Chamblee54

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on June 13, 2021

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When an author has book product, the author gets interviewed. This is how PG first heard of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson. The act of using “the media” to promote book product is a curious analog to shaming. To have the exhibitionism on the wtf podcast, starring the shame-proof Marc Maron, is another item on an overloaded irony buffet. This is a repost.

Justine Sacco made an unwise tweet about AIDS and white privilege. She landed in South Africa to discover herself notorious, and unemployed. The tabloid press said Max Mosley was at a Nazi themed sex party. He sued the paper about the Nazi part, won a settlement, and boasted of being a player. The tabloid newspaper got caught in another scandal, and was shut down.

This being non fiction, Mr. Ronson goes all over the place. There is a $500 a seat weekend seminar on “radical honesty.” There are academics, of various levels of intelligence, who write about shaming, prison techniques, and other trivia. There is a company who floods the internet with flattering stories about you, so that the trash goes to page three of google. There are also more people whose lives were ruined by public shaming. One example is the rape victim who committed suicide after her cross examination.

The star shaming saga is donglegate. (spell check suggestion: congregate) Two young men at a tech conference made a tacky joke. A lady, Adria Richards, took a picture of the young men. Immediately, the picture was on twitter. @adrisrichards Not cool Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles Right behind me.

In her interview with Mr. Ronson, Ms. Richards said she felt that the dongle joke jeopardized her safety. “Have you ever heard that thing, Men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them?” “People might consider that an overblown thing to say”… She had, after all, been in the middle of a tech conference with eight hundred bystanders” “Sure And those people would probably be white and they would probably be male.”

While researching donglegate, Mr. Ronson talked to some people at 4chan. There was a comment made. It went into the preview copies of the book, but not the final edition. This is part of the the publicity process. Someone took offense at this comment, and made an issue out of it. For more details see this story, File under ‘inevitable’: “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” author Jon Ronson slammed by Twitter-shamers.

In all of these tales, Mr. Ronson’s name was spelled correctly. Some say there is no bad publicity. Whatever is said creates awareness of your product. There is a lot of awareness for SYBPS, and Mr. Ronson, right now. ‏@jonronson Feeling incredibly sorry for #RachelDolezal and hope she’s okay. The world knows very little about her, her motives.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Picture #06662 is from “Second International Pageant of Pulchritude and Eighth Annual Bathing Girl Revue, May 21, 22, 23, 1927, Galveston TX.”

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I Was a Child

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on June 6, 2021


The Chamblee library had been closed during the pandemic. The re-opening coincided with PG running out of reading material. He went over there, and naturally did not find anything right away. Finally, a skinny book in the biography section spoke to him. I Was a Child: A Memoir, written by Bruce Eric Kaplan, or BEK.

The author/illustrator does cartoons for The New Yorker. Twenty five years ago, PG worked all the time, and had a cheap lifestyle. He bought magazines, and probably saw a cartoon or two by BEK. Or maybe not. Google/wikipedia are not cooperating with this question: when did BEK start at tny? The *ironic npr listener* style of cartooning is a staple of the magazine, whether BEK draws it or not.

IWAC is about growing up in suburban New Jersey in the sixties and seventies. PG is ten years older than BEK, and considerably less Jewish. The black-and-white-tv mentality described here does ring true. Parents are frazzled old people, brushing their remaining three hairs over a bald scalp. Mom smokes a cigarette she earned, using an heirloom glass ash tray. In PG’s house, the glass ashtray was kidney shaped, and strictly for company. In those days, you had an ashtray.

One time that IWAC moved PG was page 104. BEK is talking about walking with his mother. “She would suddenly shriek, “Watch out for the dog BM’ as if you suddenly explode if you stepped in it.” Mothers have to have a word for feces, for obvious reasons. For some reason, in the fifties, the abbreviation for bowel movement became the proper expression for animal waste. Apparently, this was just as true in New Jersey as Georgia.

The book was an admirable absorber of time for its 191 pages. If it did not have so many drawings, it would have only been 100 pages, if that. It ends with father dying, and BEK going to the family house to get what he wanted. He got the “Its a small world” album, and left the house forever. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Blonde Stories

Posted in Book Reports, Commodity Wisdom, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 19, 2021


The world is in turmoil. People are killing people for no good reason. The government is run by liars and scoundrels. Religion is a dirty word. It is time for blonde stories . Thank you FunnyJokes. Pictures are from The Library of Congress

A married couple was asleep when the phone rang at 2 in the morning. The very blonde wife picked up the phone, listened a moment, and said ‘How should I know, that’s 200 miles from here!’ and hung up. The husband said, ‘Who was that?’ The wife answered, ‘I don’t know, some woman wanting to know if the coast is clear.’

Two blondes are walking down the street. One notices a compact on the sidewalk and leans down to pick it up. She opens it, looks in the mirror and says, ‘Hmm, this person looks familiar.’ The second blonde says, ‘Here, let me see!’ So, the first blonde hands her the compact. The second blonde looks in the mirror and says, ‘You dummy, it’s me!’

