Friday 30 August 2019

Ten Great Noirs

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Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past - the quintessential noir

'A pas de deux of sex and violence': a poet's guide to film noir
Claustrophobic and nihilistic, a disturbing universe with dramatic lighting. An award-winning poet explains why he immersed himself in film noir for his Booker-prize shortlisted debut novel

Robin Robertson
The Guardian
Mon 12 Nov 2018

I watched film noir before I knew it had a name, growing up with these black-and-white B-movies that appeared at odd hours on 70s television. It was only when I moved from Scotland to London that I saw them, properly, on the big screen, and understood them for what they were: the cinema of the city, steeped in the city’s fascination and fear. All the ambivalence I felt arriving in London as a young outsider was there in the mood and the images of these films, and I soon learned why they spoke to me so directly. These classic 40s and 50s movies – which seem like a distinctly American art form, like blues or jazz – were mostly not made by Americans but by emigres: Jewish directors and cinematographers who had fled Nazi Germany and ended up in Hollywood, bringing their expressionist aesthetic and their deep terrors to celluloid. These refugee artists were among the “huddled masses” that built America; the kind of people that are now, it seems, unwelcome.

Despite living most of my life in cities, I’ve never really written about them. When I decided I would, I knew it had to be US cities, immediately after the war, when the American dream started to falter; that the soundtrack would be jazz, and that much of the tonal qualities would come from film noir. I watched about 500 films before writing The Long Take – listening for the idiom, watching the camera techniques, the editing, working out the geography of the city location shots – and it was these 10 movies that I kept returning to: the ones that, for me, capture the classic spirit and style of this brief but hugely influential cycle of films.

Out of the Past (1947) dir: Jacques Tourneur

Regarded by many as the quintessential noir, Out of the Past offers most of the classic elements of the style: voiceovers, flashbacks, a labyrinthine plot, a doomed male obsessive and a femme fatale – with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer playing these roles effortlessly. In a tragedy told as a dream, these complex, mysterious characters emerge from the shadows to deliver their lines: “Is there a way to win?” says Greer’s character, and Mitchum deadpans back: “There’s a way to lose more slowly.” I used that perfectly weighted line as the subtitle to The Long Take.

Brute Force (1947) dir: Jules Dassin

A prison stands in for the city: a walled theatre of meaningless degradation and punishment, where the only language left is violence. The carceral imagery of Brute Force was certainly something I drew on in my descriptions of New York and Los Angeles. As much an existential drama as a prison-break movie, this is a claustrophobic and nihilistic film lit up by wonderful acting. It’s an ensemble piece like a stage play, brilliantly cast – inside and out. Burt Lancaster is superb in the lead role, but even he is upstaged by Hume Cronyn as the sadistic, power-hungry Captain Munsey, who beats a prisoner with a rubber hose to a recording of Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

Ride the Pink Horse (1947) dir: Robert Montgomery

A little-known non-urban noir, with Robert Montgomery directing himself as Gagin, a war veteran on a mission to New Mexico to avenge the death of a fellow soldier at the hands of a war profiteer. The embittered ex-soldier coming back from slaughter to find his country corrupted was a reality of late-40s America, and a recurrent theme in early noirs, and I was influenced by aspects of the plot-line here and in other films that address the problems of veterans, such as Act of Violence and Crossfire. A stunning long-take opening sequence in a bus station establishes Gagin’s character as driven, exhausted, alienated and seemingly stripped of all emotion. It is only when he encounters the carnival horses of the town’s carousel, and the kindness of the locals, that the fiesta – and the symbolic wheel of life – can begin to turn.

T-Men (1947) dir: Anthony Mann

After the stilted prologue that encourages us to see the film as a fact-based story of the brave actions of US treasury agents, the real noir underworld quickly emerges – particularly in the extraordinarily elegant and stylised steam-bath murder. Along with The Big Combo, this is one of the most visually stunning films in the cycle, with cinematographer John Alton filling each frame with contrast and tension, deep focus and unorthodox camera angles. I hoped to have Alton at my shoulder while I was writing, for his painterly eye and his gift for combining economy with sudden beauty.

