Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Real Allard Story. "Hang on and shut up."

                 It's tempting to see these cars as holy relics;  vessels of  memories, style and dreams.  Emblems of their art and time.
                  Well fuck nostalgia.  My Allard J2, (soon to be available for viewing at Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance next March), was a wild beast you rode bareback, no helmet, no seat belt, no nothing, your butt a few inches off the pavement, the pavement visible in the spaces between the aluminum floor panels.  The doors an aluminum skin that came all the way up to your hip bone, the louvers on the hood broadcasting heat, the front wheels bounding, visible under their vestigial cycle fenders.  And you knew why open wheeled racers loved open wheels.  OK, touch another and one of you will soar.  Yeah, well forget that because you could see exactly what your wheel was doing, skimming the inside curb, then looking up for the short straight and lunging into the next corner. This car beat Ferraris in its time. This was the car to have to win Torrey Pines and Watkins Glen.

(click on images to enlarge).

        Sydney Allard was the first and greatest-of-all-time British Hot Rodder, sticking whacking great American V8s into a clever Brit Chassis.  Ol’ Sid was a racer. This car was a racer and what a racer was like a half a century ago.  Wagnerian roar, spinning wheels, no radio, no heater, no top, no roll bar, no sensors except you behind the wheel and no nothing between you and the machine and the road and your foot flat to the floor with the next corner rushing up like it was in love with you.  It had the same engine and weighed less than the Shelby Cobra of ten years later, so was around the same honking heart stopping performance.

The brakes were huge inboard finned aluminum drums at the back and even more huge drums at the front.  There must be a God if I can have this much fun just by putting my foot down and I put my foot down.  I was 28. And I believed then as I believe now, God drives an Allard.

             Allard made, by any measure, hardly any cars.  Going to race in the Targa Florio they took three Allard J2xs, and the one Cadillac V8 they could sneak through British customs  Crash a car in practice, no problem. Yank (no pun intended) out the Cad V8 and stick it in another.  Sidney Allard won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952 in an Allard.  He invented or at least was the first importer of Drag Racing in England.  He got his start racing in the 1930s by sticking a whacking great air-cooled Steyr aircraft engine into a Bugatti chassis with double wheels bolted on each side at the back  to blow every body away in English Hill climbs.  They all cried foul, sacrilege.  Sydney said that’s racing. And stuck two whacking great Steyr air-cooled V8s, side by side, in the same car. He built his own Steyr Allard right after WWll, chalking the outline of the chassis on his garage floor.  Needless to say the car was virtually unbeatable.

Sidney behind the wheel of his Steyr Allard

             His last car was the Allard GT, an elegant coupe.  The hood a little too short, the roof a little to high to say it was just like the Jaguar plus 2 coupes that were prettier and cheaper a few years later.  It was 1958 and Sidney had them stuff a full race Chrysler Hemi
V-8 in it.  Sydney was dying from cancer and his wish was to get into the Monte Carlo Rally race high up into the Alps, floor it and sail over cliff into the darkness.  

But by the time the Monte Carlo Rally began, he was too sick to drive.  The full race Hemi would not idle below 3,000 rpm.  And then, at around 3,001 rpm all of its 400+ horses came to life all at once full whack. They crashed it twice trying to get out of the garage.  Sydney would have pointed it at the door and floored it.

            (The author apologizes for the several repetitions of “whacking great” in the above, but that’s what Allards were and are.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Fractured Pelvis Chronicles: Nurse Pelvis

            I’d been in the hospital a week when Nurse Pelvis came back from her vacation.

          She was short  and looked like Jaimie Lee Curtis with short legs and extra lines in her face from seeing thirty years of pain and suffering.  Her name was something like Harriet Friedman, but we called her Nurse Pelvis because she had a long story about the time she broke her pelvis and she had this kinda sexy pelvis first walk.

              I was in traction, with a cast on my arm to help the severed tendons in my forearm heal.

            She looked at me frowning. Then she smiled and the room lit up.

         “That’s not a fractured pelvis,” she said. “Your pelvis isn’t even out of place.  It’s just cracked.”

           This was true, my pelvis would take a month of traction in a hospital bed to heal enough to stand, but it wasn’t anything like the massive fractures my dad would suffer years later.

