An eventful day in Twee history. President Lyndon B. Johnson officially signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A half century ago, this legislation made all discrimination based on race, sex and religion or nationality illegal. Twee is about nothing if not tolerance and kindness in the face of thick-headed bullies so this was a good one, even if it took 50 years to sort of work in practice (sometimes) and of course we are still striving for Civil Rights based on sexual preference. On this day in 1953, children’s favorite Roald Dahl (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda) married the actress Patricia Neal at New York City’s Trinity Church which has stood in one form or another since the late 1600s. Eight years later, Neal, a June bride, would play a key supporting role in the Twee classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Happy Birthday 72nd birthday to Mr. Brian Wilson, who along with the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, Love, The Zombies, The Who, The Kinks and others, transformed the once staid and clinical studio atmosphere into a free for all for the (often psychedelically Hamburger Helpered) imagination. Wilson is a Twee hero as a result, but of course, his stature comes not only only down to his revolutionary approach but also the heart-lifting, simple but graceful melodies he created and the way he directed his bandmates and often a crowded room of professional musicians, to render the sounds in the way he heard them in his tortured head. The early “Surfer Girl,” is supposedly indebted to “When You Wish Upon A Star,” the most Twee song of all time. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” “God Only Knows,” “Good Vibrations,” “Feel Flows,” “Sail On Sailor,” they have almost no precedent at all and are songs that have helped me through a lot of blues and via jukebox, made a potentially maudlin drunk (or date) hopeful. Each one should be under a bell jar. I interviewed Mr. Wilson for the New York Times (for a piece on “Be My Baby,” his favorite song and the white whale he’s been chasing for 50 years) and I had to be slow and patient with him but he’s still more or less a fully functioning genius who will one day appear on a stamp. A national treasure, not made for these times, maybe but certainly a visionary who made them that much more bearable.
Happy 114th birthday to Monsieur Jacques-Yves Cousteau, inspiration for Bill Murray’s Steve Zissou of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With… (which has aged well in the decade since its 2004 release).
Like many my age (and Anderson’s age) Cousteau was a friendly, French face on 70s television: the Marlon Perkins of the blue.
This morning I read an article about a 9 foot Great White shark that was, to the bafflement of scientists, eaten, perhaps by an even bigger, possibly Pre-Historic shark and thought, “Cousteau would sort this shit out right quick.”
The answers btw to the last two trivia questions were b and all of the above.
Happy birthday to Howlin’ Pelle Almvist, Noel Gallagher and Ted Levine who played the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs. None of them are very twee but lambs are.
Also of note, Jeff Buckley was pronounced dead today in 1997 after drowning down in Memphis while recording the follow up to the still perfect Grace album. RIP Jeff. I met you once and sold you a Marlon Brando biography but I’ve listened to your album probably 5,000 times. Eternal life is on your trail.
Buckley is also not very twee (you could make an argument I suppose), but his absence is still very sad, all these years later. The kind of event where you can say you remember where you were when you heard. I was in Scottsdale Arizona trying to write a bad spec script for Friends and listening to a lot of Ween. It was 102 degrees and I was miserable. Romy Schneider also died on this day back in 1982 a suspected suicide.
She is a Twee icon in that she made films in the 60s now that are now fashion touchstones and it’s cool to drop her name as in, “That look is very Romy Schneider.” She had a long how you say, “l’amour fou” with actor Alain Delon, another Twee icon who would be if he’d ever made a film and only appeared on the cover of The Queen is Dead (but he made a lot of of films)
Happy 56th birthday to “The Modfather.” Weller and the Jam broke the rules and unabashedly embraced 60s pop and soul as well as the modernist aesthetic at a time (the late 70s) when punk gear, spiky hair, bondage gear and anti-fashion was de rigueur. They looked sharp. The Jam looked sharp. The Style Council weren’t half bad either for a while. His solo stuff is mostly popular in Britain but I like “Wild Wood” a lot. But it’s really all about blasting the Jam when required isn’t it? Favorite Jam song: “I’m Different Now.” Jam ballad that can make me cry: “The Bitterest Pill.” Best Jam cover: “Batman Theme.
Also enjoying a birthday today, we hope, is Dimitri Martin who is a very boyish and quizzical 41. Here was one of the people I had to sort of write about in Twee even though I don’t really consider him like… a scream. You have to respect his fan base and his contribution to new or indie comedy which def. has its Twee trappings. Well you don’t have to but I did.
Happy 73rd birthday to Bob Dylan. Dylan is a key part in the mechanics of Twee. That is to say his influence over, well, everything in the world, includes Twee from the urchin chic he pioneered, to his flair for posing with kitties (see Bringing It All Back Home sleeve), to Edie as muse, to his romance of old New York to his natural sense of rebellion to the fact that he wrote a Twee anthem in “My Back Pages” (“I was so much older than, I’m younger than that now.”) and “Forever Young.” He was snarky (as this infamous Donovan clip proves), for sure but also capable of being shockingly open-hearted (see just about all of Blood on the Tracks except for “Idiot Wind” which truth told, I usually skip unless I’m feeling mean, and heartbroken). He is a good thing to come along in this rotten world and we should be patriotic about him here in America, build statues of him in our cities and put him on stamps one day. He is Bob. Also if you haven’t heard Sean Penn read Chronicles Volume 1 you are missing out.
It’s perhaps one of the oldest show business axioms: “One through nine, no maybes, no supposes, no fractions. You can’t travel in space, you can’t go out into space, you know, without, like, you know, uh, with fractions – what are you going to land on – one-quarter, three-eighths? Wrong!!!!!! What are you going to do when you go from here to Venus or something? That’s dialectic physics, man.” Happy birthday to the late, great Dennis Hopper, who passed away in 2010 but would have been 78 today. Also celebrating a birthday is Mr. Self Destruct… well formerly anyway, Trent Reznor, who is a nice man. I sat with him on a couch for a long time once discussing life for something that we used to call a “rock and roll magazine.” Like Dennis, Trent almost didn’t make it through but both of them defied the odds and beat their demons. Beating demons is twee. So are pigs. Especially Wilbur. This is my fave NIN song.