Criss Cross (1949) dir: Robert Siodmak

Opening with an amazing aerial shot of downtown Los Angeles, slowly descending to a nightclub parking lot where the lovers – Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo – are locked in a secret embrace, Criss Cross is an 88-minute plunge into their fated world, a drop into doom. Despite much of it being shot in daylight (around Bunker Hill, a now vanished part of Los Angeles), Criss Cross is a dark, fatalistic tragedy. I have my character Walker in The Long Take visiting the shoot above the Hill Street tunnels (which feature on the book’s cover), and talking to the director.

Gun Crazy (1950) dir: Joseph H Lewis

Seen by some as the precursor to Bonnie and Clyde, this is the story of Bart, a gentle, decent man with an unhealthy obsession with guns. When he encounters Annie Laurie in a sharp-shooting sideshow, the pas de deux of sex and violence begins. She wants more things, nicer things, and leads him – her co-dependent in addiction – into increasingly serious crimes. As the film develops into a cross between a road movie and a western, their first bank robbery is an exquisitely staged long-take shot from inside their car. It’s a perfect expression of their amour fou, their fugitive world where sex and death are on the same line: “We go together … like guns and ammunition.” What is extraordinary is that it’s not cinematic grandstanding, but a tiny naturalistic drama that feels like an improvised film within a film: an improvisation embedded in an edited, scripted construct.

Night and the City (1950) dir: Jules Dassin

Along with The Third Man, this is a great British noir, the compulsive, concentrated morality tale of Harry Fabian, a spivvy American hustler in London who wants to make it big, played magnificently by Richard Widmark – volatile and paranoid, giggling insanely. It co-stars the fabulous Gene Tierney and has a first-rate British cast, including Googie Withers and Herbert Lom. The film’s director, Dassin – thrown out of Hollywood by HUAC and McCarthy – turns postwar London into an expressionist trap, a nightmare city teeming with cripples, beggars and informers, like something out of Kurt Weil or Tod Browning. Filmed in 1949, the final scene under Hammersmith Bridge could have been shot yesterday. I live 10 minutes away, and I think about this film every time I walk along that stretch of river.

The Big Combo (1955) dir: Joseph H Lewis

Directed by the maverick Joseph H Lewis, with cinematography again from Alton, The Big Combo includes more dingy sexuality, casual violence and repressed, sadomasochistic relationships than any other noir. Cornel Wilde is the moral touchstone: a decent cop who goes too far into this vile world, trying to rescue the pure, defiled Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace), only to suffer torture by hearing aid. An inventive, deeply atmospheric film: dark, disturbing and beautifully shot. Walker watches the movie three times in The Long Take: “He saw its hard lines all the way home through the fog: / the raking headlamp opening up a wall, the shadows / tightening in around this spoon of light that’s dragged / across the metal doors, snapped back to darkness.”

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) dir: Robert Aldrich

Made in 22 days in and around Los Angeles, Kiss Me Deadly is about speed and violence, fast cars and freeways: a world of moral decomposition, corruption and brutality, with nuclear apocalypse as the only cleansing agent. From the opening credits, with “DEADLY” then “KISS ME” scrolling down over the speeding road, this is a highly sensory film about the interaction of the human and the machine. Brilliantly photographed by Ernest Laszlo, the movie is visually jagged, angular and out of kilter, with its characters alienated and dehumanised, disorientated by their landscape. It is a film of its time: frenetic, fractured and deeply paranoid. We also see into the future, with the recognition of a social selfishness and greed that was to become endemic. As Walker says in the The Long Take: “When we want everything and give back nothing / the otherworld will be unlocked, and our whole world taken away.”

Touch of Evil (1958) dir: Orson Welles

The film opens with a celebrated long take tour-de-force: an unbroken three-minute craning and tracking night shot where a time bomb is placed in the trunk of a car, exploding just across the busy US-Mexico border. Unlike those in Ride the Pink Horse or Gun Crazy, the long take here is almost operatic in its certainty. Like many of Welles’s films, Touch of Evil was taken out of his hands and butchered by studio chiefs. Forty years later, it was rebuilt by the great editor Walter Murch, based on all existing material and closely following the Welles memo. Salvaged, and dramatically improved, it is still a flawed work – appropriately, perhaps, as it’s about a flawed man. The final shot – of Quinlan floating dead in a filthy canal – is a wholly appropriate sign-off to the noir cycle.

