Posts Tagged ‘photos’

Music Moment: Cat Stevens, “Peace Train”

May 6, 2011

Cat Stevens — Peace Train

I’ve been smiling lately. I really have.

Photographed by Julie Lansom.

Now I’ve been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh I’ve been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it’s going to come

With Shelley Duvall, via.
Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Now I’ve been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Richard Hamilton.
Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

A few weeks ago, I came home triumphantly wielding a near-mint Cat Stevens LP from a trip to a nearby touristy mountain town — only to see in going through my collection that at some point in the past I’d brought that exact record in pretty much the exact same condition.

My organization skills may be in the toilet, but the important thing is, I’m consistent.


Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too
Cause it’s getting nearer,
it soon will be with you

With Carly Simon, via.
Now come and join the living,
it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,
soon it will all be true

Now I’ve been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can’t we live in bliss

I’ve been trying to balance my recent heady busy-ness in the areas of work and returning to school with the activities I love, like country driving, taking pictures, listening to my records, and of course spending time with my mad rad friendohs.


Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again.

I don’t know by what trick or trends in behavior I’ve done it, but, despite recent roller coasters of emotion, anxiety, and obligation, I still just feel really happy and mellow about things in assessing the Spring, even accounting for the ups and downs.


I have this optimistic and even confident feeling as I enter the Summer. Here’s hoping it sticks around. I feel like everything is beautiful.

In related news, did you know you could smoke banana peels? The brown spots talk about their dreams while they sizzle and pop. Fact.

(Not fact.)

Movie Moment — 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies, Inaugural Edition: Better Off Dead

December 12, 2010

Welcome to the inaugural edition of 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies, because Jingle All the Way and all its ilk should burn in hell. I’m kicking things off with a little Better off Dead.

Better Off Dead (Savage Steve Holland, 1985). Maybe some forgot this was a holidayish film, but I did not. How could anyone forget when you have the following scene?


Lane, I think it’d be in my best interest if I dated somebody more popular. Better looking. Drives a nicer car.

(Beth Truss. And we’re all like that, each one of us.)

What do you do when the center of your universe walks away?

A teenager has to deal with his girlfriend dumping him among family crises, homicidal paper boys, and a rival skier.

(the imdb.)

Absolutely sick pyjamas. On the kid, not on David Ogden Stiers. Scooter Stevens, who plays the lineless younger brother, did some television roles and played “Bonnie’s Date” in She’s Out of Control. That’s his final credit, so I think it’s safe to say he went on to a life of education and handsomer-than-average anonymity.

Though his voice work in this film was dubbed by Rich Little, Yuji Okumoto, the Howard Cosell brother, has gone on to act his ass off. Seriously, you give that guy a spin on the imdb and he has a credit or ten for, like, every year since this movie was released. Very impressive. He was the one I thought was cuter. So I’m pleased. Brian Imada, who plays his brother, has done a crapload of stunt work and will be appearing in utility stunt capacity in the upcoming Green Hornet film, which is getting its own post soon as a “Hot Man Bein’ Hot” for the new Kato. Ow! I like Asian dudes. Blame Sulu and alert the media.

Featuring marvelous Curtis Armstrong as Lane’s best friend, the eccentric Charles De Mar. Doin’ whippits and trying to get a line on nosespray in a top hat.

Suicide is never the answer, little trooper.

Curtis Armstrong is so good at conveying the “cool” geek. Total old school unlikely G. In fact, I do believe he was the second subject in that category.

Steve Holland: That part when Lane does this in the garage is true. I went into the garage, and I put an extension cord on a pipe, and I’m on a garbage can, and I’m thinking, “Should I do this? Maybe this isn’t a good idea.” Anyway, it was a plastic garbage can, and my weight just, like, crashed through it, and I fell, and the pipe broke!

And it starts pouring water everywhere. And I’m basically in a garbage can, drowning. And my mom comes in, and my mom starts yelling at me for breaking a pipe, which is what any mom would do.

