Thursday, January 7, 2021

HOUSE ARREST PROVENDER: PERRY MASON, HBO 2020 LIMITED SERIES



Screen captures from the second episode of the 2020 limited series HBO remake of Perry Mason, as set in 1931 Los Angeles. Great looking series with unpredictable plot twists, and time travel window into the very lost world of old L.A., where any building older than a year is considered a teardown.

Note extinct public transportation system "the Red Car" trolley in the background which they tell me went from the beach to the next county inland, hence the extreme spread of Los Angeles. Imagine, you could take comfortable public transportation from Santa Monica beach to San Bernardino county. Imagine, you could take comfortable public transportation from Santa Monica beach to Redlands. It took me a while to recognize the red car, seen in this first screen capture, because they had just been dismantled in my youth.

Perry Mason features great ensemble acting and diversity that's part of the normal tapestry just like in real life, with strong women's roles, and the best Private Investigator since Jim Rockford (The Rockford Files.) Granted,the character is a much more troubled guy, but just as interesting and gets beat up just as much! Three of its most interesting casting choices: Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as a fictional Aimee Semple McPherson character; Chris Chalk (actor/writer/producer) as Paul Drake, whose character traverses the nasty Jim Crow vestiges of 90 years ago; and Veronica Falcon (iconic Mexican actress/choreographer) as a main character's love interest (and boy, does she convey instant acting authority!)

 

You can't beat the visuals, it's like a big budget film. In a place where so much of our history has been deliberately demolished, L.A. as it once was within living memory of some is fascinating for us locals. This looks like my paternal grandparents' daily world. Plus guessing what was filmed where provides extra fun for us locals. Here's a link for the curious *LINK

 

 That's a character weeping on the floor to the left of Perry Mason (actor Matthew Rhys.)

It's nothing like the dramatic but charming, 1950s original television series with Raymond Burr. With no small amount of violence, it's an intelligent re-thinking of the same Earl Stanley Gardner character as a younger man in 1931 L.A. In fact one of the writers placed an insider's joke with someone instructing Mason, new to the law, that "nobody confesses on the stand in court!" which of course was the hallmark of the TV series! This 2020 HBO 8-episode, limited series was much better received than perhaps even the cable network had guessed, with high audience approval and solid positive reviews. It was renewed for a second season, but disrupted like everything else.


My better half  Mr. Twister says the actor is looking in the wrong place for the viewfinder, despite the authenticity of the vintage camera, but adds "well, maybe he could see through the viewfinder of his Kodak (Nagel) Vollenda 127 like that."

 *https://www.atlasofwonders.com/2020/06/perry-mason-city-filming-locations.html

HOUSE ARREST PROVENDER: JACQUES TATI's PLAYTIME


Last night's fare: 1967's Playtime, directed and written by France's legendary Jacques Tati. I haven't chuckled out loud so much in ages. 

It was filmed in 70mm originally to play on giant screens, and the director is fond of longshots, so keep your eyes everywhere in crowds. The long restaurant scene is masterfully hilarious, with its unfinished interior decor so ultra-modern that when it continues to fall apart around diners, they consider it part of the Modernist architecture experience.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

RLB INDIANA JONES, REST IN PEACE DEC.12, 2020

Rest in peace RLB Indiana Jones, March 12, 1994 to Dec.12, 2020.  Indy earned 2002 Sport Horse of the Year in Dressage in the National Show Horse Registry, the first of his breed to do so as noted in the records of the American Horse Show Association. 

 Below, showing with his primary trainer Christy Monfort astride in a dressage show. (Other trainers were Tricia Hamilton and Claudia Roberts. As a result, Indy knew far more dressage technique than I ever would.) That one year I could afford to show him, Christy would win the first prizes, and I'd add a few points with my second places in the less complex dressage classes. Otherwise, I rode him on the trail in dressage saddles, unlike most of the Western buckaroos in our native Southern California. In the following pics, Christy is riding him correctly, I am the other one (and yes, uncooperative thyroid plays havoc with weight variation over 23 years of documentation.)(All photography by me except the ones of me, by Kurt Ingham, Christy Monfort, Kathleen Hellman and Liz Taylor.)