At a time when the term 'noir' is overused to describe any low-lit television thriller with a troubled protagonist hunting down a borderline psychopath (preferably in Swedish or Danish with subtitles), this is a nice little intro, though he overplays - as is common - the standard Film Studies/Pop Culture view that the style was down to the work of German emigres during and after World War II. 

Expressionism had hit America long before noir. It was so popular in the 1920s, for example, that the great German director F W Murnau was invited to Hollywood to make Sunrise, a 'realistic' romantic tale using expressionistic techniques. John Ford, who would be familiar with the style from years of working in the cinema and who was an admirer of the work of Eugene O'Neil, the Irish American playwright influenced by European expressionism on stage, uses it to great effect in The Informer and in that quintessential Western, Stagecoach - a huge influence on Welles - where there isn't a city in sight. 

Moreover, the low lighting and use of fog/smoke were often features of taut crime features made at Warner Brothers to disguise their low budgets - and Warners became the home to several significant noirs.

The simple timeline approach negates the influence of literature on the genre or - as Robertson mentions - of World War II. Some of the best noirs feature men broken by the war (Dmytryk's Crossfire, for example, where ex-soldiers seem unwilling or unable to return to their former lives and exist in a dreamscape of darkened rooms, circling around a nasty anti-semitic crime. 

Robertson refers to the use of the femme fatale, an attractive woman wrought to lure the 'hero' into a deeper and more disturbing series of events than at first he realises. A throwback to gothic literature and beyond, to be sure, but also  symbolic of the threat to masculinity felt by males when they returned from World War II to find that women had taken their jobs and were no longer prepared to be home-makers. 

The timeline view also does no credit to the influence of French films like Pepe Le Moko or Daybreak or indeed, to the work of later French film-makers which could be labelled as noir, like Jean-Pierre Melville's crime films, like Le Samourai. 

I could quibble about Robertson's selection, of course. While Out of the Past has to be on there, I would need Siodmak's The Killers, the afore-mentioned Crossfire, Pepe le Moko and Daybreak, Hawks' The Big Sleep, Cromwell's Dead Reckoning, Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, Reed's Odd Man Out (I'd have The Third Man, but it gets a nod in the article) and as a great 'latter day' noir, Ivan Passer's (look: another emigre!) Cutter's Way. Trouble is, I wouldn't want to drop any of Robertson's films: I'd need a list of at least 30!

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool documentary

‘Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool’ Review: A Complicated Artist

This documentary looks at the many sides of the innovative trumpeter and bandleader.

Glenn Kenny
The New York Times
22 August 2019

The number of documentaries exclusively devoted to, or featuring, Miles Davis is not quite sufficient to constitute a subgenre. But it’s getting close.

Davis is a great subject: a landmark musician whose innovations have a continuing resonance, and a confounding personality whose abuse of women in particular leaves a bad taste.

“Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” directed by Stanley Nelson, doesn’t presume to be the last cinematic word on the artist, but within its nearly two-hour confines, this production aims for comprehensiveness. Its omission of any mention of Teo Macero — the producer who oversaw Davis’s most vital work — notwithstanding, the movie is commendably thorough.

“Music has always been like a curse for me,” the actor Carl Lumbly, speaking for Davis, says in the movie’s opening, over archival footage of the trumpeter in a boxing ring. That observation positions Nelson to provide a partial rationale for Davis’s frequent antisocial nature. Of course, racism drove Davis’s resentments as well. But so did ego and arrogance. The saxophonist Archie Shepp remembers, with equanimity, a hurtful encounter with Davis after approaching him to sit in with his band.

