Les parapluies de Cherbourg/The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964).
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Guess what I’m doing today? Going to see Joan mother-effing Jett, that’s what! For free.
Will we play baseball? A girl can dream.
My daughter wants nothing in the world but Joan Jett’s autograph on her Blackearts album liner. Kidlet conceals tiny black hearts in all her drawings to demonstrate her adoration: she’s a superfan. She goes way beyond knowing the words to “I Love Rock and Roll” or humming “Cherry Bomb.” She can discourse freely on which versions of particular singles she prefers.
She watches youtube footage of old Joan Jett concerts. We walk through Guitar Center so she can show me which guitars she is going to use when she forms her all-kid Joan Jett/Garbage/Runaways/No Doubt/Hole cover band, which she has named the Bad Apples*. She sings “Bad Reputation” in the bathtub.
I’m hoping Joan is charmed by a child’s request and we get a chance to get that autograph, but hopefully just being in her vicinity will satisfy my little rock star’s heart. And thrill me, too.
This is what Joan Jett wore to her performance in 2008 at Artscape in Baltimore. If this is what she wears today, you guys can draw straws or arm wrestle to sort out who takes over the blog and raises my kid, because I will leave you all behind without a second glance.
*Once when the Go-Gos’ “Head Over Heels” was on the radio, kidlet seemed interested, so I said, “Would the Bad Apples cover this?” She looked at me like I was Grimace from Ronald Macdonaldland and said slowly, “It’s a rock band.”
Miss August 1966 was the lovely and talented Susan Denberg, a cult hottie of yesteryear who is somewhat obscure today but still beloved by vintage sci-fi and Hammer horror film fans. Who do I know who is in to that stuff? It’s on the tip of my tongue …
Oh, right. Me. Let’s do this!
Ms. Denberg was born Dietlinde Zechner in Bad Polzin, Germany on August 2, 1944, nine months and seven days before V-E Day, when the Allied forces accepted the Germans’ surrender on May 8 (an inauspicious date in my book if you remember my apocalyptic ramblings).
I’m saying it was probably not the best of times to be born in Germany, what with how the country was going to be totally defeated and carved up in, like, a year. The Zechner clan beat feet to Austria (…better?), where Ms. Denberg grew up working in her parents’ appliance stores in Klagenfurt.
In her Playboy write-up, she is cited as being “born and bred” in Klagenfurt. The discrepancy could be due to a misunderstanding or wanting to downplay her German heritage for some unguessed-at reason. I think most likely she was Austrian to begin with and moved to Klagenfurt so young that it was not a big deal.
Suspect is wigless, I repeat, wigless.
Susan Denberg, our striking Miss August, joins a long and lovely line of Playmates whose centerfold appearances have preceded their cinematic debuts — a comely clan that includes such gatefold delights as Jayne Mansfield (February 1955), Stella Stevens (January 1960), Donna Michelle (December 1963), Jo Collins (December 1964) and Sue Williams (April 1965).
(“Picture Playmate.” Playboy, August 1966.)
No. Not a best-selling novel. Considered the least of Mailer’s fiction works, actually. A misogynistic bundle of bullshit — and that’s coming from me. So I’m not just whistling “Dixie.”
An American Dream is a 1966 movie based on a 1965 novel based on a series of installments in Esquire about a man and the women he kills and screws before he slouches off in to the sunset, perhaps to mine the meaning of existence, perhaps to die of an overdose of modern society. Its one mercy is that it is short. I may be oversimplifying to avoid talking about it more. Sorry.
An American Dream is a Mailer-adapted picture, sadly too crappily, or perhaps too quickly, executed to be called camp, about Stephen Rojack, a former war hero – turned also-run politician – turned call-in talk show host who murders his rich-bitch wife and basically goes on a postmodern movie-length bender with Janet Leigh (story as old as time — we’ve all been there). He spends the film in a pingballing search for the meaning of existence via sex, drugs, murder-rap evasion and jazz, pissing off underworld gangsters along the way. The story does not so much end as “halt” in what amounts to a lot of, to quote a deservedly better praised writer, sound and fury, signifying nothing. Mailer’s original source material has marginally greater depth — but only marginally.