A blonde suspects her boyfriend of cheating on her, so she goes out and buys a gun. She goes to his apartment unexpectedly and when she opens the door she finds him in the arms of a redhead. Well, the blonde is really angry. She opens her purse to take out the gun, and as she does so, she is overcome with grief. She takes the gun and puts it to her head. The boyfriend yells, ‘No, honey, don’t do it!’ The blonde replies, ‘Shut up, you’re next!’

A blonde was bragging about her knowledge of state capitals. She proudly says, ‘Go ahead, ask me … I know ‘em all.’  ‘OK, what’s the capital of Wisconsin ?’ The blonde replies, ‘Oh, that’s easy. Its W.’

Q: What did the blonde ask her doctor when he told her she was pregnant? A: ‘Is it mine?’

Bambi, a blonde in her fourth year as a UCLA Freshman, sat in her US Government class. The professor asked Bambi if she knew what Roe vs. Wade was about. Bambi pondered the question; then, finally, said, ‘That was the decision George Washington had to make before he crossed the Delaware.’

Returning home from work, a blonde was shocked to find her house burglarized. She telephoned the police at once and reported the crime. The police dispatcher broadcast the call on the radio, and a K-9 unit, patrolling nearby, was the first to respond. As the K-9 officer approached the house with his dog on a leash, the blonde ran out on the porch, shuddered at the sight of the cop and his dog, then sat down on the steps. Putting her face in her hands, she moaned, ‘I come home to find all my possessions stolen. I call the police for help, and what do they do? They send me a BLIND COP!’

Marilyn Truther

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Quotes, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 2, 2021


Marilyn Monroe was photographed reading Ulysses, the famously difficult book by James Joyce. 63 years later, a man posted the picture on twitter, while promoting a study course on Ulysses. If Marilyn read it, then you can too! PG said something uncooperative, and a brief twitter fight broke out. Since the Ulysses dude, and his tweeting buddy, did not give permission, they will not be quoted here. One exception, the titular “Marilyn Truther,” was coined by the study course promoter.

@chamblee54 It was a joke, at one time, to give models a book to pose with. It was considered funny to give them a difficult book like “Ulysses” ~ Who needs to show a citation? I may be wrong. I asked Mr. Google, and found this. ~ According to photographer, she did not read it from start to finish. A more accurate answer is that she read parts of it Story by photographer should not be taken as unchallenged truth, but it is all we have I should have researched this before i spoke. Did you? ~ I had read that about other models. I also read numerous quotes, attributed to Marilyn, that proved to be phony. Photography is a medium open to manipulation, and creation of fantasy. Just because you see a picture, that does not mean it happened. ~ Eve Arnold… a woman … took that picture. How do we know Marilyn told the truth? Maybe Marilyn was just trying to make a good impression on the lady. Would Marilyn have said the same thing if the photographer was a man?

PG disputed that Marilyn Monroe had read Ulysses, and will never know for sure either way. He was not the first person to wonder about this. “Richard Brown, a Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Leeds with a special interest in James Joyce, was intrigued by Eve Arnold’s photos of Marilyn. Curious to know if Marilyn was indeed reading Joyce’s novel or if she was merely posing for the photo, Brown wrote Arnold a letter, which she replied on 20 July 1993. Unfortunately, I don’t have Arnold’s complete letter to show you … In any case, the excerpt from Arnold’s letter is interesting as she was telling Brown exactly what he wanted to know”:

“We worked on a beach on Long Island. She was visiting Norman Rosten the poet…. I asked her what she was reading when I went to pick her up (I was trying to get an idea of how she spent her time). She said she kept Ulysses in her car and had been reading it for a long time. She said she loved the sound of it and would read it aloud to herself to try to make sense of it — but she found it hard going. She couldn’t read it consecutively. When we stopped at a local playground to photograph she got out the book and started to read while I loaded the film. So, of course, I photographed her. It was always a collaborative effort of photographer and subject where she was concerned — but almost more her input.” “Quoted in Richard Brown, “Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses: Goddess or Postcultural Cyborg?”, in R. B. Kershner (Ed), Joyce and Popular Culture, p. 174.”

“Monroe is reading the 1934 Random House edition, with the dust jacket removed. This is the edition that was famously set from a pirate version containing numerous errors. This defect notwithstanding, the dust-jacket artwork and typographic design by Ernst Reichl constitute one of the great works in the history of book design.”

What does this say about a screen icon who died in 1962? Maybe she was smarter than your typical dumb blonde. Maybe not. Marilyn had an instinct for the camera, and looking good on the screen brought joy to millions of fans. Is this post mortem resurrection, as an intellectual philosopher, merely another fantasy concocted by well meaning fans? Pictures never lie, and there is a picture of Marilyn, reading Ulysses, with a serious look on her pretty face. Of course it is real! A fantasy involving Norma Jean Baker Marilyn Monroe? How absurd! As long as the merchandise is paid for, and the instagrammers inspired, should we even care?

