As soon as I saw this picture of Aretha Franklin, I had to e-mail the link to a friend, warning him that he’d be sorry if he looked at it, but betting that he wouldn’t be able to resist. (He couldn’t, to his lasting sorrow.) Just in case you might be able to resist clicking the link, here’s the picture:

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I know what you’re thinking: “You better think, Peter Lynn, think about what you’re trying to do to me. Couldn’t you have put that picture after the jump?” No dice. If I’ve got to see that, then I’m going to make you see it. I can’t carry this burden alone.

It makes me think of something the late Dennis Wilson once said about his fat but talented brother, Brian (not apparently feeling a need to mount a defense of his other fat but talented brother, Carl):

“Brian Wilson is not a good-looking human being, yet his music is beautiful. Look at Nat King Cole — he looked like a real piece of shit but he had a beautiful voice. Look at Aretha Franklin — she would scare me in a dark room, yet her voice is fantastic. Roy Orbison too. The thing I listen to is the music.”

That always stuck out as a really gratuitously insulting backhanded compliment. Brian’s actually looking pretty good these days (certainly better than Paul McCartney, who’s only two days his senior and surely never imagined when he wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” that he wouldn’t be losing his hair but would be increasingly noted as bearing a marked resemblance to Angela Lansbury). But boy, is time ever proving Dennis more and more right about Aretha. She probably still looks better than Nat King Cole and Roy Orbison do now, though.

* * *

Speaking of the Beach Boys, as I’m wont to do, here’s a link I ran across a couple of days ago via Popwatch that pairs the actual audio recording of father/manager Murry Wilson disrupting a recording session with a video of puppets acting it out. I’d read about the incident but never heard the recording, and call me crazy, but to me, Murry doesn’t actually come off sounding like the blustering martinet I’d always imagined. Maybe the puppeteer should have replaced his rather avuncular, pipe-smoking avatar with a demonically raging Murry gnashing his teeth in a foam-flecked snarl, waving his glass eyeball around and forcing his children to look into his empty socket, the way everyone would prefer to remember him.

7 Responses to “R-E-S-P-F-A-T”

  1. Nat King Cole looked great. Now, I’m not ugly, but I’d much rather have a had a cool and unique look like that than the blonde, tall nondescript Swede look I’m saddled with.

  2. Tall, blonde, and Swedish? Go away, John E Thelin! You’re disgusting all my female readers!

    I thought Nat King Cole looked okay, too, though. I don’t know what Denny was on about there. But as the archetypal handsome blonde California surfer, he was probably entitled to throw stones.

  3. 3 ed

    Not meaning to pick nits here but I was under the impression that blonde is one of the few instances in English where a word has a gender.

    So Dennis Wilson would have been a blond California surfer, rather than blonde — at least as far as I know.

    I do realise I’m in danger of being shot down. Criticising a copy-editor, what am I thinking?

  4. 4 hilly

    It…it looks like the nipples are bleeding through her dress, or it looks like the imprint of a greasy onion ring on her chest.

    I don’t want to think anymore.

  5. I blame John E Thelin for subtly influencing me into using the feminine spelling “blonde”. Actually, I was just rereading Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue in which he makes a claim along the lines that “blond/blonde” is the only example of a gendered adjective in English. I just don’t know how he missed the completely obvious “brunet/brunette” distinction.

  6. 6 John E Thelin

    Indeed, my bad. I do think nits should picked, and should have known better.

    After all, one of my characters in the online game City of Villains is called The Stickler, and his subordinates are Nitpicker, Pedant, Corrector and Perfectionist.

  7. And judging by the punctuation of that list of henchman, The Stickler is clearly a serial comma killer.

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