Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Sometimes nothing can be a pretty cool hand": Paul Newman, 1925-2008

Two, maybe three kind favors from Paul Newman--maybe four: Hitting that pool ball, learning a lesson from the Fat Man. Fifty eggs in an hour--of course, of course--his grin as phony and as real as every single year that beats or blesses it out of him. And winking at everybody, especially himself, throughout the '70s, a fight where a hockey game breaks out, dispensing frontier justice, playing cowboy--but somehow, most of all following Robert Altman all the way up to Montreal, icing down Expo '67 and playing a little Quintet.

Why that last one sticks most with me, I don't know. But I remember being surprised to see him there, like John Wayne with the wind knocked out of him, wandering around the Last Days. And so now Mussburger meets the Old Man--the One he prayed to in Cool Hand Luke, a couple of hard cases with a sly-sad sense of humor. But maybe He'll forgive and forget, the tangy tastes of Newman's Own fresh on His tongue like kind words, both of them deep down charitable, with matching blue eyes.

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