My Edie problem.

The other day we were watching a promo for the newest iteration of “Grey Gardens” on HBO when Alan asked, “Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t think that movie was a masterpiece?” I assured him he was sitting next to another one. In fact, I thought, we’d watched it together, just a year or two previous, on DVD from the library, and we’d turned it off midway through. It was during the feed-the-raccoons scene, as I recall.

If you haven’t been backgrounded: “Grey Gardens” started life as a National Enquirer story and became a documentary film, and that’s where it stayed for the longest time — a cult classic, as the phrase goes. It’s about a mother-daughter team of lunatics, both named Edie Beale, who lived in an enormous, ramshackle house in an exclusive nook of the Hamptons. If you’ve known a crazy cat lady in your life, you’ve known the Beales, except the Beales were crazy with a twist — they were aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (the elder Edie was Edie Bouvier Beale, sister of Jackie’s no-good father). They lived in this huge, crumbling pile together, filth and decay forcing them into one or two rooms, where they spent their days talking crazy to one another in these upper-class accents. I guess that made them irresistible to the Maysles brothers, who made the original documentary.

Eventually, in the days of home video, “Grey Gardens” emerged from midnight-screening-at-the-art-house obscurity and into pop culture, and then there was a Broadway musical and now a dramatic remake of the doc, with the story of their early, pre-crazy lives folded in. I’ll probably watch it at some point, but I watch with a cold eye. “Eccentric” may be the polite word for insanity, but ultimately finding entertainment in a portrait of two mentally ill women just doesn’t feel right to me. Whatever floats your boat — I don’t judge. But it creeps me out.

All over this country are people like the Beales, living in less picturesque but very similar surroundings. Once I had this idea for a reporting project — to do a profile of every single person who filed to run in the city election in Fort Wayne in 1995, for council and mayor. The idea was not to look at their positions on the issues, but at them as people, on the grounds these are the politicians you’re most likely to meet in the supermarket, and you might want to know about them. My editors like the idea, and when the filing deadline passed, we made up a list and I divided it with another reporter.

I thought the project was, on balance, a success, but I hadn’t accounted for the Crazy factor, and so we found ourselves obligated to profile at least two people who were not only hopeless candidates, but, frankly, a little nuts. One was borderline and ran for mayor; the other was all the way there and was up for a council seat. Both were on my half of the list.

I walked into the latter’s apartment, a much less picturesque version of Grey Gardens, to find the furniture had been turned upside down. “Spring cleaning,” the candidate said by way of explanation. Two chairs were righted, I was served tea in a filthy cup, and the interview commenced. An hour later I made my escape, having been led on a magical mystery tour of his personal crazytown. I was advised that I should never leave appliances not in use plugged in. I was told that my subject had been caught in a crossfire with the Purple Gang and another band of gangsters, and that’s why he was physically disabled. I was told he had several advanced degrees, but didn’t possess the diplomas because of administrative persecution. And so on.

The next day, just for the hell of it, I went spelunking in our ancient, non-digitized clip files and in nothing short of a miracle, turned up a brief story that mentioned the would-be council candidate. Decades earlier, he had opened an unsecured fire door of a hospital under renovation and stepped into thin air, falling two floors and seriously injuring his back and legs. I was not particularly surprised to learn it had been a plain old accident (likely an attempted suicide) and not Purple-Gang thugs who left him a physical wreck, nor was I shocked to hear the door he’d used was on the mental ward.

I might still have the story in my files, but I like to think I walked a careful line in my reporting, enough to let the readers know who was living in the apartment with the upside-down furniture without holding him up for unnecessary ridicule. Ditto with the other candidate, who lived in a house with a front door about 15 feet from a major thoroughfare, one of those places you wonder why anyone would stay in. He served me coffee from an elaborate china service, added a big dollop of Cool Whip, and we struggled through an interview while every passing truck rattled all the cups and filled the room with its roar. (This, I’m convinced, is what drove him around the bend. I was only there an hour, and it nearly did it to me.)

When one of your names isn’t Bouvier, this is what being nuts is like. No arty documentarians, just a third-rate columnist wondering how she’s going to tell your story without bringing the authorities into your life.

I wrote a lot about mental illness when I was a columnist. The mother of a schizophrenic said something to me I’ll never forget, describing her son: “He’s sick. He’s in pain. Why can’t anybody see that?”

Good question. I guess part of it was that fashionable attitude that flowered in the ’60s, the in-a-crazy-world-who’s-to-say-what’s-sane wave of the hand. Part of it were the revelations of what institutionalization was really like for people who couldn’t afford the best care. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” played a part. And mental illness, like most illness, is a continuum, and one doctor’s judgment of who needs help imposed upon them and who doesn’t isn’t the same as the next doctor’s. Of my two candidates, the guy in the loud house was firmly in the “eccentric” range, the other edging into intervention territory, but neither was a danger to himself or others, as the legal standard goes. But I also don’t think either was happy, nor healthy.

I see the publicity surrounding the new “Grey Gardens,” and that’s what bugs me about it — this idea that the Beales should be celebrated, because Little Edie liked to wrap sweaters around her head. That their tumbledown house should somehow still encompass their legacy of illness, maybe in the famous gardens. Sally Quinn, the journalist who bought the house from Little Edie and restored it, gets it, although she’s too polite by half:

What do you recall of Little Edie that day?
Well, I thought she was nuts. I thought she had serious psychological and emotional problems. There was no question about it. She had just escaped into her own fantasy world. I didn’t know the story that much and so honestly, I feel bad about Edie. Your reaction was just to laugh at her because she was such a character and so crazy, dancing in the hall, saying isn’t it beautiful and this incredible outfit she had with safety pins and a turban and all that—and later when I saw the Maysles documentary and then the Broadway play and now the HBO movie, it’s so heartbreaking. I wanted to rewind and go back to that moment and just put my arms around her. I wanted to help her, do something for her.

Putting your arms around Edie wouldn’t have helped. She needed something a lot stronger.


The weekend looms! Any bloggage?

What is it about the gays and “Grey Gardens.” With YouTube.

And that’s it. Add your own if you like. And have a good weekend.

Posted at 9:04 am in Movies, Popculch |

71 responses to “My Edie problem.”

