August 7, 2012

"Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows."



This post is a present to those of you who seem to be looking for a place to honor Marvin Hamlisch, who died yesterday. I don't post about every obituary, and my standard for posting is whatever it is, and it's not that my commenters keep announcing, in random posts, that somebody famous died. But I got enough of that on Hamlisch that I looked up the obit out of curiosity. What was it that people are so worked up about? I'd rather post about the death of Robert Hughes. Why Hamlisch? He was on all those awards shows, associated with a lot of movies that I don't care about, like "The Way We Were." But I saw that he wrote the old Lesley Gore hit, and I'm up for embedding that. So here's the post people seem to want.

Here's the Robert Hughes obit. He was the big "Shock of the New" art critic. (Factoid: He caught gonnorrhea from Jimi Hendrix... second hand... through his wife... or so he thought.) And for those who look for death triads, there's Judith Crist, who was certainly the first film critic I ever read. She was in TV Guide. Here's something she said about Anne Bancroft: "She seems a cowlike creature with no aspirations or intellect above her pelvis."

There you go. There they go. Are you happy now? Is your life sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows?

74 comments:

Will Cate said...

And puppies. Don't forget puppies.

edutcher said...

I guess you have to make a living any way you can, but I think of those great Scott Joplin rags from "The Sting" when I think of him.

Too bad, he was fairly young.

Pete said...

Why so cranky, Althouse?

Roger Sweeny said...

In 1980, as a tie-in to the Moscow Olympics, Time magazine had an entire issue on the Soviet Union. All the articles were neutral or vaguely positive except one. Robert Hughes pointed out how badly the Soviet government had treated art and artists and was the only author to show any real anger or disapproval. I loved him for it ever after.

Michael said...

RIP Robert Hughes.

Chip S. said...

Why so cranky, Althouse?

Homage to Judith Crist?

victoria said...

"Shock of the new" was absolutely one of the best documentary series ever. Want something creepy? I got my mail today with a picture of Hamlisch on the front talking about the last two Pasadena Pops concerts he will be conducting. I don't think so. Very strange.


Vicki from Pasadena

Ann Althouse said...

"Why so cranky, Althouse?"

I'm not cranky. Seems like unlike so many others, I managed to withstand the loss of Marvin Hamlisch without a twinge of sorrow. And that on top of Hughes. And then the onslaught of death... taking down Judith Crist. And me, still smiling.

victoria said...

Hamlisch was also an accomplished pianist, the youngest ever admitted to Julliard. I saw him accompany Barbra Streisand in the early '70's. Very talented.

Really, Ann, cranky? It is 102 here, we should be the cranky ones.

Vicki from Pasadena

Fr Martin Fox said...

NPR's piece on Hamlisch emphasized how many accomplishments he had -- but it was all crowded in the 70s and 80s. What he he done since then? As I read Wikipedia (infallible in everything! Vox geeki, vox dei!), only a little, and that not to as much acclaim. And why is he dead at 68? That's awfully young nowadays.

traditionalguy said...

@ Pete...It's her blog and she wont cry unless she wants to.

PatCA said...

Yes, Hughes was amazing, as was Shock of the New. He inspired me to be an art history major. I did not understand at the time I was reading him what an iconoclast was--but later I realized he lived it.



RIP.

edutcher said...

Never heard of Hughes.

Heard of Hamlisch and liked what he did in "The Sting".

I guess that makes me a barbarian.

Or an American.

Or something.

yashu said...

Here's a delightful (to me) clip of a wonderfully curmudgeonly Hughes's concluding thoughts to "Shock of the New." Some of which tie into Althouse's "art is inherently right-wing" theme/ provocation.

And here are a few more Hughes quotes.

Marcos Marcows said...

HI,

I am fan for his art work.

Jogo de moto

Robin said...

Robert Hughes meant more to me, as I've read his histories and enjoyed them.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

Being one of those people who could never get the pink wedge in Trivial Pursuit, when my husband said Marvin Hamlisch died I was...Who???

Oh...Way We Were... Ok. Babs sang that pretty nicely. Never saw the movie ...whatever it was, that it was associated with.

yashu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yashu said...

