Alexandra David-Neel was one of the first Western women to gain access to Tibet, which had been closed to almost all Western travelers up to that point. She is a towering figure in Eastern studies, largely for her book Magic and Mystery in Tibet, an account of the mystic hi-japes she witnessed in the country during her visit. From the Wiki:
Timothy Francis Leary was born on this day in 1920. Leary lived one of the most out-sized lives in all of human history and his story is the story of the latter half of the twentieth century. He was a brilliant psychologist, philosopher, author and of course, the man who turned on the world with LSD.
Was Leary a great man? He was too complicated to be called a great man, but he was a great revolutionary. Nixon called him the “most dangerous man in America” and Leary most certainly lived up to that description. It’s been said of historical figures, especially controversial ones, that it takes 100 years after their deaths before history can properly judge them. If you divorce Leary the man (a charming Irish con man, basically) from the vast cultural changes he and other hippie leaders ushered in and all of the doors they broke down for future generations to live freer, more fulfilled lives, you’ll get a better perspective on how important of a character he was. He is a pivotal figure of the greatest era of social change in history, a spiritual revolutionary in the most profound sense.
An online auction of rare memorabilia from the estate of comedian Lenny Bruce, whose outspoken views on sex, drugs and religion paved the way for generations of comics, is currently accepting bids.The auction, set up by Bruce’s daughter, Kitty Bruce, is to benefit Lenny’s House, a nonprofit recovery program for women who are dealing with drug and alcohol addictions. Items for sale include Bruce’s typewriter, several private family photographs, his bed frame and one of Bruce’s trademark black trench coats, often seen in his arrest photos. This is the first time items from the Bruce estate have ever been put up for auction.
Other celebrity supporters who have also donated items include Chris Rock, Yoko Ono, Hugh Hefner, Jonathan Winters, Elizabeth Taylor, Carl Reiner and Arianna Huffington.
Bidding on the auction will end Oct. 28, and that evening a benefit for Lenny’s House will be held at The Laugh Factory comedy club with performers Paul Mooney, Rick Overton, Paul Provenza, and Bobby Slayton, with Richard Belzer hosting. Tickets are $35 and $50.
Word of mouth “buzz” should prove strong for reunited comedy icons The Firesign Theatre’s four evening run at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater after Wednesday’s well-received opening night. Performing some of their “greatest hits” including the complete librettos for fan favorites “Don’t Crush That Dwarf Hand Me the Pliers” and their debut record 1968’s “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him,” the troupe were in fine form, winning two standing ovations from the wildly enthusiastic audience. The second act consisted of scenes from “Anythynge You Want To: Shakespeare’s Lost Comedie” which the group has been working on and retooling for several decades and an appearance by their most popular character, Nick Danger, “America’s Only Detective.”
I think even as a kid, I was able to identify Reed’s onscreen appeal. It’s the same element missing from so many of today’s career-focused actors: joy. Reed loved performing, loved having an audience. As might be expected from the man who once famously said, “My only regret is that I didn’t drink every pub dry and sleep with every woman on the planet,” Reed loved life, loved living it, and he clearly planned to squeeze from it every possible drop of pleasure, pinball wizards and haunted houses be damned.
Even “King of Cool” Steve McQueen proved no match for the Oliver Reed lifeforce. The story goes that McQueen flew to London to discuss a project. Putting business aside for a bit, the pair went on a marathon pub crawl which resulted in Reed vomiting on McQueen. The project was never consummated.
Fortunately, we have all those many great films to remember Reed by. But now, thanks to YouTube, we can revisit some of his more memorable small-screen performances. Reed was a frequent, frequently drunk, guest on television both here and in the UK.
In a testament to the saccharine and stage-managed nature of our current talk show landscape, witness below as Reed gropes feminist writer Kate Millett on British TV’s After Dark. Thanks to After Dark’s supplying of Reed with a “booze buffet” before and during taping, what starts out as a sober-minded discussion on militarism, masculine stereotypes, and violence to women, soon devolves into something else:
And that’s just the mesmerizing endpoint to an escalating, tour de force Reed workout you can watch in its entirety here: I, II, III. But even on the dog-and-pony circuit this side of the Atlantic, Reed was no more willing to dilute his behavior. His face-off with David Letterman follows below:
I have a short article in the Calendar section of today’s Los Angeles Times. It was clear to me when I read what my editor there, Dean Kuipers, added to my original draft that he, too, was a big Firesign Theater fan:
The Library of Congress called the Firesign Theatre “the Beatles of Comedy” when its 1970 album “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” was selected for the National Recording Registry.
An apt comparison, considering that, along with contemporaries Monty Python in Britain, the searing and psychedelic satirical troupe helped invent a literary brand of album comedy that lodged itself in the culture of college students across the country. The group paved the way for later arrivals such as Cheech & Chong, “Saturday Night Live” and Second City.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of its most popular characters, detective Nick Danger, Third Eye, the four-man troupe makes a rare local appearance next week, performing Oct. 14 to 17 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre with a new show, “Forward Into the Past.”
For what seems like days now I’ve been waiting for the official unveiling of Kobe’s true-to-scale statue of one of my childhood cartoon heroes, Gigantor (Tetsujin). Like many of the stories I gravitated to back then, it was about a boy and his subservient robot.
More memorable than the cartoon, though, was Gigantor’s American theme song, whose cover by The Dickies was celebrated both here and in the UK. You can watch their live version here, but in honor of the big guy’s unveiling, why not check out the original?
(Part 1 is here) In which Philip, Peter and Richard discuss the upcoming Firesign Theatre shows in Los Angeles (buy tickets here), the future, conspiracy theories and why everything you know is wrong, the health care debate and why the birthers are actually right about one thing: Obama IS an alien (from outer space. Peter’s got the proof).