Friday, 30 November 2012

Morrissey, Bret & Freedom Of Speech

The world and its mother knows how much we admire each other--not much point having a mouth if it has to stay shut!

MORRISSEY: As things stand pre-Leveson, free speech does not exist in the UK, and if you think that it DOES, then you're probably a recovering alcoholic.
BRET: The Leveson Enquiry, an utter waste of £5.6 million of tax-payer's money in a country blighted by recession. Milly Dowler's family and that of the London bombing victim excluded, most of these people only have themselves to blame. Think, Mr & Mrs Celebrity, when you're smiling smugly and saying 'I won!', of how many children this money would have fed and saved from dying. And do you think for one moment this is going to stop the muck-raking?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Binge Drinkers: Why Should The Rest Of The Country Suffer?

So, according to our not so illustrious government, if they increase the price of a unit of alcohol, it will discourage binge drinkers--yet another example of the botched instititution who is DRIVING us all to drink not knowing which planet they are on.
Binge-drinkers form a minority, one which I confess keeps me in on a weekend. The last thing I want while sitting next to the window of my favourite restaurant is to watch some biddy chucking up in the grate outside.
But why punish we responsible people? Why not impose tougher penalties for those guilty of causing havoc in town centres and decorating our streets with their stomach contents. A little old chap Jeanne knows was innocently feeding the pigeons--there's no notice prohibiting this, but he was hauled in by the rozzers, spent a couple of hours in a cell, caused the strapped police force to spend money they can ill afford to write out a report. Then he was hauled off to court--more wasted money--and given a £75 fine. One local reporter estimated a total cost of £2,000....and the birds ate up the 'mess' he made!
If a puking boozer was made to come back the next day--that's after they've spent the night in a specially constructed drunkard's hut, in the dark, cold and damp and no bedding, sobering up and preferably after a good hosing down--and clean up their honk, then maybe they might think twice about doing it again. And if British bartenders were treated the same as they are in France--equally responsible, because they've served these drunks in the first place--then maybe this nuisance will be curbed.
The answer, Messieurs Cameron and Clegg, is NOT to punish the innocent, but the guilty. But then again, you've never been on Canal Street or Solihul Street when the pubs are turning out, have you--or had to avert your delicate eyes from the shop doorways while you're rushing for your early morning train?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

18 Years Now: Never Forgotten

'Toujours avec toi...'

Dinah Sheridan: RIP

A truly lovely lady (and one I hope Grim Reaper Thornton doesn't stick his grubby claws into) I spoke to Dinah often on the phone--some of the Hollywood stories told by her gardener and house-sitter would make your hair curl, and Dinah herself was no shrinking violet when 'telling the tale'!
Dinah passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 92.
She'd just married Jimmy Hanley when cast opposite George Formby in 'Get Cracking', and told me of her experiences with Beryl--a harridan who I nevertheless hold in very high esteem. Beryl, she said, had vetted her, and before Dinah signed the contract she was read the riot act. 'George couldn't keep it in his pants, but whatever he had in his pants was of no interest to me because I'd just married the most wonderful man in the world!'
Dinah went on to much bigger thingsm such as 'The Railway Children' Aubry died a few years ago, and my heart goes out to Jenny, who I also had a few nice chats with.

Nick Drake & The Barbara Connection


This young man was a genius. He wrote some of the most staggeringly beautiful songs ever written in the English language, and he left us way, way too early. He recorded just three albums, and for many years his legacy lay almost forgotten, which would have been a crime against music had it remained so.

History and the die-hard, really die-hard fans like to dictate that Nick was a miserable, gloomy person who spent much of his time feeling depressed. 'Black-eyed dog' and all that. In fact it's pretty evident when listening to him sing this that he's taking the piss! I suppose being gay, and having parents--the Colonial type--who probably considered homosexuality some kind of affliction--might not have helped. During one bad period of depression they bundled him off to a psychiatric ward--and for all their dosh let him stay on a ward with genuine mental patients.

I knew Michel Bidault, Nick's French boyfriend--he ran a restaurant near avenue Montaigne. Michel spoke of a completely different Nick--depressed only when he had to return to his gloomy home and oppressive parents. Otherwise he was a typical twenty-something. He liked to smoke spliffs, and he could drink most people under the table--he was a big lad, well over six-feet. But how those die-hard fans HATE stories such as Nick walking around in just a towel after his morning shower, or actually having fun!

The Barbara connection? Well, he was a fan. He loved 'Dis quand reviendras-tu?'. He and Michel went to see Cora Vaucaire a few weeks before he died, when he was staying on a barge on the Seine. His last 'performance'--just strumming his guitar and singing a ditty for fun--was at the Ecluse, where Barbara started her career.

