31 October 2008

sunday scribbling #135 -- scandalous


Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

dorothy parker

born on 22 august, 1893 in long branch, new jersey – died on 07 june, 1967 at age 73 in new york, new york --- in those 73 years, she was best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century urban foibles ---

i rather like to imagine a snifter or five worth of time spent enjoying this gal’s camaraderie, trading acerbic comments and conversation, and hearing first hand her take on her own pessimistic poetry and memoirs ---

i’ve been assigned some of her unique and quirky characteristics from time to time, and have had my humour likened to hers – these are not always qualities to be admired or to which one would deliberately aspire – none the less, i get a kick out of a lot of her stuff, and it’s my feeling that for her day and time she was more than just a mid-pale shade of scandalous --- i confess admiration for her, as well as sadness for a woman plagued with alcohol and depression for much of her adult life ---

she was an incorrigible, incurable, and hopelessly offensive satirist as critic, screenwriter, and journalist – at one time losing a job as a screen writing critic at vanity fair magazine for insulting powerful producers once too often – ironic that she herself went on to become a playwright in hollywood - her successes there, including two academy award nominations (she co-wrote the script for “a star is born”, wrote additional dialogue for “the little foxes”, and received another oscar nomination for “smash-up, the story of a woman”), would eventually be curtailed, as her involvement in left-wing politics would lead to a place on the infamous hollywood blacklist ---

an early feminist, she was quick to identify social inequalities – much of her poetry illustrates her disappointment with men, love and social injustices --- regina barreca wrote, in the introduction to parker's collected stories, that "parker's wit caricatures the self-deluded, the powerful, the autocratic, the vain, the silly, and the self important; it does not rely on men and small formulas, and it never ridicules the marginalized, the sideline or the outcast - when parker goes for the jugular, its usually a vein with blue blood in it." ---

of the many one liners and quotes ascribed to her were two that she thought appropriate to mark her death – “that would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment”, and “excuse my dust” ---
dorothy parker died of a heart attack – she bequeathed her estate to the dr. martin luther king, jr. foundation in her will – subsequent to his death it passed to the naacp – her executrix bitterly contested her will but was unsuccessful – her ashes lay unclaimed in various places, including her attorney’s filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years ---
the naacp claimed her remains in 1988 and crafted a memorial garden outside their baltimore headquarters for them --- the plaque reads : here lie the ashes of dorothy parker (1893-1967) - humourist, writer, critic - defender of human and civil rights - for her epitaph she suggested, “excuse my dust” – this memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and jewish people – dedicated by the national association for the advancement of colored people – october 28, 1988


Stan Ski said...

Once seen as a villain, now a true hero - well wrutten.

gautami tripathy said...

I love dorothy parker...

Kill Word Verification

Linda Jacobs said...

Thank you for this bio info! I've always liked her but really didn't know much about her life. So interesting!

Gamol Gabere said...

If I could choose a place and time to visit, one of my top ten picks would be to sit at the famous round table of the Algonquin hotel and listen in some of the wits that had lunch there every day. Dorthy Parker being one of them.

anno said...

You've picked one of my favorite more scandalous heroines -- thanks for this excellent bit of biography!

Patois said...

Thank you for elaborating on her. I've always admired her. I had no idea about what happened at the end of her life.

paisley said...

what an absolutely kick ass post.. a bit of history,, a bit of hollywood a bit of you all mixed in... totally great....

Tammy said...

What an interesting woman and someone I would have liked. Well done, you! I'm loving your music. :)

Have a great week!

alister said...

Sign me up right now. Forget Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton mixed with Marilyn Monroe. I’m now officially a Dorothy Parker wannabe as you are my witness!