Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Full Service Music Man


George Russell, who died on the 21st at age ninety, was a music professional in a way that was most likely unprecedented in the record business. For he was probably one of the few music biz figures to've worked both sides of the street. . .not only as an active musician (guiarist, composer) but also a behind-the-scenes west coast promo man. He was highly regarded by his peers whichever hat he was wearing. Surely we will never see his likes again.
I became phone friends with George a while back and I would ring him up from time to time, just to let him talk. His stories were wonderful. I'm sorry I never met him in person.
His first job was with Mercury Records for West Coast promotions, from there he went to Capitol during the glory years of that label (Sinatra, Cole, Christy, Kenton, Shearing, Lee, Freshmen, et al!) then to Columbia around 1960. As such, it was not unusual to find recording artists somewhat uncomprehending upon discovering that the same person who'd played guitar on their sessions then showed up at sales meeting devoted to promoting the end result of those dates, i.e. "What are YOU doing here?" Singer Sue Raney confirmed to me that was exaactly what happened when, first, Russell played on and produced the session that secured for her a contract with Capitol Records. Then a few months later she went on a tour of radio starions with George to promote her first LP for that label. She had to blink her eyes a few times before all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
George told me that he was at a party recently with Johnny Mathis for whom he had worked as a record promoter for more than four decades. Suddenly caught up in the realization of just how very long the two men had been together, he turned to Mathis and mused, "Where are we going with all this?" To which the singer replied, "Staight ahead, George. Staight ahead." George loved that!
Russell was writing and recording music right up until the very end. Here is a 1972 track, "Run for the Sun," from George Russell: His Guitar and Music. It is produced by him, arranged and conducted by Johnny Keating, and mixed by George and musician---a very young---John Wood, who is also heard on vibes. Russell was also associated with John's dad, Randy Wood, who owned Dot Records.
Mathis' web site has long contained a fascinating bio of George. It has just now been updated to include mention of his death. Go here and scroll about three-quarters down the page.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome back, Page Cavanaugh!

Page in the studio with June Christy
For a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, the lounge at Seasons at Northridge (CA) assisted living facility was definitely the hippest "room" in town when living music legend Page Cavanaugh gave a two-hour concert for fans and friends. Mit rhythm section yet! And all that was missing was a tip jar on the piano. Assisting were his long time cohorts Jason Lingle, drums and Phil Mallory, bass.
After more than a two-year run of serious health issues, the 86-year-old Cavanaugh who has been hors de combat during that time, has recently sprung back into action, playing with the same zest and imagination as of yore, leaving little doubt as to why one or several (?) local wags have come to deem him "The Chairman of the Keyboard." This was his second Sunday afternoon performance at Seasons, where he's been living the past few months.
Page played and sang his way through a healthy chunk of the Great American Songbook, including a 15-minute Fantasia (of sorts) on Sweet Sue that found him journeying farther and farther out in his variations on the theme, but always landing back on his feet after each foray into the pianistic unknown.
But a few of the other songs that he breezed his way through, singing and playing, included Moonlight in Vermont, Wait Till You See Her, Spring is Here and a signature tune, The Three Bears.
Proof that Page has regained his chops (were they ever even gone?) was captured on a recording of the event. If the technical quality is good enough, perhaps it could be made into a CD? "Live From the Rehab Room," perhaps?
It seems like it's about time for Page to get back into action on the local L.A. club circuit that he's so diligently served for the past half-century or so. He's been sorely missed these last couple of years. It'll be nice to have him back.
To my way of thinking Page Cavanaugh is due the Kennedy Center Honors---and if not that, at least a star or two on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He actually qualifies in three different categories: Radio & TV, Recording, the Movies!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