Survivors of Davis who tell their tales here include Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Juliet Greco and Davis’s first wife Frances Taylor, the cover star of such classic Davis LPs as “Someday My Prince Will Come” and “E.S.P.” Critics and historians, including Ashley Kahn, Tammy L. Kernodle and Greg Tate contribute insights. Davis mavens will hear familiar stuff. But more than a few moments here are new, and real grabbers. For instance, the smile on Taylor’s face as she contemplates how badly Davis missed her after she left him.

Miles Davis: Birth of Cool

Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes.

Miles Davis at a recording session in 1956.
Miles in 1956

The Angry Genius of Miles Davis
Kyle Smith
The New Review
21 August 2019 

How delightful it is to learn that Miles Davis, as a boy, used to take his trumpet out into the woods, listen to the animals, and imitate them on his horn. Later, in New York, he was already working as a professional musician when he decided to go to Juilliard to learn classical technique — a risk in his world, where the best musicians feared “sounding white.”

Many were the influences that went into Davis’s music, as we learn in Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, a beguiling new documentary full of strange details, some unnerving, some wonderful. Backed by Davis’s resplendent music, it’s frequently hypnotic, even heartbreaking. The usual talking-head interviews — experts, fellow musicians, and family members appear on camera — intermingle with the reflections of Davis himself, read by the actor Carl Lumbly in Davis’s signature gravelly tone.

Davis was an angry man, often a loner, and one source of his hot temper was racism. Born into affluence in 1926 — his father, a dentist, is described as the “second-richest” black man in Illinois — he went off to Paris in 1949 and found himself not only welcome but the toast of its swells. Via his girlfriend, the actress Juliette Gréco (neither spoke the other’s language), he joined a circle of creative people that included Pablo Picasso and Jean-Paul Sartre. Returning home, he said, “It was hard for me to come back to the bullshit white people put black people through in this country. . . . Before I knew it I had a heroin habit, which meant getting and shooting heroin all day and all night.”

Yet not everyone who suffered racism treated it with heroin. Davis was centrally a rageful fellow, and even in casual snapshots shown in the movie he tends to glower. He witnessed nasty fights between his mother and father, one of which was about whether for his 13th birthday he should be given a violin or a trumpet. On occasion his father would beat his mother, at least once hard enough to knock the teeth out of her mouth. Years later, after a party, Davis’s first wife, Frances Taylor, remarked innocently that “Quincy Jones is handsome.” “Before I knew it . . . I was on the floor,” she recalls in the doc. “It was the most unbelievable thing that ever happened to me because I’d never been hit in my life. It was the first but it wasn’t going to be the last, unfortunately.”

Even that sandpaper-on-rust Davis voice was derived from his anger. When he had a benign growth removed from his larynx in 1956, doctors ordered him not to speak for ten days. He couldn’t do it. People were too annoying. “Everybody was a sack full of motherfuckers” is how one witness to his tirades put it. The rasp seized his voice and never went away.

The documentary is joyous when it recounts Davis’s rise. It was right after high school that he met Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Playing with them, Davis said, was the most fun he ever had with his clothes on. On 52nd Street in New York City, he was part of a “hotbed of musical research and development” as jazz evolved from bebop to a more soulful, plaintive, and stirring sound: music by which to make love. Yet even amid his many triumphs at Birdland, racial prejudice came after him. He was standing outside the club smoking a cigarette when a cop ordered him to move on. He refused, explaining that he was working inside. Another cop smashed him over the head. He was placed in handcuffs and charged with assaulting an officer, his own blood all over his shirt. (He was later acquitted.)

Despite his long-running troubles with drugs — in addition to heroin, he eventually took up cocaine, and he often drank heavily — Davis was a phenomenal worker. His quintet, featuring John Coltrane, recorded four albums over three days when he was eager to discharge his obligations to the Prestige record label before jumping to Columbia. “He basically took the handcuffs off the musicians,” says an observer, marveling at the strength of those sessions. At Columbia, Davis recorded the landmark Kind of Blue and steered the label against its preference for putting white women models on his album cover. Davis wanted to see a picture of himself, or, failing that, at least a black woman, such as Taylor, a dancer who indeed appeared on the cover of Someday My Prince Will Come in 1961.

