Saturday, December 15, 2007
When it was announced that "Head" would screen locally at the New Beverly Cinema - for the "Wright Stuff" Festival of Films - I marked my calendar to be sure not to miss it (especially in view of the fact Micky Dolenz was slated to appear).
As I recall, I'd dash home to catch the popular "Monkees" TV Show after school when I was a teen. Commercials notwithstanding, I'd step into the fab four's fantasy world for a zany thirty minutes or so to delight in their offbeat antics and mix of upbeat catchy tunes.
Basically, the comedy was about a fictional group - "The Monkees" - who were struggling to attain fame as pop artists in the challenging music industry.
Each week one of the boys - each had their own distinctive personality trait with an appeal that varied from fan to fan - would end up in some crazy fix. But, in the nick of time, the other zany lads usually dashed in on the heels of the dilemma and fathomed a quick rescue.
Having arrived in the wake of the popularity of the Beatles - fans were inclined to question who was better, cuter, or more popular - the mop heads from England or the long hairs made in America?
Yes, that was one of the bones of contention.
The Monkees were not an actual band, originally. The entertaining foursome were fabricated and put-together part-'n-parcel for the NBC Network show.
In the beginning the danceable music was penned by the likes of Carole King and Harry Neilson. In fact, Neilson's first chart hit - "Cuddly Toy" - was pressed and released and made popular by heart throb, Davey Jones.
In time the naive natives grew restless, though. That is to say, the boys wanted more creative control and a say in their image and the opportunity to flesh out their musical talents given their obvious potential.
The lads toiled long hours, eventually felt the strain, and the sh** finally hit the fan when the show went belly-up. Kaput. Much to the dismay of die-hard followers.
Amidst the throes of being split asunder, NBC announced there would be a parting swan song in the form of a feature length film - "Head".
I recall the fiasco like it was yesterday.
"Head" was a big question mark to some, a disaster to others, and downright difficult to fathom. For the most part, the Monkees' fan base was irate.
In fact, there was a deluge of protests, cries of discontent, and reviews of the stinky rotten tomatoes kind.
Yes, that's how I remember it.
So - when Dolenz arrived at the Q & A - I was intrigued by the thought that here (at long last) the truth would be revealed.
Right off the bat, Dolenz - fashionably-attired and trim for his age - noted that Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafaelson scripted the offbeat comedy as a sort-of homage to their true personalities.
Originally titled - "Changes" - the 90 minute feature was renamed "Head" along the way.
In some quarters it's been alleged that Jack came up with the title with a mischievous intention in mind. It's been conjectured that with the project so-named - on opening night - the Oscar-winning actor would have the delightful wicked opportunity to proudly chortle on stage in front of a rapt audience,
"And now, the producers give you Head."
The truth remains unknown.
Dolenz alleged that the title "Head" surfaced by virtue of the fact it was about the interior thoughts of the Monkees and the cerebral "trip" they were going through and that sort-of metaphoric "thing".
In fact, according to Dolenz, the troop headed off to Ojai for three days to wrap around some ideas in their foggy noggins with the specific aim of conjuring up a proper send off for the adoring fans.
"Jack smoked a lot," Dolenz joked.
The others, too.
Essentially, the purpose of the trip - there's that word again - was to mull over the concept. So, Jack pushed for a respite from it all where the guys could "open up". Bottom line, the filmmakers wanted the chance to take a peak into their personas with the aim of best capturing their unique heartbeats on celluloid.
The conversations were taped, tossed in a trunk, and then played back for a duration as the writers toyed with the script.
At the screening, Dolenz confirmed there was a growing discontent in the early days when the Monkees TV Show was originally taped. However, he stressed that there was a concerted effort by all concerned to turn - "the sour grapes into edible fruit" - near the end to satisfy the boys as much as possible.
Dolenz noted, for instance, that producers were inclined to allow the musicians to pen songs and have creative input into their characterizations on the small screen.
After that, they no longer felt like mere puppets.
But later, the Monkees fell apart at the seams.
"Head" was to be the tour-de-force to settle scores once and for all.
The difference between the TV Show and the movie - as Dolenz astutely put it - was quite simple. The NBC comedy was about an imaginary band while "Head" sought to unmask the fab four and their idiot box images.
"Head" was heady for its day. A real "trip".
A handful of the scenes are psychedelic, reminiscent of the Beatles "Help", and at times hint at characters drug-induced and "acid"-laced.
In fact, at the packed screening Micky joked,
"I just dropped some LSD and intend to just sit back and trip."
Edgar Wright - the magnetic host - piped in that he wanted to get "stoned", too.
But - because the Q & A loomed ahead and there were "Master of Ceremonies" duties to fulfill - it was a foregoing conclusion that he'd stay straight to keep the night's festivities on track instead of spiralling off the deep end!
"Head" is rife with scenes depicting the "old guard" of Hollywood.
And - through a handful of clever machinations on screen - the boys manage to deconstruct the studio system, turn-on-end the status quo, and all-the-while poke fun at the Hollywood factory assembly-line.
Throughout the film, the Monkees struggle to escape from an ominous black "box".
"The box symbolized the limitations and the space the band was trapped in and trying to get out of."
The containment was everywhere: in the back room on the sound stage where they unwound before taping, sequestered in the limo on the way to the stadium, backstage at the packed concert halls - and, of course - while ensconced at local Hotels.
In essence, the "box" represented "the head" of the band members and the ongoing tumultuous "trip" and myriad of complications unravelling out of control.
In sum, no one really seemed to know what "Head" was about.
Why was the Coke machine was blown up, for instance? What was the symbolism, there?
"Maybe it was a just a kick for Jack to do that."
To some, the war scenes were a metaphor, too. The inference was that the Monkees were "warring" with bosses at NBC, fighting for creative input, or quite simply wrestling with a growing state of discontent.
Dolenz noted that at the premiere "Head" was not screened end to end. Instead, several moviolas were strategically placed around the set so that the viewer could take a peek at each segment here and there at whim.
"It didn't matter where you started or ended. Sort-of like what the film was about. No start, no end. In sum, it didn't matter where you dropped in or out for the screening experience."
When actor Victor Mature loomed large on the screen in a couple of key scenes, the mainstream Hollywood Star was perceived as an important symbol.
"The epitome of the old Hollywood," Dolenz theorized.
At this juncture, Dolenz elaborated.
"On the Monkees TV Show the execs urged us to ad-lib and be spontaneous and act impromptu."
As a result, a "production mold" (that was tradition) had been broken, the former Monkee opined to the rapt audience.
"On the lot, they hated us and what we represented."
In my mind's eye - the "mature" reference implied just that - young men maturing, coming of age, and growing up.
In contrast to the other feature - "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" - that was on the double-bill, "Head" has held up over time.
