A couple of months ago I shared some ambivalent, somewhat negative feelings I have about Oliver Stone‘s The Doors, which is why I haven’t purchased the recently released 4K Bluray. But a few days ago Stone posted some pics of a screening of this 1991 film in Bologna’s grand piazza. God, to have been there! Huge crowd, dark blue sky, high-tech projection, centuries-old architecture…peace and tranquility.
“Streisand soaked in all the love, and toasted the crowd too with a voice-preserving cup of tea: ‘May we all be as wonderful as our dogs think we are…my three are in my dressing room,’ she said of her beloved Miss Fanny, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett.”
What was Streisand saying here? First, that none of us are as wonderful as our dogs think we are, but that we should nonetheless aspire to deserve that kind of love. And second, that on this often melancholy, sometimes lonely planet there are few things as emotionally soothing and caressing as being loved by our dogs, because their love is always full-hearted and unqualified by even a smidgen of judgment.
The love-worship we get from our dogs, in other words, isn’t tempered or mitigated by less-than-stellar-opinions of our character unless, you know, we treat them cruelly or indifferently. It isn’t affected, to put another way, by human perspective. Dogs never say “I love you for the most part, I guess, but the way you always leave bread crumbs on the kitchen counter is so infuriating, plus the fact that you can’t seem to get past your selfishness or your adolescent assholery or the unfortunate fact that you’re a financial miser”…none of that.
Dogs sense our antsy, conflicted vibes, yes, but they never withhold affection and are always radiating trust and optimism about our basic nature and in fact life itself, and that’s why they’re so dear to us.
A decade ago I got into trouble with the militant feminist crowd (Melissa Silverstein, et. al.) for voicing a similar remark about affection and dogs. I decided to phrase it in a needlessly provocative fashion (which was tactless of me), but it wasn’t that different from what Streisand said the other night.
In a 6.6.09 column called “Just Hot Enough,” I wrote that “life would be heavenly and rhapsodic if women had the personality and temperament of dogs — forever loyal, non-judgmental, constantly affectionate. But that’s a loser’s dream.”
The key words in that sentence were “a loser’s dream.” Which I took from The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek,” to wit: “Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me / If I spring a leak, she mends me / I don’t have to speak, as she defends me / A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one.”
It’s not in our genetic inheritance for adult women or men to offer dog-level affection. It’ll never happen. Human behavior and mores would never advance or refine if it did. Barbra Streisand understands this, obviously, but the kind of love that she gets from her canines melts her heart regardless, and so on a certain tucked-away level she probably wishes she was such a glowing and wonderful person that certain humans would offer the same kind of untempered affection. It’s absurd to even dream about, yes, but we’d love it if this could somehow manifest. Be honest.
That’s all I was saying ten years ago. That dog love isn’t in the cards, obviously, and that only losers would pine for this but that it’s privately blissful to dream about regardless. Naturally the Silverstein crowd interpreted this in the worst possible way. But that’s what they do.
I prefer to sidestep the biological reality of Ryan O’Neal being 78, and to think of him as the guy he was in the early to mid ’70s, when things were as good as they would ever get for him.
I had two minor run-ins with O’Neal in the ’80s. The first was after an evening screening of the re-issued Rear Window** at West L.A.’s Picwood theatre (corner of Pico and Westwood) in late ’83. As the crowd spilled onto Pico O’Neal and his date (probably Farrah Fawcett) were walking right behind me, and I heard O’Neal say “that was sooo good!” Being a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan, this sparked a feeling of kinship.
Four years later I was a Cannon publicity guy and charged with writing the press kit for Norman Mailer‘s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, which didn’t turn out so well. I for one liked Mailer’s perverse sense of humor.
I did an hour-long phoner with O’Neal, and my opening remark was that he was becoming a really interesting actor now that he was in his mid 40s with creased features. He was too good looking when younger, I meant, and so his being 46 added character and gravitas. O’Neal was skeptical of my assessment but went along — what the hell.
In fact O’Neal’s career had been declining for a good five or six years at that point. He knew it, I knew it — we were doing a press-kit-interview dance because there was nothing else to say or do.
O’Neal’s last hit film had been Howard Zeiff and Gail Parent‘s The Main Event (’79), which critics panned but was popular with audiences. He had starred in four mezzo-mezzos before that — Peter Bogdanovich‘s Nickelodeon (’76), Richard Attenbrough‘s A Bridge Too Far (’77), Walter Hill‘s The Driver (’78) and John Korty‘s Oliver’s Story.
O’Neal’s career peak lasted for five years (’70 to ’75) and was fortified by a mere four films — Arthur Hiller‘s Love Story (’70), Bogdanovich’s What’s Up Doc? (’72) and Paper Moon (’73), and Stanley Kubrick‘s Barry Lyndon (’75). (The Wild Rovers and The Thief Who Came to Dinner, which O’Neal also made in the early ’70s, were regarded as mostly negligible and therefore didn’t count.)
O’Neal has said for decades that his career never really recovered from Barry Lyndon — Kubrick had changed the film entirely in editing, and had made him look like a clueless and opportunistic Shallow Hal of the 18th Century. Plus the film had lost money.
Journo pally to HE: How come you didn’t post this? Bill Maher is saying exactly what I’ve been saying for months.
HE to journo pally: Yes, you’re right. Sadly, lamentably, you’re both right. At 3:47 Maher says, “Do I want Biden to be president? Not really, but Biden is the only Democrat who beats Trump in Ohio. He’s like non-dairy creamer. Nobody loves it, but in a jam it gets the job done.” I find the “not really” part of that statement incredibly depressing.
Journo pally to HE: My fear is that [Elizabeth] Warren might win the nomination. If that happens all bets are off. We’re fucked.
HE to journo pally: I agree — very scared of Warren winning the nomination. As much as I admire and love her, the prospect terrifies me. Mayor Pete, Mayor Pete, Mayor Pete.
Journo pally to HE: He’s great but not for 2020. A Biden-Buttigieg ticket would be ideal. Pete could basically be the de facto president like Cheney was. But women would probably freak if Biden picks him for vp.
HE to journo pally: They’d freak because picking Pete would mean, in their heads, an outright rejection of the feminine factor on a national political stage.
Journo pally to HE: Right. Already there’s this bizarre anti-Pete thing going around Twitter because “waaahhh, no woman got that kind of attention.”
HE to journo pally: My personal favorites (in this order): Tulsi, Marianne, Kamala, Elizabeth. I don’t much care for Gillibrand (although she’s okay) and forget Klobuchar.
Journo pally to HE: The only one I even remotely like is Klobuchar along with Warren. I have a new appreciation for Tulsi for going after Kamala, whom I can’t stand. But she’s cray cray.
HE to journo pally: Disagree completely.
HE to Ivanka: One could fancifully infer that you’re raising YOUR voice in rejection of your father’s racist rhetoric and the acts of white supremacist terror that he’s inspired. But of course you’re not. Your sentiments are therefore, in this context, farts in the wind.
— Hollywood Elsewhere (@wellshwood) August 4, 2019
“In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.
“Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs. The heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold,” [leading to the United States] “rotting from the inside out.” — from racist manifesto by Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old El Paso shooter who allegedly killed at least 20 people earlier today.
1:30 am update: What was the motive behind tonight’s mass shooting at Ned Peppers bar in Dayton, Ohio, which has resulted in nine dead? (Ten including the shooter.). The Dayton Daily News has reported that “a person who was denied entry to the bar opened fire.”