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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in ellen copperfield (43)

Tuesday
May012012

In Which We Award Elvis Presley A Black Belt

Dr. John Carpenter

by ELLEN COPPERFIELD

Thanks to Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen's supremely detailed 1999 book, Elvis, Day by Day, the trivial details of Elvis Presley's life are open and accessible to any inquiring fan. Guralnick and Jorgensen used letters, receipts and financial records to tell Elvis' story. The end wasn't maybe the greatest portion of the man's life.

September 28th, 1970

Someone calls up Elvis' road manager and demands $50,000 to reveal the name of the assassin who will kill Elvis during his Saturday evening show.

December 20th, 1970

When his father and his wife Priscilla confront him about his overspending, Elvis freaks out and hops a plane to Washington D.C. He fails in a bid to meet up with J. Edgar Hoover, but he does get facetime with President Nixon. The two like each other immediately.

March 1st, 1971

A surveillance system is installed at Graceland. Elvis places the four monitors next to his television.

September 22nd, 1971

Elvis takes in a movie in his private theater almost every night.

February 23rd, 1972

Over the last year he has grown increasingly distant from his wife. She lets him know she is hooking up with karate champion Mike Stone. In response, Elvis has someone award him a fifth degree black belt.

May 7th, 1972

Elvis heads to Los Angeles, flying on the ticket of one "Dr. John Carpenter." By the end of July Elvis and Priscilla are legally separated.

September 31th, 1973

Elvis picks up the newly crowned Miss Tennessee in Los Angeles, brings her to Las Vegas. While she is out shopping he invites Cybill Shepherd over.

February 2nd, 1973

Elvis presents Muhammed Ali with one of his robes. Ali later reflects, "I felt sorry for Elvis because he didn't enjoy life the way he should. He stayed indoors all the time. I told him he should go out and see people."

February 18th, 1973

Men rush the stage during Elvis' midnight Las Vegas show. Elvis punches one of them in the face. Afterwards, he informs the audience that, "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry I didn't break his goddamned neck is what I'm sorry about."

May 27th, 1974

The Jackson Five appear at the Sahara. Elvis has two of his people take his daughter Lisa Marie to the show.

August 29th, 1974

Elvis awards karate certificates to every member of his band.

November 19th, 1974

The National Enquirer runs a headline "Elvis at 40 - Paunchy, Depressed, and Living in Fear." By next year Elvis will be hospitalized for shortness of breath. He and Linda spent most of the time in the hospital watching the nursery over closed-circuit television. He spends three weeks there, and when Linda is not around he passes the hours by watching Monty Python.

July 22nd, 1975

Elvis shoots his doctor in the chest, off a ricochet, while waiving around a handgun in the examination room. Later, he forks over $200,000 without interest for the construction of Dr. Nick's new home.

with Ginger Alden

August 28th, 1976

A review of Elvis' show at The Summit in Houston reads like this: "The show was a depressingly incoherent, amateurish mess served up by a bloated, stumbling and mumbling figure who didn't act like 'The King' of anything, least of all rock 'n' roll."

December 21st, 1976

In San Francisco, Elvis tries to get Linda Thompson to leave for Memphis by telling her she looks "worn out." He keeps his other squeeze, Ginger Alden, in a private room until he persuades Linda to take a flight out of town. After she does, they never see each other again.

August 16th, 1977

Elvis dies in a pool of his own vomit.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. You can find the first part of this series here. She last wrote in these pages about Dorothea Lange.

"An American Trilogy" - Elvis Presley (mp3)

"The Girl Of My Best Friend" - Elvis Presley (mp3)

The Best of Ellen Copperfield on This Recording

Dorothea Lange's Failed Marriage

Sex Life Of Marlon Brando

The Onset Of The Western Canon

Entitled To Madonna's Opinion

The Kurt Cobain Experience Unfolds

Barbra Streisand Grows Up In Flatbush

A Sneaking Suspicion of Literature

Anjelica Huston Falls Off The Horse

Prefer To Be Simone de Beauvoir

The Marriage of Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra

Elongated Childhood of Jorge Luis Borges

Jokes At The Expense Of Tom Hanks

Which One Is The Gay?

Friday
Apr272012

In Which Dorothea Lange Attempts Matrimony

Forms of Taking It All

by ELLEN COPPERFIELD

They called it the slipper club. All of the photographer Dorothea Lange's friends were Jews; exiled for a second time from the mostly gentile areas of Nob, Russian, and Telegraph Hills in San Francisco to Pacific Heights. Lange was not herself among the chosen people, but all her friends were. They were as far from the immigrant Jews in the Fillmore as they were from the gentiles in the wealthier neighborhoods. The slipper club, so named because Dorothea gave all her closest ones footwear as a gift, met outside the circles of power due to the vagaries of a parlor anti-Semitism. They talked of gardening, the arts, their relationships.... It was through these people that Dorothea met the artist who would become her first husband, Maynard Dixon.

