a new low in topical enlightenment

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Issue #61 (September 1, 2010)

Libby Flats, Snowy Range, Wyoming

Photo by Joe Carducci

Clint, the First
by Joe Carducci

For a good decade people heard the name Clint and they thought of Clint Walker. He’d been working at The Sands in Las Vegas as security one minute and after two bit parts -- Jungle Gents (1954), The Ten Commandments (1956) -- he became one of the biggest TV stars as the lead in “Cheyenne” (1955-62), which premiered the same week as “Gunsmoke” in Sept. 1955. It didn’t have the run that “Gunsmoke” had but it made the bigger splash. It was part of screwy rotating anthologies on ABC’s schedule, first with “Conflict”, then with “Shirley Temple’s Storybook”. Today the old show is available on complete season DVD collections, and runs daily on Encore Westerns. Currently the promo run on the channel for “Cheyenne” features a clip of guest-star juvie Dennis Hopper pointing his pistol at Clint and saying, “Hello dead man.” Walker tells him to put his gun down and Hopper baits him to draw; he does and blows the gun from Dennis’ hand. The juvenile delinquent made his retroactive appearance often in the west on the big and small screens through the fifties and into the sixties. They were played by young actors of that era like Hopper, Skip Homeier, Alex Nicol, Richard Jaeckel, James Best, Nick Adams, and even Jack Lord and John Cassavetes. These eye-popping ingrates made the stolid post-war hero projected west look even stolider.

The series was very cheaply made, and running an hour long it is often obvious they spent very little money on it. The many studio exterior sets look so bad it’s a wonder they were produced by one of the great old movie studios. And the real location exteriors don’t look much better. What’s striking about the series is Walker himself, his untrained presence isn’t faked, and in the first season his dry authority had the friendlier L.Q. Jones to play off of. Jones told Everett Aaker, “The director was the only human being in this business I couldn’t get along with. I wouldn’t spit in his mouth if his brains were on fire…. At my request they put me in a movie instead. That decision cost me three or four million dollars.” (He’s talking about either Richard L. Bare or Roy Huggins, methinks.)

Walker took his overnight success in stride and since the show was a Warner Bros. production and other TV actors at Warners got into some of their feature films, he walked off that threadbare set when they wouldn’t allow it in his case. His agent Henry Willson, the connoisseur of beef-cake (Rock Hudson, Rory Calhoun, Guy Madison, Guy Williams, Robert Fuller, John Smith, John Saxon, Mike Connors…) had a lot going on with Warners, especially their TV westerns, and “Cheyenne” was a huge hit so they caved and this first Clint returned to TV sets and got up onto the big screen too in 1958. Dave Kehr writes Sunday in the NYT, “his place in film history hangs on the three modest western films he made with director Gordon Douglas.” Kehr is writing on the occasion of Warners home video adding the second and third of these westerns to their burn-on-demand Warner Archive Collection.

These two films, Yellowstone Kelly (1959), and Gold of the Seven Saints (1961), are the lesser of the three though Kehr claims Gold is his favorite so I’ll check it out again. It was written by Leigh Brackett for Howard Hawks according to Kehr. Yellowstone Kelly was written by Burt Kennedy though it is inferior to those scripts of his Budd Boetticher directed for Randolph Scott -- 7 Men from Now (1956), The Tall T (1957), Ride Lonesome (1959), and Comanche Station (1960). For one thing it is an historical bio-pic and reaches for A-film production values including color. What it does share with other Kennedy scripts is the carnal sense of sex that it took from fifties men’s magazines and western pulp. In fact the whole of Kelly revolves around the Arapaho beauty played by blue-eyed Andra Martin, a captive of the Sioux, but able even while recuperating from a bullet in the back to split the tribe’s leadership and threaten momentarily even the relationship between Kelly and his young apprentice trapper played by another WB TV star, Ed Byrnes. The set-up was sexy enough in the fifties but it doesn’t carry a film today. Burt Kennedy told Jeremy Arnold, “Yellowstone Kelly I wrote for John Ford and John Wayne. Ford loved it and sent it to Duke, who was doing a terrible picture called The Barbarian and the Geisha…. It was really disappointing when you went from John Ford and John Wayne to Gordy Douglas and Clint Walker! And of course about five million dollars came out of the budget. I knew Gordy very well. I liked him, but his pacing on Yellowstone Kelly was atrocious.”