As a whole - in its finite world - it appeals.
Judging from the audience reaction, the filmgoers were impressed.
In sum, "Head" is a neat and tidy package - a summation of the Monkees' demise - wrapped up joyously in a jazzy box with an eye-catching tidy bow.
Unfortunately, no one understands the contents.
That is the thing about obscurity.
In it's rich soil - profound ideas are capable of grabbing hold - and perpetuating a myriad of myths.
Lucky for Jack and Bob.
The "box" is impregnable, really!
This past week, Oprah Winfrey trotted Barack Obama around the country, like a dog on a leash; subsequently, the exposure boosted the Presidential candidate’s record to No. 1 on the charts!
Oh, wait a sec.
I guess that was Josh Groban...yeah, his recent appearance on Oprah, skyrocketted "Noel" to the top of the pop charts for 3 straight weeks.
Oprah, it's difficult to keep your men straight!
Tom Cruise, then Steadman, a crooner...now a politician inclined to smoke a doobie now and then.
Even so, I guess it doesn't hurt to be listed as one of your favorite "things".
Well now, it's a snap to sell a book or a record to the American afternoon talk show public, but how 'bout a Presidential candidate?
One fan of the show noted to the news media in recent days that she wouldn't vote for a candidate on a celebrity person's say-so.
Oh well, Obama, enjoy the ride while it’s free...
To me, a hotel - with 24-hour room service - is tops!
And, those trundling off to the Dubai Film Festival this week, have the golden opportunity to sample the ritziest accommodation on the far side of the Globe.
Til now, the discerning jet setter has been content to lodge at 5 star establishments around the planet. But now, in one of the largest cities in the United Emigrates, a fabulous 5 plus 1 (6 Stars!) Star Hotel has been erected on a palm-shaped man-made Island off picturesque Jumeirah Beach.
At the check-in desk guests are whisked away in a chauffeured Rolls Royce. And, after passing through a high-tech security check point with ease, impeccably-dressed Butlers proceed to expertly cater to every whim.
The newest hostelry has a total of 202 spacious duplex suites decorated in sumptuous rich colors and tactile textured surfaces that invite, relax, and pamper the senses.
Extravagant features include a 42 inch plasma TV, Hermes amenities in each suite, and a wide-range of plush pillows to choose from (thirteen to be exact) to meet every individual taste.
To while away leisure hours guests may take advantage of unlimited access to the "Wild Wadi Water Park" or go for a jaunt on a scenic Helicopter tour over Dubai. In the alternative, the water-bound may opt for a Yacht charter.
Golfers may be inclined to pick up the clubs and saunter off to well-manicured courses at Montgomerie, Emirates Hills, Dubai Greek or Arabian Ranches.
When night falls the adventurous may go all out and head for the Sky Bar.
At the novelty bar a mixology trolley passes from one finely decorated dinner table to the next, amply stocked, and ready to conjure up exotic cocktails to heighten the spoiler experience.
Later, at one of the 10 restaurants - "The Oyster", for instance - guests may throw caution to the wind and spring for a seafood dish prepared by world-class chefs.
As the night comes to a close a handful may opt to nurse on a nightcap or coddle themselves in the "Spa and Health Club" on the 18th floor where a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding countryside beckons from below and beyond. There's a lot in the offing - an assortment of treatment rooms, hydrotherapy baths, sauna, steam rooms, Jacuzzis - for instance.
In addition, there are two infinity pools, a squash court, and a fully equipped fitness studio and an aerobics floor for the active guest keen to stay trim and in shape.
The cost? Well, if you're on an expense account, go for it. But, be ready to face the music when your boss scrutinizes the receipts.
All others, if you have to ask you can't afford it.
Can't wait to pack, can you?
Friday, December 14, 2007
Occasionally, there is a special screening of the classic film - "Sunset Blvd" - at one of the revival houses around town.
Take in a screening, if you can.
Directed by legendary film director Billy Wilder, the intriguing tale is about a reclusive screen siren plotting her return to the Silver Screen, and a down-'n-out screenwriter who falls under her magnetic spell.
The name of the main character (Norma Desmond) is believed to have been inspired by that of real-life actor William Desmond Taylor who was murdered in 1922.
Film actress, Mabel Normand - a close friend - was involved in the scandal which ruined her career.
Shortly after the film wrapped, a private screening was held for the "suits", and an elite circle of celebrated guests under contract with the studios.
When the screen faded to black, Barbara Stanwyck allegedly bowed and kissed the hem of Gloria Swanson's skirt, she was so taken with her performance.
In contrast, Mary Pickford supposedly dashed off - unable to participate in the celebrations afterward - because she was "too overcome" with emotion.
Unfortunately, not all the reviews were glowing.
"You have disgraced the industry that made and fed you. You should be tarred and feathered and run out of Hollywood," lamented an irate Louis B. Mayer.
In spite of Mayer's tirade, the captivating drama was widely-praised by critics.
"The picture will keep spectators spellbound," hailed Box Office Review, a leading periodical of the era.
Meanwhile, James Agee (a reviewer at "Sight and Sound") praised the film and summed up the ambitious project best when he wryly commented,
"Wilder and Brackett were beautifully equipped to do the cold, exact, adroit, sardonic job they have done."
A real zinger - my favorite - appeared in an issue of TIME.
"Hollywood at its worst told by Hollywood at its best".
The U.S. Library of Congress exalted,
"Culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant."
Although "Sunset Boulevard" was nominated for Eleven Academy Awards, only three of the prized Gold Statuettes managed to elude the other nominees.
In 1988, the American Film Institute ranked the potboiler number twelve on the prestigious list of the one hundred best American films of all time.
Understandably, "Sunset Blvd" was included in the first group of films to be preserved in the National Film Registry.
In an odd twist, the drama starts out with a man dead - face down - in Desmond's swimming pool.
In spite of the challenges, Wilder was adamant that the corpse (which turned out to be that of Holden's character "Joe Gillis") be seen from the bottom of the pool.
Creating the effect was a tad tricky; at first, Wilder's team placed the camera inside a specially-crafted box which was painstakingly lowered underwater.
But, the results of those elaborate efforts were disappointing to the award-winning Director.
After a lot of toying about, the shot was finally achieved by placing a mirror on the bottom of the pool, and filming Holden's reflection from above with the distorted image of the policemen standing around the pool and forming a backdrop.
There are a number of hilarious quips in the film.
In an early scene, when Joe Gillis first recognizes Norma Desmond, he excitedly blurts out,
"You're Norma Desmond, you used to be big."
With a deadpan look on her face, she retorts,
"I am big, the pictures got small."
In another scene, when Desmond is under the impression that Joe may be involved with another woman in show business, she angrily demands,
"Who is she, a dress extra?"
