Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Beat Baby

My friend Chicken sends me that issue of LIFE I was looking for... in "internet" form! "Click" here to see the whole thing. I see that the crummy article I wanted to read isn't actually titled "Beats: Sad But Noisy Rebels," as previously stated. That's just the way it's identified on the cover. In the magazine, the title is "The Only Rebellion Around: But the Shabby Beats Bungle the Job In Arguing, Sulking, and Bad Poetry." Ouch! Plus there's a photo spread that claims to show "The Well-Equipped Pad." It includes "Beat baby, who has fallen asleep on floor after playing with beer cans."

Frightful Paroxysm

Speaking of UFOs, a while back Dr. Theresa and I were watching a 1956 documentary called U.F.O. on TCM. It featured lots of recreations of "actual events." The hero was a man named Al Chop, a reporter, who was played in the film by some other reporter. Why not an actor? That's a great question. For some reason the name Al Chop tickled us and we had a chuckle whenever he strode into a room and said stiffly, "I'm Al Chop." I assumed he was some sort of composite character, but it turns out there was a real Al Chop. "Click" here if you don't believe me! Also, there is AN ENTIRE "BLOG" JUST ABOUT THAT MOVIE. Oh, "internet"! You have everything on you. In one portion of the movie, they talk about a LIFE magazine article that blows the lid off the big government UFO cover-up. So, you know how they have those bound copies of old magazines in the library, right? I went to the library today and thumbed through the actual LIFE magazine (April 7, 1952). There was a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the cover, natch! (See the headline in the upper right corner.) The article had a charmingly formal and polite title: "Have We Visitors From Space?" It was illustrated with "a scrupulously accurate eyewitness painting of a mysterious green fireball rushing through the night sky over New Mexico." Ha ha! I love the idea of an "eyewitness painting." Beautiful! The article had wonderful phrases in it like "whirling doughnuts" and "frightful paroxysm of light." I also looked for the November 30, 1959, issue of LIFE because this Kerouac bio says that some mean jerk wrote a snotty article about Kerouac in it: "The journalist's bitterness was evident," according to the bio. The title of the article - much less polite than "Have We Visitors From Space?" - is "Beats: Sad But Noisy Rebels." That volume was missing.

A Hot Cup of Water

An ANONYMOUS SOURCE has emailed us with the startling news that TV's "The Nanny" was picked up by a UFO! That's what she says. And she has the scar to prove it! But her ex-husband says she "got the small scar on her hand from a drill bit or burning herself holding a hot cup of water."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good One, O'Hara

Hey I am all for Jack Kerouac. But I was just reading in this bio how he went to a Frank O'Hara reading and heckled. Not cool, Kerouac! Kerouac yelled out, "You're ruining American poetry, O'Hara!" And O'Hara shot back, "That's more than you ever did for it." Perfect!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mannix vs. Literacy: Mannix Wins!

Hey! Remember when I told you about MANNIX and you didn't know what it was? Well, it was an old TV show, stupid. And one of these here channels we have was showing a marathon of MANNIX. I didn't even know it! I found out too late. Dr. Theresa happened to be watching MANNIX while we got dolled up to go to a benefit for literacy. LITERACY? Ha! Forget literacy and give me MANNIX. Right before we left Mannix was riding in a jeep down a dirt road and shooting at an airplane with a pistol and he winged the pilot who was wearing a black turtleneck and sunglasses and down came the airplane but then we had to go support "literacy" so I don't know what happened.

An American Lawyer's Ex-Wife

Hey, you know those capsule descriptions by which your satellite or cable provider gives you a summary of a particular program via the click of a button? Well, Dr. Theresa saw a weird one the other night, describing a movie on TCM: "An American lawyer's ex-wife summons him to Kenya to see their daughter's savage link to a lion." That is weird! But why is it so weird? Maybe partly because the parts that are specific ("An American lawyer's ex-wife") seem unnecessary, and the parts that are vague ("to see"?) need to be more specific, and yet no curiosity is generated, no, nothing but a mild sense of anxiety is generated, that's all, I feel mildly anxious, don't you?

