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News of the Week: Fallon, Phone Booths, and the Food of April Fools’

Published: March 31, 2017

Jimmy Does Norman

The last thing I expected to see this week was Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon doing an impersonation of Norman Rockwell.

In the cover story for this week’s Parade, Fallon talks about the new Tonight Show ride at Universal Studios in Florida that opens on April 6. It’s called Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and features Fallon and other cast members traveling through the streets of the city on “the scariest roller coaster simulator you’ve ever been on,” going past the show’s set, the East River, the subway, Times Square, and other New York City locations.

In a photo that accompanies the article in print and online, Fallon recreates Rockwell’s famous Triple Self-Portrait from 1960. I don’t know if Fallon knows what he’s recreating — Rockwell isn’t mentioned in the piece at all — but maybe it’s such a famous image that they assume that a lot of people will know where it comes from (though probably not Fallon’s core Tonight Show demographic). Still, it’s great to see the homage. Fallon needs a pipe though.

The Phone Booths of Manhattan

I don’t know if Fallon goes by any phone booths in the ride, but I miss them. That sounds like an odd thing to say in a time when we have our own personal phones and no longer have to shove dimes and quarters into a dirty box on a street corner. But it’s an item from another time and place that I wish would be preserved, maybe not in the numbers they once were but in some small way. (On a related note, I also like phone books.)

The always great Mo Rocca of CBS Sunday Morning takes a look at the last four outdoor phone booths that remain in Manhattan (though booths for smartphone privacy are popping up), and he interviews a man who has a website that actually keeps track of the payphones that remain around the country. The part where Rocca calls his mom on one of those new internet kiosks is just perfect:

In other phone news, a restaurant in Pennsylvania is offering a discount to diners who don’t bring their phones to the table.

More Spring Books

In our current issue, Amazon editor Chris Schluep gave us his top 10 picks for spring books. Here are a half-dozen others you might want to pick up (and not just pick up, but also read):

The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols (Oxford University Press, out now). Nichols is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and an expert on foreign affairs and policy. In this book he examines how things like the internet and the transformation of news has led to an erosion of the trust people once had in experts. This is truly a must-read in today’s world, to help figure out how the heck we got to this point.

Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, by Kory Stamper (Pantheon, out now). If you’re a word geek like me and you love reading books on word origins and grammar, this looks like a fantastic read. Stamper tells us how dictionaries get made, not just what words to include but also how they go about defining them.

Richard Nixon: The Life, by John A. Farrell (Doubleday, out now). There have been a lot of books written on President Nixon of course, but this promises to be the definitive biography, detailing how the decisions he made as president affect us even today.

Hemingway Didn’t Say That, by Garson O’Toole (Little A, April 1). The subtitle of this collection is “The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations,” and gives the stories behind famous quotes that actually were never said by people like Ernest Hemingway, Woody Allen, Carl Sagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Mark Twain.

Dangerous to Know, by Renee Patrick (Forge Books, April 11). This is the second book in the series of mysteries by Patrick (aka Vince and Rosemarie Keenan). It’s set in 1938 Los Angeles and features the sleuthing team of Lillian Frost and Edith Head (yes, that Edith Head). I got an advance copy, and like the first novel, it’s a terrific, fun read (bonus: The Saturday Evening Post is mentioned!).

Chuck Klosterman X, by Chuck Klosterman (Blue Rider Press, May 16). Klosterman is the author of a series of highly entertaining/often infuriating books that focus on various aspects of pop culture. This new one (his 10th) is a collection of various essays he’s written over the past several years for places like Esquire, GQ, The A.V. Club, and The Guardian.

New Dylan

Yesterday saw the release of Bob Dylan’s new three-disc set, Triplicate, which is a collection of 30 classic cover songs, including “Stardust” and other American standards. Here’s our 1968 cover story on Dylan’s career and how he changed rock by going electric.

RIP Sib Hashian, Lola Albright, Jean Rouveral, Tony Terran, Darlene Cates, and Chet Cunningham

Sib Hashian was the former drummer for the rock group Boston. He played on the band’s first two albums, on such songs as “More Than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Long Time.” Hashian passed away at the age of 67 after collapsing on stage during a Legends of Rock cruise.

Lola Albright

Lola Albright
NBC Studios

The beautiful Lola Albright is probably best known for her role as Peter Gunn’s singer girlfriend on the TV series Peter Gunn. She also appeared on shows like The Bob Cummings Show, Gunsmoke, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Peyton Place, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Columbo, as well as movies like The Tender Trap, A Cold Wind in August, The Good Humor Man, and one of the great sci-fi movies of the ’50s, The Monolith Monsters. Albright died last week at the age of 92.

