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December 11, 2008:

FORTY YEARS AGO

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, something interesting occurred to me just prior to beginning these here notes. Yes, Virginia, something interesting occurred to me just prior to beginning these here notes, and therefore I shall tell you what occurred to me just prior to beginning these here notes, for why should I keep such a thing from you dear readers? What occurred to me just prior to beginning these here notes is that forty years ago I was four months a newlywed and in December of 1968, either right before or right after Christmas, my then-wife and I just up and moved to New York, where I was going to attempt a career as an actor with a capital A. I remember it as if it were yesterday, actually. We arrived and checked in at our hotel (this was around six o’clock in the evening). I know which hotel it was but the name is escaping me at the moment – one of those hotels like the Algonquin but not the Algonquin – on 44th or 45th between Seventh and Sixth, that area. The minute we got our stuff in the room, we went down and walked to Broadway. Keep in mind, I had only been to New York once before, and only for a few hours, so hadn’t really seen anything of Times Square and knew nothing about its layout. Now that I think of it, the hotel must have been on 44th because we walked west and found ourselves at the St. James, where Pearlie Mae was doing Hello, Dolly! I loved Hello, Dolly! and we went right up to the box-office about a half-hour before the show and got a pair of great orchestra seats. So, my first night as a New Yorker I saw Pearl Bailey in Dolly and it was a great deal of fun. The next day, we called my Aunt Minnie in Brooklyn and she gave us directions on how to get to her apartment. We took our first subway ride to Flatbush, the Newkirk exit. We supped with Aunt Minnie and Uncle Rube, and they introduced us to the apartment manager and we rented a studio apartment on, if I remember correctly, the third floor. The next day, we bought a sofa bed, a coffee table, and some sort of dining table. I think Aunt Minnie gave us their extra TV, but we may have bought one of those, too. And, at some point, I rented an upright piano. The third day we were there, we went to the Shubert and got great orchestra seats for Promises, Promises, and that was my second show as a New Yorker. About six months prior to all this, I’d adapted some Ring Lardner material into a revue entitled Shut Up, He Explained, which we’d done at LACC. I’d written Ring Lardner, Jr. about it, and he’d invited me to come meet him. So, on my fourth or fifth day, I went uptown and met Mr. Lardner, Jr. He had me play him some songs I’d written for the show, and asked me all about what we’d done. He then told me that some people were trying to put up a Lardner revue in New York, and he invited me to see what would today be called a workshop. I remember going and not liking it all that much – remember, I haven’t thought about this in forty years, but I can tell you that the stars of the revue were Orson Bean and Melinda Dillon. And I vividly remember a bit Orson did with a straw that was pretty funny – what it had to do with Ring Lardner was anyone’s guess. And so it went, those first couple of weeks in New York. I was mesmerized by the city and scared of it, too. In those days, it was dangerous to walk on a lot of streets late at night. But I loved Broadway, and would go into Playland and play the poker machines, and I’d wander down the sleazefest known as 42nd Street. And I bought Variety and watched the casting notices, and I remember auditioning for George M. I sang pretty well, but then they asked me if I could tap and that was the end of that. So, that is what I was up to exactly forty years ago this month. It was quite an adventure – I don’t know that I’d have the guts to do it if I were young now. I did meet a lot of nice people thanks to an LACC chum who was living there back then, my friend Vern Joyce, who I would ultimately cast as the assistant director in The First Nudie Musical.

Well, that was a fun trip down memory lane. Speaking of memory lane, yesterday was a very nice day, all things considered. I got up early and got the long jog out of the way. Then I went to Hugo’s and met with songwriter Marsha Malamet, and we had a very nice chat. Depending on a lot of details being worked out, I may be putting together a show for her and directing it. We shall see. After that, I came home, did some things around the home environment, then headed over to the Apple Store to buy a new mouse, which I desperately needed. I’ve been using the same Logitech mouse since the year 2000, and it was so gross I could barely put my hand on it without wanting to vomit on the ground. So, I bought a nice new Apple mouse – clean, and very efficient. I threw that old Logitech right in the trash. I then answered some e-mails, did a few errands, and then decided to attend a singer showcase that my friend Bob Garrett does (he teaches singers). It was short and sweet and I always enjoy hearing new singers that I’m not acquainted with, and especially what material they choose to sing in a showcase environment. Some were better than others, and there was one especially cute young gal who did a very good job with a song from Spelling Bee – she’s an Amy Adams look-a-like, and I told her had I met her earlier in the year that she could have been a serious contender to play Donna in The Brain out in Anaheim. I then came home and sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched one motion picture I’d TIVOd and one motion picture on DVD. The motion picture I’d TIVOd was entitled Where Have The People Gone, and was one of those early 1970s TV movies that I’m so fond of. This one starts out very interestingly and holds that interest for a lot of its brief running time – but it runs out of steam and the last fifteen minutes are just inane. Nothing is ever explained and it just sort of peters out. The cast is fun – Peter Graves and Kathleen Quinlan and a few other good actors, and it has a good musical score by Robert Prince. The teleplay was by the interesting Lewis John Carlino (who did the script for Frankenheimer’s Seconds) and Sandor Stern, and the director is the always-excellent John Llewelyn Moxey. I then watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Phase IV. I was very excited to finally see this Saul Bass film, but when I began watching it I realized I HAD seen it, and not all that long ago. I must have TIVOd it off TCM or seen it somewhere else, because I instantly remembered everything about it. However, this was a nice anamorphic transfer and I watched the whole thing. It’s really a one-off sort of film and it’s pretty hypnotic and interesting. It’s got amazing photography of ants doing amazing things, and the story is compelling. Mr. Bass, of course, is famous for his film poster logos and his main title sequences for films like Psycho, Vertigo, Exodus, Anatomy Of A Murder and many others. He directs this film as if it were one long main title sequence – his graphic sense is fantastic. The transfer is decent, albeit a little pale and a little brown (the film was originally printed in IB Technicolor).

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because all this waxing nostalgic about forty years ago has made me tired and the notes are late and I need my beauty sleep.

Today, I have to finish the liner notes for the new Kritzerland release, I have to make a decision on whether to do something or not to do something, I have to do the long jog, I have to write a blurb, and I have to meet and dine with Mr. Sean McDermott about possibly putting together and directing a new show for him. Should be a nice busy day.

Tomorrow, however, I have no plans other than a potential trip to Costco to get some stuff for my annual Christmas Eve Do, and to do some errands and whatnot. And I’ve kept the weekend pretty open, although I do have to see a reading of a new musical on Sunday night.

December is sure a busy birthday month around these here parts – so, let’s once again put on our pointy party hats and our colored tights and pantaloons, let us break out the cheese slices and ham chunks, let’s dance the Hora and the Texas Two-Step, for today is the birthday of dear reader Ginny. So, let’s give a big haineshisway.com birthday cheer to dear reader Ginny. On the count of three: One, two, three – A BIG HAINESHISWAY.COM BIRTHDAY CHEER TO DEAR READER GINNY!!!

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, finish liner notes and a blurb, make a decision, and then sup with Sean McDermott. Today’s topic of discussion: What was the first big move you ever made – whether leaving your childhood home and striking out on your own, or making a big move to another city, or anything like that. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we. I wonder if in forty years from now I’ll be looking back and talking about what I was doing right now? Of course, if that would be so, I’d be about 101 years old. Can you imagine me at 101 going on about the long jog, which would consist of me walking from the bedroom to the bathroom.

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