IF: sea

I’m afraid of water that is dark
It was Thanksgiving weekend 1981. Natalie Wood and her husband, actor Robert Wagner had asked fellow actor Christopher Walken, Natalie’s co-star in her current film Brainstorm, to join them aboard their yacht the Splendour. They would sail to Catalina Island, dine at Doug’s Harbor Reef, the only restaurant in Isthmus Cove on the northern end of the island, and then spend the evening on the yacht.

The trio, all of whom had been drinking excessively, boarded a 13-foot dinghy after dinner and motored back to the yacht. Other diners had noticed erratic and volatile behavior from the obviously intoxicated Natalie.

At 8 AM on November 29, Natalie’s lifeless body was found floating in the Pacific Ocean, approximately one mile from where the Splendour was anchored. She was wearing a flannel nightgown, a down jacket and wool socks. The rubber dinghy that was used as a transport was floating nearby, its ignition was off and its oars were up and locked. It was speculated that she had fallen into the water while trying to board the craft. Scratches on the vessel’s side suggested that Natalie tried to pull herself onto the boat, but the combination of alcohol in her system and the weight of her waterlogged jacket made her attempts unsuccessful. In her drunken state, she didn’t think of removing the jacket. She clung to the side of the small dinghy as it drifted away from the Splendour. Disoriented in the dark and overcome by exhaustion and hypothermia, Natalie drowned.

Over thirty years later, it is still unclear why Natalie left the yacht in the middle of the night and why Wagner and Walken weren’t alarmed by her late night disappearance. In 2011, Dennis Davern, the captain of the Splendour, alleged that Natalie and her husband were fighting on board and that Wagner was ultimately responsible for her death. His story lacked credibility (he was plugging a book at the time), although the official cause of death was changed from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

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we wish you the happiest, the happiest

My annual Christmas music compilation is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD for a limited time.

This year, it’s 29  holiday songs that run the gamut from big band swing to hipster cool, plus a custom full-color cover with track listings – all for you and all for FREE! (That’s two more songs than last year!)

Just CLICK HERE for “A Non-Traditional Christmas 2014
You will be taken to a new window where you’ll be able to download the zipped folder. Just ask your nearest grandchild how to unzip the folder and put the songs onto that goddamn iPod they bought you last Christmas. I guarantee you’ll be deleting these songs to make room for the latest NPR podcast in no time.

(Please contact me if you have trouble with the download… or just to say “Thanks.”)

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from my sketchbook: cathy downs

Thou art lost and gone forever dreadful sorry, Clementine

A talent scout from 20th Century Fox spotted dark-haired Vogue model Cathy Downs and brought her to Hollywood.

After a few uncredited roles , including State Fair and a biopic about The Dolly Sisters, Cathy was cast in the titular role in the John Ford Western My Darling Clementine, a mostly inaccurate account of the notorious gunfight at the OK Corral. Cashing in on that film’s success, Cathy starred in several detective tales and a few more Westerns. She even took a stab at comedy, co-starring with Abbott and Costello. In 1952, Cathy married her Joe Palooka co-star Joe Kirkwood, Jr. The couple divorced in 1955.

By the 1950s, Cathy found work in low-budget sci-fi films, with 1958’s Missile to the Moon as her last big-screen appearance. She occasionally took roles on television dramas, however, her portrayal of a murder victim on a 1965 episode of Perry Mason was her final acting role.

Cathy died from cancer at 52. She was unemployed for the last eleven years of her life.

* * * * * *

we wish you the happiest, the happiest

My annual Christmas music compilation is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD for a limited time.

This year, it’s 29  holiday songs that run the gamut from big band swing to hipster cool, plus a custom full-color cover with track listings – all for you and all for FREE! (That’s two more songs than last year!)

Just CLICK HERE for “A Non-Traditional Christmas 2014
You will be taken to a new window where you’ll be able to download the zipped folder. Just ask your nearest grandchild how to unzip the folder and put the songs onto that goddamn iPod they bought you last Christmas. I guarantee you’ll be deleting these songs to make room for the latest NPR podcast in no time.