Officially, Nick died on the 25th. His mother said she'd found him at around noon, slumped across his bed. He had NOT committed suicide, otherwise he would have been IN the bed. This was his mum trying to protect herself, though the dear lady had nothing to reproach herself for--there's every reason to believe Nick died before midnight after taking a couple of anti-depressants too many.

Of course, he should never have died at all.

'It was that house that did it,' Michel said. 'And those nagging parents didn't help. Had he been with me, things might have turned out very differently.'


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Barbara: La Prochaine Fois Je Vous Le Chanterais

It's only when you're listening to programmes such as the otherwise excellent 'La prochaine fois je vous le chanterais', such as I have this morning, and when you hear other people interpreting Barbara that you realise how exemplary she was--and how crap some of them are!
A couple of exceptions: Mika performing 'La Solitude' (my arrangement, am I biased?) and Marie Myriam singing 'Du bout du levres'.
But WHO told Martha Wainwright that she could sing? Her version of 'Dis, quand reviendra-tu?' must be one of the worst interpretations in the history of the chanson. Imagine fifty tom-cats being dropped into a blender, testicles first, and you may have it. I recall when we did the programme last year for the BBC. One very famous person connected to Barbara refused to appear in the programme if Martha appeared in it--that's how bad she is. Many thought the depths had been plummeted when her brother Rufus, who I normally like, murdered 'La Complainte de la Butte' and the wings of the old moulin stopped turning in protest! There's nothing quite so bad as an American (apologies to my friends across the Pond!) trying to sing phonetically in French. All the 'too' for 'tu'. Barbara even tackles Marianne Oswald--a brave move indeed!
On the other hand, on the rare occasions that Barbara sings the work of others, the result is sublime. Here her with Damia's 'Grand frisé' and 'Les ménétriers', or Piaf's 'A l'enseigne de la fille sans coeur'. Or Julien 'Wobbly' Clerc's 'Ce n'est rien'.  If you taped the latter and the Oswald number, it'll save you around £150 because you won't have to buy the excellent (for Barbara novices) but rip-off 19-CD box-set which contains everything you've already got, barring a few songs such as Claude Francois' 'Meme si je revenais'.

Merci, Philippe!

Oh, and Philippe must have been reading my mind, for he ended this excellent programme with Barbara and Frank Alamo showing another Wainwright how to song...'Complainte de la Butte'. Let's hope they were listening!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Barbara: 15 Years Passes So Quickly

She remains the singularly most influential figure in my life, the second-greatest love of my life. For twenty years almost I was her 'midnight confidant', time and time again I've been offered huge sums to tell our story, and I never will. She made, and still makes, taking all the flotsam life has to dredge up worthwhile. Always I ask myself, 'What would Barbara have done?' We had a mutual friend in Peggy Lee--well, she knew her much better than I did. When Peggy recorded 'Is That All There Is?' Barbara said, 'Death's not that big an issue--it comes to all of us, so when the time comes, just embrace it with open arms!' And when I received that phone call from Charley Marouani, two hours after the event and before it hit the press, I thought to myself, 'If she can do it, then there's nothing to be afraid of!' That was fifteen years ago this weekend. The fans always say the 24th, but it was actually one hour after midnight on the 25th. Freddie Mercury's anniversary--Barbara had chosen the title for my book about him. Nick Drake also died on the 25th--he was a big Barbara fan and his last 'concert'--just a couple of songs played for fun--was at the Ecluse, on the Left Bank. Exactly where Barbara started out. Joey Stefano, my other great inspiration, died on the 26th. We had dinner with him once, immediately after a Barbara concert. So many links and coincidences...
Yesterday was the anniversary of Pantin. It made Barbara laugh when we were talking to Melina Mercouri and I commented on how charming her grandson was--he was her lover! We roared with laughter at the antics of Alice Sapritch! So many good times were had with Barbara. November is such a good time, she said, for living and dying. I'll keep her up on that. She wrote Lily Passion and gave the Depardieu character my name--said I had the face of a perfect murderer! When I approached a couple of London producers on her behalf with the English version of the play about the man who knifes a woman each time he hears her sing, they would have nothing to do with it. Sensitive about the Yorkshire Ripper, who I'd known when younger. I told Barbara the whole story, the juxtaposition of which became the play. My reward, or one of them, came with Barbara arranging me to meet Garbo in 1986.
Fifteen years on, Barbara still earns millions--every penny of which goes to her children's and AIDS charities. She had a direct line to AIDS sufferers in prisons around France--she even went there and sang for them. In music, she received honours that even Piaf missed out on. The last time we talked was on our 25th wedding anniversary. She was very ill, but never in a million years did we think we were going to lose her. It's been a long road since she left. Nice people, nasty people. But she's in my thoughts every single day. The pictures I took hang above my desk, and our picture still hangs on the wall at Précy. People can say or write about me whatever they like, but they're never going to take away any of this. Who needs dung when they can close their eyes and see a diamond?

