Friday, July 31, 2009

Ladies upload movies too! Latest YouTube discoveries

I think I’ve referred in the past to most of the YouTube posters who’ve uploaded entire movies as “he” because I tend to identify that level of obsessive fan behavior as male (you ladies tend to have more sensible proclivities). Well, two of the posters who’ve put up entire flicks on their accounts are indeed female, and so this week, in my ongoing survey of what’s what on that crazy, insane, bottomless source of entertainment, I salute them. (And yes, I know, the Internet being the intangible concept it is, the people claiming to be men could women, and vice versa.)

The first poster is someone known as The Thin Woman. This poster, like so many folks on YT, pays homage to her fave performers by making little music-vids of their best moments, as with this valentine to the great Myrna Loy:

She generally uses danceable trax as a background music, and in some cases the lyric/title adds another layer to the imagery, as here Garbage’s “Androgyny” is used to salute Garbo:

Her most interesting is a montage of actresses who were rumored to be lesbians scored, natch, to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”:

The Thin Woman’s complete uploads include these movies: The Blue Angel, The Bachelor and The Bobbysoxer, All About Eve, Suddenly Last Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Garbo’s first talkie, Anna Christie:

The other female poster must be named Sara, because her nick is SaraismyName. Sara is a young woman in Sweden who also likes old movies and Golden Age actresses. Her rarest upload is a full 1972 TV interview with Ingrid Bergman (without subs), which can be found here.

She also does montages of her faves, set to current music. This is a compilation of moments featuring the ever-awesome Carole Lombard set to a song by “ladies man” Chris Brown (he treats ’em so nice):

Sara’s complete uploads include Madame Curie, The Letter, That Forsyte Woman, Blossoms in the Dust, The Old Maid, Charade, The Miniver Story, The Golden Arrow, and The Great Lie. Here’s my fave of the bunch, the perfect screwball comedy, Bringing Up Baby:

Sara is also a fan of classic TV game shows from the U.S. I’m not sure where or when she saw ‘em, but people know my opinion of GSN here in the States since they dropped all their b&w programming. In any case, Sara has posted some montage videos of the ladies of What’s My Line?. I didn’t realize there was anyone under 30 years of age who even knew who these women were, so I was surprised to see that she had posted this episode of a 1950s show hosted by Arlene. And was very amazed to see this collection of “Lady Arlene” moments (I do miss John Charles Daly!) set to the Beatles:

And this further Arlene/Beatles clip:

This one was the biggest eye-opener, a montage of Dorothy Kilgallen moments, set to Blondie’s “One Way or Another”:

Give both posters a whiskey, with ginger ale on the side, and don't be stingy, baby. (Understand who will.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Go To Pieces: Deceased Artiste Gordon Waller

And since there was a Beatle-ish slant to the past two D.A. tribs, why not end up with an actual FOTF (Friend of the Fabs), Gordon Waller, the latter half of Peter and Gordon. Gordon died of cardiovascular disease last Friday here in the States at 64.

A Scotsman, Waller was the “dreamier”-looking member of P&G (he’s on the right in the picture), and was the one with the deeper voice. Peter and Gordon were a fine Everly Brothers-influenced duo that had, according to the obits, nine Top 20 hits during their four years together. I have a major fondness for their best tunes, as I heard ’em back at my uncle’s many years back, before I could even begin to contemplate how depressing the lyrics are, and how lovely the melodies and pure-pop production.

Their biggest hit was of course “World Without Love,” given to them by a certain P. McCartney, a friend and boyfriend at the time of Peter’s sister Jane:

The wonderfully direct “I Don’t Want to See You Again” (Paul could write ‘em back then, hasn’t since the late ’70s) performed live on Ed Sullivan (Gordon’s vocals are much better on the record):

A hook and nothing more, but hard to forget. “Nobody I Know,” also by McCartney for his friends:

My all-time fave by the duo, the wonderfully melodramatic and well-produced “Woman.” Again written by McCartney, this time under a pseudonym to see if it would still hit. It did. (I have the LP this came from, and “Right From the Start,” its B-side, is a great farfisa-organ ditty).

But P&G didn’t only have hits penned by McCartney. Here’s another bouncy ode to being fucking dumped, “I Go to Pieces,” by the ever-awesome Del Shannon:

And my other fave besides “Woman,” P&G’s novelty-style pop ditty “Lady Godiva.” Here they are performing it on one of those many failure shows that Uncle Miltie hosted in the mid-‘60s.

Cover Man: D.A. Tom Wilkes

I was apprised of another behind-the-scenes musical personality’s shuffling off this mortal coil this week from friend Stephen’s blog, one Tom Wilkes, whose album cover designs are burnt into all of our brains — those of us who are “of a certain age” (what a lovely, ambiguous, insidious phrase).

The best single-glance round-up of Wilkes’ work appears here. You know an online article has hit home when it is responded to by not only the subject’s daughter, but also a certain former subject of his, Van Dyke Parks:

Tom Wilkes tribute on the L.A. Weekly blog

Deceased Artiste: "Cosmic Artist" Heinz Edelmann

This week I found out about three deaths that relate to Sixties' musical phenomena. The first is the demise of an artist who oversaw the trippiest animated feature of the latter part of that decade, Yellow Submarine. Edelmann was primarily a dedicated graphic designer of posters and illustrations, who also taught for a good deal of his latter years.

Edelmann has the distinction of having made the film the psychedelic masterwork that it is, by designing the characters and “locations.” The piecemeal construction of the picture meant that many other animators were involved in different segments (nearly every song has its own distinct “look” on a visual level), but Edelmann was the eye in charge of the project. With the film he helped jumpstart the so-called “cosmic art” look at the same time that Peter Max became its foremost and most unabashedly commercial exponent (the reason most folks think Max originated the look and collaborated on the film, which he didn’t). Edelmann was quick to note in interviews that he was happy to move on from “head art” shortly after the film was completed.

Funhouse friend Stephen Kroninger pretty much assembled all the links you need in his Heinz-trib which you can find right here (it might take a short bit to load on certain browsers, but it’s worth the trip). Stephen has also added a wonderful National Lampoon parody written by “Mr. Mike” himself and illustrated by Randall Enos that perfectly spoofs Yellow Submarine.