The cult of Marilyn has shown up on chamblee54 before. “Someone told me that Marilyn Monroe once remarked that she enjoyed reading poetry “because it saves time.” I like this quotation so much that I’ve never dared to confirm it; I’d feel disenchanted to learn it was bogus.” This search for authenticity led to a forum called Data Lounge… “… get your fix of gay gossip, news and pointless bitchery.” The “Marilyn: Smart or Stupid” debate rages through 200 comments, reaching a peak at comment 196. “Yes MM said every one of those quotes by herself! … But I’m worried for her, cause She’s my main spirit guide and Saviour and she recently commanded me to share this message! …

In 2014, a facebook notice appeared. It was promoting a blog post by known idiot Matt Walsh. “If you can’t accept me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”… “the original quote is from Marilyn Monroe. It’s even more vapid and nauseating when taken in its full context: “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” Out of all the profundities ever uttered, what does it say about our society that THIS is the quote we’ve decided to take to heart?” It is generally accepted that Marilyn did not say that. The top debunker is now a malware distributor, and not available for viewing. Somehow, that seems appropriate.

Pictures today are from the Library of Congress. “Listening to speeches at mass meeting of Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers protesting congressional cut of relief appropriations. San Francisco, California.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange February 1939. This is a repost

Atlanta Rising

Posted in Book Reports, Georgia History, GSU photo archive by chamblee54 on April 1, 2021

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Atlanta Rising: The Invention of an International City 1946-1996 is on the shelf at the Chamblee library. This book is a history of Atlanta in the modern era, written by former fishwrapper scribe Frederick Allen. This is a repost from 2014. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

The story begins in 1948. AR is weighted more to the older part of the story. The main text is 248 pages. On page 124, Ivan Allen has just built a controversial roadblock on Peyton Road, which would be in 1962. The further along in the story, the fewer details are included. The first big story is when Georgia had two governors. This is one of the best descriptions of the two Governors controversy around, and does not mention Ben Fortson’s wheelchair cushion.

The mayor at the start of the story is William B. Hartsfield. “Willie B” was a leader in creating the Atlanta Airport, and in building it into the powerhouse it is today. He was mayor until 1961, when Ivan Allen Jr. moved into the office.

AR has many moments of unintentional irony. When you read a book 18 years after it was written, and fifty years after the events in the book, you see things that could not have been imagined before. In 1960, many of the political-business elite thought it was time for Mr. Hartsfield to retire. Among his shortcomings was an indifference to sports. Mr. Hartsfield thought that a new stadium would be too great a drain on the city’s taxpayers. Fifty four years, and three stadiums, later, the power elite is going to build another stadium. Atlanta Stadium cost eighteen million dollars. The Blank bowl will cost over a billion. (In the past year, a plan to move the Braves to Smyrna was announced.)

One of the big stories here is civil rights. Atlanta came out of that struggle looking pretty good. It was a combination of image conscious businessmen, enlightened black leadership, and a huge helping of dumb luck. In 1961, the city was under federal pressure to integrate the schools. The state was firm in opposition, and the city wasn’t crazy about the idea anyway. Then, another federal court ordered the integration of the University of Georgia. Since the people would not stand for messing with their beloved University, the state laws forbidding integration were quietly repealed. The city schools were integrated with a minimum of fuss. (The book tells this story much better than a slack blogger.)

The controversy about the 1956 model state flag was going full steam when AR was written. The book has some legislative records, which for some reason never made it into the fishwrapper. There is no clear cut answer as to why the legislature changed the state flag. It was mentioned that at the national political conventions, you could not have a written sign, but you could wave a state flag. This controversy provided a diversion from gold dome crookedness, and hopefully has been laid to rest.

A man named Lester Maddox sold fried chicken, and ran for public office. AR describes Lester as looking a bit like an angry chicken. Through a series of constitutional convulsions, Lester was elected Governor in 1966. The state survived his tenure. In the seventies, when Jimmy Carter was running for President, Lester said a lot of rude things about Jimmy, helping the smiling peanut farmer get elected. In another turn of fate, Lester Maddox died June 25, 2003. This was two days after the eternal departure of Maynard Jackson, the first black Mayor of Atlanta.

The book ends with the 1996 Olympics looming over the city. Billy Payne led a smart campaign to secure the games for Atlanta. One of his moves was to keep Jimmy Carter and Ted Turner out of the action. After the 1980 boycott, and the Goodwill Games, neither person was popular with the I.O.C. The book was published before 1996. The Olympics were a blast.

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Line Mining The Sonnets

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Poem, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on November 14, 2020


Find the sonnets of Shakespeare. Copy them into a word document. Read each one, and isolate the lines that resonate. Match up the lines by rhyme. Compile villanelles when appropriate. Retrofit rhymes onto others, pair them into couplets. Incorporate them into sonnets and octrains. Since the lines are already iambic pentameter, there should be minimal metric revision.

