more reasons:
Lust means never having to say you're sorry.
Charlton Heston and (in make-up) Kim Hunter. No matter her appearance, Hunter seems to have no problem attracting shirtless males.
Tomorrow is another day. At least it is for that paperboy.
I still haven't convinced you to watch this movie? You find the whole Southern Gothic thing too off-putting? All that black-and-white drama with now-dead actors is something you just can't relate to? And what's with all the jazz music? Aren't they supposed to listen to the Grand Ole Opry in the South?
Perhaps this charming young woman can help make it more accessible for you:
I love how, after she tells of Stella returning to Stanley, she can't help but blurt out a hushed "stupid". And dig that shocked Mickey Mouse on her jacket. That says it all.
Tennessee Williams father was a southerner who spent spent so much time in the North that it's said he eventually lost his southern accent. Tennessee Williams mother was a northerner who spent so much time in the South that it's said she eventually gained a southern accent. Somehow in transit they hooked up with each other, opposites attracted while going in opposite directions. Cornelius Coffin "C.C." Williams and the former Edwina Dakin never divorced, but it's telling that I'm forced to use separate pictures because I couldn't find one online with both of them in it. Obviously, there were conflicts there. So be it. As any lit professor worth his tenure will tell you, conflict fuels the best fiction, and it fueled Tennessee's plays. There's the conflict between rural calm and urban restlessness, the conflict between cultural enrichment and industrial efficiency, the conflict between the religious and the secular, the conflict between tradition and originality, the conflict between uniformity and individuality, the conflict between homogeneity and multiculturalism, the conflict between nonconformity and economic survival, the conflict between self-actualization and a social life, the conflict between free will and chromosomes, the conflict between the head and the heart, the conflict between the head and the loins, the conflict between the heart and the loins, the conflict between boy-meets-girl and (as Williams' generation viewed it) the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name, and, as every bit as pronounced in his work as anything sexual, the conflict between upward mobility and downward mobility. Finally, there's the conflict between the Mason and the Dixon, a line Williams spent his entire life straddling. The Dixon part is what gets everybody's attention, but Williams also had things to say about the Mason. Y'all just have to get past the regional dialects and regional colloquialisms to know what they are. Ultimately, his writing was universal, as all art strives to be. And all artists, be they painters, writers, or actors. Take Vivien Leigh. When she wasn't playing Southern belles, she talked with an English accent!
"Mom, Elvis. Elvis, Mom."
Actually, by the time rock 'n' roll arrived on the scene, Tennessee Williams was about 45 years old, not exactly its target audience, and so probably didn't listen to too much of it. However, he does seem to have been a fan of at least one of its musical antecedents:
Now get back to your typewriters, er, keyboards.
Hey, I hope you enjoyed this trip into the heart of Tennessee (the man, not the state.) I guess that's a bit of hyperbole as I got nowhere near his heart, and, to mix a metaphor, barely scratched the surface of his career (though that's not much of a mixture given the trenchant nature of his work.) As long as this post was, I never got around to Big Daddy, or Carroll Baker in her short nightie in a crib, or Anna Magnani and her tattooed friends, or those hungry little kids that drove Liz Taylor to a shrink. Maybe next time. For now, so long, and remember...
...be kind to strangers. They depend on it.
When I was in grade school, the standard comeback would have been, "No thanks, I use toilet paper." Of course, you really shouldn't say that to one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century. But then, why is one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century sticking his tongue out in the first place? Well, you first have to look at the...
It's March 14, 1951, Albert Einstein's 72nd birthday. Princeton University's Institute of Advanced Study, his place of employment for the past 18 years, had thrown a party for him. Also in attendance were two friends of Einstein's, Frank Aydelotte, a former director of the institute, and his wife Marie. Once the party had wound down, the three of them walked out of the institute to a waiting limousine, followed all the way by a group of reporters and photographers, the reporters asking Einstein (but not the Aydelottes) for quotes for the next day's editions, the photographers asking him (but not the Aydelottes) to just stop and smile for the cameras. But, you know, before we go any further, maybe we should look at the reason why these reporter and photographers were so interested in Einstein (but not the Aydelottes) in the first place.
Hey gang...Well, if you're reading this then I am off to catch up with that big club tour in the sky. But before the bus pulls out I wanted to thank all of you for being part of my musical journey, both on the stage, on record, and behind the microphone here at WNCX...Somebody once said that if you love your job then it's not really work. And if that's true (and I definitely think it is) then I have been happily out of work for over fifty years!
--Michael Stanley, Cleveland-area rock star--yep, that's how we rightfully viewed him--local television personality, and radio disc jockey. The Michael Stanley Band was a popular attraction here on America's North Coast from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and set attendance records at such local venues as the Richfield Coliseum and Blossom Music Center, a big deal at the time as these places were where all the nationally-known rock acts--including Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen--played when they swung by the Metropolis of the Western Reserve during the mayorships of Ralph Perk, Dennis Kucinich, and George Voinovich. If all this info is a bit too local for you, then I should point out that MSB came pretty damn close to being a nationally-known rock act itself as it made the Top 40 several times and once even had a video on MTV. The above quote is from a purposely posthumous letter posted on the web site of the classic rock station where Stanley's been deejaying for the past few years.
Finally, here's a video shot in and around Cleveland:
Singer, bandleader, actor, television producer, studio head, and, for a few years there, Hollywood power player Desi Arnaz was born on this day in 1917 (he died in 1986.) All those things tie into what he's most fondly remembered for, playing Ricky Ricardo, the long-suffering husband of the restlessly motivated, zealously impulsive, always-in-over-her-red-head Lucy (played by his real-life wife at the time, Lucille Ball, who by most accounts wasn't any of those things) in what just might be the most popular, certainly the most legendary, situation-comedy of all time, I Love Lucy. In 1983, Arnaz was lured out of retirement to appear as a guest on Late Night with David Letterman. At 66 still very much a bon vivant, he seems to be enjoying himself. Watch:
Arnaz covered a lot of ground in that interview, which in turn means I have a lot of ground to cover as I give you background information, facts and figures, commentary, etc., so don't say I didn't warn you.