The audience howls!
But, of course, the most famous line - repeated oft times over the past few decades - is uttered at the end of the film when the beleaguered star is being ushered out the front door by the Police.
As she glides into camera, she rasps,
"I'm ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille."
Ah, all celluloid moments should be as precious as these!
Well, when I received the e-mail communication from Clinton's camp, about a family reunion of three generations of Clinton women in IOWA, I was inclined to respond with a yawn and a "ho hum".
But, always game for a smidgen of off-beat humor, I clicked on the link - at which point - a down-home video sprang forth in all its kitschy glory.
Was that truly Chelsea Clinton striding confidently out from under the shadow of her mother, Hillary?
Oh ma God! Chelsea has transformed from a ganglin', knock-kneed adolescent, into a bodacious babe!
Is it possible that the skilled hand of a - er - make-up artist has conjured up some luminous magic for the fresh-faced innocent?
I suppose now that slick Willy is raking in some dough from book proceeds, and wily Hillary is on the long and winding road to the White House, Ms. Chelsea has a bevy of hot studs aimin' to get into her - good graces!
I can only imagine the first question the lucky young fella is asked when he's invited to the family homestead to meet good ole' Dad...
Do you inhale, son?
Would a rose by any other name be so sweet?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The Arclight celebrated the opening of its new Cinema at the Galleria last night with a lot of glitz and fanfare at a "Red Ribbon" cutting ceremony.
In tandem with the event, the American Film Institute invited special guests to screen one of three great films.
One of the offerings was a very oldie - but goodie - "Fast Times at Ridgemont High".
Audiences were also given a golden opportunity to take in a sneak preview of a captivating documentary about X-treme Skiing - "Steep" - which I caught at a screening just recently at the Fine Arts Theatre. Superb filmmaking!
Gregory Peck starring in - "To Kill a Mockingbird" - was the third choice and difficult to resist.
Yes, I opted for the classic!
The head of the Mid-Valley Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Hoffman, was on hand to present a certificate to Arclight CEO - Christopher Forman - to recognize the Theatre chain's contributions to the community.
"I witnessed the filming of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" here at the Galleria," Hoffman chirped excitedly.
"Yes, I'm a Valley girl," she beamed proudly to an eclectic mix of attendees which consisted of a handful of savvy local politicians, film personalities, and die-hard AFI film buffs.
Mr. Forman thanked everyone for turning out and noted that Arclight would continue their commitment - to not only screen movies that "people valued" - but endeavor to offer up a broad range of genres that appealed to a wider taste base.
The charismatic exec was quick to point out that were it not for Arclight, intimate movies like "JUNO" and "ATONEMENT", may have stalled in distribution talks.
Through two programs - POV (Point of View) and Arclight Presents - he underscored that bold-faced efforts to focus on quality and specialized bill of fare would continue to be a top priority.
Forman then introduced AFI CEO, Bob Gazzale, to the excited filmgoers.
Right off the bat, he blew AFI's horn a little.
To a rapt crowd, he noted that "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was directed by Amy Heckerling, who was an AFI graduate.
The chatty exhuberant man proceeded to expound on AFI's new partnership with Arclight.
"Why Arclight?" he pointedly asked the tony crowd.
In answer to his own question, he offered up a snappy response.
"Because Arclight and AFI have the same goals and set of standards."
He capped the remark by boldly asserting that everyone is keenly aware that Arclight provides the finest filmgoing experience in the city.
In January, for example, AFI (in collaboration with Arclight) will screen a series of Classics of yesteryear for the theatre-going public to experience in a state-of-the-art theatre setting - "Vertigo", "Gone with the Wind", "Dr. Zhivago", "The Apartment", and "2001: A Space Odyssey", to name a few.
After thanking Mrs. Peck for attending (who waved graciously from the sidelines), he noted that in a recent poll, Mr. Peck's character - Atticus Finch - ("To Kill a Mockingbird") was named by film enthusiasts as the greatest hero of all time in the cinema.
At this juncture, Bob Gazzale parted with an anecdote.
He fondly recalled that when he aired a montage of clips from the AFI film archives at an event at his son's school - and Gregory Peck's face lit up the screen - one quizzical student excitedly asked.
"Who is that man? He's so handsome!"
He noted that it was a particularly poignant moment.
After all, one objective of the AFI was met.
In this instant case, an actor's image had been preserved for the enjoyment of the next generation.
Unfortunately, there was a hitch in last night's gala festivities.
When the lights faded and "To Kill a Mockingbird" sprang to life on the screen, it did so "mit out sound".
Yeah, the projectionist screwed up!
It boggled my mind to fathom - especially on "Opening Night" with all the big-wigs hobnobbing in the elegant foyer - how management could fail so miserably in this regard.
No quality control?
Most theatres instruct ushers to remain in the theatre until it is well-established that all the elements of the film are in sync and humming along smoothly at a screening.
Not at Arclight!
Hopefully, Management will iron out the glitches before the Theatre is unveiled on Friday to the theatre-going public.
Otherwise, all the glowing tributes flowing trippingly off the tongues last night, amount to nothing but empty promises.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
A heartfelt Christmas message from John Edwards & family...
Happiness. Health. Hope.
But our words are just a promise about our actions.
Live deliberately, sacrifice for what is truly important, and, above all, in these times - and all times - trust your heart.
John & Elizabeth Edwards
Cate, Emma Claire & Jack
Insensitive remarks that Mike Huckabee made over a decade ago - about AIDS - are back to haunt him now that he is a leading candidate in the Presidential Race 08.
In a reply to an Associated Press questionnaire in 1992, Huckabee wrote that steps ought to be taken to "isolate the carriers of this plague."
He elaborated by noting,
"...it is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure, is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the truth health crisis it represents."
I recall the hysteria rampant in the Nation during that era...on the heels of the outbreak, new rules were implemented at the INS to require that all immigrants test for the dreaded HIV virus before entrance into the United States, health care workers were afraid to touch patients for fear of contracting the mysterious disease, and the headlines screamed that the homosexual population was largely to fault for the spread of the killer virus on these shores.
In time, scientists - and an educated few - were able to calm the masses, and slowly but surely, the tide changed and the misconceptions about the disease were overthrown.
Huckabee said in a prepared statement that his position reflected the state of knowledge about AIDS at the time, even though the U.S. Surgeon General had by then reported that the disease could not be spread through casual contact.
In my view, there must be some latitude given, if appropriate.
After all, it is often through life's daily experiences, the loss of loved ones, and by virtue of the prevailing vicissitudes of time, that sentient beings are often inclined to change - come to fully comprehend the human condition.
