Legends Walked Among Us
Bloomington’s own cinema maven, Peter LoPilato was all dressed up with somewhere to go when he strolled into The Electron Pencil’s back office (some people call it Soma Coffee) yesterday AM.
This intrepid reporter grilled him re: his fancy duds — sports coat, collared short, freshly creased trousers and shiny (-ish) shoes.
“What’s up witchu?” sez I. BTW: I just happened to be uploading a pic of legendary film director and producer Roger Corman in my roll as online manager of LoPilato’s Ryder mag. The big feature this month is a long (repeat: lo-o-o-ong) profile of Corman, who just happens to be in town this weekend. Corman’s visit comes hot on the heels of that of mega-screen icon Meryl Streep who was in town earlier this week to cop an honorary degree from Indiana Unversity. Corman lectured at the IU Cinema yesterday afternoon and several of his films are featured there this weekend. (FYI: You missed The Wild Angels and The Trip yesterday. Today you can catch The Intruder, The Tomb of Ligeia, and a documentary, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel.
I mention Corman because, mirabile dictu, he’s why LoPilato was togged up.
“I’m going out to lunch with Roger Corman,” he said.
I, of course, could only gasp, “Wow.”
A Young Corman (l.) On A Set With Vincent Price
I fondled Peter’s lapel for a moment, hoping some of his cool could rub off on me, then pressed my interrogation. “Where are you two going?”
Peter LoPilato merely smiled and said, “I’m not at liberty to say.”
Anyway, I hope Corman paid for the meal. Every time I ask the boss for a raise, he motions back over his shoulder at a small crowd of waifs, shoeless and forlorn, staring at me with hungry eyes. “I would, I swear it,” he says, invariably, “but I’ve got a family to feed.”
Funny thing is I thought Peter only had two kids. The magic of Hollywood, I imagine. Well, like I say, I hope Corman picked up the check.
My absolutely fave Corman flick is The Attack of the Giant Leeches (he produced it and, to be honest, his fingerprints are all over it). Somehow, on a microscopic budget, Corman and director Bernard Kowalski manage to recreate a steamy, indolent Louisiana bayou world so faithfully that you find yourself perspiring just watching the thing. They get a workmanlike performance out of horror film vet Bruno VeSota, playing his usual corpulent baddie. I don’t know which movie I prefer VeSota in, this one or Daddy-o with Dick Contino. Either way, he’s a treat.
VeSota & Yvette Vickers in “… Giant Leeches”
Oddly, though, despite the loving care Corman & Kowalski take in presenting an oppressive, heat-wilted world, their titled giant leeches look about as leech-like as, well, so many papier mâché Chinese New Year dragons. Then again, it’s got to be a challenge trying to make a leech scary. Slimy and gross? Sure. Scary? Uh-uh.
A Leech Carries Off A Victim
As long as we’re playing the association game, noted LA gruesome murder chronicler James Ellroy wrote a novella entitled, Dick Contino’s Blues. You can find it in Ellroy’s 1994 short story collection, Hollywood Nocturnes.
Dick Contino Makes The Scene in “Daddy-o”
Back to Hollywood-comes-to-IU: Roger Corman and Meryl Streep represent two extremes of what the American filmmaking industry does best. Either one is aces by me, as opposed to Hollywood’s current penchant for recycling superheroes and Nicholas Sparks books.
From an article in Aljazeera America:
Click Image To Read Full Article
Notice in the subhead where it warns about isolating kids from “the digital world of multitasking”? As if that’s a horror that must be avoided at all costs.
When I first saw this, I figured it was a satiric story, you know, where there author turns you around by saying We’d hate to have our precious snowflakes not be able to be psychological overwhelmed by multitasking and productivity pressures because, hell, who wants a kid that isn’t developing a stomach ulcer by 13 and isn’t on antidepressants by 15?
The author says kids today are part of the “net generation.” They learn by absorbing tons of information merely by darting like hummingbirds from one web page to the other. Earlier generations dove into books and concentrated for long periods of time. That’s old hat.
Information is the stuff that’s liable to fill your mind so much that there isn’t any room left for knowledge (this is me speaking). “Information is not knowledge,” Einstein has been credited with saying. It’s also believed he said, “Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.”
