Happy New Year dear friends! Wishing you health, wealth, happiness and good humor in 2014.
May you have someone to kiss & cuddle at midnight; and people who truly love you.
All the best,
Happy New Year dear friends! Wishing you health, wealth, happiness and good humor in 2014.
May you have someone to kiss & cuddle at midnight; and people who truly love you.
All the best,
This has been the most delicious holiday of my life. I’m rested, I’m relaxed, I’m at peace. If the time came that I was to supply a “How I spent my Christmas holiday” essay, I could boil it down rather easily.Eat. Sleep. Family. Gift Giving/Receiving. Drink. Walk. Cuddle. Research. Blog. Tidy. Organize. Putter. Pinterest.
It started innocently enough. I had a Pinterest account, but with very few pins. My computer does happen to be teeming to various images. I search, click and save pictures in the hope that one day I might need them. To this day, I can not find this adorable picture of a young Bill Murray with a scarf, so now I save everything. Occasionally, I’d cast off an unused image to Pinterest, not yet understanding the wealth of imagery in store.
My husband got a new video game for Christmas. Once home from my parents place, Benjamin really wanted to clock some hours. I was happily scouring the internet for the last blog entry, “Vintage Grudge Match”. Between researching biographies, taking notes, writing and searching for photographs, afternoon passed into evening, which then passed into night, then into the darkest side of the following morning. This may not sound productive, but it really was. Creating a palatable aesthetic for the blog takes time. And in this recent period I have hit pay-dirt, finding some pretty exceptional snapshots.
I received some nice compliments about the last post; people were into the rehashing of Old Hollywood feuds and dusty bits of gossip. That thrills me to no end, because I had the most fun delving into these lives. There are other lives I’d like to look into. If that suits the reader, that suits me. After all, I’ve been lounging around in yoga pants, drinking coffee and Baileys and mucking around on Pinterest for the last week, nothing’s happening to me that’s worth mentioning. Finding these vintage paparazzi shots, those wonderful glimpses into the personal lives of others, have led to endless fascination, too many hours of obsessive reading, which suits my husband just fine, there’s a war going on inside the television, and he’s busy fighting in it.
Nancy Reagan and Mr T? ….what? How have I gone my whole life and not seen this picture? I like how Mr T takes on the Santa Claus look, but brings in his own flavor to the ensemble with the sleevelessness and the gold chains. Feels perfectly normal for Nancy to cop a squat on your lap as you hand out action figures molded to your likeness.
Jack Nicholson…meet The Monkees. Got to wonder how this meeting came to be. Did Jack burst in on The Monkees all like “Here’s Johnny!…but seriously, could you play “Last Train to Clarksville?”
The Monkees look uncomfortable here. And if you’ve ever seen the opening credits to their television program, you know that the boys could get downright wacky. Micky gets into a bathtub on wheels for cripes sake! And then Jack Nicholson bursts into their green room for a little jam sesh and all the guys look like they just got caught masturbating by their wives. It doesn’t get anymore uncomfortable than this…until two hours and approximately thirty years later.
This looks like the waiting room in hell. Sure, Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson, totally conceivable to see them in a room together, the creepy clown entourage…that comes with the territory. Just kicking back with Jon Stewart over a few beers? How does that even happen? Speaking of how the hell do things happen…who talked Meryl Streep into this catty one piece? But that’s the power of the Streep, give her a stool and a broken cigarette and she’ll still get Oscar buzz.
Social activist Martin Luther King having a laugh with Rat Pack entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. In 1960 Davis married May Britt, a white woman. Interracial marriages were illegal in 31 states, but it was perfectly legal in the state of New York. Regardless, Frank Sinatra (a major supporter of Kennedy) was concerned that it would the future presidents chances at the polls; he insisted that Davis hold his wedding after the election took place. And even afterwards, he was stricken from the list of performers for Kennedy’s inaugural ball. He was also bombarded with hate mail for years to come. Years later, Davis caught a lot of criticism for hugging President Nixon, startling him during a live television broadcast. Yes you can, Sammy Davis Jr? No actually you can’t.
I can’t decide what I like most about this picture: that Roy Orbison is being pampered and fed by the Beatles, or the little kid at the bottom of this photo who at that present time is having a stroke from all the awesome going around in his living room.
What I love about this picture in that you just know Cher has told Val Kilmer is to keep his mullet long and his trap shut. She’s looking so engaged with this unseen individual, and Kilmer looks like he’s just bursting with fruit flavour with something over there. A carefully constructed comment, an intelligent insight, but more likely “Cher and I had sex and now we are in love!”
Marilyn and Frank. While these two never officially dated, they were old-school ‘friends with benefits’. After Monroe and DiMaggio split, she came to stay with Frank (around the same time Sinatra was breaking up with dancer Juliet Prowse). According to biographers they were strictly platonic until one morning when Sinatra came into the kitchen where Monroe was standing naked in from of the fridge looking for juice. She said something along the lines of “Frankie–I didn’t think you’d be up so early”, and he responded by giving her a good rogering up against said refrigerator. (He doesn’t usually get up that early, but can be easily encouraged).
Frank was a good friend, but he’d never commit to being her full-time partner. Monroe had wanted him to marry her, in a way to keep her safe, but Sinatra had his limits. Monroe was not a low-maintenance gal, and famously needy. Just a week before Monroe died, she spent a weekend at the Cal-Neva Lodge, a casino that Frank Sinatra allegedly co-owned with mobster Sam Giancana. Amongst historians, this time is often known as “The Lost Weekend”.
Marilyn was in a bad place. She had been fired from “Something’s Got to Give”, and had been dumped by Bobby Kennedy after being cast aside by John F. Kennedy. She had sung her infamous “Happy Birthday Mr President”, in May of that year, and it was such a blatant insult to Jackie Kennedy that she refused to attend her husband’s birthday celebration. (Bonus fun fact: Audrey Hepburn, who dated him briefly in the early 1950’s sang to JFK the following year). By that weekend in July of 1962, both men had stopped returning Marilyn’s calls. She had legitimately believed that one of those fine Catholic husbands intended to leave their wives and children for her. She saw herself as the first lady; as a political wife.