Solemn Velvet Policy

As you know, it is the "blog's" policy to alert you at once when we run across someone wearing a velvet suit, or a mention of someone wearing a velvet suit. Get over to Maud Newton's "blog" at once, then, and read about Betrand Russell as "a solemn little boy in a blue velvet suit with an equally solemn governess." Recall also the young Charles Schulz, similarly solemn, sitting "on the grass of a St. Paul park, in velvet suit and Eton collar, earnestly posed under a lacquered Oriental parasol."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Help Me With These Jars

"The Wizard comes to the Parapet to contemplate. He looks down into the Pit of Night." What's this? More of my sprawling fantasy epic? Good guess, but nope! It's from DR. SAX by Jack Kerouac. Oh, Jack Kerouac! Once more you beat me at my own game. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE! He even put talking cats in it, the way I did in one chapter of my sprawling fantasy epic! "'Oooh-Ah-man!' I heard a whisper from the cat. It was a Talking Cat? Doctor Sax said 'Yes it was a talking cat once I suppose. Help me with these jars.'" BUT! The new chapter of my sprawling fantasy epic IS up at the VICE magazine "web" site RIGHT NOW and THERE IS NOTHING JACK KEROUAC CAN DO ABOUT IT. "Click" here to enjoy sentences such as "From the waistband of her crinoline tutu she stealthily removed her letter opener of death." (That murder weapon is a tribute to QUEENPIN by Megan Abbott! I don't think that is a spoiler, because as soon as that letter opener appears in QUEENPIN you are like, "Uh, somebody is going to get murdered with that.")

Slouch Hat

If the autobiographical sections of his novel DR. SAX are to be believed, Jack Kerouac dressed up as The Shadow when he was a kid - just like I did! "At night I came in my cape and slouch hat... I glided to Dicky's house, stole his bathing trunks from the porch..."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Potting Racketeers

Jack Kerouac was highly influenced by The Shadow - oh, Jack Kerouac, we are just alike. In his DR. SAX, Kerouac recalls "when The Shadow in one of his Lamont Cranston masterpieces published by Street & Smith visited the shores of the Mississippi and blew up a personal rubber boat of his own which however was not perfected like the new one concealed in his hat, he'd bought it in St. Louis during the day with one of his agents and it made a bulky package under his arm as they cabbed for the evening scene along the water glancing anxiously at their watches for when to turn into Shadows - I was amazed that The Shadow should travel so much, he had such an easy time potting racketeers in New York Chinatown Waterfront with his blue .45..."

Elizabeth Report

Elizabeth went to see B.B. King play a show the other night and files this report: "He walked out onstage and began throwing things from his pockets into the audience. I think it was candy? [Editor's note: B.B. King makes commercials about being diabetic. Perhaps he was tossing guitar picks.] Mostly he talked and told awesome stories that I guess didn't really finish off. One began, 'Now I will tell you a ghost joke.' 'The dentist was having fun pulling out my molars.' 'I got married; I forgot it was WWII!' 'I went to training; I forgot I was married!' Then he auctioned off the men in his band to the ladies in the audience. 'You want the fat one? The one wearing the glasses? My nephew?'"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More Cheery Ghost

Read a little bit of DR. SAX by Jack Kerouac and there are already ghosts by the second page. I told you he had a thing about ghosts! "That same night an elfin, more cheery ghost of some Santa Claus kind rushed up and slammed my door."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Repeated Zsa Zsa

Speaking of Kerouac and cats, now I want to read his BOOK OF DREAMS, in which (says this bio) "cats that speak... people giving birth to cats... Mel Torme, Zsa Zsa Gabor... all make repeated appearances."

Rock and Roll Ghost Problem

Checked out this bio of Jack Kerouac from the library. It's by a guy named Paul Maher Jr. Says Kerouac contacted his agent right before ON THE ROAD came out. Kerouac had thought of a better title! He said they could make a lot more money if they called it ROCK AND ROLL ROAD. Ha ha ha! He wasn't kidding. All right! Jack Kerouac, you're all right. He also had a problem with ghosts. Like one Halloween some ghosts scared his cat and he stood in the yard holding the cat and yelling at the ghosts. I mean, like, real ghosts, not kids in costumes. "I look around, I see ghosts everywhere. I have to do the sign of the cross." The house had "a poltergeist in the dining room cupboard," he said. When he was a kid he lived in a former funeral home. He told his friend Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) "My mother opened a closet door, something white flew at her, she screamed, and the thing whapped her on the head with terrible vehemence." They thought it was a ghost. But it was an ironing board.