Hughes and Christopher Hitchens struck me as somewhat similar personalities. I really liked both men (i.e. liked their public personas). Charming, witty, independent-minded curmudgeons, with sharp pens and little tolerance for bullshit.

Even when I (often) disagreed with them, I always enjoyed reading and listening to them.

Nichevo said...

I don't know Hughes or Crist. Hamlisch was involved in this, which I have been invited to for the past few years as a platelet or marrow donor or whatever the hell I did...

Annual Concert:
http://www.lslf.org/concert.shtml

for the LAURI STRAUSS LEUKEMIA FOUNDATION:
http://www.lslf.org/index.shtml


He was quite a good pianist. I suppose that is rather blitheringly obvious, but I did see him in the flesh and it is true.

If anyone would like to come this year, let me know, I get a plus-one.

Bob Ellison said...

Hamlisch was a genius. "The Way We Were" and the score for A Chorus Line were fantastic. Schmaltzy, wonderful stuff.

I didn't like his work on The Sting at the time, because I was playing ragtime then and didn't like his loose connection to the beats and tempos. When I got older, I decided Hamlisch knew what he was doing better than I did.

ricpic said...

Hughes was an art critic in the tradition of Thomas Craven, the art critic who had championed the regionalist American artists (Thomas Hart Benton, John Stewart Curry and Grant Wood) in the 1920's and 30's. Of course Hughes was much more catholic in his tastes than Craven, but what he borrowed from Craven was a super-macho pose which made him stand out in a world that was and is mainly lilac limp wristed. There was nothing startling about what he said or those he championed, it was the way he said what he said and the forcefulness with which he advanced a rather safe position in favor of the march of the various avant-gardes, that was what earned him his fame. And he must've really believed or fallen for the macho pose as he became completely enamored of that most macho culture of all, Spain. For years he lived much of each year in Barcelona and wrote a huge bestseller, Barcelona, celebrating its tough guy culture.

Baron Zemo said...

My dear Lady!
You are such a nasty elitist. Such invective! Such ill manners! Your scorn for popular culture is as shopworn as your choices in clothing. Even your most odious sycophants are taken aback!
As a credentialed snob you should not opine on popular culture. It ill behooves you to lower yourself to such a level. Those of your ilk look down your nose at Marvin Hamlish and Sarah Palin and all the rest of the people who the hoi polloi find congenial.

Perhaps you can post something about that activities of Bob Dylan or Andre Gregory.

Then you will have your finger on the pulse of your readership!

Peter said...

And why is he dead at 68? That's awfully young nowadays.

On the radio today I heard an interview with the movie critic Jeffrey Lyons, who has been a friend of Hamlisch since childhood. He said that because Hamlisch was so quiet about his private life he had no idea what the cause of death might have been despite being such a close friend.

Bob Ellison said...

Baron Zemo, *whom.

Baron Zemo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baron Zemo said...

Thank you Herr Ellison.

English is not my first language. Your instruction is greatly appreciated.

Titus said...

loafs, hogs an rare clumbers.

Hello, what about A Chorus Line?

Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow....

One!

Everyday I went to school and I was very nervous very nervous.

Tits and Ass it gets you far. Dance 10, looks 3! And I am still on the unemployment line. Tightened up the derriere. Did the nose a bit.

Bob Ellison said...

Baron Zemo, do you think I am Germanic? I think your comments are idiotic.

Chef Mojo said...

Damn, Althouse. You can be cold sometimes.

I'll just say this: I have very fond memories of seeing A Chorus Line at the Theatre Royal at Drury Lane in London in 1977 on a high school date. I paid top dollar for orchestra seats front and center. Dinner was at a little trattoria nearby before. Cheap as hell. Linguini ala vongele and a bottle of frascati.

It paid off.

I owe Marvin.

Titus said...

God I hope I get it, I hope I get it.

What I did for Love, what I did for LOVE!!!!!!

At The Ballet.

God that was some gay shit but I was like 4 and already had the album.

