Hugh Hefner in his own words

Posted September 28, 2017 15:21:23

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was a colourful character who ruled the Playboy mansion, packed full of scantily-clad women.

The multimillionaire has now died at 91, but he was desired by both men and women and before his death said “in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined a sweeter life”.

In 1992, the Playboy king told The New York Times he was most proud “that I changed attitudes towards sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”

Hefner vowed he would never grow up and said staying young was what it was all about.

Here are some of the most colourful quotes from the original Playboy.

“Sex is the driving force on the planet. We should embrace it, not see it as the enemy.”

“The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects. If women weren’t sex objects there wouldn’t be another generation. It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.” — Hefner in an interview with the New York Daily Post in 2010.

“I don’t have dinner parties — I eat dinner in bed.”

“I have about 100 pairs of pyjamas. I like to see people dressed comfortably.”

“My best pick-up line is ‘My name is Hugh Hefner’.”

“If you let society and your peers define who you are, you’re less for it.”

“I have no plans to retire. It’s the perfect combination of work and play that keeps you young. If I quit work it would be the beginning of the end for me.”

“Being attacked by right-wing Christians did not bother me. Being attacked by liberal feminists did.”

“My life is an open book. With illustrations.” — Hefner in an interview with Esquire magazine in 2002.

“The interesting thing is how one guy, through living out his own fantasies, is living out the fantasies of so many other people.”

“I would like to think that I will be remembered as someone who had some positive impact on the sociosexual values of his time. And I think I’m secure and happy in that.”

“I’m very comfortable with the nature of life and death, and that we come to an end. What’s most difficult to imagine is that those dreams and early yearnings and desires of childhood and adolescence will also disappear. But who knows? Maybe you become part of the eternal whatever.”

Topics: death, sexuality, people, arts-and-entertainment, united-states

Heath Ledger’s father calls for more awareness in wake of rising drug deaths

Posted September 27, 2017 19:21:29

The father of late actor Heath Ledger says a dramatically increasing rate of drug-related deaths in Australia “doesn’t surprise” him and has called for more education on the potential dangers of prescription medication.

Drug-related deaths hit the highest point since the 1990s last year, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows, and the majority of those were caused by prescription medication.

Kim Ledger, a founding patron of advocacy group Scriptwise who has been raising awareness of addiction since his son’s death in 2008, said a lack of understanding of the dangers of prescription drugs was behind a number of deaths.

“The worst thing is that most of the people taking these drugs will not know the downside of mixing medications. And this is what’s creating a number of deaths,” he told the ABC.

“Most people have no idea that prescription medication can lead to deaths.”

The overwhelming majority of drug-related deaths in 2016 were accidental, the ABS said, and were most commonly associated with prescription medications benzodiazepines (anxiety medication) or oxycodone (painkiller).

‘You can get addicted in a matter of days’

A person dying from a drug-induced death in 2016 was most likely to be a middle-aged male, living outside of a capital city in a country area.

“A typical scenario can be the person who has had either an industrial accident or a motorcar accident, and they spent some time in hospital — it could be as little as a torn muscle but could be some sort of tragic injury,” Mr Ledger explained.

“And then during the process of repatriation they’ll be issued up prescription painkiller, and it’s these painkillers that if not wary of them, you can become addicted in a very short space of time — a matter of days in some cases.”

Patients then get “hooked on the highs” that the drugs are giving them, and then find themselves addicted when they leave the hospital.

“They then start mixing — they get whatever they can from a doctor, and if one doctor doesn’t issue what they want, they’ll travel to another doctor and get more of the same or something different,” Mr Ledger said.

Mr Ledger has called for a real-time monitoring system to prevent people doctor shopping, and said an education program similar to the anti-smoking Quit campaign could also help.

“It’s an addiction, it’s an illness, and you know there are so many different types of addiction,” he said.

