October 8, 2004

Black soap.

Kausfiles writes:
If a man says he has a gun, acts like he has a gun, and convinces everyone around him he has a gun, and starts waving it around and behaving recklessly, the police are justified in shooting him (even if it turns out later he just had a black bar of soap). Similarly, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam seems to have intentionally convinced other countries, and his own generals, that he had WMDs. He also convinced much of the U.S. government. If we reacted accordingly and he turns out not to have had WMDs, whose fault is that? Why doesn't Bush make that argument--talking about Saddam's actions in the years before the U.S. invasion instead of Saddam's "intent" to have WMDs at some point in the future?
I wouldn't be surprised to hear Bush pick up this neat form for an argument he is already making. And in case you're thinking the image is inelegant--because who has a black bar of soap?--there is a legendary black soap. It's Erno Laszlo's Sea Mud Soap. Remember Woody Allen/Alvy Singer obsessing over Annie Hall's black soap in "Annie Hall"?

OLD WOMAN
Don't tell me you're jealous?

ALVY
Yeah, jealous. A little bit like Medea.
Lemme, lemme-can I show you something,
lady?

(He takes a small item from his
pocket to show the woman)

What I have here ... I found this in the
apartment. Black soap. She used to wash
her face eight hundred times a day with
black soap. Don't ask me why.

OLD WOMAN
Well, why don't you go out with other
women?

ALVY
Well, I-I tried, but it's, uh, you know,
it's very depressing.

That was Erno Laszlo soap. And by the way, you ought to be grateful you're even allowed to buy this soap:
Among his clients were the Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Doris Duke, Greta Garbo, Lilian Gish and Paulette Goddard. As the 1940s turned into the 1950s, the Erno Laszlo Institute had over 3,000 clients. Mrs. Vincent Astor, Mrs. Stavros Niarchos, Mrs. Gianni Agnelli, Mr. Truman Capote, The Begum Aga Khan and, in 1954, the Duke of Windsor, were numbered among its members. In the 1960s, the list was enlarged by Audrey Hepburn, Yul Brynner, Hubert de Givenchy, Mrs. John Fitzgerald Kennedy and many more. In the pictures of Marilyn Monroe's death bed in August 1962, her Laszlo preparations could be seen on her bedside table.

The Erno Laszlo Institute was a closed society of the rich, famous and powerful. One needed to be recommended to gain admittance, and a single reference alone was often not good enough. In 1954 (?), each consultation visit cost $75, an unheard-of sum at the time. The Doctor's time was limited. He could only see a limited circle of persons.

In the 1970s, Barbra Streisand, Diane Keaton, Yoko Ono, Madonna, Woody Allen, Sting, Val Kilmer and James Spader joined. Later, Erno Laszlo products could be seen in films like Bonfire of the Vanities, Working Girl, Annie Hall and Final Analysis.

Erno Laszlo remained severe even with his most famous clients. In June 1963, the doctor cautioned the President's wife, Mrs. Kennedy not to put more oil or cream on her face. As she admitted having made changes to his instructions, he firmly replied: "You cannot make changes!" He also refused to remove Katherine Hepburn's freckles, when she asked him to remove them. He declined, saying they were an integral part of the Hepburn beauty.

When Ava Gardner insisted that she had followed his instructions, he told her: "Excuse me, but you are lying". - "How would you know?" - "Your skin tells me. You have not been doing your ritual. When you do, then you may come back, but not before." As the fiery brunette refused to leave, he came as close as he ever had to actually throwing a patient out the door. When she finally realized that she could not get away with any ruse, she calmed down and agreed to follow the Doctor's instructions.
But if you don't have $32 black soap to carve into a gun, you can use white soap and use black shoe polish to make it look like a gun, as Woody Allen--him again--did in "Take the Money and Run."

1 comment:

jake lee said...


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