|Photo | Bryan Obrien | smh.com.au|
We read on Zoe Strauss' blog this morning that Jeanne-Claude, one fabulous half of the Christo-and-Jeanne-Claude duo responsible for countless public environmental art behemoths, has passed away. She died last Wednesday, Nov. 18, of complications due to a ruptured brain aneurysm.
|The Pont Neuf Wrapped|
For the art world, this is a huge loss. (Among the couple's most famous work: wrapping the entirety of Paris' Pont Neuf in silky golden fabric; covering 10-plus miles of land in California and Japan with yellow and blue umbrellas; and installing bright-orange gates throughout Central Park in New York City.)
Scrolling through the couple's Web site, christojeanneclaude.net, is an adventure: After you check out their crazy-inventive artwork, be sure to click on "Common Errors," a link that just goes to show how seriously these two have taken their work (fact-checkers, beware). An excerpt:
The Game of Errors: There are six errors in the following published short sentence:
"Christo wrapped some islands in Florida, off the coast of Miami in Key Biscayne with pink plastic."
1.-2. Christo and Jeanne-Claude never wrapped any Islands. They surrounded the islands. Most journalists do not understand the difference between wrapping and surrounding even though they should know that the United Kingdom is surrounded by water, it is not wrapped in water.
3. There were eleven islands surrounded, but because in two occasions 2 islands were surrounded together, there was a total of nine configurations on a span of seven miles.
4. Not off the coast. Off the coast would be in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Miami Beach.
5. It was in Biscayne Bay in the heart of the city of Miami, between Miami City and Miami Beach. Key Biscayne is miles away from there.
6. Not plastic - FABRIC, woven polypropylene is a man-made fiber, and is woven. Plastic usually refers to a film, not woven. For instance, women who wear nylon stockings are not wearing plastic stockings.
passed away at the age of 82. Born in 1927 and coming of age at 15th and Tasker (according to the Inky obit), Martino was supposed to enter the family bricklaying business but chose the crooner's life instead. His biggest hit was 1965's "Spanish Eyes."
When Mario Puzo wrote The Godfather, the role of pretty boy pop singer Johnny Fontane was widely thought to be based on Frank Sinatra, who supposedly got the role of Pvt. Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity because of mob muscle (for the record, Sinatra is fabulous as Angelo "Only My Friends Can Call Me a Little Wop!" Maggio and it reinvigorated his then-stalled career, so the mob can't be all bad). According to an excellent Vanity Fair article on the making of The Godfather, Martino got the part after he contacted producer Al Ruddy on the suggestion of Phyllis McGuire, a member of the McGuire Sisters and mob moll of Sam Giancana, who said Fontane was Martino. Coppola didn't even want Martino, instead choosing Vic Damone, but Damone dropped out before production started (as legend goes, real Dons said that Fontane was a sanctioned pick, while Damone was not). But McGuire was right about the similarities between Martino and Fontane. According to the VF article:
Once he'd been through all that, Martino says, what was a movie director to stand in his way? He shows me a picture of himself with Puzo, Coppola, Ruddy, and some casino bosses in Vegas, all with their arms around one another, on their way to a party'complete with showgirls, 'the works''the singer says he threw at a cost of $20,000 to convince Coppola that he was the right choice for the Johnny Fontane role. When that didn't solidify the deal, he took a course of action that could have come from the movie. 'Didn't the Don send Tom Hagen to convince [studio head] Jack Woltz that Johnny Fontane must be in the movie?' he asks. 'Isn't it similar to what I did? Woltz didn't want Johnny, and Coppola didn't want me. There was no horse's head, but I had ammunition.' I had to step on some toes to get people to realize that I was in the effing movie. I went to my godfather, Russ Bufalino,' he says, referring to the East Coast crime boss.Read the rest the story here. The Fontane part isn't huge, but it's pivotal. Without Fontane, there would be no horse's head scene and that great exchange between Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) and the slimy studio head (via the IMDB character page):
