Joseph Mankiewicz's film version of a Tennessee Williams one-act play, Suddenly Last Summer (1959), turned out to be one of the better adaptations of his work. The script was adapted by Gore Vidal and Williams, who did little to tone down the risque content matter that was not mainstream fare in the late 50s. And the Film's two stars Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor were both nominated for Academy Awards for their roles. The production designer did in an Academy Award for Mrs, Venable's (Hepburn) verdant New Orleans garden. Montgomery Cliff was cast as in a crucial role as Dr. Krukowitz at the behest of Hepburn and according lore-barely made it through the shoot-popping pills and showing up drunk on the set. A surprising success for a seemingly mainstream production.
Sabaidee was the first Thai/Lao restaurant that I visited in Asagaya before I moved there and it is the best value. Lunch sets are ¥680 and the most expensive dinner menu items are also only ¥680-I had my standard grao pao gai. The food is quite authentic and I like the Beer Lao table cloths-this will be the go-to Thai place for me.
I have been a fan of Tennessee Williams since reading The Glass Menagerie in college. I've realized there are several plays that I haven't managed to get around to reading yet. So I decided to start with the one-act play Suddenly Last Summer (1958), since there is also a film version with Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift that I can see after. Williams sure knows his doomed southern belles, controlling matriarchs, and tragic effeminate momma's boys. His characters are usually sexually depraved, according to the by laws of society, and /or have mental demons to harness within a family tragedy. This story looks at a New Orleans family coping with the recent death of a much loved family member under suspicious circumstances in Spain. The repercussions reverberate through the remaining members of the family. It is dramatic and entertaining-it must be fun stuff to play out as an actor.
I found director Ezra Eldeman's ESPN 30 For 30 five part documentary, OJ: Made In America (2016), absolutely fascinating in its scope and context of the one man's life and how it reflected trends in society. I lived through most of the documentary, but Eldermans chronicles how athletes in the 60s began politicizing sports and notably how OJ refused to join when approached, saying, "I'm not black, I'm OJ." He would go on to chronicle the long standing history of violence by the LA police department against blacks and the how racial tension mounted from the Watts riot up to the furor over the Rodney King beating. This documentary sheds light on many of the more unseemly aspect of American culture and history. I, too, was disgusted that the cops that beat Rodney King got off without any punishment. OJ's stardom and embrace of white culture embodied by his home in lily-white Brentwood neighborhood of LA cements his aspiration. It would come as no surprise that he would marry a beautiful white woman, Nicole Brown, many years his younger. His cycle of abuse against his wife and special privileges are well-documented. Elderman also does a great job of capturing the media circus of OJ's run eventual surrender-bizarre and in my mind an admission of guilt, if he were innocent why would he run? The evidence did not lie-there was a blood trail from the scene to his, car, and home of the blood of his victims and his own wound. It should have been a open and shut case, but then things really got out of hand since he had seemingly unlimited resources. Now OJ was a "black man"-a victim of the corrupt LA police department-and the symbol of black disenfranchisement giving it to "the man." I can remember the day the verdict was read, I was doing my teaching internship at Shorewood High School, north of Seattle in a almost all-white and Asian community. When we turned on the TV to see the verdict. When OJ was found not guilty the class erupted in cheers as I turned away disgusted buy yet another miscarriage of justice. It was not a black man being exonerated, it was a rich man duping the system. Shockingly some of the jurors would admit that it was payback in the documentary. I'm glad to see that the civil case had an impact on his life after getting away with murder. And his eventual downfall was another bizarre and poetic example of hubris-I guess he thought the laws of society did not apply to him.
I had always head good things about Jim Harrison's writing and thought that it would be a good time to read something by him since he recently died. I was wondering where to start, Legends of the Fall seemed to obvious. Then I came across this article by a NY Times book critic I respect, Dwight Gardner. He lists the following as his personal favorites: "Wolf" (1971), “A Good Day to Die” (1973), “Farmer” (1976) and “Warlock” (1981). I decided I would start with the earliest on the list and if I liked it I would read the others in order. And when I saw that the quote preceding the text was from Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch, I figured I was in good hands-and I was. It is an atypical novel in that there is very little plot. The narrator is camping in the forests of Michigan hoping to come across the illusive wolf while he re-lives the last decade or so of his life which includes flashbacks to the locations of his wanderings such as Boston, the West, New York City, before coming Home. There is no theme or method to his wanderings, dissipation (drinking and smoking pot), meetings with various people as well as his interactions with women. Strangely it reminded me of the novels (despite the Henry Miller-like randiness of macho affectation throughout) of Renata Adler, which are also atypical novels with musing about modern life. Both are almost aphoristic in their musings as well. Needless to say, I expect this is the first of many Harrison novels that I will read.
Sawadee is the third Thai place in Asagaya I've tried and they are all better than average, but this is probably third on my list mainly due to cost value. They had beef stir fry basil (it is almost always chicken or pork in my experience) with soup, salad and dessert for the lunch set at ¥980.
I'm a huge fan of The Replacements, so I was predisposed to like Bob Mehr's Trouble Boys (2016), and it was entertaining and informative. I started getting into The Replacements in 86, I believe. I can remember when Pleased To Meet Me came out and was in constant rotation among my friends. I remember reading about the legendary 86 shows with The Young Fresh Fellows opening, but I wouldn't see them live until their final tour for All Shook Down in 1991. The set list for the paramount show is available online. I also remember going to see Paul Westerberg solo at RCKANDY in Seattle a few years alter. I remember listening to the Chris Mars solo album and liking it-I also liked Tommy Stinson's band Bash and Pop and saw them live as well. It's funny that The Replacements were so well known for their unpredictable sets live, by the time I saw them they were pretty rigid in their sets when I saw them. bash in Pop, in particular played the songs in order from the album from start to finish without any banter, covers or anything. Like many of the rock and roll greats (Big Star, The Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, The New York Dolls, etc), they were too ahead of their time and missed their opportunity to be huge and it seem as if they everything possible to keep themselves from attaining success. It's difficult to read about how they bit the hand that fed them-insulting people who could help them, burning their daily per diem, sabotaging big shows, getting blind drunk and tearing shit apart, etc. The stories Mehr tells are down right insufferable-if I had met them in those days would I be still such a fan? It's hard to say. Biographies kind of suck in that all the dirty linen gets aired. But as the record bin I saw in Tower Records in the early 90s in the Tower Records in the U-District proclaimed: "The Replacements make life worth living."
It was a rainy Thursday and I didn't feel like having the specialty at Menya Kikyo, tsukemen, but went for spicy ramen instead for ¥750. It was very hearty and filling-just around the corner as well, so I'll be back.