Marilyn had allegedly called Jackie to confess to the affair, and of her intentions. Jackie replied “Marilyn, you’ll marry Jack, that’s great. And you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibility of the first lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems”. Only Jackie could be that cool under those circumstances. Then again, she was more than aware of JFK’s rampant infidelity, and of Marilyn’s reputation. But out of all the President’s lovers, his relationship with this famous sex symbol was nearly too much to bear. Even though Jackie herself was unimpressed with JFK’s sexual bravado, telling a longtime confidant: “he goes too fast and falls asleep”. There were rumors that Monroe had fallen pregnant, but didn’t know which brother was responsible. According to FBI documents, she was encouraged by Bobby to have an abortion, which she did on July 20, 1962. Monroe was unraveling, and those involved with the Kennedy’s were deeply concerned that a rejected and unhinged Monroe would hold a press conference and reveal all.
On July 28, 1962, Monroe arrived at the Cal-Neva Lodge and Casino, a grand getaway that straddled the state lines of Nevada and California.
She arrived with Peter Lawford, whom she was not speaking to due to his Kennedy affiliations (though ironically, he was one of the last people she ever spoke to, he called to invite her to a party the night she died). They used Sinatra’s private plane but by the end of the weekend she was sent home in the same fashion. Though she started off in good spirits, Monroe was like a water main fixing to burst, especially as the champagne and prescription cocktail began its toxic tailspin. She was getting sloppy, making scenes, spilling secrets, she even overdosed in her famed Cabin 3. Apparently Sinatra had given photographers strict instructions to not snap them together; Marilyn kept trying to…well photo-bomb him, which really ticked off Old Blue Eyes. As the weekend went on, she became increasingly intoxicated, obnoxious and indiscreet. Sinatra had to get rid of her.
Like her death, the details about this weekend is shrouded in mystery. This was her last public appearance, these are the last pictures of Monroe alive. Depending on who you ask, Marilyn died at the Cal-Neva, in the famous round bed that was tossed in a dumpster after Sinatra sold the establishment. Conspiracy theorists think it would have been easy enough. With the combined forces of Sinatra, the Mafia and the Kennedy’s, moving a body would be easier than a quick game of golf, or a scotch and a cig whilst crooning with Dean and the crew.
The Cal-Neva had once burned down, and all that remained of the previous structure was tunnels that ran under the buildings. Many secrets passed along those passageways, mistresses, booze…why not a body? With Sinatra at the helm, with his heli-pad and mafia connections, anything was possible. His lodge and casino was made to be a secret celebrity playground where the press would never get wind of the kinky hi-jinks.
What the agents couldn’t see was what went on inside the Cal-Neva’s secluded bungalows after the opening night party had ended. Momo Giancana reportedly told his brother that he had been present at a Kennedy brothers slumber party that night at the Cal-Neva Casino. “The men,” he said, “had sex with prostitutes, sometimes two or more at a time, in bath-tubs, hallways, closets, on floors,almost everywhere but the bed.”(Quoted from the FBI Frank Sinatra files).
Wow, you could really count on Sinatra being the best-ever host. Except if Frank gets even a hint that you are going to die on his premises, in his presence, he will have you removed. And apparently Frank had no tolerance for narcotics, which was a problem for Marilyn as she carried a pharmacy at the bottom of her purse.
According to an article in the Daily Mail:
The list of drugs she was using by 1961 was staggering. She was taking the antipsychotic Thorazine for the borderline paranoid schizophrenia diagnosed by Dr Greenson, as well as the narcotic painkiller Demerol and barbiturates Phenobarbital, HMC and Amytal, along with large quantities of Nembutal, to which she was addicted, to help her sleep. There were 15 bottles of pills on Marilyn’s night table when she died. She’d also developed the alarming habit of giving herself injections. A source who was very close to her recalls the concoction was of Phenobarbital, Nembutal and Seconal. ‘Marilyn referred to it as a vitamin shot,’ said the source. ‘Afterwards she would be gone, no longer able to function.’
It was these ‘vitamin shots’ that drove Sinatra over the edge. The President taking on two prostitutes at a time in the hall closet, that’s one thing…to stick a pin in your pills so it will get into your blood stream faster–that’s worth firing up the chopper over. But in fairness, Sinatra had his allies to protect, and at the end of her life Marilyn was a danger to herself and those around her.
Of course, there’s many theories about Monroe’s death, the many powerhouse players: The Kennedy’s, the Mafia, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, right down to her housekeeper Eunice, her publicist Pat Newcomb, (who went on to work for the Kennedy’s), and Dr Ralph Greenson, her psychiatrist. Eunice called Greenson before she called the police. Another detail to fuel the conspiracy fire; Eunice had been fired once by Monroe, and Dr Greenson told her to rehire her. Eunice had asked for holiday time for that August, and Monroe paid her for her time and asked her not to return after that holiday. Marilyn paid her for her time, and Eunice’s last day of employment was the last day of Monroe’s life. Eunice tried to cash this cheque, written the day of Monroe’s passing, days after the death, but to no avail.
Greenson, arguably one of the last people to see Monroe alive, claimed to have broken a bedroom window in her Brentwood Hacienda because he saw her body through the glass. Apparently Marilyn’s bedroom had heavy curtains that were closed, and that the doctor couldn’t have possibly seen her past the thick fabric. There were rumors that she died in hospital, but was brought back home by ambulance. A former Monroe lover claimed to have spoken with her on the phone; but she put the phone down to check on a disturbance, and never came back. This was around 9pm, and coroner’s reports claim that she died somewhere between 9 and 11pm. On that night, there was a significant buzz of concern around Monroe; someone had called her lawyer, who then called Monroe’s house. He spoke with Eunice who claimed that Marilyn was fine without actually checking on her.
Eunice was the keeper of information who couldn’t keep a story straight if her life depended on it. She said the door was locked, and then later said there was no lock on the door, she said she saw a light on in the middle of the night, which was also impossible as the carpeting was thick and imposing. She first said no one was there, then later said Bobby Kennedy arrived on the scene with two mysterious men. Then when police did show up, Marilyn was face-down in the pillow, her body straight as an arrow, as if she had been placed there. And there’s Eunice, doing a load of laundry in the middle of the night, which is the queerest thing: (Hey lady, your boss is dead, you don’t have to clean anymore). Over the years, she changed her story a number of times, wrote a book, was interviewed for a documentary and was overheard making a remark about ‘still having to cover things up’. Nobody followed up on that, and she died in 1994, taking the truth to her grave.
