Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara - 1

Go to youtube to watch full screen. The other 10 lessons are also available
on youtube.
Robert S. McNamara. The S. stood for Strange. He was certainly that. In
this documentary he quotes T.S. Eliot. A Defense Department Secretary
quoting T.S. Eliot  is as strange as it gets.

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."    T.S. Eliot


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Two Eugenes I Once Knew Eugene Walter And Eugene J Martin

Above is the entry on Eugene Walter. I met him in Rome in the summer of 1964. My mother was a friend of Annie Lou White who was Eugene's English and French teacher at Murphly High School in Mobile, Alabama.
   When I was going to Europe in the summer of 1964 she gave me Eugene's address in Rome. She must have written him a letter telling him I might stop by to see him because he welcomed me and gave me a good tip on a cheap nearby hotel.
   I was lucky that he was in Rome and at home and not too busy.
The apartment building he lived in at number 18 Corso Emmanuel in Rome was also home to Leontyne Price. He had gotten her the apartment under his to use when she came to Rome to record for RCA Victor.

When I knocked on his door on the top floor I had passed her apartment on the way up. She was originally from Laurel, Mississippi. Eugene and I were from nearby Mobile, Alabama. Still at the tender young age of
24 I was amazed how Southerners get around.

I knocked on Eugene's door. He answered and led me through a room filled with fake trees from some opera set.

He was very friendly and we had a chat and he showed me his terrace where he grew his garden.
  I went off to my hotel and later in the week he took me to dinner in the apartment of Linda Christian.
Some man was staying there. She was not a home. But there were stacks and stacks of her autobiography or biography in the apartment.

I drank so much wine I had to sleep there that night. Eugene took off.
I dropped by to see Eugene before I headed off to Greece at the end of the week.
He gave my a copy of the Transatlantic Review of which he was an editor.
He also told me to read Henry Miller's Colossus of Maroussi which he said was the best travel book in English about Greece.

I mentioned to him that Hamilton Basso described the relationships in the South of the USA where everyone seems to be related as a bundle of fish hooks. Eugene was not impressed with Hamilton Basso.

I was very lucky to meet Eugene Walter when he was still young.

Annie Lou White was keeping Eugene's book collection for him while he was in Europe. She showed some of them to me. I remember he had some William Faulkner first editions.  The first I had ever seen.

Mobile is justly proud of Eugene Walter. In years to come he will be remembered right up there with Madam Octavia Walton Levert.

Eugene Martin I knew in Washington D.C. I think Bill Mckenzie introduced me to him. Eugene Martin a
very quiet nice man. I published one of his drawings in the magazine we were doing back in 1967,1968,1969.
It is nice to find on Youtube that he went on to bigger and better things.

In the videos below you will find out more on Eugene Martin and Eugene Walter.
The picture of Eugene Martin sitting on a bench in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. is what he
looked like in 1969 and when I knew him. Dupont Circle was two blocks from where we lived.
It is also about 4 blocks from  The Phillips Art Museum. And the same distance to the location of The Washington Gallery of Modern Art where Walter Hopps was director in 1967 before moving on in 1970 to the Corcoran Gallery of Art as Director.
Click on the labels below for more info on these people.

Artist Eugene J. Martin's 1993 art exhibit in Asheville N.C.

Artist Eugene J. Martin's 1992 Art Exhibit in the Horace Williams House,...

Marie Vinouze interviews Washington D.C. gallerist Jane Haslem about art...

Eugene Walter-"Cholesterol"

Eugene Walter-1921-1998

On the Record: Eugene Walter

EUGENE WALTER: Last of the Bohemians

The Happy Table of Eugene Walter

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Eugene Martin, Frank Gehry, George Ohr - A Great Concept

I knew Eugene Martin in Washington D.C. back  in 1968/69. He was a nice quiet fellow. There is much more about Eugene Martin on Youtube.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Best New Orleans street musician I've seen

Almost 2 million people have viewed this on youtube.
Click on the video to go to youtube and see it full screen.
See below posts for more good tuba skinny videos.

Tuba Skinny - Jail Bird Love Song

This video was done on Martha's Vineyard.