              “I’ll tell you about a fractured pelvis,” Nurse Pelvis went on, smiling happily. “We had a guy in here a couple of years ago who was fixing his roof and fell off. Knocks the wind out of him and sprains his wrist.  So he decides that is not going to happen again.  So before he goes back up to finish fixing his roof, he ties a rope around the trailer hitch on his Suburban, and the other end around his waist.  So he goes back up on the roof and over to the other side where he’s fixing the flashing around the chimney.

                "Then his wife walks out the front door, hops in the Suburban and drives off to do the weekend shopping.  He was in here for a year, his wife left him, he lost his house.

                "That," Nurse Pelvis said with a note of triumph, “was a broken pelvis.”

                As the blog said in Barbarossa, tying yourself to security is really, really dangerous.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Turkey. Look What's Under the Bed.

The blog is with the turkeys for the weekend and will return Monday Nov. 29 for part three of the Fractured Pelvis Chroncles.  But wait, wait, there's plenty of good stuff here.  You may call them leftovers but they look tasty to me. 

Or, click on bob judd on the top of this page or click on such gems as  my favorite, How You Look at the Sky.   Or The Kythera Chronicles to shake hands with Barbarossa.

Or just cruise through the links on the lower right hand side of this page, maybe come upon some unexpected little gem like  an excerpt from The Candle In Praise of the Belleville Midgets The Midgets of Belleville. Part II Truth in Grass: a Kansas adventure, The Story of the Larned Eagle Optic, Hollywood Calls, You Pick up the Phone,
Hollywood Calls, you pick up the phone part 2 maybe my favorite My Short Happy War in Afghanistan or no, wait, wait, Fangio and the Maserati 250 F for the priceless video of Fangio in a polo shirt and helmet, absolutely relaxed driving a Maserati 250F around a beat up old race track with no run off, no barriers, no safety nothing.  My lunch with Rob Walkeris a good one even though it leaves out the Betty Grable stories. 
             Then there's Erno Goldfingers house-and-mine, which throws in Ian Flemming, no extra charge. Riding around Laguna Seca with Jackie Stewart was picked up by Jalopnik.com.
              Or Uncle John's Prayer.
               Or Clarence Judd Head-Butts a Truck.  Truck dies. That's a good one.
             And, of course, the one that started it all, Truck Story 
             You really should visit Hiltonpond.org for fabulous pictures of hawks and hummingbirds with the science to back up the beauty.
             Or go visit Elif Batumen, San Francisco's brightest and funniest writer, a fine lady to curl up with for a good read.  Here's
 Elif's homepage.
             Enjoy, Have a ball.  See you Monday. Bob

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Forrest Evers does MONZA. The Overture

the view from Castello di Pianoro
(The plot of  Monza, my third book is lifted from Robert Browning's long poem, The Ring and the Book.

        Henry James complained that Browning's poem "ruined the best novel never written."  No doubt Monza will finish off the job.  But then Monza is not really a novel either.  It's much closer to one of those grand old Italian thrillers with music; it's really  an opera. Author's note from Monza)

                Pianoro is a village of small vineyards and fruit farms patching the hillsides and valleys behind Bologna.  At the end of summer the air is clear and fragrant with peaches and apples and fat purple grapes in the vineyards.  Piano like soft.  Oro like gold.  

            The heat that had seemed so strong in London paled in the blaze of light at Bologna’s Aeroporto di Borgo Panigale.  As we stepped down the jet's ramp in the dazzling light, a silver Lancia waited ten yards away.  A syrup of heat waves rising off the tarmac made the car look transparent and floating. The tar was soft and sticky and warmed my feet through my soft Italian loafers.  The driver, a man with a beautifully tailored white suit and a perfect silver haircut knew the way and the air conditioning worked.  We settled back in the soft gray leather seats.   

                We began to climb out of the suburbs of Bologna and up into the hills, the early evening light warming the sides of the old burnt yellow and umber houses, turning them gold.  Ken, the long legs of his six foot seven frame sprawled like a go-kart driver had been silent since the airport.  No doubt rehearsing just how he should phrase it.  “I wish,” he said, turning to me, “you’d try harder.”