There are holes in stories, dangerous affiliates, an incorrectly done autopsy, sloppy police work…there’s reason to believe that Marilyn was murdered, or that there was a cover up. Then again, this was a woman with a history of overdoses and suicide attempts who gave herself barbiturate enemas based on advice from Mae West. Not to say she was suicidal either. She had just signed a multi-million dollar contract, and was rehired to complete “Something’s Got to Give”–which was a rather appropriate title, given her condition.
Joe DiMaggio claimed her body and took great pains to exclude Sinatra and the rest of Hollywood from the funeral services. While Sinatra took equal measures to distance himself from Monroe, he arrived at the Westwood Village Mortuary Chapel on August 8 in an $800 black suit, but was turned away by security. In the years that followed, Sinatra was heavily criticized, that he had the means to save her life but he turned her away, as had everyone else. But the thing about Marilyn is that girlfriend couldn’t even help herself. And you can’t help someone who can’t help themselves. She was doomed long before the Lost Weekend. Said George Jacobs, valet at Cal-Neva:
“Frank Sinatra didn’t know what to think about any of it. He was upset, though. He loved Marilyn, yes. But for her to maybe die at Cal-Neva while he was there? That would have been terrible. So he said: ‘Get her out of here and get her out of here now.’ And that was it. We had to do what he said. I mean, the woman was sick. But as compassionate as Sinatra was, he had a line and she crossed it.”
All Images Courtesy of Google
Earlier in December Oscar winning actress Joan Fontaine passed away at the age of 96.
If you are not familiar with Fontaine, perhaps you remember her sister Olivia de Haviland, who is now 97.
de Havilland is best known as stoic and sweet Melanie in “Gone with the Wind”.
Why, you couldn’t ask for a more wholesome, more selfless woman than Miss Melanie in “GWTW“; which is understandably why Scarlett O’Hara wanted to steal her husband and see her destroyed.
Olivia also starred in eight films with Errol Flynn–who was a swashbuckling seducer of the times. (The expression “in like Flynn” originated from the actor’s prowess. In his later years he tried to write a memoir called “In Like Me”…which was rejected by publishers. A hard drinking gentleman with a penchant for morphine and and heroin, his career crumbled after a pesky statutory rape charge from two women. The subsequent trial unraveled his heroic on-screen persona, and his popularity diminished. Flynn died at the age of 50 in a West End apartment in Vancouver).
But back when Flynn was in like himself, he and de Haviland were the most successful romantic pairing in the late 1930’s/early 1940’s.
Joan was born one year after Olivia. Both women were born in Tokyo, Japan, where their father Walter was a university professor. Their mother Lilian was a stage actress before following her husband to Japan. After discovering her husband’s infidelity with geishas, their marriage crumbled. Due to Joan’s ill health, Lilian moved with both sisters to California. Joan eventually returned to Tokyo to complete her schooling. Though both began appearing in films in 1935, it was arguably Olivia that was favored…in Hollywood and at home.
In her memoir “No Bed of Roses”, Fontaine claimed that she had no memories of Olivia’s kindness. She endured bullying, and suffered violent outbursts from her sister, which once led to a broken collarbone. Her mother was also dismissive, ripping Olivia’s outworn garments for Joan to repair and wear. Very Cinderella–the early years. Since Olivia had approached an acting career first, and that Joan tried to follow along, was a major upset to the de Havilland clan. Their mother, who clearly favored Olivia, supported Olivia’s argument that Joan should not be allowed to use the family name for professional purposes.
Undaunted, Fontaine made up a stage name and appeared in a dozen or so pictures. None of the films were hugely successful, and when her contract with RKO expired in 1939, it was not renewed. Of course, this is the same year that “Gone with the Wind” premiered. de Havilland was nominated for an Academy Award.
For de Havilland, being nominated for “just” the best supporting actress was a bitter pill to swallow. She thought her performance was comparable to Vivien Leigh‘s Scarlett O’Hara.
Vivien Leigh won the award. de Havilland, convinced that she would win in her category, was devastated when Hattie McDaniel won instead.
Bear in mind, this was a historical moment: the first African American to win an Oscar, but McDaniel and her escort were seated at a segregated table for two, far from her cast mates and other industry giants. While de Havilland’s loss reportedly caused her to doubt God’s existence, at least she got to rub elbows at the A-List table. One historian remarked: “Ms. McDaniel and her escort were seated alone at a small round table in a sea of long banquet tables end to end. They were in a corner [facing the stairs]”. That’s just about the saddest effing thing I’ve ever heard.
After McDaniel’s death, her Academy Award (not a statue, but a plaque) was displayed at Howard University in Washington DC. At a indeterminate date, the award vanished without a trace. Rumors swirled that it was stolen during the civil rights movement and hurled into the Potomac River by idealistic students who were angered by “Gone with the Wind’s” lamentation of slavery’s end; and McDaniel’s portrayal of a slave. In 2011 Professor W. B. Carter published her findings after a year and a half of investigation, and basically conclude that it was boxed up sometime between 1971 and 1972, and just got because it was a plaque and not the recognizable golden statue it presumably got lost in the shuffle. (Oh this picture? Apparently they’re just letting Hattie look at the Oscar, she doesn’t actually get to take one home).
Social injustice aside, I invite you to fast forward ahead one year. It’s 1941 and Joan Fontaine’s career is on the upswing. She had the good fortune to be sat next to David O. Selznick at a dinner party, who cast her opposite Laurence Olivier in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca”.
The following year she had been nominated for best actress in Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” and Olivia de Havilland for “Hold Back the Dawn”. This competition was a major focal point in the media. In 1942, the moment of truth arrived and Fontaine’s name was called.
“I froze. I stared across the table, where Olivia was sitting. ‘Get up there!’ she whispered commandingly. Now what had I done? All the animosity we’d felt toward each other as children, the hair-pullings, the savage wrestling watches, the time Olivia fractured my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery. My paralysis was total.”
‘Kaleidoscopic imagery?’ ‘My paralysis was total?’ Imagine that kind of pressure, while everyone is smiling and clapping, and you’re quietly having a stroke.
