Wednesday, June 03, 2015


And now it comes to pass that I must tell you how I went to New York City for the Peabody Awards ceremony and all the marvels and wonders that the Good Lord did cause me to witness there. I know the first thing you want to know is "WHAT DID YOU READ ON THE AIRPLANE?" Calm down! Thanks to my precious book of jottings, I can tell you everything. 1. That cursed book about the Middle Ages got me thinking about THE DECAMERON. Wouldn't you know that Bill Boyle, knowing of my keen interest, purchased me a nice chunky mass-market paperback - perfect for airplanes - that promised "the complete text of this ravishingly rich and robust work." So I started reading THE DECAMERON and the guy starts right off about how people are dying like goats in the street. But he's quick to reassure us that he has to get that part out of the way so the fun stuff can start! 2. I turned down a Biscoff offered to me by a flight attendant! The world's greatest cookie. All part of my ongoing effort to button my suit for the Peabody Awards. 3. Met Megan Abbott at the Temple Bar, a great bar of the darkest kind, where I had the most refreshing gimlet of my young life. I mean, it was a dark bar. Megan took pics of our drinks and gee just look how dark they are.
Having sworn off hooch for two weeks (part of the aforementioned jacket buttoning resolution) I was ready for some gimlets. Kent Osborne showed up! And soon enough, Pendleton Ward! A fellow there in the Temple Bar pooh-poohed the artistry of BARRY LYNDON and I cursed him succinctly! That's not like me. OR IS IT? Pen drew several pictures of me on coasters and gave them to Megan. They were much like the religious icons of yore, immortalizing my various stages of peacefulness and cursing. In one of them I have my arm around Kent and I believe I am saying of him, "This guy is the king of love." I'll show you that one. The others are hilarious and I will keep digital copies of them for my own enjoyment and, perhaps, edification, but I shall never show them in public, festooned as they are with the vilest profanities. 4. We went to the hotel, where Pen taught Megan to rhumba! There is a vine of it happening if you would care to "click" here to see it. 5. Then Pen taught me to rhumba (as he had once promised to do). He had to remind me not to lead. He warned me before he dipped me. Today I don't remember how to rhumba. 6. On the bathroom wallpaper in the hotel room: whimsical black-and-white line drawings of wry cartoon birds. Closer inspection revealed that a previous guest had taken a pencil and decorated random birds here and there with graphic bits of anatomy I shan't shock you by naming.
7. Now here's the part about the Peabody Awards. I wore a tie pin that Megan had given me the night before at the Temple Bar. This picture was supposed to show off the tie pin for Megan (that's why I'm pointing) but you can't see it. It's in the shape of a cigarette lighter! 8. Before we left for the Peabodys, Pen's mom gave all of us really nice pens! Because her son's name is Pen, as she explained, and also because of our professions. Very thoughtful! 9. Now look. Here is the gang who went up onstage to get the Peabody Award for ADVENTURE TIME.
You can see that we are all dudes. I feel very lucky to have been invited, but I am also sorry for whatever quirk of timing or fate or scheduling or process that means you don't see any of the women here who are so integral to giving ADVENTURE TIME its voice. The show wouldn't be the same without Seo Kim (last night's episode was a perfect example!) or Rebecca Sugar or Natasha Allegri or Ako Castuera or Ashly Burch or Elizabeth Ito, and I could name many, many other women, past and present contributors to the show, who put their personal stamp on it and just as easily could have been up there with Pen and Adam and Kent. Not taking away at all from the immense talent of the guys you see assembled above. In fact there are infinite combos of women AND men absent from that picture who would be just as appropriate to share that stage with Adam and Pen and Kent (three people who should be in ANY picture celebrating the show). Once again, I feel really lucky that it happened to work out that I could attend. But I'm getting ahead of myself chronologically; don't you want to hear about the delicious pigs in blankets they had at the pre-Peabody reception? The server called them "cocktail franks." 9b. Speaking of bad chronology, and speaking of Natasha, she tweeted this last night: "bury me with my husband hugging me." That reminded me of the "Classics Illustrated" comic book of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, which I probably haven't thought of in at least 40 years. So I dug up the final panel, and boy what an impression it must have made on me, because it's just the way I remember it:
To which, when I tweeted it back at her, Natasha responded: "so romantic!!! so romantic that i can't think of a good bone joke!" And that's just one reason I love Natasha. 10. Fred Armisen hosted the show. Remember when I met him before he was famous and he was just some non-famous guy having a sour day? 11. We stood backstage behind Amy Schumer and her gang, who were to receive their award just before us. Tina Fey was there! Kent pointed her out to me but I could only see a vague figure gracefully flitting in the dark.