It became obvious that hearing them read would work better. A lovely source turned up. Earlier this year, Sir Patrick Stewart read a sonnet a day. The actor sat down, put his glasses on, opened his book, and read a sonnet for the camera. There were little comments, about the poems, scattered throughout the videos. With the aid of Sir Patrick, I began to get a sense for the iambic feng shui. In my own craft, I have long struggled with meter. Maybe this will help.

Everything is lower case in my graphic poems. There is no punctuation. It soon became apparent that commas were essential to the pacing of the sonnets. As for the capital letters, it is likely that Mr. Shakespeare capitalized. This was a few hundred years before e. e. cummings.

How do we know for sure? The original manuscripts are not available. “None of Shakespeare’s original manuscripts have survived, due perhaps to the fact that they were written, many of them hastily, strictly for stage performance. Not so much as a couplet written in Shakespeare’s own hand has ever been proven to exist.” There is speculation as to the true authorship of these pieces.

“Shakespeare’s sonnets were first published together in 1609 as a quarto, athough they were probably written much earlier. The sonnets, far more popular today than the epic poems, are still published both individually and as a group.” How did these sonnets get from the desk, to the printed page?

Sonnet LIV ends with “When that shall vade, my verse distills your truth.” @SirPatStew commented on the word vade, just as I was ready to take a google break. A site, Shakespeare’s Words, appeared. Vade seems to be the same word as fade. And no, this blog was not named for Sonnet 54.

1609 not only saw the publication of the sonnets, but the production of the King James Bible. There are legends that Mr. Shakespeare was involved in this project. “Because, if you count 46 words from the beginning of Psalm 46 and 46 words from the ending of the psalm (not counting the “Selahs”), you arrive at these two words: “shake” and “spear.” … Shakespeare would have been 46 years old in 1610, when scholars were finalizing the translations for publication the following year.”

Some Bible scholars are not fond of this story. “Nevertheless, just like the idiotic claim that King James was a sodomite, the story will undoubtedly be repeated ad nauseum no matter how thoroughly it has been discredited.” Less debunkable is this: “William Shakespeare is an anagram of ‘Here was I, like a psalm.'” Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Rainbows

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on October 21, 2020


Lately, I have been walking to the gym. It is about 1.4 miles one way. I go there, do my workout, and walk home. One consequence is not riding the stationary bike, and listening to podcasts. When it is a good story, this can be transformative. It is an magical escape from one place, into another.

Today, I chose to listen to a story while walking home. The story was Rainbows, by @JosephONeillx. It was one of the good ones. By the time I went through the railroad underpass off Peachtree Road, my pace had grown even more glacial than normal. I did not want to miss a single detail. It did help that I was off the busy main road, whose loud traffic drowned out the action.

Listening to a story, as opposed to reading it, is a different path for the information. The author’s voice telling the tale is a more intimate connection that reading dead tree text. In this story, the reading author is a man. I assumed the lead character, Clodagh, was also male. When a Aoife, the daughter, appeared, and a husband named Ian, I just thought this was just the trendy New Yorker. It wasn’t until much later in the story, that it dawned on me that Clodagh might be female. The gender is never confirmed one way, or the other.

The story is rather disturbing. (Spoiler to follow) Aoife is being sexually harassed at school, and files a complaint. The boy who gets metooed is the son of a laundry owner. Clodagh Nolastname is a VIP customer. (This all happens in New York. Clodagh is not poor.) The Chinese laundry lady tells Clodagh to take her business elsewhere. Clodagh is mortified that it was not handled family-to-family, but through the authorities.

I continue to walk through a glorious October afternoon. The leaves are still mostly green. The election is in two weeks, and we will see what becomes of the anti-christ POTUS. The story ends when I get into the house, and I listen to the credits. Theme music is by North American Plastics, which somehow sounds as New Yorkeresque as not knowing whether mom is a man, or a woman.

Pauline Kael, Gina James, And James Broughton

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Poem by chamblee54 on October 11, 2020

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Pauline Kael was the rockstar film critic. James Broughton was the radical faerie poet laureate. They were lovers, and had a daughter, Gina James. Pauline and James were not married, contrary to what some naysayers would tell you. This is a repost.

Much of the information in this feature is taken from online reviews of Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, a 2012 biography written by Brian Kellow. Gina James, also known as Gina Broughton, was not interviewed for the book. Neither did she participate in the making of Big Joy, a movie about James Broughton. (A wig store, Gina Beauty Supply is located at 25 W Broughton St, Savannah, GA 31401.)

Pauline Kael was born June 19, 1919, Petaluma, CA, died September 3, 2001, Great Barrington, MA, and stood 4 feet 9 inches tall. James Broughton was born November 10, 1913, Modesto, CA, and died May 17, 1999, Port Townsend, WA. Neither one had a middle name. Both used their birth name throughout life. Both had lives, before meeting in the late forties.

