Post Tagged with: "MICHAEL MORIARTY"

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: BLOOMSDAY 2013

June 17, 2013 10:52 am
Michael Moriarty’s Musings:  BLOOMSDAY 2013

I’ve been so busy writing for Enter Stage Right and The Washington Times  that I’d forgotten the onset of the increasingly sacred “Bloomsday” of James Joyce’s metaphysically liberating novel Ulysses! The Bloomsday that I consider the Joycean equivalent of all Christian Epiphanies!

That Epiphany being the most well-known, well-read day in the life of Joyce’s Leopold Bloom!

Thursday, June 16th, 1904!

So busy have I been with the political nightmare exploding down onto America and the by-now overloaded American consciousness, I overlooked this literary Epiphany, worshipped by not only Ireland but all the most literary, English and French-speaking capitals of the world, from Dublin to London to New York to Paris?!

In short, I am profoundly ashamed to admit: Bloomsday, this year, had escaped my attention. A dear and long-time Canadian friend at Ottawa Life Magazine reminded me of my almost sacred duty as a Moriarty to pay tribute to the man I consider Ireland’s only claim to a Shakespearean-sized greatness: James Joyce.

With that confession laid contritely before you, I will do my best to convey the increasingly historic and spiritual importance of a day which could, during this coming millennium, very well become a worldwide, symbolically national holiday for the entire literati of the world.

Though my hyperbole might sound mildly contemptuous, I not only have no cynicism to share with you about James Joyce, I find James Joyce virtually worthy of Catholic sainthood.

bloomsdayposterIt may take another thousand years for the Vatican to wake up but, oh well, I’m not the Pope nor a writer as great as James Joyce. Posterity will most certainly separate the chaff from the bran and the hypocrites from the likes of James Joyce.

A trip through a day in the life of Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904, compliments of James Joyce’s considerable genius, will prove to be a virtual life-changer for those unacquainted with Joyce’s vision of life.

Neither marriage, nor friendship, nor fathers and sons, nor sexual infidelity, nor the human sexual imagination, nor the conventional prejudices of Catholics and Jews, nor the viciously enduring spite within anti-Semitism, none of those facts of life will be experienced by you in quite the same way after you do yourself the priceless favor of reading James Joyce’s classically constructed, lyrically conceived and eternally resonant creation, Ulysses!

Is there a particularly contemporary relevance contained in Ulysses?

The villain in Ulysses, despite what some might think, is not really Molly Bloom’s lover “Blazes” Boylan.

It is human hypocrisy.

The work is so revolutionary that it still challenges most new readers, no matter how “liberated” they may think of themselves as being.

Ulysses demands that its readers find some place for themselves within the cast of characters which enliven a very Dublin Thursday on the 16th of June in the year 1904.

The safest place to read this, for myself at least, is out of the heart and soul of James Joyce himself and that would be the character of Stephen Dedalus.

Why Joyce’s allusion to a mythic legend, Daedalus,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daedalus 

is fairly clear if you realize how much literary “craft” and “artisanship” have gone into the making of James Joyce’s Ulysses. 

Leopold BloomDramatically, however, and mythologically, Stephen Dedalus actually embodies the role and meanings of Telemachus, son of the first embodiment of Ulysses, Odysseus of the Homeric classic The Odyssey.

Including the Roman Empire’s version of the, even by then, classic tale about the Fall of Troy, Virgil’s Aeneid. Joyce entitles his masterpiece Ulysses!

While writing this, I had the strange premonition that Joyce and his most well-known disciple, Samuel Beckett, might be laughing in enjoyment over an Irish-American actor who should experience Bloomsday as a literary obligation.

However, knowing that I’m actually more Norwegian than Irish because of my paternal grandmother, Ada Stone, and my mother, Eleanor Paul or, as it was originally spelled, Paulson, I’m immediately reminded of the fact that James Joyce

http://tinyurl.com/ljptsw6

adored the great Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen.

All Irish literary greats from Jonathan Swift to W. B. Yeats held what most of Ireland considered to be an obligatory pride in their Irish heritage. Joyce, on the other hand and while still an unrecognized young poet, found W. B. Yeats’ pride in his nation and his Irish heritage literally intolerable.

A young and utterly unknown writer, James Joyce, walks up to W. B. Yeats and requests Yeats’ opinion of his poems.

Yeats, by then a giant of not just Irish but all of English letters, invites Joyce to join him at a local pub. After reading Joyce’s poems and complimenting him on them, here is how Yeats himself describes Joyce’s side of the ensuing conversation: “Joyce…

‘…began to explain all his objections to everything I had ever done. Why had I concerned myself with politics, with folklore, with the historical setting of events, and so on? Above all why had I written about ideas, why had I condescended to make generalizations? These things were all the sign of the cooling of the iron, of the fading out of inspiration… his own little book owed nothing to anything but his own mind which was much nearer to God than folklore…”

Hmmm… “nearer to God than folklore.”

Ah, the prophetic self-estimations of genius!

Could Yeats possibly know at that moment how important a writer Joyce would eventually become?

Please read Yeats’ further explanation of where and how the writer is obliged to find his lifeline and to support a lifetime of creative inspiration. In light of Joyce’s contempt, it is really quite moving, this 37-year-old literary giant’s patience with the “upstart crowishness” of his inquisitor, James Joyce.

Yeats writes of this human crash and clash of genius:

“I felt exasperated and puzzled and walked up and down explaining the dependence of all good art on popular tradition. I said, ‘The artist, when he has lived a long time in his own mind with the example of other artists as deliberate as himself, gets into a world of ideas pure and simple. He becomes very highly individualized and at last by sheer pursuit of perfection becomes sterile. Folk imagination on the other hand creates endless images of which there are no ideas. Its stories ignore the moral law and every other law, they are successions of pictures like those seen by children in the fire. You find a type of these two kinds of invention, the invention of artists and the invention of the folk, in the civilization that comes from the town and in the forms of life that one finds in the country. In the towns, especially in big towns like London, you don’t find what old writers used to call the people; you find instead a few highly cultivated, highly perfected individual lives, and great multitudes who imitate and cheapen them. You find, too, great capacity for doing all kinds of things, but an impulse towards creation which grows gradually weaker and weaker. In the country, on the other hand, I mean in Ireland and in places where the towns have not been able to call the tune, you find people who are hardly individualized to any great extent. They live through the same round of duty and they think about life and death as their fathers have told them, but in speech, in the telling of tales, in all that has to do with the play of imagery, they have an endless abundance… The whole ugliness of the modern world has come from the towns and their way of thought, and to bring back beauty we must marry the spirit and nature again. When the idea which comes from individual life marries the image that is born from the people, one gets great art, the art of Homer, and of Shakespeare, and of Chartres Cathedral.’”

Joyce would have none of it.

Joyce VectorHere is how the meeting ended:

I looked at my young man. I thought, “I have conquered him now,” but I was quite wrong. He merely said, “Generalizations aren’t made by poets; they are made by men of letters. They are no use.”

Presently he got up to go and, as he was going out, he said, “I am twenty. How old are you?” I told him, but I am afraid I said I was a year younger than I am. He said with a sigh, “I thought as much. I have met you too late. You are too old.”

The volcanic certainties of genius locked in a 20-year-old soul of a James Joyce destined for exile.

As a 72-year-old exile from America, I can sympathize with Joyce’s final judgment of Yeats.

Why?

Patriotism has always, eventually, left its owner blind in at least one if not both eyes of the human soul.

Though Yeats’ Second Coming is utterly and divinely prophetic about the entire world’s situation in the Middle East:

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

In the end, nothing in world literature is or can be as redemptive and healing as the shamelessly naked but endlessly infinite honesty contained within James Joyce’s Ulysses.

As I suggested before, the Catholic Church, certainly by the end of this millennium, will have canonized James Joyce.

Why?

He will have redefined the entire meaning of Catholic priesthood.

Either that or the Catholic Church herself will not exist anymore.

logo_bloomsday_2013_v1

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: My Own Young Manhood Redux!

January 17, 2013 11:34 am
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: My Own Young Manhood Redux!

It has proven a lifetime impossibility for me to fall in love with Marilyn Monroe… until, quite by accident, I viewed My Week with Marilyn.

 

 

“Swimming into My Heart”… out of another actress’ genius

Michelle Williams’ brilliantly constructed embodiment of Ms. Monroe has me finally understanding this tragic, fairy-tale nightmare of American film stardom. Until now, the power of Marilyn Monroe, in light of her Siren-like hold on intellectuals such as Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer and John F. Kennedy, had escaped me.

Not anymore.

So many disparate memories of my own life were mysteriously recaptured and miraculously revived by this film’s exceptionally surprising look at an American legend.

In short?! My Week with Marilyn has become A Cinematic Reintroduction to My Younger Self!

As a mere high school graduate, younger than even Eddie Redmayne’s flawlessly portrayed Colin Clark, I had a romantic brush with an American, shamelessly generous female singing star.

However, my own true “first love” at the time was not, as might surprise you, the soul-rattling presence of a top-of-the-charts singer and her life-changing sweep through the backwoods of Detroit, Michigan. This indisputable singing star of that era and her own obsession with me could not, I regret to say, be requited.

Hard as I tried, I couldn’t return her love.

However, much to my own shame, I certainly didn’t turn down the perquisites of this one-sided, Singing Lover’s Leap. Labeling it a learning experience, I tumbled into this star’s bed with embarrassingly shivering stage fright.

Stage fright plays its own, vividly alive character in My Week with Marilyn. This haunting nightmare for all performers consumes Ms. Monroe with erratically and unpredictably shocking speed.

With a dual irony that seems to have possessed Ms. Monroe’s professional life and that of her infinitely seasoned, stage-acting co-star Laurence Olivier, an unexpected but profoundly alarming stage fright would later overcome Lord Olivier during his live performances as Othello.

London’s most astounding stage performance in a lifetime

The great actor even found himself unable to look the other actors in the eye. If he did and his fears were shown, he would entirely lose his formidable powers of concentration. He would, as they say, “go up” on his lines.

For a Maestro who could rhyme off 10 lines of iambic pentameter in one breath?! To not know his lines for even a millisecond?!

I walked off stage once in Houston, Texas, not because I didn’t know my lines. I was simply embarrassed by my own performance. My perfectionist’s obsession whipped me into a self-destructive decision… not unlike a few of Marilyn’s choices in life. The gossip about my sudden and thoroughly unjustified exit from the stage kept me out of work as an actor for quite some time.

Meanwhile, back in my 18th year as a confused young man, my own true “first love” was actually in New York at the time of my visit in Manhattan to see Ma Chanteuse.

My “first love”, as an exquisitely beautiful sister to a gorgeous New York City model, was also visiting New York. The model’s home in Manhattan proved to be of vitally romantic importance to my increasingly clumsy sideshow of misplaced affections.

How do I know all this?

My friend, whose idea it was for me to visit Miss Hit Parade, wanted to drive us to New York. With more than a mildly ulterior motive, he, unbeknownst to me, was having an affair with that New York model, my “first love’s” older sister. He’d “hooked up” with her when she visited Detroit. He was, as one might say, an earlier “developer.” Much “earlier” than myself.

I, with embarrassing obviousness, lagged far behind him. I had been, in terms of My Week with Marilyn, a forerunner to Eddie Redmayne’s perfectly captured, unconditionally bewitched surrender to the film goddess Marilyn Monroe.

Colin Clark paving the way for his own endearingly broken heart

Unfortunately, my true “first love” was, as well as I, also in New York visiting her sister on the other side of Manhattan. Meanwhile, I’m endeavoring to live up to a singing star’s misguided expectations of me in a disturbingly expensive apartment on the posh East Side of Fat City.

I am now, thanks to My Week with Marilyn… at 71 sporadically wild years of age… still stumblingly dazed with painfully adolescent memories. A youthful melancholy I had thought, several decades ago, to be forever behind me.

As the great Judi Dench’s character of the show, her Dame Sybil Thorndike, quietly comforts our young hero: “First love is such sweet despair, Colin.”

The Great Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike

As a sidebar, I’ve seen Ms. Dench on stage in London and upon the screen in countless films. At no time have I ever seen her falter in her work. I wish I could have said the same for myself. My undependability is what has made me not a “great” actor.

What are my conclusions from having watched a bit of my own life grace the screen with more than a few legends within the performing arts?

Beyond even my identification with My Week with Marilyn, I had my day on screen with Katharine Hepburn, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Sidney Poitier and Charlton Heston. I am not always so sure what made them and the likes of Marilyn Monroe giants of film history, leaving the rest of us simply actors.

I don’t know and I really don’t care.

The breathtakingly talented performances of Michelle Williams and Eddie Redmayne may, despite their infinite promise, never make them superstars. Such thankless neglect by their audiences and the industry may prove to be the most liberating corner of their lives and careers. Left without the pressure of worldwide expectations, they won’t be pigeonholed. They can explore and, with great panache, fall on their splendidly endowed heads.

The rule in theater is, “Nothing risked… and you’re no longer even alive in the arts, let alone awake to creation.”

Oh… before I forget… the last moment on screen for Ms. Williams’ Marilyn, when she’s singing That Old Black Magic?!

Please watch it here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifvCaTmsbWg

Michelle Williams takes a pause after the word “called”… turns her head into the half light… and closing her eyes… she then turns back into profile, and, after another, briefer pause, she sighs, “Love.”

Oh, how exquisitely perfect!!!!!

Not since I saw Bricktop at The Living Room nightclub in New York sing Miss Otis Regrets have I been so overwhelmed by the minimalist gestures of great cabaret singing. It also seems to be no mere coincidence that I was introduced to New York City’s The Living Room by my lovingly generous and generously loving singing star. With her I was privileged to hear Sylvia Syms sing Kurt Weill’s breathtaking lyric, My Ship. That night, this song put me in tears.

