Tuesday, December 6, 2022

"The Girl Can't Help It" (1956)

Do you want to have a weird but fun experience?

There are times, like the 1950s and 1960s, when culture shifts dramatically. New views, reflected in cinematic entertainment, replace older ones. Sometimes, and this is rare, both new and old approaches confusingly appear in the same movie. Here's a perfect example.

"The Girl Can't Help It" was made in 1956. It was intended as light comedy, establishing Jayne Mansfield as a "sexpot" (a term they used back then). Much of the movie is a dumb running-joke depicting how Jayne's body has such an ultra-feminine shape that it renders men speechless. The view accurately reflects early-Fifties culture on gender.

During the making of the movie, however, producers felt the film needed something more to appeal to young people -- so they added wildly discordant scenes of nascent rock-n-roll. Amazing musical performances were added by emerging rock stars like Little Richard, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and The Platters. About a third of the movie are fabulous concerts by young musicians who would go on to later rock stardom. (This is the new clashing with the old.) These scenes alone are reason to watch the movie.

Plus there's another reason: the movie is justly credited with being the catalyst for formation of the greatest music group of all time (The Beatles). Teenage Paul McCartney was entranced by the performances of his idols in the movie and learned how to imitate them. When Paul met teenage John Lennon, Lennon was hugely impressed by Paul's imitation and both of them became obsessed with the movie when released in Britain in 1957. The rest is history.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Best of the Year

It's the end of the year already. How did that happen? 

I thought it'd be fun (and possibly helpful to you) to list my favorite things of 2022. Most are new but some are recent discoveries of old stuff. I recommend all of them. Here goes:

- Best TV: "The Peripheral" (Prime) (Sci-fi drama adapted from William Gibson novel with themes that resonate today)

- Best Food TV: "Somebody Feed Phil" (Sweet man travels and makes friends while eating dinner)

- Best Foreign TV: "Borgen" (Best political drama of all time, returning after long hiatus with an exceptional story)

- Best Book: "Sacred Nature" by Karen Armstrong (eye-opening look at how ancient civilizations regarded nature, with important lessons for us today)

- Best Artistic Performance Witnessed Live: Opera singer Golda Schultz (performing with NY Philharmonic)

- Best Sports Witnessed Live: New Jersey Devils (Hockey; palpable excitement and a magical season)

- Best New Game Obsession: Wordle (NY Times)

- Best Film Noir: "In A Lonely Place" (Humphrey Bogart, 1950)

- Best Action Film: "Alita: Battle Angel" (Rosa Salazar, 2019)

- Best Lesbian Romance: "Portrait Of A Lady On Fire" (2019)

- Best L.I. Pizza: Taglio (Mineola) (Roman-style fermented dough; orgasmic)

- Best L.I. Seafood: Catch Oyster Bar (Patchogue) (fresh, expertly prepared seafood)

- Best L.I. Fine Dining: Sandbar (Cold Spring Harbor) (perfect blend of exquisite cuisine and friendly atmosphere)

- Best L.I. Spice Store: Sayville N Spice (Sayville)

- Best Hot Sauce: The General's Hot Sauce (Dead Red) (Medium-hot red cayenne sauce)

- Best New Motorcycle: Janus Halcyon 450 (retro-style with modern tech)

- Best Personal Addition: My new garage (room for four motorcycles and my 2021 Miata)

- Best Personal Experience: Opportunity to have private dinner with artistic genius Lino Tagliapietra

- Best History: Reading about the lives of Abstract Expressionist artists

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


Well, it's started...

I've been riding my Janus to break it in but hadn't parked the bike anywhere. Today I did -- and within minutes a crowd surrounded the bike. A few people drove past, turned around and returned to get a closer look. Geez!

The uniform reaction is: "Holy shit! What is that?!"

As the only kid on the block with one of these handmade beauties I need to brush up on my public speaking skills. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

First Ride

Janus Halcyon 450: Got my new bike registered and on the road. Took it for a first ride today. Wow!

I discovered three remarkable things. (1) Gas-mileage: I'm getting 65 mpg which is about average for this bike. 65!! This gives the small gas-tank (2.1 gal.) a range of over 100 miles which is amply adequate for around-town rides. (2) The bike is so light! I feel like I can lift it up with two hands. Only 350 lbs. (3) Ride: peppy and nimble. Unlike bigger motorcycles this bike handles easily and can squeeze into a shoe-box. Will wait until after break-in to explore high speeds.

When you own multiple vehicles you want each to deliver a different experience. This one does; it's nothing like my other bikes. Great choice.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

New Motorcycle!

My new motorcycle has finally arrived!

You may recall I ordered this bike back in March. It took a long time because the motorcycle was hand-made by a small company in Indiana (Janus Motorcycles). The company builds only 100 bikes a year and there's a waiting-list to get this new model (Halycon 450). There's high demand for these bikes despite their high price and rarity. I'm probably the only kid on Long Island to own one.

I love the bike's retro-style which harkens back beyond the usual 1950s to an earlier time. Its closest inspiration is the famous Brough Superior SS100, a British bike made in 1924. None of those old machines are in rideable condition today and the Janus has new technology. I have the best of both worlds -- vintage style with the safety of modern tech.

I also love that I was able to customize the bike to suit my individual preferences. For instance, the bike has a number-plate on the front fender which I customized with a message of personal significance. The plate reads "RH-104" which are my initials and the house-number of my childhood home. I fondly recall that house and its number is etched in my memory since, when I was a toddler, my mother forced me to repeat it endlessly in case I got lost. Thus, this is MY motorcycle, personalized in a pleasant way. 

See ya on the road!