Ms. Denberg plays Ruta, the luckless harpy Mrs. Rojack’s German maid. In his March 14, 1965 New York Times review of the book, Conrad Knickerbocker said of Ruta’s character that she “must have attended charm school with Ilse Koch.” For those who don’t know, Ilse Koch is the “Red Witch of Buchenwald,” an infamously horrible Nazi war criminal on whom Ilse, She-Wolf of the SS is super-obviously based (except Koch was not hot — and she has spent way longer burning in hell).
Koch was a fat, genuinely evil brunette who tortured and murdered interred Jews for pleasure at one of the most horrible concentration camps the earth has ever known. Ruta is a slightly mercenary, lithe blonde sexpot who is willing to screw her boss’s husband if it will get her ahead. Absolutely nothing in book or film merits Knickerbocker’s sensationalist comparison, other than both women being German. Disgusting and not at all funny, if that was the attempt. Bleah.
But then what do I expect from a rave review of a randomly constructed crock of self-indulgent shit? Knickerbocker praised the book as a modern masterpiece and said people who didn’t like An American Dream wouldn’t like it because they wouldn’t want to admit that it speaks to the true soul of America and what-have-you. All like, J’accuse, bourgeois pigs! You don’t like it because you’re judging it, and you’re judging it because you don’t understand it, and you don’t understand it because you’re afraid to.
Cool story, bro.
Yeah, there’s always been a lot of so-called values getting touted around that are hypocritical at best and hollow, tarnished, destructive compulsions at worst. But that’s not my soul, and it’s not the soul of most people I know. Most people weren’t and aren’t rich, disaffected, murdering alcoholics — most people were and are just trying to hold a job, find some love, and eat dinner. Like, Jesus. What a hopeless and lackwitted thing to assert. Not to mention, if you do want a story about rotting American dreams and rich, murdering, alcoholics, why don’t you just pick up a little timeless piece of exponentially greater writing called The Great Gatsby?
In the book, Rojack sleeps with Ruta after killing Deborah, then pretends to discover Deborah’s body and tells Ruta she must have committed suicide. In the film, Ruta tries to seduce Rojack after his initial fight with Deborah, but he doesn’t go for it. Then he returns to the bedroom to fight with Deborah again, which is the fight that results in her death.
I assume the change in “he-did,” “he-didn’t,” with Ruta from novel to film is an effort to make Rojack’s character seem more sympathetic in the movie, in much the same way that making Cherry (Leigh’s character) in the film be Rojack’s fallen-on-bad-times childhood sweetheart from before he “made it” — versus her role in the source material as a trashy torch singer that he just meets that night — is supposed to make Rojack’s affair with her, begun the day after he murders his wife, more reasonable. There is also the little matter of Rojack allowing his wife to slip from the balcony of her own drunken accord, falling to her death only to then be further run over by a mafioso’s limo in the movie, rather than Rojack strangling her and throwing her body over the railing himself, the corpse falling to the street only to then be further run over by an et cetera’s et cetera, in the book.
Ugh. I spent forever talking about a thing I don’t like. I guess spite is as strong a writing motivator as enthusiasm. So let’s get back to enthusiasm. Fun fact follows.
For a while … it appeared as though Susan might not be Susan at all by the time [An American Dream’s] release date rolled around. As part of a nationwide contest to find a nom de cinéma for its latest ascending starlet, Warner Bros. offered a $500 award for the winning entry and received 5,000 name suggestions from cinemaphiles throughout both hemispheres before wisely deciding to leave Susan — name and all — exactly as they’d found her.
“Some of the names submitted were pretty far out,” recalls Susan. “But the funniest entry of them all was Norma Mailer.”
She just doesn’t look like a Norma.