Rerunning Ms. Michelle Williams’ tribute to Marilyn Monroe with her rendition of That Old Black Magic, I’m awash in blissful tears – not only from that song’s ending but also by the tender vulnerability of Mr. Redmayne’s soul as he listens to his “first love” sing to him quite lovingly and personally.

If I had had that same experience when my mystery singing star, during the wrap party for her appearance in Detroit, sang You Made Me Love You… right to me… and no one else?! I would have been truly and gratefully awake!

That singing star was Jill Corey.

The Angel Who Introduced Me to the Courage of Love

God bless you, Jill!

I write that with immense pride and gratitude for having met her, let alone the honor of her having loved me for any length of time at all.

“First love is such sweet despair, Colin.”

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Meeting Evil’s Brilliance in Hollywood

January 11, 2013 12:00 am
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Meeting Evil’s Brilliance in Hollywood

My tribute to Meeting Evil is not a review; it’s a brief love song. Therefore I feel utterly free to ruin much of the suspense within this exceptionally intriguing suspense film. Not really a whodunit, Meeting Evil is both a what’sgoin’on and, at the same time, it is the wonderfully provocative offering of a former philosophy major at UCLA, Chris Fisher.

To begin with, Samuel Jackson’s performance in Meeting Evil matches any corner of Anthony Hopkins’ villainy as Hannibal Lecter.

Samuel L. Jackson as the movie villain who is most informed about the magic of film noir philosophizing and an American artist’s version of French, à la mode nihilism in a hauntingly unforgettable performance

In the end, Jackson triumphs over Anthony Hopkins’ turns as villain because the perfectly drawn evil of Jackson’s character is destroyed at the end of the film. We won’t have to see the first impression left by the Jackson character’s villainy ever destroyed by the horrid likes of a sequel such as that worst of cinematic stains upon Florence, Italy – the self-indulgently Anthony Hopkins’ faux Brechtian turn in Hannibal.

I actually can’t wait to see Meeting Evil again and to virtually wallow in this film’s existential lectures on the meaning and meaninglessness of basically bourgeois America, only to see those lectures turned on their head by grain-belt America’s relatively slow but implacably inevitable common sense.

Initially you hope that the rest of the relatively unknown cast can eventually catch up to Jackson’s unrelentingly spellbinding lunacy until you realize that the cast’s performances are equally rock solid. All the actors are, indeed, exactly what their characters demand them to be. All of it penetrating to a suitably disturbing and surprisingly memorable climax.

In the end, the brilliant panache of Jackson’s character is matched with eloquent simplicity by Leslie Bibb’s portrayal as the hero’s wife, Joanie Felton… the woman who may… or may not… be the figure who hired Jackson’s Mack the Knife in the first place.

The “bumbling hero”?!

American Film Noir’s Impressively Cockeyed Optimist

Luke Wilson plays a hero who’s… uh… just doin’ the best he can… under the circumstances. His is the performance that is impressively unimpressive. He just is John Felton. There’s no need to prove he’s anyone or anything else than a failing realtor who should be at the end of his rope… but isn’t.

The last film that impressed me in the same way as Meeting Evil was American Beauty starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. There’s a one-of-a-kind feel to both films and each has me wishing to stay informed about the writers and directors involved.

In the case of Meeting Evil, the writer/director is Chris Fisher.

Perhaps America’s most entertaining film translator of French, 20th Century narcissism: Chris Fisher

As a self-confessed, American narcissist, I welcome any repairs at all given to the disturbingly incomplete, one-year brush I had with the French Department at Dartmouth College.

Here, however, is a particularly pleasing bonus within the many riches of Meeting Evil: Peyton List.

Peyton List completes the perfect balance within this film

Our hero is utterly forgiven by this audience member for falling in lust with Ms. List. Her fearless and shameless sensuality bring a courage to the film that is only matched by her intellectual competition: Leslie Bibbs.

Mrs. Felton: a female brilliance not to be dallied with

As they say, what’s not to like with this film?!

Apparently the critics found a great deal not to like and that, I guarantee you, is a tribute to their critical limitations and not to any major shortcomings in Meeting Evil.

There are no major shortcomings to Meeting Evil!

It’s a film one must see twice to catch everything going on, as this dark drama with a masterly light touch flows out of the considerable talents within its author/director and its entire cast.

Samuel Jackson, as the unquestionably senior artist on the project, leads the entire ensemble with an indisputably philosophic gravitas. His is a seamless aria delivered within the thrilling eloquence of bottomless rage. His eyes alone speak such volumes of intellectual contempt they make Jean-Paul Sartre’s dismissals of middle-class humanity look merely dyspeptic. The only racial motif is Jackson’s vengeful version of Dixie.

That Luke Wilson’s hero picks up the whistled “payback” theme later?

This film is then beyond color. It becomes its own treatise on human justice.

Jackson on a rampage! Ah, the amoral beauty of eloquent fury! Dionysian in its ancient authenticity!

Meanwhile, the confused yet tireless hero of the tale, Mr. Felton, grows on us.

Something about his depth of inner clarity and resilience.

If you don’t wish to buy Meeting Evil… at least rent it!

You won’t regret the investment. You’ll then be able to run it twice to see what you might have missed.

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Mel Tormé

December 3, 2012 2:08 pm
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Mel Tormé

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,

Jack Frost nipping at your nose!

What Christmas memories does that opening lyric not inspire in you?!

These days, in my dotage, the words alone can bring me to tears.

My one, longest meeting with Mel Tormé will eventually be heard

http://tinyurl.com/ct5pxmx

here, on my YouTube album site for the 1985 CD Reaching Out… Before those spoken liner notes by Mel, in a conversation with moi – Mel’s idea, not mine, and one for which I will be eternally grateful – I must pay my all-too-belated tribute to one of America’s greatest singers, songwriters and clearly a prodigiously Renaissance American artist: Mel Tormé.

 

 AN ETERNALLY UNFORGETTABLE RENAISSANCE MAN

He was, unlike myself, a child prodigy. Began his entertainment career at four years of age, singing You’re Drivin’ Me Crazy with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra at the Blackhawk in Chicago, Mel’s hometown.

Why did Mel suggest we record his thoughts on my album instead of printing them?

I have no idea, except his singular gifts seemed to know many things that most of us aren’t aware of. He actually had more faith in my musical talents than I had at the time. I wish the world had corroborated his instincts about me. With few exceptions, I had been treated as the actor who occasionally plays a little cocktail piano.

How did Mel and I meet?

We were both working with the same bassist, Jay Leonhart, at the time and through Jay I requested a meeting with Mel Tormé which Mel graciously granted. In that first encounter, I handed him a CD of my most recent album, Reaching Out. I had enough faith in the meaning of the album as its composer, performer and musician to want Mel’s opinion.

He not only agreed to create the liner notes for Reaching Out, he thought they should be recorded as a conversation with me and put on the album as one of its cuts.

So, for that exceptional experience, I took the train from New York to Washington, D.C., to meet with Mel Tormé. There I set up my little portable recording machine, and voila!: the great Mel Tormé held forth about this album of my own compositions, arrangements and vocal performances… and… well… I was actually a bit shocked.

Is this album really that good?

It’s taken me almost 30 years to conclude that “Yes, Reaching Out is, as Mel finally says in his liner notes, “‘one hell of an album!’”

Lest you’re too young to know the life and musical meanings of Mel Tormé, here Mel is singing A Fine Romance

http://tinyurl.com/c5sx9cr

with Peggy Lee! What a perfectly matched pair of perfectionists. One chorus of A Fine Romance is not enough. You want more and more!

“Encore, Encore!!”

Neither artist can be rushed along by anything! They take the time that all genius is privileged to take.

So, if you’re truly a jazz fan, let’s move over to Mel Tormé unleashed

http://tinyurl.com/bsl8vm4

with not only a big band but with two of the greatest jazz accompanists in American musical history: Jay Leonhart on bass and Mike Renzi on piano. I am certain that Mel wrote the big band arrangement behind him. Why? His musical ideas are still, to this day, wonderfully unpredictable and distinctively Mel Tormé. Background ideas that only remind me of my own rebellious instincts as an arranger.

Then, of course, there’s Mel’s version of Toots ThielemansBluesette

http://tinyurl.com/curspt6

and the clear command Mel Tormé has of every note in that big band arrangement and his own, wonderfully controlled but simultaneously abandoned scat singing. Please listen and appreciate how Tormé is never hurried by the tempo; he seems to relax as tempos get faster and more seemingly impatient. Yet he’s always in the heart of that arrangement.

The triplets in his scat singing are forever thrilling.

As for the musicians behind him?!

They, under his leadership, give not only their best but their wittiest contributions!

Despite his technical command, Mel Tormé’s soul and voice always have the optimism and enthusiasm of a young boy.

 ONE GREAT MASTER OF THE ENTIRE ENGLISH-SPEAKING SONGBOOK

Here’s

http://tinyurl.com/d2jycgu

a Charles Aznavour classic, and Mel’s display of both his dramatic command and lyrical freedom. I have a sneaking suspicion that the luscious arrangement behind this rendition of Yesterday When I Was Young was created by Mike Renzi.

How do I know that?

The entrance of the flutes!

No arranger, including Nelson Riddle, pays such singular respect to an instrument’s sonorities as does Mike Renzi.

I’ve long been an admirer of Mike Renzi’s arrangements since I first heard his work on Lena Horne’s album, The Men in My Life.

Mel’s performance with a Renzi arrangement just flowers under the mysteries and harmonic richness of this perfect orchestration, including the accordion’s loaded resolution, powerfully heavy with Paris and lost youth and the delusions of lying innocence.

Please listen to Yesterday When I Was Young more than once. You only scratch the surface with a single hearing. If you’re as old as I am, 71 years of age, these recollections of how blind our souls can be during the “salad days” are excruciating! We’ve much blissful mourning to do with Tormé and Renzi. Only now, with my 20th listening, do I realize the last statement of the title is left unfinished. No longer young… the word “young” itself seems perhaps too painful for the singer to repeat… or this listener to hear… or said with such resignation that you can barely hear it.

What a divine collaboration!

Mel Tormé with Mike Renzi’s arrangements and orchestrations surrounding him?!

One drowns in the richness.

The last time I heard Peggy Lee live, Mike Renzi was her pianist. The experience in a small but exquisite night club of New York was unforgettable!

How does this lead back to the Great Mel Tormé?

Ecstasy!!

My own Memoir is not entitled

http://tinyurl.com/cevlsd6

An Ecstatic Loneliness for nothing.

What did Mel Tormé hear in my musical creations that he could immediately identify with? A philosophy the American mythologist Joseph Campbell eloquently espoused and which the likes of George Lucas, as a renowned filmmaker, adhered to:

The Pursuit of Bliss!

I will never be able to hear this rendition of Yesterday When I Was Young too many times. There are ecstatic secrets to be found within each listening.

“… and every conversation

concerned itself with me

and nothing else at all!”

These conclusions, I dare say, leave “tears upon our tongues.

The life and resonance of an artist such as Mel Tormé?!

Having met him and having received the importance of his divine generosity?!

No better way to end this article than with Mel and Judy Garland

http://tinyurl.com/8ymu3w

singing Mel’s Christmas Song. That Judy Garland gets one of Mel’s lyrics wrong, singing “rainbow” instead of “reindeer”… but, then again that’s Tormé and Garland for you! It’s sung on purpose! Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow!

Oh, and we mustn’t

http://tinyurl.com/c5wu76y

forget this!

That art-filled love affair between two great artists?!

How’s this for a trio of divinely gifted angels

http://tinyurl.com/d4w4hup

sharing ecstasies together?!

With the heaven of quintessentially American artists like this, why should the United States be having so many major problems?

That’s the subject of another song… and possibly another editorial… or another profoundly sad symphony.

Michael’s Musings: Fifteen String Quartets as a Work-in-Progress

November 2, 2012 9:31 am
Michael’s Musings:  Fifteen String Quartets as a Work-in-Progress

As I wrote in Ottawa Life Magazine some time ago,

http://www.ottawalife.com/2012/06/moriartys-musings-an-american-in-vancouver-and-the-seven-of-us/

a major part of this “Work-in-Progress” – my Easter String Quartet – has been composed and, from my point of view, thrillingly recorded.

Now the challenge is to present the Easter String Quartet on YouTube as powerfully as possible without taking the main concentration off the music itself.

This is a most gratifying new exercise for myself and my wife, Irene Mettler.

It is basically, after the very few visuals I selected from a universe of Easter graphics, an editing job.

My dearest friend of all time, Irene, is a visual perfectionist – her work accompanies selections from my 1985 album Reaching Out–

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_l3jeRtd5c&feature=plcp

and she will know exactly how to take the master shots – and the details within them that I have cropped – and mix them together.

The visual content and style of the videos will largely be Irene’s!

We are in no hurry.

The hoped-for “feast” will appear on YouTube… when it appears.

The actual “Work-in-Progress”, as this article’s title states, is Fifteen String Quartets!

All of them are inspired by some large or small corner of the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments.

 

Why 15?!

Dmitri Shostakovich!! He composed 15 brilliant string quartets from his undeniably Godless retreat in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin et al.

While Michael Tilson Thomas

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHCIJ_oLoHw

and his San Francisco Symphony brilliantly lay out a most telling exegesis of the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony, Wendy Lesser

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jun/22/shostakovich-quartets-wendy-lesser-review

examines all 15 of the composer’s string quartets in wonderfully impressive detail.

