The Rat Pack--1


The Rat Pack Returns--1

[Site manager's note: Along with impersonations of the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, Amis readers will find many flashes of insight on these two pages. For more on the Rat Pack, and especially their current resurgence (think cigars, martinis, male privilege, all manner of retro restaurants), read the "Talk of the Town" entry by James Collins in the 11 January 1999 New Yorker (pp, 25-26), which alerts us all to the existence of rare Rat Pack footage, taken during the filming of Ocean's Eleven, a 1960 caper film set in Las Vegas (and remade in 2001 by Steven Soderbergh). As Collins describes them, "the films are a record of vaudeville meets Playboy. Onstage together most of the time, the boys mock one another's singing, take their pants off, introduce people in the crowd--Martin's bookie, for example, and Senator John F. Kennedy--and repeatedly return to a full bar set up behind them." John Self and friends, in a time warp? ]

" Paradise Lost" as intra-familial metaphor

From: Sammy Davis Jr.
Category: Category 1
Date: 12/29/98
Time: 4:05:41 PM
Remote Name:

    Hey there, all you groovy shag-a-delic Martin-mongering hepcats. It's me. Sammybaby. Mister Music And Entertainment Himself. With hugs & kisses for all my millions & millions of fans out there in MartyCyberSpace. As you know, I'm one helluva multi-talented triple-threat. I can sing. I can dance. And I can explicate literary texts. (With an emphasis on ferreting out Freudian subtexts.) So I thought I'd take a little time out from being dead in order to answer some of my e-mail. Ian Nicholls of Manchester (in Limeyland) wrote to me recently and expressed mystification as to why Martin-the-heathen should be fixated on a religious poem like "Paradise Lost". Well, Ian, that bugged the crap outta me for a long time too. In fact, I was brooding about that paradox just last night while I was busy haunting Ed's bedroom closet and having a good laugh at Ed's disco-sansabelt leisure-suits. And that's when the possible answer finally hit me.

    Martin doesn't give a rat's ass about the theological content of "Paradise Lost". The fact is that Martin is fixated on the personalty relationship of God & Lucifer. Because God & Lucifer's oedipal conflict is analogous to the paternal/filial acrimony that existed between Kingsley & Martin. Only in the Amis case, the morality roles were reversed. Child Martin was the good guy and Father Kingsley was the evil rotten cunt. Ya know, one of the best ways to traumatize a child (including an adult child) is thru parental nonsupport. Or thru parental contempt. And Martin hasn't been hesitant about leaking the fact that Kingsley treated Martin like dogshit. It's a ferocious jungle out there in the entertainment business. Critics are waiting to chew you up and spit you out just to glorify themselves and provide spicy copy. And when you can't even count on your own father to back you up -- well, it's no wonder that Martin is bitter.

    For further psycho-speculation, I can refer you to James Wolcott's review of "Night Train" in The New Criterion. Where Wolcott made mention of the oedipal triangle consisting of Martin, Kingsley, & Saul Bellow. Wolcott thinks that Saul Bellow is Martin's substitute father-figure. Remember how Philip Larkin turned into a big fat geezer-bitch? Remember Philip's vomited vitriol in those letters to Kingsley? Well, Kingsley went Philip one better. Kingsley managed to beat out Philip in the grumpy-old-bastard competition. Kingsley gets my vote as King Geezer-Bitch because Kingsley went so far as to mistreat his own son.

    Christ, remind me to jump off a bridge before I ever shit on my own kids the way Kingsley shat on his kids. Er, wait a minute. I'm already dead. Forget about it. Ladies & germs, you've been a fabulous audience. Don't forgot to catch me & Frank & Dino at Diedrick's Haunted Showcase Lounge in Hackensack . Two shows nitely with a complimentary cocktail. Ciao baby.

