Happy Halloween y’all.
Brian DePalma’s weirdo glam rock horror comedy Phantom of the Paradise was released 40 years ago today.
The late William Finley was very pleased with his experience playing the Phantom. I was lucky enough to talk to Finley about his role not long before his death in 2012. A longtime friend and classmate of De Palma’s (they met at Sarah Lawrence College), Finley experienced the entire arc of Phantom, from its disastrous opening to its fanatical cult that grew over the next 25 years.
“Brian wrote the script originally in 1969,” Finley told me. “He use to hang out at the Fillmore a lot and take pictures. And he noticed, as the ’60s were ending, that we were starting to see a lot more preening self-regard by the frontmen of bands. And the kids having an unhealthy attraction to it. I actually think that Robert Plant was the original model for Beef [a musician in the film], but the character kept evolving. Still, I think Brian was very prescient about the coming of glam rock and the narcissism that came with it. He always had a good read on rock culture.”
At the time, though, critics didn’t seem to buy into De Palma’s take at all, either as parody or straight-ahead horror. New York Times critic Vincent Canby, a usually evenhanded if not especially hip critic, seemed to speak for many when he called Phantom of the Paradise “an elaborate disaster, full of the kind of humor you might find on bumper stickers and cocktail coasters.” However, De Palma’s lifelong booster, the New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, said the film “has a lift to it. You practically get a kinetic charge from the breakneck wit [De Palma] has put into Phantom; it isn’t just that the picture has vitality but that one can feel the tremendous kick the director got out of making it.”
I dig this from Lewis Lapham:
Now I am 79. I’ve written many hundreds of essays, 10 times that number of misbegotten drafts both early and late, and I begin to understand that failure is its own reward. It is in the effort to close the distance between the work imagined and the work achieved wherein it is to be found that the ceaseless labor is the freedom of play, that what’s at stake isn’t a reflection in the mirror of fame but the escape from the prison of the self.
[Photo Credit: Robert Capa]
Madison Bumgarner is the Giants’ latest–and greatest–Whirled Serious pitching hero and the Giants are the champs again.
The Royals hung in there but had no answer for Bummie G.
[Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America, via It's a Long Season]
Check out this story at Slate by Jordan Weissmann on how Katz’s stays in business:
The newer generation of artisanal delicatessens that have risen up in recent years—restaurants like Brooklyn’s Mile End Deli and Washington, D.C.’s DGS Delicatessen—are fundamentally different. They serve their own excellent, obsessively sourced variations of house-cured and smoked pastrami (or Montreal-style “smoked meat,” in Mile End’s case). But volume isn’t really part of their equation. Instead, they emphasize profitable alcohol sales and have more varied menus with higher margin main dishes. And crucially, they can pack less meat onto the plate, which would be anathema at an old-school deli like Katz’s.
“Katz’s is super-special. It’s the only thing of its kind in the entire world,” Mile End’s founder, Noah Bernamoff, tells me.
The reason Katz’s was able to live on while its competitors disappeared largely boils down to real estate. As Sax writes in Save the Deli, New York’s delicatessens can basically be divided into two groups: those that rent their buildings and those that own. Famous renters, like the Stage Deli and 2nd Avenue Deli, have closed in the face of rent hikes. Famous owners, like Carnegie and Katz’s, have lived on. (And when 2nd Avenue Deli reopened, it bought a building … on New York’s 3rd Avenue). If Katz’s had to deal with a landlord, it would likely have disappeared or moved long ago.
[Photo Credit: Antonio Bonanno]
Win or go home for the Royals.
C’mon Game 7…
Let’s Go Base-ball!
[Painting by Evan Clayton Horback]
Greetings, kids and kittens, welcome back to another edition of Where & When. Our season premiere was very solid and we had a pretty good turnout (though I was remiss in declaring a winner since it seemed to be a group effort, so everyone gets a root beer), how about we follow up with some more excitement and discovery?
I’ve somehow stumbled upon some pretty interesting locales and buildings, so I’m rather amped to share them with you this week; provided of course that I have time to set them up like this. So c’mon, let’s get to the game, shall we?
This looks like a rather unique structure for New York, doesn’t it? It sort of reminds me of a beach resort hotel… well, at least one of those thoughts is relative to the location, or close to it. The region was likely not as developed as it is now, but a place like this would certainly stand out in any era. As usual, your job is to determine where this picture was taken and when. There are enough clues in the picture to get a good idea when, but where is going to take some thinking.
There’s a frothing decanter of root beer waiting for the first person to answer both questions correctly, and a bonus scoop of ice cream for the one who can answer the bonus question of what this region looks like now; i.e. what has become of what you see in the photo.
All participants with good guesses or good stories will get a equally frosty glass of cream soda. Cheers to all involved and I’ll try to get back sometime during the day (but as you can tell, I make no promises). Enjoy!
photo credit: Library of Congress