Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nathanael West; Phil Spector; Disney-boobs

Ed here: Over on Salon Laura Miller reviews Marion's Meade's "Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKinney" which documents the lives of two extremely different people who got together for a year, exchanged vows and then got killed in a car crash. Miller's review told me a lot about West I didn't know. My favorite bit here is the picture of James Joyce reading Anita Loos'. Here are some excerpts:

"Born Nathan Weinstein, the only son of a prosperous Manhattan real estate developer, West was an outrageously spoiled child who spent much of his youth getting over the idea that he shouldn't be expected to work or show up on time or in any other way trouble himself to get by in the world. (The Depression did a lot to revise this attitude.) His domineering philistine of a mother instilled in him a streak of bumptious misogyny and a contempt for his parents' generation of Russian-Jewish strivers, abundantly evident in his fiction. Meade sees a lot of homoeroticism in West's work and some signs of same-sex activity in his medical history, but most of his carnal encounters seem to have been with female prostitutes -- and he had multiple cases of the clap to prove it. He was dreamy, physically clumsy, a natty dresser and (fatally, alas) a lousy driver.

"Infatuated with Russian novels as a boy, West started out as the sort of an aspiring author who thought he had to relocate to Europe to produce anything great. (One of Meade's more inspired uses of biographical research explains that the week West spent hanging out in Parisian cafes hoping to rub shoulders with serious writers like James Joyce was the same week Joyce spent sprawled on his sofa, reading Anita Loos' proto-chicklit classic, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.") I

When West finally befriended some literary luminaries (Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson), it seldom did him any good. As a hotel manager in New York, he'd let Dashiell Hammett stay in one of the rooms free of charge, but once Hammett had made it in the film industry, he not only reneged on a promise to help West get screenwriting work but publicly humiliated him as well.

-------------------Phil Spector update

Though he officially denies it, apparently Phil Spector was hurt in a prison altercation. Here's from the New York Daily News:

"Phil has quite a mouth on him," says longtime pal and defender Steven Escobar. "Not everyone understands his humor. He said the wrong thing to the wrong inmate in the yard."

Lacking any of his trusty firearms, Spector wound up with a bruised nose, black eye and the loss of a couple of caps, according to Escobar.

"He mouthed off to a big guy, who punched him," concurs another source close to Spector, who's serving 19-to-life for fatally shooting actress Lana Clarkson in the mouth in 2003.


But Spector himself complained about his fellow prisoners in a letter to Escobar last August: "These lowlife scumbag gangsters kill you here for a 39-cent bag of soup!"


Spector also said he was alarmed when a guard delivered a note from fellow Corcoran convict Charles Manson, proposing that he and Spector collaborate on some music. (A prison spokesman said the letter was a fake.)

Read more:

-------------------------No Store-Boughts For Disney

From Gawker:

Disney Bans Fake Boobs From Pirates

If this catches on, half of Hollywood's females will fall into poverty. Casting for their fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney specifies that fake breasts are not permitted, and actresses will be subjected to pre-shoot jiggle tests to check.

This, from the New York Post, sounds like the beginning of a porno:

The filmmakers sent out a casting call last week seeking "beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft7in-5ft8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants."


Randy Johnson said...

I could say something crude like I'll volunteer to do the tests, but I won't.

Vince said...

I read the Meade book and enjoyed it quite a bit. I have to admit I find West's life more interesting than his fiction.

Ed Gorman said...

I like Day of The Locusts more than you do, Vince, but I have to admit the rest of his material doesn't do much for me. I agree with you. Horace McCoy was his superior though I do believe Locusts will stand as THE commentary on the American obsession with being famous. I even liked the much-disparaged film version of it except for the Burgess Meredith performance which was so far over the top I felt embarrassed for him. I wonder what John Schlesinger was thinking. Karen Black dumped on the whole project because she felt he spent more time with the male actors (presumably a dig at his sexual preferences) than the female but I thought she gave one of her finest performances in the film.

Anonymous said...

The film of Day of the Locust is one of my favorites that no one else ever seems to like. Also where Homer Simpson got his name. The actor Jackie Earle Haley played the Shirley Temple wannabe.Strange casting. He's now the new Freddy Krueger.

Cap'n Bob said...

I recently read DOTL and was a bit disappointed, although I loved the movie despite Karen Black's presence. Have to admit I thought Bug's performance was the nighlight for me, too. Shows what I know.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I read Jay Parini's biography of West a few years ago, and West's life sure didn't seem like some madcap real life screwball comedy to me. It seemed rather bleak. He married his wife not long before his death, so it seems that making a dual biography distorts the importance of his wife's role in his life.

My favorite of West's books is A Cool Million, a great, satirical inversion of the Horatio Alger myth.