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Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

Don't work so hard at fooling people. The time and effort isn't worth it.

 

Thanks to all of you who sent birthday notes to Edward and myself. We celebrated a quiet, peaceful, uneventful birthday weekend. . . just the way we both like it.

My friend Kim Cooper, who lives to organize ‘happenings’, felt I should spend my birthday in more energetic activity. So she decided to orchestrate an affair at my star on Hollywood Blvd. I’m very proud of that star and the fact that it was installed in front of Larry Edmonds Bookstore because I was the first author ever to sell a million books out of that one facility. And it didn’t hurt my feelings that my five pointer was sandwiched between Walt Disney & Dick Powell’s constellations.

The bookstore has long since gone and in its place is a T shirt emporium. And Hollywood Blvd? Well, let’s just say that over the years, like all the rest of us, it too has gone through major changes.

Was I in attendance at this cultural event? Read on.

SUNNY SOUTH AFRICA

Hi, I first "discovered" you in about 1984 when I stumbled on "Fields of Wonder" and what a wonder it was. Undoubtedly you have helped me fathom previously unfathomable thoughts. 

Enough flattery, you have heard this all before. I am more taken up by the man who writes poems than the man who writes and performs music, and I would like to meet with you one day. In the ideal world we could spend a day in the bush/ocean exchanging ideas. In the less than ideal world that would become ten minutes of borrowed time.

Are you planning a visit to South Africa at any point? Would you like to visit South Africa?

In exchange for a day of your time I am willing to travel to meet with you and would be proud of hosting you in South Africa, if that ever became a possibility. Regards, Angus Young

Dear Angus, When you mention bush country you’re definitely talking my language. Would I like to come to South Africa? Certainly that question is rhetorical. I’ve visited your country for concerts and relaxation several times and always wept and felt a kind of despair as I left it.

One year, near the end of a sell-out tour, I agreed to do an extra concert if the promoter would fly over my pilot Ray Gallagher and a hot air balloon. He did so and after giving that final performance off we went to Botswana for a scenic safari. Every evening we’d take a thermos or two of martini’s to a hill overlooking the local watering hole, where we’d sit quietly observing each species come with their kind to join us for a drink.

There was a pecking order, the elephants down stream, the giraffe, zebra and monkeys a little further up. Finally, after all but the elephant had left, the cats came in a loping march; slightly growling and piss marking their territory along the way. No hunting or threatening behavior near the water hole, the waters of the Chobe belonged to the community.

One evening I was asked, “What has been the happiest time in your life?” Without hesitation I replied, “Right here and now.” That had to be at least 25 years ago and nothing has come along since that I could call a more perfect or happier time.

Alas, the people of your country (and mine) are not quite as friendly and democratic as the animals, but they – like my own, are a lovely people and I’ve made good friends there. No, every experience hasn’t been as lovely as watching the sunset above the Chobe river or gliding down the Valley of a Thousand Hills throwing candy to children from a three story balloon, but every visit to Southern Africa is filled with memories.

I have reviews on page two of a newspaper that have not been pasted down because the backside had front page headlines of Steve Biko’s death at the hands of his jailers. The day before I had been the first white man to give a concert of any kind in Soweto, let alone from the back of a flat-bed truck.

Do I want to come again to South Africa? 

If you know God or some other promoter who’d like to book me on a tour of your beloved country, have him get in touch with Webmaster Ken Blackie at this website. Unless this is your first visit to ASPTL then you know that we originate from South Africa every night and these premises are looked after on a daily basis by the aforementioned KB who lives and works in Johannesburg. 

We’ll meet up somewhere, Angus & that’s a promise. Cheers, Rod 

PS: Referring to God as a possible promoter is not meant as blasphemy, he’s about the only one Ken hasn’t contacted regarding my return to the RSA.

GETTING OLDER

Happy, HAPPY birthday. My wish for you is that you continue to find the peace that you've worked so hard to find.

I have a problem with getting older; I just don't like doing it. Listening to and reading your new words today... the gentle way you handle getting older... well, I think your insight is going to help me as the days and years pass. Thank you for your wisdom.

There will be many toasts made to you tomorrow. Feel them; feel the love that is sent your way by so many. You are loved so very much. Enjoy the day. Kyletta

Dear Kyletta, if growing older is worrying you, pause and think of the alternative. Statistics have proven that people who have birthdays live longer. As ever, Rod

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY

Dear Rod: Don't forget, it's this Sunday... hope to see you there! P. Edwin Letcher will be debuting his new song, "Whatcha Doin', Rod McKuen?" What will you bring to share? Kim

Dear Kim, The mind boggles, bubbles, bundles, buggers, burps, badgers, bleeps, bends ever so slightly and falls on its butt. Me at a celebration for Rod McKuen? I usually save my periods of self-abuse for when the lights are out. But walk into a buzz saw intentionally or knowingly be a spectator at a train wreck.... I don't think so.