Dorothea Lange, 26, featured a high pitched voice and walked with a limp. She made her living from portrait photography. She set a price and never haggled over it; no one quibbled with the results. For example:

from 1932

Maynard Dixon, 45, worked a pot-smoking illustrator whose sketches were featured in magazines with great frequency. His typical day involved waking up in the afternoon, getting high, and sampling the best of San Francisco's world cuisine. After the earthquake of 1906, he and his friends perserved in their lifestyle, almost amongst the rubble. Their neighborhood was called the Monkey Block, and it was razed in 1959 to build the TransAmerica Pyramid. Nobody was in a position to complain by then.

Maynard showed Dorothea the "real" California. He loved wide open spaces, and his representations of Arizona and New Mexico during the period remain quite captivating. She was immediately attracted to his cowboy good looks, his way around children. Her own concept of style always accentuated her natural beauty and minimized her defects. Despite her infirmity, brought on by a childhood bout of polio, she could hike and picnic, dragging her right leg on the ground when she was tired. The only thing she could not do was run.

the happy couple

They were married in her studio in March of 1920. He wore a cape, a black Stetson and wielded a carved swordcane with a stiletto. Their marriage invigorated his artistic career; he completed 140 paintings during the first five years of matrimony, and his reputation as a talented muralist at first grew and grew. The fact that he was nearing 50 as she approached 30, initially a source of Dorothea's apprehension, did not seem to matter a whit.

While others viewed Dorothea as a strong-willed entrepreneur, she did not mind how Maynard saw her — as a gorgeous young flower, a precious thing that could not be corrupted, but one had to try. This did not stop him from cheating on her with other women, often on long trips to the California wilderness he loved. Yet part of the reason the relationship sustained despite Maynard's imperfections was the fact the two kept their own lives.

Maynard Dixon

Near the end of her life she said of him, "Maynard was a restaurant man, a raconteur, a striking personality, graceful, had style, wit and originality. Much of the wit was defensive. Women loved him." Despite his considerable flaws, she viewed her new husband as an incandescent flame, and was most taken aback when his 12 year old daughter Consie Dixon came to live with them.

As a young child, Consie had been mistreated by her mother. At her stepdaughter's age, Dorothea stood out as helpful, kind and resourceful. In contrast Consie resisted her every directive, and found Dorothea's obsessiveness over her home frightening. (In later years, Dorothea would drop her sons in foster care while she travelled with Maynard and her second husband, Paul Taylor.) Maynard simply expected his new wife to care for the girl, who else would do it? To fill the hours with Consie, Dorothea began taking her picture. It looked like this:

consie dixon circa 1920

In light of the fact a child already lived in their home, Maynard and Dorothea used birth control with alacrity. By the age of 29, she decided it was time to have a child of her own, and she gave Maynard two sons. Tensions with Consie temporarily abated when the girl got a job as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner days after she turned 19. It was the onset of the Depression that would ultimately lose Consie that job and destroy her father's marriage.

Maynard's latent anti-Semitism had driven away most of his patrons, and when the art market in San Francisco collapsed, he could no longer sell his murals to anyone. After losing her job, Consie moved to Taos, New Mexico, and encouraged her parents to follow. Trouble quickly emerged in their new landing spot — neither Maynard or Dorothea had any idea how to drive a car. Maynard broke his jaw flipping over the family's first vehicle.

Taos, New Mexico

Even after that, Maynard tolerated the wide-open spaces of Taos far better than his wife. Dorothea had lost her clientele, her footwear association and the city she loved. The husband noticed none of his wife's unhappiness, and even after agreeing to a move back to San Francisco, the marriage would only last three more years. Dorothea observed in a profile of the family published in the San Francisco News that "an artist's wife accepts the fact that she has to contend with many things that other wives do not." She had her friends again.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about Marlon Brando. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Fame" - Santigold (mp3)

"God From The Machine" - Santigold (mp3)

The new album from Santigold is entitled The Master of My Make-Believe and it will be released on May 1st.

Wednesday
Apr042012

In Which Sex Is Something That Lacks Precision

25 Verifiable Facts About Marlon Brando

by ELLEN COPPERFIELD

1

When I first saw Marlon Brando, he looked like a bowling ball with a lisp emitting from the finger holes.

2

He was a hellion as a teen. His parents sent him to the same military academy his father had attended. He wrote, "I'm kinda homesick and want my mother, but I guess I will get over that. I've received exactly one letter since I've been here. Fine support for the baby of the family." The next month he added, "I had to read Wuthering Heights for English and I never enjoyed a book in all my life as much as that one."

3

He fled the set of Darryl Zanuck's The Egyptian, dressing up in the most expensive clothes he could find because they were looking for the Marlon who always wore a t-shirt and jeans.

4

While filming Mutiny on the Bounty, Marlon spied a Tahitian island and purchased it from the blind elderly American woman who lived there with forty cats and dogs. She had to go to Vallejo, CA for medical treatment. He bought the place for $200,000. Shortly after she moved she died.