As for the Edelmann, I will just add on this nice bit from an article you can find here written by one his students, Christoph Niemann (it formed the basis of the New York Times obit’s catchiest passages):

Mainly, his teaching consisted of metaphysical monologues examining the links between the arts, literature, the irreversible dumbing down of youth, Asian mythology and graphic design. In case someone happened to be late for class, arriving in the afternoon, his inquiry about Mr. Edelmann's previous presence could easily be answered via a glance at the center of the floor. A rather large pile of ashes would be found there-a reminder of the numerous cigarettes Mr. Edelmann was bound to consume during his lectures — clearly indicating that one had missed him and would thus have to wait until the next day to discuss one's work with him.

One of the first things he would tell a student when they came fresh into class, was to avoid pursuing a career in illustration. Edelmann had worked in all major areas of graphic design and obviously concluded that illustration is the shortest way to desperation, and to make things worse, illustrators are not even reimbursed adequately for their sufferings (unlike, for instance, their colleagues in advertising). One of the most impressive things was that he was not only extremely well informed (on everything but soccer, which he pretended not to like), but also that he was actually working in all the disciplines he talked about. Therefore his insights did not stem from some slowly grown academic wisdom and bitterness, but from his experience on a job finished just the night before.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Savage Innocence: the films of Nicholas Ray

All his films are crossed by the same obsession with twilight, the solitude of beings, the difficulty of human relations.—Jacques Rivette

Nicholas Ray is in the top rank of American filmmakers for a number of reasons, among them that he made such a deep impression in such a short period of time with so few films, and that the films have remained emotional powerhouses a half century later. His best-known film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), is grounded in Fifties America, but its depiction of the trials of a teenage misfit is timeless. In a similar fashion, They Live By Night (1949) is in the top rank of “lovers on the run” films, The Lusty Men (1952) is an impeccable portrait of macho self-destruction, Johnny Guitar (1954) is one of the most unique Westerns ever — a baroque creation that is both sincerely operatic and wildly satiric (both of Western clichés and McCarthyism), Bigger Than Life (1956) is perhaps the ultimate statement on the American family in the Fifties (and an amazing template for The Shining, minus the violence), and Bitter Victory (1957) is one of the best war movies ever, exploring cowardice and bravery while giving the young Richard Burton one of his first great movie roles.

This week’s Funhouse episode presents a survey of the filmmaker’s career, in conjunction with the current Nicholas Ray retro at the Film Forum in lower Manhattan. I urge everyone reading this to try and check Ray’s films out on the big screen, especially his later CinemaScope creations. Barring that, I think ya just gotta see the films in one sitting, as his sense of pacing was immaculate, and the stronger films do still pack quite a punch. Since the Internet continues to yield untold pleasures and is one of the finer (and most accessible) research tools, I offer the following clip-survey, courtesy of (you guessed it) YouTube:

An interview clip, from Ray’s Seventies teaching phase:

For some reason no trailer for the perfect They Live By Night can be found on YT, but a French firm has put up an isolated scene from early in the film:

In a Lonely Place (1950) is one of Ray’s best, and also gave Bogart one of his finest roles. The film costars the wonderful Gloria Grahame (who had been Ray’s wife, but the two were in the process of separating while the film was being made). Here is the trailer:

Johnny Guitar has many memorable moments but this exchange of dialogue between Johnny (Sterling Hayden) and Vienna (Joan Crawford) is among the most famous. Godard has been a fan of the film since it came out, and still is — it was included in his recent Histoire(s) du Cinema project:

And in case you can’t imagine what a baroque Western looks like, check this out:

Rebel Without a Cause is available in its entirety on YT:

The trailer for Ray’s masterful Bigger Than Life:

This Bigger Than Life scene serves as a backdrop on the show this week. Here you can watch it with dialogue intact:

Ray’s Bitter Victory (1957) is available on DVD perfectly letterboxed and is a must-see. The opening can be found here:

An eye-catching interlude from Wind Across the Everglades (1958):

Another item that appears on this week’s show, under my commentary. A Cyd Charisse musical number from Party Girl (1958) in BRIGHT Technicholor:

And for those in search of a complete Ray rarity, one generous poster has put up the film The Savage Innocents (1960), which has never been available on VHS or DVD in America. The film is best known for having inspired Bob Dylan to write "Quinn the Eskimo" which became a hit for Manfred Mann. It is also the last real Nick Ray feature film, as his next two works were for-hire epics, and the student film he worked on for years, We Can't Go Home Again hasn't been shown publicly since it was first conceived, and it was a quite complicated piece that involved different types of film (8, super 8, 16, 35mm). The Savage Innocents has been buried for quite some time, and I wonder if that is due to the fact that it would currently be labelled un-"p.c." in its depiction of Eskimos. What Ray was after, however, was to depict a race that has its own moral codes and perfectly organic way of life — and is then disrupted by the white man's sense of "order" and "civilization."

Most viewers had their first and final glimpse of Ray himself in Wim Wenders’ elegiac Lightning Over Water, aka Nick’s Movie:

But this is truly the most amazing Ray rarity on YouTube, the short “The Janitor,” which Ray made for an anthology called Wet Dreams in 1974. It’s quite a bizarre and debauched piece that features Nick in two roles. It is well worth your attention, and I can guarantee you haven’t seen it anyplace else if you live in the U.S.:

Jack Hill — the Media Funhouse interview

I conducted this interview back in 1996 when Mr. Hill was touring the U.S. promoting the re-release of his 1975 film Switchblade Sisters. In the first clip he discusses his “incredibly strange” cult pic Spider Baby, which was made in 1964, but released in 1968.

Here he discusses the actress he essentially “discovered,” the great Ms. Pam Grier:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cary Grant and Donovan: More movies on YouTube

The endless, spiraling “rabbit hole” (thanks, Stephen) that is YouTube yields constant surprises. A lot of posters have put up feature films that have been out of print for years and never available on any home format, whereas others are sharing their favorite movies that have been around but are not findable at your video store or on Netflix (remember those hundreds of titles that were out on VHS that didn’t go to DVD?). As I noted last week, certain posters who do make their film uploads publicly searchable (read: they use the actual name of the film in their post) have divvied the films up by genre or star. Thus, the poster named IWaxx has dozens of movies up, with 990 clips in one account alone, but has taken care to sort them to different account names.

His or her simplest account is Reel Waxx. Here IWaxx has put up, among others, the original Andromeda Strain, To Catch a Thief, Suspicion, and the consummate American Expressionist classic Night of the Hunter.

At another account, this poster has put up family-friendly features, including the Shirley Temple Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Darby O’Gill…, the Tom Thumb that features Peter Sellers, once-and-future kid-drama queen Hayley Mills in Pollyanna, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, and (this one’s anonymous) segments from My Two Dads.

IWaxx’s third account spotlights thrillers and fantasy films with some classic Harryhausens, Shadow of a Doubt, House on Haunted Hill, The Haunting, some Seventies horror pics, and the wonderful 1935 Midsummer Night’s Dream:

The WaxxFree account is the one under which this poster went completely over the top, posting a generous 990 clips. Included in this collection are a number of Cary Grant and Tyrone Power titles, as well as Dead End, Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, and the hard-to-find Jacques Demy film The Pied Piper starring Donovan as the titular troubadour. The film (which is actually up on YT from another poster!) is a stark retelling of the fairy tale with some surprisingly menacing moments, and a great cast that includes not only the almighty Lord of Trippiness himself, but also John Hurt and Pufnstuff star Jack Wild. The Pied Piper is not on DVD in the U.S., and I believe it was never out on VHS. But, thanks to IWaxx and his fellow “sharers,” we have this rarity and other classics available at the click of a button.

Vintage Stand-up Comedy: my new favorite blog

I am a junkie for several things, among them novelty songs and comedy albums. The novelty tunes I’ll go into another time, but as a comedy-LP fanatic, I need to heartily recommend this gent Jim and his Vintage Stand-up Comedy blog.

Over the years I’ve amassed a pretty decent collection of comedy on vinyl and CD, but the blogspot “sharity” phenomenon has now made it possible for older fans — the kind who aren’t frequenting BitTorrent — to delve into other’s “stashes” of rare vinyl. What could formerly only be obtained only through trades of audio tapes with fellow collectors, now is available on the Net, to anyone who has an RAR extractor (free download, for both PC and Mac) and the time to listen.

The thing about comedy records — true of any collectible item, really — is that they generally fall into two categories: the ones you will actively engage with over the years, replay and laugh at again in the future; and those you’re acquiring because they’re just so damned rare or so damned weird, or they are literally the only title by that particular person. The offerings on the Vintage Stand-up blog fall neatly into those slots, and since they do, I’ll offer two clumps of recommendations. The must-haves were generally available at one time on CD in some permutation or other (as with Woody Allen’s ever-changing two-LP set, or Nichols and May’s “best of”), but most comedy albums haven’t stayed in print for too long in any format.

Thus, you have the Essentials, as TCM calls them. Blogger Jim G and his friend, known simply as “Big Cheeze,” have put up albums that are must-listens by Woody Allen, Brooks and Reiner, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Cheech and Chong, Lenny Bruce, Shelley Berman, Jonathan Winters, Nicholas and May, Eddie Murphy, Bill Hicks, Lily Tomlin, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx, Jackie Mason, Lord Buckley, Steve Allen, and Ruth Wallis … just to name a few.

Then you have the oddities and rarities that have been posted. They may only been for the stout-hearted, comprehensive collector, but among the group there are a few that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by (read: they were actually very funny). Many are worth having in some form just because they are so insanely rare, and if I haven’t noted it up to this point, the key here is that Jim (and Cheeze, presumably) are making these available through their “rips” from vinyl (you can hear the surface noise as the needle touches down, babies). There are also posts of things that are true rarities: the “Live at the Playboy Club” Moms Mabley album posted isn’t that commercially available CD, it’s a montage that was made for satellite radio that includes cuts from that album, plus various other rare Moms material. The same is true of the Brother Theodore comp that Cheeze put up, which includes a whole performance and several other things including the audio of a Letterman appearance. These bits of sharity are perhaps the nicest on the blog, since they don’t constitute any particular “score” at a record shop, but rather are the spoils of a collector’s longtime obsession.

Thus, I will spotlight some of the more obscure things put up on Vintage Stand-up Comedy. Including the one and only album by Paul Lynde. It includes a bit that has the word “rape” in it (not heard that often on an older comedy LP), plus that strangled, sarcastic laugh that became Paul’s truest comic legacy.

Paul is here.

Since GSN dumped all its b&w programming into oblivion (and they’re getting such great late-night ratings as a result, haven’t you heard? Through the roof!), I’ve been jonesing for some Henry Morgan, and Jim has nicely obliged. This is a short LP (unavailable on CD, need I add) that is mostly focused on Morgan’s commercial parodies).

Henry is here.

I have been a hardcore fan of Father Guido Sarducci, Don Novello’s alter ego, since I first saw him singing in the confessional on the 1970s “comeback” Smothers Brothers comedy show. Novello is wonderfully funny (check out his Laszlo Toth books if you’re anywhere near the humor section of a well-stocked bookstore), but there have only been two comedy LPs by him in the last 30 years.

Fr. Guido is here.

Godfrey Cambridge is a comic who has lived on more through the movies he did (Watermelon Man, Cotton Comes to Harlem) than through his stand-up. This is a recording (I’m not sure if it actually was a released LP or is just a tape that’s circulated) of Cambridge doing a great set in Las Vegas, that includes a mention of one of my all-time favorite films he participated in (one of the ultimate New Yorker movies, Sidney Lumet’s small and PERFECT Bye Bye Braverman), as well as some very funny material about gambling, traveling to Italy, and losing weight.

Godfrey is here.

And since we’re on a fat kick, let’s mention “King Tut” himself, the terrific character actor Victor Buono. I’ve never quite gotten my mind around the fact that he was in his early 20s when he did …Baby Jane?, in his late 20 when he was on Batman, and was dead at 44. His one and only comedy LP contains a number of poems about being fat that he had recited on The Tonight Show. There are none of those appearances uploaded to YouTube, but you can find the best cut from this album, and a tribute video made by his nephew (the singer on the vid, who is not a Buono relative, sounds a whole lot like my perennial fave flower-child singer Melanie)

Victor is here.

And, since I’m going to be fair and honest here, here is an absolutely awful album that I am so glad I heard. Will I ever listen to it again? That’s a good question, but I had heard about it, and being able to sample insult comic Fat Jack E. Leonard’s nasty 1957 “tribute” to rock ’n’ roll, which consists of him mostly barking out lyrics to half-baked r’n’r song parodies, was something I needed to do. It was my sort of very “happy pain.” For that I must, er, thank, Jim and Cheez.

Fat Jack is here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Film noir and Western collections on YouTube

I have been planning a post surveying the literally thousands and thousands of classic films that are currently available on YouTube, posted in their entirety by rabid fans (in sequences of clips, all running 10 minutes long — pity the poor viewer who tries to watch Giant that way….). I’m pleased and pretty much amazed by the intense work that goes into this kind of “sharity,” so I believe I should get a few of these links up on the blog before the Kopyright Kops who arbitrarily enforce the rules come and take these stashes down.