  1. Randy said on April 17, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Back in my college journalism days, I profiled a mayoral candidate who fit the crazy profile. Her name was Natalie Pollock, and she was briefly infamous for getting groped by Larry Linville while he was here in Winnipeg doing dinner theatre.

    As an aside, in the early to mid 90’s, we had a quite a few supporting actors from 70’s sitcoms come through here for dinner theatre, including that guy that played Larry on Three’s Company. Wow!

    Ms. Pollock was in the midst of her 15 minutes of infamy, and had just come off a less-than-flattering appearance on the Jenny Jones Show. But can you have any other kind of appearance on that kind of show?

    Anyway, not one answer was connected to any of the tenets of rational thought. She smelled vaguely of mothballs. She had been quietly suspected of an incestuous relationship with her brother, who is also mentally ill.

    These days she is in her late-fifties or so, and carries her belongings in a nice wheeled suitcase. Her dignity erodes ever so slowly, a little more every year. I hope some kind of safety net lies ahead for her.

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  2. beb said on April 17, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I saw Drew Barrymore on Letterman this week hyping a movie she was in, and apparently it was this movie you’re talking about. Drew Barrymore is cute and certainly dressed elegantly on Letterman but I agree wqith you that there’s not much to celebrate about crazy people.

    Picked my first copy of the Feeep since they dropped 7 day a weekl home delivery. It looks more and more like “USA Today.” That and it looks like the sports section is about 50% of the entire newspaper. Any work on salles since the Big Experiment began?

    I like because it isn’t all politics. So I’m a little disappointed with myself beause all I have to add today is politics. That the released torture documents from yesterday make a big case for a Special Prosecutor/War Crimes Commission and Obama’s refusal to consider such a thing is a big, Big, BIG disapointment.

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  3. nancy said on April 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Beb, I’m starting to read them myself, and I agree. Ugh.

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  4. moe99 said on April 17, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Guys, If you had read my comment from last night on the previous thread (it was posted around 2 am your time–don’t know why you weren’t up (big grin)), you would see that Obama has not said he will not prosecute the authors of the memos. Only that he will not prosecute those who relied on the memos for their actions. I know, it’s a small hope, but I continue to carry it. I doubt that shame alone will remove Jay Bybee from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s interesting that several of the signal participants in this were Mormon.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 17, 2009 at 10:48 am

    You don’t have to help clean out too many smaller scale Grey Gardens’, when the Edie of the moment is wheeled off to the home, or the hospital, or the morgue, to wonder what the voyeuristic fascination is with this particular psychological dysfunction. And as you shovel or sift (and you need to sift, because the valuable stuff is mingled with cat poop and fifteen year old Steak and Shake coupons), the next-of-kin who got called, and who called you, tells you helplessly about the many and varied ways the family tried to offer assistance or demand intervention over the years.

    And then you find a gold brooch under a three year old sealed box of Hostess donuts. Yeah, that’s entertainment. But if the proceeds help the niece from three states away pay less out of their pocket for cleaning up the debris, you feel good about it — until you heft a large, sloshing, black garbage bag tied off in a knot at the top, and look at each other, asking silently “do we open it, or toss it as is into the dumpster out front?”

    Even the name Bouvier would not make me open that bag.

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  6. nancy said on April 17, 2009 at 10:54 am

    He preaches, he teaches, he social-works, he counsels wayward youth and now we learn he can handle a decomp/hoarder cleanout! Is there ANYTHING Jeff the Mild-Mannered can’t do?

    Let’s go see “Sunshine Cleaning” together one of these days, Jeff.

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  7. LA Mary said on April 17, 2009 at 11:01 am

    We’ve got a slightly crazy pack rat living across the street. I have no idea who will do that clean up when he goes. He has two houses and three good sized outbuildings on his property, all filled literally to the rafters with lord knows what. Whomever is his heir will have their work cut out for them but the reward will be five good sized lots in Los Angeles, worth something even in these times.

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  8. LA Mary said on April 17, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Sort of off topic, I heard a story this morning on NPR about a school bombing in Bath, Michigan eighty something years ago. It was brought up in connection with this being the tenth annivesary of the Columbine shootings. In Bath, a farmer who had lost his property to foreclosure, planted dynamite in the school basement. He thought the cause of his financial problems was the taxed he had paid, and that those taxes had gone to build the school.

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  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 17, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Oh, c’mon, there’s not a pastor who’s been working more than three years out of seminary who hasn’t mucked out a packrat house. That was my point, such as i had one. Should i see “Sunshine Cleaning,” or would it just be a busman’s holiday?

    Free cheap shot for all non-conservatives today — George Will has officially lost it, as Cheney would say, “big time.” I assume he wears Sans-a-belt slacks to Camden Yards, the poor fellow.

    LAMary, the Bath school disaster in Michigan makes for some grimly fascinating reading, and i got a couple columns out of it after both OKC and 9-11. We want these events to be “without precedent,” but they really never are. And as with the packrats, we’ll never know what was going on in Kehoe’s mind. Makes John Nash pretty ordinary.

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  10. Bob said on April 17, 2009 at 11:07 am

    To put Nance’s candidates in perspective, here are the first few lines of one of the pieces I wrote in the same series. And I was profiling the “noncrazy” candidates:

    No one running in this primary election could bring newer blood to city government than (name redacted).
    Just two years ago, he was in Memphis, Tenn. He’d never lived in Fort Wayne before. And he’d never held elected office.
    Then he got a message.
    ”The Lord revealed to me to go to Indiana,” he said.
    After he’d been in Fort Wayne for a bit, the Lord finally connected the dots for him. It was his mission to run for mayor.
    Now (name redacted), 64, a Democrat, is in the race and spreading a message that blends politics, vision and evangelism. It’s long on feeling and very short on specific issues.

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  11. nancy said on April 17, 2009 at 11:10 am

    And it was that very same Bob who passed along one of my favorite summations of mental illness, which he’d gotten from someone else. Roughly paraphrased: “I’ve found that when people go nuts, they do so in one of three predictable areas — sex, religion or aliens.”

    Or maybe I’m misremembering. Great shout-out, Bob. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

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  12. Rana said on April 17, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I wonder if some of the hype is a mixture of “Oooo, Kennedys!” (an attitude I’m simply too young to understand) and Hollywood’s excitement about something that allows actors to chew the scenery. You do have to admit, if you look at the Beales as characters rather than real people, that they are surprisingly tasty roles, and they are meaty roles for women to play – something that’s not that common in Hollywood right now.

