My ninth-grade Latin teacher, Don Bailey, introduced me to limericks AND the word natator. I might be making this up, but I think when he asked the swimming coach where the natatorium was, the coach, confused, said, “No, it’s Not A ‘torium,’ it’s a swimming pool.”
Because “All That Jaws” is a rock opera for the people, it tries to stay apolitical. But this election is simply too important to ignore a problem until it swims up and bites us on the ass. Head over to “All That Jaws” for its studied and thoughtful endorsement of Mayor Larry Vaughn.
They were all drinking a lot of apricot brandy that night, so maybe Quint can be forgiven, but the Captain of the Orca claimed to have been on the doomed U.S.S. Indianapolis when it was attacked by a Japanese sub, sending nearly 1200 men into the water to be menaced by sharks. The date he gave was June 29, 1945.
He was off by a month. Today, July 30, marks the anniversary of the wreck of the Indianapolis, steaming to the Philippines from Guam after delivering Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb delivery mission was so secret, Quint says (and he’s right), that “no distress signal had been sent.” So after dropping off Little Boy on the 40 sq. mi. Marianas island of Tinian, the Indianapolis and her crew of 1196 turned right around, stopped at Guam, and on its way to join the U.S.S. Idaho in the Leyte Gulf to mount the planned invasion of Japan, it was torpedoed. About 900 men were eaten by sharks in a literal bloodbath that lasted four days.
There is no such “Indianapolis Speech” in Peter Benchley’s novel, but a team of writers and rewriters, not the least of whom was Robert Shaw himself—a produced playwright— gave the movie’s Quint a reason to hate sharks, and to “never put on a lifejacket again.”
The true and tragic story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis is told in the book “In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors,” which proves that the sad story of the ship did not end that summer of 1945. I highly recommend it as a piece of WWII history and a sad tale of adventure and politics.
Not only that, but you can now share this informative and toe-tapping video of “Show Me the Way To Indianapolis” from “All That Jaws.”
There are so many legally-actionable instances of a poorly-affected Massachusetts accent in movies (Robin Williams’ bad Massachusetts accent in “Good Will Hunting” won him an Oscar) that it is only vaguely satisfying that one of the first, Ted Grossman’s Estuary Victim in “Jaws,” resulted in the character’s death.
See how the shark prepared the body for viewing on All That Jaws.
Estuary Victim died on Independence Day—definitely not the “best July 4 we ever had.”
I try to keep my finger on the pulse of popular culture, which is why I bring you this insight into David Bowie’s process in the creation of his 1984 song “Blue Jean.”
You always want to keep your finger on the pulse of something, even if you think having something “under your thumb” means it’s more secure. The fact is that the thumb has a pulse of its own—doctors call it the Thumb Pulse—so if you have one pulsing thing atop another pulsing thing, it’s easy to confuse the pulses.
We can see from Bowie’s scratch pad, above, that “Blue Jean” was not his first choice for the name of the girl with the turned-up nose and police bike. But not every artist edits. Jack Kerouac famously said, “Once God moves the hand—you go back and revise?—it’s a sin!”
If Bowie hadn’t edited “Space Oddity,” maybe we’d have a “Little Prince”-worth of Major Tom’s interstellar adventures to fill in the gaps between “Ashes To Ashes” and “Black Star.” If Kerouac had edited, maybe more people would have read “On The Road” than just said they did.
Regardless, it is Bowie’s exacting songcraft and thoughtful sacrifices that leave the world with a “Blue Jean” rather than a “Jean Pant” or “Skin Tag.”