Saturday, July 31, 2010

Duluth's Tall Ships: Johnny Depp and more lore of the Bounty II

The nine Tall Ships currently in our Duluth Harbor have caused quite a flurry of activity in our town.

Everyone who lives here–and tons of tourists–have populated the Canal Park and harbor area just to see the ships. And no one is disappointed. It's festive and fun for everyone. While we only had three ships in port during the last Tall Ship event in Duluth, we now have nine vessels docked in the harbor. The crowds are big and everyone has a better shot at touring and seeing the ships with nine of them here.

One ship, however, has become the most popular, with long waiting lines to get on board. The popular Bounty II is the one everyone wants to see. It's a movie star, with Brando's "Mutiny on the Bounty" as it's first performance and many more recent roles, including Johnny Depp's pirate ship in those films. Guess there is a Johnny Depp look alike on board this visiting Bounty and he's causing quite a stir.

You can read more about the Bounty II history and learn more of its lore by checking out the link to today's  Duluth News Tribune site HERE.

And... if you want to pay $150 a night per person, you can travel with the crew as they complete their Great Lakes United Tall Ships Challenge by checking the Bounty site schedule for openings HERE.

The other ships also will book passage and you can check the Visit Duluth site HERE to learn more about those sailing experiences as well as catch all the updates on Tall Ships Duluth 2010 Festival.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Duluth's tall ships: Ghost of Marlon Brando on tall ship, Bounty II...

By Jim Heffernan  

I saw Marlon Brando on the Duluth waterfront opening night of the great festival of tall ships. (The photo to your right is of one of those tall ships passing under Duluth's Aerial Bridge during the Grand Parade of Sail in Canal Park on 7-29-10. Someone my son knows took this amazing shot while perched on top of the Marine Museum.)

Of course the actor is dead and gone, but as I stood alongside the Bounty II, the sailing ship built for his 1962 film version of “Mutiny on the Bounty,” it didn’t take much imagination to envision Brando, as Fletcher Christian, and Trevor Howard, as Captain Bligh, glaring each other down on the deck of the imposing sailing vessel.

And we can likely thank Brando, should we ever make it to wherever his afterlife put him (one wonders), for the ship being here at all, or even existing. As I stood on the quay just a few feet from the Bounty II I found myself thinking about its journey from 1962’s filming in the South Seas to Duluth 48 years later.

In 1962 there was no bigger movie star in Hollywood – in the world – than Brando. He could take on any project he chose and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men at a movie studio would see to it that it would happen.

So, if he wanted to remake “Mutiny on the Bounty” (it had been filmed in 1935 with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton in the leading roles) it would be done. And if to do so it required building a working replica of the 18th century ship Bounty, it would be done. It was done.

And as we see this weekend on the Duluth waterfront, the Bounty II is still sailing the seven seas, and now the greatest of the unsalted seas, Lake Superior, thanks to Marlon Brando and some of the king’s horses and men of almost 50 years ago.

To see The Grand Parade of Sail, catch this video on KQDS Radio Facebook page HERE. It's utterly amazing and majestic.

To check out the activities involved with the big Tall Ships in Duluth, click this Visit Duluth site HERE.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Many noses out of join over Clinton nuptials...

By Jim Heffernan

By now I guess I have to face up to the fact that I will not be invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding next Saturday (July 31). You’d think I’d have received the invitation by now.

Not that I’m feeling hurt, or left out, mind you. Of course I voted for her father, Bill, twice and I would gladly have voted for her mother, Hillary, for president if she had been nominated. Guess that wasn’t enough to wrangle an invitation.

Still, having married off a couple of my own kids, I know what the Clintons are going through developing their short-list of, the news reports report, 400 guests. That’s considered small by their standards, but it sounds pretty big to me.

Agreeing on an invitation list is one of the most trying aspects of planning a wedding. People you have always liked but don’t see much of have to be chopped in favor of people you see more of but don’t like as well.

Arbitrary after arbitrary decision must be made as you sit with your list (remember, the other family has its list too) drawing lines through names of people you know would love to be included. Well, at least the distaff half of a potential couple would love it. Sexist though it might sound, men are not THAT nuts about weddings, preferring instead a round of, say, golf on a bright sunshiny June afternoon. Go figure.