The main thing of it is, on the set for An American Dream, Ms. Denberg worked with Star Trek‘s George Takei (Sulu), Warren Stevens (Rojan, “By Any Other Name”), and Richard Derr (Commodore Barstow, “The Alternative Command” and Admiral Fitzgerald, “The Mark of Gideon”). Plus An American Dream’s director, Robert Gist, was involved as a director for TOS.
Ms. Denberg subsequently appeared on the then-fledgling sci-fi series Star Trek as Magda Kovacs, one of the three mail-order bride hopefuls voyaging to Ophiucus III with honey-tongued con man and Venus drug purveyor Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd (Star Trek: TOS. “Mudd’s Women.” Season One, Episode 3. Originally aired October 13, 1966.).
On their way to Ophiucus III and being tailed by Kirk and co., petty criminal Mudd pushes his little class J ship too hard and breaks down in the middle of an asteroid belt. The pursuing Enterprise has their own shields up and throws them hastily over Mudd’s ship as well, but three of their lithium crystals are destroyed by this shield extension. Scotty beams Mudd and his passengers aboard the Enterprise just as the ship is struck by an asteroid and obliterated.
The Enterprise plots a course to mining planet Rigel XII to replace the lithium crystals. It is revealed that the alluring women are being made more beautiful by the illegal Venus drug, which Mudd doesn’t want Kirk to find out. Mudd further wants to screw over Kirk and get back to peddling wives on Ophiucus III so of course the logical solution is for hot chicks to seduce Kirk; first Magda and then Eve. (Neither bid succeeds in the final aim but he gets flirty action in the short run.)
Long story short, Magda and Ruth marry miners from Rigel XII over subspace radio (and you thought internet hookups were risky), who are concerned when it turns out they’ve been fleeced by a con man and druggies, and Eve marries their boss, Ben Childress. It is also discovered that the Venus drug’s efficacy lies completely in the mind of its imbiber: the ladies appeared more beautiful because of their confidence in the drug and not any transformative elements of its composition, which is a good thing because the scenes of them not under the influence made them look pretty deliberately rough. Also, the miners don’t negate the marriage as a fraud when they find out the chicks are hot again, plus they like companionship or whatever. Still waters run so deep.
Ms. Denberg next appeared in the 1967 Hammer horror film Frankenstein Created Woman, alongside perennial Hammer favorite Peter Cushing. The film is lucky number four in the production company’s Frankenstein series.
Frankenstein Created Woman finds Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) awakened from a sort of cryogenic sleep by companion Dr. Hertz and his lab assistant Hans, the latter of whom is shortly executed by guillotine for murdering an innkeeeper following an altercation with local toughs.
Distraught over his gruesome death, Hans’s disfigured and paralyzed ladyfriend Christina (Ms. Denberg), whose father Hans was wrongly convicted of killing, kills herself.
Baron Frankenstein resurrects Christina’s body in the same way he was resurrected by Hertz and Hans, but gives her Hans’ soul and not her own. See, Frankenstein has become concerned with the question of whether the soul leaves the body at the moment of death, and if not can it be separated from a body, and if so can it be preserved and transferred to a different body after being divorced from its original corpse, and what would the consequence be for consciousness, and all sorts of similar metaphysical things pondered over as only Frankenstein would do. (The guy is simply a maniac for severing and swapping stuff around. You cannot stop him.) You get the gist.
The resurrected soul of Hans in Christina’s body results in a confused consciousness, driven by compulsions of revenge against Christina’s father’s actual killers (the three local toughs with whom Hans had fought earlier on the evening of Christina’s father’s death), for Christina’s part to avenge her father and for Hans’ to avenge himself. This is of course inexplicable behavior to the good doctors because the actions are based on information only Hans and Christina technically know, but which Dr.s Frankenstein and Hertz could have easily found out if they weren’t constantly playing God.