Tom Hagen: I come from a personal friend of Mr Johnny Fontane. That friend promises his undying friendship if you would do him a small favour. Jack Woltz: What's that? Tom Hagen: Give Johnny a part in that war movie you're starting next week. [Woltz signs a document with a smile and walks away, Hagen alongside him] Jack Woltz: And what favours does this friend promise in exchange for giving Johnny the part? Tom Hagen: You've got some labour trouble coming up. My client promises to make that trouble disappear. You have a top star who makes a lot of money, but he just graduated from marijuana to heroin... Jack Woltz: [all East Side now] Are you trying to muscle me? Tom Hagen: Absolutely not. I've come to ask a service for a friend... Jack Woltz: Now you listen to me, you smooth-talking son-of-a-bitch, let me lay it on the line for you and your boss, whoever he is! Johnny Fontane will never get that movie! I don't care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork! Tom Hagen: I'm German-Irish. Jack Woltz: Well, let me tell you something, my kraut-mick friend, I'm gonna make so much trouble for you, you won t know what hit you! Tom Hagen: Mr. Woltz, I'm a lawyer. I have not threatened you. Jack Woltz: I know almost every big lawyer in New York, who the hell are you? Tom Hagen: I have a special practice. I handle one client. Now you have my number, I'll wait for your call. By the way, I admire your pictures very much.It's a pivotal scene in which the true power of the Corleone family is laid out for all to see. Not only do they have a hand in the salacious and illegal, but the seemingly legitimate as well. Here, Martino sings "Speak Softly Love," the love theme from The Godfather (Martino sings it at Connie's wedding):
Just got word that Douglas Campbell, frequent Bristol Riverside Theatre collaborator/father of Stars lead singer Torq, died in Montreal, due to complications from diabetes and heart disease. He was 87.
Campbell was a longtime star at Bristol, starring in or directing productions including Hamlet, Tete-a-Tete, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, Copenhagen and The Dresser (pictured, right), for which he won a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play. Most recently Campbell played the voice of God in Bristol's Altar Boyz.
According to a Bristol press release, Campbell was scheduled to return to Philly last season to direct Defiance, but never made it due to visa complications.
Says Bristol Artistic Director Keith Baker, in the same release: 'It is very difficult to talk about Douglas Campbell, both as an artist and as a personal friend, without hyperbole and, perhaps some overindulgence.' But he would hate that.' He knew his worth and had no need to exalt himself.' I simply had never met a man like him.' In his deepest self he was an uncompromising artist who saw the potential'in others and spared nothing to help them realize it.' A simple talk with him was enough to transform your feelings about yourself and the world in which you must be responsible to the artist within you. We worked on five plays together, both as directors and fellow players, as he would call it, and the honor was mine.' His all-embracing eyes and great arms were'always available.' He was unequivocally interested in everyone and everyone knew it.' He was my dearest friend.'
|Halpern, posing for a 1998 article in CP.
Man, oh man, in entertainment timing is everything. Esther Halpern timed her exit just right. Days before the Folksong Society reunion of her legendary acoustic music incubator, the Gilded Cage, she has gotten away from us.
Gilded Cage Reunion Sunday, October 11 - 7pm
Free admission! The Elkins Estate - 750 Ashbourne Rd, Elkins Park, PA 19027
The Gilded Cage was the historic venue on South 21st Street that provided all the early influence the Philadelphia Folksong Society needed to get rolling. Run by Esther and Ed Halpern from 1956 to 1969, this magical place hosted the beatniks of the late 50's to the hippies and protestors who stood tall for civil rights throughout the 60's. It was also the training grounds for many area folk performers, including Dick Weissman, Gordon Bok, Jerry Ricks, Jim Croce, and Saul Broudy. According to folk specialist Mike Miller, "Everybody, who was there, wants to be there again. They want to feel that feeling, if only for an evening." Join him and other surprise guests as the Philadelphia Folksong Society kicks off its 2009/10 season by traveling back to a time when the folk revival took Philadelphia by storm.
Look out for guest appearances by some of the Cage's most beloved artists! This FREE event will celebrate where PFS has been and help us look forward to the future.
Esther loved to sing the blues which she did more or less nightly for years in the back room of the Gilded Cage.' But I can tell you, what really brought the pledges during fund drives at XPN was her digging into her own past, songs in Yiddish and her reminiscences about growing up without a lot of financial resources, but plenty of love. Then the calls would roll in, people who loved to hear their own storied told.
|A reissue comp from 2002.
