The End of Privacy

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I was disappointed to read President Obama’s solution to the controversy raging over the new American security state. What our president, legislators, and judiciary have done in answer to the controversy created by Edward Snowden’s release of NSA documents is create a merely palliative solution to the grave problems of NSA mass data collection and wholesale spying on the American People. So fearful have we become that our elected officials need only sound the call of terrorism to bring us into line and render us submissive to the final destruction of our freedom to conduct our lives privately.

Future historians will certainly record that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were successful beyond Osama bin Laden’s wildest dreams. Americans willingly, even enthusiastically discarded their fundamental Fourth Amendment constitutional rights for the illusion of security. Here’s what the Fourth Amendment says:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This was the old America. We don’t do that any more.

In the new America, lip service is paid to this amendment while the reality is that secret courts with secret warrants enforce secret laws against American citizens who are not even allowed to know they are the object of secret scrutiny. All digital communications—phone and internet—are collected and held just in case someone somewhere does something the authorities don’t like.

I won’t outline the so-called solutions the president announced at his press conference last week. You can easily find them online. The upshot of his “fix” of NSA is this: we are asked to take his word and that of NSA officials that now they will now be good boys and girls and only spy on foreigners, and not spy on us unless we absolutely deserve it.

It is sad to write this on Martin Luther King day. President Obama, an historic president who could have done so much to advance freedom and justice for people all over the world, instead gave in to the secret powers that cannot abide an informed public. These are the covert partners of global banking, agriculture, and pharmaceutical corporations; the helpers of defense contractors bent on selling more weapons; the shepherds of corporations who would control everyone’s drinking water, sell farmers the seeds to plant and sue if they don’t buy more, and destroy every species unlucky enough to be in the path of their greed. And they will sell you the once-free internet, and dole it out to you a kilobyte at time while they read everything you say and watch everyone you talk to, just to make sure you don’t use it to destroy their profits.

Now that we can look at the outside world through the bars of Fortress America’s secret security state, how is the view? Do you feel safer?

Playing the Field: it’s all in the name

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A friend recently told me that he was unable to find the new collector’s edition of my book, Playing the Field, in Amazon’s search engine. Sure enough, when I tried it myself it was damned hard to locate. I contacted Amazon and they are trying to resolve the technical issues involved, but in the meantime, if you are considering giving Playing the Field as a gift this holiday season, there are three easy ways you can buy it.

One, (the easiest!) go to my online bookstore here.

Two, when you do your Amazon search for “Mamie Van Doren, Playing the Field,” click the “Paperback” tab, and that should get you to the new edition.

Three, when you search for my name, put the prefix “Ms” in front of it. (The registration process places a gender prefix in front of the author’s name. Go figure.)

Best wishes to all of you for a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Bountiful Kwanza, and Happy New Year.
Peace & Love. Mxo

Palm Springs International Film Festival 2014

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I’ll be attending this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala on Saturday, January 4. I’ll be sitting with my dear friends Jamie Kabler and Helene Galen, along with Senator Barbara Boxer and other dignitaries. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be attending this year.

As you know, I have a long running love affair with Palm Springs. My career really started there after being discovered by Howard Hughes in the Miss Palm Springs beauty contest. After I signed with Universal Studios and became Mamie Van Doren, I was queen of the Palm Springs Rodeo, and I dedicated the tall palm trees that still line Palm Canyon Boulevard as you enter Palm Springs. Though I never made a movie in Palm Springs, I rubbed shoulders with everyone from Frank Sinatra to William Powell. My parents lived in the high desert near Palm Springs, and my mother and I often went there to shop and just take in the ambience of the desert oasis.

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Of course, I’ll be staying at my home away from home in Palm Springs, the lovely Andreas Hotel. It’s all a great way to kick off a brand new year!