    It’s when you stop to think about it in real life terms, that it becomes sad and voyeuristic and creepy. (I see similar parallels with the way the Holocaust is treated in the Hollywood community – a chance for an Oscar, rather than a complex, horrifying series of events that traumatized thousands of real, living people.)

    There are reasons why I tend to prefer documentaries and science fiction and fantasy films over most of what Hollywood offers, and this is a large one.

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  13. Rana said on April 17, 2009 at 11:20 am

    And I would say, as the godchild of packrats, you have my admiration, Jeff. We had to do what you describe before we could bring my dying godfather home for hospice care, and mucking is a very apt term. It was horrifying and pity-inducing; they’d never let on that things had gotten so bad until the very end (they live in another state) and they were sweet, lovely people except for their addiction to stuff and cats. It made all of the rest of us (also over-supplied with possessions) take a long, hard look at our own collections, I have to say.

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  14. Colleen said on April 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

    When you are rich, you get to be eccentric. When you aren’t rich, you get to be whackadoodle.

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  15. jeff borden said on April 17, 2009 at 11:49 am

    We were greatly blessed that while my parents were not likely to throw away anything that might be useful –the Depression had left some very considerable scars on their psyches– they were pretty good about keeping things in order. When my mom passed away in summer 2006, dad began thinning out the house fairly quickly, donating her clothing and outerwear to community centers and church thrift shops, throwing away worthless papers and documents, etc. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer last winter, he redoubled his efforts and had everything neat and orderly by the time he passed away last July. Still, there was a boatload of stuff in that house even after his valiant efforts.

    When I moved out of the house and into my first one-bedroom apartment in Columbus, Ohio, I used a one-axle U-Haul trailer and it took me and two buddies less than 15 minutes to unload everything I owned. When we moved into our house 16 years ago, it took a half day to load and a half day to unload a large moving van and this was after we had tossed a lot of stuff.

    Possessions seem to stick to us like metal filings to a magnet.

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  16. Connie said on April 17, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Well George Will is clearly whackadoodle.

    I am wearing jeans in the office today. Friday is casual day, and my stretchy ones are comfy. Screw you George.

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  17. Rana said on April 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Connie – it turns out that once again he forgot to fact-check, too – check out this great picture of Grace Kelly wearing jeans:

    (On the other hand, guys, you’re out of luck. Fred Astaire was apparently incapable of wearing anything but trousers.)

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  18. Bob said on April 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Nothing’s off-topic in your blog comments; you cover so much territory that everything can be linked to what you’re writing about.

    Take that observation — “I’ve found that when people go nuts, they do so in one of three predictable areas — sex, religion or aliens.” The guy who said that to me was a wonderful small-town judge who attained that post only after he convinced voters that the incumbent was a loafer, a liar, probably a ghost-employer and probably mentally ill. (aligning with your Edie post)

    He shared that observation with me when I was working on a piece about the common-law courts movement, members of which had filed a few actions in his court. They were part of an early Clinton-era version of teabaggers (alluding to another
    of your recent posts), although there’s a much clearer “what’s in it for me” element in deciding “Phooey on your spurious debt instruments, denominated in currency that is not guaranteed by specie!” But for a while, those common-law courts folks reigned as the mandarins of the militia movement. (link to another post this week).

    Another reason this teabagger stuff seems familiar: Remember Chuck Harter from your WGL days? I think that guy successfully organized some looming-one-world-government study-circles in his markets, but the bug-eyed cable-TV proud-ex-drinker whose name eludes me now has a lot bigger audience in which to propagate his 912 club. (The name arrived: Glen Beck).

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  19. nancy said on April 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Oh, god, I’d almost forgotten about the common-law courts movement. So much of that stuff flowered in Indiana before breaking out nationally. Chuck Harter was only one of its cultivators; there was also Tom Valentine. And remember Bo “rhymes with ‘rights'” Gritz?

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  20. coozledad said on April 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I used to work at a stationery shop that had a huge display window opening on Franklin street in Chapel Hill. I saw lots of crazy. One was a poor schizophrenic guy who would be babbling to himself but as soon as he stepped in the store, would stop and calmly ask for a case of 3×5 cards. I hated to sell them to him because of his limited resources, and because he used them to post cryptic messages around the UNC campus.As far as I can remember they went like this:
    1.You get money when you need it.
    2.You only know where you are when you are asleep.
    3.I have created a fool.
    My coworker told me that he could often be found praying to the teller II cash machine at the NCNB.
    I also saw Richard Simmons walking past the store, dressed in white, with white tennis shoes and a white scarf. There was eye contact, and I averted my gaze, because I realized instantly I was not only staring into an abyss of crazy, but a famous crazy who might walk into the store, and I’d have to wait on them.
    Then there was this guy, who would often ask to sit in the alcove in front of our store and motion to ask if it was OK to play his guitar there.
    It was.

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  21. Gasman said on April 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    So, George Will “lost it?” Some would say that he never “had it.” He is in a lather because we wear blue jeans? He is a pompous git. He opines that unless we are “horny-handed sons of toil” we have no damn business wearing denim. Furthermore, the wearing of that accursed fabric “is symptomatic of deep disorders in the national psyche.” Really, George? I did not realize that when I wore denim, it was a “carefully calculated costume of [one] eager to communicate indifference to appearances.” Huh, I thought blue jeans were simply affordable, comfortable, long wearing pants that were suitable for crawling around on the floor during my pre-school music classes. Who knew?

    It is telling that on the very day that we learned more about the extent to which the Bush Administration was willing to actively engage in torture – what constitutes war crimes – what is it that gets under George Will’s skin? Denim!

    While he wages sartorial combat against denim, Will seems to feel that Edmund Burke is a kindred spirit, invoking a Burke quote to buttress his irrational point. Edmund Burke also said:

    “It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare.”

    Maybe this is indicative of why a cancer has grown to such proportions in the Republican Party. We learn that a Republican president thought so little of our Constitution that he ignored it in its entirety, that he thought it unimportant to honor our most cherished national values. When we learn these things, what concerns one of the leading “intellectuals” within the party? Is he moved to outrage at the erosion of our national dignity? No, he is in a tizzy because not enough men dress like Fred Astaire and women like Grace Kelly.

