Monday, March 19, 2018

a dance of dunces?

White House Library  1963

U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

-------------- [excerpt from CNBC interview with Anthony Scaramucci] ------------

On backstabbing in Washington

"These are terrible people.  By and large, they are vicious people ... Let me tell you how it works in Silicon Valley and Wall Street, this is my observation:  

You build your business and you build your career off of relationships, so you're trying to create a big karma bank:  'I'm gonna do one for you, you're gonna do one for me, we build a relationship.  We may be competitors once in a while, but we're both on the green team:  We're transacting over money.'  

In Washington, they actually get off on hurting each other.  

They earn badges or stripes on their lapel if they hurt somebody else:  'I crushed Swisher.  I went after her with opposition research, I had 10 reporters write nasty things about her and she fell from grace!  Look at me, look how cool I am!  Look how important I am.'  They do that to each other and they admire it from each other."

--------------------------------- [end, excerpt]


Friday, March 16, 2018

heard the screen door slam

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique

And a swingin' hot spot --

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Til it's gone --

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees,
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go

That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer

Put away that DDT now

Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees --

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
'Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

I said, don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

They paved paradise,
Put up a parking lot

They paved paradise,
And put up a parking lot...

------------------- Joni Mitchell


Siquomb Pub. Co.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Olivia de Havilland is my spirit animal

speaking truth to power

     I don't know which way the California Court will ultimately decide in the lawsuit brought by Dame Olivia de Havilland, and I'm not even sure if it should be decided in her favor.  Both sides will have good points to make, and I am not an expert -- (if I had to hear the case, I would be like Reb Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof -- "You are right.  And you, also, are right....")

     However, the component which I think makes this 101-year-old Dignified Lady a heroine for two centuries is, that she felt she should stand up for herself and stand up for the truth (and -- her perceived right to not be lied-about) and she did.  

At an advanced age.  With, surely, plenty of money and living in some lovely space in Paris, France -- what is to be gained?  With her career behind her, she's taking her stand on behalf of today's generation, and future generations.  At her age, who in the hell would need the aggravation?  You know?  

This is what I'm saying.  She is making the effort, going to the trouble, of doing what she believes is right.  Braving "considerable forces" which "have amassed against her" in The Business, and a ravenous, hammering modern media, she is -- going to the trouble of doing what she believes is right, not for herself alone, but for everyone.

     (I feel like proclaiming, in amazement, the enthusiastic vulgarity, "Fuckin-A!" but she surely would not like that.  ...Or maybe she would say it's OK, it's freedom of speech, as long as no one makes a movie where she says it...)


------------------------ [excerpt] ------------------ The last time 
de Havilland had a case before the California Court of Appeals was in 1944.  Risking her career, she sued Warner Brothers to get out of her contract, which she had signed in 1936.  She had been suspended for refusing parts assigned to her, a common ploy among studio bosses to keep their stars in line, with the missed time tacked on to the length of her deal.

...She won then, tipping the scales of studio autocracy and strengthening a California labour statute.  The so-named 
De Havilland Law prohibits the enforcement of a personal services contract beyond seven years.


     So the Court decided, in a manner of speaking, that a seven-year contract is for seven years.


----------------------- [excerpt] ---------------- Feud, she claims, is a work of historically convincing fiction... [which violates] de Havilland's hard-earned reputation for "honesty, integrity and good manners."

     These are qualities that may seem quaint in the age of Twitter.  But the legal action arrives during a content boom that has sent writers -- and big-league actors and producers -- raiding recent history sometimes before it has pickled, looking for figures and epochs to refashion as entertainment.

Courts have overwhelmingly supported First Amendment protections for movies and TV shows about figures and subjects in the public interest.  But de Havilland is undaunted.

-------------------- [excerpt] ------------ De Havilland's character is used as a framing device for the Davis-Crawford cage match that unfolds in Feud.  The opening lines of the series are hers:  "For nearly half a century, they hated each other, and we loved them for it."  

Zeta-Jones is posed on a love seat at the 1978 Oscars, giving an interview.  

Feud meticulously copied the black dress and sheer kaftan the real de Havilland wore to the Oscars that night, as well as her glittering pendant and blonde coif.  This physical copycatting is behind de Havilland's right-of-publicity claim.  Her claims of false light relate to the interview itself, which she says she never gave.