Tuba Skinny - I Can't Spend His Dollar Like I Spend His Dime

Tuba Skinny - I'm Going Back Home

Tuba Skinny - Hear Me Talking To Ya

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuba Skinny in New Orleans And As For Me I Was Born Too Soon

We all know people who think they were born too late. I am beginning to think I
was born too soon.
When we lived in New Orleans in 1965 and 1966 there were no street bands like
Tuba Sknny playing in and around the French Quarter.
I first went to New Orleans in 1955 and was in an out of there off and on through
1980. Never did I ever see any street bands like Tuba Skinny and the others that
can now be found on the streets and the clubs in and around the French Quarter
and on Youtube.

Apparently they all appeared in the years after Hurricane Katrina.
Tuba Skinny was formed in 2009 and I have been following them on Youtube
ever since.  They have now been together 3 years. They play in and around New
Orleans in the winter months. In the summer they take off for Europe Jazz Festivals
and then return to play summer gigs in New England and in and around New York City.
Then they return to New Orleans in the Fall each year.

In 1965 and 1966 and on up into the 1980s the older traditional jazz musicians
were dying off or were already dead in New Orleans.
Now out of nowhere there have appeared young white musicians not just playing
traditional New Orleans jazz and blues but playing it exceedlingly well.
A miracle has happened. The torch has been passed to people like the singer for Tuba Skinny
Erika Lewis and the leader and cornet player of Tuba Skinny Shaye Cohn.

Click on the  label tuba skinny in the label box below for more of my posts about them and also
more of their youtube videos.

There is a new birth of jazz going on in New Orleans. It is being played by young muscians. I think
I was born too soon. But I am glad I lived long enough to see and hear it.
Read all about them in the link below.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Parc Monceau, Paris, France

This person makes the best videos all over Paris. He has tons of them on YouTube.
Look on youtube for many more by him. Just click on his name above the video.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Cocktail Waitress And A Good Interview With The Late Author James M. Cain

Click on the above picture to enalrge it.
More on James M. Cain and his book Cocktail Waitress.
Good interview with Cain in the link below.

And click on the label James M.Cain in the Labels box below to see my other posts
on James M. Cain and his writing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

James M. Cain And The Cocktail Waitress

New Book by Cain. Click to enlarge the photo.

James M. Cain. Click to enlarge.

Link above is to a good article on Cain.

Still from Double Indemnity. Fred McMurray is the sap. The patsy. The fool lusting after Barbara Stanwyck.
Click on the photo to enlarge it.

It was a real revelation reading Cain for the first time. When I picked up THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and read the first sentence I could not put it down until I finished the book.
Cain knew how to grab you and not let you go.

He made a big mistake moving back to Maryland and Hyattsville, Maryland. Nobody is interested in fiction set in Hyattsville, Maryland no matter how good it is.

LA sells and Hollywood really sells.  There is not much there there in Hyattsville. Who cares what a waitress in Hyattsville does or does not do? Nobody that's who.

Cain wrote for the movies and his books read just like a movie. They are that direct and visual. The dialogue is as realistic as you can get. He was fascinated with the way people really speak. Working class people talking street talk.

People reading Cain for the first time don't know what to make of his style. Is he a first rate fiction writer or is he a pulp fiction writer or is he both?

What he is is very entertaining. A master of his craft. Just like Patricia Highsmith, and Raymond Chandler, and Hammett.

I wanted to go visit him in Hyattsville back in 1968 and 1969 and never got around to it. But from what I have learned of him and his life at that time it might have been a bad time to try to visit him with his health failing and his wife dying.
I suspect he was a quiet man who did not want to be bothered. He was a real writer. He lived his life on paper. And even though he thought his life was not interesting his books sure were.

I have other posts on the blog about James M. Cain. Check them out. Click on the label James M.Cain in the Labels box below.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Veiled Nun At The Corcoran Gallery Of Art Washington D.C.

This is my favorite piece of art at the Corcoran in D.C. Click on the picture to enlarge it. And then read about it in the link above. But to get the full effect it needs to be seen in person. You can see through the marble veil to see her marble face.  I always pay her a visit when I go to the Corcoran.

The Corcoran is hurting for money and they may have to sell the building and/or the Collection.
The biggest problem is they are charging 10 dollars admission in a city that is full of free museums.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s there was no admission fee.