The struggle of living with an infant consciousness and two memories of bad shit and all the rest, and probably also Dr. Hertz’s cooking, drives Christina to kill herself again — but not before all three of the men who beat her father to death and pinned it on her lover have been murdered in return. The End.
It’s one of the most critically acclaimed Frankenstein Hammer movies because of the concern with metaphysics and the fairytale-like revenge structure, or so says the wiki. Later this week I’ll show you one of my most critically acclaimed Hammer flicks. It has nothing to do with Frankenstein, I’m afraid.
Ms. Denberg was the victim of a very weird rumor circuit beginning in the 1970’s. It was said for, like, two decades that the excesses of the Hollywood life were too much for Susan and that she either a) moved back to Klagenfurt with her parents but then killed herself, or b) took too much acid and was in a mental institution. These rumors were probably based on some stuff Susan said in the National Police Gazette in 1968.
“[I became] hooked on LSD and marijuana. It calmed me down, and I made such wonderful love. I needed LSD every day, almost every hour. I took all sorts of drugs when I was in Hollywood… I used to do wild, nude dances at parties held by big-time Hollywood stars.”
(The National Police Gazette. September, 1968. qtd. in Susan Denberg Biography.)
However, she did not die and is not in a mental institution conversing freely with invisible sentient orange juice (again, we’ve all been there).
These days, the 66-year-old Ms. Denberg is alive and well and presumably acid-free back home in Klagenfurt, where she is back to being good old Dietlinde Zechner. She has happily settled in to family life after her brief splash in films and television.
The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.
Funny, I would have pegged Vader as a cat person.
Sweet jumped-up Jeebus, why did I make so many things be ___ Friday?
Senator Joseph McCarthy (R – Wisconsin), 1954, via America’s Library.
Most of the trouble in the world has been caused by folks who can’t mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has. Now your virus is an obligate cellular parasite and my contention is that evil is quite literally a virus parasite occupying a certain brain area which we may term the “right” center.
The mark of a basic shit is that he has to be right. And right here we must make a distinction between the hard-core virus-occupied shit and a plain, ordinary, mean no-good son of a bitch. Some of these sons of bitches don’t cause any trouble at all, just want to be left alone and are only dangerous when molested, like the Brown Recluse.
(Burroughs, William S. “My Own Business.” The Adding Machine: Selected Essays. New York: Seaver Books (1985). p. 16.
PSA: Keep it real.
Young ladies, you’re growing up now, and it can be hard to avoid peer pressure when you badly want to fit in, but remember — whatever you do, don’t do your hair like Ann-Margret.*
Oh, my god, Lindsay Lohan, what did I just say? I wash my hands of this girl. Like everyone else who touches her. That reminds me: almost time for a penicillin refill …
Don’t let it happen to you — keep it real.
Thora Birch rocks a Catwoman mask as Enid in Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001).
“Give me all your money, bitch!”
“Where did you get that?”
“You won’t believe it. Guess!”
“No way. When?”
“Just now! I went with Seymour.”
“Ugh! You cunt.”
All the screencaps for Ghost World Half-Day will come from a combination of sources: heartstopper, augustusgloop, and vodiak on the LJ; Movie Screenshots on the blogger; various imdb caps and old, unsourced still shots. Also I might scan some pictures from the graphic novel since I am right now looking at the spine of it in a pile of books on my desk.
Opel advertisement, 1953, via retrogasm.
“Excuse me? I wanted to talk to someone about this car.”
“You’ve got a good eye! Safe, sturdy car that looks great on the road.”
“And the girls?”
“Standard with every one of our vehicles. Now, brunette is stock. For another $175, we can upgrade you to blondes.”
“Sounds pretty good, but what have you got in redheads?”
(Laughs, pats the car’s hood affectionately.) “Oh! I’m afraid that technology is years in the future.”
I am a dreamer.