12. Steven Soderbergh was at the table next to ours! I told him how much Dr. Theresa and I love THE LIMEY and he said, "That's not something I hear very often." Ha ha ha! Here's a shot from Dr. Theresa's very favorite scene in THE LIMEY. 13. And at another adjacent table sat Ray McKinnon.
You remember him from beating up George Clooney in O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU! I met him at the Ajax Diner here in Oxford, Mississippi, a couple of years ago, so I was able to strike up a little conversation about some mutual friends of ours. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to introduce him to Tom Herpich, who is a huge fan of Mr. McKinnon's TV show RECTIFY. I missed my window on that! Boy did I feel guilty. For a good portion of the "after party" I chased Mr. McKinnon around like the prince going after Cinderella, but I never found him. I really wanted to introduce him to Tom. I apologized to Tom perhaps to a point at which I should have begun apologizing for apologizing, which I may have also done. 14. Ray McKinnon wasn't the only Peabody recipient I knew from home. Isn't that weird? Tina Antolini was there to pick up an award for a radio show she works on. And I've had drinks with her at City Grocery Bar! Oxford is weird. 15. The Adventure Time folks rode to the show in a stretch limo that had tiny lights on the ceiling that kept changing color. I said, "I want the inside of my coffin lid to look like this." And Pen's mom said, "That's the sixth joke you've made about death!" 15b. Somewhat related: I guess after I went to bed on that previous night, the night before the Peabodys, a few people stayed in the hotel bar and Pen decided with some passion that we should all dress as English peas for the Peabody ceremony. These would be, then, our "pea bodies." And according to Kent, it came close to happening, if only a quick enough delivery had been possible. Look at the casual morbidity of this tweeted report:
16. I talked to Amy Schumer at the Peabody "after party." I was curious about the dynamic in an interview I'd seen her do with Jerry Seinfeld. I think I kind of put down Jerry Seinfeld...? For being "old-fashioned"? Ha ha! I don't know what I was talking about. Why was I trying to subtly badmouth Jerry Seinfeld? What did he ever do to me except try to make my life a little nicer? Amy Schumer told me that he's like her best friend now, pretty much, so I was like, "Okay!" I kept clinking her glass with mine, like giving her a toast, every time I told her how great she was. Ha ha ha! What a jerk. I just kept habitually clinking her glass each time I made another expression of genuine if hackneyed praise. I suddenly realized I had clinked her glass about half a dozen times and I apologized. She was nice and said, "No, I like it."
17. Okay! So after you go onstage, you're led to a "press area" and you miss most of the rest of the show. (We've completely abandoned chronology now, who cares?) When I finally got back to the audience area, my chair was gone! The ADVENTURE TIME table had one less chair. So I went and sat on the other side of the room with the people from the show Radiolab. I have to say they were the nicest, sweetest bunch of people at the Peabodys! Everybody loved talking to them. They love ADVENTURE TIME and Pen feels just the same way about their show. I have a lot of happy memories of riding around in a car with my brother and my nephews and all of us just enjoying Radiolab. So, anyway, those people are just as nice as you might think. They let me sit at their table a long time! 18. I have to say this about the Peabody Awards: the people who win them are doing serious work! This one guy came out and introduced his friend who shared the stage with him. The Chinese authorities had tried to take her bodily organs! Just take them! I mean, what can you say? And here she is. It's a miracle she's alive. And there was another winner who showed a clip of a beautiful child singing a song about freedom, and as she's singing, a bomb suddenly destroys the street she's standing on. Just right at that moment! It was one of the most powerful and visceral things I've ever seen and it was an introductory clip at an awards show. And I want to say this about Pen: he watched all of those documentaries in their entirety to prepare for the show. Pen is a man with great perspective. He cares about the world and that's one thing that makes his work so personal and good. 19. Pat McHale was part of the ADVENTURE TIME contingent, so I got to meet him for the first time and he was a treat to be around. I talked about how much I loved his casting of Jack Jones as a crooning frog in his masterpiece OVER THE GARDEN WALL and after saying a lot of nice things about Jack Jones, he began to analyze Rudy Vallee's singing technique.
You can't know, as an old man who works with young people all the time, what a tonic it was to my poor heart to hear a fresh-faced youngster such as Pat McHale rhapsodize about Rudy Vallee. IT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN IN MY LINE OF WORK. Then Pat said that his grandmother had been a dancer at Radio City Music Hall! He said she had a problem with Frank Sinatra... something about how he handled a microphone. 20. Now I'm going to type about how I ate a lot of good vegetables. Ha ha ha! Vegetables! Too bad for you. I went to a place that had great fresh seasonal vegetables. Tom Herpich brought us there. And pleased were one and all by his felicitous choice. Lunch with Kent and Pat and Adam and Tom. Kent was talking about the films of Eric Schaeffer, which he finds morally, emotionally and aesthetically repugnant.