    With such high minded folks like George Will looking out for our democracy, we had all better bend over and kiss our respective asses goodbye. Excuse me, I’ve got to go out and buy about a dozen pairs of jeans.

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  22. LA Mary said on April 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Here’s a nice clip of the totally rational Glenn Beck.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on April 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I will have to muck out my mother’s house, whom I have diagnosed with hoarding complex. We’ve tried to help her clean but it makes her hysterical. As Jeff said, the gold and the dross are mixed together, along with 25 years of dust and cat hair. Whackadoodle is whackadoodle and there’s nothing charming or quirky about it up close.

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  24. jeff borden said on April 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    As a rabid baseball fan, I have always loathed George Will for his snooty, pseudo-erudite musings on the national pasttime. His book, “Men At Work,” which profiled Tony LaRussa (manager), Orel Hershiser (pitcher) and Tony Gwynn (hitter) is the stuff to gag a real fan as he elevates these guys to mythic levels. The photo, by the way, shows the bow-tied prig leaning into the shot with a baseball diamond in the background.

    Maybe it’s because I split a gut decades ago over the raunchiness in Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four.” Or perhaps it’s a well-remembered quote from earthy Jon Kruk, who once was confronted by a woman who was furious he’d been seen smoking a cigarette in the dugout. The lady was admonishing Kruk for not being the role model she expected from a professional athlete, leading Kruk to reply, “Lady, I’m not an athlete. I’m a baseball player.”

    A pox on George Will.

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  25. LA Mary said on April 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    We just went through the mucking out with the father in law. It was time for assisted living for him when the neighbors complained that he had mushrooms growing in his carpeting and that the rotting smell was noticeable in the adjoining condos. he also has some “alien” things going on.

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  26. moe99 said on April 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    LA Mary–the Glenn Beck site you cited had at the top an article about the Grey Gardens movie that forms the basis for NN’s post today. Another serendipitous find for this group.

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  27. Gasman said on April 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    LA Mary,
    Ruppert Murdoch is a lying, greedy, megalomaniacal rat bastard, but he is not totally stupid. At what point does Murdoch see Beck and the rest of FauxNews as the potential liabilities that they are fast becoming?

    Now Beck’s antics are going too far even for other right wing goofballs. There is a growing body of record that people, on both sides of the political spectrum, are becoming increasingly concerned that Beck’s reckless hyperbole might inspire deranged individuals or groups to further acts of violence. Remember, that with the shooter in the Tennessee church, we already have had at least one such incident. (That nut cited Bernard Goldberg’s book as being a motivation for his violence.)

    If, God forbid, there is another violent act from some deranged conservative fanatic and he/they cites Beck as inspiration, Beck, FauxNews, and ultimately Murdoch himself could face civil lawsuits of tens of millions of dollars, or more. With a growing chorus on the left and right decrying such incendiary rhetoric, Beck, et al., cannot say that there was no possible way to foresee such action. Too many people have been warning, imploring, pleading with him to stop.

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  28. LA Mary said on April 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    There was a shooting at Long Beach Memorial Hospital yesterday. Someone who heard a rumor that there was a layoff coming in June brought two guns to work, killed two managers, then himself. I work in a hospital and we had a layoff. We are all a little spooked today. Long Beach Memorial is a botu 25 miles down the road from us.

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  29. jeff borden said on April 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    That is a very interesting thought that Murdoch might be on the hook for some heavy lawsuits if someone acted on the words of the deranged Glenn Beck. It would be a beastly case, though, with all kinds of First Amendment implications.
    I will not watch Fox News Channel as my preferred method of self-injury is rolling over some broken glass. What I know of Beck’s act comes from his presence on various and sundry YouTube clips. He’s not as focused as, say, a Father Coughlin, but his wild-eyed, messianic glow is very much a part of the typical demagogue.
    While I think he is a loathesome and disgusting human being, there’s no question that Rush Limbaugh is intelligent. Beck, though, strikes me as an intensely stupid and shallow fellow with the self-awareness of a houseplant.

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  30. Gasman said on April 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    jeff borden,
    I refuse to get cable TV as long as I am forced to bring FauxNews into my house. I think that Obama should yank the White House press credentials from their entire crew. Nobody buys the pretense that they are journalists. When they stop altering transcripts à la Orwell and quit marching lockstep to the far right Republican drum beat, then they can make the claim that they are journalists.

    As to Murdoch being held financially liable for Beck’s rants, stranger things have happened in civil court. With so many, left and right, cautioning Beck to tone it down, it will be difficult for Murdoch or Beck to assert that there was no possible way to foresee violence as a consequence of their actions. Too many people have been warning them of that very possibility.

    I think your assessment of Limbaugh’s intelligence is way too generous. He strikes me as an extremely insecure, yet arrogant, mental pygmy. Only twice in 20 years has he had a direct confrontation with anyone who dared to take him on. Once, back in 1990 or so when he subbed for Pat Sajak on the latter’s show, the second being the recent caller who referred to Limbaugh as a “brainwashed Nazi.” He is a coward.

    As for Beck, he is all smoke and mirrors. I don’t think he is nearly as stupid as the character he plays on TV. I also don’t think he ascribes to about 95% of his rants. It is all schtick, an act crafted to be so outrageous as to inflate his viewer numbers. When the schtick fails to keep viewers, where does he go? How does he become more bizarre and irrational? His show has had a very steep trajectory on the way up. I predict that it will have as steep a trajectory going down.

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  31. jeff borden said on April 17, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Believe me, I think El Rushbo is a cyst on the ass of America and a wreck of a human being, but he has been at the top of the game for a quarter-century, which takes more a degree of intelligence. I’ll just have to disagree that he is a mental pygmy. Emotional midget? Sure. But there is a brain up there.
    Maybe Beck is all smoke and mirrors, but his crazy-assed eyes make me think he really believes the garbage he spews. Again, this is just my opinion.

    By the way, given how so many of our friends on the right describe themselves as very patriotic, isn’t it rather strange that the recent comments by Gov. Rick Perry of Texas about secession have been met with complete silence?? Imagine if a Democratic governor, dismayed by the shredding of the Constitution by the Bush Administration, had even joked about seceding from the Union? Mother of God, the howling monkeys of rightwing media would be shrieking for his head on a platter and an indictment of treason or sedition.