     To prevail, de Havilland will have to convince a jury not only that the interview was fabricated, but also that it includes sentiments that the writers of Feud either knew were false or proffered in reckless disregard for the truth, causing economic damage to her reputation and "emotional distress."  Lawyers for de Havilland and FX are also engaged in a byzantine fact check over de Havilland's use of coarse language in other scenes, most notably in reference to her sister, Fontaine. --------------------


failure to communicate

-------------------------- [excerpt] ---------------- [De Havilland's L.A. attorney, Suzelle] Smith maintains that her client, at a minimum, should have been consulted about the project ahead of time.  "She would have considered, what was their proposal?" the lawyer said.  "Are they proposing to compensate her?  

They would have found out that certain things were not true.  

Because they didn't even try, in their arrogance and hubris, they didn't take what we would argue are reasonable steps to find out what was true, and what wasn't true."


legal observers were surprised

------------------ [excerpt] ------------------- The network says that de Havilland's consent was not needed, because Feud falls squarely under protected speech around fictional works in the public interest.  Additionally, it contends that her portrayal is positive. ...

     In August, the network filed a motion to dismiss the case under California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, which allows for the quick dismissal of lawsuits that want to chill free speech.  

One month later, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Kendig issued her ruling:  while Feud arose from protected speech, 
de Havilland had adequately shown enough cause to deserve her day in court, with the suit fast-tracked because of the plaintiff's advanced age.  [Oh, now look-a-there, her age worked for her, that time....]

Legal observers were surprised.

     "It is unusual for this type of case to proceed past anti-SLAPP," said Jennifer Rothman, a professor at Loyola Law School....  If the de Havilland decision were allowed to stand, Rothman said, "then that upends the film industry, the TV industry, the video game industry.  Anyone who is trying to make stories based on true events with real people are not going to be able to do so wtihout permission."

     Though de Havilland has the backing of the Screen Actors Guild, considerable forces have amassed against her since the court victory....


{excerpts from

"Feud fight:  Why a Hollywood legend is heading to court at the age of 101"

7 March 2018

Paul Brownfield}


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Miss Melanie takes a stand

-------------------- [5 March 2018 | The Daily Mail] -------------- She's one of the last survivors of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

     But at the grand old age of 101, Dame Olivia de Havilland hasn't lost her thirst for a fight.

     The British-born actress is suing the producers of a TV drama which she says unfairly portrayed her as a foul-mouthed gossip.

     In what could prove a landmark case, the Gone With The Wind star is taking legal action against the FX network and producer Ryan Murphy over her characterisation by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the drama series Feud:  Bette and Joan.  

Although the series...focused principally on the toxic rivalry of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, the character of Dame Olivia provides commentary in the drama.  She is suing on the grounds FX and Murphy never sought her permission to use her 'name and identity' in the series.  The California Court of Appeals will rule later this month whether Dame Olivia can proceed with her lawsuit.  [written by Tom Leonard] -------------------

     Since I first read about this last week, I can't get this story out of my mind.

     This woman -- standing up for herself in this manner in a world which seems, on some days, to have gone mad, and facing down Hollywood's power structure.  At the age of 101!

     Her 102nd birthday is coming up in three-and-a-half months.

     Holy Toledo.

     I think she is a role model for --

a firm belief in moral standards and in her worth as a person


cool courage.



     Learning of this situation caused me to unconsciously assume that some Hollywood people may have made some assumptions, because of Olivia de Havilland's age.

     The people putting together the "docudrama" (documentary/drama) -- producer; director; writer(s) -- may have assumed de Havilland was not current on new films being made -- 'she's very old, she won't be paying attention' ....  They may have assumed she would be suffering health issues and would be too tired or too ill to notice.  (Real nice -- take advantage...)
     They might have assumed the presence of some dementia, in someone of that age....

     Basically, I guess I was 


that they were assuming 

that they didn't have to consider her at all because she is old.

     One Independent reader commented, "They most likely thought she'd passed away...."

     (How long would it take tech-savvy Hollywood folks to type her name onto the Internet and find out if she is still living, right?)