On Saturday (June 24) the New York Times (click HERE to read the story) reported that many, many people who have supported the Clintons politically over the years are not invited and some of their noses are out of joint. The story used those words – noses out of joint.

Mine is not. I remain content with the memory of receiving Christmas cards from Hubert Humphrey when he was vice president of the United States. I wonder what I did with them.

I just hope, for everyone’s sake on the front lines of the Clinton wedding, that they remember to invite Marc Mezvinsky. I know, I know, you’ve never heard of him. He’s the groom.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Never mix Old Spice and spoiled milk...

By Jim Heffernan
Good Old Spice. Oops…make that Good old Old Spice. What American male hasn’t slapped the aftershave on his cheeks, or spread a few drops of Old Spice cologne behind his ears before a date?

It was my first aftershave -- even before I started shaving very much. The smell of Old Spice signaled that you were, by gosh, no longer a boy, but a man, even if you were somewhere in between.

Thoughts of Old Spice came back recently with news reports that the “Old Spice Guy” (click HERE for the link) commercials have become a sensation on YouTube. Google Old Spice and you’ll find out why it has become one of the most popular social media advertising campaigns of all time. It’s gone viral, as they say.

But I have mixed thoughts about Old Spice because of an incident in my youth – we’re talking late teens here – involving the popular aftershave. It might make a boy-cum-man smell pretty good, but don’t try it in your car to cover other, um, less attractive odors.

Let me explain. One time I placed a grocery bag containing a carton of milk on the floor of the back seat of our family car. The carton leaked, soaking the carpet with milk. Oh well, I thought, it’s only milk. I sopped it up with a sponge and doused it with water and got on with my life, such as it was at the time.

It wasn’t long, however, before the summer heat began to produce an odd smell inside the car. Well, odd might not be the best description. Odd at first, maybe, then as summer went on, rotten, then disgusting, then putrid. By August, the inside of the car smelled like what I would imagine the odor would be if we had left a dead body in the car for weeks. It became unbearable.

Milk, I learned from that experience, will do that when left soaking the carpet of a 1952 Lincoln Capri hardtop. Aside from that, though, it was a pretty nice car. Only you couldn’t stand to ride in it.

At the time, I was still very single and would use the car on an occasional date. Inevitably, the day came when I would need it for such a purpose, but what to do about the horrible smell? How could any romance ensue riding around with nose plugs on? Even opening the windows didn’t help.

Ah, ha. Enter Old Spice, my aftershave of choice at the time. I’ll pour Old Spice on the carpet where the milk had spilled and at the very least the interior of the car will smell like a man, I reasoned. What girl could resist that?

So I dumped most of a bottle of the after-shave on the carpet, confident that I had solved the problem.

Turns out, though, that I had not solved the problem. Oh, the car no longer smelled like a decomposing dead body had been left in the back seat. It smelled like a decomposing musk ox had been left in the back seat. Old Spice had turned the perfectly normal stench of an unattended dead body into a sickly sweet odor that called up olfactory memories of every rancid stink you had ever experienced, including poorly vented outhouses.

Try that on a date on a warm summer night.

To bring this to a conclusion, we ended up tearing the carpeting out of the car, right down to bare metal floorboards. But the fetid odor persisted so we ended up getting rid of the car.

As for me, I switched to Aqua Velva for a while, then English Leather. Now I wear nothing at all. On my face, that is.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lindsay and Danny: Hollywood not so confidential...

By Jim Heffernan
Lindsay Lohan: "With shutterbugs snapping away as she is being escorted from the courthouse by beefy sheriff’s deputies -- including a woman officer sporting a ballerina-style hairdo if not physique -- another movie star enters the scene."

Things you wouldn’t know if you didn’t read the New York Times

Duluth’s a pretty good place to live, but you do get the feeling sometimes that maybe we’re a bit out of the mainstream.

Take this incident in Los Angeles, reported in Saturday’s Times (June 10).

Lindsay Lohan, who has taken over for Britney Spears this summer as our No. 1 person famous for being famous (whatever happened to Paris Hilton?), was hailed into L.A. County court for violating her probation.