As long as I knew Esther, love was a very big deal. She loved Ed and made it clear to those around her. It knocked the stuffing out of her when he died several years ago. She was passionate in general, loved life and people, especially folk music people. The Gilded Cage was where people conspired to found' the Folksong Society just over 50 years ago. Untold numbers of musicians would come and pick, just immerse themselves in acoustic music.
What a presence she was, tiny and bursting with every emotion. If you were on her good side life was roses, but if she had a difference with you, well, she wasn't budging. Esther took pride in her accomplishments. She didn't mind bragging that she saved the Folk Festival after a disastrous year in the early 70s when a tropical storm washed away all the profits. She told the decision makers that if she were in charge of merch ' tchotchkes I think she said at the time ' well, she'd be able to pull them out of the red. That became Society Sales which morphed from a tiny stand to a huge' tent of Smiling Banjo branded items. Emotion reigned there as well. Folks who worked for her will tell you she was a little general, my-way-or-the-highway. Most found that her devoted friendship was worth being in the presence of an that energy which could quickly change course.
Two options for those who want to remember Esther and comfort her family. First, the traditional observances will be Sunday at 11 a.m. at Goldstein's' 6410 North Broad Street 215 927 5800. The family will also attend the Gilded Cage reunion that same evening, where Esther's passion will be remembered and inspire song one more time.
- Esther Halpern: 50 years of singing, teaching and promoting good folk.
- A review of Esther Halpern Sings From the Gilded Cage: 45th Anniversary (scroll down).
Patrick Swayze wasn't a great actor. I don't think anyone is going to lament in their obits that he was denied meaty roles because of his chiseled good looks and dancing skills or the roles that might have been if hadn't died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 57. Instead, here's a guy who embodied a brainless (said with both love and respect), fun time at the theater: Dirty Dancing, Red Dawn, Road House, Point motherfuckin' Break. You can go through his filmography and giggle out the utter camp of it all but you can't deny enjoying each and every one of those. Did he make great movies? Not really. Did he make awesome movies? Hell yeah. When I asked a friend if he could remember any movie other than Point Break where Swayze is the villain. He answered, "Black Dog? I can't remember if he was a bad guy or just a badass." (Verdict: Badass.) That spirit embodies Swayze's legacy. Here was a guy you wanted to root for, you wanted to win, even if he wasn't supposed to. At the end of Point Break, you're glad Bodhi gets to catch that one last, gnarly wave even though he robbed banks. He just seemed like a good guy. Favorite Swayze scenes? There's the obvious: a Dirty dance sequence, the pottery scene in Ghost; (siiiiigh), when he rips that dude's throat out in Road House, pretty much all of Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar and, once again, Point motherfuckin' Break. But beating out all of those is this SNL skit where he goes head-to-head for Chippendale's gig with Chris Farley. Farley gets all the credit for this one, but Swayze's ability to keep his shit together as Farley jiggles and gyrates is Emmy-worthy. And at the end (SPOILER ALERT), when Swayze lands the Chippendale's job, he seems genuinely sad it didn't go to Chris. Because he was a nice guy. And sometimes that's all that really matters.
Yeah he wrote The Basketball Diaries, but I'll always think of "People Who Died," when I think of Jim Carroll. According to the New York Times, the punk-poet-singer-author died of a heart attack of Friday. Sad to hear, but given the hard life he'd lived (drugs, prostitution, more drugs), 60 probably seemed like a long shot early on. Dude was a fighter.
I remember a real video for this, but I can't find it online.
Mourning the loss of a local roots DJ and a fixture on the local folk scene.
|photo from wvud.org
Suzi Wollenberg, however,' left us without warning. Look at this list: the Green Willow Folk Club, WVUD radio, Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, Delaware' Valley Bluegrass Festival -these organizations are all rocked by her sudden passing this last Saturday.
Suzi put in literal decades running the Green Willow. She picked up the task when another couldn't keep up with demands of running a Celtic music series in the Wilmington area. If memory of chats with agents for some of the best bands from Scotland, Ireland and Wales serves, Green Willow went from being a fill-in date to the early adopter, the organization willing to bring in the unusual, the anchor date for tours of new acts.' Celtic music from Spain like LLan de Cubel might never have been presented here if Suzi hadn't taken a chance on it.