Charley called this morning, and he shares the same sentiments as I do regarding the anniversary. Everyone and his mother has released a book or a 'tribute' album. No one knows the real story because Barbara was so intensely private and trusted so few of us. I loathe people like Marie Chaix when they tell stories of drugs and bad tempers. I saw her lose her rag once at Marco, at the Mogador when he made a mistake with the lights--for some reason he chose to weep on my shoulder, which wasn't an unpleasant experience. Then he wept even more when she gave him a big hug later that night at dinner. Neither did she have a weight problem, as Chaix said. She was always slim as a reed! The singers--well, the less said about them the better. Barbara's songs were so personal, especially 'L'aigle noir' and 'Dis, quand reviendras-tu?' Eva, Mouloudji and Cora Vaucaire were given permission to do these while Barbara was lived and did them well--Martha Wainwright sounds like a cat in a blender. Everyone who knew Barbara cannot stomach her version of the song. I adapted 'Ma plus belle histoire d.amour' and she sang this with Barishnikov in New York.

Each time we go to Bagneux we clean the grave. She's buried with around ten members of her family, including her mother--Esther also died in November, and all of Barbara's studio albums were released on this date. We were present when all the others were recorded. In the Pantin video, I'm the man with the rose. Not only did she allow Jeanne to touch her costumes, she gave her one of them! Tomorrow, two of the French radio stations are playing every one of her songs over a period of twelve hours. That's what you call a star--but Barbara was much more than that.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Chanson: The Play & The 2013 Schedule

The novel doesn't come out until next June, but the play is only slightly based on it. Just the two main characters--I had to leave out Fréhel and Suzy Solidor because, unless they put in the programme, not many people are going to remember who they were. The ending's also been changed in the wake of the trial performance two years ago.
There's also been a slight change to the 'Bret Programme' for 2013. According to the announcement on Amazon, 'Greta Garbo: Divine Star' is to be published in paperback in March. Not so. They've just decided to keep reprinting the hardback for now, as it's still selling well.
'Elizabeth Taylor' is due out in China any time now, with a print-run of 100,000. I never thought they'd heard of her there. The book's all squiggles, but they've done an amazing cover in violet silk, to match her eyes, and each copy has a Cleopatra bookmark!
And finally, 'Valentino's Affairs' now looks like being rescheduled to August or even later so that both versions come out together, and so as not to flood the market. The text is more or less completed. We've had a few arguments with the backers regarding the ending. They wanted to have Rudy vomiting blood in inglorious close-up when he's found in his bathroom, and I found myself putting my foot down. What's this obsession with puking all of a sudden? It's everywhere--in films, soaps, even in sit-coms. Can't they just clap their hands to their mouths and rush out of the room like they used to? Do we really need to see this? As for the sex, I tried to put my foot down about that one too because originally there was no sex in it--just a little kissing. Sadly, I didn't win, though it's been kept to a respectable level! 
And finally, finally! There's Joey's new book, 'This Old House', which I'm handling--pretty much like I'm handling Joey, if you listen to rumours!--and which is due out some time during the Spring.

Chanson: A Two-Act Play (A Story of Forbidden Love Set During The German Occupation of Paris)
Paperback, 74 Pages                                          
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'Chanson', with songs from the period, tells the story of French singer, Marcel--brooding, from the wrong side of the tracks, he arrived in Paris in 1934 and was discovered singing in the streets by Gérard, one of the city's most eminent impresarios. When the play opens it is 1944. Paris is under the Nazi jackboot and Marcel is the star attraction at Levalle's, the most fashionable club in Paris. When Gérard is murdered, Marcel's life falls apart. He ends his relationship with his girlfriend and can no longer see his mistress because her husband is home on leave. While trudging the streets late at night, after curfew, drunk and disorientated, he is picked up by Jurgen, a young German lieutenant who has worshiped him from afar for some time. Initially their relationship is platonic, but as time passes a deep bond develops between them as Marcel fights his demons to rebuild his shattered career--while the Liberation approaches, bringing triumph and tragedy in equal measure. WARNING: contains strong language< Less