Wasn't this about the time your young, tight ass was in NYC Althouse? You should be reciting all these lyrics to me!

Don't you miss the East Coast and now living in the Midwestern/Corn time zone?

Chef Mojo said...

@Titus:

Tits and ass can changer your life.
It sure changed mine!

Baron Zemo said...

My friend I do not think you are Germanic. I think you are Moronic. A malady that clings to most of the denizens of these foul precincts.
Do you not realize that your mistress despises you? Laughs at you? Mock's your pretensions and your sacred images?

Is this post not enough to show you the light?

Even our friend the butcher boy knows this but he prefers to lick his idol's boots.

What is your excuse?

Roux said...

Awful white for an Obama theme....

Pogo said...

The freeze frame on the video is rather frightening.

Paul said...

I can agree that there is a legitimate role for personal tastes, particularly when it comes to popular music. But Ann, I think you are not giving credit where credit is due here. Regardless of whether you liked the movies he composed scores for or not, Hamlisch's work on motion picture scores was truly extraordinary: he won Oscars for both best score and best song for "The Way We Were," and another for his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s ragtime music for "The Sting." The latter was singlehandedly responsible for reviving interest in this unique American art form, incidentally.

Hamlisch also wrote original compositions and musical adaptations for, among other award-winning films, "Sophie's Choice," "Ordinary People," "The Swimmer," "Three Men And A Baby," "Ice Castles," "Take The Money And Run," "Bananas," "Save The Tiger," "The Spy Who Loved Me," and "The Informant."

But for my money, Hamlisch will be best remembered for composing the score for the 1975 Broadway musical "A Chorus Line," for which he won a Tony and a Pulitzer. That alone earns him our permanent admiration.

The guy was a monster talent, Ann. Credit where credit is due, please!

madAsHell said...

Sorry! I couldn't wait for the cafe thread.

I violated the spirit of the neutered dog thread...or whatever that was....I didn't read it...but Marvin Hamlisch!!

C'mon....this is a potential 200 comment thread!! Everyone loves/hates Marvin Hamlisch. He wrote great songs, and some of the sappiest crap ever. He was a parody onto himself.

RIP, Mr. Hamlisch.

...and you deleted my original comment! I figured you would.

Baron Zemo said...

My dear fellows. As we all know Marvin Hamlisch had endured repeated bouts of coitus with Liza Minnelli. A more loathsome shrew cannot be conjured up by the most diseased minds in Christendom.

It is reason enough to admire and praise the man.

Do you not do the same for our friend Chauncey who inhabits these very precincts.

After all....it is indeed a "Living."

Chip S. said...

I thought I disliked all of MH's stuff, but then Paul reminded me that he scored "Bananas."

RIP, Marvin.

Quiero la noche

Bob Ellison said...

Baron Zemo, try first to acquire a language.

Bob Ellison said...

I guess I'm saying you're stupid, Baron Whatever. I don't know whether you're a leftist, a sock-puppet, a pure anarchist troll, or what. But you do seem stupid. Wow, stupider than than I can say. I'm going to stop now.

Coketown said...

More sad news: Vivian Esther McCrary of Ely, Nevada, died today. She wasn't famous and I didn't know her, but she meant about as much to me as Marvin Hamlisch, so I figured I should mention it.

Beyond that, I'm trying to wrap my head around why so many dead people get dragged into comment threads around here. These were people that peaked decades ago. Is it that people are all, like, "Hey, I remember him...and he wasn't that much older than me!" It is a sobering reminder that death's impending grip is inching closer, I guess. Or maybe people thought he died a long time ago and consider it a public service announcement to let people know that no, really, now he's dead, just in case the question comes up at pub trivia next week. Here's my PSA: Mary Tyler Moore is still alive. Really!

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

It's Ann's party and she'll cry if she wants to, cry if she want to, and not if she doesn't, to paraphrase Leslie Gore, who in the words of another pop tune is, or was, a rich bitch, baby. A classmate took the notion that he was going to go say hello, I guess, to Leslie Gore. I dunno I had heard the story that she had come up with that song as if to say, this song writing business, a rich kid like me with no special training can do that, and thus we have 'It's my Party.' Anyway per report I picture a very long front entry walk up to a veranda like porch in upstate New York, tall door and Knock, knock, who is it; Oh, hello.

