Monday, February 12, 2018

Timothee, Armie, Linda, and Link

Link Wray, 1978. Photo: Tom Hearn.
Timothee and Armie's Oscar Party!  Also — Linda Lavin ... "Altered Carbon" and Link Wray
by Denis Ferrara

“I’VE BEEN loosely attached to ‘Call Me By Your Name’ for four years.  It never seemed like it was coming together, and then it did.  Now I’ve spent two years promoting it.  So in many ways, it will be the project of my youth.  When I’m older, I’ll look at this film and remember what it was like not to be jaded, old and washed up.  I’ll look back and say, ‘Oh, when I was young!”

That’s Timothee Chalamet, musing on the future in W magazine’s movie issue (The one I received has Tom Hanks and Mary J. Blige embracing.)  

Oh, silly Timothee, you have YEARS to become jaded.  You are only 22.  And let’s not forget — I haven’t — that there’s a sequel to “Call Me By Your Name,” in the fast lane — the latter day lives of Elio and Oliver.  Anyway, in show biz, it’s smart to be a little jaded.  It’s called survival.
Timothée Chalamet in “Call Me by Your Name.” Credit Sony Pictures Classics
Right now, Chalamet’s career is buzzing along.  He is filming, for Netflix “The King.”  He’ll play the beleaguered Henry V, warring with France and attempting to secure his crown.  According to Shakespeare, Henry had a dissolute youth.  But you know what a gossip The Bard was.  David Michod will direct.  He and Joel Edgerton wrote the script. I’m a sucker for this kind of history, so I can’t wait. (And I can’t say I’d object to seeing Timothee as Henry, behaving in a dissolute manner.  Acting!)
Also, something really cool on the Chalamet front.  The night before the Oscars, in Hollywood, Timothee, his co-star Armie Hammer, director Luca Guadagnino and other cast members of “Call Me By Your Name” will host a party, benefiting the Trevor Foundation. (This great organization gives crisis counseling to young at risk gay lesbian and transgender youth. The suicide rate among these youngsters is tragically high.)  The fundraising platform Omaze is sponsoring this. The Foundation for AIDS Monuments also benefits.
You can get in on this event — it’ll cost a bit, but you’ll be doing a good deed in a naughty world, travel to Hollywood, hang with two of the most attractive men in world, and likely dance like the 80’s never ended.  (Remember the movie was set in MTV-era 1983.)  Or, you can simply donate generously to this vital cause, and stay home with drinks and snacks, in your sweats, and throw things at the TV.  (My favorite kind of Oscar party.) 

For info go to
WAY back in the early 1990’s, when I could still endure travel, I was in Los Angeles for some grisly, gilded event.  I recall this trip for two reasons — although the actual event that drew me to the coast remains cloudy.  It was probably the Oscars or the Golden Globes or an AFI gala. Or Madonna.

Reason one; I almost got a tattoo.  I was with a friend — a girl, a press rep — who was determined to be marked.  We found a spot on Sunset Boulevard, and agreed that this was the place to do it, based solely on the mesmerizing blue eyes, and tantalizingly seductive voice of the tattoo artist.  She decided on something near the base of her spine — known then and now as a “tramp stamp.”  Along with his wonderful peepers and deep vocal persuasiveness, the tattoo guy was surprisingly liberal with shots of vodka.  My friend requested it for the pain.  I requested it for ... the vodka.  Soon enough I was woozily mulling a tattoo of my own, and would have done it had my pal not come out of her trance and remembered we were actually supposed to be working in about an hour.   Once away from Mr. “Just a little one on your shoulder” I was happy to have escaped unblemished.
Reason two; the next afternoon, grumpily hung-over, I stepped into an elevator at the Le Montrose Hotel in West Hollywood (small, discreet, stars often checked in after a “procedure.”) And there was Linda Lavin, very fresh and attractive.  I’m pretty shy, generally, believe it or not; we were in a small elevator, and felt I looked like I’d been doing exactly what I had been doing for most of the previous day — drinking in a tattoo parlor. 

Linda Lavin as Mama Rose. Photo: Martha Swope.
Still, emboldened by a throbbing headache, I blurted out, “Miss Lavin, you were just great in ‘Gypsy.’” (She had taken over for Tyne Daly during the 1990 revival.)   Lavin said, “Really?”  Just something about the way she said it, I wanted to hug her.  Frank Rich had given Lavin a particularly harsh review and I remember that she was held up very much in comparison to the great Ms. Daly, who had won a Tony for her performance.

