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Frank Sinatra

Don Rickles: The Methuselah of Stand-Up


I’m putting this out here right now ___ Don Rickles should host the 2013 Academy Awards Show. Billy Crystal can watch from home, or maybe, since Crystal is such a fan of the octogenarian Rickles, they can co-host. Even at 87 and 65 respectively, they’d be a hilarious tag team. My hope would be no script, no set pieces, just fill the house with the usual Hollywood suspects and let the two of them rip/riff and sew panic throughout the woefully named Hollywood and Highland Theater.

Maybe they never get around to handing out an award except the honorary one Rickles picks up to go with the Emmy Award he won in 2008 for Mr. Warmth:  The Don Rickles Project.

An Oscar for what, you ask? Why for the body of work, of course, everything from the Annette and Frankie beach movies of the 60’s to the Toy Story franchise, with stops along the way at Run Silent Run Deep, Kelly’s Heroes and Casino.

I’m joking about the award (a little), but not Don Rickles, a comic deserving of every other accolade that might come his way. Maybe it was Crystal’s influence that gave him that talking head moment during one of the segments intended to whip up nostalgia for movie going. In any case, good call.

Rickles said he likes the Godfather. Any surprise, dummy? Although anytime he shows up in a movie is a pleasant occasion, Rickles is a television guy. And despite starring in a couple of sitcoms, CPO Sharkey and the winning but failed Daddy Dearest with Richard Lewis, the association between Rickles and late night television is strongest.


Anthora Greek paper coffee cup

Leslie Buck passed away, at the ripe old age of 87, during 2010, and inexplicably enough, not that many paid much attention to his passing.

Born Lazlo Buch in Khust, Czechoslovakia (now part of the Ukraine),  he was a Holocaust survivor who made good in the US, first starting up a paper-cup manufacturing company in Mt Vernon, New York called Premier Cup.  It was during the 1960’s that Buck joined the Sherri Cup Co. of Kensington, Conn, and he created one of the most iconic delineation’s of everyday American life, particularly the East Coast version, the exquisitely appealing Anthora paper coffee cup (Buck couldn’t quite pronounce “amphora” correctly), the design adorning coffees served at diners, deli’s, construction sights, factory yards and food carts, sales which peaked at 30 million pieces a year in the 1990’s.

Buck’s coffee cup became an instantly recognizable American artifact, a fairly improbable accomplishment considering its creator was both an immigrant, and artistically untrained. The cup, with its above-and-below border of Greek urns framing a bill boarded white background with a slightly ornate outline, three images of piping coffee cups and the phrase “WE Are Happy To Serve You”  etched in a font meant to resemble ancient Greek, remains a totemistic likeness of the highest order.


Smokey Robinson: Warm Thoughts

"The fireside, the lamplight intimate and low, reverie with finger at the brow, and eyes that lose themselves in answering looks..."
– Paul Verlaine, ‘La Bonne Chanson’

BORN ON FEBRUARY 19, 1940, William "Smokey" Robinson was blessed at birth with an extraordinary poetic vision: God stepped down from His lofty perch and kissed the newborn's brow. Since then, Smokey – with a voice that can melt M&M's – has made us swoon, massaging our hearts with a romantic lyricism that justly earned him the title of World's Greatest Living Poet (awarded by Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, prior to their recent demise).

From the Miracles' inception in the late '50s, Smokey swore that his music was inspired by the 12-year-old Frankie Lymon; presently, because of his meticulous phrasing and air of self-confidence, he seems to be inspired by a more ancient deity, Frank Sinatra. During his waning years, Sinatra's voice has mellowed, like a fine whiskey, into an authoritative perfection; similarly, Smokey's voice now sails through a melody as if guided by the wisdom of a navigator so sure of his course that not even an approaching fog could dim his visibility.