Monday, September 26, 2011

The Cosmetics Plus Story

Cosmetics Plus Forever


I worked for Cosmetics Plus from June 3, 1974 until I was fired in May, 1978

I worked as a truck driver, warehouse man and for a brief time, assistant warehouse manager under a man named Stanley Kalafut, whose passing away in 2010 inspired me to put together the variety of ways I wrote about my time working there.

The bulk of this collection comes from a 1998 journal recalling those events with several earlier journal entries I wrote starting just after I started college in 1979, and a series of journals I wrote after meeting up with a fellow worker, John Telson, in early 2002.

This is not a happy story. I do not come across as a good guy in it, but it is a story of people whose lives came together at a particular time and place, and how this changed me and them forever.

Some of us went on to live totally different lives than we expected, others remained prisoners of that time, locked into habits we could not escape, and in the end, found that our life is story was written in those years in the dust of Cosmetics Plus, a testimony to hopes and dreams that never materialized

1 - Stan the Man

2 - Nothing crazy here, boy

3 - The job I almost never had

5 - D&B Wholesale warehouse

6 - Carmella

7 - Carmella's World

8 - Stanley's World

9 - Music Man Stan

10 - Donald's Ambition

11 - On the Road -- at last

12 - John Charles Telson III

13 - Donald's Dream Warehouse

14 - Gary

15 - Cliff O'Neil

16 - Isolation and Rebellion
More to follow

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Joe Kidd’s influence on Cowboys and Aliens

It took me a while to find out where Cowboys and Aliens got the jail scene. When seeing it, I remembered seeing a similar scene somewhere else, but could not recall the exact movie.
Since it was clear that the film had made liberal use of other Clint Eastwood films, especially The Unforgiven and High Plains Drifter, I started going back through my collection of Eastwood Westerns until I found it in Joe Kidd.
While Kidd isn’t woken by Dollar Hide’s kid spitting on him, the way Jake is in Cowboys, Joe Kidd does wake up to an annoying prisoner who teases him by denying him a cup of coffee so that when Eastwood is uncuffed from his bunk, he hits the guy in the face with the pot.
There are other similarities in the way Joe Kidd handles himself when it comes to other bad guys, a kind of ritualistic violence that appears in the characters of both films. We even have a minister helping him by providing him later in the film with a gun – although it appears that the minister in Cowboys more closely resembles the fighting minister in The Searchers from which Cowboys also drew heavily, especially regarding the back story of a half breed Indian that the John Wayne character refuses to acknowledge as kin, and the eventual coming around to make sense at the end that kin often is how people act rather than blood.
Cowboys, however, doesn’t quite capture the intensity of the John Wayne character, although both films are about searching out loved ones that have been abducted, and doubting in some ways that they can be recovered. In the end of both films, the searchers as well as those sought out are changed significantly.
We get a lot from High Plains Drifter that includes a mining town, and the return of someone that may or may not have been death, to avenge some wrong of the past – or as the minister in Cowboys puts it, to set things right.
Jake and the drifter are avenging angels, although the drifter is much darker and questionably a fallen angel, who brings those who murdered him to hell.This is reflected in a line that Jake has in Cowboys when he has been beaten and the bad guy asks where the gold he stole from him is: Demons took it, and when you get to hell, you can ask for it back.

Monday, September 5, 2011

High Plains Drifter drifts into Cowboys & Aliens

Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter has always been something of a town without pity set in the Wild West, depicting the ghostly return of a murdered marshal in the form of a nameless drifter, who shoots the three men the town has hired to protect themselves from other violent men they had hired in the past, but could not keep tame.
Each hired gun proves as bad or worse than that previous ones, but part of the reason the town hates the first batch is because those three committed the unspeakable act of murdering the marshal – while the whole town looked on, murdered him on behalf of a town that was dependent on the local gold mine for survival.
The marshal learned that the mine was on government land and the citizens hired three gun men to kill him to keep him quiet, but the gun men took over the town after the murder, so the citizens, when the gun men got drunk, clapped them in irons and framed them for a theft they didn’t commit, sending them off to prison, the three vowing vengeance when they got out.
A few weeks before the gun men were due to get out of jail, the town hires three more killers to protect them, but before the first three arrive back, the drifter arrives, and kills these three after they provoke him. Desperate for protection, the town fathers hire the drifter with the provision that he can take anything he wants as payment – and he does, forcing the town to replace the sheriff with the dwarf they mocked prior to the drifter’s arrival, as well as many other liberties, including sex with the inn keeper’s wife. He professes to teach the locals to fight for themselves, but they are hapless, and in his preparations, he creates a welcome home party in the street complete with booze and food, and tables made from the inn keeper’s barn. He also has the town’s people paint every building red, and paints the city sign at the entrance to the town with the inscription of “Welcome to hell.”
While it is difficult to tell whether the drifter is a ghost or a devil, or merely an arch angel sent to avenge the murder of the marshal, but in Cowboys & Aliens, Jake serves a similar role – even if he is less ruthless in some ways, and manages not to paint the town red, merely helping with the aid of the aliens to set it ablaze just as the drifter did in the Clint Eastwood movie.
Jake is just as violent at the drifter, a fact we get almost immediately when group of riders comes upon him in the wilderness, and in a scene similar to the one in the Eastwood movie, he dispatches them.
While nobody knows who the drifter is in the Eastwood movie, everybody except Jake pretty much knows who he is.
The town in Cowboys gave up on mining and became dependent on a local rancher, something the rancher’s son takes full advantage of -- that is until Jake arrives, and then the aliens. But Jake – like the drifter – has come back with a purpose, which is in the preacher’s words “to set things right,” and like the avenging angel in High Plains Drifter, must move on after he has. Fortunately, Cowboys has a much more positive feeling, Jake – as violent as he is – does not take the same liberties the drifter does in the earlier movie. He is too busy with his mission and his ache to rediscover the past – his own past. Like the earlier movie, Cowboys gives us pieces of the earlier picture slowly, so that we only know what truly inspired the events just prior to the final showdown.