(Please contact me if you have trouble with the download… or just to say “Thanks.”)

Bookmark/Favorites

IF: light

When the light turns green, you go. When the light turns red, you stop. But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

As a young student of psychiatric medicine, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was shocked by the hospital treatment of patients in the United States who were dying. She began giving a series of lectures featuring terminally ill patients, forcing medical students to face people who were dying.

Upon graduation and  receiving her degree, she began teaching at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. She developed a series of seminars using interviews with terminal patients, which drew both praise and criticism. She regularly questioned the practices of traditional psychiatry that she observed.

Her work with the dying led to write her celebrated and respected book, On Death and Dying, in 1969. In the book, Kübler-Ross proposed the now famous “Five Stages of Grief” as a pattern of adjustment: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Later, she expressed an interest in the afterlife and spiritualism, sometimes debunking self-proclaimed “mediums,” à la Harry Houdini.

One of her greatest wishes was to build a hospice for infants and children infected with HIV to give them a last home where they could live until their death. In 1985, her attempt to fulfill her dream in Virginia was met with opposition from local residents who feared the possibility of the spread of the disease. Zoning for the facility was eventually blocked. In 1994, Kübler-Ross lost her house and possessions to an arson fire that is suspected to have been set by opponents of her AIDS work.

In 1995, Kübler-Ross suffered a series of strokes which left her partially paralyzed and limited her mobility. She was confined to a wheelchair, in constant pain, slowly waiting for death to come. She wished to determine the time of her own death. Kübler-Ross passed away in 2004 at the age of 78.

* * * * * *

we wish you the happiest, the happiest

My annual Christmas music compilation is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD for a limited time.

This year, it’s 29  holiday songs that run the gamut from big band swing to hipster cool, plus a custom full-color cover with track listings – all for you and all for FREE! (That’s two more songs than last year!)

Just CLICK HERE for “A Non-Traditional Christmas 2014
You will be taken to a new window where you’ll be able to download the zipped folder. Just ask your nearest grandchild how to unzip the folder and put the songs onto that goddamn iPod they bought you last Christmas. I guarantee you’ll be deleting these songs to make room for the latest NPR podcast in no time.

(Please contact me if you have trouble with the download… or just to say “Thanks.”)

*********

Bookmark/Favorites

happy holidays 2014 from JPiC

we wish you the merriest, the merriest
My annual Christmas music compilation is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD for a limited time.
This year, it’s 29  holiday songs that run the gamut from big band swing to hipster cool, plus a custom full-color cover with track listings – all for you and all for FREE! (That’s two more songs than last year!)

Just CLICK HERE for “A Non-Traditional Christmas 2014
You will be taken to a new window where you’ll be able to download the zipped folder. Just ask your nearest grandchild how to unzip the folder and put the songs onto that goddamn iPod they bought you last Christmas. I guarantee you’ll be deleting these songs to make room for the latest NPR podcast in no time.

(Please contact me if you have trouble with the download.)

we wish you the happiest, the happiest

Bookmark/Favorites

from my sketchbook: savannah

Shannon Wilsey on the Starry Stairs

Despite a stint on the high school cheerleading squad, Shannon Wilsey was not happy. Her parents divorced when she was only two and she was shipped off from her Texas home to live with her grandparents in southern California.

While still in high school, the willowy blond began dating rock star Gregg Allman, who was 23 years her senior. She toured with Allman and his band for several years. Soon, Shannon joined Vivid Entertainment and entered the world of adult films. In a career that spanned a mere four years, Shannon starred in over one hundred pornographic movies. She used the single stage name “Savannah,” taking the moniker from the 1992 film Savannah Smiles, a personal childhood favorite.

After Allman, Shannon was involved with a long line of rockers including Billy Idol, bassist Billy Sheehan, Slash and Vince Neil. She also had relationships with actor Marc Wahlberg and comedian Pauly Shore, as well as an on-again, off-again relationship with with fellow porn actress Jeanna Fine.