“This one is no different except that you know the consequences of mixing some of these drugs affects people in in a variety of ways and you’re not to know when you’re taking a variety of these drugs whether they are actually going to put you to sleep or not because you have combined them with alcohol or sleeping tablets or something like that so that you can catch people out and it does.”

Topics: community-and-society, drugs-and-substance-abuse, actor, health, death, australia

Harry Dean Stanton, cult American actor, dies aged 91

Posted September 16, 2017 10:17:19

Harry Dean Stanton, whose scruffy looks and off-beat demeanour made him a favourite of directors seeking a character actor to add eccentricity or melancholy to the screen, has died from natural causes, his agent said. He was 91.

Stanton, who appeared in some 70 movies and many television shows including Repo Man, Paris, Texas and most recently David Lynch’s reboot of television’s Twin Peaks, died peacefully at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, his agent John Kelly said in a statement.

Stanton’s final on-screen role can be seen in the upcoming film Lucky.

In a career spanning 60 years, Stanton’s roles were not always big but were meaningful and could add a special quirk or flavour to a film.

Sometimes he said very little in his roles, but with a long, craggy face highlighted by unkempt hair and sad, droopy eyes, Stanton had a strong physical presence and made a point of not over-acting.

“He’s one of those actors who knows that his face is the story,” his friend Sam Shepard, the playwright and actor, said in the 2012 documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction.

Shepard himself passed away in July this year at the age of 73.

Stanton credited Jack Nicholson with giving him vital professional advice. Nicholson had written a part for Stanton in the Western Ride the Whirlwind and told him, “Let the wardrobe do the acting and just play yourself.”

“After Jack said that, my whole approach to acting opened up,” Stanton told Entertainment Weekly.

Stanton’s eclectic body of work

Stanton worked with many of Hollywood’s most notable directors, including Frances Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part Two and One From the Heart), Sam Peckinpah (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid), Martin Scorsese (The Last Temptation of Christ), Ridley Scott (Alien), and Lynch (Wild at Heart, The Straight Story, and Inland Empire).

Stanton could be taciturn to the point of mystery. In Partly Fiction, when Lynch asked him how he would like to be remembered, Stanton replied: “It doesn’t matter.”

Two 1984 films cemented his reputation in Hollywood: Repo Man and Paris, Texas.

Repo Man became an independent cult film favourite with Stanton as a comically grizzled and paranoid car repossession expert trying to pass on his dubious code of ethics to his apprentice.

In Paris, Texas, written by Shepard and directed by Wim Wenders, he played an emotionally broken, nearly silent man trying to put his life and family back together — a portrayal that many in Hollywood thought should have at least earned Stanton an Oscar nomination.

Other notable Stanton movies were Pretty in Pink, The Missouri Breaks, Red Dawn, Escape From New York, The Green Mile and Cool Hand Luke.”

In the 1960s, Stanton was frequently seen on US television in classic cowboy shows such as Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Bonanza and Have Gun, Will Travel.

In 2008-2009 he played a manipulative polygamist on the HBO series “Big Love.”

Stanton was born July 14, 1926, in West Irvine, Kentucky, to a tobacco farmer father and hairdresser mother who divorced when he was a teenager.

Stanton, who was a cook at the battle of Okinawa during his US Navy service in World War Two, became interested in acting while attending the University of Kentucky and pursued acting at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse in California.

In the 1960s, Stanton and Nicholson were was part of a clique of hard-living Hollywood rebels who also included Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and various rock stars.

Stanton told an interviewer that he and Hopper had a running joke that some of Hopper’s best work — in “Blue Velvet” and an Oscar-nominated part in “Hoosiers” — came in roles that Stanton had turned down.

Stanton made a second career of music, playing regularly in Los Angeles and sometimes touring with the Harry Dean Stanton Band, in which he sang and played guitar and harmonica.

Stanton never married but once told an interviewer he had “one, maybe two” sons.