I think I have just been pulled back from a path that lead straight down a cliff. Or like in a war movie, when a guy is stunned by the shells dropping, and someone tackles him out of the way, and the mortar round explodes behind them. Like that. I cannot believe the roads I let myself walk down, in my mind and in my heart. I literally cannot believe it. It’s more than feeling like a fool. It’s feeling like I was possessed and have had an exorcism, like I am somehow younger again and have dodged some giant shadow.
I need to take a break to spend time with my kidlet (it is her birthday today; first I’m taking cupcakes in to her class and then we’re going out to lunch just the two of us, which I always love) and regenerate the real me, out from under the cloud of delusions I allowed to obscure my view of the sky. I have just been saved, and kidlet too, from a total rabbithole, one that was already poisoning my mind. Unbelievable. Need to catch my breath and contemplate. Catch you guys on the flip and whatever you do, do NOT TAKE wooden nickels.
Photographed by Richard Fegley.
Kona was born and raised in Honolulu but has been living in North Carolina for the past year while she attends college. … By the time she turned 16, she had followed her younger brother, La’au, into the surf and soon was challenging ten-foot waves (well, one anyway – and that was enough). “I was always the only girl out there surfing, besides my friend Kili,” she says.
(“Aloha, Kona.” Rowe, Chip. Playboy, February 1996.)
Ms. Carmack used the same trick in college that I did: sitting up front so you can’t fool around. If I wasn’t in the very front row, I started feeling like I could tune out or even skip class, so when I got serious about school, I was front and center in every course. If I hadn’t done that, lord knows how long it would’ve taken me to finish college!
Regardless of the subject, Kona sits in the front row so she doesn’t miss anything. “It’s kind of nerdy, but it works,” says Miss February, a marketing major with a 3.4 GPA. “I also raise my hand a lot. If I don’t understand something, I’m not just going to sit there.”(Ibid.)
One of the most liberating moments of her first year came during English 101, when she wrote a term paper blasting antiporn crusader Catharine MacKinnon. “She argues that Playboy is pornography,” says Kona. “I don’t happen to agree.” She got an A.
Kona excels in the classroom, but she’s no egghead. (Ibid.)
Nick and Victor are great names, but Fletcher and Tristan, erm, not to step on any toes but … not so much.
My daughter’s father’s sister named one of her two sons Tristan. He is an adorable and bright little boy but, out of all the boy names in the world, I’m not sure it’s the first one with which I would’ve gone. I think my husband once told me his mom wanted to name him Tristan but my father-in-law put his foot down. Isn’t that how the story went, husbandoh? Pretty sure it was “Tristan” or “Dorian” or some shit, you know, something real get-your-ass-kicked-in-school faggoty.
I like how I make guilty amends for possibly insulting dudes named Fletch and Tristan, but cheerily slander homosexuals. I guess it’s because I know that I’m not a bigot. But all apologies just the same to anyone with no sense of humor and anyone who has somehow missed the fact that I rather obviously trend toward batting both left and right and therefore ought be excused from call-outs for gay slurs with the same impunity that permits black people to call each other you-know-what. (Boy, that didn’t even come out very sincere, did it? Jonohs once told me I apologize too much, but it seems when the chips are down and I have to mean it, I’m not much good at mea culpas. Sorry again.)
In a business in which it’s easy to put on an act, Carmack doesn’t have one, leaving her vulnerable and exposed, especially to the question that has to be asked: “So, what about the Playboy thing?”
“Oh you!” she squeals, “The very first question!”
Carmack has no regrets about posing for the magazine’s February 1996 centerfold.
“It got me into the entertainment world and taught me so many lessons. I learned how to survive, how to be tough, how to be professional. I would not be the person I am today without having had that opportunity.”
This picture came from a different Playboy photoshoot and was shot by Chris Peter Paul. Kona was Miss March 1998 in Playboy Germany and 1997’s Playmate of the Year in Japan, so I’m guessing it’s from one of those, or possibly the Year In Review. I included it here because it is cute.
Yet she wishes people would get over it.