               It was a conversation we’d had before.  “He is not an easy man to like,” I said.

              “No,” Ken said, looking out at the scenery again, “he is not an easy man to like.  But Guido does bring quite a bit to the team.”

                Indeed he did.  To Team Arundel, Guido di Santo brought Italian tire, wine, computer and fashion sponsors with their serious budgets and marketing plans.  He bought half a million new fans, members of the Guido di Santo Fan Club formed by his manager and a PR firm when Guido won the Formula 3000 championship the year before.  The press said he brought “a much needed breath of fresh air,” to the team.  He gave us “a new lease on life”; he brought “panache” “daring” and “the kind of commitment we haven’t seen since the young Ayrton Senna showed up on Toleman’s doorstep.”  None of the above endeared him to me.

            But I would try.  For Ken and for the team.  Besides this was Guido’s day.  And as luck would have it , what was going to be a pleasant reception was now going to be a full-bore celebration of Guido’s victory at Spa.  Champagne followed by dinner.  At Guido’s fifteenth-century Castello di Pianoro.  For Guido’s sponsors it would be a chance for their management and sales force and their most important customers to meet the Formula One team that swallowed so much of their cash and gave them so much time and space in the media around the world.  To shake hands with Guido and, uh, whatsisname, the other driver.

            Up into the hills in the summer evening. Where the air was cooler and the colors even more golden.  We rounded a corner, turned left, and drove through the immense and rusting wrought iron gates, the fat tires of the Lancia crunching freshly spread stone in the driveway, the car’s shadow flicking in and out of the tall cedars that lined both sides of the drive.  We pulled up by the front door and got out in the warm evening air, the castello rising behind a flotilla of the big corporate Alfas, and Lancias, with a scattering of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Jaguars for the high rollers.  The yellow stone castle had the slightly run-down, been-in-the-family-forever look so loved by the Italians and the British.  And I had to admit, it was beautiful.
the north side of the castle
  The castle stood out on a promontory, commanding the valley.  In the honeyed light, its tower and Gothic windows were half hiding behind thick dark cedars. 
 Surrounded by orchards and vineyards wit the valley below and the mountains behind, the castello looked like the kind of family ediface that is either handed to you in a will along with the responsibility of being the duke, or you sacrifice a lifetime building an empire in frozen foods or petroleum to achieve.  At twenty-eight, Guido appeared to be doing well.  Even for a Formula One driver.

Castello di Pianoro from the south
            He was standing with his back to us, talking to a group of me dressed in the baby pastels of designer resort wear.  Without looking up, Guido waved us over. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Clarence Judd head-butts a pickup truck. Truck dies.

                              One cold February morning in Augusta, Maine, temperature a couple of degrees below zero. The sun was low behind my father, Clarence Judd,  as he stepped out onto route 202. He'd just gotten an ad from Clark Marine for his paper, the Wayne Mainer.  

                             Preoccupied as usual, his head deep inside the hood of his slate blue parka, breath steaming out, he never saw the truck. It was a Ford 150. Jimmy Devens, 34, two kids in grade school, running late, on his way to his part-time job as a mechanic, didn’t have time to step on the brake. His front bumper struck Clarence in the hip, shattering bones and knocking him high over the truck to land on the pavement behind. The truck bounded off the road, hit a sign, and stopped.They towed it to the junkyard.

                      Clarence had a fractured hip, three broken ribs, severe bruising, and multiple fractures in his pelvis. The orthopedist in Augusta said there was no point in operating. He was old. His shattered bones needed too much work, and he was too sick. Better to let him die painlessly in a cloud of morphine.

             I was working in London and it took two days to get a flight. “Don’t worry,” my mother, Cora said, “there’s really nothing you can do. Nothing any of us can do.”

             A 32 year old orthopedic surgeon at the Maine Medical Center in Portland heard about Clarence’s accident and wanted to try out a new idea—build a cage inside him to hold his bones together while they healed.

                      By the time I got there, metal rods stuck out of Clarence’s hip and the outline of another metal rod bulged low on his back. He had been on his feet for a moment that morning.

                    “You’re going to be O.K.,” I said.

                     “Of course, I am,” he said, managing a grin.

                     “It looks like you hurt.”