RE: Raban on Wolfe

From: Frank Sinatra
Category: Category 1
Date: 12/30/98
Time: 4:23:11 PM
Remote Name:

    Remember when every dingledorf in town dogpiled on Martin for fudging the slang in "Night Train"? Okay--"beaners" I can understand. That's a bona-fide boner. But who the hell really gives a shit if "I am a police" is actual spoken parlance or not? If it's not, then it should be. Because it sounds fab & gear. And it's fiction, fer crissake. It's supposed to be made-up stuff. Sticklers for jargonistic verisimilitude are cordially invited to eat my shorts. And in any event, Martin isn't the only schlub who's guilty of writing muffed jargon. Here's Jonathan Raban on "The Bonfire of the Vanities":

    "Every time Wolfe tries to take off a British accent or turn of phrase, it comes out slightly but definitely wrong. The City Light sections are characteristically spiced with arcane bits of social knowhow, but none ring true. Holland Park Comprehensive is not the British byword for academic excellence; prefects in English boarding schools are not known as 'proctors'; fenders (of the kind that go round fires) are not most typically to be found in country houses in 'the west of England'; there is a crucial difference, not grasped by Wolfe, between being 'pissed' and being 'pissed off'; Sir Gerald Steiner (known in England, apparently, as 'that Jew Steiner') would be hard-pressed to father a daughter called Lady Evelyn. Etcetera. In another book, by another writer, these would be just fluffs, attributable to lazy editing; but Wolfe has staked his whole reputation on his command of small social and cultural distinctions, and every slip he makes about the English tends to weaken one's faith in his encyclopedic mastery of the comparable details of American life."

    Internal Memo To Julie: Hey scooter-pie. I know how you like to shmooze with the fancy-pants literati. And in that regard, I can recommend another limey-expatriate writer whom you might be able to socialize with. And go bowling with. And go to Pizza Hut with. And watch movies-about-incest with. (O joy.) His name is Jonathan Raban and he lives in Seattle . He's not only a great entertainer. He's also a wonderful human being. Just like your old paisano, Frankie. Me & Jonathan go way back to the glory days of the Tropicana in Vegas. God, those were the days. Jonnybaby is a solid triple-threat showbiz professional, I can promise you. He can write. He can dance. And he can belch musically. So look up his address and bring him a pint of Guinness. And be sure to request his burping rendition of "The Way We Were". (I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.)

    And by the way, I'd like to know just who the FUCK vetoed me for Time magazine's Man Of The Year honororium. Man Of The Year? Frank Sinatra is Man Of The Century, jack, and don't you forget it! I'm a star, baby! Ya hear me? A STAR. I eat punks like Bill Clinton for breakfast. That bum ain't fit to fill my cannolis. Alright. That tears it. It's time to BUST a few HEADS down at Time magazine. Watch out, goombas. Frankie-boy is back in town. And I am gonna KICK some serious media-conglomerate ASS.

i'll drinck 2 that\^~

From: dEan MArtin *URRP*
Category: Category 1
Date: 1/4/99
Time: 1:08:45 PM
Remote Name:

    my name iz dino *URRRRP* and i'm a martenamisholic. i freelly admid itt. i kan reccamen a borgess storey kalled " AUgust 25,1983 " that got encluded in that nu antholology. its 1 of thoze dreem thingys, ya know whut i meen? butt its got a reel swinggin gimmik;\ HEY lissen--burges sed that Bobert Brownie shouldve ritten short storeys insted uv poms. & i most emfaticly koncurr with that judjmint. borges went blind, baytovin went def, god's in hiz hevvin and all's rite with thuh wurld. sounds fare 2 me. god haz a hilarius sence of irrony, huh goomba? SKREW GOD\#memmo to amis: vino duz more then milton kan to justifie god'z shit to man. in dino veritus, n'cest-puh zhulie?%<DAMMIT ROGER,,kwit hogging the syber toilett, i gotta go. chow baby. {my god, i'm a frikkin dago & i kant evin spel 'chow' korrekly.

