Robert Nedelkoff's Journal|
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|Tuesday, August 4th, 2009|
I should have mentioned this a while ago, but I'm now on Facebook.
|Tuesday, April 7th, 2009|
|Saturday, April 26th, 2008|
|Short Story by Theodora Keogh (1919-2008)
This week someone - not me - put up an entry for the late Theodora Keogh in Wikipedia, so it seems a good time to insert here the only known short story she published, in the September 1957 issue of Dude magazine (a minor Playboy imitator).
The Man Who Loved Old Ladies
It seems long ago now that I met the man who loved old ladies and I never saw him again. Our meeting was a pick-up, really. I was waiting for the Seventy-second Street cross-town just outside Carnegie Hall one summer night. Rehearsal was over and I carried a little suitcase with me containing a sopping wet leotard and my practice shoes. I can still remember the feeling at my temples where the breeze blew on my wet hair. How young I was that burning New York August, sweating the salt out of my skin! And I was uncertain too; beginning to feel the pinch, to see ahead of me the hard artist's life whose rewards sometimes don't come or come too late. My parents wanted me to give up and lead a more traditional existence and I had promised them to go to our family house for the weekend and "talk things over." The weekend was tomorrow and pre-discussion nerves were tightening my stomach; parental authority from which it is so hard to recover and whose qualms I fought in vain.
Anyway there I was, tired in the particular way dancers are tired; a sort of light exhaustion as if some giant hand had been pressed down on me and then released, leaving me weightless by comparison.
The bus didn't come and there was no one else waiting for it. Everybody who could possibly get out of town had done so. A few couples, the men in shirtsleeves, drifted by coming from the park where they had gone to lie in each other's arms on the grass. They had a relaxed, easy look and I envied them. I felt very lonely.
A young man, walking quickly, passed me and exclaimed: "Oh hello! How are you?"
"I'm fine," I said. His voice and manner made me think I must have met him. He looked the type to be in or around the theatrical world.
"What are you doing here so late and all alone?" he asked.
"I'm waiting for my bus." I was young enough to be ashamed of being alone because I thought it meant I wasn't popular. "I've just come from rehearsal," I said to explain my solitude.
"Well, I don't see any bus," he said. "Perhaps you'd better come and have a drink. I'll let you order Coca-Cola."
"Ginger ale," I said. We went around the corner to where a small bar was open to the night.
"Where do you dance?" he asked.
"I'm just rehearsing now," I answered, wishing it were otherwise and then I told him I'd forgotten his name because I never could remember names but I never forgot a face.
He smiled and the rather lax lines of his jaw were sweetened. "We've never met," he said.
So he had picked me up! He didn't seem the type, this blond young man who might have been good-looking but was not. Perhaps he read a question in my eyes for he said quietly: "I hate young girls."
"Then why did you pretend you knew me?" I asked, trying not to let my nose get red from the sting of the ginger ale.
"Your nose is red," he remarked. "That's adolescence." A discordant note in his voice made me uneasy. I decided to change the subject.
"What do you do?" I asked. I had decided he was either an actor or a musical comedy singer of small renown.
"I love old ladies," he said. He twisted on the barstool and looked out at the street through which the couples still strolled. Midnight and the dawn hours could not refresh the air imprisoned in those dry gulches and the faint breeze stank of flesh. He turned back and looked at me, at my long hair hanging rather dankly on my shoulders and my dress clinging to my half-formed, muscular, young girl's body. "Sometimes I'm sorry," he said.
"Well, it's a living." I didn't know what else to say and thought this sounded worldly.
He shook his head. "It's not the way you think of at all." He murmured so softly that I could barely hear him. "You see, I love them."
"Love them?" I was not sure of my ground now and I didn't want to be caught out again.
"Yes, I love them. I love the feel of their skins, their pursed mouths, their soft, soft thighs. They give me money, but they wouldn't have to. I make a living from my vice."
I sipped my drink. "Then why are you sorry?" I asked. I was at the age where, although I knew I was no longer a child, other men and women were still grownups. There was a film, a membrane, between these grownups and me.