Topics: actor, film-movies, arts-and-entertainment, death, united-states

Dali inheritance not on cards for tarot reader after exhumation, paternity test

Updated September 07, 2017 08:44:04

A paternity test has disproved a Spanish woman’s claim that she is the daughter of surrealist artist Salvador Dali, the deceased painter’s foundation has announced.

Key points:

  • Foundation says it’s happy “absurd” claim is resolved
  • Pilar Abel said her mother had an affair with Salvador Dali
  • Dali’s remains will now be returned to his coffin

The Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation said the Madrid court that ordered the DNA test informed it that Pilar Abel, a 61-year-old tarot card reader, has no biological relationship with Dali.

Ms Abel has long alleged her mother had an affair with Dali and claimed she had the right to part of his vast estate.

The foundation said it was happy the “absurd” claim had been resolved.

Calls to Ms Abel’s lawyer went unanswered.

A judicial spokesman said the court has not made the test results public but has informed the parties in the lawsuit.

He spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with court rules.

The high-profile paternity claim led to the exhumation of Dali’s embalmed remains so genetic samples could be taken.

Forensic experts removed hair, nails and two long bones in July.

The foundation, which manages Dali’s estate on behalf of the Spanish state, said at the time of the exhumation that Dali’s remains — including his famous moustache — were well-preserved and mummified after an embalming process almost 30 years ago.

The foundation said the painter’s remains will be returned to his coffin, which is buried in the Dali Museum Theatre in the north-eastern Spanish town of Figueres, Dali’s birthplace.

Ms Abel claimed her mother had an affair with Dali while working as a domestic helper in Figueres.

She said her grandmother revealed the family secret when Ms Abel was still young and that her mother confirmed the story years later.

Dali, who died in 1989 aged 84, was one of the 20th century’s most famous and easily recognised artists.

His paintings include The Persistence of Memory, with its iconic images of melting clocks, and he also turned his hand to movies, sculpture and advertising.


Topics: law-crime-and-justice, courts-and-trials, death, human-interest, arts-and-entertainment, art-history, spain

First posted September 07, 2017 08:03:38

‘Wry, nuanced and hyper-literate’: Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker dead at 67

Posted September 04, 2017 05:34:11

Walter Becker, co-founder of the influential jazz-rock band Steely Dan, has died at age 67, according to his website, which did not disclose the cause of death.

Becker, who played lead guitar, formed Steely Dan with Donald Fagen, its keyboardist and lead vocalist.

In its heyday in the 1970s, the band scored hits with Reelin’ in the Years, Do It Again, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number and Deacon Blues.

Becker and Fagen became friends as students at Bard College in New York in the late 1960s.

“We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm,” Fagen said in a statement on Sunday published by Variety.

After working as touring musicians they moved to Los Angeles, releasing the first Steely Dan album in 1972: Can’t Buy a Thrill.

The band took their name from a fanciful dildo that appears in the beat novelist William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.

The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2001, where their official biography describes their 1970s albums as “wry, nuanced and hyper-literate” that are “highly regarded by connoisseurs of pop hooks, jazz harmony and desiccating wit”.

Fagen described his bandmate on Sunday as “cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny”.

“Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art,” Fagen’s statement said.

After a long hiatus, the band reunited in the late 1990s to record its first studio album in 20 years, according to the Steely Dan website.

That album, Two Against Nature, would go on to win Album of the Year in 2000 at the Grammy Awards.

Becker missed concerts earlier in the year as he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure, Fagen told Billboard.


Topics: death, rock, united-states

‘Nice to see you, to see you nice’: Forsyth dies

Updated August 19, 2017 05:02:42

The BBC has announced that veteran British television host and legendary entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth has died, aged 89.

Forsyth, one of Britain’s best-known gameshow hosts, fronted television shows including Play Your Cards Right, The Price is Right and The Generation Game, which at its peak attracted 20 million viewers.

Most recently he presented the popular dance competition Strictly Come Dancing for 10 years until 2014. He was known for such crowd-pleasing catchphrases as “Nice to see you, to see you nice” and “Give us a whirl!”