In 1947, after two losses, de Havilland won for “To Each His Own”. Joan Crawford was meant to present the award, but backed out at the last minute. The Academy replaced her with Fontaine, with the hope of de Havilland winning and a reconciliation of sorts to follow. That, or someone gets slapped, either way they’d get something for the front page of the newspaper. de Havilland refused to even shake her sister’s hand. Backstage, Olivia continued the snub, saying to her agent “I don’t know why she does that when she knows how I feel”.
By 1975, their mother–who had been the true source of their rivalry, had died. The sisters disagreed with how to care for Lilian (who went by Lillian Fontaine in her later years). At the time, Joan was touring with a play and Olivia sent a telegram to her next stop, which Joan did not get for two weeks. (Which was probably for the best as she wasn’t invited to the service anyhow). And from all accounts, never psoke again. Damn you de Havilland, why’d you have to be so cold?
Phew…Let’s just take a breather here, this is emotional for me too. It’s like going through an old trunk of letters and learning from pretty big truths about life and love. We’ve covered a lot of ground here. I didn’t know about Hattie McDaniel either…sitting alone at that little table. And these two sisters both lived well into their nineties, refusing to settle this vintage grudge match. Like…wouldn’t you want to call your sister and just marvel at your long, amazing lives?”
Apparently not. They last attended the 1987 Oscars at the same time, and then never again. In recent years, they were invited to events such as Bette Davis’s 100th birthday party. And one wouldn’t go if the other was going. Which is a shame, being that everyone else who knew Bette Davis was dead. They had decided, and declared in so many words to the press that it was just to late to mend any fences. Not even Bette Davis could bring them together. All this talk about Bette Davis and sibling rivalry means it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the psychological thriller “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”
The Hudson sisters are two old movie stars living in a dilapidated mansion. As children, Baby Jane (Bette Davis) was a vaudeville star, beloved by her parents. Blanche (Joan Crawford) was constantly overlooked. As they grew older the roles were reversed. Blanche was a huge success, while Baby Jane’s career was stalling. Baby Jane plunges into alcoholism and depression. A mysterious car accident occurs and Blanche is left paralyzed, leaving crazy old Baby Jane to be her deranged caretaker. I’m not going to get into it, but shit goes down in that house, and it is perfectly terrifying. In the end: the maid is dead, the bird is dead, they’re being hunted by police and Baby Jane has dragged Blanche down to the beach.
Blanche admits that the night of the fateful accident, she had deliberately try to hit her sister with the car. It was Blanche who tried to run over her drunken sister. Jane, however, moved out of the way in time and Blanche had slammed into the gate and snapped her spine, but managed to drag herself out of the car and up to the wrecked gate. Jane was too drunk to realize what happened, and has long believed that she was responsible for her sister’s condition. Baby Jane says: “You mean all this time we could have been friends?” Communication people, it’s essential.
It was no secret that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford absolutely loathed one another. Davis had once remarked to the both of them as “old broads”; Crawford rebuked her with an angry telegram. When the Academy Awards were announced, Davis was nominated, Crawford was not. Being the classy gal she was, Crawford actively campaigned against Davis and approached all the other nominees, offering to take their places in they were unavailable. And what do you know, Bette Davis was standing in the wings of the theatre when it was announced that Anne Bancroft had won Best Actress for “The Miracle Worker”. Bancroft was in New York and sent Crawford in her absence. Passing Davis, she said “Excuse me, I have an Oscar to accept”. Oh snap!
Really, this whole thing boils down to the existential dilemma in “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”. Who’s the Mary and who’s the Rhoda. Who’s the leading lady and who’s the best friend.
In a dream sequence, they explore the kind of grudge that not even the death bed can cure.
Does it ever get to a point in our lives when it doesn’t really matter who was the Mary or the Rhoda? Who did better, who achieved more? Was more pretty or popular? What does that matter in the end when all you have are your memories? When does the roar of jealousy quiet down long enough to reach out regardless; to check in, to congratulate each other for surviving, to remember those golden, glamorous days when you were a star and Errol was in like Flynn.
Images Courtesy of Google
Ah, Boxing Day. Such a glorious date on the calendar.
If you are lucky, this is a day to take holiday loafing to a new level. When all that merriment turns into cellulite. I am so well fed and relaxed, so dizzy with blessings that I am feeling somewhere between a new born baby…
…a later-years Elvis.
with a little bit of this guy over here…
Perfectly content, but potentially incoherent. I know some of the greatest writers wrote some pretty famous material while under the influence. But after a sizable amount of champagne, Strongbow, turkey, stuffing, chocolate, cheese, chips, dip and many Kahula/Baileys/coffee combos…I am extremely unfocused. I blogged yesterday Benjamin took a rather sizable nap, when we got back home he took to a post-holiday snooze, and I thought I’d keep that momentum going. Sadly, my creative intentions were far stronger than my literal ambition. I pondered the number of half-ideas rattling around in my brain. I picked up the book my best friend Evelyn bought at the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris, and sent me for Christmas. “Fragments” is a collection of photographs and Marilyn Monroe‘s personally handwritten notes and journal entries. I flip through it, relishing in the information.
I return to the task of blogging. In trying to accurately describe my state of full belly and lethargy I considered making an Anna Nicole Smith joke in lieu of a fat Elvis one; that took me down a very dark road that eventually led to my half-watching the Anna Nicole edition of “Final 24” on YouTube. Not familiar with “Final 24”? These Canadian made programs are badly re-enacted, poorly scripted yet morbidly fascinating pieces detail the last day in the life of ill-fated celebrity…but mostly told by Z-list hangers-on like chauffeurs and hotel staff. And then it all turns out looking a bit like this…
Poor old Anna Nicole. She was like the Hindenberg only sexier. Her life and death was so scandalous and so very white-trash-turned-yellow-gold that someone literally wrote an opera about her. Where exactly had this buxom beauty gone wrong? What exactly was her fatal flaw?
I hear you girlfriend, though I’m pretty sure that mantra didn’t apply on your wedding day.