Huckabee was challenged on the AIDS issue Tuesday by two advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the AIDS institute. The Presidential candidate is being called upon to meet with the family of Ryan White. Many Americans will recall, the Indiana teen was banned from school and ostracized in his hometown after being diagnosed with AIDS - a disease he contracted during his treatment for hemophilia
Ryan White passed into spirit in 1990 at the tender age of 18.
In a bold-faced effort to recover from a freefall, Mr. Huckabee conceded in a prepared statement to the press in recent days that "we know a lot more today" about AIDS; but, he has fallen short because he has failed to comment on his current thinking.
In fact, he has skirted the key issue, and simply noted, he is all for,
"...stepping up efforts to provide for medical care, in this country and worldwide, for patients with the disease or the virus that causes it."
Jeanne White-Ginder, Ryan's mother, called Huckabee's recent remarks alarming.
"It's very important to me that we don't live in the darkness. We have to treat this disease like a disease, and like Ryan always said, not like a dirty word."
Indeed, during the recent AIDS WALK in Los Angeles, it was evident to me that young school children, participating in the fundraising event, appear to be more educated, knowledgeable, and compassionate towards those stricken with the life-threatening disease - than Mr. Huckabee or his gang of scheming campaign advisors.
In response to the recent controversy, Mr. Huckabee noted that he would gladly meet with Ryan's mother.
He said he'd convey to her..."we've come a long way in research treatment, and I certainly never would want to say anything that would be hurtful to them or anybody else."
But, we're waiting, Mr. Huckabee. You haven't stated your current position on the issue which raised the controversy. Are you still in favor of isolating AIDS patients?
Mr. Huckabee, you appear to be side-stepping the issue.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, took to the Internet and the airwaves in recent days to defend Huckabee. Perkins said the candidate was being asked about long-ago statements about AIDS, homosexuality and morality because of his faith, and he predicted that more conservative religious voters would rally to Huckabee's side if the criticism continued.
"I predict that bible-believing Christians will step over policy differences they have with Huckabee to stand by and support a candidate who is being attacked because he believes, as they do, that their Christian faith should actually impact the way they live," Perkins wrote in his Internet newsletter.
For starters, it should be noted, that Ryan White contracted AIDS due to a blood transfusion. There is no question of morality, in this instant case; subsequently, the remarks Huckabee made on the occasion he did, were cruel and outrageous, showed a lack of sensitivity to the issues, an overall ignorance, and an inability for a "cooler head" to prevail in an hour of crisis.
Is this the kind of individual voters want to inhabit the White House?
For the record, I am a "Bible-believing" individual. And so, according to the tenets of Christianity, I forgive Mr. Huckabee for his past mistakes and lack of sound judgment - we're all human, after all.
However, in my mind's eye, his shocking and disturbing conduct of yesteryear, underscored his lack of compassion and understanding - qualities of the heart - that are prerequisites of the Christian faith.
Tony Perkins must be talking about some other Bible-believers, I'm unfamiliar with.
Until Mr. Huckabee states his true position today, I - for one - have no reason to believe he's changed his stance; obviously, his ignorance and lack of Christian Ethic, will continue to prevail in any political office he holds now or in the future - until he proves otherwise.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Without doubt, Edgar Wright's popular "Festival of Films" peaked with the appearance of John Landis at the screening of the feature film - "American Werewolf" - at the New Beverly Cinema a few weeks ago.
By 7 o'clock, the dimly-lit street was lined with an eclectic gaggle of excited film buffs hankering to get inside the theatre to participate in the much-ballyhooed event.
Host, Edgar Wright - celebrated director of "Shaun of the Dead" - appeared to be a little overwhelmed as Landis took charge of the stage. The Twilight Zone director stood before the audience confidently. In fact, the seasoned auteur was in top form, except for a raspy gangster-style voice which he attributed to a bad cold.
When a filmgoer asked Landis if there was any flack over the "end" scenario in "Werewolf" - he laughed - repeating what he said to the suits matter-of-fact at the time.
"Heh, he's dead." What can I say?
Landis conceded, though, it was not an easy-go mustering up a green light for the feature to be shot on location in London (England). The script was originally turned down by all the majors (same old same old), and passed on by biggies like Don Simpson, Barry Miller, and a handful of other wary industry-insiders.
Paramount begged off, too, for instance.
Then, the whiz kid maneuvered a meeting with "Gubers & Peters" over at Polygram - "who ran that company into the ground, by the way" - he noted, in an aside. Turning to Wright, he flippantly noted that their offices used to be situated where the "Euro Trash" restaurant is now.
Yeah, his conversation was spiced with clever jibes, insightful gems about folks encountered along the highway, and keen insights on the biz.
Although he was grateful a deal was pacted for "Wolf" - he accused both Gubers and Peters of - "never even reading the script".
The thriller, curiously enough, was written years prior - and although not produced until much later - was the project that managed to get his foot in the door elsewhere to conjure up his wizardry on other projects.
"They thought I was cool and hip because "Animal House" and "Blues Brothers" were under my belt," he chortled wickedly, inferring the opposite was true.
The audience roared.
Yeah, Landis (with salt and pepper "do") and a layer of insulation around the middle - appeared more for-all-the-world the accountant or exec on the sidelines of Tinsel town - than artsy-fartsy film auteur.
In a moment of sudden recall, he laughed that the dynamic duo actually made a pitch for legendary actor Laurence Oliver to play a key role.
"Can you get him?" they asked excitedly.
"Why?" he asked incredulously.
The Oscar-winning actor had just signed on for "Dracula" - so his appeal was broad to Guber & Peters - who were forever whining. Landis stressed his intention to cast "no names" in the key roles - but relented a little.
"Maybe a TV actor, but that's about it," he allegedly responded.
Then, a deal was struck; well - sort-of.
As Landis was about to exit the contract talks - the Gubers & Peters team pestered him for an up-front role as - CEO, producers with credit - or something flakey and superfluous like that.
It took two to tango; in sum, they'd okay the deal with the studio if Landis ponied up $300,000.00, according to the filmmaker.
Landis was flabbergasted.
"On my negative pick-up film, they want credit and cash?"
He wondered aloud if that was legal, but handed them the moolah anyway, in spite of the bad taste it was leaving in his mouth.
"Check your wallet and your watch," he quipped to his partner as they exited.
Wright commended Landis for the memorable soundtrack on "Werewolf" and applauded him for incorporating known chart-risers into the mix.
At this point, Landis was inclined to go off on a tangent about this 'n that.
For example, it burned his butt that an honest effort to strike a deal with songwriter Bob Dylan for a song in his roster to match up with dialogue in the feature, stalled.
"Just my luck," he lamented with a disgusted look on his face.
"Dylan just got on a religion kick and found Christ."
Therefore, because the film was rated "R", the songwriter was reluctant to release the material for the project.
"Three weeks later he changed his mind about Christianity. I knew, the guy was a fu**ing Jew."