The uploaders usually group the films in terms of stars, but more often they are arranged by genre. One gent, calling himself by two hallowed names in the film noir canon, has put up some seminal Westerns and noirs. As Joel Cairo, he has put up five Westerns including three of the perfect Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott collaborations (I need to upload clips from mine own interview with the late, great Budd). Among the offerings from “Joel” are Seven Men from Now (1956) which was beautifully restored by UCLA, thankfully during Budd’s lifetime, The Tall T (1957), and Comanche Station (1960).

Joel’s account

As Hank Quinlan, our friend has put up some of the greatest noirs: Out of the Past, The Lady from Shanghai, Nightmare Alley, and Touch of Evil are among the full films he’s uploaded. He also has added some of the cult favorites: Phantom Lady, Desert Fury, Ace in the Hole, and Blast of Silence. His collection is most definitely worth checking out. It’s very nice to have these films immediately at hand, although of course it would be best to see them in a theater on a screen with an audience. That experience doesn’t happen all that often outside the parameters of each city’s rep house or university auditorium, so this is a very handy way to catch up with the noir classics (although, one bit of advice: do yourself a favor and mark out the time to watch the films in their entirety, hopefully in one sitting; they are wonderfully paced for a single viewing experience).

Hank’s account

Heavily recommended weirdness: Dion McGregor

Somewhere between Jonathan Winters and Brother Theodore on the one hand, and William Burroughs and Terry Southern on the other, there existed a totally un-famous yet incredibly imaginative failed songwriter who happened to “sleeptalk” very odd material in the early morning hours. Dion McGregor was the gent’s name, and he is about as forgotten in pop culture circles as Murray Roman.

However, those who have listened to his amazing spoken-word 1964 LP The Dream World of Dion McGregor know that McGregor was a seminally weird performer — who just happened to never have once performed on a stage (he acted in several films in his early years, but gave up the craft by the 1950s). The mythology on McGregor was that he “sleeptalked” these bizarrely surreal vignettes, which run the gamut from laidback moments of oddball discussion, to vague and hazy trips through queerly-inhabited landscapes, to incidents rife with melodramatic and cartoonish peril. The Dream World album contained 10 of these dreams, which were taped on reel-to-reel by his songwriting collaborator Mike Barr in their apartment at First Avenue and 53rd St. in NYC, from 1961-1967.

I had heard the album for the first time more than a decade ago, but wasn’t aware until about two weeks back that two CD sequels existed, culled from the same material. All three albums are available online for free (although, of course, I recommend you buy the CDs if you like the material) — but more about that below. First, let me consider the obvious question: what is this stuff? It definitely qualifies as humor of a sort, but it’s not a standard comedy LP. At times one can be convinced that McGregor is insane but, as with Brother Theodore and Jonathan Winters, this is actually a creative person *playing the role* of a crazy person — or, more appropriately, given the mythology, a creative person’s subconscious running wild, on tape.

The question of whether McGregor was for real is addressed in the best biographical article on the man ever published, which can be found here. Author Phil Milstein maintains that he interviewed several people who knew McGregor and saw him actually sleeptalk. He swears that it’s for real. As you listen to the original LP and its CD sequels, however, it’s sorta hard to believe that contention, since McGregor’s pieces, while scattershot (like the best Winters improv sessions), are developed vignettes that have specific characterizations, take their bizarre premises as far as they can possibly go, and have a weird internal rhythm that suggests they weren’t just (ahem) dreamed up out of the blue. The dreams were in fact also converted into print — Dream World of Dion McGregor book was published in 1964 by Bernard Geis, with illustrations by a very appropriate artist, Edward Gorey.

The most interesting aspect of McGregor’s life to me, is the revelation in Milstein’s article that McGregor was part of the NYC “private film society” scene in the 1950s and ’60s — the folks who where the American equivalent of the Cinematheque/Cahiers crowd, who gathered at various apartments to watch 16mm prints of old movies and attended Manhattan’s many repertory houses together to check out Golden Age classics. McGregor, in fact, had an encyclopedic knowledge of old movies, and had a very large still collection which he supplied to the Citadel Films of… series (he gets co-author credit on The Films of Greta Garbo), which at that time was supervised by Mark Ricci of the Memory Shop (where McGregor worked when he needed dough – and which he mentions in one of his “trips” represented on YouTube [see below]).

I urge you to listen to all of McGregor’s work linked to below, and yes, check the vids and the MySpace if you want a quick fix. Also, read Milstein’s article, which gives you the full story behind the recordings. The long and the short of it was that McGregor was an aspiring songwriter who wanted his work to appear on Broadway, but the closest he got was to have a few songs included in various performers’ nightclub acts and have a few shows mounted off-Broadway (one, co-written by Robert Cobert of Dark Shadows fame, actually made its bow as an “original cast album” of a show that was never actually produced!). His single biggest moment of fame was having Barbra Streisand include one of his and Barr’s tunes (“Where is the Wonder”) on her My Name is Barbra LP and TV special. Dion (his parents named him for Dionysus — little more needs be added) lived from 1922-94, was a New Yorker by birth and disposition, but lived on the West Coast in his latter years with his last partner, whom he met (surprise) at an old movie screening.

The three McGregor albums are truly unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Which is not to say they’re hysterically, laugh-out loud funny. They’re more strange than anything, and in fact, do neatly fit with both the “sick humor” of Lenny Bruce and co., as well as the “black humor” of Southern, Bruce Jay Friedman, Joseph Heller, and friends. While re-listening to the albums today, I was struck by how the stuff could easily be described as the kind of thing that drug-taking artistes would come up with, but to all accounts McGregor was a straight arrow (well, maybe not straight, but…). I wondered if maybe the gent imbibed, because at times he does sound like the later Truman Capote (who was always as sharp as a tack while he was stewed to the gills). Apparently, though, McGregor didn’t indulge in that fashion either. Milstein notes that a few tapes of his real speaking voice exist — among them, an appearance promoting the LP and the hardback book on the Long John Nebel show. On those tapes he speaks differently, so perhaps the somewhat liquored-up effect or slow speech pattern was indeed what he sounded like when he was sleeptalking. Or, of course, the last option: that the voice was just another aspect of his performing and he, along with his friends (and publisher and record producer "witnesses"), made the whole sleeptalking thing up. In any case, whatever the truth may be, the albums are worth hearing, and so we move to the audio portion of the program.