On July 11, 1994, Shannon crashed her Corvette on her way to her Los Angeles apartment. She sustained a number of serious facial lacerations and a broken nose, but managed to get back to her Hollywood home on her own. She called her manager Nancy Pera. Pera arrived at Shannon’s home a short time later and discovered Shannon on the floor of the garage. Convinced that her disfiguring injuries had ruined her career, Shannon had shot herself. An ambulance rushed her to a nearby hospital. When it was determined that she would not survive the injuries from the accident and the gunshot, her father made the decision to remove life support. Shannon was 23 years old.

Texas indie rockers Okkervil River paid tribute to Shannon with their songs “Savannah Smiles” and “Shannon Wilsey on the Starry Stairs.”

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IF: theatre

Shelley: Also known as Shirley

I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful and damaging to all things American. But if I were 22 with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience.

When 22-year old Shelley Winters made her motion picture debut in What a Woman!, she was just one of many Hollywood “blonde bombshells.”

Shelley Winters? A bombshell? The whiny grandmother who courageously gave her life so a handful of her fellow Poseidon passengers could live? Sure, she was endearing and memorable, but a bombshell?

The campy guest villain “Ma Parker” on two episodes of Batman? A bombshell?

The frumpy “Nana Mary” on several episodes of the sitcom Roseanne? A bombshell?

Despite being introduced as nothing more than a piece of eye candy, Shelley shook off superficial roles for meatier, more substantial ones. Critics and audiences alike sat up and took notice of her turn in as the hapless mistress in the Ronald Colman thriller A Double Life. That led to her Oscar-nominated role in A Place in the Sun.

Shelly’s acting talent earned her two Academy Awards and a subsequent nomination for her supporting role in the aforementioned The Poseidon Adventure.

But in her early days, she was quite a looker.

Shelley passed away in 2006 at age 85. Her illustrious career spanned seven decades.

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from my sketchbook: keith wayne

Well... the television said that's the right thing to do.

In 1967, a 28 year-old aspiring  film maker named George Romero wrote the screenplay to what would be his first film, Night of the Living Dead. He gained technical experience working as a cameraman/producer for a local Pittsburgh television station where he created segments for the children’s show MisterRogers’ Neighborhood. Romero and his collaborator John Russo pitched the idea — a ragtag group of people fending off an onslaught of reanimated flesh-eating corpses — to a small  Pittsburgh-based industrial film company. Their minimal crew of ten each kicked in $600 to get production started. They eventually needed to raise more funds as the shoot progressed.  Romero rounded up a troupe of actors with scant experience. (Despite having no acting experience, Karl Hardman, president of the film company, and his wife were given roles.) He filmed in black & white under bare-bones conditions with homemade special effects, including chocolate syrup for blood and roasted ham supplied by a friend’s butcher shop as a stand-in for human flesh. In the end, the film came in at a budget of just over $110, 000. It grossed $12 million domestically.

Ronald Keith Hartman, an ambitious young actor from the Pittsburgh area, landed the part of “Tom” in Romero’s film. He and his girlfriend (played by pretty, but talentless, Judith Ridley — real life girlfriend of the film’s producer/co-star Russell Steiner, who played “Johnny”) were part of the group under siege by the undead. Using the screen name “Keith Wayne,” he made the most of the role, hoping it would lead to bigger and better. As a back-up plan, Keith sang in a local band, Keith Wayne and the Unyted Brass Works. His band appeared often on local programming on Pittsburgh television.

Unfortunately, Night of the Living Dead was Keith’s one and only film credit. Unable to further his acting career, he started another band, Ronnie and the Jestors, that proved successful. But in 1980, he abandoned show business entirely and became a chiropractor, setting up his practice in Cary, North Carolina. Now known as Dr. R. Keith Hartman, he also wrote a regular column for a weightlifting magazine.

Keith, however, fought a hidden battle with depression for years. In 1995, after submitting his final paper — “How to Find Chiropractic Help for Bursitis and Tendinitis, Sternum Noises, Knee and Neck Care” — for publication, Keith committed suicide. He was 50 years old.

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