Davis was facing obsolescence in the Woodstock era but mounted a ferocious comeback by leaning into the new sounds, delivering the angry, funky Bitches Brew in 1970. Later in the decade he sank into depression and shut himself up in a Manhattan brownstone on West 77th Street, refusing to answer the phone for four years. Yet there was still another comeback left in him, albeit a wobbly one, in the 1980s, when he was suddenly ubiquitous, even popping up on the talk shows and Miami Vice.

AIDS contributed to Davis’s 1991 death, but that goes unmentioned in the doc, which also sugarcoats some of his failings, such as his career pimping women. He was not a nice man. But what he did with a trumpet was so magical, even many of those who were on the receiving end of his abuse looked past his flaws. Taylor, who was interviewed for the film before her death last year, was obliged to quit her role in the original production of West Side Story because of his jealousy. Instead, she served him as a housewife, as best she could, for a while. Even she sounds forgiving.

Friday 23 August 2019

Wednesday night's set lists at The Habit, York

Ron Elderly: -
Need Your Love So Bad

Da Elderly: -
Too Far Gone
Human Highway
I Don't Want To Talk About It

The Elderly Brothers: -
The Price Of Love
All I Have To Do Is Dream
Walk Right Back
I Saw Her Standing There

While waiting for the 09:30 train from the Toon, I had a feeling that it might be a busy night in The Habit; the platform was packed with ladies in their glad rags and punters clutching copies of The Racing being the Ebor Meeting on the Knavesmire. It was the same at Durham and Darlington. Low and behold, The Habit was rammed for most of the night. Our usual host Simon is on holiday, so it was deja vu as previous host Dave (pictured) took over. We had enough players to keep going all night and despite the copious amounts of drink being consumed, the audience were supportive and attentive. The Elderlys closed the show without recourse to the songbook for once, equivalent to performing without a net for us! The after-show jam was great fun with requests coming thick and fast and several punters joining in.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Previously Unseen Salinger photos emerge

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Lotte Jacobi Images of J. D. Salinger displayed at the University of New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire is excited to announce that a set of photographs of J.D. Salinger, taken by famed female photographer Lotte Jacobi, have recently been digitized and are now available for license. Because of his fierce protection of his privacy, images of Salinger are extremely rare, and the majority of these images have not been seen before. 

In 1985, almost 50,000 photographic negatives were bequeathed to UNH by Lotte Jacobi, who spent the last 30 years of her life residing in Deering, N.H. Jacobi is an important figure in the history of photography and had a long and prestigious career. She is famous for her portraits of prominent 20th century figures, such as Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, and J. D. Salinger. Her work is housed in Special Collections at UNH’s Dimond Library.
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J. D. Salinger was an American author, most famous for his teenage cult-classic novel, The Catcher in the Rye, although he wrote other stories as well, including Franny and Zooey, and the Nine Stories collection. Like Jacobi, Salinger spent the final years of his life in New Hampshire. Salinger was born in 1919, which makes 2019 the centennial anniversary of his birth.
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All Images from the Jacobi collection, including the new images of J.D. Salinger, are available for licensing through the UNHInnovation office, for both private and professional use.

Interested parties may contact Beth Sheckler, Licensing Manager of Creative Works, for more information, at

Others can be seen here:

Sunday 18 August 2019

Peter Fonda RIP

Fonda in 2009 with a replica of the “Captain America” bike used in Easy Rider

Peter Fonda, ‘Easy Rider’ Actor and Screenwriter, Is Dead at 79

By Anita Gates
The New York Times
16 August 2019

Peter Fonda, the tall, lanky actor who became a star and a counterculture sex symbol in the film “Easy Rider,” carrying on the Hollywood dynasty begun by his father, Henry Fonda, died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 79.

The death was confirmed by his family, who said the cause was respiratory failure because of lung cancer.

During his acting and filmmaking career, Mr. Fonda earned two Oscar nominations, almost three decades apart. He shared, along with Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern, a best original screenplay nomination for “Easy Rider,” the story of two hippie bikers on a cross-country trip fueled by drugs and the thrill of youthful freedom.
Easy Rider, 1969

Some may have been surprised by the film’s success, but Mr. Fonda believed that its enthusiastic reception made perfect sense, because of the very vocal generation coming of age at the time. “It was a market that had never been played to,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 2018. “Nobody had sung their song to them.”