5

A Harvard Medical School psychologist who slept with Marlon observed, "There are casual ladykillers and serious ladykillers. The casual ladykiller is a person who doesn't try to involve you in a relationship but seeks to get you only by the magnetism of his sexuality. A serious ladykiller has much more imagination and tries to capture you in more intricate ways - meaning that he involves you with his ideas, his thinking. The seduction is much more complicated - only then he has more trouble because women inevitably fall in love with him."

6

When he was trying to get his break in the theater, he was offered a part in a new play by Eugene O'Neill, The Iceman Cometh. Marlon later wrote, "I'd always thought he was dour, negative and too dark." He argued with a producer about "why I thought the play was ineptly written, poorly constructed, and would never be a success."

7

After he filmed the movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire Marlon moved into an apartment near Carnegie Hall and seduced the entire group of young actresses at the Actor's Studio. He met Marilyn Monroe when he elbowed her in the face by accident. She replied, "There are no accidents." She invited him over for sex the week before she died. In his autobiography Songs My Mother Taught Me he wrote, "I didn't sense any depression or clue of impending self-destruction during her call. That's why I'm sure she didn't commit suicide. If someone is terminally depressed, no matter how clever they may be, or how expertly they try to conceal it, they will always give themselves away. I've always had an unquenchable curiosity about people, and I believe I would have sensed something was wrong if thoughts of suicide were anywhere near the surface of Marilyn's mind. I have always believed she was murdered."

8

Jean Cocteau said of him, "Marlon is the only man who can make noise without disturbing anybody."

9

Marlon hated having sex with a condom on. He regarded it as base.

10

After meeting Marlon before they began shooting Last Tango in Paris, Bertolucci said, "In Bacon you see people virtually throwing up their guts and doing a monkey's job on themselves with their own vomit. I found this same kind of appeal in Marlon."

11

He would always willingly supply the money for an abortion.

12

When The Godfather came around, Marlon was desperate for a role to revive his career. Francis Ford Coppola could not possibly ask him to audition, so he asked Marlon if he could come by the actor's Mulholland Drive home and "improvise" in front of a camera. After he saw the tape, producer Bob Evans said, "He looks Italian, fine. But who is he?" He did not recognize the man before him.

13

Marlon's mother was a furtive alcoholic. She would take quiet sips from a small bottle whenever she could. "When my mother drank," Marlon said, "her breath had a sweetness to it I lack the vocabulary to describe."

14

In the wake of Dr. King's death, Marlon felt an affinity for the Black Panthers. They did not share this positive feeling. "They told me that they despised me because I was just another knee jerk white liberal to them."

15

The day before A Streetcar Named Desire opened at the Ethel Barrymore, Marlon telegrammed his father to say, NEED MONEY BY TONIGHT SHOW SPLENDID LETTER TO FOLLOW MARLON.

16

He believed that by dripping a wet towel soaked with hot water on his head, he would never go bald.

17

On the set of A Countess From Hong Kong, during a close-up, he asked Sophia Loren if she knew small hairs were coming out of her nose. She never spoke to him again.

18

After watching his performance in The Godfather, he said, "When I saw it the first time it made me sick. All I could see were my mistakes and I hated it."

19

If he liked you, he wanted to be close to you, even if just briefly. "Like a large number of men," he eventually admitted, "I too have had homosexual experiences and am not ashamed. I've never paid attention to what people said about me. Deep down I felt ambiguous and I'm not saying that to spite the seven out of ten women who consider me - wrongly perhaps - a sex symbol. According to me, sex is something that lacks precision. Let's say sex is sexless."

20

When Lew Wasserman tried to change the title of The Appaloosa to Southwest to Sonora, Marlon did not take it very well. He hired a group of mariachi players to go around Universal singing a song they had written called "Southwest to Sonora" until the studio aceded to his wishes.

21

In later years, Brando became very uptight about his weight. He would pull up the curtain whenever he changed clothes.

22

Marlon's son Christian spiralled out of control with drugs and alcohol as a teen. He would steal pot from neighbor Jack Nicholson's stash. If Jack caught him, Christian Brando would imitate his part in Chinatown, saying "You do that again and I'll break your fucking fingers, man."

23

On the set of Guys and Dolls, Sinatra and Brando just did not get along. One man never blew a line, the other wrote his dialogue on his hand. Frank's thugs followed him everywhere; Marlon was most happy completely alone. The only way they could get Marlon to go through with it was to buy him a white Thunderbird convertible.

24

On the set of The Fugitive Kind, Tennessee Williams screamed at Marlon, "I need radar equipment to hear what you're saying. If I can't hear my fucking dialogue, I'm going home."

25

As he traveled through France, he once spent the night with a woman in Ascain. "It's a terrible story," he told his friends, murmuring, "awful, awful, awful." They asked what happened, and he said, "I had a very nice time with her, and she made me a wonderful breakfast. I was thinking, 'Thank God she hasn't asked me for anything', but then when I was leaving, she did just that. She said, 'When shall we meet again?' It's too awful. That's what I had been afraid of all along."

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about the new classics. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Cool Light" - Bear In Heaven (mp3)

"Sinful Nature" - Bear In Heaven (mp3)

The new album from Bear In Heaven, I Love You It's Cool, was released today.