From the Archives

L.A. Reader, Sept. 3, 1982
By Bill Reed (aka Dr. Chilledair)
It was 1957, and The Piano Artistry of Jonathan Edwards had already become a top-selling comedy album when it was reviewed by jazz critic Leonard Feather in down beat. With tongue implanted firmly in cheek, Feather awarded the disc all of forty-eight stars for excellence rather than the customary five---one for each [then] state. The writer wryly noted in his review that “the Edwards can proudly lay claim to being the first pianist to contain “Stardust” in unmatched sympathy, within the confines of C and G-seventh (and Mrs. Edwards’ intonation must be heard to be relieved)." Along with laying waste to the Hoagy Carmichael standard and such other songwriter-hall-of-fame monuments as “It Might as Well Be Spring,” and “Autumn in New York,” the Edwardses trashed and did in songs like “Cocktails for Two,” and “You’re Blasé,” which truly did deserve to put out of their misery once and for all.
The singer behind the nom de vocal guerre, “Darlene Edwards” was and is Jo Stafford, who from the salad days of the big band era until the early sixties was arguably America’s no. 1 pop singer. With her unique near-vibratoless pipe organ-like sound, perfect pitch [Stafford later claimed it to be relative pitch], and consistent, high quality material, virtually every recording she made during a twenty-year span became a hit. But in the mid-sixties she quit show business dead-cold.
But now, after a two-decade vow of radio silence, “singer’s singer” Stafford is back---but only after a fashion, as if Larry Holmes disappeared for a while to resurface on the Georgia wrestling circuit, or if Julia Child cropped up behind the counter at McDonald’s. For Stafford’s reentry is a trifle bizarre and maybe even a little perverse.
The California-born singer once again has a new recording in the stores, but it isn’t a fabulous jam session like Jo + Jazz, which she recorded in ‘63 with Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, and other members of Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Instead, she’s returned to the airwaves with a new addition to the series of Grammy-winning Jonathan and Darlene Edwards comedy albums she and husband Paul Weston (the nimble nubs behind Jonathan Edwards) have turned out with fitful frequency since 1957. During a recent mid-afternoon chat in the Century City condo she shares with her husband of thirty years, Stafford speculated that she'll probably never sing "straight" in public again---too many scales to practice. too much work, can't be bothered, etc. Thus fans of this great straight-on pop artist will simply have to content themselves with the occasional (and purely accidental) on-key passages lurking within the grooves of the couple's latest exercise in shattered sonance and vexed vocality.
For the uninitiated, and those who aren't regular Dr. Demento listeners (the mythical Edwardses are special favorites of his), Stafford's Darlene Edwards voice is so pain-inducing that whenever she's in full flight she courts the possibility of arrest. The charge? Loitering in front of a band, of course. And Weston's piano improvisations as Jonathan Edwards are so equally out of kilter that he too risks the slammer on charges of co-conspiracy to commit musical anarchy.
Recorded in the spring of '57, The Piano Artistry of Jonathan Edwards had been in the racks for several weeks before Time magazine blew the whistle on the fact that the endearingly egregious Edwardses were in fact the notoriously pitch-perfect Weston and Staford. In the meantime the couple's send-up of every ham-fisted cocktail pianist and every atrociously awful singer who ever lived had become a top-selling comedy album and a subject of idle chatter wherever lovers of fine music gathered. Savvy fans of the tuneless twosome, for instance, loved to cozy up to the rumor that some tin-eared consumers of the Edwardses picked up on them because of the melodic gifts they lavished on such standbys as "Autumn in New York" and "Stardust"- - -a frightening thought.
Like so many other great musical epiphanies (Handel's Messiah comes to mind) the idea of immortalizing Jonathan and Darlene in wax came about by sheer accident. Weston explained: "I used to do a variation on Jonathan for fun at parties---skipping beats, playing the wrong chords, tossing off piano runs that didn't go anywhere but just sort of stumbled off the end of the piano. It was a talent unto itself. I used to be Columbia Records' West Coast head, and one night at a bar in Key West during a company convention, I went into my lousy piano player act. A couple of other company officials were around, and the minute they stopped laughing after I'd finished playing they insisted I make an album doing the off-key business."
Stafford says that at first Weston was reluctant to do it. "But then," she recalls, "I came up with the idea of a singing wife for Jonathan, Darlene and we were in business." The name Weston gave to his character, "Jonathan Edwards," was sort of backhanded salute to the then-popular syrupy piano player Roger Williams, who also bore the name of a famous 18th-century New England religious zealot.