I was sincere, however.  I’d loved her Mama Rose. But then I’ve loved every Rose I’ve seen, from Angela Lansbury to Patti LuPone. In a way, the show is performance proof — it’s not referred to as “the greatest musical of all time” for nuthin’.  But I recall Linda as vibrant and earthy. My little compliment was not going to erase Frank Rich’s opprobrium, but Lavin seemed genuinely and modestly pleased.

The elevator door opened, Miss Lavin gave me a dazzling smile and got out.  My headache had vanished.  I never had the opportunity meet her again, although of course I continued to admire her work, particularly in “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” in 2001 and “The Lyons” in 2011.

All this history is a very long intro to the news that Miss Lavin will don her chanteuse persona in May, making her debut at the esteemed Café Caryle.

Lavin, who has “had” cabaret in San Francisco and Manhattan (Birdland in 2006), has titled her show “My Second Farewell Concert.”  I’ll remind you all — and myself! — again when the month of May arrives.  I intend to see Linda Lavin at the Café Caryle, and I hope to get to tell her that she has the power to cure hangovers!
Linda Lavin. Photo: Kevin Alvey
I SO wanted to love — or at least like — the new Netflix sci-fi series, “Altered Carbon.”  Mostly because I have a big crush on Joel Kinnaman, who was so good in the abjectly despairing series “The Killing.” I like sci-fi when it not’s too sci-fi. “Altered Carbon” is excessive.  It’s based on a book, and I assume the best way to know what the hell is happening would be to read that book.  No chance of that, for me. 
Joel Kinnaman in “Altered Carbon.”
Basic plot — Kinnaman was a terrorist of some sort, maybe basically a good guy, in an already highly advanced future.  He was killed and brought back to life, assigned to solve a crime (250 years have passed but he doesn’t seem too unfamiliar with what’s up.)  We don’t know where he is — on Earth?  How did civilization progress to this point?  And we can’t understand almost anything he says, not just because the dialogue refers to things we have no knowledge of, but both he and the female lead, mumble and swallow their dialogue.  (She is especially frustrating as she utters her lines with a thick Latin accent.)  Oh, and there’s some weird semi-alien new language, that requires subtitles.  More confusion! 
“Altered Carbon” looks great for about ten minutes — lots of dazzlingly colorful special effects and digital miracles.  But this palls quickly. One longs for a simple unadorned scene.  Still, I only got through one episode.  I won’t quit — I’ve seen worse — and maybe it’ll get better or I’ll sink into it.

I’m still a big Kinnaman fan.  He has a lot going for him.  In “Altered Carbon,” he may have too much going for — and around — him.  He’s sexy as hell and his laconic style might be better suited for westerns or straight-up 21st century thrillers/action flicks.  Or variations on the moody, druggie, off-center detective he played so compellingly in “The Killing.” 

I am going to keep at this one.  I hate giving up. 
END RANT: “Most of you reading this are probably already aware that Link Wray — godfather of the power chord, progenitor of distorted rock and roll guitar, he of “Rumble” and “Ace Of Spades” fame — was denied entry to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame yet again this year.”

That was the — tame! —beginning of a passionate defense of musician Link Wray, by singer/songwriter Deke Dickerson,  from the online site, which apparently covers many areas of culture — some well-known, others not so much.  To be honest, I’d never heard of Link Ray, but my smart friend Jonathan Marder — whom I sat with at Liz Smith’s memorial service — told me I just had to read Deke’s take-down of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Deke decimates nomine Jon Bon Jovi, and for good measure somehow throws Rosa Parks into his enraged mix.  It’s something.
Link Wray in Iowa, 1959.
So something in fact, that Jason Hanley, a big muckety-muck at the Rock and roll Hal of Fame immediately answered Deke, assuring him of no prejudice, offered to show him around the Hall the next time he was in Cleveland, and hoped that Link would soon be inducted. Deke responded, with the same fire:

“Unless somebody at the RRHOF steps up and says, "OK, this guy needs to be in here, and too many decades have passed for him to ever win the voting process, so we're going to make sure he gets in anyway, BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT HE SHOULD BE AND IT'S A CRIME THAT HE ISN'T" then he's never going to get in the Hall. I'm sorry for the flame in my language, but quite honestly, somebody needed to put a fire under your ass. Please do the right thing.”
Like I said, I would not know any of these people if I fell over them.  But I admire the passion of a fan.  (It’s like my thing with Marilyn or Liz Taylor.  People say, get over it, move on.  I won’t.  I continue to ignite blazes under backsides.)

Speaking of Jon Bon Jovi, I just saw a photo of him and fellow New Jersey homeboy Bruce Springsteen in Rolling Stone, together, still looking hot — the both of them.  Jon’s thick mane of hair is snow white, and Bruce, in this pic, has but a touch of gray in the front.  I’ll take a double order, thanks.
Contact Denis here.