Howard Unruh died Monday Oct 19 at the age of 88 after living 60 years in Trenton psychiatric hospital
On September 6, 1949 Camden shook America out of its post-war nuclear stupor. Howard Unruh was an unemployed WWII Veteran who lived with his mother. He kept his medals in his bedroom and a firing range in his basement. He didn't get along well with his neighbors who teased the war hero relentlessly. Unruh began logging a diary with everything he thought his neighbors were saying or doing to him. At 3:00 in the morning on the 6th, he came home from a double feature at the movies to find a gate he had made for the front of his house had been stolen. At 8:00, he woke up, dressed in his brown tropical-worsted suit, white shirt and striped bow tie, then with his mother, he had a breakfast of fried eggs.
At 9:20, America's first mass murderer, left his house with his German Luger, a six inch knife, and six tear gas shells.
Friday night I attended the GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) fifth annual RESPECT awards. Their mission statement means GLSEN is in the schools educating teachers, principals, parents, and students respect for diversity. Since 1990 GLSEN has helped schools and students set up "Safe Zones" where bullied children can go to find quiet from a storm and help from an adult. GLSEN is in our schools because children are bullying children to death.
Since 1977 the ubiquitous "I Love (heart) NY" campaign has spoken for up optimism and pride by every community who has adapted it for their own use. Like the smiley face before it, the slogan nourishes good cheer along with a strong sense of community dignity. But now Future Heretics has replaced the heart with an Uzi sub-machine gun and the "NY" with "LA."
Across the pages of People, US, and leading fashion magazines mindless stars with thin careers are being showcased wearing these t-shirts. Hayden Panettiere, Khloe Kardashian, Sarai Givati, Fergie and Lindsay Lohan are among the stars whose candid photographs the company is using to market their wares. But Future Heretics hasn't stopped with Los Angeles, they have waved the automatic weapon at Santa Barbara in a special-issue "I (UZI) SB".
Before Harry Houdini's 1926 death, the master magician promised his wife Bess that he would return to her from beyond the grave. Every year at the anniversary of Harry's death, Bess held séances at the top of Hollywood's Knickerbocker Hotel. Finally after a decade, her hopeful conjuring stopped. Mrs. Houdini said that "ten years was long enough to wait for any man."
Last week, Elsie Poncher, the widow of Richard Poncher, brought real earning power to death by auctioning off her husband's crypt above Marilyn Monroe. The text of the ebay listing confirmed the 23-year-old rumor that Mr. Poncher was flipped over -per his last wish - to be interred in an eternal kiss with Hollywood's immortal sex goddess.
Hollywood's contribution to art is indelible. Like a great painting, film demands we stop, sit, and experience the celluloid humanity unfolding before us. Film stirs emotions, viewpoints, ideas, and memories. Film might even enrich our lives more broadly and dramatically than music.
Great film teaches us about the human experience. Whether it is a sniffle, a laugh, or a sigh, the tribal communication among audience members viewing a film together in a theater heightens the experience. Imagine never seeing Kubrick's 2001, The Grapes of Wrath, or even Saturday Night Fever on a big screen. Without theatrical screenings, the director's intent for a bigger-than-life experience would be lost. In these days of CGI box office hits and humanistic flops, well all understand the need for a vibrant film program at the LACMA.
A robust film industry must take some major responsibility for its own artistic legacy. When Michael Govan announced the end of the weekend film program, people across L.A. screamed "foul." How could LACMA cancel the program that showcases America's most important films? I'm glad there is an outcry, but without donating the bucks to support the program the public complaints are nothing more than an irresponsible rant for someone else to take an active role.
Martin Scorsese's open letter to LACMA's head Michael Govan is flawed.