Ed Villiamy of London’s Guardian has this opening paragraph for his review of Ms. Lesser’s book:

People compelled – even infatuated – by the music of Dmitri Shostakovich tend to have reached this condition as a result of two experiences, and I am no different. First come the symphonies: on a life-changing night at the Proms in 1971 when the Leningrad Philharmonic under Arvid Jansons performed Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, I began to understand the composer’s ability to say two different things at the same time: the censors and party cronies at the premiere in 1937 heard a penitent return to classical style after a terrifying reprimand for experiments in modernism, while the audience heard Shostakovich’s searing requiem for the victims of Stalin’s great terror. This high-wire act would come to characterize Shostakovich’s public music, as he condemned himself to a life on the rack.

No… my predicament, as an American exile in Canada, is hardly the undeniable melodrama that Shostakovich had to endure while telling two stories at the very same time.

I more resemble the colorful expatriates of Paris in their pre-World War II heyday.

Why didn’t Shostakovich join Sergei Rachmaninoff

http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0611/0611hauntedheavenchap2.htm

and Igor Stravinsky

http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0612/0612hauntedheavenchp53.htm

as Russian expatriates?

Why didn’t Sergei Prokofiev do likewise?

Hmmm… as with all questions about Dmitri Shostakovich, nothing is at first what it appears to be.

Both Shostakovich and Prokofiev are captured in a play – Master Class – that appeared in Canada more than 20 years ago. Here, from 1989’s Theatre Research in Canada:

Master Class deals with a meeting in January 1948 between Joseph Stalin and Russia’s two leading composers, Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich. Also present is Andrei Zhdanov, to whom Stalin has given the task of overseeing Soviet cultural policy.  Although the action which (David) Pownall involves these historical characters in never actually took place, there was a real meeting and the events leading up to the clash depicted in the play are only too depressingly real. Through the meeting Pownall explores, among other themes, the role of the artist in society, and raises some disturbing questions about the relationship between art and politics. Post-war Soviet society is the backdrop, but the themes explored are universally relevant. They are particularly interesting for Canadians to reflect upon. No nation which has witnessed government attempts to change the traditional “arm’s length” policy towards arts funding can be complacent about the play’s content.

I have never seen nor read the play so I’m assuming that, at the very least, we have two terrified artists confronting an excruciatingly villainous dictator.

None of this Stalinist melodrama, as most of the human race and Judeo-Christian history have digested it, is fiction.

It is, in my frank opinion, profoundly Biblical.

Ergo, my string quartets, in contrast to Shostakovich’s predicament, will all be inspired by the St. James Bible.

While my Easter String Quartet, my first of this genre, has three movements hopefully capturing at least some of the drama within Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. The string quartet I have recently completed, my second, is entitled The David.

The first movement of my second string quartet is inspired by David’s relationship with Bathsheba.

The second movement will capture, I trust, the predicament King David found himself in when utterly imprisoned within the all powerful magnetism of Bathsheba, while seeking solace from God in his 23rd Psalm.

The third and final movement, I pray, will leave us in the most universally complex and Haunted Heaven that the contrite but sin-ridden David found himself trapped in.

Following this, my String Quartet # 3 is caught between the drama of the New Testament’s Mary Magdalene and the Old Testament’s Ahab and Jezebel.

Elijah the prophet versus Ahab and Jezebel creates a most astoundingly fertile and disturbingly dramatic Three-Cornered Hat.

As for the imposing body of work by Dmitri Shostakovich, famous string players and their quartets worldwide pay homage to this Russian giant’s undeniably singular achievement: an intensely personal autobiography of 15 musical “volumes” with multiple movements each.

As Mr. Vulliamy remarks:

Then come the quartets: 15 years later, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, I heard most of a cycle played by the Borodin Quartet, and felt the almost equally shattering impact of raw emotion in music.


Perhaps Shostakovich suspected that his desire for Dostoyevskian authenticity could only be inspired by Joseph Stalin. Stalin?! The man who had not only imprisoned the composer’s creative freedom but had threatened his life?!

In addition, it never hurts, as Pablo Picasso knows all too well,

http://www.ottawalife.com/2012/04/moriartys-musings-picassos-death/

to have the International Communist Party as a press agent.

All I have as an audience that might be interested in string quartets is the entire Judeo-Christian civilization.

I think it’s a fair contest.

All that’s missing in my oeuvre are 15 symphonies!!

At this point, I only hope to produce three, hopefully memorable symphonies, an opera and a cello concerto.

Then again, Mr. Vulliamy stresses Wendy Lesser’s distinctions between the “pure” quartets and the… uh… “impurity” of the larger works:

(Wendy) Lesser calls the quartets Shostakovich’s “pure” music, by way of contrast to the “impurity” of the symphonies and other work, as demanded by the composer’s navigation of a precarious route between creative honesty and survival in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Later in the book, she likewise divides Shostakovich’s life between that which is “true” in private and “false” in public.

The question keeps coming up: Why, under such horrors, didn’t Dmitri Shostakovich flee the Soviet Union?

Then again, why didn’t Sergei Prokofiev?

Here is one, profoundly intriguing point of view:

Most recent writing on the composer has dealt, at least subliminally, with fallout from the so-called “Shostakovich Question”, raised in a book entitled Testimony by Solomon Volkov, which purported to contain the composer’s inner thoughts, portraying him as a dissident in the Solzhenitsyn mould. Lesser dismisses Volkov early on; she establishes instead “the doubleness, the irony, whereby he says one thing… and at the same time lets his listeners know that the opposite is the case”. It’s an auspicious start.

Wendy Lesser’s book, on the other hand, takes no more important point of view than the content within Shostakovich’s 15 quartets.

“It (the 11th Quartet) is like the empty ruin of a once joyous house, a crumbling, disintegrating memorial to lost happiness”.

Mr. Vulliamy, a wonderfully enjoyable writer, continues on the Shostakovich Paradox:

The west has fixated on a version of Shostakovich: a haunted and haunting man, anxious, depressive, even suicidal. It pervades the atmosphere of every concert programme (sic) – they tend to be full of pictures of a dolorous, persecuted, almost martyred composer. Lesser does give a glimpse of the man who played poker, had a complex love life and adored football – he was a fan of Zenit Leningrad. But even as we arrive at the 2nd Quartet, we reach, Lesser says, “true Shostakovich territory . . . let’s call it death”.

Hmmm…

Vulliamy balances the scales with such seminal additions as this:

There is a photograph of Shostakovich I love, which shows him laughing, briefcase on his lap, between two friends at a match of his beloved Zenit. Another shows him in what appears to be a gentlemen’s club, lighting a cigarette from a candelabra beneath a picture of a scantily-clad woman. These hint at another Shostakovich.

Eventually our reviewer of the Lesser book comes to the most important question:

In this endless debate over why Shostakovich joined the Communist party, why he did not defect – over whether he was a party toady or an heroic dissident, tortured genius or wily survivor – it remains possible that none of the descriptions is true, or indeed that they all are. The political labels simply do not stick, nor, one suspects, were they intended by him to do so.

Mr. Vulliamy sums up the mystery of Dmitri Shostakovich this way:

Shostakovich’s life was one of haunted ambivalence and conflicting emotions and affiliations.

There was obviously, as with my life, more Heaven to the Haunted House of Dmitri Shostakovich than either his quartets or symphonies are willing to admit.

With the St. James Bible as my guide, and the joyous distance from America that I can rejoice in as a Canadian resident, my own 15 String Quartets and hoped-for larger works might not carry the density of profound pain one feels in Shostakovich. Had I stayed in America, my musical creations certainly would have greater despair in them. Even as a lapsed Catholic, I find “despair” of any kind the profoundest form of ingratitude.

The closest thing to this Judas’ Suicidal Syndrome, as I call it, and on a massive scale, is, for me at least, Communist atheism.

The Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church has more personal desperation to it than might, perhaps, be admitted by the Politburo.

It’s not all that important, however.

The Dmitri Shostakoviches of the world can all be found initially in the Bible.

That’s why I don’t think my own 15 String Quartets will be missing much.

 

 

 

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: The Kennedy Definition

October 24, 2012 10:25 am
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Ethel Kennedy participates in event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's swearing in as U.S. attorney general, at the Department of Justice on January 21, 2010 in Washington, DC. It was fifty years ago today that Robert F. Kennedy was sworn in as Attorney General, the day after his brother John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

I was in London when the news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination hit the front pages of the British press.

On November 22, 1963, I was only a few months away from what proved to be the best and worst year of my life: 1964.

Why the best?

I’ll save that for later, for a happy ending to this article.

Why the worst?

My sudden happiness in the Spring of 1964? It frightened a few seminally important Brits in my life at the time.

The faculty of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts successfully insulted my efforts as a young actor. Showered their contempt so completely on me that I’d become basically what they obviously wanted: a successfully humiliated, young, American acting student.

“Mist-ah Mo-ri-aahhh-ty! You sounded like Donald Wolfit on an off-night!!”

This compulsively acerbic instructor obviously didn’t like Donald Wolfit, even on a good night.

The oldest and international training maxim in the book: “Let’s break them down before we build them up again!”

I miraculously found a divine escape from the ridicule erupting out of these down-their-noses, British snobs: my elation, following a mystically liberating trip to Florence, Italy.

My reappearance after Spring Break, so alive and so vibrantly in love with God?!

It so disturbed them that they moved to have me committed.

I naïvely helped them by blithely signing myself into The Priory. Nothing could frighten me then!

Yeah, right.

There, at the very hospital that had delivered 40 to 50 electro-shock treatments to the legendary baritone, Paul Robeson,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Robeson

I spent the summer receiving 10 electro-shock treatments, driving me into a general but understandable distrust of life in general that subsequently lasted for a decade.

Why did I so frighten these Brits?

I was too elated over my discovery that, indeed, God not only exists but that The Almighty is the only Divine Intelligence that can possibly help anyone with anything of any importance.

Now that dreadful experience in England and the assassination of John F. Kennedy seem profoundly interconnected for me.

Why and how?

I was a born Rebel Without a Cause! Destined, as a young man, to be an overly educated James Dean because of a hypocritically Conservative, police surgeon father who sent me to a Jesuit High School and an Ivy League College.

Why was my father hypocritical?

He was a Conservative police surgeon who helped my mother have two abortions when abortions were illegal. This I learned of at 11 years of age.

Later, after JFK’s death,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_P._Kennedy,_Sr.

I was informed that JFK’s father, Joe Kennedy Sr., was an anti-Semitic, Nazi sympathizer.

Fathers and sons!

Because of the Catholic Church’s Concordat with Hitler and my personal experiences while filming the television mini-series Holocaust, I found “Joe,” the Nazi-loving parent of John, Robert and Teddy Kennedy, to be the same kind of inherited “heavy load” that I had faced with the loss of two of my siblings by abortions ordered by my own father.

Ireland’s belligerent love affair with Hitler, in defiance of England, and my father’s defiance of the Catholic Church’s stand against abortion, and the Catholic Church’s Concordat with Hitler?!

The unrelenting question of my youth: Who’s telling the truth around here?!?!

The Kennedy Family’s history was as much a defining mirror for myself as it is proving to be a defining moment for the entire identity of the United States.

Why have all these questions returned so insistently?

I recently saw Ethel, the documentary biography of Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert Kennedy.

While not a child of the Kennedy’s, Ethel Skakel Kennedy now seems to carry the heart of what the Kennedy family means to the world: despite all “outrageous fortunes,” all “whips and scorns of time”?!

Strength!

The Kennedy fortitude!!

And, in particular, Ethel Kennedy’s rock-like endurance.

The Mother Teresa-like depth of her Catholic faith!

Despite the once generous smile and 99 months of pregnancy – or perhaps because of those 11 births and 11, infinitely long bouts of motherhood – Ethel Kennedy now strikes me as the Greatest of American Mother Superiors.

No, I am, as a lapsed Catholic, not the least bit impressed by Catholic, clerical celibacy. I believe it provokes as many problems as it seems to cure.

Ethel Kennedy, were she not such a devoutly fierce but obedient Catholic, could very well create an order of married and singularly liberated nuns that would be the envy of all the Sisters of Mercy in the world, including the rock band of the same name.

Pat Kennedy Lawford with Robert Kennedy

Pat and Robert Kennedy

 

As an introduction to the Kennedy’s, I had the privilege of Pat Kennedy Lawford’s friendship for too short a time. She had become one of the major contributors to Potter’s Field, my theater company in New York City. I welcomed her advice and the warmth of her hospitality when we were fundraising.

At her home in the Sutton Place district of Manhattan, I felt quite overwhelmed by the Kennedy memorabilia adorning the walls, tables and desks of that apartment.

At a Pat Kennedy dinner party, when seated across from Norman Mailer, I broke all bounds of diplomacy. Mailer had this idea that I should play Rudolf Giuliani, a Republican I disliked and politically opposed at the time.

I’m still not a fan of Giuliani but he does play, if you can stand the hockey metaphor, a good “enforcer” or “goon” for the bruised and battered Republican Party.

I am now an increasingly avid fan of both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

However, with Norman Mailer’s suggestion that I play the Mayor of New York at the time, I threw my napkin at him and it hit the author rather forcibly.

He stared at me in mild shock and said, “That hurt!”

I said, “I intended it to.”

The rest of our meal together was eaten in silence.

My favorite Mayor of New York at the time was David Dinkins, the man that Giuliani, with the invaluable help of The New York Times, had ousted.

David Dinkins

Former Mayor of New York, David Dinkins

My wife and I had dined with Mayor David Dinkins at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, became more informed of his life and his political objectives and I became a proud supporter of his reelection. He was, is and I believe always will be one of the high points of American political history, both as a mayor and as a patriotic ex-Marine.