It might be different if it only entailed choosing which accessories to wear with my moth balled tux to a black tie event, but my old bullet proof vest doesn't fit any more and it's a little late to be fitted for a set of titanium armor. Do you suppose that if I called Armani I could get him to drop everything and give it a try?

Am I curious about this event? Curious is not a synonym for apprehensive, is it? Just kidding, I know anything you're involved in is sure to be tasteful and bound to be fun. And I'm not saying I won't come (though I probably won't . . .remember, I indicated as much from the time I learned of this august - - er, April event.) 

Just in case I completely lose my mind between now and then and do decide to show up, show off or buzz off, give me the designated hour of this tribute, valet parking, open or closed bar details and other pertinent information. Will there be dancing, medical personnel in attendance, party favors? Luv (as always), Rod.

[I didn’t go and apparently I missed something. Judge for yourself. Kim has posted a message and some photos of the celebration at the site below]

http://www.scrammagazine.com/rodstar.html

ANOTHER ONE I MISSED

Aries from New Zealand writes:

“I saw this item for sale at eBay, the world's largest personal trading community, and thought that you might be interested, especially with the renewed interest in your memorabilia.

Title of item: Wild Heritage, 16mm, Rod McKuen, Will Rogers
Seller: poorbills
Starts: Apr-16-01 10:52:16 PDT
Ends: Apr-23-01 10:52:16 PDT
Price: Starts at $200.00

Item Description: “Wild Heritage “is an unusual story about young people in the days of the lawless West” For sale is an original 16 mm film version of Wild Heritage a feature film from the 1950’s (1958?) on two reels and an original Pressbook. This is an uncut and in CinemaScope film. It runs 1hour and 15 
minutes. - Starring Will Rogers, Jr., Maureen O’Sullivan, Rod McKuen, Casey Tibbs, with George Winslow, GiGi Perreau and Troy Donahue. Directed by Charles Haas, screenplay by Paul King and Joseph Stone based on a story by Steven Frazee and produced by John E. Horton. A Universal-International Picture. Film has a few splices but plays right through both reels. Age has faded the color and given a pink hue to the film. Included with the film is an original Pressbook! This is an 18”x 36” flier sent to theaters with articles, reviews, sample advertisements and broadcast suggestions. If you’re a fan of any of these actors or just a collector of vintage films, make the popcorn, dim the light! And reminisce. I accept Money Orders, checks (must clear before shipping), cash, or PayPal (preferred). Shipping/handling is $15 in the US. Outside the US, shipping will be based on destination. Happy bidding and thanks for looking.”


Dear Aries, Thanks for alerting me to this, but I didn’t make it to E-Bay to bid. “Age has faded the color” sounds like a pretty good description of the actor I’m closest to from the film. As for being ‘uncut,’ I am, thanks, but 44 minutes were cut from the film before its transfer to 16 MM. I own a print of it, but the titles are missing. Your alert to this auction was much appreciated and please keep me posted about anything else of interest that may turn up. With affection, Rod

ULTIMATE BARN BOOK

Dear Rod, I have read your interview and how you have told about your dream of a barn type house. I can help you with that if you wish. I have access to many barns in various states of repair and design that with some vision and of course money, could be made into instant square footage some only can imagine. Superstructures are there for the taking and have such rustic flair I am sure you would be impressed.

Anyway if you are interested, I have a book to share with you that will blow your jets. It is all about how it is done and photos of those who have done it already. Coincidentally, I will be in California this weekend. I will bring the book in the event you get this message in a timely manner. PS. I have all the necessary contractors to put yours together also. Let me know if I can be of service. Sincerely, Richard Baba


Dear Richard, Here’s another opportunity I missed. Alas I was out of the city when your note arrived. Maybe we can get together another time.

With your contractors, our combined visions and somebody else’s money it sounds like we could move, build or renovate a helluva barn. Cheers, Rod

Tomorrow it’s time for Friday feedback and Pass it Along. Sleep warm. 

RM 5/3/2001 Previously unpublished.

notable birthdays Mary Astor o Beulah Bondi o James Brown o Betty Comden o Alex Cord o Norman Corwin o Christopher Cross o Dave Duddley o Virgil Fox o Doug Henning o March Hopkin o Engelbert Humperdinck o William Inge o Jack LaRue o Joe Layton o Davey Lopes o Niccolo Machiavelli o Golda Meir o Sugar Ray Robinson o Anna Roosevelt o Pete Seeger o Walter Slezak o Frankie Valli o Earl Wilson
Rod's random thoughts Women young or old need liberation from men’s conception of them.

Leave your mark on something, preferably very gently.

Only fools tell complete lies.

COMPONENTS

I taught you how to whisper
even above the oceans roar.
Dammit what a job that was
because somewhere 
                      along the line
you learned to shout before
you ever learned to walk.
But do you know
I have not heard you yell
in two years now?

That worries me.
I hope you’re shouting
into closets I don’t know about
for I would rather hear your voice
become shrill tweeters in my ears
than play Pygmalion to
so valuable a friend.

-from "The Rod McKuen Calendar & Datebook,” 1972

© 1965, 1972, 1999, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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