Born the son of a garage owner in a suburb of London, Forsyth took up tap dancing as a lad after seeing a Fred Astaire film.

He first appeared on TV in 1939 as a child dancer on a show called Come and Be Televised and made his stage debut at the age of 14 with his billed-at-the-bottom act — Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom.

Forsyth’s first major TV success came in 1958, when he was signed to host a weekly variety show, Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

It drew a then-remarkable audience of 10 million viewers and reportedly caused pubs to empty out as airtime approached and pub patrons headed home to watch the show.

BBC director-general Tony Hall described him as “one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known”.

“He had a remarkable chemistry with his audience — that’s what made him such an amazing professional and why he was so loved.”

The BBC reported Forsyth, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2011, had been unwell for some time and had undergone keyhole surgery in 2015 after suffering two aneurysms.


Topics: death, television, television-broadcasting, united-kingdom

First posted August 19, 2017 04:59:39

Stan Grant: Music is more than my life’s soundtrack — it’s a roadmap

Updated August 11, 2017 15:39:17

Vienna Chocolate, remember that? Layers of ice cream; vanilla and chocolate with milo sprinkled on top.

I loved it, as a boy. They stopped making it sometime in the 1970s.

Why do I remember Vienna Chocolate? Because of a song.

That’s the ice cream I was eating when I first heard Glen Campbell singing Galveston.

It is a memory that is wrapped in all my senses: taste, hearing, sight, touch, smell.

It was a hot day in Coolah, a little town in western New South Wales.

You know that saying, beyond the black stump? That’s it — the edge of the frontier.

It had a special meaning for me; it was where two sides of my ancestry met.

Coolah was the traditional border between my dad’s people, the Wiradjuri, and my mum’s Kamilaroi.

I loved it.

I started school there.

We lived there twice — moved away, came back — all up I probably spent little more than a year there but every minute is alive in me; every memory: the swimming pool, the old school with its wooden desks and ink tops, the tuckshop and the quadrangle where we played handball.

The footy oval was special; on game days I’d scour the crowd for tossed off bottles that I could cash in for pocket money.

After training on cold nights I’d warm my hands in a packet of hot chips with vinegar wrapped in a newspaper.

My grandfather lived with us — mum’s dad.

I’d wait up at nights to help him in after he staggered home from the pub.

I would sit with him in the sun for hours, listening to three-way turf talk on the radio and picking the horses out of the form guide.

He’d fill the silences with stories about the old times about his people; what they did and where they were from.

I remember it all.

And I remember Galveston.

That day, when I first heard it, I was outside my Aunty Joyce’s house.

She was my grandfather’s cousin and I used to love going to her place. She’d always have something special, a cake or a big plate of kangaroo tail rissoles.

Her husband Uncle Ted kept bees; I’d been warned to keep clear but I couldn’t help myself.

There was one time when I lifted the lid off a hive and dozens of them flew up my T-shirt, my dad and Uncle Ted had to pin me down, screaming, to tear off my shirt.

I went to hospital to have the stings removed; another vivid memory.

I got banged up a bit that year.

I was back in hospital when my brother pushed me down a steep hill in a billy cart with no brakes and a rope as a steering wheel.

I ended up strung on a barbed wire fence. The doctor had to cut it out of my arms and ribs.

It meant a tetanus shot that was probably more painful than the accident.

I broke my arm messing around with my cousins.

My neighbour — just a few years older than me — went out shooting rabbits and never came home.

The gun exploded as he ducked under a fence; the ricocheted bullet killed him.

Anyway, Galveston.

Outside Aunty Joyce’s house, the sun shining, devouring that ice cream and I hear it.

I must have been seven years old.

It wasn’t just the song — those lyrics of longing, yearning, love, fear and war — or Campbell’s voice; it was the guitar that got me.

Put it on and listen to it; that baritone guitar break: elegant, deceptively simple and evocative.