So I started writing down stupid ways to kill yourself that would fail after that, and I put them in sort of a diary. And that diary kind of became Better Off Dead.

(“Better Off Dead – Savage Steve Holland.” Awesome interview and article on The Sneeze.)

It’s got raisins in it. You like raisins.

Lane’s suicide stunts smack a little of Harold and Maude, but only a little. Certainly Jenny Meyer is worlds away from Vivan Pickles. Taking it down the very absurd road carries it far enough from Harold and Maude that it becomes apples and oranges (with raisins). Mainly.

Holland’s vision of the cafeteria as the intersection of absurd personal fantasy time and a rigidly enforced caste system is a standout in a decade that brought us dozens of shudder-inducingly accurate cafeteria scenes (I think of Sixteen Candles, when Molly Ringwold spots Jake Ryan, dumps her tray, and runs: “I can’t let him know I eat,” or Martha Dumptruck from Heathers).

Lane, I’m thinking about asking out Elizabeth.

R.I.P., Vincent Schiavelli. A great character actor and kickass chef.

Charles de Mar has a hand in a jar. Say it three times fast and Curtis Armstrong will appear! He currently voices Steve’s friend Snot on American Dad.

I love the animation Scooter Stevens brings to his role — it’s a shock to realize Badger has no speaking parts, yes? His eyes on the “Trashy Women” book … priceless.

One of the taglines for this film is: Insanity doesn’t run in the family, it gallops. This is a reference to Arsenic and Old Lace, where the line went, “Darling, insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.”

During a screening of Better Off Dead, John Cusack stormed out after twenty minutes, saying, “You’ve ruined my career!” He allegedly hated and despaired of the film, and told Holland, “I will never trust you as a director ever again, so don’t speak to me.”

I’m guessing that the mad science at Pig Burger was one of the scenes he found unpardonable, cause I guess if you are trying to be a cool cat, it could be perceived as kind of cheesey and out of place. But, hey, what a great anticipation of Igor. Who knew? Because that entire movie was insanely cheesey and out of place. I hold children’s movies to a very high standard and I don’t brook a bunch of shit, sorry.

And Cusack went ahead and allowed Hot Tub Time Machine to refer to the film, so perhaps time has softened his view. Or money. But most likely time, I’m just sure.

I have great fear of tools. I once made a birdhouse in woodshop and the fair housing committee condemned it. I can’t.

“I cannot do it” is your middle name. I think all you need is a small taste of success, and you will find it suits you.

[Lane’s] father is so stumped in trying to understand the confusing habits and behavior of his teenage son (and, at one point, is temporarily convinced Lane is using drugs) that he clumsily attempts repeatedly to interfere in Lane’s love life.

(the wiki)

For half a second, the q-tip face makes me like John Cusack and start to giggle, and then I remember all the reasons I’m mad at him and I wipe the smile off my face. Spiders in the mail? So immature.

It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon. Any actor wants to play the cool guy. So playing the role of a borderline mental dork in the movie is not necessarily your first choice as an actor, however, in a way you’re kind of creating it yourself.

It’s not like you’re being made fun of, you’re making fun of yourself by creating this persona. So it didn’t bother me a lot since I was playing a character who was so far away from me.

(Interview with Dan “Ricky” Schneider. The Sneeze.)

This is similar to the kind of present-giving I did one Christmas as a child. I wrapped up things we already had and was surprised when my parents were clearly feigning their enthusiasm. I think it was very zen: I considered all of our possessions to be gifts.

Savage Steve Holland: And every day we were going, “This is hilarious. Am I wrong?” And it was like, every day anything we shot was really funny. So at my first test screening… I’ll never forget it, the movie was like five or seven minutes longer, and the audience reaction was pretty good, but it wasn’t that good.

And I remember one guy walking out, and for some reason he knew me, and he goes, “Hey, better luck next time.”

And I’m like, “Oh shit, I’m doomed.” It really hurt.

The Sneeze: Do you know where he is today?

SS: He’s probably running Paramount with my luck.

The Sneeze: I was just hoping he was homeless.

