I was a little put off by the "Sing A-Long Sound of Music" shindig at the Music Box last week because ... well, because, uhmmm, I liked the movie. Lately, I've been thinking about my mother taking me and my brother to the movies in the 1960s. You can call it nostalgia or muted rage ( back then, Best Picture Oscar winners had heft, not like Gladiator ) , but to see those movies on a wide screen in a grand theater was a larger-than-life experience. I appreciate my mother more for taking us to State Street to shop on a Saturday ( at Wieboldt's, Carson's, or Field's ) —a single Black mother dragging two brats loaded with shopping bags—and the finale was a movie.
We always ended up at the Michael Todd or the Cinestage. Though my mother isn't a movie buff, she turned us on to some terrific films. For instance, a re-issue of Ben Hur, My Fair Lady, 2001, a re-issue of Around the World in Eighty Days, and The Bible—In The Beginning, which in the first 20 minutes left my 7-year-old eyes thoroughly eroticized. The sight of babe-a-liscious Michael Parks frolicking in the buff as Adam in the garden of Eden set my clock for the rest of my life. Call it blasphemy, but I got a woody anyway. And, yeah, we saw The Sound of Music. I made her take me five times.
To be fair, there isn't a whiff of reality in Sound ( Nazi's? They're referred to as "bad people" ) . However, the film version holds up because of excellent direction and editing ( director Robert Wise edited Citizen Kane ) , exceptional cinematography ( the Something Good sequence and the late-night graveyard escape are shimmering showcases of light and shadow ) , a knock-out score, and, uh, Julie Andrews ( sorry, Sukie ) . The idea of seeing a stage version with, say, Marie Osmond, appalls me. Though the movie is sappy and sweet, I still cry like a damn fool when the Von Trapps make their escape over that mountain at the finish.
Reality has a way of making the film's sweetness that much more special. The real Von Trapp family is currently in a longstanding feud over lawsuits. In their adulthood, those seven sweet kids are at each other's throats. Also, the mega-success of Sound almost did in Andrews, Wise, and Twentieth Century Fox.
After the Fox produced 1967's expensive bomb, Dr. Doolittle, the studio pinned its hopes on the Gertrude Lawrence biography, Star, with Andrews in the lead and Wise directing. It also starred a pre-Brady Bunch Robert Reed, who was actually kinda cute in an unsalted saltine way. It wasn't as bad as the reviews at the time said, but for nearly three and a half hours, the damn thing went nowhere. It's worth seeing for Donald Brook's costumes, some thoroughly gassed production numbers, and Daniel Massey's impersonation of his God-father, Noel Coward. It took 17 years for Julie Andrews' career to fully recover ( coming back in that "drag" comedy ) , but Robert Wise has never bounced back ( 1975's The Hindenburg was the last I've heard from him ) .
The thing that really smarts is Andrews' throat complications in the last four years. After nightly straining her voice while doing the stage adaptation of Victor/Victoria, she may never sing again. Andrews losing her voice and the death of Madeline Kahn were the two saddest things that closed the century for me ( fuck John Denver and that Kennedy pretty boy ) . To see Andrews on this year's Oscars, looking courageous and radiant, well past the age of 50, was an uplift.
Even more intriguing is that Twentieth Century Fox has produced another successful cult film from its archives. The first being The Rocky Horror Picture Show, fresh from celebrating its 25th anniversary. Like The Sound of Music, Rocky Horror is lauded for being bad and entertaining at the same time. The two films do work in a theater filled with cackling wise cracks shouted back at the screen, but they also work at home, in the dark, on a VCR. Essentially, they are good movies. I'm sure Andrews and Wise are laughing right alongside Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Meatloaf.
I didn't get to go see Evil Beaver at the Empty Bottle for the Noise Pop Festival, but I did listen to Lick It, their latest CD. Julie Andrews it isn't, no question. Laura Ann Beaver and Evie Evil have a knack for wailing grungy, un-ladylike rock that manages to be snarling, jagged, and melodious at the same time. My favorite was Burning' Beaver Blues, with its honky tonk sloe gin grind. It's a perfect horny /lonely late August blues.
On the subject of horny ... the other night, I met Police Officer Tony on Halsted, a very articulate man with a terrific sense of humor. It was great talking with one of Chicago's finest who happens to be gay, and I don't think I've met anyone like him. In our conversation, we talked about the problem of the 4 a.m. rush of post-bar noise and the influx of what looks like gangbangers in Boys Town ( they are gangbangers ) , but also about the changing seasons, the shifting of the stars, the fullness of the moon—specifically gay boys in heat. Namely, the explicit oral sex fiesta that took place at the ( busy ) intersection of Belmont and Halsted last week. Granted, it was in a car, but parked on a busy intersection where any and everybody ( did ) could see, and not just some head-bobbing. We're talking "rip those clothes off, man to man, better than video, cock in mouth, ferocious gluttony." And, the night I met Officer Tony, I saw two guys fucking in plain view on the front stairs of an apartment building—outside.
Yeah, summer is 10 seconds away, and I'd be the last to inhibit anyone's sexual fulfillment ( by the way, I am the last ) , but on the street? In plain view? I mean, nothing discreet, not sitting on someone's lap, but legs up, deep moaning, mojo set at 240, ramming the salami boinking on the street. Now, you know you've got to raise up on that. There are enough bookstores, alleys, bathhouses, and parks along Halsted to privately get yer ya-yas. The sidewalk sex shows not only make Boys Town look bad, but the gay community as a political cause and a people look bad. By all means, get it, but get it with discretion. And yeah, the police are trying to protect us, but let's not make it difficult for them.