Monday, November 23, 2015

An Obit for Adele Mailer

Adele Mailer just died...yes, the hot-blooded Latina that Norman Mailer stabbed in the stomach.

He said it was the ONE thing he regretted. He sort of forgot that he lobbied to let a lunatic named Jack Abbott out of jail. Jack instantly murdered an innocent waiter during some kind of psychotic murderous rage in a restaurant. He was promptly shipped back to jail.

But back to Adele.

Edited down a bit, the rest of the story:

On the verge of announcing his improbable candidacy for mayor of New York, Mailer decided to celebrate with a party at their apartment on the Upper West Side on Nov. 19, 1960. The guest list was unusual. Since the author thought of his natural constituency as the disenfranchised, he invited several strangers off the street.

At the same time, he instructed his friend George Plimpton to summon the city’s power elite, handing him a list that included the police and fire commissioners, the banker David Rockefeller and the Aga Khan. None of them came, but the party could still be described as glittering, with attendees that included Allen Ginsberg and the editor Norman Podhoretz. They got into a fight and had to be separated. Drunk and belligerent, Mailer, wearing a ruffled matador shirt, repeatedly tangled with his guests. Around 4 a.m., he confronted his wife in an incoherent rage.

In her memoir, Mrs. Mailer recalled having taunted her husband, bluntly deriding his manhood, and making an ugly reference to his mistress. Some guests recalled that the point of no return came when she told her husband that he was not as good as Dostoyevsky.

Mailer stabbed her in the stomach and back with a penknife.

Mailer was charged with felonious assault and committed to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric observation.

“In my opinion Norman Mailer is having an acute paranoid breakdown with delusional thinking and is both homicidal and suicidal,” Dr. Conrad Rosenberg, the doctor who first treated Mrs. Mailer, wrote in a medical report to the judge.

In court, Norman Mailer argued, “Naturally I have been a little upset, but I have never been out of my mental faculties. “It is important for me not to be sent to a mental hospital, because my work in the future will be considered that of a disordered mind,” he added. “My pride is that I can explore areas of experience that other men are afraid of. I insist I am sane.”

The judge disagreed. Mailer was released from Bellevue after 17 days and in November 1961, after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of third-degree assault, received a suspended sentence. The couple divorced the next year. Speaking to The New York Times Magazine in 1979, Mailer said, “A decade’s anger made me do it. After that, I felt better.” In a documentary shown on PBS in 2000 as part of the series “American Masters,” he took a more remorseful tone. “It changed everything in my life,” he said. “It is the one act I can look back on and regret for the rest of my life.”

Adele Carolyn Morales was born on June 12, 1925, in Brooklyn.After graduating from Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, Ms. Morales moved to a cold-water flat in Manhattan and earned a living making papier-mâché models for department store windows. She studied literature at the New School for Social Research and threw herself into downtown cultural life, having a romance with Jack Kerouac. Later she met Mailer: "He quoted a beautiful line from Scott Fitzgerald — I wish I could remember it exactly — something about adventure and getting up and going out into the night, and that did it.”

After the divorce, Mrs. Mailer, who had studied at the Actors Studio, appeared in several Off Broadway productions, including Mailer’s theatrical adaptation of his novel “The Deer Park” in 1967 and his 1970 film “Maidstone.” After their two daughters went to college, payments from her ex-husband were reduced sharply, and she lived precariously in a rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side. Norman Mailer died in 2007.

On a walk around her neighborhood in 2007 Mrs. Mailer said, “This is Norman Mailer’s wife. It’s riches to rags, honey.”

Since she survived the penknife attack, enjoyed her fame, and got not only money but occasional acting jobs through Norman, then it all worked out ok. Sort of. I must add that I always felt Mailer was a sympathetic figure...a true bull in a china shop. As Dick Cavett among others would attest, Mailer often made a fool of himself at the same time he was trying to make a valid point, or resurrect the Hemingway-esque persona of the writer. I met him once at his brownstone in Brooklyn, very briefly. It was, nevertheless, an astonishing moment, seeing a true icon of writing. I saw him from the top of the stairs and that made meeting him seem even more like a pilgrimage.

Another time I saw him laboring through Barnes & Noble, on double crutches, to give a lecture on "the spooky art," as he called creative writing.

Once I sent him a press photo of himself with Capote and someone else at a party, adding some kind of note about his inspiration. In return, he most unexpectedly sent me an 8x11 self-portrait he had drawn. And a fearsome self-appraisal it was.

So goodbye Adele, blood-colorful footnote that you are. That incident helped make Norman Mailer one of the most notorious writers of the age. Too bad there are almost none left. Who is there? Jolly fat George R.R. Martin? If you're talking about literary geniuis, "writer as celebrity" or "author as STAR," the last of the line, following his exact opposites, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, was Norman Mailer.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hoff Hassles Some Publicity

For one day, the peculiar "celebrity" known as David Hasselhoff told the world he'd be "the artist formerly known as David Hasselhoff."

He was calling himself DAVID HOFF.

The next day, it was revealed that this was "a joke."

A dumb publicity move.