My god, I’d rather be the person who clears tables and hands out mints at Wendy’s than to make my fortune this way. If this what his face looks like just imagine what state his nether regions would be in? The mind reels. But hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girls gotta do. That man died victoriously, smothered in platinum blonde hair and double D’s. As for Smith, it led to another downward spiral. Her husband died about ten minutes after this photo was taken, and his son took Smith all the way to Supreme Court to protect his father’s billions. Naturally, the only career options left for the former Playboy Playmate and Guess model were reality television, Trimspa endorsements and general PR prostitution.
When Smith arrived on the pop-culture scene, dangerous curves and all, there were obvious comparisons to Marilyn Monroe. Smith happily fueled the fire, and often replicated Monroe’s most famous poses.
Like Norma Jean Mortenson before her, Vickie Lynn Hogan dreamt of money, fame, attention and love. They both capitalized on their humble beginnings, often exaggerating their struggles to the press. They both married young, Marilyn at 16 and Anna at 17. They both struggled with mental illness, prescription drug addiction and an inability to check themselves before they wrecked themselves. Monroe died at 36, and Smith only had enough time to flip the 6 to a 9.
The few differences was that Monroe could act and that Smith could procreate; Monroe was an actual movie star, Smith was a casualty of that pre-Kardashian ”famous for being famous’ tabloid world where people were laughing at her, not with her. Who knows what it must be like to be beautiful and famous and to crack under the pressure of the very things you craved when you were planning your escape from the misery of a hum-drum, small town life? In the case of “Fragments”, the editors seek out answers in Monroe’s half written coded chicken scratch, written on the stationary of the most exclusive hotels. She felt alone in a room full of admirers. She could never sit back and relax, exhale over a job well done. Success was all a part of the downward spiral, but it makes you wonder if those poor small town girls would have had it any other way. It seems for some, the worst thing that can happen are for your dreams to come true.
All Images Courtesy of Google
Happy Christmas Friends,
I’m coming to you live on Christmas afternoon, lounging on my parent’s sofa and watching “The Royal Tenenbaums“.
Historically speaking, by Christmas afternoon, the blues start to creep in a little. The holidays take so long to get there; the anticipation of the gifts under the tree, the excitement, the magic and then…it’s over. It’s never quite what you built up in your mind. Although my relationship with the holiday season is a little more complex than the average person.
Well…I hate to break it to you Reverend Swisher, for me, Christmas is my actual birthday. Listen, I’m not in the business of overshadowing Jesus, but there wasn’t a calendar in my mother’s womb and I really lost track of the days in there. Although depending on who you ask, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. Once while walking off our Christmas breakfast, we were approached by a power walking, arm pumping, grinning woman, who was full of holiday greetings. “Many Blessings to you this fine Christmas morning”, she beamed with light and love. “Do you know who’s birthday we are celebrating today?”
“Jesus?” we all respond. “That’s right!”, she smiles, breathing deeply. “Actually”, my brother Matthew gestures towards me, “It’s also my sister’s birthday”. Her smile drops and her neck snaps in my direction, steely eyes squinting my way. “You know it’s not his actually birthday, right? Jesus was born sometime in October, during the harvest”. Which makes sense, the weather does look rather mild in all artist renditions. Riding round on a donkey, being turned away from hotels, giving birth outside surrounded by farm animals…well if you ask me, that’s got summer time written all over it.
Meanwhile, being that this was well before the days of the GPS, three wise men were using a star to guide them to little baby Jesus. They meet up with the Little Drummer Boy, and they all roll up together victoriously with their gold, frankincense and myrrh. Poor Mary. After all that wandering through the desert on a donkey and giving birth to the Son of God on a stack of hay, she probably would have liked a morphine drip and an ice pack, but myrrh is good too.
My mother has a ceramic nativity scene. Growing up, it was my favorite decoration of the Christmas season. The Virgin Mary was blonde, beautiful, wrapped in a blue robe, eyes downcast modestly. Joseph looked looking slightly perplexed, like…”How did I get roped into this?”. There was a shepherd and the wise men, a camel, a cow and some sheep. For years I used to play out detailed soap opera scenarios with the figurines, the most popular game being “Who was the real father of Jesus?” And for whatever reason, in my head Joseph sounds like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life“. “Mary? How did this happen?” My mother finally overheard, and that was the end of my gig at the Wildly Inappropriate Nativity Theatre. She also gave me a quick history lesson and explained how the Shepherd could not possibly be the actual father of Jesus.
The Christmas pageant at church was always a big event, and I had secretly hoped to be the Virgin Mary. She was so lovely in every Christmas card. Olivia Hussey played Mary in my mother’s favorite biblical movie (the one with the “good looking Jesus”), what better role could an eight year old want? Year after year, I was cast as the narrator. My mother said it was a compliment. Mary never actually says anything, and it would be a shame to waste me, seeing that I was such an eloquent speaker. Until I eventually stopped going to church, I was always the narrator, never the virgin. Just once I wanted to stand by silently and serenely, and let someone else do the talking for once.
Regardless, this woman on the street couldn’t have known my weird Freudian holiday hangups, so she was awfully surprised when I attacked her. “What? Next thing you’re going to tell me that Humphrey Bogart wasn’t actually born on Christmas Day but on January 23rd? And that with the invention of new calenders Issac Newton was actually born in early January? Sheesh–a man loses his birth certificate and people think they can just change your birthday? If it can happen to Jesus, surely it could happen to Bogie. As Newton always said, “What goes up must come down”. I don’t know how that applies to this, but it’s my goddamn birthday so I’m going to jam it into context like a fat foot in a Manolo Blahik.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, may this day be lazy and full of love, food, forgiveness and good fortune.
All Images Courtesy of Google
I completed my last work task on Saturday, and I am currently on Christmas holidays. The entire weekend was a blur of parties, travel, restaurants and shopping centers, and it didn’t properly register that on Monday, there was a holiday waiting. Then I spent all of Monday morning wandering around the house in my pink bathrobe, looking terribly confused. The amount of available time lays before me like a vast ocean, seemingly endless and deliciously refreshing. But the question is, do you dive in, or just dip a toe?
I guess…I could go to a matinee? …Maybe a yoga class? I haven’t used my mat in so long it looks like it was mummified in ancient Egypt. …Maybe I’ll just sit down and crack on with a blog? Or maybe I’ll just kick back and relax.