When she met James Broughton, Miss Kael was living what would later be called the bohemian life. After moving to New York, and being dumped for composer Samuel Barber, Miss Kael moved back to California. “Returning to the Bay Area with her tail between her legs in 1945, Pauline became involved with the incredibly effeminate avant-garde filmmaker James Broughton. He managed to impregnate Pauline but threw her out as soon as she told him, whereupon she moved to Santa Barbara to give birth to her daughter, Gina, in 1948″

“Like her early career, Kael’s personal life was also fraught with failures. Kellow says “she had a habit of falling for gay men” earlier in her life because “they tended to share her passions and enthusiasms.” She had a daughter … with one of them, experimental filmmaker James Broughton.”

“For a time, during the 1940s, he lived with future film critic Pauline Kael. She encouraged his filmmaking endeavors but their relationship ended after she got pregnant. … Pauline Kael thought that Broughton made the biggest mistake of his life when he turned down a studio film after winning the prize at Cannes.” (Apparently Mr. Broughton was from a wealthy family, and could afford this attitude. Regarding his movie The Bed, Mr. Broughton said “It was the only film I created that ever made any money.”)

“Which brings us to the strange tale of Pauline’s only child, Gina James. … In 1948, at age 29, Kael got pregnant after she “talked her way into moving in” with James Broughton, a bisexual poet living in Sausalito. By Kellow’s account, Broughton was furious at the news of Kael’s pregnancy; he felt trapped and tricked by her. One of Broughton’s friends reported that he kicked Kael out of his house. She moved to Santa Barbara to have the baby. The birth certificate listed the father as “Lionel James, a writer”. It is one of the disappointments of the book that Kellow shines little light on Kael’s passion — or whatever it was — for Broughton, on how she processed that cruel rejection and on whether Broughton ever recognized Gina as his daughter.”

James Broughton moved on with his life. He made experimental films, got married, and fathered two more children. At some point he met Joel Singer, and began the romance that would last the rest of his life. It is tough to say whether he was genuinely bisexual, or whether he was playing the role society expected of him.

This review of Big Joy continues: “But interviews with Singer, waxing poetic about his years with the artist, are balanced by reminiscences from Broughton’s ex-wife and his abandoned son. Rather than only celebrating silliness, I found it admirable that the directors didn’t gloss over the pain he caused his wife and children. After all, when you think about it, he spent all of his life unable to decide if he was gay or straight; leaving a lot of broken hearts in his wake.

We learn from Kael that he flirted with everyone he met. “He rode off into the sunset with some guy,” his wife, Suzanna Hart tells us. “That was very sad for me, but not for him, which was…very irritating.” In her segments, Hart keeps her emotions in check but you can clearly read the sadness and anger in her face. The son doesn’t have much good to say about his absent father and the two daughters (the first by Kael and the second by Hart) both refused to be interviewed for the film. Singer has a lot to say about their blissful decades together, but he also comes off a bit heartless when he shows no guilt over breaking up what he calls Broughton’s “loveless” marriage.”

The baby daddy leaves, and the struggling writer becomes a single mom. “… Kael’s relationship with her actual daughter was something out of a Tennessee Williams play, and not in a good way. Kael home-schooled Gina and, as the girl grew up, kept her close, as a typist, projectionist, driver and right-hand man, and she banished any friend who actively encouraged the young woman to break out on her own. Though she was in many ways a loving and committed mother, helping to raise Gina’s son and always living nearby, one senses a Gothic selfishness in her mothering.”

Gina James declined to talk with Kellow for his book, but the author says Kael and her daughter had a sort of symbiotic relationship. “Pauline did not type, Pauline did not drive — Gina performed both those functions for her. And Gina was a very good critic of Pauline. She got to see Pauline’s copy before anyone else did and she often had very, very important and influential things to say. But Pauline really wasn’t wild about the idea of Gina breaking away and having her own life apart from her, and she didn’t do anything really to encourage her in that direction as far as I can see.”

Amazon one star comment: And her poor daughter – what a fate – TYPING all that. Poor Gina, — I can see her – Kellow described sitting silently in some coffee shop while her mother raved on and ON with her pet directors.

An affair with the experimental filmmaker James Broughton produced a child, Gina, whom Kael raised by herself, Mildred Pierce–like, heroically supporting them with a number of odd jobs, including running a laundry. Gina’s heart condition required expensive surgery, and Kael ended up enticing Edward Landberg, the owner of a local art-house theater, Berkeley Cinema Guild. They had begun as co-programmers. As Landberg tells it: “One day, when I was over at her place, I happened to graze her breast with my hand, and she kind of looked up and said, ‘What have you got to lose?’” Their marriage proved a fiasco, but Landberg agreed to pay for Gina’s operation, which Kellow suspects had been Kael’s motive all along…. Kellow shows more independence in assessing Kael’s treatment of her daughter Gina, whose ambitions to become a dancer or a painter she did little to encourage, preferring to keep her on “a silver cord . . . she had also grown accustomed to the steady, dependable role that Gina played—as secretary, driver, reader, sounding board—and she was loath to give her up.” Gina, for her part, was mistrustful of the dynamic she witnessed between Kael and her acolytes.“

“The closest and longest-lasting partnership of her life was with her daughter, Gina James … James considered speaking to Kellow, but finally declined, leaving a blank space at the center of this otherwise vividly detailed biography. Gina lived with her mother till she was over 30, typed up her reviews after Pauline stayed up all night writing them in longhand, and gave up both college and a shot at a dance career to serve as her mother’s caretaker, companion, and driver….

