Keith Richards by Claude Gassian.
Bob Dylan by Doug McKenzie, via Getty Images.
On a tour of Australia, Dylan lighted upon one of the girls helping out backstage. “Did you enjoy the show?” he inquired. “Nah, I didn’t!” came the fierce Australian response. A shocked Dylan asked why, and she told him. “Because you don’t talk to the audience. You don’t say hello. You don’t say goodnight.” “I’m not Frank Sinatra,” Dylan drawled. “Well you should be,” she exclaimed, and walked off. The next night Dylan did speak. Introducing a surprise encore, he said: “This one’s for Marie”, and went straight into “My Way”.
John Lennon continues to play the guitar as he evades a fan who is after Lennon’s yachting-style cap as a souvenir during the Beatles concert in Rome, Italy, June 28, 1965 (Getty Images).
Our obsession with zombies, from the Congo to Hollywood.
If there is anything people fear more than death and the dead, it is being eaten, especially eaten alive. Eat or be eaten is the law of nature, and deep down we have not forgotten. As many have observed, the horror of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956) was not of being eaten but of the individual being replaced by a soulless, mass, robotic sameness – the horror of egalitarianism taken to extremes. The modern zombie apocalypse goes beyond the terror of conformity to the terror of consumption. It is a brilliant fusion of two skin-crawling horrors, corpses and being devoured, with a third—being hunted by your own flesh and blood, your neighbors and fellow countrymen in invincible multitudes.
Director George Romero, the godfather of cinematic zombies, wrote the current narrative with “Night of the Living Dead,” shot for peanuts in the Pennsylvania countryside and released in 1968. The elements of the contemporary zombie are all present: (1) Radiation bursts from outer space have reanimated the brains of the unburied dead, (2) making them ravenous for living human flesh, and (3) stoppable only by a round to the brain. (4) Their bite infects and zombifies the bitten, and (5) they are on the move, in revolt as it were—conquering the world of the living one victim at a time.
Since ’68 the zombie apocalypse storyline has exploded in all directions. There now exist schools of zombiology: fast vs. slow zombies, extraterrestrial radiation vs. earth-borne virus as the etiology of zombification, all-flesh diet vs. brains only—there is even a lively debate over whether zombies have souls. Social satire using the zombie trope began with Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” in 1978 and extends from Britain’s “Shaun of the Dead” to Cuba’s very first entry, “Juan of the Dead.”
The Beatles in Soho, July 2nd 1963. Photo by Dezo Hoffmann.
Hello Good Morning: IT’S PUPPYBOWL SUNDAY!!!!! Seriously though, the Puppybowl/Superbowl combo is my Christmas.
Ray Bradbury would have made a great “Revenge of the Nerds” character alongside Gilbert, Lewis, Poindexter, Wormser, and Lamar Latrell, had he not been such a caricature. A four-eyed, zit-faced, bully bull’s-eye gliding through Los Angeles on steel-wheeled rollerskates, Bradbury was a fanboy who forcefully demanded autographs and pictures from Hollywood’s most glamorous stars. Nobody told the uncouth teenaged transplant from the Midwest that he was staring at his opposites when he cornered Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, and Judy Garland. The stargazer dared to become the star. His life is the ultimate revenge of the nerd.
The writer once rebelled against his nerd designation. Now he rebels against nerds themselves. Technology, the plaything of geeks, is Bradbury’s punching bag. Seventy years and more of his short stories have taken readers from Nowheresville, Middle America to the ancient ruins of Mars, meeting along the way big, beautiful, tattooed women; Mexicans time-sharing a $59 vanilla leisure suit; and midgets achieving vertical liberation through funhouse mirrors. Within that gigantic oeuvre no theme is more, well, Bradburian than that of contraptions designed to make life better actually making it worse.
Bradbury’s vision of the future germinated from what he saw in the postwar present: gadgeted distractions, screens separating humans from humans, televisions raising children, the vicarious life replacing life itself, leisure time becoming a waste of time. He sensed in which direction the world spun, and he didn’t want to go there. Alas, from Fahrenheit 451’s televised helicopter fugitive chase to the television-as-babysitter of “The Veldt” (1950), we live in the real world that his fiction had warned us about. Ray Bradbury is the atavist’s futurist.