Friday, September 30, 2011

Class Warfare?

We hear that phrase a lot lately, and from the strangest places, the government.

The GLOBAL problem - 10% of the Earths population holds over 90% of the wealth. The economy is collapsing because we don't have money to buy things because the morons running the companies and governments are sitting on it all, and when sales and stocks fall from the lack of revenue instead of taking a small but survivable hit to their own income, they lay off hundreds of thousands of people to compensate. Im not anti-capitalism, but there's a fine line that's been crossed between healthy revenue and obscene profit. In the 50's, Lots of people had decent salaries. The wealth was spread over a larger percentage of the population. There were more CEOs, managers, owners. Today, where there was once 50 parent companies there are now 5 and only a handful are making billions.


It reminds me of that Cagney movie, Mayor of Hell, where a crooked man runs a boys home and works them like slaves, feeds them food not fit for animals, lets them freeze in solitary, because he's too cheap to do things correctly. Cagney steps in, instates democracy, but then has to go on the lamb for a while leaving the tyrrant in charge again, and as we all know once a group of people have a taste of how good it could be, they will fight to the death to maintain it. The boys riot, and in Hollywood fashion Cagney shows up in the nick of time to keep the boys from doing something disastorous.

Who's going to intervene now, in real life?

This is the beginning—from "I" to "we". If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I", and cuts you off forever from the "we". - Grapes of Wrath

Monday, September 26, 2011

Griffith Observatory Photo Tour

Griffith J Griffith,  who had always wanted a public observatory in Los Angeles after visiting the free parks in Europe, sold his land in 1896 to begin his project. He donated 100,000 dollars to the city of Los Angeles and endowed the property to them, but unfortunately fell ill in 1916. Griffith left his estate upon his death to the completion of Griffith Observatory in 1919.  Completed by 1935, The observatory is still free except for special exhibits.

 Observatory Entrance

 A depression-era Federal public works program employed six sculptors to create this public sculpture. The Astronomers Monument, dedicated in November 1934, was hailed as one of the most important pieces of art to be completed by the program.


            The Ceiling above the Foucault Pendulum

A Foucault Pendulum. The ball swings back and forth and as the Earth turns the pit around it pins come into the line of contact with the ball. 

 Periodic Table with actual elements


 This is the lower level and was really neat.  it has a display for each planet and a scale you can stand on to see how much you'd weigh.
Telescopes < Lower Level 
> In the East Dome

The views from around the property
This is a really neat place and I highly recommend a stop if you are in the area.  There are 2 wings of displays of meteorites, eclipses, how seasons work, views of the sun, and not to mention the drive there takes you through a historic neighborhood with many beautiful homes, by the Greek theater, and through the park with amazing views throughout. Parking at the top is also free!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Mickey Rooney!

Rooney,  born Joseph Yule Jr in 1920, was brought into the life of theater and vaudeville almost from birth. Bot h his parents were vaudevillians, and from his first on stage appearance from the age of 17 months starting in an act with his parents  Rooney has one of the longest careers in history.

Moving to Hollywood in 1925 after a series of small bit parts, Yule Jr  finally landed a regular role in the series Mickey McGuire. After 78 episodes over a decade,  The name was associated with him, however a comic strip the series was based on sued for rights to the name, even with the Yules legally changing their name to McGuire to avoid the copyright issues. The comic strip won and it was suggested he change his name. in 1932, Mickey Rooney emerged.

1937 brought Rooney's first Andy Hardy role  in A Family Affair. After 12 more Hardy movies and a string of musicals with Garland they were one of the most successful song and dance duos of their time.

"Judy and I were so close we could've come from the same womb. We weren't like brothers or sisters but there was no love affair there; there was more than a love affair. It's very, very difficult to explain the depths of our love for each other. It was so special. It was a forever love. Judy, as we speak, has not passed away. She's always with me in every heartbeat of my body."

Rooney entered WW2 in 1944 and served for almost 2 years.  Upon return he found his movie career had stalled -  He made one last Andy Hardy movie, did a radio show based on the series, and then turned to TV, successfully making the transition by the late 50's with shows like The Investigators and Mickey.

Through hundreds of movies, 8 marriages,  numerous awards, and almost a century long career,  Mickey Rooney is one of the last living stars of the golden age of Hollywood. National Velvet, Boys Town, Mad Mad World, Rooney has always been a great entertainer with a mischievous glint in his eye and a knack for making you like him. In movies as recent as this year (The Muppets) Rooney is truly a living legend.  Happy Birthday to one of the greats!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Uncle Fester was The Kid!?