Kellow cites the text of the breathtakingly passive-aggressive eulogy that Gina delivered at her mother’s funeral in 2001: “My mother had tremendous empathy and compassion, though how to comfort, soothe or console was a mystery that eluded her … . Pauline’s greatest weakness, her failure as a person, became her great strength, her liberation as a writer and critic . … she turned her lack of self-awareness into a triumph.”

One more chapter remains. “Gina lived with Kael well into her thirties … That she married and had a child, Will, seemed to catch Kael by surprise, though she ended up adoring her only grandchild, someone with whom she could watch action movies with.

Kael died in 2001, when Will was about 19. Unfortunately, and Kellow made no mention of this in his book whatsoever, there’s a horrible postscript, one that may well have been the reason for why Gina declined to be interviewed for the book. On October 6, 2007, Will, then 25, went hiking in the East Mountain State Forest in the Berkshires. He was an avid hiker, not to mention a devoted martial artist. He had a girlfriend. He never came back. Gina reported him missing, but his body wasn’t found for more than week, on October 15. … “authorities found camping equipment nearby and while cause of death has not been determined, foul play is not suspected.”

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. UPDATE These two comments were made to the original post. Anonymous said, on June 16, 2017 at 9:18 pm Your piece on Kael and Broughton is rife with misinformation and judgements galore and unbelievably badly written. Get a life and stop spreading falsehoods. And next time you put your fingers to a keyboard do your due diligence! James’ son was NOT ABANDONED! He lived happily with the two of us after the divorce. You fail to recognize that James’ ex-wife was a classic fag hag who had been married to another gay man before her relationship with James. She had been in psychotherapy for years before they got together and for many years after they split up. James certainly did not spend the rest of his life uncertain about his sexuality. Read his autobiography COMING UNBUTTONED and you’ll discover how misinformed your take on him is. You have done a great disservice to your readers by publishing such homophobic nonsense. Joel Singer ~ Sterling Wilson said, on August 19, 2017 at 1:40 pm Curious about this autobiography, I found the following from a Publishers Weekly review “Broughton forsakes introspection for literary gossip and name-dropping: Kenneth Rexroth, Pauline Kael, Dylan Thomas, Anais Nin. The birth of a daughter is dispensed with in two sentences. Broughton’s insistence on making himself the center of attention increasingly intrudes.”

UPDATE A journey down an internet rabbit hole uncovered this item. It is from “Remembering Harry and John”, by Mark Thompson on the occasion of Harry’s 100th anniversary “I remember the night we were socializing at the San Francisco Art Institute at a gala tribute for James Broughton. Harry (Hay) and James had sparked briefly as Stanford University undergraduates, but didn’t meet again until fifty years later at a faerie gathering. Few people knew that James had fathered a daughter with esteemed film critic Pauline Kael during their bohemian Berkeley days, but Harry was alert to the fact. Kael and Broughton were having their own reunion at the moment when, with typical impudence, Harry interrupted the conversation by loudly asking, “So, who was the mother and who was the father?” The stunned silence was punctured only by the whoosh of Kael’s furious departure.”

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The Return Of The Spoon

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on October 1, 2020


PG finally finished Skinny Legs and All. Part one of the chamblee54 book report was published July 7, when PG read page 207 at 2:07 pm. Part two followed 11 days later.

It is now October 1. It took PG this long to read the remaining 272 pages. Reading while you are warming up the vehicle only goes so far. Slack is real. Slack is important, even when it’s impolite to say slack lives matter. Slack death is going too far.

SLAA winds up in Jerusalem. Boomer Petway built a statue of a multi-phorodite donkey. The heavy metal hulk drew both hipster praise, and righteous indignation. Ellen Cherry Charles is living with Boomer, having overcome divorce to go back to her man.

The last action of SLAA takes place in a Jerusalem garden. A recently fucked Ellen Cherry is eating breakfast, when Boomer bounters in. He found a spoon resting near the non-binary donkey. It looks “exactly like the one we lost in the cave that day.” It probably is that silver spoon.

