Category Archives: celebrity

Margaret Cho’s Blog: my addendum to her post ‘Lost’

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I just got through reading the latest post on Margaret Cho’s Blog, It is at margaretcho.com. The post is titled ‘Lost” and it is just her thoughts about people who are missing, lost, and how that makes her feel. She mentions ‘In Search Of..” the old Leonard Nimoy series on creepy things, including people who are lost. I’m not conveying the feeling of that post very well. You really need to read it. Margaret Cho is one of the most honest individuals I have ever encountered. She is beautiful, and powerful. She served as the inspiration for this blog. I wanted to produce a blog as brutally honest and wonderful as hers. She is generally thought of as a comedian who focuses on gay, lesbian, transgender issues. But there is a lot more to Margaret Cho than that. I hope that she realizes that herself, because as I read her blog it seems as though she hasn’t come to terms with herself and her incredible power and ability to influence others. She just wants to be an ordinary person leading an ordinary life. That fact alone sets her apart from a lot of people involved in show business. When I first became aware of her by watching her on youTube back in November I was mesmerized and kind of fell in love with her. That infatuation has since cooled down, although she can still touch my heart and does frequently. I fell in love with her truth telling, her vulnerability, her fearlessness. Yes, she is both, therein lies much of the fascination. So check out her blog! If you like me, you will like her, I guarantee it! I have no idea if she is aware of this blog, but I often leave comments on her blog. Perhaps someday I will meet her. I guess you could say I am a bit starstruck, except she isn’t (according to her) a star. So I guess I am personstruck. Oh! and I almost forgot! She’s funny too!

Now I’d like to add my bit to what she wrote. There are people, a lot of people, actually more people than I care to think about, that are lost. Forget the milk carton kids, that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is shocking how many people are unaccounted for in this vast forsaken world. Where are they? They may be dead, or living a different sort of life under different names. They could be sex slaves, or something even more horrible could have been their fate. Who knows? Although I am quite visible, not at all difficult to find, I nevertheless feel lost. How many people really know that I am here. They get a glimpse, nothing more. I am a ghost. So much of me is lost. My hold upon my nearly empty shell is tenuous at best. A few people know my mind, my emotions, and perhaps a slight hint of my soul. But it is temporary. Seventy years or so is only a moment, one flash of light within an ocean of eternal darkness. That is lost. That is what lost means to me. Margaret Cho was right to feel scared as she contemplates the lost, for it is terrifying true. We are all lost to a degree, separated from each other and our world by something we feel but cannot understand. But it does seem to be of our own making, this lostness. The literally lost serve as a metaphor for our unbearable loneliness. Elvis Presley once said he felt lonely even in the middle of a crowd. It’s that kind of lonely street upon which we all dwell. I can understand why this affected Margaret Cho so much. She wants to love everyone in a direct, physical, overpowering way and is stymied by this loneliness. Now there are those who would describe this lostness as our unbearably painful separation from God, but I don’t feel qualified to offer an opinion about that. I prefer to stick to my own experience, than to philosophize with my keyboard. In my own experience I am plagued by ghosts. I see them in my dreams and sometimes they appear suddenly and shock me into lucidity. The past is lost, and this is where these ghosts dwell. As I grow older an entire world is lost to me, and becomes a poignant memory. Lost? Ask any elderly person about lost. Ask the mentally ill about lost. They know lost. They have lived lost. While I am frightened by lostness, I am also drawn into it. This is the essence of my nostalgia for a time before I was born. I would have loved to have been practicing magick with Aleister Crowley or painting with William Waterhouse. I’d have had a grand old time with Mark Twain. When contemplating the past, the distant past, like that of ancient Greece or Rome, I can be overwhelmed by what has been lost, and filled with a deep sadness. Lost is an inexhaustible subject for it’s depths lie beyond our reach. We can only shine our feeble torch into this abyss and report our meager findings.