                      “I hurt, but the stuff they’re giving me takes some of the edge off.” The grin faded into a grimace.

                      “You have to let me do a story. For The Mainer.”

                      “On what?”

                      “On you. On your accident. It’s news: Truck Hits Editor. You need to let your advertisers know what happened to you. How come you’re not coming around, asking for advertising.”

                       He said O.K., but he wasn’t happy about it. I wrote it that night, keeping it as straight and simple as I could. Just the facts. Editor Hit by Truck.

                       The next morning he read it in one gulp and put it down. “Goddamn it, Bobby, I’m 82, not 83. I’ll write it.”

Cora & Clarence circa 1975
                       When I returned to Wayne in August, he came bustling out of the house, “Let me help you with your bags, Bobby.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Big Crash

79 Mustang Cobra
            Ruth was very beautiful,tall and shy. Her green eyes  flinched if you moved suddenly. We were going to have a picnic in a meadow behind my cabin the next day to steal pumpkins for Halloween and get acquainted. She was living with a drug dealer at the time.

            I was living in my log cabin on Hatch Pond during the week and in New York City on the weekends. 

I wasn’t working on a book and had plenty of time to go to the local Ford Dealer in New Milford and try out the new Turbo Mustang Cobra. It was an all new car and getting a lot of press.
 I had a 66 Shelby GT 350 Mustang, same color as the one on the right and I thought a comparison of the old beast and the hot new lightweight might make a good article for Road & Track. The salesman tossed me the keys and said, "be careful, it's very fast." Luckily he stayed behind in the showroom.

            I took the shiny new Turbo Mustang Cobra up route 7 heading north and floored it.  Even after the wait for the turbo to kick in, it wasn’t very fast, nowhere near the grunt of the my 66 Shelby GT 350  Mustang.  I stomped on the brakes see if it stopped better than it accelerated and the car yawed left.  Fortunately the road was clear and I wasn’t worried.  There was plenty of time to catch the skid and I steered into it. 

         Jackie Stewart would have caught it but I didn’t. The car was gone, sliding sideways past a farmer’s vegetable stand and into a telephone pole.  That vegetable stand was another bit of luck.  The farmer told the cops I wasn’t going that fast, maybe 55.  Which was true. Looking at the car, wrapped around the pole, you’d have thought I was going 90.
after Bob's test drive the car was headed in two directions

            The telephone pole sailed through the passenger door as if it were wide open and cracked my pelvis.  If the salesman had been with me he would have been ketchup.  Another piece of luck, I had my arm up as the door window shattered so the glass severed the tendons of my arm instead of my face and neck.
click to enlarge
  The dealer was really pissed off.  "You owe me for the car," he said.  I didn't blame him for being pissed off and I didn’t think it was my fault. But I couldn’t be sure.  We settled out of court for the two or three grand profit he would have made on the car if he’d sold the car.

              My friend, playwright and professor Dave Ward, pointed out that there had been several mysterious Turbo Mustang crashes in that first month after the new Turbo Mustang came out. Dry road, no other traffic, driver sober and alert, car found upside down in a ditch, that kind of thing.  A year later I learned that there had been a production computer error on the very first turbo Mustangs. A proportioning galley in the brake system was too small, (or too big, I forget) causing the right front brake to lock up.
  Ruth came to see me in the hospital and brought a bottle of champagne.  I was there for a month but I never saw Ruth again.
Cartoonist Don Silverstein waves from the drivers side where the door was pried off with the Jaws of Life to get me out of the wreck. He took these shots of the car behind the dealer's showroom. (click all the images to enlarge)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Blog is Taking the Weekend Off

The blog is off for the weekend, but don't go away.          

