The Tannhäuser Gate at Casa Sinatra

tumblr_m0nuhqcrMW1r48hglo1_1280Casa Sinatra sits on top of a mountain that overlooks a silvery bay; Nancy used to say that on fine days it looked like the ships were hanging in the sky.

There are three great walls in concentric rings going around the mountain, built originally as defenders of Nancy’s most precious pearl. As I pulled up to the gate at the foot of the mountain, two security guards appeared from the plastic bushes and bade me stop.

Scifi-2-650x974They both wore reflective specs, sailor pants and shirts so small they could have been henchmen in 60s Batman. ‘Good evening, gentlemen,’ I said pleasantly. But they were not having a particularly good evening.

Henchman # 1 (let us call him Steve) leaned over the door and breathed sourly into my face, while Henchman # 2 (let us call him Ernest) went round behind me and said, ‘Yep,’ while sneaking peeks of his bulby forearms in the shining hubcaps of my pappy’s sugar-sweet pink Cadillac.

When he had temporarily done with using his mouth for breathing, Steve said, ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I’ve come to see Nancy Sinatra.’

‘She expecting you?’

‘No. I just thought I’d pop over.’

‘Yep,’ said Ernest earnestly, and spat gum onto the gravel.

‘This your car?’ said Steve, leaning against the bonnet.

‘Sure…’ said I.

‘It’s just that we got very particular instructions not to let a pink Cadillac pass,’ said Steve.

‘Oh, really,’ said I.

‘Yep,’ said Ernest.

‘Well,’ said I. ‘Is it the make or the colour you object to more?’

That got him. ‘Don’t really know,’ said Steve. ‘Hang on a minute there.’

So Steve gestured to Ernie and Ernie came round to the front of the car and then he phoned up to the house. Now both men were leaning on the hood like a couple of hep cats. There was a crackle on the phone. Ernie said, ‘Yep, yep.’ Then the henchmen conferred saying rhubarbrhubarbrhubarb. Then Steve turned back to me and said, ‘Both. No pink. No Cadillacs. No pink Cadillacs. The order was to shoot on sight.’

As a matter of fact I could imagine Nancy coming home after she broke up with Archie,  saying, ‘If you see a pink Cadillac coming up the drive, shoot to kill,’ over her thin shoulder, with a Menthol stuck to her bottom lip. I don’t suppose she meant it really, but then again she was quite upset, and my father certianly has a knack for provoking people to murder.

More to the point, the things that Sinatras say have a way of happening. In his Mafia days Frank Snr set up a very intricate protection racket around his daughter, comprised of many cells which went on dividing and adapting like the most protean virus. He has been dead for fifteen years but there’s no doubt that the number of defenders of Nancy’s elderly virtue still go on multiplying like the worms and bacteria eating out his ol’ blue eyes.

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Now as the great gate rose before me, I saw it as Archie must have seen it all those years ago when he first starting paying court to Nancy. There were spotlights roaming over the wall, and illuminating clumps of sagebrush on the hill, which left a residual glitter on the back of your eyes when the spots moved on; a shadowy shape hanging in the darkness below flashed a strange green light in from the sea. Then a volley of shots sounded from one of the security towers, and all of the birds rose up, screeching.

Fuck me. Archie was always going on about attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, and c-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate…  So this was it: the Tannhäuser Gate, first defence of Casa Sinatra.

It is always a little unsettling to discover that people you believe to be mad aren’t quite as mad as you thought they were.

Continued next post: The road to Casa Sinatra

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The very last in Texas

GWTW Vivien Leigh makeup stillFor a minute I had no words. From outside there was a sort of weird humming or ticking sound which often came over Shitsville in the long afternoons, when the heat began folding back in over itself, and the whole shoddy main street with its shadows at dissenting angles began to tilt slightly backwards too. Then slowly slowly I reached up and removed my pink sunglasses, folded one side in, then the other, placed them on the desk and pushed them forward to rest there like a trump card between the flight of Mayoral pens and the overflowing Mayoral ashtray. I’m told I have very beautiful eyes.

‘The truth is, Roger, the truth is…’ I could hardly find the voice to speak. We continue now in a poignant key like the speech at the end of Bladerunner:

I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain.

[Joanne Taylor suggests that Batty aligns himself with Wagner’s Tannhäuser, a character who has fallen from grace with men and with God. Both are characters whose fate is beyond their own control.]

Miss Shitsville [I] cont’d:  ‘That when I first saw Shitsville ahead on the horizon… this monumentally… bent, filthy, absurd collection of ugly stucco houses collapsing into dust in the middle of the desert at the end of a long dirt track that nobody in their right mind has traipsed for 70 years… A town full of whores and alcoholics and tax cheats; cads, charlatans, chancers, cretins, apologists for cretinism, pornographers, crazy Baptist pamphleteers and otherwise spectacularly stupid creatures who refer to themselves, hopefully, as “human beings”… I thought, this is it; for the first time in my life I felt…’

At that I stopped again… just couldn’t go on… almost choked on the word ‘home’. I have a real horror of sentimental bullshit and earnestness in music. And tho I might say “the truth is…” the truth is that there is no real truth that I can detect drifting about or shuddering under the layers of horseshit in any part of me, there are only umpteen versions of the same or similar truths spiralling down and down on and on forever inside of my black heart, all of which may or may not be true at any one time; still I consider these unborn truths and examine them one by one in light of their intended effect, trying to come up with the best one; and the closest that I ever come to being honest I am really sitting about two inches removed from myself marvelling how it really almost seems like I am really crying.