It’s the first film that Clint Walker starred in, Fort Dobbs (1958), that really ranks with the best westerns of the period. It has a Kennedy script as good as his best, it’s a great film directed by an under-appreciated pro, Gordon Douglas, whose filmography is full of interesting movies (Saps at Sea, The Falcon in Hollywood, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, The Nevadan, Them!, In Like Flint, The Detective, Tony Rome, Skin Game, Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off), and it's got great support stars. It’s got one of Virginia Mayo’s best performances and that ain’t nothing, and one is reminded what Brian Keith sold out when he let his career be destroyed in the sit-com, “Family Affair”. He makes a great oily villain in the Boetticher-Kennedy gallery. But Fort Dobbs works in the terse, grim way that it does because Clint Walker is such a low-key, wrong-foot actor that his hooded performance fleeing from a killing we see but don’t understand until the end communicates realism in a way that the old studio style of Randolph Scott, or the Broadway musical style of Howard Keel, or the off-Broadway method style of Marlon Brando did not. Kehr notes that Dobbs’ Monument Valley is “more desolate and sinister” than Ford’s; the same can be said for the entire film up until its more-interesting-than-usual happy ending.

One exemplary shot, no doubt improvised, establishes a true moment on film of an actor and his part being one: Walker slide-surfing down a steep but soft wall of a dry wash as he flees the posse and descends into hostile Comanche territory. As Walker rides the earth down he reaches back to touch the wall behind him as a surfer might touch the curl of the wave for balance. He is in character.

• Clint Walker interview on his career

• Walker’s account of his near-death skiing accident begins at 3:30 mark .

• “Kodiak”, Walker’s second TV show, 1974 trailer.

(adapted from the forthcoming book, Stone Male - Requiem for a Style)

[Illustrations: Gold of the Seven Saints poster; Cheyenne: L.Q. Jones, Clint Walker; Fort Dobbs poster]

ONO business

On Saturday’s performance etc. at The Mopery’s final night:

From: Travis

To: Krakow

cc: Carducci

Subject: ONO Plays The Last Show @ The Mopery

Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2010 06:32:07 -0500

PlasticMan: MoMoMopery.

I am just out of an hour-long bath. Trying to wash the nicotine, the 100+ degree jet engine exhaust, the smell of cannabis sativa and the woolly feel of giddy mole spores from my oozing pores into tomorrow's deep tunnel drinking water. At least .016 inch of creeping brews saturated MoMoMopery's ever-deeping multitude.

"Where you guys come from?"

Nearly mud-like, look and smell like Bar-B-Q/Friday night fish fry, punctuated by crud amplified by hazy high voltage from crunchy metal cans, plastic slivers and sound of breaking/broken bottles stacked 3' high near the entrance; spike heels stuck in sticky pink-and-black substance consistency of mud pack or my Mississippi-style banana creme pie will not wipe off my electronic spaghetti, my hiked-up frocks or my American Standard enamel bathtub.

"I just bought your album for $80 on ebay."

"I paid $200 for mine...."

Dizzying. Lights out. Train wreck. BBQ pit, served up with smoke, soot and shameless, temperamental sonics. Trials by fire. MoMoMopery baptismal; do or die. And we are better precisely because we did not die. Yet. Yet. And yet, building our immunity, one after the other: Spectacular warriors rattled the humidity-raining rafters. We fed on jet fuel. We fit right into this house that MoMoMopery made. Now, it is a half-hour before show time. Hundreds! of hungry hearts, parts and eyes, can not wait for ONO fits and starts and never ends.