Although there was a noticeable gasp from a few shocked filmgoers, others broke into gales of laughter.
Then - Landis went on to bit** a little about Donovan - who rejected his bid for the poplular hit, "Hurdy Gurdy Man".
Again, the stars in the mid-heavens were against him. At a minimum - a higher power appeared to be thwarting the creative process - he theorized slightly amused.
Apparently, Donovan was in the process of converting to Muslim. So, the celebrated flower child refused to sign on the dotted line.
"He wasn't even a born-again Muslim," Landis screamed.
"Just a first-time Muslim."
"Yeah, I was fighting both Allah and Jesus."
The audience howled!
Then, he shared with the audience how incedulous he was, when he later learned that Donovan granted release of "Peace Train" for a Volkswagen Ad. The sinister, ironic implications, hit the fan.
Landis never lets up, does he?
When talk focused on an Elvis number Landis was inclined to include in the soundtrack for "Wolf", his angst reared its ugly head again.
Apparently, when the Vegas headliner passed away, there wasn't any legally binding will. So, the estate went into probate and subsequent limbo.
Landis proceeded to reveal the sordid tale about the battle for control of the estate.
Colonel Tom Parker was suing RCA for a piece of the pie, for instance. And, to make matters worse, so was Priscilla. In a counter-attack, RCA launched litigation against both the Colonel and Priscilla, which complicated issues further.
In sum, a whirlwind of knotty legal proceedings threw a monkey wrench into the Landis plans. Not to be dissuaded, and optimist that he was, Landis met with the Colonel first (at the Polo Lounge) and later with Priscilla (elsewhere).
At this juncture, Landis accused El's manager of taking nine dollars out of every ten dollars earned; basically, he lambasted Parker for ripping Presley off.
However, Landis was a little off-base there. Old news!
In show business, it was a well-known documented fact that Elvis was keenly aware of the money Parker was drawing on the payroll for acting as chief wrangler in the "kid's" music career.
El was inclined to leave a wide berth for the Colonel - let the former Carnie man "take care of business" - content to loll about, play with his handguns, and pop a few spritely-colored pills along the way.
Maybe the endless tripe - poor quality projects, for instance - caused the star's depression and exacerbated the extreme highs and lows. But, make no mistake about it, Elvis was pretty much in control and many witnesses can attest to that.
Landis concluded his anecdotes by remarking,
"Well, Elvis was white trash."
A fractured groan signaled disbelief in the audience.
At this point, I'd be remiss if I didn't note for the record that the Landis comments (remarkably off-putting as they were) did not appear to arise from any particularly mean-spirited place - especially those uttered in respect to Dylan and Donovan.
With certainty, I surmise that Landis is an equal opportunity insulter, who takes pot shots at everyone while caught up in the headiness of the moment without thought.
Clearly, Landis is not socially or political savvy enough to fathom the consequence of such conduct, nor is he ever mindful of how hurtful or regrettable they may be.
Surely, if a man admires an artist's work - and negotiates fervently to marry the creative musings in a collaborative effort with his own - there is a basis for concluding that the man in question is not a racist, bigot, or some such thing.
However, a Lady Diana remark crossed the line, in my opinion.
For example, when a filmgoer asked Landis about a "credit" at the end of the reel for the "Princess of Wales & Prince Charles" - without hesitation - he blurted out a "vile" remark in respect to Lady Di which I won't repeat here.
Judging by the response of a few audience members (and the look on his own face) Landis - most assuredly - was struck dumbfounded by the awkward silence which hung thick in the air.
He quickly alleged the vulgar misspeak leapt to the fore because of an ongoing joke among his closest buddies. The comment didn't cast an aspersion on her name or reputation, but it was ugly.
Due to the nature of her death - and in the wake of the sorrow expressed by those who held the Princess in high esteem - Landis overstepped the bounds of good taste and decency.
I trust he's reeling at the thought of his actions today.
In an effort to move things along, Wright interjected that "Wolf" was ambitious.
Landis noted it was an important film in England.
Ever the good diplomat, Wright quickly asserted, "In the U.S., too."
In discussing the logistics of shooting overseas, Landis casually made reference to the British Quota Plan which a handful of the filmmakers in the audience were unfamiliar with. So, he offered up a mini-lecture on the subject, after quipping, "You don't normally learn about this in Film School."
After he quickly reviewed the point system used for hiring English and American talent in the film industry, a couple of anecdotes made more sense to the audience mostly populated by a mid-twenties to late-thirties age demographic.
A similar program exists in Canada to guarantee equal employment opportunities.
In another blooper moment, Mr. Landis curiously remarked,
"Thatcher, the Anti-Christ, drew a stake in the heart of the British Quota Plan and killed it."
"Gee, don't know why I said that," he added sheepishly.
Landis theorized that the "New Cinema" - hailed for a nano second or two when it firsts bursts onto the scene in Cinematic History every decade or so - was not due to the sudden insurgence of new talent; but rather, because Governments allotted funding to start-up projects which previously floundered for lack of seed money.
Schools like - Fassbinder's "New German Cinema", "The Kitchen Sink" school, and the Italian Neo-Realism movement - evolved that way, he conjectured.
The eye-catching scenes for "Wolf" in Piccadilly Circus were problematic and posed headaches; mainly due to the fact the IRA bombing crisis was ongoing in London at the time of shooting.
To complicate matters, there wasn't any "permit system" in place. Generally, Landis noted, the decision to grant filming was left up to the "Bobby" on the beat.
Yeah, they could be bribed, he alleged.
The privilege of filming in the square was allegedly revoked due to the outlandish antics of the production crew on the set of "Jokers".
As the legend goes, a few years ago, the 1st assistant tossed a smoke bomb into street, impromptu. Then, the ballsy crew man shot the mayhem off the cuff with a hand-held camera. When the sirens signaled the "Bobby Patrol" was on the way, the naughty lenser hopped into the back seat of a Taxi and dashed off.
The astonished crew was left to deal with the law.
In the aftermath, Landis was only allowed to shoot one-to-two minute film sequences at the bustling tourist spot.
As the entertaining evening sped on at the New Beverly Cinema, Landis fondly recalled his first jaunts to England.
He waxed poetic about the quaint old movie houses and fondly recalled that projectionists used to run lavish 35 mm commercials by great filmmakers like Fellini, Ridley Scott, and others.
Now, he sadly noted, the old movie houses - one that was booked for the shoot, in particular - had fallen on hard times and were forced to screen adult porno.
In fact, the first day the crew arrived to set up key scenes, a classic flesh film - "The long Sword of Siegfried" - was screening.
"If you could see the crew's faces," he laughed hysterically.
"They were thinking to themselves, what kind of a project is this anyway?"
