WEIRDLAND: Sinatra in Palm Springs, The Real Jerry Lewis

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Sinatra in Palm Springs, The Real Jerry Lewis

“Somehow, the myth of Sinatra is very much alive. And you hear people in bars, restaurants, tell stories, tall tales. ‘Oh, I knew Frank. We were friends.’ And you wonder, wait a minute. This can’t be. Is this true?” wondered Leo Zahn, a filmmaker who has directed and photographed more than 600 commercials throughout his career. So he set out to make a whimsical film about all the myths surrounding Sinatra in the desert. But then he met socialite and philanthropist Nelda Linsk who actually knew Sinatra and was a close friend of his latest wife, Barbara Sinatra. “She connected me with a lot of people who I would not have been able to get otherwise,” said Zahn. What he created after two years of interviews, filming, editing and clip approvals, was the documentary “Sinatra in Palm Springs – The Place He Called Home.” It explores Sinatra’s deep attachment to the resort city and the Coachella Valley, which is where he lived for almost 50 years.

The documentary celebrates its world premiere at a sold-out screening on Feb. 20 in Palm Springs during Modernism Week. The film will show again on Feb. 25 as part of Modernism Week’s new film festival called the Architecture Design Art Film Festival which features about 26 films, documentaries and shorts, over three days.The 92-minute Sinatra documentary is Zahn’s second feature-length film. His first was a documentary on architect William F. Cody called "Desert Maverick." His film on Sinatra features more than 65 clips from movies and television appearances and includes interviews with some of Sinatra’s desert friends, family and people who knew him including comedian Tom Dreesen; entertainer Trini Lopez; Desert Sun reporter Bruce Fessier; Sinatra's wife, Barbara; and restaurateur Mel Haber. 

Both Barbara Sinatra and Haber have died since the interviews. The documentary pays tribute to the unique lifestyle Sinatra led in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage and takes viewers to a bygone era when Sinatra ruled the desert. Palm Springs was Sinatra’s retreat. His refuge from all the hubbub of Hollywood. It was also a playground for him and his Rat Pack buddies who visited and wound up living in Palm Springs as well. Source: www.desertsun.com

The Rat Pack: Neon Nights with the Kings of Cool by Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell, was written and published in 1998, just before the death of Frank Sinatra on May 14, 1998. It starts with Humphrey “Bogie” Bogart and his original Rat Pack, which was the shortened variation of “Holmby Hills Rat Pack,” which included Sinatra, Judy Garland, Lauren “Betty” Bacall, Sid Luft, Bogie, Swifty Lazar, Nathaniel Benchly, David Niven, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and Jimmy Van Heusen. Following that, the book introduces Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and does talk about their breakup, followed by the story of Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and lastly Joey Bishop. Some members came and went in the good graces of Ol’ Blue Eyes, but when you were finished, you were finished. Source: agentpalmer.com

Camille Paglia on Movies, #MeToo and Modern Sexuality: "The movies have always shown how elemental passions boil beneath the thin veneer of civilization. By their power of intimate close-up, movies reveal the subtleties of facial expression and the ambiguities of mood that inform the alluring rituals of sexual attraction. But movies are receding. Many young people, locked to their miniaturized cellphones, no longer value patient scrutiny of a colossal projected image. Furthermore, as texting has become the default discourse for an entire generation, the ability to read real-life facial expressions and body language is alarmingly atrophying. Endless sexual miscommunication and bitter rancor lie ahead. But thanks to the miracle of technology, most of the great movies of Hollywood history are now easily accessible — a collective epic of complex emotion that once magnificently captured the magic and mystique of sex." Paglia’s new book, Provocations, will be published by Pantheon Books in October 2018.

—Jerry Lewis: “When I’m directing, I become a father; when I write, I perform the man; when I act, I perform the idiot.” —Steven Alan Green, founder of The Laughter Foundation (2010): “You wanna know what fucked me up the most when it came to [meeting] Jerry Lewis? That perhaps in an unintentional way, Jerry Lewis took me through the fourth wall. If you know your comedy terms, that's pretty fucking incredible. I think my life perspective has almost been reversed. Because that's part of what Jerry Lewis did. He in fact, forced me to do that in order to deal with him; that man was not of this earth.” 