SS: No, because mean people always get the good jobs.

(Aforementioned The Sneeze interview.)

I’ve been going to this school for seven years. I’m no dummy. I know high school girls.

You’ll make a fine little helper. What’s your name?

Charles de Mar!

Not you, geek. Her.

John will never talk about Better Off Dead, and One Crazy Summer, and I read something recently where he called me “the director.” He wouldn’t use my name, and he said, “the director wanted to do absurdist comedy and that’s just not the thing I like to do,” or something like that.

I feel like I let him down. And it totally surprises me so much because I have to say the most important person to me about that movie, was John. I really wanted him to love it as much as I loved it. And once he said that stuff, it was like a girlfriend who breaks up with you. You can’t fight with her. It’s like everything is so great, and then they say “I hate you!” out of nowhere. There’s really no argument you can have. I had my heart broken. That was the second time my heart was broken since that girl that Better Off Dead was about — honest to God.

(Steve Holland, Ibid.)

Truly a sight to behold. A man beaten. The once great champ, now, a study in moppishness. No longer the victory hungry stallion we’ve raced so many times before, but a pathetic, washed up, aged ex-champion.

That’s actually a line from one of the car race scenes, but it’s my favorite. Challenge: call someone “a study in moppishness” this week — to their face!

I really thought as time went by, [Cusack] might feel differently. But I read one other article that he got jailed for something. Somebody in his car had something, I don’t know what, but he got jailed for something. He said, “Jail sucked the most because everybody kept coming up to me going, ‘I want my two dollars!'”

(Steve Holland, Ibid.)

The buttrape, on the other hand, was “pretty okay”.

Look, Charles, I’ve got to do this. If I don’t, I’ll be nothing. I’ll end up like my neighbor, Ricky Smith. He sits around crocheting all day and snorting nasal spray.

He snorts nasal spray? You know where I can score some?!

So you won’t tell anyone?

What, that you’re a Dodgers fan?

I do love the wink, here. It always comforts me to know that there are other people on the earth who are as truly bad at winking as I am. Not a lot of other people, but a few.

Sure, you can park your Camaro on the lawn at Dodger Stadium. Happens all the time. Goddamn if that is not the most eighties-riffic thing I’ve seen all week. Ski rack, saxophone, mom jeans, and John Cusack: winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Hope you’ve found the inaugural edition of 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies enlightening. And now you’re armed with this very sad backstory of the dissolution of the friendship between the star and the director — because nothing says the holidays like, “You are dead to me.” So cue it up, grab your gelatinous raisin-riddled mass, and bask in Better Off Dead’s warm 80’s glow.

Spring Fever!: Marlene Morrow, Miss April 1974 — or, “Persephone.”

April 20, 2010

The lovely and talented Marlene Morrow was Playboy’s Miss April, 1974.

Photograph by Larry Dale Gordon.

Like fellow 1974 Playmate of the Month and friend Bebe Buell, Ms. Morrow dated Todd Rundgren, and Marlene is related to no less than three different United States presidents: Washington, Monroe, and Madison. But there is much, much more to her gripping and moving story. Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

Marlene is also a very interesting person. Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Osaka, Japan, where her father was a baseball player on a Japanese team. From there, the family moved to L.A., where Marlene grew up. “Believe it or not,” she says, “up until the time I was 13 I wanted to be a missionary.” She gave up that idea and settled on the notion of being a housewife with a load of kids. But that’s been postponed indefinitely, now that her career is spiraling upward.

(“This Year’s Model.” Playboy. April, 1974. )

So groovy. My fave of the shoot.
But for now, Marlene is satisfied with her life in London — visiting pubs and going out with Englishmen, whom she finds vastly different from American men. But does she plan to make London her home? “Someday,” she says, “I’d like to buy a trailer and just travel around the world for a whole year. Is that crazy?”


I’M ALWAYS: Dreaming. Still, I wish I wasn’t so serious about life all the time.
WITH MY PLAYMATE FEE: I plan to settle myself in an apartment in Los Angeles and enroll in acting and dance school.
AMBITIONS: To be successful with my modeling and to study acting, and to have a nice home with about four children.

