Stuff I’ve Been Reading

Riveting piece called Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie. Not to be missed. Probably not what you think either, although the nightmare aspect of it is also real.

I mentioned the scene at the house where she dissolved into tears. I may have said that she still had a gift and that it shouldn’t be squandered. Lohan’s eyes filled.

“I know. I’m trying. I’m really trying.”

But then she shook her head.

“I can’t cry. I’ve got makeup on.”

Friend Dennis Cozzalio’s beautiful tribute post to Huell Howser, who just passed away.

On that night we saw up close and personal that if Howser’s legendary gregariousness, which had endeared him to working-class Joes and hipsters alike, was even partially an act, then it was a damn convincing one, and one that Howser seemed to wear as comfortably as the casual shirts, khakis and short pants in which is most often appeared on camera.

Jounalism and Revolution: a book review of a new biography (the first really) of brilliant Polish writer Ryszard Kapuściński (one of my idols). My friend Ted gave me the biography for my birthday. I have not read it yet but I cannot wait.

Kapuściński’s genius was his dissection of comportments, his insight into politics that derived from conversations and observations of regular people. Clearly, his books were something other than traditional journalism, and he never claimed otherwise. Indeed, he was acclaimed in both Poland and the West precisely for offering a new kind of journalism. Domosławski relates the various criticisms, but suggests that the Catalan critic Luis Albert Chillón probably had it best when he wrote of Kapuściński creating a “formerly unknown symbiosis” combining “the information-gathering techniques that belong to investigative journalism, the art of observation that is typical of reportage, and a quest for a kind of poetic truth, which through a narrative mode that is closer to myths, legends and folk tales than to realistic novels, transcends the boundaries inherent in simple documentary truth.”

This entertaining piece from The Self-Styled Siren: What I Watched With My Mother: The Also-Ran Edition

Background to Danger is baggily constructed, with more than its fair share of convenient double agents and talking killers. The major problem, however, was nailed by Mom: “This needed Humphrey Bogart.” Instead you get George Raft at his most humorless and mechanical. Also includes Brenda Marshall looking marvelous in Soviet Chic, all high-necked sweaters and astrakan-collared coats. Unfortunately, all she does is hand Lorre vodka (although that’s an important task, goodness knows).

One of the most important pieces of criticism I read in 2012: Glenn Kenny’s masterful takedown of Glenn Greenwald (et al) in regards to the whole Zero Dark Thirty endorses torture meme. Not to be missed (it helps if you have seen the movie, and it also helps if you follow all of the links in that post, if you are at all behind in the conversation). I saw Zero Dark Thirty and it was in my Top 5 of 2012. I had to hold off on reading Kenny’s piece until I had seen it.

And what I saw when I watched to movie was a very well-constructed narrative that, to my mind, was concerned with knowing and with the action taken as a result of knowing, or “knowing.” I saw a movie that subverted a lot of expectations concerning viewer identification and empathy, including the use of a lead character who in a conventional good-guy-versus-bad-guy scenario would raise objections to torture but who instead, a few queasy looks and pauses aside, rolls with it as an information gathering policy. In 1976 Robert Christgau wrote this about the first Ramones record: “I love this record–love it–even though I know these boys flirt with images of brutality (Nazi especially) in much the same way ‘Midnight Rambler’ flirts with rape. You couldn’t say they condone any nasties, natch–they merely suggest that the power of their music has some fairly ominous sources and tap those sources even as they offer the suggestion. This makes me uneasy. But my theory has always been that good rock and roll should damn well make you uneasy.” I agree with Bob in all these particulars, and even more so if you substitute “good art” for “good rock and roll.” Zero Dark Thirty made me uneasy. Greenwald’s evocations of amorality are not entirely inapt. There’s a sense in which the film at least skirts outright amorality by refusing to assign any definite values to the various Xes and Ys in the equation that makes up its narrative. Its perspective, from where I sit, is sometimes flat to the point of affectlessness.

Did you know that Elvis Presley was an extra in Home Alone? Me neither. Please check this out, watch the hilarious clip, and glory in the commentary by these two hilarious girls.

April: still though, the idea of ELVIS MOTHERFUCKING PRESLEY going, “i think i’ll sneak in as an EXTRA in HOME ALONE” makes me HOWL with laughter
Millie: HAHAHA me too!
April: like, of all the movies
April: also, bare mins, he’d wink at the camera
April: i mean, come on
April: he’s a showman
Millie: right!! there is so fucking way that dude would just be relegated to a dude in a line

Open Thread: Crushes, started by the always-awesome Captain Awkward, and elaborated upon by Awkward’s incredible commentariat.

Instead of sensibly setting this letter on fire, I put it in an envelope, walked to his house, hung out with his roommate for a bit, excused myself to go to the bathroom, snuck into his bedroom, and left the note on his pillow.


Because nothing says ‘We should be together!’ like ‘I snuck into the place where you sleep and left you a surprise you didn’t want!’

A wonderful essay by my friend for many years, vaudevillian impresario Trav S.D.: Elvis Presley: Vaudevillian

But as a product, he was second to none, his image is seared into our collective consciousness like that of Christ into the Sacred Shroud of Turin. This was one of the great vaudeville acts of the 20th century.

A beautiful photo essay about “Stiltsville” in Florida.

In addition to the faded glamor of its bohemian past, Stiltsville retains a liminal feel today — a sense of suspension from everyday rules and concerns that comes from being far enough away from shore for civilization to still be in view but with its effects much diminished.

In Jeremy Richey’s ongoing series 31 Performances Ripe for Rediscovery (I wrote a guest post about Elvis Presley’s awesome performance in Live a Little Love a Little), a performance by the great Oliver Reed is highlighted: Oliver Reed’s performance in I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname. Oliver Reed was burned into my brain at a young age due to his performance as Bill Sikes in Oliver!, but there is so much more to discover in his career.

As Quint, Oliver Reed is simply magnificent. His performance is one of the most moving and resonate I have ever seen. It’s one of those rare performances, like Gene Hackman in Night Moves or Mickey Rourke in The Pope of Greenwich Village, that haunts me on a near daily basis. When one of life’s many walls gets put up I always flash on the opening image of Reed carrying an Ax through the busy London Streets to destroy the office desk he has been held prisoner by and I think ‘if only’…

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6 Responses to Stuff I’ve Been Reading

  1. DBW says:

    These were great.

  2. Todd Restler says:

    Great links, you’ve led me to some wonderful places, thank you for sharing. The Moon in the Gutter site (last link) led me to this wonderful piece on character actors, which I know you love.

    Love this from Viggo Mortensen:

    “I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said this, it was about meandering through a career, or the arts in general, without seeming to have a deliberate plan. He said, ‘To travel hopefully is better than to arrive, and the true success is in the labor.’ That’s a great line, ‘To travel hopefully.’ That’s what I’d like to do.”

  3. Todd Restler says:

    And your not the only “They all Laughed “fan, the author of this piece refers to it as Bogdonovich’s greatest film and one of the best films of the 80s!

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