Tag Archives: Dominick Dunne

The Short Stack, February 7

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and random blips that crossed my radar during the week. (+ stuff like art) Enjoy!

woman wearing swimming suit on cross country skis in the snow
What? Me, cold? Sick of the winter? Not a chance!

My life is being permeated by Frank Sinatra. First, there’s the fact that I’ve been listening to “That’s Life” on repeat as I drive to work in the morning to give myself an extra boost in order to face another sub-zero day. It’s helpful to be reminded that you can be riding high in April, shot down in May.

Frank loomed large in Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations (I need to quit that book like its Brokeback Mountain). She revealed tidbits about their marriage like this:

“Anyway, I heard this gun go off. We’d been fighting, of course. And drinking. Every single night, we would have three or four martinis, big ones, in big champagne glasses, then wine with dinner, then go to a nightclub and start drinking Scotch or bourbon.”

Considering this info, it was a little weird to open New York Magazine this week and see  this ad for Jack Daniels:

jack daniel's ad featuring Frank Sinatra

If you can’t read the paragraph copy it says he was even buried with a bottle of it, I guess to help ease his transition to the after world. Only in America can a person who abused a substance while living become it’s spokesperson and center of its marketing campaign in death.

And then, Keith brought this article from the New York Daily News to my attention – Paul Anka’s got a new memoir out called My Way (Paul Anka?! Sigh. Put it on the reading list. I cannot resist a show biz tell-all) that’s got a lot of Frank (and frank) material, too.

This week, the twists and turns in the Farrow Clan vs. Woody Allen drama were more than I could keep up with. Dylan Farrow in the NYT. The defected Moses Farrow in People. Oy. This whole thing could only be sorted out by one person: Dominick Dunne. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us, so we’ll never get to read his 50,000-word article about it in Vanity Fair.

That got me thinking about Dominick, so I pulled his book The Way We Lived Then off my bookshelf. It’s a great Hollywood memoir/photo book mixed with his own riches to rags to semi-riches story. He battled alcohol and drug addiction that caused him to lose his wife and his position as a producer in Hollywood only to battle back, recreating himself as a writer.

And, of course, if you’re in the mood for books about out-of-control comedians (who isn’t!?):
The Chris Farley Show
Furious Cool

Still waiting for something that plumbs the depths of Jerry Lewis.

Of course, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The news had me longing to watch The Talented Mr. Ripley (streaming now on Netflix!) again, which is not just beautifully-shot, excellently cast but also filled with terrific dialog and cringe-worthy moments. This movie has a lot to say about class in America even though it takes place in Italy.  It sucks to be poor, especially when you’re hanging out with rich people, but don’t… ah… murder anyone over it. Who better to play the rich snob Freddie X than PSH? His voice, his inflections, the roll of his eyes – the first time I saw this movie (way back in the day – at the theater with my parents!) I didn’t quite grasp that he was acting, so perfectly did he embody the role.

Which Makes Me Think of More Reading:
Patricia Highsmith (author of Ripley) is on my reading list:  the biography, The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith, plus her books The Two Faces of January (adapted for a movie coming out this year starring Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst) and The Price of Salt (the first published lesbian love story with a happy ending) which is sometimes called Carol (as it will be when it comes out as a movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and directed by Todd Haynes).

I wish I was wearing any of these costumes French photographer Charles Fréger documented in Europe.

We’re heading to the Graves 601 Hotel this weekend for a mini-escape, during which we’ll pretend to be visiting this strange, cold world known as Minneapolis as if visitors from a foreign land. Looking forward to cocktails at Bradstreet and brunch at Hell’s Kitchen.

Next Friday is Valentine’s Day (look forward to a special love edition of Short Stack!). I have to admit I like this holiday. Like many people, I hated it when I was younger and not attached. Now I like it because it’s full of cute things in pink and it really doesn’t require much prep work if you don’t think you have to be cheesy about it. Plus, you can use it to widen the definition of the holiday and celebrate whoever you love, not just your lover. I will be giving my dog a special treat that day for being such a faithful friend.

Be happy we’re all here together. Make it an excuse to wear something bright. Make sure all your Christmas decorations are tucked away. Be bright and full of hope.

Order something cheap and pretty. Like this.

If you’ve got an arty person in your life this V-Day, consider taking them to go see Monuments Men and then buzz on over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to go on a Monuments Men tour of artwork rescued by this group of art heroes. My favorite kind of heroes. Or go on Valentine’s Day Eve, which is a Thursday night, when the museum is open until 9 pm and you’ll probably have most of the galleries to yourself, which means no one will mind if you steal a kiss in the Prairie School Architecture gallery.

Hope my own sister is reading this, because I found our Halloween costumes…


The Way He Lived

dominick-dunneFailure, if you can get through it, is a great experience to have had.” – Dominick Dunne

Today I got the news that Dominick Dunne died at age 83. I had only recently, within the past year, discovered Dunne’s collected writing about high-society crime, although I’d read various pieces in Vanity Fair off and on for years. I became so intrigued by him that I bought his memoir The Way We Lived Then, which is narrative but also a collection of incredible photos from his years in Hollywood, when he was married to his wife, Lenny. He was a compulsive photo-taker and scrap-booker (not in the way people scrapbook now, with all the doodads and foo-foos and cut-outs), in addition to an avid party-giver, and the book  is a moving document of a bygone era when life, for Dunne, was easy and he was living in Shangri-La.

Continue reading The Way He Lived