From the time Mr. Fonda made his first Broadway and television appearances in the early 1960s, his looks and style — piercing blue eyes, firm jaw and imposing frame — were inevitably compared to his father’s, and it seemed that he might be the breakout star of his generation. But his career cooled — while that of his sister, Jane Fonda, flourished — and his next appearance on the list of Oscar nominees was in 1997 for “Ulee’s Gold.” He was nominated for best actor for his role as a widowed beekeeper with grandchildren.
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Ulee's Gold, 1997

“Peter is all deep sweetness, kind and sensitive to his core,” Jane Fonda wrote in “My Life So Far,” her 2005 memoir. “He would never intentionally harm anything or anyone. In fact, he once argued with me that vegetables had souls. It was the ’60s.”

Peter Henry Fonda was born on Feb. 23, 1940, in Manhattan, the younger of two children of the film star Henry Fonda and Florence Seymour (Brokaw) Fonda, a New York socialite. His mother committed suicide in 1950, when he was 10 and Jane was 13.

Less than a year later, Mr. Fonda shot himself in the stomach with a pistol. Interviewed by The New York Times decades later, he insisted that it was an accident, not a suicide attempt or even a warning. “You shoot yourself in the hand or foot if you want attention,” he said, “not the way I did.”

Henry Fonda with Jane and Peter, as they boarded a plane in New York in 1957. 

Years later, he talked about the experience with John Lennon, who was reportedly inspired to write the line “I know what it’s like to be dead” in the Beatles’ song “She Said She Said.”

After attending the University of Nebraska, in his father’s home state, Mr. Fonda began his theater career the old-fashioned way, in regional theater. In 1960 he starred in “The Golden Fleece” at the Omaha Community Playhouse. His Broadway debut, only a year later, was in “Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole,” an army comedy for which he won a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. He made his television debut in a 1962 episode of “Naked City.”

Hollywood saw him as a sort of male ingénue at first, casting him as a boyish, clean-cut physician in “Tammy and the Doctor” (1963), opposite Sandra Dee. He starred with Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg in “Lilith” (1964), a drama set at a psychiatric hospital. But it was a very different genre in which he seemed to find his true persona.

In 1967, Roger Corman, then the king of the low-budget movies, directed “The Trip” from a script by an up-and-coming actor, Jack Nicholson. Alongside Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper and Susan Strasberg, Mr. Fonda starred as a mild-mannered television commercial director who uses LSD for the first time and makes the most of it. “Easy Rider,” which he also produced, came two years later.

Decades later, The Times asked him about his personal experience with the drug. “For me, it solved a great deal,” he said. “However, I didn’t take it and go out running through the city looking at lights. I was very circumspect and lay down on a couch.” Luckily, he added, “I don’t have an addictive character, and nothing except pot stayed with me.”
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With Warren Oates in my favourite Peter Fonda film, The Hired Hand (1971), which he also directed

That period was the height of Mr. Fonda’s fame, but he maintained a busy screen career over the next 50 years. He starred in television movies, including “The Passion of Ayn Rand” (1999) and “Back When We Were Grown-Ups” (2004). His films included “Futureworld” (1976), Steven Soderbergh’s crime drama “The Limey” (1999) and the 2007 remake of “3:10 to Yuma.” His final film appearance was in “The Last Full Measure,” a war drama, scheduled to be released in October.

And he had no interest in retirement. “Shoot, I can do this until I’m in my 80s at least,” he said in a 2008 interview with The San Luis Obispo Tribune. “What if I can’t walk? Well, Lionel Barrymore did it all in a wheelchair.”

He had two children with his first wife, Susan Brewer, whom he married in 1961. They were divorced in 1974, and the following year he married Portia Rebecca Crockett. They were divorced in 2011, the same year he married Margaret DeVogelaere.

In addition to his wife and his sister, his survivors include a daughter, the actress Bridget Fonda; a son, Justin Fonda; two stepsons, Thomas McGuane and Wills DeVogelaere; a stepdaughter, Lexi DeVogelaere; and one grandson.