"Oh, I don't know, " he answered, frowning. "When I see someone like you: so -- healthy." He paused before the word "healthy" as though it were a second choice to him, as though he had been searching for another one and had not found it, or had swallowed it unsaid. "But I can't help it," he continued. "I was spoiled very young."
"By your mother?" I suggested wisely. I had heard of such things.
"Oh no!" He looked surprised. "You don't understand. I'm talking of old ladies. Mothers are young. They are the youngest people in the world. Far too young for me." He was drinking bourbon on ice and now he finished it and ordered another. As he called out to the barman I examined his profile. His nose turned up between rather drawn cheeks and his skin was curiously faded. There were too many wrinkles for his age or even for his sex and he didn't seem to have much beard. He ground out a cigarette at that moment and I noticed that his hand, although slender, was not well fashioned. It looked as if he had no bone inside, only cartilage.
"If you're not happy about things why don't you change?" I asked. But I wasn't really interested in his changing. I wanted to go. He shrugged and I got down off the bar stool. "Thank you for my ginger ale," I said.
He didn't try to stop my going, but when I reached down to get my suitcase he leaned over and touched my forearm lightly. He stroked the hair on it with his forefinger. "Do you have those all over?" he asked. His voice sounded just like his finger felt.
Later, swaying along Fifth Avenue, I looked out of the window of the bus and across at the parched darkness of Central Park. I was the only passenger and all my loneliness returned. Yet I was happy with it now. I was glad to be alone in the middle of the night in this bus which went so fast through the deserted streets and I was glad to be tired too. It was wonderful to be tired from dancing, to sweat, to struggle, to be alone -- with love just there, somewhere, waiting to come into my body.
Then I decided not to go to the family's in the morning to talk things over. It didn't matter any more if they understood me, or if I understood them. Perhaps we weren't meant to.
For was not life like a vast, dark garden, like Central Park across the Avenue; dark, used, corrupted, but filled with the marvelous and varied fruits of the earth?
|Wednesday, January 30th, 2008|
-busy lately. See www.brookspeters.com and Mark Sarvas' Elegant Variation for more, or put "nedelkoff" and "theodora keogh" into Google.
|Tuesday, January 15th, 2008|
|Skidoo? Or Don't?
Earlier this month I saw (in a pan-and-scan version rather than its original widescreen) Otto Preminger's 1968 film Skidoo, one of the most notorious box-office flops in the era. It's about a retired gangster (Jackie Gleason, in a role reportedly intended first for Walter Matthau, then Sinatra) who takes LSD in Alcatraz and gains inner peace. That's about the shortest summary possible.
It also has dancing girls wearing trashcans, Arnold Stang being murdered in a carwash, Mickey Rooney talking to the back of a TV, Frank Gorshin speaking through clenched teeth, Frankie Avalon with a penciled-in mustache, a bush-league pro team pretending to be the Green Bay Packers playing naked, Carol Channing washing a hippie's hair in a kitchen sink in the most down-to-earth scene (kitchen-sink realism, get it?), Carol Channing (again) dressed as if she were about to wed either Big Bird or the San Diego Chicken, George Raft performing a wedding at sea, Groucho's disembodied head sitting on a giant wood screw, and several other notable things.
Describing all of this does not spoil the film. You'd really have to see it to believe it. Fred Clark, the neighbor on the final season of the Burns & Allen show, turns in the finest performance as a prison guard; sadly, he died two weeks before Skidoo opened. Austin Pendleton, playing an early Silicon Valley freak type in his film debut, does the second-finest one. Oh, and did I mention that it also has scenes of Joe Pyne ranting juxtaposed with a cigarette-smoking "Little Rascals"-type dog?
The whole thing was on TCM week before last and can be seen entire on Google Video and Youtube; the latter also has the film's trailer, which features Sammy Davis and Timothy Leary endorsing it, the latter urging young theatergoers to "bring your parents to it and turn them on." Turn 'em on, indeed. Skidoo has never come out on VHS or DVD, reportedly because Preminger's children own the negative and feel that such release would diminish their father's achievement. Oh, and if you see it, remember to stick around for the credits. Which are all sung. Down to the Roman numerals on the copyright date. Plus Slim Pickens is in it. Absolutely five-star in some places; overall a three.