 

 

 

 

I bought Indy (Indiana Jones, so named because he was an adventure to ride) when he was three years old, a grey tobiano pinto National Show Horse whom I knew would lighten, as do all greys, into pure white. His coloration not remaining visibly pinto is probably the only reason he was affordable to me. So we were partners for twenty-three years together. He always was a bright eyed and friendly as this headshot implies. He was a "sosh" (social) and liked nonstop company human or equine: luckily I could afford to keep him in a riding academy's large dirt pasture with shelters and with two other horses with whom he loved to play.

Also below with pics of Indy's darker coloration when young, a pic of Indy as a foal, and his famous American Saddlebred sire Rhythm Commander. National Show Horses are a recognized breed, made up of part American Saddlebred horses and part Arabian horses. It's a good nick (cross breeding success) and breeds true. Arabians give endurance, athleticism and very amiable, people-loving natures (they had to be sufficiently calm and friendly to share a Bedouin's tent in a sandstorm in the desert): Saddlebreds also give athleticism, showy trotting action, guaranteed comfortable gaits, friendliness, larger size and two extra gaits that come naturally with training to encourage same. I could make Indy slow gait on the trail when he was anxious (Arabian trait)(and euphemism for frightened) and the few times I rode him at a rack (the faster version of the gait) it was thrilling.




 

On the trails bordering the hills of the Angeles Forest, and at right, with my better half on a friend's Arabian. this northeast section of Federal parkland has endless, lovely trails from easy ridin' to "I'm never coming here again!" hairy (nobody likes cliffs this steep.) Unfortunately it remains a target for arsonists and mentally disturbed homeless who make cooking fires in the 80mph winds of our hot Santa Anas. We had to evacuate for huge wildfires six times in the last ten years. One of these fires burned down our stable and all of our saddles and tack, but no one cared because all the horses were saved.



Right, us in a lesson
 
What we ended up doing the most as he got older, whiter and a trifle less frisky and I got more and more painfully damaged from life: hacking around our beautiful boarding ranch bareback (above). People who don't ride have trouble understanding the relationship between rider and horse. I simplify it for them thusly: a) it's as if your dog had lived for 25 years with you instead of half that and b) horses are halfway between a pet and a sports car: there is mutual love, but there's always a performance issue at hand. Actually, it's more like the sport of sailing (were the sailboat alive): a lot of fun for a lot of prep and post work, and a great deal of unpredictable natural forces changing what one does all the time. It makes total sense to me that Poseidon was considered the god of both The Sea and of Horses. 
 
Horses, like people and dogs, do not die easily on their own, so when Indy colicked badly for the third time in his life, the vet said that unlike the other two times, his vital signs and heart rate now were so bad that there was no other choice. Unlike illnesses with people and dogs though, one has to make this life and death decision within seconds of diagnosis. The vet thanked me for being a loving owner to him, saying, "So many horse owners wail 'I'm not ready, I'm not ready!' whereupon I have to firmly remind them it's not about them, it's about the horse. They are in terminal agony." In this short conversation, I learned that painkillers only last for about five minutes when the patient is that badly off. If  the horse is still standing, everyone has to run away from his side the second the veterinarian gives the injection, because the 1,000 pound horse falls over immediately.  
I stayed with his body for two hours waiting for the truck that takes horses to landfills, the only option in a densely crowded metropolis like Los Angeles. (this ranch is the only 600 acre private boarding facility therein, and it abuts the public trails of the Angeles Forest for endless riding possibilities.) I looked at all the surrounding majestic hills and marveled that Indy and I actually had ridden over all them, and on both sides of the highway, with many wild rides with friends and too many to count oddball to scary adventures.  I avoid funerals, but this experience taught me the importance of vigils: thinking about all the good in the deceased's life, to try to block the pain of losing them. I cried on and off for the entire two hours, which didn't get it out of my system like I wanted it to. 