Quaestor said...

Mary Tyler Moore is still alive. Really!

That's good to know. Those type 1 diabetics usually fall apart before age 65. I hope she's well.

Perhaps you can settle a small Mary Tyler Moore factoid I encountered some years ago. In the late 50s or early 60s there was a TV series called "77 Sunset Strip" about a group of private eyes with an office at that address. (I've seen a few bits and pieces on YouTube, but not enough to make any sense of it.) Well, the story goes that the show featured a character called Fifi or Michelle, a French switchboard operator, who was only seen as a pair of very nice legs, legs that belonged to Mary Tyler Moore.

Chip Ahoy said...

Today in a car on a long drive I told two friends who are older than myself that a third friend who they introduced me to a long time ago died.

Well, that was a strange sentence.

Then the rest of the drive was about that. A tragic figure, actually, in the end it was very bad. Made us all sad and now I'm sorry I brought it up. My point is, you got your dead people who I don't know that you must talk about and I've got mine.

Cranky? Nah. Four of us just got feted for our birthdays. Those were all weeks ago and weeks off but no matter the dinner party tonight was for us all four ostensibly so naturally I behaved as if it was all about me. It was fun pretending I didn't know that I'm not special.

The couple has a beautiful home way out there and at dinner I was sitting across from one of my own paintings and a guest pointed out they painted the wall to better suit the art which is not something that you do so that got talked about a lot, and I'm thinking, wow, this is awesome. And because of the things that you talk about here I was able to comport myself fairly well by asking open questions that got carried off into productive and lively conversations, for instance, the place has a blue metal roof and at dinner when they were discussing the heat and the weather (I discovered another intelligent friend is alarmist) and the dryness I asked, "do you collect water from your roof" I was surprised what came out of that, how much water saving there is going and how large the tanks are and how strange our laws about all that are. There were many examples given of bizarre water laws. Also dogs, chickens, Guinea hens, peacock, kittens.

Halburton all over the place out there. Fracking. All brand spanking new trucks, all lined up. Vast. A bit shocking. Newly paved roads where there were just dirt roads.

Chip S. said...

@Quaestor, IMDb is your friend.

Chip Ahoy said...

<pedantry alert>
file: p/prescriptive-descriptive

oid suffix means "like" or "resembles" When Star Trek beams down and encounters human-like creatures there Spock reports, "humanoid."

Ornithoid means resembling a bird.

Resembling but not necessarily human, resembling but not necessarily a bird. So resembling a fact but not necessarily a fact.

It's said so often it may as well be a fact so there you go.

And that is said so much it becomes fact just like the word factoid itself is now considered a tiny fact so much that it rises to first definition and the real definition sinks to second.

That there is an itty bitty fact.

</pedantry alert>

Chip S. said...

At last, the perfect conversational opening for me to complain about the misuse of "epicenter."

yashu said...

IIRC, the deplorable misuse of "factoid" was propagated by CNN.

Saith Wikipedia, The word factoid is now sometimes also used to mean a small piece of true but valueless or insignificant information, in contrast to the original definition. This has been popularized by the CNN Headline News TV channel, which, during the 1980s and 1990s, used to frequently include such a fact under the heading "factoid" during newscasts. BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright uses factoids extensively on his show.

As a result of confusion over the meaning of factoid, some English-language style and usage guides recommend against its use. Language expert William Safire in his On Language column advocated the use of the word factlet to express a "little bit of arcana".

Chip S. said...

Isn't "datum" the right word for what CNN intends?

yashu said...

It's ironically fitting that CNN is to blame for the confusion of "fact" and "factoid," since according to Wikipedia, Factoid was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe. Mailer described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper", and created the word by combining the word fact and the ending -oid to mean "similar but not the same". The Washington Times described Mailer's new word as referring to "something that looks like a fact, could be a fact, but in fact is not a fact".

'Isn't "datum" the right word for what CNN intends?'

