Main Street, Bar Harbor
View from Inside Ellsworth, Maine Library
Flowers with Schooner
Opera House – Belfast, Maine
You can read a bit of history at this link.
Bar Harbor Inn
Main Street, Bar Harbor
View from Inside Ellsworth, Maine Library
Flowers with Schooner
Opera House – Belfast, Maine
You can read a bit of history at this link.
Bar Harbor Inn
Few novels have proven to be as important and influential as To Kill a Mockingbird, and few films have become just as important as its source material. Tom Santopietro (The Godfather Effect, Sinatra in Hollywood, Becoming Doris Day) is one of the finest pop culture writers working today. In his new book, the author take a deep dive look at the cultural impact of both Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, published in 1960, and the now iconic film released in 1962. Over its more than 50 years existence, To Kill a Mockingbird has been both praised and banned. Criticized and hailed by both liberals and conservatives.
Santopietro paints a detailed look beginning with Harper Lee’s childhood in the tiny town of Monroeville, Alabama, the inspiration for Maycomb, the fictional town in Lee’s classic. It ends with the publication of Go Tell the Watchman, Lee’s original and extremely different first draft. In between, we get well known and little known details such as Spencer Tracy was originally considered for the role of Atticus Finch. We all know Gregory Peck landed the part in what would turn out to be the role of a lifetime. Who else can be Atticus Finch!
Almost sixty years after its publication, To Kill A Mockingbird remains one of the most read and influential books in America, required reading in many high schools. As relevant today as it was back in the 1960’s. It asks some,hard questions. Can a country that has fought to make the world safe from tyranny and fascism somehow save itself and live up to its potential as a democracy where there is justice and freedom for all. Today, we are failing. As the author points out, substitute Muslims and Mexicans, along with other South Americans attempting to enter the country, for blacks and you have to asked yourself how much has really changed?
With over 40 million books in print, everyone whether liberal or conservative wants to have an Atticus Finch in his or her life.
I recently watched HBO’s remake of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 starring Michael Jordan and Michael Shannon. The film got me thinking about our political climate today and the suppression of ideas that do not coincide with the company line. It made me think about how close we are from this incendiary topic becoming a reality.
Fahrenheit 451 was written in the early 1950’s during the McCarthy witch hunts, a point in time when the author feared America reached a point where the burning of ‘subversive’ literature was more than a slight possibility. The book focuses on an American society in the near future where owning a book is a crime. ‘Firemen’ are employed to burn any books found.
When I came across the book cover of the edition pictured above, I thought how simple, yet powerfully effective it was. The title with the ‘1′ replaced by a matchstick. That one degree, stressing the point where paper burns.
Book burning or other materials has a history going a long way back to before Christ. In America, the first book burning occurred during the War of 1812, when the British, not the Canadians, in 1814 burned down the U.S. Capital and other facilities of the Government including most of the 3,000 books housed in the Library of Congress.
In 1935, Government officials of Warsaw, Indiana where author Theodore Dreiser (An American Tragedy, Sister Carrie) was born and attended high school, demanded that all library copies of Dreiser’s inflammatory books be burned.
After World War II, with the defeat of Germany and the Japanese, some Americans needed to find a new battle. A German-born psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham who treated delinquent children discovered during his hospital work in Harlem that most of thee troubled kids he worked with read comic books. He came up with his own formula equating kids times comic books = juvenile delinquency. By 1948, Wertham was on a crusade attacking comic books in some very prestigious magazines. His attacks on the comic book industry continued for years including presenting himself to the 1954 U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Juvenile Delinquency wherein part he stated, “I think Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic-book industry.” Pressure was put on comic book publishers to stem the tide of this dreaded menace. Parental concerns mounted. On October 26, 1948, in the town of Spencer, West Virginia, religious leaders, teachers, and parents oversaw the collection and burning of hundreds and hundreds of evil comic books. It wasn’t just the South that was in an uproar. Shortly after that Binghamton, New York conducted their own public barn book fire. In light of the publicity by the news media, other cities followed including Rumson, New Jersey, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Chicago. The fever even spread across to the Canadian border when a group called the JayCee Youth Leadership collected and burned more than 8,000 comic books. It was in this heated climate that Ray Bradbury wrote his dystopian classic, Fahrenheit 451.