Today there lutks in the real world a Jonathan and Darlene Edwards cult that will, for whatever reasons, snap up anything the Westons care to record in that style (although the new album is the first they've done in fifteen years). After the initial Edwards album in '57, three more explorations into the realm of threshold pain were subsequently unleahed upon their sublegion of masochistic fans.The new collection is entitled Darlene Remembers Duke (Sometimes) Jonathan Plays Fats (Almost) and joins two other earlier folie a deux salutes to the spirit of musical perseverance that have been released on the Weston's own Corinthian label. Aside from the Ellington/Waller "tribute" and the older comedy albums, the couple have also reissued a number of their own solo and duet albums from the fifties on Corinthian, including the highly recommended Jo + Jazz, which features a new sound mix. Last year the two also released a scathingly funny send-up of the Bee-Gees' "Stayin' Alive" coupled with a new de(con)struction of Barry Manilow's "Copacabana."
Weston and Stafford have inhabited the alternative personae of the Edwardses for so long that they've fantasized an entire autobiography and world or their beloved doppelgangers. Weston will even to to great lengths to defend the musical abilities of his "friends"----always doing so, Three Faces of Eve-style, in the third person.
Says a straight-faced Weston. "Jonathan feels that slavish adherence to the chordal, melodic, and rhythmic structure of a song is simply not his way at all. His versions of certain standards are absolutely unique and tally unlike any others ever heard before. So who's to say they're not the correct or even the best versions? Who's to say that if he wants to a have 5/4 bar he's not allowed to?
If enthusiasm and exuberance alone are the newly accepted criteria for music, then I guess you'd have to say that Jonathan and Darlene are unqualified successes. You could call them 'retrograde-punk,' even though they don't jump off the stage and dress funny." Just the opposite in fact, for Stafford says Trenton-born Darlene is a "very proper Helen Hokinson-type lady (referring to The New Yorker cartoonist) partial to white gloves and flowered prints."
Back to matters strictly musical, Weston insists that "Jonathan's arpeggios are in many ways similar to John Coltrane's "'sheets of sound', and are certainly not defineable in terms of the traditional twelve-tone scale. If Jonathan and Darlene aren't punk or new wave, at the very least they're 'new thing' jazz." Weston pauses, then adds with perhaps a trace of sarcasm, "It the Los Angeles Times's Robert Hilburn reviewed them, he'd probably say they convey 'a kind of grueling intensity'"
The fact that letter-perfect musicians Paul Weston and Jo Stafford make these off-the-wall sounds as the Edwardses pushes what be only a slightly humorous musical conceit over into the realm of the meta-ironic. For Weston is one of the top arrangers and record producer of the past few decades, and the musical arc described by Staford---from her first recordings with Tommy Dorsey in 1938 (including "Yes Indeed" and "I'll Never Smile Again") to her fifties hits like "You Belong to Me" and "Make Love to Me" ---forms a running commentary on the country's musical tastes during the period.
Now with Hooked on Swing turning out to be a time-warp special, you'd think Darlene's alter ego would take advantage of this upsurge of forties music and plunge back into public performance as Jo Stafford. But even with the popularity of swing-format radio as an additional inducement, she still insists on only sporadic appearances as Darlene.
Stafford insists she gets enough satisfaction from fans who dote on her past achievements--and they're not always as doddering and over-the-hill as you might suspect. "A few days ago an otherwise perfectly normal sixteen-year-old boy appeared at my door to ask for my autograph, Can you imagine? He said he'd spent a whole year tracking me down. But I really shouldn't have been surprised, because over the last six months I've had to sent out more autographed pictures than at just about any other time since I've been in show business---even more than when I was singing with Tommy Dorsey. A lot of the requests came from Japan, by the way.
"Even with all the traveling," she says," turning to the subject of three years worth of dues-paying on the road, "being with the Dorsey band was just about the greatest experience of my life. We moved from one city to the next almost all the time. You never saw a bed, but slept on the bus. Oh, maybe once every couple of weeks you saw a hotel room. Most of the time, though, you even dressed on the bus. We used to swear that tours were booked by agents throwing darts at a map off the country.
"I can still recall one particular incident in vivid detail, even though it happened forty years ago. The bus pulled had pulled into town early one morning, and all these college kids were waiting to greet us. I had my hair up in curlers and was totally berumpled, so I just kind of staggered of the bus. I was half asleep, but as I emerged I heard one kid turn to another and say, in a voice absolutely full of shock and disgust, 'My God! do you know who that is? I think it's, it's. . .Jo Stafford'"
You sense she's not only laying a sweet and funny swing-era reminiscence on you, but is also explaining that enough is enough, trying to help you understand why for the past twenty years she's been more or less content to be a housewife, the mother of two grown children, and on occasion the fabulous, but ever-elusive, Darlene Edwards.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Meditating on Michael