Herky-Jerky Puppet Man

Hmmmm... I've made it through more of the clip and I am going to have to go with "herky-jerky puppet man." Yes, I'm sticking with that. Oh, herky-jerky puppet man! You are so full of surprises.

Mime Reconsidered

Wait! Can he really be a mime when he starts singing at 1:14? I am going to say that he is more of a "robot man."

Mime to the Rescue

I haven't been "blogging" much lately because I have "blogged" about everything and there is nothing left to "blog" about. OR SO I THOUGHT. Then my friend Scott sent me this clip ("click" here) of a rock band featuring a mime on the Jerry Lewis telethon. Scott says he got it from WFMU, natch!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Something to Do in New York City

Do you live in New York City? Probably not! Because why would you be reading this "blog"? You could be out doing something! Like eating Alaskan black cod in a parking garage with John McEnroe! Or standing on a guy who aspires to be a human carpet. OR you could be going to the KGB Bar TONIGHT ONLY to see "Blog" Buddy Michael Bible reading from his work. Do it! Maybe the carpet guy will show up. But you'll forget all about him as you thrill to the mesmerizing words of Michael Bible. Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty and Vanilla Ice are coming right up on Fox & Friends so I really have to go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Good Name for Wine

Someone just found this "blog" by searching for "frowning garfunkel." If I were a winemaker I would call my signature red table wine "Frowning Garfunkel."

History of Wind

Here's a casually tossed-off bit from the introduction to NATIVE AMERICAN FOOD PLANTS: AN ETHNOBOTANICAL DICTIONARY: "People have died from eating apple pits; 'poisoned apple' is redundant." WHAT? I think I've heard something like that before but I didn't pay attention. Anyway, watch out! Here is a funny use of an exclamation point in the introduction: "in a number of cases it is reported that the berries were eaten raw!" Leafing through the book I learned how the Rappahannock made beer from persimmons and that there is a plant called owlsclaws: "Roots used as a chewing gum." A panel from a Donald Duck comic I was reading last night showed Donald reading a book called HISTORY OF WIND. Here's the very panel, though the title is left out - probably because it's from that Danish Carl Barks site. Speaking of which, I also read in the introduction to my Donald Duck book about how Barks was tormented in his 90s by the "Carl Barks Studio" which was really just "a couple who was hired to take care of Barks in his twilight years" but instead they treated him like dirt and forced him to constantly draw new pictures of Donald Duck for them to sell - like a sweatshop! I'm sorry I told you about that. Sometimes life has sad parts. He got away from them when he was 97 and met some nicer people and lived a couple more years and was happy so okay.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I was reading in ON THE ROAD how Sal Paradise met a hobo named Mississippi Gene and asked him if he happened to know this other hobo named Big Slim Hazard and of course he did and I was like, "Hmm, hobos were the original facebook."

Thanks, Dean Martin!

Drew is married to Jill. Several months ago, Drew purchased a vintage bottle of Dean Martin's favorite cologne on the "internet." Now Jill is going to have a baby. YOU DO THE MATH. I keep trying to smell Drew whenever I see him but he claims that the cologne "evaporates quickly because it has orange in it." I think that's what he says. Is that a real scientific fact? Maybe he just doesn't want me sniffing him.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Sweet Generation

I told you about all the ice cream and pie in ON THE ROAD. Now I'm rereading it. I forgot that by the SECOND PARAGRAPH we have "beautiful big glazed cakes and creampuffs."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Go, Ethnobotanical Guy!