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November Beach–a new video

I have sorely neglected this blog and its readers over the last few weeks because of other commitments. This little video will hopefully make up for being remiss. It is a collection of still photos taken at the beach by Thomas over the past months in day, night, and twilight. The lovely music is by my Facebook friend Jerry Steelfox, a fabulously talented musician and composer. You can find Jerry’s ReverbNation page here and his Facebook page here. Enjoy, leave your comments, and have a wonderful week ahead!
Love and kisses,
Mxo

The only true antidote

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A dear long time FB friend of mine lost his German Shepherd last night. His dear companion succumbed to a lingering disease. My friend is now deeply in grief and wondering how to get through the next day alone. Though you do not know his name, I ask you to send loving kindness and thoughts of compassion to all who grieve over the loss of a loved one. Grief is a universal emotion and we will all deal with it eventually because it marks a permanent loss of love. For a while it may seem that we cannot love again, or that to love again is a betrayal, but every sunset is followed by a sunrise. The truth is, you cannot protect yourself from love, because love is the only true antidote powerful enough to overcome sorrow.
Mxo

221

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I spent the last few nights in Suite 221, the Mamie Van Doren suite, at the Andreas Hotel & Spa in Palm Springs. I slept like a baby in that big, wrought iron canopy bed, wrapped in the lovely, warm feeling of this new suite named after me.

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The Andreas put on a fabulous party to christen 221, with Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden introducing me, and shoals of friends drinking champagne and touring the suite. It is thrilling to know that so many future guests at the Andreas will share the glamor of the suite that bears my name, as well as some of my Hollywood memories.

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Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden.

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A little bit about the suite: it’s done in a sort of Art Deco/Hollywood Glam style. Black and white, crystal chandelier and lamps, wrought iron, and memorabilia. I’ve loaned my portrait done by Olivia De Berardinis–Jungle Red; a copy of Playboy with me on the cover; oodles of photos of me from movies; and photos of me in Palm Springs history–as Miss Palm Springs and as queen of the Palm Springs Rodeo in the 1950s. It’s just the kind of place you would want to party in and tell your friends you slept in Mamie’s bed.

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There’s a lot of me in the history of Palm Springs. I was here for the dedication of the palm trees that line Palm Canyon Blvd. I can see them out the window of my suite right now. I was discovered here, of course, by Howard Hughes after he spotted me when I won the Miss Palm Springs beauty contest. My suite is one block from the giant statue of Marilyn Monroe on Tahquitz Canyon Blvd. and from my star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars across the street. I’m going to go visit my star later today.

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Some special thanks are in order: to Janie Hughes, with love, for all her work in making this possible; to Gina Laughton, the Andreas Hotel manager who took my suggestions for the room’s decor and made it all beautiful; to Zack Cordero, the assistant manager who makes miracles happen; Reggie Cameron, the p.r. whiz who made sure everyone knew; and to the thoughtful, efficient staff at the Andreas. Everyone contributed to make the party fun and my stay in 221 memorable.

Enjoy the pictures of the festivities of friends stopping to chat and sipping bubbly. Video is on the way as well.
Mxo

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Janie Hughes and her young friend hamming it up with me for the cameras.

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Seymour Hersh

I posted this link to a Guardian article about Pulitzer Prize winning author Seymour Hersh’s take on Obama, the NSA, and American media—newspapers and network news departments—but apparently not many read it. It is so worth reading that I’m posting it on INSIDE/OUT so that it won’t become lost on FB’s timeline.

I hope you’ll take the time to read it here.

In case you don’t know, Seymour Hersh is the journalist who first uncovered and wrote about the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and the one who was the first to write about the abuses at Abu Ghaib prison in Iraq. Seymour has really big balls and gets really big stories.

Hersh is one of those figures—like Julian Assange, Chelsea/Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden—who are unafraid, or at least undeterred, by the power structure. In fact, Hersh seems to enjoy pissing off politicians and fellow journalists with his revelations of abuse of power.

He chillingly insists that the Obama administration lies consistently and is actually much harder to write about than the Bush administration. He tells the Guardian, “The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama.”

He believes that journalists with the guts to be unpopular with their government sources hold the key to bringing about change, “I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever…”

I highly recommend you read this piece about Hersh in which he claims that the story of Osama Bin Laden’s death is “…one big lie, not one word of it is true.” Admittedly, he’s promoting a new book due out soon, but who would not want to read THAT story?

On a personal note, I flew over My Lai when I was in Vietnam in 1971. My helicopter pilots made a couple of low passes while I took pictures with my little Petri 35mm camera. That camera with the film still in it was confiscated by (oxymoron alert!) Army Intelligence after I was medevaced to Trippler Hospital in Hawaii. By then Calley had been convicted in a court martial, and the My Lai shit storm was still raging.

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The view from the gunner’s door of a Huey.

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We travelled in pairs when flying to the next fire station.

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The guys who fearlessly flew me around Vietnam.