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

It's Time The Anglican Church Made Up It's Mind

I think it's time the Anglican Church made up its mind about a couple of issues.
Women priests and bishops.
And the gay issue.
Archbishop Sentamu is one cleric in particular who is starting to get on my tits. And before you complain by the thousand--no, it has nothing to do with the colour of his skin, but what I believe to be a severe case of crass hypocrisy and a vain attempt to make the hole fot the peg.
Not so long ago, Sentamu was bemoaning the subject of gay marriage--I'm not sure if he finds civil unions morally offensive, or whether he doesn't like the idea of a Christopher Biggins type schlepping fown the aisle in a Versace gown, but whatever....
Sentamu says, on the subject of gay marriage, we should stick with what the Bible says, and with tradition. Fair enough, if that's what he believes in. We're all entitled to our opinion.
However, when it comes to ordaining women bishops, he believes we should be moving with the times--in other words, NOT sticking with tradition.
I'm sorry, your worship, but you are being unfair and, if I may say so, a bigot. You cannot stick with tradition when it suits you, and not stick with it when it doesn't.
It's called homophobia.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Smiths: 30 Years On

Their music was fantastic and there's no doubting that Morrisser was the finest singer-songwriter of his generation. A modern-day Byron, and as I wrote, Perdican Reborn.
The Smiths were Morrissey and Marr--well, Morrissey, no disrespect to Johnny. Like Freddie was Queen. They were more or less consigned to history when Freddie died, and after The Smiths' split, Morrissey went on to even bigger things.
The fans are loopy, so I never adhered to the 'ritualistic' side of things. I always liked meat, always liked sex, and was never keen on being miserable and shutting myself away in my bedroom.
But Morrissey, I could never admire enough because he's a man of my heart. Like Brigitte Bardot and myself, he's not afraid of saying what he thinks, even if he gets lampooned or hammered for it--like us, he's never found the need to hide behind the curtains. Perhaps this is why, when I brought out my first book about him--admittedly, I'd allowed him read the script beforehand--he said that he wanted to 'dust me down and stick me on the mantlepiece'. Of my predecessor, Johnny Rogan, he'd wished him dispatch on the M1, until learning that Johnny didn't drive whence the fatwah was transferred to demise by flames! Moz if the most quintessentially English gentleman I've known since my late father-on-law. It has nothing to do with racism, but with wishing to remain parochial. I wasn't keen on his comments about the royals, though to a certain extent I could see his point when he said that an old lady who lived near his Mum had died of hypothermia because she couldn't afford to pay her gas bill--while they'd found a newspaper in the house with a feature saying Princess Diana had paid £6,000 for a frock.
Neither is Moz miserable. When we received a special invite to his show at Drury Lane, I joked that it would be nice if we could have the royal box--he arranged it (our companions for the evening were The Pet Shop Boys) and even curtsied when he came on stage! Then when everyone had gone home, we all got hammered in the bar!
Lovely man!  

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Liz & Dick: Ed Wood Would Have Felt Proud

I think everyone knew as soon as this production was announced that it would turn out to be a monstrosity, hammered by fans and critics alike. Just what were the producers thinking of, giving it a title which sounds like a cheap porno flick--and casting an actress who couldn't act her way into a paper bag, let alone out of one? What next--Eileen Derbyshire to play Princess Diana, with Matt Lucas playing the Prince? Elizabeth was a legend, quite possibly the last of the Hollywood greats. She was a temptress, it's true, and a feisty one. But she was also a very great lady and sense should have prevailed when attempting to film one of the key points of her life, instead of turning it into a mockery, akin to casting Jeff Stryker as Jesus of Nazareth. Some years ago there was a film about Gable and Lombard, and another about Garbo and Gilbert. Both bombed at the box-office, and so will this one. Lindsay Lohan was created for the dictum, 'Whatever talent she never had, she still doesn't have!'


Lindsay Lohan in Liz and Dick, Bitten Off More Than She Could Chew?

16 November 2012

Lindsay Lohan in Liz and Dick, Bitten Off More Than She Could Chew?

