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July 2024
Vol. 23, No. 10

Hosing Down

Diversions from Disaster

by José SinatraFebruary 2017

The January 12th edition of the venerable San Diego Reader contained an interview with yours truly (along with a colorful, kissable photograph) and I am grateful for the positive response I have received from so many of you in your letters and in person, when we’ve bumped into each other at the odd antique mall or night club or ladies restroom. Most of you cited my “refreshing” honesty, which a babe named Lori or Trixi or something in Pacific Beach noted, “…is all too rare these days among the various role models for our nation’s youth… even though you discuss some things and facets of your life that I don’t really think young people can yet fully grasp at this point in their own…”

I will confess to being troubled myself when I received my copy. I am not in any way embarrassed for having finally revealed that I often dream of living a different life–a simpler, yet no less thrilling life–beneath the undergarments of Britney Spears. But the blurb of the Reader’s cover (“Jose Sinatra talks dirt, fear, and panties–see Music”) sorta makes me come off as some kind of pervert.

I considered bringing up the matter with my attorneys, until I received a padded manilla envelope in the mail, postmarked Las Vegas, which the Reader was kind enough to forward to me. A card within was unsigned, and written in a most elegant hand:

Dear Mr. Sinatra,
    This is just to let you know that I really LOVED the profile of you in the San Diego Reader and I hope this small gift can tide you over until the day we meet in person. xxx

And enclosed was indeed a small and delicate item, the personal nature of which I prefer to keep private, although I will state that I am determined they never be worn again by anyone.

I’ve always said that in whatever I do, if I can make just one person happy, then that action was entirely worthwhile. So as a direct result of that Reader piece, I’m not just happy, I’m ecstatic–truly it was one of the luckiest things I’ve ever done, and my earlier thoughts of legal litigation were clearly misguided and wrong.

One last thing I will say about the Reader piece has to do with its timing. Jay Allen Sanford (who authored the article hasn’t lived in our fair city for many years) conducted the interview something like a year and a half ago and was able to squeeze two separate articles (another was several months back) and, presumedly, two separate paychecks from my willingness to lay bare my celebrity soul for the sake of our nation and for the pleasure of chicks all around the globe. And for Mr. Sanford himself, a man of many talents and creator of an immense body of truly superb work, with which I’m now honored to be even slightly affiliated.

In the stunned shock of the days and weeks leading up to the installation a truly dangerous cretin in the White House, I tried to keep away from the horror by diverting my attention elsewhere–in this case an unprecedented marathon of movie viewing in my living room. Video tapes, laser discs, DVDs, and Blu-rays were nearly constantly running and I confess that I got less pleasure from my first encounters with recent works than I enjoyed from revisiting older titles that I will never tire of. Two all-time favorites of mine were newly ingested and demand a spotlight here:

1970’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was finally released on Blu-ray by Criterion, ten years after the 20th Century Fox double-disc DVD edition, which I sincerely lauded in this column at the time. All of the special features of that earlier set are present on the Blu-ray disc, which digs up even more goodies from the vault to turn this presentation into (and forgive the cliche but it’s true) an embarrassment of riches. Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer did some of their script work right here in town at the Hilton on Mission Bay (Meyer himself told me so in the mid-eighties) and, for the uninitiated among you, the plot is show biz laid bare. It concerns a three-girl rock group, the Kelly Affair, who journey to L.A. where they soon become superstars as the Carrie Nations. There are many great songs by the gals, The Strawberry Alarm Clock do three numbers at a party scene; there are plenty of lines of dialogue that are among the most delirious ever spoken in any motion picture (several have since been ripped off and placed into other films, most notably the first Austin Powers flick), and the movie is absolutely crammed with fascinating characters, hilarious agonies, and thrilling surprises. It is perhaps the only real Musical/Horror/Soap Opera/Action/ Thriller/Satire in existence, and Criterion has done a masterful job of presenting this brilliant classic in the original crisp mono sound (no reprocessing!) and in a visual state that is so beautiful that it is nearly beyond belief. One for the ages.

And ten years after its DVD debut, the greatest monster movie of all time, 1960’s The Brides of Dracula, has finally made it to Blu-ray as part of the same eight-title Hammer Horror Series collection it spearheaded back then. Tragically, this 2016 release is a disaster. The picture has been spoiled by an overabundance of grain (almost like thousands of transparent little insects, constantly in motion) and the aspect ratio has been sabotaged, lopping off a lot of the bottom of the frame–and sometimes the top–so that the film now appears letterboxed even on widescreen TVs! The same fate befalls one of the companion features, The Curse of the Werewolf, and a couple of the other titles are similarly compromised, but to a less crucial extent. I feel not unlike Brando’s Don Corleone in The Godfather, brooding over his son’s body in the funeral home. My eyebrows begin to scrunch up toward the middle of my forehead and I can’t help but plaintively wail, “Look what they did to my movie….”

Beyond’s musical score was done by Stu Phillips (with help from Mama Lion singer/Penthouse Pet Lynn Carey) and is great, while the composer for Brides was Malcolm Williamson, doing his first score for a motion picture. And it is wonderful as well. Williamson eventually became Master of the Queen’s Musick in England. He also wrote a symphony the year before he did Brides, and I can honestly state that that symphony stands as the worst work of art I have encountered in my entire life. From execrable to majestical within a year… that’s no mean feat. Nor is the opposite, which we’ll all have the rare opportunity of witnessing firsthand, if we fight the nausea and train our eyes on activities at the White House. Look what they’ll do to our country…

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