For baby-boomers, the most famous book burning was the 1966 Beatles controversy. Religious conservatives in the South’s Bible Belt were up in arms after John Lennon’s quote “we are more popular than Jesus” was taken out of context from an interview with journalist Maureen Cleave that originally appeared in London’s Evening Standard some five months earlier. When the U.S. teen magazine, Datebook published the interview, Lennon’s quote “I don’t know which will go first – Rock ‘n’ Roll or Christianity!” was on the front cover. In Birmingham, Alabama, always a hotbed of progressive thinking. DJ’s banned the playing of Beatles records. As the British rock group’s tour in the U.S. began protests rocked all over the South: Beatles records, magazines and books were tossed into large piles by fired up parents and teens and burned.
Most recently (2006) J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books attracted attention due to claims that the magic in the Potter book series struck a strong resemblance to practices of the occult. Incidents of Potter book burning occurred in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and Charlotte, South Carolina. Protestant, Catholic and mostly from Evangelical Christian groups flamed the claims.
Like other classic novels, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, Brave New World and It Can’t Happen Here, Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about suppression, control of people and ideas. With the political climate we face today it seemed to be a timely move by HBO to remake Bradbury’s novel into a movie. The film stars Michael B. Jordan as Montag, a rising star in the ranks of ‘fireman’ who starts to develop doubts about the mission of suppressing books after meeting a rebelling young woman. Michael Shannon is Captain Beatty. In the world of the future, people need not bother themselves with unpleasant thoughts or feelings. Books are the culprit. They bring up depressing subject matter, sadness and most frightening to the government, independent thinking. Subsequently, the government sanctions drugs, emotionally free relationships and numbing mass media. Those who disobey are eliminated.
While Jordan and Michael Shannon as Captain Beatty are very good, the film, though not bad, is a disappointment. An even bigger disappointment when compared to Francois Truffaut’s 1966 film which though it moves at a slower pace definitely captures the feel and beliefs behind Bradbury totalitarian tale.
Part 2 in my series of photographs from a recent trip to Maine. You can find Part 1 here.
Arcadia National State Park
The First Church of Belfast (Maine)
The steeple bell of The First Church was made by the Revere and Son Co., as in Paul Revere. It was installed in 1819.
Bar Harbor Schooner
Back in 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston was the victim of a massive art thief of 13 works with a worth estimated to be about 500 million dollars. To this day, the thief remains unsolved.
This little hit of history is used as the inspiration for Ace Atkins latest entry in the Spenser series, created by the late Robert B. Parker. Twenty years ago, three pieces, a Picasso sketch, a Goya painting, and the most important of the group, an El Greco work called The Gentleman in Black, dating back to the late 1500’s were stolen from one of Boston’s top Museums. After so many years, most believe the artwork was sold, probably overseas or maybe even destroyed.
A private investigator by the name of Locke has been on the case all this time with little success in finding the artwork or the thieves. But now Locke is seriously ill, he’s dying and turns to our wise-cracking hero Spenser to continue investigating the case.
Our butt kicking anti-hero with a cause accepts the case for Locke, that and a five million dollar reward. Spenser reviews Locke’s files and with the help of Vinnie Morris, a man whose tendency is to be on the wrong side of the law, the P.I. begins a long and winding trail in search of the missing artwork.
Spenser is not a man who scares easily, a good thing because he runs across some folks who rather see him dead than find the missing art. The road is murky, but Spenser does what he does best. So does keeper of the flame, author Ace Atkins. He keeps Parker’s voice alive and well in this entertaining entry in the series. My only problem is Spenser’s ace in the hole when trouble comes along, Hawk is missing in action.
Twelve favorite quotes on writing from ten authors I admire.
There is only one plot – things are not what they seem. – Jim Thompson
You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say. – Truman Capote
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. – Elmore Leonard
Every sentence must do one of two things: reveal character or advance the action – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it. Edgar Allan Poe
I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. – Edgar Allan Poe
One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off. – Lawrence Block
When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done. – Stephen King
If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write – Stephen King
There’s always time to read. Don’t trust a writer who doesn’t read. It’s like eating food prepared by a cook who doesn’t eat. – Laura Lippman
The more your reason, the less you create. – Raymond Chandler
Sure, I have advice for people starting to write. Don’t. I don’t need the competition. – Robert B. Parker
A few photographs from a recent trip to one of my favorite states.