Or the singular of "trivia," if only "trivium" didn't have a whole other meaning.

yashu said...

Beyond that, I'm trying to wrap my head around why so many dead people get dragged into comment threads around here. These were people that peaked decades ago. Is it that people are all, like, "Hey, I remember him...and he wasn't that much older than me!" It is a sobering reminder that death's impending grip is inching closer, I guess. Or maybe people thought he died a long time ago and consider it a public service announcement to let people know that no, really, now he's dead, just in case the question comes up at pub trivia next week.

Heh, plead guilty to bringing up Robert Hughes two posts ago. Feel a little sheepish (more from Althouse's snark rather than yours).

I'll answer the question as if it weren't rhetorical. Althouse is probably the blog I spend most time at, and it does serve some of the function of a neighborhood pub-- where you know the regulars, go seek distraction from real life stress, etc. The impulse to bring up Hughes's death is like the impulse to raise a glass, make a toast, drink to him at the pub-- and in so doing drink to all of us too, miserable mortals who follow him to the grave. It's the kind of thing I'd normally do at a cafe post, but there wasn't one near to hand.

To say a few words on the passing of a public figure, especially a pop culture one, isn't that different from saying a few words on the passing of, I don't know, your middle-school French teacher, the town librarian, the grocer at the corner. In the end you're likely saying less about that person than about how they touched, or even just superficially grazed, your life. You "mourn" the passing or "celebrate" the life of a songwriter, actor, TV art critic, but you're equally mourning the passing or celebrating the part of you or your life that that person intersected, affected or symbolized-- the youthful fantasies a movie performance inspired, the song which brings you back to that 5th grade party where you had your first slow dance, the writer that you identified with or defined yourself against as a pretentious adolescent… whatever.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

Hamlisch I only knew because he appeared on a few episodes of "Match Game" in the 1970s, and I spent a good many idle hours in the late 1990s and early 2000s being fascinated by watching repeats of pre-1980s television game shows. My recollection of him is that he was something of a cute nerd, and that Bret Somers seemed to love his work.

I know that yashu, in a comment in another thread, was interested in my thoughts about Robert Hughes, but I'm sorry to say that I have never read any of his work. As an artist, it has always been my policy to avoid reading contemporary art criticism, and the only living critics that I have read or know about are the ones with whom I've had personal contact, such as the critics with whom I studied in college or graduate school, or who have visited my studio, or who have written about my (my close friend's) work, people like Barry Schwabsky, Dave Hickey, Jerry Saltz, Bruce Hainley, Jan Avgikos, Holland Cotter &c.

Art critics are generally dangerous for artists, in my opinion.

yashu said...

Art critics are generally dangerous for artists, in my opinion.

True and wise. The worst art is art self-consciously created for "critics."

There are cases of a strong critic's influence having interesting results (e.g. the relation between Clement Greenberg and Pollock et al), but those are exceptions and even then not entirely salutary.

MadisonMan said...

Anyone who does work that Bret Sommers loves is okay in my book.

Besides, I can sing along to the entire A Chorus Line album. And just about any other album I've owned.

Robert Cook said...

"Charming, witty, independent-minded curmudgeons, with sharp pens and little tolerance for bullshit."

Careful. Such persons often can have their own bullshit, which they present as a "lack of tolerance for bullshit."

Robert Cook said...

"Isn't 'datum' the right word for what CNN intends?"

"Datum" is merely the singular of "data."

Unknown said...

Quaestor:

"Well, the story goes that the show featured a character called Fifi or Michelle, a French switchboard operator, who was only seen as a pair of very nice legs, legs that belonged to Mary Tyler Moore."
MTM's legs belonged to Sam, the secretary, on "Richard Diamond, Private Detective".

Unknown said...

Quaestor:

"Well, the story goes that the show featured a character called Fifi or Michelle, a French switchboard operator, who was only seen as a pair of very nice legs, legs that belonged to Mary Tyler Moore."
MTM's legs belonged to Sam, the secretary, on "Richard Diamond, Private Detective".

veni vidi vici said...