Mr. Fonda appeared never to abandon his 1960s attitudes and openness, even as he prepared for the 50th anniversary this fall of “Easy Rider,” which will include a Radio City Music Hall screening. The “about” section of his current website includes this thought:

“I believe that one is only truly free when learning, and one can only learn when one is free.”

Friday 16 August 2019

Wednesday night's set lists at The Habit, York

Ron Elderly: -
Make You Feel My Love
Autumn Leaves
Always On My Mind
Just My Imagination*
Dedicated Follower Of Fashion*
You Better Move On*

Da Elderly: -
I Believe In You
You've Got A Friend*
Here Comes The Sun*
Only Love Can Break Your Heart*

The Elderly Brothers: -
All I Have To Do Is Dream
Walk Right Back
When Will I Be Loved

*second set

On a damp night in York the open mic opened with a very empty bar. We only had half a dozen or so players all night!! But as time rolled on, the place filled up nicely and for the last hour or so was packed. Due to the shortage of players, everyone got a second turn at the mic. Regular Deb (pictured) entertained us with some excellent self-penned tunes and a lovely cover of Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where The Time Goes. The Elderlys closed the open mic night. For another hour, joined by Deb, we sang and played on unplugged with several audience members joining in. What looked like a very quiet night turned into a most enjoyable one.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

JD Salinger - ebook editions on the way...

JD Salinger estate finally agrees to ebook editions
Author’s son explains that wish for accessibility has persuaded trustees to look past his father’s dislike of digital media

Sian Cain
The Guardian
Mon 12 Aug 2019

After years of refusing to allow publishers to digitise his works, the estate of JD Salinger has announced that the author’s famously small body of work will be published as ebooks for the first time.

Salinger’s son Matt said that the author had always valued accessibility, but preferred the experience of reading a physical book. The Catcher in the Rye author, who died in 2010 at the age of 91, also hated the internet; Matt told the New York Times that he once explained Facebook to his father, who had been horrified that people shared personal information online.

But Matt, who helps run the JD Salinger Literary Trust, said that a letter from a woman in Michigan in 2014, who had a “permanent right-hand disability” and struggled when reading physical books, made him reconsider how best to respect his father’s wishes.

“She took me personally to task in a very sharp but humorous way, and from the moment I read her letter I was committed to figuring out a way to let her read my father’s books, as she so wanted,” Matt said.
“I’ve spent my whole life protecting him and not talking about him,” Matt Salinger said of his famously secretive father. But that is changing as he works to keep “The Catcher in the Rye” and other J.D. Salinger works alive in the digital age.
Matt Salinger by Pascal Perich

“My father always did what he could to keep his books affordable and accessible to as many readers as possible, especially students, and he consistently refused to give up the cheaper paperback editions for more profitable trade paperbacks, even when Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Faulkner had done so, and when Little, Brown was urging him to.

“Making his books accessible to a new generation, many of whom seem to prefer reading on their electronic devices, and – specifically – people with health conditions or impairments that mean they’re unable to read physical books, is a very exciting development, and totally in keeping with his wishes even if he greatly preferred the full tactile experience of a physical book. Would he prefer and encourage readers to stick with the printed books? Absolutely. But not exclusively if it means some not being able to read him at all.”

However, there was no announcement of any official audiobooks. Salinger detested the idea of his books interpreted in any medium beyond the page and often rejected proposals for stage and film adaptations of his work.

Salinger is not the only author to have opposed ebooks. In a 2012 interview, children’s author Maurice Sendak said: “Fuck them, is what I say. I hate those ebooks. They cannot be the future. They may well be. I will be dead, I won’t give a shit.” And in 2009, Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury told the New York Times: “They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the internet.’”

In February, Matt revealed in the Guardian that decades of unpublished writing by his father will be released over the next 10 years, predicting that it will take five to seven years to finish assembling.

Four works by Salinger will be published as ebooks by Penguin in the UK and Little, Brown in the US on Tuesday: The Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey, For Esmé – With Love and Squalor and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour – An Introduction.