‘I might get away with it,’ I thought.

But Roger didn’t say anything at all.

‘Roger you said you didn’t want to be mayor anymore.’

‘Was I drunk?’ said Roger.

‘Yes…’

GWTW Vivien Leigh make up still

 

Everything else that could be said has already been said; so this is the last you will hear of Texas.

Another shot in the back in Texas

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At that I suppose my rage was a little misplaced. I turned to Jack Daniels, whorehouse owner and chief vigilante.

‘And Jack. How can you — turn the vigilantes on me!’ I was the one who organised the vigilante party in the first place, about two weeks ago when the sheriff went missing. I hear they found him, eventually, on the downside of a dry, pebbly cliff; ‘Must of taken a long walk,’ was the word in town.

But Jack didn’t say anything more; only a great number of the vigilantes seemed to appear in the saloon and rise up out of their chairs, chaps creaking. I could hear the clock in the back parlour ticking.

At that I simply turned on my heels and marched out; ‘Go on, shoot me in the back,’ I said. ‘It’ll only ping off the knife that’s already there.’

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Next I marched back across the road to the council chambers and stormed into the Mayoral office calling for my sexy secretary Miss Summertime, who was supposed to be dusting the visitor’s parlour, but was in there giggling with the doors shut and the blinds drawn; I could smell cigars, and the Mayoral decanter was missing from my desk.

‘MISS SUMMERTIME!’ I yelled. Suddenly she came scurrying out, a little tipsy, and her hair undone, but no worse off than usual on any given Tuesday afternoon in Shitsville.

‘Yes m’am?’

‘I need to dictate an important letter appertaining to civic matters,’ I said.

‘I’m a little busy now,’ said Miss Summertime looking regretfully towards the darkened parlour. ‘Can’t you get someone else to type it?’

‘How about I get someone else to be my sexy secretary?’

Someone inside the parlour coughed. ‘You could try typing it yourself?’ she suggested hopefully.

I was looking down at her from the landing, and I’m afraid at that moment I lost my cool and threw a boot at her.

Cont’d here: TXXXS.

At home with Frank & Dean

Dean Martin [& Family] Dean Martintumblr_lgn4rgMZIJ1qet8i6o1_500 The Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra Christmas Special

Nancy Sinatra Claudia Martin 1962Dean Martin family20130410_frank_nancy_sinatra_91

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“Most Saturday nights, Dean Martin and his second wife, Jeannie (who helped raise his children from his first marriage, and three more of theirs together), had a party in their big house on Mountain Drive just above Sunset—often the setting for an argument between Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. “Dad said, ‘Oh, swell! The Saturday-night fights,”’ recalls Gail Martin Downey, who abandoned her own singing career to raise a family and now lives quietly in Rancho Mirage, California, and who would babysit for little Jamie Lee Curtis.

Weeknights involved a stricter regimen. In exchange for letting Dean play golf more or less whenever he wanted, Jeannie insisted only that he be home for dinner with the kids each night by six sharp. One night, while filming a movie with Sinatra, he brought Frank home for dinner right on time, only to find his seven little Martins, the prodigious issue of his loins, each with a guest, filling all the chairs. [So] Dean said to Frank, ‘How about that? I fucked myself out of a seat at the dining-room table!’”

http://www.vanityfair.com/style/features/2009/03/hollywood-kids200903

TV STAR PARADE (The Man I Love Won’t Marry Me)

Nancy Sinatra Dean martin March 1968 And so I learned all of the sad and sorry truth about Nancy. Perhaps it was my father’s delivery but it all sounded unbelievably trashy: ‘The Man I Love Won’t Marry Me’; Sinatra’s Fears about his Daughter and Dean Martin; The Awful Mistakes Sinatra Fears his Daughters Will Make (… Compatibility: Should you Know Before Marriage?); The Sinatras Barred From Gail Martin’s Wedding, (Dean’s Wife Fights a ‘wasting illness’), etc. etc. etc. The whole sad and sordid tale had been splashed across the block colour covers of TV STAR PARADE, and then Nancy had suffered from a mystery illness for ten or so months and gone off to live in the Bahamas while she recovered.

August 1967

If my cousin Frankie ever found out… oh, but I hate to think. He might be upset and embarrassed that he was not Archie’s son after all those TV interviews, and then Nancy would have hell to pay if ‘the secret’ came out out after all these years… just like ‘In Other Desert Cities’, if you saw that play… Someone could make a lot of money writing that book, methinks. Well you see the permutations of the issue. I saved Archie, I mean, ‘Tom Jones’ from choking to death at the last minute as he was my only eyewitness and got him to call Nancy.

8bgivj3xo3bhjvxbhjsc1tx2tms3smx February 1968 43gocch8yn38cc83