"I have never seen anything like it before!"

We did surely wish you were here!

"That was the first Velvet Underground cover I have ever heard that I liked."

"Cops are downstairs, can I interview you right here?"

Your vehicle did, indeed, trot us here for this Medieval monasticism, more like post-modernist medicine in MoMoMopery consistency, not unlike cod liver oil.

"I can't get that phrase 'I know I been changed' out of my head...."

I would want you to suffer my out-of-body, body-as-unventilated humidor discomfiture; ONO feverish presentation and our faces flooded by flashes from MoMoMopery's community of friends with so many digital screens. We missed you, yes, yet we stand in sincerest hope for your happy recovery.

With Love.

= = =

FM: P.Michael:

The show was ridiculous ...the joint was packed... I have never seen Mopery that packed.. the band came on one right after another... there were 3 stages.... all the bands I saw were at their best and gave incredible sets ...all brought something different ..... the air was thick beer everywhere they surrounded us like hungry animals... the sparks flew of metal during Heroin ....it was majestic , shamanistic . and more ....this night will live in Chicago under ground history ..

= = =

FM: BloodLust

Sunday, August 29, 2010:

Mopery R.I.P. Insane night! It was all good until the paint monsters attacked. I headed out at 3:45 AM to grab a cab when the glass really started crashing. The night encapsulated all that was great about the space. On fucking steroids. And maybe why it is a good thing that it closed. There were more people out on the sidewalk when the battalion of cops came than there were inside during the typical show there. It was a miracle that they did not shut things down. If I thought that the Sightings/BLOODYMINDED show in April had a big crowd (I heard approx. 300) then this had to have maxed out at well over 400????? There was nearly no room to move around at the peak of the night... and certainly no air to breathe. Intense!

Really enjoyable sets, overall. Ono in full glam-rock mode was awesome. Sun Splitter totally pummeled, despite the electrical crashes. Loose Dudes set the energy in full hyper mode (I did not know that Maggie from Rager was in the band - BLOODYMINDED played a fun show with them a few years back at Subterranean), followed by an excellent and frantic Running set... and then Lechuguillas took it home in the most spectacular way. I cannot wait to play with them again on 9/11! They have to be among the most exciting bands in the city, right now.

I did a solo microphone set that ran for about nine minutes, and I performed a version of "Leak," the Cadaver in Drag song that I wrote and did vocals on, from their "Absuse/Breathing Sewage" CD. It went smoothly enough, and from the sound of the recording, the crowd actually quieted down once my feedback started rising. I was amused that a big cheer rang out as I hoisted the mic-snake over my head, and that duct-taped monstrosity was at its heaviest and fullest size, ever. Great! It sounded a bit sparse to me, feedback-wise, but some folks said that it was pretty piercing. Thanks to Jason Soliday, for the use of his PA and for watching the peaking levels. Thanks to all of my friends who came out early - or especially - to see me --- and for braving the hot, humid, and smokey conditions inside. And of course, major thanks to everyone at The Mopery for the fun shows that I played there, for the many shows that I saw there, and for the major contribution to the Chicago underground music scene!

= = =

Friday, Sept. 3, noon

travis sings "America the Beautiful"

Chicago's annual Salute to LGBT Veterans 

Daley Plaza

= = =

Friday, Sept. 3, 8pm


5O45 N Clark, Chicago

= = =


Wed. Sept. 15, 9pm

WLUW's Delirious Insomniac Freeform Radio Show 3rd Anniversary Event 

Darkroom Bar

2210 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL

[Photographs by Brian Jarreau and Gretchen Hasse.]