Tom Robbins writes fantasy tales, set in modern america. SLAA takes the concept a bit further. A dessert spoon, a purple sock, and a can o’ beans are left behind in a cave, after a conch shell hears a Petway scream jezebel in a moment of passion. After the Petways go to New York, the spoon follows, along with the other objects. The reader is not exactly sure how this happens, but it does. The spoon winds up in a New York apartment, where it finds a painting Ellen Cherry made of it. Somehow, the spoon goes out a window, and lands on the head of a detective. After a few more plot twists, the spoon winds up in Jerusalem. This is all in the book. If you read it, you might be able to keep up with it.

The action in SLAA culminates on super bowl sunday. In the story, a New York team … the Jets/Giants binary is left to the imagination … wins the game. When PG was reading SLAA for the first time, in wintertime 1991, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, a few hundred thousand American troops were in Saudi Arabia, anticipating the start of a mid-east war. This war had something to do with Jerusalem, among other things. Did Tom Robbins anticipate a smidgen of synchronicity? Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

The Jezebel Revival

Posted in Book Reports by chamblee54 on July 18, 2020


“Don’t trust anybody who’d rather be grammatically correct than have a good time.” When perusing lists of salient quotes from Skinny Legs and All, this one will be there. Like many quotes separated from context, it is much more fun to find in the text. Quotes are like perfume. A tasteful drop behind the ear can liven things up. Too many quotes, applied without proper care, can leave the reader running away, gasping for air.

” an old sedan rattled up to the crosswalk, full of music, smoke, and rust. When the light changed, it pooted and tooted in the direction of New Jersey, but not before the objects noted a sticker on its bumper that announced “I’d rather be partying.” Can o’ Beans imagined it to be an infraction of taste, if not of grammar, declaring, “You should never trust anyone who uses ‘party’ as a verb. He/she felt appropriately chastised, when Dirty Sock growled and shot back, “Uh-huh, and don’t trust anybody who’d rather be grammatically correct than have a good time.”

Perspicacious readers might note that this exchange was between a Can o’ Beans, and a Dirty Sock. Since the o’ in Co’B is lower case, it is probable that this is an abbreviation for of, and not an Irish surname. “He’s not Irish” is an old-fashioned way of saying that a person is Jewish. Since the Co’B presumably contained pork, it is unlikely that it was Jewish. The national identity of Co’B must remain a mystery, along with the idea that it was talking to DS.

Tom Robbins novels are, generally, both grammatically correct and purveyors of good times. This does not mean that they always make sense. Co’B and DS are in the basement of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They are watching a performance artist named Turn Around Norman, who stands on Fifth Avenue and slowly, slowly, slowly does a 270 degree turn. This appeals to Co’B and DS, as well as their departed associate Spoon.

The inanimate threesome was left behind in an Idaho cave. Former, and future, owner Ellen Cherry Charles Petway took them into the cave, intending to have Co’B as lunch. This after husband Boomer Petway intended to have Ellen Cherry for dessert, before eating the more solid food. Boomer wore Dirty Sock into the cave. All was going well, until Ellen Cherry demanded that her hubby call her Jezebel. This woke up Painted Stick and Conch Shell. PS/CS woke up after a millennium long slumber, after hearing the name of a Goddess admirer. If this is getting confusing, maybe you should just go ahead to the pictures. They are from The Library of Congress.

PS/CS were worship objects from ancient Phoenicia. This is a neighbor of Israel, later known as Lebanon. At the time SLAA was set, Lebanon was a hell hole, not least because of its proximity to Israel. After Ellen Cherry cried Jezebel, PS/CS decided that it was time to go to Jerusalem, where grammatically incorrect good times are always abloom. The fact that they were inantimate objects did not stop them from traveling. This is one part of the SLAA fantasy that is not adequately explained, and it probably just attributable to some good mushrooms turning up in the Robbins household.

Jezebel is a historic nickname, for a painted good time woman. Her biblical infamy is probably not deserved, which doesn’t stop the fun. Back before Buckhead became gussified beyond recognition, an apartment building on East Paces Ferry Road featured the Jezebel lounge on the ground floor.

SLAA was written sometime in the late eighties, and published in 1990. At that time, the concept of Singular They had not, mercifully, emerged. The one advantage of ST is referring to objects of uncertain gender. They works much better than he/she. Fwiw, Dirty Sock and Painted Stick are male, while Conch Shell and Spoon are Robbinesque celebrations of femininity. One ponders the chauvinism of he/she. Good manners say that ladies should go first.

PG took a facebook break, and stumbled onto a video. The poet wrote this when he was fifteen +/-, and starred in a performance as an adult. It is about “toxic masculinity” and is filmed on an in-town sidewalk. PG did a screen capture of the money shot. A no-parking sign is growing out of his head. Part one of this commentary was published twelve days ago.

2:07 P.M.

Posted in Book Reports, Georgia History, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on July 7, 2020


PG started to feel the familiar stiffness in his big toe. While it was not painful, it could get worse. PG decided to take the offensive, and get treated before the stiffness turns to pain. This means going to the herbal emporium of Dr. Xu. You go to the office , and sign in. He sees you when he sees you.