|Sunday, December 23rd, 2007|
|photo of me-
-taken probably in summer of 1979 or 1980. I don't have the T shirt anymore. What else? Have been doing some reading: Gregory William Mank's "Hollywood's Hellfire Club" recently published by Feral House about WC Fields, Johns Decker and Barrymore, Gene Fowler, Sadakichi Hartmann, Errol Flynn et al, under their collective identity of "The Bundy Drive Boys." Not very well written - especially in comparison with Gene Fowler's excellent book on the same subject, "Minutes Of The Last Meeting" - but with some useful quotes, info, photos. Happy Holidaze.
|Sunday, September 30th, 2007|
-have been watching (with Rene) some of the old videotapes I made between 1998 and 2001 of cable-TV programming - films, TV specials, whatnot. I had about 80 unlabeled tapes, so I had to fast-forward thru them to figure out what was on them. In the process, have watched some stuff I meant to watch then - or, maybe, watched in those days, but forgot. One of these was a two-hour A&E special tracing the history of pro wrestling - narrated by Steve Allen, probably one of the last things he did before his death. And also some movies - like "Million Dollar Legs" with WC Fields and Jack Oakie. This was a film I'd wanted to see since the early '70s. In 2000 or thereabouts I taped it off TCM - via the timer, while I was sleeping. Finally, a few days ago, 35 years after I first heard about it, I saw it. Just about worth the wait.
|Thursday, July 19th, 2007|
-and many a month has passed since I last wrote - so time to write something. Well - here's one thing: in May and early June, read a couple of novels by David Stacton (1925-1968, or maybe 1923-1968; nothing is certain about his biography, least of all that David Stacton was his name; he may have been born Arthur Kingsley Evans). These are "Old Acquaintance" and "The Judges Of The Secret Court." A very individual stylist, and certainly worth reading. Now it's time to go home and have dinner. I may post again tomorrow, or I may not.
|Friday, April 13th, 2007|
Kurt Vonnegut who died Wednesday night in New York. In a two-year period from the fall of '71 (that is, from 14 to 16) I read all his books published to that date - "Player Piano" to "Breakfast Of Champions." Later I read "Slapstick," which struck me as pretty weak, and I never got around to reading his later books though I read some of his essays and interviews. Of the books I read, I thought "Mother Night" was the best. I read that three times, most recently around the time its film version was released, 11 or 12 years ago. I also greatly liked "Cat's Cradle" and "The Sirens Of Titan," and most of the "Welcome To The Monkey House" stories. Requiescat in pacem, fellow Hoosier.
|Thursday, March 29th, 2007|
|later in week-
-and have read some more about Tupper Saussy. Unique fellow, to say the least. archivesofoblivion.blogspot.com (run by Andy Zax, who put together a limited-edition Neon Philharmonic compilation CD for Rhino) features some mp3 files offering a cross-section of his music. In some respects he reminds me of my old guitar teacher Chris Lee - except that Chris was a hippie and Saussy evidently wasn't.
|Sunday, March 25th, 2007|
I forget my password, better post. Three American originals died in the last couple of weeks: Betty Hutton (Annie Get Your Gun, Miracle Of Morgan's Creek), Calvert DeForest (aka Larry "Bud" Melman) and my sister's Nashville neighbor Tupper Saussy (who recorded the Top 20 hit "Morning Girl" under the nom de disc The Neon Philharmonic in 1969). Thanks to Youtube the genius of these three can be savored 24-7. (And in Saussy's case also at wfmu.org, under "neon philharmonic" - but the websurfer should also look up his arrangement to that weird Roy Orbison MGM recording, kind of similar to MacArthur Park, called Southbound Jericho Parkway.) Tomorrow, will go see Norman Mailer plug his Hitler novel in DC.