What next David, showing off a "baby bump?" Or maybe "rocking a gown" like Caitlyn?

Well, we should've expected poor judgment from a guy whose eaten cheeseburgers off the floor in a drunken stupor, and spent years boiling over like a pot of beans on "America's Got Talent."

Isn't this also the guy who had a show where nobody watched him and only tuned in to stare at silicone? Or a talking car? I didn't watch either of those but dummies did; the ones who fell for his less than amusing hoax. Or was it a spoof.

Check your e-mails for Hasselhoff asking you to send all your money to Nigeria.

His gag made as much sense as the times on "America's Got Talent" when he'd see somebody juggle chainsaws and bawl, "This is what the show's all about!"

No wonder he got into some verbal fights with Piers Morgan. In fact it was pretty much David's bonehead opinions that encouraged Morgan to be coldly contrary. At some points it seemed like staged pro wrestling, with Hasselhoff getting red in the face and leaving the judges table in a rage.

David knew all along that his fame is now so limited, that any marquee showing "David Hoff" on it, would likely get a wrecking ball hitting it.

Maybe they laughed in Germany. "Germans love David Hasselhoff" Norm MacDonald loved to say.

He probably did contemplate just calling himself DAVID, like one-word stars Cher and Prince. Except the one word most associated with him now is "Who?"

One day he might throw a massive temper tantrum and be billed simply as "ID."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Top 10 Better New First Names for BLANKET (Michael Jackson's son)

Blanket Jackson changed his name to Bigi, because he didn't want kids to tease him about having a stupid name.

There are so many reasons to tease this kid, no matter what name.

He's also picked a confusing name. Did the kid who stole away half The Beatles catalog try to steal The BeeGees?

Or is Bigi pronounced more like Biggie, as in the old King Leonard cartoon foe, Biggie Rat? He does have an Itchy Brother.

Here are Ten alternatives for the Son of Freakenstein. It's still not too late, Blanket-Bigi.

10. Linus

9. Comforter

8. Yankit

7. Beach Blanket Bingo

6. Dad Beat It To Make Me

5. Guess-My-Gender

4. Realnose

3. Inheritor

2. Tamla

1. Bankit

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What David Letterman Should Do Next

I was feeling sad about David Letterman's retirement. I was reminded, "Unlike Johnny and Jay, he wanted to go."

True. Dave didn't cry during his farewell. He was more than aware that in a few years he'd seriously be out of his depth in talking to brainless starlets and dopey guys with stubble and a new movie.

After all, he was witnessing enough stupidity with the "dangerous" stunts of Bill Murray, ones that were becoming so exceedingly strained and predictable that even Murray seemed to need several belts of booze to bother.

Then there was the supposedly sophisticated, feminist comedian Tina Fey, awkwardly trying broad (yes, intentional term) comedy.

Now in her 40's, flinty of face, thickening in the wrong places, Fey did nobody a favor except goggle-eyed Dave.

Frankly, Dave did better years ago with Drew Barrymore.

How was he supposed to feign delight at someone who doesn't even have Julia Louis-Dreyfus's mild flare for visual humor?

More of this, and Dave could almost be accused of being a senile Fallon, cheering and clapping over any ridiculous and witless celebrity stunt.

So, a bit slowly, I came around to the notion that Dave's time on late night television had come. Yes, he was leaving things to Jimmies and a James...all of them gaga over worthless young TV stars, prone to nasty practical jokes or painfully obvious pre-recorded bits, and willing to play Password or Scrabble regardless of whether anyone else enjoys watching.

He also was figuring that his kid, age 11, could use Dad around the house for as long as possible. And at 68, naps become more frequent.

I should add that I've met the guy, I've been backstage in the green room several times with celeb friends, and I was lucky enough to attend some milestone broadcasts. He's been part of my life for a tremendous chunk of it.

So I don't want to see him disappear like Johnny did. My solution? Now, hear me out...


If you've noticed, Dave became a lot more political in his last few years. He brought on newscasters, authors and politicians to ask serious questions. If he sometimes prefaced these with "I'm just a dumb guy," he still was asking those questions.

He was expressing concern for the world his son Harry would inherit.

And that's why I think he might be right for a Sunday morning interview show that would center less on idiot celebrities, and more on politicians and newsmakers. He's demonstrated in talking to Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg, Brian Williams, Barack and Michelle Obama and others, that he can ask a tough question and a sincere one.

If Bill Maher can do a largely political show with only a monologue and a "New Rules" segment for real comedy, why can't Dave do one? Monologue, intelligent older guests, and a "Top Ten" list finale?

What's he doing now? Going to Montana? Guffawing over the race car he co-owns? Wandering around lower Manhattan looking like THIS:

After a few more months off, and realizing that boys do NOT like to have their fathers hanging around ALL THE TIME, Dave might just want to get back into the game. Once a week, Sunday morning, on the network that lost "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer to retirement? Why not? "Four More Years..." Dave. Retire at Bob's age. "Four more years..."

Unnecessary Censorship in Movie ads and DVD boxes

Whether you laugh at something sophisticated or stupid, the sound is the same.

And now for some things that are completely stupid...