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

August 16, 1956

Fifty years ago today, Hungary's most invaluable export to American culture (here undergoing treatment for an addiction to Morphine that only Nelson Algren could have put into words), surrendered the last measure of his health; passing away after decades of steady dissolution and the rigors of his own rather weighty theatricality. If he was fated to be Hollywood's answer to DeSica's Umberto Domenico Ferrari, then he at least refused to go quietly, thereby instilling a ray of hope into those similarly dispossessed. For that, and much else, we here at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger . . . wish to remember Bela Lugosi as fondly as America's film industry wanted to forget him.


Vanwall said...

"The Black Cat"

Say no more.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Beautiful, Tom. An incredible series. Thanks!

Tom Sutpen said...

Thank you, Dennis! Your words are high praise indeed! Muchas gracias.

Peter L. Winkler said...

The subtitle to Lugosi's story would be: The Curse of Dracula.

Lucky said...

heard about lugosi's tragedy in burton's ed wood film - been a fan ever since, of both!

great blog

(your blog title brought me here - been a mingus fan, too!)

lucky cheers

Gargantuan Media said...

HERE HERE OLD BEAN! Ach! I love me some Bela. Thanks for the posting(s).

ethan marten said...

Tom - got here quite by accident. Actually, looking for a Bella image for a blog tribute to my father. It is his Yahrzeit, and I was dressing up the Plan 9 blog (he actually sold it to the American market - funny story). Anyway, you have a fascinating collection. I will be visiting often. Best, Ethan

Ted said...

Actually, the photo is from about 1943. Lugosi was donating blood for a war drive. This photo, I believe, is a frame blow-up from the newsreel, wither that or it was taken nearly simultaneously. When he was hospitalized, he looked far thinner and gaunter, even worse than the photo from Bride of the Monster with the cigar, above.