And what of today? I went to Politics & Prose and read an article about the Future of the American Novel by Cynthia Ozick in the April Harper's. Then, thumbed through J. Peder Zane's book The Top Ten, where several hundred writers list their ten favorite works of fiction (with nonfiction, plays, poetry interspersed). There's a site all about it - "peder zane" and "top ten" in Google will find it.
|Tuesday, February 27th, 2007|
-took the trouble to get the password for my guestbook (the first link when you go to hometown.aol.com/rwnedelkof) and proceeded to remove the spam from it, for the first time since I started it in 2000. (There was an earlier guestbook in 1999, which I abandoned because it did not allow people to post more than 200 words or so. I wonder if I still have the URL for it written down somewhere? Or if it's still up, gathering cyberdust and its own spam?) After removing 100 posts, about 175 were left. It was interesting to go all the way back to the start when I was essentially blogging, before things like LiveJournal or Blogspot had been set up. And to find posts from Jaina Davis (who, nowadays, is here too: jainabee.livejournal.com).
|Friday, February 23rd, 2007|
|beginning of weekend-
-and soon time to go home and go thru unwanted books, CDs, videos, cassettes - the ones I can't sell for hard cash, that is - to donate to a school's book, etc sale in Takoma Park. Should be able to fill up some boxes pronto. Then, right before bed, maybe some more pages of Robinson Crusoe. I started reading the book when I was about 11, but gave up while old Robinson was still enslaved in Tangier or wherever it was, before he even reached his island. Then last month I started with the book again, and this time have gotten up to his second week on the island or thereabouts. And in answer to the comment below - I was indeed talking about the same Roger Miller who wrote and sang "King Of The Road."
|Friday, February 16th, 2007|
-and time to make a post and consign the Larry King-Pynchon colloquy to another page. I think I'll make a little time this weekend to listen to Roger Miller's greatest hits. (I mean the Oklahoman who was keen on the bobbies on bicycles, not the Mission of Burma guy.) And Gary Stewart's greatest hits. (I mean the honky-tonker of the '70s, not my old pal, the compiler of so many fine CDs on the Rhino label.) And maybe some more Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds (or Dennison).
|Wednesday, February 14th, 2007|
And time to get home and maybe play some Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds (or Dennison). "Baby baby, fallin' in love, I'm fallin' in love again...." H, JF and R's/D's immortal music probably is not at wfmu.org but it can be found at YouTube.
|Thursday, January 25th, 2007|
|late this evening-
-it was time to watch two episodes of that, well, scabrous series, "Assy McGee," on YouTube. The take-no-prisoners style of AM was necessary after I watched the "Two Aristocrats" segment from The Gong Show (viewable on www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssWVObtxZ4A)one time too many.
(A misguided soul, in the comments to that clip, suggests that it should be beamed into space to advertise the virtues of Earth civilization. If anything, it would scare off ALFs from invading - so maybe it would be useful to beam it. In fact, the clip may actually be evidence of an alien invasion, miraculously thwarted by good old Madame. If all this seems overstatement, just watch the clip.)
Usually around this time I follow a wiser course of action and read some pages of Robinson Crusoe to get to sleep. (Note, from this morning: I reread, for the 20th time, the opening of Borges' "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" instead. But still, I got some shuteye pronto.)
|Wednesday, January 17th, 2007|
-which was my late aunt Svilena's favorite song, and after sunset now. Keeping up the Slavic motif - Rene and I ate last Wednesday at the reopened Russian Tea Room next to Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. I never was at the old RTR but the food we had was, no bones about it, excellent. The place seems to deserve its inclusion in the Time Out NY 100. Decor is the same as before, spectacular. There used to be a Russian restaurant in San Francisco where I ate in the '90s which was similar, though smaller and more intimate in atmosphere. I wonder if that's still around. By the way, since I no longer subscribe to AOL (though still have email in the free acct), my hometown.aol.com/rwnedelkof site will no longer be updated. (Note: this is incorrect. I just updated the site. It simply took me a while to remember how to do it. So there's a new poem up. Not that it's much of a poem.)
|Friday, January 12th, 2007|
|after the fact, '01 and '06
In the last two days I've learned of some events that - hard as it may be for some readers to believe - escaped my notice until now. The older, happier one first: in 2001 I posted a couple of comments in worfpunk.livejournal.com, the blog of Amanda Rootes, a Londoner, but long in LA, best known for her '90s punk band Fluffy, and her somewhat more metallic group Harlow which was featured on MTV's "Bands On The Run" series circa 2000. She replied to both entries, in those remote pre-9/11 days, with genial welcomes to her blog, but I didn't know that until today, when I was removing a bizarre, unaccountable comment ("hello sce goodbye" or something like that) from the post below.