Now that the things she said in her interview at the time are out there and still resonating in your mind, I’m going to get to the main thing of this entry. Marlene Morrow’s real surname was Pinkard.

In a google search for her, I found an article by Italian-american author Joan “Strega,” in whose mother’s Encino shop Marlene worked after moving to L.A. Ms. Strega had done a similar google search and was meditating on her shock and dismay to find recent pictures of Marlene taken in Los Angeles.

It seems that Marlene did stay in L.A., but she did not become a famous model or actress. Nor is she happily married and settled in to a nice house with about four chidlren. Marlene now goes by “Persephone.”

Marlene, aka Persephone, in April 2006.

Persephone is homeless, and currently missing. She lived as recently as four years ago with a few others on the streets of Los Angeles, where she journaled, wrote poetry, and carried with her in a manila envelope a photo of her former centerfold.

The above recent photograph was taken by Paul Zollo, a musician, journalist, and photographer who was strolling around Los Angeles and met Persephone and some of her friends at the corner of Yucca and Cahuenga. Below are highlights from his very moving story of how their encounter went.

“Persephone and Bert.”

At the intersection of Yucca and Cahuenga I saw her – she was sitting on the sidewalk with a guy named Bert Rental. I presumed at first that Persephone & Bert were a couple because they were sitting alone when I first approached them on Yucca near Cahuenga in Hollywood, very close to where I lived for more than 20 years. They both let me know they were homeless, but that wasn’t really an issue.

Persephone was crying, weeping profusely in fact, and explaining that there was a suicide, and she had a grandson she loved, and she had a husband who had disappeared, and “many contracts” that she was ignoring. She didn’t explain what kind of contracts they were.

I asked many times to take her photo, and she said, “No, I’ll GIVE you a photo — a good one — because I look like shit now, because I’ve been CRYING FOR TWO WHOLE WEEKS.” She repeated this like a sad mantra. She started crying intensely, and Bert seemed very uncomfortable with this, and I told her it was cool to cry, and she said, “NO — it’s NOT cool.” And I said all I meant is that it’s okay to cry. And then she wept openly, and then wiped the tears away and laughed with pure joy. And then alternated between laughter and tears.

[She] did show [me] a Playboy centerfold from the Sixties of a blonde woman named Morrow who she said was her. And it did look quite like her, and I believe it was her, and she said that now she dyed her hair dark. I asked her if she knew Hefner, and she looked at me with an expression that said, “How could I not know him?”

[She said] that everything was terrible – she’d been waiting for her husband for days, and he had yet to appear. That she had a grandson she hadn’t seen in too long. Then embraced me with all her heart and told me I was “precious.”

Then she opened a journal of her reflections and poetry, written in a florid script, and asked me to read it aloud, which I did to the best of my ability, as it was hard to make out, but it was about the mythical Persephone, the Goddess of Innocence and the Queen of the Underworld.

I received a message from a fellow flickr-artist [who] had looked her up on the net and discovered a photo of former centerfold Marlene Morrow, at some former centerfold convention or something, taken in 2002. He sent me a link to the photo. I didn’t think there was any chance it could be her.

But then I saw it. And it was haunting. It hit me like cold water in the face first thing in the morning. Because it was her face. Unmistakably.

This is the picture of Marlene at Glamourcon May 5, 2002, to which Mr. Zollo refers.

[I have been] receiving messages from Bebe Buell, who also was a Playboy centerfold – and a good friend of Marlene’s. Together we are hoping to find her. Last I saw she was on the street. If you can help us find her, let me know.

Bebe added more to my tale of Marlene, which follows — Bebe said both she and Marlene dated Todd Rundgren, and that Todd wrote a song about her which is on his “Something/Anything” album, called “Marlene.”

Bebe called and said, “I couldn’t sleep all night after reading your words about Marlene. I am ready to get on a plane to come and find her.”