Click on bob judd on the top of this page or click on such gems as  my favorite, How You Look at the Sky. Or just cruise through, maybe come upon some unexpected little gem like an excerpt from The Candle In Praise of the Belleville Midgets The Midgets of Belleville. Part II Truth in Grass: a Kansas adventure, The Story of the Larned Eagle Optic, Hollywood Calls, You Pick up the Phone,
Hollywood Calls, you pick up the phone part 2 maybe my favorite My Short Happy War in Afghanistan or no, wait, wait, Fangio and the Maserati 250 F for the priceless video of Fangio in a polo shirt and helmet, absolutely relaxed driving a Maserati 250F around a beat up old race track with no run off, no barriers, no safety nothing.  My lunch with Rob Walkeris a good one even though it leaves out the Betty Grable stories. Then there's Erno Goldfingers house-and-mine, which throws in Ian Flemming, no extra charge. Riding around Laguna Seca with Jackie Stewart was picked up by Jalopnik.com.
              Or Uncle John's Prayer
             And, of course, the one that started it all, Truck Story 
             Or go visit Elif Batumen, San Francisco's brightest and funniest writer, a fine lady to curl up with for a good read.  Here's Elif's homepage.
             Enjoy, Have a ball.  Bob 

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Voice of Us: Save The Kent Good Times Dispatch

                      When I had my log cabin on Hatch Pond in South Kent, Connecticut, I subscribed to a weekly newspaper called the Kent Good Times Dispatch
                         In the old days, according to the KGTD, you got bad news once in a while.  A neighbor’s barn caught fire and burned to the ground.  Taxes went up. A friend died.  Sometimes the bad news came in bunches, but for the most part bad news was scattered and you could go for weeks, even months without hearing bad news.  

Click on pictures to enlarge. Please.

                          Now we get bad news non stop all the time from all around the world.  Cholera in Haiti, financial collapse in Dublin, Woman shoots son in Minnesota., Starvation in North Korea.  Now the bad news never stops; it's on the radio, TV and the web 24/7. No wonder people on the street look depressed.  They have to take all that bad news all the time.
                          So the publisher of the Kent Good Times Dispatch decided to publish a paper that skipped the bad news, and just told the good news.  It was a good paper, if a little dull.  The Drugstore was going to remodel, the owners of the one track railroad line from Danbury to Litchfield were thinking about reviving the railroad.  The firemen were having a BBQ on Saturday afternoon.  All welcome. Wood Duck population on the rise.
                 The KGTD wasn’t sexy, but it was well written and a good ten minute read. 
                Good news in rural North Western Connecticut, alas, wasn’t enough to keep the paper going and the paper finally died with a circulation of 563.
                 I told my Dad, Clarence Judd, about the little paper, and he took the idea and ran with it.  He had edited the Larned Eagle Optic and been a reporter for the AP and The Cleveland Press. He had newsprint stamped all over his generous soul.  So at 70, he founded the Wayne Mainer, a weekly little paper that told the good news of rural Maine.  He kept it going through his terrible accident until he was 86 when he put away his typewriter and sold the Mainer to a local newspaper chain.
               But it too died.  As did the Garden City Chronicle that was the source most of yesterday’s blog
               The great journalist I F Stone once said that the point of a newspaper is to shine the bright light of truth on the dark scurryings of government.  As far as the local GM dealer is concerned the point of a newspaper is to sell cars.  You can find any number of things a newspaper ought to do from recipes to recording the half truths of politicians.  And figuring out which half is the truth.

              The need for local newspapers is as great as it ever was.  To lose them is to lose the voice of the individual, the voice of us, in the rising corporate roar.  If you know a way to keep our local voice alive, speak up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

World's Largest Concrete Freshwater Free Municipal Swimming Pool is Right Here In Garden City

                    It is one of the 8 wonders of Kansas.  And it was dug by hand, by volunteers with shovels.

  Garden City Kansas, where my father, Clarence, grew up,has a zoo with elephants and giraffes (the seventh most popular tourist attraction in Kansas) and the world’s largest municipal, outdoor, concrete, free, freshwater swimming pool. It's half a city block in size and holds 2.5 million gallons of water.

             In 1921, Mayor Trinkle decided that what this dusty town needed (so dusty, my father said, you could see where the fish were in the Arkansas River by the cloud of dust they kicked up) was a swimming pool.  Everybody was willing, of course -- even enthusiastic, but -- and several "buts" were interposed, chief of which was, "but where will be get the money?"

"Suppose we build it with our own hands," said the mayor. 

Subscription papers were circulated. "How many day's labor will you give to the pool?" How many teams will you furnish?"

"If you can't work and haven't any horses, how much money will you give?" were the questions put to the citizens of Garden City, high and low, rich and poor. And Garden City's citizens...each set down some sort of pledge to the pool and signed on the dotted line.

