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Don Rickles: The Methuselah of Stand-Up

 

I’m putting this out here right now ___ Don Rickles should host the 2013 Academy Awards Show. Billy Crystal can watch from home, or maybe, since Crystal is such a fan of the octogenarian Rickles, they can co-host. Even at 87 and 65 respectively, they’d be a hilarious tag team. My hope would be no script, no set pieces, just fill the house with the usual Hollywood suspects and let the two of them rip/riff and sew panic throughout the woefully named Hollywood and Highland Theater.

Maybe they never get around to handing out an award except the honorary one Rickles picks up to go with the Emmy Award he won in 2008 for Mr. Warmth:  The Don Rickles Project.

An Oscar for what, you ask? Why for the body of work, of course, everything from the Annette and Frankie beach movies of the 60’s to the Toy Story franchise, with stops along the way at Run Silent Run Deep, Kelly’s Heroes and Casino.

I’m joking about the award (a little), but not Don Rickles, a comic deserving of every other accolade that might come his way. Maybe it was Crystal’s influence that gave him that talking head moment during one of the segments intended to whip up nostalgia for movie going. In any case, good call.

Rickles said he likes the Godfather. Any surprise, dummy? Although anytime he shows up in a movie is a pleasant occasion, Rickles is a television guy. And despite starring in a couple of sitcoms, CPO Sharkey and the winning but failed Daddy Dearest with Richard Lewis, the association between Rickles and late night television is strongest.



Withnail and I: La Fin D'une E'poque



It’s (nearly) 2012! High time we made a collective admission; that is, for those of us who were there, or in my case, for those of us whose older brothers were there as the watershed moments went down___ the anti-war marches, sit-ins, Woodstock, the proto-occupy squats that regionalized for us as headlines in the Boston Globe about “hippies squatting on the Boston Common” (my brother L. “crashed” there with a group of suburban buddies addled by pot and the Beacon Street Union) and the birth of R-O-C-K ___ there is no definitive statement in any form on the madness that was 1969.

To each their own, or in the parlance of that day, whatever turns you on---I choose a film, over which more ink has been spilled since its appearance in 1986 than most Best Picture winners ever attract. To wit, Bruce Robinson’s comedy, Withnail and I., #29, on the BFI’s list of favorite British films of the 20th century. It’s a film for writers, druggies, drunks, poets, lovesick losers of all stripes, and ACTORS!!!!!!!!! It’s also about industry versus celebrity, Epicureanism versus stuffiness, the end of impossible friendships, and a near complete evocation of the spirit of an era.
 



I'm Wonderin'....

 

....if

Young Neil

can really be....

.... 66  ( !! )

Years Old

Today



Made In The Shade

 

Whatever

happened to.....

 

.....the

OTHER Mick ???

 



Sunburst Finish: Be-Bop Deluxe at their most luxurious

Be-Bop Deluxe was one of those mid-seventies bands that plugged the gap between glam and punk like Roxy Music on one side and Thin Lizzy on the other, less ballsy than the latter and less campy than the former. But like 10cc or Sparks, smart enough and tuneful enough to get one through the Horse Latitudes of most AOR programming: the endless sorties of the Eagles, America, ABBA, Elton, Jackson, Rod and the Doobie Brothers.

Lyrically, Bill Nelson’s songwriting seemed to ascribe more to the ethos of another underrated band of the era, Blue Oyster Cult, and their code language of flames and futurism, than any other contemporaries. And even these similarities are more subtle than striking. Nelson could write a song like “Blazing Apostles”, reminding the listener of BOC’s “Flaming Telepaths" in the construction of the title and the theme of transformation, but tone it up with the kind of lyricism that one associates with Brits and Romantic poetry: “Salvation brings a badge to wear/on the glad rags of your soul”…all the while extending a metaphor about pop fame and not buying one’s own press… “Posters make a prophet if you’ve got a soul to sell.”  Considering Nelson’s sad and sorry history of trying to get paid for his Be-Bop work, the lyrics seem prescient. He’s invested more than a pound of flesh only to be frustrated at every turn.



The Word According to Festus

 

 

With the recent passing of that sublime and absolutely natural Westerner James  Arness,  who will live in perpetuity as the forever able and  Zen-master-with-a -six-gun Matt Dillon in endless reels of, Gunsmoke episodes ( all truly worth seeing), I thought of one of Matt’s few kindred spirits, Festus, played quite iconically by Ken Curtis.

In the Kitty-Doc-Festus triangle that serves  the great independent spirit of the perpetual flinty and eternally taciturn Dillon, Doc (Milburn Stone) functioned as Matt’s most intellectual companion, an equal to ruefully discuss philosophy and occasionally plan strategy with, and of course, just like the Marshall, an ever astute judge of character.

Kitty (Amanda Blake), the red-haired proprietor of The Long Branch, the town’s saloon and elegant (and unsaid) whorehouse, was Matt’s only channel for overt emotion, passion, or sexuality, and she also exists as the foremost manifestation of burgeoning civilization, while she also coexisted as the triangle’s most emotive, hardened but still given to concrete measures of gentility, and—as all bar owners are—a quick interpreter of character.



His Name Was Larry

    

 

Larry Wayne Fischer

   November 6, 1944  -  June 16, 2011

 

 

 

 

  





Starting with their Brilliant Name: The Clash

Maybe if Svengali manager Bernie Rhodes hadn't liked Paul Simonon's idea about a name for the outfit he and his friend Mick Jones had assembled, we'd never have The Clash, perhaps the most appropriately named band of the punk era, maybe of all time. Just a few years Later CBS publicity would describe them as "The Only Band that Mattered," seemingly unaware that one of the band's modus operandi was bolstering the likes of lesser-knowns, such as Lee "Scratch" Perry, the legendary Jamaican producer, who co-produced an early version of "Complete Control," which ironically, took a swipe at CBS.     

And as shows and venues increased exponentially in depth and breadth between 1976 and 1982, the Clash promoted unknowns, such as Mickey Dread, Tymon Dogg, and not once, but twice during their stint at NYC's Bonds Casino in June, 1981, the Bratles, a group of city kids with boho pedigrees, and the yet-to-be-known New York rappers, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, also at Bonds. 

Sandinista! proved that there was an internationalism, dare I say it, to the Clash that contravened the idea of the super group. The attempt to be inclusive at Bonds, featuring each night a tripartite lineup of a Brit band, an American and a Jamaican act, from The Slits to Joe Ely to Lee Perry, was as quintessential Clash as their eclectic and therefore, subversive, musical passions: including but not limited to rockabilly, reggae, ska, funk and jangly garage rock.