A final entreaty and heartbreaking epilogue from Mr. Zollo:

I had hoped her life would improve. Sadly, I was wrong. Received a long and sad message from her daughter today telling me Marlene has been attacked on more than one occasion and has lost all her teeth.

Why the world treats some of its children like this is beyond me. She is someone beloved by many. If you know where she is, or have seen her, let us know.

Mr. Zollo is on the myspace and the flickr.

The irreplaceable Ms. Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974, sweet and loving model, actress, and singer in her own right (not to mention mother to equally cramazing and talented Liv Tyler — they are beautiful inside and out), is still seeking to get in touch with Marlene, with whom she was close in the 1970’s. Ms. Buell said that she was told in the early 2000’s that Marlene was looking to talk to her and she lost track of time and did not follow up. She is understandably guilt-stricken about that now and is hoping fervently to find Ms. Pinkard. If you know how to find Persephone/Marlene Pinkard/Marlene Morrow and Ms. Buell has not already heard from you, you may contact her through her website, Please. Contact Mr. Zollo or Ms. Buell any time with any information you have, really.

*(Also, if you follow the link to Ms. Strega’s thoughtful and poignantly articulated story about discovering that Marlene had become Persephone, Ms. Buell’s comment is the first: it includes an email address where she can be reached if you have info about Ms. Pinkard/Persephone. I didn’t want to put it in this entry without her permission.)

If this story has had an impact on you the way it did on me, I’ve hit the charity rating websites pretty hard and come up with a good solid list of some non-profits that you can volunteer with or donate to. Most are national and international so that you can help from no matter where you live, but I made sure to particularly include some charities that may directly affect Marlene’s everyday life, headquartered in LA and environs. All of the charities are top-rated, up-and-up organizations.

Alpha Project for the Homeless

National Alliance to End Homelessness

National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest)

Habitat for Humanity

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger (don’t forget that besides outright donating, you can alternately buy the Nice Jewish Guys calendar that I spotlighted way back on Calendar Girls day to support this great organization)

Salvation Army, Western Territory

This one is my personal favorite, and has several different ways you can help Marlene and people in similar positions to hers.

Homeless Health Care Los Angeles 213-744-0724
online donation

Okay, so think about all that? Thanks!

Per mi amico: Cappy 2nd ed.

January 7, 2010

Or is it the third? Either way. Breaking news: Some guys are just plain ol’ rock stars and you cannot keep a good pimp down!

All photos are Christian Bale by Ellen Von Unwerth, Interview magazine, February 2001.

I had a wonderful time with the Cappy while he was here yesterday and today. I think it will be impossible for me to be in a bad mood for quite a while. Tomorrow I am lunching with Miss D, finally, and I think I should see the Fountainhead soon; he called today but I was busy with my best boy — of all things we were looking at vintage CandyLand boxes online to try to pick out our versions from childhood, because we played kidlet — and spanked her ass like bosses!– but were chagrined by the changes time has wrought in the character designs. The Cappy in particular was very disappointed in the revamp of Queen Frostina.

It’s funny: I always forget how ridiculously and simply wonderful it is to just hang out and jabber for hours with the Cappy on end. He really is a brother from another mother. The time truly flies.

Also, this morning while we were driving around a few memory lanes, I called bullshit on a red light after already having sat at it for at least a full minute; I just up and went. Halfway across the incredibly busy intersection I had this horrible adrenaline-charged panic that surged through me shrieking, “Shit! What the fuck am I doing?!” but fortunately I hit the accelerator and hightailed it the rest of the way out of there, to the accompaniment of multiple horns honking — but no one even had to brake, the timing was completely surreal. Thank god. All we can surmise is that, focused on our conversation and lulled by the fact I’d been driving around over an hour, I saw it was briefly clear and atavistically bolted. I do have a well documented lack of patience, so it’s possible!

Between catching up with Miss D tomorrow and trying to rid my computer of a frumious bandersnatch that’s been redirecting me from search results to adware (total folklore), I will probably only be spottily updating the journal. Until then! Salute — I’m off to bed!