Jean Rouverol was a writer and actress. She wrote for TV shows like The Guiding Light, As The World Turns, Search for Tomorrow, and Little House on the Prairie, and movies such as The Miracle, and Face in the Rain. She was blacklisted in the 1950s with her husband, writer Hugo Butler (Lassie Come Home, Young Tom Edison, The Prowler, and the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol), during the House Un-American Activities Committee investigations, and the two fled to Mexico and lived there until 1964, when they returned to the U.S. She passed away last week at the age of 100.

Tony Terran was the trumpeter in Ricky Ricardo’s band on I Love Lucy. He was the last surviving member of the band and passed away last week at the age of 90. Besides his work with Lucy and Desi, Terran worked on The Carol Burnett Show. A member of the classic “Wrecking Crew” of studio musicians, he performed or recorded with The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Sonny & Cher, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, Perry Como, and many others. He also released his own solo album in 1966 and played the trumpet in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Enter the Dragon.

Darlene Cates was an actress best known for playing the mother of Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? She died Sunday at the age of 69.

Chet Cunningham was a prolific writer who wrote over 300 books. That’s not a typo. He actually wrote over 300 novels of various genres: Westerns, thrillers, action-adventure, along with several non-fiction books, too (you can see a list of the books at his site). He also founded the San Diego Book Awards and helped other writers in their careers. Cunningham passed away March 14 at the age of 88.

This Week in History

Tennessee Williams Born (March 26, 1911)

You may know that the playwright wrote A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Glass Menagerie, but Flavorwire has 71 things you might not know about him.

This guy from an episode of Wheel of Fortune last week might want to read that list:

President Reagan Shot (March 28, 1981)

Our 40th president graced the cover of The Saturday Evening Post a year after he was shot in the chest outside of the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. Press secretary James Brady was also severely wounded, paralyzed from a gunshot to the head. Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy and police officer Tom Delahanty were also injured.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Rainy Wait for a Cab (March 29, 1947)

Crowd waiting in rain under awning for a cabRainy Wait for a Cab
John Falter
March 29, 1947

John Falter is one of my favorite Post artists, along with Rockwell (of course) and Constantin Alajálov. Oh, and Stevan Dohanos and Thornton Utz and … well, the point is we’ve had a lot of great artists over the years. This Falter cover is one of his best. It’s so alive and captures the rain, New York City, and the ’50s so well.

April Fools’ Day

Tomorrow is the day we surprise and annoy our friends and family with pranks and jokes and hope they don’t retaliate in some way. One of my favorites is to stand in front of someone and point to their chest, and when they look down, flick their face with your finger (all adult men are still 11 years old inside).

This is usually where I give links to recipes for a food holiday so I looked around the web to see if there was such a thing as food to make for April Fools’ Day … and there is! Taste of Home has a bunch of recipes for foods you might not expect, such as this cake that’s actually meatloaf, this sunny side up egg on toast that’s actually a dessert, and this sushi for kids that’s actually made with Fruit Roll-ups, licorice, and marshmallows.

Because, really, who would want to eat actual sushi?

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Humor Month begins (April 1)

I think every month is National Humor Month, but April is the start of the official month of laughing, and there’s even an official site for it. When you’re done there, come back here and browse our humor section.

International Children’s Book Day (April 2)

This day was started in 1967 by iBbY, the International Board on Books for Young People. The day is timed on or around the birthday of author Hans Christian Anderson.

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  • Actually, I like Jimmy Fallon’s Picasso portrait, with only weak ties to Rockwell. Jimmy’s shnockerd quite often, so you’re right, he may not know. I agree with the core audience not knowing about the ‘Triple Self-Portrait’ although some may have heard the name Norman Rockwell somewhere, someplace.

    Jimmy’s version of ‘The Tonight Show’ is more like an out of control ‘Romper Room’ or ‘Captain Kangaroo’ than the show Jack Paar, Johnny Carson or Jay Leno once hosted. His version fits right in with today’s mentality in other words.

    Your spring books collection looks really good. I think I’ll start out with the book on Nixon; one of our most misjudged, unappreciated Presidents. I want to check out some more reviews on it first, however.

    Thanks for the links on Bob Dylan. That aside, the POST did some really great covers in late 1968, ending that run with ‘Happy Collage’ by Sister Corita.

    Kevin whats-his-name that botched ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is too stupid for me to even discuss beyond suggesting he’d fit right in as a guest on ‘The Tonight Show’.

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