The three albums have been uploaded by Bret B. at Egg City Radio (those who are familiar with the TV scripts of Stanley Ralph Ross will notice that I didn’t go for “eggs-cellent”). I heavily recommend Bret’s blog, which also has links to Lester Bangs’ Jook Savages on the Brazos LP, as well as several National Lampoon Radio Hours. The latter are as fresh and vibrant as when they were recorded in 1973-74, with any single hour as funny as the cumulative Saturday Night Live output for the last 24 years. Lorne Michaels should thank his lucky stars that Mr. Mike existed (as should we).

But back to McGregor. The first album, as noted, is the 1964 Decca LP The Dream World of Dion McGregor. The dreams are all joined in media res, with McGregor just launching into his character, whether he be a guy reminiscing about a magical girl he knew years before, or a man lamenting “Terrible Town” and wanting to visit “Lovely-ville,” or the greedy relative who wants to write a letter to his uncle using the word “perspicacity,” which he can’t spell. Since there are no samples of this available for fast perusal, I put up the most grisly vision, “The Swimming Pool” on YouTube (“well, that lady died rather uselessly, didn’t she?”). It ends with his stock in trade, a frenzied scream:

The second album was released in 1999.It contained additional “dreams” from the original reel-to-reel tapes, which were apparently kept by Mike Barr all those many years. It is called Dion McGregor Dreams Again, and features dreams that are surreally dirty (I’m thinking Dion was well-aware of not only Lenny but Mr. Burroughs’ mid-day repast). The album is well worth your time, and has its own little website here. The album’s stranger tracks include: “Vulvina,” a visit to see a stripper/psychic who demands that Dion’s character (a frustrated husband) put his head in her vagina; a collector of mythological creatures who finally finds a gryphon (yeah sure, this stuff was all improv-ed from the subconscious); and Dion working as a tattoo artist who has to put “LOVE” and “HATE” on either side of a fat woman’s tongue.

I would recommend that you check out the page put up on MySpace for McGregor which contains a few choice cuts. Also, you can immediately hear the weirdest tracks on Youtube. This is one of the filthier flights of fancy, “The Wagon”:

This one, which mentions TONS of now-long-gone Manhattan movie theaters (and the Memory Shop), is a MUST-LISTEN for New Yorkers who remember what used to be in the way of movie palaces around this burg (“Do you want to go to the Thalia — do you want to go to the Thalia?”):

And a little “thought for the day”:

The third and final album (so far) is from 2004. It’s called The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor. My personal fave bit is a loooong routine called "Midget City," but he also has a wonderful trip through a mansion being offered for sale — with different implements of murder in every room. There’s no better way to end this survey of McGregor’s insane fancies than his account of a battle to avoid “the poison éclair,” the exceedingly nutsy “Food Roulette.” And one final question: how come those loud car horns never woke our sleeptalker up?

Retrieve the albums at Egg City.

Long Goodbyes: Staring into the Void of Larry King Live

I don’t watch Larry King Live that much — I don’t have that much interest in long, drawn-out murder investigations and Suzanne Somers’ medical diagnoses — but I am mesmerized by his prolonged explorations of stories that are done about two days in. The perfect example up until now was the Anna Nicole story. Pretty, naked babe dies, she was obviously on a large amount of drugs, the only questions left were: which drugs, given to her by whom, who gets her kid? Larry did the story for literally weeks as it faded into nothingness. And not for a single segment — he’d devote whole hours to endless repetitions of the same information, with new legal and medical “experts” and trash-press reporters. The mesmerizing quality dissipated fairly quickly with that case (no celeb guests!), but I was amused every night to turn him on at 9:00PM and see that, yes, it was another “Anna Nicole” night.

Larry also made overkill seem like understatement when he went after the “truth” of the Imus “nappy-headed hos” comment. Once Imus made a formal apology, the story was totally and completely over, but Larry continued to cover it for an additional week and a half — to the point of asking the other guests he had on (celebs like Valerie Bertinelli, there to plug her diet/bio) what they indeed thought about this “storm of controversy.” Della Reese, whom I didn’t know was a fully accredited minister, was invited on *twice*.

The first time she condemned what Imus had said, but the second time she truly hit the mark when she flat-out said, [paraphrase] “we should move on from this story, Larry. There are so many other things happening in this country today. There are boys and girls dying in Iraq, poverty problems, more important things than Imus.” Larry seemed a little taken aback by Della’s comments, but then… he plowed on with the subject for the rest of that hour.

And now, NOW, we reach the Jackson circus. Larry and his producers have made this his only story for a full two weeks, and my trash-o-metric ability to find programming that will allow me to do housework and Net clean-up while the TV buzzes couldn’t be more on target. From the initial heights of having big names (and one-time big names) coming on or calling in to praise Michael (Cher, Kenny Rogers, Quincy Jones, Liza Minnelli), he’s sunk to having on legal and medical “experts” every single night and rehashing the same old tired platitudes about Michael and his “effect on the entertainment world.”

However, for true trash-o-philes, the result has been amazingly funny TV. Since the entirety of pop culture now consists of nothing but pathetic lists of the best and worst (which are nothing but argument-starters and place-fillers for real content), I herewith offer a recalled-by-memory list of the best/worst moments of Larry’s ENDLESS coverage of the fact that the entertainer MJ died of a heart attack caused by drugs two weeks ago (that’s the story, that’s it, really that’s the whole thing: very special talent for music and dance, odd public downfall, very devoted fanbase, drugs, heart attack, death).

-Larry’s references to how sad it was that Farrah died the same day, and how “most media outlets” had to change their coverage from her death to Michael’s (read: he had a show planned and then dropped it). Anyone who knew both MJ and Farrah was asked about the latter, then Larry would cut them off and return to Michael.

-Larry’s producers packing the show, and then Larry cutting off each guest’s answers in turn, in order to come back to someone he’d cut off previously. He works okay with the guests in-studio, but anyone talking to him via satellite or (especially) via phone hook-up would be cut off in the middle of a word. The single best instance of this: Liza and Quincy try to have a “conversation” about the over-the-top MSG MJ celebration several years ago. Each one of them couldn’t hear the other, and Larry tried to not have them talk by just repeating their names over and over. It was ridiculous, and sublime.

