Texting George Kaplan


Highly Successful Habits
of Purely Made Up People

Most of us spend a lifetime struggling to be successful in at least one thing. The writer of this post, for example, after failing in almost everything he’s tried his clumsy hand at, has settled his sights on the promising world of accomplishments only a few dare to pursue.
The last we heard, he’s not doing too well. Apparently, turning off the light switch and landing on a bed before the room goes completely dark has its hazards. It seemed so simple, he told us, when Muhammad Ali revealed to a reporter that it was one of his nightly rituals.
As we talk, our humble scrivener still has at least a few hundred nights to get it done, before every bone of his body is fractured. We’ll keep you posted on that one. Now, where were we? Oh, that’s right, about lifetime achievements, or the lack of them. 
There are those who seem perfectly suited at imprinting their legacy on history books. Others go beyond that, and do it more than once. But none beats the kind of person that, besides all that, also manages to not exist at all. In fact, history records several of these characters.
Take George P. Burdell, for example, after whom the Georgia Institute of Technology named its Student Center after. According to the record, Burdell not just graduated from Georgia Tech, but flew 12 missions over Europe during World War II, served on MAD magazine’s Board of Directors for a dozen years, and in 2001 was almost named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year after garnering 57 percent of online votes. Not even Mozart worked this hard.
Despite his expected old age, he’s kept up with the new world and in touch with his over 4,000 Facebook “friends.” The only thing is, he doesn’t exist. Much less distinctive-named Ed Smith created him in 1927 by enrolling them both for a laugh at Georgia Tech. With Smith’s behind the scenes help, Burdell’s life took off on its own and thrived, as he become one of the institute’s most distinguished legends.

FAKE ARTISTS & SKITTISH CELEBRITIES
There’s also Nat Tate, a fictional artist whose life existed only in the imagination of Scottish novelist William Boyd. All it took him was to publish a book on Tate in 1998 as a biography and keep a straight face. His hoax got some mileage from friends Gore Vidal and David Bowie, all in the joke.
The gullible art intelligentsia of the time adopted and praised the unknown “artist,” until Boyd got tired of it Continue reading

Spellbound

Hitchcock, the Man Who
Knew Too Much (to Tell)

When the British film director Alfred Hitchcock died in Bel Air, 32 years ago today, he was in effect ending the second, and most rewarding, phase of his career. He’d already achieved a level of proficiency and acknowledgment while still in England, as some recently restored silent features show. But it was in America that he mastered his superb skills at building and sustaining suspense.
The box office success of some of his arguably most arresting masterpieces, Psycho, The Birds and North by Northwest, to name only three, tend to obscure their rigorous inner structure, plot development, timing and incomparable sense of style. But not everyone recognized such qualities. The Academy Awards, for one, never gave him an Oscar for Best Director.
In fact, actors and collaborators, such as the also successful author Raymond Chandler, are said to have hated his methods while they were working on the screenplay of Strangers on a Train, and wound up Continue reading

Naked City

“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.” 

Orson Welles (Harry Lime in The Third Man, 1949)

HARD-BOILED: GREAT LINES FROM CLASSIC NOIR FILMS, by Peggy Thompson and Saeko Usukawa

Texting George Kaplan


Highly Successful Habits
of Purely Made Up People

Most of us spend a lifetime struggling to be successful in at least one thing. The writer of this post, for example, after failing in almost everything he’s tried his clumsy hand at, has settled his sights on the promising world of accomplishments only a few dare to pursue.
The last we heard, he’s not doing too well. Apparently, turning off the light switch and landing on a bed before the room goes completely dark has its hazards. It seemed so simple, he told us, when Muhammad Ali revealed to a reporter that it was one of his nightly rituals.
As we talk, our humble scrivener still has at least a few hundred nights to get it done, before every bone of his body is fractured. We’ll keep you posted on that one. Now, where were we? Oh, that’s right, about lifetime achievements, or the lack of them. 
There are those who seem perfectly suited at imprinting their legacy on history books. Others go beyond that, and do it more than once. But none beats the kind of person that, besides all that, also manages to not exist at all. In fact, history records several of these characters.
Take George P. Burdell, for example, after whom the Georgia Institute of Technology named its Student Center after. According to the record, Burdell not just graduated from Georgia Tech, but flew 12 missions over Europe during World War II, served on MAD magazine’s Board of Directors for a dozen years, and in 2001 was almost named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year after garnering 57 percent of online votes. Not even Mozart worked this hard.
Despite his expected old age, he’s kept up with the new world and in touch with his over 4,000 Facebook “friends.” The only thing is, he doesn’t exist. Much less distinctive-named Ed Smith created him in 1927 by enrolling them both for a laugh at Georgia Tech. With Smith’s behind the scenes help, Burdell’s life took off on its own and thrived, as he become one of the institute’s most distinguished legends.

FAKE ARTISTS & SKITTISH CELEBRITIES
There’s also Nat Tate, a fictional artist whose life existed only in the imagination of Scottish novelist William Boyd. All it took him was to publish a book on Tate in 1998 as a biography and keep a straight face. His hoax got some mileage from friends Gore Vidal and David Bowie, all in the joke.
The gullible art intelligentsia of the time adopted and praised the unknown “artist,” until Boyd got tired of it Continue reading

Exhibit B

Lucas Sues Creator
of Star Wars Helmets

George Lucas is taking to the U.K. Supreme Court his fight to preserve the rights to the famous stormtrooper helmets, used in the “Star Wars” movie saga. He’s suing British artist Andrew Ainsworth, who created and manufactured the original helmets used in the first films of the series, and who a few years ago, Continue reading

Strange Love

Help! My Left Hand
Is Trying to Choke Me

If you think that the man who mistook his wife for a hat was out of his mind, you’ve got something else coming for you. Since 1908, scientists have recorded cases of people with one of their hands acting as if it has a mind of its own.
Take a 67-year-old man whose identity shall remain unknown, who was reported having a very special left hand that would do Continue reading

Easy Shooter

Auction Block for Warhol’s Mao
with Dennis Hopper’s Bullet Holes

JUST IN: Hopper’s estranged fifth wife, Victoria Duffy Hopper, has succeeded in halting the sale of a significant portion of the actor’s art collection after lodging court papers in California. But the temporary decision affects only part of the auction lot: Warhol’s Mao has already been sold for $302,500, more than 10 times its estimated sale price.

When Dennis Hopper died last May, his best film acting and directing work were far behind him. But his developed taste for photography and painting, if it never matched the success he had on screen, helped him to become a gifted collector.
By the mid 1970s, he’d already acquired several seminal works of contemporary artists, such as the 1972 silk-screen “Mao Zedong”, by one the hottest artists of the time, Andy Warhol. At the same time, Hopper had also acquired a sizable appetite for drugs and alcohol.
The combination of the painting and of his binges proved explosive. And somewhat historical. In one of his rages, Hopper Continue reading