Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maybe you're sticky

Here's the scenario. Back in the 70's an unsuccessful, obscure movie was made about junkie life. It was semi-documentary style, featuring both actors and actual junkies. So a few years later, some movie critic is writing on it, mentions that one of the junkies was a former child actor.

Now here's a few points? It'd seem that if one writes that any former child actor has substance abuse problems, law of averages favors the statement being correct. This particular former child star, no name recognition there. Explain what TV show he was on, and eventually you'd get a "Oh yeah, him. Never knew what his name was." Third though, this here former child actor wasn't a junkie.

What followed was 27 years of lawsuits. And Mr. Gray eventually prevailed, getting the public apology, made to a public that had no earthly idea who Mr. Gray was. In this scenario, we have a couple of very sticky fellows.

I understand Mr. Gray better than Mr. Maltin, but just barely. If you've made a journalistic mistake and hurt someone's feelings, why not own up to it and make a sincere apology? Why 27 years? Mr. Gray, well spotlight moved on from him a long time ago, and he felt moved to defend his good name. But 27 freakin' years?

That is sticking to your guns, long past the point where it makes any sense. I'm not judging, I'm merely observing this is how some approach their life challenges.

A very un-sticky approach is in the song, "Dazed and Confused." Iconic Led Zep tune, and I must say I'm glad the Beatles broke up when they did. Much as I revere the Liverpool lads, that first Led Zep LP was start of a new musical era, with new royalty. "Dazed and Confused" is a stolen song. Not stolen in sense of twisting some old bluesman's basic structure around. Early Zep was notorious for that. No, I mean stolen in sense of breaking into your home and taking your stuff.

"D & C" wasn't written by some bluesman with a tragic arc who died before Jimmy Page learned to play guitar. Nor is it a basic structure that got the Zep treatment. It sounds from Zep about exactly as it did from its writer, Jake Holmes.

Jake's still pretty much alive, well and happy. He even knows exactly when his song got stolen. According to him, he was playing a set in Greenwich village 1968 when pre-Led Zep Jimmy Page stopped in. This isn't the idle claim of an aging hippie either. "Dazed and Confused" was already on vinyl at that time; Jake's second LP if memory serves.

Oh, I should point out at this juncture? Jake Holmes is the most culturally influential person you've never heard of. If you're too young to think you were at Woodstock, and too old to get Rap, Jake Holmes OWNS the ad jingles inside your head.

"See the USA in a Chevrolet"
"Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?"
"Be, all that you can be, in the Army"

Yeah, Jake wrote all that dreck, for which he was obscenely well compensated, and he also wrote a darned good song that Led Zep stole from him. So what'd he do about having "Dazed and Confused" unceremoniously ripped off from him?

Nothin' is what. In fact, I get the idea Jake thinks the whole deal is rather amusing. Well, I'm not being entirely accurate in saying Mr. Holmes did nothing. According to him, he once wrote a letter to Jimmy Page. Something along lines of, "I really consider the song as an unorthodox collaborative effort. Don't you think you should at least put my name down as shared writer credit though?"

He never heard back from Page, and so went on with his life. That's a very un-sticky approach to life's challenges there. While I'm nobody's judge, I'd a lot more enjoy spending an afternoon with Mr. Holmes than Mr. Gray, I betcha.

Now David, that certainly was wonderful, and I'll be sure to do a needlepoint sampler on the topic in the near future, preserving your thoughts for posterior. You got anything more literal, concrete on 'sticky' people?

Well, there is Liew Thow Lin, who's known as the Magnet Man of Malaysia. Retired contractor, raises fortunes for charity by sticking metallic objects to his chest. No kidding, you can put a fork, frying pan or clothes iron on his chest and it just stays there, defying gravity. It's not a parlor trick either. He's been studied by lots of scientists. Best they can come up with is Mr. Lin has very sticky skin surface, as applies to metallic objects. Or more correctly, as metallic objects apply to him I guess. Doesn't sound like much of a theory to me, but it's all we got for the time being. I've seen pictures of the guy with dozens of spoons stuck to his chest. Very strange really.

What else have I got? Oh yeah, Leonard Maltin is a drug addict. There, that should keep me busy for the next 27 years...

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