Sitting in the office, staring out my window. Coffee and Baileys. Classical music on CBC 2. Watching all the cars on the highway, the packed parking lots down below. Nothing drains the Christmas spirit more than being in a cramped store, sweating in your puffy winter coat, weighed down with bags, feeling awfully light in the wallet. My personal version of hell is Walmart on the last weekend before Christmas. Any big box store really. The crush of people, the long lines, the incompetent staff. I recently had an experience with a basic clothing rack on wheels at an Ikea that made me feel like Dante descending into the seven circles of hell. In a modern world, hell would be a packed Costco, bureaucracy, Honey Boo Boo, last minute holiday shopping and Black Friday/Boxing Day sales. Listen, I like a good deal just as much as the next person, but my god, I can’t imagine anything worse than combining those stores with last minute gift shopping. The pressure of that finding perfect present forced against the insistently ticking clock. I mean listen, there are many, many nice things out there in the stores that would dazzle anyone. Who doesn’t love cashmere? But who can afford it?
Having had the pleasure of being called to Immigration Canada–which was a little too last minute for our tastes; we got the message on Friday to come to Vancouver the following Wednesday. We organized ourselves rapidly, and left early Tuesday morning. We thought we’d make it into a little holiday, get a hotel and do some Christmas shopping. I can’t remember why I used to enjoy shopping so much, it can be anxiety inducing at best. Standing in a packed Winners trying to get a handle on one inch of personal space to do some browsing, all I wanted to do was walk right out that door. I don’t want to buy someone’s present in a state of panic. And so we just walked around this city, holding hands and people watching…discussing what we’d like to give if we had the means.
We eventually made purchases and as we walked with shopping bags in hands, Benjamin and I decided that we weren’t going to buy Christmas presents for one another. Our birthdays fall in the same week as Christmas, and we had already made a purchase for the house and so decided that would be our present. With the totally unexpected expense of Permanent Resident fee/car rental/hotel/and every other pesky little cent that goes into going away…why fool ourselves and spend additional money on things we don’t really need?
I like to get presents, and I love to give them…but where do you draw the line? How can you get in the spirit of Christmas giving without sacrificing your savings and not having to pick up a glue gun? How can you give of yourself? For me, I like to be a hostess. I like to feed people, offer blankets and cups of tea.
We had a little birthday party, and days before I was going over the menu ideas. When I mention the cheese platter, Ben pipes up: “A cheese platter? What are we Rockerfellers?” I look up from my list. “I’m perfectly happy to trim fat, cut corners and make sacrifices, but things are not so bad that we can not afford cheese”. No cheese? Why not just cancel Christmas? Why not just kick Santa where is counts?
Maybe this picture isn’t accurately expressing my intention. This Santa is looking super into whatever is about to happen here. So, back to my list.
If all I can give this year is of myself, I’d like to throw a savory platter into the mix. I’d like to give comfort, hugs, good humor and time. I want to share my home. I wish I could lavish those I love with pet tigers, cash money, diamonds, trips to Cabo. I’d like to walk into a store and pay off people’s layaways. Put an actual bill in a Salvation Army box. One-up Beyonce’s recent Walmart appearance where she paid the first $50 of everyone’s purchase, and pay everyone’s Christmas shopping. (Though I’d just linger by customer service because as previously mentioned those big box stores are terrifying black holes).
I wish I could help more. To see someone struggling and be able to support them. To fly families to opposite ends of the world for the holidays. But it’s not really in the budget. What I can give you is this: my words, my care, the occasional cheese platter, and vintage Ann Margaret in a catsuit, holding an actual cat, surrounded by presents in front of a roaring fire. Meow.
Merry Christmas my friends, may 2014 be the year of the pet tiger.
Images Courtesy of Google
I call my husband “The Bear” and it’s a nickname that’s started to stick. As with most nicknames, it spawns spin-off expressions. He calls me “Goat”, or on occasion “Sheltland Goat”, with many variations. Once in a silly mood, I called him ‘chunky bear‘ and the sound of it made me giggle. Obviously, he didn’t care for it, as it does imply that he is ‘chunky’. It was not an often used name, but it does come out now and again. Truth is; winter has come and so has the carbohydrates; we’re both feeling a little soft around the edges.
Standing in the walk-in closet, attempting to pack for our last minute trip to Vancouver. I catch an unflattering glimpse of myself. Well..not like seeing an unflattering glimpse of myself is the equivalent of aurora borealis. It’s not rare to catch a glimpse in the mirror and feel varying degrees of dissatisfaction. I’m not Victoria’s Secret, I’m not even her dirty little secret. I’m not really their market audience. I’ve got itty-bitties up top and then all the action is down below. As I always say, my thighs are Godzilla and my calves Tokyo. I lean into the mirror. Oh crap. Has my face gotten fat? Am I looking a little puffy?
I implore my husband for some consolation. “Aww…” he says,chuckling a little and pinching my cheeks: “My chunky-goat-wife”. I took this remark like an absolute champ.
‘Chunky goat wife?’ Scientists couldn’t extract adorability from it and a public relations expert couldn’t spin it into a frothy confection. At least ‘chunky bear’ sounded a bit like a yummy pastry. “I’ll have an non fat cappuccino and two chunky bears please”; at best ‘chunky goat wife’ could be a poorly translated name for a questionable looking hot dish served in the Mongolian mountains. He really ran with that bit, which is fair I suppose, I did start it. But doesn’t he realize? It’s only funny when I am the one dishing it out. I’d like to keep my plate clean of comebacks thank you. Needless to say, I spent the next hour pouting, glaring and poking my chin contemptuously. Then ole Chunky Bear had the nerve to complain that I wasn’t being more helpful with the packing. Uh, well here’s a tip, if you want your wife’s help, best check yourself before you wreck yourself with the pet names.
I don’t want to be one of those wives that you have to lie to…but I wouldn’t mind being the kind of wife you bend the truth for. Nod and smile and back away slowly. That’s how you get it done. I don’t want to be one of those women who are weight-obsessed. I am who I am, and my body is shaped as it is. If it were fifty years ago, my perception of my physical circumstances would be a different story.