Someone from the boarding barn fortunately reminded me before I left that up until that terrible morning, Indy was happy and playful for every day of his life. That helped. What also helps is an amazingly poignant passage by novelist Irving Townsend. Usually only the first three sentences appear online, in reference to grief of losing a dog, but the complete words were written about losing a horse:
     
 “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."
 
"The life of a horse, often half our own, seems endless until one day. That day has come and gone for me, and I am once again within a somewhat smaller circle.”
 
 – Irving Townsend “The Once Again Prince”
Good bye, Indy...

Thursday, December 17, 2020

REST IN PEACE LAVONE BARNETT-SEETAL



 

 

 

 

 

Above, Lavone Barnett-Seetal with Jeremy White in their band The Blessings; right: she said this was her favorite shot of herself by me. Rest in peace Lavonne Barnett-Seettal, who passed away in this terrible week of cancer. 

She was a gracious lady and a true blueswoman/gospel singer extraordinaire, same vocal league as Lisa Fisher/Merry Clayton/Lisa Kekaula, someone whose emotions and vocal talents are inseparable from their lives. I remember her staring down a violent drunk at The Tearaways show into submission. Our artistic world is always so fragile, as today has proven, it helps to remember the strong ones.

Above, gloriously singing with her band The Blessings, and jamming with Nashville's The Tip, immediately jumping onstage when they covered the Rolling Stones'  "Miss You."


Above, Lavone receiving her birthday cake onstage during a Blessings' gig. As a popular singer in the biz, one also found her backing John Fogerty in his 2019 tour, as member of a few side groups like the Malonettes, and as head choir director and Gospel choir director in a number of universities over the last two decades.  She was also a much loved vocal coach.  Below, so many great, memorable gigs with The Blessings.                                   


Above, last gig in 2020 before
elected officials' civic laws silenced Los Angeles' music, (with too many clubs' signs inevitably changing from "temporarily closed" to "permanently closed") few with concern that it might be forever for personnel and businesses alike.


Friday, December 11, 2020

HOW DID I MISS THIS?! ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL

 

   How ever did I miss 2006's Art School Confidential the first time 'round? Every single scene in the first half of the movie found me howling with laughter, recognizing every stereotype portrayed (the plot darkens later, mirroring the protagonist's life lessons.) Yay, narrowcasting! Note that strong cast with John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent and Anjelica Huston. Two arty pals of ours, upon my recommendation of this film claimed "we laughed ourselves silly." This is badly needed these days.

  Comic strip panel from "Art School Confidential," Daniel Clowes' comic novel that predated his film of the same name.

During my first week of UCLA art school, here's how I ran the numbers a little differently: 6 self-supporting, full time fine artists in the U.S.; out of any of our art classes of 20 students, only 5 were any good at art, and only 1 of those excelled (and it was usually Phil Savenick, who went on to a successful career in film retro-archives.)  I tried to be 1 of that 5 in every class. I also broadened my goals to art direction as well as photojournalism immediately.
 
Even though this is based upon art school insider humor, there are
lotsa art school universal truths out there.  As an example, here are art school girls from 1930s Bauhaus School of Design, looking like art school girls any time, any era, anywhere...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are pix of  two of my art school assignments, the 6 ft. plaster man holding a spoon completed for a Stanford University sculpture class, and the 6 foot x 6 foot photo-realist oil painting of the Oscar Meyer weinermobile for UCLA. The plaster man was too big to retrieve, and the weinermobile painting was immediately stolen, so no in person evidence remains of these two works. I did illustrations for the UCLA newspaper's entertainment sections like the one below left, ( I later was selected editor of same) and I do retain my 1970 copy of Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Sonja Knipps (to study undercoats) and the 1968 pen and ink wash drawing, both seen below the illustration..




Sunday, October 18, 2020

TALES TOLD OUT OF SCHOOL: I WAS A TEENAGE BOOKING AGENT, SNARING LEGENDARY 1960s BAND KALEIDOSCOPE for my High School Prom!


