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

Night Stalker Stalks Again


Darren McGavin as paranormal reporter Carl Kolchak.

According to the folks at tvshowsondvd.com, the great '70s mystery adventure (and often supernatural) series Kolchak: The Night Stalker will finally see the light of day on DVD in October. Now I'm not going to say that reporter Carl Kolchak was a major influence on me as far as my going into the newspaper business is concerned, but McGavin played him with a rare blend of verve and sweetness that always appealed to me. I saw the show in its initial run, I was really too young to watch it, but saw enough to give me nightmare fuel for months on end.

Great Moments in Marketing #4


Jerry Lewis, No. 97, Nov.-Dec. 1966

I forget when I spotted my first copy of Jerry Lewis's DC Comics book, but imagine my astonishment to learn that it ran from 1958 to 1972. It was actually Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in four-colour pulp form before '58, but that ended with the split, and it was decided Lewis was the better option for an ongoing series (although a Dino comic, with his continuing Rat Pack adventures would have been way cooler).

DC Comics also had a Bob Hope comic book, but I have no idea if he ever clashed with the Joker or not (although he could be the Riddler's dad, you can tell by the nose).

I actually own the issue pictured above...Lewis and his young sidekick Renfrew watch an episode of the camp '60s version of Batman, and decide to become masked avengers Ratman and Rotten, the Boy Blunder. Eventually they tangle with the Dark Knight himself, and a bunch of his arch foes. It's not much, but it beats all those other issues that find it endlessly hilarious to have Lewis tangle with a large gorilla. I have no idea if that's supposed to be a dig at Martin or not.

The Art of Cinema #80


Glass slide for Wicked
(Allan Dwan, 1931)

The Art of the Centerfold #18


Judi Monterey
(Miss January, 1963)

This Week's Munch #2


Golgotha (1900)

Before and After #5:
Ernest Hemingway

Before

After

Seminal Image #265


Like Sleep
(Paul Morrissey; 1964)

The Art of Mai, 1968 #4

Seminal Image #264


Akasen chitai
(Street of Shame)
(Kenji Mizoguchi; 1956)

Adventures in American Filmmaking #35


Today's Adventure: Erich von Stroheim Enjoys a Few Moments of Tranquility
in Death Valley on the Set of Greed (1924)

Long John Baldry Dead at 64


Long John Baldry, 1941-2005

From the London Telegraph:
Long John Baldry, who died on July 21 aged 64, was one of the leading figures on the British blues scene in the 1960s; during his career he made more than 40 albums, and is also credited with nurturing the early careers of Rod Stewart and Sir Elton John.

Baldry made his name in the early part of the decade, when his deep, rich voice accompanied Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, perhaps the best-known British blues band of the era. He had acquired the sobriquet "Long John" owing to his lofty frame: he stood 6ft 7in tall.

John William Baldry was born on January 12 1941 at Haddon, Derbyshire, but grew up in London, where he attended grammar school. As a teenager he came under the spell of American blues artists such as Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and was inspired to take up the guitar.

He was soon well known on the London club scene, whose leading lights at the time were Korner and Cyril Davies. Korner and Davies launched Blues Incorporated - Britain's first amplified blues band - in 1962, choosing Baldry as lead singer; he can be heard to good effect on their album R&B at the Marquee.

In those early days Baldry had a devoted female following; once, when he was performing for a 21st birthday party at a country house in Yorkshire, he caused some outrage when he was discovered writhing with a girl under the billiard table.

Among the band's fans were John Mayall and several future members of the Rolling Stones. Baldry was to perform with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Charlie Watts, as well as with the guitarists Jimmy Page and Jack Bruce; Eric Clapton was another admirer, and for their televised special in 1964 the Beatles invited Baldry to perform his version of I Got My Mojo Working.

After Korner and Davies decided to go their separate ways, Baldry joined the Cyril Davies All-Stars; but, after Davies's death from leukaemia in 1964, Baldry took over leadership of the group, re-naming it the Hoochie Coochie Men. He hired Rod Stewart as a fellow vocalist after hearing him sing on the platform at Twickenham railway station.

Towards the end of the decade Baldry led a band called Bluesology, which included as pianist Reginald Dwight, later Elton John, who took his new surname in homage to Long John Baldry. In 1971 Elton John and Rod Stewart were to repay their debt to Baldry when they co-produced his album It Ain't Easy.

When blues and R&B began to fall out of favour, Baldry made a brief excursion into mainstream pop, a move that yielded a hit in 1967 with Let the Heartaches Begin and another the next year with Mexico.

In 1973 Baldry threatened to sue a witches' coven after it sacrificed his tabby cat, Stupzi, in a "Ceremony of the New Moon" in Highgate Woods, north London, having taken his pet for a stray. Not long afterwards he moved to America, where he recorded Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

In 1978, having lived in New York and Los Angeles, Baldry decided to settle in Vancouver, British Columbia. He became a Canadian citizen three years later, and regularly toured the west coast of Canada and north-western America.