Ironically, "American Werewolf" ended up garnering a "BBC X" certificate in England, which is on par with the dreaded "R" rating in the U.S. and Canada.
"Odd," - noted Wright (an Englishman) - "A short time later, any old Joe could watch it on the BBC at home at 8 p.m. on the family hour."
Obviously, the success of a feature depends on the advertising, as well.
The poster featuring two white guys in an alley, peering suspiciously at a black guy, didn't go over well.
"No ni**er will ever go see that," Landis swears Richard Prior screamed.
There he goes again!
So, when the advertising team focused on exploitation themes instead, the poster transformed into a large nightmarish face of a wolf.
"Horror scripts springing from published literary works are key," added Landis.
"The patina of a Dracula or Frankenstein are capable of securing a green light and distrubtion," he asserted.
When "Werewolf" was first screened, Gubers & Peters hated it. The suits did not hold back in their pointed criticisms either; allegedly - they offered up insightful remarks like "F**k this" and "F**k that".
Landis astutely figured "that was that".
Since the raw footage depicted gory scenes which were the most offensive to Gubers & Peters, he reasoned the worst was over and that there would be no further cause for alarm.
So, he prepared an answer print.
As he demurely put it, "The best way to go."
"Not one cut and they loved it," he beamed!
The audience was all ears when lore about Hitchcock was offered up.
Apparently, both Landis and Hitchcock were ensconced in Bungalows at Universal. A fan of the film great, Landis noted the Englishman screened movies all day to keep abreast of the celluloid imaginings of his peers.
Allegedly - the director of such great film classics such as "Psycho" and "Rear Window" - hated it when the filmic style of other directors was referred to as "Hitchcockian in Nature".
I laughed inside.
You see, a few months ago - after screening a handful of short movies by an up-and-coming director - I noted the handful of intriguing film scraps were "Hitchcockian" in style. Intriguing, that Landis brought that issue up.
From the get-go, a comment which smacks of such a suggestion (in my humble opinion) is not only a compliment to whom it is directed - but to Hitch - as well.
While a director's work may hint at the style of Hitchcock - the truth of the matter is - Hitch raised the bar so high that one can only come "this close" to compare.
Yeah, Mr. Hitchcock is in a league of his own. So, it's a plaudit, yes?
Curiously, Landis noted that Hitchcock not only disliked the films of Brian De Palma (who, Landis jokes - he used to like - until he got to know him) but was also disturbed by the idea that Mister De Palma remotely considered his work on par with his own.
When Landis suggested it was an "homage", Hitchcock allegedly retorted in his own inimitable way, "It was fromage".
Homage is one thing, theft quite another.
Landis claims that on more than one occasion - after he was nestled into a comfy seat with popcorn in hand at a theatre - it would become apparent that a filmmaker had stolen from him on screen.
"You owe me money, a**hole," he'd scream at the silver screen in jest.
The quirky director has a healthy disdain for the studios - their greed, for one - which is fueled by the fact they have little sympathy for the up-coming underdog in the industry.
"All they want to do is make money."
When a fan asked about the documentary - "Beware of the Moon" - Landis' first response was a paranoid one.
"Are you a plant? Where are you? Let me get a look at you," he laughed, as he peered into the bright overhead lights squinty-eyed.
After some background on the subject, Landis pointed out that a young documentarian - Brad Davis - ran into a snafu with the project. For starters, it was tough landing releases because Universal bought Polydor - and subsequently - the rights to footage used in "Beware".
But - with some clever legal manipulation and decisive wrangling - the sympathetic film director managed to carve out a deal for the fellow. Commendable!
Mr. Landis is a great storyteller.
From the highways and byways of his life - he not only manages to offer up precious nuggets of wisdom - but insightful peeks into the fascinating personalities of those he's crossed paths with in the topsy-turvey world of the film industry.
In sum, he's downright entertaining.
It's evident that he's rolled with the punches, flowed with the tide - and through it all - uncovered a self-evident truth.
Careers are not written in stone.
"I've been Fu**ed over by a long line of people," he laughed.
In the long and short of it, the good old days - in England - were the fondest.
"I was a pig in s**t," he recalled dreamily.
After controversial comments uttered that evening, he may be in pig s**t again!
A few years ago, the first street I resided on was Flores in trendy West Hollywood.
Usually, I'd drag myself out of bed at dawn, splash around for a few refreshing moments in the shower, then stroll on down to the old Duke's Restaurant location at the Tropicana for a bite to eat.
One morning, as I was walking on the south side of the street just before reaching La Cienega, I spied a pleasant-looking man loitering outside a studio beaming at me.
As I approached the building, he suddenly struck up a conversation,
"Are you a model?"
I was taken aback a bit, but noted that I was.
"Do you have a portfolio?" he quizzed me further.
I responded in the affirmative; at which point, he urged me to dash back home and pluck it up, so he could take a gander at the photographs tucked neatly inside.
When I returned later, he flipped open the leather cover and perused the contents.
He paused, then remarked,
"Great stuff! Shall I call Nina?"
Well, my jaw dropped.
Any model worth his or her weight in flawless skin or high cheek bone was keenly aware of the name and reputation of "Nina" - top agent in the country - who was very-well connected, strategically-placed, and capable of transforming any up-and-coming model into a star of the fashion world.
When I gasped - "Well, yes" - he plucked up the phone and dialed her number by heart!
In a few days, I was chatting with the head of the Men's Modeling Division, by virtue of the affable man's altruistic nod!
Of course - the diminutive fashionably-attired fellow with the pleasant demeanor - was none other than fashion designer great, Rudi Gernreich.
Rudi was infamous for inventing the first topless swimsuit (monokini) as well as the pubikini (a bikini with a window in front to reveal a woman's pubic hair).
Believe it or not, Rudi designed the one-piece topless bathing suit to be worn by a man or woman. To accentuate the unisex idea, models shaved their heads and body hair for a series of publicity stills that were used as the centerpiece of Gernreich’s famous "UNISEX" Project.
In a nutshell, the UNISEX Project implicitly challenged basic assumptions about gender - and subsequent taboos - held by society in general.
The fashion statement - ultimately - reflected his skewered critique of a rigidly repressed heterosexual society.
These forward-thinking ideas were reflected in his advertising campaigns - which were not only light years ahead of his contemporaries - but quite provocative for their day.
Later, he followed up his cheeky topless outfit with the novel thong swimsuit.
The Coty Award-Winning designer was quite innovative when it came to fabrics and textiles; for instance, Gernreich was the first designer to use vinyl and plastic in clothes.
Older fashionistas may recall the futuristic "Moonbase Alpha" uniforms he crafted for the television series "Space: 1999".