Of course, I’d be a fool to say I didn’t wish that I had legs that went on forever. Truth is, I was curvy even as a little kid. In my late elementary school days, someone started calling me “Chunky Soup“, saying that like the famous soup line, I too could be eaten with a fork or a spoon. I didn’t know what that meant…but I was certain it was a nickname Audrey Hepburn never got pegged with.
Chubby knees, stubby legs and dimply thighs are super cute when you’re a naked toddler running around the backyard. As one gets older, and possibly more modest, such is best kept under leggings, trousers, pantyhose and A-frame skirts.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Lena Dunham is awfully brave. In her television series “Girls”, she is fearless when it comes to being vulnerable. Sure, it’s her character Hannah being portrayed in those uncomfortable sex scenes and unflattering rompers, but Dunham is writing herself into these situations. She is deliberately exposing to the cast, crew, professional partners, advertisers and the audience.
It’s brave, bold, revolutionary, but I wouldn’t participate. If I was director, writer, star and producer of my popular HBO program, I would have an iron clad nudity and romper policy. The show would still be brilliant; it would be the new “Girls” which was the new “Sex and the City“.
The main theme on my show would focus on a love triangle between myself, Ryan Gosling and George Clooney; Clooney being a wealthy suitor, and Gosling a young man from the wrong side of the tracks. They fight for my love and affection, (this will go on for years) and as we slip into old age, the winner gets to repeat the story to me over and over about how I dicked everyone around until I got dementia. It’s a completely original idea, and it’s going to blow minds. And never in the years of the beloved series ‘Love Sandwich’ would you see me scantily clad. I would dress like Katherine Hepburn and in all my love scenes I’ll wear a scuba suit.
Sometimes I think to myself…”I could stand to lose a few pounds”. And I visualize a montage of myself doing sit ups, and jogging in the streets, and punching large slabs of meat. I would be so fit.
My problem is…I love bread. I love cheese, red wine and creamy lattes . And bread. I love bread so much that if I was on death row my last meal would just be various types of bread with things to spread, dip and place on top of it.
I used to go to this amazing restaurant when I lived in Victoria where they offered an all you could eat soup deal with the greatest bread ever. Hot, buttery and pelted with chunks of rock salt. I could have ordered the special and sent the soup back in the same way my friend Robin does with a wings and beer feature at the local pub. She wants the cheap wings, but tells the waitress to give the beer to someone else cause she doesn’t want that cheap piss anywhere near her face.
Fair enough, life is short, take only the good stuff. I don’t even know who this Franz character is but I wish that I were that duck so I could eat all his bread. Alas, this is a world full of limitations, boundaries, rules and limits. Bread is a dietary no no, and most would recommend cutting out yeast and flour based products. My love for bread is like the love in Brokeback Mountain. I just don’t know how to quit you, carbohydrates. I love you, I hate you, I want you inside my mouth. (…too much?)
I really can’t remember “Brokeback Mountain”…though I did wind up seeing it twice at the cinema. But I do remember just sobbing my little heart out. I meant to re-watch it recently, but got distracted on Netflix and watched “Bring it On” instead. It was just too sad to watch again. Maybe that’s how I can justify comparing the film to carbohydrates and plump thighs. It was devastating to me that you could just miss your whole life by not being true to yourself; and for Ennis that was Jack Twist, for me it’s twist bread.
Okay, I’m sorry for you situation with the forbidden love and all, but this is my blog and I can say what I want. I’m comparing your love to my love of bread–deal with it. In reality, I’m perfectly average. Not Karen Carpenter, not Mama Cass, just somewhere in the middle. When I look at old photos of myself I balk at how young and slender I looked. Of course, when that picture was being taken, I had that same voice in my head that compared and criticized. In a year’s time, I could look at a picture of myself today and think I looked perfectly lovely. With this in mind, I try to do my future self a favor and look at myself in the present as she would do in hindsight.
Images Courtesy of Google
Last Sunday morning, the first of December, was spent doing what I prefer to do best. Cradling a cup of coffee in my fingers, wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa. We had been dog-sitting from the night before, and I had Harriet nestled upon my lap, curled next to the fire, listening to Micheal Bublé’s Christmas album.
We’re listening to “All I want for Christmas Is you”, another favorite Christmas favorite. It never falls to choke me up a little at the end of “Love Actually“. Even when Mariah Carey goes there, I can still get behind it.
It’s an ordinarily a fast-paced jingle, (What? Mariah Carey co-wrote it? Huh, who knew?) but Bublé makes it a slow love song. I am feeling aglow with holiday spirit. Feeling hopeful for the month ahead. Benjamin is checking his email and spots a message from Immigration and Citizenship Canada. He says my name aloud in a stunned tone and reads the email to me. His permanent residency application had been completed. We simply had to pay a fee and we would be contacted regarding a time in which to meet an immigration official. Benjamin joins me on the couch, Harriet still nesting near me. We kissed and cried as Bublé crooned along. All we want is to be a normal married couple, free to leave the country, free to make long term decisions, free to make a home. And how lovely that this news comes to us before Christmas.
The December calendar has a lot of writing on it. Meetings, events, parties, concerts. It’s all so busy and exciting but unfortunately the temperature is so bone cold that it would normally take dynamite to blast me out of the house. It was -20 yesterday, and I can’t say that I love that. There’s not even the magic of snow. It’s that part of the snow cycle where it starts to look like cookie dough, mud and chunks of rock and debris in thick slushy slabs. The cold is bitter and is mood transferable. I’ve been so anxious about winter driving conditions. My tire fell flat the other day. There was nothing worse than standing by helplessly in the frigid night air as Benjamin set up the air compressor to fill the tire so I could take it to the shop in the morning. In a moment of sheer anxiety, practically frothing at the mouth my husband took hold of my shoulders. “Alicia, you have got to accept that shit happens“. Shit happens?
I know shit happens. Have you read a newspaper lately? Across the world and in your very own community lives are being smashed to smithereens. I’d need both hands to count my major “SH” moments. Natural disasters, major accidents, violent encounters, broken hearts, I’ve seen my share. The agony of catastrophe, the inconvenience of tragedy. Things take forever, and them they come and go too quickly. Things get broken and need mending. People make mistakes and need forgiving. Shit is happening all the time everywhere. Sure, I could cope better with frustration, I could be gentler with myself, I could go with the flow, but I don’t. I don’t care for surprises. Good or bad, I’d prefer ample warning.