The adjacent Corcoran Art School is doing fine. One suggestion that sounded good to me is save the old historic beautiful building by turning the whole building into the Art School. Mark Power made that suggestion. He wrote an article for the Washington Post about that.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hapuna Beach Where Have All The Hippies Gone?

This is where Jerry slept on the beach for three weeks back in 1970. See my post below this one for the
full story. Hippies camped out here back then. Looks like they are all gone.
Click on the video to go to YouTube and watch full screen.

Some Of Jerry's Good Stories About Hapuna Beach Hawaii 1970

Jerry likes to talk. He likes to tell stories and often he talks endlessly. But some of his stories are good.
He doesn't write them down and he doesn't use a computer. He just likes to talk. He weighs about 450 pounds. He is a good natured fellow with a sweet disposition.

He likes to tell stories of when he was young and on the road.

He traveled over much of the USA and Mexico with his parents on their vacations when he was growing up.
He has been to India three times and he likes to go often to Virginia Beach. But when he was younger he traveled with friends to the west coast and Alaska and then on by himself to Hawaii.

When he left Alaska it was getting cold. Real cold. Winter was coming in fast. He decided to fly to Hawaii while he still had the money to do so. He flew to Seattle and got a ticket to the Big Island. They stopped in Honolulu long enough to have the plane cleaned and then headed out to the Big Island. There were only about 5 people onboard. The flight attendents had plenty of time to talk to the passengers. One of them told him to rent a car in Hilo and drive around to the other side of the island to a place called Hapuna Beach. This was back around 1970 and hippies still were allowed to live on the beach there at that time.

So Jerry took her advice. He rented a car and drove around the island arriving at Hapuna Beach late at night.
He went down to the beach and went to sleep. When he woke up a young woman was standing over him. She said you must have arrived last night. Come on over to our camp and have some breakfast.
So began Jerry's 3 weeks on Hapuna Beach. He lived there on the beach and never had to spend any money.  
   There was a college professor there from some midwestern US school. He was sort of a philosopher who had dropped out, tuned in, and turned on. He would not tell anyone his name. He said, "Call me H". That  was what he was called by everyone. Just "H".

He worked part time killing sharks to earn enough money to live the rest of the year without working.

One day Jerry decided to write a letter to one of his brothers telling him where he was and what he was doing.  Jerry was sitting at a picnic table writing this letter when one of the hippie types came up to him and asked him what he was doing. Jerry told him. The guy said I dont think you should tell anybody about this place. They must find it on their on.  He didn't want anymore people showing up. He wanted to keep the place a secret.

I have looked at photos and videos of Hapuna beach. It is indeed one of the most beautiful beaches in the USA.   I don't think it has changed much. It is still a state park and has been kept undeveloped.

Hotels near that area are very expensive. But Jerry was lucky. He hit it at just the right time. He lived there 3 weeks rent free living on the beach. I wonder if H is still there. I doubt it.
Even some of the old Hawaii Five O episodes from around that time of 1969/1970 show hippies living on the beaches. I think there are still hippies living in remote areas inland today.

When Jerry had just enough money to fly to LA he left and headed home to Virginia. He hitch hiked all the way across country. Leaving LA he was picked up by a van full of hippies. It was dark and he could not see the people in the back of the van. They were real friendly and one of the girls in the back came forward to offer him food. She said "Here have something to eat".
And Jerry said one other thing about her. He said she was totally nude. She did not have on a stitch of clothes.

That was what life was like back in the 1960s and early 1970s. It all ended around 1975 when the Vietnam war ended. The country had been driven nuts from 1965 to 1975 by the Vietnam War and the draft. As soon as the war ended and the draft ended everything changed and all the protests stopped. The 1960s were finally over. It was the draft that caused all the protests. Now we have a war entering the 11th year. And no protests against it.  The Pentagon has learned they dont need to draft people anymore. So not a protest in sight here in Washington D.C.

More Jerry stories to follow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some More Stories From A Former Hotel Detective Or House Dick As They Used To Be Known

Click on the picture above to enlarge them.
The link below is to some good info on Hotel Detectives.

I was lucky enough to be a Hotel Detective at one of the very best hotels in Washington, D.C. It is the Shoreham Hotel. It has been a landmark in Washington, D.C. since it was built in 1929. It was an upper class hotel back then with riding stables and a full service garage and service station in the underground parking garage. Rudy Vallee came down from New York for the grand opening in 1929.