There’s a guy I know, who for all his fashionable Betty Carter and Frank Sinatra sycophancy, still his fave singer of all time is---no joke---old sunglasses nose herself, Liza Minnelli. His least favorite is Helen Merrill. Is he kidding? No, alas, I don't think so. He also happens to be a major Michael Bublé detractor. When I first met him (I date this to about a year before 9/11), he was allegedly straight with a wife and kids. And so I said to my good friend and constant traveling companion David Ehrenstein:

"There's this guy I met recently whose musical impulses otherwise seem pretty good, Sinatra, Ella et al, but his favorite singer is. . .Eyewwww---Liza Minnelli! He just saw her perform four nights in a row at the Palace and---get this!---he's STRAIGHT." "Not anymore," said David. "Not after seeing Liza four nights in a row, he‘s not." (rimshot) I guess David is right. The last time I saw (let‘s call him) “Jasper,” he was divorced (separated?) and keeping company with the nelliest brain surgeon you ever laid eyes on. Not that there's anything wrong with nelly, but I just hope the guy can at least control his grand gestures in the operating room.

One time, ummmm, Jasper was booked on a segment of Phil Donohue, "The Heartbreak of Straight Men Who Love Liza," but he was bumped at the last minute when the producer caught him making out in the Green Room with another guy. (That's a joke, son.)

But I digress (as is my wont). Not that Michael Bublé needs my support. and he's not getting all that much either, considering the grotesquely high ticket prices they're charging to see him live. I'm convinced that his handlers know that he's more or less a flash in the pan. Grabbing all the gelt while they can. Maybe when he's someday reduced to doing the entre acte at the dogfights in Tijuana, Jasper and his ilk will come around.

Michael Bublé is not trying to channel Frank Sinatra. Not at all. Much closer to Bobby Darin . . .if anyone. And sooooo, whenever I hear someone compare him directly to F.S., my feeling is that they simply have no grounding for saying anything negative OR positive about Bublé. ("School of Sinatra," okay). Take another listen, pal.

I can understand how the Bublé killer lounge act can get on some purists' nerves, but quite frankly, that is what has finally allowed him to become literally the largest selling record act in the world. A small price to pay.

I also like Bublé the quasi rocker. Check out his “Stuck in the Middle With You” on the recent maxi-single, “A Taste of Buble.” So pulsatingly HOT that you'll need revival with smelling salts after listening to it. I do believe that there is a quantifiable quality that has come to be called swing. It can be proven by hooking singers up to a (not yet patented) device of my invention. I've not had a chance to do this yet with Bublé (he's always "too busy"), but I'm more than certain he possesses it in spades. Just listen!

On “Taste of Bublé,” there's also a breathtakingly beautiful “I’ve Got a Crush on You," backed by quartet, with a “Moonlight Serenade” sax counter melody. Breathes new life into the old warhouse.

I'm convinced that the fact that Bublé was raised strictly on standards is a major contributing factor to his musical credibility. Not that there's anything wrong with rock---yeah, sure---but if that's the first musical sounds you ever heard, that pretty much cancels out your ever being able credibly interpret the music of---if you will---an earlier era. Too much pre-adolescent, rhythmically monotonous damage to one's musical DNA. But not necessarily vice versa. To wit, I'm also somewhat fond of Bublé's faux Motown-ish stuff as well.

Bublé has this rattle in his lower register that I've never heard in any other singer. I just KNOW he's a secret smoker.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Great Minds Think Alike

Recently, an as-yet-unreleased CD by a singer-instrumentalist (not exactly a household name and who will remain nameless for the nonce) came across my desk, and he is simply fantastic at both singing, and playing the alto, soprano and tenor saxes. I phoned him up to convey my enthusiasm. He thanked me and then told me the following story:

He now lives in Vegas and about ten years ago received a phone call from Luciano Pavarotti's office requesting him to be the sole entertainer at L.P.'s birthday party in New York City.

"Why me?," Mr. X asked. "I've never even met the man."

"Oh, but he knows you. He's a big fan of yours. He used to come by. sit in the back, and see you perform often when you appeared at [such and such a club] in New York."

"Well, I don't live in New York anymore."

"That's alright. We'll fly you in."

And that is EXACTLY what happened. He was flown to New York and performed an hour-long show for Pavarotti, who afterward grabbed him by the shoulders and exclaimed, "MAESTRO!" I feel fully as enthusiastic toward this entertainer as did Luciano Pavarotti. Just listen to this guy play and sing! "Maestro," indeed.

Thinking about Jo Stafford

I spent much of yesterday listening to Stafford (including "Darlene Edwards"), who died Wednesday and it's simply amazing how little the texture, "sound," quality, timbre, range etc. of her singing voice changed over the thirty-or-so years of her career. Must've been all that classical training.