The run up to Lifetime's Elizabeth Taylor biopic Liz & Dick has been as controversial as Liz's own life, and as anticipated as any of her movies. Sadly, all this hype has largely been due to the problems that Lindsay Lohan, starring as the Queen of Hollywood, has garnered for the production.
From being found unconscious in her hotel room to the enormous insurance policy and 'what if' clauses in her contract the tabloids haven't been able to leave the Lohan stories alone. While her co-star Grant Bowler (you'll recognise him from Ugly Betty), who's playing Taylor's husband Richard Burton, believes Lohan was the right choice, preliminary reviews of the production disagree.
MTV report that Grant said, "I think it was a very smart decision on a lot of levels. And it has been interesting, because reading the press before we started, there was a lot of questioning, like, 'Why cast Lindsay as Elizabeth Taylor?' And then right from the start, by the very fact that the tabloids were running around after it, you had your answer."
Grant's advocation for her role seems to be surrounding the attention the film has received, rather than the quality of her input, and the New York Daily News review agrees. "Elizabeth Taylor loved diamonds. This new movie about her life feels more like rhinestones." Adding, "It's tempting to say the movie's big problem is that Lohan is no Liz Taylor. And she isn't - though that's not entirely her fault... Liz Taylor in her prime could do that. She could make men melt. Lindsay Lohan's Taylor does not."
Liz & Dick will air on Lifetime on November 25th.


Friday, 16 November 2012

Maria Callas - Suicidio, La Gioconda - Original Sound

Maria Callas ~ the finest soprano who ever drew breath.
What more can one say other than actions speak louder than words?

Marlene & End-It-Alls

The singer Betty Mars, the closest friend of my closest friend, jumped out of a window in the Spring of 1989, and lay for three weeks in a coma before her family switched off the life-support machine. Betty's death cut us up--we'd spent our tenth wedding anniversary with her in Paris. Marlene, whose sense of humour was black to say the least, said that Betty's 'leap' could have proved fatal. I pointed out that it had and she said, 'What I mean is that she could have landed on somebody.'
Dalida, one of the greatest entertainers this world has ever seen, took her life on 3 May 1987, and Marlene had quite a lot to say about that, too. Dalida, like a few other stars who cannot be named here because they're still alive, had made so many suicide attempts that those around her were starting to ignore her. Her lover, Luigi Tenco, who I adored, had taken his life--though his case is still ongoing and many think he may have been murdered by a jealous rival. Another lover and Dalida's first husband killed themselves because she was such hard work.
Marlene told me, after Betty's death, 'Persistent suicide attempters bore me. If you're going to do the job, then for God's sake don't keep messing your loved ones around. Do it properly. Lili Palmer came here--she was very ill, and we discussed ways of ending her suffering. She told me when she was going to do it, and I was happy when she died because her suffering was over.'
Marlene was right. The world is full of moaners--afraid of this, afraid of that. Attention seekers. I happen to agree with her. Twenty-five years ago Mrs Dawson, a little old lady who lived near us and who had recently lost her husband, took an overdose because she couldn't afforf to pay her fuel bill. THAT was tragic. As for the moaners who persistently whine about the 'lousy deal' life has dealt them--well, my answer, like Marlene's, is that if you're not happy with this life, find out what the next has to offer. I'm not too keen on the idea--nobody's ever come back and told me.
Back to 3 May 2007, and what could have been another grim day when Jack Lang organised the Dalida 'bash' at the Hotel de Ville, in Paris. The evening started off with everyone in a doleful mood--there was even a mock-up of Dalida's death-scenario. Then someone stood up in the middle of the room and bawled out, in French, 'For God's sake, lighten up. Why don't we celebrate her LIFE instead of weeping for her death?' Then the air was rent asunder with 'Gigi l'amoroso' and a good time was had by all!  

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Days Of Our Lives Gay Kiss: Bigots Unite

Just what was all the fuss about? A young man gets tiddly, gets followed outside by another tiddly young man, and they snog.

And the twin-set and Greenwoods jackets Bible-Thumper brigade gets all hot under the collar and start gnashing those ugly brown teeth!

Darlings, it's perfectly normal! Don't you know that already, or have you spent so long sipping your Complan and talking about your neighbours behind their backs after your prayer meetings to realise what the real world is all about?

You can call your nearest Artemedia or if you're in the areas take a trip to Catalina Island or a stroll on Hampstead Heath and you'll see a whole lot more, I can assure you.

Being different is not offense to the God who like as not will boot most of you back down the slippery slope when you schlepp up at those Pearly Gates and say what good people you have been while on earth. Love comes in many forms. Even slugs enjoy having sex!
Some years ago, here in the UK there was a television documentary where a vicar's boy had killed himself because his family were intensely homophobic--the vicar is on camera stating that he would rather have his boy dead than have him gay. I would like to think that when his time comes, Satan puts him on a low light.

Two years ago I was barred from a local pub for opening my trap when a group of well-dressed pensioners were discussing a customer's son who was leaving for Afghanistan. Spouted one old lady, 'You'd think they'd send all the gays there to get killed first, wouldn't you, or the ones with AIDS?'