Almost before the ink was dry...the work commenced and by the end of the first week the new pool began to take on form and shape…the dirt was flying and men were shovelling dirt, the horses were hauling.
 Then came the problem of the cement. Garden City had the sand. In the enthusiasm of the workers and the planners, the pool had taken on such tremendous proportions it would take train load of cement for the concrete. How Mayor Trinkle and the commissioners got the cement nobody knows, and nobody is asking foolish questions...

At its dedication on July 18, 1922, a band played as hundreds of people hit the water in unison to inaugurate Garden City's first summer swim season. 

 The pool has had homemade boat races, doggy swims, dive in movies but the most popular was when the zoo's elephants took a dip in the pool after it was closed for the summer. The elephants were guided over by the trainers from their nearby exhibit at Lee Richardson Zoo. Thousands lined the perimeter of the fence to watch the elephants, Moki & Chana, splash and play. 

 Garden City calls it The Big Dipper these days. Clarence and his friends called it the mud hole. 

"It just goes to show," my Grandmother Clara said, "if you really want something, dig it yourself."

(large portions of this blog were lifted from an undated issue of the Garden City Herald, a newspaper that appears to be, alas, defunct.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"A lesson in sportsmanship that should be required viewing"

David,left, and his son, Matt

          Two lessons, actually.

          My good friend, author and journalist David Phillips, sent me a piece he did for iRacing on Will Power's graceful acceptance of his team's fumbling away the Champ car championship, "a lesson in sportsmanship that should be required viewing for anyone who ever dons a racing helmet.(scroll down for the video)

           There is another, stunning example of grace under the pressure of ill fortune.

          Al Unser Jr. was leading the 1989 Indy 500, two laps to go.  His father, Big Al, had won four times and this was going to be Little Al's first. ("Dad taught me everything I know.  Unfortunately he didn't teach me everything he knows.") Emerson Fittipaldi had been leading for most of the race, but Little Al had passed him with five laps to go because Emmo's tires were going off. 
Little Al and his dad, Big Al

          Emerson Fittipaldi went deep into turn 3 inside Little Al. Both drivers flat out, not lifting.  And Emmo, his tires graining, lost it, his car sliding up into Little Al ("I looked over and he was headed for my door!") knocking Al Unser Jr.into the wall at 220 MPH. 

           Fittipaldi hung on, got his car headed for home.  When Fittipaldi came around for his next and winning lap, Al Unser Jr. was standing clear of the oozing pile of junk that had been the Team Valvoline Lola Chevrolet.  Little Al was giving Fittipaldi a thumbs up sign to let Fittipaldi know that (1) he was OK, (2) no hard feelings; and (3) congratulations on winning the race.  

           When I told Little Al that I thought that was the finest gesture of sportsmanship I had ever seen, he said, "Yeah.  Broke my heart."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Virgin Calls: Forrest Evers goes to Hollywood to star with an electric Car.

Juice was the Forrest Evers goes to Hollywood book.  Turned out, as Hollywood does to so many wannabees, to be his last.

(Virgin lookalike on left)

    chapter one

    The telephone stuck its electric finger in my ear.

    After a three more rings my machine went, `I'm sorry Forrest is not in right now.  If you BLEEEEP' and the machine broadcast her famous voice in the dark.

    "Forrest pick up, you asshole.  Come on, you gotta be there.  Whattareyou, in the bathroom?  You should get a phone in the bathroom, Forrest.  Saves time."

    Reluctantly I rolled over and picked up the phone.  "Who is this?"  I said.  My old joke.

    "This is your Star, dummo.  Calling a future star.  What's it like in London?"

    `Heavy darkness.  Raining.  Cold.'  I stretched to look at the clock glowing on the nightstand.  `The way it usually is in December at two in the morning.'

    `How soon can you be here?'

    `We've been through all that.'

    `We haven't been through anything.  Anyway, I'm not calling for me.  I'm calling for a friend, Mel Tietjens.  You heard of Mel Tietjens?'

    `Not the Mel Tietjens."

Mel Tietjens lookalike
     `Don't jerk me around, Forrest.  Mel's a very big producer and he's doing a film called JUICE.  I told him you'd be perfect.  How soon can you be in LA?'

