june 2012


judy garland

Born June 10, 1922, JUDY GARLAND would have been 90 this month. The legendary entertainer who lived life in a whirlwind and died at age 47 on June 22, 1969, was essentially ‘on’ from the time she was two and made her first public appearance singing ‘Jingle Bells.’ Of course, she was ‘on’ a lot more than the stage as her life progressed and eventually collapsed. Nearly penniless in the early ‘60s, she was urged by her agent, Irving “Swifty” Lazar (a bit of a legend himself in the publishing world), to commit her life story to tape for a planned ghostwritten autobiography intended to generate some cash flow. Never published, the Garland ‘autobiography’ has become the stuff of legend as well. Recently the tapes, or some of them, surfaced, and our 90th birthday tribute to Judy features portions of the meaty transcripts of those recordings—Garland on Garland, as it were--with all the anger, bitterness and backbiting unabridged. However self serving this, it does help explain why the performer Judy Garland, in all her neediness and fragility, was so riveting on screen and on stage. The magnitude of energy and emotion she expended during the course of a song or in developing a character was as breathtaking as it was unsettling in its rawness, much as it is on the tapes. Herein we hear Judy Garland both scared and strong; as a doting mother and a vengeful ex-wife; as a self-deprecating “legend” but also a bit delusional in a Norma Desmond kind of way about her future. Still, the art endures, and so we offer a video retrospective as well of memorable Garland moments on film and on record.


By Samuel Butler

To the iconoclastic Victorian author Samuel Butler (author of the Utopian satire Erewhon and the semi-autobiographical novel The Way of All Flesh), George Frederic Handel fulfilled the ideal of the good man and great artist. Handelian chords are quoted in Erewhon, Butler took composition lessons from Handel’s biographer, William Rockstro (1823-1895), and he fashioned the words and music of Handel-like cantatas that combine pastiche and parody. He is here to praise the master, superior, he asserts, to both Bach and Beethoven.

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