In my comments on her post, I told Margaret that I was listening to a very powerful piece of music by Leyland Kirby entitled “Don’t Sleep I Am Not What I Seem, I Am A Quiet Storm” (which I have been listening to while writing this post as well). It captures perfectly the feeling of lostness, that unbearable loneliness. If I succeed in finding it on youTube I will include it here. I haven’t figured out how or if I can post a song from my iTunes library. If you don’t find it here, look for the album “Sadly, the Future Is No Longer What It Was” by Leyland Kirby. This post by Cho came at just the right time for me, for I had been feeling particularly lost today. I still have no job, although I have an interview Monday. I feel adrift on the sea of the unknown. My thoughts are of long ago. I posted about the pre-Raphaelites and Oscar Wilde. I feel at home in their world. They certainly understood what it meant to be lost. I have also passed into and out of an entirely imaginary relationship and am at a loss where to take this story now that the romance is no longer really there. I am haunted by my own creations. Margaret Cho however is very real. I hope she continues to produce thought provoking pieces for her blog for many more years. A part of me is frightened for her. I don’t want anything to ever happen to such a talented woman. Not that I think she is in danger, I’m just feeling unsettled in general and this spills over into how I feel about people I care about. Lost. Unsettled. Plagued by Ghosts. Sadly, the Future Is Not What It Was.

Are Viggo Mortensen & Fritz Rasp Related?

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Viggo Mortensen (left) Fritz Rasp (right)

One of my favorite actors of the 1920’s has to be Fritz Rasp. He was a German Expressionist actor who appeared in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and George Wilhelm Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl. He has got to be one of the creepiest actors I have ever seen. He exudes menace and casual sadism. He doesn’t smile often, and that is a good thing, because Fritz was even creepier when he smiled. I believe his sinister presence in Metropolis with that unforgettable hat was an inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker. Find those films and see if you don’t agree. Fritz is quite the ubermensch, and it gives me a shiver to know that he walked the same streets as Adolf Hitler. They may even have met.

And then there is Viggo. We know him well, or do we? Could he be Fritz Rasp’s grandson? Look at them, the resemblance is uncanny. If anyone is thinking of filming a biography of Fritz Rasp, Viggo is your guy! Actually a film bio of Louise Brooks is much more likely, and Fritz seduces Louise’ character in Diary of a Lost Girl. Viggo Mortensen isn’t as creepy as Fritz, but you got to admit, they look like each other.

The Original Joker?

Where Scott Walker doth dwell

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Where Scott Walker doth dwell there may be spiders, I can’t tell. Although he has sung of it, in his deathly tones, many times I confess. I cannot tell the lamppost from the lie, the fractured fairy tale from the putrid meat in the cellar. Scott Walker beckons to me from too great a depth, I cannot fathom it. His longing, his longing,,,,I must go to sleep, it is getting late. Scott Walker grew up on a ranch, no!, ’twas in the heart of New York City, ah, no it is told he had a different name, but why bother? He is the night, he is the promise, he lifts his blood stained hands before the altar. Why? Why must this man force his way into my brain? His objectives are obscure, hammering softly the same refrain, you have a swanky suit, a very swanky suit. But it shall not save me.

He is old. He is young, this man of no certain hour. Where doth dwell this teenage idol, this mildewed tower? He lives in a forgotten magazine, songs you can’t quite hear, no matter how much you increase the volume. He doth dwell on abandoned staircases within forgotten movie sets. He knows the ancient whores gazing out the window beside the rotting wharf, cigarette dangling out of a grease stained mouth. Don’t ask this seraph to explain his evocation, for this is not his path. It is his to slam the freshly butchered lamb with mallets till he’s said…..it…..all. Such is the way of this mysterious man, whose weirding way is but by chance. Where Scott Walker doth dwell there may be a knowledge unprepared, wrapped in fading newsprint, like a fish.

The Sun will never shine again as Scott pulls the azure garment close, and cries. The Sun will never shine again as Scott makes the ancient sign, and hopes. Gazing steadily with his youthful smirk, Scott Walker knows just how it works, stealth and guile, mirrors and smoke. Where Scott Walker doth dwell.

RussellPop, my new blog

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This is just to let my followers know that I am beginning a new blog, RussellPop, which is where I will post my observations on popular culture, music, movies, books, art, etc. It is not about me, myself, and I. It is free of expletives, and controversy, except of course the shallow controversies of popular culture. It is meant to be a fun site, for fans, and to get my take on what is going on in the world of entertainment and the arts. I will avoid heaviness. This site is my relief from my primary blog, this one, which will continue to pursue brutal honesty, and hopefully cause people to think, and feel. Here is where it’s real. RussellPop.wordpress.com is where it’s fun.