From that Sunday on the sofa, feeling blessed, happy and relaxed, and all that shit happens stress in between, came Friday afternoon. I arrive home for my lunch break around 1:30pm and see the light flashing on the answering machine. “Hello this is Immigration and Citizenship Canada, bring your pertinent papers and we’ll see you in Vancouver next Wednesday. I’m not going to give you my name or number so just be there or be square. So…Bye.” Uh…what? Next Wednesday? I looked at the packed calendar…this was not on the agenda. We have work. It’s so expensive, so close to Christmas. Such a long way to go on such short notice. We’ve waited forever for news, and now it’s on our door step and the timing is utterly inconvenient. Not to sound ungrateful; we want nothing more than to resolve this and move forward with our lives. But it’s a bit like the old librarian in “The Shawshank Redemption“, he had gotten used to imprisonment. He had a good thing going at the library, had a pet crow, good friends, he was used to the conditions. When faced with freedom it becomes his undoing.
I called Benjamin, who shared my reaction. It all seems so sudden. Not even a week’s notice to make plans. We speak briefly, and hang up to call our respective employers. I begin looking up flights, weather reports, all while being on hold with the immigration call center. I am trying to connect with an actual human on the phone, but an elaborate labyrinth of options always leads to something along the lines of: “We’re super duper busy right now, we urge you to check the website”. The lunch hour nearly over, and not a single moment spent actually lunching, I try the old trick–to just press zero, but that wily old recording, she’s just not having it. I bellowed…no, shrieked...no raged into the phone. “I JUST WANT TO SPEAK TO A REAL PERSON”.
I was desperate, angry, frustrated. How foolish were we to think we had any control in this matter. We did not dream of being called in December, we figured sometime between January and March…maybe in the spring at the latest. Not next week. When I finally got on the wait list, I was told there would be at least a thirty minute wait, which was time I did not have. Okay then…let’s drive to Vancouver in the middle of winter. Why not?
We’ve made lists and arrangements and are warming up to this new development. I’m nervous about the weather, Ben is nervous about the meeting. Of course, there’s nothing to fear, our marriage is legitimate and he has every right to be here. In an immigration office I once saw an beastly, overweight senior citizen with his young Asian bride. She wore a basketball jersey as a dress with striped knee socks and high heels. She complained endlessly about the long wait and he snapped impatiently at her. Certainly they had more to answer to than my husband and I…but you just never know. Benjamin has sorted through all the required documents, and already we are discussing what else to bring…just in case. You could bring every piece of paperwork you ever received, along with your marriage certificate, love letters and photographs and they’d be like “Everything looks great, if we could just get a receipt from the coffee you purchased this morning, that would be great”. And the color would drain from your face, blanching at the memory of telling the girl at Starbucks to go ahead and keep that golden ticket.
It’s as if we cant possibly imagine our lives without that hanging over our heads. From the moment we met, we have lived under a bureaucratic umbrella. Separation was a very real possibility if we didn’t cling to each other fiercely, and fill out the appropriate paperwork for three different countries. To think that by Christmas morning my husband would be a permanent resident, that we could think seriously about our future seems too good to be true. I can’t let myself imagine the possibilities it until I know the outcome. If you ask my husband he’d like to acquire a dog, truck and a baby. Those things sound perfectly lovely, but you know me…I’m also excited about being able to leave the country again. Maybe we’ll get to Paris after all. As long as we get there together.
Benjamin: husband, friend and bear…best of luck on Wednesday. All I want for Christmas is vous.
Images Courtesy of Google
Basking in a quiet moment at home. Husband snoozing in the easy chair, fire roaring, and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” playing quietly in the background.
I’m going to lay down a bit of a proclamation here. This album is the business. To me, for Christmas music, it doesn’t get better than this. When going through my Christmas things, I actually came across not one, not two, but three copies of the CD. I took one copy to the classroom. As of late, that and the Rod Stewart Christmas album “Merry Christmas Baby” has been on repeat.
Look at him. What a total babe fest. He’s so cheeky; sitting in a chair the wrong way and bringing the holiday season a whole new brand of sexy. Me-ow Rod, you bring new meaning to the phrase “ring ting a ling”. For your money, I don’t think it gets better than Rod belting out “Jingle Bells“, “Silent Night” or if you get him really drunk I hear he does one rousing version of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer“. But if you have a relatively sane family, and need a dose of holiday crazy, I’d recommend these two kooky kids.
Jesus Christ. There is enough plastic here to build a fucking spaceship. What fun they are having. Bless Olivia and her enormous coffee mug. She’s holding that hot coffee right up against her face and she can’t even feel it. And who does John think he’s fooling with those eyebrows? That’s Peter Gallagher‘s thing and everybody knows it.
Well hello there, who ordered the smoldering gaze with a side of piercing stare? Has anyone alerted you to John Travolta, his embarrassing Christmas album and his encroaching eyebrows?
You see, there is a rather fine line between good and bad cheese: John Travolta and Olivia Newton John following a 1978 musical classic with this…that is bad cheese.
Now if you want some proper Christmas gouda, you’d spend your Christmas nights with Boney M.
Don’t even get me started on this one. By the time we get to the “Oh My Lord” verse of “Mary’s Boy Child” I’m clapping my hands, and riding high on the Christmas spirit.
I think that a healthy dose of cheese makes such classics as “Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney and Wham’s “Last Christmas” possible.
But I’ll stop you right there if you’d think I’d be interested in any version of “Santa Baby”, or Harry Connick Jr’s”Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”. That song is so agitating, it makes me want to drive my car right into the horn section just to stop all that goddamn racket. As for “Santa Baby” I don’t like getting flirty with Santa, he’s a giver of gifts, he’s not a Sugar Daddy.
What I like most about Charlie Brown is that it’s festive but mellow. So while I love holiday cheese, I love the soundtrack because it’s anything but. It’s mature, slightly melancholic and sincere. It says “Christmas makes me happy and sad all at the same time, but let’s focus on the positive, shall we?” Sometimes I feel as though holiday happiness is an uphill battle, and Charlie totally gets that. And year after year I’m comforted by those jazzy undertones in the backgrounds of all my Christmases.
Images Courtesy of Google