Recently I found out Netflix has a bunch of old TV shows available for instant view, Macgyver, The Hulk, The Munsters, and one of my favorites, The Addams Family.

Being the movie nerd that I am, I often go through and look up the whole cast, especially on older movies/shows, just to see where they came from and what they've done.  I learned Grandmama (Blossom Rock) was in vaudeville, Carolyn Jones was married to Aaron Spelling for a while, and then came across a name that sounded familiar although I didn't know why.  Jackie Coogan.

Coogan, born in 1914, Started in silent movies at the age of 3 in 1917's Skinner's Baby.  Charlie Chaplin discovered him goofing around in the Orpheum Theater and immediately cast him as his sidekick for 1921's The Kid. ( Hell with 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, we should have a 6 degrees of Chaplin, the man is related to everything in some way, seems like).

He was one of the first actors promoted through merchandising, the first child actor to sue their parents/ guardians for blowing their earnings (they squandered over 3 million dollars and Chaplin had to help Coogan financially in the 1940's)  and was married to Betty Grable.

I never in a million years would've connected Uncle Fester to such an amazing career.  Unfortunately many of his earlier films have been lost, although TCM released some in the past few years, such as The Rag Man.

Coogan died of a heart attack in 1984 in Santa Monica at the age of 69.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Katharine Hepburn's Broadway Debut - 1928

Night Hostess, a play in 3 acts, starring Gail De Hart, John L. Kearney, and Averell Harris, centered on the lounge of the "Little Casino," an exclusive gambling establishment in New York City.

The play opened at the Martin Beck Theater in NYC on Nov. 12 1928

Martin Beck Theater's Stage ( Now the Al Hirshfeld Theatre)

Just graduated from college and actually having appeared in a small Broadway role (which she was fired from the first week) in The Big Pond, Night Hostess is credited as Hepburn's Broadway debut, although she was billed as Katherine Burns. Even though it was a bit part - she played the character of "the other hostess" - this play is said to have been her motivation to seriously pursue acting.

There's actually a conspiracy theory that Katherine Burns wasn't Katharine Hepburn at all, and that she had double booked jobs in search of the best role.  She is credited with Night Hostess, Sept - Dec 1928, and also These Days, Oct - Nov 1928.  The big mystery to hardcore fans is,  how could she do both in different cities at the same time? Hepburn herself initially claimed they were 2 different people, yet later says she used the name to be on 2 contracts at once.  The world may never know.

She would be discovered on Broadway by RKO four years later in The Warriors Husband.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My generation wishes they were a different one.


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
     madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
     looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
     connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery
      of night.
-Allen Ginsburg, HOWL

I hear every day from people my age "man, i was born too late" or "I wish I was born a few decades earlier". Why is that? Me personally, I wish I'd been born in the late 30s or early 40s. I could've grown up in the greatest age of Hollywood, could've witness the beat generation, been in my 20s for Woodstock, my 30s for the 70'spunk movement, and while I probably wouldve been too old to appreciate it been around for the grunge breakout in the late 80's/ early 90's.

What does today's generation stand for? It seems every decade up to my age group (I was born in 1982) has at least one great "thing", something the whole generation got behind and is known for. My generation, nothing. We don't have quality music, quality movies, quality art. No political movement where we flipped the system the bird and won. Why not?

We also get blamed for the decline of civilization, for being lazy, unmotivated. But is that our fault? In my head I see baby boomers running down streets clutching bags of all the money and my generation following behind them shooting each other for any dollar that happened to stray. Is this our fault? Or the older generations?

That we've gone from hundreds of thousands of CEOs making millions in the 50's to a mere handful making billions and sitting on it, I think thats the biggest problem with my generation. We've become money starved, so the music we make's only aim is to "get rich". Same with movies, art, our only motivation for anything really, is to not be as poor as we are now. So if the government starts writing checks we dont have to work for, most of us take it. If an opportunity arises where all we have to do is cheapen what we stand for for a buck, we do it. Is my generation simply the outcome of what happens when greed and monopolies hit the breaking point?  Total apathy, no self respect, and no respect for others?  It's sad.

No matter who's to blame, I really wish I'd been born earlier.