Rod’s Train Set

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So, to get my mind off of the posts I deleted, I’ll move on to a fun topic, train layouts!! I am a total geek when it comes to this, and the crazy thing is that I don’t have and have never had a railroad layout. But I love them. It has to do with the idea of creating a world of your own. The real joy is in creating it, and constantly tinkering with it. Because, otherwise you can only just look at it, watch the trains go around the track, take pictures of it, show it to friends, and then you’re done!

One of the best train layouts I have ever seen was created by Rod Stewart. Yes, that Rod Stewart. He is totally into it, and works on his layout constantly, even when he is on tour, renting a hotel room just for him to work on things for his layout. He opens the windows even when it is freezing to keep the airplane glue from damaging his brain. What a geek! But check out this layout, it is so detailed, it is crazy. It is set in the 1930’s, one of my favorite periods to recreate, provided I ever get the opportunity to do that. It would seem that model railroading is a male pleasure. I haven’t heard of any female model railroad enthusiasts, but I’m sure they are out there. What is it about trains, anyway? Part of it, I am sure, is nostalgic. It is so romantic, and of course the whole phallic thing, but trains suggest a journey, a lonely mysterious journey. Paul Simon’s song “Train in the Distance” (which I would have posted if it weren’t for my agreement not to post copyrighted material!) captures the feeling of the train perfectly. So go buy that stinking album, it is “Hearts and Bones”. Here is where the ad for that album would appear. How crass!! But I need money folks, I am unemployed etc etc But back to the subject!!! I have daydreamed about building a layout ever since I was a kid. In fact I had a half-ass one. It didn’t have a railroad, just tanks, soldiers, and sand. I didn’t realize that actual sand was a bad idea. So the tanks are trying to navigate through all this gravel. But I was a kid, so I didn’t care! Today I daydream about building a Batman themed layout with a bullet-nosed train tricked out to look all Batman related. Anyhow here are some photos of Rod’s layout. Pretty impressive!!

Romance of the Motorcycle

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James Dean with his motorcycle

Today motorcycles are common. It has become a common mode of transportation for young people, and middle class families. It is no longer the exclusive domain of biker gangs and misfits. Of course, this has always been the case outside of the United States. But this post isn’t about the business executive who takes rides on his motorcycle on the weekends. This post is about the motorcycle as a romantic icon. A symbol of American independence. A symbol of the American male mojo. The motorcycle of the Hell’s Angels and Marlon Brando. I mainly wanted to share some great photos with you, that give you a better idea of motorcycle lore than any words I can type. My brain hurts lately, and my well of inspiration has dried up a bit, so I am allowing other media to tell the story. My first photo is a wonderful moment in American cultural history. This is Hunter Thompson long before his gonzo days. He is gazing out at the unforgiving sea at Big Sur with his motorcycle. For me, this captures some of the mystery and romance of the motorcycle. Of course, it helps to know who the kid is.

Hunter at Big Sur

The romance of the motorcycle began after WW II, when so many veterans came home and needed something exciting and somewhat dangerous to do. So they formed motorcycle clubs. It didn’t take long for these clubs to develop a seedy reputation. “The Wild Ones” established the idea of the motorcyclist as a rebel. Someone asked Marlon Brando’s character what he was rebelling against and he said “Whadda ya’ got?” The motorcycle reinforced the loner image. One man and his bike. This was the message of ‘The Wild Ones’. It was not a celebration of gangs, it was a celebration of individualism. The combination of the mysterious and virile Marlon Brando with the motorcycle was magical. I don’t think there has been a more perfect marriage. Although ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ focused more on daredevil car racing, the same spirit of individualism pervades that film. Of course, James Dean had his bike, and so did Elvis Presley after him. It is interesting how that image changed as Elvis’ image changed. In the beginning Elvis had a Harley, but when he needed to be more family friendly he rode a smaller, less controversial motorcycle. But check out the road hog he has in his final years! This is an icon of a different sort, and the subject of a different blog. I managed to find a photo of Natalie Wood on a motorcycle but it isn’t entirely clear to me what brand it is. Is it a Harley? And while I am on the subject of Natalie Wood, I found this adorable picture of  her and Sal Mineo that I wanted to share even though it has nothing whatsoever to do with motorcycles. It just captures some of what made those two so special.

