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

S is for Steichen #11


Greta Garbo (1928)

The Art of British Rail #4

They Were Collaborators #535


Dino, Desi and Billy

Soul Stirrers #4


Wilson Pickett

Tricky: Scenes from a Life #70


Tricky prepares to sign an autograph (1958)

Freddie Hubbard dies at 70


Freddie Hubbard

Somehow 70 seems too early for this masterful trumpeter, known as much for his work with Ornette Coleman on Free Jazz, Eric Dolphy on Out to Lunch and John Coltrane on Ole Coltrane and Ascension (among others) as for his own recordings as an ensemble leader. (I must confess to only owning a copy of his Blue Note solo debut Open Sesame, an error I plan to rectify in the very near future.)

Read the International Herald Tribune obituary here.

The Art of Cinema #362


Gli Specialisti
(The Specialist)
(Sergio Corbucci; 1969)

Artists in Action #470


Milton Berle sleeps with the lights on

The Art of the Girlie Mag #2


Eve (vol. 1, #1; 1961)

Poets are both clean and warm
And most are far above the norm
Whether here or on the roam
Have a poet in every home! #38


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Art of Pop #28


amour, amor, amore
(Percy Faith and His Orchestra)
(Columbia Records; 1955)

When Models Were Models #14


Lauren Hutton

Ann Savage Dead at 87



Actress Ann Savage quietly passed away on Christmas day.
Read the Los Angeles Times Obituary here.

When Legends Gather #491


James Baldwin, Charlton Heston and Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Marilyn in Action #13


Marilyn charms

Seminal Image #894


The Long Goodbye
(Robert Altman; 1973)

They Were Collaborators #534


The Swingle Singers

In the Studio #8


Randy Newman

Seminal Image #893


Man on Wire
(James Marsh; 2008)

Artists in Action #469


Anna Magnani and a child see eye to eye.

The Cool Hall of Fame #155


Roger Miller

Annals of Crime #54


Original Caption:

New York -- Accused of stabbing his wife in a wordless rage after a beatnik party, novelist Norman Mailer, 37, was ordered sent to Bellevue Hospital for observation. A psychiatrist's report described Mailer as suffering from acute paranoia with homicidal tendencies. Mrs. Adele Mailer, 35, was in critical condition at the hospital after being stabbed twice with a pen knife, Nov.20th. (1960)

The Art of Wellness #13

Before and After #159: Jane Fonda

Before


After

They Were Collaborators #533


Carol Reed and Anton Karas

Artists in Action #468


Marlene Dietrich disguises herself as Maurice Chevalier

The Heretofore Unmentioned #48


Charles M. Schulz

Soul Stirrers #3


Booker T. and the MGs

Seminal Image #892


No Room for the Groom
(Douglas Sirk; 1951)

When Legends Gather #490


Akira Kurosawa, Sydney Pollack, Barbara Streisand and John Huston

Eartha Kitt Dies at 81


Eartha Kitt, photographed here by Gordon Parks died yesterday.
Read the BBC coverage of her passing here.

Artists in Action #467


Sheila Burniston and Shirley Anne Field at the opening of the Battersea Pleasure Grounds, London; 11th May 1956.

a short series of Rousseau #8


Pere Juniet's Cart, 1908

Through the Lens of Cyril Arapoff #20


Hanbury Buildings, 1939. Children were denied access to this adjacent empty lot, even though it served no useful purpose.

Signs and Meaning in Cinema #11


Signs: The Naked Kiss
(Samuel Fuller; 1964)

Men of God #17
Broadcasters #55


Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

The Art of Jazz #82


Cool Struttin'
(Sonny Clark)
(Blue Note Records; 1958)

Before and After #158: Edie Sedgwick

Before


After

The Art of Cinema #361


Escape in the Fog
(Budd Boetticher; 1945)

Harold Pinter Dies at 78


News announced at lunch time, UK time that Harold Pinter died.
Read The Times obituary here.

The 12 Discs of Christmas 2008 #12


Brenda Lee - I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
(Decca Records 30107;1956)


This year's 12th title isn't particularly rare, I'm sure it's been featured in commercials and movies in recent years, although for a long, long time this song languished in relative obscurity, at least compared to Brenda Lee's other Christmas recordings. It's always been a favourite of mine, its youthful exuberance gets to me every time, and yes it does remind me of a more innocent time, as maudlin as that may sound. Little Brenda gives it all she's got in this song, right down to firing off her water pistol with mischievous "Squirt SQUIRT!" As childhood novelty songs go, I'll take this over the Chipmunks anyday.

Merry Christmas everyone, from all of us at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger... and here's to better things in 2009.

A Is For Arbus #50


This Ho Ho Ho Business
(Saturday Evening Post; December 14, 1964)

Sex Education #119


Bettie Page

Politicians In Action #28


Harry S. Truman enjoys a Christmas meal with reporters during a 1950 holiday visit to his hometown of Independence, MO.

When Santa Sold #8

Artists in Action #466


Ingrid Bergman captured by Gordon Parks in contemplative mood on set of 'Stromboli'.

They Were Collaborators #532


Robert Wagner, Steve McQueen, Shirley Anne Field and director Philip Leacock on set of 'The War Lover'.

The Heretofore Unmentioned #47


PP Arnold