(now out of order, but what was second in a series of tales told out of school, both literally and figuratively, how my Swiss Cheese brain remembers such events which may or may not be accurate at all. Preface: I attended a girls' private prep school in the 1960s with a student body who often mimicked the creativity of that era with their own high spirits, a pendulum reaction to the heavy course load and voluminous homework from which many of us still haven't caught up on lost sleep some forty-plus years on and from which many of us still retain permanently stooped posture via carrying heavy textbooks. Well, it's not like there existed alternatives to those heavy textbooks. We didn't have personal home computers because no one on this particular planet in this galaxy had them yet. So let's roll back the roiling mists of time to The Pleistocene of my youth.) 

I was a teenage booking agent! Or at least I flexed the right connections and pulled it off. My reluctant date for my high school (prep school) prom (see above yearbook photo of body language miserableness, the fellow second from right next to yours truly teenaged edition, faces disguised to protect the innocent. The curious may follow this LINK* ) was the nephew of Classic Hollywood actress Loretta Young, in a large Catholic family of good looking cousins, one of whom was David Lindley. 

Lindley remains well known for his versatility on assorted instruments which has bolstered his career as solo artist and side person/session person for assorted A List musicians like Jackson Browne. In the 1960s, he graced the now legendary band Kaleidoscope, known for pleasantly foisting its extremely eclectic tastes in myriad styles at unsuspecting audiences, as well as earned reputation for fabulous musicianship in also pleasantly foisted exotica instruments like ouds for their mideastern selections, or fiddles and mandolins for country songs, then as rare as hen's teeth in '60s psychedelic rock bands.  They released four albums of eclectica for Epic Records, a reasonable legacy.


I was dancing and trying to recalibrate my miserable prom date so no photos by me. But the one above does document my classmates trying to boogaloo and frug to Kaleidoscope tunes like "O Death," (Ralph Stanley's bluegrass classic) or to the tabla rhythms of "Egyptian Gardens." Our equally unlikely locale for this great band? How this happened escapes my Swiss Cheese memory, but, dear readers, it was indeed The Daisy Club in Beverly Hills, only the the most exclusive private club for exclusive entertainment biz types in the exclusive 1960s. Courtesy of  Michael Snider, for directing one and all to showbiz archivist extraordinaire Allison Martino's "Vintage Los Angeles," well illustrated  Daisy history piece, see LINK**

 

 

http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com/2010/06/charisma-asserts-early-in-hollywood.html

** https://martinostimemachine.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-daisy-in-beverly-hills-daisy-which.html

Friday, October 9, 2020

READY, STEADY, GO! new DOCUMENTARY

 


My friend Harvey Kubernik gave me The Story of Ready, Steady, Go!, a most enjoyable new 1-hour documentary dvd on the British pop/rock/soul show broadcast in England from 1963 to 1966.

Factoids: The closeups were necessitated by the first basement tv studio being so darn small (24 ft.?) The doc has amazing editing to show such a span of a show mainly destroyed by its own network. Out of an original total of 178 episodes, 170 episodes are missing and a further 3 are incomplete. One of its few saviors, its director Michael Lindsay-Hogg noted "Most of the shows were wiped because tape was so expensive, so stuff like the James Brown special and The Who special are gone forever. I took home £37 a week but, every so often, I'd buy a video tape and preserve it. It cost me £1 a minute, but the only reason any shows survive is because I did that." 

Here's a link to Harvey's exploration of this fun, iconic show, as in “You could see the Stones, the Beatles, the Yardbirds, Lulu, Donovan, Them, Sandie Shaw, the Who or the Animals playing to an audience as cool as they were." Click:  LINK*

 An acquaintance thought that Patrick McNee's Leslie Eton-Hogg character in "This is Spinal Tap," a music mogul, was based upon the director. Uh, in name only! Director Lindsay-Hogg may hail from Hollywood royalty, credits a-glitter with A-List stuff, but he is wholly comfortable in the more rough and tumble world of rock and roll past, and the rockers are comfortable with him. He directed the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus amongst many others, check his imdb.com c.v. Patrick McNee symbolizes the more bon vivant music exec...