Where was Ethel Kennedy during all of this?

Raising her children.

Eleven children, out of which her daughter Kerry impresses me most. Not only because she’s wonderfully unselfconscious about her good looks but her remarks about the train trip to Washington carrying the dead body of her father were pure Kennedy strength… Ethel Kennedy strength!

I also, though I know not why, tear up blissfully every time Kerry says, “Mummy!”

“Unless you become like little children,” said our Lord, “you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven!”

Kerry shares with us the bittersweet elation she felt at the sight of those standing thousands, transfixed in mourning along the side of a train track. They had become human fountains of grief over what had, by then, grown into a mountain of tragedy. Her father had represented the best of America with every fiber of his existence, including his death.

A Trinity of Crucifixions: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Three of our best and greatest Americans as sacrificial lambs.

For Kerry, however, this pilgrimage must have been an awe-inspiring glimpse of her father’s power, his ability from the grave to make the entire United States of America his own impressively shattering love affair.

He was the third major victim of assassination and he was the youngest of them all.

Possibly the most promising of them all.

America in Mourning

America in Mourning

As this documentary’s camera captured the thousands of Americans lining the railroad track all the way from New York to Washington, paying homage to Robert Kennedy’s voyage to Arlington National Cemetery, those Americans of all races, creeds and colors revealed to Kerry Kennedy what her father had done!

The eternal mark he and his brother John had undeniably left upon the deepest corners of the American soul.

Meanwhile, as we cut back to Ethel Kennedy’s version of things, we are encountering with her and within her a Catholic faith in God and in Life and in America that leaves no room for sentimentality. It’s the faith we can only read about in the lives of George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, John and Robert Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King!

Rory Kennedy, the last of Robert Kennedy’s children to be born, reached the earth six months after her father’s death. All she really knows of Kennedy parenting is what her mother brought to her out of memories and memorabilia.

Rory Kennedy’s vocation as a documentary filmmaker seems divinely ordained. No one in the world aside from Rory Kennedy could tell such a soul-rattling tale from within a singularly tragic corner of American mythology: the Kennedy Family.

Robert Kennedy, following the death of his brother John, grew increasingly solemn and somewhat isolated from his family and friends. He immersed himself in literature, the ancient Greeks in particular. His public quote from Aeschylus defining the horrifying price of “wisdom” was, I’m sure, a central inspiration to his eventual decision to run for the Presidency.

When that decision led Robert Kennedy into the same, insane vortex that his brother John had been caught in, what facts within both their deaths defined not only the meaning of America but also the inevitable identity of America’s most mortal enemies?

That question, I hope, will be most fully answered in Part 8 of my series on The History of World War III,

http://www.newswithviews.com/Moriarty/michaelA.htm

to be published eventually in newswithviews.com

Suffice to say, the still contentious questions of Oswald’s Communist connections

http://jfkassassination.net/russ/m_j_russ/hscamar2.htm

to the assassination of JFK, plus the Islamic rage

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirhan_Sirhan

connected to the assassination of Robert Kennedy now spell the defining ingredients to the growing American nightmare we endure in this second decade of the Third Millennium.

Now what’s happened to that happiness I promised you at the end of the Kennedy Definition of America?!

Renaissance Italy!

Florence!!

Michelangelo of the Catholic Agony and the Ecstasy!!!

David by Michelangelo in the Piazza della Signoria, Firenze

The Godlike Humanity of Catholic Italy

I don’t call my autobiographical memoir of enterstageright.com An Ecstatic Loneliness for nothing.

It was there in the Piazza della Signoria of Florence, Italy, that I awoke to the infinite possibilities awaiting me in the fruits of not merely an American careerist’s life. No!

It was the bone-shaking power of creativity breathing within a Renaissance Spirit!

Yes, the naked perfection of it all.

Now, however, after the following four and a half decades of Life’s own agonies and ecstasies?

After watching the progress of arts and artists from Renaissance perfection through the romanticism and nihilism of French Impressionists and Parisian surrealists, Wagnerian imperialists and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Communists?

When finally making peace with the contrasts between

http://www.ottawalife.com/2012/10/michael-moriartys-musings-picasso-redux/

the staggering success of Pablo Picasso and the excruciating tragedies in the life of Vincent van Gogh?

Somehow Ethel Kennedy’s stoicism and her heroic acceptance of God’s will and not her own?

These demonic forces and yet divinely symmetrical resolutions within Life reinforce my belief, born passionately in Florence during the Spring of 1964, that life is Perfect!!

Life is the very Perfection our Lord promised us if, indeed, we “become like little children.”

Only then, said our Lord, can we, as God’s children, “enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

The dark realities of that Perfection, such as the deaths of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, inevitably demand a stonily resolute exterior if your Catholic commitments are serious.

Ethel Kennedy

Ethel Kennedy

No American face living today can more fully reflect American courage than the countenance of Ethel Kennedy.

With her determination, the prayer candles she lights could very well summon the angels.

If anyone or anything hears Ethel Kennedy’s prayers first, it’s God.

If The Almighty didn’t desert America and the Free World in World War II, He certainly won’t abandon his favorite children in World War III.

As the young David overcame Goliath and his whole army, the Ecstatic Loneliness of individual freedom and individual responsibility in America will defeat any collective lie that Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and the Progressively Marxist New World Order can throw at us.

What therefore do we see in the face of Ethel Kennedy?

An ecstatic loneliness.

There is no more blissful seriousness than that.

No greater promise of eternal life.

Moriarty’s Musings: The Romantic Idealist as Actor

October 18, 2012 12:16 pm
Moriarty’s Musings: The Romantic Idealist as Actor

Peter O’Toole!

The mad Irish genius of purely poetic obsessions whose lyricism lifted the ingredients of Lawrence of Arabia from a crassly Messianic sadomasochism into one of the grandest cris de coeur for lost souls.

British?

No, Never!

Irish!!

And never more powerfully inspiring than as Don Quixote!!!

Yes!!!!

Peter O’Toole as Cervantes’ greatest liberation!!!!!

Yet… only one star… a single *… that insulting award… is all that a rerun of Man of La
Mancha received in Canada’s Shaw television guide.

Hmm… oh, well… the British Commonwealth has always had some difficulty with Celtic
émigrés, even Irish-American ones.

The cast in the film of Man of La Mancha is so impressively international and so
obviously inspired by their wraith of a leading man, Maestro O’Toole, the poet with a
soul born of bottomless isolation, a voice torn from the throat of Dionysius himself and a
diction which places obsession with detail onto a whole new set of otherworldly heights.

I saw O’Toole live in London as Hamlet and it pained me to see him try and execute a
staging and choreography only Laurence Olivier could have triumphed in… and… of
course… the truth was… Olivier, as O’Toole’s director of Hamlet, had set those hurdles
for this abandoned Irish player. Peter O’Toole, a voraciously lyrical giant, should have
recited the entire play… all the roles… and all by himself… wandering… ad libido… round
a darkly haunted and echoing, empty stage.

Yes, periodic libations of one sort or another would, of course, prove to be precariously
inspirational… but… a select few in the audience would have experienced our divine
Man of the Theater’s utter and complete vision of the entire play, Ophelia and Gertrude
as well.

The romantic idealist… our very own, international Don Quixote, Peter O’Toole!

Peter O'Toole

My heart was crying, “Don’t drop us back into the prison of some hypocritical

Inquisition!!”

That was the point of the entire production, of course.

How a great artist, at his greatest height, can introduce us to an inner universe only he is
privileged to bask in and we are deprived of once its creator must come out from behind
the make-up…

Man of La Mancha?

One exquisite musical, I daresay; and one great actor of the past few centuries!!

It is so much nicer now to record great performances than to ever try and offer such
efforts.

Whatever heights are reached, of course, remind the actor of what drab and dreary
realities await him offstage.

Ergo, the performer’s eternal battle with the bottle.

What have I, as a proud member of Alcoholics Anonymous, to say on the subject of
acting and alcohol?

Romantic Idealism!

No “ism” in the world, from Communism to Buddhism, can so seduce you into drunken
abandon as The Romantic Pursuit of Ideals!

What dropped me off the wagon of familial lessons in the destructive power of the
grape and into my 10-year Odyssey and Voyage over the oceans of French, Italian and
California wines I admittedly drowned myself in?

My romantic ideals about life!

When you meet a real set of American villains and villainesses, the likes of William
Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno?

Well… if you’re a romantic idealist as I was… and still am… your hotel room at the time…
all of it… including the bedspread… points to that little refrigerator in the corner!

The one that houses the small splits of champagne!!

I knew at that moment in Washington, D.C., that if I started drinking after that
nightmare with the Clinton Administration I wouldn’t stop!

Possibly never stop drinking wine until I’m “food for worms”… or, in my future case,
food for fishes!!

That I’m alive and sober for eight years now is a miracle.

Today my agents in Rome received an inquiry about a film being shot in my very own
vicinity of Vancouver?!

I’m a much better drunk on film when I’m sober.

Not that this small offer of a role has anything to do with alcohol… but… I have a bit of
a “rep”.

A “rep” to live down… with whatever years I have left at 71.

In addition, I’m so happily, contentedly and soberly retired that any role, short of an
Academy Award-worthy challenge, may not interest me enough to go through the
whole ritual of being someone other than myself.

I’m so ecstatic about being Michael Moriarty now that… well… I’m surprised I ever
enjoyed being anyone else but me?!

Despite my sobriety, I’m still a romantic idealist.

Why is that?

My faith in life as “Perfect”.

http://enterstageright.com/archive/articles/1012/1012ecstaticchap9.htm

Within that link I’ve offered you is another link to a most inspiring evidence of why I stayed in the theater as long as I did.

watch?v=ey5e7buHfls

Despite the comic cynicism in Voltaire’s Candide, Leonard Bernstein’s pièce de
résistance, his cri de l’âme, his most quintessentially ecstatic four minutes of music,
Make Our Garden Grow, this triumphantly choral masterpiece unveils the wine-loving
and Dionysian genius of our very own Romantic Idealist, our Man of La Mancha, our Don
Quixote, the very, very great and passionately loving Leonard Bernstein.

Did I ever meet Leonard Bernstein?

Leonard Bernstein

At the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on an Easter Sunday.

He was bewildered by my reading of St. Francis of Assisi’s legendary prayer.

He questioned the pauses and breath marks.

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

 

I had no explanation aside from, “I simply felt it that way.”

Later on, Mr. Bernstein was handed a recording of my Symphony for String Orchestra by
our mutual agent and friend, the late and great Robby Lantz.

Robby Lantz

While passing on that information to me, Robby also had another revelation to share!

“Michael,” he said, with an impeccably Viennese English that always made him in my
eyes and ears, the real Claude Rains, “who is the last great starlet of Hollywood?”

I thought and thought and, although she seemed a bit too mature at the time, I
said, “Faye Dunaway?”

Robby said, “No.”

I waited.

“Robert Redford.”

I cannot see a photo of Robert Redford, let alone an entire film with him in it, that I
don’t recall that blazing exegesis of what was once described as acting’s “generous
narcissism.”

Star or starlet, Robby would know.

No, Robert Redford is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “Romantic Idealist.”

He’s a Hollywood Realist.

The greatest of Hollywood Realists until Clint Eastwood usurped that role.

Not a bad one-man show

Now that Eastwood publicly declared his disenchantment with the “empty chair” of
Barack Hussein Obama’s Presidency, proclaimed it ad libido to millions of Americans
watching the Republican National Convention, I have the feeling that, as they say, more
than a worm has turned.

“A New Page Has Turned” to reveal and reassert an old Truth.

“You can be charitable with other people’s money just so long.”

Sooner or later, even the most romantic of idealists wakes up.

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Stephen Harper, Canada’s Best Leader

October 17, 2012 11:20 am
Michael Moriarty’s Musings:  Stephen Harper, Canada’s Best Leader

Thank God I moved to Canada!

No, I had no idea in the late 1990s that Stephen Harper would eventually arrive in Ottawa to guide Canada out of the swamps of the sophisticated naiveté of Pierre Trudeau, the mixed messages of Brian Mulroney’s Conservatism and the warmed-over, second helping of Trudeau with Jean Chrétien.

Prime Minister Paul Martin, who preceded Harper, was almost a thing that never really happened. Almost as phantom-like as Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

“Just watch me,” declared Pierre Trudeau, and the world did indeed witness the Martial Embarrassment of Trudeau’s October Crisis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Crisis

That, of course, happened a few years before anyone in entertainment had even really heard of Michael Moriarty.

I was, however, hearing about Canada and Pierre Trudeau. The most legendary of French Canadian Prime Ministers soon symbolized all the “sophisticated” brilliance that… well… all sophisticated geniuses need in order to intimidate the rest of the world.

Pierre Trudeau had even frozen Marlon Brando in fear.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2010/03/23/Marlons-Mao-Part-Four–Mao—s-Apprentices—-Pierre-Trudeau-and-Barack-Obama

“That’s the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life,” said Brando. “He’s the most intimidating person I’ve ever met.”

Brando is famed for intimidating everyone else! Trudeau, therefore, had to be the unsurpassed essence of a fearsomely sophisticated bully.

At that time, however, I was an utterly brain-dead Liberal artiste! Trudeau, to my mind at the time, could do no wrong. That is until 1993 when I met Attorney General Janet Reno of the Bill Clinton administration and… well… the whole experience was akin to shock treatment or Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), which, during my youthful year in London, England, I was personally more than sufficiently acquainted with. It took me 10 years to recover from that experience.

A similar form of shell-shock followed the face-to-face meeting with Janet Reno: I plunged myself, body and soul, into seemingly endless vats of red wine, good and bad, until the memory of Reno and the reality of my subsequent expatriatism became a foggy blur within the accompanying stupor of a delayed but unavoidably inherited alcoholism. Not only was I no longer a Liberal, but I was soon to learn the horrifying implications of the word “Progressive.” In short, the Progressive Conservative Party of Brian Mulroney meant, in the crudest of terms, watching The Game being routinely dealt from the bottom of the deck.

Following that, Canada and Canadians thought they could reignite the Trudeau magic with Jean Chrétien… but… well… there was only one Pierre Trudeau as I hope there will prove to be only one Barack Hussein Obama.

I also pray that the Obama Nation in the White House will terminate the October Crisis in America 2012 by not being reelected in November!

This now brings us to the divinely welcome arrival of Stephen Harper.

I had been a fervent supporter and booster of Stockwell Day.

http://www.mmuuuhp.com/sday01.htm

I stayed quite loyal to him for quite some time.

http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0701heartday.htm

He retired last year, not seeking reelection.

Oh, well… as I’ve said, “Thank God for Stephen Harper!”

Why?

Here is Harper’s most courageous decision so far: closing Canadian embassies in Iran and expelling Iranian ambassadors from Canada.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120907/canada-closes-its-embassy-iran-and-will-expel-all-irani

His bravery was immediately rewarded by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/09/28/pol-stephen-harper-award-speech.html

At the award ceremony and aside from the mistake of overpraising Henry Kissinger,

http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0805/0805kissinger.htm

with whom I have more than a number of bones to pick, Stephen Harper presented the heart of his governing philosophy throughout this acceptance speech.

He begins with this:

“In a globe of conflicting

 and complex

 and competing interests,

 it is far too easy

to set aside the silent

 and subtle appeals

of the conscience.

“But, if we do,

the world is lost.”

 

Despite the low-key, Canadian style, Prime Minister Harper is more the poet than the politician.

However, he’s not one to live in a white tower. He’s on the ground wherever he sees threats to human rights.

As the classic Canadian, however, he knows how to help, when to help and when not to help. When to simply think things over before you act:

“You have made it your life work

 to take the horrors of your own experience

 and to use them

to remind us of something truly hopeful:

the freedom

 and human dignity

 of every person.”

Dr. Karl Menninger described sanity as “The Vital Balance.”

Here is Stephen Harper discussing The Vital Balance required for world leadership:

“We Canadians, for example,

are very conscious of our own sovereignty

 and we expect our governments

to make pragmatic decisions

 in Canada’s national interest.

“But

 we also want those governments

to be good world citizens,

to try to understand other points of view

 and to act in concert with our partners,

 for the wider interests

of humanity.”

 

Then he strikes to the heart of the contemporary matter:

 

When confronted with evil in the world,

we do take a stand;

we take strong,

principled positions in our dealings,

whether popular

or not.

 

Canada pulled its ambassadors out of Iran four days before the 9/11 attack upon the American Ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. It was neither a popular decision among Liberals nor a panicky action prompted by one incident. The orders obviously came from Stephen Harper’s intensely weighed estimate of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s insanely provocative and tyrannical reign in Iran.

 

“That is, of course, not the same thing, friends,

as trying to court every dictator

with a vote at the United Nations

 or just going along with every emerging international consensus,

 no matter

 how

 self-evidently

wrong-headed.”

Now here he comes to the heart of his message:

“The years through which we are now passing

seem to be times of extraordinary change,

 as if some great hand

is spinning the wheel of history.

Nations with a history of shared values,

like many of our friends in Europe,

 

(and south of Canada’s border)

 

are weighed down by debts

 they cannot seem to control,

by entitlements they can no longer afford,

and by sluggish economies

that show few signs of growth.

 

“Meanwhile,

new powers are rising,

whose commitments to our ideals

are often neither firm

nor clear.”

 

All of whom are involved in President Obama’s vaunted “Arab Spring.”

 

“What appears to some

a hopeful spring

for democracy

quickly becomes

an angry summer

of populism.

 

“Old resentments

seem to come back to life,

energizing groups who advocate terror

and dangerous,

rogue states

seek nuclear weapons.”

 

Only such wisdom in the Prime Minister could see the glaring contradiction-in-terms that we now live in:

 

“The world is probably a freer

and more democratic place today

when I look at it

 than at any point in my lifetime.

Yet, paradoxically,

rarely has the future

of the free and democratic world

 been less secure.”

 

Then Prime Minister Harper sounds the strongest alarm bell:

 

“Other countries, however,

constitute unambiguously

a clear and present danger

and thus demand

a very sober assessment.

 

“First among these

is the Government of Iran.”

 

Here is one of the few leaders of the world courageous enough to speak undiplomatically:

 

 

“I believe that the appeal of our conscience

 requires us to speak out

against what the Iranian regime stands for.

 

“Likewise,

it requires us to speak

in support of the country

that its hatred most immediately threatens,

the State of Israel.”

 

 

Finally comes a one-sentence paragraph that demands a repeated echo from the loftiest pulpits we can find on earth:

 

“And we are also mindful

of a lesson of history,

that those

who single out the Jewish people

as a target

of racial

and religious bigotry

will inevitably

be a threat

to all of us.”

 

Stephen Harper is Winston Churchill without Churchill’s flair for self-promotion.

Harper is Harper.

Harper is, in essence, the best of Canada.

To my mind, the best leader that Canada ever had to offer.

Mitt Romney, God willing he should be elected, will have a challenge ahead of him to remain even neck-and-neck with what is now the greatest leader of the Free World: Stephen Harper.

 

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Picasso Redux

October 11, 2012 11:18 am
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Picasso Redux

A “return” to Pablo Picasso?!

Why?

Initially John Richardson,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Richardson_%28art_historian%29

Picasso’s most thorough and insightfully entertaining biographer entered my awareness!

Why my interest in Richardson?

He belongs among those Brits I feel admiringly wary of

http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0912/0912ecstaticlonchap6.htm

if and when I meet them. It is simultaneously a thrill, a challenge and a possible embarrassment.

Here is Richardson holding forth to Charles Rose

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/8414

at the Ganz Collection on auction at Christie’s in New York. Richardson’s opening to this exploration of this record-breaking Christie’s sale, is a craftily coded introduction to “Why art and the history of art can be exciting!”

Can art be more than a self-indulgence of the wealthy? Can it be more than mere curiosity? Can it, despite its academic isolation, achieve a point beyond mere eroticism?

Can great art be downright pornographic?

“Victor Ganz had been courting this very peppy girl… “is how Richardson begins to tell a tale of sexual liberation within the Ganz couple, a private revolution aided and abetted by their art collection.

The tale Richardson tells goes by so fast, however, you wouldn’t initially think that this showing was jam-packed with wildly erotic promise.

Richardson exclaims: “Early in their (the Ganz’s) career, only Picasso’s!! They only bought Picasso’s!!!”

Then he declares, “A lot of promise of ‘pneumatic bliss!!’”

Sex and pneumatic drills… T. S. Eliot Code for fornication… and Joseph Campbell’s “follow your bliss”… and the still enticing mysteries of Paris, 20th Century artists and “mythologists” and… the magnetism of “pneumatic bliss”?!

If that doesn’t intrigue you, what possibly can?

What, asks Charley Rose and ourselves, makes Mr. and Mrs. Ganz different from other collectors?

Richardson describes run-of-the-mill art lovers as “sheep,” following the herd and its unadventurous shepherds.

“The Ganzes didn’t give a damn for that!” cries Richardson. “They just went out and did exactly what they wanted… they had no mentor! While Victor bought difficult Picasso’s… Victor’s brother… well, the two had the same taste in totally different ways!”

There’s an interesting claim that can’t be explored because, at this moment, sibling rivalry is hardly the heart of John Richardson’s story. This adventure at Christie’s is largely about Victor Ganz and his wife Sally.

When one is an exceptionally well-respected art historian such as John Richardson, the number of facts in a story tumble to the front of a historian’s consciousness and it is both thrilling and annoying for this expert guide to pick through a mountain of material for what is “salient” for a television audience.

What appears most urgent for John Richardson in this interview is how much more attractive and salable “great” art might be when linked to profoundly more passionately earthy experiences… such as lust.

Richardson is clearly not talking down to us. He is enjoying this erotic stroll down Picasso lane as much as he hopes we will.

If you know the codes involved, yes, The History of Art can, quite frequently, become pornographic in the mind’s eye of the viewer.

Women of Algiers and their potentially “pneumatic bliss” leads us into Picasso’s friendship with Matisse. What we hear about, however, is Pablo Picasso’s satire on Eugène Delacroix and his own experience with the Women of Algiers.

While my dismissive attitude toward Picasso began with this article,

http://www.ottawalife.com/?s=picasso%27s+death

a further exploration, because of John Richardson’s lifelong fascination with Picasso, has led me to this article and its

http://madamepickwickartblog.com/2010/02/picasso-women-in-waiting/

paragraph from, of all blog titles, Madame Pickwick:

Within his peers, Picasso not only held his own, but remained the great presence of contemporary art; not as a grand old patriarch to be revered by his descendants, but as an artist whose vigor and invention remained phenomenal. There were very few painters of any importance whose artistic genealogy did not include Picasso somewhere. The invention since Guernica has continued to be, to a large extent, as in the purely formal aspects of that great painting, a combination and recombination of the vocabulary that Picasso had developed by the mid 1930′s. The general course of Picasso’s art from Guernica until his death was a steady gentling, although any generality applied to Picasso is proved by an unusually large number of exceptions.

In my own abbreviation: Pablo Picasso, therefore, is such a phenomenally great presence within the artistic genealogy of contemporary art that few 20th Century painters – or artists in general for that matter – have not included Picasso somewhere!

Now that my acting (interpretive) days are over and my creative days as composer and writer are reborn, I am being brought to my knees before Pablo Picasso!

Not because of Picasso but of what the critics and historians keep telling me repeatedly about Picasso!!

The most persuasive of these for me is John Richardson.

Why?

Richardson’s Picasso is vibrantly alive, massively human, an obsessively flawed mountain of indisputably ruthless genius!!!

Whether you think of Picasso as the Manolete of painters or Shakespeare’s villainous Richard III, what child of the theater wouldn’t relish dipping into a life such as Picasso’s?!

With that question in mind, we return to Richardson’s exegesis on the famous portrait of Marie-Thérèse.

Marie-Thérèse Walter in Le Rêve

Phallic worship drawn in an indisputably contemporary yet most memorable of ways.

Further details are elaborated on by Mr. Rose and Mr. Richardson.

They are both having fun and so are we!

“Promise of pneumatic bliss!”

Now we come, not in an unrelated way, to the Women of Algiers!

“Picasso had fun with Delacroix!”

Delacroix?

Yes, the original idea for Picasso’s Women of Algiers came from Eugène Delacroix’s vision in 1834.

Apparently, Picasso’s series of paintings under the title Women of Algiers make fun not only of Delacroix but of Picasso himself.

Since there are many creations by Picasso under the theme Women of Algiers,

http://www.christies.com/features/pablo-picasso-les-femmes-dalger-version-l-1382-1.aspx

here is the most completely visual and historical link to these works. It clearly accompanied Christie’s auction of the Ganz collection.

Now that my first symphony for modern orchestra seems to be increasingly influenced by the shattering power of the life and the art of Vincent Van Gogh, there may… who knows… be a second symphony hidden somewhere in the psychic acrostic puzzles of Pablo Picasso. Three major periods of Picasso’s creativity might very well be captured in a classically structured three movements.

Meanwhile, my conclusions from Picasso’s “misogyny” and the artist’s burning fantasies about inheriting his own version of an Islamic harem?!

Everyman’s fantasy?

My response to that question?

“Guilty!!”

However, an artist such as Picasso can file that “guilt” in a drawer and under a label entitled “Research”!

I’m too old and unrecognized as a composer to possibly taste the freedoms of Pablo Picasso.

That is why a preceding giant of painting, Vincent Van Gogh, has me so mesmerized. He brings undying faith into the lives of all unrecognized artists!

However, you can only dip into the intensities of Vincent Van Gogh for brief periods. His color palate alone seems even larger and more aggressive than the separate instruments of an entire philharmonic orchestra.

Then again, one might always try to translate a few brief corners of the Van Gogh masterpieces into music.

Why not?

The color selections alone have yet to be surpassed by any artist, modern or classical.

Visual or dramatic.

Musically?

I just don’t think that Van Gogh has been explored musically enough.

His life? Yes!

His paintings?

No.

We shall see!!

As for Picasso?

He’ll have to wait on Vincent Van Gogh.

 

 

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: American Nostalgia

October 4, 2012 12:15 pm
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: American Nostalgia

My career was mainly as a theater and television actor in New York… and so… well… Hollywood has always remained another planet for me. Not even the apparently conservative blog Big Hollywood could make me feel at home in that outer space.

Then when no one in Manhattan supported my stand against Janet Reno’s unconstitutional behavior as Attorney General of the United States?!

I no longer felt at home in New York.

Or anywhere else in America for that matter.

So I left for Canada.

It has become comforting for me to now feel at home in British Columbia writing for enterstageright.com and ottawalife.com. I’m particularly grateful for the presence of an extraordinary, conservative Prime Minister in Ottawa, Stephen Harper.

I’m fully retired now; and have been free of filmmaking’s 4 am set-calls for about seven years. These recent times have been the luckiest and happiest of my life!

Doing what pleases me best: writing and composing and composing and writing.

I had always been performing and singing my own songs in New York. Here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUdqeMU_F94&feature=relmfu

are the beginnings of my 1985 CD Reaching Out. The remaining originals on that album will be posted weekly.

The times I spent at M & I Recording were the happiest and most fulfilling days and nights of my life in New York City!

Why hasn’t Reaching Out been released in all this while?

I lost all copies of it for over 10 years. My own alcoholism was the main reason for the loss and the delays. I don’t blame anyone but myself for that.

Better late than never, however.

Now, hearing sounds out of me that are almost 30 years old?!

After you’ve listened to this first cut of Reaching Out, try

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqvg7SoxUXQ&feature=endscreen&NR=1

another called Miles!

I much preferred making that album entirely on my own terms in New York at M & I Recording Studios than appearing in plays, television films or even the few Hollywood features I have performed in.

Perhaps I’m more of a creative artist than an interpretive one. That might explain why I never felt at home as an actor. That art form, however, and New York City certainly provided me and my family with stable homes and the opportunities to explore this blissfully disturbing nightmare called The World.

However, now I am glad to be retired in Canada, writing and composing, composing and writing.

As for my American Nostalgia?

I miss a few very special Americans in my life, such as the crew at M & I Recording. Most of those New York connections, however, I’ve either lost touch with or they have, as is politely said, “passed away”.

One in particular is Stella Adler, the great acting teacher.

No, I never studied with her.

However, she abundantly and with passionate sincerity – nothing about Stella Adler ever lacked passion, not even “Hello!” or “Goodbye!”– supported my acting talents when others were looking down on them.

Approval from her could, as Hamlet says, “o’erweigh a whole theater of others!”

Stella’s ecstasies!!

No one, not teacher or friend or lover, has ever printed on my soul such an indelibly eternal wake-up call as Stella Adler!!!!!

Yes, not even Katherine Hepburn. Indeed, you had to be flamingly awake around Ms. Hepburn! However, I never sensed the same joyful gratitude for life itself that Stella showered on all who were lucky enough to be in her presence. Ecstasy burned within Stella Adler!

I recall attending a production of Cyrano de Bergerac with Stella. She held my hand throughout the entire performance and, at moments, accompanied by her own reliving of this play she knew intimately, she would squeeze her grip on my hand in such a way that told me her own version of Cyrano would far surpass the one we saw laboring on stage.

When my wife Anne and I were entertaining Stella in our Westside apartment, Stella looked around at our living room and said, “I’ve been wondering what to buy you two for the holidays… what you might need? Now I see you need EV-ER-Y-THING!”

Her own apartment?

I can only describe her apartment as Manhattan’s Little Venice.

There is no more voluptuous or sexier corner of the Universe than Venice, Italy.

The messages she left on our phone recorder were quintessentially the most childlike of Stella’s utterances: “Michael… uh… hmmm…. this is Stella… please call me when you can… uh… hmmm… that is really…. all I have to say…. at this moment…”

Click.

She moved to Hollywood after that and, of course, we lost touch.

I’m conceiving of an explosively generous central character for my first opera. No, not a musical. An opera! A project that will take years to assemble, shape and complete… a “barn-burner” that would, in essence, combine the classical size of Stella Adler and belting power of Ethel Merman.

Why Ethel Merman? I never met that Empress of the Broadway musical.

I did, however, sit in awe before Ms. Merman’s appearance on Broadway as The Stage Mother of All Stage Mothers in Gypsy!

Rose’s Turn,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv1p1Vea0iY

the climactic aria from that homerun of a musical, Gypsy, had, in the hands, face and volcanic eruptions out of Ethel Merman, all the size, power, pitiful terror and terrifying pity of Medea at her most nakedly agonizing… or agonizingly naked.

One brief moment of self-pity and then On!! On!!!!

Rage!!

Searingly raw, jealous, envious, heart-piercing rage!!!!

“A generous narcissism” was how a nameless critic once described stardom.

No stars served up narcissism to her audiences more generously or effectively than Ethel Merman.

As for my last choice in this select trio of American theater geniuses – Tennessee Williams?

Writing about Tennessee Williams at an earlier point in my life, I thought of this line from King Lear:

“…And take upon us the mystery of things

As if we were God’s spies…”

 

A great poet such as Tennessee Williams was, indeed, one of God’s spies.

“Ten,” as many of us were privileged to know him, one of the greatest of American dramatic poets… was for me… at any rate… a tragic figure. A tragic victim of the very alcoholism that I myself have suffered from. I’m almost embarrassed to recall the Boy Scout lectures I used to give him about his drinking and about the alcoholism that plagued both of my parents and my sister and inevitably myself!

I, after “Ten’s” death and in my drunken 10 years bouncing in and out of bars across Canada?! I told all my “lecturers” on the subject of my suicidal drinking to “Shove it!”

“Ten,” however, was ever the gentleman and would simply smile patiently as he must have closed his ears to the advice I had so smugly been giving him.

You see, I hadn’t really started drinking until everyone in New York, as the head of the ACLU Ira Glasser had predicted, cut me from the pack to let me drift in Manhattan all alone. You can’t go up against the City Hall of Washington, D.C. and the likes of Attorney General Janet Reno and expect New York to help you maintain the same life or lifestyle after that.

“Ten” and I first met because of my appearance in the masterpiece of his younger days, The Glass Menagerie. He’d enjoyed my performance as The Gentleman Caller and wanted to tell me so personally. We had lunch and it was there I realized he was incurably alcoholic. Subsequently I couldn’t help, if the opportunity arose, but try to dissuade him from drinking.

Shortly after the making of The Glass Menagerie, I found myself rehearsing a Broadway play, building a character out of the most shamelessly homosexual creation that American theater had ever seen reach Broadway: Julian Weston in John Hopkins’ play Find Your Way Home.

I sent a copy of the play to Tennessee for him to read before he would attend the play. I thought he’d find it particularly amusing.

Instead, his note to me sounded rather shocked!

He ended his polite remarks with: “I just wish you had chosen a role that was, how shall I say, less… je cherche le juste mot!”

When “Ten” finally did see the performance, I could hear his unmistakable laughter throughout both acts. I knew he was enjoying himself immensely.

When he came back to see me after the show, he was effusive with praise for my performance and for the play itself.

I said, in rather shocked and slightly miffed tones, “Ten, you hated this play when you first read it!”

He replied with a laugh, “Michael, I have never been able to read plays!!”

Following Tennessee’s death in 1983, a friend of his told me of Tennessee’s encounter with a cluster of “rough trade” in Key West, Florida.  They’d beaten him senseless, which put him in the hospital.

While in the hospital, he was interviewed by the press.

When asked who these animals who beat him up were, Tennessee replied, “Oh, I think they were about four or five New York theater critics!”

When my father and stepmother came to New York, they enjoyed staying at the Hotel Elysee. I told them that Tennessee Williams, who stayed there for long periods of time, used to call it The Easy Lay!

It was the Hotel Elysee where Tennessee died.

He was alone.

He’d somehow swallowed the top of an eye drop bottle and choked to death on it. Possibly, while drunk, trying to open it with his teeth.

I’ve lost more friends than Tennessee Williams to alcohol. I had almost joined them. If it weren’t for Canada and Alcoholics Anonymous, I never would have lifted myself out of the swamp of self-delusion that drinking can swiftly put an alcoholic into.

Canada had given me the freedom to mourn the loss of my own country with alcohol; but then again Canada had also kept faith in me, hadn’t despaired on me and, with the miraculous help of AA, brought me back to life again!

Was Tennessee Williams the “tragic” figure I had earlier described him as?

No.

No, I don’t really think so.

He lived to my present age, 71.

He lived in the same way my other dear friend Stella Adler had lived: joyously, defiantly, profoundly, brilliantly and compassionately.

When one of the plays I was in, G.R. Point, wasn’t what the New York theater critics considered a “hit,” what did Tennessee do after seeing it? He sold an original copy, a holograph of one of his scripts, and gave the money to keep our production alive.

Indeed, Tennessee Williams, as “one of God’s spies,” brought poetry up, not only for his plays, but for his friends.

I trust that the souls of Stella, Ethel and “Ten” are ecstatically, vibrantly alive in Heaven and that Stella’s passion, Ms. Merman’s power and Tennessee’s laughter ring out for all the other angels to hear!!

As for my songs in life?

I may be through singing them but I’m hardly finished with composing them as entire arias.

This 7th to 8th decade of my life is proving to be the most blissful of all. I feel like I am at M & I Recording Studios 24 hours a day!!

Moriarty Musings: “Empire State Building shooting victim says NYPD fired ‘randomly’ into street”

August 27, 2012 9:12 am
Moriarty Musings: “Empire State Building shooting victim says NYPD fired ‘randomly’ into street”

As many of my readers at Ottawa Life Magazine may know, I lived for 30 years in Manhattan

Recent police violence in New York – two incidents in one month – has me worried.

Are the New York Police getting a “little nervous”?

Are they being badly trained?

Or simply taught to use “deadly force” first and ask questions later?

Are the calls for “gun laws” really going to make the police less “nervous” or “volatile”?

Have police officers in possession of firearms become as dangerous to the American population as civilian Americans in possession of firearms?

After this incident at the Empire State Building and that of the summary killing by police with 12 shots of a knife-wielding suspect in Times Square, it is becoming more and more a “troubling question.”

The previous report I’ve cited is from the United Kingdom.

Here is The New York Times report on the shooting at the Empire State Building: 

From about eight feet away, the officers confronted Mr. Jeffrey T. Johnson and when he pulled out his gun, they opened fire, shooting a total of 16 rounds. Mr. Johnson was killed and nine bystanders were wounded, perhaps all by police bullets.

“… perhaps all by police bullets.”

Beyond the eventual killing of the shooter, nine people in the vicinity of the confrontation were wounded: four women, five men.

Is this “peripheral damage” easily remedied by more police target practice?

Well… the two police officers involved admit to firing 16 rounds.

Nine innocent bystanders were hit.

Nine out of 16 rounds?

So, if you’re standing in the vicinity of a police shooting, there’s 9/16ths or 56.25% chance of getting shot or wounded.

Why is that?

Are the police trained to shoot at bystanders who may or may not be accomplices in the shooting?

56.25 % of hits on targets other than the shooter himself?

This does not sound entirely like an accident.

Are the New York Police trained to back off bystanders by firing at them?

After this incident, one might think so.

So far, none of the bystanders were mortally wounded. Most, as far as I can tell, were shot, and/or wounded by bullet fragments in the legs.

There must, and I assume, there will be an inquiry.

Let us assume that because of the traditionally “gun-carrying” America, the “right to bear arms” possessed by U.S. citizens, the police are nervous, frightened and more than willing to fire at not only a man pointing a firearm at them but also at surrounding civilians who are not pointing a firearm at them.

Then again, it may just be the case of two simple patrolmen not having enough practice on the police firing range.

Nine bystanders hit!

It is now corroborated by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly that all nine civilian victims were wounded by police gunfire. Possibly by “fragments of bullets.” 

According to CNN:

Three victims suffered gunshot wounds, while the remaining six were hit by fragments.

Not nine but three were wounded by direct hit from police firearms.

“Collateral damage” is how a police spokesman described the additional victims.

The Times Square Shooting

Earlier this month, a knife-wielding man was killed, shot 12 times by New York Police. 

The head of the New York Police Department has defended his force’s decision to shoot a knife-wielding man 12 times during broad daylight in Times Square, despite the man’s family claiming it was excessive. 

What is Commissioner Ray Kelly’s defense for shooting a knife-wielding man?

Officers followed the department’s procedural rules!

According to some reports, the police demanded that Darius Kennedy, 51, drop the knife and he refused.

However, members of the Kennedy family questioned police judgment:

Mr. Kennedy’s family questioned why the police had opened fire so many times.

Caroline Jones, his sister, said: “They could have Tasered him; they could have shot him in the leg just to bring him down instead of killing my brother like that. It wasn’t three rounds; it was like 12 to 15 rounds of bullets. I mean, they killed him like he was an animal.” 

Are these police “precautions”? Or are they a prelude of things to come in America?

Commissioner Kelly said that the officers were not carrying a stun gun or Taser, as they call it. As far as I know, Canadian police carry Tasers with them at all times.

Why are the New York Police armed with nothing but “deadly force”?

And why kill Mr. Kennedy, when they could have done what officers “randomly” did in the Empire State shootings, fire at his legs?

Why not just disable him if, as photos corroborate, all he had was a knife?

What do these questionably justified and increasingly radical police tactics and behaviors amount to? Two incidents in one month? Why are they possibly a sign of things to come?

Some Americans are expecting a Second Civil War if Barack Obama is reelected. 

Jon Voight is not the only one to be worried.

The summary executions of suspected American citizens in Barack Obama’s New York remind me of the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Certainly and without a doubt, all three of the dead, from Osama to Darius Kennedy to Jeffrey Johnson were guilty of crimes, from mass murder on 9/11 to murder at the Empire State Building to waving around a knife in Times Square.

However, do nine innocent bystanders have to be hospitalized by police action and the suspect murdered in cold blood when he could have been disabled by the very shots to the legs that felled at least three of the bystanders in the Empire State Building shootout?

Is the NYPD simply trigger-happy?

Or have they been instructed to escalate the freedoms of law enforcement to include summary and increasingly questionable executions? 

Could this be the beginning of an American Police State?

The certain provocateur of a Second American Civil War?

And state terrorism? A policy to instill increasing fear of not only the police but any government agency that bears arms, weapons of any kind and a growing carte blanche to kill?

I am so grateful that I had the courage, over 15 years ago, to leave my homes in both New York City and upper New York State and seek resident status in Canada. It wasn’t without a major emotional and physical cost as I surrendered to my alcoholism, figuring that I didn’t have much to live for anymore.

However, with the invaluable help of Alcoholics Anonymous and the surroundings of Canadian wisdom throughout my experience in Canada, I am now eight years sober and my life extended by 5½ years. Five years longer than my friends and physicians expected after my heart failure in January 2007.

As I ponder Life’s “Perfection”… and I do mean “Perfection”… as I look down from Canada on my former homeland, America, and watch it sinking into “the toilet”? 

These shootings by the New York Police Department, the killing of Darius Kennedy being a summary execution without benefit of trial or jury?

As a child of Law and Order, as both Michael Moriarty and Ben Stone, I simultaneously grieve for the increasingly insane plight of New Yorkers.

I ponder and, yes, “muse” on just how unnecessary was the killing of Darius Kennedy with 12 shots to his body.

There’s a Law and Order episode there.

However, Law and Order, Dick Wolf’s original series, is no longer on the air.

Is Law and Order dying in New York City?

“Reckless disregard for human life” and “manslaughter” (as far as I know) are still viable charges in the New York State and City of New York penal codes.

Two armed and uniformed men?

Versus a black man armed only with a knife?

Over 15 years ago, I was drunk with my fiancée in Halifax and we were being arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. During the arrest, I called one of the officers a “nigger.”

My fiancée and I spent one night in the drunk tank.

Weeks later, a very well-dressed and impressively sophisticated black man introduced himself to me in a Halifax bar. He said he’d met me once before while in uniform.

I said: “Oh, my God! You were the cop?! I’m so sorry, sir … I can’t tell you how ashamed I am to have said something like that to you!!”

He simply said: “It was not your best night, Mr. Moriarty.”

God bless Canada and Canadian law enforcement.

And may God still have His Place, His Wit and Wisdom in the hearts of what is left of the New York Police Department.

However, if the NYPD are preparing themselves for a Civil War to defend the policies of Barack Obama and the Obama Nation?

May God have mercy on all of America.

Furthermore, given the United Nations’ possible participation in a Second American Civil War and its support for Barack Obama and the Obama Nation?

May God have mercy on the entire human race.

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Tina Brown, the Goddess of Print

August 23, 2012 4:19 pm
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: Tina Brown, the Goddess of Print

Restlessness.

Tina Brown and Sarah Palin share that in common.

A kind of Saint Vitus Dance of the soul.

Never in one place or one job for too long.

However, no two women have hit more unforgettably American bull’s eyes than Brown and Palin.

Palin broke my heart, however, when she refused to enter the Republican primaries.

Brown, on the other hand, has me whistling Hit the Road, Jack as if it were the North American national anthem.

With this new first line emblazoned across the cover of Tina Brown’s Newsweek:

Hit the Road, Barack! 

This week's cover of Newsweek

I felt like it was a second V-E Day and V-J Day combined!!

“How’s that ‘Hope ‘n Change’ workin’ out for ya, Barack?” also comes to mind.

It’s one thing for writer Niall Ferguson to come up with Hit the Road, Barack. Quite another for Tina Brown, his editor-in-chief, to make it a front-page headline.

Not long ago in Ottawa Life Magazine, I sang my love song to Cicely Isabel Fairfield or, as she’s known worldwide, Rebecca West .

Now I wish to “muse” on the polarizing yet eternally fascinating British polymath, Tina Brown.

“Polly-math?!”

Polarizing polymath!

“How ‘bout you calm down, Michael, and join us, we poor and less inspired human beings?”

Okay… but I’m just so excited about the Inner Circle, even the fringes of The Beltway, coming up with “Hit the Road, Barack!”

No, despite the fact that I lived in Manhattan during the very heyday of Tina Brown’s stay with the religiously revered The New Yorker Magazine, despite my starring in New York City’s Law and Order, I still knew little about her. A beginning to her life story is available on Wikipedia but none of it interested me until her new assignment, Newsweek Magazine, called for the flip but hip ouster of the present President of the United States.

Hit the Road, Barack!

If that’s not American freedom of speech carried to metaphysically spiritual yet piercingly Vogue-ish heights, then she’s not Tina Brown and I’m not falling in love with her.

However, it’s possible that Tina Brown’s lips would curl at the mere mention of Sarah Palin. Her articulators in classically Brit fashion would wrap themselves carnivorously around the vowels and consonants:

“Sssssssaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrahhhhh

Paayyyyyyyyyllllllinnnnnn?!?!?!”

“Sssssssaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrahhhhh

Paayyyyyyyyyllllllinnnnnn?!?!?!”

Perhaps even rolling her “rrrrrr’s”?!

Then in a quiet whisper, teeth gritted, “My name, Tina Brown, uttered within the same breath as that of

“Sssssssaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrahhhhh

Paayyyyyyyyyllllllinnnnnn?!?!?!”

Bette Davis as a blonde.

NO!

Tina Brown as the very first object of my adolescent obsessions: Gene Tierney as Laura.

Tina Brown

“She gave your very first kiss to you … “

The one you can never quite recall.

Now, at 71 years of age… and… I must confess… tears of age… it’s hard to recall what I had for lunch… but I do know how to abandon myself in prostrate gratitude before this Goddess of Print!

Rebecca West and Tina Brown!

Both of them locked in my imagination at the same time!!

And to eternity!!!!

No!

Not Sarah Palin!!

She lost my love in the primaries.

It was worse than being abandoned at the altar.

Yet who arrives with the cavalry of Newsweek to save the day?!

Tina Brown.

God willing, her command

Hit the Road, Barack!

is Barack Hussein Obama’s ineluctable destiny!

Thank you, Ms. Brown.

You and Niall Ferguson have my eternal gratitude.

You’ve possibly made my coming decade… as the Earth herself whistles.

Hit the Road, Barack!

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: My Haunted and Haunting Goddess

August 20, 2012 4:00 pm
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: My Haunted and Haunting Goddess

I met a woman the other day.

Through her writing.

Her famous name is no longer how I think of her.

Her real name is Cicely.

No, not Cicely Tyson.

I actually met Ms. Tyson on a movie set… and neither of us really enjoyed the experience.

No.

Cicely Isabel Fairfield. 

Here’s a photo of her.

 Lovely, eh?

Her eyes? Always searching!

All her life!

Searching, searching …

Hunting you down with her questions.

She even hunted God down … though, I assume, with a smile on her face and His.

Finally the press began to hunt her down.

Can’t say I blame them.

The hat they’ve adorned her with, that Grecian warrior’s helmet, the pencil poised above her ear?

Yes, the truth is: She hunts you down.

Then, if you are at all awake?!

You haunt one another!

My Haunted and Haunting Goddess.

She lingers in the heavens as an entire galaxy!

Where she can become, upon her smallest whim, anyone she likes.

I kid you not!!! This next photo, believe it or not, is Cicely.

Cicely as Anna Magnani!

Her first dream in life?!

To be an actress!!!

I saw Anna Magnani once.

In a Manhattan night club – The Living Room.

Her escort happened to be talking in the middle of a singer’s performance.

Ms. Magnani whacked him.

Then she returned to listening.

Listening to a not very good singer.

That’s what Goddesses do!

They say, despite your objections: “Attention must be paid!”

This photo adorns the compendium of words she penned.

I’m in love.

Madly, passionately in love.

With a ghost and a Goddess!

She had her own long-distance love affair with Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky.

It is all here in her writing. 

If you don’t fall in love with her after reading her words, you’re most likely an earthling.

You can’t possibly be a burgeoning God or Goddess.

The divine things know each other instantly.

Noblesse oblige.

You are, of course, allowed a few oversights here and there.

You’re also human.

When you feel constrained as a human being, read some of Cicely Isabel Fairfield.

It shouldn’t take long for you to sprout invisible but divinely ecstatic wings.

If it does take too long or nothing happens at all?

I simply feel sorry for you.

It’s your loss.

Not mine.

Moriarty’s Musings: The Exquisitely Blissful Pains of Love and the 2012 Olympics

August 9, 2012 4:31 pm
Moriarty’s Musings: The Exquisitely Blissful Pains of Love and the 2012 Olympics

Amidst the thrilling 10,000-meter victory of a British and American, a freely united, two-man team that together had strategized the grueling half-hour race against the predominantly Ethiopian front-runners?!

These two men, one white, one black, inspired each other and themselves into a Silver and Gold medal, respectively?!

During all of that Herculean agony and post-race euphoria, I was requested by Ottawa Life Magazine to return to that publication as a writer.

Of course, the political boundaries are to be understood.

Ottawa Life Magazine, with that publication’s lifelong support of Liberalism and, particularly this year, the moderated but still Leftist dreams of Canada’s NDP, Ottawa Life doesn’t want to defeat its own best efforts with a wildly roguish, American, pro-Life Conservative and his “rants”.

I can sympathize. In my drinking days, TIME Magazine expressed its own impatience with my “freedom of screech.”

Sober now, I not only can, like a good Olympics fan, abide by the “stadium rules,” I can run the race with the same mutually shared ecstasy of these two extraordinary heroes of the 2012 Olympics.

The United States’ Galen Rupp and Britain’s Mo Farah

Since my last offering for Ottawa Life, Toto the Hero, has garnered a few appreciative acknowledgements, I’d like to stay with that film for an even deeper look.

Here again is this film’s hero in utter abandon over the divinely painful gems of love within a poem by Paul Verlaine.

Who was the object of Paul Verlaine’s “greatest love”?

Arthur Rimbaud.

Verlaine and Rimbaud

With that as perhaps a subtext to our hero’s own forbidden love for his… his sister?!

No!

Our hero is absolutely certain that he, as a baby, had been switched in the hospital and his sister, the woman he loves more than life itself, cannot possibly be his sister.

A fire in the nursery robbed him not only of his birthright but of his one true and almost unspeakably passionate obsession!

Here also we see the two lovers in their childhood, burdened with the, yes, absolutely exquisite pain of their forbidden love.

Like flowers in the Belgian breeze, those two sway together with the music.

Is it any wonder that a poem of Paul Verlaine can cause such agony in the heart of our tragically ancient hero?

Incest?

Ancient Greek Tragedy’s greatest theme.

Incest ravages the certain eternity of all the human audiences that will ever attend a performance of Oedipus Rex.

Does our Toto le Héros blind himself as Oedipus does?

A Young Laurence Olivier as Oedipus

No.

Our French Laurence Olivier

 

Michel Bouquet

His character triumphs in a profoundly greater way than Oedipus.

Should I spoil the surprise ending for you?

It is much too transcendent an achievement by director Jaco Van Dormael and his latter-day Oedipus, Michel Bouquet, to keep you in suspense for long. To not share it with you.

To begin with, the entire film is simultaneously an impressively informed walk through the history of great dramatic literature, interwoven with an intellectual’s own private relationship to a pair of resonantly evocative names.

The villain is called Alfred Kant.

With revenge as this film’s central motive, such a name is not pulled out of the brilliant creator’s hat lightly.

The hero, whose childhood idol has always been a comic book hero named Toto, is named Thomas Van Hazebrouk.

The “haze” around our hero’s fantasies will certainly “brook” no criticism from me! I adore Toto the Hero!!

What, however, will our Toto the Hero do when he finally confronts Alfred Kant, that man, that boy, that child, that infant… that villain whose lavishly spoiled existence as a holder of wealth and eventually political power could have been our own favorite hero’s lifelong triumph?!

Othello himself could not have experienced a greater jealousy than that of our Toto!

Here is where I must beg you to pause and reflect upon your own jealousies in life.

I only make that request because of the eventual self-loathing that always accompanies an increasingly insane jealousy.

It is that simultaneous self-loathing within our hero and his lost dreams that, how shall I say, “loads the gun.”

In other words, and in a phrase I wish you to keep in mind till the end of this article, “Pain, of any sort, loads the gun.”

We, the audience, rather like that proverbial bullet in the chamber, are about to be exploded out of the barrel of this drama with a shocking sense of liberation.

While a bloodbath is what we are justly preparing ourselves for, there’s the underlying theme of Love, with its familial and forbidden shapes and forms, rumbling within this film’s momentum.

What will our Toto do?!

What did the greatest lover of all time do?

No, not Casanova who seems to have bedded all of Venice.

No, not even the man who lays down his life for his friends.

No!

The man who laid down his life for his mortal enemies.

He who died for the sins of those he had once hated!

Those he’d correctly labeled as hypocrites!!

Sounds insane, I know.

There is, however, a reward waiting.

Yes.

After hearing that Mr. Kant, the villain of this tale, is about to be murdered by his deadliest enemies, those waiting just outside the door of his home?!

What does our hero do?

He orders Kant to leave and undergoes the price of that assault himself.

Yes.

Toto dies for the sins of his lifelong nemesis, Alfred Kant.

A set of mysterious hands wash Toto’s body before he’s cremated.

Ultimately we, the audience, are lifted up in a plane, high above the Belgian countryside and Toto’s ashes?

Toto’s ashes are poured out of the plane and onto the rolling countryside below.

What we hear, however, and for the first time?

Toto the Hero’s laughter!

Michel Bouquet’s laughter!!

In it, there’s a level of joy and liberation that was recently recaptured for me by America’s Galen Rupp and Great Britain’s Mo Farah of the Olympics’ 10,000-meter marathon.

This brings me to my own liberation: the realization that love and pain have now, for myself at any rate, become redundant.

Or, as I said in my first article on Toto the Hero, “All of Life is somehow perfect!”

The pain endured by Olympic athletes in the seemingly sadistic agonies of a 10,000- meter race or the nightmare of the sculls, those rowing buckets we’ve seen hurtling alongside a river bank, spectators cycling along with them?!

The revelations I’ve heard about how such athletes prepare themselves for the Pain, the Pain, the Pain!!

If you can, please see, as often as possible, the exhausted ecstasies of Mo Farah, first- time winner of the Olympics’ 10,000-meter marathon.