I loved guitar. My father played. My grandfather bought me a toy guitar for my first birthday and I have never stopped playing since.

Campbell was a master guitarist; his stardom probably overshadowed his musicianship but listen to a live acoustic recording of Gentle on my Mind and be amazed.

He could have so easily overplayed his hand on Galveston but Campbell had heeded the greatest lesson of music: less is more.

I am thinking about Galveston and Coolah and my family this week because Campbell has passed away.

It has got me thinking about the soundtrack of my life.

There were other Campbell songs: Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Where’s The Playground Susie; all of them written by Jimmy Webb.

I have been reading his book recently.

Webb first heard Campbell’s voice as a teenager, driving a tractor on his father’s farm. He knew then he wanted to write songs and he wanted that voice to sing them.

So many of those sings are about places and maybe that’s what drew me in.

Music for me, has not been just a soundtrack, it is a roadmap.

My family was itinerant and we moved so often it is songs that stick in my mind more than towns.

The towns I remember most clearly are usually those connected to a song.

Gladstone, Queensland. My dad had found work as a dam builder. We were there only for a matter of months (too far out of our country). I wouldn’t have been only a few years old but I recall a bright day, walking down a hill with my mother and hearing Petula Clark sing Downtown.

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
you can always go downtown.

My God. The 1960s were about hope and that’s what it sounded like.

Born free as free as the wind blows

As free as the grass grows

Born Free to follow your heart.

Born Free, Matt Monro’s theme song from the movie of the same name; I must have been four or five years old when I first heard it.

Again it was Coolah, in the cinema with stitches in my bandaged head after my sister had accidentally struck me with the sharp edge of a steel swing in the local park.

My cousin Bob McLeod — an aspiring musician — used to sing his own version.

Coming out of the mouth of a young Aboriginal man Born Free was suddenly a very different song.

Guitar: listen to those heavily strummed opening chords to George Harrison’s hymn My Sweet Lord.

Phil Spector the producer always did things to excess — one layer of music piled on another — but he knew how to make a song boom out of a transistor radio.

I was in Sydney at Hyde Park. I recall clearly stepping out of a car and those chords wafting on a Sydney summer breeze.

Griffith was our spiritual home; I was born there and we would gravitate back and forth.

We lived for a time next to a house with teenage boys. It was a time when Rod Stewart was big and good — before he went Blonde.

Maggie May was on high rotation, bouncing off the walls of that house day and night.

The guitar again. Have a listen to the lead break, it is smart, lyrical and economical.

It never out stays its welcome.

Martin Quittenton take a bow. He abandoned music not long after and is a recluse, but what a gift he gave us.

And the bass line is a killer. Ronnie Wood played it, later he would join the Rolling Stones and never play as well again.

I caught the punk bug when we moved (again, I attended more than 15 schools) to Canberra.

Like a generation of kids I tuned in to Countdown each Sunday night.

Lots of forgettable dross and my sister’s favourites (yes I concede now that Dancing Queen is a mighty song) but then whack: The Jam delivered Start, sounding like a new wave Beatles, all angles and biting guitar (they ripped off the bass line to Taxman but who cares).

London Calling to the faraway towns

Now war is declared and battle come down

The Clash in black and white, Joe Strummer singing into the driving rain on the Thames.

The album London Calling will forever be in my top 10 and that clip is the best ever.

And guitars. Listen to the Only Ones’ Another Girl Another Planet.

Music has been my companion on a journey that’s taken me around the world.

My mate Peter Charley and me with our South African crew listening to classic era Rod Stewart, our backdrop to the end of apartheid.

The death of Princess Diana will always be linked to The Verve’s Urban Hymns, which was released to a nation in mourning.

In Vietnam I started listening a lot to Iggy Pop and the Stooges. God knows why.

But there is a moment at the start of Gimme Danger amidst James Williamson’s crunching guitar when Iggy just says “yeah” and in one word, one moment, captures more of the spirit of rock’n’roll than just about anyone.