So, Bible-Thumpers. Here's an interesting question. Would you have complained by the thousand had the second young man schlepped up with a gun or a Samurai sword and taken the other young man's head off?

Be ashamed of yourselves, you disgusting heathens!

And so to a few quotes. I find the one by Mary Floyd Cook Gebo (sounds like a Joanie character from Dynasty' particularly offensive. She knows some 'really nice very clean gay men'. How noble of the lady. I know some really horrible, dirty straight men too! So, Ms Gebo accepts or rejects gay men depending upon how many nits they may have--or maybe she sniffs them before deciding whether she likes them or not? And a HUGE VIRTUAL BUNCH OF RED ROSES for Valerie, a truly honourable lady for sticking up against these horrible bigots! As for Alice Grant--if God really did create Eve from Adam's rib, I reckon he must have created this one from his vomit!

Valerie Dionne i think that days is doing a great job showing that GAY ppl are people too and still need to be respected!!!! sooo i agree with sonny and will and support what they are doing!!!! good job Days!!! keep up the good work!!!!
13 hours ago 13 hours ago · Like

Kim James Hester I have watched this show for 42 years, and have always enjoyed it so much, but i think the gay scenes are going a little to far.


Deidre Glenn Johnson The gay storyline has gone too far for daytime tv. gay is fine on the show but showing way too much detail. Pretty disgusting.


  • Maureen O'Neill Maybe the Days Writers put the gay story line on to let the veiwers know there are people out there that are gay and I guess it s normal being gay besides it lets the one s that did nt come out of the closet to see it s ok if they are gay.Days of our lives must be ok with the gay life in todays time.Im for one not against gays,there just as normal as straight people.I dont really no anyone who is gay. Only the people on tv like Rosie O"Donnell and Ellen D and also Elton John and I still love watching them gay or not I did catch Will and Sonny together did nt care to watch that part though just got up and did something else till it was over, I do the same if it was a man and a woman.

  • Mary Floyd Cook Gebo I think days PRODUCERS /WRITERS/ONES in charge-----should stick to traditional family and affairs (man & woman sceens)----get the gay guys sceens off our favorite show( lesbian sceens also keep off days).I except alot and have gay members as relatives--that is their business ,as many families do have gays/lesbians, but come on,the bible says man do not lay with man in so many of it's own we pay for our tv shows,keep it traditional.some things should be private,I know some really clean very nice gay men,but THE SEX SCEENS IN BED---- MALE, FEMALE ,WHATEVER, LOOSE IT,there is enough to keep us veiwers satified without the bed sceens.

  • Arizona S. Heat But its happening in the world whether or not its in the bible, against the frickin happening in OUR world in our lives, Y not let it be part of our 1 hr fantasy that comes on daily inpicting normal 'life' in our favorite town, Salem. Y R U all in denial?!
  • Alice Grant Ive watched Days from the beginning..ive been pretty much with most of the stuff on it accept now..with the gay stuff.and that gay love scene made me sick. And yes the Bible is against gays. I feel sorry for them really. I dont think they have to be gay, i think gay people can be helped to go straight if they really wanted to.

    Wednesday, 14 November 2012



    Alexandra had one. Barbara had one at Précy, and I have one--though all you see is the base of the trunk behind Ricardo Casillas!
    It's a special kind of tree which happens when you get two willow saplings and plait them from being very small. Barbara's was about 15 feet tall. Alexandra's and mine are around 25 feet tall, almost as tall as the eucalyptus next to it,  and have been so-plainted so that you can sit in them! The spread of my Gardan (believed to contain protective spirits, so I'm all right, then!) is well over 30 feet,  and covers almost half the width of the garden. But what a mess at this time of the year when the leaves start to drop! Must post a better picture when I get around to it!

    Monday, 12 November 2012

    Will David Haye Be Crowned King Of The Jungle

    One of my biggest regrets this year was having David's management offer me tickets for the big fight, and not being able to go to Germany--not that we would have been in the arena for very long before it was all over. He's a true gent, a really nice, gentle man. But after surviving the Big Russian, will David survive the cockroaches and kangaroo testicles? Let's hope so! So far, the biggest competition seems to be coming from that game bird of a feather, Linda Robson. So long as the winner isn't the one with the bog boobies who screams a lot, this year could be a good one!

    Sunday, 11 November 2012

    As We Remember....

