The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

I was watching CBS Sunday Morning when my parents phoned me.  I left to catch a BART train to the Bay Fair station.  I had forgotten that the line between San Leandro and Bay Fair was closed, and so I had to catch a bus to take me part of the way.  I made my way to Chabot College, where the Ukulele Festival of Northern California was being held.  I bought a T-shirt, which was going for $19, and then I got in line for will call tickets.  The woman at the window was working rather slowly.  It was a breezy and cool morning, and we were anxious to go inside.  We thought the program would start at 10:45, but everything was ten minutes late.  After the national anthem, we heard the Pleasanton Ukulele Band perform the Turtles’ “Happy Together.”  After the Bohemian Ukuleles had some technical difficulties, I went out for lunch.  There was a long line for the Hawaiian food, and I got a combo plate.  The ribs were quite good.  I went back to the auditorium for another hour and a half.  Twin sisters Hannah and Kailee seemed to have a lot of musical talent at a young age.  Ben Anh put a lot of flourishes to “Just When I Needed You Most,” with pedals and special effects, although he didn’t make the song better than it was during the 1970s.  He ended with “No Woman, No Cry.”  There was a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Kamaka Ukulele, and then I left.  I didn’t know whether I would return for next year’s festival, which would be held on April 30, 2017.  I listened to the Warriors postgame radio show as I made my way home.  It took longer to return home because of a long wait for a train at the San Leandro station.  I got home just after six o’clock, in time to hear Robert Hilburn’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Times radio program on KCSN.  He played more songs from the women in rock album.  The songs were by Joni Mitchell, PJ Harvey, Janis Joplin, and the Pretenders.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard “Two Grey Rooms” or “God Must Be a Boogie Man” on the radio before.  I watched the Blu-ray edition of John Cassavetes’ “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.”  It was the 1976 cut, which was too long, according to Ben Gazzara.  Well, yes, it certainly did feel like it was too long is 135 minutes.  The re-edited version is 108 minutes, although I don’t remember what it was like.  Gazzara was Cosmo Vitelli, cabaret owner who gambles away $23,000 and is forced to perform a hit.  Three of his dancers are named Margo, Rachel, and Sherry.  I liked the scenes of the gangsters going after Vitelli, but the movie did wear me down with the Cassavetes style and length.  I thought that Vitelli was like Sterling Hayden in “The Asphalt Jungle,” about to bleed to death in front of us.  I wouldn’t say that this was Gazzara’s greatest performance, although it felt like he was the same person in several movies, including even “They All Laughed.”  Cassavetes did the drastic re-edit before with “Shadows.”  What kind of judgment did he have about his work?  One of these days I’ll have to see the 1978 version.  I don’t know if I’ll understand Cassavetes any better if I do.  He is one exhausting director.  Azizi Johari was Rachel, and she appeared in the June 1975 issue of Playboy magazine.  Donna Marie Gordon played Margo, and she was once married to Ted Bessell.  Alice Friedland played Sherry.  Cassavetes apparently sought authenticity in seeking strippers instead of actresses.  I think this film was a highlight in the careers of all three of these women.  Seymour Cassel was another of Cassavetes’ regulars who was in this cast.  Is this supposed to be one of Cassavetes’ classic films?  The two movies I really liked were “A Woman Under the Influence” and “Love Streams.”  This one doesn’t have Gena Rowlands in it.  Before I went to bed, I heard about the death of Billy Paul, who had a big hit with “Me and Mrs. Jones.”  He was 80.  Some of the people who died on April 25 include Carol Reed (1976), Dexter Gordon (1990), Art Fleming (1995), Ginger Rogers (1995), Saul Bass (1996), and Bea Arthur (2009).  Today is a birthday Talia Shire (70) and Al Pacino (76).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 25, Elvis Presley had the Number One single “Stuck on You” in 1960.  In 1987, U2 was Number One on the album chart with “The Joshua Tree,” which had the hit singles “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”  In 2009, Bea Arthur of the “Maude” television series died of cancer at age 86.

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