“When people meet me, they always say, ‘You’re so nice. You’re not at all like what I imagined.’ So I’m like, ‘Oh, thank you!,’ ” she says, with a huge, grateful grin and her arm extended in a pretend handshake.
(“Kona Gold.” Kam, Nadine. December 19, 2000. Honolulu Star-Bulletin.)
In 2001 Carmack moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California for cinematography. She graduated in December 2003 with cum laude honors, completing the five-year program in half the time. (“Old Friends — Kona Carmack.” Moniz, Melissa. August 2, 2006. MidWeek Oahu.)
One of those “little films” was a popular and successful documentary about the life of Duke Kahanamoku, aka “The Big Kahuna.”
Born in Waikiki in 1890, Kahanamoku pretty much singlehandedly turned surfing into an international sport, bringing his “papa nui” longboard, built in the style of old school Hawaiian olo boards, to the mainland and to Australia for swimming and surfing exhibitions. He was also a several-times-over Olympic gold medalist in swimming and in water polo.
In Newport Beach, California on June 14, 1925, Kahanamoku rescued eight men from a fishing vessel that capsized in heavy surf while attempting to enter the city’s harbor. Twenty-nine fishermen went into the water and seventeen perished. Using his surfboard, he was able to make quick trips back and forth to shore to increase the number of sailors rescued. Two other surfers saved four more fishermen. Newport’s police chief at the time called Duke’s efforts “the most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen.” (the wiki.)
Pretty awesome, eh? Super-interesting man and great life story.
Upon graduating from film school, Carmack started work as a production assistant on the HBO series Deadwood. The next year, Carmack was promoted to executive assistant producer to Greg Fienberg. (“Old Friends.”)
After Deadwood, Kona went on to work as assistant to producer Randy Zisk on one of my favorite television shows of all time, Monk. Super-cool!
Although her home and career for the moment are in Los Angeles, her heart still belongs to Hawaii.
“I miss my family so much, that’s No. 1,” says Carmack. “I also miss surfing – I surf every day when I’m home. And of course I miss the food. I love it at home, I miss everything about it.” (Ibid.)
Carmack definitely plans to move back to Hawaii eventually, mostly to be closer to her mom and family.
“My mom is my best friend, and I’m really proud of her with what she’s been doing all these years for Easter Seals,” says Carmack. “It’s really her passion to help children with disabilities. She’s just wonderful, and she’s my inspiration.” (Ibid.)
The Easter Seals are a nonprofit that provide aid and services to children and adults with autism, special needs, and other disabilities.
The organization that would become Easter Seals was founded by Edgar Allen, an Ohio-businessman who lost his son in a streetcar crash. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. That hospital continues to operate today as Elyria Memorial Hospital. After the hospital was built, Allen learned that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired by this discovery, in 1919 he founded what would become the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind. (the wiki.)
Click here to visit their website. My goddaughter’s brother is autistic and though Panda and the Mister are some of the most loving and supportive people you will ever meet, not everyone is as lucky as Nathaniel. So please consider making a donation? — Hey, this could be your big shot at impressing Ms. Carmack!
Dig Leslie Nielsen on the cover. Goddamn, he’s one suave fucker. (Left-field Blue Velvet reference to wind things down. You’re welcome.)
Dig the wiki:
“In Charles Addams’s cartoons, Wednesday and other members of the family had no names. When the characters were adapted to the 1964 television series, Charles Addams gave her the name “Wednesday”, based on the well-known nursery rhyme line, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe”. In the Spanish language version, her name is Merlina Addams. In the Brazilian version (Portuguese), her name is Wandinha” (wiki).
Gary: Don’t you want to help me realize my vision?
Wednesday: Your work is puerile and under-dramatized. You lack any sense of structure, character and the Aristotelian unities.
Gary: Young lady, I am getting just a tad tired of your attitude problem.
Wednesday: You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides; you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d’oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, “Do not trust the Pilgrims … especially Sarah Miller.”
Amanda: Gary, she’s changing the words!
Wednesday: And for all these reasons, I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.