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  32. mark said on April 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm


    Your post reminded me of a story from my litigation past. A partner of mine from Indianapolis represented a major brokerage firm, which had a Fort Wayne account holder. A very large account which named the woman’s daughter as a contingent beneficiary.

    The woman in question, while apparently always somewhat “eccentric”, had been behaving a little strangely, and blowing through large amounts of money from the account. The family was concerned but unwilling to take aggressive action. I think they feared being disinherited. Instead, they were urging the brokerage firm that it had a duty to prevent waste in the account by a customer exhibitng mental illness.

    My partner explained the facts, generally, and I asked something like “what’s so crazy about her spending?” The answer was, “most recently, last Tuesday, she spent $34,000.00. At a Cracker Barrel gift shop.”

    I’ve always wondered if, somewhere, there is a Cracker Barrel sales clerk who recived a nice note, and perhaps a salted ham, from the CEO for having the moxie to sell $34,000 worth of scented candles, candied nuts and “Gone Fishin'” wall decorations to a single customer.

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  33. jcburns said on April 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    “perhaps a salted ham.” Priceless!

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  34. nancy said on April 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    To run up a bill like that, she probably had to buy most of the rocking chairs on the porch, too. Great story. I’m reading a rippin’ yarn in this week’s New Yorker about the invasion of Burmese pythons in the Everglades, and for some reason, everything’s sounding like Carl Hiaasen to me right now.

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  35. alex said on April 17, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Wonder if the Cracker Barrel lady’s the same one who made the news a couple of years ago here in the Fort when her kids discovered she’d been cutting huge checks to the Republicans, who kept calling and talking her into giving more and more even though it was obvious she was mentally incapacitated. (Then, again, who in their right mind… but I digress.) I forget if it was the RNC or which fund-raising group, but they were shamed into giving it all back.

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    • nancy said on April 17, 2009 at 7:11 pm

      That was the College Republicans, Alex. A group well-known for its dirty tactics. They were the ones who spawned Jack Abramoff, iirc.

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  36. caliban said on April 17, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I don’t understand the
    identification (not obsession, although obsessing on unfettered souls would probably be mental healthier than identifying with tortured spirits like Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole)) of gay men with Big and Little Edie, but it’s always seemed to me that they lived strange lives that were strangely satisfying to both of them.

    It seems to have been symbiotic on a psychological plane. They were rich in a fashion and managed to live undeterred in a manic world of two, with no apparent comprehension of their strangeness. If I could be placed in those surroundings with a roomful of vintage Gretsches, Guilds, and Telecasters, some Marshall stacks and a gold-top Les Paul, I’d probably be perfectly serene and ask the raccoons to sit in on vibes when the Tasmanian Devil didn’t make rehearsal.

    So, you know, as those Firesign guys would coopt from some dead philosopher, what is reality? It’s what you make of it? Cogito ergo sum? Of course, we could all, individually, be rendered brain dead and respond demonstrably to external stimulus, so there’s a scientific hitch in that giddyup, at least so far as corporality is concerned.

    And we also dream. Did Edie and Little Edie dream they were film stars in the gilded sense of that term? Dream waking? It’s what they always wanted to be. Makes sense for Junior, and for the gay men that love them. Repressed true free spirit expressed. Yup, cheap psychology from a non-practitioner.

    One aspect of the story that’s always rankled is the idea that Jackie Kennedy was embarrassed by her relatives. Maybe the Beale dames wanted to be Jackie Onassis, like Larry Bangor. Anyway, Jackie tried to fix up the house and that was somehow Macchievellian. That’s pretty much like claiming Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster. Liberals went to lengths to hide deviation from social norms, while J. Ed never wore dresses and W didn’t pass out on the floor and have the infernal Barnie piss in his ear.

    Here’s a review of a new book that sounds good:

    Louise Erdrich territory, and maybe even the Twentieth Century and Beyond’s greatest female novelist, Margaret Atwood. I mean The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse and Alias Grace. There must be some strain of feminism in Gray Gardens. If the world denies you, make your own, and tell everybody else to fuck off. That might not be overtly feminine, but it might be more audacious for women.

    Perhaps that’s not feminism at all, just humanism, or more triumphant individuality than Ayn Rand giving herself to the manly man ravishments of John Galt conceived (as Randy Newman said, Jesus, what a jerk). Then you have Sissy Hankshaw, the prototypical feminist heroine (not) and Daily Alice Drinkwater (surely). I’d vote for Julie Christie as Mrs. Miller, but I’m a guy so my vote probably shouldn’t count. Hidden in the genealogies and twisted webs of Little No Horse is a feminist protagonist with a capital F.

    A word about the Great Teabag Kerfizzle (and doesn’t the ubiquitous use of kerfuffle grate on the synapses of anybody that loves English and abhors meme words and memes in general? I mean, it’s almost as annoying as meta).

    This turned out to be a confluence of rebels with no clue, funded by really rich bastards that have betrayed the US in one way or another for personal aggrandizement. Rupert, DeLay, Armey, morons that think they actually will pay more in taxes even though there’s no chance that’s true, because they listen to FoxNews and don’t realize Raygun nailed them for more money to fund StarWars, Timothy McVeigh acolytes, bag ladies, sececionists (and Texas and Alaska, if you want to leave, don’t let the screen door hit you), and, most obviously, racists to the bone that figure a black guy in the White House means enslavement of white people.

    Stupidity and paranoid schizophrenia are excusable human foibles. Exploiting same for money and imagined political leverage is execrable.

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  37. Jolene said on April 17, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Just noticed that David Simon will be on Bill Moyers Journal (PBS) tonight. He is, as far as I can tell, the only guest; if true, that would mean an hour-long interview.

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  38. caliban said on April 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    I’d like to know what any of y’all think about John Madden. I played football through high school and I know a fair amount about the game, but I’m not expert. I do not believe in all these years Madden did games he ever said a single thing I didn’t already know. Seemed like a good guy, but the Biff! Bam! Pow! got old fast. Alex Karras was infinitely better. Colinsworth is better.

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  39. MichaelG said on April 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Mary, I was in my car earlier today when I heard there had been a shooting in an L.A. area hospital. I thought of you right away until they elaborated and revealed that the incident had taken place in Long Beach.

