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It's a dog's life... [by Steven Rea]
I don't think a book is going to happen with this set of photographs, but I've got a couple of portfolios' worth of images of, yes, movie stars with dogs -- professional Hollywood canines, beloved pets, mutts that just walked into the picture. Here are a few. And what do you know, Peggy Cummins, it appears, is having a cup of coffee as she offers her terrier a treat! That's Gary Cooper with pipe and pooch, Mr and Mrs Bogart sharing some lawn time with their Boxer, and Joel McCrea, in western wear, fooling around with his springing spaniel. Arf!
Posted Apr 8, 2016 at
The Best American Poetry
Chet Baker sings... [by Steven Rea]
Earlier this week I was writing up my review of Born to Be Blue, Robert Budreau's appropriately jazzy tribute to the great trumpeter and singer Chet Baker -- with Ethan Hawke in the lead as the cool cat West Coast horn player with the tragic end story and the knocked-out teeth. It's a very good film, evoking 1950s/1960s L.A. and New York, and that's Hawke singing his way through a couple of the standards ("My Funny Valentine," "I've Never Been In Love Before") that Baker made his own. So, by way of due diligence, and as an excuse to put the headphones on at work and take myself somewhere else, I listened to one of the best of Baker's collection of vocals: (Chet Baker Sings) It Could Happen to You. The LP came out in 1958 on Riverside, and Baker's song choice and silky readings are sublime. There's Rodgers and Hart here ("Do It the Hard Way," "Dancing On the Ceiling"), and the Gershwin boys ("How Long Has This Been Going On?") but maybe my favorite of the bunch is the Matt Dennis/Tom Adair woebegone ballad, "Everything Happens to Me." How's this for poetry: Everything Happens to Me I make a date for golf, and you can bet your life it rains. I try to give a party, and the guy upstairs complains. I guess I'll go through life, just catching colds and missing trains. Everything happens to me. I never miss a thing. I've had the measles and the mumps. And every time I play an ace, my partner always trumps. I guess I'm just a fool, who never looks before he jumps. Everything happens to me. At first, my heart thought you could break this jinx for me. That love would turn the trick to end despair. But now I just can't fool this head that thinks for me. I've mortgaged all my castles in the air. I've telegraphed and phoned and sent an air mail special too. Your answer was goodbye and there was even postage due. I fell in love just once, and then it had to be with you. Everything happens to me. I love that line: "I've mortgaged all my castles in the air!" Sinatra recorded "Everything Happens to Me," too, and it's none too shabby. But I'll take Chetty. Give a listen... .
Posted Apr 7, 2016 at
The Best American Poetry
One more cup of coffee... [by Steven Rea]
I've got a clutch of vintage photographs that didn't make it into Hollywood Cafe: Coffee With the Stars -- acquired too late for publication, but too good to pass up. Here's a backlot, between-scenes shot of Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon getting their cups freshened by a snazzily-attired unnamed Columbia Pictures gent, on the set of 1954's My Sister Eileen. The caption on the back of the photo is headlined "COFFEETIME," it's credited and stamped "Van Pelt," the studio's veteran photographer, Homer Van Pelt. A World War II Army colleague of director John Ford, post-war, Van Pelt was hired on to shoot production stills for almost all of Ford's films. And nothing to do with Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, Homer Van Pelt or John Ford, here's a poem by Ron Padgett, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation. A Google search reveals that there's actually a roaster and cafe in Knoxville, Tennessee, called Three Bears Coffee. Maybe the proprietor was inspired by Padgett's caffeinated musings? (P.S. -- Note the name of Padgett's publisher. It's a caffeinated conspiracy!) Prose Poem ("The morning coffee.") BY RON PADGETT The morning coffee. I'm not sure why I drink it. Maybe it's the ritual of the cup, the spoon, the hot water, the milk, and the little heap of brown grit, the way they come together to form a nail I can hang the day on. It's something to do between being asleep and being awake. Surely there's something better to do, though, than to drink a cup of instant coffee. Such as meditate? About what? About having a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee whose first drink is too hot and whose last drink is too cool, but whose many in-between drinks are, like Baby Bear's por- ridge, just right. Papa Bear looks disgruntled. He removes his spectacles and swivels his eyes onto the cup that sits before Baby Bear, and then, after a discrete cough, reaches over and picks it up. Baby Bear doesn't understand this disruption of the morning routine. Papa Bear brings the cup close to his face and peers at it intently. The cup shatters in his paw, explodes actually, sending fragments and brown liquid all over the room. In a way it's good that Mama Bear isn't there. Better that she rest in her grave beyond the garden, unaware of what has happened to the world. Ron Padgett, "Prose Poem" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2013 by Ron Padgett. Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press. www.coffeehousepress.org Source: Collected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2013)
Posted Apr 5, 2016 at
The Best American Poetry
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