I hope I am not misrepresenting Kent's opinion! Blame me, not Kent. Let's say that I am not sufficiently describing Kent's complex attitude. Anyway, Kent was describing a particularly pornographic obsession that haunts Mr. Schaeffer's oeuvre and I said, "Hey, Kent, there are some little kids at that table over there!" and Kent said, "They have to learn about Eric Schaeffer sometime." Ha ha! Kent's witty implication was that the very idea of Eric Schaeffer was the offensive part of the conversation, you see. The next day my old friend Ward McCarthy suggested the very same place for lunch and I was only too happy to go back. I was excited! Like, "I will try different vegetables this time!" Vegetables! 21. I had eaten so many vegetables that I felt no guilt whatsoever about the mountain of fried clams I consumed that evening at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. Clams are something we just don't have in the South... or shouldn't. I recall a time that Caroline Young and I had clams in a seedy dive in Atlanta, GA, with unspeakable results. BUT! I am getting both ahead of and behind my story. It's not a story, is it? 22. Megan and I went to MOMA and saw Martin Scorsese's collection of movie posters, which were on display. Here's one for THE KILLERS, the Don Siegel version, and I am standing under Lee Marvin's legs, I guess.
But you can't see the guy so there is some possibility that I am standing under Ronald Reagan's legs. They could be Clu Gulager's leg's too. I would rank the possibilities like this: first, Lee Marvin, second Clu Gulager. There is really very little chance that I am standing under Ronald Reagan's legs. Honestly, they are abstract legs and could belong to any "killer." 23. We went up to the Yoko Ono exhibit, which I found to be a barrel of fun! I just loved it. I can't speak for Megan. She would go around a corner and come back and command me, "Don't go around that corner, Jack!" Later, telling Dan about our day, she described whatever was around that corner as "very gynecological." She was looking out for me! Well, Megan I both saw the movie of the waddling butt that just waddles along and I guess we averted our eyes from it most of the time. It doesn't do anything but waddle along, we got the gist. I believe Megan read the placard next to it, in which the waddling was described as "a sexless march," if I am remembering what Megan read aloud correctly. But I found Yoko Ono's art to be fresh and fun. Once again, I cannot speak for Megan. 24. But I was disappointed that Yoko's apple was in pristine shape. There's an apple on a pedestal and (I think) it's just supposed to stay there until it rots. I have to say, that is one hale apple she has there! In sadly perfect condition. 25. As we were leaving the exhibit, we had a chance to participate in the "bag performance." There were two "facilitators" there and no line. Megan urged me to do it. But the bare feet of the facilitators seemed ominous and then Megan and I read the plaque and discovered that we were expected to take off all our clothes and get in a bag together and, I don't know, stumble around. We didn't. 26. Speaking of facilitators, Megan took me to St. Patrick's cathedral to show off its beauty. She said the lines on Ash Wednesday had been crazy! But once you got inside it was very efficient, with 25 ash stations, and 25 priests - facilitators, I call them - just throwing that ash on you in frenzied handfuls (from what I imagined were large buckets); sounded like to me they had a real penitence factory going there.
27. After dinner at the Oyster Bar, Megan and Dan and I went to the famous 21 Club for a nightcap. I remembered from reading (as much as could of) that Errol Flynn autobiography that something big happened to Errol Flynn at the 21 Club... either an unexpected moment of graciousness from a kind friend or stranger at his lowest point of abjection or maybe he beat up some guys there, or maybe both! 28. So the mural in the men's room at the 21 Club is hard to understand. It shows a guy peeing into a goldfish bowl. I'm pretty sure! From an impressive distance. And the goldfish is surprised and for some reason a lady's skirt is flying up. Also in surprise? And as long as we are talking about restrooms, let's go back to the Oyster Bar, in which Megan snapped this shot of a sofa in the Ladies' Room:
29. Megan's nightcap conversation at the 21 Club! She said that she's a direct descendant of Mary, Queen of Scots! Probably the least surprising news I've ever heard. Then she said, "You know, Frances Farmer never got a lobotomy." I'm pretty sure that came out of nowhere. "After she went on a binge," said Megan, "she said to the arresting officer, 'Hasn't anyone ever broken your heart?'" Then Megan asked us rhetorically, "Doesn't that just kill you?" And it did! It killed us.