ABBIE HOFFMAN!

Abbie Hoffman may not be that well known to a lot of people but he’s always been a personal hero of mine. He was by definition a social activist probably best known for his work organizing anti-war protests during the Vietnam War era. Truth is, he was much more than that. He was an amazing man involved in many different social causes: civil rights, the environment, the Women’s Movement, you name it, and he did it all with a terrific sense of humor.

Abbot ‘Abbie’ Hoffman, as he looked in his prime.

Now with that in mind, one would not think that Abbie Hoffman would be a proper subject for a blog dedicated to Lee Marvin and my book Lee Marvin Point Blank.  Truth be told, I like to think of this blog as that and other subjects of interest, especially when it concerns the lives of interesting and/or unsung individuals. Enter Abbie Hoffman.

Abbie Hoffman’s memoir, SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.

Having watched the Aaron Sorkin film The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), recently, I decided to reread Abbie’s autobiography, since it’s always been one of my favorite books as mentioned previously. Glad I did as it is just as great a read as I remember. I could go on about what makes it so wonderful, or even pontificate more on Abbie’s achievements. Instead, read the excerpt below and you’ll see what I mean:

“Radio needed another frame of mind. I studied how it was different, always preferred it to TV, and felt I was better on the radio because the listener couldn’t see what was going on and respond to certain visual images I had to create. One night I was being interviewed by a hostile host live on New York radio station WNEW. I picked up my host’s pack of cigarettes and said, ‘Can I have a cigarette?’
‘Sure, help yourself.,’ he said, and I took one and dragged on it slurpily. ‘Hey, this is really good stuff here, man,’ I said, imitating the stereotypical stoned musician. The host got all flustered and announced, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, he’s just smoking a plain Marlboro cigarette…Tell them that — tell them it’s just a cigarette, man.’ I agreed then apologized profusely. ‘Oh my god, ah shouldna done it…I’m sorry I don’t wanna blow your gig. So cool, though, man, disguisin’ a cigarette.’ There was no way the host could get out of the little trap with just words. He completely lost his composure, but he had me back.

My bookmark, acquired at the memorial tribute to Hoffman in 1989.

On another talk show, I got a call-in death threat. I said over the air that I’d be leaving the studio at 5 o’clock and went on to describe myself, only using the appearance of the host. ‘I got horn-rimmed glasses and a brown and white-checkered sports jacket.’ Most of the time I’d talk about the war or other social issues, using humor as a hook.  I would use the opportunities to advertise upcoming demonstrations. It was free space and effective. … people actually talked on radio. Now it seems like everyone, disc jockeys, broadcasters, newsmen, are all hopping on the same monotonous beat. One-two-three. One-two-three.”

(L-R) Jack Hoffman talks about his brother Abbie to famed lawyer William Kunstler at the 1989 Memorial tribute. Abbie & Jack’s mother is partially seen on the far right. Candid photo taken by yours truly.

Ya gotta love Abbie! Seriously, how inventive and funny was he when it came to such things? I only wish he was still around as we could sure use his perspective now….maybe more than ever.
– Dwayne Epstein

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FACEBOOK: PROS & CONS

Facebook has been around now for well over a decade and with it has come both good and bad on a large scale and small. We all know the story of its conception via Aaron Sorkin’s excellent Oscar-winning screenplay for The Social Network (2010). It’s a complicated tale involving lawsuits, betrayals, manipulations, and other controversies that just comes down to the simple truth that Mark Zuckerberg simply wanted to get laid. Crude but true. 
 That said, not much has changed since then. In other words, Facebook is rife with both pros and cons and this writer has been on the receiving end of both. I joined Facebook initially at the request of some old friends as a way to reacquaint ourselves and to that end, Facebook is a wonderful tool. On the negative side are the well-known political rants, nasty comments and downright stalkers who inhabit the platforms of social media. They can be blocked, of course, but the damage is often done before that can take place. I once encountered some nut job who went around telling the world that he and I were working on a project together and was asking my friends for seed money. Bizarre. 
 On the plus side (and it is a a very big plus!) Facebook has proven to be an amazing platform to promote my work as sales of Lee Marvin Point Bank has proven. Most times that promotion is self-generated which I really don’t have a problem with. 
  However, on rare occasion, I’ll come across a Facebook post by a complete stranger that has me smiling like a butcher’s dog. Seriously. As I constantly grapple with ideas for content for this blog, I’ll come across something on Facebook that takes me by complete surprise and makes for an easy blog entry. Case in point, this recent post I stumbled upon from Facebook’s Crime Film Club….

Screenshot from Facebook’s Crime Film Club.

Pretty cool, huh? What I like about it, besides the obvious, is the fact that my book came out in 2013, and to this day it is still being discovered by new readers. Does  my heart good. Facebook has its problems but this member of its numbers proudly admires its usefulness. Thank you. You may now return to your regularly scheduled memes and rants.
– Dwayne Epstein

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AARON SORKIN

Aaron Sorkin, the talented writer of multiple mediums, was the recent subject of an ongoing project dedicated to creative inspirations. The entertainment news website Deadline Hollywood started an interesting series of video interviews entitled “The Film That Lit My Fuse,” with such previous subjects as Russell Crowe, Edward James Olmos and Oliver Stone. I like the concept as well as many of the responses I’ve seen. However, the recent one with Aaron Sorkin bears special mention here.
Why the special mention? Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank are aware of several of the bibliographies I constructed in the back of the book and one of the ones that I was most proud of was “Films Lee Marvin Could Have Made” in which I speculate on roles he would have played had he lived. Since Aaron Sorkin had his breakout success with the stage and film version of A Few Good Men (1992), I could not help but speculate what Marvin would have been like in the role of Marine Col. Nathan R. Jessup.

Lee Marvin n THE DIRTY DOZEN, or how he might have looked in A FEW GOOD MEN.

Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessup in director Rob Reiner’s film version Aaron Sorkin’s AFEW GOOD MEN.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Nicholson was superb in the role. I just think it would have been interesting to see what Marvin would have done with it. When I saw it in the theater when it first came out, I remember thinking that I could easily hear Marvin bark that famous line: “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
In the video, which I’ve linked below, Sorkin’s response to the questions and his anecdotal remembrances are fascinating. Like him, I enjoy a good courtroom drama and also consider the T.V. show “M*A*S*H” to be the best of the best. I also consider William Goldman one of the all-time greats and was pleasantly surprised to discover he was a coach and mentor to Sorkin.
One minor quibble, though. He’s incorrect when he says 12 Angry Men (1957) has only one set consisting of the jury room throughout the film. The film opens in the courtroom with the jury receiving their instructions from the judge and closes with an exterior shot of the courthouse with two jurors exchanging good byes. Minor quibble, I grant you but worth mentioning.
Oh, and speaking of courtroom dramas, Lee Marvin was no stranger to the genre, having taken the witness stand in The Caine Mutiny (1954), The Rack (1956) and as the title subject seen below……

Lee Marvin as Korean War era defendant Paul Ryker in SGT. RYKER.

  • Dwayne Epstein.

 

The Film That Lit My Fuse: ‘The Trial Of The Chicago 7’ Writer-Director Aaron Sorkin

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