"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: vanity fair

Missing

Here’s more true crime in Vanity Fair from Mark Bowden:

Greg Fleniken traveled light and lived tidy. After so many years on the road, he would leave his rolling suitcase open on the floor of his hotel room and use it as a drawer. Dirty clothes went on the closet floor. Shirts he wanted to keep unwrinkled hung above. Toiletries were in the pockets of a cloth folding case that hooked onto a towel rack in the bathroom. At the end of the day he would slide off his worn brown leather boots and line them up by the suitcase, drop his faded jeans to the floor, and put on lightweight cotton pajama bottoms.

Most evenings he never left the room. He would crank up the air conditioner—he liked a cool room at night—and sit on the bed, leaning back on two pillows propped against the headboard. Considerately, to avoid soiling the bedspread, he would lay out a clean white hand towel, on which he placed his ashtray, cigarette pack, lighter, BlackBerry, the TV remote, and a candy bar. He smoked and broke off candy bits while watching TV. This is where Greg was on the evening of Wednesday, September 15, 2010, in Room 348 of the MCM Eleganté Hotel, in Beaumont, Texas—lounging, smoking, snacking on a Reese’s Crispy Crunchy bar, sipping root beer, and watching Iron Man 2.

He missed the ending.

The Lady Vanishes

Here’s a disturbing 2010 Vanity Fair story by Mark Bowden–”The Case of the Vanishing Blonde”:

From the start, it was a bad case.

A battered 21-year-old woman with long blond curls was discovered facedown in the weeds, naked, at the western edge of Miami, where the neat grid of outer suburbia butts up against the high grass and black mud of the Everglades. It was early on a winter morning in 2005. A local power-company worker was driving by the empty lots of an unbuilt cul-de-sac when he saw her.

And much to his surprise, she was alive. She was still unconscious when the police airlifted her to Jackson Memorial Hospital. When she woke up in its trauma center, she could remember little about what had happened to her, but her body told an ugly tale. She had been raped, badly beaten, and left for dead. There was severe head trauma; she had suffered brain-rattling blows. Semen was recovered from inside her. The bones around her right eye were shattered. She was terrified and confused. She bent English to her native Ukrainian grammar and syntax, dropping pronouns and inverting standard sentence structure, which made her hard to understand. And one of the first things she asked for on waking was her lawyer. That was unusual.

[Photo Credit: Amanda Friedman]

P as in Pneumonia

 

There is a long article on Mike Nichols and Elaine May in the Judd Apatow-edited comedy issue of Vanity Fair. The writer, Sam Kashner, intrudes on the story too much for my taste and I think his cop-out at the end of the piece is inexcusable (even if it is tactful). You’ve got two of the sharpest, funniest people around, you can’t cop out, man. Ask the damn question.

Still, the piece provides a detailed look at the short but dazzling career of Nichols and May.

I Don’t Give a Damn ’bout my Reputation

Over at Vanity Fair, check out this oral history of Freaks and Geeks.

Fun stuff.

The Lowdown

There’s a long oral history by Sam Kashner on The Sopranos over at Vanity Fair. Mind candy for those of you that dig that sort of thing.

Million Dollar Movie

Over at Vanity Fair, Scott Price has a long piece on “Diner”:

The second crisis hit when an on-set fire cost another night of shooting, and MGM refused to budget another day. Levinson needed more time. Sova suggested breaking out a second camera in the diner, to speed things up by filming actors on both sides of the table simultaneously. That, however, created a problem with sound: instead of clipping a lavalier microphone to just one actor and allowing him to say his lines cleanly—that is, without overlap from other actors, so it can be edited into a scene later—the new situation demanded that all the actors, on-camera and off, be miked. Robert Altman aside, at the time it was still rare to use overlapping dialogue, especially for trivial, tabletop chatter. “What Levinson did in a revolutionary way 30 years ago,” John Hamburg says, “is something we’re doing now.”

It was, for the final two weeks, a kind of liberation. “Because we didn’t have to worry about overlaps, we could really ad-lib,” Guttenberg says. “You could ad-lib offstage and throw the guy a fastball, and he could catch it and throw it high. That’s what made the experience so unique in filmmaking: you didn’t have to match ‘what we did last time.’ It was ‘Just give me something extraordinary. Take it wherever you want to go.’ ”

…Banter is a delicate thing, crippled by obvious effort, destroyed when, as so often happens on sitcoms, it’s reduced to point scoring or put-downs. Reiser was so quick, so on, that there are moments in Diner when he sounds as if he’s trying out material. But Levinson was also going for something deeper, a casualness implying dynamics and affections that reach back years, and even the screw-ups nail that quality. The best comes when Guttenberg’s Eddie asks Boogie, “Sinatra or Mathis?,” and Rourke brushes him back with “Presley.” “Elvis Presley?,” Guttenberg’s Eddie says. “You’re sick … ” He starts to improvise, but it’s like watching a kid let go of the handlebars for the first time: he knows he’s going to crash. “You’ve gone like two steps below … ,” Guttenberg stammers, “in my … my, uh, book.” Clearly, a blown take: The actors giggle, Stern spits up his drink, breaks character, and says, “Once again … ” But rather than splice in a cleaner run, Levinson went with the mess.

For more, check out this Q&A I found in an old issue of American FilmMy Dinner with Barry (Robert Ward)

And yeah, that’s the same Robert Ward who wrote the famous “Straw that stirs the drink” Reggie profile for Sport.

People Never Notice Anything

Dig this piece on J.D. Salinger, “Holden Caulfield’s Goddamn War” over at Vanity Fair (taken from Kenneth Slawenski’s new book on Salinger):  

In the autumn of 1950, at his home in Westport, Connecticut, J. D. Salinger completed The Catcher in the Rye. The achievement was a catharsis. It was confession, purging, prayer, and enlightenment, in a voice so distinct that it would alter American culture.

Holden Caulfield, and the pages that held him, had been the author’s constant companion for most of his adult life. Those pages, the first of them written in his mid-20s, just before he shipped off to Europe as an army sergeant, were so precious to Salinger that he carried them on his person throughout the Second World War. Pages of The Catcher in the Rye had stormed the beach at Normandy; they had paraded down the streets of Paris, been present at the deaths of countless soldiers in countless places, and been carried through the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. In bits and pieces they had been re-written, put aside, and re-written again, the nature of the story changing as the author himself was changed. Now, in Connecticut, Salinger placed the final line on the final chapter of the book. It is with Salinger’s experience of the Second World War in mind that we should understand Holden Caulfield’s insight at the Central Park carousel, and the parting words of The Catcher in the Rye: “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” All the dead soldiers.

[Picture by Lorna Burt]

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver