When I read the amazing news that in the course of building a new subway line in Thessaloniki, Greece, workers have unearthed a 2,000 year-old Roman road, I couldn’t help but think of this scene from Federico Fellini’s Roma.
The road still bears the marks from horse-drawn carts, as well as children’s games. Thankfully, unlike in the movie (which is fictional), this bit of history will be preserved.
I’m in the Times today, in Clyde Haberman’s column, regarding the widespread flouting of the law requiring stores to keep their doors closed when they run the air-conditioner.
“If, after the smoking ban was enacted, 40 bars decided to invite smokers to light up, I presume we’d hear from the mayor,” Mr. Kaufman said.
It would be good if the mayor, who cares so much about our waist-lines, showed some leadership in something he professes is a priority of his administration (keeping the planet we all live on, habitable for human life).
I repost my annual tribute to one of the worst dads ever...
Most people familiar with the Beach Boys, are aware that Murry Wilson, (father of Brian, Carl, and Dennis, and uncle to Mike Love), was something right out of central casting; petty-tyrant division.
A factory worker who had a minor hit with a novelty song, (“Two Step, Side Step”), he never gave up his dream of making it big in music. He encouraged all of his children to play instruments and sing, and as they began to perform, poured his energies into promoting and producing his talented progeny.
Wilson was an alcoholic, who frequently belittled, humiliated, and often hit his children. Brian suffered permanent hearing loss in one ear from a 2 x 4 that Murry clocked him with. (You hear Brian allude to that on the recording.)
Wilson had a glass eye, as the the result of an industrial accident. When the Wilson children were little, he would take it out, and make them stare into the empty socket.
As the Beach Boys fame grew, Wilson kept believing he was critical to their success. At some point, Brian set up a phony mixing board in the studio, so Murry could think he was doing something, twiddling those dials. Meanwhile, an engineer located elsewhere would do the real work.
Eventually, the group fired him. Over their objections, he sold the publishing rights to their music for a fraction of their worth. He died of a heart attack at age 55, (the age I think he was born looking), and is buried in an unmarked grave in Inglewood, California.
This audio was recorded on Jan. 8, 1965, when Murry, already drunk, comes into the studio as the group is cutting, “Help Me, Rhonda”. Things go downhill from there.
A couple things strike me about it — how collected Brian is, (though he paid a huge mental-price for it later), and just how pathetic Murry is — going from threats to bathos and back, three times in the same sentence. No one deserves a parent like that.
Lastly, and it’s right at the beginning of the longer version, you hear just how amazing the Beach Boys sound. It was everything Murry wanted to be and to have, and wasn’t and didn’t.