    `I can't come to LA. I have commitments here.'  Which was true.  In two weeks I was due to be the guest speaker for the South London Hozuki dealers annual Christmas lunch.  That loomed large on my calendar.

    "Not for me, dummo.  For you.  Listen to me.  I got you a part."

    "A part what?" I said.  I am not at my best in the small hours.

    "WAKE UP Forrest. I mean it's all set, but you gotta meet Mel and you gotta meet my agent.  Have you met David?  You'd know if you did.   

Anyway the film's called JUICE, starring Sam Miles.  PLUS she’s directing.  Can you believe it, Samantha Miles is directing?  PLUS she's starring with Sean Finlay.  Sean is hotter than Tom Cruise now.  Listen, the screening's Sunday.'

                      (Samantha Miles lookalike, right.)                            
    `Sunday is tomorrow.'

    `Right tomorrow.  No big deal just the first dailies but it's the only time there's a chance to meet Mel and Sam maybe before they start shooting again. Sean I don't know if Sean is going to be there, but David definitely.   David talked to your agent, what's his name, Ed Victor.  Victor is all for it.  Isn't that great?  Aren't you really glad to hear from me?"

      "It's a treat to hear from you Virgin."  I turned on the light.  "How are you?"

    "You have somebody there, in bed?  I AM THE GREATEST BONK OF ALL TIME.  ASK FORREST.  HE KNOWS!  There, did she hear that?"

    "She's in Paris, Virgin.'  Or Rome.  Or The Seychelles.  The cards had stopped coming.  `Are you in it?"

    "Nah, not me.  Just my money.  David George, don't tell me you haven't heard of David George.'  There was a pause.
    "You must have heard of him.  David put that whole buyout deal for like two billion with Hozuki and Olympic Films.  So this is his first package with the New Olympic studio.  I'll tell you about it when you get here.  Anyway, David is my agent and as a favour he let me in for a piece of the gross on JUICE so I have a little pull.  And when they lost their driver, there's a lot of driving, I suggested you because you're comfortable driving 200 miles an hour and they want to meet you which is as good as ok."              
          (David George lookalke, right)

     "I'm not comfortable at 200 miles an hour unless I'm on an airplane, Virgin.  What do you mean a part?  I can't do it, but as long as you woke me up you might as well tell me about it."

    "Hey, wait a minute here.  Don't bullshit me, Forrest.  I checked it out. It is cold, miserable, wet and dark in London and the sun is shining a zillion watts here.  We're talking a single light source eighty million miles away shining down on you in Southern California giving you a deep tan as a background for your white teeth as in big wide smile.  You are in a rut Forrest and you are too stubborn to recognize it.  Tell me this.  Where else can you re-invent yourself overnight except in the movies?'

    `I don't want to re-invent myself, Virgin.'

    `You don't have to.  There's people here who can do it for you.  Come on.  A couple of weeks, Forrest.  Billing.  Ok, not top, but there, on the sheet.  A lot of money.  But forget the money.  This could be a breakthrough for you.'

    `Virgin . . .' I said trying to get a word in.

    `Listen to me.  Will you just listen?  I mean I know I told you, but I know you could be a star.  Like a tiger I fought for you.  You could be major, Forrest; a major, major star.  Yes.  OK, it's not a featured part, but it is a part.  You'll be great."

    "I appreciate your confidence, Virg, but I don't think they could afford me. I'm looking for six million."

    "Well good luck.  I don't think they are gonna go six million.  You buying a house?"

    "I'm looking for sponsorship for Formula One and it is a full time, boring, tedious and repetitious job. I appreciate the offer, Virgin, but I can't afford the time.'