From the London Desk of Steve Beeho…

As circulations continue to plummet, it’s ironic that magazines which people presumably would buy, such as Vice and Stool Pigeon, are actually free. I only come across physical copies of Vice very occasionally (clearly I’m not hanging out at the right hipster joints) and while some issues are virtually unreadable, others can really hit the spot. Last year’s bumper Film issue was more engrossing than a lot of film books I own and the current “Anti-Music” issue, in addition to the Crass piece highlighted last week, has more great stuff in it, including:

- Sam McPheeters asking ‘Is Rock Over?’. (Hopefully not but the prognosis isn’t very encouraging.)

- Miles Raymer interviewing Ken Douglas on the golden age of music piracy (the piece doesn’t provide a link to Douglas’s blog where he recounts more bootlegging yarns but thanks to in-depth research -- i.e. typing “Ken Douglas” and “blog” into google --
it’s here.)

- and from A Reader and Writer’s Guide to Reading Writing About Music:

“INTROSPECTION (“Semisonic share hard-won wisdom and clear-eyed introspection on this hard-rocking yet surprisingly mature comeback.”) Musicians are often so busy studying the objective world—collecting samples in the field, analyzing tables of data, measuring twice and cutting once—that they forget to look within themselves and check out their own feelings. That is why it is such a treat when an album comes along that shares an artist’s personal hurt. It is only on those rare occasions when musicians are able to steal a few moments away from their demanding research schedules to meditate on the agonies of selfhood that they come up with their best material, their “Wherever You Will Go,” their “You Oughta Know,” their “Creep,” their “Meat Hook Sodomy.” Musicians should not have to work, because they are special, gifted people who should be free to feel their feelings all day and night.”


Sean O’Hagan in The Guardian on a London exhibition of punk graphics.


Adam “The Century of the Self” Curtis blogging on Madison Avenue and experiments in the Laboratory of Consumerism 1959-67 as a back story to “Mad Men”.

4 Minutes Above Burbank-Glendale-Griffith Park-LA, Friday, 8 PM

Photo by Chris Collins

From the Wyoming Desk of Joe Carducci…

Michael Galinsky musicians photography.


Jessa Crispin at thesmartset.com on Douglas Perry’s book, The Girls of Murder City.

“The sexual dynamic of Chicago changed swiftly and dramatically in the early decades of the 20th century, according to Douglas Perry’s The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago. Single girls from the country were living all alone in the big city for the first time. The shops, the offices, the factories all needed women to smile pretty, to take dictation, and sew. The cabarets and speakeasies needed them to bring in men. Flash a little leg in a song and dance act and you can go from penniless and scared to big time actress. Or, if luck had it, you could even become Mrs. So-and-So Industrialist, your every need met.”


Camille Paglia at chronicle.com, "Revalorizing the Trades".

“Jobs, and the preparation of students for them, should be front and center in the thinking of educators. The idea that college is a contemplative realm of humanistic inquiry, removed from vulgar material needs, is nonsense. The humanities have been gutted by four decades of pretentious postmodernist theory and insular identity politics. They bear little relationship to the liberal arts of broad perspective and profound erudition that I was lucky enough to experience in college in the 1960s.

Having taught in art schools for most of my four decades in the classroom, I am used to having students who work with their hands—ceramicists, weavers, woodworkers, metal smiths, jazz drummers. There is a calm, centered, Zen-like engagement with the physical world in their lives. In contrast, I see glib, cynical, neurotic elite-school graduates roiling everywhere in journalism and the media. They have been ill-served by their trendy, word-centered educations.”


Jason Song in the LAT, "Teachers blast L.A. Times for releasing effectiveness rankings".


Nick Cohen at standpoint.co.uk, "Radical Islam’s Fellow Travellers".

“The fellow-traveller looked away from communism's victims and invited others to do the same. Communists damned ‘bourgeois democracy’. It disillusioned communism's fellow-travellers, too, but not enough to persuade them to give up on democratic politics completely and join the revolution. They wished the Soviet Union well and found its experiments on the human race bracing. But in the words of David Caute, the best historian of fellow-travelling, their support was a ‘commitment at a distance’.

