It was a gorgeous day in Saint Louis, with crystal blue skies and a balmy high in the seventy’s. I ended up playing hooky from work. I took the afternoon off and bicycled in the park. I saw Mary A. who was also cycling. We’ll attend her Team Kaldi’s party later tonight. It is not an official team event. I think with a team population now at well over a hundred riders, Team Kaldi’s has grown too big for even Bill and Mary’s large house. Looking at the invitee list, I was reminded of the above photo that has been hanging in the basement for many years now. It was taken during the fall, after the very first Team Kaldi’s MS-150 bicycle ride. It is a little worse for wear, but then aren’t we all?
Since I was bicycling alone today, I listened to the radio and various podcasts. One show that I caught part of was today’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Her show today was a retrospective on Roger Ebert, the Chicago based film critic who died yesterday. She had interviewed him several times over the many years of her show. I was most struck by two stories that Ebert told. The setup for the first story was a question that Gross asked Ebert, whether he had found actors to become petulant if during an interview a less than flattering question was ever asked. Ebert explained that this phenomenon is the result of the advent of the publicist. A person whose goal it is to script every press interaction.
As counterpoint to the modern publicist, Ebert told the story of his interview with the actor, Lee Marvin. Marvin was very drunk that day. His publicist was there too, but he was preoccupied with buying more beer. Marvin’s girlfriend was there too. Marvin’s dog came out of the bedroom with a pair of ladies panties draped across its head. The girlfriend asked, “What’s that?” Marvin answered, “Your panties.” She said, “Those aren’t my panties.” To which Marvin replied, “Bad dog!”
Ebert’s other story had to do with fame and the effects that it has on one’s life. He explained that once you obtain fame, you have to be nice to everyone, the people on the elevator, the waitress, people on the street. You don’t know who they are, but they know who you are and they will tell everyone what you did.
His second story involved Michael Caine. It occurred in the sixties, when Caine was still a young man. Caine was on his first trip to America. He had heard tales of the dirty book stores in the US. The ones in Britain were rather tame by comparison. He had just obtained fame, with Alfie, so he didn’t want to be seen in such a store. Walking by the window of such a store in Times Square, he noticed that none of the store’s patrons ever made eye contact with each other. Caine realized that he could in fact walk-in to such a store unobserved. He didn’t account for the store’s proprietor, who sat up high to see all and with a microphone usually just chided his customers, “This is a store, not a reading library.” This day the loudspeaker also blared, “And we have the famous British actor, Michael Caine, in the rubber-wear room.”