Yet, members of the net generation are happy as clams that their brain cases are crammed with data. Their parents, apparently, are giddy about this as well.
“Opponents to deep, immersive reading come from all directions. Among American boys, there remains a generations-old sense that books are for sissies; I remember this from my own childhood. For neoliberals and technocrats, reading novels is not ‘what the market wants.’ Concentrated reading doesn’t require ideological opposition to be endangered: The pace of contemporary life, even for children, means that there’s simply no time or energy left for it,” the author writes.
Man, that’s a lousy life.
Wither Our Nation?
So. I’m sitting in a booth at Opie Taylor’s with The Loved One and our friends Hondo & Les. We’re playing a raunchy, sick joke card game that Hondo’d bought on eBay because…, well, because the mere playing of it will condemn any and all participants to hell if such a place turns out to be real. I really think he’s daring the god neither of us believes in to damn him for all eternity. And, I guess, I’ll be following him.
Anyway, the talk turns, as usual, to how eff’d up this holy land is. The problem with guys like Hondo is they read and listen to too much Far Right palaver. It upsets their stomachs as well as their minds. The minute some minor candidate for the Nebraska statehouse says something like women enjoy being slapped around because then their slapping husbands and boyfriends go all out of their way to apologize and be nice to them, Hondo and his ilk send out urgent messages to the rest of us saying the whole country’s going insane.
Which it is. I just accept it, largely. Sure, I point out funny (in a sad way) wingnut things here on The Pencil and sometimes stamp my foot about Rand Paul or Kirk Cameron or Rick Santorum. But for the most part, I can’t really keep up with all the loons who have YouTube accounts or blogs through which they can lobby for the regression of America to those grand old days of the Salem witch trials.
Good Old Days
I’m more attuned to the utterances of, say, the Reagan/Bush/Bush Supreme Court, especially when it rules that rich guys should own and operate all polling places. Then I’ll yell that the country’s going insane. Between the two of us, Hondo and me, we’ve got the wingnut-osphere covered, I suppose.
Back to lunch at Opie’s. I think it was Les who asked, “Well whaddya think’s gonna happen here over the next few years.”
Natch, I had a ready answer.
The sanctified, blessed, and exceptional Yewnited States of Murrica is in for some changes. As long as the Supremes have codified the establishment of a plutocratic ruling class, the have-nots among us are going to be more restless than ever. Sure, the US always has been run for the benefit of captains of industry and financial pirates, but throughout our history we’ve always pretended that the common citizen meant something herein. No more.
If you have scads of dough, you count much more than if you don’t. That’s law now. Once you shatter the illusion of equality, there is nothing left of the mythical American Dream. When dreams die, people panic.
Now, most of the pop. of this nation is too dense to grasp that a new overclass has been installed, officially, brazenly, and w/o apology. Too many of them think their grand old flag has been sullied by Mexicans sneaking over the border to become busboys and maids, women who want the gov’t to pay for their slut pills, gays and lesbians who want to eliminate every trace of heterosexuality in our precious snowflake children, and, of course, the Kenyan who has taken over as Dictator and Tyrant-in-Chief Forever.
And, yeah, a health care reform that’s turning us into New Stalinville.
While everybody’s shrieking over these imagine threats, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and their coatholders turned the keys over to the Koch Bros. and said, “Here. It’s yours.”
No matter why people think the USA has become the homeland of Satan, they’re fast losing any and all loyalty to the nation. The Bundy Ranch confrontation will be repeated with alarming regularity in the coming years. And one of these times, somebody’s trigger finger is going to get itchy. Once the first shot is fired, all bets are off.
A desperate band of gunfondlers is coalescing these days, certain that the US has been taken over by the aforementioned evil people. They’re not terribly organized just yet; their only real commonality is the passel of hatemongers who bark at them daily over Right Wing talk radio and, to a lesser extent, via Fox News. But, book it, some demagogue is going to pop up. He’ll preach “defense” and separation. And a lot of people are going to fall into line behind him.
What have they got to lose? They don’t have jobs, money, or power.
Perhaps Texas will be the first state to make secession noises. Arizona and Utah may join in the chorus. Then we’re going to see some real breaking news.
Think it’s impossible? Why?