APRIL 1975: President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam resigned on April 21st and was succeeded by Vice President Tran Van Huong who only a week later named General Duong Van Minh as President; Minh, a few days later announced the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam to the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam.
My friend Daisy Belk-Lange was returning to London where she and her husband Harry had moved when Stanley Kubrick had hired Harry to art direct his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’d first met them both in Huntsville, Alabama when he was working at Redstone Arsenal with Wernher von Braun and the German physicist/engineer Hermann Oberth, who was one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.
Now Harry had forsaken rocketry and become a successful movie Production Designer for, among others, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Jim Henson’s The Great Muppet Caper and The Dark Crystal. He’d also been the Art Director for Moonraker and an astronautical consultant on Superman II. As you can imagine he also worked with George Lucas on The Empire Strikes Back.
Daisy’s family had a chain of department stores located primarily in the Southern US.
As to Vietnam, the New Yorkers I knew felt more exhausted from so much news, rather than celebratory. To take my mind off of it, I went to an evening of Kander and Ebb at the “Music Mansion” where John Mace was a vocal coach and teacher of a who’s who of Broadway and film personalities.
Channing Chase and David Columbia (DPC) were studying with him and performing; and I didn’t want to miss that!
I’d recently seen a French fantasy film called Les Visiteurs du Soir and I found myself wondering what it would be like if Kander and Ebb were to turn it into a musical.
It was set in the 15th century and involved Satan sending two of his cohorts (Alain Cuny and the legendarily radiant Arletty) to come to the world to seduce and corrupt two very innocent young lovers. However, the plan backfires as Satan’s envoys fall in love with their intended victims! Something about Channing made me think she might be effective as the young fiancée!
A few days later I went to a meeting at the Horticultural Society for a talk on growing plants inside under artificial lights — Gro-lites! Instead of the strangely colored Gro-lites available there was a speaker explaining and demonstrating the effective use of full spectrum Duro-lite fluorescent bulbs that had a color temperature that matched sunlight! Aside from encouraging plant growth it lent a fresh outdoor feeling to a room. I had a lot of houseplants and soon my apartment was furnished with Duro-lite full spectrum fluorescent bulbs on timers!
It was explained that aside from being beneficial for plants it created also a more healthy environment for humans as growth was aided by sunlight or in this case synthetic sunlight entering a person’s pituitary gland through the eyes’ pupils! The speaker even discouraged the wearing of sun glasses!
There was a very persuasive demonstration of laboratory rats being raised with different lighting conditions! The full spectrum specimens were extremely healthy and handsome whereas the poor rats raised under various other light sources had growth problems of varying degrees. The rats raised under purple light had no tails!
Another speaker, giving tips on how to propagate cuttings accumulated during neighborhood strolls, also parenthetically wondered why the h in the word thyme was uniquely silent in the U.S. — making thyme the same pronunciation as the word, time! (I had also wondered about that.)
Starting on the following Friday there was another JFK Assassination weekend with Mark Lane and some very impressive guests.
L. Fletcher Prouty was the Chief of Special Operations for The Joint Chiefs of Staff under John F. Kennedy and was considered to be a true insider.
He had also been involved with Clandestine Operations with the CIA. His detailed talks were persuasively mind-blowing. For example, he had been sent to Antarctica accompanying some VIPs to witness the activation of a nuclear power plant in November 10–28, 1963. When Kennedy was shot on November 22nd, Prouty said that they were informed immediately that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin. He thought that he’d been sent to Antarctica to get him far away because he’d understand how it was all happening and would spill the beans!
He was convinced that Oswald had been set up as how else would the authorities have immediately known the killer’s identity even as far away as Antarctica? He felt that the assassination had simply been a coup d’état by certain people within the military and intelligence communities!
Actually, as the years have passed, conjecture has continued and it appears that few people Interested in the JFK Assassination believe the Warren Commission!
My friend Susan Rush arrived in Manhattan visiting from her beautiful house in the hills of Berkeley overlooking the bay with a sensational view of San Francisco.
Her husband Ed, one of my brother’s best friends from when they were in grammar school, wrote the song, “PLASTIC JESUS.”
“I don’t care if it rains or freezes
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Rudin’ on the dashboard of my car,
Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nation
With my plastic Jesus I’ll go far.”
There are more lyrics — a lot more — and it was recorded by many performers. Paul Newman even sang it in the movie Cool Hand Luke (playing a banjo), and my brother, being an entertainment lawyer, got Ed residual payments!
Meanwhile, Katia and Daniel Aubry’s daughter Valerie was celebrating her sweet sixteen party. She was born while Daniel and I, still UCLA graduate students, were shooting a small independent movie and our star had a minor heart attack necessitating Daniel rushing him to a hospital. At the same time, Katia was giving birth to Valerie and I ran to her hospital. I was the first person to see her!
And after making my rounds seeing art directors, it was time for a break at Yellowfingers!
All in a week’s work! And play!