    I think there’s a deep vein of craziness in this country and it will profit nobody to tap into it. I fear we’re going to see more of these kinds of shootings over job and property loss.

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  40. LA Mary said on April 17, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Our layoff was in late January, and we’ve found new jobs for all but 18 of the 94 we laid off. We held a job fair right after the layoff, and last week one of the geniuses in HR scheduled another job fair for the remaining 18. Suggesting this was a bad idea because we had no jobs for them and that the people still unemployed were probably pretty upset made no difference. I thought that inviting people to a jobless job fair was unwise, and one of the other recruiters requested a security guard be present. HR folks thought we were being paranoid. I’m guessing they are now grateful that nothing happened. The job fair we held was unpleasant, but not ugly. What do I say to a certified nursing assistant with thirty five years experience at one hospital, never making more than 14 dollars an hour, that we no longer have a place for him? Or a unit secretary who is 70 years old? A volunteer coordinator who can’t afford to retire at 68? We closed some nursing units and a couple of small departments. The RNs are all placed in new jobs, but the rest are not so lucky.
    We had a special mass in the chapel today for the people at Long Beach, and a moment of silence for the whole hospital.

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  41. Deborah said on April 17, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    The Grey Gardens story hits very close to home to me and my daughter. She’s an adult struggling with a neurological disorder that makes it very hard for her to find employment. She is completely dependent on me and my husband (her step father). A couple of years ago a friend of hers told her about the documentary and we watched it. She stopped watching about the same time you did Nancy, the raccoon feeding part.I managed to watch the whole thing like one rubbernecks a car accident. But we were both attending a forum in DC a couple of weeks ago for people who have her condition and in our hotel room we watched HBO trailers about the remake. It actually looks interesting so we decided we’re watching together tomorrow night and we’re going to snack on fois gras, champaign, caviar and wonder bread in honor of the Edies. If something happens to my husband and he goes before me I hope my daughter and I don’t end up like that.

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  42. Catherine said on April 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    My very much loved grandmother wound up living alone in a four-story Tudor Revival that she’d packed with stuff since the day after her marriage in 1926. When the College Republicans started calling on her in person, and there was not a knife to be found in the kitchen (they were all under her mattress), my father and aunts realized she had to be moved out of there. I spent a very sad yet oddly joyful college winter break there, helping my aunts muck out the house and reminiscing with them. It left me with some nifty jewelry & assorted tschotchkes, plus a horror of becoming a packrat. I take to Goodwill/throw things out almost compulsively. All the same, it would not be a surprise if genes triumph and I wind up in the exact same situation (minus the fab house).

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  43. caliban said on April 17, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Would anybody be unhappy if Texas left the union? According to polls, most of Texans are rational, but 20% want to secede. We say, let the assholes secede and grant amnesty to the large numbers that prefer sanity.At the least, it would slough off the rude carapace of some rough beast, and Americans could blame W on somebody else. We could deport Blackwater to Tejas.

    We live in South Carolina, and our governor is betting his Presidential chances on turning down stimulus cash. Laying off 7500 teachers too.

    Meantime, Newt says Jimmy Carter got a Nobel Peace Prize for being ‘an anti-American President’. If I were mean-spirited, I’d point out that Jimma was a personal bastion of family values compared with the guy that served divorce papers on a woman receiving chemotherapy.

    Isn’t one of the deals with these bastards that they have no shame. No shame? In the end?

    Whatever, the President’s an alien, or a Democrat, or thoughtful, or well-spoken or taking on too much or not taking on enough, and, holy shit, he’s a black guy. I’ll say a few things. Newt may be a more or less refined piggy, but, whether or not he’s a personal racist, he’s going to play that race card until the electronic reader stops taking it.

    Every time some ahole Republican spouts this sort of crap, some potential McVeigh buys fertilizer. That makes Newt a terrorist like he was hiking through the Kush and making tapes for Al Jazeera. His treatment of former wives makes Newt disgusting to any decent human being.

    What we have here is an entire administration, and their lying shit enablers. There’s no point at all in attempting to prosecute CIA grunts. But the misAdministration is guilty, and no matter what guys like Jonathon Turley is selling, nobody has ruled out prosecutions of the actual perpetrators.

    This pattern of we’re the progressives so we should run the government and why doesn’t the spade do everything we want since we’re so inortant and got him elected is so idiotic and so obnoxious it reminds me of dumbass hippies in the 70s.

    Yeah, they’re war criminals. But disgrace the real villains. The ABA can insist that sitting W judges and lawyers like Yoo and Fredo are either incompetent stooges or seriously heinous Himmler analogs. It seems to me that disbarment is probably fine. On the other hand, Cheney should have his pacemaker removed and be slammed repeatedly into one of those special effects walls, then he should be confined with scorpions, and then he should be waterboarded. I know that sounds extreme, but the alternative is probably driving a wooden spike through his black heart.

    I believe Cheney was involved in the murder by the US Government of Omar Torrijos. The bastard is a disgusting piece of shit that ought to be prosecuted. His interest in Scooter has to do with what this weasel might relate.

    Can American Republicans define sophism? I’m sure they’re running like hell from Dickless. He’s evil incarnate, no matter how you look at it. Republicans are so stupid, they’ll probably try to resurrect Rummy.

    This teabag slang, well I just got that. Damn, that is kinda gross. Given the funding for these anemic, seriously anemic, gatherings, were those DeLays nads, or Newts, or Dick Armey’s And did Dick Armey go for the whole Dick? In the privacy of their own bedrooms.

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  44. moe99 said on April 17, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Here’s another Susan Boyle song, although only on CD. She sang “Cry Me A River” ten years ago for a charity event. Sorta proves she’s not a flash in the pan:

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  45. Rana said on April 17, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Would anybody be unhappy if Texas left the union?

    I actually would, and not just because I have relatives there. I rather like the land of Texas as well, especially on the western side. (This is the same reason I could never talk about becoming an ex-pat with any degree of seriousness. I’m homesick enough for the landscapes of the West right here in America’s heartland!) The thought of leaving it – or any place – in the hands of idiots like the secessionists makes my heart ache.