I remember my friend Nat Shapiro (apochryphally??) telling me one time that the sound of Stafford's recorded voice in song possessed the seemingly MIRACULOUS ability to ofttimes bring brain-damaged GIs back to consciousness in military hospitals during WWII. The routine became standard operating recovery procedure, he said. (St. Jo?)

I ran into Stafford's musician son, Tim Weston, at a party a few years back. I quoted something that his mother had said to me in an interview about the innocuousness and disposability of most rock music. To wit:

"When the Presleys and other first, popular, legend-in-their-own-time performers started to come along it was the first time in the U.S. where a ten-year-old had enough money to influence something to the extent that they did. So when you've got a ten-year-old picking the music it's going to be pretty simple. Just above the level of a nursery rhyme. The other music is too sophisticated for young ears. I'm not being judgmental at all; it's a simple statement of fact that that's the first time kids had enough money to influence a market and they did."

I couldn't have agreed more, and I told Weston so. He, at once, became engagingly argumentative with me. He couldn't have disagreed with "Mom" and me more. Before the back-and-forth between us was over I felt the two of us were replaying a scene that might have taken place between a teenaged Tim and his mother (with me taking the role of Stafford) back in the Sixties. But all very civil and amiable.

I can't emphasis too strongly how brilliant I still feel Stafford's comments on rock to've been. Many other remarks about music made by Stafford and her husband Paul Weston in the interview I conducted with were, in my opinion, of equally strong import. (Though ---LOL---I'm not so certain Tim Weston would agree.) Eventually, however, Stafford must've made some impression on him. Tim Weston started out as a standard issue Beverly Hills boy band rock guitarist before gradually gravitating more and more toward the field of jazz. He produced the terrific "Jazz Portrait of Brian Wilson" CD, among many other fine recordings, including some for the wonderful singer Shelby Flint who has been his partner for the past couple of decades.

One time Paul Weston sent me a recording of his and Stafford's daughter Amy, a professional singer. It struck me as uncanny how similar to her mother she naturally sounded. It would fool some? many? most? all? in a blindfold test?

My condolences to Tim, Amy and their families.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jo Stafford R.I.P.


The great singer Jo Stafford died at age ninety at her L.A. home yesterday. In my journalistic tenure at the L.A. Herald-Examiner, the L.A. Reader, the S.F. Examiner, Rolling Stone, etc. I interviewed a lot of biggies (no names puh-leese), but the only two who ever totally knocked me out were husband-and-wife (bandleader) Paul Weston and Jo Stafford!

I spent an afternoon at their Century City (L.A.) condo. The result of my conversation with them appeared in the L.A. Reader back in 19-ought-whatever. Most of that article was eventually recycled into another interview I conducted with Stafford some years later in 1999, after the death of Weston, for the on-line mag Songbirds.

From everything I could determine from the relative distance of my journalist-fan perch, Stafford must've led something approaching a near-perfect existence. A great artistic career from which she walked away in the late sixties at an optimum time (while the getting was still good), a long happy marriage, two loving and accomplished offspring, good health, and an enduring fan base that reminded her on an ongoing basis of just how much she meant to them.

In a less barbarous clime, flags would be flown at half-staff.

John and Johnny

anyone care to translate into English?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vow of silence

Remember a time when one could make a phone call and someone would pick up on the other end and say, "Hello"? Nowadays whenever that happens to me, I'm so shocked that I'm almost unable to continue the conversation.

Finally, I think I would rather even play Russian Roulette than phone tag; thus, I've decided that I will never again speak into a telephone answering machine. Once upon a time---the before time, that is---three things happened when you dialed a phone number, i.e. it would be busy (signaling that the party to whom you wished to speak was not there and you could try again later), or else it would ring and ring and ring (you do the math), OR someone on the other end would pick up. I am getting just get so friggin tired of starting out my day making at least a half-dozen calls before a real, live human being answers and NOT a machine.

AND, there's the additional problem of unreturned phone calls even after one has left a message. (You know the old saying, "He who ends the day with the most unreturned phone calls wins.")

AND THEN, when you pile on top of that the way people use cell phones as a cudgel against organizing their day. ("I'm running late. . ..") is it any wonder that this nation (the U.S.) has most likely gone into what appears to be---as physicists term it---a "skid," i.e. a state of irreversible out-of-controlness.

