Saturday, 17 December 2011

Bing Crosby: Let there be weed



I was feeling a bit sorry for myself yesterday, peering pitifully at my trusty digital tape recorder, not looking forward to hours of interview transcription.

I love being a journalist, really get off on doing interviews with fascinating characters and trying to capture their essence in print. It's what I live for, really.

But I do not live to do transcribing.

Old school fellars never taped interviews and I resisted technology for ages, but somewhere along the line, my brain got soft and I realized that the digital tape recorder was an invaluable tool to get accurate quotes and, basically, ensure that you don't get sued. It's come in handy on a couple of occasions with very difficult subjects who basically accused me of quoting them out of context or inaccurately.

The recorder has saved me. It also made them look like fools. Ah ha!

But transcription is a dreary and laborious occupation and I hate it more than doing dishes.

Anyway, half-way through the transcription yesterday, my neck was aching and I was feeling the need for a long break and snooze on the couch, so I turned on my digital recording of White Christmas, the Bing Crosby classic.

I must have watched that golden oldie more than 30 times. It makes me feel all is right with the world.

White Christmas is something you can always count on, even if you can't count on real snow for the holiday.

Ever since, I got my iPhone, I've started watching movies, even the old ones, somewhat differently.

I like to google the stars during slow parts, to find out their backstory on IMDB, the movie data base.

Here are a few factoids about the stars of White Christmas that might surprise you.

Bing Crosby was a devoted pot smoker. He even lobbied his right wing pals to have Maryjane decriminalized. It's said that marijuana may have been responsible for Bingo's laid back song styling and the twinkling eyes.

But it didn't make him laid back in real life.

Bing might have played a saint in the movies, but he was famously a bastard in real life, a monster who beat his kids and called them names. He was also a sadist. In his will, he bequeathed a pile of money to his boys, in trust, until they were 65.

Two of his kids -- the twins -- committed suicide.

Rosemary Clooney was a manic depressive who claimed that her nuttery cost her relationships and jobs. She suffered from what is now known as bipolar disorder for most of her life. In happier news, Rosemary married Jose Ferrer -- twice -- and is the aunt of George Clooney and the mother-in-law of Debbie Boone which makes her in-laws with Pat Boone who does those geriatric tub commercials and a few years ago came out with a heavy metal album. Six degrees.

Vera Ellen was said to have held the record for the smallest waist, ever, in Hollywood. There were rumors of anorexia (no!) and she withdrew from public life in the 1960s after losing her three-year-old to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. How sad.

Danny Kaye, always my favorite, was rumored to have had a decade-long homosexual relationship with Sir Laurence Olivier despite being happily married for much of his life. Gives new meaning to the term "back story". Who said that?

And of course, Mary Wilkes, the housekeeper was an outie lesbian at a time when it was not fashionable. She was my mother's generation's version of Jane Lynch. Tall!

I feel better knowing all of this. I can't tell you why. Maybe it's because all of those people looked so happy and put together, when I'm never happy or put together.

By the way, Bing Crosby would be 108 now.

If he'd lived.

Wouldn't it be great if he were still around to show Michael Buble and Justin Bieber a thing or two? If only he'd found a little mouse named Mr. Jingles and had a big black inmate blow coal colored particles into his lungs, we might still hear Bing crooning today.

He might have appreciated the stronger weed.

And not have hit his kids so much.

Here's Lady Gaga, proving White Christmas never gets old.



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