Rudi often combined unusual colors such as hot pink with orange, purple with red, and blue with green. And, occasionally, the eye-popping outfits were decorated with wild dots and stripes, as well.
Rudi was born in Austria in 1922.
His father was a hosiery manufacturer. And, his aunt kept a dress shop where Gernreich worked as a teenager and learned the trade before fleeing his homeland because of the Nazi invasion.
When he migrated to the United States, he settled in Los Angeles.
His entrance to the world of fashion occurred as a result of his keen eye for fabric design.
Shortly after building a reputation in fashion circles, Gernreich crossed paths with top model Peggy Moffitt and photographer William Claxton.
A collaborative effort resulted in a creative union which ended up pushing the boundaries of the "futuristic look" in fashion for the next three decades.
Rudi was lauded as - "one of the most original, prophetic and controversial American designers of the 50's thru the 70's" - at an exhibition of his work at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2003.
Some go so far as to refer to him as - "the father of modern American design" - who became a major influence in American fashion.
He has been described as much as futurist, as designer.
Without doubt, he was instrumental in changing the way women dressed and the impact of his vision is still felt today.
At the beach, the Gernreich unstructured bathing suit remains the preferred model for one piece suits. In fact, Gernreich's design for a - "no bra" bra - is still the undergarment of choice for most women in the Western world.
The "no-bra" bra fashioned of molded nylon cups attached to shoulder straps and a narrow elastic band encircling the rib cage was one of his own innovations. The bra was cut low in the front with deep armholes to be worn with deep décolleté evening dresses.
The design ideas were a radical departure from the pointy torpedo-shaped bras that were popular in the '50s and early '60s.
During that era, a cartoonist poked fun at the evolving fashion trends for the liberated woman, which was inspired by Gernreich's fashions.
A park bench geezer cried out to his companion in a "Booth" New Yorker cartoon,
"Rouse yourself, Weintraub! The miniskirt is back!"
The object of his incredulous gaze was a Rudi look-a-like outfit consisting of two narrow bands of patterned fabric.
For the "unisex" fashions, Rudi used mass-market style to take jabs at couture elitism and ladylike "good taste."
According to one historian, Gernreich's designs,
"Embodied the aspirations and contradictions of his day, especially regarding the role of women as increasingly independent individuals. His knitted fabrics and daringly skimpy cuts emphasized the uniqueness of the individual human body and its movements. Many are reminiscent of a dancer’s practice clothes, not surprising for a designer who worked as a professional dancer and designed his first costumes for dance."
If we are nonplussed this day and age about clinging stretchy fabrics which reveal everything - warts 'n all - it’s largely because Gernreich demonstrated best how to inhabit them.
Gernreich was very much ahead of his time in other respects, too.
His boxer shorts for women predated the 80's version by about eight years.
In 1971, he edged out other limp-wristed designers with a "Military-inspired" collection. At the standing-room only presentation, showroom models stalked the catwalk with rifles.
It was quite a fashion statement when you consider the Vietnam War was raging.
New York decided to honor American fashion designers in 2002 by placing bronze plaques along 7th Avenue.
Of course, Rudi is honored with a plaque and accompanying photo on the celebrated "Fashion Walk of Fame".
Rudi designed costumes for screen actresses Lana Turner and Eva Marie Saint in their heyday, too.
But, that wasn't his only flirtation with Hollywood.
Gernreich was quick to poke fun at the industry (and himself) when he agreed to appear in an episode of - "Batman" - for which he also whipped up some zany costume designs.
Much like Andy Warhol, Rudi was astute in matters pertaining to public relations.
Indeed, he constructed a media persona and promoted himself as a product; one which remains viable in the new millennium.
One of my favorite quotes,
"Fashion will go out of fashion..."
But, the mark of genius - like that of Gernreich - will never go out of style.
Rudi Gernreich passed away to spirit in 1985.
Monday, December 10, 2007
August Rush is an enchanting upbeat tale about a young boy who is separated from his parents at birth and his arduous search to be reunited with them.
The opening scene is a stunner.
The young lad stands in a cornfield captivated by the sighs and whispers of the wind as it rustles gloriously through the reeds all around him.
The filmmakers quickly establish that the boy has a sixth sense when it comes to sound (no doubt) inherited by virtue of the fact both his parents are musical geniuses.
In a moment of crisis, he flees from an orphanage, only to find himself stumbling along the dirty mean streets of the big bad city with no particular place to go.
Suddenly, in a flash of inspiration, he bolts up onto a concrete cinder block and begins to orchestrate the harsh incongruous sounds of the city's bustle - blaring car horns, the jarring smacks of a rusty jackhammer, the disgruntled wheezings of an old dumptruck lumbering by - into a captivating new-age symphony that resonates with amazing grace and integrity.
The celluloid moment is an inspiring, touching one, that elevates!
Within a few hours, the boy-wonder strikes up a friendship with a street-wise musician; then, with the boy's jazzy guitar in hand, explores his marvelous creative gift for the first time in a controlled musical environment.
To the wonder of passers-by, the sounds he conjures up are not only lively and toe-tapping, but remarkably distinctive.
When he journies back to a run-down building with his new-found friend - he encounters an edgy street type (Robin Williams) - who hastens to take the musical whiz under his wing.
The man not only understands the gift, but astutely perceives a rare talent he can tap into for ready cash and instant fame, if nurtured right.
With great gusto, he crowns the young urchin with a catchy stage name.
In one of few tender moments between the two - the Williams' character enchants the lad with lofty ideas about the mysterious "hum of the universe" (an angelic sound) he alleges emanates from the galactic heavens - capable of touching and invoking magical possiblities given the chance.
When August is mistreated by the seasoned pro, he bolts.
At a church shelter, an introduction to the organ, uncovers his God-given gift.
"Yes, he's a child prodigy," the Minister enthuses!
Of course, it's evident at this juncture that the screenwriters of "August Rush" have lifted some ideas from other sources.
For example - the "hum" of the Universe is the "innaudible life stream" that mystics in the east have turned a captive ear to for centuries, the Williams' character is straight out of "Dickens", and the prodigy angle - well, it smacks of Amadeus - yes, Mozart.
Here, the snatches of each are revamped cleverly.
In fact, each idea has been woven into the fabric of a spell-binding magical tale, that uplifts.
But, is not immune from the tendency to get a bit mushy and sentimental, at times.
Freddie Highmore (August Rush) is outstanding in the role; each magical moment on screen resonates in a truthful honest way that warms the heart.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is okay as Louis - but clearly - has wasted his talent on an emotional piece of pap for a stab at mainstream roles.
Keri Russell inhabits the role of the Mother a little too steadfastly, though; her performance - while engaging for the most part - tends to strain a little at the edges to her disadvantage.
For those who lean towards - optimism, hold true to the concepts of synchronicity, and romanticize that destinies are often fulfilled according to a cosmic plan - August Rush will not disappoint.