 

*https://www.musicconnection.com/kubernik-interviews-on-ready-steady-go-recent-documentary-and-upcoming-book-release/

Thursday, September 10, 2020

REST IN PEACE DAME DIANA RIGG

Rest in peace Dame Diana Rigg, who excelled in her profession for her entire long lifetime. I saw her famous Abelard & Heloise stage play with her full frontal nude scene at the Ahmanson Theatre, 1971 in Los Angeles. Wet blanket critics at the time stooped to criticizing her physique! 

 Rigg's Mod icon Mrs. Emma Peel in the original "The Avengers" showed the 1960s what a self-sufficient tv heroine acted like who still remained amenable to partnerships, and her leather catsuits plus, dare i say, kinky boots, indeed pushed fashion boundaries of mainstream broadcast in both her native Britain and America. A brave, talented beauty...

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

JANIS JOPLIN's 2020 LEGACY

 Stamp: Janis Joplin (United States of America) (Music Icons) Mi:US  5102BA,Sn:US… | Janis joplin, Usps stamps, Forever stamps


Our friend Harvey Kubernik just contributed a Sept. 4, 2020 feature story to Music Connection Magazine on 2020 legacy of Janis Joplin. Here's the bit he added from me:
 
Heather Harris: "Martin Scorsese used the rousing rocker 'Combination Of The Two' by Big Brother and the Holding Company in his best soundtrack film Bringing Out the Dead, (1999) to encapsulate two out of control professionals on the move at the speed of light. No one says "completely crazy" quite like actor Tom Sizemore, and his character's partner Nicolas Cage was dealing with the life and death import of their job as ambulance medics by trying it Sizemore's way for a night, in this case completely nutso. ‘Combination’ was the stone cold consummate choice for this scene, even if it features less of lead singer Janis Joplin in this track. That particular band and her WERE out of control professionals, delivering life affirming songs and shrieks despite the reminders of everyday mortality. Perfection!
"Combination Of The Two’ began the second album by Big Brother And the Holding Company, Cheap Thrills with the equally legendary artwork by prototypical San Francisco psychedelic cartoonist R. Crumb. It fit the era of coordinated act and art as superbly as the Sgt. Pepper cover had and was just as original."
 
“In a better universe, Janis should have had a long career as not only a topflight interpretive singer but also patron saint of undervalued women who achieve. What does it do to the psyche for a young girl to be voted ‘Ugliest Man on Campus’ by her so-called student peers? In her case it became source material. That's how someone in their teens and mid-twenties mustered the moxie to sing of pain with breathtaking exactness of emotions."
 
“Janis Joplin is one of the few dinosaur era legends always embraced by each succeeding generation. Her ability to transmit the universality of pain transcends all the folklore of the 1960s.
“I never had the pleasure to see or photograph her, but my husband Mr. Twister said she was the only act he'd ever seen wherein immediately after one of her heart-wrenching showstopper ballads the audience was stunned into awestruck, hear-a-pin-drop silence. He only saw her at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles and the old Fillmore in San Francisco. I wonder which of the two audiences proved that reverent?”

Monday, June 29, 2020

NATIONAL CAMERA DAY 2020

photos © Heather Harris, Kurt Ingham, Donna Balancia. It's National Camera Day. I've been at this rather a long time (first pic is from the original Glam 1970s, with very first sighthound Lucretia Borzoi as a puppy.) Favorite equipment over the decades: Rolleiflex medium format (not pictured) for studio, Panasonic Lumix (not pictured) to not scare those in the public eye and Nikon D3 digital for everything else.

My tech advancement would have been nil without Mr. Twister's patient guidance. He is pictured at bottom in a 1970s self portrait with his Pentax ES with its 180mm f2.8 Sonnar lens, and then more contemporarily. However, the world doesn't want you to see me doing this again any more...
 
At the Great Pyramid, Egypt; at photo session with Iggy Pop and Don Was 1990↓


←with James Williamson in studio; ↓ with Zander Bleck in club
↓Mr. Twister and self in 1980


 Mr. Twister1970s self portrait with his Pentax ES, and more contemporarily
 

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