The Real Jerry Lewis: Jerry was a master at candidly acting out personal vignettes about three areas of real life—relationships, situations, and predicaments. They form the backbone of his comedy. I tried to understand what he was saying, beyond the words, when I read the notes he sent me; the “I love you’s” written across my makeup mirror at home; and the longer messages I found on my desk. In 1966, one late summer afternoon, I found the following and took it to the garden to read: “To ask how deeply I feel is like asking, ‘Where is God?’ We can answer with nothing more than “if’s” and “maybe’s.” In other words, the answers are really intangibles. My feelings, where my wife is concerned, are very deep and very sacred…She is the very reason I live…for she is the only reason I know that makes living worth anything…and the boys that she produced for me are equally worth it, but one day they’ll leave and then there will be only us… She is the first human thing that has ever cared about me or for me…Oh, there were a few beings that cared, but not enough that I could have survived. It was only when she came into my life that I realized I had a life to live…”

“As I got older, I didn’t much care about being better than them anymore… I just cared about staying alive and getting some degree of respect as a human… After so many years of being made to feel like nothing I guess I worked on being something so much… The responsibility of taking care of the loves I had always had made me feel like, “Why should I care for what one day will discard me anyway?” I don’t know if that’s the case, but it sounds right…and coming from someone who loves those tremendous loves as I do, it certainly confuses me… My constant silence, I think, has been fear… of what my love would think of what I’ve done… fear of doing the wrong thing… and losing the respect I have always felt I got from her…to be placed in the position of being disrespected and disregarded again has always knotted up my insides so badly that silence seemed the only way to avoid the possibility of rejection… very often my hiding was part and parcel of that fear…The feeling of being nothing again, or being looked at with disdain, has, for as long as I can remember, been tearing me up inside… And those tears have come out looking like torment…Well, tormented I am, and have been, and pray one day soon I won’t know the feeling anymore…”

“My wrapping myself up so completely in my work helped for a while, but the “ego” that came across was never there… I have none. But I work desperately at displaying “ego” to cover the real emptiness I know inside… As a director I have found infinite peace because I am to so many an authority, a man who knows, and not someone who is treated with “pity” or “charity”…That’s the biggest reason for the love of creativity I have, for a man is free when he is creating. The feeling of “behind the camera” feels safe, and warm, and special, and certain…“Out front camera” has been very hard and trying for me…and for the first time in my life I think I can honestly admit I hated doing it and I still do… I need all the care I can get all the time… and I only seem to be able to get that from my love, my wife… I don’t ever want to appear “indifferent” to my wife… but that appearance, too, I think is just hoping not to be a burden and an annoyance to her… I just can’t remember ever being anything but an annoyance… and when I’m told I’m not, I can’t seem to recognize that is possibly the case.”

“I know I need help… but I really believe the help will come from within… Admitting to “hating performing” might help me adjust sooner… Admitting the love I have for writing and direction will, I’m sure, take me out of the depths of my depression… and will ultimately take me into the realm of peace and contentment. I want to talk more, I want to communicate more…I want to say so much, and get help from her, I want so much to scream the things that tug away at my heart and my soul…And when I try, the hurt is so strong, and deep, and festered that I clam up, and the relief I want doesn’t come… Now to bury that grief… I find someone who has equally as much or more than I so that I can be the helping hand… For if I can help, then my hurts can’t be so bad… And for years I made that a practice…to give of myself only to forget I needed more giving than anyone…”

“With it all I am a very lucky man…to have found the real, right, and perfect human being to spend my years with. I want so much to do the right thing to keep her straight and happy and healthy. When she is ill, the reaction to it isn’t any different than when the spike is forced into the vampire’s heart…it’s the only emotional thing that can kill me, and that’s when she hurts…or when I’ve caused her pain…but my intentions are never to hurt her, never to do her a moment’s pain…Never to create a frown on her lovely face…Why those things happen are a complexity to us both…And I will serve myself from here on in as a student of care and concern and caution as to how she gets treated and how I allow much of my feelings to affect her… I can only answer “God” honestly, and he knows my worth and my intentions, I have no fear of his wrath…for I know he knows I’m basically good, and fine, and honorable when it comes to my love for her… I have no guilt about what I have done thru my blindness… And “God” knows my heart is talking, not the typewriter.” —‘I Laffed ‘Til I Cried” (1993) by Patti Lewis

A primary mechanism underpinning the development of depression is perfectionism. Whilst this perfectionism-depression link has been widely documented, the present research focused on the possibility of self-compassion as a moderator of this link. Defined as setting extremely high standards, and accompanied by a highly critical evaluation of the self in pursuit of these standards, perfectionism is a complex multidimensional construct. Several studies have shown that the striving to attain high personal standards in and of itself is not necessarily destructive. But perfectionism that involves self-criticism and concerns about being negatively evaluated by others has been linked to various forms of psychopathology, thus lending credence to the conceptualisation of perfectionism as a premorbid personality type which increases vulnerability to depression. Indeed, perfectionism has been identified as a trans-diagnostic construct which underlies and maintains many forms of psychopathology including schizophrenia. The authors found that self-compassion partially mediated the link between perfectionism and depression. Positioning self-compassion to be a mediator theoretically suggests that the perfectionism reduces self-compassion and reduced self-compassion in turn increases depression. As noted by Kristin Neff in Self and Identity, self-compassion is ‘a useful emotion regulation strategy, in which painful or distressing feelings are not avoided but are instead held in awareness with kindness, understanding, and a sense of shared humanity.’ Source: journals.plos.org

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