-The hearing factor again (Rickles does joke about Larry’s hearing, and his jokes may indeed be based on truth). Lou Ferrigno (or, as Larry chose to identify him, “Lou Ferrigamo”) was on to testify that Michael never did drugs in front of him, and wasn’t taxing his heart with workouts. Lou has a speech impediment but is totally comprehensible — but not to Larry. When Lou attempted to talk about how both he and Michael “were obsessed with different things, him with music and me with body building,” Larry had to ask Lou to repeat the word “obsessed.” When Lou repeated the whole sentence, it was evident that Larry still couldn’t get the word (there was a grunt of some kind), but they pushed on — because it was time for him to cut Lou off.

-Miko Brando has become a Mike Douglas-style “anchor man” for this endless series of shows. Miko was MJ’s bodyguard and friend, and of course son of our god Marlon. He knew Michael very well, but is obviously the kind of friend who doesn’t tell stories out of school. He knows either knows nothing about Michael’s imperfections, addictions, and eccentricities (which is hard to believe, given that he’s worked for him since the early Eighties), or he just plain isn’t going to say anything besides “he was a great friend, a great father, and a great entertainer.” I’m not going to trash Miko (as Rickles would put it, “don’t hurt me, big guy!”), but he’s a pleasant though pretty pointless guest to have on (by comparison, John Landis and Deepak Chopra sounded “mean” because they actually brought up that Michael’s appearance changed drastically, he did strange things in public, and he used to ask doctors for scripts). To have Miko on over and over again for two weeks is the kind of head-scratching masterstroke that only the King is capable of.

-Asking every guest the same question. This is perhaps the most awesomely ridiculous part of the MJ series of shows: Larry will ask every guest, even the people who are there to do nothing but trash Jackson, “what do you think was Michael’s contribution to entertainment? Do you think he’ll be remembered?" He of course couldn’t ask this with Anna Nicole Smith, so the constant query was something along the lines of “what do you think was her appeal?” Every guest trots out the exact same expected reply ("he was an original, one-of-a-kind, there will never be another Michael") — unless you’re Reverend Al Sharpton, and you decide to class MJ in with Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. The former is a bit of a stretch — yes, YES, Michael was the first black artist to score airtime on MTV, this is indeed significant, but he was a non-threatening presence (despite the gang-themed behavior in “Beat It,” it was after all, gang members dancing, which is about as macho as the chorus of West Side Story).

It's obvious that what Al Sharpton says requires several hundred grains of salt, but let's just map this one out: To equate MJ with MLK is a stunning insult to the latter. Dr. King engaged in an almost sainty pursuit in which he was occasionally beaten and bitten by dogs, downgraded, spat at, and certainly jailed numerous times. He was one of the best orators of the 20th century, and the work he did was both radical and the very model of non-violent protest. Michael Jackson was a top-notch performer who sang very well, danced wonderfully, and achieved great fame on MTV at the right time, making him an important figure in the history of pop music. He only suffered verbal slings-and-arrows and some court time when he had achieved millionaire status and was such an uber-celebrity he indulged his every whim, not only having massive plastic surgery performed on himself, but also building an amusement park on the grounds of his house and having juvenile sleepovers with little boys (I'm giving him "juvenile"; many would say criminal). Wait, I think it's an insult to Robinson, too....

-Memories. Larry indulges in them frequently with guests, recalling his salad days in Miami on the radio, meeting long-dead legends, and bein’ a street kid in Brooklyn. However, his “flashes” are the things I’m most fascinated by. He asked Jermaine Jackson what he thought of “Diana Sands being named in the will.” Jermaine asked if he meant Diana *Ross*, and Larry said, yeah, but Diana Sands was a good performer too. That kind of odd, discordant moment makes King’s show worth watching for those of us who like weird, time-tripping TV. You’d have to be over 40 or a severe nostalgia buff to even know the name Diana Sands (who died in 1973), and since Diana Ross was arguably the most famous Diana of the modern era (discounting Lady/Princess Di and cult goddess Rigg), one wonders where the hell he even came up with Sands’ name (oops, she was black…).

-Cut off by the King. Compared to the other news/entertainment programs, Larry is indeed scoring some great names for his testimonials. The fact that he then proceeds to unceremoniously cut them off so he can fit in more pointlessly rhetorical questions is what makes the “LKL” viewing experience such a vicious joy.

For example, he had on Harry Belafonte the other night. I revere Belafonte, and I think he was not only a great singer, but a very important Lefty troublemaker, a very fine actor, and a good friend of Funhouse god Robert Altman. Harry had not weighed in to that point with his opinions about Michael, with whom he worked on the “We Are the World” project. Larry touted Harry’s appearance for the whole first half of the show — then proceeded to let him speak for about four minutes, cutting off his answers, and speeding him up on the third query with the goose-ish, “we don’t have much time here, Harry, but… why do you think Michael was such a special entertainer?” When that answer was summarily cut off, we then had a quick goodbye to the very noble Harry, and then Larry for some reason started to recite the lyrics to “Kingston Town” (“Down the way/where the nights are gay”), and talked about what a legend the guy he just cut off is.

I know Larry can get at least SEVERAL more programs out of the big-nothing that the Jackson story has become. Just last night, there was a guest host subbing for Lar. He interviewed doctors (and Miko Brando, who said nothing had been wrong with MJ), and then re-showed clips of the preceding night’s King confab with Michael’s dermatologist and/or sperm donor. I know that people often debate what the ultimate “show about nothing” was before Seinfeld put a name to the concept. Whatever it may have been back then (Vic and Sade, anyone?), Larry King is perhaps the foremost practitioner of the art of reporting nothing, and doing interviews about nothing, in the current all-news cable scene.

Big man on a big couch: Marlon Brando talks about children killed with machetes… for Michael

It’s an amazing bit of footage we’ve heretofore been denied. It was not included in the PPV versions of the September 7, 2001 “30th Anniversary” concert that Michael Jackson threw on his own behalf (there were two such shows, marvelously detailed here).

The moment I had most wanted to see, the one non-musical segment that was the most talked-about, was Marlon Brando sitting on a couch talking about impoverished children. The editors editing down the September 7th show (that concert ran a languid five hours, and a second one took place at MSG on September 10th, 2001, a day before 9/11) left this segment out, but now a private vidcam recording of the event, as seen from a large screen in the arena, has surfaced.

Wearing shades and ensconced on a couch onstage at Madison Square Garden, Marlon didn’t speak for a minute. He stares at his watch at points and then tells the audience that in the minute they just waited, “there were hundreds, if not thousands, of children around the world who got hacked to death with a machete. Their parents died of typhus… or some other disease.”

