Tag: Ego

Day 998: Crossing Abbey Road

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This Friday marks the 45th anniversary of what I believe to be the greatest album of all time.

Before you flick lint in my beer or pelt me with wads of Big League Chew for not designating this title to Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates of Dawn or Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Too-Rye-Ay, allow me to point out that there are many albums that are flawless – sometimes in spite of a number of actual flaws. Nary a wayward note blemishes Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, and Paul Simon’s Graceland is among the few utterly perfect slabs of 1980’s vinyl. For me, “the greatest” combines not only artistic and technical brilliance, but the subjective distinction of having served as the soundtrack to many of the most fantastic moments of my life. Your results may (and probably do) vary.

The story of Abbey Road is one of pure, primal mirth, flecked with auburn specks of encroaching melancholy. It is the last glorious and romantic trip to Maui for an otherwise doomed marriage. It marks the greatest rock band in history (an assertion I’ll stand by as wholly factual) producing one final brushstroke upon their legacy before heading their separate ways.

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This is not a happy group.

In January of 1969, the Beatles were moving in four different directions, and had been for over a year. Their plan was to return to the studio, record a back-to-their-roots album, perform their first concert since the summer of 1966 (the Pyramids in Egypt were a proposed locale, as was a barge adrift in the Atlantic), and film it all for posterity. This attempt to reconnect resulted in a cavalcade of arguments, the grandiose concert reduced to a noon-hour gig on the roof, and the temporary quitting of George Harrison. Read more…

Day 656: Hollywood’s Original A-List

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If you swim deep enough into the swampy murk of Hollywood’s trench-laden ego, you might come across a tiny pulse of insecurity. To have one’s performance captured on celluloid (or digital film, but that doesn’t sound nearly as romantic as ‘celluloid’) is to have a date with immortality. Humphrey Bogart’s regal swagger lives on in Blu-Ray and DVD more than fifty years after his all-too-mortal lungs offered forth their final breaths.

But just how immortal is Hollywood stardom? Most people under 30 would have no problem picking James Dean or Marilyn Monroe out of a lineup, but how many could discern Lana Turner from Olivia de Havilland, or Van Heflin from Robert Ryan? These were potent stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but today they only resonate with scholars, trivia geeks, and those dwindling few who still love a great story told in black and white, and feel it’s important to read the credits.

I happily plunk myself in all three of the above pigeon-holes. And as someone whose own so-called artistic immortality is a lock only as long as people yearn to read love letters to bacon, I sympathize with the icons of silver screen past, in particular those who had mastered their craft enough to warrant an on-going legacy. So staple these photos to the underside of your skull and keep them in your hearts – these are the mighty ladies of Hollywood’s earliest years.

MaryPickford

It would be hard to find a more important woman in the nascent days of movies than Mary Pickford. She was the first starlet of moving pictures, edged out only slightly by Charlie Chaplin when it came to outright popularity throughout the 1910’s and 20’s. In 1916 she signed a deal with Adolph Zukor (the guy who would later build the mountain known as Paramount Studios) for $500 a week, which is over $10,000 in today’s dollars. Read more…