Arcadia National Park
Bar Harbor Reflection
Bar Harbor Sunset
Colburn Shoe Store (Oldest Shoe Store in America) – Belfast, Maine
Arcadia National Park
In his second outing, Travis McGee, John D. McDonald’s beach bum/salvage consultant who take 50% of whatever he recovers for his clients, has left his Florida home base for the asphalt jungle of New York City.
He has come to NYC to help the delectable sister of an old army buddy whose boyfriend was murdered on the city streets in what the police ruled an apparent mugging. While investigating the death, and a bit of romance, we learn the murdered boyfriend was into some shady dealings involving millions of dollars. While investigating, Travis finds himself drugged, hallucinating and in a horror house masquerading as a mental institution.
When reading, one has to remember this is 1964, because Travis is the kind of guy who has problems with women working. However, that does not stop our hero from bedding our lady friend before and after she discovers her now dead boyfriend was not who he said he was. Hey, someone had to help her recuperate from her melancholy.
While, admittedly I did not care for this book as much as the first book in the series (The Deep Blue Goody-by), and if you can excuse the 60’s sexism, McDonald, still fine tuning his long time anti-hero, has crafted a strange, off-beat ending that you won’t see coming.
If you ever had the opportunity to experience the spiritual, soul-stirring, sermon preaching, exhaust filling concerts of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band then you will be right at home with this autobiography. Born to Run is a memoir like no other. Then again, Bruce Springsteen is a rock and roll artist like no other. He has absorbed, inhaled, assimilated, learned, the history of rock, blues, country and soul blending it all with everything in his heart, his mind, his intellect and his spirit. Elvis, The Beatles, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and others were his teachers. He learned well.
While I purchased the eBook version of Springsteen’s tomb of a memoir, it laid there for a while. I finally ended up borrowing an audiobook version from a local library and listened to the more than 18 hours of Springsteen himself telling his story. I wasn’t sorry. Hearing Bruce himself added elements that would have been completely missed in reading the book. His style, his spirit, his cadence, his voice are as important as the written words.
The first part of the book focuses on his early years growin’ up in a dysfunctional Jersey family: a distant alcoholic father, a loving mother, and poverty. His father’s family had an unspoken history of mental illness. Bruce also discusses his own chronic battles with bouts of depression over the years. It’s all straightforward; not shying away from revealing the bad and the difficult times in his life. Like all of us, those early years were a vital part in his development and his future. These many years later, his journey has been at times that of a haunted and tortured artist.
For me, the most interesting parts though were when Springsteen dives into his creative process. It’s well known he is a control freak and hates to let go. During his early years, Springsteen was a member a few struggling groups. For a control freak, he had to be in charge. That’s why it evolved into the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Everyone had their say, but Bruce has the final say. His work, always personal, would take on social themes and causes like Vietnam Vets, nuclear energy and always the struggle of the working man, those still searching for their piece of the American pie.
Born to Run is at times heartwarming, heartbreaking, rambling, inspiring and definitely written in the artist’s voice.
This is the 6th installment in this series.
Linnea Eleanor Yeager was born in Wilkensburg, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburg. When Linnea was 17, she and her family moved to Miami. That was in 1946. A longtime movie fan, she somewhere during this period adopted the nickname of Bunny which she procured from Lana Turner’s character, Bunny Smith, in MGM’s Weekend at the Waldorf (1945). She developed an early interest in photography and began photographing friends. After graduating from Edison High School in Miami, Yeager registered as a student at the Coronet Modeling School and Agency. Bunny won a few beauty contests including a ‘Sports Queen’ contest where she was crowned by a pre-Marilyn Monroe Joe DiMaggio. She began to receive modeling jobs and they kept on coming. At five foot ten, with a voluptuous figure, Bunny was perfect for modeling. She also had another not so secret weapon. She made her own bikinis. In those days, bikinis were rare. Models were still wearing one-piece swimsuits. Over the years, Yeager would make bikinis for herself and her models. Though Bunny continued to model, her interest was mainly for working behind the camera. In 1953, she signed up for some photography classes. For one of her class assignments she took a couple of friends to Boca Rotan’s Africa U.S.A. park, the same park one year or so later she would take Bettie Page and shoot some of their best-known photographs. When still an amateur, Yeager sold her first photo, a picture of local model, Maria Stinger, also known as Miami’s answer to Marilyn Monroe, to Eye magazine.
Maria Stinger at Africa U.S.A in Boca Raton. Bunny Yeager’s first sale.