When facing quality time in a waiting room, it is best to bring a book. The reading material for PG these days is Skinny Legs and All, by Tom Robbins. PG read SLAA in the early 90’s, when he was working in an office downtown. Like all Robbins stories, a re-do reading will uncover noisy nuggets of knowledge, and forgotten figments of imagination.

While warming up the vehicle, PG saw the word “orchidaceous” on page 197. If something like the o-word gets PG’s attention, his response is to note the page number, and put an inkpen dot on both sides of it. As it so happens, on this day PG was looking at page 198, and saw “then allowed” with a ball point bump on both sides. This was referring to a New York art dealer.

The full sentence was “It was as if Gropius had created her, then allowed Gaudi to add the boobs.” The art-monger in question had an unremarkable face, but a generous mammary allowance. The bosomy business lady was discussing the art of Ellen Cherry Petway. At the same time, a vehicle, crafted by Boomer Petway, was eliciting exclamations of magnifque. The automobile was crafted to look like a giant turkey. It had been delivered to Ellen Cherry Charles as a love offering before the wedding. Now, the sheet metal bird was stealing the thunder of Ellen Cherry, who considers herself to be the artiste. This was not a good development for the recently consummated marriage.

The Petways are soon going to trendy New York parties. Ellen Cherry has this country-girl notion of what an art party should be like, and finds the real thing to be lacking. Boomer has another reaction. “I guess that’s what I like about ’em. … They’re just as petty as everybody else.”

Petty is one of those eye-of-the-beholder concepts. Certainly, the current social justice discourse in America explores new levels of petty every day. The five letters p-e-t-t-y can be retrofitted with all five vowels, with y left to ask why. Patty, petty, pitty, potty, putty. All five work. Even pitty does double duty as an “obsolete spelling of pity,” as well as the stage name of a Brazilian rock and roll lady.

PG stumbled onto the art party comment at 1:24 pm, soon after he got down to some serious waiting. A half hour later, Ellen Cherry tore up an invitation to Boomer’s one man show. The arty paper turned into mutually destructive snowflakes and sparks. Could Tom Robbins have foreseen the contemporary disrespect for snowflakes in 1989, when SLAA was written?

Snowflakes and sparks made their appearance on page 207, and were duly noted. At 2:07 pm, PG was in the middle of his consultation with Dr. Xu. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Judy & Liza & RFDS & Me

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on June 6, 2020

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Judy & Liza & Robert & Freddie & David & Sue & Me…: A Memoir is a book written by Stevie Phillips, the Me in the title. One way to introduce the book is to catalog the six famous names on the cover. Judy and Liza are obvious. Stevie was the road manager/babysitter to Judy Garland. Stevie later managed Judy’s daughter, Liza Minelli, during her glory years. Stevie’s business associations with both Judy, and Liza, ended badly.

Robert is Robert Redford, who Stevie also managed. Freddie Fields and David Begelman founded Creative Management Associates (CMA), with Stevie as an original employee. David was a terrible person, who had destructive affairs with both Judy Garland and Stevie Phillips. Sue was uber-agent Sue Mengers. Stevie and Sue were good buddies for a while, until they were not.

The book is a fun read, but should be taken with a grain of salt. While not as self-serving as other show biz autobiographies, JLRFDS&M definitenly tells the story from Me’s point of view. You don’t get to be a successfull talent peddler without a fierce layer of ego, so this should be no surprise.

Chapter Eight, “Boston”, is one of the most dramatic Judy stories. The star was dressing in her hotel room before a show. Judy looked at Stevie, smiling, and cut her wrist with a razor. Stevie made a tourniquet out of a towel, and a hairbrush. She then called David Begelman. He was having an affair with Judy at this time, and was the possible motivation for the wrist-cutting. David gave Stevie a hundred dollar bill, and told her to go buy enough bracelets to cover the bandges. Stevie soon returned with a bag full of bracelets, and Judy made it to her show.

An Amazon one star review has a different take on the October 28, 1961. “I read the excerpt in VANITY FAIR and Phillips describes how before Garland’s 1961 Boston concert, Garland “slit her left wrist with a razor, cutting deeply into an artery” and that Phillips was subsequently dispatched to “buy enough bracelets to cover the bandages.” OK–except I saw a photo of Garland at this concert: where no bandages (or bracelets) are visible.

Towards the end of the story, Stevie starts going to Al-Anon meetings. On page 268: “Sometimes I imaginined Judy sitting next to me in those rooms. Of course, that would have been impossible because of her celebrity…”

I took a road trip once, with a man who used to manage a local AA meeting hall. Liza was in town, and decided that she needed to go to a meeting. The Triangle club hosted her. My traveling companion had lunch with Liza the next day.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Balboa Beach Bathing Beauty Parade, 1925 “” Picture #06662 is from “Second International Pageant of Pulchritude and Eighth Annual Bathing Girl Revue, May 21, 22, 23, 1927, Galveston TX.”