Graham Greene was decadent & depraved

From: Peter Lawford
Category: Category 1
Date: 1/5/99
Time: 1:42:07 PM
Remote Name:

    Speaking of pedophilia.....Since that seems to be everyone's fave topic these days.....Remember Martin's piece on Graham Greene? Martin said that Greene's mentality was basically adolescent. And boy is that ever right. Martin made mention of Greene's "moistly clouded stare". Gotta love it. If anyone thinks that Martin is a stuffed-shirt, they should check out Greene's pathetic name-dropping. As if Fidel Castro actually gave a shit whether Greene ate vegetables or not. Leave it to Graham Greene to give pompous fatuity a bad name. Edmund Wilson's anglophobia wasn't half as repulsive as Greene's americanophobia. Which Greene made sure to communicate to Martin. Well, I just discovered a big reason for Greene's anti-Americanism. Greene got his ass sued off by Shirley Temple & 20th-Century Fox for writing the following movie review. (I swear I'm not making this up.):

    "Miss Shirley Temple's case, though, has peculiar interest: infancy is her disguise, her appeal is more secret and more adult. Already two years ago she was a fancy little piece (real childhood, I think, went out with 'The Littlest Rebel'). In 'Captain January' she wore trousers with the mature suggestiveness of a Dietrich: her neat and well-developed rump twisted in the tap-dance: her eyes had a sidelong searching coquetry. Now in 'Wee Willie Winkie', wearing short kilts, she is completely totsy. Watch her swaggering stride across the Indian barrack-square: hear the gasp of excited expectation from her antique audience when the sergeant's palm is raised: watch the way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity. Adult emotions of love and grief glissade across the mask of childhood, a childhood skin-deep. It is clever, but it cannot last. Her admirers -- middle-aged men and clergymen -- respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire."

Re: Graham Greene was decadent & depraved

From: Andrew Brown
Category: Category 1
Date: 1/5/99
Time: 2:34:24 PM
Remote Name:

    Were Temple and 20th Century Fox successful in their suit?

    I don't know much about Greene except that I've read a few of his novels, which I liked well enough without being bowled over. Brighton Rock, his first, is pretty cool, and in a way might be a sort of precursor to Anthony Burgesses' droogs. There are these ultra-violent little thugs, one of them, if I remember right, wears these razors on his finger tips, and carries around a bottle of acid (vitriol) to splash in peoples' faces.

    But Greene's review about Temple actually seems perceptive as hell. I think there was a conscious effort in the early Temple films to make this little kid seem sexy to certain types of men.

    By the way, Pete, are you sure you're the one to point the finger about decadent and depraved? Ask Marilyn, unless the two of you are in two different spheres these days.

    Or unless you're a real guy whose name just happens to be Peter Lawford.

GHOUL-O-GRAM FOR: Andrew Brown

From: Peter Lawford
Category: Category 1
Date: 1/6/99
Time: 3:01:03 PM
Remote Name:

    Shirley & Louis B. Mayer (the reigning bastard at 20th-Century Fox) were awarded £500 from Greene and £3000 from Night and Day magazine. You're right, Andrew. It's just another case of blaming the messenger for the message. Just another way for thin-skinned overpaid showbiz assholes to line their pockets at the expense of literary paupers. (Martin's "Career Move" is an obvious revenge fantasy on that theme.) Boy, ya know that verdict really ticks me off a treat. Ya know something? If I weren't such a flabby blob of hovering ectoplasm summoned here by Julie's Ouija-board sessions, I'd hightail it out to Forest Lawn and dig up Louis B. Mayer's skeleton and kick its ass.....

    It's convenient that you should mention Burgess. He introduced me to the term "manichean." It was in that Playboy interview. The issue with the giant blue-jeaned ass on the cover. (I'm not making this up.) Burgess used the word in reference to William Burroughs. Manicheanism referring to the forces of light versus the forces of darkness. Very useful word. Paul Fussell used it to describe Graham Greene. And La Clinch mentioned this concept in regard to Raymond Chandler.....