The reception given to Tariq Ramadan when he arrived in New York in April showed that today a type of fellow-travelling with radical Islam has spread from Europe to America…. The willingness of Ramadan's admirers to ignore the victims of totalitarianism was familiar but everything else was different. The readers of the New York Review of Books and the Nation, like the readers of Le Monde Diplomatique and the New Statesman, are not committing to radical Islam, even at a distance. They do not believe in the subjugation of women, the murder of homosexuals and apostates, the Jewish conspiracy theory and the creation of a theocratic empire in the way that communism's old fellow-travellers in socialism believed to varying degrees. The best they can manage is a feeble relativism. ‘But it's their culture to oppress women,’ they insist. ‘It's imperialist to impose Western human rights standards on others.’”


Tushar Ranjan Mohanty at SAIR, "Tribal Elders: Living on a Sword’s Edge".

“Since the beginning of United States-led operation in Afghanistan in 2001 and the consequent influx of Afghan Taliban into the tribal areas, an unspecified number of tribal elders and pro-Government tribal militia members have become victims of a sustained campaign of annihilation that has virtually destroyed the structure of traditional tribal power in these regions. Though there is no specific official statement regarding the number of tribal militia/tribal elders’ casualties, Mohmand Agency Additional Political Agent (APA) Ahmed Jan stated, on January 6, 2010, that about 104 pro-Government elders and volunteers of peace committee were killed in the Mohmand Agency in the year 2009 alone. The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) data, based on erratic reporting in the Pakistan media, records the killing of at least 86 tribal elders since 2005 in 54 incidents.”


Nitasha Kaul’s piece at opendemocracy.net, "Kashmir: a place of blood and memory", illustrates the disadvantage a democracy such as India is at when in conflict with a tyranny never mind whatever Pakistan might be called. For though Kaul’s introduction makes faint to include POK (Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir) and COK (China-occupied-Kashmir) in her outrage, she has apparently never seen these denied areas and has nothing really to say. She has studied India’s sins as her hero Noam Chomsky has studied America’s sins. And as they would have it neither democracy measures up. Her standards are so high one wonders how she believes Islam came to the subcontinent. One of the comments fills her in with references that don’t sound available in English but who knows… It is a very long piece but the wikimedia map is worth a click.


Leigh Phillips at euobserver.com, "Football Hooligans Unite":

“The group's mission statement declares that anyone is welcome, so long as they are ‘integrated:’ ‘We are non-racist/fascist and anyone is welcome if they want to live under English values and fully integrate into our way of life.’

‘English Defence League members recognise that this threat is one that must be stopped at all costs. Our Christian, Jewish, Sikh, and Hindu friends all have tales to tell with regard to Islamic Imperialism,’ the group's ‘Exposing the myths’ page reads.

One of its leaders is Guramit Singh, a Sikh born in Britain, and it says it is, like Mr Wilders, strongly pro-Israel and maintains both Jewish and LGBT ‘divisions’ while backing a ban on the building of mosques and seeking the burqa to be outlawed.”


Bret Stephens in the WSJ, The Twenty Years’ War.


Jonny Thakkar’s piece at thepointmag.com, "Why Conservatives Should Read Marx" is sophomoric in conception first and foremost because what Marx was attempting to do was take a romantic political movement -- socialism -- and ground it in the hard mathematical science of economics. Funny how those numbers seem softer and expressionistic these days. Marx succeeded via Lenin’s hard-ass abuse of politics to defeat those soft socialists as well as the royals and the bourgeoisie, and then kill them in numbers that choked all economic activity but expropriation. In the end Russians joked, “We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us.” Not quite what Karl had in mind, but no excuses work for the materialist. Thakkar prefers to bait the right along the lines of the liberal complaint since Reagan’s boom which began the modern acceleration of American life and business: Republicans are the radicals! This has always sounded really lame for a political ethos that pretends to be modern, hip, sexy, and in a hurry, so it tends to be disguised as here, or whispered.