Baldry occasionally returned to Britain to perform, most recently in 2003. Two of his most popular albums, It Ain't Easy and Everything Stops For Tea, are due to be re-issued shortly, and he had been planning an extensive tour this year, but fell ill in April with a chest infection from which he never recovered.

The Art of the Centerfold #17


Christa Speck
(Miss September, 1961)

Seminal Image #263


The Charge of the Light Brigade
(Tony Richardson; 1968)

American Dance Orchestras of the 1930s #1


The Sundodgers, late '30s

Thanks to blog patron Ken Klein for this photo of the band performing in San Antonio. That's his father Jimmie Klein on clarinet. According to Ken, Harry James got his start playing with this combo, and they once performed with Jack Teagarden. Not too shabby.

They Were Collaborators #60


Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, circa 1944.

Great Madmen of the 20th Century #6


Michael Jackson (1972)

Seminal Image #262


Elgar: Portrait of a Composer
(Ken Russell; 1962)

Before and After #4:
Josef von Sternberg

Before

After

They Were Collaborators #59


Manfred Mann (circa 1964)

Tom's Influences #2


Joseph Heller

This Week's Munch #1


Anxiety (1896)

They Were Collaborators #58


Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 1952

Seminal Image #261


The Kid
(Charles Chaplin; 1921)

Before and After #3:
Margaret Thatcher

Before

After

Seminal Image #260


The Professionals
(Richard Brooks; 1966)

When Legends Gather #46


Walt Disney and Louis Prima

The Art of Cinema #79


Hellzapoppin!
(H.C. Potter; 1941)

Tom's Influences #1


William Faulkner

Seminal Image #259


Forty Guns
(Samuel Fuller; 1957)

Great Con Artists of the 20th Century #3


William S. Burroughs

Seminal Image #258


√Čloge de l'amour
(In Praise of Love)
(Jean-Luc Godard; 2001)

The Art of the Centerfold #16


Pat Russo
(Miss November, 1965)

Seminal Image #257


The Little Foxes
(William Wyler; 1940)

The Cool Hall of Fame #15


Bill Russell

When Legends Gather #45


Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg and Ashley Montagu

The Art of Cinema #78


Peeping Tom
(Michael Powell; 1960)

Actress Geraldine Fitzgerald Dead at 91


Geraldine Fitzgerald, 1913-2005

From her BBC News obituary:
She received an Oscar nomination for her performance alongside Laurence Olivier in the 1939 Wuthering Heights.

In the same year, she starred alongside Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and George Brent in the popular Hollywood tearjerker Dark Victory.

Fitzgerald had a tumultuous career at Warner Bros in the 1940s, refusing roles and being placed on suspension by the studio.

Yet during that decade she managed to appear in such films as Shining Victory (1942), The Gay Sisters (1943), Watch on the Rhine (1944) and Nobody Lives Forever (1946).

In later years, she appeared as a character actress in films including Ten North Frederick (1958), The Pawnbroker (1965), Rachel, Rachel (1968), Harry and Tonto (1974), Arthur (1981) and Easy Money (1983).

Shirley Jones, who starred with her in 1970s made-for-TV film Yesterday's Child, said: "I was a great fan. She was a consummate actress and I just loved everything she did.

"It was a great joy for me to work with her."

Relevant Quote #63


"America is the country that shows all the written guarantees in the world for freedom are no protection against tyranny and oppression of the worst kind. There the politician has come to be looked upon as the very scum of society."
-- Peter Kropotkin

They Were Collaborators #57


Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

The Art of Cinema #77


L'Odissea di Omero
(Homer's Odyssey)
(Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, Giuseppe de Liguoro; 1911)

Seminal Image #256


The Asphalt Jungle
(John Huston; 1950)

Great Con Artists of the 20th Century #2


Salvador Dali

Stacks o' Wax #8


Why Kids Go Wrong! (David "The Cross and the Switchblade" Wilkerson, 196?)

"A few years ago, David Wilderson, a young country minister, launched a solitary--and seemingly doomed--crusade. Into the streets and slums of New York City he went to preach the gospel of redemption to that city's gang and kids--teen-agers inured to every kind of crime and viciousness.

They sneered--and threatened--at first! David Wilkerson spent agonizing hours in doubt and fear. Then, one day, the miracle happened...a rowdy group of tough gang members watched as their leaders knelt in the street and prayed..."

Personally, I'd say kids go wrong because you dress them in yellow pants, but that's just me.

Great Moments in Marketing #3


In an effort to promote the risque single Poontang by R&B greats The Treniers ("Poon is a hug, tang is a kiss!"), the group's label Okeh Records sent out cans of genuine "Extra Fancy Lower Alabama Poontang (From the Exclusive Recipe of Miss Pussy Galore."

Don't ask me what the street value of that stuff is nowadays.

El Cine Del Oro #16


Espuelas de Oro
("Spurs of Gold", Agustin P. Delgado, 1948)

Seminal Image #255


La Commune (Paris, 1871)
(Peter Watkins; 1987)

The Art of the Centerfold #15


Alice Denham
(Miss July, 1956)