    I can recommend Burgess's book on languages called "A Mouthful Of Air". Ya know how English has two first-person pronouns? The subjective "I" and the objective "me". But they don't sound similar. Burgess sez: "Personal pronouns remain complicated in most Western languages, and they show a strange unwillingness to 'generalize' that must be traced back to some primeval alienation or schizophrenia. John may love John, but I have to love me and she her, he him. There is no phonetic unity. 'Jeg' bears no relationship to 'mig' in Icelandic, nor 'ya' to 'mne' in Russian, nor 'ego' to 'me' in Latin. We see the same lack of sound pattern in 'we/us', Russian 'mi/nas', German 'wir/uns', and Icelandic 'vjer/oss'. This is no law of linguistic nature, for Malay has 'saya' and Chinese has 'wo' as invariable 'I/me' forms.".....

    I bet you never thought about that, huh Andrew? And I bet you'll never think about it ever again.....By the way, did you know that Teutonic anal-rententiveness is hard-wired into the German language? Mark Twain called it the Parenthesis Distemper. Burgess sez: "While we are on adjectives, we may note a disconcerting logic about German that, putting the adjective before the noun as in all Germanic languages, puts the whole of an adjective phrase there, too. English has 'buttered bread' but 'bread spread with butter and jam'; German has 'with butter and strawberry jam spread bread'. In other words, in speaking German, one must have the entire content of one's adjective phrase ready before the noun that it qualifies makes its appearance. This preparation of a phrasal entirety finds a counterpart in the German procedure with noun, adjective, and adverb clauses, for in these the verb is always shunted to the end.".....

    Can you guess which five languages have an emeticable compulsion to put the verb at the end of the sentence? German, Latin, Korean, Japanese, & Tibetan. Shakespeare also indulged in it ad nauseam. Id est, "this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine".....

    Every time I try to learn German I always end up throwing the book against the wall and renouncing my intention with a relief bordering on orgasm. Samuli's Finnishness sent me looking into that language. But gott in himmel, Finnish is as overinflected as Latin or Russian.....

    Burgess again: "Primitive language, then, must not be thought of as a sort of pidgin, with words like little painful barks all separated out. 'They will be loved' is the English for the Latin 'amabuntur'. The English way -- and English is a progessive, self-simplifying language: the technical term is 'syncretic' -- is to analyze a complex experience into irreducible particles: four words to the one of Latin. Old Western languages like Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit are 'synthetic': they build up long words and express everything that appertains to time and space with inflections.".....

    Graham Greene once wrote a good piece called "The Virtue of Disloyalty," which gave Greene a good excuse to slag Shakespeare for his status-quo toadyism. Greene had more ethical respect for a religious martyr named Robert Southwell. (Southwell's ballsiness is exactly what Mark Twain was referring to when Twain spoke about moral courage. Southwell's moral courage means a helluva lot more to me than Chuck Yaeger's right stuff.) Greene quoted the following line from Shakespeare: "Bare ruined choirs where once the sweet birds sang." Greene thought that that line had an anti-Protestant Catholic-nostalgia subtext. Yeah right. I nominate that exegesis for the James Diedrick Memorial Cross-Referential Grasping-At-Straws Pedantry Award....."'How badly nature has conceived us!' an old woman once said to me. 'It is nature herself that is badly conceived', I should have answered, if I had heeded my Manichean reflexes." (E.M. Cioran).


From: James Diedrick
Category: Category 1
Date: 1/6/99
Time: 7:01:03 PM

    Hey, Pete; you got by on far too much fake British suavity during your overrated life to smear me with that "James Diedrick Memorial Cross-Referential Grasping-At-Straws Pedantry Award" canard. Just because I'm an academic doesn't mean I'm a pedant. Hell, I put up with nuts like you, who only just learned the meaning of "Manichean." After all, If I were pedantic, I would point out that Manichean thinking is the last refuge of the reductivist.

MEMO TO: Peter Lawford

From: Joey Bishop
Category: Category 1
Date: 1/8/99
Time: 2:36:44 PM
Remote Name:

    Click here for Martin's obituary on Princess Diana.....My guess is that Martin really sweated for that obit. Not so much the deadline. Not so much the depressiveness of it. But simply because: what can you say about a celebrity who was as perfectly inconsequential as Pat Nixon? Martin admitted as much when he referred to Diana's "collateral celebrity". He mentioned her "colluding" smile. Which I always took for an "embarrassed" smile. And who could blame her.