------------------------ [excerpt from the New York Times -- "At 101, a Survivor of Hollywood's Golden Age Throws Down the Gauntlet" - written by Paul Brownfield, March 3, 2018] ------------------------- "When Feud was first being publicised, but before it went on the air, I was interested to see how it would portray my dear friend Bette Davis," de Havilland wrote in an email.  

"Then friends and family started getting in touch with me, informing me that my identity was actually being represented on the programme.  No one from Fox had contacted me about this to ask my permission, to request my input, or to see how I felt about it.  When I then learned that the Olivia de Havilland character called my sister Joan 'a bitch' and gossiped about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's personal and private relationship, I was deeply offended."

..."A large part of the reason I decided to move forward with my action against FX is that I realise that at this stage of my life and career I am in a unique position to stand up and speak truth to power -- an action that would be very difficult for a young actor to undertake," she wrote.  

"I believe in the right to free speech, but it certainly must not be abused by using it to protect published falsehoods or to improperly benefit from the use of someone's name and reputation without their consent.  FX crossed both of these lines with Feud, and if it is allowed to do this without any consequences, then the use of lies about well-known public figures masquerading as the truth will become more and more common.  This is not moral and it should not be permitted."


     According to online encyclopedia, Olivia de Havilland appeared in 49 feature films.  My main impression of her is from Gone With The Wind, a film made in 1939 -- (same year as The Wizard of Oz.)  Dame Olivia played Melanie (Hamilton) Wilkes.

--------------------- [excerpt from Gone With The Wind, novel by Margaret Mitchell] ---------------- She [Melanie] had smiled with timid liking when she greeted Scarlett and told her how pretty her green dress was, and Scarlett had been hard put to be even civil in reply, so violently did she want to speak alone with Ashley.  

Since then, Ashley had sat on a stool at Melanie's feet, apart from the other guests, and talked quietly with her, smiling the slow drowsy smile that Scarlett loved.  What made matters worse was that under his smile a little sparkle had come into Melanie's eyes, so that even Scarlett had to admit that she looked almost pretty.  

As Melanie looked at Ashley, her plain face lit up as with an inner fire, for if ever a loving heart showed itself upon a face, it was showing now on Melanie Hamilton's.

     Scarlett tried to keep her eyes from these two but could not, and after each glance she redoubled her gaiety with her cavaliers, laughing, saying daring things, teasing, tossing her head at their compliments until her earrings danced.  

She said "fiddle-dee-dee" many times, declared that the truth wasn't in any of them, and vowed that she'd never believe anything any man told her.  

But Ashley did not seem to notice her at all.  

He only looked up at Melanie and talked on, and Melanie looked down at him with an expression that radiated the fact that she belonged to him.

     So, Scarlett was miserable.


Friday, March 9, 2018

a young time

---------------- [Introduction.] ---------- Among the chronicles, memoirs, and remembrances of the making of American literature in the 1920s, Malcolm Cowley's Exile's Return stands alone.  

Far from the "we put on boxing gloves and Ernest Hemingway broke my nose" recollections of that shaping period for a national literature, Cowley's work is "a narrative of ideas," as he subtitled the original edition of his book, published in 1934.  

Save for a handful of anecdotes, the book is not an accumulation of silvered memories, but a meditative exploration of the design and goals of literary culture.

     It is a book written by a young man about a young time, and its extolling of a young generation's ability to cast off the baggage of its forebears and forge its own identity has quickened the hearts of generations of readers who have found resonance in its story.  

It continues to speak.  

Indeed, Exile's Return is not so much about Paris in the 1920s as it is about the exemplary revolt of one generation against its predecessors in the effort to establish itself.


Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window
And the traffic wrote the words
It came ringing up like Christmas bells
And rapping up like pipes and drums

Oh, won't you stay
We'll put on the day
And we'll wear it 'til the night comes

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains
And a rainbow on the wall
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you
Crimson crystal beads to beckon

Oh, won't you stay
We'll put on the day
There's a sun show every second

Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today
And the streets are paved with passersby

And pigeons fly --

And papers lie --

Waiting to blow away

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey 
And a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch
And stuck to all my senses

Oh, won't you stay
We'll put on the day
And we'll talk in present tenses

When the curtain closes
And the rainbow runs away
I will bring you incense
Owls by night
By candlelight
By jewel-light
If only you will stay
Pretty baby, won't you
Wake up, it's a Chelsea morning

------------------------ Joni Mitchell


Thursday, March 8, 2018

they had been rebels

------------------- [excerpt] -------------- "They" had been rebels:  they wanted to change the world, be leaders in the fight for justice and art, help to create a society in which individuals could express themselves....