The other half of the conservative agenda is cultural, that is a defense of the folk patterns of America against the central dictates coming out of Washington on the back of the civil rights remedies. The slaves were freed and the states lost their sovereignty. Then blacks finally got their vote, and all traditions came under the same hammer of social justice lawyers. Those crackers sure cost us a lot. Marx thought capitalism would destroy feudal cultures for the communists, but he was in a hurry himself. Inevitable wasn’t fast enough. So the socialists chewed up feudalisms pretty efficiently and it is they or their equivalent here that has sought to overturn the various regional patterns to do with sex, culture, and faith via class actions suits paid for by Americans on behalf of Americans against Americans.


Andrew Goldman’s profile of David Koch in New York magazine, "The Billionaire’s Party", ran one month ago. He had access to Koch and wrote about his New York philanthropies, his Tea Party support, his oil businesses, his college basketball career, and his brother Charles’ founding of the Cato Insitute. The New Yorker ran Jane Mayer’s even longer piece on the Kochs last week. She had no access and understandably so. Mayer appears to not follow basketball either. She focuses on her sense of libertarianism as some kind of “anti-government fervor” that’s related to conservatism which is of course around the corner from fascism. “They’re out to destroy progressivism,” she quotes a Democratic strategist “who has studied the conservative movement’s finances.” “Follow the money.” Got it. She has John Wayne involved too; I think she may not like westerns either.

Oddly, Frank Rich reads only The New Yorker, not New York, yet he lives in New York City and writes for both the New York Times and The New York Review of Books. I guess his column in the NYT touting Jane Mayer’s piece as well as the Jon Stewart show, "The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party", is an indicator that Rich hopes to retire to The New Yorker, not New York. For now he must make do with the New York Review of Books, even though I don’t believe they watch the Comedy Channel or Encore Westerns for that matter. Finally Matthew Lynch writes up Jane Mayer’s and The New Yorker’s pique over the silent scoop (no “Fresh Air” or MSNBC interest in Andrew Goldman, apparently) and how they display it at wwd.com, "Editors Clash Over the Kochs". Strange Journalist.


Ajay Chibber in the FT, "We need states to be smarter, not bigger".

“On the eve of the first world war, the average size of the state in the developed world was around 10 per cent of gross domestic product. By 1920, it had risen to 18 per cent. With the Great Depression it expanded again to 22 per cent of GDP, hitting 28 per cent by the end of the second world war. The golden period came with the expansion of the welfare state between 1960 and 1980, when government spending in the developed world rose to around 43 per cent of GDP.”


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s commentary in the WSJ, "Public Pensions and Our Fiscal Future", concerns what he might have begun his Governorship dealing with -- its not as if the numbers lied but evidently he thought the bubble might last his eight years and the false pluses would outrun the hard-minuses. But again, the chart graphic that accompanies the piece is quite eloquent.


Adam Fergusson in the FT on Weimar inflation.


Honor Mahony’s blog at euobserver.com.

“There are many conversations I would like to be a party to. But for EU purposes any self-respecting eavesdropper ought to be somewhere near German chancellor Angela Merkel and her Slovak counterpart Iveta Radicova on Wednesday. The concept of ‘EU solidarity’ lurks as a conversation centre-piece at their meeting in Berlin. Sounding more German than the Germans and then going one step further, Slovakia incurred the wrath of both Berlin and Brussels when its parliament earlier this month voted against putting €816 million into a €110 billion Greek bailout fund. The tone was unrepentant on the day and remains so. After parliamentarians voted 69 to 2 votes against, Radicova, who made this a campaign theme before the elections, underlined how much hardship her country went implementing an austerity programme in 2000 without any external help.”


Thanks to Steve Beeho, Jay Babcock.

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• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
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