I turned my colleagues — Pakistanis, Chinese, Iraqis, Iranians — onto Australian music, good music: The Saints, The Triffids, Radio Birdman, Hoodoo Gurus, the Go-Betweens, the Church, the Sunnyboys.

When I got homesick I would listen to Midnight Oil:

Out where the river broke, the bloodwood and the desert oak

I opened my ears to new sounds: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Tinariwen.

We used to play a game on long drives across Pakistan — me, my cameraman Farhad Shadravan and Imran Khan (no, not the cricketer) the Al Jazeera reporter — would name a song for each letter of the alphabet.

There are a lot of popular songs starting with ‘s’ — think about it.

Or maybe it is just me. They are wistful songs: Something, Suspicious minds, Strangers in the night, or the Everly Brothers’ So sad to watch good love go bad.

The song She’s been talking to my friends by the Kiwi band The Mutton Birds is forever linked to the Afghan-Pakistan border and refugees trapped in camps they will never escape from.

I introduced Farhad to the Mutton Birds and their album Envy of Angels; it is all we listened to with its mesmerising minor key melodies and ethereal guitars.

We did a lot of miles, Farhad and me.

Wherever we went we would trawl the local music shops for a new guitar.

I remember waking into one store on Music Street in Kabul.

When the Taliban seized control all music was silenced, musicians were executed but now the shops were open again.

I saw an old battered instrument with rusty strings; the shopkeeper got it down for me.

It had been left behind by a soviet soldier during the invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

I tuned it as best I could and started to pick out Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven (what else?) and something magical happened.

The store owner picked up a rabab — a lute-like traditional Afghan instrument — and started playing along.

Neither of us spoke each other’s languages — we could not utter a word — yet here we were speaking in music, music that defied the Taliban.

Farhad filmed it. I don’t see him anymore — we are on opposite sides of the world — but he is my brother, forever. Brothers in the road and music.

So many songs.

When my daughter was born I put on Van Morrison:

She’s as sweet as Tupelo Honey

She’s an angel of the first degree

When I met my wife I was listening to the American band the Jayhawks:

I’m gonna make you love me

I’m gonna dry your tears

We’re gonna stay together for a million years

The greatest song I have ever heard? The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset:

But I don’t feel afraid

As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset I am in paradise

I saw Ray Davies, the Kinks’ songwriter, sing that masterpiece live in London right near Waterloo Station and the world was perfect.

Davies was influenced by country music, the blues and folk, and he had an eye for that intimate detail that made the listener believe he was singing just to them.

Every day I look at the world from my window

But chilly, chilly is evening time

Waterloo sunset’s fine

Country music was the sound of my childhood too.

Music of hard times; music that told our story.

Merle Haggard:

A canvas covered cabin in a crowded labour camp stand out in these memories I revive

For my daddy raised a family there with two hard working hands

And tried to feed my mumma’s hungry eyes


Why do these songs matter so much? They aren’t necessarily the greatest songs or songs I would ordinarily play but when I hear them they call me home.

In fact in my rootless, restless life, they are home.

That’s it: nostalgia.

It’s a trick of the mind, I know, to think life was better then, but sometimes we can cling to that.

After walking through the blood of a terrorist bombing I would search my iPod for America’s Sister Golden Hair, just to hear that opening slide guitar riff and remember where I was when I first heard it; far from a world gone mad.

This week I have been a boy again, eating an ice cream at my old Aunty’s house hearing Campbell sing Galveston.

I still see her standing by the water

Standing there looking out to sea

And is she waiting there for me

It is a song about yesterdays and a place where everything felt alright.

Back then I was a boy, my grandfather was still alive and Campbell was a young man and the world, for me, hadn’t happened yet.

Topics: country, music, death, australia, gladstone-4680, coolah-2843, sydney-2000

First posted August 11, 2017 15:11:39