She has been on probation for driving under the influence of a couple of mind-altering substances including, but not limited to, alcohol.

So, as the Times reported in a survey story of celebrity goings-on in L.A. County court (Lindsay is not Alonehan), the currently blond young actress was greeted by a phalanx of paparazzi eager to, well, take her picture of course.

With shutterbugs snapping away as she is being escorted from the courthouse by beefy sheriff’s deputies -- including a woman officer sporting a ballerina-style hairdo if not physique -- another movie star enters the scene.

It is none other than vertically challenged Danny DeVito. And what’s he there for? Jury duty. Yes, jury duty.

All ye who think you are too busy or too big a cheese to serve on a jury, forever remember that even Danny DeVito responded to the call. What a great American. Never mind that he threw mamma from the train.

Moral: Violate your probation and you could meet Danny DeVito.

Note: check out the Times story HERE.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Death comes to "Rebel's" Corey Allen 55 years after Buzz Gunderson

By Jim Heffernan
Corey Allen is dead and you don’t know who he was. I didn’t know the name either, when I saw his obit recently in the New York Times.

The 75-year-old actor wouldn’t have warranted a Times obit had he not had a role in the 1955 movie “Rebel Without a Cause,” starring – who else? – James Dean. Dean was already dead from an auto crash by the time “Rebel” was released.

I was in my teens then – starting my junior year in high school – and I cannot possibly convey the impact that movie had on us. You had to be there, be a teenager, be ready at that same time for “Rock Around the Clock” and the imminent arrival of Elvis.

Heady times. Not any “headier,” I suppose, than anyone else’s times. Things are pretty heady for every generation when there are 16 candles on the cake. But James Dean and Elvis Presley arriving in the mid-50s got our attention, and they hold our attention today, although you sense some fading now more than a half-century later.

Why all this over the passing of a minor actor in one iconic movie? Well, here’s why: Dark-haired and ominous looking, clad in a leather jacket and Levis, Allen played the leader of the high school gang that confronted Dean when he showed up, new to the school.

The Allen character never cracked a smile; got into a knife fight with Dean and later challenged him to a game of “chicken,” which he called a “chickie run,” in which the two would drive a pair of speeding stolen cars toward a cliff over the ocean and the first one to jump out of the car was the chicken.

Whew. This all seemed pretty scary to a good Lutheran boy like me from Duluth. But everybody knew things were different in California. That’s the way teens were in California, right?

But something just before the “chickie run” caught my ear that I found, well, if not shocking, amazing. Allen shakes Dean’s hand as they head for their respective cars and says, “I’m Buzz Gunderson.”

Buzz Gunderson! Cripes, what’s a good Scandinavian boy doing leading a Los Angeles gang of hoods? I knew some Gundersons back here in Duluth: Grandparents from Sweden or Norway, parents hard-working, God-fearing Lutherans or Covenants or Baptists or what we used to call “holy rollers” (not so many Scandinavian Catholics in those days). The kids in the younger generations were no saints (we even wore leather jackets, sported duck tail haircuts), but we weren’t doing chickie runs off Skyline Drive or having knife fights in the shadow of our high schools.

I suppose enough time has passed so that many people reading this don’t know how the movie chickie run ended. Buzz Gunderson went over the cliff and was killed when his jacket sleeve got tangled in the door handle. James Dean rolled out of his car and lived, but only for a few months in real life before crashing his sports car. Corey Allen lived for another 55 years.

And I’m still around, despite surviving many a chickie run…to KFC.

Note:  A reader commented on the actor, Corey Allen, who played the high school hood in "Rebel Without a Cause." He had a full career in acting as well as behind the camera work and received many awards. The reader mentioned that his performance in the 2009, "Quarantined," was awesome. Here's his obit in the July 1 NY Times (Click HERE) to learn more about this actor/director.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer vacation...

Had a great summer vacation week with all the kids and grandkids at adjoining cabins on a beautiful lake in near-by Wisconsin. We were pretty busy with six grandkids ages 5-infant. Here's grandpa reading to the bunch.
Stay tuned...