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  46. Jolene said on April 18, 2009 at 12:18 am

    The WaPo’s great Tom Shales has a review of Grey Gardens. It’s rather more poetic than seems justified by the discussion here, but makes the film sound worth watching even if the circumstances of the two Edies seem to portrayed more as daffiness than as illness.

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  47. Jolene said on April 18, 2009 at 12:22 am

    LA Mary, I read your post three times trying to get my mind around the idea of an organization holding a job fair when there are no jobs, specifically for people whose jobs have been laid off, no less. What in the world were they thinking?

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  48. Dexter said on April 18, 2009 at 1:54 am

    I remember when I first saw Grey Gardens…I was chan-surfing,I wasn’t hip to the story, tuned in mid-show, and tried to piece together what I was seeing. I kind of figured it out. I thought it was as intense a docu as my all-time fave, which is that docu on R Crumb.

    Detroit has its share of characters, and none is as bizarre as “The Queen of Soul”.
    I remember reading in the Freep how she tossed all her awards, her Grammies and everything, in a huge cardboard box in a filthy, packed garage…one time she hauled a whole load of those awards out to the curb for trash pickup…and every few months you will get similar Aretha updates, tax problems, well…all kinds of crap . Still, this crazy nut is invited to the presidential inauguration! I can’t post a url this morning, but we all recall THE HAT.

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  49. Dexter said on April 18, 2009 at 1:59 am

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  50. caliban said on April 18, 2009 at 2:42 am

    Has it eluded everybody that when Bushco filed numbers and budgets were considered, they just left out Iraq and Afghanistan? They left out several hundred billion because it was inconvenient. Obama put it in the budget, because, you know, we’re collectively spending it and paying a gross amount to enrich Cheney, and of course, he knows that, but he’s not admitting anything from his bunker.

    Cheney doesn’t believe in the Constitution. Cheney doesn’t seem to believe in anything but Cheney. He’s a war criminal, and beyond that, he’s a traitor. He believes the President is a king, and he believes he’s the president.

    He had six deferements because he believed he had better things to do. He denigrated Kerry’s service in Viet Nam and Laos. Cheney is such an idiot idalogue he’d never admit anybody went to Cambodia or Laos. So why do the hardcore stick with this draft-dodger? Kerry got shot, a few times. He saved a bud out of the river. Hw acted heroically. What did Cheney do? Shit, maybe he was partying with Lieut. Bush in Birmingham.

    This is one of the most spectacular idiiot pieces of shit in the history of American elections, and it says more about the abject stupidity and herd mentality of Republicans than anything ever did.

    W was a child of privilege that couldn’t fly a plane if it bit him. He thought he ws a ladies man but he was Steve Dallas. Kerry was a stellar officer. Here’s the deal. W was confronted with a pre-flight medical exam. He knew it would show up coke. He went AWOL. Kerry found his men under fire and he rescued them.

    Now, that’s exactly what happened. W is either cowardly or not, well, yeah he is. He wishes he was brave, like Lieut Kerry. Hw knows, for a fact, in his heart, he never won an election, he wasn’t ever a legitimate president, Cheney never coopted the Constitution, and all is right with the world.

    And you idiots that voted for the homuculus, way stupid. Don’t know how to put this, but, you vpte fpr an idiot with a venal sck of shit at his bck.

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  51. caliban said on April 18, 2009 at 3:27 am


    I don’t like documentaries generally. Directors intrude, and unless they’re brilliant, it’s wasted. I love When We Were Kings, but I’m sure that’s just because I love Ali. When I was a kid, I liked boxing, probably because my dad did.

    There’s a movie called Bright Leaves, sort of a southern version of the Hamptons, that’s fairly astounding. And doesn’t Sister Re look fine. That hat made that hatmaker beaucoup bucks.

    Here’s an Aretha moment for everybody to enjoy. I think this is her best song (the album version has a solo by Duane Allman)

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  52. brian stouder said on April 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    From Jon Meacham’s book American Lion, page 275, about a Senate speech by Henry Clay, who was repeatedly defeated for the presidency, thanks in whole or in part to Jackson (who himself was in the first year of his second term in office when Clay rose to make this speech):

    “We are in the midst of a revolution, hitherto bloodless, but rapidly tending towards a total change of the pure republican character of the Government, and to the concentration of all power in the hands of one man”, Clay told the Senate on Thursday, December 26, 1833. Jackson, he said, was destroying the America of the Founders, the America created by the Revolution. “In a term of eight years, a little more than the equal to that which was reqired to establish our liberties, the government will have been transformed into an elective monarchy – the worst of all forms of government”.

    Clay’s peroration was purple but moving. “The eyes and hopes of the American people are anxiously turned to Congress… The premonitory symptoms of despotism are upon us; and if Congress does not apply an instantaneous remedy, the fatal collapse will soon come on, and we shall dies – ignobly die – base, mean, and abject slaves; the scorn and contempt of mankind; unpitied, unwept, unmourned!” In the audience, observers said, there was “loud and repeated applause from the immense crowd” – cheers that grew so loud that Van Buren [Jackson’s Vice President, and President of the Senate] was forced to “order the galleries cleared”.

    Meacham’s marvelous text goes on to note that John C Calhoun complained in the Senate about President Jackson’s communicating directly to the people (via his friendly news papers), calling such communication by the president unConstitutional!!

    And this is why history is so vitally important, and indeed – such a necessary ingredient in an informed citizenry.

    Our latter-day sore losers and and professional rabble-rousers LOVE to invoke the horrible defilement being done to the otherwise perfect job that “the Founders” did, and it’s always bunk!

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  53. moe99 said on April 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    The more I read about Henry Clay, the more I dislike him. Thanks for that bit of information that only confirms my beliefs, Brian.

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  54. MaryRC said on April 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    My aunt had to clean out the apartment of an elderly cousin. It wasn’t so bad, she said, except for the fur coats.

    There’s always that struggle between trying to help someone who’s failing to keep up with the necessities of keeping house alone, and trying to let them keep their dignity and privacy.

    About the Beales, in an odd kind of way I think this movie is a tribute to them. I think Little Edie would have been pleased.

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  55. Carolyn said on April 18, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    My sister and I picked up half-price tickets to the Broadway version of Grey Gardens a couple years ago on a girls weekend in New York (back during the boom). Had never seen the documentary, and I had no idea what it was about.
    It took my breath away.
    Besides giving birth to my obsession with Christine Ebersole, who played big Edie in the first act and little Edie in the second, it seemed to me to be a metaphor for the way we all to some extent feel trapped into the lives we’re leading. When, in fact, the key barriers are the ones we put in place ourselves.
    But I always think everything’s about me.