There was a time not so long ago when email seemed as if it might be at least a partial solution to some of the communication problems engendered by the answering machine. But what with the chaos caused by spam and the resultant spam filters, email is simply no longer a viable means of communication either.

I am just old enough to recall the initial era of the answering machine. At the time I thought it just about the niftiest thing to come down the pike since sliced bread. In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle: "Golleeee!" One day my rather spoiled and sheltered grandmother rang up the gas company to inquire about her bill. She dialed, waited a beat, then threw the phone across the room. "They answered my call with a record player," she screamed. At the time, all I could think was 'Get with the program old lady.' Now I can see that her instincts were spot on.

And don't get me started on voice mail. Fortunately, one of the wisest women on the planet said it all for me from the stage of NYC's Walter Reade Theater in February 2006. Ladies and Germs, I give you Ms. Elaine May:

". . look how quickly we all get used to eating shit. Really, about seven years ago, if somebody had answered the phone saying,“We really value your call. Please hold on for the next hour and twenty-five minutes,” we’d have hung up. We get used to it very fast. We get used to skim milk very fast. Whole milk tastes like cream. We adapt very quickly to being treated very badly. . . To simply actually stop. I’m just taking this “Your call is important to us” thing as an example because, having visited a large corporation, some executive is getting a $100 million a year and saving money not giving some woman a job for $30,000 a year. And he says we don’t want to take the shareholders’ money. And you say, well, you pay it, deduct it. But there’s no way to enforce that. We all know that that’s true, we all know that that’s bad, and we all know that there’s something about the tiny things in life happening to you that devalues you, that lessens you, that makes you numb. You have to become more and more numb not to get offended. And pretty soon you get pretty sick. . .it seems to me, at some point what you really want to say is I won’t deal with a company that doesn’t have a real operator. For one day, I’ll make them lose that much money. For one day, I won’t go to a bookstore where the guy says, “Huh, I don’t know.” For one day I won’t say, it’s so hard. I won’t run home to a rerun of Cheers, I can’t bother with it. For one day, you’ll take the trouble to make trouble for someone else, because it’s the only thing that keeps you from getting sick, from sort of retreating. I think that’s what dumbing-down kind of is. It’s too much trouble. And there is such a thing as too much trouble."

Elaine May: A bright light shining in a bad old world.

You can't blame everything on 9/11 and George Bush. Surely some of the cause of the advanced state of alienation, disorganization. and de-evolution we find ourselves in these days lies at the feet of Mr. Willy Müller. And just who might he be?, you ask. None other than the evil scientist who invented the first automatic answering machine in 1935. Après Willy le déluge.

If you want to talk to me, you're gonna have to PICK UP.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Annie by Ted

The 1961 pic of singer Annie Ross recently added to the (Yahoo group) Songbirds home page is by my good friend and great jazz photographer Ted Williams. Originally it was in Metronome mag; later on, I spent many years trying to find a copy to replace the one I had lost during my hippie perigrinations. Then one day I was going through Ted's contact sheets and there it was! He made me a print, signed it and the portrait now hangs proudly in my hallway. Maybe Ted could be given credit under the photo on Songbirds?
In the photo Annie is smoking French Gitanes cigs. I know, because another shot of her by Ted from the same date (and also published) shows her holding a box of the damn things. When I saw that, back in '61, I immediately switched from non-filter Camels to this French brand of lungbusters (I was such an impressionable little poseur back then. . .maybe still am). I probably ended up taking even MORE years off my life than if I'd stuck with my original brand o' choice.
Nearly a half-century later, Annie continues to smoke, and I can only hope that by now she's switched to a slightly less lethal coffin nail. As for me, I gave up the feelthy habit aeons ago. Curiously, however, I can still summon up sense memory of how Gitanes tasted; i.e, like inhaling all the fumes of hell.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Today is Jero Day

Dennis Cooper has very kindly offered to host, on his blog, a day devoted to African-American Enka singer Jero. Take a look! I think your brains'll fall out!

Friday, July 04, 2008

disc o' the day

I love this album. . .probably even more than the artist himself. Kills me, in fact. Hard to decide which track is best. Maybe this one?

New for Summer from the John Wood Collection

detail of t-shirt

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pinky Winters and Masaki Kanamaru

Pinky and Masaki-San in concert at Tokyo FM Hall, 7/01/08. The presentation will be broadcast nationwide in Japan in December. Stay tuned for further details.