He goes on to talk about how horrible this situation is, and the audience plainly doesn’t care at all, and won’t pretend that they do. The one great thing is about seeing this “remotely” shot video is that we hear the dimwits and disphits in the audience mocking, laughing, and derisively clapping. Only a mention of Michael’s name by Brando, and the screen’s cutting to the wax dummy that he had turned into by that point, makes the audience finally stop their jeering. Like any good heel wrestler, Brando senses their hostility at his message of peace and charity, and adds, “I could go on for an hour and a half…” to make them boo and jeer even harder.

Of course, Marlon’s appearance on the show was pretty bizarre in its conception. But then again, Marlon was the Lord High Master of Bizarre by that point (most likely the reason he really enjoyed hanging around MJ). What the event reminds me of is the booing of Sinead O’Connor at the MSG tribute to Dylan — a houseful of people there to honor and worship an old protest singer, and a big bunch of them booing a new protest singer (and, of course, anyone who has anything bad to say about Catholicism has my admiration, in spades). In this case, Michael Jackson was indeed a philanthropist and charity-minded soul, and when his worshipful audience was asked to think about what he had donated to for eight minutes, they eagerly booed and jeered. Their hearts were large.

He beat it: the forgotten “auteur” of MTV's early years

In all the thousands and thousands of words that have been spilled on cable since the death of Michael Jackson, I have not heard a single mention of music-vid director Bob Giraldi, who helmed one of his most memorable (and over-played at the time) vids, "Beat It,” as well as the cloying "Say Say Say" with that smiling ex-Beatle. Giraldi specialized in corny, overstated, and extremely *plotted* music videos in the earliest days of the MTV avalanche (think "Love is a Battlefield," that's his), and although his clips are constantly commemorated on I Love the ’80s shows and music-vid retrospectives, you don't hear them acknowledging the man himself (who has gone on to be a restaurateur). I thought I would share what I consider one of his cheesiest but enjoyable creations, the only one of his vids I truly could harbor as a non-guilty pleasure (I'm not guilty about my trash consumption): the astounding Pia Zadora/Jermaine Jackson (yes, he did do stuff between the Jackson 5 reunions!) Road Warrior-ish gang-rumble variation on Romeo and Juliet, "When the Rains Begin to Fall." The song was a bigger hit overseas (as is apparent from the veejay here) and the video, of course, speaks the international language of cheese.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The magical little man: Nelson de la Rosa and his tribute to Michael

I was hoping to lay hands on the original VHS that has “el hombre mas pequeno del mundo” doing his FULL “Thriller” dance, but since it’s stored away somewhere in the cavernous confines of the Funhouse, I will merely throw your attention to this compilation I uploaded to YT back in 2006 (the “Thriller” portion is at 2:16). I’ve uploaded a bunch of clips that have attracted a few thousand viewers. A handful of clips have gotten tens of thousands of viewers (so far Jane Birkin has actually beaten people who made sexploitation films in popularity — which pleases me). BUT Nelson is the hands down winner, as this vid has gotten close to 298,000 viewers, plus about 30,000 who saw it on when it was up under a different account name that encountered three specious "violations" from YT. Every week more folks checking the clip out, and discovering the true magic of Senor de la Rosa for themselves!

Film strips live! A favorite YouTube poster's offerings

Moving through a YouTube poster’s account is indeed like sifting through their video collection. And the gent known as Filmstripman certainly has a cool collection.

I came across his account when I saw a thumbnail for a film intended for viewing in school, a filmed record of Shirley MacLaine reading a book when she was quite adorable (1965). The fact that filmstripman’s copy bounces at various points and is a bit worse for the wear doesn’t make any difference, since the story time lady at your local library was never this eye-catchin’:

Filmstripman’s clips are indeed from film originals and that becomes apparent when you view his silent cartoons. In these uploads you can actually hear the projector, as in this bit of Felix the Cat:

He includes a few cartoons in his uploads, and one that is available elsewhere in a pristine version, but is still delightful in his 16mm rendition, is “A Picture for Harold’s Room” directed by animation legend Gene Deitch. The source, of course, is a work by the great Crockett Johnson (creator of the awesome, and unjustly forgotten, “Barnaby” strip):

FSM (as filmstripman can more easily be referred to) also has put up a number of commercials and trailers. Among them I prize this one for Chaste, “the feminine hygiene deodorant.”

Any pitch by Sam the Man must be honored. Here’s he on about taking care of your eyes (ouch):

And this terrific trailer for the perfect film Badlands by Terrence Malick, set to “A Blossom Fell”:

FSM’s specialty, though, are educational films, and perhaps the two finest (I’ve only sampled a scant few — if anyone has any other recommendations, please pass them on) both curiously concern the subject of female puberty, and how young girls should be instructed in all things menstrual. The first such brilliant artifact is “Linda’s Film on Menstruation” (apparently shot here in NYC). It’s a “women’s lib”-era discussion of the topic that boys could watch if they could stand it (their stand-in is gawky boyfriend Jonathan Banks, an all-purpose character actor who was memorable on the great show Wise Guy). The great thing about the film is that, although it is about awkwardness with the topic, it creates its own awkwardness (as when one woman announces, “I flow very heavily”). There is a weird To Tell The Truth fantasy sequence, another scene showing girls how to buy tampons and, well, it’s just very special. And, need I add, extremely dated:

Along with the “Linda” film, FSM as posted another classic on the topic of girls’ puberty, Dear Diary. I have this winner on VHS, but have never presented it on the show, although it really has needed to be shown to a wider audience. Thus I can definitely recommend you check out this educational pic, which is made to play like a jaunty afterschool special. The girls joke around, teach each other how to kiss a boy (and how it will make you feel “down there”), ask the magic question in the halls of their school (“didja get it yet?” meaning their first period), and there’s a really, REALLY amazing visit to a dressing room where a creepy woman with a British accent lectures two teen friends on the different kinds of breasts (it’s meant to be comedy, but man, is it sorta perched right there on the edge…). Anyway, drink it in, it’s nuts (and it’s from 1981, so again, it’s a nice little bit of dated craziness).

Since FSM has mostly put up materials that are suitable for family viewing, it’s interesting to note he’s put up an uncensored version of a film that I had posted a clip from many months ago. The film in question is a sensory-assault short directed by a gent named Anthony Stern called “San Francisco 1968” that shows footage from that time and that place, set to an alternate version of “Interstellar Overdrive” by the Pink Floyd (with Syd Barrett at the helm). Stern had been the assistant director on the film Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London and presumably had access to the audio tracks for the film for his short. The film is mesmerizing, but I had used only an excerpt from it on YT, as I wasn’t sure if the filmmaker was still alive and would be pissed that his film was included in its entirety on the dubious creation that is YT. Also, there is some very prominent and pleasant female nudity in the pic, and I figured YT would manufacture another one of their typically American jeez-I’m-scared-of-the-human-body “violations” against it.