    When I was younger and living on the farm, my father wanted me to go into the Army because I was a crack-shot with a rifle. I was also the typical seven-stone weakling, very timid, devoted to a slowly-dying mother, and the idea didn't appeal to me. Also, they wouldn't taken me. Four decades later and four stones heavier, I watch the television every day and am appalled at the young faces which flash on to the screen almost on a daily basis. Lives which have been sacrificed, they calim, so that we may be free. In days of yore, perhaps, but not today. Our young men and women are getting killed because politicians are too fond of poking their noses into other people's affairs. They should fetch the troops out and sent the bog-wigs in. Give them a sword or a rifle each and let them slog it out between them.

    My private war was previously a vociferous one. With my father, back in those days which were a mixture of awfulness and excitement. I only realise how awful, and how exciting, when I start reflecting for my memoirs, which I have been commissioned to write. Now it has become silent, and silence is the greatest fear, the greatest weapon of them all. Silence is the trip-wire big men fear.

    Saturday, 3 November 2012

    Marlene Dietrich: The Last Goddess

    It's refreshing to read honesty!
    The 'mangeuse du micro' was Sheila!
    Marlene and I made a deal the last time we visited avenue Montaigne. She hated Peter Riva, I loathed my father, therefore whichever 'snuffed it' first, she or I would buy the champagne and 'get pissed'.Marlene died in May 92, my father in December 93. We were in Paris at the time with Barbara, and Jacqueline, my godmother, sent champaigne to the Hotel de la Paix. We took it to avenue Montaigne and drank it out of paper cups on the pavement.
    Marlene read the script as I was writing it, chapter by chapter. She complained about bit of it, which I vetted--then said it should all go back to as it was. I never mentioned the lesbianism because she said, 'I was never one of those.' She also said she was neither straight not gay--she never categorised. If she saw sweets in the window, she said, she grabeed them--they didn't need any particular 'flavour'! Cybulsky made her cry when talking about him, as did Piaf. She pretended to hate Damia, but Damia gave her 'the bracelet'.
    I helped produce Marlene's final album, The Eassential Marlene Dietrich. Since she died I've been waiting for someone to contact me with a view to making an album featuring clips of our conversations. The Rivas were on my side, until they learned of the tapes--particularly as some of Marlene's comments about them are not pleasant. Yes, I called her daughter Maria Rivachefolle--the comment came from my godfather, who went to Marlene's funeral--he too was a friend and spoke to her on the phone towards the end.


    16 June 2012

    Dietrich Apocrypha: David Bret's Marlene, My Friend

    The beginning of a series on Marlene Dietrich biographies that have not joined Maria Riva and Steven Bach's books in the Dietrich canon.

    David Bret the biographer gets a bad rap. Yes, his publications have perpetuated inaccuracies and detailed sexually explicit content. So what? Like us, many of his celebrity subjects have lied about themselves and committed crude acts. Although stars may be more revered than us, they are no less human. Likewise, Bret's status as an author doesn't predetermine our role as readers. We need not accept him as an authority simply because his words were packaged in codex form, and we can engage in his works however we please.

    For some of you, this may involve debunking Bret, which is obviously your prerogative. Because debunking biographers involves knocking them off pedestals, I personally find little value in the practice. Like celebrities, biographers are mere mortals, and putting them down can't strip them of divine power that they never possessed. Instead, it can only hurt them, and this is what I observe when I read David Bret's reactions against his detractors. Don't you naysayers know that a rattlesnake only bites when it feels provoked? Perhaps some of you don't care about that consequence because you debunk Bret as if it were your crusade--your jihad--to honor your celebrity idol. Therein lies the problem. Despite your fervor, you can't demolish Bret to preserve your star's divinity because no person is godly. Dismiss my musings as speculation, but I'm convinced that what irks some of you about Bret is that he humanizes your sacred entertainment idols. Of course, I'm aware that many of you simply take issue with Bret's inept research and vulgarity. Well, I have news for you. After a tedious workday, a book of mindless trash is like a bowl of ice cream or a glass of wine, and we aren't all stupid enough to believe everything we read. If you're concerned about those who are that daft, I'd contend that you may as well help them submit their election ballots and tax returns.

    Throughout Marlene, My Friend, the author Bret and his subject Dietrich's human flaws fill the pages, but Bret occasionally chronicles Dietrich's life and his rapport with her quite stylishly. The repetition of Dietrich's last call to Bret at the beginning of the preface and near the end of the final chapter before the epilogue resembles a classic French poetic form called the rondel--appropriate amidst Bret and Dietrich's discussions about French music. For those of you who find Bret's friendship with Dietrich unlikely, I must write in Bret's defense that he did indeed write the liner notes of The Essential Marlene Dietrich, apparently the final music compilation that Dietrich herself helped produce, which at least corroborates the possibility that the two were chummy. Again, I'm not interested in debunking Bret, and I suspend both belief and disbelief when I read Bret's biography, just as I do when I read Charlotte Chandler's and even Maria Riva's. Like Riva and unlike Chandler, Bret at least captures Dietrich's acerbic wit and temper.