Later Bob Hope used Suite B120 every time he came to Washington D.C. as his home away from home.
The New York Yankees used to stay there when they came to town to play the Washington Senators. But that was before my time.

By the time I went to work at The Shoreham it had become a convention hotel. Back in the old days there was no need for a security force. I was told back in the old days there was only one House Detective(or House Dick) and he was an old friend of the owner. The hotel orignally was also an apartment hotel and even when I went to work there in 1977 there were still a handful of permanent residents.

     #1: Someone was breaking in the pinball machines in the Game Room and stealing all the money.
This was in 1977 before the advent of more modern electronic games.
I decided to catch whoever it was. We had been patrolling the area but it was located in a remote room at the end of a remote corridor.
One night I went in a saw that a machine had been broken into. I walked back toward the Lobby and came to a Men's Room at the end of that corridor. I went in and saw no one. But my wife had told me that Columbo (the TV detective played by the actor Peter Falk) always got down on his hands and knees to look for things and get a better view. So I knelt down and looked under the stalls. I saw several stacks of quarters and the bottom of two legs. Someone was stacking up the quarters and counting them.
So I said to the person come out. It was a teenager.  He admitted breaking in the machines. I found out he was staying in the hotel with his parents. So went up to their room and I explained the situation to them.
I did write a report but I dont think we bothered to call the police. His parents said they would make sure it would not happen again.

#2. When I came to work one day at the Shoreham the boss showem me a box of what looked like costume jewelery and asked me if I knew anything about it. I told him no.
  One of the guys from the night before had left it in his desk thinking it was cotume jewelry. It had been turned in by the Chipnese Banquet waiter named Chang. Chang told him if there was a reward he wanted it.
It had been left at a party the night before.
   Later that evening I got a call from a man from Philadelphia, Pa.  He said his wife had lost some jewelry and was worth ten thousand dollars. He wanted us to send it to him. I told him no he would have to come and get it and prove it was his and sign for it.   He said he would come down on the train the next day.

I told the night security who had received it from Chang and put it in the desk of the boss what had happened.  He said why did I tell the man we had it. He said he could use that money. He was an active duty Marine by the way.
I left it at that. I must have also told the boss what was going on with this found property.
The next day I learned the man had come down and given a large reward to the Marine who claimed he found it. And the Marine gave nothing to Chang. Well Chang got wind of what had happened and complained to the Boss and the Hotel Manager.   After everything came out Chang got some money and the Marine was fired.

More stories to follow soon. Stay tuned.

I worked in hotels before the advent of security cameras. We did not have any. And even if we did there are simply too many places where cameras could not be used. We had to patrol the whole propery.
Mostly what we did at the Shoreham was do whatever we were asked to do by management. We had a bunch of old retired military and retired cops working there. Sometimes they hired young guys who went on to become full time cops.

  At Washington Plaza they hired a quite a few retired old guys from the Old Soldiers Home. The official name is The Soldiers and Airmen Home in Washington D.C.
It was built before the Civil War. The money for it came from a fine General Winfield Scott(old Fuss and Feathers)imposed on the defeated Mexicans after the war with Mexico. The fined them 150,000 dollars. The money was used to build the Old Soldiers Home in Washington D.C.
   I visited that place several times. It is a real interesting place. Read about it below.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why Did The Dentist Slip And Fall On The Marble Floor In The Hallway Of The Shoreham Hotel?

Click on the picture to enlarge it. That is the lobby of the Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C.
In the picture above note the white marble columns. Also note the marble floors. The incident described below took place in the hallway seen at the far right in back of the picture above.

Another one of the first reports I took as a Security Officer at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. back in 1977 was about a man who had slipped and fallen and hurt himself on the marble floor in the hallway.

We had a convention of about 10,000 dentists at the hotel. The place was packed and I got a call that a man had fallen and hurt himself. I went to take the report. The man was still lying on the marble floor next to a marble column. He told me he had slipped on the wet floor. I could see that water had dripped down the marble column and collected on the almost white marble floor making the water almost invisible and hard to see..

The man was a dentist and he had fallen and injured his wrist and arm. He was with his wife and another man. I asked if he wanted me to call an ambulance. He said no as I recall and that his wife and friend who was his lawyer would drive him to the hospital.