Great video. I have her greatest hits (perhaps of the same title; can't remember) somewhere on cassette.

The video you posted only serves to demonstrate how much her career owes to double-tracking her vocal parts.

Chip S. said...

I'll explain, Cook.

Outside the fever swamps where you seem to gather your "information," data are considered to be facts.

So a datum is a solitary fact. As opposed to a factoid such as "There's no difference between Romney and Obama."

Did you know there are free dictionaries available online?

veni vidi vici said...

Didn't Soundgarden to a tribute to Judith Crist?

"And you stare at me in your Judith Crist pose;
Arms held out like you've been burying a lede..."

Unknown said...

An old German saying: life is like a ladder on a chicken coop: short and all covered with shit.

And as we epidemiologists are fond of pointing out: life has a bad outcome for 100 percent of the population.

Ann Althouse said...

"I can agree that there is a legitimate role for personal tastes, particularly when it comes to popular music. But Ann, I think you are not giving credit where credit is due here. Regardless of whether you liked the movies he composed scores for or not..."

Where did I purport to assign a level of credit to him? The post says "my standard for posting is whatever it is." It's not an objective standard based on the worth of the person. It's subjective meaning for me... whether I'm interested in anything about the person or the death or the way the article about it is written.

Hamlisch is someone who is famous for getting a lot of awards. He doesn't need more credit. He didn't die young or in some interesting way, and I didn't have anything to say about his work.

BTW, I saw the original Broadway production of "A Chorus Line." I really didn't associate it with his name, to tell you the truth. I've also seen "Wicked" and I couldn't tell you the name of the person who wrote the music/lyrics.

I thought of the Scott Joplin stuff. He brought Scott Joplin to our attention. Seems like the topic there is Scott Joplin unless the movie "The Sting" is important to you. Even though I saw many many movies in the year "The Sting" came out, I never wanted to go see "The Sting." I just wasn't interested in that sort of Hollywood thing. Never saw "Butch Cassidy" either. Just commercial stuff from Hollywood. They're not roping me in with that. Yes, the actors are handsome. Blech!

Bob Ellison said...

Wow. You really are cranky lately!

Robert Cook said...

Chips, I certainly don't have any idea what you're going on about. I merely answered your question regarding "datum," which is, as I said, the singular of "data," and I made no larger reference to "factoids."

That this may have been the context of your question was irrelevant to my reply. It's up to you to decide for yourself what term CNN might have better used.

William said...

Marvin Hamlisch and Robert Hughes were not landmarks, but they were part of the landscape. When enough of the shrubs and bushes disappear, you find yourself living on barren terrain.. That's what happens as you get old. All the major characters and, for that matter, most of the supporting players have shuffled off the stage. It's just you and the ghosts.

Bob Ellison said...

BTW, I saw the original Broadway production of "A Chorus Line." I really didn't associate it with his name, to tell you the truth.

That's an interesting statement from a Bob Dylan fan. Simon and Garfunkel well covered "Everybody Must Get Stoned", but it's still a Dylan song. I, like Harry Reid, know people who have done important work that was signed by their managers higher up, but the people who did the work still think they should get the credit.

It's a variation of Obama's "you didn't build that". More like "I don't know who did that". So it doesn't matter. Hamlisch? Who cares?

Bob Ellison said...

Correction: Simon and Garfunkel covered "The Times They Are a-Changin'". I was misunderestimremembering a brief lyric from "A Simple Desultory Philippic", wherein they quoted Dylan.

A. Shmendrik said...

Marv Hamlisch and Bobby Hughes dead? Oy!

Baron Zemo said...

My Dear Lady you are so feisty today!I share your disdain for expensive high heels at a cookout and mediocre Hebrew entertainers. Add to the list popular entertainments that the great unwashed enjoy! What tripe! What folly! What a waste of our oh so valuable time!

Please opine on a much more interesting subject.

Perhaps a film about two homosexuals having dinner?

yashu said...

Careful. Such persons often can have their own bullshit, which they present as a "lack of tolerance for bullshit."

Oh, believe me, I know. But good point anyway.