Music needs to be heard by as many people as possible was her theory. If she believed in its quality it didn't matter who was presenting, her enthusiasm bubbled out in all possible directions.''
As recently as last week she sent out a e-blast reminding folks that fellow WVUD DJ and Green Willow board member Michelle McCann puts on a pretty good show with her band Slyte of Hand and not to miss them a free concert at Rockford Park. The setting and show were a trip across the waters to Brittany for a great number of us on stay-cations.
When Folk Alliance needed judges for showcase slots Suzi could always find time to listen to another pile of recordings and winnow out the top contenders, then spread the news to all her' colleagues. All this music work was in addition to another fulltime job.' Suzi was a counselor and if you asked her professional opinion of a situation, she'd take the time to share some of that training, gratis. Don't ask me how I know.
Years ago, when XPN had folk music every day of the week, Suzi led a busman's holiday to the old Spruce Street studios' from Newark's UDel station to compare notes. WVUD still has folk of one kind or another seven days.
Stand up and be counted folks. Who is willing to pick up a part of the burden Suzi has laid down? For sure it is the best way we can honor her memory.
Suzi's husband, John Lupton, says a memorial service for Suzi will be held on Thursday, August 13 at 1:00 pm at Gebhart Funeral Home, 3401 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE.
|Which one were you?|
There are very few people who understood the teenage condition better than John Hughes, the director of The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. A spokesman announced Hughes died today at the age of 59.
Hughes was, first and foremost, a writer, penning the story that would eventually become National Lampoon's Vacation. But rather than tell the story from the father's point of view, it's told via a boy narrator. The story, "Vacation '58," is written like a kid would speak, and that's where Hughes' talent lie. Reading faux-teen speak that is so obviously written by someone not of the generation is like nails on a chalkboard, but with Hughes it was fluid. There was no overuse of slang, no hyping of fast-fading fads.
As I type, I can hear these lines, hilarious yet natural, cycling through my brain. You're stewed, buttwad! Hey Cameron, you realize if we played by the rules, we'd be in gym class right now? Blane! His name is Blane?! That's a major appliance, that's not a name!
You look good wearing my future.
He stopped directing after a disastrous time on Curly Sue, but he kept writing and script doctoring, often under the name Edmond Dantes ' the wronged protagonist who seeks vengeance from Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo.
Even more so than the way his teens spoke was the way they felt and acted. Yeah, he dealt in broad, sometimes laughably so, characters ' brains, athletes, basket cases, princesses and criminals, to paraphrase one of Hughes' more famous passages. But they were all relatable. You got to see yourself as whoever you wanted to see yourself in ' be it the priss who is deeper than her facade lets on, or the girl who acts crazy because she's not going to get attention any other way. It was something for everyone. Even in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, with its impossibly cool main character, there was Cameron, who hated his parents and just wanted to spend in the day in bed. Even Ferris, the most outlandish of the Hughes characters ' and that includes Kelly LeBrock's fantastical Lisa from Weird Science, only because no teenager is that sure of himself ' talks to directly to the audience. He's about to play and he's asking you to be on his team. You. Yes, you. No matter what Hughes movie you're watching, you find your teenage self within those characters.
Take Sam Baker from Sixteen Candles. Her entire goal throughout the movie is to be noticed. She's not different, she's not special ' she just wants recognition that she exists. Sam wants validation, not just from her classmates (but only if it's the right kind of validation ... sorry, Anthony Michael Hall) but from her parents, as well. Hughes movies are all built around these simple teenage tropes: subversion of authority, fantasy realization, that desire to be the coolest guy in the room.
At the end of Sixteen Candles, ultimate heartthrob Jake Ryan and Sam sit cross legged, facing each other over a lit birthday cake. He tells her to make a wish and she says, "It already came true." That's what really made Hughes great ' the fairytale elements. They weren't super outlandish, but they were the escapist flourishes that make movies worth watching. A group of kids from several different social cliques put together in a room will probably not end up best friends. No teenager can hijack a float at the Von Steuben Day Parade, lead the entire city of Chicago in choreographed dance routine and still get away with cutting school. And the most popular guy in school doesn't fall in love with anonymous teen just because she bites her lip and looks at him doe-eyed. But it was fantasy grounded in a harsh high school reality.