     "They" had been rebels, full of proud illusions....Now, with illusions shattered, they were cynics.  "We," on the contrary, were greatly humble and did not ask of Nature that she gild our happy moments or wildly re-echo our passions.  

We did not feel that our arguments on aesthetics should take place in aesthetic surroundings:  we were content to sit in the kitchen, two or three young men with our feet on the bare table, discussing the problem of abstract beauty while we rolled Bull Durham into cigarettes and let the flakes sift down into our laps.  We had lost our ideals at a very early age, and painlessly. --------------------- [end, excerpt]


The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn't sleep

Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here Carey
But it's really not my home

My fingernails are filthy, 
I got beach tar on my feet
And I miss my clean white linen
And my fancy French cologne

Oh Carey get out your cane
And I'll put on some silver
Oh you're a mean old daddy
But I like you... ... ...
          ... ...fine

Come on down to the Mermaid Café and I will
Buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh and toast to nothing,
And smash our empty glasses down

Let's have a round for these freaks and these soldiers
A round for these friends of mine
Let's have another round for the bright red devil who
Keeps me in this tourist town

Come on Carey get out your cane
I'll put on some silver
Oh you're a mean old daddy
But I like you
          I like you, I like you, I like you --

Maybe I'll go to Amsterdam
Maybe I'll go to Rome
And rent me a grand piano
And put some flowers 'round my room

But let's not talk about fare-thee-wells now
The night is a starry dome

And they're playin' that scratchy rock and roll
Beneath the Matala Moon

Come on Carey get out your cane
I'll put on some silver
Oh you're a mean old daddy, but
I like you

The wind is in from Africa

Last night I couldn't sleep

Oh you know it sure is hard to leave here

But it's really not my home

Maybe it's been too long a time
Since I was scramblin' down in the street

Now they got me used to that clean white linen
And that fancy French cologne

Oh Carey get out your cane
I'll put on my finest silver
We'll go to the Mermaid Café,
Have fun tonight

I said, Oh, you're a mean old daddy, but
You're out of sight


Type in
Carey, Joni Mitchell
and Hit "Play"

(...and now for something completely shallow:  the picture that comes up when Google sends you to You Tube for that song is the picture on the cover of Joni Mitchell's "Blue" album, and it's an unflattering picture, in my opinion.  [I object!]  Many photographs exist which reflect her natural, un-showy beauty.  

I would have used one of those.  

However, she's a serious artist, and probably didn't want to "sell" her work in terms of her looks.)

(Here's me as Joni Mitchell's styling adviser:

"Use this picture." ...


Here's me as Sam Nunberg's styling adviser:

"Call and interview with Jake Tapper tomorrow.  Sober."

Here's me as President Trump's styling adviser:

"Have your photograph taken with just Mrs. Trump in it..."

------------ official photo, Pres. Trump:

[only kidding, respectfully])


First excerpt:  Exile's Return, by Malcolm Cowley.  1934.  Penguin.

Song:  "Carey," by Joni Mitchell.  Reprise.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Ike runs the country, and I turn the pork chops

     Today I want to act as a "visual person" and put pictures on here.

---------------------------- I call it

75 Years Of First Ladies

These, I could do from memory, though I checked afterwards to make sure I didn't forget anybody.  

     This list begins with Eleanor Roosevelt, in the 1940s and goes to our current First Lady, Melania Trump.

     But then right away, going back earlier than Franklin Roosevelt -- I know the president was Herbert Hoover, but what was his wife's name and what did she look like?  I do not know her name, and I could not pick her out of a line-up.  (Not that that would be a likely scenario....)

     And who was the president (never mind first lady 'cuz I don't know) -- before Hoover?  Coolidge?  And Warren G. Harding from Blooming Grove, Ohio, was president in there somewhere...Woodrow Wilson?

     Yikes.  I don't know nothin' earlier than 1930s, it would appear....

     I'm going to guess, then check:

working backwards through time:



I got it right!

(No mas....)