Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lucky Chip

Saw old Bill Boyle at the City Grocery Bar last night. We were celebrating his successful thesis defense. I am happy to say that his manuscript had some owls in it, both real owls and the Owl's Head Wastewater Treatment Plant. Now I never had Bill in an actual workshop, so I can't claim that he got the immortal advice from me ("Always put an owl in your book." - Jack Pendarvis). He seems to have realized this essential bit of the craft independently. Perhaps he's a genius! Bill, recalling my obsessive habit of checking every book to see whether Jerry Lewis is in the index, mentioned finding him in an oral biography of Robert Altman. "But you won't like it," he said of the reference. I went home and checked my copy and sure enough, there's Jules Feiffer saying he would rather kill himself than work with Jerry Lewis, and gosh that seems extreme, and Bill was correct: I didn't like it. (You know, Jerry Lewis is not in the index of any of the new Pauline Kael books that are everywhere these days. Al Lewis [pictured] is in one of them - AL Lewis! AL LEWIS! - but not Jerry Lewis! A travesty! Jerry does get a mention in a fat new [?] bio of Paul McCartney - but it's passing and mildly dismissive: Sir Paul uses Jerry as an example of the square stuff on the Ed Sullivan program before he and his pals came along. Why must everyone use Jerry as a punching bag? Jerry's better than all of you!) Leafing through the Altman book I found a funny story. A studio executive wanted the original script of the low-key gambling picture CALIFORNIA SPLIT revised: "I want the Mafia to chase the two guys... And I want Dean Martin to be the star of it. He wears a lucky chip around his neck, and he gets shot and the chip saves his life... You can call the movie LUCKY CHIP."