Bettie Page was already a popular model in New York’s seedy world of ‘camera clubs,’ men’s magazines, and for her work with Irving and Paula Klaw. On vacation in Florida, Bettie contacted a few photographers including Bunny Yeager. By this time, Yeager had some professional work to her credit, both in front and behind the camera, but was still new in the business. The women worked well together. They did a wide variety of early morning shoots on Florida’s pristine beaches. The sunlight graced and exposed Page and Yeager’s other models for the natural beauties they were. Yeager designed many of the bikinis Bettie Page wore. During this period, Bunny asked if Bettie would mind working with animals. No problem, she responded. Bunny set up a photo session at Africa U.S.A. in Boca Raton. Bettie posed with a wide variety of animals: zebras, monkeys, ostriches, and cheetahs. Those photos became extremely popular, for Yeager her biggest sellers. Bettie’s skimpy outfit in the photos mirrored the wild animals’ fur. Yeager had another idea; a Christmas photo. She photographed Bettie kneeing next to a small Christmas tree wearing nothing but a Santa Claus hat and a smile. Playboy magazine, still in its infancy, and still accepting photographs from unknown photographers published the photo and used it as the centerfold for the January 1955 issue. Bunny received $100. Bunny has claimed to have taken at least 1,000 pictures of Page.
Bettie Page on the each in Florida and Bettie and Bunny at Africa U.S.A. in Boca Raton
The 1950’s and 1960’s were Bunny’s best years both as a photographer and as a model. She did a lot of her own modeling in front of the camera by using her camera’s timer. She did five photographic layouts for Playboy and even appeared in the magazine herself. Her photographs appeared in other girlie magazines of the day including Cavalier, Nugget, Escapade, Sunbathing, and the National Police Gazette, in addition to hundreds of pin-up calendars that men had hanging in locker rooms and elsewhere. Her work also appeared in more mainstream magazines like Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Esquire, and Women’s Wear Daily. Other work included working as a still photographer in Jamaica during the filming of the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. That famous white bikini shot of Ursula coming out of the water. Yep, that was photographed by Yeager.
Ursula Andress on the set of Dr. No. Photograph by Bunny Yeager
In the 1970’s, times changed. Magazines like Playboy, Penthouse, and others wanted more graphic pictures, something Yeager was not willing to do. Her girl next door innocent, yet sexy look was out of style for magazines like the hardcore Hustler. It wasn’t until the 2000’s when Yeager’s photography began to regain its due fame. In 2010, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh presented Bunny Yeager: The Legendary Queen of the Pin-up. The show was a collection of twenty-eight self-portraits. They were both artful and sensual and became an influence on modern-day photographers like Cindy Sherman. Other exhibits followed. Over the years there have been a series of books published on her work. One of the last before her death was Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom Pinup Photography’s Golden Era by Petra Mason. Bunny died in 2014 at the age of 85.
Books by Bunny Yeager
Bunny Yeager on Film
In the 2005 film, The Notorious Bettie Page, Bunny is portrayed by Sarah Paulson. It’s a small role as brief as her real-life collaboration with the model. The movie itself seems all too innocent; Page’s acting career, modeling, bondage photos and eventually her path back to religion. The film ignores Bettie’s later years of depression, a nervous breakdown, and her lack of compensation for the photos and movies she did. Gretchen Mol does an excellent job as Page; as expected Bunny’s career and accomplishments are ignored.
That said, Bunny had a diverse career in the movies mostly behind the scenes. In 1968, she appeared in a small role as a Swedish masseuse in the Frank Sinatra P.I. film, Lady in Cement. She also appeared in the Paul Newman film, Harry and Son (1984) and in an episode of the TV series B.L. Stryker (1989) in which she once again played a masseuse.
Bunny also appeared in a few low budget exploitation films mostly playing herself in films like Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera (1963), Bunny Yeager’s Nude Las Vegas (1964), Nudes of Tiger Beach (1965), all directed by exploitation maven Barry Mahon. Yeager also appeared in a series of documentaries, the most prominent included 100 Girls by Bunny Yeager (1999), Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010), and Bettie Page Reveals All (2012).
Bunny was also behind the scenes as a still photographer, most prominently as previously mentioned in Dr. No (1962). Other films were in the pre-porn exploitation film world of works like Nude on the Moon (1961) and Blaze Starr Goes Nudist (1962) both directed by the prolific Queen of Sexploitation, Doris Wishman.
You can read earlier installments in the From Real to Real: Still Photographers in the Movies by clicking right here.