Yeah, Jake Ryan would never have noticed Sam Baker in real life. But it's not real life. It's the movies. So Sam gets to celebrate her 16th birthday with him, while wearing a princess dress and a flower crown. And the Weird Science boys get to create the perfect woman and use her to defeat their enemies. And Ferris Bueller gets to spend a day, where he should be in gym class, just enjoying life. And that's a fantasy everyone, teenager or not, can take part in.
The last time I saw Frank Malley was, predictably, at a traditional Irish concert. The music was grand, the place was packed, all in great spirits. Frank made time to speak to me before I had a chance to drift over his way. His trademark warmth was intact. "How are ya Frank?" said I.' "OK, fine," came the too quick reply. Squinting at him, with his chemo-thinned fair poking from beneath the tweed cap, I tried again, "Francis, how are you." He looked relieved to be given permission to say, "Well, I'm dying." Being musical I have no problem with people giving organ recitals, so we reviewed all the ways he and the docs had tricked death for some five years. This time, he didn't feel as hopeful. But from that time when he allowed that the disease was really gonna win this time, he struggled for another half a year.
Good man, Frank Malley. He had things he believed in and put his stamina behind them. The Ceili Group and the Ceili Group's Festival were significant beneficiaries of his love of music. When the Festival sent out an invitation earlier this year, urging people to attend a meeting to help plan this year's event, I chuckled to myself, thinking, yeah, it'll take a whole team to replace Himself.
Always committed to promoting the music, Frank wouldn't let me leave a party last year, urging me to wait, the singing would start soon, and I had to hear Rosaleen McGill. He was so right to be proud of her and her amazing gift for the old style of Irish singing. Now who will insist we linger to meet the next generation?
Frank, we're all the poorer without you.
Quoting from an email circulated by Frank's daughter Courtney, herself a singer renowned for her work with Full Frontal Folk and Something Black:
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 1, 2009, 3:00 p.m. at the Irish Center located at Emlen St and Carpenter Ln in West Mt Airy.' In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to any one of the' Breast Cancer 3-Day 'Team Canada' members at www.the3day.org.
While most heavenly angels may only be given their wings after years of working for the Big Guy, Heaven's newest angel put in her time on Earth, working for a man named Charlie. Farrah Fawcett, pinup girl and actress of Charlie's Angels fame, died from cancer this morning. The 62-year-old had been battling anal cancer for three years.
Fawcett's death in a Santa Monica hospital followed her very recently engagement to actor Ryan O'Neal. The couple had been together since 1982, and have a son, Redmond, born in 1985. Before her relationship with O'Neal, Fawcett was briefly married to The Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors.
Fawcett, a Texas native, began her rise to fame in the '70's after dropping out of college in pursuit of a modeling career. Before anyone knew it, the unknown bombshell landed herself a role in Aaron Spelling's hit TV show Charlie's Angels, and was simultaneously plastered across teenage boys' bedroom walls. Her famous, record breaking poster, featuring a smiling Fawcett in a red bathing suit (see right, try to control yourself), soon made her the subject of every boy's wet dreams, and the model for every girl's late 70's hairstyle. Fawcett never lost her sex appeal, posing for Playboy topless in 1995, and again in 1997 at the age of 50. Both issues of the magazine became best sellers.
Outside of her sex symbol status, Fawcett is often best known for her role as Jill Munroe in Charlie's Angels, despite only being on the show for one season. She has been in the spotlight for more than 30 years, appearing in many stage productions and made for TV movies, for which she received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. Most recently, Fawcett produced and starred in a documentary about her battle with cancer.
Between her moments of glory, Fawcett's life has had it's fair share of drama. Fawcett's abrupt departure from Charlie's Angels resulted in a lawsuit for breach of contract. And the movie career that she left the show for gave her a couple notoriously bad films. In her personal life, Fawcett made the tabloids for her allegedly abusive boyfriends, as well as a Joaquin Phoenix-like moment on David Letterman in 1997. Her son's blatant drug problems and arrests have also been widely publicized.
In the end, Fawcett's fairytale story of a gorgeous nobody rising to fame is a memorable one. Her legacy as both an actress and sex icon will live on in more than just VH1 episodes of I love the '70s. And flowing, feathered blond hair will forever be synonymous with 'Farrah.'
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