I had the chance to remind him what he said on my wedding day: he knew people. If I didn’t treat his daughter right, I might find myself on a small plane over a large body of water.

Ha ha! Joke. Also SIR YES SIR.

Dr. Larry did not have military bearing, so don’t think of some buzzcut white-haired ramrod figure with a chest full of spangly trinkets. He had a way of watching the corners of a room that was more Peter Lorre than John Wayne. But he had authority. He always had authority to me, in part because of his accomplishments, and in part because he never paraded his accomplishments.

Born in Duluth in the Italian part of town to a tough bird who ran her own clothing store and outlived three husbands; scholarship to med school; military service, including getting shot down in the Yemen civil war when he was going up for a flight to see what it was like - held in a local jail by constables who accused him of being CIA, but eventually relented, gave him lunch, handed him over to the Americans. (Longer story, as you might think.) Was in Afghanistan when the Soviets invaded, did charity work in Vietnam and Cuba and other countries, charter subscriber to the National Review and hence proud when his son-in-law was named associate editor. (He went on an NR Cruise and I got to introduce him to the publisher and editor and point out this guy was with us from the start.)

He was a bundle, that guy. Cheerful, yet given to moods; stoic, compassionate, clinical, curious, authoritative, silly with his little dog. Vast knowledge. Loved his wine, an expert cook of Osso Bucco. Hammered by a stroke a few years ago, but it had the odd effect of softening him without infantilizing him.

It seems that he went on his own terms. He lost interest after the lockdown: couldn’t go out and eat anymore. Who knows if that coincided with some diminution he felt and understood. His daughter went out last week to be with him, and she got to do the rarest, and luckiest thing: to spend some time before you say goodbye. To talk when all the cards are on the table. To just be in the same room while the clock hands move. And she was there went he passed.

Some people that word, because it’s too flowery. Too euphemistic. As if the fact is somehow softened or diluted. If you’re going to crush an empty eggshell, throw it against the wall, don’t gently close your hand over it! Face truth!

But I can find no better word. Regardless of what’s on the other side, you pass from this one. The word has the sound of a soft exhalation, the intimation of movement. If nothing else, things pass from one generation to the next, and he left a legacy of words and deeds to his children and grandchildren.

Strong spirit. Rang a bell we’ll hear all our lives.

 

 

 

It's the first Monday of the month! And so:

It's quite painterly, these credits:

We start in a dance palace:

We see the club, and think “production values are better. Maybe it’s the budget. Maybe it’s the print. What a strange way to live, though. Taxi dancing. The job’s always portrayed in song and story as a soul-killing trade for the women, who have to endure a steady parade of weirdos.

I love this reveal:

There’s our Maisie, and at that moment the audience settled into the familiar pleasures. You’re rewarded - the opening dance is the most amusing thing I’ve seen in the entire series.

She doesn’t want to keep dancing, though. He drops her. She’s exhausted. The boss says she dances or she’s fired. We know what she does. She quits - because she’s our Maisie. She gets another job but can’t afford the ticket - when captured, she’s thrown off the train, and the standard Maisie formula ticks off the second box. Jobless and dumped somewhere unfamiliar.

The next step: is there a woman-hating he-man who has no time for frails?

Well, he warms to her, and then they all go to a club.

This is so very early 40s.

As the title suggests, it turns into a boxing picture. It’s like she’s working her way through everything Barton Fink couldn’t write. The knockout-kid:

Maisie married him later. I mean, Ann Southern.

A flurry of punches!

Whenever I see someone doing an announcing job . . .

I wonder if he was an announcer.

He was.

Anyway: as we’ve come to expect from a Maisie movie, it starts with comedy and gets incredibly dark. It turns into a hard-bitten boxing picture complete with a widow-mom and a plucky fighter who just wants to open a grocery store and bitter dread.

At the end the fighter who beat the ever-living crap out of hero comes to see him, and makes a raw, affecting speech about how sorry he is for hurting the kid so bad.

Shades of Jake LaMotta: this guy was a real boxer.

Eddie Lou Simms.

Eddie was a Slovenian heavyweight boxer with eighteen straight knock outs. He once fought Joe Louis. He also recorded Slovenian polka music and played the accordion and banjo in a trio band. In 1989 he was inducted into the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame. He lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.

But it ends with a ray of hope, because the boxer is cured of his infirmity, the promoter reveals himself to have a heart of gold, and Maisie sleeps with him.

He’ll be gone and forgotten soon, and she’ll be on her own again

That'll do. See you tomorrow.

 

 

 

 
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