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Bobby Bennett, my conductor, comrade, and tower of strength while I was in ‘Nam.

The photos here are courtesy of my Kiwi band leader, Bobby Bennett, who had the good sense to get his photos developed in Saigon. He gave me an extra set which the geniuses in Army Intelligence overlooked.

You can read the Seymour Hersh article here.

Greyhound hugs and sloppy kisses

I spent the better part of the day at Hemopet in Garden Grove hugging greyhounds and getting more than my share of sloppy kisses in the bargain. Hemopet is a canine blood bank in addition to being a greyhound rescue facility. The greys donate blood and the funds from that help support the rescue mission.

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Arriving at Hemopet in Garden Grove.

Many of you may know that my dear Suave was an alumni of Hemopet, and since his passing Thomas and I have volunteered to walk, feed, water, pick up poop, hug, kiss, and generally spoil as many needlenoses as we can. One day we’ll adopt another, but for now we spread the love around every chance we get.

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Tony was a little shy at first.

The first dog I met today was Tony. He’s a very gentle boy who had just donated blood, as you can see by the bandages on his neck. Tony was a little shy at first and needed to warm up to me. Once he did though, I got my first kiss.

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Once Tony warmed up to me, it was love, love, love!

This little black and white girl you see giving me a smooch is named Muse. She is young and energetic. I mean ENERGETIC. We took her into the exercise run area and she chased toys until I was exhausted.

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Muse can’t wait to give kisses.

Then there was the handsome brindle named Roman, who definitely had a roaming Roman nose. That brindle coat makes him look like a wild animal, and he was very interested in trying to dig his way out of the exercise pen.

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The wild guy Roman!

And last there was handsome Nexus. He’s a big gentle fella who loved to walk around the grounds, and then thoroughly inspected my new iPhone.

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Nexus checks out my new iPhone.

If you have never been around a greyhound, I cannot recommend them highly enough. They have keen intelligence, sweet dispositions, and astonishing intuition. If you allow one into your life you will count yourself forever blessed. There is most likely a greyhound rescue near you. If not, you can contact Hemopet who can ship greys wherever there is love in this world.

Shave it

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I know the world’s going to hell in twelve different directions–Syria, NSA spying, Obamacare, unlabeled GMOs–but I’m on the warpath about something else right now: beards in baseball.

Yes, I know I’m going to piss off a few of you, but who is the Beard Zero that started this bumper crop of unkempt, mountain man whiskers? I suspect it might be Brian Wilson, now of the Dodgers, who grew that forest of dyed-shoe-polish-black chin shrubbery when he was with the Giants. I like Brian because he seems to be a true original, but I wish the Johnny-come-latelys to beard cultivation would find a new hobby. Apparently the beard growing fad caught on like a brush fire, because these days the benches of many major league teams look bushier than a nudist colony on a summer day.

Which brings me to another question: isn’t all that facial hair hot—especially in a summertime sport? Isn’t there a lot of sweating going on under there? Never mind, I don’t want to know.

I suppose there are many women who think beards are somehow sexy, but I’m not among them. I recall hearing that French women consider a kiss without a mustache to be like an egg without salt, so whatever tickles your fancy, I suppose. I just never found the pictures on the Smith Brothers cough drops packages a turn on.

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I’m willing to give a pass to Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. I run into Billy at parties in Hollywood and he’s a really lovely, sweet guy. And to Charles Darwin and George Bernard Shaw and Walt Whitman. But to the Boys of Summer—come on guys, trim that hedge a little.

Jerry Giesler, Hollywood’s glamor lawyer

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Jerry Giesler and me during my divorce from Ray Anthony.

Not long after I returned from my sojourn on Broadway, my mother was seriously injured when a drunk woman ran a red light at the corner of 8th Street and Harvard Boulevard and broadsided their car. Mom’s leg was badly cut and she would have bled to death had an anonymous serviceman not appeared and staunched the bleeding until she could be rushed to the hospital. We never found out the identity of her good Samaritan.

In those days before health insurance, the hospital bills were well beyond my dad’s ability to pay on his mechanic’s salary. Though I was still a teenager, I told my dad that he needed to sue the driver of the car who hit them to help pay the bills. I took the initiative and began looking for a lawyer. I didn’t have to look very far.