So I DID go back to Square Books and buy that "Ethnobotanical Dictionary" of "Native American Food Plants." In the author photo the guy looks really smug with his arms crossed. Like, "Yeah, that's right!" Like, "Yeah, I compiled this list of Native American food plants. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?" But you know what? He deserves to be proud! It doesn't even make me mad.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Want a Henchman

Watching OUT OF THE PAST and MILLER'S CROSSING for a class I am teaching right now has really made me want a henchman. Henchmen are the best! Speaking of henchmen, one of Mitt Romney's sons (I guess) looks exactly like Martin Landau as James Mason's henchman Leonard in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Check out this photo in the New York Times if you do not believe me! Am I crazy or do "Leonard" and the guy next to him both appear to be clapping sarcastically?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Do Whatever I Want

George Burns saves Brooke Shields from a "drug pusher." So says the capsule description of a movie about to come on TCM in just a few minutes. Yes I'm going to dvr it. Shut up.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Why McNeil Called

McNeil called to do his impersonation of Paul Lynde in BYE BYE BIRDIE, and that is why McNeil called.

Illinois Cat Salute

A while back these nice kids from Illinois came through town with a microphone to "record writers." It was when John Brandon was still here, as I know because they recorded us together. BRANDON! Why did you have to go? Well, these kids went all over the place and have their "web" site up now and it is called "The Knox Writers' House." You can have fun "clicking" around on it and please do. One neat thing is that the writers were asked to read from other people's work as well as their own, so it's interesting to see what they picked. I read a chapter of RAY by Barry Hannah and Christopher Smart's salute to his cat. Each writer is represented by a crazy caricature. Mine is wearing a bow tie and holding a glass of wine. I have really walked around in a costume like that once, and I know just the photo they scrounged up off the "internet" as raw material. It was a party at a mansion! All night long as I sipped my wine something kept bobbing against my lip and I thought it was a little piece of cork. But as the evening came to a close, I learned the truth. It was a DEAD FLY! Think about it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Shut Up Old Man

I saw over on the facebook there that A Cappella Books is moving out of our old neighborhood and to a new location. Citizens of Atlanta! Go support it. I used to walk up there almost every day and get my cup of coffee from Aurora and poke around the bookstore and maybe Criminal Records (which isn't there anymore either). Ugh! I know you're bored! I'm boring myself. I'm going to be the kind of old man who visits the old neighborhood and looks around all disappointed in the world and says, "That's where such-and-such used to be." Like, "I remember one day I was walking here and I saw a white rat with no head." Like, "That's where I saw Bruce Springsteen stocking up on pricey art books. Why, I was close enough to touch his bald spot!" And whatever young punk I'm with will say, "Who's Bruce Springsteen?" It's no more than I deserve.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Got my new issue of the BELIEVER magazine in the mail today. It smells weird! Like the ink smells really strong. I feel woozy! But the contents look good. It seems "Blog" Buddy Amanda Stern has interviewed Laurie Anderson (pictured), so that is exciting. And you know how Nick Hornby always tells you about which books he has read recently? This time he has read TWO books by "Blog" Buddy Megan Abbott. He finds her work "psychologically subtle, gripping, and brave." True! My column is in there as usual. You can read a chunk of it on the "web" site - just a chunk! I read the chunk of my column that appears on the "web" site and thought, you know, it works as a chunk. Maybe a chunk is plenty. Chunk!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Don't Be All Ha Ha Ha

I shouldn't have been so ha ha ha about BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS. I see that tonight - IN THE PRESENT! - ABC is airing something called CELEBRITY WIFE SWAP, starring Carnie Wilson (!) and Tracey Gold from the sitcom GROWING PAINS (!!). So shut up, everybody. And by everybody I mean myself. And everybody.

How Last Year Will Be Remembered

Sometimes I read the first few words of a New York Times article and think, "I'm not sure that's true." Like today: "Last year will be remembered as the moment when dance music slithered across the Atlantic."

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Swirling Golden Vortex

At the end of one of the episodes of BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS, the camera pushes through fog to find Jimmie "J.J." Walker at the wheel of his yacht. He says, "May the force of the Eye always be with you" (I think) then turns into a golden swirling (eye-shaped?) vortex that vanishes into outer space. STAR WARS music starts playing. The CBS logo is an eye, which doesn't explain much.