    Christ, what a ballbreaking job. Can you imagine having to be a painfully-tactful eggshell-walking grin-machine 24 hours a day? It would've sent me screaming into the arms of Ian Paisley.

     Martin spoke of Diana's sympathy for gay men. Which apparently offended the fag-bashers who own the tabloids. And that shocked the hell outta me. I had no idea that there were homophobes in England. I had no idea that there were heterosexuals in England. Christ, I was under the impression that you limeys were ALL a unanimous pack of flaming fruity-toots. From the colonel's lady to Judy O'Grady. I thought it had something to do with the Wheatabix. I just automatically assumed that as soon as the sun goes down, every goddam one of you limey bastards climbs out of his coffin and puts on his Joan Crawford shoulder-pads and lip-syncs to Shirley Bassey till 3 o'clock in the goddam morning. Not that there's anything wrong with that.....

    Martin said: "Let's face it: we're a planet of looks snobs." I can think of something worse than that. And that's the fact that England is a nation of royalty groupies. But that's your dumb-ass perversion, not mine. Martin's eloquence almost deluded me into thinking that I actually gave a rat's ass about the supernaturally boring House of Windsor.

    Hey Diedrick: one more crack about Sinatra and he's gonna slip Sammy's glass-eyeball into your martini. Or maybe you'd prefer Princess Margaret's head at the foot of your bed.

    And as for you, Post-Andrew Brown: don't waste your breath, bubbelah. Don't even THINK of trying to wreak vengeance on Jack or Bobby or Old Man Joe. You simply don't have the seraphic CLOUT that the Kennedys have with The Big G. And by the way. As long as you're here, Posty. I might as well break the news to you right here & now: John F. Kennedy not only slept with your wife. He also serviced your mother AND your grandmother AND your Aunt Jezzaroona AND your Uncle Roger. As a matter of fact, at this very moment (even as I speak), JFK is getting it on with the plastic pink flamingo on Diedrick's front lawn. (Next stop is Julie's Pekingese.).....

    Don't worry. God'll get him for that. Or then again, maybe He won't. Maybe God has been bought off. Or maybe He just doesn't give a crap. Maybe God is too concerned with covering His ass with a frigging Veil Of Mystery. Maybe God is too busy taking inscrutability lessons from Lee Harvey Oswald. Memo to God: Hey Big G. Do me a favor, will ya? DO something. ANYthing. Flood Des Moines again. Give us all your hot monkey love.

    Hey Peter. Thanks for the straight poop about a fine honorable degenerate named Graham Greene. Your muckraking sanctimony is an inspiration to us all, Peter. And it means so much coming from a vomit-inducing sleazebag like yourself. Check out what Shawn Levy said about you in "Rat Pack Confidential":

    "He didn't care. He drank even when he was in the hospital to be treated for drinking. He got deep into drugs -- pot, pills, cocaine (he gave some to his son once as a birthday present) -- and he started liking his sex more squalid: bondage, frottage, kinky role-playing, even a little pain: slaps to the face, razors to his nipples, hair-raising stuff. Eventually, he resorted to an Acujack, a kind of male vibrator that he would use for hours trying to achieve a pathetic little orgasm; his fourth and final wife (there was another one in there for a few months) left him out of disgust with the pasttime."

    But wait--there's more: "Friends tried to get him into rehab. They flew him out to Palm Springs--his Golgotha--and then took a rental car to the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage. Peter wanted to know where they were taking him. 'Betty Ford's', his wife said. 'That's wonderful', he replied, thinking he was off on a social jaunt. 'I've always liked Betty.' The detox in the desert looked briefly like his salvation, but he undermined it, hiring a helicopter to meet him out in the desert with shipments of cocaine, then using his exercise time to walk out, meet the pilot, and get high."

    What's my fave Martin passage? I'm glad you asked that. Charles Highway: "Thinking back, actually, 'self-infatuation' strikes me as a rather ill-chosen word. It isn't so much that I like or love myself. Rather, I'm sentimental about myself.".....Aren't we all?

Rat Pack--2


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