I later found out he was hurt badly enough that he could not work as a dentist. I don't know how much money he got from the hotel's insurance company but I bet it was quite a bit.

Watch out for wet floors.

Who Took The Seifrizii Palm Tree From The Lobby Of The Shoreham Hotel?

The first report I took as a Security Officer at the Shoreham Hotel back in 1977 was on a report of a stolen palm tree. It was by the man who worked for the company that supplied the indoor palm trees to the hotel.
He called to say he was missing a palm tree. I went to the Lobby to meet him. I asked him what kind of palm tree it was. He replied that it was a "Seifrizii Palm Tree". I asked him how to spell that name and took the report. Later we got a call from Housekeeping that a maid had found a palm tree in one of the rooms
upstairs. I went up and got the small plam tree and brought it back down to the Lobby.
Some happy and drunken guest had taken it upstairs and put it in the room of one of his friends.

"Bamboo Palm: It is a multi-trunk plant which is ideally suited for wide spaces in your house or office. It can grow to about 8 - 10 feet tall and 5 - 7 feet wide, making it an ideal plant to use as a partition or a screen in your interior designing plans. It is ideally suited for indoor use, as the plant thrives in shade conditions. Scientific name 'Chamaedorea seifrizii', the bamboo palm needs a little looking after, as it might get infested with pests like spider mites because of its dense leafy characteristics. It is one of the most sought after palm tree because of its dense green appearance."

.Bamboo Palm Tree - Chamaedorea seifrizii

"The Large Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) originates from Southeast Asia, but can now be found abundantly throughout Central America. The Bamboo Palm goes by many other common names such as Bamboo Palm, Reed Palm, Clustered Parlor Palm, and Cane Palm. It has a deep green color to the stalk and thin to thick-feathery leaves. With the proper amount of water the Bamboo Palm can grow rapidly to an average height of 10 to 15 feet. There are many species belonging to the Chamaedorea family but by far the Chamaedorea seifrizii is the most seen. When situated in the right environment the Bamboo Palm can flourish and bring good luck and fortune to your home or office."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Tribute to Mort Sahl

Mort Sahl's LP albums were very important to me when I was in college. Later I collected every one of the LP records shown in the video above.
I also saw him in one of his college appearances back in 1971. He was always funny. And I learned a great deal from him.
He was a real Iconoclast.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Iconoclasts: Sean Penn and Jon Krakauer Part 1

Go to YouTube to find Part 2.

Into The Wild - Theatrical Trailer

I just re read the book this movie is based on. 

Read the book then see the movie. 

Then go to Youtube and look at all the related videos. There is one with an interview with his father. One with an interview done with his mother. Both done at the site of their son's death at the old school bus out in the wilderness of Alaska.

   Chris is a hero to many and considered a fool by many. He went into the wilderness unprepared and
unwilling to listen to older wiser heads who could have taught him.

Chris McCandless reminds me a great deal of Jim Morrison. Both grew up in the wilderness of the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Chris in Annandale, Va. and Jim Morrison in Alexandria, Va. Both had hard driving highly successful fathers. Morrison's father was a Navy Admiral. Chris's father was a NASA scientist.  Both had "Daddy Issues". And extended that to society issues.
Both Chris and Jim chose a path that led to self destruction.
They never had a chance to grow up.
I saw Morrison and the Doors at the Alexandria Rollerrink  back in 1967 or 1968 on The Doors first tour.
He was on the cusp of fame and it would destroy him.

 Annandale is a bedroom suburb where there is "no there there" as Gertrude Stein said of another place in America. Oakland, Ca. I believe it was.

  If I had grown up in Annandale, Va. I would have wanted to get out of there also. There is no town there. I can understand Chris's longing for solitude and a wilderness devoid of endless suburban homes that all look alike. A suburban desert with nothing but fast food joints and K Marts and middle middle middle class people. Sadly much of America is now like this. WalMart has killed off most all of the small towns in America. 

INTO THE WILD would be a good book for English teachers to teach to high school seniors and also college English profs to have their students read to discuss.
Was Chris a fool or a really brave young man or both?
Was he simply too smart and too headstrong for his own good?
How can young men grow up in a suburban wilderness and not want to get out and explore the world and try to find something that is "real" and not fake.