Natalie Wood on a Harley?

Steve         McQueen redeemed the image of the motorcycle in The Great Escape. It became wholesome again, and associated with good old American virtues. Michael Parks revived the loner image for the motorcycle in the seventies. He was kind of a James Dean Light. Arlo Guthrie made the motorcycle seem harmless and fun with his ‘Motorcycle Song’. Thankfully, we had Steppenwolf to remind us of what motorcycles should be about. ‘Born to be Wild’ became

Elvis gives her a ride on his hog

the motorcycle anthem, although I really liked their much more obscure motorcycle related song, ‘Screaming Night Hog’. You can see in the videos I posted,  the transformation in just one year of Steppenwolf, from hippie band to a biker band. John Kay didn’t just wear those shades to be cool, he had severe vision problems. But he also looked totally cool!

Steve McQueen in The Great Escape

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found three photos of famous icons with their bikes. Brando, Elvis, and Springsteen. Nuff said.

 

 

Hunter Thompson with his bike

 

Michael Parks as Bronson

James Hurley in Twin Peaks

Margaret Cho keeping the spirit alive

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter Thompson made motorcycles dangerous again, by  writing about his misadventures with the Hell’s Angels. Here he is with his bike.  And it comes full circle with James Hurley in Twin Peaks with his bike, echoing Marlon Brando. So today, although motorcycles are everywhere, there still remains a romance attached to the idea of the motorcycle. That spirit continues with Margaret Cho’s blog about her motorcycle adventures.

The Rebels Curse

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I was just thinking about Natalie Wood. She was my earliest childhood crush. She had a dark, mysterious allure. For me, at the tender age of ten, she represented all that I wanted a woman to be. Then I thought about James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Dennis Hopper. All of these people appeared in Rebel Without a Cause. Each of them have had a tragic history, three of them died young. It gives that film a macabre overtone. James Dean had been long dead by the time I even realized who he was. One of my earliest memories is of the horror of seeing a picture of the wreck of his Porsche Spyder. I could imagine his mangled body inside. I thought about how good he must have felt racing down the nearly deserted highway, his career was taking off, and he had his whole life ahead of him, then Wham! James Dean seemed dislocated, like he belonged in a better world, and was condemned to this one. I related more to Sal Mineo, when I finally saw Rebel. I responded to his vulnerability. I, too was bullied every day at school, except I didn’t have a James Dean to look out for me. The adults in that film were so out of touch. They reminded me of all the adults I knew. And they killed Plato. Sal Mineo had such a difficult time in the entertainment industry. He was always pegged for some stupid ethnic part, He was rebelliously bisexual long before it was the hip thing to do. After many lean years, he was just beginning to succeed in theatre. Then he was killed. Dennis Hopper only had a small role in the film, as one of the high school ‘hoods. But he developed into one of my favorite actors. I remember him doing a superb job on an episode of twilight zone, as a neo-Nazi. Of course, I loved his crazy role in Easy Rider, but his ultimate achievement had to be as Frank Booth in Blue Velvet. The role was meant for him, as he said, he was Frank Booth. It is a shame that Dennis never got the full recognition he deserved. He died sick. It was sad.

Which brings me to the person I originally intended to post about. Natalie Wood. She was so beautiful. As a kid, I adored her. I loved her early sixties movies, when she had that really cute hair style, and the puppy dog eyes. She was so cute in Sex and the Single Girl. Later, as an adult, I was very impressed with her in Love with the Proper Stranger, with Steve McQueen. She was adorable in Gypsy. I remember feeling embarrassed when she did her strip tease at the end of that movie. Even though it didn’t show anything, I felt that ‘my’ Natalie would never do such a thing! I was such a prude when I was a kid! I would daydream about kissing her, all this long before I reached puberty. I lost track of her in later years, until I saw her in her last film, Brainstorm. She haunts that film, and not just because she died before it was completed. She seems disconnected from the film. She is there, but also not there. It is hard to describe. She had a deep fear of drowning in dark water, and that was how she died. I will always think there is more to tell about that night, but we will never hear it told. And so, there you have it, the Rebels Curse. How strange that these people had a dark cloud over their heads. Their spirits serve as an inspiration to me, as to millions of others.