By the way, take a box of tissues.
Yes, at times, the musical is a tear-jerker to reckon with.
The signs of Christmas are all around...
Retail stores have been invitingly decorated to lure consumers in - and once that task has been accomplished - have relied on the joyful strains of Christmas Carols overhead to seduce the whimsical shopper into a festive holiday mood...
Now, the consumer is all primed and ready to go...
Yes...buy, buy, buy...shop til you drop!
But, before you plunk down the big bucks for those attractive toys for the little ones, it may be wise to pay heed to warnings from consumer advocates about the dangers that may lurk around a handful of those precious purchases.
First and foremost, it's important to be mindful of the contents of the products; after all, when lead - for instance - is ingested or inhaled, it can cause neurological problems and interfere with brain development.
Although lead is banned in toy paint in the U.S., the deadly product often worms its way into the marketplace by way of popular imports.
One product, Aqua Dots, was pulled from the shelves recently when it was determined that it was coated with a toxic chemical that metabolizes into gamma hydroxy butyrate - or GHB - the date-rape drug.
Parents of toddlers teething should be mindful of the fact that lead is still permitted for use in plastics; so, it would be wise to spring for playthings made of wood and cotton terry cloth, instead.
Bottom line, if your child has a favorite toy they tend to chew on, check to ensure the Consumer Product Safety Commission has not recalled it at: cpsc.gov
But, you're not off the hook with soft vinyl toys, either; they may contain phthalates which may be wise to avoid as well. Although they are banned overseas, the jury is still out on their potential dangers stateside. Be safe, rather than sorry, and buy items with "PCV Free" marked on the label because the toys are generally constructed of safe latex or silicon products.
Some note that avoiding popular toys made in large quantities is a good idea, as well; and, for good reason. For instance, a handful of experts allege that items made in large batches - such as a myriad of fast-selling toys falling under the RC2 Corp banner - often slip through inspection easier - and may escape the close scrutiny of consumer watchdogs.
Although the big guys in the industry say they've stepped up their inspections to ensure toys are safe, it is suggested that parents shop with the smaller more reputable dealers, who may have more stringent individual standards to effectively weed out problem toys.
Savvy shoppers may check the following websites if they are concerned about safety issues: discoverytoys.com, oompa.com, ebeanstalk.com, playstoretoys.com, nmctoys.com - to name a few.
Environmental safety groups are currently ranking 1500 top toys at: healthytoys.org
Cruise on by there and give yourself some peace of mind before you start shopping for the wee ones this Christmas.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
On the West Coast, the media has focused on the "Big 3" candidates for the Presidential Race - Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, and John Edwards; but until now, Ron Paul has remained a mystery, to many.
Which begs the question...who is Ron Paul?
In the weekly newspaper, "People's Weekly World", opinion writer Jim Lane reports that he surfed over to Ron Paul's web site (www.ronpaul2008.com) and was able to rustle up a thumbnail sketch of the Presidential Candidate from Texas.
According to Lane, Paul's platform has simple-minded appeal, for American voters.
For starters, he notes that Mr. Paul is a lone rider in the Republican camp, because he apparently opposes Bush's wars and occupations abroad.
That should land him a handful of votes, eh?
The pundit goes on to report that Mr. Paul is prone to despise the..."so-called free trade deals and World Governmental organizations like the - "International Criminal Court" (ICC), "NAFTA", "GATT", "WTO" and "CAFTA".
Yeah, it's quite an alphabet soup for me to fathom, too!
Allegedly, the bold-faced Texan wants to stop the "NAFTA" highway.
And, Lanes adds, Paul condemns government spying on the citizenry - and for this reason - would like to overturn the Patriot Act.
Amen, to parts of it anyway...
Although the candidate - rearing his ugly head from behind in recent days - appears to support Social Security, Lane contends that he's a little off-base in his assessments because he oversimplifies the issue of taxing benefits and is completely mistaken about undocumented workers receiving social security benefits.
Many of Ron Paul's ideas are quite controversial too, according to Mr. Lane.
Apparently, Paul is strongly pro-gun, and anti-abortion, and condemns the United Nations.
Along the campaign trail, that should raise the ire of some.
Also, Paul opposes eminent domain - not because it is misused for corporate interests - but because he believes "property is sacred".
Ah, that platform postion will appeal to many down on the farm.
At at time when the dollar is low, and causing concern among financial analysts and the common American Joe, Paul touts returning to the Gold standard.
Another position on immigrants will probably split votes, depending on who is polled; after all, Paul is anti-immigrant in stance.
Lane goes so far as to allege that Ron Paul is under the impression that there is..."no reason why the government should play any role whatsoever in stopping racism..." (!)
In sum, Lane concludes:
"What Rep. Ron Paul advocates, in short, is the idea that raw capitalism, its "invisible hand" unchecked by centuries of democratic workers' struggles, would solve all ills in 2008. It would be true, if our ills were those of serfdom or outright slavery. Capitalism did, indeed, put an end to barbarism and bring an economic system with increidibly higher standards of production and fewer horrors from the caprices of royal aristocrats. But that was 400 years ago, and this is now."
You can e mail your own thoughts & responses to Mr. Lane at: firstname.lastname@example.org
People's Weekly World is a member of the International Labor Communications Association and is published weekly.
Staff Members belong to The Newspaper Guild/CWA, AFL-CIO.
In response to an e mail from Yoko Ono, I posted a notice Friday afternoon, noting that music fans would be taking a moment on December 8th - at 11:15 pm - to reflect on the actual anniversary of John Lennon's death.
Saturday was a hectic day for me, so when I arrived home, I plunked down on the bed to relax for a second; in moments, I slipped into a deep sleep.
Suddenly, I awoke later in the evening, and felt a distinct blast of cold air in the bedroom.
When I glanced at the clock on the night table, the digital numbers read: 11:28 pm.
I reached for a candle (with an image of Christ on the face) and lit a match. But, right away, it flickered out. Strange, that never happened before.
When I lit a second match, the flame flickered for a second or two, then fizzled out again.
To my surprise, I either heard a voice - or a distinct thought inside my head - whisper, "God is Dead".
I flopped down on the pillows and reflected on John Lennon a moment.
To myself, I reasoned...this is the kind of prank Lennon might pull to either get my attention or confirm that his spirit was truly in my presence.
An image of the former Beatle - one similar to that pictured above - then flashed across my consciousness.
At this point, the curtain at the window fluttered for a moment or two.
"It's very warm and peaceful here. I can touch everyone with my love," John said softly, if I am not mistaken.
I laid back on the bed and glanced up...the candle was now casting a circle on the ceiling.
I heard a voice say, "There is no beginning or end. God is eternal"...