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  56. brian stouder said on April 18, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    moe – regarding your falling opinion of Clay, first – agreed! My opinion of him has always been inflated, thanks to President Lincoln’s very high opinion of him, but like you, he strikes me as less and less towering, as I read other things. (Sean Wilentz has a wonderful book called The Rise of American Democracy; Jefferson to Lincoln, which I cannot recommend highly enough!)

    Thomas Jefferson is another guy who is, in my opinion, flatly over-rated. The idealistic principles in his glittery Declaration of Independence got their eternal ring of truth from President Lincoln at Gettysburg, as opposed to the stink of hypocrisy that tJefferson’s Declaration would otherwise inescapably have, owing to its author’s glitzy life-style, taken literally from the backs of his slaves.

    Meacham’s book is interesting all around, but in particular, it captures a sense of free-fall and institutional panic by the then-very-clubby entrenched powers that resided in Washington DC, as President-elect Jackson – a complete outsider! – rolls into town in 1828….and then, this usurper president up and FIRED everybody (rotation in office, aka The Spoils system)…”change” indeed, and the hue and cry then (by the ‘haves’ and the in-crowd) has many interesting echoes in today’s establishment response to the election of another new-style Democrat, President Obama!.

    And of course, South Carolina was talking “nullification” and secession if the damned grabby US government tried to do anything they didn’t want to do (specifically tarriffs, but the “nullification” theory could apply to any Federal law that a state didn’t like), and they pushed the idea to the edge of the precipice, and then stopped short…..and Henry Clay gets lots of credit for compromise, but really (as Meacham points out) President Jackson historically gets a bit short-changed. The president DID get the “big stick” ready (ie – The Force Bill), but he also adeptly manuevered so that he didn’t have to use it; the president laid the groundwork for compromise, and deftly latched onto the compromise solution then reached.

    Even allowing for a certain amount of apologia in Meacham’s portrait of Jackson, Clay looks smaller – especially given that he (Clay) wrote that he flatly didn’t understand what Jackson was doing – with his gentle talk of compromise coupled with his unbending posture about what would happen if any state interfered with Federal sovereignty (the operation of the mails and military installations and collection of duties)

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  57. brian stouder said on April 18, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    OK – this made me laugh! Not the criminal act – but the name of the restaurant!

    (not for nothing, but that criminal sounds like what is referred to – in noir terms – as a “second story man”)

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  58. Jolene said on April 18, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Actually, Brian, the crime is pretty funny too–unless, of course, you’re the restaurant owner.

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  59. Deborah said on April 18, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Just watched Grey Gardens with my daughter and my god Jessica Lange was fantastic in her role as Big Edie, Drew Barrymore was pretty good too but Jessica Lange was superb.

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  60. Dexter said on April 18, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Deborah. I am just about to watch the West Coast feed , as I had baseball and hockey on during 201’s showing. Time Warner has HBO’s West-feed on 208 here.

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  61. Dexter said on April 19, 2009 at 1:28 am

    cross-blog posting:

    I just watched it on the late feed…great acting, as great as Lange is, Barrymore just rocked the Emmy. Who can possibly top her “Little Edie”?
    Tripplehorn was marvelous as Jackie O…I loved their perfect accents. Barrymore REALLY had it down…she sounded exactly like Jackie did on those old First Lady documentaries….

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  62. Dexter said on April 19, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Not to be outdone by HBO’s premiering Grey Gardens last night, Madonna captures headlines in fall from horse on where? Eastern Long Island, natch !!

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  63. mark said on April 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Well, more kudos by me for the Obama Administration. It seems we have pulled out of the World Conference Against Racism (Durban II). Many conservatives were concerned that the US even participated in the preliminary discussions, given the agenda and the results of Durban I.

    The Conference agenda has devolved almost solely into denunciation of Israel as a racist, genocidal nation and resolutions proclaiming the need for legislation and agreements to protect Islam from criticism. Obama’s desire to talk does not, thankfully, extend to lending our presence to this farce of a conference.

    And belated kudos for the beginning of the easing of restrictions on interactions with Cuba.

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  64. Kirk said on April 19, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Way late to the party on this one, but the Larry Linville comment reminds me that, about 30 years ago, my wife and a colleague attended a cast party for a similar summer theater-type production. There, they met McLean Stevenson, who was shit-faced drunk and kept trying to give them the key to his hotel room.

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  65. brian stouder said on April 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Kirk – why do these stories remind me of Bob Crane/”8 Milimeter”?

    Leaving aside ol’ Bob’s terrible demise, his faded-TV star lifestyle wasn’t an outlier

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  66. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Mega dittos to Mark.

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  67. coozledad said on April 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Brace yourselves for the next round of “They’re only entertainers, ignore the trail of dead.”, and “He wasn’t one of us, he just talked a lot like us.”,2933,517133,00.html

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  68. kay said on April 20, 2009 at 9:30 am

    you’re not a third rate reporter – first rate all the way!

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  69. kay said on April 20, 2009 at 9:31 am

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  70. joodyb said on April 20, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Not everyone likes documentaries. to some, they are a waste of time.
    the Maysleses were deep into their career by the time they made ‘Grey Gardens.’ it is a time capsule of ’70s cinema verite, but it also chronicles a dying age and a throwaway society. the filmmakers’ motivations are what they are; the legend goes that they genuinely befriended big and little Edie and came in after the eviction notice and cleanup, post-media coverage etc.

    i was horrified when i learned the ‘story’ was going to Broadway. i saw it, and it was just that – an extrapolation of the Beales’ family history. set to music! weird! and oddly affecting.
    the hbo movie takes the doc and mashes it with the musical, predictably jumping the shark. though i was a little embarassed for hbo, drew barrymore and jessica lange are frighteningly authentic. just crazy people acting crazy parts, maybe. not that that’s acting, necessarily, and thus a little creepy.
    as for the Maysleses’ earlier films, ‘Salesman’ may be my all-time favorite documentary. And ‘Orson Welles in Spain,’ well… you have to see it to believe it.
    if you like that sort of thing.

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