    "Hey, Forrest, wait a minute.  Slow down.  This is a 75 million dollar production.  Plus the promotion is budgeted 35 million.  Guaranteed distribution in 127 countries.  Plus video sales AND rentals.  And a tie-in with a major international automotive introduction from Hozuki with the world's first practical electric car.  Hey, maybe we could work a deal, something like you appear in the movie and they put JUICE on the side of your car for the International Distributors.  How's that sound?  You get your sponsorship, they get international exposure.  Let me do this, Forrest. 
The real Ed Victor
Let me have David call your agent what's his name, Ed Victor."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tales of Wayne. The Bulls Story

As you come over the rise, you can see Mt. Washington100 miles beyond Lake Androscoggin   The road runs steeply downhill and bends to the right to follow a narrow stip of land between two lakes wherein lies the town of Wayne, Maine.  Cross a little bridge with the millpond on your left, and you are headed out of town.
              Years ago there was a comfortable bench outside the General Store for the  3/4 Century Club.  If you were over 75, you could sit, tell stories and tell the tourists they were headed the wrong way.  Chester, who said he was “somewhere North of ninety,” said he was “so busy I ain’t hardly got time to think. I’m the church sexton and I just got finished sweepin’ the church.  And I know I got something else to do. Whatever it is I know I got to do it.”

             Vern Lovejoy, who owned the General Store, decided that “what this town needs to perk it up is a baseball team,” and the Wayne Bulls were born. Vern got a deal on three uniforms so three of us had hats, three had shirts and three of us got to wear the Wayne Bulls pants.  I was fifteen and thought I had a pretty good fastball.  We played in the field behind the one room school.  Nice, hot, mid-July day. 

              The Augusta Bears (something like the guys on the left) were up first.  I struck out the first hitter, the catcher dropped the ball and the “hitter” ran to first.  The catcher picked up the ball and threw it into deep right field.. The runner kept going, rounding second.  Our right fielder, Paul Brown, had a great arm and threw a perfect strike to third, hitting our third baseman who was chatting with Lisa Crowell at the time, in the back of the leg.  The runner took off for home.  Bears 1- Bulls 0.

                    Bottom of the second, nobody on, Ezra Thompson, a hog farmer who must have weighed over 300 lbs. hit a long high fly ball deep into the sky and falling somewhere deep in the woods, never to be found.  It was slow going for Ezra, rounding first, wheezing, and slowing down.  When he got to second he sat down on the bag, “I ain’t gonna go another goddamn step.”

               Midway through the third we were down something like 7-1 and Vern tried to rouse the crowd of maybe six or seven wives and friends.  “I ain’t hearin’ much cheerin’” Vern called out.

               An ancient lady in black behind the backstop said, equally loudly, “you’re gettin’ plenty of cheerin’ for what we’re seein’”

               By the end of the seventh there was zero difference between my no-curve curve ball and my slow-ball fast ball. The final score was something like Bulls 2, Bears 19 although it may not have been that close.

               Somewhere in Wayne, hanging in a closet, there's bound to be a Wayne Bulls shirt from that game.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wait, wait, there's more

You may have missed yesterday's story about newlyweds Jackie and Helen Stewart in Monaco because Facebook would not print the pic on the left, but insisted on a dopey pic of a racing car.  

         Anyway, click on bob judd in the title above then scroll down for yesterday's blog on the story of the newlyweds in Monaco.

The blog is off for the weekend, but don't go away.

Click on bob judd on the top of this page or click on such gems as  my favorite,  How You Look at the Sky Or just cruise through, maybe come upon some unexpected little gem like an excerpt from The Candle In Praise of the Belleville MidgetsThe Midgets of Belleville. Part IITruth in Grass: a Kansas adventure, The Story of the Larned Eagle Optic, Hollywood Calls, You Pick up the Phone,
Hollywood Calls, you pick up the phone part 2 maybe my favorite My Short Happy War in Afghanistan or no, wait, wait, Fangio and the Maserati 250 F for the priceless video of Fangio in a polo shirt and helmet, absolutely relaxed driving a Maserati 250F around a beat up old race track with no run off, no barriers, no safety nothing.  My lunch with Rob Walker is a good one even though it leaves out the Betty Grable stories. Then there's Erno Goldfingers house-and-mine, which throws in Ian Flemming, no extra charge. Riding around Laguna Seca with Jackie Stewart was picked up by Jalopnik.com.
              Or Uncle John's Prayer
             And, of course, the one that started it all, Truck Story 
             Or go visit Elif Batumen, San Francisco's brightest and funniest writer, a fine lady to curl up with for a good read.  Here's Elif's homepage.
             Enjoy, Have a ball.  Bob