FSM is undeterred, however (although I would advise all YT posters not to note in their comments field that they’ve got elements in the clip that YT ordinarily rejects). For this, I salute him and I urge you to watch the freakin’ thing in full screen and just let the colors swim around your eyeballs. Your mind will disengage somewhere in the first few minutes, and then it’s just all image. One wonders what Mr. Stern got up to after he did this short….

[And again, as I posted below, be aware of the strong powers of, should you want to preserve any of the fine offerings you see on Youtube.]

Part one:

Part two:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ivan the Terrible, commercial pitchman

On the subject of despotism I introduced below, I offer up some UK gentleman’s uploads of a series of TV ads intended to sing the praises of a brand of cigarettes called “Century.” The idea was simple: have historical figures tell you how great the smokes were. However, they went from a rather positive figure like Eli Whitney onward to famous rulers of other eras, each one of them puffing away.

More to the point is Catherine the Great:

Or perhaps maybe Genghis Khan (wild accent for this characterization):

But my personal fave has to be a very affable Ivan the Terrible. See, he wasn’t all bad!

“Bloomberg beach” and fare hikes to line the pockets of the MTA: report from NYC

I have many more entertaining things to offer up in the next few entries, but I wouldn’t’ve been true to my MTA- and mayor-loathing self if I didn’t do an entry about the latest, utterly abhorrent developments in this burg.

First of all, in the past, whenever the MTA raised the fare, what would happen is that the trains and busses would gradually slow down to a crawl, then the MTA would say they were drastically in need of money (ALWAYS A LIE, they are always in the black and their leaders are always raking in the dough). Then when the fare was raised, things would go back to the normal level of incompetence and intermittent service.

This time around, however, there’s a new wrinkle. The subways and busses haven’t run normally for months — lines have been shut down; service is barely there at night and on weekends; and there are few if any workers in the token booths. So the service isn’t there, entire bus lines have been taken off of the schedule, and thus the MTA says it’s desperately in need of a fare hike (money comes from the state, money comes from their two sets of books, but the answer, always, is a fare hike so the riders will become accustomed to the fact that the price will be rising steadily). This time, however, we, the cashless folks who don’t have any extra dough to contribute to line the pockets of the MTA heads and their overpaid workers (yeah, they're *all* guilty of greed, folks), have been informed that services will continue to be cut anyway, even after the hike. No honeymoon period of reconciliation is necessary when the organization, for all intents and purposes, holds the city hostage.

And have we heard a peep from Billionaire Mayor Mike? Of course we haven’t. He’s gone on the record as saying the subways are functioning perfectly — why, in fact, he even takes the subway to work every morning in a grand show of duplicitous “I’m with you/don’t come near me” good nature. The fact that he’s “going green” in this fashion by being driven to the subway in an SUV, and going to a stop that isn’t the one closest to where he lives, is no matter. He’s pretending he’s one of us, and the MTA makes certain that particular train runs on time every morning (a friend who lives in the Bronx notes that that arrival is always on time, but the ones before and after it are as random as any other subway taken during the day).

So, Bloomie is a sham. He’s an affable billionaire who has our best interests at heart — so his ubiquitous advertising reminds us. As I wrote about previously, Bloomberg plays the role of friendly despot, but really he has no one’s interests at heart except his own and that of his billionaire cronies. Oh, and the tourists. His latest “quality of life” innovation (a concept espoused by former full-out vendetta-king and severely petty despot Guiliani) is to close off certain central areas of traffic in NYC — you know, tiny places like Herald Square and Times Square — so that “New Yorkers can better enjoy their city” (likewise, a pointless and rather stupid plan to shut traffic down on Park Avenue — since ya know there’s oh-so-much to see on that Avenue of the Wealthy). What it does achieve is to allow tourists to take a break from their dispersal of cash, something near & dear (the dispersing, and most certainly the cash) to Bloomie’s heart. Since there are fucking free-standing beach chairs in the middle of one lane of traffic in Times Square now, reporters have taken to calling the horrifying area “Bloomberg Beach.”

Who cares if he’s further gutting the traffic patterns in the city? Mayor Mike didn’t get his “congestion pricing” plan, and so he and his boys came up with this ridiculous scheme to pay back the administrators who voted against it. Bloomie can paralyze parts of the city just as well as any old labor strike or fare hike can. In the meantime, the transformation of the town into a soulless tourist trap continue apace — the “old New York” can still occasionally be found, but as long as we continue the rapid slide into the dystopian rich/poor set-up, there will be fewer and fewer things that will remind natives of the town that once was. And Bloomberg? Well, he certainly is the future: a cold, soulless, monotone individual who is most certainly going to ascend to a third term, since he wants it and blackmailed those who were eager to vote against it. This was evidenced in his telling state senators the other day how he would exact his vengeance if they didn't get their act together (provide no money to their campaign funds — wink, wink, I’m really rich, you don’t want to make me mad).

And, of course, there was the recent lovely moment when a reporter asked him about the term limits thing again. Since he had announced that everything is going so well in NYC (all dependent on him and everything he does, mind you), the reporter thought to ask him why, if everything is all and well good, that he needs that third term. Mayor Mike feels that he should never be asked again why he is in need of three terms when every other mayor in the city’s history has only required two (except for Guiliani, who was going to ride the 9/11 rocket of depression and mismanagement into a third term, but was shot down — hey, Rudy couldn’t blackmail-with-cash the way Mike can…). Bloomberg’s final word for the reporter — knowing every camera in the place was on — was a disgusted, “You’re despicable!” The legendary NYC newsman Gabe Pressman (I’ve always been so surprised and pleased to see him still walkin’ around the streets of our town — now there’s some old NY for ya!) has written about it here, with appropriate video links.

Knowing the way the Democrats operate in this city, I'm sure they'll lose the election (as with Mark Green's refusal to accommodate his rival Fernando Fererer, which put Bloomie in the driver's seat in the first place). Thus Bloomberg will get his hotly-desired third term as King Monotone Rich Kid. I would love to see him defeated — perhaps he could take his "beaches" with him, and forget about that daily subway ride....