One of the most famous lawyers in Hollywood at the time was Jerry Giesler. He had gotten Errol Flynn acquitted in his famous statutory rape case, the lurid details of which my mother and I had eagerly followed along with the rest of the country. Giesler had also represented Charlie Chaplin, Robert Mitchum, Lili St. Cyr, and Busby Berkley among many others in high profile trials. Jerry Giesler was a household name in Hollywood.

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Jerry Giesler at the counsel table with Errol Flynn.

(Years later, he would represent Cheryl Crane, the daughter of actress Lana Turner, who was accused of stabbing to death her mother’s abusive lover, Johnny Stompanato. Jerry’s skillful arguments would convince the jury to return a verdict of justifiable homicide.)

Two days after Mom’s accident, while she was still in the hospital, I announced to my dad that I was calling Jerry Giesler to represent us. I was still Joan Olander, aspiring actress, and Daddy scoffed at the idea that a famous lawyer like Giesler would even talk to me, much less represent a traffic case. Determined to help my mom, I ignored him. And when I am determined to do something, there is no stopping me.

Before I phoned Giesler’s office I wrote a list of everything I wanted to say. I took a deep breath and called. His secretary took a message and said I’d get a call back. When the call hadn’t come by the next day, I tried again to no avail. By the third call I was sounding so desperate the secretary put me through.

After a few moments a soft voice came on the line, “This is Jerry Giesler.”

I gathered myself and explained the situation of my mother’s accident and her mounting hospital bills. “I don’t have any money, Mr. Giesler,” I ended, out of breath, “but maybe you could take a percentage of the settlement—” I had heard that lawyers did that—“and my mom and dad sure need the help.”

There was a silence, then Giesler asked if there had been a police report. I told him there was and that the police had found the drunk woman driver definitely at fault. “I’ll send one of my investigators to check out the skid marks at the scene and get the police report,” he said. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Late the following day, Giesler’s secretary phoned to say that he wanted to see me. I dolled myself up and went to Jerry’s office. It looked like a a lawyer’s office on a movie set, darkly paneled and lined with law books. He motioned me to a chair at the corner of his large oak desk.

Jerry Giesler, like all great trial attorneys, was a consummate actor. He had a habit of squinting his eyes as though looking for something in the distance. It was disquieting, but I returned his gaze with all the calm I could muster. He looked at me that way for a long time, then said, “How old are you?” I told him and he smiled. “You are a very bright young lady. May I call you Joan?”

I nodded. “Will you take our case?” I blurted out.

“Oh yes. I will need your parents’ signatures on some paperwork, but we are ready to file against the woman’s insurance company.” I must have let out a loud sigh of relief. “It will be fine, Joan. My investigator found some very short skid marks at the scene—and a good bit of your mother’s blood still on the pavement. We have pictures. It looks like the woman barely hit the brakes before she broadsided them. How is your mother?”

“She lost a lot of blood. There were some bottles of beer in her lap they were bringing home. The broken glass cut her badly. Luckily the doctor had experience picking out shrapnel in the war. But she would have died if that soldier hadn’t been there to stop the bleeding.”

“Your mother is very fortunate,” Jerry said, “not the least because she has such a determined daughter. It will take a little time, but we’ll get her a good settlement. And I’ll let the hospital know that there is litigation underway, so they won’t be nervous about getting paid.”

Jerry stood up, signaling the interview was over. I got up and shook his hand. “Joan,” he said, smiling, “would you mind if I kissed you?”

My eyes got big and I was on guard. “Okay.”

Jerry kissed me on the lips, much the way Vivian Leigh kissed the young man in Street Car Named Desire—with a purpose, but endearing and chaste. Jerry took a $100 bill out of his money clip and pressed it into my hand. “You and your family may need this.”

I visited Jerry many times at his office during the trial, but that never happened again. He obtained a large settlement for my mother that made it possible for us not only to pay her hospital bills, but to move out of the rented house on Harvard Boulevard where we had lived for more than a decade and buy a new home in the then growing San Fernando Valley.

As fate would have it, our house in the Valley was a ten minute drive from Universal Studios, where I would be under contract in a few short years.

When I spoke to Jerry Giesler again I was Mamie Van Doren, this time with a manager I needed to get rid of. He laughed out loud when I told him I had been the brash young Joan Olander. Jerry would get me out of many scrapes over the years, and we remained friends until his death in 1962.

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Jerry Giesler with Marilyn during her divorce from Joe Dimaggio