The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

When Men Were Men #6


Maurice Chevalier
from An Autographed Who's Who of the Screen, 1930
"I have been a carpenter, painted dolls in a doll factory, manufactured nails, and tried to become an acrobat. But somehow, as you say, I did not make good. When you fail at all else, you can always become an actor. My first real paying job as a singer came with the opportunity to sing at the Casino des Tourelles where I was paid three francs an evening. This I am pleased to say, was before the present state of exchange. Still, it was only 60 cents. After a few years and before I was twenty, I became the dancing partner of Mistinguett at the Follies Bergere. I entered the French Army during the War, was wounded and imprisoned in Germany. A friend and I escaped by passing ourselves off as Red Cross workers. I returned to the Paris stage, played in London with Elsie Janis, and after a few years reluctantly came to this country. I say reluctantly because I considered my accent a very bad handicap. I am married to Yvonne Vallee with whom I sang at the Empire in Paris. My favourite picture which I have made so far in this country is 'The Love Parade.' And although I wish to be very agreeable and very versatile in all I do, I will not compare the comparative merits of France and America, or the comparative beauty of French and American women. As for anything else, I am at your service, Mesdames et Messieurs."

2 comments :

swac said...

Some might say this could have been included under "They Were Collaboraters"...

Tom Sutpen said...

You know, early on in the 'They Were Collaborators' series I had an idea to include photos of people like Chevalier and Cocteau and Coco Chanel. In a way, you've beaten me to the joke, dammit.

(obligatory fist shaking towards the Canadian border)