    To Bret's credit, he also emphasizes an aspect of Dietrich that no other Anglophone biographers have adequately covered--her music. In Bret's appendices, a lengthy alphabetized song list gives fans a means of navigating through Dietrich's music output, and I'd be interested to know whether any of you have vetted it against the discographies in Bach's biography or Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memories. Throughout his discussion of Dietrich's music, Bret adds his critiques--much to my delight. In doing so, he injects his own personality into his book, predating the democratic commentary now ubiquitous in blogs. Bach does the same in his book but primarily sticks to what he studied in college--film. Bret tops that by telling us what he thinks about Dietrich's movies and her music, even sharing Dietrich's harsh self-assessments. To repeat what I've said before, we the readers can decide whether we believe this voice to be Dietrich's, but Bret's personal views and insights stand on their own.

    For me, what makes Bret's book worth reading are his references to various chanteuses with whom I'm rather unfamiliar. Of course, I know a bit about Bret's beloved Edith Piaf, but Bret's scope extends far beyond the woman whom Maria Riva has dubbed a "guttersnipe." You'll read about Dalida's suicide, the acrimony between Dietrich and Mistinguett (in this photo of their meeting, Dietrich looks icier than usual, and Mistinguett looks uncomfortable), a French singer with a penchant for miming (which means "lip-syncing" here, my fellow Americans) whose concert Dietrich saw on T.V. (Mylène Farmer, whom I adore?), Damia's influence on Dietrich (particularly her song "Assez"--which I consider quite plausible, but thankfully without the trill), etc. Bret also elaborates on Dietrich's relationship with Polish actor Zbigniew Cybulski, which was all but glossed over by Bach. Did Maria even mention him? If you've read Bret's book, please add anything else not found in other biographies that his book offers.

    Shockingly to those of you who have read Bret's more recent biographies, Bret dispels some lesbian rumors, such as Dietrich's romances with Mercedes de Acosta and Jo Carstairs. In fact, Bret divulges hardly any wanton gossip--just a story from an unnamed source about Dietrich failing to ply her trade on a London street. Was Bret the first to publish this rumor? I've read it before just as Bret has written it, and it's hardly scandalous. If you enjoy sleaze, you'll have to settle for Peter Kreuder's unwitting performance for Dietrich in a sex show, apparently already revealed in Kreuder's own memoirs. Somewhat related to the lesbianism mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, Bret expresses his surprise to learn that Dietrich is "anti-gay" after hearing some lyrics she's improvised over a track, which reminds me of Higham's claim that Dietrich was homophobic. Could this be my Queer Blogathon topic?

    Where does Bret go wrong? Well, if we cast aside the obvious--the lack of organized bibliographic references--he gets some minute facts wrong, such as Dietrich's birth year (which isn't 1900) and Maximilian Schell's nationality (which isn't German), but that's no reason to avoid the book. Readers interested in learning more about a subject should know that they must triangulate--read, watch, and listen to an array of resources--to determine what's true or most likely. For example, you'll realize when you watch Shanghai Express that--contrary to Bret's synopsis--Anna May Wong did not play Dietrich's maid; however, we must remember that biographers then probably lacked the same easy access to Dietrich's movies that we enjoy now. Dear Leslie Frewin, who wrote the first English-language Dietrich biography in the 1950s and then revised it in the 1960s, botched more details about Dietrich's movies than any other Anglophone biographer, even giving Blonde Venus co-star Dickie Moore a sex change! Before the advent of home video, the poor man may have only had the chance to watch old film reels once or twice.

    As far as I know, David Bret's book has been translated into two other languages (German and Russian) yet was never released in the United States, which eludes me given the availability of Bret's other biographies. I'd rather read this than Chandler or Spoto's books. Aside from your opinions about the book (and please share your opinions about the book, not David Bret), I'd like to know its original release date and maybe some published reviews of it. I hope Bret himself comments on his book because I notice that his comments in it about Maria and Peter Riva are not at all disparaging as they are in his current blogs. According to Bret, Peter Riva called him about Dietrich's passing, which makes me wonder when Bret's relationship with the Rivas went sour. It seems his more abrasive blog entries about the two have disappeared, but I recall a hilarious portmanteau of sorts--"Maria Rivachefolle." You'll just have to settle for his recent comment about Dietrich loving Maria but not liking her.