All that pain was for a chance at the heavenly ecstasies of triumph!

Triumph’s ever-accompanying disbelief that indeed it happened.

Mo Farah

I won!

I won!

I won!

I can’t believe I won!!

Without all that pain, the prize of bliss would be virtually impossible to feel.

Why?

Your love would never have been tested!!!

Love and pain?

They’re inextricably wedded.

What is a great life but love and pain, pain and love?

When you realize that, then you know why I can declare, without the slightest hesitation, that not only is Life Love itself and that Love is Life!

Because of the implacable marriage of Love and Pain, Life is Perfect!!

(Long pause)

You don’t agree?

I’m 71 years of age.

Perhaps it takes that long for some of us to understand.

I’m in no hurry.

Not any longer.

Michael Moriarty’s Farewell Column: TOTO THE HERO

July 31, 2012 8:40 am
Michael Moriarty’s Farewell Column: TOTO THE HERO

Here is a Paul Verlaine poem, exquisitely read by the great Michel Bouquet, leading actor in this unforgettably, indelibly eloquent 1991 film Toto the Hero.

Lit by the fire of lighter fluid, the words arise with such intimacy one realizes that the only tone for poetry of this romantic depth should be that intimacy with which Bouquet shares his muted joy in Paul Verlaine’s vision.

Looking exactly like a replica of Laurence Olivier in his later years, Michel Bouquet and his reveries in Toto the Hero are so painfully beautiful and exquisitely agonizing that… well… the necessities within a true work of art, its Truth and Beauty, are pouring out of this film quite mercilessly.

 

Michel Bouquet in Toto le Héros

During the reading, we see the young lovers as Bouquet imagines them. We also see the washing of what appears to be an old man’s body.

Is the body dead or just sleeping?

With such mysteries, we are led into an old man’s desire for revenge.

A bitter justice meted out to a childhood rival for the loss of everything this old man ever held dear.

And this? The joyful memories that may or may not have ever happened?

 

These two young sweethearts have been in love ever since they can remember!

All our old man knows is that he was robbed of all that heavenly bliss by his childhood rival.

 

The journey that we the audience are taken on during Toto the Hero is so all-encompassing, from birth to mystic death… and the musical score… from fairy-tale simplicity to the yearning threnodies of lost love and back to childhood dreams?!

The Truth and Beauty of such a life carries the shattering electricity that runs between our earliest memories and our old age. Please watch the entire trailer.

Sadly, the whole film is not available on YouTube. It has been taken off by “interested parties.”

Whatever price the DVD of this film may be, it is more than worth it.

Toto the Hero contains fleeting images that provoke massively profound longings, feelings that swirl through these scenes, telling a story that makes Love itself the singular absolute of Life.

With that mandate in mind, one… this one at least… little, big and increasingly aged, 71-year-old Michael Moriarty, abandons himself totally to a tale that begins with a boyhood daydream and ends with a bitter vengeance that suddenly, miraculously and mysteriously turns into a self-sacrificing liberation.

The ultimate act of Love for Life that, at least for the length of a post-performance ecstasy, can carry you on the winged heels of this thought: despite millennia of appearance and evidence to the contrary, all of Life is somehow perfect.

Moriarty’s Musings: The Naïve Genius of American “Fellow Travelers”

July 24, 2012 3:55 pm
Moriarty’s Musings: The Naïve Genius of American “Fellow Travelers”

Elia Kazan and William Wyler – about whom I have admiringly written – were both former Communist sympathizers.

Wyler was more sympathetic than Kazan, who testified against American Communists. However, Wyler, with his decidedly French credentials at birth, would have been more profoundly attracted to the Soviet Union if only because of – if you’ll forgive the expression – “French Connections.”

Kazan and Wyler were indisputably geniuses of film.

Even today, what genius has followed Wyler and Kazan? Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick, their bodies of work or their actual lives confirm an increasingly profound contempt for American democracy.

No, not all of these four geniuses I mentioned were card-carrying Communists… but their lives and opinions of America set them up for being what the former KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov describes as Communism’s “useful idiots.”

How can genius and idiocy be so closely connected?

Perfectionism!

These geniuses have shown within their own work that they were all, for the most part, perfectionists.

The dream of Marxist/Leninist disciples hangs upon an eventually “Perfect World.”

Hitler’s dreams rode upon his vision of an eventually perfect, Aryan human race.

It’s all “eventually,” of course, but the road to that “perfection” contains some undeniably vile and loathsome philosophies, one of which is Communism.

Proven repeatedly to have been the authors of multiple murders, executions and mass starvations, Communist leadership and the likes of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot treated everyone around them as nothing more than “useful idiots.”

Why are geniuses so drawn to the prescriptions of Marxist/Leninist tyrants?

Their inborn obsessions with perfection.

The belief that there must be not only a better way than American democracy but a perfect way.

Such “perfection” for perfectionists demands a “dictator” Can or should the entire human race be run like a Kazan/Wyler/Allen/Kubrick movie set?

I certainly hope and pray that never happens.

When Hitler, Stalin and Mao have done so?

Tens of millions of human beings were disposed of.

Why?

Other people, or les autres as the French Communist Jean-Paul Sartre described “l’enfer” or hell – “L’enfer, c’est les autres!” – they are, at best useful idiots or prime examples of disposable uselessness. Hell is other people, after all.

Film directors, like every other businessman, work under a budget and there’s just so much time… and if you’re looking for perfection, you need the very best people around you.

Why do some gifted actors do what they do for these geniuses?

Why did George C. Scott, as an American, multi-star General, give one of his worst, over-the-top performances in Dr. Strangelove?

It wasn’t funny, it was grotesque and Kubrick intended it to be grotesque.

Sterling Hayden’s purely cold insanity was far more effective.

Why?

It was far more convincing.

But George C. Scott’s lame-brained General didn’t have to be convincing.

Why?

George C. Scott as Stanley Kubrick’s “Useful Idiot”

Scott also became the “useful idiot” of Sterling Hayden’s and Dr. Strangelove’s mad leadership.

Can genius such as Stanley Kubrick’s and Peter Sellers’ talents become the very “useful idiots” that former KGB agent Bezmenov describes?

Of course, but in the Arts – the Performing Arts particularly – Genius trumps Truth.

“That’s Entertainment!”

Scott knew he was working for a movie-making genius.

Plus there is never enough time on a movie set to argue about interpretation when the director is a known genius.

“We geniuses must have the God-like nobility to expose the American democracy for what it really is!”

That’s pretty much the attitude of these “enlightened despots” that even Voltaire described during the 18th Century’s run-up to the French Revolution.

That also includes the popular majority of Hollywood and the American Eastern Seaboard, with or without genius.

Now that I have predicted an inevitable World War III, my message these days is that you cannot ride the fence when a world war or even a Second American Civil War is approaching.

If you try and ride the fence, split hairs and maintain an above-it-all attitude, then you truly are the grandest of “useful idiots,” those who will inevitably die in the cross-fire without a “cause” except their own “useful idiocy.”

Michael Moriarty’s Musings: THE LIVES OF OTHERS

July 23, 2012 4:00 pm
Michael Moriarty’s Musings: THE LIVES OF OTHERS

My beloved friend, Irene Mettler, has introduced me to a number of German-speaking filmmakers, one of which, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, made his film debut with what I assume is not only the first in-depth examination of Communist East Germany but also one of the best films and most painfully moving dramatizations of Communist tyranny I’ve ever seen: The Lives of Others.

My own, now decades-long relation to Germany and Austria, where Irene was born and raised, began with the filming of the television mini-series Holocaust in and around Vienna. I entered that soul-wounding experience as a freshly confirmed Roman Catholic, the very religion that my character, Nazi Colonel Eric Dorf, had been raised in.

The hypocrisy of self-declared Christian Germans and Austrians who worked for, of all things, the Waffen-SS, was not only first and foremost in my mind as I filmed; it became a rather shattering encounter with the darker side of the Vatican’s obligatory games with Adolph Hitler.

Fruits of Catholic Rome’s and Nazi Germany’s “Concordat”

With this, plus visions of the above, the Rome and Nazi entourage, in my mind, I struggled through the six weeks of filming.

No sooner do Germany and Austria pay for their sins with their defeat in the Second World War, another tyrant, even more successfully voracious than Hitler, shows up: the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin.

The Soviets in Berlin

The Lives of Others actually begins spiritually from this moment of Soviet victory over Germany.

Then this!

East German guards on the Berlin Wall

East Germany, under basically Soviet control, is where the heart of The Lives of Others unfolds.

Then inevitably this:

Tunnels for Escape under the Berlin Wall

With these photos as a prelude to The Lives of Others, what does this extraordinary film mean to me?

To begin with?

A brilliantly told but inevitably tragic love story.

Romeo and Juliet, but as completely matured adults under what is undeniably a Soviet-style dictatorship in East Berlin, something not all that different from Nazi Germany.

Two exceptionally gifted artists, a dramatist and an actress, who have, with their lives in East Berlin, built undeniably successful careers together. They encounter the ability of their Communist overlords to invade their lives, destroy their love, their careers and eventually the life of the actress.

A third victim, an equally gifted but aging and persecuted theater director, is driven to suicide.

The script is flawlessly realistic.

The details of it, relaying the reality of East Berlin, the lifestyles within that tortured city, the actual feel and smell of a European theater and the singularly captured balance between artistic ego and simple human beings trapped under tyranny, these microscopic verities mount, one on top of the other, all with excruciatingly tragic inevitability.

The examination of the Communist persecutors is utterly thorough. So thorough that the realities eventually become the very liberation of one participant in this governmental sadism. The stonily entranced captive of East Berlin’s Red entrenchment comes to the slowest and most finely etched awakening.

It is a portrayal flowering out of the great German actor Ulrich Mühe and his granite-faced character, Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler.

There’s minimalist acting on film… and then there is Ulrich Mühe’s Hauptmann Wiesler.

With so little drama going on in his face, our search for meaning is constantly drawn to Mühe’s eyes.

There, profoundly within him, we begin to see the transformation of an automaton apparatchik into a human being.

It is quite a startling journey of discovery for us throughout the entire film.

I’ve never seen a performance quite like it in my life and I doubt if I ever will again. If I do, I will know the performer was a devoted fan of the late Ulrich Mühe.

As for the lovers?

Martina Gedeck and Sebastian Koch as the actress and the playwright?

They both carry a gravitas that immediately supports their highly esteemed reputations on the East Berlin stage. For tragedy to have any resonance, as many an astute critic has remarked, the tragic figures must project a “gift” that almost approaches divinity. While neither Goddess nor God, both Gedeck’s and Koch’s portrayals are certainly the equal of America’s famed Lunts or Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.

We’re speaking of The Theater.

These aren’t movie actors.

They are great artists of the stage.

They project their sizable souls without the use of either microphone or close-up.

Then what will we, must we feel growing within this love story?

The grotesque and cancerous truths of Communism and how close they are to us in the waning Western Civilization of today. Few in the Free World either know or even want to know what they are headed for with the European Union, the Progressively Marxist New World Order and the Obama Nation’s Mainstream Injection of Socialism into America.

Not just Bigger Government.

The Progressively Marxist New World Order has no direction for it other than creating, by increasing pressure or simple brute force, an entirely uniform human race. A human herd of over six and a half billion human beings run entirely and dictated to, with excruciatingly deeper detail, by an increasingly greedy world government?!

Socialism versus Free World Capitalism necessitates and demands an increasingly punitive government. There is no other way to enforce Socialism except by an expanding number of punishments for breaking its growing multiplicity of rules.

Then what, in terms of East Berlin government, might we experience in The Lives of Others?

Inescapable tyranny.

The undeniably selfish use of power to further the personal and selfish gains of whatever the most ruthless of Communist bureaucrats might demand.

In the case of The Lives of Others, Bruno Hempf, portrayed by Thomas Thieme, uses and abuses his authority as Minister of Culture, giving Martina Gedeck’s actress no choice but to submit to his lust.

Most central to the poetry of this film is its director, and his description of the film’s central inspiration:

“I suddenly had this image in my mind of a person sitting in a depressing room with earphones on his head and listening in to what he supposes is the enemy of the state and the enemy of his ideas, and what he is really hearing is beautiful music that touches him. I sat down and in a couple of hours had written the treatment.”

In other words, the power of Art.

The power of Beauty to transform Communism and its savagely imposed “Truth” within a committed disciple of Marx and Lenin… and Stalin… and Mao… into humanity’s unending mysteries of love, dignity and self-respect.

For the actual Truth of Life to live, requires its twin but often invisible partner, Beauty.

The inner, unseeable power of music inspires the ultimately all-powerful reality of Truth.

Aren’t these the only two things artists can be wholly committed to: Truth and Beauty?

Marxist Socialism and its inevitable Communism are, almost by definition and unquestionably by historical fact, bottomless grotesque delusions based upon the lie that the herd is vastly more important than the individual.

The only real reason Communism survives today is because of the enduring success of one man: Mao Zedong.

Should Red China and its Communist tyranny be overthrown by Civil War… that will, at last, spell the end of Communism.

Till then, we must try to endure Mao’s imitators.

What makes such a nightmare happen?

Not a herd.

An individual.

One metaphysically evil individual such as Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong.

What does it take to lead the Free World into victory over a virulent disease such as Communism?

One individual who leads without fear.

One new Winston Churchill over a would-be Hitler.

Or Ronald Reagan’s eventual victory over the Berlin Wall.

Who in America will finally face down the Progressively Marxist New World Order?

We shall see.

In the meantime, see The Lives of Others.

Although made in 2006, it is, for us particularly, a film about our lives now.

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