In the Paul D Zimmerman-written and Martin Scorcese-directed 1983 film The King of Comedy, Robert De Niro brilliantly plays the character of celebrity autograph hound, aspiring stand-up comic, and extremely wannabe star Rupert Pupkin, who so desperately wants to achieve success in showbiz that he goes to such extremes as stalking his idol, a late night talk show host named Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis). He eventually ending up kidnapping Langford with assistance from an equally deranged celebrity hound, Masha, played to perfection by Sandra Bernhard.
If you have not already seen this movie, I recommend you do. It is available on DVD and should be found at each of the three Amoeba Music locations. I hadn't seen it in many years and just recently re-watched and enjoyed the film as much as the first time I'd seen it --although not in a feel-good movie kind of way. To me, watching The King of Comedy is like some horrible car accident that you don't want see but at the same time cannot pull yourself away from. In the film, De Niro is the car wreck as he so effortlessly plays the desperate and totally delusional Rupert Pupkin character to a tee. He has you cringing in your seat as you witness him go to such lengths to convince the world of what he imagines his life to be -- or wills it to become. Most engaging are the scenes when the obsessive Rupert indulges in elaborate fantasies where he imagines himself and the talk show host, just hanging as the best of colleagues and friends.
Al Chang, an Army cameraman who was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize has died. He chronicled the conflict in both Korea and Vietnam, witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (where he worked as a dockworker), and was even awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded in the line of duty in Vietnam, past away in Honolulu, he was 85. He is best known as the photographer who captured one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. That image shows a U.S. infantryman weeping in the arms of another soldier. Taken on Aug. 28, 1950, the photo shows Army Sgt. Bill Redifer comforting fellow soldier Vincent Nozzolillo, who has learned that his replacement has been killed, while in the background another corpsman sifts through casualty reports, looking strangely detached. The photograph was featured in Edward Steichen's "Family of Man" exhibit in 1955 at New York's Museum of Modern Art. This portrait of anguish, grief and comfort has become one of the most enduring images of the Korean War, often called the forgotten war.
Back in 1964 when the Beatles came to the US and Canada they caused hysteria among their fans, who included many girls and some of their grandmas. Subsequently, their boyfriends were often jealous and more in favor of Peter, Paul, & Mary, as is the case in this video clip at least, c/o Canada's CBC TV.
Exactly a week ago I was surfing this here Amoeba Music website and going back over all the clips in the recommended VIDEO GALLERY archive page when I found myself intently watching and listening to the ten minute interview (interspersed with some live in-store concert footage) at the Hollywood Amoeba Music with Tegan and Sara in which the Canadian sibling duo dropped some serious knowledge -- the sort of stuff that strikes a nerve and stays with you, because, in this case, it was so true and also because when I watched it last week it seemed to be so perfectly timely. The Tegan and Sara instore performance and the interview backstage in the Amoeba Hollywood Green Room took place on July 24th -- the same day that Lindsay Lohan got arrested with the "news" event being splashed across all news media outlets. In the Amoeba interview (you can see above), the smart young sisters from that neighboring nation to the north rightly commented about how "profoundly irritating" the news media's treatment of this non-story was. "It's shocking how Hollywood obsessed America is," they noted, especially in light of the real issues of the day that genuinely affect American society, including money & poverty, environmental issues, racism, sexism, & homophobia, and of course the war in Iraq.
I watched this interview last week, right when close to 5 million YouTube viewers were downloading and viewing Paris Hilton pouting on David Letterman and the same day that Britney Spears' kids being taken from her was the BIG news story. In the July Amoeba interview, Tegan and Sara made the strong point that it's easier to explain what Britney or Lindsay are up to than to explain the billions of dollars being wasted on an illegal war. So true. And it is the media, which goes along with the Bush administration's wishes, who is at fault for not showing the real images of war. In past US wars images of caskets with American flags draped over them were common sights in national news footage. But not now in this war, under this administration. And that is a key reason why Americans -- more than ever -- look to the silly antics of celebrities for distraction.