And, on Monday, I got an email from Shawn Mills, my fellow member of Monterey College of Law's Class of '96. The heading was "Sorry to tell you of this" and I immediately had the feeling one of my classmates had died. This shook me. Lupe Alonzo was in the class before mine - one of the nicest and best people I ever knew - and his death just after my graduation is one of my saddest memories. Paul "Sparky" Sanford '96 was one of the people who helped set up a scholarship in Lupe's memory and I made a note to write him after reading Shawn's email.
Except that the email concerned the date of a memorial service - for Sparky. He fell to his death from the balcony of a hotel in Seaside, the town adjoining Monterey to the northeast, on the morning of Christmas Eve, age 50.
Since I was in Nashville with my sister's family that weekend and not hitting the web (and, indeed, I was very rarely at a computer the second half of Dec) I knew nothing of this - though, it turns out, Google and Altavista both show that Sparky's death has gotten a lot of attention in blogs and other sites.
It turns out that Sparky was in DC in 2004 - to argue a church-and-state-separation case before the Supreme Court, so far as I know the first MCL grad to appear there. And also in 2005, when he showed up at a White House press briefing (for footage of that, put "paul sanford" into youtube.com). I had no idea he'd done these things. How I wish I had kept in touch with him, had had the chance to introduce him to Rene. I always took it for granted that I would someday bring her to Monterey - she's never seen California north of Santa Barbara - and introduce her to Sparky and my other friends from those days. His memorial service is Saturday, Jan 27 at Santa Cruz. I'll do my best to be there, and bring Rene.
It should be noted that while the police regard this case as a probable suicide, nothing, but nothing, about Sparky when I knew him would have led one to think that he would leave us in this fashion. He was always amiable, cheerful, ready with a joke, definitely upbeat in his view of life. The only times I saw him close to being glum were at the end of August and September, when the Red Sox would do their usual stuff in that era and blow their postseason prospects. But once the conversation moved from baseball he was his regular self. And, anyway, the Bambino's curse is now some years behind us.
(And, only now, I find out that besides the civil liberties cases he handled, Sparky's bread-and-butter work was DUI and traffic violations cases. He must surely have cited State vs Nedelkoff, 263 N.E.2d 803, on occasion, and wondered if that Nedelkoff was kin to me. Yep - it's my uncle Jeko, also notable for being the highest paid employee of the state of Ohio, not excepting the governor, for two years before retiring. See gunownersnj.com for the case.)
His family requests that in lieu of flowers, his memory be perpetuated by "standing up for what you believe in." RIP Sparky.
|Monday, January 8th, 2007|
|the countdown to-
-my 50th birthday has begun, now that it's 2007. What is there to note? Well, it was warm last weekend - nearly tropical at noontime - but now it's near freezing. And rainy. Indeed, the Nabokov poem I've had up for about half a year at hometown.aol.com/rwnedelkof is quite apropos. Nonetheless I should change it. Maybe another Edwin Arlington Robinson poem would be the ticket. Or one by New Albany, Indiana's own William Vaughn Moody. Where my publications are concerned - well, last month a book of tributes to Harold Maier, the proprietor of Louisville's recently closed (albeit still online, I think) Twice Told secondhand bookstore, was published. I had a short piece in that. 50 copies were printed - no telling how many Brett Ralph (who put it together) still has at hand.
|Friday, December 29th, 2006|
-I'm one of a number of "rock critics," of varying degrees of activity, asked to contribute ballots to the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll of the year's best recordings. Below, my ballot. All are album releases. Points given are used to determine the poll's overall winners (the system is explained at villagevoice.com). And...Happy New Year.
Terry Adams & Steve Ferguson: Louisville Sluggers (Clang) 15
The Beatles: Love (Capitol) 5
Jerry Lee Lewis: Last Man Standing (Artist First) 5
Red Krayola: Introduction (Drag City) 15
NRBQ: Ludlow Garage 1970 (Sundazed) 10
Frank Sinatra Jr.: That Face! (Rhino) 5
Sparks: Hello Young Lovers (In The Red) 10
Stereolab: Fab Four Suture (Too Pure) 5
Scott Walker: The Drift (4AD) 20
Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) 10